Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Exposición multimedia sobre la historia del barrio La Boca

Hombres de trabajo en los astilleros que ya no están.  / Gentileza Eduardo Alvelo. La
¨A través de los relatos de antiguos vecinos del barrio y de viejas instituciones locales, con fotos y objetos, con imágenes, voces y sonidos, la exposición multimedia De La Boca, un pueblo crea un rompecabezas con un objetivo central: mantener viva la memoria de un emblemático barrio porteño.
La muestra, curada por Eduardo Alvelo, repasa la historia del barrio y su gente, desde fines del siglo XIX hasta los '80. La exposición propone conferencias sobre distintos aspectos de La Boca, como la arqueología o la gastronomía, la historia y el tango, sin descuidar el Riachuelo o las pinturas de Benito Quinquela Martín.
Entrar en la exposición es retroceder en el tiempo. Una serie de fotos repasa la mutación de Caminito. "Hay mucha historia de la ciudad que comenzó allí y hoy hay muchas instituciones que la pelean día a día, pese al olvido", explica Alvelo.
Alvelo es realizador de cine documental y vive un poco aquí y un poco en los Estados Unidos. "Esta muestra nació como desprendimiento de un documental que estoy haciendo y que rescata el testimonio de los viejos habitantes de La Boca", explica.
En una esquina, cuatro cuadros muestran un collage de postales viejas. Las luces de las cantinas sobre la calle Necochea, de noche, muestran una imagen que ya no se ve. "Ir a esa zona ahora es arriesgar tu vida", lamenta el curador.
Algunos objetos, como una medalla de plata de 1914 que se repartió en la inauguración del puente transbordador Nicolás Avellaneda o la actual Medalla del Bicentenario, que recibió el Ateneo Popular de La Boca, se suceden con un remo y con imágenes de los remeros del Club de Regatas Almirante Brown, que surcaban las aguas del Riachuelo. Antes de su contaminación, claro está. Como Oscar Almirón, que representó a la Argentina en los Juegos Olímpicos de Londres 1948.
Una sucesión de postales de los años 20, 30 y 40 muestran imágenes de La Boca que ya no es. Y se puede ver cómo las inundaciones cambiaban por completo el paisaje.
Los visitantes pueden disfrutar también de un documental con material inédito, que formará parte del que prepara Alvelo, con imágenes de los bomberos voluntarios de La Boca de 1911, de estibadores cargando y descargando y de Quinquela pintando a la orilla del río.
Hasta el 10 de julio puede visitarse en el Salón de Exposiciones de la Corporación Buenos Aires Sur, en Bolívar 1268. De martes a domingos, con entrada libre y gratuita.¨
artículo de Cynthia Palacios en La Nación

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The importance of lightning rods or conductors

Some time ago, I posted this shot I´ve taken from the movie The Bride of Frankenstein, and I saw it as an artistic manifestation. Today, I´m thinking about the technical importance of the lightning rods, after reading about the children dead inside a classroom in Uganda. From
¨A lightning rod (USAUS) or lightning conductor (UK) is a metal rod or conductor mounted on top of a building and electrically connected to the ground through a wire, to protect the building in the event of lightning. If lightning strikes the building it will preferentially strike the rod, and be conducted harmlessly to ground through the wire, instead of passing through the building, where it could start a fire or cause electrocution. A lightning rod is a single component in a lightning protection system. In addition to rods placed at regular intervals on the highest portions of a structure, a lightning protection system typically includes a rooftop network of conductors, multiple conductive paths from the roof to the ground, bonding connections to metallic objects within the structure and a grounding network. The rooftop lightning rod is a metal strip or rod, usually of copper or aluminum. Lightning protection systems are installed on structures, trees, monuments, bridges or water vessels to protect from lightning damage. Individual lightning rods are sometimes called finials, air terminals or strike termination devices. The lightning rod was invented by Benjamin Franklin in the Americas in 1749 and, perhaps independently, by Prokop Diviš in Europe in 1754.¨

"Machina meteorologica" invented byVáclav Prokop Diviš worked like a lightning rod.
Wooden church with lightning rods and grounding cables.

Now, the sad news, excerpt from
¨Eighteen schoolchildren and their teacher have been killed in a lightning strike in Uganda, police said.
The country has one of the highest rates of lightning deaths in the world and its capital, Kampala, has more days of lightning per year than any other city, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.
The lightning hit the victims in a classroom at a school in Kiryandongo, 130 miles north of Kampala. Another 38 children were admitted to hospital.
The east African country has suffered several fatal lightning strikes in recent weeks during unseasonably heavy rains.
The deaths were debated in parliament on Monday, with MPs calling on the government to come up with strategy to deal with what several termed "a crisis". (...) Local meteorologists have criticised the government for not providing enough lightning conductors for buildings in storm hotspots.¨
Read the article in full:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The importance of a roof. In the words of John Ruskin

Picture from

¨16. I am sure that all of you must readily acknowledge the charm which is imparted to any landscape by the presence of cottages; and you must over and over again have paused at the wicket gate of some cottage garden, delighted by the simple beauty of the honeysuckle porch and latticed window. Has it ever occurred to you to ask the question, what effect the cottage would have upon your feelings if it had no roof? no visible roof, I mean;—if instead of the thatched slope, in which the little upper windows are buried deep, as in a nest of straw—or the rough shelter of its mountain shales—or warm coloring of russet tiles—there were nothing but a flat leaden top to it, making it look like a large packing-case with windows in it? I don't think the rarity of such a sight would make you feel it to be beautiful; on the contrary, if you think over the matter, you will find that you actually do owe, and ought to owe, a great part of your pleasure in all cottage scenery, and in all the inexhaustible imagery of literature which is founded upon it, to the conspicuousness of the cottage roof—to the subordination of the cottage itself to its covering, which leaves, in nine cases out of ten, really more roof than anything else. It is, indeed, not so much the whitewashed walls—nor the flowery garden—nor the rude fragments of stones set for steps at the door—nor any other picturesqueness of the building which interest you, so much as the gray bank of its heavy eaves, deep-cushioned with green moss and golden stone-crop. And there is a profound, yet evident, reason for this feeling. The very soul of the cottage—the essence and meaning of it—are in its roof; it is that, mainly, wherein consists its shelter; that, wherein it differs most completely from a cleft in rocks or bower in woods. It is in its thick impenetrable coverlet of close thatch that its whole heart and hospitality are concentrated. [18] Consider the difference, in sound, of the expressions "beneath my roof" and "within my walls,"—consider whether you would be best sheltered, in a shed, with a stout roof sustained on corner posts, or in an inclosure of four walls without a roof at all,—and you will quickly see how important a part of the cottage the roof must always be to the mind as well as to the eye, and how, from seeing it, the greatest part of our pleasure must continually arise.

Image from

17. Now, do you suppose that which is so all-important in a cottage, can be of small importance in your own dwelling-house? Do you think that by any splendor of architecture—any height of stories—you can atone to the mind for the loss of the aspect of the roof? It is vain to say you take the roof for granted. You may as well say you take a man's kindness for granted, though he neither looks nor speaks kindly. You may know him to be kind in reality, but you will not like him so well as if he spoke and looked kindly also. And whatever external splendor you may give your houses, you will always feel there is something wanting, unless you see their roofs plainly. And this especially in the north. In southern architecture the roof is of far less importance; but here the soul of domestic building is in the largeness and conspicuousness of the protection against the ponderous snow and driving sleet. You may make the façade of the square pile, if the roof be not seen, as handsome as you please,—you may cover it with decoration,—but there will always be a heartlessness about it, which you will not know how to conquer; above all, a perpetual difficulty in finishing the wall at top, which will require all kinds of strange inventions in parapets and pinnacles for its decoration, and yet will never look right.¨

From Lectures on Architecture and Painting. By John Ruskin. Delivered at Edinburgh, November 1853
Read the full book:

Monday, June 27, 2011

President's Park South Design Competition (Whashington DC)

Project by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) invited five talented design firms to develop concepts to beautify the security components and improve the visitor experience at President’s Park South. This popular destination is located between the White House Grounds and Constitution Avenue, NW. Beginning Tuesday, June 21 and running through Monday, June 27, the public is invited to view the project teams’ designs online and at the White House Visitor Center (1450 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC). The center is open daily from 7:30 am – 4:00 pm. The public will be able to share their opinions online and at the visitor center.

Project by Reed Hilderbrand Associates

The firms developing proposals are:

Hood Design Studio, Oakland, CA
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Brooklyn, NY
Reed Hilderbrand Associates, Watertown, MA
Rogers Marvel Architects, New York, NY
SASAKI, Watertown, MA
On Tuesday, June 28 NCPC will host a public showcase where representatives from the five design firms will present their concepts for President’s Park South. All public opinions submitted by 4:00 p.m. on Monday, June 27 will be shared with NCPC’s Interagency Security Task Force, which will announce the competition winner on June 30, 2011.
Read more:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ornament in Dorian Greek buildings

Temple of the Delians, Delos; 19th century pen-and-wash restoration. Image from

¨In the buildings erected by the Dorian Greeks, painting was always employed as a means of ornamentation, internal and external. In the best period of Classic Art, the Greeks did not use coloured marbles in their large buildings. They built them of stone or white marble, coating the monochrome stone with a fine stucco and colouring it; when they used marble they selected white, and coloured its entire surface. Colour, therefore, was one of the most effective means of ornamentation; it served to distinguish the architectural members, and to give the several planes of the structure their due relief. But, -and in this particular the delicacy of Greek genius is manifest, -as it is necessary, especially in such a climate as theirs, to consider the effect of the sun’s light, the Greek artists felt that in a building whose dimensions were never very considerable, greater relative importance should be given either to the vertical or to the horizontal lines: all their mouldings therefore are made in the horizontal members; here they are strongly marked; they are even deeply sunk, in order to obtain sharp shades like strong ink-lines in a drawing; while the vertical members are left bare, or only very slightly moulded. The shafts of the columns are but faintly streaked with shallow flutings, whose only effect is to render their cylindro-conical surface more distinctly apparent. If we examine a Doric Greek temple of the best period, we shall not find a single vertical moulding; all the mouldings are horizontal and very sharply cut. The result of this system was that the surfaces were distinguished by different shades, and that in the general effect the building was banded with strongly marked horizontal shadows, quieting the eye, and clearly separating the various tones of colour. In these temples are very little sculpture; it only appears in the metopes and the tympanums of the pediments; moreover, it is not ornamental sculpture, but represents independent subjects.¨

From Lectures on Architecture. By E. Viollet Le Duc. Translated by arch. Benjamin Buckanall. Boston, 1881

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Unity and indivisibility of the work of art

A depiction of Vitruvius presenting De Architectura to Augustus. 1684. From

There´s always this discussion about what is better in a project: firmitas, utilitas, venustas, based on Vitruvius´ definitions. In other words, some architects emphasize the structure, some the functionality, others the beauty.
Though, the three qualities cannot be separated in their resolution, this will give as a result, an ideal building. Here, some words by the philosopher Benedetto Croce, from his book AESTHETIC AS SCIENCE OF EXPRESSION AND GENERAL LINGUISTIC, 1909:

Another corollary of the conception of expression as activity is the indivisibility of the work of art. Every expression is a unique expression. Activity is a fusion of the impressions in an organic whole. A desire to express this has always prompted the affirmation that the world of art should have unity, or, what amounts to the same thing, unity in variety. Expression is a synthesis of the various, the multiple, in the one.
The fact that we divide a work of art into parts, as a poem into scenes, episodes, similes, sentences, or a picture into single figures and objects, background, foreground, etc., may seem to be an objection to this affirmation. But such division annihilates the work, as dividing the organism into heart, brain, nerves, muscles and so on, turns the living being into a corpse. It is true that there exist organisms in which the division gives place to more living things, but in such a case, and if we transfer the analogy to the aesthetic fact, we must conclude for a multiplicity of germs of life, that is to say, for a speedy re-elaboration of the single parts into new single expressions.
It will be observed that expression is sometimes based on other expressions. There are simple and there are compound expressions. One must admit some difference between the eureka, with which Archimedes expressed all his joy after his discovery, and the expressive act (indeed all the five acts) of a regular tragedy. Not in the least: expression is always directly based on impressions. He who conceives a tragedy puts into a crucible a great quantity, so to say, of impressions: the expressions themselves, conceived on other occasions, are fused together with the new in a single mass, in the same way as we can cast into a smelting furnace formless pieces of bronze and most precious statuettes. Those most precious statuettes must be melted in the same way as the formless bits of bronze, before there can be a new statue. The old expressions must descend again to the level of impressions, in order to be synthetized in a new single expression.

Read the book on line:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Critics at Thom Mayne’s San Francisco Federal Building

The four-story barlike annex terminates with a sculptural end elevation on Mission Street. Photo by Roland Halbe. Architectural Record Construction

I love the plasticity of Thom Mayne´s designs and I used to show his buildings´ pictures to my students. I also had the opportunity to meet him and have a nice conversation about one of our projects, in the 90´s.
Then, I visited his Cal Trans building in Los Angeles Downtown a few years ago, and thought maybe Thom is designing out of scale, maybe he doesn´t think about people, but the building itself. You cant´ sit outside under the sun, it´s better to cross the street and go to the park, sit on a beach chair, eat fruits at the Mexican fair.
And now, I´ve found this article by John King, just a brief reproduction of it:
¨During any given week, I’m told, 100 or more design buffs take self-guided tours of the San Francisco Federal Building (SFFB) by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Thom Mayne. The tour’s flyer gushes over the “world-famous architect” and his creation, focusing on such details as green design features that aim to cut lighting costs by 26 percent and the Sky Garden, a “three-story open space [that] provides spectacular views for tenants and visitors.”
Not included in the tour: the Social Security office where, more often than not, at least half of the 94 black metal chairs are filled by regular citizens waiting for their numbers to be called. And the supplicants aren’t feasting on postcard-worthy views. They’re in a windowless room with only a (slightly) canted ceiling to set it apart from thousands of other bureaucratic holding pens, in a squat four-story annex that rarely appears in architectural photographs of the 2.1-acre complex.
I mention the latter space because it’s the portion of this public building that gets the most use by the public, yet it received zero scrutiny from critics — me included — when the SFFB debuted in the summer of 2007. We reviewed the newcomer as though it were a sculpture and then moved on. Standard practice, perhaps, but in the process we ignored what sets architecture apart from other arts. Buildings are created to function as part of their physical and cultural surroundings, and they reveal themselves with the slow passage of time.¨

The Federal Building’s 240-foot-tall tower is the architectural showstopper: connecting it is the annex that does a lot of work.  Photo: Roland Halbe, Architectural Record.  I´ve seen the tower myself from a couple of blocks away, and there is no doubt that´s Morphosis´ design. I´m sorry I hadn´t time to walk over there, next time.....
Keep on reading:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Intuition and Expression

Expression of a red eye. Digital painting by Myriam B. Mahiques

Human knowledge has two forms: it is either intuitive knowledge or logical knowledge; knowledge obtained through the imagination or knowledge obtained through the intellect; knowledge of the individual or knowledge of the universal; of individual things or of the relations between them: it is, in fact, productive either of images or of concepts.
In ordinary life, constant appeal is made to intuitive knowledge. It is said to be impossible to give expression to certain truths; that they are not demonstrable by syllogisms; that they must be learnt intuitively. The politician finds fault with the abstract reasoner, who is without a lively knowledge of actual conditions; the pedagogue insists upon the necessity of developing the intuitive faculty in the pupil before everything else; the critic in judging a work of art makes it a point of honour to set aside theory and abstractions, and to judge it by direct intuition; the practical man professes to live rather by intuition than by reason.
But this ample acknowledgment, granted to intuitive knowledge in ordinary life, does not meet with an equal and adequate acknowledgment in the field of theory and of philosophy. There exists a very ancient science of intellective knowledge, admitted by all without discussion, namely, Logic; but a science of intuitive knowledge is timidly and with difficulty admitted by but a few. Logical knowledge has appropriated the lion's share; and if she does not quite slay and devour her companion, yet yields to her with difficulty the humble little place of maidservant or doorkeeper. What, it says, is intuitive knowledge without the light of intellective knowledge? It is a servant without a master; and though a master find a servant useful, the master is a necessity to the servant, since he enables him to gain his livelihood. Intuition is blind; Intellect lends her eyes.
Chapter I. Theory. Intuition and Expression. (excerpt)

Friday, June 17, 2011

An old atomic plant in Germany converted into an amusing park

A couple of weeks ago, I had the joy  of knowing Germay would be closing its nuclear plants. And now, I've read this great article at Spiegel, one old atomic plant converted into an amusing park.
From Spiegel on line, an excerpt and pictures:

In the early 1970s, construction began in Germany on what was supposed to be the world's most technologically advanced nuclear power plant. But public protests and nuclear disasters elsewhere kept the plant from ever going online -- and then a Dutch developer with a dream arrived on the scene.
As far as the Germans are concerned, only a Dutchman could buy a nuclear power plant and transform it into an amusement park.

The complex in Kalkar wasn't just any old nuclear power plant, but rather a multi-billion-deutsche mark national symbol-turned-boondoggle. After initially being touted as proof of the ingenuity of German engineers, it then went on to symbolize the power of youthful resistance and, finally, the absurdity of political decision-making. Indeed, after being built for 8 billion deutsche marks (€4.1 billion; $5.9 billion), the complex known locally as "der Brüter" ("the breeder") was destined never to go online. In the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, it stood idle for years because nobody wanted to have anything to do with the enormous mountain of concrete. The plant went into partial operation in 1985, but it never received nuclear materials.

Dreams from Abroad
Then everything changed. Karl-Heinz Rottman, 57, a former employee, recounts how he and his colleagues were just about to eat lunch together in 1995 when Dutch developer Hennie van der Most drove up. At the time, Rottman says, morale among the workers was low and they were full of disappointment. But then this white-haired man got out of his black Mercedes and said: "Hi, I'm Hennie. I'm gonna buy everything here." Rottman says his first thought was: "Sure, go for it."
And that's just what Hennie did. The son of a farmer and junk dealer from rural Holland borrowed a couple of million deutsche marks to buy the nuclear power plant that had been heralded as a source of infinite energy for the industrial age. Its uranium core was supposed to produce more plutonium than the reactor needed, meaning that it could forever produce energy that was as clean and safe as possible.
But instead of getting the reactor up and running, Hennie began to gut the place. Massive amounts of circuitry, pumps, turbine and other equipment landed on the trash heap. The engineers who had settled in the area could hardly bear to watch as their creation was destroyed. And the job was massive -- in order to be able to respond to worst-case scenarios involving multiple failures, nuclear power plants have three and sometimes even five sets of duplicate back-up systems. Even now, 15 years later, only a third of the reactor has been converted into amusement park.
Read the article by Jorg Diehl:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dollar bills lining walls inside the Guggenheim Museum, New York

German artist Hans-Peter Feldmann lined with 100,000 dollar bills the walls of the Guggenheim Museum in New York as part of an exhibition dedicated to the institution to have won the last edition of the Hugo Boss Prize.
The award recognizes achievements in contemporary art and is endowed with $ 100,000, exactly the amount the artist decided to change dollar bills and put them inside one of the rooms of the museum.
The installation can be seen till November 2nd.
Picture from:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

San Francisco approves Treasure Island urban plan

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a massive new neighborhood proposed for Treasure Island.
In the 11-0 vote the board rejected claims by groups such as the Sierra Club that the project would harm the environment and exacerbate traffic problems.
Instead, members of the board said the $1.5 billion project would breathe new life into the old Navy base in the middle of San Francisco Bay.
The plan, almost 15 years in the making, calls for 19,000 new residents to live in a new neighborhood wrapped in open space and dotted with high-rises, one as tall as 450 feet. Residential units would be within walking distance of shops, a grocery store, a school and new ferry terminal.(...)

Over the next 20 to 30 years, they intend to morph the island from an aging former Navy base into a state-of-the-art neighborhood with a mix of affordable and market-rate homes, all designed to save water and energy.
Massive weight will compact the soil, keeping the island stable during earthquakes. A seawall will guard against sea level rise and possible tsunamis. Plans call for the ramps to and from the Bay Bridge to be redesigned and dedicated bus lines to run from the island to downtown San Francisco.
Excerpt and pictures from:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Terremotos simulados en San Diego para mejorar las construcciones

Mapeo de terremotos al día de hoy en California. Para ver los mapas actualizados, clickear en
Este tema me interesa personalmente por vivir en California y haber sentido algunos de sus terremotos. De La Nación, sección Ciencia y Salud:
¨SAN DIEGO, Estados Unidos.- En un campo abierto, próximo a un cruce de autopistas y donde unos carteles amarillos alertan sobre la posibilidad de cruzarse con alguna víbora, una superficie de acero y cemento de 7,6 por 12 metros soporta al simulador de terremotos al aire libre más grande del mundo.
Aquí, un equipo de ingenieros de la Universidad de California en San Diego (UCSD) levanta durante meses -y derriba en instantes- edificios de varios pisos que cuestan millones de dólares construir. Lo hacen para conocer cómo se comportan y se pueden hacer más seguras las estructuras, los materiales y los sistemas de monitoreo cuando las entrañas del planeta liberan energía.
En enero del año que viene, sobre esta plataforma de pruebas del Centro de Ingeniería Estructural Englekirk de la Facultad de Ingeniería de la UCSD, se realizará el ensayo más ambicioso que se conoce hasta ahora. Para eso, la semana pasada, los ingenieros comenzaron la construcción de un edificio de cinco pisos, en los que funcionarán desde un hospital hasta oficinas comerciales, una escuela y un banco. Todos temblarán como si el suelo se sacudiera con la fuerza de 100.000 bombas atómicas, como ocurrió en Chile el año pasado.
El costo: nada más ni nada menos que casi 4 millones de dólares, financiados por la Fundación Nacional de Ciencias de los Estados Unidos (NSF, por sus siglas en inglés), el estado de California y la industria privada. "Es la primera vez que se realizará una prueba de este tipo con un edificio totalmente equipado. Creemos que vamos a poder pasar un sismo de gran intensidad sin daños", dijo el ingeniero José Restrepo, que codirige este proyecto monumental y que aportará datos a otros países para mejorar la seguridad en escuelas, centros comerciales, comisarías y hospitales, entre otros lugares claves.
Esta plataforma, que pertenece a una red de la NSF de 15 universidades, sirve para probar estructuras de hasta 2200 toneladas y más de 30 metros de altura. Su sistema de acción hidráulico y mecánico puede replicar con altísima precisión temblores de más de 8 grados en la escala de Richter para recrear, como en una película, los terremotos más devastadores registrados hasta ahora.
"Terremotos tenemos todos los días, pero no afectan zonas urbanas", comentó Restrepo durante una recorrida de las instalaciones del simulador organizada por el Instituto de las Américas-UCSD. De hecho, señaló, en los últimos 40 años hubo 6000 sismos de entre 6 y 6,9 grados de magnitud, pero muy pocos ocurrieron en áreas urbanas. "Y hubo unos 20 muy fuertes, de entre 8 y 8,9 en la escala de Richter. Algunos de ellos, en zonas urbanas", explicó.¨
Continúe leyendo la nota de Fabiola Czubaj:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

ICOMOS counseling against Le Corbusier´s buildings

The National Museum of Western Art. Photo: yisris.

When he was a young architect, my husband had a fellowship in UNESCO to research for ICOMOS. Of course, many years ago. He was astonished to learn about the news of Le Corbusier´s buildings´ being rejected, and, as always, we began a discussion on it. He had the opportunity to visit some of Le Corbusier´s buildings, I hadn´t. So, I´m not saying anything, just partially reproducing the news from
¨An advisory body to UNESCO has counseled against registering 19 buildings designed by French architect Le Corbusier, including the National Museum of Western Art in Taito Ward, Tokyo, as world cultural heritage sites, it has been learned.
The recommendation was made by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a cultural conservation organization, the central government's Cultural Affairs Agency said Saturday.

Ville Savoye, in Paris. Photo by valueyou, at
Notre Dam, Ronchamp. From

It is the first time ICOMOS has given such advice about a World Heritage-nominated site in Japan. As for why the 19 buildings should not be registered, ICOMOS claimed they do not clearly "demonstrate remarkable universal significance of the modern architectural movement" and that "Le Corbusier was not the only architect who promoted the modern architectural movement, in which many architects participated."

ICOMOS suggested, however, that three of the buildings--Villa Savoye in Paris, a Unite d'Habitation housing development in Marseille, France, and the Notre Dame du Haut chapel in Ronchamp, France--be nominated individually as examples of masterful architecture.
The National Museum of Western Art could potentially be added to the World Heritage register, according to ICOMOS, as a building that "shows the exchange of values that greatly influenced the development of architecture."
Read the full article:

Monday, June 6, 2011

La historia del edificio oculto de Bodegas Trapiche, Mendoza, Argentina

Reproduzco esta historia de Sabrina Cuculiansky para La Nación Revista, porque me pareció interesante. He visitado Mendoza, hermosa provincia argentina, pero no he tenido oportunidad de visitar las bodegas, y por supuesto lo tengo pendiente.
Las dos primeras fotos pertenecen a La Nación Revista y el resto son de la página web de Trapiche.
¨En el año 2006, el director y enólogo de la bodega Trapiche, Daniel Pi, divisó a los lejos, desde la ruta, una formación que se diferenciaba del verde matorral de olivares que cubría un gran terreno sobre la calle Nueva Mayorga de Coquimbito, Maipú.
Cual aventurero, se abrió paso entre la mata y, 300 metros adentro del verde, descubrió una antigua construcción. Resultó ser una vieja bodega de 1912, construida por un italiano inmigrante, que hace más de medio siglo había quedado abandonada bajo el verde. Al despejar la zona y abrir las puertas se encontraron con un edificio intacto, munido de mobiliario y hasta de maquinarias sin uso. Tan importante había sido la casa, que contaba con una bifurcación de las vías del tren para que pasara por una estación propia y así se pudiese trasladar la uva con mayor brevedad.
Luego, tras varios años de puesta en valor, se convirtió en la nueva casa de Trapiche, donde la firma elabora sus vinos de alta gama. La obra que realizaron los arquitectos logró mantener la estructura original inspirada en el Renacimiento Italiano. La importante obra de ingeniería y creatividad funcional que puso en marcha aquel italiano, hoy puede verse resignificada en distintos puntos del edificio.
Dos grandes parcelas de viñedos acompañan la entrada del visitante y uno de ellos, de uva Malbec, sigue los lineamientos de la vitivinicultura biodinámica. Es por eso que, allí nomás, se divisan el lago y algunos gansos que deambulan por la gran finca.
Para el visitante resulta un imponente programa que ofrece remontarse al inicio de la actividad en el país, entender cuál es la realidad del vino argentino y dejarse llevar por las tendencias futuras a través de cada nueva propuesta en botella que lleva la marca de este clásico local.¨

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Design ideas for schoolyard transformation

Story  written by Shanti Menon.
In her new book Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation, Berkeley-based environmental planner Sharon Danks explores the ways in which landscape design, architecture, child development, and nutrition converge in the schoolyard. OnEarth sat down with Danks, whose firm, Bay Tree Designs, Inc, is helping redevelop some 29 San Francisco schoolyards, to talk about how communities are transforming the asphalt playgrounds of the past into green spaces conducive to better learning, eating, and playing.

Q. How have playgrounds changed since we were kids?
A. Playgrounds these days are influenced largely by liability concerns. Swings are disappearing, bars are getting lower, structures are becoming less challenging. My 4-year-old recently broke her arm on a play structure meant for 2 to 5-year-olds because she found it so boring. She was walking on the outside of the bridge and sliding down the handrail and fell off. These structures are so unchallenging that kids are making up their own activities, which are often 10 times more dangerous.
Q. What's your vision of a better playground?
A. We want to give kids something more than play structures and ball games. We call them "ecological schoolyards," environments that combine diverse ecosystems with varied play environments and hands-on learning experiences. Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, says that playgrounds based on ballgames and athleticism are home to more bullying. In more natural environments, it's less about who's the strongest and the fastest and more about using the imagination. It changes the dynamic of who's in charge. And there's less conflict because the kids aren't as bored.
Q. How can kids learn from playgrounds?
A. You can embed a curriculum into the landscape by allowing students to see natural systems as they function. So instead of studying a watershed in a book, for example, they can see rainwater falling off their roof into a pond. Most students would shrug if you asked them when it last rained, but here they can run to the window and see how dry the pond looks.
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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Interview with landscape architect Laurie Olin

Simon and Helen Director Park in Portland, OR. PHOTO: ZGF
Arch. Laurie Olin

Excerpts from the interview with landscape arch. Laurie Olin, author: Johanna Hoffman. For Planetizen.

Social issues play a big role in your work. What kind of process do you go through to spacialize social factors in a new project?

There's no specific process, really. The process of design is really all about asking yourself, "Where am I?" "What's the nature of the this place?" And the answer's always different.
A large part of designing is becoming a student of people. To design well you have to be interested in and learn about how people behave. For instance, humans really are the most devious and gregarious of the four great apes – the chimp, the gorilla and so on. We love to be together and watch other humans eat. So the work is in large part about designing nice places for those kinds of things to occur. Our designs are how we show what we've learned.

What are your most important goals in pursuing landscape architecture?

Well the first, to borrow a medical term, is 'do no harm.' No matter how you approach a project, you have to do what’s appropriate to the particular place and time.
And if we start to talk about social issues, we usually in this day and age start talking about sustainability. When we talk about sustainability we end up talking about ecology. So for me, landscape architecture, social issues, and the environment are all inseparable.(...)

One thing I've noticed about your designs is the way many of them feel as if they’ve been in place a long time, even if they're recent works. How do you think history influences your work?

History’s really a remarkable thing if you’re not afraid of it. If you don’t know your history you are an empty vessel. But if you do, you’re pretty well equipped for most things. Each phase of history lays down it’s view of the world in its respective layer; each generation has to be able to do so.
But in order to do your layer well, you better know the other layers. There’s no such thing as a blank slate. To do it well, knowing the history of the medium is essential.

How do you envision landscape architecture progressing in the future?

No one knows the answer to that question. The future is usually a certain extension of the present; in that way, a lot about the future is already here.
What’s certain is that we have a global environmental crisis, about water, air quality, loss of habitat. And it’s happening everywhere, especially in less wealthy nations. Population growth is exacerbating the issue.
These things lead to inevitable conflict, within and between societies, that are happening already. They also lead to extreme, unsustainable types of growth in cities. Right now, in China alone, there are over a dozen cities each larger than New York. People in those kinds of situation are now living in environments that don’t resemble traditional cities at all, that don’t provide for the functions that humans have required for generations.
The question of the present and future is what kind of people will those growing up in such environments be like? I think landscape architecture is a discipline that is and will continue to address those questions.

U.S. Embassy: studio amd

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Pictures from the Venice Biennale

At the Palazzo Grassi: Loris Gréaud's haunting creation, Gunpowder Forest Bubble
Mark Nelson installation at the British pavillion
Joana Vasconcelos's colourful work fills the atrium at the Palazzo Grassi. Entitled Contamination, it aims to echo the exhibition's focus on positive relationships between cultures
A column of smoke snakes heavenwards in Anish Kapoor's installation, Ascension. It's the first time the Basilica di San Giorgio in Venice has been used as the setting for a contemporary art piece
Jan Fabre's provocative sculpture depicts a skeletal Madonna holding a dead Christ. Entitled Sogno Compassionevole, it is part of the artist's Pietas exhibition
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