Posts Tagged ‘design’

h1

Architecture Monday

May 20, 2019

Old and new.  Molten aluminum and brick.  Perforations sprouting greenery.  Nestled between the historic and the imposing landscape.  An addition and refurbishment of an old convent-turned-museum along the northern coast of Spain.

A nice addition merging the historical with the new, with a bounty of marvelous detail work.  Great stuff.

San Telmo Museum by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos

h1

Architecture Monday

May 13, 2019

So this is nifty.  You’ve got these two former coal hopper warehouses that, while built by the same person, are not parallel (to better work with the incoming rail lines and turning radiuses).  They are big, made of brick, super solid, and full of arched loading bays that would be perfect to convert into stores.

Cool.  Now, you also want to include both indoor and outdoor event spaces and do something to unify the two buildings.  Hmm, what to do…  well, how about “pulling” the roof like taffy and have the buildings kiss?

Which turns out to be as equally impressive inside!

Lots of nice stuff here that builds upon all sorts of features that were already in place from the industrial days: the multiple ground planes, the train access bridges, the rugged and tactile brick, the Victorian ironworks.  All pulled together with additional bridges, lots of glass, and, of course, the twin ribbons hovering like magic over the new plaza.

Cool beans and a fabulous adaptive reuse project.  Coal Drops Yard by Heatherwick Studio

h1

Architecture Monday

May 6, 2019

Step yourself across the bridge, marveling at the captivating roof before heading down the entrance stair that bisects this island cabin.  Enter, nestle in, and enjoy.

Nestled itself into the surrounding landscape, the cabin follows the topography of the ground below, the floor raising and lowering as it spirals around a central hearth that sports built in furniture.  Warm wood frames it all, with a wood scrim wrapping on all sides (even above!) that filters light like the leaves on a tree.  At night, the cabin glows as a lantern.

Day or night, a cozy little retreat.  Nicely done.

The appropriately named House on an Island by Atelier Oslo

h1

Architecture Monday

April 29, 2019

Now this is a thing of sinuous beauty.  Four intersecting cylinders, shaped and carved by ellipses to form a striking curvaceous form, rendered all the more amazing by the fact that it’s all brick.  Jutting directly out of the water (a bridge is needed to access it it) it’s like an ancient landmass rising directly from the fjord.

The brickwork itself is amazing, custom glazed in hues that vary from the water towards sky, its regularity interrupted not only by the curving forms but also punctuated by special oversized (and circular!) bricks.  The windows and brick merge together to continue the forms, and the whole thing dances in its interactions with water and sky, light and shadow.

Inside, all those curving forms make for some lovely spaces that also boast views out of the great windows towards the city and landscape beyond.  And check out those details, like the circular elevator and wrap-around stair or the conference table with a chandelier that takes reflected sunlight and spreads it throughout the room.  Great stuff.

What a delightfully sculptural and sweet building.  Nicely designed to fill its role, a great mix of indoor and outdoor spaces and a fitting ambassador welcoming you to the city.

The Fjordenhus by Studio Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann.

Bonus video!

 

 

h1

Architecture Monday

April 22, 2019

Oh yeah!  An old Water Pumping Plant turned Artist Studios and guest house.  Lots of great stuff here, let’s dive right in…

The former pumping hall is a thing of beauty.  40+ feet high and with gorgeous and ginormous windows it’s perfect for a flexible studio.  To add even more flexibility, the old gantry crane has been repurposed to support a movable mezzanine deck that can used either for offices or to support and make the art below.  I love the studio’s minimal deco styling and the strong contrast of white and rich black.  And oh those tall and narrow windows, so elegant, lending a stately air as they pull the space heavenward and let light cast deep within.

As cool as that is, though, the reinhabited attic is divine.  Taking advantage of the original and expressive trusses (designed to allow the hall below to be column free), the lounge and attached guestroom calls to me to go and hang out.  With a few newly added windows it’s a different kind of soaring space than the studio below, the structure vaulting upward cathedral-like and creating a lively mix of light and shadow.

Great stuff, and awesome adaptive reuse.  And a lucky find for the artists!

Water Pumping Renovation by Wenk and Wiese Architects.

h1

Impressions of an Electric Car Driver (@ 1 yr)

April 21, 2019

The year sure has gone by quickly!  Yet here we are, one year of all-electric driving, both near and far.  Time to reflect anew!

The basics:

RWD long range version.  10,800 miles driven, with an average watt hours per mile of 210.  Maintenance has been zero except for a tire rotation.  Home base is in the SF Bay area.  Two long trips taken thus far (one to Reno, one to LA), with another upcoming.  And for reference sake, my previous car was a VW GTI VR6, which I liked a lot and drove for many years.

The super short answer:

I love it!

More detailed answer, starting with… Driving experience:

It’s great.  All I wrote about in my previous post still applies, the car is an absolute joy to drive and I still get noticeably jubilant while driving.  The sweet, smooth, powerful, and deliciously controllable electric drivetrain coupled with the car’s low centre of gravity make for a wonderful and potentially spirited driving experience.  And the precision, especially at slow speeds, makes both gnarly traffic and parking lot parkour a breeze.

I also very much enjoy the car’s quietness, gliding along residential roads or in lots without a constant wheeze in the background.  And while it was odd at first, I’ve come to appreciate the silence at stoplights.

Comfort wise, the car is a win as well.  At the end of both long trips I’ve felt much less stiff than I’m used to, a bonus due (I’m guessing) to the lack of constant engine vibration.  All around the car just feels good.

Range experience:

There is a shift in thinking that’s needed regarding electric cars.  I’ve had more than a few conversations with people that veered off into interesting directions until the new paradigm of “fueling” was understood:  the traditional notion of “fueling up” is only applicable, or a concern, on very long trips.  On a daily level, there is no such thing as “stopping for fuel.”  When I go to work, I plug in.  When I get home, I can plug in.  When I go to a store, often I can plug in.  What this means is that, without taking any more time out of my day or requiring that I drive to a specific location, my car is always at the ready.  At the daily recommended charge level for battery longevity I have around 270 miles of charge at my disposal.  I can, essentially, start each day “fully fueled”, and 270 miles can get me me pretty far out and back for a day trip.

So when it comes to the idea of “Range Anxiety”, I have none.  And this is with almost exclusively charging only while at work, sharing the charge port with two others.  I’ve only charged at home about 4 times (and even then using slow 120v charging).  The only time I even need to give serious thought to range is on those very long trips, and for that the onboard navigation/planner makes it simple.  Type in a destination, and it will tell me when, where, and for how long to stop at a supercharger.  Charging does take more time than gassing up at a traditional fuel station, but if you’re stopping for food anyway the time delta is not all that big.  And with the new superchargers set to roll out with double the charging speed that delta will decrease even further.

Ownership experience:

One of the nifty and still weird/need to get used to things about the car is the over the air updates.  Get in the car, get a notification, start the update, and ta-dah!  My car just got better.  In many ways, too:  added features (Free integrated dashcam!  Sentry mode!  Dog mode!  Atari games!), general UI improvements (I admit, I was weirdly overjoyed when I could set things to Celsius and 24h time), and, most crazily, in performance.  Extra power, extra regenerative braking, traffic awareness, and blind spot detection are all things I’ve gotten after an update.  An extra little dollop of range is even promised in an upcoming update.  That’s really cool!

Service appointments are practically zero, as there’s no maintenance on the car (the manual literally has only three service items on the schedule, which besides tire rotation is on a 2 year and 4 year timeframe) and when you do need one there is an easy online scheduling system.  Depending on the nature of the service Tesla will try to bring a mobile truck out to you.  This all adds up to super amounts of convenience, with less times I need to go out of my way to do a thing (gas, maintenance, etc) to keep the car running.  Overall the car is just cleaner and easier to own and operate.  And less expensive as well.  With the maintenance almost non-existent and the energy costs per mile lower, the car needs very little ongoing investment.

Right now the few times I’ve done home charging I’ve been on 120v power, but I’m getting a 240v outlet installed in the coming weeks.  That’ll be nice for two reasons, firstly for the quicker charging (24 miles every hour vs the 4 on 120v), and two, due to the higher voltage it’s more efficient, using less watt hours of energy per mile gained.

One niggle I do hope gets fixed in an update sometime is playback from a USB stick.  Right now it’s pretty hit or miss (without any pattern I’ve discerned) whether playback will resume upon re-entering the car.  Which is a bummer enough for music albums but would be really a pain for audiobooks or the like.  Fingers crossed.

Conclusion:

One year in, I’m still very much loving this car, and can’t see myself ever going back to owning an ICE unless the situation truly dictates it.  I’m sure I’ll still need to drive an ICE from time to time, either because I’ve rented a truck for hauling or a car for some super-long-fast or special kind of trip.  But I’ll probably be pining for mine the whole time.

Great car, and looking forward to many, many, many years of joyous driving with it.

Any questions or wonderings?  Feel free to ask away below.

h1

Architecture Monday

April 15, 2019

Notre Dame de Paris is burning.  I wish that was just a misquoted line from Disney’s version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, but it is not.  The famed cathedral caught fire today and much of it has burned.  The first looks inside are not promising; the stone remains, but many of the vaults have collapsed, many of the artworks and relics within have burned, the spire and roof are gone, and the wonderful stained-glass windows have mostly vanished (happy update: all three of the ginormous rose windows survived)(happy update 2: most of the stained glass has survived!).

Notre Dame in Paris was not the tallest (that would be Beauvais), nor the most carved (that would be Reims), nor the most luminous (that would be the Sainte Chapelle) nor the largest or most complete (that would both be Cologne).  All that meant nothing, however.  It was beloved, the world’s most famous cathedral, long residing at the heart of a vast, powerful, and magnificent city.  I had the fortune to visit the cathedral several times, including christmas eve, sitting in the pews with the architecture bathed in candle light, the windows lightly aglow, and the air filled with choir and pipe organs.  It was glorious.

Churches and cathedrals are often some of our first encounters with monumental architecture, spaces explicitly designed to (and given the opportunity to) evoke something within us just by being there.  The gothic tradition sought to do this through light, dissolving the solidity of the outer walls as much as possible to permit the largest windows possible.  Height was of equal importance, naves stretching heavenward, columns and ribbing arcing upwards to pointed arches and the iconic vaults.  Building technology was stretched to the limits, and new ideas like flying buttresses sprang forth to fulfil on the vision, while themselves being shaped and turned into iconic beauties of their own.  And then there was the art – carvings, statues, ornament, gargoyles, rose windows, stained glass, tile labyrinths, and the mighty pipe organ filling the whole of the church with its resonant sound, a music with no source that washes over you.  Step through the door and you feel it.

This is not the first time a cathedral has suffered a calamity (WW1&2 did a pretty good number on many of them), nor the first time Paris’ cathedral has found itself in dire straits.  The whole reason Victor Hugo wrote his most famous novel was as a call to arms to save the cathedral.  Entire chapters are devoted to the cathedral and architecture throughout Paris, and even a philosophical treatise on the nature of architecture itself (titled “This will kill that.”)  Hugo recognized the beauty of architecture, how it resonates within us.  And he was successful, with the novel causing a groundswell of newfound enthusiasm for the cathedral that it was restored.  Before today, the cathedral was once again in need of serious repair, and work had just begun (which may well turn out to be the cause, unfortunately, a construction accident).

But this tragedy has, like Hugo’s novel, focused attention on the cathedral once more.  Like the damages of WW2, or the never-ending construction of the Sagrada Familia, things will be rebuilt, repaired, and brought back into form.  Architecture is very much a part of people’s soul.  When it’s around day in and day out, it can be easy to take for granted, and we may not notice just how much it is a part of our soul, but it is.  And the soul can heal.

Below are some photos of my first trips to visit the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral in all their 35mm film ‘glory’.  They focus on the areas that were most affected by the fire today.  For some interior 360 shots, try here or here.