Seawall Psychology

The Times reports on a poignant and devastating psychology associated with the hundreds of sea walls erected along the coast of Japan. Residents of towns near the walls were so comfortable and confident of their ability to repel tsunamis that some actually ran toward the walls once the alert was sounded, to see them in action.

This relationship between infrastructure and safety, or certainty is one that is characteristic of all infrastructure, and why disasters that precipitate or accompany the failure of infrastructure can be all the more painful.

Qatar Clouds

Qatar have developed artificial clouds to provide shade for stadiums and training grounds at the 2022 World Cup. The extreme heat in summer months in the Middle Eastern country has led to concern about conditions at the tournament, with some suggesting it should be played in the winter. Qatar say they will air condition the stadia via solar power and now scientists at Qatar University have designed the ‘cloud’ which can be produced at a cost of US $500,000 (£310,000) each.

Saud Abdul Ghani, head of the mechanical and industrial engineering department, told Gulf News the ‘clouds’ are made from a lightweight carbon structure carrying a giant envelope of material containing helium gas.

Four solar powered engines move the structure via remote control.

Via the Daily Mail

What is a Park?

Archinect has posted an interesting article and interview with Gerdo Aquino, president and principal of SWA Los Angeles studio, on the double status that parks have as landscape, and alos as infrastructure. Worth a read. Archinect.

Bracket [goes soft]

“Signal Spaces: New York’s Soft Frequency Terrains”, an article by Michael Chen with maps and visualizations by Michael and Justin Snider will be featured in the forthcoming Bracket, Issue #2 edited by Benjamin Bratton, Julia Czerniak, Jeffrey Inaba, Geoff Manaugh, Philippe Rahm, Charles Renfro, as well as co-editors Lola Sheppard and Neeraj Bhatia.

Bracket 2 will be published by Actar and designed by Thumb.


Brooklyn Bridge Park Solar Charging Station

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s electric powered vehicles can now use a solar charging station (see two of them getting juiced up in the photo) donated to the Park by Brooklyn-based Beautiful Earth Group, a sustainable energy company. This is the first solar powered vehicle charging station in New York City.

Rehabilitation Greenhouses

The Times reports on Arthur & Friends, a program that trains developmentally disabled workers to grow pristine, sustainable produce for restaurants and farmers’ markets.

From the article:

“The program has received more than 100 inquiries from organizations in New Jersey and across the country, including Detroit; Birmingham, Ala.; Jackson, Wyo.; and Kealakekua, Hawaii. Also kicking the tires have been the William J. Clinton Foundation and representatives of Jon Bon Jovi, who sponsors affordable housing for AIDS patients in Newark. Sir Richard Branson, who is constructing a Virgin Spa in Peapack, checked out the greenhouse in Sussex County, at the New Jersey State Fair Grounds in Augusta, last year. Over the last four months, revenues from each greenhouse has averaged $1,500 a week, “which is profitable,” Mrs. Blanchard said. Profits are reinvested. The program has applied for grants to establish greenhouses at veterans’ hospitals for disabled military personnel and hopes to establish greenhouses at schools to train developmentally disabled students and to teach healthy eating.

And along with the greenhouse here and the one in Sussex County, there is the Arthur & Friends Urban Greenhouse and Training Center in Orange, in more densely populated Essex County.

‘I thought it would also be perfect for urban areas, where there are so many unemployed people, especially ex-offenders and disabled veterans,” said Lorraine Gibbons, coordinator of the year-old, 1,800-square-foot Orange greenhouse, which has trained 10 ex-offenders, two of them veterans. “The idea is to keep the entire cycle in the urban community, growing food in the neighborhoods, distributing it there and selling it there.’ The operation has sold to Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan, along with New Jersey restaurants and a farmer’s market in Newark.”

Crime, Organized

Wired has published a piece and interactive feature on transnational global crime, suggesting that organized crime is in fact, the world’s largest social network.

Next Stop Atlantic

Stephen Mallon’s photographic series Next Stop Atlantic documents the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s recycling program which disposes old subway cars into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Since the 1600′s man has artificially created reefs. The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s recycling program has been involved for the past decade, retiring over 2500 subways cars to the ocean to help rebuild underwater reefs along the eastern seabed. These are my images, seconds before these mass transit vessels join history in building homes for life under the sea.”

Via Public School.

Recompose Surface

‘Recompose’ is a project from the MIT Media Lab, consisting of 120 physical tiles, mounted on small rods that rise or sink in response to user input as on a typewriter. In addition to responding to direct presses, however, the keys of ‘recompose’ also react to gestural input,
such that moving one’s fingers over keys or making the gesture of pulling up or pushing down will cause the same effect.

The device currently recognizes five kinds of user behaviour: ‘selection’ involves the projection of light onto the device’s surface; the ‘actuation’ gesture will raise the selected keys;
and ‘translation’, ‘rotation’, and ‘scale’ interactions all modify the selected input accordingly.

Not merely a user interface, ‘recompose’ can also be used for visualization, such as the three-dimensional display of graphs, or the representation of the relative ‘pressure’ of user gestural input. Because it is at once input and output device, ‘recompose’ offers completely new modes of visualization functionality, such as the ability to transform via gestures three-dimensional changes in the surface.
although for the current model, this can produce only the scaling, rotation, and other manipulations of simple shapes, one can easily imagine the ways in which a more finely detailed surface might provide three-dimensional interactive visualizations of modeling projects, CAD designs, or other visual and infographic data.

via designboom

311 Complaint Map

New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications releases the 311 Online Service Request Map, which provides a window into what people are complaining about, and where. Users can browse “location-specific information about 311 complaints across 15 major categories, including air and water quality, construction, noise, quality of life, snow, streets and sidewalks, transit and parking.” The map is updated with new complaints every 24 hours.

Egypt and the Off Switch

The Times reports today on the mechanisms, and network structures that enabled the Mubarak regime to effetively throw the off switch on the internet in the runup to the outer of the president. “…Lost in the swirl of revolution was the government’s ferocious counterattack, a dark achievement that many had thought impossible in the age of global connectedness. In a span of minutes just after midnight on Jan. 28, a technologically advanced, densely wired country with more than 20 million people online was essentially severed from the global Internet.”

“Because the Internet’s legendary robustness and ability to route around blockages are part of its basic design, even the world’s most renowned network and telecommunications engineers have been perplexed that the Mubarak government succeeded in pulling the maneuver off.”

The Energy Report

OMA/AMO has launched The Energy Report, a comprehensive study developed by the WWF, AMO and Ecofys claiming that the world can be 100 percent reliant on renewable energy by 2050.

via The report proposes to address the urgent problems caused by looming climate change and dwindling fossil fuel supply through its assertion that by 2050, the world’s energy needs could be met entirely by renewable sources. It outlines an ambitious energy saving scenario as the first step toward an energy system in which fossil fuels are gradually replaced by wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and sustainable forms of bio-energy.

The aim of the report is to inspire governments and businesses to understand the challenges associated with this shift and, at the same time, to encourage them to move boldly to bring the renewable economy into reality. By demonstrating the advantages of global cooperation and the deeper integration of global energy infrastructure, The Energy Report shows that the benefits of a transition to renewable energy far outweigh the challenges.

AMO’s contribution to the report, led by Partner Reinier de Graaf and Associate Laura Baird, both conceptualizes and visualizes the geographic, political, and cultural implications of a 100 percent renewable energy world. AMO draws a vision of a world without borders in which all continents have equal access to sustainable energy.

Reinier de Graaf said: “The Energy Report is the first of its kind to claim the technical possibility of a global renewable energy supply by 2050. Through the realization that future energy provision really is a universal issue which must be addressed at a global scale, we have developed a new perspective on the world.”

The project builds on two foundational AMO projects on large scale renewable energy planning:Zeekracht, a plan made in 2008 for a ring of offshore wind farms in the North Sea, and Roadmap 2050, proposing a decarbonized European power sector by 2050, which was launched in April 2010.

The Energy Report will launch globally today. More information on the project, as well as the full report, is available here.

Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space – Book Launch

Paola Antonelli and Hadas Steiner in conversation with Mark Shepard

Friday, February 11, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

McNally Jackson Books.

52 Prince Street, New York, NY.

To mark the publication of Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space (The Architectural League/MIT Press), a book of case studies and essays based on the League’s fall 2009 exhibition, Toward the Sentient City curated by Mark Shepard and organized by theArchitectural League of New York.

Paola Antonelli and Hadas Steiner join the book’s editor and exhibition curator Mark Shepard for a conversation on the history and future of architecture and design exhibitions.

Wireless Charging and Data Transfer

via mocoloco: At CES eCoupled presented its resonant magnetic induction system to charge everything from laptops to electric vehicles (see Tesla below) without physical contact. The company claims 98 percent efficiency and the system is capable of transfering data. You’ve got to love the charging Tesla. More from eCoupled.

Landscape Futures Super-Workshop

Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG recently convened a Landscape Futures Super-Workshop in LA with a fantastic lineup of participants. Smout Allen, David Benjamin, and the Arid Lands Institute were joined in this collaborative, multi-institutional undertaking by:

—David Gissen, California College of the Arts/Author of Subnature: Architecture’s Other Environments (
—Matthew Coolidge and Sarah Simons, Center for Land Use Interpretation (
—Christopher Hawthorne, Architecture Critic, Los Angeles Times (
—Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse, Smudge Studio/Friends of the Pleistocene(
—Ed Keller, AUM Studio/Parsons, New School for Design (
—Liam Young, Architectural Association/Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today (
—Alex Robinson, Office of Outdoor Research (
—Emily White and Lisa Little, Layer (
—Nicola Twilley, Edible Geography/GOOD (
—Christian Chaudhari (
—Tim Maly, Quiet Babylon (

Geoff’s original post includes a great listing of films and texts as well.

For a project at the Bartlett School of Architecture’s Unit 11, presented and discussed at the Landscape Futures Super-Workshop, Rina Kukaj explored a series of aerial landscapes—a “purification blanket”—that would act as a distributed atmospheric filter for the city.

Nassiriyah Truck Stop

Located on a desolate and dusty plane near the ancient Ziggurat of UR, the NassiriyahTruck Stop is proposed as a modern day oasis along one of Iraq’s most dangerous highways.  The project is intended to become an economic seed for the local community by proving space and microfinance grants for family-owned businesses, as well as vital services and supplies for Iraq’s trucking community.

The project’s distinctive modular steel canopy is designed with both economy and efficiency in mind.  Each module can be pre-assembled offsite and bolted together in the field.  By combining inverted and regular pyramidal modules, the design is able to create a compound span capable of clearing 17 meters from inexpensive lightweight steel members.

Architects: New World Design LLC
Location: Ur, Dhi Qar, Iraq

via archdaily

Immersve Kinematics

Immersive Kinematics is a Research Group at the University of Pennsylvania directed by professors Simon Kim and Mark Yim. This group is a collaboration between Penn Engineering and Penn Design and expands the roles of architecture and engineering focusing on integrating robotics, interaction, and embedded intelligence in our buildings, cities, and cultures. The group offers a class teaming architecture and engineering students in mechatronic projects.

Thermosensitive Bench

NunoErin, of thermosensitive furniture renown, have created a pair of interactive benches for the new Mississippi Children’s Museum.Made of translucent resin, sensors, and LEDs, the benches are part of an interactive installation that teaches children about electrical storms. According to NunoErin, “the Lighting Benches take us on a sensorial journey into the heart of an electrical storm. Each bench is portrayed as a bolt of lightning that strikes the ground with fractured yet symmetrical geometry.”

via mocoloco

Tomas Saraceno at Tanya Bonakdar

November 4 – December 18, 2010

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery presents Tomas Saraceno’s third major solo exhibition of new work at the gallery, Clouds Cities, Connectome. His visionary project promotes the construction of an alternate means of co-habitation, one that literally rises above contemporary debates often politicized by borderlines and national identity. Saraceno defies natural restrictions on what we currently perceive social habitat to be, and proposes a more sustainable and renewable global territory that will rise up in the sky to be borne on the winds. While exploring alternative means of intercultural, international and interdisciplinary space, his architecture of connectivity provokes engagement between individuals while underscoring a mutual interdependence on sustainable natural resources.

521 West 21st St
Tues-Sat, 10am-6pm

Supermarket Models and Logistical Empires

Writer Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing is making the rounds talking about supermarkets as an endangered model and potential breakdown to global logistical empires like the food supply chain and supermarket-ism in the face of peak oil and population growth among other factors.

See his reporting on NPR and in Foreign Policy this month.

And of course I’m reminded of a couple of our favorite television commercials


The Parklands, South Bank, Brisbane, Australia, has played host to Lightwave, a sensory light installation at the Unlimited festival. At 10m x 16m x 5.5m, Lightwave is not just a sculpture or an art piece, but an object that can be interacted with, like a large animated toy or hybrid living creature—glowing and pulsing by the river. The design by  was intended to provoke conversations about using contemporary parks as a performative public space. By offering a new and unexpected experience between people and the object (displayed art), or between nature and the (artificial) object, Lightwave responds in a purposefully dynamic and playful way, engaging and inviting public participation. The object is responsive to the new environment, therefore generating a new pattern into the place and time.  More explanation and photographs of Lightwave following the break.

via Archdaily

Latent City

The Video of Yaohua Wang‘s fantastic thesis project, “Latent City” which received Sci-Arc’s Thesis award. The project tracks a post industrial infrastructural shift within a new city in China. The project unfolds through a cinematic scenario with information on the project embeded within the narrative, including dimensions of political intrigue and infrastructural logics.

Server “Farm”

via The Architect’s Newspaper: Data centers are notorious energy-gobblers. They account for 23 percent of carbon emissions from global information and communications technology, according to research firm Gartner, and they claim about 1.5 percent of total electricity usage in the U.S. Much of this consumption comes from cooling the space used to house data servers, so the Yahoo Computing Coop, as the company calls it, mimics long, narrow industrial chicken coops designed to improve natural airflow.

Parametric Visualizations

Below are some really great parametric data visualization projects taken from


The Geotaggers’ World Atlas

A Day of Muni

Data Visualization of a Social Network