Tag Archives: architecture

The Digital Cloud

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I’m way too busy to blog this properly, but you must read about this. There is a new project from an international team of architects and designers to create a giant floating connected and publicly accessible cloud in the London skies. The project will be sponsored on a donation basis, which has some chances of failing, but then again, could inspire some rich pockets if they get sufficiently inspired by it.

The construction would include 120m- (400ft-) tall mesh towers and a series of interconnected plastic bubbles that can be used to display images and data. The Cloud, as it is known, would also be used an observation deck and park.

Its designers plan to raise the funds to build it by asking for micro-donations from millions of people.”It’s really about people coming together to raise the Cloud,” Carlo Ratti, one of the architects behind the design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) told BBC News. “We can build our Cloud with £5m or £50m. The flexibility of the structural system will allow us to tune the size of the Cloud to the level of funding that is reached.”

‘Data streams’

The Cloud was shortlisted in a competition set-up by London Mayor Boris Johnson. The structure draws on work by artist Tomas Saraceno, a German-based designer who has previously shown off huge inflatable sculptures.

The Cloud infographic

It is envisaged that the spheres would be made of a plastic known as Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), the material used to build the Beijing Aquatic Centre. The different spheres would act as structural elements, habitable spaces, decoration and LCD screens on which data could be projected.

“We could provide a custom feed of…searches made by Londoners during the Olympics to give a real time ‘barometer’ of the city’s interests and mood,” said Google, one of the supporters of the project, which has also offered to provide the information feeds.Ramps, stairs and lifts would carry people to the top of the structure to look out over the city.

‘Zero power’

The inflatable elements of the building would sit on top slender, lightweight towers, stabilised by a net of metal cables. Damping technology, similar to that used in Japanese skyscrapers to resist earthquakes, would prevent the towers being buffeted by the wind.

The structure would also be used to harvest all the energy it produces according to Professor Ratti. “It would be a zero power cloud,” he said. As well as solar cells on the ground and inside some of the spheres, the lifts would use regenerative braking, similar to that in some hybrid cars. That way, the designers say, potential energy from visitors to the top of the tower can be harnessed into useful electricity.

The team have launched a fundraising website called raisethecloud.org and are now looking for a site for the tower.

 

The internet of buildings

The concept of the Internet of Things is probably one of  the interesting ones as far as technology innovation having a direct effect on our lifestyles. Yang Soo-In presents how the interconnectedness of things can apply to buildings and cities thus creating interactive living urban spaces. The technology is based rougly on sensors installed into the building structures and being able to communicate between one another about anything from traffic jams to pollution levels.

246 meters of boredom

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For a few weeks now every time I dip in and out of the Spitalfields area I cast a suspicious look towards another body growing inside the City. I first realised that something was going on when looking out of a shop window in Commercial St. Confused and aggrevated that the city dared to develop without my knowledge, I pointed to the structure and asked ‘what’s that?’. ‘What?’ the shop keeper reponded. ‘That, the big fat building growing over there (some more pointing here). Don’t you know what it is?’. By now the somewhat intimidated Japanese shop keeper shook her head and upon a silent sigh I moved on to obiediently look at another dress.

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The phantom building turned out to be Heron Tower, which is set to dominate the City skyline by 2011. With 246 meters in height the Heron Tower by the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates will be 47 floors tall and is already growing at an impressive rate of one floor a week. Sadly, I find this building to be somewhere between boring and offensive. Do we really need another rectangular looking skyscraper in this part of the city? I’ve looked at the views, read the reviews, but I just can’t seem to get the point. What you can see below is the only decent looking view of the tower I could find.

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Meanwhile, the construction of the Shard is set to begin as the year-long demolition and site preparation saga around London Bridge has finished now. The Middle Eastern consortium behind the project signed a £400m construction contract with the Mace Group and works on the building’s base will begin next month.

Bending spaces

I have recently come across a wave of artists who have created something of an art form that is a fusion between illusion, graffiti, and architecture. Georges Rousse, Felice Varini, and Julian Beever are some of the most prominent illusionists in the sphere of anamorphic art. They create illusions of objects by painting in interiors, on streets, and pavements. The illusions are visible only from specific angles and disappear if they are distorted.

Sketch away!

I watched ‘Sketches of Frank Gehry’ a while back and just wanted to throw the film’s thread a little further. It’s directed by Sydney Pollack, who as a friend of Gehry’s, gives the movie a pleasant casual flair. The work offers an insight into the life and mind of one of architectural geniuses of our age and bounces you from the personal insecurities to the grandness of his creativity. A must see.