The mother of all CAD People

•September 18, 2007 • 3 Comments

At this year’s Documenta, paintings from the Argentinian artist Léon Ferrari have been exhibited, also this one:

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Passarelas, 1981, copyright by Léon Ferrari

A friend of mine, Johan, took on his visit in Kassel this close-up picture of it:

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I was quite surprised to see the classic top view people in there that you can find in so many AutoCAD libraries:

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Interestingly, the first AutoCAD-Version has been published 1982.

So, the question here is:

Did Ferrari allow the reproduction, or even produce those figures for AutoCAD, or, in the early days of CAD-software without extensive block libraries, did someone redraw those people from above and they spread to uncountable computers in offices and universities all over the world?

What do you think? Or, is there a well-known story behind it such as the Utah teapot that I just don’t know?

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Architecture from, of, or for the Future?

•September 12, 2007 • 1 Comment

In 1995, a Cartoon Series called Aeon Flux was broadcasted on MTV. The background story is that a virus killed 99,9 % of the earth’s population, the survivors live in the ‘perfect society’, in the clean, organized and totally controlled cities of Bregna and Monica.

Ten years later, and with a slightly different plot, a movie was made based on the comic series. Besides the fact that I consider the movie stands in no comparison to the original comic series, let’s take a look at the interesting facts about that movie from an architect’s point of view:

It is not the story, nor any effects, it is what is shown in the movie, and how.

The movie takes place in the year 2415 in the city of Bregna, sealed off from its environment, where nature has taken over again:

wall, view from above and model

…while the movie was actually shot in Berlin! When watching the flick for the first time, I got distracted by parts of buildings that where shown which I am familiar with. So I put together the buildings I know are being shown in the movie. It is quite fascinating to see how they use (and thus reprogram) representational Berlin buildings, some of the already 50 years old, as (rather important) buildings of their fictional, futuristic society .

Let’s continue with that thought:

Does that either mean those buildings are suitable for a clean, suppressed, strictly organized and watched society, or does it mean they are so super-hip, futuristic and sustainable that even in the year 2145 their style is still up to date? Or does reality meets fiction here in every sense?

I put some of the examples from the real world together with the movie situations:

The Bauhaus Archive by Walter Gropius:

A museum(top) …. and a housing block(bottom): Did you notice the ‘balconies’ with flowerbeds to the right?

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The Park of Sanssouci in Potsdam (top), and Bregna(bottom):

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The Mexican Embassy in reality (top) and in the movie (bottom):

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The Conference and Exhibition Hall ‘House of the cultures of the World’ (top), and the Bregna surveillance system headquarters,

even with a scene on the curved roof:

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the original building just re-opened after renovation. In Berlin, it has the Nickname ‘Klappstulle (=sandwich) or ‘Schwangere Auster'(=Pregnant oyster).

I didn’t see that coming….

And, finally, my macabre favorite:

The Crematorium in Treptow (top) by Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank functions as the seat of Bregna’s council!

treptow02.jpg

It also has some exterior shots, but I couldn’t find the right equivalent from the real world. There are probably even more buildings, and also some more interiors which are probably scattered all over Berlin.
I found it rather interesting how, detached from its surroundings and only shown from a certain angle, buildings can be placed in a totally different time, program, and even style.
If you have any more of them, let me know! And if you’re planning to watch it: Go for the cartoon first and enjoy!

Battlestar Galactica

•August 30, 2007 • 1 Comment

This is an experimental short animation I did for my thesis, ‘Architecture and Digital Media’. The basis for this is a parametric simulation to test different versions of density, nesting and overlapping. The simulation gave out a series of blocks that where exported to a 3D Program, where they got transformed into their negative form to create that superstructure in the video. The idea is to see how abstract parametric results can be developed further and translated into architecture. In this case, the translation aimed at directly translating a random dense structure into a spatial context.

The experiment ended with the result that, a simulation such as this is lacking information for direct translation, it leaves too much space for interpretation. There are some interesting details in it, but it cannot be read as architecture yet. Process is still going on, I keep you posted!

A tribute to….

•August 30, 2007 • 2 Comments

…architecture representing the image of Socialism and Communism. Is it too early to think about soviet architecture and the like as retro, Is it wrong to detach the architecture from its political background to be able to appreciate the architectural language?

well, I think even though some of the buildings do look rather scary, they offer quite interesting details. As a person who grew up in a Western Country, I can perceive such architecture, or the image of if, disconnected to any kind of political regime. I suppose that doesn’t work for those who grew up in such an environment and state, or at least it’ll take some more years until people are able to appreciate the architecute without seeing it as a symbol for the system it represented.

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Frederic Chaubin took this and more great pictures on his trip around the world, documenting architecture. More pictures such as this one by and an interview with him can be found in the Japanese pingmag here .

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On the other hand, I guess the 60s and 70s brought us interesting superstructures on a worldwide level

Thinking about buildings as the Berlin Convention Center ICC, that greatly resembles Battlestar Galactica in the city:

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If you have any more of those buildings, no matter where, let me know or link it in the comments!

Constant and vision vs. reality

•August 22, 2007 • 4 Comments

This one is more or less the sequel to the post I wrote about huge experimental or just practical dwelling projects: a tribute to the Utopian urban and architectural ideas and visions from the 60s and 70s and what happened to them from a contemporary point of view. I found this principle here:

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and immediately thought of Constant and his New Babylon:

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The so called Metastadt structure is a steel frame structure that can be assembled in many ways and built almost unlimited structures. The 70s-style round-edged frames can be filled with wall-pieces, windows, or nothing, thus being living space, storage, office, or balcony / terrace.

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But what’s the Metastadt’s big difference to Constant’s vision? It became real!
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There was a first test version in Munich, and after that, this structure has been built in Wulfen as well.

Unfortunately, it had to be demolished due to serious material and therefore structural damage and decay, already 15 years after it had been built.

Still though, I very interesting approach, and a shame that it got demolished, it would be interesting to find out how it worked or works from an architectural, social and urban point of view.

What other structures, visions and ideas of the 60s and 70s became – partially or completely – real and what happened to them?

Flaws of the past

•August 20, 2007 • 1 Comment

An article I found here (German only) discusses the situation and future of (Plattenbauten) dense dwellings out of prefabricated concrete slabs built in the 60s and 70s in Western Germany.
Even though in the former GDR, the amount of those buildings, the decreasing material quality etc. produced an image for the whole country, but also in the Western part, those ‘worker’s lockers’ have been built, with from an contemporary point of view, the same mistakes, and the same result.
there are some really interesting videos up showing both Western and Eastern projects.
This one is from the Eastern city of Schwedt, which lost nearly half of its inhabitants after the wall came down:

While this one is a documentary about the new concept of constructing a complete New City in the Coal mining Ruhr area, called New City Wulfen. Unfortunately, it is only in German, but if you do understand it, you sure will have to laugh at some of the ad-style, enthusiastic comments they have on that super-modern way of living and building:

On the other hand, it indeed has some interesting experimental thoughts on how to generate a city:
1. There is only one TV-Antenna that was supposed to serve for all the 10.000 households, not to disturb the image of the city by a forest of antennas on the roof ad provide constant good reception for everybody.

2. The only energy source the new city has is electricity. Therefore, there are no chimneys, no pollution.
3. the city works completely without traffic lights, the streets are organized in a honeycomb-way with regular street rules. Footpathes cross the streets by tunnels or bridges, so even for that, no traffic light is needed.

4. Even in the late 60’s, the architects were trying to learn from mistakes from early Plattenbau projects by designing a diverse appearance of the large otherwise rather monotonous blocks and creating a mixture of different types and sizes of apartments to create a mixture of inhabitants.

Also interesting is the reason for its continuous failure:
The coal mine didn’t succeed and only created 450 jobs. The city which was supposed to have 50.000 or more inhabitants by 1990, today, there are 11.000 people living there.
Thus, the whole prediction and success of project was so dependent on the development of one economical foundation, that as this parameter vanished, the whole project failed. Still, I think it would be interesting to know, “What if….”

Find out more about Wulfen and other Western and Eastern German Plattenbau-Siedlungen on youtube:

Keywords:
Neue Stadt Wulfen, Plattenbau, Schwedt, Hellersdorf, Marzahn, Märkisches Viertel

Living in Space

•August 11, 2007 • 1 Comment

This one I also don’t want you to miss out:

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As a result o Sputnik Shock and Space Age, the NASA also researched on the idea of living in space, setting up colonies.

The pictures of a summer study project form the 1970’s are on the webpage in high resolution. Besides the fact that those pictures are beautifully drawn, from an architectural point of view, they also contain a lot of interesting facts.

First of all, the houses shown in those pictures remind me more of Bauhaus, or in general, modern style rather than the cliché American homes you would expect:
Space Age Bauhaus

Also, taking a closer look at the agricultural sector of the colony….MVRDV also did this once, calling it Datatown:

Well, this is the space colony piled up and organized food production, and MVRDV’S Datatown:

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Anyways, check out this beautiful drawings and tell me what you think!