Helsinki Design Week

Today I went to The Helsinki Design Week Design Market in Kaapelitahdas. It’s billed as the largest design stock sale in the Nordics and its a great place to get a sense of what is going on in the Finnish Design scene. Mainly fashion and product design but food, interiors and jewellery etc was there to see and it was great to see how many future worldwide brands could be bubbling up here.

Read moreHelsinki Design Week

Week in review August 19th 2018

Sound Mirrors, Romney Marsh Photo by Tom Lee

Things I saw this week

  • Sound Mirrors of Romney Marsh (website and video) a form of early warning system against enemy aircraft rendered obsolete by the invention of radar in 1935.
  • I want this mug! (ember)
  • Nasa hosted a 3d-printed habitat competition for Mars (video) (via things)
  • My home town of Helsinki dropped off the top10 most liveable cities list down from 9th in 2017 to 16th in 2018. (ref) though I’m not too sure about how these things are calculated I think that they do give a good general indication. Although I would say I think you can potentially live anywhere being rich. I would love to see an index that attempts to show how well you can live in cities as your income goes up or down. Quality vs income then the gentler the slop up or down might indicate a better place to live.
  • Added Urbanfinland.com to my blog list in resources. Some great writing and research here by Timo Hämälainen. I hope to go over some of his ideas in a separate post soon.

My posts this last week

 

Stuffocation by James Wallman

The subtitle of this book is Living More with Less and its an examination of a post materialistic future for our society today.

Taking the book title of Stuffocation James Wallman shows that in developed economies we have started drowning in too much stuff. Then he looks at different movements and how they address this problem. From Minimalism, The Simple Life, The Medium Chill to the Experientialists. The experience economy and a new view of whats important in our lives is what this book finally comes out in favour of.

The Minimalists who cut out more and more ruthlessly their material possessions can maybe be a little to ascetic for James’ taste. The Simple Life followers who follow Henry David Thoreau who tells in his book Walden of getting back to nature for two years also comes up short, it’s often too hard, Thoreau himself only lasted two years and then went back to the city.

The medium chill a sort of midway between following a completely aspirational life and chilling out is what many people might be doing already and anyway it’s not that aspirational is it?

Experientialism is James Wallmans’ answer to the materialist society and the economic never ending chase of raising GDP and I think I agree and see something to be taken from all these ideas.

One thing that kind of rubs me though is that as an Architect it is easy to see a sort of minimal style that just drips opulence. This shows itself in interior design, art, fashion and I think I detect it also in some of the minimal lifestyle guru set.  It’s rather easier to cut out the things you own if your socks count as one thing or you ripped all your cd’s and dvd’s to your laptop. If you only own three sets of 250 dollar jeans, and can buy another in a heartbeat,  how is that not fully partaking in materialistic Western society? This type of minimalism somehow doesn’t seem that much more than a different type of ostentation, one that leverages the feel good factor of youtube and facebook as you sit atop your influencer network while sipping your fruitshake on a Bali beach (Instagram moment!). The book to be fair does touch on this subject but only just in passing.

I do also see the point in a kind of empowering minimalism when it comes to personal finance. Mr. Money Moustache to take one example shows a way of looking at finances and savings, possessions and even experiences which I think can really empower people. Again this personal finance side of the coin is not touched on in the book.

So overall I really like Stuffocation and it does really make you think about your life and provide a jumping point for further reading and maybe action in your own life. You should definitely read it, but just don’t stop there!

Further Reading:

 

Mimoa 2.0

Mimoa has been around for a while, it’s a great resource for finding good modern architecture anywhere in the world and is the first site I go to when planning to visit a new city. So this morning when I signed up for the office architectural trip in the spring I saw that they are running a kickstarter campaign to raise money to update the site.

Also I saw John Hill over at DDA posting about their campaign so I put in a pledge. With crowd sourced photos, reviews and project information it harks back to a more open time on the web. It’s become a great took for anyone interested in Architecture while travelling, but it is not optimised for mobile and nowadays thats of primary importance, so they need money to redevelop the site for mobile first.

Here is a guide I made for a trip to Berlin a few years ago. Please go to the kickstart page and support Mimoa 2.0

Week Update 18.11

The story of 666 Fifth Avenue the New York Skyscraper that might help bring down the Kushners. Finland tops 2018 UN global happiness index (up from 5th last year) good job since I live in Finland! Kottke is 20, looking forward to the next 20 Jason. The Portland Building a Postmodern posterboy back in the day is getting refurbished, I have never understood why this building is famous….Also RIP Stephen Hawking.

Week Update 18.10

MIT releases A/V lecture material for a bunch of courses including Architecture. A new 6 storey high vertically stacked school by Hayball in South Melbourne looks great with other community services in the ground floor this is the way many better designed schools end up looking at the moment, like community hubs. Rent an Architect designed house at Living Architecture (via things). Some awards have been handed out for 2018 Balkrishna Doshi wins the Pritzker prize this year, the first Indian to do this. Peruvian Architect Sandra Barclay is Woman Architect of the Year and Gloria Cabral from Paraguay is emerging Woman Architect of the Year a nice summary of their work can be found here.

Week Review 6

Soviet era miners' cable car

Chiaturas’ extreme geography made the use of a cable car system widespread. Since the 50’s this soviet era system hasn’t had much work done on it.

In central Turkey, an ancient people dug, over 200 underground cities. The deepest of these, under the present day town of Derinkuyu, goes over 250 feet below the Earth’s surface.

Ross Langdon RIP.

The Brutalist masterpiece that is Preston Bus Station has gotten a reprieve from being knocked down.

Another post looking at mapping the age of buildings in different cities, a good overview here.

Week Review 5

De Karel Doorman

Ibelings Van Tilburg has reused an old Department store due to be demolished as a plinth for a new housing hi-rise in Rotterdam. It’s a Densification, mixed use project that is very compelling, perhaps even a little controversial, read more with this nice write-up by Anneke Bokern in Uncube.

If you are walking in London watch out for the Walkie-Scorchie otherwise known as 20 Fenchurch Street by Rafael Viñoly building which can melt cars developers have blamed the problem on “the current elevation of the sun in the sky

Engineers will construct a mile-long ice wall around the Fukushima nuclear plant in an attempt to stop the continuing leak of radioactive water, and set to cast a cool $320 million.

Anyone who in their job has to use some sort of CAD tool will know how the complexities of the interface make for a frustrating block to the flow of design thinking and conceptualizing. You have to concentrate on mastering the interface at the expense of understanding and designing the thing in question. Elon Musks video showing a little of what they are doing at SpaceX hints at the exciting, intuitive future of CAD. (via)

Week Review 4

amsterdam_bydatebuilt

The above picture is of Amsterdam with the buildings coloured by date of construction. A dataset of 9,866,539 buildings to come up with this amazing map. It is a mesmerizing experience and informative, Rotterdam bombed by the Nazis in WWII is light blue compared to the red of Amsterdam which wasn’t bombed. (via)

How do you get rid of a listed building when you are redeveloping? Add a new elevation and ‘partially demolish it’ as is the case in my hometown of Edinburgh with the old Scottish Provident building on St. Andrews Square. It’s a beautiful 60’s building in its own right and in context I agree with Malcolm Fraser. Keep it.

UCL’s New Hall Housing a student apartment block in London had won this years Carbuncle Cup in the UK. An award for the worst building. Why is it so bad, well read this article on the Guardian about it. Cheap, ugly,designed to maximise paid student numbers  cramming them together like battery hens. Not only this but like in the example in Edinburgh above planning regulations have been bent and floated cynically. A deserved winner.

Scottish Castles are cheaper than New York Apartments, is this really a surprise? What are the three rules of Property development again? Location, Location, Location.