Joop de Boer

Joop de Boer is web editor at Archis and Volume.


1000 Buildings from 100 Years of American Architecture History

Posted on November 4, 2013 — by

At the upcoming 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, the United States pavilion will set the stage for OfficeUs, a project by New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture and PRAXIS. OfficeUs provides an intellectual sandbox to understand the past and future ways in which every architecture office, big and small, corporate and ‘avant-garde’, contributes to the global architectural unconscious of economic, social and political forms. Last week the project was announced with a big bang during a press conference in New York.

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Inspired by Vacancy

Posted on August 26, 2013 — by

During the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010, Amsterdam-based design studio Rietveld Landscape successfully showed the world that thousands of inspiring public buildings in the Netherlands lay vacant. Many of these buildings have great potential, but focusing on re-development would be a long and difficult process. The real chances are in extreme temporary use, but the legal circumstances in the Netherlands are not fit for temporary use of buildings. After the Vacant NL exhibition, Rietveld Landscape continued their research on vacancy with a two-year long master program called Studio Vacant NL, that was organized in collaboration with the Sandberg Institute. Last month the program came to an end with a graduation exhibition in Amsterdam, which featured projects by seven master students.

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Volume #36

An Introduction to Designer Bullshit

Posted on June 24, 2013 — by

Designer Bullshit

Volume’s 36th issue will shed a light on architecture criticism. While the architecture discipline is changing slightly, also the way the discipline should be criticized changes…

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Internet of Things Awards 2011

Posted on January 5, 2012 — by

The Internet of Things (IoT) has witnessed a big break-through in 2011. With our wonderful Volume #28: Internet of Things, we have done our part of the job to understand the impact of this new technological frontier for urban life. Therefore it is interesting to start this year with a retrospective to the projects that shaped the development of the Internet of Things in 2011. IoT website Postscapes presents the Internet of Things Awards 2011, let’s say the Oscars for geeks. Over 100 projects have been sent in and over 16,000 people have voted for their favorite projects in different categories such as ‘consumer products’, ‘design fiction’, ‘DIY projects’, and ‘environmental implementation’.

The list is absolutely worth scrolling down, as the projects give a good glimpse of what the IoT could mean to our future lives. From earthquake alarm systems to a talking tree. And from wireless winegard monitoring systems to Rymble, an object that brings your social network to the real world, and won the award of best consumer product.

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A Guessing Game for Architects

Posted on December 15, 2011 — by

What’s your knowledge about famous architecture? In the Covers/Versiones project by artist Luis Urculo, famous architectural sculptures are rebuilt by daily familiar objects like, books, cups, knives and matchboxes. Although the project is pretty much of an artwork, it works like a guessing game. Can you recognize the building before that name is displayed? It is certainly not a cinch, but therefore more fun if you guess the right one. To warm you up a little here is a present to clarify the idea.

Number 10: WoZoCo by MVRDV in Amsterdam

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Event, Volume #29

Volume #29 Preview at the Dutch Design Week

Posted on October 27, 2011 — by

Volume #29: The Urban Conspiracy will be previewed Sunday 23 October 2011 at the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven.

The occasion is the launch of the third edition of the TRUST Design series, a collaborative project by Premsela and Archis. All editions are inserted in Volume Magazine and presented at special Trust Design breakfast events at several venues all over the world. This time we focus on TRUST Design and Faith. Faith and trust are the underpinnings of almost all our sociological and personal constructs, yet both are allusive and largely intangible qualities. What role does faith have in our relationship with design? Can the mechanisms of faith be used to enable trust through design? Apple has created an almost quasi-religion around its products through design, while contemporary faith-based organisations are turning to design as a way to increase and strengthen their role in society. In addition to discussing Trust Design’s central exploration of the relationship between trust and design, we extend the conversation to debate the role of faith – spiritual or otherwise – within trust and design.

Starring: Scott Burnham (researcher and writer), Mathieu Frossard (designer), Corien Pompe (Chief Designer Colour & Material from Volvo), Matthijs van Dijk (Professor of Industrial Design and author of Vision in Design) and Tim Vermeulen (program manager at Premsela).

Premsela Design Breakfast Trust Design, Faith
Date: Sunday 23 October 2011
Time: 10.00 – 12.00
Location: Designhuis
Tickets: 5 euro (including entrance Designhuis)

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Internet of Things Workshop: to be Continued

Posted on May 15, 2011 — by

Last weekend Archis and VURB have organized the first IOT workshop. A group of ten coders and ten architects came together to share thoughts about their merging disciplines. It has been a very interesting day, which has resulted in a lot of interesting perspectives and ideas for the next issue of Volume. Volume #28 will be entirely about the Internet of Things and about the question how the architect should respond on the innovations and challenges that arrive from an entirely new field of knowledge and possibilities. After the success of this first Internet of Things workshop, Archis will organize a second one, with the main objective to collaboratively set up a project on the interface of both disciplines. To be announced!

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‘Mokum: A Guide to Amsterdam’ Officially Launched

Posted on May 6, 2011 — by

Finally it’s for sale: Mokum: A Guide to Amsterdam. Yesterday evening the alternative travel guide to the hometown of Archis/Volume was presented in nightclub Paradiso. Amsterdam’s Alderman for culture, Carolien Gehrels, has officially received a first copy of the guide that was shortly introduced by Sijbolt Noorda, chairman of the Amsterdam Liberation Comite. Pictures taken by Jurgen Koopmanschap.

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Workshop: Architecture vs. the Internet of Things

Posted on May 4, 2011 — by

May 7, Saturday, 10 architects and 10 coders will converge with the explicit goal to bridge the presumed gap between the Architect and the Coder. This workshop will be hosted by Archis/Volume in collaboration with VURB. The Internet of Things (IoT) workshop is to function as a preliminary exploration of how, why, where and to what end architects and coders could converse and collaboratively mold this new landscape. To put it bluntly, architects are not knowledgeable on the developments and the potential the IoT holds, IoT specialists lack specific spatial expertise, and the IoT has spatial and programmatic consequences. We believe the confrontation, exchange and merging of these two earlier mentioned fields of operation will result in a new ‘discipline’: environment design. The workshop will test these assumptions through discussing what is needed for this new discipline to emerge. The grand ambition is to propose and develop one or more ‘products’ to illustrate this new discipline’s potential.

The Program:

10.00 — 11.00: Introduction to the Workshop: Goal of the workshop, the coming issue V28: The Internet of Things and introducing the participants

11.00 — 12.00: Initial brainstorming session: An expression of how these two fields might merge, and benefit from each other’s expertise. Divide into groups

12.00 — 12.30: a quick break

12.45 — 13.00: Commence work
15.30 — 16.30: Conclusion: Presentation of proposals and projects Wrap-up and final discussion

The pre-prescribed goal of this workshop is to create a platform for the crosspollination of two seemingly divided groups with a variance of expertise. In addition, this workshop will be manifested within the pages of the V28 as an article. Architects and coders that would like to get involved please send an e-mail to us to see if there is still space available.

Date: May 7th 2011, 10.00 – 16.30

Location: Archis, Tolhuisweg 1, 1031 CL Amsterdam

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Mokum Invasion in Mokum

Posted on April 4, 2011 — by

The best places to announce an alternative travel guide are spooky tunnels and creepy alleys. Last night a tremendous effort is done to let the city of Amsterdam know about the launch of a new, fresh, alternative and definitely inspiring travel guide to Amsterdam, called ‘Mokum: A Guide to Amsterdam’. ‘Mokum’ offers its readers many different unexpected perspectives on the city. The title, ‘Mokum’, refers to the Jewish name for the city of Amsterdam which is still being used while talking in slang about the Dutch capital. Thursday May 5th, 20.00 ‘Mokum’ will be presented in Paradiso in Amsterdam. Here you will find more details about the launch and about the guide.

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KLM to Outer Space

Posted on January 6, 2011 — by

After Richard Branson’s Virgin, the Dutch airline KLM has announced to offer space trips for ‘normal people’. Starting in 2014 the airline will offer this unique ‘life changing experience’ for a price of 70,000 euros, with a discount for regular KLM customers. The trips of only 40 minutes are made from the Space Experience Curaçao base (SXC).

A supersonic Lynx with space for two persons will rise to hundred kilometers altitude, where the occupants will experience weightlessness for about ten minutes before returning to Curaçao. At one hundred kilometers altitude the passenger is also not yet officially in space. The exosphere, where the earth’s atmosphere turns into the vacuum of space, starts at five hundred to one thousand kilometers and ends at about ten thousand kilometers.

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Concepts for a Moon Capital in 2069

Posted on December 6, 2010 — by

The Shift Boston Moon Capital Competition has announced a winner. The competition called on all architects, artists, landscape architects, urban designers, engineers and anyone to submit their most provocative wild visions about a capital for the moon in 2069. According to the organization some of the ideas are “way impossible”, says CNN. But that’s what the non-profit group Shift Boston aims to collect: ideas that change our perception on society and building. The competition is a typical architectural ‘what if’ competition — not meant to propose useful solutions but to broaden scope.

“When considering the future of design let’s start looking out into space. What if we could occupy the Moon only 100 years after our first visit there in July of 1969? Might the Moon become an independent, self-sustaining, and sovereign state? If so why not start designing for that new world now?”

There are some amazing concepts among the entries, such as a complete inflatable membrane city, a modular city enabling an organical growth of the new moon capital, and a proposal to for a moon cemetry. The winning idea by Bryna Andersen imagines a moon base surrounding a massive satellite dish that would collect solar energy and beam it back to Earth. Another finalist is envisioning the process of gradual colonization of the moon’s surface and represents this process with growing cluster settlements at different density and configurations. Other entries, designs and jury comments can be found at the competitions website.

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Event, Volume #25

Presentation of Volume #25

Posted on October 25, 2010 — by

Yesterday Archis officially launched Volume issue 25, ‘Getting There Being There’, at Athenaeum Bookstore in Amsterdam. ‘Getting There Being There’ is about the Moon as an extreme architectural ambition. It puts forward the question what the role of the architecture could be in the collective adventure of further Moon discovery. Editor-in-Chief Arjen Oosterman explained some about the editorial decision to investigate the possibilities of future Moon colonization. Artist Alicia Framis spoke about the catalogue of Moon products that comes as a supplement with this issue. The catalogue shows all products made for the project MoonLife Concept Store which will open its doors in Shanghai in December this year. Volume #25 is for sale at your local bookstore and online at NAi Booksellers.

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Bulldozer Drawing

Posted on October 7, 2010 — by

The financial and economic crisis left the United States with some huge problems in spatial development. Nevertheless, this fantastic set of aerial photos from Google Images (from Big Picture), shows Florida’s developmental disaster.

All over the world new ghost landscapes appear as a result of mix between planning optimism and the financial crisis. How could we ever have really believed that this way of organizing a landscape would be attractive for those who have to live in it? And how could a society capable of shaping its land so well, not understand the risks of the system behind it? These bulldozer-made drawings are pretty nice to see from above, but in fact, they point to lost deposits, bankruptcy and misallocated capital. Most interesting at this moment is the question what to do with these pre-formed landscapes. Any ideas?

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Olympic Left-Overs

Posted on September 6, 2010 — by

Spectacular architecture was one of the backbones of last Olympic Games organized in Beijing. Both the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube were meant to attract attention on the event and the city on a global level. This approach or discourse in architecture and city marketing provoked a lot of criticism worldwide. Questions were asked, such as what to do with a hugh mega stadium and an olympic swimming pool after the Olympics? And should buildings, this big and pretentious, be built to facilitate a four week event only?

Since the end of the Olympics in 2008, the Bird’s Nest hasn’t found a significant use. According to Wikipedia only two events were planned, both on 8 August 2009, the one-year anniversary of the stadium’s opening. One is a performance of the opera Turandot. The other is the final of the Supercoppa Italiana (Italian Super Cup). Football team the Beijing Guo was supposed to play at the stadium, but finally they didn’t want to use a 80,000+ seat venue for games that routinely draw only slightly more than 10,000 people.

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Out of this World

Posted on July 20, 2010 — by

Oberhausen Gasometer, 2 April – 30 December, 2010. Project of the European Capital of Culture Ruhr.2010.

In the amazing big Gasometer in the German city of Oberhausen, the exhibition ‘Out of this World – Wonders of the Solar System’ is currently taking place. The exhibition sheds a light on the world beyond this world, with particular attention for the effort of mankind to find out more about it. As the Gasometer is enormously big and dark, one really feels like being in outer space, which sets a great contextual atmosphere for the exhibition. Particularly spectacular is the enormous artificial moon hanging down from the roof of the 126 meters high gasometer. It’s said to be the biggest moon on earth, and honestly, I indeed can’t imagine another fake moon to be bigger.

Biggest Moon on Earth, Oberhausen

The exhibition ‘Out of this World’ takes its visitors off on a journey into the cosmos. It shows our solar system as a huge process of growth and decay. Spectacular reproductions of the planetary system, extraordinary images of the sun, of the planets and their moons, precious historical instruments and the most modern technology of space research graphically present to us the drama of the birth and development of our solar system – up to its end. The exhibition ‘Out of this World’ combines natural science, cultural history and artistic points of view. In the spirit of the ‘International Year of Astronomy 2009’, ‘Out of this World’ invites visitors to marvel, wonder and reflect – this exhibition offers us a cosmic experience inside the unique industrial cathedral that is the Oberhausen Gasometer.”

The exhibition starts in the area below the former gas-pressure disc with a space-filling scene: the sun and its planets hover there as if on a disc in a 68 metre-wide room. Large format images, obtained during the latest American and European space missions, show our solar system, its development and its wonderful multiformity. On the gas-pressure disc, cult relicts, historical telescopes, measuring instruments, astronomical charts and old globes – and beside them the most modern instruments of space research are to be found. Here it becomes clear how findings concerning cosmic happenings always made progress when new observation technologies revolutionised the gaze into the depth of the macrocosm and the microcosm. On the basis of the exhibits, it is, moreover, shown how the ideas about the origins and the development of the solar system changed from the myths of primitive peoples up to our scientific age.

Biggest Moon on Earth, Oberhausen

Finally, the arena provides a unique experience of space over which the roof extends at a height of 100 metres. As a gigantic sculpture here the largest moon on Earth, with a diameter of 25 metres, is shown. The installation passes through, with a soft background music, all of the phases of the moon from new moon to full moon. The romantic character of this moon experience supplements the scientific part of the exhibition in a moving way. The exhibition ‘Out of This World – Wonders of the Solar System’ is jointly organised by DLR (German Aerospace Center) and Gasometer Oberhausen GmbH to mark the International Year of Astronomy 2009. It offers unique items on loan from important international space companies as well as museums of technology, cultural history and art. Beyond the exposition the Gasometer itself provides a great view at the Ruhr Area’s industrial heritage and is worth paying a visit.

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Google Moon

Posted on May 20, 2010 — by

“On February 5, 1971, the crew of Apollo 14 touched down on the lunar surface in the Fra Mauro formation near Cone Crater. It was the second attempt to land at this site. Originally, Apollo 13 had been slated to land at Fra Mauro and Apollo 14 was to explore a site near Littrow Crater. […]

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Fictional Suburbs Seen From The Air

Posted on May 14, 2010 — by

Over the past years the Canadian artist Ross Racine has designed a series of digital fake suburbs. All drawings can hardly be seperated from real suburbs and so are their names, which include Cherry Meadows, Walnot Village and Happy Hollow. The collection called Subdivision is undoubtedly inspired by maps of real suburbs, which have become […]

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Sukkah City

Posted on May 8, 2010 — by

Starting September 19th, Sukkah City will pop-up at Union Square Park, New York City. Sukkah City consists of twelve radically temporary structures built by competitors form all over the world. Anyone is invited to submit designs. The sukkah is an ephemeral, elemental shelter, erected for one week each fall, in which it is customary to share meals, entertain, sleep, and rejoice.

“New York City will re-imagine the ancient Sukkah phenomenon, develop new methods of material practice and parametric design, and propose radical possibilities for traditional design constraints in a contemporary urban site. Twelve finalists will be selected by a panel of celebrated architects, designers, and critics to be constructed in a visionary village in Union Square Park from September 19-21, 2010. (…) One structure will be chosen by New Yorkers to stand and delight throughout the week-long festival of Sukkot as the Official Sukkah of New York City. The process and results of the competition, along with construction documentation and critical essays, will be published in the forthcoming book ‘Sukkah City: Radically Temporary Architecture for the Next Three Thousand Years’.”

More about the Sukkah and about the competition:

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Unplanned: Research and Experiments at the Urban Scale

Posted on April 7, 2010 — by

25 March-2 July, 2010, Pacific Design Center (PDC), West Hollywood, CA.

Superfront, an L.A. based exposition centre presents the exhibit Unplanned: Research and Experiments at the Urban Scale. The exhibit boldly presents a collection of radical methods for envisioning and producing space at the urban scale. Unplanned is a group exhibit with more than twenty participants a.o Ae-i-ou, Tomorrows Thoughts Today and Alex Delaunay. It spans architecture, urban design, industrial design, conceptual art, and cartography to present an array of experimental work at the urban scale. Multi-disciplinary practitioners address emergent urbanism, ‘wild building’, and other alternatives to conventional urban planning.

“Just as the discipline of architecture faces a re-imagination of itself in this era of slow-motion global capitalism, the human population finds itself crossing the threshold to a predominantly urban existence. Many of the basic tenets underpinning urban planning – Cartesian geometry, programmatic taxonomy, contextualism – have been subject to skeptical investigation and rebellion in architecture throughout the past decade. Yet conventional urban planning continues, the discipline of urban planning operating much as it has since the 1960s (if not the 1860s).”

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DeltaCompetition 2010

Posted on March 23, 2010 — by

Royal Haskoning, the Delta Alliance and the City of Rotterdam invite students from all over the world to enter the third edition of the DeltaCompetition and develop practical, innovative, sustainable solutions to the threats facing delta cities. The organization is looking for new, inspiring and daring ideas and practical solutions from a wide combination of disciplines that integrate urban development and flood risk reduction, fresh water provision and energy production, housing and sustainable infrastructure development, (water) transport and rainwater catchment, and/or smart tools to improve urban development policy, implementation and enforcement and water governance in delta cities.

The best three will receive an award with a prize of € 3,000 each. Furthermore, the three winning participants are invited to present their ideas to an international audience of decision makers and experts during the Deltas in Times of Climate Change symposium, to be held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, from 28 September to 1 October 2010.

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Posted on March 19, 2010 — by

Yesterday a new remarkable hotel opened doors in the Dutch city of Zaandam. The building embodies anew chapter in modern architecture making a solid design statement: modern design does not necessarily have to look modern and traditional design does not have to look traditional. We would call it neo-neo-traditionalism.

The new Inntel hotel is already the main eye-stopper in the revamped town centre and a building that has set many tongues wagging in the Netherlands. The iconic green wooden houses of the Zaan region were the fount of inspiration for the hotel’s designer, Wilfried van Winden (WAM Architecten, Delft). The structure is a lively stacking of various examples of these traditional houses, ranging from a notary’s residence to a worker’s cottage.

Wilfried van Winden envisages the hotel as a temporary home, alluding to that transience with the stack of houses. Visually speaking the structure is built up from a varied stacking of almost seventy individual little houses, executed in four shades of the traditional green of the Zaan region. The hotel is unique, familiar yet original and idiosyncratic. It is a design that could be realized only in Zaandam but at the same time transcends and reinvigorates local tradition. Interesting is the fun element in the design. It makes one think and wonder. It adapts to traditional regional style elements while ridiculizing it at the same time.

—On Thursday March 25, the Netherlands Architecture Institute will be hosting a debate on the role of traditionalism in current architecture practice. Volume Editor-in-Chief Arjen Oosterman is one of the seven debaters. More information here (in Dutch).

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DIY 3D Utopia

Posted on March 5, 2010 — by

Sketches for future cities and utopian buildings are often circular-shaped. Apparently a huge group of futurists, architects and urbanists prefers society to be rounded-up and dome-like. It’s hard to find out why, but one of the main reasons might be that the future city in essence has to stay away from current urban forms. A utopian sketch containing family houses in a row would be pretty boring and not really interesting as a futuristic vision. Here’s a way to create your own circular utopian future city in 3D. The ForCG website hosts a great tutorial explaining step by step how to make a utopian dream into a pretty render while using Autodesk’s 3DS Max. Here’s part 1 and part 2 of the tutorial.

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Mine the Gap

Posted on March 2, 2010 — by

What to do with the big hole in downtown Chicago? That essentially is what the Chicago Architectural Club wants to know. Therefore they announced the competition ‘Mine the Gap’.

“‘Mine the Gap’ is a single-stage international design ideas competition dedicated to examining one of the most visible scars left after the collapse of the real estate market in Chicago: the massive hole along the Lake Michigan shore that was to have been—and may yet be—the foundation for a singular 150-story condominium tower designed by an internationally-renowned Spanish architect, a tower which was to have become a new icon for the city and region. What to do with the gap? Whether or not the project is resuscitated, what else can we do with this strategic and highly-charged site? Once the motor of real-estate speculation has stalled, what can we use to propel ourselves, and the discipline, forward?”

More information about entry fee, jury, deadlines and registration can be found at the Chicago Architectural Club’s webpage. Competitors may submit material online anytime between March 22, 2010 and May 3, 2010. Registration is open, and may be completed anytime before the deadline. The first prize is $ 3,500, the second is prize $ 1,500 and the third prize is $ 750. Up to 3 Honorable Mentions will be awarded.

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Architecture of Consequence: Dutch Designs on the Future

Posted on February 24, 2010 — by

19 February – 16 May 2010, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam.

24 Architecture designers take the lead, assessing what society needs now. Pursuing strategies the market is hesitant to explore. The designs that are presented are the fruits of an ambition to find sustainable designs for the future.

The international travelling exhibition ‘Architecture of Consequence’ highlights a changing selection of the same urban designers included in the accompanying book. After Sao Paulo and Moscow, the exhibition will travel to the NAi in Rotterdam in February. The designs that are presented are the fruits of an ambition to find sustainable designs for the future. The theme is expanded by exhibiting the selected designs in different scales.

With contributions by 2by4-architects, De Zwarte Hond, Doepel Strijkers Architecten, MVRDV, Studio Marco Vermeulen, West 8, CONCEPT0031, Anne Holtrop, Next Architects, seARCH, 2012 Architecten, Atelier Kempe Thill, Biq Stadsontwerp, MUST Urbanism, OMA/AMO, ONIX, Powerhouse Company, Rietveld Landscape, Stealth.ultd, Van Bergen Kolpa Architecten, Venhoeven CS, ZUS.

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3D Holographic Architecture Models

Posted on February 19, 2010 — by

Via Yarbus, the new web project of former Volume/Archis web editor Edwin Gardner, we found this amazing presentation tool for architects and designers. Zebra Imaging 3D prints recently came up with a method to show virtual 3D models to a group of stakeholders. Zebra’s holographic images enables architects and designers to show their 3D model without taking it. All sorts of architectural data can be transformed into a mind-blowing holographic animation. According to its makers, this method is much more rapid, much more accurate and less expensive than a real model. Interesting is the fact that the panel is a flat piece of plastic which is easy to transport, in contrary to regular 3D models. The times that we see an architect struggling in public transport while carrying unhandy models packed in wrapped garbage bag foil, are over soon.

As the video explains we are not able to experience the whole effect as we are watching it on a 2D monitor. Nevertheless, this looks already amazing. All different perspectives can be shown — from street level to a bird’s eye perspective. The models are available in different sizes and are full color. Next to architecture, this application finds a use in showing 3D maps for military operations.

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Spatial Speculations on Skrunda-1

Posted on February 17, 2010 — by

After buying a ghost town in the middle of nowhere, the new owner has to come up with a plan. The idea of privatizing property on this scale is a relatively new spatial phenomenon, which is exciting. Redeveloping a city that used to give home to 5,000 people with private money, is quite a job. According to the auction committee the new buyer can do whatever he or she wants with the area, as long as he will stick to the local environmental and building rules.

Taking a close watch at the history of housing and the principles of human settlement, it will be immensely difficult to attract people to live here. There are no services and no other people, and there is no particular promise or story. Therefore I think housing will not work here. Pure recreation will not work either since there is no special attractor in the close environment, apart from a river and a small lake.

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The History of Skrunda-1

Posted on February 16, 2010 — by

Yesterday we paid attention to Skrunda’s auction and the new situation the east Latvian town has to deal with. A load of pictures of desolate cities and abandoned buildings inspired us to find out a little more about its history. A couple of professional news reports and home-made cinematic efforts, show a rather emotional situation. The Guardian reports about the rather mysterious history of Skundra-1:

“Built in the 1980s, Skrunda-1 was a secret settlement not marked on Soviet maps because of the two enormous radar installations that listened to objects in space and monitored the skies for a U.S. nuclear missile attack. Like all clandestine towns in the Soviet Union, it was kept off maps and given a code-name — which usually consisted of a number and the name of a nearby city.”

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Buying a Ghost Town at an Auction

Posted on February 15, 2010 — by

For three point one million dollar, in London, New York City or Moscow one buys a 300 square meters apartment in the city center, but on the grey Baltic country side one buys a complete city for this amount of money. A Russian investor bought the ghost town Skrunda-1 in Latvia at an auction in Riga, two weeks ago. The final price of 3.1 million dollars was far beyond expectation as the starting price was ten times less than that (310,000 dollars). Skundra-1 is an old military city that gave shelter to approximately 5,000 people during the Cold War. More than a decade ago the place was left as a consequence of the military and political collapse of the Soviet imperium.

It’s not clear yet which plans the buyer, Aleksejevskoje-Serviss, has for the property, which counts 45 hectares and is located in western Latvia, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) from Riga. The town consists of about 70 abandoned buildings including apartment blocks, a school, barracks, eateries, gyms and two night clubs.

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Dubai Metropolis

Posted on February 12, 2010 — by

What would Dubai have looked like, when it would have been built 150 years ago? That’s what Martin Becka shows in an amazing series of photos taken in 2008. The images were captured using Gustave Le Gray’s waxed paper negative process on an 1857 camera. Under the name of ‘Transmutations: Capturing Dubai Using the 19th Century Techniques in Photographs’, photos were exhibited in October and November 2009 at Dubai’s Empty Quarter Gallery. The exposition was completely dedicated to Becka’s work.

“By staging a collision between the historical and the present time, Becka creates a deliberate anachronism and therewith takes us far from the usual expectations we harbor towards Dubai. The architecture and the town planning of this emblematic city of the 21st century seem to span time, as if looking at them from a future we will not live to see. The result is strangely archaeological. The city, with its avenues, monuments, squares, bridges and roads takes on, to some extent, the appearance of ancient monuments. These photographs cloak the present in the permanence of an historic record and give the fleeting moment of the here and a semblance of eternity. In Becka’s earthly warm and exquisitely detailed salted paper prints a monument has been erected for the future generations of Dubai.”

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