Archive | October, 2010

Le Corbusier

27 Oct

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, who chose to be known as Le Corbusier (French pronunciation: [lə kɔʁbyzje]; October 6, 1887 – August 27, 1965), was a Swiss architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter, famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called Modern architecture or the International style. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in his thirties.

He was a pioneer in studies of modern high design and was dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities. Later commentators have criticized Le Corbusier’s monoliths as soulless and expressive of his arrogance in pioneering his form of architecture.

His career spanned five decades, with his buildings constructed throughout central Europe, India, Russia, and one each in North and South America. He was also an urban planner, painter, sculptor, writer, and modern furniture designer.

Le Corbusier adopted his pseudonym in the 1920s, allegedly deriving it in part from the name of a distant ancestor, “Lecorbésier.” However, it appears to have been an earlier (and somewhat unkind) nickname, which he simply decided to keep. It stems from the French for “the crow-like one”. In the absence of a first name, some have also suggested it suggests “a physical force as much as a human being,” and brings to mind the French verb courber, to bend.

For a number of years French officials had been unsuccessful in dealing with the squalor of the growing Parisian slums, and Le Corbusier sought efficient ways to house large numbers of people in response to the urban housing crisis. He believed that his new, modern architectural forms would provide a new organizational solution that would raise the quality of life for the lower classes. His Immeubles Villas (1922) was such a project that called for large blocks of cell-like individual apartments stacked one on top of the other, with plans that included a living room, bedrooms and kitchen, as well as a garden terrace.

Not merely content with designs for a few housing blocks, soon Le Corbusier moved into studies for entire cities. In 1922, he presented his scheme for a “Contemporary City” for three million inhabitants (Ville Contemporaine). The centerpiece of this plan was the group of sixty-story, cruciform skyscrapers; steel-framed office buildings encased in huge curtain walls of glass. These skyscrapers were set within large, rectangular park-like green spaces. At the center was a huge transportation hub, that on different levels included depots for buses and trains, as well as highway intersections, and at the top, an airport. He had the fanciful notion that commercial airliners would land between the huge skyscrapers. Le Corbusier segregated pedestrian circulation paths from the roadways and glorified the use of the automobile as a means of transportation. As one moved out from the central skyscrapers, smaller low-story, zigzag apartment blocks (set far back from the street amid green space), housed the inhabitants. Le Corbusier hoped that politically-minded industrialists in France would lead the way with their efficient Taylorist and Fordist strategies adopted from American industrial models to reorganize society. As Norma Evenson has put it, “the proposed city appeared to some an audacious and compelling vision of a brave new world, and to others a frigid megalomaniacally scaled negation of the familiar urban ambient.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Maison Citrohan

Les 5 Points d’ une architecture nouvelle, which Le Corbusier finally formulated in 1926 included (1) the pilotis elevating the mass off the ground, (2) the free plan, achieved through the separation of the load-bearing columns from the walls subdividing the space, (3) the free facade, the corollary of the free plan in the vertical plane, (4) the long horizontal sliding window and finally (5) the roof garden, restoring, supposedly, the area of ground covered by the house.

These points were illustrated best in Le Corbusier’s domestic architecture. Le Corbusier’s first attempt to deal with the problem of mass housing was Maisons Citrohan, designed in 1920-22. All parts of the house are united by a spatial continuum, while the open space created by the pilotis and the flat roof increase the otherwise small available area. The prototype of a single-family unit, which was later modified to a module within a collective building, for example the basic units of the Immeuble-villa (1922).
Le Corbusier established his concept of the dwelling as standardized, mass produced and serviceable like the modern car. Citrohan 2 implies the elements of the Dom-Ino constructural system, that is the use of a reinforced concrete frame. Citrohan 2 introduced ideas of Le Corbusier’s ‘5 Points of New Architecture’: the building raised off the ground on pilotis, which ‘free’ the ground for vehicular circulation and for services. The roof-garden or terrace, which is clearly established in the Citrohan projects as a component of private, domestic space.


Instructions: an intro to Performance Art

27 Oct

In C&I I wrote a unit that introduced high school students to performance art through instructions. It featured the art of Yoko Ono, Sol LeWitt, Miranda July & Harrell Fletcher, and Laylah Ali & Dean Moss:

above: Yoko Ono’s instructions from her book Grapefruit

above: Miranda July & Harrell Fletcher’s Learning to Love You More website.

above: A painting the MoCA installed using the instructions of Sol LeWitt.

And here is a link to how Dean Moss transforms Laylah Ali’s two-dimensional guache paintings into movements and performances.

I have also attached a lesson plan on Sol LeWitt’s instructions for second and third grades. It was a blast to teach!


27 Oct

Contemporary Non-Western Artist
(Sound and Vision Artist)

Cornelius (born as Keigo Oyamada) is a sound and video artist from Japan who has been producing albums out of Japan since the 1990’s. His music harmonizes and blends electronic tones, samples from pop music and culture as well as sounds found in nature and is considered “experimental and exploratory” ( In 2003, he was ranked at number 43 in a list of Japan’s top 100 musicians by HMV.

The music of Cornelius could be described as experimental and exploratory, and often incorporates dissonant elements alongside more familiar harmonically “pleasing” sounds. This tension, plus his practice of bringing in sounds and samples from mass culture, pure electronic tones, and sounds from nature (such as on his Point album), lead him to being sometimes categorized as an “acquired taste.”

Not only is Cornelius’s music compelling, the videos he creates to accompany his sound create an environment that envelops the listener/viewer, drawing them into and sometimes making them feel directly involved with the piece. His most recent album, Sensuous, is particularly successful in creating a sound environment while other albums have a more produced feeling of song that has been compared to the American musician, Beck, who, along with The Beach Boys, The Beastie Boys, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream, have been influences in the development of his music. These diverse influences attributes to the wide variety of samples found in his work. Looking at the history of music videos and of animation, Cornelius produces very polished digital videos that easily find their place amongst other contemporary video producers including Michael Gondry and Spike Jonze.

Watch this youtube video of Cornelius’ Breezin’ video:

From an educational standpoint, I would have students make an advertisement using video. They could slow down or speed up any advertisement and compile the video with a song or sound of their choice. Here is an example of what I would like students to create:

Attached is the powerpoint I used during my presentation.

Skip Schukmann

23 Oct

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So here’s another architect I thought y’all might like

Skip Schukmann lives in California.  He makes one of a kind works for clients on commission (which I’ll admit, I find a little frustrating and a bit at odds with his philosophy and process, but I’ll let it slide because the work is so beautiful).  He expresses frustration with our materialistic, marketing nature, and thinks we need to get back to a place where we can be satisfied with the world around us.

When a client contacts Skip to work on a site, he tries to use only the natural materials including sticks, dirt, rocks, water, and anything else he can find there.  As a last resort, he will import materials but even when he does this, he tries to use materials that someone else is discarding.  He also uses natural processes to construct his work, including fire and water power.

What I find most interesting in looking at his images, is that sometimes you can hardly tell that the work is there.  It still looks primarily like the surrounding landscape, just maybe a little more human-ly organized.  The type of structures he builds depend on the needs of the client, but for the most part, they are spaces for meditation as opposed to living spaces.

I could not find a website.  He seems to like to lay low.

I found him in a book, and I’ll put the link to that book here:

Dubai’s Designs

20 Oct

Dubai is located on the northern tip of the United Arab Emerites on the Persian Gulf. The rather small city has a population of 1.6 million people and a $37 billion USD economy based largely on trade, manufacturing and financial services. With a focus on business and tourism, the city is ramping up construction on an unprecedented level. In fact, Dubai is said to be home to 15% to 25% of the world’s 125,000 construction cranes. The city has gained world-wide attention in the past few years because of its booming economy and ambitious architectural projects.

Burj Al Arab:

These proposed projects are destined to change the face of global architecture.

Architect David Fisher is the designer of the ‘DaVinci Rotating Tower’, one of the most innovative an unique buildings to be built in Dubai. The 250 meter tower will allow each floor to rotate freely allowing the building to shift its shape. In between each floor horizontal wind turbines will allow the building to produce energy.

Trump Hotel – Real estate mogul Donald Trump is also part of the architectural plans of Dubai, along with Nakheel Hotels he plans to build a 255 meter ‘Trump Hotel’ on a man-made island in Dubai. With 60 stories, the 5 star hotel will also house some luxury apartments. the building has been designed by Atkins Architects.

The design for Abu Dhabi’s Performing Arts Center was conceived of by Zaha Hadid. the building is meant to house music, theatre and dance, located on Saadiyat Island along with the New Louvre and Guggenheim Museum’s. the Island was intended to be a ‘beacon for cultural experience and exchange’ by Abu Dhabi’s ruler, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan.

‘Dubai Towers’ is the centerpiece for the large ‘Lagoons’ development. the buildings and the development were all conceived of by TVS. The four towers range in size from 54 to 97 floors and were inspired by the flames and movement of candlelight.

‘The Apeiron Hotel’ will be a 7-star hotel built on an island off of Dubai. The arched 185 meter tall hotel will cost $500 million USD. It will have 350 luxury suites that will only be accessible by yacht and helicopter. Designed by Sybarite UK, the hotel features its own lagoon, beaches, cinemas and at gallery.

Organic Architecture of Patric Blanc

20 Oct

The Vertical Garden is composed of three parts: a metal frame, a PVC layer and felt. The metal frame is hung on a wall or can be self-standing. It provides an air layer acting as a very efficient thermic and phonic isolation system. A 1cm thick PVC sheet is then riveted on the metal frame. This layer brings rigidity to the whole structure and makes it waterproof. After that comes a felt layer made of polyamide that is stapled on the PVC. This felt is corrosion-resistant and its high capillarity allows a homogeneous water distribution. The roots are now growing on this felt.

Watering is provided from the top with the tap water being supplemented with nutrients. The process of watering and fertilisation is automated. The whole weight of the ‘Vertical Garden’, including plants and metal frame, is lower than 30 kg per square meter. Thus the Vertical Garden can be implemented on any wall without any size or limitation of height.

The Vertical Garden as it is known in English, is something closer to a living painting than to a garden. Actually I named it le mur vegetal, meaning vegetal wall. I’m a scientist, a botanist and the Vertical Garden is derived from many observations I made in natural places mostly in tropical areas for more than 30 years now…

My scientific approach is essential for designing the whole system and for selecting the plant species suitable for each peculiar location.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ken Yeang

20 Oct

Hong Kong

Ken Yeang is an ecologist, author and a respected architect. He is best known for his “bioclimatic skyscrapers,” environmentally conscious high-rise buildings. Being an ecologist is essential, he believes, to his work as an architect because “the ecologist has a much more comprehensive and holistic view of the world.” Ken Yeang endeavors to connect the human built environment more closely to nature.

Integration Philosophies:

Physical- how a building relates to the physical area, plants, topography

Systematic-using water responsibly, etc. for less waste (ideally no waste)

Temporal- integrating the rate we use resources



Fusionopolis is a 15-story building will be 1.4 Km high, and boast of a ‘green infrastructure.’ The building will be home to the longest continuous vertical stretch of vegetation of any building in the world. A vertical spine of planting will rise up through the building, and landscaped garden terraces will be located on each floor of the building. The vegetation will help in passive cooling and insulation. The vegetation will also improve the sense of well being of the residents.

Natural daylight will be directed into the building interior by prisms which deflect the sunlight as it hits them. The drainage and irrigation system will also integrated green features. The whole building will function as an ecosystem, and strive to strike a balance between the organic and inorganic elements so as to make the building work like a living system.



“Anti-architect” David Greenberg

20 Oct

Sanya on Hainan Island

Treetop resort in Hainan

“David Greenberg is trying to introduce ideas based on Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Chinese geomancy or feng shui in his projects here.” (China Daily – BEIJING, Sep. 12, 2009)

An example of Greenberg’s back-to-nature architectural concept is the ecotourist Treehouse resort at Nanshan Buddhist Culture Zone, Sanya, Hainan province. (above image)

Big Beach in the Sky

Zen philosophy holds that the attempted control of nature by humans is meaningless. Guided by that principle, Greenberg’s vision of tree houses harmonizes with the natural landscape.

Big Beach in the Sky


GuanYin Interior (top)
Hawaiian Hale Interior (bottom)

The Hale Hawaiian Treehouse Hotel and Restaurant in China

The term minimalism is also used to describe a trend in design and architecture where in the subject is reduced to its necessary elements. Minimalist design has been highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture. In addition, the work of De Stijl artists is a major source of reference for this kind of work. De Stijl expanded the ideas that could be expressed by using basic elements such as lines and planes organized in very particular manners.

GuanYin Spa Treehouse

David Greenberg is an Ecological Designer and Advisor to the INBAR Global Bamboo Housing Programme (International Network of Bamboo and Rattan in Beijing, China). Architectural and Urban Designer, Consultant for development projects in Southern China. President of Treehouses of Hawaii, Inc.

Big Ideas:

Ecological Living

Lowering our carbon footprint



The World Without Us

20 Oct 

In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity’s impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.

Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; what of our everyday stuff may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.


>> Read an Exce
The World Without Us reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York’s subways would start eroding the city’s foundations, an how, as the world’s cities crumble, asphalt jungles give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically-treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish, and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish without us.

Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dalai Lama, and paleontologists – who describe a pre-human world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths – Weisman illustrates what the planet might be like today, if not for us.

From places already devoid of humans (a last fragment of primeval European forest; the Korean DMZ; Chernobyl),

Weisman reveals Earth’s tremendous capacity for self-healing. As he shows which human devastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman’s narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that doesn’t depend on our demise. It is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and in posing an irresistible concept with both gravity and a highly-readable touch, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has.


It makes an interesting point how the most lasting artifact will be a  floating island of  of polymers (plastic) and how as human beings we will make a greater impact on the world by drinking a bottle of water than most any other artistic or social achievement.

Lesson Idea:

Students can draw or paint or Photoshop what their communities will look like after humans are gone in increments of 100, 1,000 and 1,000,ooo years later. Possibly take a photo of some where in their community as a reference. Or use a reference photo of another significant place.

This would be a great catalyst to create discussions and art surrounding  how we impact the wold around us, the ecosystem, and a more in depth perspective on how small of a place we have in the history of earth and create a sense of a for the amazing world we live in.


20 Oct


Created mostly by college students and community members during a time of radical political activism in the late 1960’s, People’s Park is located in Berkley California off Telegraph Avenue near The University of California Berkley. People’s Park is owned, managed, and maintained by the University of California.  Today People’s Park serves as a free public park accessible to members of the larger community.  The park offers innovative demonstration gardens, including organic community gardening beds and areas landscaped with California native plants, all of which were user-developed by volunteer gardeners. A wider audience is attracted by occasional rallies, concerts, performances, and hip-hop events conducted at the People’s Stage.  The rich history surrounding the park is an important part of local culture.

1957 – University of California Regents earmark $1.3 million for purchase of land in the area. South of Campus (more playing fields, faculty offices, parking).

1967 – U.C. report recommends purchase of future People’s Park site, claiming area “scene of hippie concentration and rising crime.”

1968 – University sends eviction notices to residents; bulldozes their houses; creates muddy lot.

April 13, 1969 – Local merchants and residents meet and propose alternative uses for the vacant site, which has now become an eyesore (childcare clinic, crafts commune, baseball, rock concerts). Mike Delacour proposes a user-developed community park.

April 20, 1969 – People’s Park is created. Hundreds of people clear ground, plant trees, grass, flowers, set up playground equipment. Free food is distributed.













May 6, 1969 – Chancellor Heyns meets with members of the People’s Park Committee, student politicians, and members of the College of Environmental Design. Gives them three weeks to come up with a plan for the park. Promises no construction will begin without prior warning.

















May 15, 1969 – “Bloody Thursday” — 250 Highway Patrol and Berkeley police offers invade the park at 4:45 a.m. and clear an 8-block area around the site. Construction of perimeter fence begins. After a noontime rally on Sproul Plaza, a crowd of 6000 moves towards the park. Police fire tear gas. Protestors throw rocks and bottles. Sheriff Deputies retaliate with double-0 buckshot, blinding one man (Alan Blanshard), mortally wounding another (James Rector). At least 128 injuries, but no policemen hospitalized. Towards evening, Governor Reagan calls out the National Guard and bans public assembly.


















May 16-28, 1969. Protests continue on a daily basis. National Guardsmen block Sather Gate. A helicopter sprays the campus with CS tear gas. Campus referendum massively endorses the Park. People’s Park annexes spring up all over Berkeley. 9000 students protest in Sacramento.





























May 29, 1969. Chancellor Heyns announces his support for leasing part of the Park to the City.

May 30, 1969. 30,000 people march peacefully past the Park.

June 20, 1969. U.C. Regents vote to turn the Park into a soccer field and parking lot. The Park is surrounded by a chain-link fence and kept under 24-hour guard.

1971. In March there’s another riot over the Park. 44 arrests.

1972. In May, after Nixon announces he’ll mine North Vietnam’s main port, an outraged crowd tears down the fence. In September, the Berkeley City Council votes to lease the site.

1972 – City Council approves plan to lease People’s Park from the University. Beginnings of the People’s Park Council (community activists).