Blogs Centerpoints Architecture

Coolhunting’s Survey of Minneapolis Architecture

Johnson, Gehry, Pelli, Herzog & de Meuron: Architecturally, Minneapolis has got it all, a fact Coolhunting acknowledges with a new video, led by tourguide and University of Minnesota architecture professor John Comazzi.[via]

Johnson, Gehry, Pelli, Herzog & de Meuron: Architecturally, Minneapolis has got it all, a fact Coolhunting acknowledges with a new video, led by tourguide and University of Minnesota architecture professor John Comazzi.[via]

Relational Architecture: Rirkrit’s Thai House

Some of the ideas that guided Rirkrit Tiravanija’s constructed “space-stage” in the 2006 Walker exhibition OPEN-ENDED (the art of engagement) are behind his new home, an experimental modernist house in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Designed by the young Thai architect (and Tiravanija’s former student) Aroon Puritat, the project, like Rirkrit’s stage, provided a basic framework on […]

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Some of the ideas that guided Rirkrit Tiravanija’s constructed “space-stage” in the 2006 Walker exhibition OPEN-ENDED (the art of engagement) are behind his new home, an experimental modernist house in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Designed by the young Thai architect (and Tiravanija’s former student) Aroon Puritat, the project, like Rirkrit’s stage, provided a basic framework on which the architect and the artist’s other collaborators could create. This art was dubbed “relational aesthetics” by theorist Nicholas Bourriaud, because it prizes relationships over aesthetics. The architecture, however, seems to cherish both values equally.

[T]he house was born from a plan without a plan,” writes Sant Suwatcharapinun in the Thai magazine art|4|d. “The only requests were to retain, as much as possible, all the trees on the property, to install a bedroom, bathroom, a sitting and relaxation area, living room, kitchen, a work room for his artistic pursuits and a photography studio for his wife Annette Aurell, a photographer from New York.”

Beyond that there were no budgetary or conceptual restrictions — other than not obscuring views for Tiravanija’s family or his neighbors. The resulting home — a U-shaped construction of glass and concrete, with wood and polished concrete floors, plus tile and lighting designed by area artists — reminds the author of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, out of context in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.

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But the collaboration between artist and architect reminds him of Tiravanija’s art, which Puritat encountered both as a grad student at Silkaporn University and at “the land,” the rice farm/sustainability project Tiravanija and artist Kamin Laitcherprasert founded outside nearby Sanpatong. Aside from open-endedness, a key aspect of Tiravanija’s work, and apparently the architecture, is the Buddhist notion of “doing less” — that is, as Suwatcharapinun writes, “not trying to embellish or make something more than what it is”:

From another perspective, it is a new work by Rirkrit who worked in a different medium; from cooking and using musical instruments to that of an architectural structure. Further, those who come across this new structure and those who were involved in the development have changed. It is with certainty that this time, the efforts were subjected to more restrictions and limitations. However, it is more of a reiteration of the Doing Less’ concept. Moreover, if I were to interpret it differently, presuming that it was loosely controlled’, then Aroon and his friends have become a part of the architectural results. However, looking at it from yet another viewpoint, it is a house that was very thoroughly planned and designed. This is something architects dream of – collaborating with a group of people with a sufficient degree of understanding, working closely with the owner of the house and receiving feedback with efficiency.

Walker begets weeHouse

Just a quick note about the MPR story that woke me up this morning (love my clock-radio). The new owner of Linden Hills’ first weeHouse, which dropped into the neighborhood today, first learned about his prefab house from the Walker’s own exhibition Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Prefabricated Houses. Neighborhood gawkers pictured below:

No ads in So Paulo

A just fascinating story I came across this morning: On January 1st, 2007, a funny thing happened in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The city of approximately eleven million people, South America’s largest, awoke to find a ban on public advertising. Every billboard, every neon sign, every bus kiosk ad and even the Goodyear blimp were suddenly […]

No Advertising in So Paulo

A just fascinating story I came across this morning:

On January 1st, 2007, a funny thing happened in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The city of approximately eleven million people, South America’s largest, awoke to find a ban on public advertising. Every billboard, every neon sign, every bus kiosk ad and even the Goodyear blimp were suddenly illegal.

The ban on what the mayor calls “visual pollution” was the culmination of a long battle between the city’s politicians and the advertising industry, which had blanketed Brazil’s economic capital with all manner of billboards, both legal and illegal. Within months, the city has gone from a Blade Runner-like vision of the future to a reclaimed past.

Businessweek also has an article on the ups and downs of the ad ban:

Already the law has led to some strange discoveries. Because the site-ing of billboards was unregulated, many poor people readily accepted cash to have a poster site in their gardens or even in front of their homes. With their removal, a new city is emerging: “Last week, on my way to work, I ‘discovered’ a house,” says Piqueira. “It had been covered by a big billboard for years so I never even knew what it looked like.” The removal of the posters has “revealed an architecture that we must learn to be proud of, instead of hiding,” says de Marco.

But there are downsides–Piqueira worries that much of the “vernacular” lettering and signage from small businesses–”an important part of the city’s history and culture”–will be lost. The organisers of the So Paulo carnival have also expressed concerns about the long-term future of their event now that sponsors will not be allowed to advertise along the route. The city authorities for their part have made it clear that certain public information and cultural works will be exempted from the rules.

The So Paulo No Logo photoset by Tony de Marco gives a good idea of the effect this can have on the way a city looks. You start to understand just how many times per day we are bombarded with visual messages.

Action Squad

Tonight the Walker is premiering Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness. To whet your whistle for the film, might I suggest checking out Action Squad. Prepare to waste several hours checking this site out, especially if you’re interested in the underside (literally) of Twin Cities history. Action Squad was not the group of people that were […]

Action Squad In Action

Tonight the Walker is premiering Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness. To whet your whistle for the film, might I suggest checking out Action Squad. Prepare to waste several hours checking this site out, especially if you’re interested in the underside (literally) of Twin Cities history. Action Squad was not the group of people that were arrested which began Melody Gilbert’s descent into making the film, but they are among the more prolific urban explorers out there.

Paul Graham would tell us that urban explorers are hackers. They’re not vandals, they’re just people who want to know more about the places we inhabit and aren’t satisfied with the limits of authority. It is a sensibility that many great artists can relate to, and why I am happy the Walker is able to premiere this film.

I hope Max Action is at the screening tonight, though no one will be able to recognize him unless he puts a black bar over his eyes. I’ll be looking.

Image borrowed from actionsquad.org.

Open-source branding

Architecture for Humanity, the world’s first and biggest humanitarian design organization, is making news for its development of an open-source architecture network, a way for architects to share, develop and license plans that can be used and modified anywhere in the world. Maybe it’s fitting, then, that the development of their new logo has an […]

2006fulllist_tokyocalling_xarea_2_image.gifArchitecture for Humanity, the world’s first and biggest humanitarian design organization, is making news for its development of an open-source architecture network, a way for architects to share, develop and license plans that can be used and modified anywhere in the world.

Maybe it’s fitting, then, that the development of their new logo has an open-source feel. AfH asked designers around the world to submit logos. After publishing criteria for the logo, AfH asked interested designers to submit logos to a Flickr site, and more than 800 people did. Visitors to the site could vote on their favorites using the comments field (and it seems jurors also made selections), and now the original pool of entries is down to 12.

By the end of January, they’ll select the finalist and start using the new brand. While it’s not quite open-source, it is brilliant: a cash-strapped NGO gets a slew of logo designs to choose from (for free), they generate publicity and plenty of goodwill, and underscore their brand identity as an open, collaborative, and community-focused organization.

FACTORY TOWN

PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT (AVANT-GARDE, CZECH MODERNIST.) Sutnar, Ladislav. Original set of woodblocks for Build the Town. 30 pieces [complete], small wooden building blocks, cones, and triangles painted in red, blue, and yellow, some paint chipping, some a bit soiled. [New York, circa 1942] One of a handful of surviving prototypes; from the Sutnar family collection. Estimate: […]

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PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT (AVANT-GARDE, CZECH MODERNIST.) Sutnar, Ladislav. Original set of woodblocks for Build the Town. 30 pieces [complete], small wooden building blocks, cones, and triangles painted in red, blue, and yellow, some paint chipping, some a bit soiled. [New York, circa 1942] One of a handful of surviving prototypes; from the Sutnar family collection. Estimate: $7,000.00-10,000.00.

Ladislav Sutnar began his career in his native Czechoslovakia as a toy designer and educator. Between 1922 and 1926 he created Factory Town, a set of children’s blocks designed as an educational toy in the spirit of Friedrich Froebel’s blocks. After emigrating to the states, he tried in earnest to find a manufacturer for the set which he re-named less grimly Build the Town. This is one of only a few prototypes created, entirely at Sutnar’s expense, with the hope that the company Cobos/Builders would produce the set, but it was not to be realized. Another major impediment came from lumber companies that could not stop wartime orders to produce the wooden blocks. Despite his best efforts, Sutnar was forced to abandon the project. Build the Town represents an inventive attempt by Sutnar to introduce children to the basic forms, vibrant primary colors, and the creative freedom of design. [source: Swann Galleries, eBay]

Giant slides in the Tate Modern

I have a feeling this is going to be a very popular installation at the Tate Modern. Pixelsumo says: German artist Carsten Höller has been commissioned to create this new work, entitled Test Site, for the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, part of the Unilever Series. Test Site consists of 5 giant spiralling slides, linking the […]

I have a feeling this is going to be a very popular installation at the Tate Modern. Pixelsumo says:

German artist Carsten Höller has been commissioned to create this new work, entitled Test Site, for the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, part of the Unilever Series. Test Site consists of 5 giant spiralling slides, linking the upper galleries with the Hall!

Giant Slides

More Images © Tate Photography

According to the Tate:

For Carsten Höller, the experience of sliding is best summed up in a phrase by the French writer Roger Caillois as a voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind’. The slides are impressive sculptures in their own right, and you don’t have to hurtle down them to appreciate this artwork. What interests Höller, however, is both the visual spectacle of watching people sliding and the inner spectacle’ experienced by the sliders themselves, the state of simultaneous delight and anxiety that you enter as you descend.

To date Höller has installed six smaller slides in other galleries and museums, but the cavernous space of the Turbine Hall offers a unique setting in which to extend his vision. Yet, as the title implies, he sees it as a prototype for an even larger enterprise, in which slides could be introduced across London, or indeed, in any city. How might a daily dose of sliding affect the way we perceive the world? Can slides become part of our experiential and architectural life?

The BBC has video, which is well worth the watch. The largest slide is 182ft long and has a 5 story drop. I wish I was going to London soon to see and experience this.

Signifying Robot: What do you think the Walker looks like?

Love it or not, the aluminum-clad Walker expansion is fertile ground for creative description. It’s been likened to Miss Pac-Man, an “angry robot head,” and a Transformer of toy and cartoon fame. It’s been panned as a “bruised ice cube” (by the Guthrie Theater actor who played Ebenezer Scrooge) and praised as “a rough-cut gem” […]

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Love it or not, the aluminum-clad Walker expansion is fertile ground for creative description. It’s been likened to Miss Pac-Man, an “angry robot head,” and a Transformer of toy and cartoon fame. It’s been panned as a “bruised ice cube” (by the Guthrie Theater actor who played Ebenezer Scrooge) and praised as “a rough-cut gem” (Icon, UK) and “as light and luscious as crumpled silk” (Newsweek). Last summer, I asked people passing by how they’d describe the unusual facade; since it never ended up in the magazine, I’ll run some of the replies here. Feel free to add your own in comments.

“It looks like that ship from Star Wars, where they found R2-D2 and C3PO.”

–Bob Bodin, houseman, 20.21 Restaurant and Bar by Wolfgang Puck

“It’s like aluminum foil, flat, but crumpled a little. Like something you’d find in your grandma’s freezer.”

–Erica Qualy, former member of the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council

“It looks like a monkey.”

–Max Molina

“It looks like a giant square with a little edge that’s kind of crooked.”

–Madi Molina

“I think it looks like a really mad polar bear.”

–Gus Molina

“It looks like a space port, just like the one I saw on Mars that one time.”

–Paul Molina

“It’s like a floating ice cube. The windows were inspired by snowflake cutouts, so the architects must have had this winter thing in their minds. It’s like January in Minnesota.”

–Nancy Beach, Walker tour guide

“The new Walker looks like a glacier.”

–Brett Smith, Visitors Services Specialist, Film/Video

“It reminds me of Frank Gehry’s outdoor amphitheater at Millennium Park in Chicago.”

–Chris Bettis

“It’s like a giant robot head. And the rest of the robot is submerged underground, so when the Walker gets enough funding, the whole thing’s going to rise up and attack the city. The buildings are going to battle like in those Japanese movies.”

–Alison Bromander

“It looks like a metallic grasshopper.”

–Liz Sexton, Visitors Services Specialist, PR/Marketing

“Have you ever heard of the band godheadSilo?”

–Chad Weber, gallery monitor

Video: Ben Rubin’s light sculpture

Here’s some wobbly footage of Ben Rubin’s light sculpture I’ve mentioned before. Installed on the elevators at the Cesar Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central Library, this “giant reading machine” scrolls cursor-style through titles of books in the library’s collection. And here’s how it looks from inside the elevator:

Here’s some wobbly footage of Ben Rubin’s light sculpture I’ve mentioned before. Installed on the elevators at the Cesar Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central Library, this “giant reading machine” scrolls cursor-style through titles of books in the library’s collection.

And here’s how it looks from inside the elevator:

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