Tiny Homes. The average size of an American home has been decreasing since 2009 (to at 2,392 SF), the Wall Street Journal reported. With financial and environmental concerns, many homeowners are down-sizing. The book Nano House: Innovations for Small Dwellings examines dwellings under 800 feet, such as the above 215-square-foot house in Belgium.
Artificial Leaf. Researchers at MIT have created an artificial leaf that uses sunlight to convert water into oxygen and hydrogen. The device is made of silicon, that is coated with a cobalt catalyst on one side, and a nickel catalyst on the other. When dropped in water, the cobalt separates oxygen and the nickel side hydrogen. The next step: scientists are working on a way to capture the gasses. More at Inhabitat.
Sky Sculptures. Brookline, Massachusetts artist Janet Echelman uses Indian fisherman weaving techniques to create ethereal neon nets that float in urban sky-scapes. Check out images of her work, that resembles the translucent fish of the coral reef at Artist a Day.
Shrouded Silos. In Omaha, Nebraska, the educational nonprofit Emerging Terrain has wrapped grain silo elevators in giant 80 by 20 feet banners that focus on food and agricultural issues. More at Planetizen.
The City Atlas. The City Atlas is a new online project that seeks to create a platform to share collective imagination that is grounded on past and current accomplishments yet aimed at the future. Check out their website here.
Don’t Remove, Retouch. This beautifully renovated Norweigian boathouse is still technically un-new. Norwegian architects TYIN tegnestue was committed to reuse as much physical material as possible during the renovation. Images at WorldArchitectureNews.
Urban After Dark. According to Chuck Wolfe at myurbanist, a city’s true success is best measured at night (hence the quote “cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night”).
Seasonal Sedum. Check out these twelve staggered living roofs in Seoul designed by Joel Sanders Architect in cooperation with Haeahn Architecture. The roofs are planted with flowers (sedum) that bloom at different times of the year– resulting in changing, seasonal landscapes. See the images on Inhabitat.
Urban decay. Gizmodo’s urban photography competition last week yielded beautiful, haunting images of decaying architecture, infrastructure, and other city spaces taken over by nature. More info on the grand winner and a photo gallery here.
Lunch as art. As part of the exhibition Time/Bank: Time/Food at the Abrons Arts Center in New York City is hosting a temporary restaurant, where artists will prepare home-style meals for gallery visitors, reported e-flux. Part of the Time/Bank program, participants are awarded credit in exchange for skills and time.
Greener buildings. Barclays and Lockheed Martin intend to invest up to $650 million in green upgrades for Sacramento and Miami buildings, utilizing a tax loophole that enables property owners to upgrade structures at no preliminary cost. The New York Times has more.
Solar sintering. Student work from the Royal College of Art exhibited at the London Design Festival explored the connections between energy and design. One student chose to examine the relationship between manufacturing and nature, creating a “Solar Sintering” machine that uses sunlight to power a 3D printing process. According to core77, the machine converts sand into a glass-like substance.
“Draped” trains. Inspired by the decadence and glamour of early train travel, Carlton Varney, president of Dorothy Draper & Co., designed interiors for the Greenbrier Presidential Express cars. The train is slated to have its first run from Washington D.C. next July to Greenbrier, North Carolina, for guest of the Greenbrier Resort. More at Editor at Large.
Street math. In an effort to freshen up their brand image, the DOW recently posted a “chalkboard” billboard displaying a mathematical equation on a building at the corner of Broome and Crosby streets in Manhattan. According to PSFK, the solution tells the story.
Basketful of rain. An art installation along the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf in Buffalo, New York called Fluid Culture examines the impact of globalization on water. One piece in the exhibition, Rain Baskets, repurposed everyday items such as umbrellas, hoses, and rugs to create a rainwater harvesting system reported Buffalo Rising.
The affordability winner of this year’s Solar Decathalon in Washington D.C. is the one that is the most socially conscious, the one that already has a real-life site, and the one cheapest to build: Empowerhouse by a team from Parsons The New School for Design, Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School, and Stevens Institute of Technology. Many other awards are to come including the overall Solar Decathlon winner but achieving lowest cost—Empowerhouse cost $229,890—was especially important this year as, in the past, the best of show has gone routinely to the always costly German entry whose previous winning entry carried a price tag of $600,000 which caused a bit of an uproar. Germany was not among the 19 student teams this year.
Thinkin’ Lincoln. IBM is taking over the Lincoln Center through October 23rd with one of the biggest interactive technology exhibits in the city: IBM Think Exhibit. Highlights include the 123-feet long “data wall” and a forest of 40 seven-foot media panels. More at Inhabitat.
Bronx Beauty. The New York Times‘ new archi-critic, Michael Kimmelman, has penned his first review, shying away from the iconic, gleaming projects of his predecessor, instead beginning with Via Verde affordable housing in the South Bronx, which may help him demonstrate that quality trumps quantity, especially in moral debates of architecture.
Biking Sacrifice. Atlantic Cities reported that cyclists in urban environments might want to be wary of cars for more than just accident risks: harmful automobile emissions create a hazard for cyclists as well. According to new research, bikers inhale more than twice the amount of black carbon particles as pedestrians do in the same trip.
Walk much? Personal urban transportation devices has found a new friend in the Skatecycle. This hubless, self-propelled riding machine may require some serious agility, balance, and style to master but its sleek body and lightweight components has earned it the Core77 2011 Design Award in the transportation category. What’s next, wheels in our shoes?
Reiner & Lautner. Designer, manufacturer, and lover of modernist architecture, Kenneth Reiner, died recently in Long Beach, CA. Reiner will be forever remembered for his decade-long collaboration on Silvertop, one of John Lautner’s modernist masterpiece homes in Los Angeles. Chicago Tribune tells the story.
By bike or by mule. The arrival of the new pedicab transportation system in New Orleans has been met with fanfare and reluctance. Mule-drawn carriage drivers are concerned that this cheaper mode of transit will deter from the experience and authenticity of motor-less travel in the French Quarter. However, Forbes reported that they are not about to throw in the reigns.
3 days in LIC. 72 Hour Urban Action, a culturally aware, civic minded architectural design outfit is set to bring their festival to Long Island City in 2012. They have a year to prepare and coordinate for a 3 day building process. Inhabitat has more.
Collegiate teams around the globe have been challenged by the U.S. Department of Energy to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that aim at sustainability. The Solar Decathlon‘s winning team will be one that understands the importance of the Solar Decathlon competition by designing a home through the lens of affordability, design appeal and solar accumulation for energy efficiency.
As the contestants set up their designs on West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., you can take a look at the innovative entries at the Solar Decathalon and cast your vote in the People’s Choice Awards. Voting ends September 30th at 7pm EST and you can cast one vote per email address. As of this publishing, Team New York was in the lead, followed by Appalachian State and Team China. If you’re near D.C., be sure to check out the houses in person through October 2.