Every rose has its thorn, including those supposed holy grails of sustainable products. CFLs contain mercury. Biofuel competes with farmers for topsoil. Now high performance windows, particularly those of the double-pane, Low-E variety, have become the bane of suburbia, as they can apparently melt your neighbors home—or at least their vinyl siding. That was the news from a surprising report on Boston’s Channel 5 news, sent to us by Infared New England, who tests for these sorts of things. It turns out that under the right circumstances, the windows work as magnifiers, focusing light on nearby buildings like a rascally child picking off ants. At least two area women have suffered the consequences, and there are plenty of similar videos on YouTube. So let this be a warning to you about the risks of vinyl siding next time you consider using it on a project. (Okay, let’s be honest, if you’re reading this, god forbid such a thought ever crossed your mind. Still, it’s pretty crazy, the unintended consequences of this business of ours. Eh, Frank?)
We get a lot of Twitter followers every day (not to brag—but are you one of them?) and one particularly caught our eye today for its clever name, @formfollowshome. Turns out to be a simple blog, Form Follows You Home, the kind of no frills operation that would make Mies proud. All the blog is is a nice little catalog of one of our favorite things in the world: architecture videos. We’d seen quite a few of these, but this one of John Johansen taking Connecticut Public TV on a tour of his one-of-a-kind home was a particular standout. We got a tour ourselves, but here is proof for everyone to see that the man is a genius. After the jump, a two-parter with another grandmaster, Oscar Niemeyer, done by so-cruel-its-cool Vice magazine of all places. Read More
On Wednesday, SFMOMA held a press preview of its new exhibit, “Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection,” which takes up the top two floors and features whole entire rooms of Calders, Ellsworth Kellys, Chuck Closes, Agnes Martins—a smorgasboard of modern masters, each a few steps from the next. Downstairs in the main lobby, however, there was the opportunity to get to know a different group of artists—the four candidates that are up for the job of designing the SFMOMA’s new extension. Read More
Forget school-top farms for privileged Manhattan children. You want something truly radical? How about taking over abandoned lots in Detroit so poor single mothers can make a living growing organic produce. That is in part the focus of Grown in Detroit, a new documentary about how the Motor City, on both the large and small scale, is trying to become the manure city. The film is currently screening at a few locations in town as part of the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival. For those of us not in the shrinking city, though, there’s an ingenious option to stream the doc on its website, albeit on a pay-what-you-will basis, which is almost as clever as the idea to turn Detroit into one giant, happy farm.
How to make the Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo truly a national symbol? Add some bike lanes, of course. Bjorke Ingles, head of BIG Bjorke Ingles Group and designer of the pavilion, takes us on a tour, via Archinect. (Be warned, though. Instead of soundtracking this with the Raveonettes or Kashmir, whoever put this together went with arguably the worst song ever, “I Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. You may want to mute your sound before hitting play.)
Terrible music aside, why is Scandinavian architecture so much fun?
And you thought your apartment was small. Gary Chang, a Hong Kong architect, has outdone us all, managing to cram 24 “rooms” into his 344-square-foot box apartment through the clever use of movable walls, murphy beds, and other various architectural tricks. As he explains in the Reuters video above, it’s the perfect bachelor pad. “I realized that at one moment, I’m performing only one task, so the ideal thing for me is, I don’t have to move, I’m quite lazy, but the place changes for me,” Chang explains. It’s a far cry from his upbringing in the space, however, when he shared it with his parents, three sisters, and a tenant. Should he ever get a girlfriend, he’ll surely find a way to manage.