Wulpen Community Center
Architect: Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu
Client: Flemish Government Architect
Location: Wulpen, Belgium
The Brooklyn-based firm Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO–IL) recently won a design competition for a community center located in Wulpen, a small, coastal town in Belgium. Their design transforms an unused schoolhouse into a community center with three distinct parts: a multipurpose room in the former two classrooms, a youth space in a garden, and meeting rooms in the original teachers’ house.
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.
Of the 85 proposals submitted to a playground design competition hosted by Go Play!, few were as innovative as AnneMarie van Splunter’s RubberTree, which landed an honorable mention. The Dutch designer’s imaginative reuse of old car and motorcycle tires recalls the simplicity of children playing around a tree, inspired, in fact, by the rubber tree and its heavily exposed root system. Van Splunter sought to create a place where refugee children on the border of Burma and Thailand can be “rooted in solid ground.”
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.
Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a pedestrian-friendly Times Square is about to be written in stone. On September 27, Snøhetta gave Community Board 5 a preview of things to come at the Crossroads of the World, and they look a lot more permanent than lawn chairs and painted pavements. Principal Craig Dykers presented designs for dark and darker pavers that largely eliminate any bias for an automotive Broadway, stepping the plaza streetscape up to sidewalk grade and adding elongated benches to indicate long-gone traffic patterns. In homage to New York noir, the designers have also embedded nickel-sized reflectors adding a hard bit of glitz to the dark stones that will not compete with the glam above.
According to an email from Seth Solomonow, Press Secretary at the NYC Department of Transportation: “This long-planned redesign will restore the aging utilities below the street, which itself hasn’t been rebuilt in more than 50 years and still has trolley tracks beneath the asphalt. On the surface, this simple, flexible design will clear obstructions and support the growing number of programs occurring in Times Square, which more than 350,000 people visit every day.”
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.
Charles Woodyard has been appointed chief operating officer the of the Chicago Housing Authority. Woodyard has served in a similar capacity for nine years at the Charlotte Housing Authority. Woodyard will be tasked with completing the “Plan for Transformation,” which cleared most of Chicago’s large-scale public housing developments, displacing nearly 17,000 people and opening up vast tracks of land. Rebuilding is only partially complete, a process that has been slowed by the still-stalled real estate market. Read More
Deborah Wye’s lecture on Orchard Beach yesterday at the City Island Historical Society Nautical Museum was months in the making. The curator emerita of MoMA’s prints department was immersed in research about a year ago for the Nautical Museum’s exhibit celebrating 75 years of Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park and in particular its bathhouse pavilion. The show, called Orchard Beach Pavilion: Past, Present and Future, runs through October 16. The show and lecture got a huge bump when Christopher Gray made the pavilion the focus of his “Streetscapes” column in Sunday’s New York Times.
Despite the controversy over Ed Fickett’s now-endangered West Hollywood Library, the city’s new library, designed by architects Johnson Favaro, is set to open to the public this Saturday. The 32,000 square-foot project, with its undulating white facade, will feature two large murals by artist Shepard Fairey (part of a collaboration by Vanity Fair magazine and Cadillac) as well as an interior installation by artist David Wiseman. The master plan for the area calls for 2.5 acres of parkland and open space, new tennis courts and 400 parking spaces in two municipal garages. We’ll be taking a closer look at all this after the library opens, so stay tuned…