Entries Tagged 'Environment' ↓

Wish You Were Here.

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The disappearing landscape is an issue in all communities, and the question of how to preserve the visual character of towns, cities and rural areas is always pressing.

This is even the case in Havana, Cuba’s capital and largest city, where political and economic isolation have compelled Cubans to retain the use of structures longer than many urban centers might.

Yet Havana is, indeed, changing. It’s a turn that Cathryn Griffith, in her new book, Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage, covers through an unusual technique of matching early 20th century postacards, bought primarily through the internet, to modern-day views, like these of Cuba’s famed Centro Gallago, above. Through this unusual technique, Griffith not only documents the historical form of the island’s architectural heritage, but creates a template for how communities may, perhaps, preserve that tradition in any place.

Cathryn Griffith is a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 16, at 2 pm ET.

screen31But first we’ll speak with Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker. Pennoyer is the principal partner of Peter Pennoyer Architects and chairman of the Institute for Classical Architecture and Classical America. Walker holds a degree in historic preservation from Columbia University, and has co-authored three books with Pennoyer. Their newest, The Architecture of Grosvenor Atterbury, tells the story the late 19th / early 20th century architect whose classical forms, resistant to modernist trends developing in Europe and other places, led to some of the most beautiful structures of his era. Many are well-preserved, even now, and commissions like these stone barns for the Rockefeller family, right, or his design of New York City’s Forest Hills Gardens, continue to delight and inspire.

You can hear Peter Pennoyer’s, Anne Walker’s, and Cathryn Griffith’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm ET. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me.

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A site about “Architectural Conjecture, Urban Speculation, [and] Landscape Futures” certainly seems to promise heady distraction, and Geoff Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG delivers by the Liebherr T 282B-full.

Up since July 2004, BLDGBLOG totes a range of diversions almost as wide as Manaugh’s obviously fertile mind: Ice floes (and interplanetary atmospherics); automobile test tracks; odd, old synthesizers; hell; and designing the long-term storage of nuclear waste. Every post delights with inquisitive, nimble writing and typically dreamy images, and his The BLDGBLOG Book—which compiles dozens of his best pieces—makes the whole enterprise fit on your shelf.

Now, in a new exhibit at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City, Manaugh and co-curator Nicola Twilley (Edible Geography) turn their focus on another underaddressed, little-grapsed element of the human landscape. As states the page for Landscapes of Quarantine, which opens March 10th,

At its most basic, quarantine is a strategy of separation and containment—the creation of a hygienic boundary between two or more things, for the purpose of protecting one from exposure to the other. It is a spatial response to suspicion, threat, and uncertainty. From Chernobyl’s Zone of Exclusion and the artificial quarantine islands of the New York archipelago to camp beds set up to house HIV-positive Haitian refugees detained at Guantánamo and the modified Airstream trailer from within which Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins once waved at President Nixon [above], the landscapes of quarantine are various, mutable, and often unexpected.

Geoff Manaugh is a contributing editor at Wired UK and former senior editor of Dwell magazine. He’s also the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 5, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear this provocative ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

The Dream of the Blue People.

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avatar-james-cameron-interviewjpg-670a6289770f7c9e_largeThroughout his career, writer/director James Cameron, right, has pushed an insistent, technologically-demanding style of filmmaking seemingly up a cliff. From seeing Star Wars, as a 22-year-old truck driver in his native Canada, to becoming creator of the highest-grossing film in history—1997′s $1.8 billion Titanic—he has taken hold of the film industry by sheer force of will. Meanwhile, with each advancing step, the creator has fought off naysayers and second-guessers, each expecting his next outrageous vision to be his final folly.

With the release of his latest work, Avatar, above, however, Cameron has shattered expectations, as well as creative and financial barriers, to make what is, after five weeks, already the second-highest-grossing film in history, with eyes on its older sister’s No. 1 position.

116347_keegan_rebeccaWho is James Cameron, and what makes him the man and artist he is? In her new book, The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron, author Rebecca Keegan, right, works to get inside his life and thinking. By interviewing Cameron, his family, and his numerous collaborators, the journalist gives a detailed, never-before-seen picture of this remarkable, often confounding auteur; the drive behind the driver, so to speak.

Rebecca Keegan is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 15, at 2 pm ET.

That conversation, though, will be preceeded by a discussion of the crisis in Haiti. This week’s devastating 7.0 earthquake, which killed an estimated 45-50,000 people, deepens the woes of the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation. We’ll examine the disaster, and the forces at work, globally, that keep the country in its troubled state.

You can hear Rebecca Keegan’s thoughts, and others, by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

UPDATE: These are links to the Haiti pieces from which I read during today’s NONFICTION broadcast:

Why We Are Partly Responsible for the Mess that is Haiti by Thomas Fleming

Haiti: the land where children eat mud by Alex von Tunzelmann

Also recommended:

Catastrophe in Haiti by Ashley Smith

Haiti, When the World Changed.

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Visions of a Gorgeous, Green Future.

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That’s “The DoChoDo Zoological Island,” above, a fantastic rendering of an environmentally neutral structure, designed by Brussels-based JDS/Julien De Smedt Architects, from the retrospective of their work, Agenda.

[via bldgblog]

Lady Gaga’s Bathrobe.

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Imagine if you wore this to, say, the Oscars…and someone else showed up in the same dress?

According to 1 Design Per Day,

The Galaxy Dress by designers Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz is made up of 24,000 2mm x 2mm color LEDs and 4,000 Swarovski crystals. It can glow for 30 minutes straight before needing to be recharged.

And, when you put it on to go pee in the middle of the night, you don’t have to turn on the lights.

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Let’s Just Say That This Would Be MTV Cribs‘s Shortest Episode.

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At 102 sq. ft., Jay Shafer’s Weebee model home, above, is not even the smallest design that he offers through his Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. (That honor goes to his 65 sq. ft. XS-House.)

But it’s the Weebee that got him into author Mimi Zeiger‘s Tiny Houses. In it, Zeiger documents what appears to be a burgeoning movement, seemingly driven toward answering one poignant question: What is the absolute least amount of space that I need to take up in order to live, and by which I can meaningfully reduce my burden on the planet?

With the opposing, little-lamented “McMansion” boom now made disgustingly quaint by the housing crisis and collapse, “the desire to downsize and be more ecologically and economically prudent is a concept many are beginning to embrace,” says her book’s web page.

Tiny Houses, thus, runs whole hog with this notion, featuring modular as well as prefab homes all the way from a relatively palatial 1187 sq. ft….down to a sliver of 10, though most would agree that her Casulo “house” really stretches the limits of that word.

However, Zeiger’s point is not only to present compelling design, but to have

people challenge themselves to live “greener” lives. By using a thoughtful application of green living principles, renewable resources for construction, and clever ingenuity, these homes exemplify sustainable living at its best.

Mimi Zeiger is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 25, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear her ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

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Journey to a Strange Planet.

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The stunning frozen terrain, above, made of ice several feet thick, but clear as glass, was photographed by explorers on the surface of a planet millions of miles from our Sun.

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Well, At Least the Hunters Think Twice Before Shooting.

Don Simon’s Industrial Forest 1

By employing astounding technique, colored pencil artist Don Simon deftly visualizes a mournful and demoralized world. It’s one where man’s increasing industrialization of the biosphere has not only pushed humans and animals into ultradirect contact and competition, but where the natural landscape has begun to frustratingly morph into the mechanized metalliscape. As a New Jersey native, where some of the nation’s most gorgeous terrain borders some of its most hideous, he knows of whence he speaks.

In “Industrial Forest 1,” above, for example, from his Unnaturalism I series, deer dart between and attempt to hide amidst a thicket of silver metal pipelines. (The grove’s absolute density becomes more clear in the triptych from which this image is taken.)

By mankind literally doing to the creation what Simon does figuratively, “We are forcing other species to deal with compromised, damaged or destroyed ecosystems,” says the artist.

Yeah, well, as U. of Texas prof Robert Jensen reminds us, quoting a friend, “Nature always bats last.”

[via Paper ‘n Stitch]

Here’s Something Else They Could Have Done with the $700B Bailout: Saved Africa. Twice.

“Uh…we could use some help here…hello?”

Chances are this will never make the TV news: According to an estimate by Eric De Place of Sightline Daily, “every cent of Africa’s crushing debt” could be retired for $350 billion. (The sum was actually estimated at $320B by the U.N. in 2003, so De Place just adds another $30 billion to make a round number. It could be higher, or lower.)

Now, that would leave $350 billion. Working from this figure, De Place then states,

You could install solar panels on 20 million American homes for $300 billion. …

We could install ground source heat pumps for 5 million American homes for $50 billion.

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