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architecture

Paper Punk Goes to Town with ‘Urban Fold’ Kit

urban foldAspiring architects, urban planners in training, and underachieving dictators, take note: the crafty types at Paper Punk have created a kit “that allows anyone to build the city of their dreams with a few simple folds.” Behold Urban Fold, a box full of punch-n-fold shapes, stickers, and more. We asked Paper Punk founder Grace Hawthorne—an artist, author, and educator who heads up the Creative Gym course at Stanford’s d.school—to tell us more about this paper-block city project, which is up for backing (and buying) on Kickstarter through December 2.

(Matthias Heiderich)
(Photo: Matthias Heiderich)

How did you get the idea for Urban Fold?
Urban Fold is a modern take on old-school wooden blocks. I was inspired by this photo (above) by Matthias Heiderich and graffiti I spied in Berlin last year. Not many construction/building activities go beyond solid or primary colors. I wanted to create an urban-minded build/play experience that was also eye-candy, just impossible to resist because it’s bursting with colors, patterns, cool graphics…so fun-looking that you impulsively want to touch and play with it.

How is this different from previous Paper Punk projects?
Urban Fold is Paper Punk’s first boxed set. Unlike our other offerings, it comes packaged in a handsome oversized storage box and has does not include adhesive dots in the set. The intention is for the user to punch-out shapes, fold all the blocks, customize with the 697 provided stickers, build/play, put away in the storage box, bring out and customize/build/play again, etc. I refer it to an open box set because there are so many pieces to it and what anyone can create with it is only bounded by their imagination. All our kits provide open play opportunities, but Urban Fold takes it to a whole new level. We can’t wait till users show us all the crazy cool things they’ll make with Urban Fold.
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Watch This: Iwan Baan on Building Homes in Unlikely Places

No starchitect’s portfolio is complete without a jaw-dropping image by Iwan Baan. The Dutch photographer stumbled into the architectural world in 2005, when he pitched his services to Rem Koolhaas. Baan got the gig and began what would become his first major project: documenting the construction of OMA’s China Central Television (CCTV) building and Herzog & de Meuron’s completed National Olympic Stadium, both in Beijing. Less than a decade later, the likes of Frank Gehry, SANAA, Morphosis, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro keep Baan on speed dial. “What I find really fascinating is what happens when architects and planners leave and these places become appropriated by people,” explained Baan in his talk last month in New York at TEDCity2.0. Watch to learn about his search for pop-up cities and villages built in the unlikeliest places using the most bizarre methods.

Ready the Creamed Corn! Canstruction Returns to New York

Gensler WSP Flack + Kurtz - CAN’s Best Friend
Can’s Best Friend. Koons meets canned goods in this entry by Gensler and WSP Flack + Kurtz.

Ever dreamed of recreating a Richard Serra sculpture with tomatoes from the pantry? Erecting a monumental tribute to Alexander McQueen’s armadillo heel using only canned peas and elbow grease? What about constructing a truly giant giant panda that can feed hundreds? Teams from top architecture and engineering firms will prove that they can do it, and for a good cause. The international charity competition that is Canstruction returns to New York City this month and with it the opportunity for teams of architects, engineers, and students they mentor to design and build giant structures made entirely from unopened cans of food—all of which are ultimately donated to City Harvest.

For its twenty-first go-round in Gotham, Canstruction has lined up 26 teams representing the likes of Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Arup, Gensler, and HOK. Their carefully stacked creations will be judged in categories that include Best Use of Labels, Best Meal, Structural Ingenuity, and Most Cans. The works will be on view at Brookfield Place from October 31 through November 13. Visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable foods that will be donated along with the cans used in the competition to City Harvest.

Big Time: Olafur Eliasson, Peter Zumthor Among New Mentors in Rolex Arts Initiative

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(Photos courtesy Studio Olafur Eliasson and Keystone/Christian Beutler)

Rolex’s Arts Initiative gives new meaning to the phrase “ones to watch.” For the past decade, the luxury watchmaker has paired mentors and protégés in dance, film, literature, music, theatre, visual arts, and—beginning last year—architecture for year-long creative collaborations. The program, which encourages dialogue between artists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines, has devised dynamic duos such as Anish Kapoor and Nicholas Hlobo, Zhang Yimou and Annemarie Jacir, and SANAA’s Kazuyo Sejima and Yang Zhao.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice was the setting for a festive gathering held earlier today to announce the seven creative wizards who will serve as mentors for the 2014-15 program: Olafur Eliasson (visual arts), Alejandro González Iñárritu (film), Michael Ondaatje (literature), Alexei Ratmansky (dance), Kaija Saariaho (music), Jennifer Tipton (theater), and Peter Zumthor (architecture). As for the emerging talents, it’s pick-your-own-protégé. Each of the mentors will choose a talented young artist to join them for a year of creative collaboration—and a grant of 25,000 Swiss francs (approximately $28,000, at current exchange rates).

Andrew Galuppi and Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami ‘Bring the Globe Home’ in Online Tag Sale

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“I really got some crossed looks when I brought this Indonesian mask back from a trip overseas,” says Andrew Galuppi (at right). “I took up most of the overhead bins!”

CM_portraitsLooking to ward off the evil eye with a wedding Hamsa from North Africa, amass an instant collection of Japanese liquor bottles, or add a Moroccan Beni Ouran rug to your living room? These exotic treasures and many more are just a click away thanks to interior designer Andrew Galuppi and architect Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami. The pair have teamed up with flash sale site One Kings Lane for “Camera Mundi” an online tag sale that begins today.

The collection of homegoods, priced from $20 to $3,000, includes rugs, furniture, statuary, and other objects collected by Galuppi and Sardar-Afkhami during their travels around the world. “Every handcrafted item is infused with someone’s story—they probably were taught their skill by a long-lost relative and spent hours on each piece, and without the help of a machine,” says Galuppi, who travels to India every winter. “This is part of the world I like supporting, because each piece carries with it an energy and a real story that gets transferred to your home.” We asked the globe-trotting designers to tell us more about “Camera Mundi,” the objects in the sale, and where their worldly, contemporary aesthetic will take them next.

cm objects

How did you come to work with One King’s Lane?
Ahmad Sardar-Afkhani: One of my close friends, Nate Berkus, was doing a sale with another friend, Ethan Trask, who works at One Kings Lane. We began talking and he proposed I create a sale mostly with the rugs and textiles I have been collecting.

Andrew Galuppi: Ahmad didn’t want to do the sale all alone—it’s more fun with a friend—so he knew my apartment was stuffed to the rafters with bits and bobs and he thought the mixture of our two collections would create one great big exciting assortment…kinda like a crazy bazaar!

Tell us about the significance of the title, “Camera Mundi”?
Sardar-Afkhani: In Latin, it means “room of the world,” where objects from different historical and cultural backgrounds can be displayed next to each other. I’m all for this type of juxtaposition, where new meaning and beauty is derived from assemblages of objects that would otherwise have little in common.

Galuppi: In addition to what Ahmad has explained…I think that a lot of people have really well curated homes these days, and including an object from some far away place will add texture and personality to a space to make it really feel finished and unique. That’s where “camera mundi” comes into place: bringing the globe home.
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National Trust for Historic Preservation Receives $2 Million from American Express

Astrodome_EdSchipul
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is waging a campaign to preserve the Astrodome and 34 other endangered places.

Endangered cultural and historic places: don’t leave home without (preserving) them. American Express is pitching in to help the National Trust for Historic Preservation in its work to save America’s historic places. The company will provide the privately funded nonprofit with a $2 million grant to help protect architectural, cultural, and natural heritage sites at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. Part of a $15 million, ten-year pledge made by American Express to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the grant funding will go to overall support of the National Treasures program—a revolving portfolio of endangered places that includes the Astrodome in Houston, Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia, Miami Marine Stadium in Miami, and Union Station in Washington, D.C.—as well as funding for specific preservation needs at some of the locations.

Mark Your Calendar: City Modern 2013

Archtober is nearly upon us, and the designtastic autumnal fun gets off to an urbane start with City Modern, celebrating the best in New York design and architecture. Now in its second year, the collaboration between Dwell Media and New York magazine kicks off next Friday with a Meet the Architects celebration, followed by a weekend of City Modern home tours in Manhattan and Brooklyn (the one pictured at right is “Skyhouse,” a project by architect David Hotson and interior designer Ghislaine Viñas that occupies a previously vacant four-story space at the tippy-top of one of the oldest surviving skyscrapers in NYC). The week continues with programming led by New York design editor Wendy Goodman and Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron, including a sure-to-be-stimulating conversation among Paola Antonelli of MoMA, the one and only Michael Bierut, and architecture critic Justin Davidson about “What Design can Do For New York City.” Get the full scoop on all eight event-packed days here.

Marseille’s MuCEM Trades ‘Bling-Bling Brightness’ for Bony Fragility, Sensual Cement

It’s Marseille’s moment. The port city, France’s largest on the Mediterranean coast, is in the spotlight as this year’s European Capital of Culture, with a host of major projects on view. Writer, author, and intrepid flâneur Marc Kristal paid a visit to the new and improved Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean and filed this formidable report for us.


(All photos courtesy Rudy Ricciotti)

Comprised of two 15,000-square-metre structures—the 17th-century Fort St.-John and a new seven-level building by architect Rudy Ricciotti, linked by a slender 115-metre-long footbridge—Marseille’s Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM), is, says director Bruno Suzzarelli, “an outstretched hand from France to the region.” Wishing to refuse the “bling-bling brightness” of signature-building starchitecture, Ricciotti responded to the fort’s massiveness with a “bony, feminine, fragile” design, executed almost entirely in high-strength concrete, and distinguished by a densely-patterned screen that covers two elevations and folds onto, and projects off of, the roof.

Seven hundred and eleven of the 15,688 cubic metres of MuCEM’s signature building material are comprised of fiber-reinforced ultra high performance concrete (UHPC), which proved especially suitable to the project: UHPC’s “closed-pore” compounding renders it virtually impervious to sea spray and other corrosive agents, and the highly “flowable” substance can adapt to the most elaborate molds—ideal for MuCEM’s latticework panels. Ricciotti also appreciated the material for its narrative qualities. “Cement can inspire dread in certain slums and elsewhere touch the sublime,” he observes. “And cement gives off a formidable sensuality.”
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Explore 3D Printed Fashion, Food Next Week in California

3D-printed guitars, food, and fashion will be displayed and discussed at Mediabistro’s Inside 3D Printing Conference & Expo next week, September 17-18 in San Jose, California. Join us there and network with leaders in the Silicon Valley tech community.

Design-oriented sessions include “Tools of Creation” and “The Future of Retail and Materials for 3D Printing,” which will be led by Isaac Katz of Electronic Art Boutique and David L. Bourell of Laboratory for Freeform Fabrication.
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Making Room: Inside Museum of City of New York’s ‘Launch Pad’ Model Micro Apartment

Are even tinier apartments the answer to better accommodating the emerging housing needs of major cities? An exhibition at the Museum of City of New York suggests as much, and the “live smarter and smaller” theme seems to be resonating—the popular show on new housing models has been extended to September 15. We asked writer Nancy Lazarus to head over to the museum’s fully built “micro unit” and make herself at home.

About thirty curious visitors filed into a 325-square-foot full-scale studio apartment model on a recent Friday afternoon. The occasion wasn’t a real estate open house, but a chance to experience a highly touted micro-unit called “The Launch Pad.”

The furnished model (pictured above) serves as the centerpiece of “Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers,” an exhibition on view through September 15 at the Museum of the City of New York. Amie Gross Architects and interior designer Pierluigi Colombo, founder of Resource Furniture, collaborated on the unit’s design.

Architectural models and design solutions from New York and selected cities worldwide are also showcased. These coincide with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s initiative to offer more affordable, though smaller-scale, housing options for the growing ranks of single city residents.

An open ambience prevailed inside the micro-unit, not claustrophobia, as skeptical attendees may have expected. They soon learned key elements for optimizing space from Jeffrey Phillip, an organizing pro who specializes in blending style and efficiency.

“We all struggle with living in small spaces, but small spaces are also grand spaces,” Phillip said. He showed visuals to illustrate the advice he offers to space-challenged clients. While a few concepts were conventional, others were counterintuitive. Some mini spaces benefit more from design makeovers.
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