A True Alliance of Man and Nature

“A huge manmade mountain measuring 420 meters long, 270 meters wide, 38 meters high and elliptical in shape was planted with eleven thousand trees by eleven thousand people from all over the world at the Pinziö gravel pits near Ylöjärvi, Finland, as part of a massive earthwork and land reclamation project by environmental artist Agnes Denes. The project was officially announced by the Finnish government at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on Earth Environment Day, June 5, 1992, as Finland’s contribution to help alleviate the world’s ecological stress. Sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, Tree Mountain is protected land to be maintained for four centuries, eventually creating a virgin forest. The trees are planted in an intricate mathematical pattern derived from a combination of the golden section and the pineapple/sunflower system designed by the artist. Even though infinitely more complex, it is reminiscent of ancient earth patterns.

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“Tree Mountain is the largest monument on earth that is international in scope, unparalleled in duration, and not dedicated to the human ego, but to benefit future generations with a meaningful legacy. People who planted the trees received certificates acknowledging them as custodians of the trees. The certificate is an inheritable document valid for twenty or more generations in the future – the first such document involving the future in human history. The project is innovative nationally and worldwide—the first such document in human history. This is the very first time in Finland and among the first ones in the world when an artist restores environmental damage with ecological art planned for this and future generations.

“Tree Mountain, conceived in 1982, affirms humanity’s commitment to the future well being of ecological, social and cultural life on the planet. It is designed to unite the human intellect with the majesty of nature. Tree Mountain was dedicated in June, 1996 by the President of Finland, other heads of state, and people from everywhere.”

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“The development of Tree Mountain took 14 years from the original design concept in 1982, to its commissioning by the Finnish government at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992— to its completion in 1996 in middle Finland. A mountain needed to be built to design specifications, which by itself took over four years and was the restitution work of a mine that had destroyed the land through resource extraction. The process of bioremediation restores the land from resource extraction use to one in harmony with nature, in this case, the creation of a virgin forest. The planting of trees holds the land from erosion, enhances oxygen production and provides home for wildlife. This takes time and it is one of the reasons why Tree Mountain must remain undisturbed for centuries. The certificate the planters received are numbered and reach 400 years into the future as it takes that long for the ecosystem to establish itself. It is an inheritable document that connects the eleven thousand planters and their descendents reaching into millions, connected by their trees. This family is the original green generation, the term that became so popular recently in people’s terminology. This family from around the world are proud custodians of the trees that bear their names and grow through the centuries to a lush manmade virgin forest. Tree Mountain is a collaborative work, from its intricate landscaping and forestry to the funding and contractual agreements for its strange, unheard-of land-use of four centuries. The collaboration expands as eleven thousand people come together to plant the trees that bear their names and remain their property through succeeding generations. The trees can change ownership—people can leave their tree to their heirs, or transfer it by other means, even be buried under it—but Tree Mountain itself can never be owned or sold, nor can the trees be moved from the forest. The trees are made by nature, the mathematical positioning created by the human intellect to form a true alliance of man and nature.”

Text & Pics: Agnes Denes Studio

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Historic home of the future

A 1952 issue of Popular Mechanics has an article about Robert Heinlein’s 1,150-square-foot home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which he designed for extreme efficiency. For instance, a table rolls between the kitchen and the dining room to make it easy to set and clear tableware and food dishes. Skylights have mirrors to reflect more light into the rooms. Most of the furniture is built in.

“The built-in bed with storage drawers beneath it, the built-in divans that can be converted to extra beds and all the other furniture are built right down to the floors,” Heinlein says. “There is nothing to clean under.

“There are no rugs or any need for them. All floors are surfaced with cork tile that provides a warm, comfortable and clean footing. Nor are there any floor lamps or table lamps. The illumination is built into the house. General lighting for the living room comes from cold-cathode tubes concealed behind a box molding. These illuminate the ceiling. Adjustable wall spotlights are located at all work and relaxation areas in the house. All electric convenience outlets are at a comfortable hip height. I’m through stooping over to the baseboard whenever I want to plug in an appliance.

After the Heinleins moved in the 1960s, the house was extensively remodeled and enlarged, but apparently the bomb shelter “survives in almost original condition.”

Via BoingBoing

“In 1950-51, the Heinleins built a new house in the Broadmoor district of Colorado Springs. Being a newly developed area, they were allowed to choose their own house number. It will surprise few that they chose 1776.

“This article was written shortly after the completion of the house, and shows off Heinlein’s innately clever design abilities. Many of the features are now common in more recent houses. Although his direct influence is probably nil, his ability to see future developments is again impressive. The house, city, and its substantial bomb shelter are featured prominently in the novel Farnham’s Freehold. The house was sold when the Heinlein’s moved to Santa Cruz in the mid-1960s. Mystery/thriller writer Robert Crais, a Heinlein fan (who puts at least one Heinlein reference in each of his bestselling novels), visited the house in about 1998 and was allowed to visit the bomb shelter and take pictures.

“The house has been renovated and enlarged at least once. The bomb shelter, built in early 1963 (after Heinlein announced they had no shelter at SeaCon, Labor Day 1962), apparently survives in almost original condition, but the house was extensively renovated and expanded in 1981, with a second floor larger than the original footprint added. The original house, now the first floor, retains the same floor plan, but there are varying reports about how much of the original interior remain. At least some of Heinlein’s clever details and fittings have been removed or replaced, while some others remain.”

Via site:RAH

“Colorado’s McGinniss GMAC Real Estate has a listing for Robert A. Heinlein’s Colorado Springs home. The four-bedroom, four-bath, 4400-square foot home in Broadmoor is currently listed at $650,000. And the provenance of the home may be a selling point: realtor Sharon Roland writes “Superb Location!!! Historic home built by noted science fiction author Robert Heinlein sits on a quiet 1.5 acre lot within walking distance of the Broadmoor Hotel & Cheyenne Canon. Main level with parquet wood flooring throughout features a large formal living room w/moss rock fireplace and walnut wainscoting, spacious dining room, galley kitchen with breakfast nook and walkout to 10×35 patio overlooking the private wooded lot w/three cascading ponds!”

Old Republic

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“Like adding New York to Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, then squaring the result. The capital of the Old Republic takes urban sprawl to the extreme and realises the vision of Greek City planner Constantinos Doxiadis of an ecumeonpolis: a single city that covers the whole of a planet. The ‘New Architecture’ style common to the Senate Area of Coruscant is characterised by Manhattan-like skyscrapers nestled among blade-thin obelisks that resemble the soaring minarets of Cairo…”

Top 10: The architecture of Star Wars, Architects’ Journal .

Du lac Dulok

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“It would appear that the Star Wars Universe owes another debt to architecture. A reader sent in the above image with a note saying that the Hotel du Lac in Tunisia may have served as the inspiration for the Sandcrawlers used by the Jawas to travel across Tatooine. Another visit to Wookiepedia […] tells us that filming for A New Hope largely took place in Tunisia, so it’s entirely possible that this building did, in fact, have an influence on the production design. BONUS: a little trivia for you Extended Universe fans — “du Lac” was the origin of the “Dulok,” the natural enemies of the Ewoks. Obvs. But wait, there’s more!…”

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Rem Koolhaas, Tunisia, and Sandcrawlers, Life Without Buildings

Merely Local

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“Frank Lloyd Wrights Marin Civic Center was the headquarters for the Gattaca corporation in Gattaca and also featured in George Lucas’ THX-1138. In THX-1138, this was merely a conveniently local piece of architecture that looked like a contemporary vision of the future, rather like the Texas modernism in Logan’s Run. In Gattaca, this building fitted the overall consciously retro-futuristic style.”

15 scifi movies 15 famous architectural locations

“Science Fiction Movies and famous architecture have a particularly strong tradition, however the link is not always flattering. Since much science fiction deals with a dystopic vision of the future, architecture is often seen as part of the environmental cause, from Philadelphia’s abandoned, alienating, solitary confinement based, Quaker prison in 12 Monkeys to the architectural brutalism of Brunel University in the literally brutal Clockwork Orange…”

Minimalism Mash Star Wars

“In a 1967 essay on minimalism, Clement Greenberg, America’s most influential critic, could have been describing Star Wars: “Everything is rigorously rectilinear or spherical. Development within a given piece is usually repetition of the same modular shape, which may or may not be varied in size.” Greenberg rejected minimalism as pedestrian. “Minimal works are readable as art,” he wrote, “as almost anything is today, including a door, a table, or a blank sheet of paper.” Perhaps because of its fantastic nature, the Death Star has never been recognized as an essential work of minimalism—but it is one.

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“Its destruction has never been acknowledged as a turning point for modernism—but it was one. Lucas unabashedly emulated the visuals of Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968),which incorporated the principles of modernist architecture (spare, utilitarian, evenly lit spaces) and the presence of a minimalist slab (colorless, drab, depersonalized, inscrutable non-art). The only ornamental flourishes in the film were borrowed from NASA (whitewashed modular construction pocked by latches, struts, and access panels) and corporate furniture design (steel, leather, powder-coat enamel, and blobby red Dijinn).

Lucas hired so many members of Kubrick’s team that their subset of the Star Wars crew was dubbed “The Class of 2001.” But he borrowed selectively. Kubrick’s 2001 environments were cohesive and balanced, informed by architectural theory and late-’60s aesthetics; they upheld the distinction between the astronaut modernists and the alien minimalists. By contrast, Lucas willfully mashed together minimalism, modernism, and NASA design. Two visual rhetorics are at war on-screen: The first is that of an industrial superpower; the second is that of a rogue fringe of misfits and mismatches…

Star Wars: A New Heap – Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Death Star, John Powers, Triple Canopy

Waterflux

Amorphous mutations that suddenly get the form of an art museum that will be finished in 2009, it seems that R&’Sie architecture evaluates architecture’s degree of reality transforming pieces taken out of a plastic dimension to convert them in high quality architecture

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Design of a building for an art museum/alpine ice research station Scenario:

1) Digitization of the envelope of a traditional habitat.
2) Scooping out hollows within this volume as if it were an ice cavity, but in full wood by a 5 axes drill machine.
3) Water states and flows vary according to the seasons: The ice flows and freezes; the ice façades freeze and melt, forming a pond in front of the building.
4) Exacerbation of the winter climate by artificial snow (500 m3)
5) Construction by CNC machine processing, 5 axes, in full wood (2000m3-1000 trees) and reassembling the manufactured 180 pieces on site.
6) Reactivation of local economy

Amorphous mutations that suddenly get the form of an art museum that will be finished in 2009, it seems that R&Sie architecture evaluates architecture’s degree of reality transforming pieces taken out of a plastic dimension to convert them in high quality architecture.

The museum, designed with the most organics forms that we can find in nature, clearly represents the team philosophy of “Making with…”, that is their way of describing their research into a critical experience of architecture through a mutation of contextual parameters.

As François says in their web-site, scenarios of hybridization, grafting, cloning, morphing give rise to perpetual transformation of architecture which strives to break down the antinomies of object/subject or object/territory.

R&Sie(n) is an architectural office set up in 1989 and lead by François Roche (1961, France), Stéphanie Lavaux (1966, France), based in Paris. The organic, oppositional architectural projects of their practice is concerned with the bond between building, context and human relations. Roche explains his concept of ‘’spoiled climate” chameleon architecture, which links and hybrids the human body to the body of architecture by a re-scenarization on the rules of all the natures, even artificial. They use speculations and fictions as process to dis-alienate the post-capitalism subjectivities, in the pursuit of Toni Negri. R&Sie(n) consider architectural identity as an unstable concept, defined through temporary forms in which the vegetal and biological become a dynamic element.

Waterflux