Defpoints


“air-purifying” concrete
August 8, 2008, 5:55 pm
Filed under: Green

The University of Twente in the Netherlands has developed  a new concrete type — with a  titanium dioxide-based additive — that binds the nitrogen oxide particles emitted by car exhausts and turns them into harmless nitrates when under sunlight.

“With one rain shower everything is washed clean,” the institution said in a statement.

Concrete pavers based on this technology are now being put to the test in Hengelo in the eastern Dutch province of Overijssel.

One half of a road under reconstruction is being paved with the new, green bricks, and the other half with the ordinary variety.

A recent picture shows the special paving stone in a lab of the Twente University. A road in the small Dutch town of Hengelo is to be paved with air-purifying concrete in a trial that could lead to a breakthrough in the fight against rising pollution, scientists said.

A recent picture shows the special paving stone in a lab of the Twente University. A road in the small Dutch town of Hengelo is to be paved with air-purifying concrete in a trial that could lead to a breakthrough in the fight against rising pollution, scientists said.



Anish Kapoor + Herzog de Meuron = ???
August 7, 2008, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Architecture, art, North America
Barcelona Forum, Herzog de Meuron

Barcelona Forum, Herzog de Meuron

At 56 Leonard Street in Tribeca, New York (corner of Church and Leonard Streets), Herzog de Meuron and Anish Kapoor are collaborating on a new residential tower. Kapoor will design a site specific sculpture for the ground floor.

Millenium Park sculpture, Chicago, Anish Kapoor

Millenium Park sculpture, Chicago, Anish Kapoor



Democratic Ecology
August 7, 2008, 7:43 pm
Filed under: Design, Energy, Green

Democratic Ecology wind turbine, Philippe Starck

By now, this personal wind turbine by Philippe Starck has shown up everywhere: the New York Times, Apartment Therapy, Inhabitat…. But it is still a cool and ballsy proposition—to have a personal windmill that could provide 30-60% of the energy for your home.



Blubberland
August 6, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Green, Landscape, Urban Design

A new book from MIT Press, Blubberland by Elizabeth Farelly, considers our excesses—space, McMansions, too large cars, supersized plates, plugged-in everything—and asks why it is so hard to abandon habits, relatively recently formed, that we know are destructive to our health, our environment, our social well-being.

In a short text in Architectural Record, she defines blubber’s spatial features—those vast empty calorie shopping malls and cul-de-sac neighborhoods dotted with McMansions and perfectly manicured lawns.

From Blubberland:

I, like you, drive too much. I buy too much–of which I keep too much and also throw too much away. I overindulge my children, and myself. Directly as well as indirectly I use too much water, energy, air and space. My existence, in short, costs the planet more than it can afford. This is not some handed-down moral stricture, nor any sort of guilty self-flagellation, but a simple recognition of fact. The consequences are obvious, and near enough now to see the warts on their noses. For my own future, as well as my children’s, I must change. And yet–this is what’s weird–I, like you, can’t. Cannot abandon comfort, convenience and pleasure for the sake of abstract knowledge. Can’t stop doing it. This is interesting.

It’s interesting because we think we are so rational, so intelligent, and yet we behave, both individually and as a herd, in such unintelligent ways. That’s what drove this book into being.



Housing Lenders Fear Bigger Wave of Loan Defaults
August 4, 2008, 8:25 am
Filed under: Economy, North America

More bad news on the housing / economy front from the New York Times.



Sting likes Bob Stern!
August 3, 2008, 3:44 am
Filed under: Architecture, North America, Urban Design
The highest priced new apartment building in New York City. Photo by Todd Eberle, Vanity Fair.

The highest priced new apartment building in New York City, 15 Central Park West. Photo by Todd Eberle, Vanity Fair.

Sting, Bob Costas, Norman Lear, Sandy Weil, and Denzel Washington live in the new Robert A.M. Stern building on Central Park West. In Vanity Fair Paul Goldberger discusses how this retrograde-looking building turned out to be the most successful in recent New York development history:

nothing appeals to people, particularly rich people, like something new that doesn’t look too new. . . . What Stern actually designed, it turned out, was a building in which every apartment looked like an old Park Avenue apartment after someone had renovated it.

Architect Robert A. M. Stern stands on the concierge desk at 15 Central Park West.

Architect Robert A. M. Stern stands on the concierge desk at 15 Central Park West.



Jean Nouvel on NPR
August 1, 2008, 1:57 pm
Filed under: Architecture
Jean Nouvel

Jean Nouvel

2008 Pritzker Prize winner Jean Nouvel was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition today.