20 Fenchurch Street, aka “The Fryscraper” (photo by Luc Mercelis / Flickr)
Last September, Londoners experienced a pretty unusual architectural phenomenon: One of the city’s newest luxury towers, the half-finished 525-foot-tall skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch St., began inexplicably shooting a “parabolic death ray” hot enough to melt cars.
The massive building’s glass façade with its unusually wide top was concentrating sunlight to the point that it created a reflected hotspot of up to 230ºF — much higher than the boiling point of water. In addition to the roasted Jaguar, the “Fryscraper” set a barber shop’s carpet on fire and shattered a restaurant’s slate floor tiles.
It also, naturally, became a tourist attraction, with people gathering in the unseasonably warm afternoons to fry eggs and toast baguettes in the glare.
Surely the building’s designer was mortified by the results of his creation, right? Well, no. When architect Rafael Viñoly was questioned about his flawed design, he heartily deflected, blaming consultants, global warming, cost-cutting developers, and the sun’s elevation.
This was an especially galling disavowal of responsibility because the science of solar reflectivity analysis has been gaining traction for several years. There are many tools, firms, and even apps available to architects and developers to help avoid just this problem.
Especially damning for Viñoly is that the “death ray” issue was not actually unprecedented.
And the last time a high-profile building had had problems of this nature, it was also one he’d designed.
A woman’s hand juts of the earth holding an exposed glass house.
What exactly could this mean?
Architect Andreas Angelidakis created this crazy cool concept.
When the rain falls, the giant hand appears to be coming out of the water, elegantly holding the glass house.
“The Glass box represents the moment when the celebrity exposes herself to the paparazzi,” Angelidakis says. It “sits on the concrete platform as a forgotten piece of infrastructure.”
The staircase leads down into the cave section of the house where a normal life is taking place. “Behind the boulders are doors to excavated bedrooms, places of total isolation and darkness.”
Ultimately, the house shows us the dichotomy of Hollywood.
“The residents enjoy total privacy together with total exposure, a day on the beach and a night in the cave, the entire city of Los Angeles abbreviated like a Twitter post inside the limits of their property.”
An artist’s representation of tiny homes to be constructed in Gosford. Photograph: Tiny Homes Foundation.
When pious architects choose to direct their talents toward a higher calling, they tend to do so in the form of towering cathedral spires, awe-inspiring sermon halls and grandiose vaulted ceilings.
Derek Mah, an associate at NBRS Architecture, went for something a little more humble. At a Sunday sermon about two years ago at Community Church Hornsby, on the northern fringes of Sydney, he was approached about using his skills not to devise great big buildings in the name of God, but tiny houses for the homeless.
The suggestion came from a friend in the congregation – David Woolridge, who, as Mah put it “has always been passionate about trying to get guys off the street and helping them out. He came up to me and said he’d gotten an idea about how to solve homelessness”.
It is a vision about to be realised in Gosford, on the New South Wales central coast, where three to four “tiny homes” that each take up just 14 square metres will be completed next month as the first project of Woolridge’s Tiny Homes Foundation, designed in partnership with NBRS Architecture.“Think of the house as a shoebox,”
The word “shoebox” isn’t usually a selling point in real estate parlance, but Mah uses it in this case with pride, given the long-term objective of the project is to enable housing to be provided to as many of Australia’s estimated 105,000 homeless people as possible in a country where building isn’t cheap, and land is eye-wateringly expensive.
Each tiny house costs less than $30,000 to deliver, and the small size of the building means it can be squeezed onto excess council-owned land not suitable for conventional housing, at potentially no cost.
For the last 8 years the Pathe Foundation in Paris has worked with Pritzker-winning architect Renzo Piano to design and construct their new headquarters.
Slated for a grand opening, photos have emerged that reveal, in the architect’s own words, “an unexpected presence”: a curved bulbous structure that looks like it’s been squeezed into an opening within a historic Parisian city block. “
The art of inserting a new building into an historic city block,” says Piano, “means engaging in an open, physical dialogue with the existing city buildings.” In other words, it’s an exercise in reclaiming space.
Hidden mostly behind buildings, the new headquarters, which will promote the Pathe’s heritage in cinematography with office spaces, film archives and a screening room, pokes its head out above the neighbors, looking like a giant armadillo.
Walking by, an unsuspecting visitor would have no idea was behind that street-side facade.
“Fraternité – Brotherhood,” Arabic calligraphy. Jodpur – India (2012).
In a stunning series of images that blend photography, calligraphy, and performance art, Nantes-based artist Julien Breton (aka Kaalam) uses light and dance to “paint” beautiful and fleeting characters into the air.
Inspired by a combination of Latin and Arabic writing styles, each piece is captured on long-exposure film while the artist creates his inscriptions using colored lamps and careful, intention-filled movements
“Dead’s Place,” Abstract calligraphy, New York – USA (2012).
As a living, artistic response to the environment, the designs are matched in compositional harmony to the surrounding backdrop, be it an underpass in New York, an abandoned building in France, or a magnificent hall in India.
Each performance lasts several minutes and is then transformed into a single frame, transcending the boundaries of time and our perception of light.