July 20, 2011

contemPLAY Pavilion - by McGill University School of Architecture Students

Recently, a group of students from McGill University - where I earned my first architecture degree - designed and constructed a temporary pavilion, on campus, in front of the school of architecture school. The design is a elegant structure built of wood and steel; with the form of a mobius strip the wood shell shelters a place for contemplation, becoming both a piece of furniture for the campus as well as an abstract sculpture. Read the press release below for more information about the project:


The ContemPLAY pavilion is a combined steel and wood structure created by the McGill School of Architecture DRS (Directed Research Studio M.Arch) students as research in advanced construction and contemporary architectural theory. It is built in collaboration with F.A.R.M.M. (Facility for Architectural Research and Media Mediation), and Maria Mingallon the Gerald Sheff visiting Professor.

The project was launched to celebrate the new DRS program at the McGill School of Architecture. The pavilion was presented at the 99th Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture annual meeting during March 3-6. It will be built in Montreal for McGill School of Architecture Cultural Mediations and Technology Conference during May 18-20 after which it will move to the SAT (Société des Arts Technologiques).

The ContemPLAY pavilion is meant as a multi-generational artefact that gathers the ideas of contemplation and playing in a single clear gesture. As a socially sustainable public infrastructure that plays with the visual field through form and cladding, it questions the current trend in public space furniture and encroaches in the realm of the abstract sculpture or artifact.
The gesture itself is a three dimensional mobius strip which is supported by a triangular truss. The truss is a combination of plywood and steel elements. The cladding is a visual pattern generated to create a simultaneous moiré and parallax effect. As the public approaches and engages with the pavilion, the visual field is modified and interrupted by the interference created by motion and the two layers of cladding. The eye continuously covers the never ending surface of the mobius inviting dynamic motion from the user. Within, a bench anchors the project to the ground, allowing for a center seat in a never ending structure. The light filters through the cladding generating an ambiguous relationship between the notions of inside and outside as well as furniture and shelter.

As you move around the pavilion, new interference patterns are continuously created and destroyed though this mechanism of moiré; thus the pavilion creates a responsive, interactive experience. The simplicity of a half-twist in a ribbon was rendered extremely complex through the doubling and offsetting of the mobius strip: the creation of two surfaces activated the moiré but required strong yet minimal structural solution. Our solution to this complexity was a space frame. To resolve all these design criteria, the moiré pattern and an optimized space frame are generated via customized digital parametric modeling.
The Team:
  • Hamza Alhbian
  • Simon Bastien
  • Justin Boulanger
  • Evguenia Chevtchenko
  • Elisa Costa
  • Jason Crow
  • Nicolas Demers-Stoddart
  • Andrew Hruby 
  • Olga Karpova 
  • Shelley Ludman 
  • Diandra Maselli
  • Maria Mingallon 
  • Courtney Posel 
  • Dina Safonova 
  • Dieter Toews 
  • Sophie Wilkin 
More Information
Website: http://web.farmmresearch.com/pavilion/index.html
Facebook: contemPLAY pavilion
Contact: Nicolas Demers-Stoddart nicolas.demers-stoddart@mail.mcgill.ca

July 18, 2011


Here are some more images of the winning projects from Redaction: LAMP LIGHTING SOLUTIONS AWARDS 2011. There are some incredibly beautiful designs well deserving of the award.

- canvas tarps
- canvas tarps

July 6, 2011

Compact Design in an Ever-Expanding World

Space is becoming an increasingly precious commodity. As it becomes more and more difficult to find space, the cost of available space in any given community has, of course, risen accordingly. This has required more people than ever before, to find ways in which to share living quarters. While many cultures are built upon the idea of communal living, the Western, industrialized world prides itself on individualism, and views leaving home and creating a space of one’s own, as a rite of passage. Over the course of the last 15 years, however, the cost of housing in many large cities has increased to the point that it is nearly impossible to adhere to this hallmark of independence. For those people who have chosen to embrace this idea of shared living space, a new world of creative possibilities has been opened, and a fascinating culture of innovative, compact design has emerged.

Japanese Design
Making a shared space livable for everyone requires more than the purchase of smaller furniture, so that you can fit more people and things into a room. Rather, it requires an understanding of how to arrange the space so that it feels clutter free. More than that, there must be an understanding of how to maximize its functionality, so that one can get the most out of the space, with the fewest items in it. Countries where space has long been an issue have been the most prolific when it comes to finding ways in which to most efficiently utilize surface area. Japanese design firms, such as Igarishi Design Studio and Kenchikukagu of Atelier OPA, have consistently produced furniture designs that are at once attractive, minimalist, and functional. The elegant simplicity of design exhibited in the work of these two companies, is both a response to limited space, and a reflection of culturally based design concepts. Japanese design has long adhered to a set of aesthetic rules with which the Western world is largely unfamiliar. Whereas the goal of many upwardly mobile Westerners is to fill a room with as many pieces of furniture, electronics, and accessories as possible, Japanese design stresses simplicity, called kanketsu, and Japanese designers are as focused on the negative space, or ma, as they are on the actual objects they design or place in a room. Rather than filling a space, Japanese design is invested in sculpting the empty space. This idea of sculpting the “white space” is especially apparent in the “rid block” by Igarishi Design Studio, pictured below. A series of modular units that can be rearranged into multiple configurations, the “rid block”, can be everything from dining room table, to office space, to living room furniture.
The "Rid Block" from Igarishi
European Design
The Japanese are not the only group of people that have excelled at creating furniture that both saves space and is aesthetically pleasing. The single most widely recognizable modular furniture company is, without a doubt, IKEA, the Swedish company founded by Ingvar Kamprad. Though the company’s space saving concepts and designs had already gained recognition and popularity in many parts of Europe by the 1950’s, their emergence as a furniture superpower, worldwide, did not occur for another 30 years. It was not until the 1980s that IKEA began to expand into European markets in France, Italy, and the UK, and then finally, to the US. IKEA arrived in the US at exactly the same moment as a movement towards environmentally sound living practices, and an increased need for shared living space, began. It was a happy coincidence, and the company’s aesthetic quickly took a young generation of apartment mates by storm. Sofa sales were especially successful, as were sales of the company’s office and bedroom furniture sets, and they have remained the top retailer for people seeking to increase the functionality of limited space for 3 decades. IKEA’s “Karlstad” modular sofa, pictured below, is an example of the clean lines for which the company is known. Other European design firms, recognizing the success of IKEA’s minimalist approach, have since created more luxurious variations on this theme. Alf + Da Fre Italia, for example, has combined the clean lines and modular styling that has become the aesthetic norm in today’s small apartments, with higher-end fabrics and materials that are often most associated with larger and more traditional furniture styles. A sofa from their “Divano Zen” line is also pictured below.
"Karlstadt" from Ikea
“Divano Zen” from Alf + Da Fre Italia
Though sharing a flat with five to six other people can occasionally create issues in the kitchen or bathroom, it does allow for some interesting experiments in creative design. The act of constructing livable, attractive space with other people is, in essence, our new rite of passage. Using the concepts practiced by the Japanese, some ingenuity, and a tape measure, it is possible to transform a tiny apartment, communal living space, or kitchen into a comfortable, compact, functional space for everyone. If in doubt, the “Mobile Kitchen”, and “Foldaway Office and Bedroom” from Kenchikukago can serve as inspiration.
“Mobile Kitchen” and “Foldaway Office and Bedroom” by Kenchikukago
Susan is an amateur interior designer and passionate about home photography.

July 1, 2011

Video: Great Spaces Trailer

This trailer for an upcoming show focussed on design called "Great Spaces" features some of the fantastic new architecture rising in lower Manhattan. It seems like the show will be focussing on highlighting contemporary architecture and will be worth checking out.

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