Redesigning New York’s Waterfronts

Hurricane Sandy's Damage in Dumbo Brooklyn

Hurricane Sandy’s Damage in Dumbo Brooklyn

Sandy, storm of the century, reeked havoc on 1/3 of  the US over the past few days and devastated many east coast cities, namely New York.

Many sections of the Manhattan waterfront were flooded.  The west side to Hudson Street, parts of the Lower East Side, Dumbo, Red Hook, Queens and Long Island City were submerged in water.  One wonders, could this have been prevented?

Over two years ago, MoMA and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center created The Rising Currents exhibit.  The exhibit showcased five projects that addressed the concern for climate change over the next five years and how it will drastically effect Manhattan’s waterfront.

The harbor was divided into five areas and given to five teams (composed of members of n Architects-in-residence program at P.S.1).  Their goal, according to the Rising Currents project, was to “re-envision the coastlines of New York, and New Jersey around the New York harbor and to imagine new ways to occupy the harbor with adaptive soft infrastructures that are sympathetic to the needs of a sound ecology”.

The Rising Currents exhibition ran from March 24, 2010 to October 11, 2010.  Its unfortunate that a natural disater like Sandy had to happen before New York opened it’s eyes to the inevitable destruction.

The harbor divided into 5 zones

The harbor divided into 5 zones

Potential plan for zone 0 to stop sewage overflow and block higher sea levels

Potential plan for zone 0 to stop sewage overflow and block higher sea levels

nArchitects, Zone 3: An archipelago of man-made islands lines the coast of Staten Island and Brooklyn. These islands not only filter the storm waves, but will be programmed with specific functions to accommodate the expected spike in the population.

One Square Meter = Home Sweet Home

Bigger is always better, right? Not in this case.  Berlin based architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel created a one square meter house.

The “One-Sqm-House”, as it is named has a lockable door, window, built in desk and when flipped on it’s side,  a built in bed.  The only thing this house is lacking is plumbing (which means no kitchen or bathroom).

Le-Mentzel wanted a house of his own in which he could control where he went, which way his window faced and door opened, and who his neighbors are.  He drew a lot of his inspiration on aircraft cabins and their spacial savvy-ness.

The house is said to weigh a mere 90 lbs. and can easily fit into most elevators and subway cars.

Interested in occupying your own sq. meter utopia?  The materials to build one cost roughly $300, or it can be rented for a little more than $1 a night.  Visit airbnb for info.

Pop Up Coffee

Design group Nendo conceived its first ever Pop Up Starbucks in Tokyo Japan which was open Sept 9- Sept 30.  For those unfamiliar with the term “Pop Up Shop”, it is simply when a company or brand takes over an existing space.  In this case Starbucks, the well famed coffee brand occupied an art gallery.

The two story space was called “Starbucks Espresso Journey” and was designed to resemble a library.  The clean neat design was lined with a gradient of brown tone books.  The second floor was a open area for customers to sit and enjoy their coffee.  The concept was to mesh the two pleasures of reading and drinking a cup of coffee.

Upon entry the customer is encouraged to explore the 9 different books, each color coded to represent a 9 different drinks sold.  Once the customer is educated and has selected the perfect book (coffee), it is then brought to the counter in exchange for the drink.  The reverse of the book covers also double as an insert foe a short or tall tumbler, should you want a souvenir of your experience.


images from Designbloom


Living In The Digital Underground?

Due to my affinity for music and all things odd, I found the construction and abandonment if the live in sculpture of The Digital Underground’s, Humpty Hump astounding and rather comical.

In 1993, The Digital Underground commissioned a $50,000 head of Greg Jacobs (aka Humpty Hump) from FM Productions (of Pink Floyd’s pig fame).  The head was used in the groups video to promote their single “Return Of The Crazy One”.

The sculpture stands 12ft tall and 16ft wide and comes equip with a dressing room, green room, elevator, light up glasses and lip/chin that doubles as stairs.

Humpty sit abandoned in an Oakland prop warehouse and has only had one former tennant, a man evicted from his apartment, who lived in the head fro several weeks.  So Humpty Hump is up for grabs, but buyer beware, the real Humpty is looking to buy it back or rent it should he need it again.

image from Gizmodo

Lego My Eggo

Roughly five years ago Parisian designer, Simon Pillard (fashion house JC de Castlebajac) put in a day and 500 Legos worth of work into building a Lego legged chair.  They then decided to take a bolder approach and teamed up with fellow designer Philippe Rosetti (Hugo Boss France) to form Munchausen, creating products.  Most of their professional work is black and white, but as a departure from the Lego chair, the duo covered a basic kitchen island from Ikea in more than 20,000 blocks!  In addition to functionality as a kitchen counter, it also creates a unique piece for the space.  Breakfast has just gotten a whole lot brighter!

Art & Design: David Byrne Bike Racks

Ex Talking Heads front man, David Byrne has found a new livelihood in bike rack design.  New York’s Department of Transportation held a design contest for both indoor and outdoor bike racks.  As an avid bicyclist, they asked Byrne to judge the contest.  Feeling inspired, Davis submitted his own sketches.  Each rack was designed to represent different neighborhoods, a dollar sign for Wall street, an abstract shape to represent MoMA, and a high heel in front of Bergdorf’s.  The DOT loved it and told Byrne to make them so they could put them up!  The racks are installed in eight locations in Manhattan and one in Williamsburg Brooklyn.  They were installed under the city’s temporary public art program but has since been voted by the city’s Design Commission to remain permanently.

(from l-r:) The Ladies Mile loated in from of Bergdof’s, The Hipster located in Williamsburg, The Villager located in front of AIA

Recently, David was invited by The Brooklyn Academy of Music to design their new bike racks.  This time for BAM, with the help of Dero Bike Rack, Bryne will use typography to spell out words like “Pink Crown” and “Micro Lip”.  The bike rack words will change periodically and could have the ability to advertise productions at BAM or just random messages.

           (“Pink Crown” bike racks at BAM)

Art & Design: Afangar

Afangar exhibits all of the design themes in some capacity. Activation of ground is activated by both contrasting orientation of the elements and the uniformity of the material. The landscape is vast and barren. The pillars act as contrasting, tall, vertical elements that interrupt the enormous horizontally of the space. The Pillars however, possess a sense of belonging, because of their material. They are made out of quarried basalt stone similar to that of the island in which they stand.

This leads to both site contextuality and scale and proportion of the landscape and nature. This instillation has a strong sense of proportional isolation. The island, where the site is located, is isolated from the main land and civilization in a way. Although it is a tourist site not many people regularly visit the island making the island remain in its undisturbed state. The idea of isolation also exists on a smaller scale between each of the nine groups of two. The groups are arranged based on the topography of the land and creates separation of each set from another and also determines the distance between each of the pillars. It creates a tension of longing to not be alone in some of the further apart examples.

The role of movement in spatial experience is a tricky one because the way it is used by Serra is not used in a way that the piece is in motion or has an implied movement but it encourages the viewer to walk around to seek out different arrangements of the pillars and views framed by each set. Serra himself has created a series of twenty-nine or so prints based on this very experience. Afangar doesn’t have much of a sense, or really any sense of enclosure but there is something to be said about occupation. The pillars are occupying such a small portion of the vast wasteland, which strengthens the sense of isolation by allowing the landscape to dwarf the fairly large pillars.

Serra’s use of material and tectonic strategy is an important theme here. It is what makes this instillation so striking. The use of basalt stone gives the pillars a sense of belonging but their tectonic eludes the fact they are not a natural occurrence and were placed there. Finally, the theme that absolutely cannot be overlooked is the module used in Afangar. Each set of the pillars has one that is three meters and one that is four meter. They are both embedded in the ground until they are level with each other and each set is arranged in this fashion. This creates a connection between them that strengthens the pair.

Hospitality: Unusual Hotels

Part hotel room, part work of art, Hotel Everland is a project by the artist duo of Sabina Long and Daniel Baumann.  Everland Hotel is a one-room hotel where every guest takes part in the artists’ vision for the project.   The room is designed as the artists’ “subjective dream of a hotel” and was designed with every detail thought out…right down to the guests being allowed to “steal” the golden embroidered bath towels.

The room can be booked for only one night, the mini-bar is fully stocked and included in the price, breakfast is delivered to the door and a record collection is available right in the room for guests’ use.

What really makes this hotel room a work of art is that it isn’t permanently located in any one spot.  It’s location changes every so often where it is available for viewing during the day and then in the evening is reserved only for the guests.  It was first developed and located as an exhibit at the 2002 Swiss national exhibition called “Everland.”  After that it was relocated for 4 months to the banks of the Lake of Neuchatel, also in Switzerland.  Next it was moved to Burgdorf, Germany and placed on the roof of the factory where the artists work.  For most of 2007 the room was moved to the roof of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig, Germany.  Most recently the one room hotel was located on the roof of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris where it offered amazing views of the Eiffel Tower.

Visit Hotel Everland