Category Archives: Architecture

What is Beauty?

This post is going to talk about aesthetics and its purposes in the world of design.

Aesthetics are defined as “The branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and expression of beauty, as in the fine arts” (From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/aesthetics). Whether something is beautiful varies depending on the different perspectives of the viewers. In design, aesthetics play a great role, similar to the function of the structure and its mechanics. Analogy: When I buy running shoes, I look at the shoes not based on their function and ability to make me run faster, but based on their look and how “cool” they looked to me (well at least when I was young). It’s no different today: at first glance, people would usually have preferences on a design that looks beautiful compared to a dull looking design with similar functions and abilities. Fashion, houses, cell phones, toys, food and many more things are greatly affected by their aesthetic appeal over their functions, mechanics and other properties.

In design, aesthetics are based upon what everyone thinks looks nice; what the creator thinks that what everyone thinks looks nice, because our views of beauty are greatly affected by the media and its uniqueness; hence what is “beautiful” could also be “what is trending.” As a result, the designs of things are always altered to suit the ever-changing definitions of beauty, such as the designs of  “iPhones.” Although aesthetic appeal plays a great role in design (and in the market), I think that we, as consumers, should focus more on the functions, mechanics and other properties of structures as they would aid society more, and they would also influence more useful designs to be built to aid the people who need it the most.

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Frank Lloyd Wright

During the time in our technological design class when everyone was still building cabins, my teacher spoke to us about a famous architect named Frank Lloyd Wright who made unique American architecture, and thought that we could be inspired by his work. It was until now that I decided to research about his works.

Frank Lloyd Wright was known for his prairie-styled buildings; buildings located close to grassland and/or in a natural environment. What made his buildings so famous was mostly because of their aesthetic appeal which was complemented by synchronizing the structures and materials of the building with the surrounding environment. In addition, Frank Lloyd Wright had designed many of his own furniture (which were built into the house), along with stained glass.

“The prairie has a beauty of its own and we should recognize and accentuate this natural beauty, its quiet level. Hence, gently sloping roofs, low proportions, quiet sky lines, suppressed heavy-set chimneys and sheltering overhangs, low terraces and out-reaching walls sequestering private gardens” – Frank Lloyd Wright

"Falling Water"

“Falling Water”

"Falling Water" Interior

“Falling Water” Interior

 

Straight from 9gag

Straight from 9gag: "Exploitation of free samples from Home Depot"

This looks so amazing…

9gag.com/gag/5576065

Rocket Stove to the Sky

Rocket Stoves (rocket mass heaters) are heaters; they heat the house. They’re “super efficient furnaces.”

FURNACES INFORMATION: The efficiency of furnaces is measured in AFUE, which is a number that shows the percentage in efficiency (A greater AFUE results in a greater efficiency). High efficiency furnaces range from 90 to 97%, while low efficiency furnaces range from 80Image% and less.

90-97% is already pretty efficient for a furnace, so how can rocket stoves beat that? I don’t even know. The efficiency of rocket stoves haven’t been professionally analyzed yet, so there’s not really a specific number that shows it; not in the AFUE (if someone can tell me otherwise, please do! I’ve been looking for an answer from many sites now, but I can’t seem to find a proper answer). Guaranteed however, rocket stoves are a very efficient way to heat up one’s house (efficient as in the amount of fuel – wood – put in will bring you a lot of heat, and for a long time too – which is up to 4 days).

In the picture on the right: Wood and oxygen go in on one side to be burned in the burn chamber and then transferred into the steel drum. The steel drum brings out some of the heat directly out into the house for immediate heating, while the rest of the heat is transferred through a long, airtight duct to keep the heat circulating around the house to have constant heating. The duct is usually covered with clay, mud, stone and many other materials and then covered with a ceramic spray to keep everything together. This clump of clay, mud and stone (and many more materials) that covers the duct can be used a furniture; a couch; a bed; a table; anything.

This is the only website I’ve seen so far that sells rocket mass heaters:

http://zaugstoves.com/Zaug_Stoves/Home.html

A rocket mass heater in real life

Victorian

Victorian

A Victorian-style cottage/cabin

Functions for a Cabin (and any other house)

Wouldn’t it be nice to escape from the city; go to somewhere quiet and secluded; to be one with nature. I’m not talking about a camping trip; more like a cabin in the woods.

To be one with nature; you gotta have the look: Those new-looking houses won’t really fit in the whole “nature” theme and it won’t really fit in middle of a bunch of trees either. The overall look of the cabin has to be rustic, with mainly from Victorian-style aesthetics (your choice actually; it’s just that I’d prefer Victorian-style over other rustic designs) with additional adjustments from our new-day technology, such as having side-sliding windows and electricity generating systems like wind turbine generators or pico-hydro generators so that we’ll do as little harm to the environment as possible (net zero energy footprint, net zero carbon footprint…). The cabin (and any other house) would need to have these functions:

volumetric space design – smartly using the space given to us, including space for sleeping, the living room and a bathroom (in this case, a small cabin would be around 500 square feet)

energy system – a way to generate, distribute and store energy for use (for small things like lighting or the composting toilet)

water system – to gather, store and distribute water (this includes having a rain barrel and having a grey-water system. A greywater system is something that reuses the water that’s used for bathing, washing hands or from the toilet for use for watering plants – NOT FOR DRINKING)

waste management system – get rid of all types of waste, like human excreta and compost. Food wrappers and other non-compostable things should be carried out with you back to the city to be disposed of there (includes things like a composting toilet and a composting area)

climate control system – keeps the temperature warm during cold temperatures and cool during hot temperatures

This site shows a bunch of cool looking cabins like the one on this post: http://freecabinporn.com/

The Sky is Falling?

I’ve read an interesting article today, about faulty towers in Toronto. This is the link:

http://www.torontolife.com/daily/informer/from-print-edition-informer/2012/07/24/faulty-towers/

The article talks about a bunch of flaws in the condos being built in Toronto, including unpainted lobbies, leaky walls, cracking foundations, falling glass windows and much more. Blackouts have been warned due to the extreme electricity usage and the condos’ current electrical grid not being strong enough to handle it. It also explains things about the building documents and how they have become further generalized to prevent/reduce the chances for developers from being sued (when I say “generalized,” I mean something like taking out the numbers from a cook book). As a result, cheaper materials, including incandescent light bulbs and low efficiency boilers, can be purchased for use in the condominiums, and insulation/noise transmission may possibly be a job not-so-well-done (according to the results in the article). The building code ensures that the condominium meets at least the minimal standards; however in some of the cases in the article, the condominiums did not even follow according to the building code either. Some people who have complained about their homes have been sued, while others have stopped in fear of decreasing their condominiums’ resale values, or of being sued as well.

Toronto is the number one developer of condominiums; the city that’s building the most condominiums in the world. Despite this fact, several condominiums in Toronto have failed to suffice to proper living conditions. What I’m guessing are the main problems for the faulty condominiums in Toronto because of the labour and materials used to complete the project. With proper, experienced labour, the quality of the condominiums may have been improved greatly in that there will not be cracked foundations, leaky walls or creaky floors. With better materials being used, the condominiums may have been able to last much longer and increase the quality of life in them as well (better insulation and noise control). In addition, with higher-quality resources, the materials used in making the condominiums will last longer,  and appliances like light bulbs will be replaced with more efficient alternatives; hence also benefiting the environment.

I understand that money plays a big role in life; however people should not swindle other people’s quality of life in order to become richer.