urbanus vulgaris

urban life & culture / ideas & insights / innovation & development

Category: building techniques

A history of cities in 50 buildings

by gailiute

The Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex in St Louis, shortly after its completion in 1956. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

The Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex in St Louis, shortly after its completion in 1956. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

Few days ago I stumbled across very interesting series of articles. They explore our urban history through 50 buildings. Though didn’t read all of them yet, few already caught my attention quite successfully, like story about Pruitt-Igoe highrise or Aleppo citadel. So far so good.

Strongly recommend to read!



We really need some big institutional housing programs again. ;)

by jiookrednav





And as a dessert a Japanese Gem from the 80’ies:

Facade panels that produce energy from algae

by gailiute


This looks like a great invention.  Arup created Solarleaf bioreactor – thin, 2.5 x .07 meter panel, when attached to the exterior of a building, is capable of generating biofuel – in the form of algae – for the production of hot water. Sounds fun and smart! Read more here:


A self-healing asphalt

by gailiute

Paved roads are nice to look at, but they’re easily damaged and costly to repair. Erik Schlangen demos a new type of porous asphalt made of simple materials with an astonishing feature: When cracked, it can be “healed” by induction heating. (Filmed at TEDxDelft.)

SpontaneousInterventions: design actions for the common good

by vytasvulgaris

“SpontaneousInterventions: design actions for the common good is the theme of the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale (Fall 2012). In recent years, there has been a nascent movement of designers acting on their own initiative to solve problematic urban situations, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. Provisional, improvisational, guerrilla, unsolicited, tactical, temporary, informal, DIY, unplanned, participatory, opensource—these are just a few of the words that have been used to describe this growing body of work.” http://www.spontaneousinterventions.org/about

Picture: http://www.envelopead.com/proj_octaviakl.html

Designing for experience, not for appearance

by gailiute


Because of poor acoustics, students in classrooms miss 50 percent of what their teachers say and patients in hospitals have trouble sleeping because they continually feel stressed. Julian Treasure sounds a call to action for designers to pay attention to the “invisible architecture” of sound.

Julian Treasure is the chair of the Sound Agency, a firm that advises worldwide businesses — offices, retailers, hotels — on how to use sound. He asks us to pay attention to the sounds that surround us. How do they make us feel: productive, stressed, energized, acquisitive?

Responsive cities: sharing capabilities

by gailiute

I just fell in love with the small folding responsive car ;)

How can we fit more people into cities without overcrowding? Kent Larson shows off folding cars, quick-change apartments and other innovations that could make the city of the future work a lot like a small village of the past.

Kent Larson has been the director of the MIT House_n  research consortium in the School of Architecture and Planning since 1998 and is also the current director of the MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places group. Both projects are dedicated to developing technologies that solve contemporary issues in the home, the workplace, and the city. Larson practiced architecture in New York City for 15 years and wrote for several architectural publications and the New York Times. In 2000, his book, Louis I. Kahn: Unbuilt Masterworks, was selected among the Ten Best Books in Architecture by the New York Times Review of Books. His current work has three focusses: responsive urban housing, ubiquitous technologies, and living lab experiments to test his group’s designs in practical environments.

Urban models from the 17th century

by justina

Detail of the urban model from the 17th century

A month ago the Grand Palais in Paris was housing exciting exhibition of raised relief maps and huge urban models of towns from the 17th and 19th centuries. The impressive models done for military reasons now represent urban planning, architecture, typology of the fortified towns and give an image of the environment  few centuries ago.

Visitors explore and walk on carpet, historical map of France, at the entrance of the exhibition

The exhibition was very inspiring. You could endlessly explore precise details, little cute houses, relief, trees, materials, learn about the old towns. Size of the models was really amazing! That let me think that in the 17th century just as now the best way to make the impression and express the power is to show how big, successful and powerful your city is. Back then fortifications, newest planning ideas were presented on the models, now the tallest buildings, the smartest architecture, the biggest developments are also shown on the huge models.

Urban models from the 21st century: Tokyo, Singapore, Dubai and Shanghau

Since the 17thcentury till now role of cities did not change: growth and wealth of the city represents power of the whole country. And a huge model is the most astonishing and understandable way to express that power.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dan Phillips: Creative houses from reclaimed stuff

by gailiute

Dan Phillips is a designer and builder in Huntsville, Texas. His mission is to divert landfill waste while creating sustainable housing for single mothers, artists, and families with low incomes.
However the main message here is not about recycling. It is about the people who base their beliefs on consumerism. According to Dan Phillips, „we count on belonging to specific group of society despite what price we have to put for it.”

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