Beautiful Concrete: grupo bondi: m. bench at DMY berlin 2011

Can you believe this is concrete? Why don’t we have this quality of materials in our streets and public spaces – think what could be done with local motifs- I know it’s decoration but how interesting.

‘m. bench’ by grupo bondi at DMY berlin
image © designboom

spotted at DMY berlin 2011, the ‘m. bench’ is an ottoman created by grupo bondi, an argentinian design practice started by ivan lopez prystajko and eugenio gomez llambi. made out of cement, this seat uses a patented technology to produce what appears to be a plush ottoman. moved by the contradictions in their city of buenos aires, grupo bondi recovers the poetics of inanimate objects by subverting expectations. imagining a narrative for the ‘m. bench,’ for instance, the designers explain:
‘born out of its aristocratic life, it turned into stone in order to endure the unmerciful weather, live outside, sleep under the stars and be connected to life.

See more pics and the inside..

arata isozaki + andrea maffei associati: citylife

More “starchitect” architecture masquerading as “urban design” I can only sympathize with this comment on the post by nicola brambilla as being the voice of the people who live there crying out in disgust at he manipulation of intentions by economic and political interests

i’m from milan, i live very closed to the area where they’re building it, so i think i can spend a minute to say a word.

i just want to say that this project it is really NOT what people from milan NEED.
In the competition there were other projects (like Renzo Piano’s masterplan) really well-designed, BUT (guess what ?!) WAS CHOSEN THE ONE WITH THE BEST BUYING OFFERT (the one is showed here).

i’m very sad about this.

i’d like to think in the future will be the people that LIVE around to CHOOSE what is better for the CITY


‘citylife tower’ by arata isozaki + andrea maffei associati, milan, italy
image courtesy of arata isozaki + andrea maffei associati

designboom recently visited the milanese studio of arata isozaki + andrea maffei associati, where wereceived an exclusive look at ‘citylife’, the new skyscraper currently under construction at the historic fairgrounds in milan. designed in response to the city’s chaotic industrial core, the office tower features a differentiated form which looks to reinterpret and simplify the complex, urban tension of milan. part of a larger master plan, the design reflects the city’s changing aesthetic, its slim, modern facade representing a renewed urban center.

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elmo swart architects: wright conversion

I have not posted any domestic architecture for some time but as it’s where we live…. I found this interesting transformation  of a traditionally based house into a contemporary icon by elmo swart architects in durban, south africa

‘wright conversion’ by elmo swart architects in durban, south africa
all images courtesy elmo swart architects

‘wright conversion’ by south african architects elmo swart architects is an expansion project to
a three-bedroom thatch cottage in durban, south africa. including the addition of a new bedroom,
two studies, a multi-use entertainment space and an art gallery, the design features a continuous
surface that wraps around the structure to form a fluid floor, wall and roof form.

read more

BAUBOTANIK – Living architecture & engineering

An experiment in using living plants to grow structures reminiscent of the way farmers, horticulturists and gardeners  have trained plants and trees for shade structures and hedges for centuries – have a new look at this ancient technique:

About Germany: Three young German architects have developed a system of living structures

copyright Baubotanik

Baubotanik: German architects develop project on building botany

The future of dwelling is alive. That is the belief of three young German architects from Stuttgart who are banking on a completely new building support structure—plants firmly rooted in the soil. In this way, houses and cities could literally grow into the skies. They have already created Baubotanik, or ‘building botany’, bridges and pavilions. 

If it were up to Ferdinand Ludwig, mankind would one day again live in trees. The Stuttgart architect dreams of roofs and walls that consist largely of living ash, poplar and plane trees, firmly rooted in the soil. Whole forest-cities could then reach into the skies, cities whose leafy houses could, moreover, contribute to purifying the air.

The three young German architects, Oliver Storz, Ferdinand Ludwig and Hannes SchwertfegerBuilding castles in the air? Not quite, since Ludwig, together with Oliver Storz and Hannes Schwertfeger, forms the core of the research group ‘Building Botany-Living Architecture,’ or ‘Baubotanik’ at the University of Stuttgart in Germany.

The three Ph.D scholars are the founders of a new architectural discipline, in which irrigation systems and hedge clippers take the place of plumb lines and trowels. Ludwig is in charge of biology and botany, Storz of the engineering and construction aspects, and Schwertfeger of the architectural theory.

Continue reading

V&A Waterfront sale complete & new development plans


The sale of South Africa’s landmark V&A Waterfront is now complete and all conditions have been fulfilled by the equal purchasers, the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), represented by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Growthpoint Properties.
Announced yesterday, 9 June 2011, the new owners have announced a R500-million redevelopment of the landmark Clock Tower precinct over the next four years, one of the biggest business developments since the inception of the V&A Waterfront almost 22 years ago. Development has already commenced.

The transaction represents South Africa’s biggest single property transaction to date, with the new owners paying a combined investment of some R9.7 billion for South Africa’s most popular tourist destination, widely recognised as one of the finest waterfront developments in the world.

“The acquisition has ensured that the ownership of one of the most prestigious properties in South Africa is again vested in the hands of South Africans and specifically the South African worker base, in the form of 1.2 million public servants, who are members of the GEPF,” says GEPF chairperson, Arthur Moloto. “The purchase meets our objectives of a sound investment, while effectively contributing to the sustainable economic development of South Africa.”

Cleaning up the act

New waste regulations are overdue – I hope the city has the capacity to enforce them from

The new integrated waste management by-law, which has now come into play in the Cape Town Municipality, has placed the onus upon any organisation to provide an integrated waste management plan for approval by the City when they plan to undertake any project. This applies to building contractors, or any development at all where there might be waste accrued as a result of activities, such as a large sporting event.
Regulations around the disposal of building waste and rubble is critical to maintaining environmental balance, and a proper waste plan has to be submitted to Council along with plans. Anyone who undertakes any form of recycling, reuse or recovery, including scrap dealers and buy-back centres, now has to abide by both the City’s by-law and the National Waste Act.

These and other implications of the by-law as a response to requirements stipulated in the National Waste Act where discussed at a seminar hosted by the Institute of Waste Management Southern Africa (IWMSA)’s Western Cape Branch and it’s Waste Minimisation and Recycling Interest Group (WMRIG) recently.

“Cape Town is a forerunner in having developed a dedicated waste management by-law in response to the National Waste Act (NWA),” said Susanne Dittke of IWMSA Western Cape Branch, and special advisor on a number of committees dealing with waste minimisation. “Aside from introducing waste minimisation as an overarching outcome for traditional line functions such as municipal collection, cleaning and disposal, the NWA also requires all private sector entities engaged in recovery and recycling activities to subscribe to minimum standard requirements in terms of their infrastructure, as well as waste storage. Accreditation is also required. Above all else, it’s important to try to reduce waste at source, which is also an area the by-law covers. It provides for minimisation of waste by industry, commerce, government departments and major event organisers.”

For further information regarding the licensing of Waste Management operations, please visit:




Map Kibera – digital technology in Africa

Here is further information on another groundbreaking African grass-roots project using information technology and creating the “intelligent city” in  modest way with open source technology and local resources… from MAP KIBERA

Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, was a blank spot on the map until November 2009, when young Kiberans created the first free and open digital map of their own community. Map Kibera has now grown into a complete interactive community information project

Kibera is the largest slum in Africa, situated in Nairobi, Kenya. Many UN agencies, including UN-HABITAT, US Government agencies such as USAID, and NGOs, like Carolina for Kibera, have presence nearby in Nairobi, and as a result, Kibera is one of the most well known, researched, and serviced slums anywhere. Despite this focus, Kibera was literally a blank spot on the map, its patterns of traffic, scarce water resources, limited medial facilities, etc. remain invisible to the outside world, and residents themselves. Without basic knowledge of the geography of Kibera it is impossible to have an informed discussion on how to improve the lives of residents of Kibera.

Map Kibera has produced the first complete free and open map of Kibera. In November 2009, local motivated young people learned to create maps using OpenStreetMap techniques. This included surveying with GPS, and digitization of satellite imagery and paper based annotation with Walking Papers. Individuals from the blossoming Nairobi tech scene helped train and make connections with the larger community, and created a sustainable group of map maintainers beyond the initial three week November effort. Data consumers were consulted for their needs, to help add direction to feature types collected, and aided to immediately make use of the map data. Projects leads are Erica Hagen and Mikel Maron.

Kibera News Network’s Joe Gatecha discusses Digital Technology and media

What Is an Intelligent City? (via The Dirt)

I’m not sure the question is correctly phrased because it would seem to me that only living beings can be intelligent – with all the digital tech in the world it still takes humans to design for humans as is here rightly stated

What Is an Intelligent City? A day-long forum at the National Building Museum sought to answer the question: What is an intelligent city? To guide the 350-plus attendees towards a working definition, leading policymakers, architects, landscape architects, planners, engineers and coders, and academics discussed the evolving relationships between information and communication technologies (ICTs), the built environment, and the people who make up cities. ICTs and Cities Ann Alt … Read More

via The Dirt

Mieres Social Housing (via laud8 -landscape architecture+urban design)

A strangely sterile world without any people – would this be what the world would look like if only architects and engineers an even landscape architects designed it …..

Mieres Social Housing Designed by zigzag architecture, the project re-models the traditional block. Defining a street edge and central courtyard, the block occupies the same footprint as a conventional orthogonal one, but the fragmented structure generates a more multi-faceted composition of irregularly stacked forms, rather like a child’s building blocks.                                        A shifting, angular geometry of canted roof planes adds a further layer of … Read More

via laud8 -landscape architecture+urban design

Decade Hillside: The Sigirino Depot (via Free Association Design (F.A.D.))

Serous infrastructure as can only imagined in Europe in the 21st Century -…. while Africa weeps….. seriously though, it is interesting that even in Europe it is considered notable that a “the client understood the requirement to add, from the onset, a landscape architect to the design team.
.” – when will the engineers and politicians who collaborate on these vast infrastructure projects “get it” that it is a collaborative design effort – not just hard engineering finance and politics that makes out environmental interventions sustainable now and in the future?

Decade Hillside: The Sigirino Depot [Point cloud visualization of existing and constructed hillside in the Sotto Ceneri mountain range] As described by Christophe Girot in Topos’ current Issue (Building With Landscape), the Sigirino Depot is “the landscape byproduct of the largest infrastructure project in Swiss history, where a series of tunnels are transpiercing the Alps from north to south to allow for high-speed trains to reach Italy in record time.”  In the process of creating … Read More

via Free Association Design (F.A.D.)