How Non-conformist should an Architect be?

Architecture is a profession associated with creativity and innovation. Clients expect fancy new designs on their buildings. Most architects just add a few bells and whistles and call it a day. But real architecture means designing the soul of the structure. Every building is different. It has different uses, different challenges. An architect has to think out of the box and really be a non-conformist in order to make it big.

A Hybrid Classic-Modern Design

An interesting article in Life of an Architect asks , “Do all Architects lead Glamorous Lives?”

So, it made me wonder, ‘Do all architects lead glamorous lives?’.  You certainly would think so if you believed Hollywood.  Seems like every other movie or tv show has an architect as the lead character.  They always seem to be honest, hardworking, introspective, and extremely financially successful.  Oh, and sexy.  They always wear black and have stylish glasses.

Hollywood hypes up a lot of things. Its show business. Architects are thought of as rich nerds of some kind. Its not real. I really wish it was all true.  But the real wealth lies with the risk takers, the developers. Building Contractors also make a lot of money. In contrast, Architects don’t make that much.

As an architect, I often have to compromise on my designs. Recently, a shopping mall I was working on got converted into a hospital. The developer could not sell or rent the shops in this recession. But he found a hospital willing to relocate to this larger, newer building premises. The entire work on elevation went into the drain.

Many of my clients are very conservative. They look down upon anything non-conventional. One of my biggest clients is a die-hard Vastu Shastra adherent. This really messes up all the designs. I try my best to accommodate their traditional conservative ideals into my designs.

Modern-Spanish Design

So, its not all cutting-edge designs and innovation for me. I have to please my clients. There are other restrictions imposed by city building codes. It really does a lot in hampering innovation in building design. It causes a heartburn.

Here is a poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken, which I really love.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
and having perhaps the better claim
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
though as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
in leaves no feet had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference

- Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Civil Engineering | The Backbone of Civilization

Civil Engineering is slow and boring. But it is one of the most indispensable part of society. Civil Engineering helps in sustaining civilization itself. The backbone of civilization, our infrastructure, the magnificent buildings, mansions, theme-parks, factories, freeways, high-speed railways, tunnels that bore through mountains to make routes shorter, bridges that span large valleys and rivers, Dams that provide water and electricity, everything owes its existing to this wonderful science, this branch of Engineering.

Civil Engineering

(c) TTI Texas University

So, to honor this field, and all those who contribute to its development, here is a short video clip.

Innovative Space-saving Italian Furniture

Anyone living in large metropolitian cities knows how expensive real estate is. If you’re stuck with a small apartment but want to make the most of the limited space, then you might want to check out the new innovative space-saving furniture.

Space-saving and folding beds have been out there for decades, but this Italian company goes one step further and has compressed a lot more functional furniture is a very small space. I have been completely bowled over by it.

Ron Barth, President of Resource Furniture (www.resourcefurniture.com/space-savers), demonstrates and explains their amazing line of Italian-designed space-savers.

This is a very smart way of maximizing utility of available space. From coffee tables to beds, sofas to computer tables, everything has been compressed. A fine piece of engineering indeed. I am very impressed.

Massive Earthquake in New Zealand | Hundreds of buildings damaged

A state of emergency has been declared in New Zealand after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch, destroying hundreds of buildings.

After the earthquake was over, there were a series of aftershocks in the city of Christchurch. Many old buildings were damaged. 2 people were injured. A curfew was imposed in the city of Christchurch following the earthquake to protect people from falling debris of old masonry buildings due to aftershocks.

 A taxi is covered in rubble on Manchester St, Christchurch  Photo: EPA

A taxi is covered in rubble on Manchester St, Christchurch Photo: EPA

Investigators have revealed that ground has moved upto 11 feet in some places and a new faultline has been discovered.

The magnitude 7.1 quake on Friday night in New Zealand was larger than the one that killed 200,000 people in Haiti this year and appeared to have opened a new fault line.

Mark Quigley, a geology professor leading a team investigating the cause of the quake, said: “One side of the earth has lurched to the right. Up to 11 feet in some places has been thrust up. The long linear fracture on the earth’s surface does things like break apart houses, break apart roads.”

More than 500 buildings have been badly damaged. Two men were seriously hurt by falling masonry but there have been no reports of deaths.

Although it was known that the quake was caused by the Pacific and Australian techtonic plates colliding, the existence of the “blind” faultline had come as a surprise, Dr Quigley said.

Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city. The earthquake has temporarily brought all life to a standstill as people access damage to their neighborhoods.

Telegraph reports,

As night fell on scenes of devastation, fears were mounting of health risks from fractured sewage pipes and residents were warned to boil drinking water.

A fire erupted in the shattered central city and firefighters racing to tackle it were hampered by a lack of water pressure caused by burst mains.

Earlier, isolated cases of looting were reported but police quickly responded by increasing their presence around city centre shops.

Christchurch Hospital was inundated with casualties, mainly cuts and fractures, although at least two people were in a serious condition.

Search and rescue teams scoured the shattered city, and several people were pulled from the fallen structures in which they had been trapped.

Power companies were struggling to restore electricity supplies to as many people as possible before nightfall, when temperatures were expected to dip to a chilly 2C.

New Zealand sits on the seismically volatile Pacific Ring of Fire.

 Taylor Strowger (10) explores earthquake damage to Highfield Road, 30km west of Christchurch  Photo: EPA

Taylor Strowger (10) explores earthquake damage to Highfield Road, 30km west of Christchurch Photo: EPA

The country’s largest recorded earthquake since European settlement was one of 8.2 on the Richter scale, which destroyed much of Wellington in 1855.

Its most deadly was a 7.8 shock at Napier in 1931 when 256 people died.

Glass | A Versatile Building Material

Glass has become a much-used material in interior as well as exterior architecture. In earlier times, glass used to be fragile, and had very limited application. But this view has undergone a drastic change now. Glass is an excellent material available in toughened form and is a very important element in the arsenal of Architects and Interior Designers.

Glass House

The cuteness of glass lies in its ability to provide a variety of innovative solutions for interior and exterior decoration. The strength of glass for structural purposes has improved tremendously in the past few years, giving Architects a free had in using glass in a very creative way. Interior designers have also made extensive application of this splendid material, which ca be seen on counter-tops, doors, walls, partitions, etc

A new genre of Glass Designers have sprung up, and the versatility of glass has made it possible to create anything, from transparent staircases, to coloured shelves in showrooms, designer ceilings and translucent floorings. And this glass isn’t fragile at all. It is strong and Beautiful.

Glass has made a HUGE impact on the designing industry. We can increasingly see use of sand-blasted glass panels, glass bricks and etched glass in World-Class projects. New varieties of glass like smoked glass, wire glass, frosted glass and Pyrex glass have been developed to aid designers, and are being used in a number of creative ways to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the space. Decorative etched coloured glass and crystals have been traditionally used in interiors.

The use of coloured glass can be traced back to Victorian architecture and Gothic Cathedrals. Today, glass is considered as an important element in the superfluity of available construction materials.

An up-and-coming construction material, Glass Blocks, have become increasingly popular for interior and exterior decoration purposes. They are an excellent material for acoustic & thermal insulation, water-proofing, energy conservation and abrasion resistance. Being a bad conductor of heat gives the use of glass a new practical application in the form of energy-conservation, which makes glass more dulcifying.

With their improved strength, pressure and impact resistance, heat and water-proof characteristics, glass blocks can be used either to construct the walls separately, or used freely for decorative purposes.

Glass blocks can be shifted and collocated freely with other shapes or colours to meet various demands of different applications. Transparent glass blocks can be used for interior divisions as they have an excellent lighting performance and seem to extend the available space.

This fascination with glass and mirrors began in the early 19th century when Architect Sir John Soane adored the mirrors, and the space-expanding effect they had in the interiors.

Today, glass is used all over the world. A designer’s pursuit for transparency, weightlessness and luminosity has been fulfilled by Glass. Most major projects around the world use glass in some way to add beauty to buildings and create astounding pieces of art. Glass is taking the world of architecture and interiors by storm.