Beautiful Architecture Positively Affects Human Health

According to researchers at Warwick Business School in Coventry, UK, beautiful architecture has a positive impact on human health. PhD student Chanuki Seresinhe, associate professor of Behavioural Science and Finance Tobias Preis, and associate professor of Behavioural Science Suzy Moat published their findings in a paper titled Quantifying the Impact of Scenic Environments on Health. Their methodology involved showing study subjects photos from the web site “Scenic or Not,” a crowdsourced resource of more than 217,000 geotagged photos from across Great Britain. Participants were asked to rate each photo on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating “very scenic,” and 1 indicating “not scenic.”

Beautiful buildings, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, are good for human health.

According to researchers at Warwick Business School in Coventry, UK, beautiful architecture has a positive impact on human health.

PhD student Chanuki Seresinhe, associate professor of Behavioural Science and Finance Tobias Preis, and associate professor of Behavioural Science Suzy Moat published their findings in a paper titled Quantifying the Impact of Scenic Environments on Health.

Their methodology involved showing study subjects photos from the web site “Scenic or Not,” a crowdsourced resource of more than 217,000 geotagged photos from across Great Britain. Participants were asked to rate each photo on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating “very scenic,” and 1 indicating “not scenic.”

More info here.

Is Passive Solar Design Irrelevant?

Is Passive Solar Design Irrelevant?

Passive solar design principles have been recognized for decades and are on display in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Solar Hemicycle designs, to cite one high-profile example.

Once lauded for providing “free heat,” passive solar design principles are now recognized as being less effective at maintaining indoor comfort than superinsulated buildings.

As a new generation of do-it-yourself builders got busy experimenting in the 1970s, passive solar design ideas proliferated. Builders claimed that attached sunspaces, solar collectors, trombe walls, earth ships, and many more ideas could keep a house comfortable with minimal or zero use of fossil fuels.

Superinsulated designs, likewise, saw intense development in the 1970s, and have come to the forefront of green building thanks to the Passive House standard. This demanding approach focuses on improving air-tightness and insulation, decreasing thermal bridging, and setting rigorous levels for energy use.

Read more here.

How Much Should Parking Cost?

How much should parking cost?

“Minimum parking requirements act like a fertility drug for cars,” Donald Shoup famously wrote. Shoup is professor of urban planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California at Los Angeles, and is a prominent critic of parking policy, such as free parking and minimum parking requirements.

As urban populations grow, a variety of outdated rules create hurdles for cities trying to accommodate more people while maintaining and improving livability and walkability. Minimum parking requirements, or parking minimums, are a prime example. These municipal rules are simple enough: developers building a new residential or commercial project must also provide a minimum number of new parking spaces, usually based on the square footage of the building. There is typically no consideration of nearby transit options or, indeed, of the need for the new parking spaces. These spaces are nearly always free for the user, according to Shoup, because “Most cities are planned on the unstated assumption that parking should be free—no matter how high the cost.”

Read more here.

Slender Skyscrapers Are Re-making Skylines

slender skyscraper

Slender skyscrapers are dramatic in form.

In Manhattan, Asia, and the Middle East, a new super-tall, super-skinny skyscraper form is gaining popularity. Though it’s unlikely they’ll ever be the dominant form, it seems that they fill a niche in crowded cities.

The structures’ smaller footprint enables them to squeeze on to smaller lots and make use of the vertical dimension. A project in Manhattan designed by Eran Chen of ODA New York – 303-305 44th Street – will contain 41 floors in its 600-foot height, though the building will be only 47 feet wide.

The design employs 16-foot gaps between floors to make room for gardens, enhance views, and reduce wind loads. The total gross floor area is 116,731 square feet, and floor plate area is 2,700 square feet.

This form of structure has its own appellation: the slender skyscraper.

Read more here.

Creating Affordable, Walkable Neighbourhoods

 

Creating Affordable, Walkable Neighbourhoods

 

 

According to Australia’s 2011 Census, 88.9 per cent of Australians live in urban areas. Those areas are defined as the built-up areas of towns and cities of more than 1,000 people.

The Australian Capital Territory leads the pack, at 99.5 per cent urbanised, while the Northern Territory ranks at 73.8 per cent.

Growth over the coming decades is predicted to be robust, says the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with all major cities forecast to double in population by mid-century. The total population is expected to top 60 million by 2101.

Read more here.

Green Building Megatrends

10 Green Building Megatrends from the “Godfather of Green”

Jerry Yudelson, the “Godfather of Green”

 

Green building is facing a number of changes, according to “The Godfather of Green,” Jerry Yudelson. A LEED fellow and former president of the Green Globes rating system, Yudelson has recently written a book, Reinventing Green Building, in which he identifies 10 “megatrends” he believes will impact certification systems, markets, government rules, and green building technologies through 2020 and beyond.

Read more here.

A visit to Taliesin West

Taliesin West is located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Like the original Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, Taliesin West is both a home and a laboratory for Frank Lloyd Wright’s building concepts. It’s also a home for the School of Architecture, which FLW organized with a hands-on, apprenticeship type of approach.

The surrounding landscape is, to be blunt, brutal. The number of plants that can cause serious pain is stunning. The cholla cactus thrives and seems to stalk the unwary hiker. Thorns easily penetrate thick-soled running shoes.

The built environment, however, makes up for the nastiness of the natural environment. The property, with its multiple structures, is a testament to FLW’s genius for creating compelling spaces, and advancing the art of building. The use of indigenous materials, in this instance, was successful in tying the structures to the site, as well as being economical.

A visit to Taliesin West

The Wrights’ living room at Taliesin West.

A visit to Taliesin West

A sculpture at Taliesin West that FLW picked up during his travels.

A visit to Taliesin West

Another view of the Wright’s living room. The space has a dramatic feel, yet it’s still warm. Abundant windows draw your gaze to the outside.

A visit to Taliesin West

More Asian art from Frank Lloyd Wright’s collection.

A visit to Taliesin West

The Cabaret at Taliesin West displays a remarkable understanding of acoustics. Our tour guide could speak at conversational volume and be heard 20-30 feet away.

A visit to Arcosanti

Paolo Soleri, architect and urban planning visionary, created Arcosanti as an “urban laboratory.” His vision included many factors society has had to rediscover over the past few decades, such as local food production, increased walkability in the built environment, and passive heating and cooling systems.

Soleri’s concept of arcology is a blend of architecture and ecology, an “urban system that can function as a hyper-organism.” The seven design principles behind the practice are meant to guide planners and designers in creating cities that are small, dense, complex, and self-sustaining, thus minimizing human effects on our environment.

While building Arcosanti with the help of thousands of volunteers, Soleri financed the project by making and selling wind bells and ceramic tiles.

More info at Paolo Soleri’s Vision of Sustainable Cities and Arcosanti.

A visit to Arcosanti

Arcosanti employs huge quantities of concrete, but also lots of hand work.

A visit to Arcosanti.

A model of Arcosanti. So far, only the dark gray structures are complete.

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The bell “factory” is located in one apse. The bells are silt formed here, then cast in the foundry.

A visit to Arcosanti

The apse is a common form in Soleri’s work.

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Arcosanti includes structures for all daily uses, including apartment-style housing.

Tiny homes in Portland

Tiny homes in Portland are attracting everyone from millennials to retirees. While at the Build Small, Live Large Summit, I toured a few tiny homes set up on the Portland State University campus. The two best designs were the Escape Traveler and the container from Modern Dwellings.

Tiny homes in Portland

A container project from Modern Dwellings, with excellent design and execution. The charred cedar siding is a traditional Japanese technique called “Shou Sugi Ban.”

Tiny homes in Portland

This container from Modern Dwellings has a great exterior stairway to the roof.

Tiny homes in Portland

The Escape Traveler is among the best designs I’ve seen.

Tiny homes in Portland

The Escape Traveler’s huge window brightens the entire place.

Portland landmarks

portland tram

Portland’s tram climbs from the South Waterfront District to the main Oregon Health & Science University campus.

Scout Beer Garden

The Scout Beer Garden, close by the tram station, is just an old RV set in an empty lot.

 

Scout Beer Garden

What a great idea!

Tilikum Crossing

Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, opened in September, 2015.

 

sculpture

Sculpture in the Pearl District.

 

 

 

 

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