Tagarchitecture

Psychetecture: The Psychology Of Architecture

In the comic Mister X written by Dean Motter Psychetecture is art and science of altering people’s consciousness through architectural design (it’s also the source for the name of my soundscaping project Psychetect).

It turns out there are at least a few people out there studying just that:

For thousands of years, people have talked about architecture in terms of aesthetics. Whether discussing the symmetry of the Parthenon or the cladding on the latest Manhattan skyscraper, they focus first on how the buildings look, on their particular surfaces and style.

Today, it turns out, the real cutting edge of architecture has to do with the psychology of buildings, not just their appearance. Recently, scientists have begun to focus on how architecture and design can influence our moods, thoughts and health. They’ve discovered that everything—from the quality of a view to the height of a ceiling, from the wall color to the furniture—shapes how we think. […]

But spaces can also help us to become more creative and attentive. In 2009, psychologists at the University of British Columbia studied how the color of a background—say, the shade of an interior wall—affects performance on a variety of mental tasks. They tested 600 subjects when surrounded by red, blue or neutral colors—in both real and virtual environments.

Full Story: Wall Street Journal: Building a Thinking Room (warning: This story is by disgraced journalist Jonah Lehrer.)

Original Paper 1: Effects of the Physical Work Environment on Physiological Measures of Stress

Original Paper 2: Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Task Performances

Kowloon Walled City Infographic

Now this is the sort of infographic I can get into:

Kowloon Walled City, located not far from the former Kai Tak Airport, was a remarkable high-rise squatter camp that by the 1980s had 50,000 residents. A historical accident of colonial Hong Kong, it existed in a lawless vacuum until it became an embarrassment for Britain. This month marks the 20th anniversary of its demolition.

From: South China Morning Post

(via Adam Greenfield)

Previously:

TAZ History: Kowloon Walled City

Video: Kowloon Walled City Documentary

Counterterrorism Agency: Urban Exploration Helps Terrorism

Some Places Know All the Right Things to Say

Spencer Ackerman writes:

Some people are into spelunking through the urban ruins and crevasses of unfamiliar cities. The National Counterterrorism Center has a term for these sorts of people: terrorist dupes.

“Urban Explorers (UE) — hobbyists who seek illicit access to transportation and industrial facilities in urban areas — frequently post photographs, video footage, and diagrams on line [sic] that could be used by terrorists to remotely identify and surveil potential targets,” warns the nation’s premiere all-source center for counterterrorism analysis. […]

Urban exploration is not typically the reconnaissance mission of al-Qaida. While it’s not crazy to think that terrorists might be interested in studying an urban landscape, the vanishingly few cases of domestic terrorism in the post-9/11 era typically involved shooting up places like Fort Hood or leaving a would-be car bomb in Times Square, rather than recon from the top of a bridge or the depths of a subway tunnel. Such tips aren’t even a part of the DIY terrorism advice column in al-Qaida’s English-language webzine.

Full Story: Wired Danger Room: Urban Exploration Helps Terrorism, Counterterrorism Agency Warns

Previously:

Crack the Surface: Free Documentary Series on Urban Exploration

Government Proposes to Forbid London Urban Explorers From Speaking To Each Other for 10 Years

Photo: Nick Fisher / CC

Thomassons: Hyperart In Urban Space

a Thomasson

What is a Thomasson?

Have you ever seen … say, a telephone pole which no longer carries a line, but still stands on the sidewalk? Or maybe you’ve seen a second story doorway in the outside wall of a building that didn’t lead to a landing — or to much of anything — anymore. Ever seen a “stairway to heaven,” a staircase that goes nowhere, or awalkway that ends abruptly in midair? These are Thomassons.

More: Hyperart Thomassson Index Form

(via Interdome)

New Dossier: Paul Laffoley

Geochromechane: The Time-Machine From Earth by Paul Laffoley

Latest dossier is up: Paul Laffoley.

Crack the Surface: Free Documentary Series on Urban Exploration

Crack The Surface – Episode I from SilentUK on Vimeo.

Crack The Surface – Episode II from SilentUK on Vimeo.

Produced in association with:

silentuk.com
sub-urban.com
placehacking.co.uk
prourbex.com

Previously: Urban Exploration

Charlie Stross on Buckminster Fuller: “Why are your houses so heavy?”

Dymaxian House

The story of why we aren’t all living in Dymaxion houses today is a convoluted epic of business failure (for one thing, starting up a production line for houses using cutting-edge aerospace technology was something that had never been done before; for another, Bucky’s business sense was not, sadly, as good as his design sense) that has been recounted in numerous biographies. What interests me about it is that it’s a far more humane approach to the problem of providing housing for the masses than his Brutalist contemporaries, whose designs tended to be fixed, immovable, made cheaply out of low-end materials, and built with high density mass housing in mind rather than low impact customizability. It was also way ahead of the field in terms of awareness of environmental constraints; while we could design better today, we’d be making incremental tweaks, whereas Bucky came up with the original idea of modular, lightweight, mobile low-impact housing ab initio.

Charlie Stross: “Why are your houses so heavy?”

Cyberculture History: A Virtual Reality Concept from the 15th Century

 Giovanni Fontana's Castle of Shadows

In 1420 Venetian engineer Giovanni Fontana created a proposal for the Castle of Shadows. From BLDG Blog:

Philippe Codognet describes the 15th-century machine as “a room with walls made of folded translucent parchments lighted from behind, creating therefore an environment of moving images. Fontana also designed some kind of magic lantern to project on walls life-size images of devils or beasts.” Codognet goes on to suggest that the device is an early ancestor of today’s CAVE systems, or virtual reality rooms—an immersive, candlelit cinema of moving screens and flickering images.

Full sized image at BLDG Blog

(Thanks Bill!)

What would you call a genre speculative fiction based around this period? Venetianpunk?

Video: Kowloon Walled City Documentary

A German documentary on the Kowloon Walled City from 1989.

(via Theoretick)

For more on Kowloon, see Justin Bolland’s guest post on the subject.

Green Cities and the Urban Operating System

PlanIT

PlanIT is building a city in Portugal as a test of its “Urban OS” concept, hoping to sell “instant cities” in China and Inida in the future.

“It’s a bit of a bloodbath really,” says Lewis, who began studying it while still at Microsoft. “They’re using techniques older than God. All of the technology is being used on the design end. No one can look into the future and ask ‘If I put better glass into this building, what does that do for energy efficiency down the road?’ You have developers building to do a quick flip, and eventually the building becomes so inefficient and so expensive to fix they have to knock it down. There’s no process and no lifecycle management. The industry is fragmented and the consolidation that’s happened everywhere else hasn’t happened here.”

A Harvard Business School case study (pdf) published earlier this year echoed this view. Despite being a $4.6 trillion global industry, construction firms have had little incentive to integrate, consolidate, or otherwise become more productive. While non-farming industries have made productivity gains averaging 80% since the 1960s, the construction industry has become 20% less productive over that span. “Studies suggested that up to 75% of construction activities typically added no value,” the authors noted.

A City in the Cloud: Living PlanIT Redefines Cities as Software

PlanIT plans to make constructing buildings, and cities, as efficient as manufacturing automobiles.

Buckminster Fuller, thou art avenged.

PlanIT will have competition from open_sailing‘s open source SwarmOS, which open_sailing co-founder Cesar Harrada considers a spiritual successor to The Walking City.

See also:

Cybersyn

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