The Cloister – Le Corbusier

photo copyrighted Jonathan Letoublon (source)

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(video – 20mins)

The Cloister (Le Couvent De La Tourette) is a monastery built in 1953-60 by Le Corbusier for the Dominican Order in France for monastic students.

Here are four core principles by Le Corbusier

Take a house and free the ground floor from the grip of the soil, increase the garden area
Free the roof by making it into a terrace,
Long live the free plan in the wall which no longer needed, the concrete slab of upper floor are supported on stilts
Long lived the free facade that support nothing, glass can used in total freedom

In summary Corbusier’s idea of a modern house was to maximise the functionality of the building as well as harmonise the building with the environment.

The smooth concrete for mediating and study, the building line up perfectly with the horizon to maximise the beauty of the view. The geometry shapes in the middle are apparently for the mediating as well as defining the church area. The top is flat so you can have a garden at the roof. The building is raise above the the ground so that you can have move public space outside. It was also interesting to find out the window and concrete was made out of a musical pattern by one of his co-worker who was a musician. The pattern provide a mediating experience that will guide the guest. For the room with privacy concern thinner concrete are placed close proximity and wide glass is used for the lecture rooms where light is the utmost importance.



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SORI by 5+2 (Satoru Utashiro, Atsuko Araki, Masaki Kato, Takahiro Taira, Yasuka Mori, Rina Ono, Hikaru Yamaguchi) (Japan) (source)

The “Sori” is a depressed thumb-tack which made using it more comfortable than the conventional rounded ones. It also won the 3rd place in the MUJI competition. The idea was simple but unaware by many which seem such a shock when I first find out about it. (more award winning projects)

Push a Pin

Pushpin teaser

Push-pin Concept by Kentaro Fukuchi, Takeo Igarashi, Maki Sugimoto, Charith Fernando and Masahiko Inami (source)

The Push-pin project was carried out as a observation to organised household appliances and using wireless technology to reduce the amount of power wires connected.
The colour pins are shaped of household electric appliance such as coffee maker, lamp, radio, television and heater. They are controlled by wireless technology which meant a greater degree of control and freedom. Since they are programmable each slot can accept any pins and will match up the same pair to turn on which appliance. And since it is wireless network, it can have a timer to set up various scenarios and settings and recall it next time.

In Design for the Everyday Things, Don Norman describe the appliance problem and proposed a switch pin solution. The problem lies in mapping and grouping the functions appropriately. The amount of switches in a modern household typically have 2 or more if using power strip extension in a row.

“Similar problems in airplanes and power plants are dangerous. The controls all look the same”

Ecological Workshop: Work and Relax

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Asia Resort Sketches by Kenya Hara
1.1 Ecological Workshop
1.2 Herbal Specialist, Architect, Communication Designer, Gardener, Investors
1.3 Buildings sprouting like wild mushrooms.
1.4 High-tech workshop: Work and relax can coexist here together.
2.1 Farm + Restaurant, Food grown here can be brought to the restaurant to create a unique menu
2.2 Indoor Restaurant.

 The topic here is the desire to work and what kind of places motivate us. I found this brilliant concept by Kenya Hara who is the graphic advisor for MUJI and author of Designing Design. In his drawings he showed what resort would look like if we were to create a place with localities and using the “Aman Resort” as the foundation concept.

The “Aman Resort” is a hotel group formed by Adrain Zecha in the late 1980s. It currently have hotel spanning 24 countries world-wide including Cambodia, France, Indonesia, India, Morocco, Philippine, Sri-Lanka, Thailand, America, China and so forth. The number of rooms in the hotel is limited to 50 in order to ensure staff availability and maximum hospitality. The “Aman” concept originate from the word “Amanpuri” means serenity, a peaceful space. Aman Resorts make use of the location of the hotel  landscape, local culture, traditions and specialities placing the hotel on the highest level of cultural hierarchy. 

Hara recalls a conversation with hong kong based graphic designer Alan Chan/ 陳幼堅, once we fulfil basic needs(cloth, food, shelter) people will want “To Rest” but Alan said “To Travel” this is perhaps overcrowded environment of hong kong people seek escapism as an alternative but after the bubble economic era, Japan is showing signs of fatigue and there are a decline in Traveling.

In his discussion what makes a desirable resort Kenya Hara empathises the important aspect of user experience from the moment guest arrived to departure, the attention to detail in every aspect is showed with generous hospitality is the reason people pay for resorts.

Essentially, Hara suggest a place accommodate both of these qualities for people who had to flew from one place to another because of work they are constantly travelling with no fix dates for breaks. They could be in New York today and Amsterdam, Berlin tomorrow and Glasgow in another two days. Although their workload aren’t high but this kind of travelling has became mundane.

Performances like opera and drama stimulate us directly by communicating to us verbally. While mediating requires our thought to enter a state of calmness that transcend any form of speech. In our calm state we can pick up the faintest idea as vivid as we imagine. The place Hara spoke of could well be in that state of mind where people can learn the etiquette of appreciating nature in a comfortable environment where lust for escapism and stimulus doesn’t exists.

Similarly in Maslow’s hierarchy of need state that after we satisfy all physiological basic needs, food, shelter, water, sex, we will proceed to the next phase of self-actualisation which meant relax and work are closely related.


Ross Lovegrove – Car Concept

Ross Lovegrove The power and beauty of organic design 26 Dec 2012 19 18 54Ross Lovegrove The power and beauty of organic design  lmap bike 27 Dec 2012 17 31 09Ross Lovegrove The power and beauty of organic design  lmap bike 27 Dec 2012 17 55 48Ross Lovegrove The power and beauty of organic design  lmap bike 27 Dec 2012 17 56 31
City Car concept, Ross Lovegrove

(video 20mins)

Ross Lovegrove well known for his organic design has came up with a concept car in a TED speech he gave in 2005. I picked this to wrote about because I cannot find any articles online that talk about this car. Ross said that the traditional car is made up of 35,000 parts if one of the parts failed it could be ordering specialise part which could be a long waiting time. The less part of Ross’s car has ten times less than the conventional and run more efficient.

The outer shell made out of carbon fibre nylon pan, it open and close and there is no engine instead a solar panel and battery is located at the rear end for power. The battery remove like a formula one car wheel. You can take them off easily for storage and maintenance purpose. It is transparent so that the people can see you when you are inside, the car is slow and feminine stated Lovegrove just as nature intended, Lovegrove believes in nature and how it effects they way we do things, we will drive differently because we can see the person inside.

This is intended to be city car in a crowed environment a high power engine would not be idea. The hole at the front of the car is for the pole mechanism when you drove over it lift the car upwards so that the solar panel face towards the sky and become a street lamp at night.

It was also interesting to see this was turned down.

Kastura Villa

NewImage  Main Room NewImage  Preparation Space for the Tea Ceremony

NewImage  Music Room

NewImage  Moss Garden with smooth gravel arrangement 

credit (c) Ishimoto Yasuhiro

Source: Portland Art (Accessed 22-12-2012)

Katsura is the one of the three imperial residences in Kyoto, Japan. built in the 1600(ref) restored in 1855 by the Hachijo imperial line. It was first documented first set of folios about Katsura 1924-1931.

Katsura renewed many from 1800-1995 more a decade has been served to restore the building. Involving many highly trained craftsman in tatami, plaster, mountings, papers and wood.

Tatami is made out of rush plants. Excellent water repellent properties suitable for the summer and humid weather.

The Villa were built for the Imperial to retreat to. In a postcard from Walter Gropius, co-founder of Bauhaus to to French Architect Le Corbusier also member of the Bauhaus. He wrote:

“Dear Corbu, everything we’ve been fighting for has parallels in ancient Japan culture. The Japanese house is the best and most modern I know and it is truly prefabricated.” (source)

In reference to the mediating Japanese tea ceremony, shogun lord Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436-1490) and tea ritual founder Shuko (1423-1502) has initiate a new era born from simplicity. The result as a beautiful room where the retired lord studies calligraphy and painting in togudo filled with Tatami mats, a raised chodai for writing, a pair of sliding paper screen doors that open a window to the garden. In this pure and simple space Yoshimasa enjoyed his tea ceremony and exchanging conversation with Shuko.

But where did all of this sprung from? I found one possible piece of information that explains this. During the Onin War in Japan (1467-1477) Many flourished paintings and scrolls from artisans nurtured in Kyoto was burnt to ashes because of man’s foolish desires. Yoshimasa was deeply involved in this war and later after relinquishing his position of shogun to his son, he retreat to the low mountain and build the Temple of Silver Pavilion where he immersed himself with the tea ceremony.

Sen no Rikyū has seven rules preparing tea for the guests. together Sen,

Reference Article: Cross Current E-Journal Issue 3 (pdf, 31pages)

Postscript by John Hejduk to Richard Meier

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The Atheneum New Harmony, Indiana 1979 by Richard Meier


In my fasciation of the colour known as White, I stumble upon a postscript from John Hejduk to Richard Meier in the book Richard Meier Architect Vol.1.  in the postscript Hejduk talks about the idea of white as an infinite canvas of space and that space when attached attributes of that thing can heighten the terror of space because it suggest infinite vastness. In the book MobyDick by by Herman Melville also suggested this frightening experience of white:

“This elusive quality it is, which causes the thought of whiteness, when
divorced from more kindly associations, and coupled with any object
terrible in itself, to heighten that terror to the furthest bounds. . . .
Bethink thee of the albatross, whence come those clouds of spiritual and
pale dread, in which that white phantom sails in all imaginations?
. . . Therefore, in his other moods, symbolize whatever grand or
gracious thing he will by whiteness, no man can deny that in its
profoundest idealized significance it calls up a peculiar apparition to
the soul.”

John Hejduk was an American architect in the 1960s also regular visiting professor in universities. He graduated from the Copper Union of science and art, he later became the dean of the school for the next 25 years.

Richard Meier is an American architect who used white porcelain-enenaml cladding for his buildings. He won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1984.