Aia Honolulu town hall: the future of kakaako
For my panel presentation on what gives a neighborhood character, on the differences between having and not having placemaking elements, go to Olelo's video (time 52:40-1:05:20).
Use the wooden pieces to create the shape of your lamp!
From MID, designed by: Lapo Germasi, Gregorio Fracassi, Victor Pukhov, Francesco Massimello.
Via Design Milk: http://design-milk.com/babele-lamp-is-like-a-giant-puzzle/#ixzz2NTmaWJtz
Ever wonder what a heck a lungo is? Well I didn't know so I looked it up and found this infographic to be very helpful!
Though this one has a cleaner graphic:
Walnut Studiolo makes these classy leather bike handles to make lifting bikes easier! I love it! No more greasy/dirty hands!
I was on page 47-48 of The Geography of Thought by Richard Nisbett when a sentence seemed particularly appropriate in describing some of the cognitive dissonance I've been encountering. Maybe cultural dissonance is a better way to describe it.
Below is one of the many listed generalizations that Nisbett finds applies to most Westerners, most Americans (as opposed to Easterners, East Asians):
"People are oriented toward personal goals of success and achievement; they find that relationships and group memberships sometimes get in the way of attaining these goals."
This relates to my multi-cultural (East+West) background of being Chinese and relating to Chinese culture, but growing up (especially my definitive years) in the US.
Here's where this quote currently fits for me on two levels: 1) I've begun my internship at this Chinese design and planning firm/institute; 2) I'm having doubts about having children when I'm married.
I've been at the firm for a week now and so far, three major observations have emerged:
1) Everyone has their place, their team, their job to do. People's duties are at times clearly defined and at other times, sheepishly unclear. For example, when I asked my team leader for a tour of the office (nobody gave me one on the first day), he said it's HR's responsibility and he doesn't want to offend HR by doing what they're suppose to do. I went up to HR. They weren't there, but the finance admins told me they'll tell HR about me. It's been two days. Nothing. Good thing I'm ok wandering around by myself.
When the front desk admin girl was sick, someone came and told a young design intern (long-term) whose is part of our Schematic Design team to go sit up front. She whined, but she went upstairs and answered phones all afternoon instead of working on a project.
I'm still trying to figure out how they weigh what's important.
2) The principals are really busy all the time, whereas the design staff is frequently idle. There are no clear mid-level managers but there are team leaders who are held responsible for a majority of the project tasks. However, project managing is actually part of the principals' realm of... power. I'm on the Schematic Design team- my team leader is actually a bit younger than me; we both have three years of work experience. He's shy and has a hard time looking me in the eye.
3) People on my team are hesitant to give me work to do. I managed to get dealt a plan to render two days ago, but otherwise, I don't do anything. I sat in on the team's design review with a principal yesterday. It was a long meeting and the conclusion was the team has five days (including this weekend) to produce a lot of work. The principal asked me to help out for a few days, to which I gladly agreed. The team leader said I could help out on a part of the waterfront park, but he's yet to send me any files to work on. I asked today if he needed help and he mumbled that it's more work to delegate than to do it himself. I've asked the other two people and they've both said "oh right..." but done nothing.
I feel odd asking daily because it feels as if I'm pestering; I don't think they're used to this level of assertiveness from colleagues. I wonder if I'm getting special treatment (perhaps temporary?) because I'm from the US. They're really busy! I see them working hard and I want to help! I don't want to push more buttons but I don't like being passive. I finally got photos and a drawing in the afternoon (a few hours before time to leave work) after I asked a second time. It's frustrating that I had to stay late to finish the sketches.
As I further understand how Chinese design firms operate, I think I'll find more cultural differences. I'm still considering working in China long term after graduation or perhaps a bit later on in life. But I can't help but wonder how I'll adjust to working in China. How would living in China pan out if I were to marry to a non-Chinese guy?
I'm trying to not let the pressure of getting married get to me lately, which is hard since a male cousin was married last year and another male cousin just got engaged. The only people of "appropriate marrying age" left on both sides of my family are the two females: me and Jia Jia, who is still single. She can't wait to get married and start a family, whereas I cringe at the thought of staying home to take care of a baby.
Also, having a career is important to me and I know child-rearing tends to slow down one's career development. When I spoke to my aunt about not wanting to give up my work to have a baby, she responded with "Family is more important than work. When the time is right, you'll find that you'll want a family of your own after all."
I agree and disagree with her. I value family immensely, but how could she know what I would want later on in life? Also, could her statement actually pressure me to want to start a family? How do I figure out independently if I want to have children or not? Or is independently not possible since raising a child will be a family-affair?
I also tried to convince another aunt, who thinks that I ought to bear a child before I'm 30, that I'm not ready to have a child given that the thought of having a baby scares me. She insisted that it's too early to tell, but suggested that I start thinking about when to marry so as to time it correctly with school and work.
I can't help but feel that this whole relationship and marriage thing serve as constrictions. Although reading the book so far makes me realize that I've been taking a Western approach of weighing what's important, it still doesn't solve the constant struggle I have with accepting and balancing the Eastern way of thought in which I'm currently surrounded.
That's not to say that I don't also think from an Eastern perspective- I can't tell which is which sometimes or which is right sometimes. I know I'm not the only multi-cultural person out there who has cultural identity issues at times. I wonder if making career and marital decisions will be easier if I'm in the US because there will be less family pressure (less Eastern thought pressure?). Perhaps a truly Eastern way of thinking about this is would be to let it unfold naturally? But giving up control feels hard...
Courtesy of UID architects via ARPlus
Architects: UID architects - Keisuke Maeda
Project location: Minoh, Osaka, Japan
Type of Project: Atelier/House
Structural Engineers: Yasutaka Konishi, Takeshi Kaneko
Site area: 328.16 sq. m
Built area: 151.76 sq. m
Total floor area: 151.76 sq. m
Completion: December 2009
Contractors: Seiyu Kensetsu, Yukihiko Nishida, Mitsuhiro Matsumura
This is one of the few residential building built in Japan posted by The Architectural Review that contributes positively to its surroundings. Land in urban areas in Japan is expensive which is why many new homes end up being almost at the road's edge to maximize space. This project, Atelier Bisque Doll, a gallery, doll-making studio and residence, had luxury of space- it's great UID architects took advantage of surrounding their building with planting.
The suspended rectangles function well on multiple levels. At the entrance, it's a refreshing way to define private space. Screening from chest level and above creates privacy while visually sharing the landscape- this openness increases the quality of the street and the overall aesthetic of the neighborhood. In a way, the building teases people passing by and nosy neighbors... imagine seeing legs but not a body!
Conceptually, the live/work spaces match well with tiered levels. Hierarchy allows both a mental and a physical distinction of usage. And here, another rectangle around the home creates another privacy screen without sacrificing openness. It's a Japanese thing and an architecture thing to use white for simplicity and pureness, but really with everything?
I find the landscaping to be sub-par. Maybe they're going for the organic-juxtaposed-against-modernist-white-canvas look, but it just looks messy. They clearly cared enough to stage furniture for the architectural photo-shoot, so why leave the landscape looking unmaintained? There's a difference between looking naturalistic and looking neglected. What's with the side swatch of moss/turf? If it's moss, I hope it's perpetually in shade or else it's going to toast. Either way it looks out of place, like an afterthought "Oh maybe they'll need outdoor gathering space. Here's a wavy line to define it."
I would love to work in a space with natural light while surrounded by plants and critters. It's common to show trees against white backdrops, but in this case the combination with understory planting suggests a romantic nod towards seasonality and the passing of time. Imagine the drama when midday sun beams down on newly budding chartreuse leaves. Though perhaps they'll install curtains at some point, because the sun will be scorching in the summer through all that glass.
The photos look to have been taken in autumn; I'm curious what the integration of building and landscape will look like come summer when the plants mature some more. This would also be an interesting project to check out in ten years as the trees take more dramatic forms and the white building greys with pollution.
Just watched a great webcast posted by the Montreal Urban Ecology Center of Designing Streets as Public Spaces in Northern Climate Cities, a Public Conference held at McGill University back in February 16, 2010. I found speaker Kristian Villadsen of Gehl Architects particularly motivating... maybe because of my affinity for Copenhagen, but probably because the content of his talk should be the outlook planners, designers, and policy makers understand and adopt.
London calls to me.
For the past month, it's been the city of conversation among my friends. A friend went two weeks ago, another one is there right now for work and lovin' it. And then another wants to move there because her boyfriend just left to start his company in the West End. Or maybe it was the East End? I know not.
I have a hankering for full English breakfasts, for pub food, for the British Museum- to reminisce and be re-inspired. Architecture and design there is experimental and interesting.
Sure there's red-tape but none of this "we're California so every opinion must be heard before making decisions" crap. So I selfishly supported my friend's desire to follow her boyfriend to London, moving in with him, branching into a different sect of her career in apparel, etc. Normally I would have scoffed and said "How sure are you of all this working out? Europeans are protective of their jobs- especially in this economy." Instead I said, "I LOVE LONDON! The Indian food there is amazing and so is the contemporary art! Just look at the Tate!"
The Tate Modern pushes the envelop through installations and the exhibits are provocative and the pieces are skillfully done. It's what SFMoMA secretly aspires to be.
What London lacks in good weather it makes up for in urban density, diversity, and in public transportation accessibility.
But the real reason London has been calling: it hasn't. Why I miss London: San Francisco isn't meeting expectations. My discontent drives me to fantasize about nomadic travels because it's a form of escape. It's unfair to SF because complacency means I need to try harder to find design inspiration.
I'm looking for exits and waiting for answers. I'm scared. What I should be doing instead of evading: figuring out my problems here and now and fixing them.
This is my entry to the GOOD/Klean Kanteen Earth Day water bottle design competition. Entries are posted at the website, so check them out and remember to vote between March 9 - 15.
I find clowns creepy.