The Source

Hutong

Left: Hutong next to a modern apartment complex, tianjin, China. Middle, right: Hutong in Beijing. Photos; RM

Chinese urban planning has often been criticized for its ruthless demolishing of older areas in favor of new monotonous blocks. China is not respecting its own heritage, is often suggested. This phenomenon, however, to the contrary can be seen as the result of China’s persistence in maintaining its traditional way of thinking about planning, for too long. Continue reading

Less is Less, More is More

“Less is More”, a famous German architect once said. Nonsense, of course; Less is just less.

Dean Gardens Estate in Atlanta: More is definitely more.

Dean Gardens Estate in Atlanta: More is definitely more.

With an area of over 3500 m2, Dean Gardens Estate was, at the time of its completion in 1992, the largest residence in Atlanta. The owner, software tycoon Larry Dean, put it back on sale again just two years later. Finally, after17 years it sold for $ 7 million, a fraction of the original construction costs. Why? Continue reading

Monotony vs. Chaos

Rigid facades

The front: rigid facades: alonging for more law and order?                                                                                                             Photos: RM

According to art historian Wilhelm Worringer the chosen style in art (or architecture) reflects not only the current state of society, but also is the fulfillment of a desire for something that is lacking. The dominant style in art and architecture tells us something about (the future of) a given culture. Continue reading

Skaeve Huse: Can dwelling be learned?

Dwelling school

Can dwelling be learned? Image: RM

The city of Rotterdam is putting up 11 so-called “Skaeve Huse”. Skaeve Huse is crooked Danish for “crooked houses”. These are container homes for maladjusted people who in recent years have misbehaved in such a way  that they no longer qualify for a regular apartment in Rotterdam housing associations. The choice is: either move to another town or to the Skaeve Huse where, under supervision and at a safe distance from civilization, they will be prepared for a return to a “normal” home. Can dwelling be learned?  Continue reading

Urban Heat Islands and the Origin of the Apartment Building.

Differences in temperature (heat islands) in The Hague on a summer day. Image: NRC

Differences in temperature (heat islands) in The Hague on a summer day. Image: NRC

Interesting reseach was done recently at the University of Wageningen, about the occurring of so-called heat islands in cities during the summer. On hot days certain places in the city can become up to 8 degrees hotter than the temperature in the countryside. This is due to the presence of much stone surfaces and little green in the city. Houses and buildings warm up during the day and capture the heat in the streets. During the night the stored heat is then radiated back. The higher the density in the city, the greater this effect becomes. Up to a certain extent at least, because the research also shows that the higher the buildings and the narrower the streets are, the smaller the heat island effect in summer.

Manhattan of the Desert

In the construction of Shibam, an ancient town in Yemen, also known as the “Manhattan of the Desert”, one apparently was already aware of this. The houses here, in fact apartment towers, are built out of clay, up to 11 storeys high. Continue reading

Myriad

 

Architecture blog: Student housing

Student housing, Delft. Photo: RM

Students in general have little money, spend much of their time in public spaces and are less demanding in terms of comfort. They must, however, be housed, preferably as cheap as possible and in places where they cause the least possible inconvenience to the indigenous population. Continue reading