Sunday, February 28, 2010

There have been two approaches to designing world's fair architecture. One was to dictate the overall architectural style of the buildings like that of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. The other was to allow pavilion architects free reign in their creative design. Expo 67 officials decided to allow free reign in architectural style as long as participant's pavilions fit in with the overall loose theme "Man and his World."

By the time Expo 67 was conceived, city architecture had become quite conservative and filled our cities with economical, predictable tall boxy buildings. It was exactly the unexciting style that the business society welcomed, but the effect was boring and it deprived cities a sense of identity. This same design philosophy proved expensive in large apartment buildings and public housing projects. Worse they robbed the individual or family, who lived there, a sense of identity they had when they lived in individual homes with gardens, porches and yards.

Architects of social consciousness were thinking of solutions to cover more space with less material and for less money in ways that didn't rob the individual of his identity. At the same time these architects wanted to make a creative statement. So when participating countries held architectural competitions for their country's pavilions, some unusual architecture evolved.

Perhaps the most innovative concept to be used at Expo was "space- frame" architecture. In an effort to "Do more with Less" architects covered large spaces cheaply and flexibly, by distributing the building's weight over a wide area, and by using complex techniques involving aluminum, plastic and other materials. The pavilions that used that technique were the United States pavilion, the Netherlands pavilion, the West German pavilion and the two big theme complexes, Man the Producer and Man the Explorer.


The Netherlands pavilion was an engineering triumph, a space frame structure consisting of 33 miles (57,000 pieces , each three feet long) of aluminum tubing. They didn't weld or rivet the pieces together, rather it was put together like a Gilbert Erector set, with wrenches. The exhibition room was suspended inside. The technique had its advantages in that if the building needed to expand, the builders could just add more pieces. It was a very flexible approach to building design and gave the structure a feeling of lightness.
The Dutch designed a "space-frame" building out of 57,000 pieces of aluminum tubing.


Frei Otto's elegant space frame tent was used to cover the German pavilion's exhibit area. While it took the architect several years to develop his system, it only took six weeks to build. His system used a roof of steel mesh suspended from eight slender steel masts of varied height, situated at irregularly intervals and supported by steel cables anchored outside the structure, covered an area the size of a city block. The roof's steel mesh net, hung from the guy wires, was then covered by a translucent plastic skin. The tent itself and all of its components were fabricated in Germany.
The German Pavilion was covered with a modernistic tent.

The structure adequately dealt with the twin problems of aesthetics and economics. At the least it was a fanciful way of escaping from the tyranny of the box, but it also produced a unique and beautiful interior space. The space below was lit through the transparent plastic and through odd-shaped windows in the roof. As to cost, the building wasn't cheap to build since it was a one of a kind project. But it had potential for its steel and plastic roof weighed only 150 tons; one third to one fifth the weight of normal roofing materials. The tent concept had the ability to adapt to irregular topography of any site. The concept was used again with a much larger tent to enclose the swimming stadium at Munich's 1972 Summer Olympics.

The United States pavilion's designers choose a Buckminster Fuller dome, two hundred feet high (20 stories) and 250 feet in diameter. As in all of Fuller's domes both little and big, they used three- dimensional units, a triangle on the outside, hexagonal on the inside, and curved to fit a given arc, as its structural basis. By connecting them together in the shape of a dome, it distributed the structure's weight over the whole surface. To avoid his usual half-dome that produced a squat look, the pavilion's designers built a beautifully proportioned, three-quarter sphere that fit the site ideally.
The United States Pavilion was a Buckminster Fuller dome.

It was the most complicated of his domes. It used an elaborate system of retractable shading screens to control the heat within. A computer adjusted the screens in accordance with the sun's rays. Its exterior covering was exquisitely tinted, and surprisingly it was lovely to look at.


The architects (the firm of Affleck, Desbarets, Dimakopoulos, Lebensold and Sise) of the theme complexes were faced with the need to produce, quickly, some large buildings with large areas of open spaces. They decided to make them out of a type of small building blocks, much in the way the Dutch constructed their pavilion out of short metal tubes. The Canadian architects choose the truncated tetrahedron shape,- a four-sided triangular figure with the corners cut off, then flattened so that it looked like a prism. Thousands of these blocks would "nest" with other blocks, large and small, and be built up quickly into theme pavilions.
Several of the Theme pavilions used "space-frame" architecture to create large inexpensive display spaces.

The designs and models looked graceful, but the steel fabricators complained that there weren't enough welders in Canada to make the truncated tetrahedrons the architects would need. As a result, the units were bolted together and the pieces heavily braced. The final result was at all graceful, but was heavy and oppressive - miles and miles of thick rusted metal.


Both the Japanese and Man the Community pavilions used static forms composed of alternating crossing beams. The difference in their shapes was in the positioning of those basic structural elements. In the Japanese Pavilion, vertical stacking created a series of interconnecting cubes, but it closely resembled a concrete but graceful log cabin. On the other hand, the profile of Man in the Community resembled a Chaldean ziggurat. The wooden beams were placed so that the formed wooden polygons that rose in decreasing size from foot to summit.
Man the Community Pavilion

The Soviet Unions' Pavilion, by using great walls of glass and aluminum topped by a ski-jump roof, was a departure from its traditional monolithic architectural style. The escalator that lead up into the pavilion prepared the visitor for the surprise of the wide-angled V beams that supported its upswept roof, and carried him into a symmetrically organized display area dominated by a huge bust of Lenin. Inside was a show of technology and the progress of the country's space program.

Britain's was a ponderous castle-like pavilion, whose walls, while made of a kind of cardboard, looked like stone. The jagged top of its 200 foot tall cone-like tower topped by a Pop Art version of the Union Jack, represented incomplete construction. It symbolized Britain's unfinished contribution to the world. Fortunately the exhibits inside were very uplifting as the British made an attempt to charm the visitor.

The French Pavilion, on the other hand, modeled itself on the fine art of sculpture. While it was tastefully executed, architectural critics perceived its fins as merely tacked on. In the great well of the building, the floors full of exhibits were arranged around an open space. Its arrangement of interior stairways and balconies, which gave it an airy feel, was often overshadowed their attempt to overwhelm the visitor with technical displays

Austria's pavilion used the space-frame concept to a certain degree. It used triangular building units to construct large habitable cells. The result was a striking exterior architectural form, geometrical in style, that worked well as interior exhibit space.


Habitat 67, an experiment in apartment living, became the permanent symbol of Expo 67 after it closed. It was Canadian architect Moshe Safdie's experiment to make a fundamentally better and cheaper housing for the masses. He attempted to make a revolution in the way homes were built - by the industrialization of the building process; essentially factory mass production. He felt that it was more efficient to make buildings in factories and deliver them prefabricated to the site.

Safdie was dissatisfied with both suburbia, which destroyed open space surrounding cities and cut off people's enjoyment of the amenities of city life, and with the high-rise apartment block, which concentrated people on less land. Apartments generally were too small for growing families, and lacked both privacy and outdoor space. He was convinced the later were inadequate as family housing.

He planned Habitat with the goal to find a way to put a great many people on a small space, yet provide them with at least some of the pleasures of a private home. He wanted to build a city in the sky, a 3- D city and his city would contain 1000 housing units, with shops and even a school. What he proposed was an experiment, not just in housing, but in community life.

But between 1964 and 1966 when construction started, it was downsized to only 158 dwelling units, without shops and a school. What started out as a plan for a small city, instead became a hugely expensive apartment building. Worse, while it was on Expo 67 grounds, when Expo 67 closed, it would be some distance from the rest of Montreal's business and housing neighborhoods.
Habitat's 158 living units resembled a Taos Indian pueblo.

As Habitat was designed, it resembled a curious concrete mountain of dwelling places, strikingly modern, yet reminiscent of a Taos Indian pueblo village, or an Italian hill town. Its units were built on the ground, then hoisted by crane into place five, six or more stories above the ground.

A factory was built beside the Habitat site. It contained four large molds in which the standardized units were made. To make each of them, a reinforcing steel cage was placed inside the mold, then concrete was poured around the cage. After the concrete cured, the unit was moved to an assembly line where a wooden sub-floor was installed with electrical and mechanical services below it. Windows and insulation were then inserted; afterwards prefabricated bathrooms and kitchen modules. Finally the unit was moved to its position in the building.

There were 354 of these units in all. But it was the way they were put together than produced the variety of forms that made Habitat, both inside and outside, so unusual. The units were arranged to provide fifteen different types of "houses". These varied from one-bedroom houses (600 sq. feet) to four-bedroom houses (1,700 sq. feet). Each had a private open garden space, 37 x 17 feet. Each man's roof was another man's garden. The arrangement of the units provided privacy and the variation in house layouts provides a sense of uniqueness.

While factory production techniques should have cut overall costs, building 158 apartments isn't really productive in factory work since there is often a steep learning curve. Also since the individual units would bear the weight load of the units above, the units on the bottom where actually thicker and stronger. In the end Habitat 67 cost $22,195,920, or about $140,000 per living unit. Effectively that was the same cost as building six-eight ordinary town houses. Luckily one could rationalize that it was only a prototype, and if scaled up, it might be much cheaper to construct.

While the visiting public was impressed, they didn't embrace the concept. At a distance the complex looked like an exciting piece of Cubist sculpture, at close up it's flat concrete-gray exterior looked boring and as if nobody lived there. Inside the complex Safdie's plastic covered pedestrian streets, connecting the apartments with the elevators and parking lots, were poorly sheltered from Montreal's cold window weather. Perhaps if it had been built near one of Montreal's exciting neighborhoods, the public might have been more willing to accept it, but then few of Expo's fifty million visitors would have seen the innovative housing site.

More images of the Expo:
The polymer Pavilion

La Ronde

Canada Pavilion

Air Canada Pavilion

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spring by Plein Sud

While fashion weeks in fashion capitals all over the world are showing the trends we'll wear this fall and winter, i'm looking forward to spring. If it's gonna look as half as good as the spring by Plein Sud, it's gonna be just beautiful!

We love this Spring-Summer Plein Sud collection!

Dark-haired model: Valerija Kelava.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


The revolutionary balcony Bloomframe is designed and patented by Hofman Dujardin Architects based in Amsterdam The Netherlands. The Research & Development department from Hurks geveltechniek based in Veldhoven The Netherlands turned the design concept into a spectacular functional prototype.

The dynamic balcony offers a solution for compact apartments in dense urban areas. By transforming the elevation into a horizontal surface an outdoor terrace is added to an apartment. Bloomframe can play a significant role in the real estate property of the future.

The Bloomframe window can be used in various surroundings. Apartments for students can be easily equipped with an outdoor space. Hotels can add luxurious terraces to their rooms. In large scale renovations of former warehouses balcony's can be created by adding Bloomframe windows to the building. Complex constructions of balcony's or loggias are not longer the only option.
With one push on a button the balcony opens smoothly within 15 seconds. On the few square meters which are generated two persons can enjoy breakfast in the open air. Although the construction is extremely solid, the balcony looks elegant and transparent. During the development of the prototype safety had the highest priority. The upcoming months the development process continues. The final product is expected to be presented at the end of this year. Bloomframe is a registered trademark.


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Future of German Graphic Design

Neuland - The Future of German Graphic Design reveals a previously undiscovered territory - in search of young talent that will shape the future of German graphic design. Neuland asks questions in place of providing answers: Are preconceived notions about German graphic design correct; does German graphic design really even exist? The answer to these inquires involved a journey to Germany, getting to know its German and immigrant designers, and a trip beyond Germany‘s borders, in pursuit of German designers who live abroad.

THIBAUD TISSOT Describe your working process: "I have no general recipe, but I know I'm obsessed.", What is German? "A strange mix of warmth and coldness, sometimes surprising."

Neuland provides a helpful map of information for designers curious about study, lectures, workshops, books, or exhibitions in Germany; those individuals that want to learn about the history of design in Germany.

KATRIN SCHACKE What is German? "Fences.", What is German design? "Vernacular, sensible, sometimes a bit chilly." What do you aim to achieve with your work? "I try to tempt people with pictures. Familiar things are taken out of their context and presented from an unaccustomed angle."

The editors of Neuland, struggled with all the usual big, philosophical questions while putting their book together: What is German design? What is German? Who cares? If they were Ellen Lupton or Steven Heller, they might have spent pages upon pages ruminating on these issues. Instead, they did what any editors who are actually designers by trade might do — they asked their 51 subjects for all the answers. In mini-interviews accompanying each entry, some said German design was “a cuckoo clock,” while others described it as “strips of pork” or “a bit chilly.” Each subject was also asked to submit a picture of their studio surroundings, of their workspace, and of “something utterly German.”

PIXELGARTEN What is German? "Punctual, orderly, reliable. And Germany has the best sausage, so we've been told by some Japanese people."

PIXELGARTEN What is German design? "Not, in fact, typically German. And perhaps it's also often undervalued."

Although the book has a lot of moving parts, it’s more than just the sum of them. As you reach the end, you may not have a firm grasp on what, if anything, makes nationality so important in one of the world’s most globalized professions, but you do get to know Germany’s next generation of talent in small but poignant ways, right down to their enduring obsession with currywurst.

HEIMANN UND SCHWANTES What is German? "Beige. Round. Indeterminate."
HEIMANN UND SCHWANTES What is German design? "Grass green to turquoise. Oval. Fully functional."

FL@33 What is German design? "While I was studying in Germany in the mid-'90s I would have associated the graphics with the Bauhaus and the ULM school. Product design definitely with Braun and Siemens. Nowadays, I'm not so sure."

From Neuland: The Future of German Graphic Design, by Copyright 2009 by the authors and reprinted with permission from ACTAR.

[seen @ SightUnseen]

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Serbian product designer Damjan Stankovic [relogik] present us CIPHER:

An empty glass resembles a meaningless colorful mosaic, until a liquid is poured into it, revealing its name. Each side of the glass is reserved for a specific drink. The Dekrypt glass though complex in appearance in fact runs on a very simple idea. Differently colored shapes are scattered across the glass surface in a seemingly random pattern, however their position is hardly accidental. The true purpose of the glass mosaic is revealed when colored liquid is poured into it (orange juice, milk, Nescafe or coke) The pattern of shapes and empty spaces on the glass combined with the color of the liquid inside the glass end up forming a textual sign, revealing what exact drink or refreshment you are having, with each side of the glass reserved for a specific drink. Besides being a novelty item with entertainment value it can also serve as a marketing item for beverage companies as it has a promotional potential.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

a10studio at restaurant & bar design awards

Today we're very proud to share the joy with our friends at a10studio, as they are the only Mexican Architecture/Design/Interior firm to be nominated in this year’s Restaurant & Bar Design Awards.

Totally independent, the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards, now in it’s second year, is the only concept of its kind dedicated exclusively to design.

Judged by a highly influential panel of top international journalists from the design, hospitality and lifestyle sectors, the judges will recognise and reward both ‘restaurants and bars’ and their ‘designers’ for design excellence. With online entry and a wide variety of categories, applicants and their projects receive extensive exposure.

The Restaurant & Bar Design Awards have rapidly established a distinguished following, attracting submissions from such high profile designers as Zaha Hadid, Karim Rashid, Kengo Kuma and David Collins in its first year.

Culminating in a unique and innovative awards ceremony, the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards’ winners, including the best designed restaurant and the best designed bar, will be announced and presented with their awards at Westfield Stratford in June 2010.

Re*evolution Lounge is the project by a10studio nominated to this year awards, we hope to bring you more good news on this soon.

At the end we're also proud to mention that LA76 participated as a photographer in Re*evolution Lounge project.

More about a10 studio and their work on their website: , blog: , and Twitter: @a10studio.



Created by the Access Agency (packaging designed by Amy Moss of Eat. Drink. Chic. and photographed by Marija Ivkovic). McFancy is set to launch at fashion weeks around the world :

"Today’s demanding consumers expect even their beloved, favorite brands to step up their game. Many run-away online successes of offline brand “stunts” attest that consumers expect, and get really excited about, experiences that are unusual, fun, thought-provoking and emotionally engaging. With the power and immediacy of social media, surprising offline events and stunts have now turned into truly powerful promotional tools.

In 2010, TCH will launch Access Agency. It is a dedicated entity that will continue our work of creating highly original, transformational, yet eminently practical and results-oriented strategies for companies to stage the kinds of offline brand experiences that will increase the economic value of their offering.

For McDonald’s, we envision a cool, surprising and fun mix of concepts. First is McFancy, an upmarket temporary McDonald’s store that launches at Fashion Weeks around the globe — London, New York, Paris, Milan, Sydney, Hong Kong. McFancy is part art installation, gathering spot and, of course, a restaurant that offers a traditional McDonald’s menu but packaged in a way that makes a playful yet stylish nod to the lifestyle of the highly desirable, influential consumers that attend Fashion Weeks."

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