Kent Larson offers a fascinating glimpse into new technological and design possibilities aimed at making the cities of the future more accessible, more environment-friendly, more space-efficient, and more liveable:
The transformable apartment, in particular, seems to be an idea that’s catching on. Hong Kong architect Gary Chang has already made it a reality.
…and gives a hilarious and enlightening talk on the creation of some of his iconic book covers:
My job was to ask this question: “What do the stories look like?” [...] We bring stories to the public. The stories can be anything, and some of them are actually true. But they all have one thing in common: They all need to look like something. They all need a face. Why? To give you a first impression of what you are about to get into. [...]
The book designer’s responsibility is threefold: to the reader, to the publisher and, most of all, to the author. I want you to look at the author’s book and say, “Wow! I need to read that.”
And just as I’m watching this and thinking “That’s another thing that’s lost in an e-book,” Kidd agrees: “Try experiencing that on a Kindle!”
Don’t get me started. Seriously. Much is to be gained by eBooks: ease, convenience, portability. But something is definitely lost: tradition, a sensual experience, the comfort of thingy-ness — a little bit of humanity.
Watch the video, though. It’s a lot funnier than the serious quotes I’ve pulled out.
More reasons why books are made of win here.
Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.
– Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Creation of Ea”
Lighting architect Rogier van der Heide gives an excellent talk on the judicious use of light and the necessity of darkness:
I’m glad he calls attention to the issue of light pollution — not just an aesthetic problem, or a hindrance to astronomers and city-dwelling admirers of the night sky, but a serious biological hazard to many species, including humans, as well. Verlyn Klinkenborg discusses the issue in National Geographic: Continue reading
New Yorkers proudly claim to make the most of our famously small apartments, but architect Gary Chang in Hong Kong shows us how it’s really done:
This reminds me of the time when my sister-in-law, who had been living in Hong Kong for many years, came to visit us in New York; she looked around the crowded East Village restaurant we were in, and out the window at the throngs of people on the sidewalk and the taxi-clogged street, and marveled: “So much space!”
Chang is the managing director of EDGE Design Institute, whose mission statement waxes philosophical, and surprisingly elegiac:
In essence, architecture is a set of conditions under which space and the individual are connected. [...] The set of conditions is ever changing. In the context of Hong Kong, every “present” is fading, then vanishes without notice. What has existed will keep being erased. Perhaps we are making a monument for the city: a monument for the consumed future and the fading present.
“The consumed future and the fading present” could apply in many ways to New York, I think (and would fit in with my own meditations about “the infinite city”), and even to our modern, consumerist culture as a whole, if you’re in a pessimistic mood. Perhaps Chang’s apartment can serve as a metaphor for how we live now — constantly remaking our environment and erasing our past — and perhaps in an age of dwindling resources Chang’s ingenuity shows us the most sensible way forward.