The Little Mermaid by Michelle Linden

I was wandering through the Vola website (great plumbing fixtures, if you're not familiar) and came across their inspirations section... They've got images of projects in which their products were used, including the Danish Pavilion by BIG Architecture for the Shanghai Expo.
The images are a lot of fun... they almost make me forgive the fact that the whole building is centered on the little mermaid.

Lucinahaven by Michelle Linden

Although most of my practice is residential, I am always drawn to light-filled colorful schools like here and here... so it is no surprise that this school by CEBR caught my eye.
However, with this project I find myself liking the idea more than the execution. The interiors are really lovely and bright, but the exteriors are a bit too busy for my taste. The hive idea is taken very literally and the wide variety of color seems overkill. But still, I am sure the kids love it and really... isn't that the point?

How Embarrassing by Michelle Linden

So, the World Expo 2010 is taking place in Shanghai, and many of the world's best architects have contributed designs. Many countries have hired the best architects found in their own country, while others have ventured out beyond their borders... but most designs have something in common... trying to articulate the priorities and passions of their home country, exuding confidence and creativity. Of course, I say most because the US is one glaring exception. What does our pavilion say about us? We could be locate along any highway in any suburb. We value conformity and corporate culture (which we can directly link to many of the problems plaguing our nation). We don't really have any place for innovation or creativity and we certainly don't value our architects, which is why we hired a Canadian to design a metal panelled representation of an eagle (there is that lack of creativity and ingenuity again).
Very Frustrating. An expo is not an office park.

South Korea

Samsø Denmark by Michelle Linden

Samsø, Denmark has been in the news recently due to their incredible development of green energy. Since the late 90s when Samsø's energy was derived mostly from imported coal based electricity and oil, the island has opted to make a concerted effort to become more environmentally friendly. The island, which has about 4300 inhabitants was coaxed into green energy little by little, through town meetings and such. Soon, as more residents were using green energy it became the thing you do... whether you erect a micro turbine in your yard, or install heat pumps at home. Now, with 11 land based turbines (which produce enough electricity for the entire island) and 10 off shore turbines (which counteract the island's other energy use, plus some), Samsø has an incredible amount of wind generated electricity for such a small population. Additionally, the island has wood chip and straw burning plants, burning items that would have released CO2 into the atmosphere anyway, but this time getting heat in return. The island has become a bit of an experiment/showcase for Denmark... But really, this 'experiment' could be used as a standard all over the world.
Recently, I've been traveling to Hawaii for work (don't bother telling me how bad it is to fly - I already know). Whenever I fly into Maui, I think about how sad it is that I don't see more photovoltaics. I mean, if Hawaii isn't the best place on earth for solar energy, then I don't know what is. There is consistent sun year round, and solar energy would really help the cost of electricity, which is huge on the islands. On my last trip as I was lamenting the lack of panels, I noticed a string of wind turbines high on the mountain. I guess they have been there for a few years, but this is the first time that I noticed them. A little research, and I discovered that the turbines are providing 20% of the island's energy. Now imagine if they combined the 20 existing land based turbines with some off-shore turbines and more solar panels... the island could be nearly carbon neutral!