an intern's tokyo travels by Claire Grotz

Tokyo may be the greatest city on the planet. The metropolitan area alone spans roughly 1808km2, hosting an estimated 37 million residents making it the most densely populated city in the world. Only from one of the few centralized vantage points can one even attempt to understand the scale of the city. From Tokyo Tower, visitors can see Tokyo’s structures reach the horizon line in all directions.
Despite its density, a visit to Tokyo reveals its inherent livability. A rapidly increasing population forced intelligent city planning and an array of architecture that deserves to be seen up close. Each neighborhood reveals a different piece of Tokyo’s complex history.
The architecture itself helps to illustrate the anomaly that is Japanese culture; heavily rooted in tradition, simultaneously swept by technology and innovation. Neighborhoods transcend from the more traditional wooden sukiya-zukuri style to contemporary dwellings made of galvanized steel and concrete.
My advice: buy a Pasmo pass (transit card) and bring your best walking shoes. With more than 47 major neighborhoods to explore, you really never know what you’ll find in Tokyo. But, with so many hidden gems and spectacles to be seen, you won’t want to miss anything, so you’d better get started

Inside the Box by Michelle Linden

While there is often a stereotype among architects (and others) about the uninspired designs of engineers... it often just isn't true. In fact, many engineers are very creative thinkers and talented designers in their own right. For example, this Welcoming and Security Pavilion in Dublin, Ireland was designed by French engineering firm RFR Ingenieurs. The simple glass enclosure is made quite dynamic by the use of exposed steel and glu lams. The glu lams act as a beautiful expression of the structure, while providing lateral support (at least I think they provide lateral resistance). I also quite like the contast of the clean modern lines with the older structures beyond.

A Cut Above by Michelle Linden

Beijing Biennale
Alessi Bloom 'Fiori d'arancio'Clad Cuts SS

Atelier Manferdini is a very interesting inter-disciplinary deign firm run by Elena Manferdini (who also currently teaches at Sci-Arc). Obviously influenced by advances in engineering and computer aided designs, the slits and cuts in her designs are a constant theme throughout most projects. Elena provides an unusual combination of built work, academic studies, architecture, design, and fashion that isn't generally found in one firm. This variety of work is just the kind of thing that gets me excited, so I'll be sure to keep an eye on her future work...

Ever Evolving Concrete by Michelle Linden

I was reading an article today on Treehugger that was describing a new sealant made from sodium acetate (an ingredient commonly found in potato chips) that is proving to be a cheap and efficient way of sealing concrete. The chemical seeps into the pores of the concrete and crystallizes after contact with any water, thus restricting any further water infiltration. It sounds pretty cool, but imagine what it does to your stomach!

Anyway... it got me thinking about concrete and all the new ways in which we are developing it as both a structural and finish material. Honestly, its really amazing to think about how concrete has been in use as a building material for thousands of years and yet we are still finding new ways in which to use and create it! Below are just a few examples of new types of concrete.

Graphic Concrete is a really interesting product out of Finland that provides amazing detail etched into the concrete. There are standard patterns available as well as custom designs. The designs are created by applying a surface retardant to a special membrane, which rejects the concrete in certain areas... then when the membrane is removed, the design's various shapes and depths appear.

Concrete Blond is yet another company that specializes in a variety of concrete applications. Many of their projects incorporate glass, steel, and concrete (among other materials). I'm not exactly sure how this particular 'wallpaper panel' is created, but its quite impressive to see the minute detail, texture, and sheen created by the concrete.

The image shown above is an actual sample of a Pixel Panel in which the concrete panels are actually translucent, if you can imagine that.... Via Liquid Stone

Designed by
Frederik Molenschot, Solid Poetry shows its inherent design when wet...

Something tells me that these concrete innovations are just the tip of the iceberg... I can't wait to see what else the design world comes up with!

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain by Michelle Linden

Or perhaps we should be paying attention to that man...

Cecil Balmond, deputy chairman of Ove Arup, has long been the go to engineer for architectural big wigs like Koolhaas, Libeskind, Johnson, Siza, and more... Without an engineer with an unbelievably creative mind like Balmond's, some of our favorite structures would not be possible. His cooperative designs with Koolhaas have been particularly successful, including the Kunsthal, Seattle Library, and Bordeaux home.

Balmond is now coming into his own, not just as an engineer, but as an architectural thinker and designer. The Battersea Building (upper right) is a recent design by Balmond, that I'd be very interested in seeing...

Via Josegenao

Olympic Construction by Michelle Linden

As I mentioned before, like a lot of people I am very excited to watch the construction of the water cube by PTW in Beijing. I only wish that I could attend the Olympics and see the completed structure in person, and I'm completely jealous of anyone who will be there! Its especially interesting to see the intricate structure supporting the ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) pillows that create the water effect.

[Be sure to check out the view of H&dM's birdnest stadium in the background.]

The above photos of the construction are from a variety of sources including 1.618, Flickr, Chris Bosse, David Teoh, and The Wall Street Journal.