Notre Dame Reimagined

An art historian has a digital map of Notre Dame, but will it be rebuilt exactly as it was?

The roof of Notre Dame needs 50 acres of oak trees to rebuild and no trees in France are big enough to use. So an exact replica is out of the running.

What about modern materials? Steel beams instead of lumber. So now we’re updating materials, and certainly the methods of construction are different.

Why mimic the past when the France can marry the best of the past with the best of the now?

I apologize for the terrible renderings–I am neither an architect nor a photoshop master. And nobody would plop Hadid on top… just to illustrate the point.

Autoprogettazione? / Self Design

If someone actually tried to build something, they would probably learn – Enzo Mari

Enzo Mari’s 1974 book was written to help regular people better understand the objects around them. Since there’s no better way to learn than by doing, the book was a free DIY instructional on how to build 19 different pieces of furniture from rough cut lumber and nails. 

“The quality-quantity ratio is central to the whole of industrial production: quality is determined when the shape of a product does not ‘seem’ but simply ‘is’. This statement, anything but a paradox, is not understood by most people. And this makes it difficult to execute projects of real worth . . . In 1974, I thought that if people were encouraged to build a table with their own hands, for example, they would be able to understand the thinking behind it.”

Buy Autoprogettazionenzo here. 

Observations from Wandering Cities

In 2015, I attended the Growing in Place conference in Raleigh, NC to address how children can learn and play in urban environments:

“How can urban design expose and restore urban nature so children and youth engage with compelling, equitable places for creative play and learning? How can nonformal education in nature enrich playful learning in the arts and sciences in the city?”

Jay Walljasper was one of the speakers. He used to be journalist and described himself as a “hunter-gatherer”. He wrote The Great Neighborhood Book chronicles his observations from wandering cities.

Here are my notes from his talk:

  1. Give people a place to hang out. It doesn’t have to be beautiful or expensive. This is where people make connections and get to know each other.
  2. Give people something to see like street buskers, public art, etc. Public art doesn’t have to be great, it has to be a tool for community building.
  3. Give people something to do. Toronto has public bread oven in park (big Portuguese community).
  4. Give people a safe pleasant place to walk. It promotes health and creates a strong sense of community. Many cultures have a ritual of post dinner walk, like USA promenade.
  5. Give people a place to sit.
  6. Give people a safe and comfortable place to bike. Protected bike freeways spur development.
  7. Give people reliable and comfortable public transit. There is stigma involved. Bad bus stops reinforce the stigma.
  8. Make the streets safe. The safest communities have the most people on the street. Organize walking groups to eliminate crime. Put people on the streets.
  9. Make streets safe from traffic. The streets belong to all of us. “If you widen the streets, my world will shrink.”
  10. Don’t forget about older folks. When we plan, non-drivers don’t exist. To lose driving almost makes you a non person.
  11. Don’t forget about kids. Kids live under house arrest because they can’t walk anywhere. Less than 10% of kids walk to school. We need safer routes to school programs, like a walking school bus.
  12. Let your community go to the dogs. Dogs want what we need- indicator spieces.
  13. Reclaim your front yard.
  14. Make a village no matter where you are. A city is a bunch of villages stitched together.
  15. Keep in mind that people like people. Are we building the slums of the future right now?
  16. Don’t give up hope.
  17. Build on what works to make things better. Have a vision.
  18. Remember the people of the people. Social capital.
  19. Never underestimate the power of a meal.
  20. Plant flowers.
  21. Take time to enjoy your community.

There’s a lot that ordinary citizens can do to engage their neighbors and make their block a better place to live. The Tactical Urbanism guides can help you “implement short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyze long term change.”Short term projects are great because they change perspective, leading to new policy and physical change.

Think street furniture made out of discarded pallets, intersection repair with leftover paint, and reclaimed setbacks with benches and libraries. These can end up as new plazas and parks, complete streets, and community gathering spots.

The only thing I can add is: How can we do all this and keep it affordable and equitable for everyone?

Mobile Device dependency

My smartphone is a curse and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Take the test to see if you have a problem relationship with your mobile device: CAGE Mobile Device

What’s your score?

Swap out “Mobile Device” with “Alcohol” and that’s the same test medical professionals use to screen for alcoholism. And look at the similarities:

I blame myself for lack of discipline, but this thing is addictive. Take the “nomophobia” quiz here.

Now What?

At one point I bought a piece of plastic shaped like an iPhone, except the upgraded version with “selfie” capability. It worked for awhile, then I forgot about it.

Now I’m doing 2 things: 
First, I changed my phone to greyscale. In iOS: settings > general > accessibility > display accommodations > color filters > toggle color filters on

Then, I moved all of my apps into the dock. I’m forced to use the search function to find anything, making my iPhone use more focused.

So far it’s working. My iPhone is now boring and hard to use.


Philly Monuments

I added my voice to Philadelphia’s monument conversation in PlanPhilly’s “Eyes on the Street” segment, which is discussing “What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?”

My essay here:

Mural Arts’ Monument Lab wants to know, “What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?”

It’s a great question, but I want to suggest a few more to guide the city as it conducts this research phase of what could one day become a great public design project, and to help us understand the challenges of erecting a truly meaningful monument in Philadelphia.

A monument is a lasting evidence, reminder, or example of someone or something notable or great. But I like the Latin root better: moneo means “to remind”, “to advise” or “to warn”. So, this beginning raises the question: Are these monuments intended for us, the current citizens of Philadelphia, or are we building them as a warning to (or guide for) our future citizens?


Rizzo aside, what else is going on in the Philadelphia Monument Ecosystem? Should we take more care when accepting and displaying monuments gifted by private groups? Should we wait ten years after a person’s death or an event’s occurrence before they can be immortalized as a monument? Should we actively uncover people and events that have been ignored until this point?

Our current monuments are monotonous. Around ten percent of monuments depict women, and only ten of those monuments are of actual women, not religious or mythical figures. The remaining twenty-two are mythological or biblical figures, and fifteen of those are of Mary. Sharon Hayes’ participatory Monument Lab sculpture, If They Should Ask, collected the names of women who should be recognized. I urge everyone to dive into this list and explore the possibilities, like Carolina LeCount, a civil rights leader and Octavius Catto’s’ finance. And let’s be sure to remember Winnie Harris in ten years.

Art commissions and boards tend to be positions reserved for members of the community holding “respected” positions, access to capital through fundraising or connections, and the ability to influence public opinion. While many of these boards are diverse in gender and race, they often still fail across the class spectrum.

And who are the artists? Are we giving women and people of color the creative and financial opportunity to create their representation of a person, event, or abstract concept? By my rough count, women make up less than 20 percent of the artists listed on, poet Christopher William Purdom’s index of the city’s public art. It’s safe to say that the number of artists of color similarly falls short of reflecting Philadelphia’s population.


This is a great time to step aside and see what others have to say. I’d love to hear who my longtime black neighbors view as local heroes, the events that defined their generation, and the chain of events that brought Philadelphia to this particular crossroads as  a majority-minority city, the poorest of all big U.S. cities, and undoubtedly the most historic.

We need monuments that reflect the diverse backgrounds of our citizens, such as our growing Middle Eastern population, our large Jewish communities, our West African and West Indian communities here in West Philadelphia, and our Hispanic communities. Let’s explore their histories within the context of Philadelphia and celebrate those stories. Who are the de facto leaders in these communities, and how can we collect and share their stories with the rest of Philadelphia?

As a city that tries to serve as a refuge from nativism, we should ask immigrants like Javier Flores Garcia: What would a monument to sanctuary look like? As a minority-majority city struggling with structural inequity and systemic racism, we should ask activists like the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative: What would a monument to the struggle for racial equality look like?”


How can we co-opt the Mural Arts model of placemaking, expression, and public contribution for our city’s enduring monuments?

Digital tools are great, but they can’t be the only method of data collection. According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Charitable Trusts, both Philadelphians making less than $30,000 per year and residents over the age of 65 are less likely to have internet access than the rest of the population. Additionally, only 16 percent of city residents get their local news from the internet, while almost 40 percent get it from TV.

So, how should we reach out? Not everyone is going to read PlanPhilly, or follow Monument Lab, or pass by workshops in Rittenhouse. There are gathering places around the city can be utilized to reach people: churches, rec centers, schools —  even the local watering hole. It will take time to reach out in an one-on-one manner but the due diligence will pay off, and the citizens will appreciate the effort.


Philadelphia is so historic that it’s easy to overlook the history. I rarely stop to reflect upon the statues all over City Center, and I’ll give the 2,500 blue and gold historical markers a cursory glance. So, my final questions is: What could a monument be?  As benchmarks, the historical markers cost about $1,400 each, while  newly-built monument to Octavius Catto at City Hall cost $2,000,000 . With that range in mind, let’s reimagine what a monument could be:

  • What if the monument could travel so that all sections of the city could experience it, host it, make it their own?
  • What if the monument was participatory?
  • What if the monument was sensory?
  • What if the monument was a trust to fund a scholarship or job creation program?
  • What if the monument was digital?
  • What if the pedestals of all existing monuments to men who owned slaves were converted to a supporting foundation created by sculptures of the all the black men, women, and children they enslaved?
  • What if the monument used all the discarded tires in Philadelphia? What if the monument pushed us to consider the people and resources used to get us here?
  • What if…

I don’t know what the next monument should be, but I know it should celebrate people we don’t want to see forgotten and a collective history we don’t want to see erased. What stories are hiding in plain sight, and what advice do they hold for future generations of Philadelphians? If we want to move forward as a city, and to develop equitably and sustainably, our monuments must guide us toward those progressive goals.


Using Design to Address Homelessness through Transitional Housing

Last spring Activate14–an outreach initiative I co-founded–jumped on the tiny home craze in an effort to address Raleigh’s underserved homelessness community. We wanted to prove our belief that good design is accessible to everyone and can radically change a community.

The transition out of homelessness is more successful when services like job training, medical attention, and other support are provided through temporary housing, rather than providing services alone. The housing community model allows someone to build a steady job and income without worrying about their safety, belongings, and where they will find shelter.

Not surprisingly, a transitional housing community is more cost-effective than letting the homeless stay on the streets. Increased hospitalization, overnights in jail, and emergency shelter cost taxpayers upwards of $40,000 per homeless person per year. Imagine the savings if we could transition people from homelessness to self-supporting lives through $1,500 to $30,000 tiny homes with community space. 


Continue reading “Using Design to Address Homelessness through Transitional Housing”

Ten Principles for Good Design from Dieter Rams


Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer whose design approach is “Less, but better”.
He believes good design:

  1. Is innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
  3. Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  5. Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
  6. Is honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
  9. Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  10. Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

As designers we have a great responsibility. I believe designers should eliminate the unnecessary. That means eliminating everything that is modish because this kind of thing is only short-lived.
–Dieter Rams – interview with Icon Magazine

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Quick Ugly Housing = Future Affordable Housing?

Elan City Center Apartments Rendering (Greystar)

What it really looks like…

Is Raleigh getting ugly, or is it just me?

Raleigh is quickly looking like a second-tier replica city dictated by developer’s profit margins. All of our new housing developments are plywood wrapped in terrible materials; they’re poorly designed, unfriendly to the street, and, frankly, an eyesore.

Elan City Center could be one of those at Clark+Oberlin, on N Boylan, S Wilmington or N Person, by Trader Joe’s, or anywhere else in the country. It looks familiar because Greystar, a developer from Charleston, owns 44 complexes in Raleigh, Durham and the RTP alone, and they’re not the only developer in town. There are currently over 2,500 unit under construction in Downtown and Glenwood South.

The real problem is that none of these complexes offer affordable housing. With studios starting at $1,050, they have priced out singles making under $50,000 and couples making under $25,200 each (given a 25% income allowance for rent). How can the City of Raleigh champion itself as friendly and diverse at these prices?

My hope is that in 10 years–when the facades are tattered, plywood floors bowed, and amenities dingy–there will be so many units empty that the prices will drop. Finally, Raleigh will have affordable housing downtown–unless the developer razes the building for bigger profit margins.

This is the only reason why I am glad we are not building like the Capitol Apartments anymore.

Capital Apts_web
Capitol Apartments. Photo by

If the City of Raleigh wants downtown Raleigh and the surrounding neighborhoods to be a hub of creativity, diversity, and innovation, then it needs to start acting more like a benevolent developer + leader and less like a doormat. I suggest that they give the Appearance Commission real authority and require all new developments offer a percentage of their housing available to low-income families, similar to the Town of Chapel Hill.

“The Town shall encourage developers of residential developments of 5 or more units to (a) provide 15 percent of their units at prices affordable to low and moderate income households, (b) contribute in-lieu-fees, or (c) propose alternative measures so that the equivalent of 15 percent of their units will be available and affordable to low and moderate income households;”

Until then, we can only wait until poor design and quality works in favor of lower socio-economic groups.

P.S. lol at the stock images on the websites for these developments.

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Uber Can Do Anything As Long As We Buy What They Sell

Uber is a private company. They set pricing, company values, and customer service. If a company run by a pretty awful bro turns a blind eye to assaults, has no respect for consumer privacy, and touts a price-gouging (dynamic) business model, then make the decision to not support them. Like every other private company, they will only be around as long as they have customers. It can be inconvenient, but every rider has the option of calling a taxi, which is simple with a smartphone.

Furthermore, I have 3 points in response to the Triangle Business Journal’s article on the NC Attorney General’s involvement after Halloween:

  1. Uber made the entire dynamic pricing model very transparent. I received several emails and notifications from Uber leading up to Halloween and how to avoid costly ride. Also, Uber required the passenger to confirm they understood the “multiplier” on 2 separate prompts.
  2. It seems that most of the complaints are coming from people leaving bars between the hours of 12:30-2:30am who knew planned on drinking and wouldn’t be able to drive home. It’s not Uber’s fault they were drunk and made a bad financial decision.
  3. Every Uber rider had the option of calling a traditional cab company and paying a price determined by city policy.

You can protest Uber by not giving them your money. It will send a powerful message.

Photo by

Food Truck Proposal for Raleigh’s Moore Square

The City of Raleigh is spending $12 million to revamp Moore Square, one of two downtown green spaces. While the space needs an upfit to reflect the world-class status Raleigh is working towards, I believe there are smaller steps the city could take to attract crowds and increase revenue.

Restaurants, shops, and a children’s museum face the square on the west end. To the east are empty lots and storefronts. There is no reason to walk through the center of the square. Currently, the square is known for its homeless population that are attracted by public transportation and a variety of services aimed towards people in need.

I suggest the city allow two food tucks to serve from the middle of the square. Area food trucks are eager to run in downtown Raleigh, and are willing to pay for the opportunity. Each truck would easily pay $100 per shift. After a few weeks, the city would have enough funds to buy picnic tables and other amenities to create a more enjoyable experience.

Other cities proved that the presence of food trucks aren’t detrimental to other businesses; they increase interest and foot traffic. People will take lunch breaks in the square, visit after work, and spend time outside. Furthermore, the square will feel more safe with a greater public presence.

Sure, a city employee will have to schedule food tucks and process payments, and other employees will have to empty the trash can more frequently, but I think 4 food trucks per day will generate enough revenue to cover it.

C’mon Raleigh!


Activate14: Architecture + Design Event Series

What started as intra-office conversation on hosting architecture and design events quickly turned to reality when Frank Harmon Architect decided to sponsor the inaugural summer event series at the AIANC Center for Architecture and Design (CfAD) in Raleigh, NC. Planning quickly commenced with the AIANC Program Committee. We decided to bridge the events by focusing on issues facing North Carolina cities: sustainable foodways, alternative transportation, and urban housing.

Within 2 months we had started the framework for Activate 14 (a play on the address of the CfAD), released a Design + Build Competition Call for Entry open to North Carolina architects, architecture students, and artists, and started planning for 4 summer events.

Activate 14 is an annual event series that instigates conversations with the public about current architecture and design issues shaping our communities. It is free, public event series in downtown Raleigh, utilizing the entire grounds of the CfAD with cascading events to feature educational components, food, drink, music, children’s activities, and art.

This has been my primary focus for the past 2 months and I’d love for you to check out the website and give me some feedback, especially if you live in North Carolina!


My NYE Wishes for Raleigh: A List


I think about Raleigh all the time. I want to make it better, I want to contribute, I want to provide services to encourage a thriving urban center. Here are some of my wishes for the New Year.

I wish for increased ridership on public transportation; dedicated bike lanes; attainable rents for startup businesses or discounted rents for the first 6 months; successful implementation of the Market and Exchange Plaza renovations; window displays in abandoned buildings; more interactive public art; a nighttime gathering space that isn’t centered around alcohol; cool playgrounds; politicians concerned with living wages, alternative transportation, and all things green; a great anchor tenant in 227 Fayetteville; a local grocer near my home; BIKE SHARING; a neighborhood cleanup; utilization of empty lots; shelters at bus stops–we’re bare to the elements; streets democratically oriented towards pedestrians and cyclists, not large personal vehicles with lonely riders; pedestrian scrambles on Fayetteville during the lunch rush; food trucks!; c’mon parklets!; affordable solutions for downtown living; Dorthea Dix to become a park; a bar in the basement of the Velvet Cloak; intersection repair, everywhere; mixed used buildings that haven’t been value engineered; a GOOD donut shop; light rail; and, as always, books, books, and more books.

Well, this list could go on but I’ve exhausted my supply for the night.

What do you want?

photo © Matt Robinson,

Custom Textiles: Print All Over Me + Spoonflower (Durham!)

While doing some research today I ran across another custom fabric company called Print All Over Me that lets me pick an object to digitally print whatever pattern I want or pick from another’s uploaded design (that user receives 20% of the sale). I can’t speak to the cut or fabric but the print is as good/bad as you make it.

Spoonflower–Durham, NC–is similar but you buy printed fabric by the yard, which means you have to make the object. They have 12 fabrics to choose from including silk, linen, and cotton.

Either way, here are two services that help you MAKE IT HAPPEN.

These custom clothing services will keep popping up because who wants to go out and run into someone wearing the same shirt? Then it gets down to Who Wore It Better? and things get ugly.

Speaking of which, what’s going on at NCSU’s College of Textiles?

Images from PAOM, who am I to judge?

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Why I wanted to be a RDU Baton holder

I am the RDU Baton holder on instagram today (@rdubaton) and I plan to use it as a soapbox for multimodal transportation, sustainability, utilizing urban space better, the need for public art, and so on.

The mission of the RDU Baton is to showcase Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the surrounding communities. We’re supposed to “show off our beautiful and lively corner of the world,” which many other baton holders have done. These people are pumped to be living here, in a growing area grounded by great universities, a burgeoning tech center, good food, and craft beer. I like all those things too but there is a lot more to Raleigh regarding transportation, social equity, and sustainability.

The relationship between the homeless, Moore Square, public transportation, and the city is strained; the train tracks are privately owned and serve as a thoroughfare for the transient; new cookie-cutter housing is built in large blocks next to residential neighbors with no input; bike riders fear for their lives because there are not dedicated bike lanes, even on brand-new streets; a small group of citizens dictate how public land and resources are used, citing safety and money to scare people; a lot of time, money, and space downtown is focused on alcohol and the more frequent “special event”; light rail was struck down, again, while Citrix is building a giant parking deck on Morgan Street.

I live between NCSU and downtown in a relatively low-income area cut off by Hillsborough Street, Pullen Park, and the railroad tracks. I see a lot and ride my bike to work often, rolling past the jail, a methadone clinic, new housing developments and several great local businesses.

I’m hoping to bring awareness to some of these issues. Raleigh is great, but it could be better.

Thoughts on Passion and Creating

James Rhodes, a concert pianist, speaks on how creativity is “beaten into submission”, that we have allowed our daily tasks and the internet to dominate our lives. James asserts that we devote the extra time in our lives to doing something creative, whatever that may be. He goes on to describe his lifestyle as a concert pianist–it’s a great article.

However, as I browse the internet and bookstores, I come across multitudes of “help” articles guiding the reader to find their “passion”. I realize many people aren’t passionate about anything, cannot decide what they want create, or they are scared of criticism, but who isn’t?

I share my passions with others to hold myself responsible. My friends are excited for me and my projects–passion is contagious. I use their excitement as fuel; it is easier to create knowing I have some support, that my work will be well received. Even if it isn’t, at least I did it (what Seth Godin calls “shipping”).

Original Article: James Rhodes: ‘Find what you love and let it kill you’ from The Guardian

“When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”

– Dr. Teresa Belton

New Denim! Kind of..

A pair of 14oz selvage denim has been sitting in my closet for over a year and a half due to a minor repair I needed to make. Although my heaviest, and best for winter, I haven’t noticed its absence due to my large rotation of denim. Of course, I decide to fix them now it is warming and they’ve been my go-to pair since.

I love the way raw denim breaks in. At first they are so damn uncomfortable, but after vigorous wearing they become a second skin, and very soft. After a couple of years the thread wears down, forms holes, and turns white. It is the look mass-produced brands try to re-create, which means that wallet outline is actually where my wallet is. The coin pocket still holds my lucky peso. I couldn’t un-cuff a few pairs if I tried.

DenimThis was my first pair, from a few months of wearing to a year and a half later.
Same pair, same fabric, nothing special, just life.

Animal Behavior: Collective Movement and Shapeshifting

Animal behavior is fascinating – how are thousands of birds or fish able to communicate with each other well enough to swirl and bank in perfect harmony, creating vortexes, undulating lines, and spheres. The underlying theory is that individuals take cues from their neighbors on where to move next. This collective movement acts as a survival mechanism by keeping the group safe from predators and weeding out weaker individuals regaled to the periphery.

Invasive to North America, settlers released 100 European Starlings in Central Park in 1890. Since then, their population swelled to over 200 million. We call starling formations “murmurations” and fish formations “schools”.

Compare bird and fish formations to collective human movement… for us it’s called a stampede and usually kills people. Some may argue there is evidence of collective movement in large urban centers but rarely is the entire group traveling together, except in a parade or rally, and never executed so well.

Source: Audubon Magazine and Ecology Magazine


I won’t tell you how to vote and hopefully no one else has. Ideally, you have come to your own conclusion, without interference from peers and family, super PACs, commercials, billboards, the “news”…

Vote because it will get you out of work for a little while.
Vote because the bakery gives out free cupcakes.
Vote because in remembrance of those who do not have a voice.

If you don’t vote you concede your right to complain.

Check out an unbiased Comparison of the Democratic and Republican Platforms on topics ranging from foreign policy to the environment to trade with China. Even if you have voted, check if your values align with those of your chosen party.

Thornton Dial – Don’t Matter How Raggly the Flag, It Still Got To Tie Us Together

A solution for small closets: an Open-Air Closet

I have a tiny closet and ran out of space long ago. The cheapest solution is hooks but it is ugly and in randomly placed holes from the previous tenants. I have thought about clothing racks but they are bulky and cold. Then I realized all my wooden hangers have swivel hooks and can hang parallel to the wall, or on the door. All I need are towel racks or even curtain rods…but what if it was an entire piece instead of a wall installations?

A bench with shoe storage would act as the counter balance for the back piece with two racks for hangers. If the back piece was odor and/or moisture-absorbing that would further enhance the functionality of the piece. In addition, this piece acts as a display for my clothing and shoes.

P.S. This is my 2nd Sketchup, the first being a side table from June.

Earth & Bamboo School in Bangladesh

Hand-Made School in Rudrapur, Bangladesh

Architects Anna Heringer and Eike Roswag designed and planned the Rudrapur school and students, teachers, and volunteers built it at a cost of $22,835 USD! The foundation is brick, the lower walls are loam and straw, the upper walls are bamboo with a galvanized iron roof. The total area of the school is 3,500 sf and the design allows for natural light and air ventilation.

Heringer was a student volunteer with a Bangladeshi Dipshikha, an education center for rural children, for a year in 1997. She kept in contact with the school and was later asked to help build a new school using local materials, completing the project in 2005.

The local Bangladeshi do not think this project is possible to recreate because of the equipment involved. However, in a developed country, where construction equipment is abound, this type of sustainable construction can easily happen!

It is amazing what basic elements and physical labor can do! In the United States so many great projects do not have the funds to realize completion. These beautiful international projects prove that a large budget is not needed to build beautiful creative spaces in our communities!

The center cutout reminds me of Safe Haven Orphanage’s library


Robi Mobile Library, Germany

The Robi Mobile Library, designed by Linie Zweii, allows children to access books when a traditional brick-and-mortar library isn’t available. This concept could easily be adapted for the U.S. public school system. When the government cuts funding, activities that create well-rounded, healthy children are the first to go, like recess, lunch, and libraries. It would be better to browse a library once a week than not at all.

A library on wheels could circulate to schools, churches, parks, the YMCA… it could operate on a schedule much like a food truck, but with a membership. Book returns could be installed at those locations so children can return books 24/7 to keep continuous circulation.

Source: Fast Company

7 Psychopaths – a new cult classic

…and here’s to another violent comedy by Martin McDonagh, director of In Bruges. 

A screenwriter (Colin Farrel) is trying to come up with a film about 7 psychopaths that turn from their darkness and into the light. Unlike most Hollywood movies, it won’t end in a big shootout but instead with a peaceful conversation. Marty’s friends (Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell) try to help him write the screenplay while hiding out from their killer (Woody Harrelson). There are a lot of guest spots with Tom Waits, guys from Boardwalk Empire and Big Love, and the girl from Precious. McDonagh also gets in a few hits to Hollywood and it’s penchant for sex and violence.

Every major character in 7 Psychopaths has an unexpected side, making them either weak or badass. In terms of dialogue, gratuitous violence, and character development, there seems to be an element of Tarantino but McDonagh traces it to Preston Sturges, a writer, director, and producer from 1930-58. I also noticed that the camera frequently panned diagonally from the top left corner to bottom right as did major “lines” in the sets, such as hills. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything but I notice things like that.

Check the trailer then watch the movie, in theaters this Friday.

Monstrum’s Awesome Playgrounds

Monstrum, a Danish design firm, builds thoughtful imaginative wooden playgrounds all over the world. They create playgrounds with child development in mind, building to challenge and stimulate the child. Not only are they great for kids, but as an adult, I certainly appreciate the aesthetic and inventiveness.

Sadly, many schools in the United States are cutting recess and playtime with major drawbacks in children’s health and behavior. A study by the Elementary School Journal in 2008 found that almost 25% of schools did not have recess. I find this more perplexing with childhood obesity rates on the rise– 20% of 6-11 year olds were obese in 2008. Plus, many studies have found a strong positive correlation between child’s play and self-esteem.

“I get this feeling in my legs when they want to run and that feeling moves up to my belly and when that feeling moves up to my head I can’t remember what the rules are.”
– Nadav, 7, Pittsburgh