RADDblog

MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER

Posted in Apocalypse, Architecture, Planning, Reoccupation, Social by RADDblog on December 29, 2009

Before shipping out to Afghanistan, the U.S. Army and members of the Indiana National Guard have been training inside a simulated Afghan village—using what the New York Times describes as a “vaguely foreboding institution that once served as a farm colony for ‘feeble-minded’ boys, and later was a state mental hospital.”

    The Army and the Indiana National Guard have turned the windswept complex, known as Muscatatuck, into a simulacrum of a war-torn Afghan city, with a courthouse, a jail and a graffiti-smeared marketplace. While the table-flat farmland around here hardly evokes the Hindu Kush, this is where the government trains Americans who are part of the most ambitious civilian campaign the United States has mounted in a foreign country in generations—a “civilian surge” intended to improve the lives of Afghans.

The facility’s own website enumerates its architectural benefits, as it comes complete with “1,000 Acres, 70 Buildings, 2,000+ Rooms, (…) 9 Buildings with basements, [and] One mile of tunnels.”

This is, of course, only the most recent example of these sorts of facilities to receive media attention; it is but one part of the massive network of militarized simulations that have been built throughout the United States since 9/11 (and these facilities, of course, are themselves nothing new nor are they unique to the United States: there are historical precedents dating back millennia, as any competent military since the dawn of invasion has simulated its spatial tactics in advance). One such facility even hired actor Carl Weathers, of Apollo Creed fame, to serve as an “acting coach” for the simulated insurgents.

But the passage of U.S. Army trainees through a repurposed mental hospital—in fact, “a farm colony for ‘feeble-minded’ boys”—with the implication that this will help to prepare them for the violence of foreign wars, is extraordinary.

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via BLDGBLOG

Zagreb / Croatia Dance Center by 3LHD

Posted in Architecture, Ecology, Interiors, Performance, Reoccupation by RADDblog on December 8, 2009

Croatia’ capital Zagreb recently gained another architectural and cultural attraction: the Zagreb Dance Center was officially opened to the public inside a structure which used to be an old, abandoned movie theater in the heart of the city. Zagreb-based 3LHD were the project’s architects.

Here’s a project description from 3LHD:

The opening of big movieplex cinemas in Zagreb has led to the dying out of old cinema theatres in the city centre. The City of Zagreb, who is the owner of the old cinema Lika, decided to reuse the space for new cultural facilities. In that scenario old cinema Lika was given the role of a new dance centre.

Fifty years of contemporary dance culture in Zagreb has produced about 40 dance troops, with this project all of them will have a new home in the city centre. The cinema is located in a derelict residential block only 100 meters away from the Zagreb’s main square. The entire project’s program is determined by the gross developed area defined in the master plan and it places the project in the old cinema shell. The new dance centre which will house numerous dancers, choreographers, art troops and companies will have three multipurpose studios (one large studio with 150 telescopic seats and two smaller training studios), three spacious dressing rooms, bathrooms, storages for props and technology and office spaces.

The only new architectural element of the centre is the new entrance lobby, a polyvalent space in the service of communication and meeting with a cafe, library and a video store. It was interpolated on the basis of almost default parameters of the existing neighboring houses. The volume and its broken forms also suggest dance movement and they are a new sign and connection element between the courtyard and the roof terrace. The roof terrace is the final element of the centre and an important part of the project of preservation and restoration of Zagreb last open roof stage.

Zagreb Dance Center – Fact Sheet

Project name: Zagreb Dance Center – reconstruction of the old movie theater “Lika”
Short project name: Dance Center
Program: public, culture
Status: completed
Project year: 2003
Project start date: 2003
Project end date: 2005 / 2008
Construction start date: 11/2005 I phase; 11/2008 II phase
Construction end date: 09/2009
Location: Ilica 10
City: Zagreb, Croatia
Site area (m2): 1,360
Gross floor area (m2): 1,438
Volume (m3): 7,082
Footprint (m2): 760
Entry level (m): 123
Client: City of Zagreb
Author: 3LHD

Project team: Sasa Begovic, Marko Dabrovic, Tatjana Grozdanic Begovic, Silvije Novak, Jasminka Jug, Zorislav Petric, Zeljko Mohorovic, Dijana Vandekar, Marin Mikelic

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via Bustler

Phone Box Library / Westbury-sub-Mendip / Somerset / England

Posted in Architecture, Downsizing, Installation, Interiors, Reoccupation, Social by RADDblog on December 5, 2009

A traditional red phone box has been recycled into one of the country’s smallest lending libraries – stocking 100 books.

Villagers from Westbury-sub-Mendip in Somerset can use the library around the clock, selecting books, DVDs and CDs.

Users simply stock it with a book they have read, swapping it for one they have not.

“It’s really taken off. The books are constantly changing,” said parish councillor Bob Dolby.

He added: “It is completely full at the moment with books. Anyone is free to come and take a book and leave one that you have already read.

“This facility has turned a piece of street furniture into a community service in constant use.”

A resident dreamed up the idea when the village lost its phone box and mobile library in quick succession.

Westbury-sub-Mendip Parish Council bought the phone box from BT in a national scheme for a token £1.

BT has received 770 applications for communities to ‘adopt a kiosk’, and so far 350 boxes have been handed over to parish councils.

Phone boxes have been turned into art installations, a shower and even a public toilet.

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via BBC News

THE CITY AND ITS FLOODED DOUBLE / Aqualta by Studio Lindfors

Posted in Abandonment, Apocalypse, Architecture, Ecology, Illustration, Landscape, Reoccupation, Theory by RADDblog on November 14, 2009

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Studio Lindfors—of Cloud Skippers and Cloud City fame—have released a stunning new series of images in which we see New York City and Tokyo after a catastrophic flood.

Called Aqualta, the project is an exquisitely produced tour of a hydrologically transformed metropolis. Gondolas float through a still-blazing Times Square; people fish atop gravel banks that have built up beside inundated skyscrapers; and an aerial network of blimps, catwalks, pedestrian skyways, and cable cars passes and sways above the Venetian streets.

Similar in spirit to Squint Opera’s earlier look at a Flooded LondonAqualta is hard—if not impossible—to separate from the context of melting ice caps and global climate change. However, it deserves visual attention in its own right, even outside such politically charged discussions.

Far from stoking fear about a coming catastrophe, both of these projects—Studio Lindfors and Squint Opera—offer a vision in which people, and the cities they live in, have learned to adapt to the overwhelming presence of water. Indeed, Times Square, in Studio Lindfors’s vision, is radiant, markedly improved by the reflective waters that now flow through it. Of course New York should be at least partially flooded, one might be tempted to think; of course the future of urban planning involves designing with water.

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via BLDGBLOG (high res images HERE / BLDGBLOG flickr)

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20th Anniversary of the Fall of Berlin Wall / Walls Still Standing or Built Since Nov9/89

Posted in Abandonment, Apocalypse, Reoccupation, Social by RADDblog on November 9, 2009

As part of the recognition of the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, BBC News has taken a look at other such walls around the world that are either still standing, or have been built since Nov 9th, 1989. Some of these are detailed below.

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West Bank Barrier

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The barrier which separates Israel from the West Bank is a mixture of fences, barbed wire, ditches and concrete slabs up to 8m (26ft) high.

Some sections also include sensors, sand – to help identify footprints – patrol roads and “buffer zones” up to 60m wide.

The Israeli government approved the construction of the wall in 2002.

According to figures released by the UN in July 2009, the proposed boundary is now 58.3% complete, with 10% currently in the process of construction, leaving 31.5% still to be built.

The Israeli Ministry of Defence issues emergency military decrees to landowners in order to obtain the land on which the wall is to be built – 85% of it is built on occupied Palestinian land.

Only 15% of the barrier follows the so-called “Green Line”, the internationally-recognised border.

In 2004, the barrier was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Israel’s official position is that the barrier is a “security fence”, defending its citizens from attacks by Palestinians.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, view it as an “apartheid wall” which threatens their human rights, and believe that its true aim is to expand Israeli territory.

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Operation Guardian – US / Mexico Border

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The border between Mexico and the United States is 3,200km (1,988 miles) long.

The US government has built a metal wall along a third of it, at an estimated cost so far of $2.5bn (£1.5bn), to prevent the arrival of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

The first barriers actually began to appear in 1991, but in 1994 the US officially decided to step up their surveillance and expanded the wall under Operation Guardian.

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According to the Mexican National Commission of Human Rights, more than 5,600 illegal immigrants have died trying to cross the border in the subsequent years.

The majority died as a consequence of the high temperatures in the desert.

As well as the wall itself, there are also three metal fences in some places along the border, preventing any kind of contact at all. Its average height is 4-5m (13-16ft).

Construction of a “virtual wall” has also recently begun.

This comprises a series of technological devices such as infrared sensors, cameras, radar, watch towers and ground sensors.

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India and Pakistan Border

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The border between India and Pakistan is one of the most volatile on the planet.

Walls, barbed wire fences and barricades stretch almost half the 2,900km (1,800 mile) boundary line.

Delhi has said it intends to extend the barrier along almost the whole border.

At the end of the 1980s, India began erecting barriers in the states of Punjab and Rajastan, saying they needed to combat terrorism.

An additional cause of tension is the use of barbed wire fences combined with mines and other high-tech devices along almost all of the so-called “Line of Control”, the de facto border between Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

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Western Sahara Wall

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The Sahrawi and Moroccans who inhabit the Western Sahara have been disputing the rightful ownership of the land since Spain ended its occupation of the area and withdrew in 1976.

In 1980, having attained the land for themselves, the Moroccans began building a wall in the desert.

It said the wall was to defend itself from the Polisario Front – a political and military movement which seeks independence from Morocco and autonomy for the Sahrawi people.

The wall, completed in 1987 is in reality a collection of six different defence walls.

Its total span is more than 2,700km (1,677 miles), and is made up of a mixture of sand and stone, barbed wire, ditches and mine fields.

Human rights organisations refer to it as the “wall of shame” and condemn the use of anti-personnel landmines along its length.

The Moroccan government, for its part, says that it has cleared the desert of mines and deactivated 65,000 of them.

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Rio de Janeiro Favela Walls

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Since the beginning of the year, Rio de Janeiro has been building walls around some of its favelas, the shanty towns that crowd the hills around the city.

In total, 13 favelas will eventually be surrounded by concrete with a total length of 14km (8.6 miles) and a height varying between 80cm (32 inches) and 3m.

The aim is to prevent the precariously-constructed communities spilling over into the forest and destroying the surrounding vegetation of the Tijuca Park, one of the largest urban nature reservations in the world.

Officials say the Atlantic forests in the region have already lost an estimated 90% of their surface area.

In Santa Marta district, 600m of wall has already been erected, while in Rocinha the government has reached an agreement with the 200,000 residents to limit the wall to those areas at risk of landslides.

The rest will be made up of ecological paths and parks.

Some critics think Rio’s walls are an attempt to separate the poor areas from the richer ones situated between the favelas and the sea.

Others say they are intended to limit drug trafficking, as part of a planned regional government clamp down.

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via BBC News

Learning From Columbus? Friedman’s Case for Capping Portland’s I-405

Posted in Architecture, Economy, Landscape, Planning, Reoccupation by RADDblog on November 9, 2009

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Curious what ever thinks of this strategy. Seems to make sense at face value, but is it a good idea, or as a city, should we be focusing on other things right now?

from Daniel Friedman via Portland Architecture:

Note: This is a guest post from Daniel Friedman, a member of the Portland Downtown Neighborhood Association board. Friedman is an emeritus psychology professor at Antioch College where he taught for 21 years before retiring and moving to the South Park Blocks in 2001.

Friedman grew up in Columbus, Ohio and sees in its new capped freeway a reminder that Portland should revisit its own I-405 capping plan first forwarded in the 1990s by then-mayor Vera Katz. His proposal here also comes just days after the city of Vancouver, Washington announced the results of a design competition (won by Portland firm Allied Works) to cap I-5 to re-connect the east and west halves of the city.

Columbus, Ohio, like any number of American cities, has sent planners and public officials to Portland to ride the streetcar and to study up on transit-oriented development and other urban-planning innovations. Now it may be time for Portland to send a delegation to Columbus.

What Portlanders would see in Columbus is a potential solution to the drastic rupture created in the downtown streetscape when Interstate-405 was built in the late sixties.

I-405 divides Goose Hollow from Downtown Portland, forcing pedestrians to cross the freeway on bleak, noisy, often-deserted overpasses whose narrow sidewalks leave them precariously close to fast-moving traffic. Crossing the canyon-like I-405 is dull and unpleasant and discourages pedestrian travel between two dynamic and rapidly developing neighborhoods. The I-405 freeway creates a dead zone in the middle of what is otherwise one of the nation’s most walkable central city districts.

Columbus faced a similar problem: a desolate freeway overpass that separated the downtown area from Short North, a densely-populated, mixed-use neighborhood, not unlike NW 23rd. Pedestrians were forced to trudge across a forbidding, windswept highway overpass in order to travel from Short North to the city’s Convention Center, Public Market, Arena District, and on to downtown.

Inspired by the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno River bridge that has housed shops and artisan workspaces since at least 1345, Columbus developer Jack Lucks proposed construction of retail storerooms on both sides of the street, on platforms extending out over the interstate.

Lucks’ innovative solution—which came to be known as the ‘I-675 Cap’—has won a number of design and planning awards, including a Charter Award from the Congress for New Urbanism.

This aerial view shows the basic design: Three parallel “bridges” across the freeway. The center bridge carries North High Street. Shops and restaurants are located on top of additional bridges which extend out along either side of the original freeway overpass.

The retail platforms are 38-feet wide on one side and 57-feet wide on the other. Completed in 2004, the Cap contains 26,000 square feet of retail.

By constructing platforms for shops and restaurants along the sides of what was once a derelict interstate-highway overpass, this retail-focused freeway cap has reconnected Downtown Columbus with the adjacent Short North arts and entertainment district. As they stroll along the Cap, many pedestrians aren’t even aware that they’re crossing an eight-lane interstate highway.

The I-670 Cap is one of the few freeway caps in the US that consists of retail and restaurant space rather than parkland. The advantages of the retail approach are two-fold: (1) Revenue from retail users fully or partially pays for development; (2) Continuous retail pulls pedestrians across the freeway, seamlessly linking formerly divided neighborhoods.

Imagine several freeway caps, each containing small retail spaces, spanning I-405, reconnecting downtown Portland with Goose Hollow. Perhaps the strongest candidate for a cap would be SW Morrison Street, since there are already proposals on the table to designate it as downtown’s signature East-West shopping street. [See: Portland Downtown Retail Strategy-2009Downtown Portland Retail: A New Renaissance ]

With a retail-focused cap to entice pedestrians across I-405, Morrison has the potential to evolve into a continuous retail and entertainment corridor extending all the way from the Willamette to PGE Park (0.9 mi).

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via Portland Architecture

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Watertower of Living by Zecc Architecten

Posted in Architecture, Interiors, Reoccupation by RADDblog on November 8, 2009

 

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The water tower, which dates from 1931, was converted into an unparalled twenty-first-century home spread over nine levels. Many challenges are faced in the design: letting more daylight in and strengthening the relationship with the back courtyard by inserting a three-level high window frame; maintaining the interior’s industrial characteristics by working with materials like steel, concrete and glass; and in the tower, ensuring an effective, efficient layout for several small round rooms that lay one on top of the other, while preserving the tower’s spaciousness.

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via archdaily

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