School in Uganda Fundraiser


No Comments

Share this post

We attended a fundraising event to raise money for a school McAslan + Partners has designed for Uganda. They are looking to raise just £25,000 to get the project started and change the life of many underprivileged children in the African nation.

The event was a glimpse into the charity’s profound effect on students as they invited students from Primary School to travel to Uganda and tour the site. Those students each gave presentations during the fundraiser and then received awards for their outstanding academic efforts. These children were given a unique opportunity to perform and excel because of this charity. 

Photo at left: Designer Esteban Colmeneres explaining the intelligent roof design of the school, which allows for natural light and ventilation. McAslan + Partners builds an entire school for just under £20,000 by using locally sourced materials, simple construction, and local builders.

McAslan + Partners has designed many charitable projects worldwide from rebuilding a market in Haiti, to schools in Malawi.



Read more

Social Media and Photography


No Comments

Share this post

Social media has completely changed the landscape of photography.

Photography is a balance of art and observation. If the art of photography is the way one sees the world, then it has very little to do with camera equipment or editing software, and much more to do with the eye.

The most important part of your camera are the 12 inches behind it. – Ansel Adams

To give credit to a camera for a gorgeous work of photography is like giving credit to a bathtub for a gorgeous bathroom design. The equipment enhances the artist’s vision. So now my most commonly used camera, the camera I take with me everywhere, is the camera that is connected to the internet. (Why Nikon and Canon haven’t figured this out yet is beyond me. All cameras should connect to the internet.)

I took this photo of Westminster from a bus. The internet and social media sites like Instagram are like a personal gallery with free admission for all. Wandering into other photographers’ online galleries gives me inspiration. The trick is that photographers no longer have to labor for years to share their best work in a gallery, but now are able to artistically edit and share immediately.

Photos are getting better, faster, because of sites like Instagram. Photographers are getting instant feedback through likes and comments. Editing is much faster and the process of taking photos off a camera to store on your computer or print, will soon be completely eliminated.

Here are a couple of my favorite shots all taken and edited with my iPhone. I also used my iPhone to blog this. Nikon, take note.

Read more

Iran Past, Present and Future

Building Green, Lectures

No Comments

Share this post

I went to a lecture about Iranian Architecture for AD Magazine’s launch of issue #217. Our friend, Amin Sadeghy, was a contributing author and speaker. One of the things I found most fascinating about Iranian architecture was not the new wild shapes defining a new middle-east, but the natural eco-efficiency of the ancient Iranian architecture. In a climate that frequently reaches 48˚Celsius (120˚F) with little or no natural shade from the sun, architecture demands function to create a liveable environment. Countering today’s proposals for wild shapes and showy designs, ancient Iranian architecture was an architecture of necessity.

To combat the heat, they cleverly used the wind. Orienting their structures towards the wind, they channeled water to pool directly in front of the structure. When the wind hit the water, evaporating water was blown into the structures, naturally cooling the interiors and providing much needed ventilation. Outside, the temperatures would approach 48˚C and inside was a more comfortable 32˚C. And these cooling properties are found in buildings built by hand, without machines or electricity. Just open-air.

The ancient Persians also managed to use architecture to produce ice, constructing massive ice houses (Yakhchals) which utilised thick walls and wind tunnels to bring temperatures low enough to produce ice.

It just got me thinking… all these green innovations we see popularized in architectural publications today were used regularly for hundreds of years when extreme climates demanded it. It’s like green architecture is now just doing damage control for our wild shapes, excessive use of glass, and inefficient electricity use. I would love to see a gorgeous modern building using the knowledge from the ancient Persians to add to it’s beauty, rather than over-designing just to compensate for our ecologically unfriendly wild designs.

Now… should I bring up the indoor-ski slope in Dubai? Na.














Buy your copy of AD here.

Read more

Masterplanning Futures


No Comments

Share this post

Masterplanning Futures
Royal Institute of British Architects
July 10, 2012
Lucy Bullivant (FRIBA) moderator

This lecture was filled with little gems of inspiration for me. This post is a collection (mishmash) of thoughts from the lecture, paraphrased at best, and perhaps also mixed with my own interpretation.

Define Masterplanning.

Its about designing the voids, spaces between the buildings. A master plan is also a way of planning time: the way a city is built and how it adapts over many years. - Florian Beigel, Architecture Research Unit (ARU)

If you think you are a ‘Master’planner, you’re really just a mercenary. Architects are losing more power every year. But really, what is more egotistical? ‘Master’planning or ‘Planning’? I think planning because it is less specific. - Renier de Graaf, OMA

Masterplanning is about merging built environment with the natural environment in new and exciting ways. It’s about working with geography. – Gines Garrido, Burgos & Garrido, Madrid

As a designer, would you want to design a master plan from a blank slate, or in a densely populated area?

Master planning in the traditional sense is dead, because there is rarely a tabula rasa. Urbanisation has almost obliterated that opportunity. Today, they are designing bridges between buildings and spaces, which is even more interesting than a blank slate. – Andrea Boschetti, ARU

Utopia used to be dangerous. Now it is not dangerous… But it is perhaps even more dangerous that way than anything else. We need to get back to the dangerous planning. – Reinier de Graaf, OMA

A masterplan with a single function that is made from a tabula rasa is not a city. It’s a development. If you have to drive very far to your home after work, that is not a city or a masterplan. This is why tabula rasa with respect to masterplanning so often fails, because of zones. – Phillip Christou, ARU

What’s the most important part of Masterplanning?

Time is more important than the space when it comes to planning infrastructure. – Andrea Boschetti, Metrogramma

“Spatial Experience, that is our mission as architects.” – Florian Beigel, ARU

Modern master planning lies in the human spirit: the way we react to spaces and what we discover on a walk, helps us discover more about ourselves. - Andrea Boschetti ARU

Read more