Friday, August 28, 2009

reuse trade stand

Trade show stand built from other exhibitors pre-show rubbish

Urban sprawl repair kit

Reburbia; A suburban design competition

Galina Tahchieva has designed an urban sprawl repair kit with the intention of repairing the urban fabric. The design discourages demolitions of existing buildings and encourages re-purposing, often taking advantage of Suburbia's typically excessive setbacks and parking lots. This set of simple infill techniques represents a sprawl repair toolkit to retrofit the 5 building prototypes that define Suburbia.

Galina Tahchieva said, "A drive-through restaurant pad becomes part of a main street, but largely concealed from it, with perimeter liner buildings added along the edges of its parking lot. A strip center is converted into a recycling center with a green roof and 2 side-wings with solar panels framing a courtyard that reaches to the sidewalk. A gas station remains in place while growing a two-story corner store-office extension at a busy intersection to help screen it. A suburban ranch house is permitted to utilize its deep front yard to add a wing with additional bedrooms, a home office, or a rental outbuilding that creates a courtyard with the existing home and defines a livelier street frontage at the sidewalk. Even the ubiquitous McMansion can be converted into senior housing when a five-bedroom/ three-car garage home yields a 10 room-9 bathroom facility for seniors and a caretaker."


Thursday, August 27, 2009

From the skys to the seas

Dave Drimmer has created an iconic plane boat made from Howard Hughes prized Boeing B-307 which was deemed un-flable in 1969. The boat know as the Cosmic Muffin was rescued from a landfill site in Fort Lauderdale Realtor. According the website, no other watercraft, before or since, has ever been constructed from a land-based airplane.

Aesthetically the Cosmic Muffin can not claim to be the prettiest boat in the harbor but its owners have big plans for it from private charters to elementary education to nonprofit fundraising projects.

Dave Drimmer said, "we are surrounded by objects manufactured under obsolete guidelines established during the Industrial Revolution. These objects were designed to be thrown away but they must now be revisited with an eye toward reuse, recycling or recombination. The benefits of this are two-fold: less consumption of natural resources during the manufacturing of something new, and less garbage in our landfills."


'Cillit Bang' nuclear waste

Dounreay Site Restoration Limited are currently carrying out a nine million pound dismantling job of a former nuclear site in Dounreay.

A chance discovery by an employee involved in the nuclear clean up has revealed a £1.99 bottle of kitchen spray 'Cillit Bang' can tackle plutonium.

The company's project manager, David Manson, said, "We need to decontaminate as much of the surfaces as possible before we can cut them up. The normal decontamination agents we'd use on steel and glass need time to dry and this slowed us down.

"The acids that had been used years ago also created problems it meant we had to think carefully about the most effective way to wipe the plutonium from the steelwork before we could cut it up. At one of our regular toolbox talks one of the guys suggested we use Cillit Bang, he remembered seeing it dissolve grime in the advert and thought it was worth looking at. I'm very glad we did, we tested it and found it to be very effective."


Tensions arrise between Snug Harbour and salvage company

Snug Harbor, Staten Island USA

Snug Harbor was at the center of a major dispute. Tenants were outraged that the managers of the cultural center had allowed Manhattan based salvage company Olde Good Things to remove valuable and historic materials from the building. They believed that they were taking items indiscriminately with nobody around to supervise them. The site is a series of Greek Revival buildings that were used in the 1830s to house aging sailor.

Frances Huber, the president and chief executive of Snug Harbor said, "Snug Harbor had had an agreement with Olde Good Things to remove bathroom and wall tiles; porcelain fixtures, including toilet bowls; stage sets and props; lumber; steel desks and chairs; and other miscellaneous items. They were not dealing with anything of historical value."

"The building is one of 26 structures at Snug Harbor, which are in a deplorable condition, and it is our intent and interest to preserve and protect this property. The interior of the building has been in terrible shape, and that’s why we’ve been lobbying for money to fix it up.

The New York Times

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pedal Power

With all the pay as you go fees affecting mobile phone call rates and similar tolls imposed on cycling through congested UK cities, it is refreshing to note that university students in Kenya have invented a smart eco-friendly device that powers up mobile phones via the bicycle. Such ingenuity is essential in a country such as Kenya because the predominant methods of charging up mobile phone devices involve visiting specific shops that charge a fee for the service, which is often powered by a solar panel device. Furthermore, as many villages do not have a source of electricity, anybody wanting to power up their mobile phones might have to travel long distances to reach the relevant shops.

However, with the introduction of the bicycle charging device, which comprises a small dynamo-power unit invented by two electrical engineering students, villagers will now be able to fully charge up their phones by

cycling for up to one hour in total. Indeed, the device mimics a standard feature of bicycles in Africa, which are often sold with dynamo units that power front and back lights. Nevertheless, with this smart modification of existing technology, the students may have unwittingly produced a product that could be viable on the global market.

Indeed, whilst dynamo chargers may not be entirely original, they are relatively novel when used specifically to charge up mobile phones. Cyclists in cities such as London would be able to avail of any such device that charges their phone as they travel to and from work.

Green Products

10 Tips for Complying with the Code for Sustainable Home

Whilst much of the housing industry has become familiar with the Code for Sustainable Homes rating, the 300-page Technical Guide can still present a daunting prospect.
The Code Simply Explained, produced by experts from BRE and NHBC, has been produced as a handy guide to help developers, builders and contractors comply with the Code and achieve a good score in a practical and cost-effective manner.

Below are ten top tips from the NHBC Foundation for climbing up the Code rating system, adapted from The Code Simply Explained;

1. Start early
At a very early stage, before the site layout has been finalised, start to consider Code-related issues. Particularly mandatory requirements which must be implemented in full to achieve any Code level rating in many cases. But credits may be achieved more easily for issues such as energy, daylighting, and ecology amongst others if measures are integrated into the design now, for example by orientating roofs and living spaces to the south to make best use of solar energy. Seek advice from a qualified Code assessor to ensure that the criteria have been correctly understood.

2. Target easy-win credits
Several credits can be achieved through measures which are independent of the design and achievable in all developments. This includes simple measures such as energy-efficient light fittings and a drying line, and will be cost-effective to specify in most developments.

3. Enhance ecology and reduce flood risk
By taking site factors such as flood risk and ecological values into account at an early stage, the baseline for the Code score can be assessed. Sites of high ecological value or with a risk of flooding are likely to increase the cost of achieving a high Code rating, so this needs to be considered. An ecological survey following Code guidelines will still be worthwhile to improve the score for most sites, both Greenfield and previously developed.

4. Effective construction and supply chain management
Implementing measures relating to the construction stage such as monitoring of energy and water use and reducing pollution risk can be a cost-effective way to improve your score, but requires preparation in advance of starting on site so that procedures are in place and the workforce are aware of them. In particular, a Site Waste Management Plan is a mandatory requirement so must be given early consideration. Modern Methods of Construction using offsite construction can help make this process easier.

5. Reduce water consumption in the planning stages
Early attention to Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs) can be cost-effective and potentially provide amenity value through the use of water features such as ponds. The mandatory requirement to reduce runoff volumes, and not just peak run off rates, is an important one to get right, necessitating full consideration of infiltration and rainwater harvesting opportunities. Rainwater harvesting can contribute to reducing surface water runoff and reduce internal water use, but this needs very careful design to meet the requirements of both.

6. Plan the layout to give the space you need
Considering the site layout from an early stage gives the best opportunity to include space requirements for highly weighted Lifetime Homes credits, and a design that enables direct access to rear gardens means that garden sheds can be used for cycle storage. An option for a room-in-the-roof means that an extra credit can be gained to improve the score later on, if this proves to be the preferred strategy.

7. Consider the environmental impact of your materials
Looking at the proposed building materials early means that most types of constructions can perform well – there are many equivalent products with lower environmental impact but equally fit for purpose. There is a mandatory requirement for ratings against the Green Guide so a strategy to achieve that is vital.

8. Ensure your house is Secured By Design
Incorporate the recommendations of a police architectural liaison officer or crime prevention design officer to meet Part 2 of the Secured By Design award is a straightforward way to gain extra credits

9. Insulate to improve performance and reduce consumption
Designing the building fabric to achieve a good sound performance and air tightness and to avoid thermal bridges requires many of the same principles and can help achieve credits in several different areas. Building fabric with a high thermal performance will help to reduce carbon emissions and provide benefits to residents for the full lifetime of the building,

10. Employ strategies to enhance energy sources
Ensure a strategy is in place for low and zero carbon energy technologies, such as renewables and CHP. Most developments will need these technologies to meet Code Level 3 or higher, and the mandatory requirements for carbon dioxide emissions can be very expensive or impractical to achieve unless their integration is planned from the start.

Code for Sustainable Homes

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Good crowds and good money at Gaze architectural

Gaze Auctioneers, Diss Norfolk

Gaze architectural furnishings and statuary sale on Saturday 8 August 'drew a large crowd' according to Carl Willows head auctioneer at the sale. He was extremely pleased with the results and said, "Both vendors and buyers went away happy. In excess of eighty per cent of items sold and sold for good money.

"To start with york stone is making ridiculous money! A single york stone flag approx 50" x 66" x 2" made £460 and another flag approx 65½" x 62" x 2" thick made £600. Bricks made 80p which is good for us.

"A surprise lot was a crown chimney pot which sold for £260 to everyone's amazement. There was a fierce battle between one buyer in the auction room and another on the phone. Eventually it sold to a private buyer from Kent. The same phone bidder brought the Coalbrookdale cast iron fern pattern corner umbrella stand marked CB Dale Co, with lozenge for £380 which I personally think is a bargain.

"A good lot was the set of four sandstone pier finials in the form of pine cones from Spixworth Hall each approx 24"high x 15"wide. These came with a great provenience as the consignee had photos of the finials at Spixworth Hall in Norwich, which has since been demolished in the 1950's. These sold to the trade for £1,900 which I was happy with as I had estimated them at £1,500 hoping that they would reach that high, but obviously they have a few more miles in them yet."


Above: A set of four sandstone pier finials in the form of pine cones from Spixworth Hall each approx 24"high x 15"wide, sold for £1,900.

Above: A Coalbrookdale cast iron fern pattern corner umbrella stand marked CB Dale Co, with lozenge, sold for £380.

Above: A crown top chimney pot, sold for £260.

Eco Factor

Above: Part of the 'What is Waste' exhibition.

Creativity knows no boundaries, especially when it comes to eco-artists who try to show the worth of reusing materials which are no longer in use.

Artwork has often been used as a means of environmental activism and promoting a sense of clean world among the viewers. Tokyo Wonder Site is investigating the possibilities of rejected materials and drift rubbish as an avenue for creative exploration through a series of artwork by artistic environmentalists.

Participants include some renowned names such as Fuji Hiroshi, Ohmaki Shinji, and Yodogawa Technique. The artwork being displayed at the Global Environment Information Center (GEIC) in an exhibition called “Is it Waste?” includes masterpieces that are made of pigments, felt, nonflammable cloth, fluorescent lights, acrylic cases and more.

Eco Arts

Incourporate architectural antiques

Julie Silber from Sotheby's says. . .Incourporate architectural antiques in your home to set it apart from the competion

In today’s real estate market, there is an overabundance of inventory. How can you ensure that your property makes a buyer’s short list? Most of the homes that buyers are shown are spec grade. They have so many choices and sellers need to do whatever they can to set their home apart from the comparables.

One way to achieve a memorable showing to a buyer is by incorporating architectural antiques into the design of the property.

Home staging has become an essential tool in our marketplace, but the placement of architectural antiques can truly make a home memorable. Architectural antiques can enhance the exterior of a home that needs a lift, or add layers of charm and sophistication to the interior. An antique front door from a French chateau can literally sell a house. The perfect antique wrought iron chandelier over the dining table can make a buyer fall in love.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Home truths

Would you like to be on TV?

BBC Bristol has just embarked on producing a brand new series (for UKTV) called Home Truths. The series will be fronted by NICK KNOWLES (from DIY SOS) and will feature homeowners who are just about to renovate their house to it's former glory, charting its history in the process, and helping them to find inspiration and original features in order to achieve their goal.

Throughout the series, Nick will be seeking the help and advice of local reclaimers and restorers, and so with this in mind, BBC Bristol are interested to know whether you are currently involved in any renovation work which might be suitable to feature. The space involved could be an entire house or just one room, and the property anything from a Tudor cottage to a 70s duplex. Filming is due to start in mid August, therefore BBC Bristol are looking for contributors who are just about to begin their renovation, so that we can feature the work from start to completion.

If you or someone you know is planning a renovation project big or small in the next six months then contact Matt Thomas on 0117 974 7495 or email

DIY greywater toilet system

Who says plumbing is boring? The forward thinking folks at Sloan Valve Company have come up with a compact greywater system for your bathroom that is easy to install and works with the existing fixtures. The greywater system filters the water that goes down your sink drain and then uses it to flush your toilet, potentially saving a household up to 5,000 gallons of potable water each year.

This system helps contribute to LEED accreditation and could possibly lead the way for more wider adoption of extensive greywater recycling systems and public education of just how important water re-use is.

This system could easily be fitted to reclaimed units


Doomed postbox turned into shrine

Above: The pillar box is being removed after repeated vandalism attacks [pict BBC News]

Bedminster, Bristol Avon
A postbox in Bristol has been turned into a shrine by people upset about a decision to remove it. The pillar box in Bedminster, which is being taken away because of attacks by vandals, has been covered in flowers and "rest in peace" cards.

Whoever is behind the shrine has remained anonymous but residents said a memorial ceremony took place on Sunday.

[Thanks to Anthony Reeves from Lassco for highlighting this story]


Gaze Architectural Furnishings & Statuary

10am 8 August 2009, Gaze auction rooms, Diss Norfolk

Above: A pair of carved stone sphinxes on plinths, each overall 60" high x 39" long, estimated at £1800 - £2500.

Above: A cast iron rococo style two seater garden bench, estimated at £375 - £565

Above: An iron framed water barrow, estimated at £60 - £90.

Above: A pair of 19th Century shaped cast iron planters, raised feet, estimated at £100 - £150.

Above: A York stone Celtic cross carved with ivy relief, estimated at £90 - £140

Above: A pair of stone staddles with cups, estimated at £300 - £450.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mars out, Venus in . . . a Verona garden

Classical allegory in an Italian renaissance garden by Thornton Kay

Above: Venus, Cupid, Bacchus and Ceres painted by Peter Paul Rubens in 1613. This was his version of Sine Cerere et Baccho friget Venus an allegory for ‘without food and wine love grows cold’.

Above: Giardino Giusti by J C Volkamer c1714

Battered sculpture of a warring Mars looking slightly coquettish above a bat wall fountain, perhaps signifying that Mars is sleeping, and has been banished to a location outside the garden

Googlemap of Giardino Giusti
View Palazzo e Giardino Giusti in a larger map

Verona, Veneto Italy - VERONA sits in a broad valley down which grand tour nobility entered Italy from Europe before heading east to Venice or down to Florence and Rome. In 1570 Agostino Giusti, Knight of the Venetian Republic and Gentleman of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, chose a site on the flood plain backed by a bluff which overlooks the town, and close to the old Roman theatre, to build a small palazzo and garden now known as Giardino Giusti.

“It’s an old saying, and a true one, Ceres and Bacchus are warm friends of Venus.” wrote Terence in his 170BC play The Eunuch, certainly seen in the nearby Roman theatre, and one of the allegories retold in the sixteenth century statuary at Giardini Giusti the meaning of which is that without food and wine love grows cold.

Above: Venus and a dolphin, probably carved by Alessandro Vittoria 1524-1608. In two other niches stand Ceres and Bacchus which give the ensemble the meaning Sine Cerere et Baccho friget Venus an old adage from Roman times meaning without food and wine love grows cold. Latin inscriptions carved into the bases of the three statues read: On Ceres: Ne Quid Veneri Deesset Cum Baccho Ceres Associatur meaning Venus needs nothing, because Ceres is here with Bacchus. On Venus: Sine me laetum nibil exoritur: statua in viridario miti pofita est ut in venere Venus esset meaning Without me nothing charms: my statue suits such a beautiful place. On Bacchus: Ambulator ne trepides Bacchum amatorem non bellatorem ad genium loci dominus p meaning Be not afraid, I am Bacchus a lover not a fighter, the spirit of this garden.

Rubens visited Verona and in 1613, perhaps influenced by the gardens, painted Venus being kept warm by Bacchus’ wine and Ceres’ bread. The muscular baroque treatment of the women in the painting is similar to that seen in the statuary figures of Venus and Ceres at Giusti.

Famous visitors included the composers Faure and Mozart, and nobility Cosimo de Medici, Czar Alexander I and Emperor Joseph II. Goethe also visited and surprised locals by decorating himself with cypress branches picked from Giusti and traipsing around town in a flamboyant manner. He described the huge cypresses as ‘soaring into the air like awls … a tree whose every branch aspires to heaven and which may live 300 years deserves to be venerated.’ A century later in 1868 Karl Baedeker wrote that the ‘somewhat neglected Giardino Giusti’ was celebrated for its 200 cypresses some of which are 400 to 500 years old and are said to exceed 120ft in height.

The view from the top of the craggy bluff inspired John Ruskin to write:
Now I do not think that there is any other rock in all the world, from which the places and monuments of so complex and deep a fragment of the history of its ages can be visible, as from this piece of crag, with its blue and prickly weeds. For you have thus beneath you at once, the birthplaces of Virgil and of Livy; the homes of Dante and Petrarch; and the source of the most sweet and pathetic inspiration of your own Shakespeare ; the spot where the civilization of the Gothic kingdoms was founded on the throne of Theodoric, and where whatever was strongest in the Italian race redeemed itself into life by its league against Barbarossa. You have the cradle of natural science and medicine in the schools of Padua ; the central light of Italian chivalry in the power of the Scaligers ; the chief stain of Italian cruelty in that of Ezzelin ; and, lastly, the birthplace of the highest art for among these hills, or by this very Adige bank, were born Mantegna, Titian, Coreggio, and Veronese.

Above: Oracular mascaron, or mask designed to banish evil spirits, c1570 by Bartolomeo Ridolfi tops the view up from Giusti’s entrance gates. Ridolfi was a Veronese stuccadore for Palladio who worked in nearby Vicenza.


[Images by TKay Salvo Llp © 2008 courtesy of Giardinoa Giusti]