Category : architecture

On Demand Experience

Six of the best futuristic skyscraper concepts

Several years ago a Jelmer Frank and I developed the On Demand Experience. This skyscraper was our entry for the 2011 eVolo Skyscraper Competition. Every year, architecture journal eVolo runs this international competition. Hundreds of architects and designers participate every year. Out of 715 entries, our entry was awarded an Honorable Mention.

Recently co-participator and friend Jelmer Frank discovered an article on UK technology website TechWorld.com. It’s an article written five years after the On Demand Experience. The article mentions six of the “best futuristic skyscraper concepts”. TechWorld writes:

Architects from around the world participate, and contributions have ranged from an apartment building with an integrated robotic warehouse for on-demand goods to a sprawling eco-friendly data centre highrise in Iceland.

Yep, we’re the “apartment building with integrated robotic warehouse” TechWorld talks about. Five years after we competed in eVolo, people still remember our entry. Amazing! TechWorld continues the article by highlighting six concepts, including the On Demand Experience. Read the full article here.

The Gherkin - 30 st Mary Axe - Norman Foster

London’s Gherkin

It’s an iconic symbol of London and one of my favourite buildings. London’s Gherkin, designed by Lord Norman Foster. Last week I visited London so I had to check out the Gherkin… again.

Yep. Again.

Since I love this building I visit the Gherkin every time I visit London. And every time I take many, perhaps too many pictures. This years winner is the photo pictured above.

Benjamin One - Vrijburgh Drachten

It’s been a while…

Well, okay. It’s not just been a while. It’s been a looooooong while. My last post dates back to June 2014, which is exactly 630 days ago. Yep, it’s a long time, and a lot has happened since.

The thing that kept me most busy is an idea. A stupid idea at first. Here it comes: What if I would design and develop my own house?

Yeah, why not?

Long story short: I did. And since it’s my first house, I named the project Benjamin One. Soon it turned out “Benjamin Three” would be more applicable. This is because the local government “forced” me to develop two other houses as well. In return of this “favour”, I was allowed to pick the lot I preferred most. Soon construction of the three houses starts. It’s going to be exciting times!

Mac OSX desktops

This is what my desktop looks like

No, I won’t show you the apps I’m running nor am I willing to show the (sometimes) many icons that clutter my Macbook’s desktop. Instead I’d like to share the wallpapers I get to see every day.

Let me explain.

A friend and I both have a Macbook Pro. And we both use three desktops (I honestly don’t know if Windows has a similar feature). Like everyone else we pimped our desktops using a nice wallpaper (three actually, one for each desktop). I always use three of my own photos and update them about once a year. This friend uses a more sophisticated system. He too uses three different wallpapers but instead updates them every week (!). Every week he picks a theme -this week it’s Hawaii- and searches the Internet for beautiful imagery.

Last week I copied him. I too picked a theme and browsed for three matching photos. The only difference being I used three of my own photos. The theme I used? Walls. Yep, I know, it doesn’t sound inspiring, but it actually is. Check out my wallpapers below.
The Royal Palace of Naples

This is the wall (and ceiling) of the Naples Royal Palace’s Grand Staircase in Italy. This hall roughly dates back to 1768 and shows the full glory of the Bourbon Kings. It’s truly massive.

Pompeii

The wall on this photo is much older… about 1800 years older. I took this photo in Pompeii, the famous city destroyed in 79AD when a nearby volcano erupted. They were so sophisticated at that time, they even painted their walls. Like we still do today.

Bath Pompeii

This also is a Pompeiian wall. It appears to be much simpler compared to the wall on the previous photo but it’s not. Look at the top left of the photo. The painted wall and ceiling are separated from the concrete ceiling. This is done because this wall can be heated. Hot steam would fill the area between the outer and inner wall, effectively heating the walls and ceiling. A similar system was used for the floor. It’s an ancient equivalent of our modern-day underfloor heating.

Remember, we’re talking about 2000 years ago. Fascinating, isn’t it?

iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iCampus

Apple is busy building a new campus in California. Their soon-to-be headquarters costs several billions of dollars, is set to be net-zero energy and is designed by one of my favourite architects, Sir Norman Foster. It’s gonna be a remarkable building for sure. But there’s more to it than just these facts… because there’s a video!

This video made me think of something I always knew, but never fully realized; A building is basically ‘just a product’, thus the same compared to other products like cars, electronics and furniture. Similar to these products, a building also needs to be designed, sold and ultimately be used.

We’re not gonna focus on the design of this ‘product’. I think it looks great, both the design and functionality are awesome and the campus looks transparant but essentially is a fortress… in other words, it’s exactly what we think of Apple and its products. Instead I want to talk about the ‘selling-part’ and explain what this has to do with this building ‘being a product’.

New-Apple-Campus-Rendering-cupertino-steve-jobs

Apple didn’t have to sell the project to their Board of Directors. Steve said yes, which is all you need. The project also didn’t have to be sold to the architect (“Norman, will you please design this building with us?”). When Norman Foster got the call he probably said “yes” before Steve could even ask the question. However, the building needs to be ‘sold’ to the Cupertino City Council. If they don’t like the design, think it’s too big, too whatever, the project is off.

Although few can imagine the city council to disapprove the project, it’s still a possibility (remember Steve Job’s battle to tear down his own house?) This is why Apple left nothing to chance. In 2011 Steve Jobs personally presented the proposal to the council. In October 2013 Apple again presented their plans in front of the council. This time they also showed a short video (see video above).

In this video, Apple presents their campus as if it’s a new iPhone. They talk more about the process of the design than the actual features. Typical for Apple, they don’t talk about the giant size of the building, or the costs, or the jobs it will bring to the area (the ‘specs’ so to speak of). Instead, they focus on trees and the landscape; “80 percent of the site will be green space”.

jony ive and norman foster

The video itself is a typical Apple production. We see the product (the building) and its designers. Norman Foster functions as as Jony Ive and designers use phrases which can also be used to describe the newest iPhones. What to think of:

“This project is pushing the boundaries of what’s technically possible in almost every aspect.”

“Everything is hand crafted for this project.”

Remember they’re talking about their new campus, not a new iGadget. To me this proves Apple really has design and marketing in their DNA (as if I ever needed any proof, which I didn’t). They did an incredible job to market this building as if it’s a consumer product.

Steve Jobs was proud to be involved in four revolutionary Apple products: the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Let’s add a fifth revolutionary ‘consumer product’ to the list… the iCampus.

Note: The Cupertino City Council unanimously approved the project in October 2013.