OneMinute – Spectacular Apache attack helicopter demo

Think of the world’s heaviest, most armored and dangerous helicopter ever. And imagine this helicopter doing a looping. Impossible? Don’t think so.

This OneMinute video shows you how fast and acrobatic an Apache attack helicopter can be. For me, filming the helicopter was an experiment. It’s the first time I filmed a really fast moving object using my tiny Panasonic camera. Because of the crowds, I couldn’t use a tripod. Everything is filmed handheld.

I have to say, I’m quite satisfied with the result. Please enjoy OneMinute number ten.

A promising scenario

If twenty percent of the Dutch labor force spends one day a week working from home, it would generate some two billion euros a year. If people spend two days a week working from home, the benefits would go up to almost three billion euros. This is what made headlines today in the Netherlands. Newspapers cite research done by consultancy group PWC. As a result, we’ll see a reduction in the number of cars on Dutch roads. About 180.000 cars stay home. It’s an interesting piece of research. Below are some of my thoughts about it.

180.000 cars stay home

When I read this, at first I thought “wow”. That’s an incredible number of cars. According to the article, 1,7 million people working from home equals 180.000 cars less. Suddenly the number of cars sounds a lot less incredible. That’s why I want to know: How did they calculate this? I decided to give it a try.

– Dutch population: 16,5 million
– Dutch labor force: 8,5 million
– Total number of cars: 8 million
– For 40 percent of travels longer than 10 km, public transportation is used
– On a daily basis, 1 million people use public transport
– 30 percent of the total population uses a car
– 1,43 people use a car on average (less during rush hour)

Interesting you might say. But what’s you’re point? Well, based on this information, 360.000 to 637.500 cars would stay home. Which is a lot more compared to PWC’s calculations. I guess my question stays the same. How did they calculate this?

A promising scenario

Perhaps most promising is the scenario researchers used. A scenario in which twenty percent of the labor force spends one or two days a week working from home. And they’re not talking about the distant future. Nope, researchers used the year 2015. So imagine a scenario for 2020 or 2030. Will we see half of the labor force spending three to four days a week working from home? If so, imagine how a city or an entire country would look like.

Downside

Benefits would come from the reduction in cars on the roads – which in turn would cut traffic, improve air quality and cut accidents. Also companies can reduce their office costs and home workers are more efficient, PWC says. Sounds great?! Not so fast. Despite the positive aspects, home workers also tend to overwork, and it is proven to be difficult to keep work and private life separate. And this makes sense. If you have the ability to work wherever and whenever you want, you’ll also feel the pressure of doing so. Resulting in longer work hours, more stress and less private space (after all, house equals work). It’s the architects job to prevent this from happening, which will be a major challenge. Working from home should be a benefit. Not a downside.

1 Obama on poster

November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008. The day America elected Barack Obama as their 44th president. I was lucky being in the United States on this very special day. Today it’s November 4, 2011. It’s exactly three years after these historic elections, which gives me a reason to share some of my photos.

Election Day 2008. My day started like any other day. In the morning I went to Rietveld Architects for ‘just another day at the office’. For me, Election Day started at 3PM. Together with two colleagues I went to Rockefeller Center.

NBC News turned Rockefeller Center into Election Plaza.

As you can see on this picture (above), preparations are almost done.

I didn’t go to Rockefeller to see these preparations at Election Plaza. A Dutch news show would broadcast live from the Rockefeller Center for their election coverage. I was part of the audience (which was really fun because my family in the Netherlands watched it live). They started broadcasting at 4PM (10PM in the Netherlands). Election night began!

Several hours later, the sun already set, I took a photo of this incredible view of St. Patricks Cathedral (photo is taken from the news studio in Rockefeller Center). It was time to go downstairs and visit Election Plaza.

Wow! To my surprise the Rockefeller Center turned red and blue for NBC’s broadcasting. Also the skyscraper featured a running electoral count (you can see the number 270, which is the number of delegates each candidate needs to win the elections).

At the building two carts were pulled up. One for Obama and one for McCain. The carts ended at 270 at which stage the next president would be known.

After Obama won three delegates, I together with several other people decided to go somewhere else. We figured it would be more interesting to experience the elections in Harlem, which is where we went.

We visited an Obama campaign office in Harlem. It’s the same office where I watched several of the presidential debates.

Not much later, we found out thousands of people gathered in front of the Bill Clinton Office (which is situated in Harlem). We decided to go there. On the photo above, you’ll see many camera crews from news networks all around the world. Quickly it became clear our gathering would be broadcasted live in many countries!

Together with thousands of people we watched CNN, who projected Obama as winner in Ohio (which was one of the crucial states).

Shortly after I snapped this photograph, I was interviewed by this guy. I didn’t know who he was. Moments later he gave a speech from the podium, so I figured he must be famous. Several days after the elections I found out he’s famous indeed. He’s a well known comedian and has its own show on CNN. And… his interview with me was broadcasted on CNN! (“Even the Dutch are excited”)

It wouldn’t take long until “Yes We Can” became “Yes We Did”.

NBC projected Obama as winner of the elections. Everyone went crazy!

CNN also projected Obama as winner. John Mc Cain was defeated. Barack Obama would be the 44th president of the United States.

Just look at the woman in the lower left of this photo. Need I say more?

The atmosphere was euphoric for a very, very long time.

The governor of New York gave an emotional speech.

To conclude these historic elections, Obama gave his victory speech. During his speech, almost everyone was silent (except for some people shouting “Yes We Can”).

After his speech, crowds got bigger. “O-bam-A” and “Yes We Can” echoed everywhere. People were laughing, hugging and cheering. At 125th Street, crowds were pouring in from all directions. Cars cruised slowly east and west, their windows rolled down, passengers hanging out, waving and shouting. After several hours I went back to my apartment in Lower Manhattan. It was an historic night, and I had been part of it.

OneMinute – Operation Falcon Autumn

As a young kid growing up, I collected many posters about the Dutch military. Jeeps on rough terrain, special forces exiting Chinook helicopters, snipers waiting for the enemy and many more posters. Last month I felt like being part of the action on these posters. I went to Assen where the Airmobile Brigade conquered the TT circuit in a combined attack on the ground and by air. This spectacular operation took place as part of Falcon Autumn, the largest military exercise in the Netherlands in the past 15 years.

It was hardly impossible to enter the motorsport race track. Nonetheless I found a gate which the military left open. I didn’t quite get to where the shooting happened, but I was the only civilian surrounded by soldiers. The next few hours I felt like I was walking in a movie. Soldiers walked next to where I was, Chinook transport helicopters flew over my head and armored vehicles drove next to the camera. It was awesome!

I hope you enjoy OneMinute number nine!

Do people really want to live in cities?

Yesterday we welcomed the 7 billionth person into the world. This is why (Dutch) newspapers were flooded with charts, statistics and analysis about the United Nations report predicting the world’s population growth. It seems experts agree we shouldn’t agree with experts (in this case the United Nations’ researchers). Many questions were raised. But none of them questioned the United Nations’ prediction about the percentage of people living in cities. Which, according to the UN, continues to grow on every continent. No exceptions. And let’s be fair, all data (and most experts) suggests the same. So it makes sense to assume this actually will be the case. But…

Do people really want to live in cities?

You might say this is an irrelevant question. Don’t we all have to live in cities? Won’t we run out of space otherwise? Ehm. No. We’re not about to run out of space any time soon. We could however run out of resources, but this has not so much to do with cities. So let’s get back to the question raised before. Do people really want to live in cities? In order to answer this question we have to ask ourselves another question.

Why do people live in cities?

For matters of simplicity we’ll divide the people who live in cities in two categories. There are (1) people who love to live in a city, because of their social life, the buzz, entertainment and services. And there are (2) people who need to live in a city because of their jobs and/or education. They might not have had a job otherwise, or pay is higher, the job is more interesting, et cetera. I bet if you’d ask any urbanite (a person who lives in a city) he or she wants a bigger house with a garden and a safe neighborhood for their kids (if they have any). Instead, changes are big they live in a small apartment in a generic suburb of a city. Some of them love cities so much, they’re willing to make the tradeoff. Others just need to live there because of their job. They simply have no choice.

The situation described above (which I simplified quite a bit) is basis for the current urban model. This urban model is used by most architects, urban planners and also researchers like the ones who crafted the United Nations report. Since these researchers predict the percentage of people living in cities will continue to grow, they assume the current urban model will continue to exist for many decades to come.

But what if people don’t need to live in cities anymore? If this would be the case, the current urban model becomes irrelevant. Right?! And that’s exactly what’s happening today. Slowly we see a new way of working emerging. Because of technological innovations like smart phones, laptops, tablet computers, video conferencing and data storage ‘in-the-cloud’, employees can work wherever and whenever they want. As a result employers can cut costs because they need less office space for each employee (they’ll work from their houses more often).

These developments suggest a new urban model. Distance becomes less relevant since house equals workplace. Employees don’t need to live as close to their offices anymore allowing them to live wherever they want. For some people this will continue to be a city. They simply love to be there. But for others, their dream house could be located in a small town near a lake, in a forest or maybe in the mountains. More companies will adapt to this new way of working (which is already happening) thus speeding this development.

This new urban model creates major possibilities for (rural) areas which currently face a population decline. For them it is important to invest in education, health care and other services. But most importantly, they should invest in the best (Internet) connections possible. If these (rural) areas succeed in doing so, don’t be surprised the percentage of people living in (mostly western) cities will decrease in time. After all, do people really want to live in cities?