Architectural Thoughts

Thoughts of a residential designer, husband and father of two as he goes through life in the green mountains.


OLED Tampopo Light (2014) by Takao Inoue

Cinematographer Takao Inoue has designed a household lamp around the dandelion. OLED TAMPOPO consists of an actual dandelion – harvested, carefully, during Spring – that is sealed into a clear acrylic block. A miniature OLED light is embedded into the stem. “Fragility is expressed by an illuminated wavering TAMPOPO,” says Inoue. “It reminds us of our old memories of picking up dandelion’s puff. The mysterious light gives us a moment to release ourselves.


Second Life: The Heineken WOBO Doubles as Beer Bottle and Brick

Fifty years ago, Heineken developed a revolutionary and sustainable design solution to give its beer bottles a second life: as an architectural brick. The concept arose after brewing magnate Alfred Heineken visited Curacao during a world tour of his factories in 1960. He was struck by the amount of beer bottles—many bearing his name—littering the beaches and the lack of affordable building materials for residents. In a stroke of genius (or madness), Heineken realized both problems could be solved if beer bottles could be reused as structural building components. Enlisting the help of Dutch architect N. John Habraken, Heineken created a new bottled design—dubbed the Heineken WOBO (World Bottle)—that doubled as a drinking vessel and a brick. As author and architecture critic Martin Pawley notes, the WOBO was “the first mass production container ever designed from the outset for secondary use as a building component.” The new squared off bottle was both inter-locking and self-aligning, allowing it to nestle seamlessly and snugly into adjoining “bricks.” With Habraken’s design, a 10 by 10 foot hut could be constructed with 1,000 WOBO bottles. Though a test run of 100,000 bottles was produced in 1963, the marketing department’s worries about liabilities doomed the project. The WOBO was subsequently and unceremoniously retired. Though only two official WOBO buildings remain, both on the Heineken estate in Noordwijk near Amsterdam, the concept remains a powerful and inspiring one one. Indeed, the experiment is a reminder of how a major corporation might seriously take on sustainability in an innovative way.

(Source:, via artchiculture)


FLEXlab: A Test Bed for Building Efficiency

The U.S. Department of Energy unveiled the FLEXlab test bed, created to help buildings save energy, at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in San Francisco. It is the only facility of its kind in the world, and its arrival marks significant moment as California attempts to cut the amount of electricity its buildings use. Researchers can easily swap out the lab’s heating, air conditioning and lighting, and even its windows. Furthermore, they can see how all of those elements perform together, not just one system at a time. A portion of the lab, resting on a concrete turntable that weighs a half-million pounds, can rotate 270 degrees to test how different angles of sunlight affect energy use. Sensors inside adjust temperature to minimize energy use while maximizing comfort. "We built FLEXlab with reconfiguration in mind…It’s like a kit of parts," says Cindy Regnier, executive manager of the project. ”This is about understanding the performance of a building before you spend millions of dollars on it.” 



Elisabeth and Helmut Uhl Foundation Modostudio

The project sought to preserve the surrounding environment: the buildings insist on the same footprint of the previous buildings, now demolished. The project is divided into two buildings: the building foundation and a small building adjacent to it for residential use. The building foundation consists of a series of architectural volumes: a transparent glass and steel volume hosts research activities, a wood cladding volume is used as a leisure and dining hall, while the lower architectural body, on which these volumes are placed, hosts support areas for the activities of the foundation and a wine cellar.”


Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture

"The American architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) is regarded as one of the great master builders of the Twentieth Century. Kahn created buildings of monumental beauty with powerful universal symbolism.

This exhibition encompasses an unprecedented and diverse range of architectural models, original drawings, travel sketches, photographs and films. Highlights of the exhibition include a four-metre-high model of the spectacular City Tower designed for Philadelphia (1952-57), as well as previously unseen film footage shot by Kahn’s son Nathaniel Kahn, director of the film ‘My Architect’.”

Design Museum 09 July 2014 – 12 October 2014


Scott Outdoor Amphitheatre, Swarthmore College, PA. Designed by Thomas Sears and completed in 1942. 

2ft high retaining walls are made from layers of local schist slabs and the randomly spaced trees are Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree) and Quercus alba (White Oak).

I love the idea of a ‘turf proscenium floor’ and it looks like a great place to learn. I can imagine this kind of space would conform to the theories of design laid out in ‘A Pattern Language’ by Christopher Alexander…

(via architecturepastebook)