FIlm and Architecture anyone?

We, us, MJ Neal, AIA and Viviane Vives, taught a graduate advanced design studio at the University of Texas, Arlington.

This video explores how the use of film as a research tool in architecture informed the students’ projects and changed them. The students achieved a completely different relationship to the site by the use of documentary filmmaking.

Film was also used as a creative expression medium and a presentation element but the emphasis was on it’s use as a knowledge base tool. All self-consciousness was left at the door. We wanted truth, passion, we particularly fought any “architect’s preciousness.”  Focus was on obliterating mythologies and keeping it real, to open them up and to make them reach the bottom of the reality of the site and the people that inhabited it.

All students shared a pool of footage and learned from each other, sharing their findings and drawing their own conclusions.

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Sustainable Homes in the USA

We are proud to be in this fine book and I’m particularly happy that my pictures are getting published all over the place. I’m enjoying photography more and more, as I have been mentioning in this blog. I’m preparing an exhibition… I’ll post about it soon.

Anyway, the focus of the book is sustainability. I encourage you to review the Texas Architect article by Richard Wintersole, AIA:

 Conserving energy is important to Neal, thus the SIPs serve as a thermal umbrella and air is encouraged to circulate through the building from end to end. The Farleys plan to add a large, low-velocity fan to improve the air circulation. When ambient air breezes through the home, the Farleys and their guests are truly in touch with the natural world.”

or by going to the Dwell article by Sarah Rich

In a climate like this, air-conditioning seems indispensable, but to cool the entire structure artificially would be inefficient and costly. Neal devised a solution by building a 540-square-foot box nested within the superstructure, which contains the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, as the only air-conditioned space in the building. The two-story plywood envelope has sliding walls on all sides that can be closed to keep cool temperatures in or left open to the fluctuations of the natural ventilation throughout the building.”

 

Macho Minimalism

The Wolfe Den is in it’s final stages. Little details are being completed like the front door handle and the landscaping is being installed. Becca of Rain Lilly Design has dubbed the front stone entry design “macho minimalism”. I really like that! I’m going to steal it;)

Enjoy, I am.

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Cal Lane’s Art at the Price Tower

MJ went to the Okhlahoma State University to lecture and he took the opportunity to go see the Price Tower, the only skyscraper that Frank Lloyd Wright got to build.

Cal Lane was exhibiting her exploded lace cars there, amazing stuff, not only it is beautiful art, but it is recycling too! Here’s a very interesting article on her by the NYT. I wonder if she’d let me do a short docco on her… 

From Blogger Pictures

Dancing About the Mulberry Trees

in 2003 we were asked to submit ideas for an Art Forum and Community Center in Annaka, Japan… Our design was centered about the Mulberry trees we were gonna plant, hundreds of them.

See if you can spot the kids with balloons and the dog (in the sketches.)

MJ and I have gone into macrobiotics lately, we are also learning Japanese cooking, of course, MJ has always been obsessed with Japan… You should see his Japanese collection of books. It’s just delicate and beautiful.

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Twin Peaks Explained

tp2evevv

Twin Peaks Project – Two Single Family Urban/Suburban Residences

There seems to be a few questions about Twin Peaks on Apartment Therapy. I guess we can answer them here… Yes, the central piece seems to float off the walls. It’s structure is attached to the wall by brackets. Since the houses are not big, it allows for the eye to travel in between and it creates a much “lighter” feeling.

The finish on the center folding piece is a type of catalyzed polyurethane, it’s like a lacquer, though it is NOT technically a lacquer.

Here’re the pics we have and a wonderful article about the house by Kris Krager, a colleague, who wrote the article for an issue of Texas Architect, when the project won a State Award (TSA) I would link to the article but it’s not online anymore!

Urban/Suburban Hybrid by Chris Krager, Assoc. AIA

PROJECT: Twin Peaks, Austin ARCHITECT: M.J. Neal Architects PROJECT TEAM: M.J. Neal, AIA; Thomas Bercy; Powei Chen; Joseph Winkler; Justin Rumpeltes; Viviane Vives CONSULTANT: Jerry Garcia (Structures) PHOTOGRAPHERS: Viviane Vives; M.J. Neal

Two Austin townhouses defy increasing density and create space on a constrained suburban site.

Like many other American cities, Austin has seen a significant increase in central city development in the past five years. The realization that Austin cannot sustain the continued stretching of its urban infrastructure has led to such initiatives as Smart Growth and Traditional Neighborhood Development. These initiatives have led to relatively low-risk residential development guided primarily by builders erecting traditional housing or “soft-loft” projects priced at the top end of the market.

However, instead of relying solely on the high-end of the economic spectrum, cities such as Austin have the opportunity to deal with – economically, architecturally, and socially – the urban phenomenon of centripetal growth with innovative residential typologies. Moreover, placing suburban houses in quasi-urban environments is essentially irresponsible and results in a lost opportunity for more creative solutions.

With his Twin Peaks project, M.J. Neal, AIA, set out to challenge the unimaginative builder model with a “urban/suburban hybrid.” The problems he faced are neither unique to Austin nor without historical precedent (think of Arabian courtyard houses and urban townhouses): How to design stand-alone single-family residences with the amenities of the suburban home within neighborhoods of increased density, and how to provide residents a comfortable level of isolation on a constrained site while allowing controlled engagement with the public realm?

To successfully address these issues, a building must become an exercise in spatial economy. This Neal accomplished in Twin Peaks with choreographed movement around articulated service masses. The two buildings are essentially vertical tubes with which Neal has taken an additive/subtractive approach. Additive is service function (the central stair/storage element) and subtractive are the moments of respite (screened porches and decks). Surprisingly, while these are not large buildings (1,600 sf of air-conditioned space and 1,000 sf of exterior space), they accommodate much more than one would expect.

Neal assembled this new typology with innovative technologies – SIPS panels, steel/mdf cabinets, catalyzed polyurethane finishes, high-velocity HVAC system, and boat-building plywood, to name a few – and off-the-shelf materials that he customized to varying degrees. Continue reading