Brick & Wonder Selects:
July Inspiration


Summers certainly seem to be getting hotter and our political climate is pretty much off the charts, so we're looking for some escape and some introspection for our July Selects edition.

Know your "starchitects"

From the folks at Cereos (who brought you the famous designer chair quiz) comes another highly amusing quiz on starchitects and their notable buildings. Of course, if you get even one of the 9 questions wrong you will be feeling pretty uncultured, so be prepared for a little humility.

Architects like to draw...

A gorgeous new book from Phaidon titled Drawing Architecture, written and researched by Helen Thomas, explores the many ways that architecture has been drawn or rendered or sketched from antiquity to the present day. All the big names are in here and the simple design concept of juxtaposing two drawings for each spread is both surprising and edifying. Some of the drawings can be intimate, as if sprung straight from the brain to the page, and on the other side of the scale, they can be grand and almost pompous in their effort to portray a new worldview.

This will be the gift that all of your architect friends will actually appreciate.

Renzo Piano, The Shard, 2004, felt-tip pen on paper
FLW's watercolor of Falling Water. Amazing.
Mies... of course.

Why are RV's so ugly?

While you're on the road this summer, invariably you will encounter dozens of RVs and wonder the same thing that we all do. Why are they so ugly? And why has no one really explained this in any satisfactory way? This piece in Curbed tries to get at the heart of the issue and is hugely entertaining. In the end, though, the terrible swooshes and swirls on the side of RV’s remain an inscrutable mystery.

Bonus roundup of actually great looking RV’s at the end.

Travel with Design in Mind

Here are some antidotes to those ugly RVs for your travel aspirations.

Since summer = treehouse ambitions, The Spaces has assembled a list of the coolest treehouses around the world that you can rent to make your social media followers simmer with envy. Wallpaper also dives into how AiBnB has created a whole new luxury rental experience with 2000 of their most glamorous properties. Renting through AirBnB Luxe means you will also have a dedicated “trip designer” who will handle booking all of your extracurricular needs like massages, dinner reservations and naturally, child care.

A hand-built bamboo treehouse in Hawaii’s Fern Forest is completely off the grid.
The Bisate Lodge, Designed by Nicholas Plewman Architects designed lies in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii.
This house in Te Kahu, Wanaka, New Zealand. Totally rentable.

Don't want to live like a refugee

It’s a trope of the architecture community that at some point in an architect’s education or career, he or she will design some kind of 'shelter concept' for refugees around the world. Seen as a humanitarian design challenge, these efforts clear the consciences of designers who likely realize that they will be looking for wealthy clients for much of the rest of their careers. One can assume that 99% of these ideas never get built.

But on this Dezeen sponsored panel, humanitarian expert Kilian Kleinschmidt argues that this needs to stop. He sums ups, "Don't design yet another shelter for refugees, they're not a species. So, there is no need for tech for refugees, or design for refugees, or architecture for refugees." Given the “crises” at borders around the world, this presentation is topical and will subvert the way you think about what the concept of “refugee” means.

Planting weeds in cities could save the monarchy

Well, actually it’s not technically a weed, but milkweed is the key component to monarch butterflies’ epic migration pattern, and in two elaborately mapped out studies, researcher Keller Science Action Center and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posit that by planting 1.8 billion stems of milkweed in underutilized urban and suburban areas like rooftops, lawns and low quality scrub landscapes will provide the butterflies with much needed refueling stations.

The larger point of the study is that cities and suburbs -- long thought the scourge of so many species -- could be utilized to revive them instead, “helping curb a potential ‘sixth mass extinction’”—but only if they act quickly, and smartly, to become sites of conservation.“

via CityLab

And now here comes the science...
Baseline average milkweed densities by US census blocks for all four metropolitan areas. Darker areas indicate a higher milkweed density than lighter areas. (Keller Science Action Center)

Lede image is by © Herzog & de Meuron, Elbphilharmonie, 2016, computer software.