Natural Forces

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Many of today’s architects and engineers are dedicated to innovation minimizing the destructive power of natural forces associated with typhoon-level winds, earthquakes and tsunamis. Contemporary solutions present an undeniable beauty reflecting the dynamics underlying potentially devastating forces.


Gensler, ‘Shanghai Tower‘, Shanghai, China, world’s 2nd tallest building (632 meters), 2016   
Photos via archdaily

The Gensler team anticipated tapered asymmetry and rounded corners to withstand typhoon-force winds common in Shanghai. Using wind tunnel tests . . . [the team] refined the tower’s form, which reduced building wind loads by 24 percent”


OFIS Architects ‘All Seasons Tent Tower’ anti-earthquake design concept for Mercedes Benz Hotel, Yerevan, Armenia, 2010
Photo via inhabitat

“The structure resists quake shaking using a system of concrete cores and composite columns that supposedly ensure structural stability.” The embracing metal mesh tent presents a unique aesthetic in its mimicry of climate and earthquake-prone landscape.


CRAB Studio, ‘tsunami resistance‘ for disaster prevention competition, Istanbul, Turkey, 2012
Photo via evolo

CRAB Studio developed a concept employing dynamic blade-like structures designed to cut up and disperse a massive tsunami’s destructive power. The result is an unusually expressive design with its lyrical formations engulfing the area.



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Bent may be described as being “altered from an originally straight or even condition“. Perhaps warped, misshapen, distorted or out of shape. Or maybe not showing things as they are. The thing that is bent moves visually from having a static or predictable or familiar form into the tension and interest of something not being as expected.


Paul Gees, wood, stone and steel sculpture, circa 2008
Pure simplicity of repetitive form dramatized by being bent.
Photo via galerievandenberge


Aydin Büyüktas, ‘Flatland’, “18-20 aerial drone shots” digitally warped and collaged, 2016
Inspired by Edwin Abbott’s 100 year-old book ‘Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions’
Photo via thisiscolossal


Google Earth’s distortion glitch, Deception Pass bridge, WA
Photo via visualnews



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‘Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park’, Gansu Province, China
Photo via ifly50

The Danxia landform is located 600 miles west of Shanghai. Over millions of years, horizontal layers of sand and silt were formed and uplifted into their current sandstone state by shifts in tectonic plates. Oxidization of iron and other minerals is responsible for the spectacular range of colors.


Charles Clary, ‘Layered’, cut paper embedded in drywall with wallpaper,  2016
Photo via freeyork

Carved layers of paper in bright hues contrast with the roughness of drywall and ripped wall paper. Clary’s conceptual thinking is related to the organic form of land formations and viral colonies and how they interact with and affect surfaces.


Layered paint chip from partially demolished Belmont Art Park graffiti property, Los Angeles, CA
Photo via genealogy

The magnified paint chip is “about 1 cm thick, and appears to consist of about 150-200 layers of paint“. The fate of the graffiti property was set in motion in 2004. Losing its edgy nature to residential development was lamented by artists and art enthusiasts “based on the fact that for two decades the yard’s walls . . . served as an unsanctioned gallery of West Coast graffiti art“.


LEGO Simplified

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In 2004 LEGO “decided to remove almost half the pieces from the LEGO catalogue, forcing designers to return to a simple approach to product innovation. The designers were also given clear instructions to reduce the confusion that had been created by the demand for originality in the 1990s. We had to revive the spirit of ‘simplicity and the pleasure of building things and creativity’, recalls [product design manager] Jorgensen”.


Nathan Sawaya, ‘Yellow’ LEGO, The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia PA, 2006
Once a New York City corporate lawyer, Sawaya is now a LEGO master.
Photo via boredpanda


Skyscraper firm, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LEGO model in ice, 2013.
The simplicity of white bricks of LEGO Architecture Studio reflect LEGO’s ‘back to the basics plan’.
Photo via wired


Olafur Eliasson, ‘The collectivity project’, on the High Line at West 30th Street, New York, NY, 2015
With two tons of white LEGO bricks Eliasson strives to make the concerns of art relevant to society at large.
Photo via streetartnyc


Salt as Medium

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Motoi Yamamoto, ‘Bellevue’, salt, Laband Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 2012
Photo via itsnicethat

Using salt as a medium, Yamamoto has meticulously sculpted an exquisite salt installation. It is one of many installations from the ‘Labyrinth Series’. Many of Yamamoto’s works resemble labyrinths or medical imagery of the brain.


Jonathan Schipper, ‘Detritus’, salt and 3-D printing in a boiler room, 2013  
Photo via coolhunting

‘Detritus’, is a salt installation “where a custom-built, room-sized 3-D printer crafts a miniature world in decay. Set in a reclaimed boiler room turned gallery space, the robot is suspended from the 40-foot ceilings and deposits a specially formulated saline paste onto a 12 ton desert of salt, and is programmed to build a desolate landscape filled with ruined buildings, trashed tires, and discarded objects.”


David Dimichele, ‘Salt and Asphalt’, from ‘Pseudodocumentation Series’, lightjet print 2007
Photo via mymodernmet

“David DiMichele’s ‘Salt and Asphalt’ is part of “a series of large-scale photographs depicting grandiose installations in fantasy exhibition spaces. DiMichele creates this work by first building scale models of exhibition spaces, and producing original artworks in drawing, painting and sculpture mediums, which are sited in the spaces and then photographed to create the final works.”


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