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Month July 2010

Lelo, Rio de Janeiro

From unurth

Gwathmey Residence and Studio

Via Architizer

Access to the Gwathmey Residence and Studio is from the south with views across the dunes to the ocean. The program of the original 1,200 square feet, 30,000 cubic foot house included a living/dining space, kitchen, master bedroom/studio, two guest bedrooms and a workroom. A year after completion, a second 480 square foot structure was added, accommodating a guest room and full studio.

Within the limited budget, a design parti and vernacular were developed that set a precedent for later work. By organizing the house vertically, programmatic and site constraints were resolved through sectional as well as plan manipulations. The guest rooms, workroom, and covered terrace occupy the ground floor; the living/dining room and kitchen are on the second floor; the master bedroom/studio on the third floor balcony overlooks the double-height living space. Raising the “public” spaces one level above grade both capitalized on the extensive views, and established a relationship between living areas and the ground plane that is unique to rural house architecture. By placing the continuously occupied portion of the “habital” house on a “base” of intermittent functions, the “parlor floor” was reinterpreted and a sense of privacy was established.

The addition of the studio building extended and enriched the site/object relationship. The studio’s section is derived from the house, but by siting it at a 45° angle to the original structure a perceptual dynamic of corner vs. facade was created. A second dynamic was established by the juxtaposition of structures and ground: whereas the house is clearly anchored, the studio is “precarious” and appears to be almost in motion. The sense of duality, expectation and change adds a further dimension to the overall composition.

Both structures are composed of primary, minimal geometric forms that appear to be carved from a solid volume rather than constructed as an additive, planar assemblage. As they are manipulated in response to site, orientation, program and structure, the intersections of these forms are defined by either erosion or natural light, or both.

The use of cedar siding on both the interior and exterior of the wood frame buildings establishes a primary referential container from which secondary and tertiary elements are developed. Transparency, perceptual and literal extension, and volumetric interpenetration give this small building a unique sense of scale and presence.

Missoni Film by Kenneth Anger

Living Glass

From National Geographic, photograph courtesy NIBR

This tiny translucent creature is a new species of crustacean recently discovered off the Korean coast in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

Tentatively named Ascidicola secundus, the animal is one of eight crustacean species found during the second phase of the Korean indigenous species project.

A. secundus bears a strong resemblance to A. rosea, a crustacean that lives in the Atlantic Ocean and has been known since 1859. But close examination revealed that the two are different species, NIBR’s Min-Ha said.

Rauschenberg and the Materialized Image, Part 03

In Rauschenberg’s work the image is not about an object transformed. It is a matter, rather, of an object transferred. An object is taken out of the space of the world and embedded into the surface of the painting, never at the sacrifice of its density as material. Rather it insists that images themselves are a species of material. And this is true whether the image in question is a shirt or a sock which operates as the image of a shirt or a sock while all the time remaining that thing, or whether the image is a section of cultural space—a postcard bought at the Louvre or a photo clipped from a newspaper—which joins the work as a materialization of the culture from which it sprang.

Rosalind Krauss, Rauschenberg and the Materialized Image, Robert Rauschenberg, October Files 4

[ Part 01 ] [ Part 02 ]

Sea Urchins

From National Geographic

Fire Urchin, Indonesia

Photograph by Tim Laman

The spines of a fire urchin form a multicolored flower off Komodo Island, Indonesia. The blue swellings on the tip of each spine are filled with venom.

Pencil-Spined Urchin, Kingman Reef

Photograph by Brian J. Skerry

The spines of the omnivorous pencil-spined urchin extend outward from its body. There are some 700 species of sea urchins worldwide.

Sea Urchins, British Columbia

Photograph by Paul Nicklen

A nontoxic dye highlights water currents surrounding sea urchins off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. These small, spiny echinoderms are found in oceans all over the world.

So Bloody So Tight

By A Sunny Day in Glasgow

Documents into Monuments

To be brief, then, let us say that history, in its traditional form, undertook to ‘memorize’ the monuments of the past, transform them into documents, and lend speech to those traces which, in themselves, are often not verbal, or which say in silence something other than what they actually say; in our time, history is that which transforms documents into monuments.

Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, and the Discourse on Language, 7

Neuzz, Mexico

From unurth

Hyperfast Star Kicked Out of Milky Way

Via Wired, by Lisa Grossman

New Hubble observations suggest a dramatic origin story for one of the fastest stars ever detected, involving a tragic encounter with a black hole, a lost companion and swift exile from the galaxy.

The star, HE 0437-5439, is one of just 16 so-called hypervelocity stars, all of which were thought to come from the center of the Milky Way. The Hubble observations allowed astronomers to definitively trace the star’s origin to the heart of the galaxy for the first time.

Based on observations taken three and a half years apart, astronomers calculated that the star is zooming away from the Milky Way’s center at a speed of 16 million miles per hour — three times faster than the sun.

“The star is traveling at an absurd velocity, twice as much as it needs to escape the galaxy’s gravitational field,” said hypervelocity star hunter Warren Brown of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who found the first unbound star in 2005, in a press release. “There is no star that travels that quickly under normal circumstances — something exotic has to happen.”

Earlier observations linked the star to a neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. But Brown and his colleagues claim that the new Hubble observations settle the question of the star’s origin squarely in favor of the Milky Way.

One reason the star’s home was under debate is its bizarrely youthful appearance. Based on its speed, the star would have to be 100 million years old to have traveled from the Milky Way’s center to its current location, 200,000 light-years away. But its mass — nine times that of our sun — and blue color mean it should have burned out after only 20 million years.

The new origin story reconciles the star’s age and speed, and has all the makings of a melodrama. A hundred million years ago, astronomers suggest, the runaway star was a member of a triple-star system that veered disastrously close to the galaxy’s central supermassive black hole. One member of the trio was captured, and its momentum was transferred to the remaining binary pair, which was hurled from the Milky Way at breakneck speed.

As time passed, the larger star evolved into a puffy red giant and devoured its partner. The two merged into the single, massive, blue star called a blue straggler that Hubble observed.

This bizarre scenario conveniently explains why the star looks so young. By merging into a blue straggler, the two original stars managed to look like a star one-fifth its true age.

The findings were published online July 20 in a paper in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The team is hunting for the homes of four other unbound stars, all zooming around the fringes of the Milky Way.

“Studying these stars could provide more clues about the nature of some of the universe’s unseen mass, and it could help astronomers better understand how galaxies form,” said study coauthor Oleg Gnedin of the University of Michigan in a press release.

Images: NASA/ESA/G. Bacon (STScI)