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Month October 2011

Metal Foundation

From ArchDaily, by Megan Jett

Architects: [baragaño]
Location: Asturias, Spain
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 3,338 sqm
Photographs: Mariela Apollonio

The concept of the new headquarters of the Metal Foundation, in Aviles, was born in the first visit and from the memory of the place. The slabs parks of the factory of ArcelorMittal, where placed just by our site and the idea of staring to play with this big pieces of steel is present from the first drawings and working models. We start then with the idea of playing with that, the reference of Richard Serra, Chillida and Oteiza, was always in our mind.

The old building from the Foundation is placed in Aviles old town, while the new one will be placed in a postindustrial area, by the harbour and in front of Oscar Niemeyer Cultural Centre. We propose an urban-building, keeping the longing of the streets, the squares, and the sensations that you have in the old headquarters.

Several slabs, containers of the programme, move over each other, living placed to courtyards, squares, terraces, etc… It´s important to get an alive building, a building to be lived, with walking roofs over the city, the harbour, the sea…A building that can be used much more than the only timetable of the industrial park where is placed, a new space for Aviles. An industrial building that links the old memory, the factory area, the pipes, cranes, etc…with the city of Aviles, in an urban explosion period.

A set of black volumes, meets with the visitant, opening to the south, to the city. The red colour runs in the accesses to the building and in the circulations, remaining the sensations of the steel production. Inside, the Light floods the building, contrasting with the Darkness outsider. The steel structure and the installations are naked, in order to be shown in the different courses that the Foundation Metal will teach in.

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Suso33, Tudela, Spain

From unurth

Liyuan Library

From Dezeen

Architect: Li Xiaodong Atelier
Team: Li Xiaodong; Liu Yayun; Huang Chenwen; Pan Xi
Location: Jiaojiehe village, Huairou county, Beijing, China
Floor area: 175 sqm
Client: Jiaojiehe village
Construction period: Mar 2011 – Oct 2011

This project is modest addition to the small village of Huairou on the outskirts of Beijing, just under a two hours drive from busy Beijing urban life.

On the one hand it forms a modern programmatic complement to the village by adding a small library and reading space within a setting of quiet contemplation. On the other hand we wanted to use architecture to enhance the appreciation of the natural landscaping qualities.

So instead of adding a new building inside the village center, we chose this particular site in the nearby mountains, a pleasant five minute walk from the village center. In doing so we could provide a setting of clear thoughts when one consciously takes the effort to head for the reading room.

Because of the overwhelming beauty of the surrounding nature our intervention is modest in its outward expression. We can’t compete with nature’s splendor. The building blends into the landscape through the delicate choice of materials and the careful placement of the building volume. Especially the choice of material is crucial in blending with the regional characteristics. After analyzing the local material characteristics in the village we found large amounts of locally sourced wooden sticks piled around each house. The villagers gather these sticks all year round to fuel their cooking stoves. Thus we decided to use this ordinary material in an extraordinary way, cladding the building in familiar textures in a way that is strikingly sensitive.

The inside of the building has a very expressive character though; its interior is spatially diverse by using steps and small level changes to create distinct places. It frames views towards the surrounding landscape and acts as an embracing shelter. The building is fully glazed to allow for a fully daylight space. The wooden sticks temper the bright light and spread it evenly throughout the space to provide for a perfect reading ambience.

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Ludo, ‘Thrasherepidoptera’, Paris

From unurth

Cabin on Flathead Lake

Via ArchDaily, by Megan Jett

Architects: Andersson Wise Architects
Location: Polson, Montana, USA
Photographs: Art Gray

Locals call the granite and shale cliff overlooking Montana’s Flathead Lake “The Matterhorn”. It is a place to observe the natural world: the lake, the surrounding ponderosa pine forest, and especially the eagles and ospreys that nest nearby. Together, the water, cliff, and trees form a classic picture of the expansive American West, and it is clear why Montana is still known as North America’s great destination.

Within this context, the cabin’s diaphanous volume is set on six steel piers that are delicately anchored to concrete blocks set into the slope. Screened walls enclose a living area, which has an open floor plan and wood slat floors that extend outside. Amenities are sparse but not neglected: a small kitchen, bathroom, and shower allow guests an overnight stay. The cabin has no heating or cooling system and running water is pumped from the lake below.

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The Internet and the Changing Brain

Via BBC Health, by Helen Briggs

Social network sites may be changing people’s brains as well as their social life, research suggests.

Brain scans show a direct link between the number of Facebook friends a person has and the size of certain parts of their brain.

It’s not clear whether using social networks boosts grey matter or if those with certain brain structures are good at making friends, say researchers.

The regions involved have roles in social interaction, memory and autism.

The work, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, looked at 3-D brain scans of 125 university students from London.

Grey matter

Researchers counted the number of Facebook friends each volunteer had, as well as assessing the size of their network of real friends.

A strong link was found between the number of Facebook friends a person had and the amount of grey matter in certain parts of their brain.

The study also showed that the number of Facebook friends a person was in touch with was reflected in the number of “real-world” friends.

“We have found some interesting brain regions that seem to link to the number of friends we have – both ‘real’ and ‘virtual’,” said Dr Ryota Kanai, one of the researchers from University College London.

“The exciting question now is whether these structures change over time. This will help us answer the question of whether the internet is changing our brains.”

One region involved is the amygdala, which is associated with memory and emotional responses.

Previous research has shown a link between the volume of grey matter in the amygdala and the size and complexity of real world social networks. Grey matter is the brain tissue where mental processing takes place.

Three other areas of the brain were linked with the size of someone’s online social network but not their tally of real-world friends.

‘Plastic’ brain

The right superior temporal sulcus has a role in perception and may be impaired in autism. The left middle temporal gyrus is associated with “reading” social cues, while the third – the right entorhinal complex – is thought to be important in memory and navigation.

Professor Geraint Rees, from UCL, who led the research, said little is understood about the impact of social networks on the brain, which has led to speculation the internet is somehow bad for us.

“Our study will help us begin to understand how our interactions with the world are mediated through social networks,” he said.

“This should allow us to start asking intelligent questions about the relationship between the internet and the brain – scientific questions, not political ones.”
Cause and effect

Facebook, the world’s most popular social networking site, has more than 800 million active users around the world. The site allows people to keep in touch with friends, from a handful to a thousand or more.

Dr John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust, which funded the study, said: “We cannot escape the ubiquity of the internet and its impact on our lives, yet we understand little of its impact on the brain, which we know is plastic and can change over time.

“This new study illustrates how well-designed investigations can help us begin to understand whether or not our brains are evolving as they adapt to the challenges posed by social media.”

Although the study found a link between human brain structure and online social network size, it did not test cause and effect.

Dr Heidi Johansen-Berg, reader in Clinical Neurology at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain, said the study found only a weak relationship between the number of Facebook friends and the number of friends in the real world.

“Perhaps the number of Facebook friends you have is more strongly related to how much time you spend on the internet, how old you are, or what mobile phone you have,” she said.

“The study cannot tell us whether using the internet is good or bad for our brains.”

How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths

Rimon Guimarães, Curitiba, Brazil

From unurth

Webster at 17th, Oakland

Hudson

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