Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Arhuaca mochila bags of Colombia

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

IMG_5388mochillaxx

I first saw these cylindrical handwoven bags in Medellín, Colombia, worn by a couple of delegates at the UN World Urban Forum. I noticed them because they looked unusually sturdy, very finely handwoven in wool, and beautifully patterned. After I arrived in Bogotá I realized they are actually common. They’re called mochilas and are a traditional artisanal bag made by the Arhuaca people in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Maria mountain range. Traditionally they were made either from agave fibre, hemp or wild cotton, thought after the arrival of the Spanish they were also made from various wools. You can  also see synthetic fibres used (see top left in photo below) as well as disappointing mass-produced versions. Traditionally the patterns indicated families via their totemic animals, often very abstracted.

“Starting in the 1960s, the arhuaca mochila left the geographical arhuaco, penetrated large Colombian cities (especially Santa Marta, Valledupar and Barranquilla), and is used primarily by young people today as a way to claim their indigenous culture. In 2006, the backpack was nominated as the Arhuaco cultural symbol of Colombia in the contest organized by the magazine Semana.” It now seems that the bag has more generally become a symbol of Colombia and have been adopted by a wide range of people dressed in varying degrees of casualness. More here.

It felt a little weird to be following people around and stealthily photographing their bags.

These bags are not cheap in Bogotá, by the way. They’re cheaper in towns where they are made such as Santa Clara, but they shouldn’t be. As with most weaving, it takes an enormous amount of labour to make a single bag.

The bag I bought is the minimalist white one at right in the very last photo.

Textile museum, Bogota

Mochila bags, Bogotá Mochilas arhuacas - via Wikipedia Photo above via Wikimedia Commons Arhuaca mochila bags of Colombia IMG_5420mochillax Mochila bag, Colombia The one above is particularly beautiful. Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia

Bogotá - mochila

Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia

This one is a bag in a different style and from jute:

Mochila type bag, but of jute

Bogotá - Arhuaca mochila bags

mochila (& UN Habitat bag)

mochila

mochila

mochila

Bogotá - mochila, Cafe Color

Bogotá - Arhuaca mochila

Bogotá - men with mochila

Bogotá - mochila

 

Sophisticated sundial clock in Medellín, Colombia

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Medellin_5180

A little hard to tell from these photos how beautiful this clock is. Depending on which side of noon you are, you view either one side or another. I believe noon hits (more or less) the circle in center. ON the top of the two black polls is a tiny mirror that depending on angle hits grooved lines from 1-12 that run horizontal on the curved walls. One of hundreds of beautiful, functional objects in Medellín’s many, many free public spaces.

It’s one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever visited, and one of the best run. Its generous provisions of civic space and enjoyment is actually really moving. The new few posts will gives some examples of this.

I’m really glad the UN Habitat World Urban Forum was held here this year, or I may never have experienced this place. (I attended as part of my research for my upcoming book on UN Habitat ’76 in Vancouver.

sundial clock, Medellín, Colombia

Medellin_5178x

Medellin_5181x

And thanks to Carlos from Medellín who has lived all over the world, speaks a ridiculous number of languages and was a great guide for this UN tour of the city.

Carlos with sundial clock, Medellín, Colombia

Ed Snowden’s surprise from-remote appearance at TED 2014 in Vancouver today

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Edward Snowden at TED Vancouver

Edward Snowden made a surprise appearance at the TED 2014 main conference in Vancouver today. TED is calling it “Here’s how we take back the Internet.”

From a remote location in Russia he could remotely control a wheeled bot that allowed “him” to turn around and look at the audience.

Good remarks. And then Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, comes out of the audience to talk to Ed too. If you want to watch that part, start around 26:30. Quite amazing to watch.

Edward Snowden at TED Vancouver

Tim Berners-Lee with Edward Snowden, TED 2014 Vancouver

Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan or DTES LAP

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

DTES LAP

The Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan or DTES LAP is a comprehensive plan for a significant area of downtown/East Vancouver. It goes before City Council this week, where Council seems likely to pass it despite significant opposition.

You can get a copy of the LAP—which released only two weeks before going to Council, despite consisting of 450+ pages—from Publication Studio in Chinatown, who have kindly printed it for public accessibility on a pay-what-you-can basis.

The plan is, in my opinion, a fairly massive giveaway to condo developers by the developer-friendly civic party Vision Vancouver. It conforms to a way of running and envisioning cities that is increasingly being termed neoliberal urbanism. See also this article on this approach.

I am by no means an expert on this very complicated plan and all the issues involved. But based on what I have learned from months of discussions down here in the DTES as well as living down here for 12 years, I find the following takes on the issue compelling (and will be adding more soon).

Advocate/PhD student Melissa Fong’s speech to Council is excellent.

Carnegie Community Action Project letter to Council

Statement by Strathcona Residents Association

Why developers don’t like the DTES LAP by Media Coop (in effect, developers dislike the only parts of the plan I endorse)

Where do working class ethnic enclaves fit into our future cities, in Megaphone Magazine

And the official links:

Staff Report and Plan

http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/report-downtown-eastside-local-area-plan-2014-feb-24.pdf

Social Impact Assessment

http://strathcona-residents.org/files/social-impact-assessment-2014-feb-26.pdf

Corporate Communications presentation for media

http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/executive-summary-dtes-local-area-plan-2014-feb-27.pdf

Lastly here is an interesting comment on the DEOD section of the LAP (please comment if you disagree, or have anything to add):

“Lastly, there has been a good deal of concern over proposed “no-condo zone” in the 10 blocks of the DEOD. In many respects we feel this is a bit of a red herring. The pretense includes 40% market rental and 20% “affordable” housing – with the remaining 40% split between shelter rate and CMHC’s Housing Income allowance (30% income) rate. To put a dollar value on that, a one bedroom at the CMHC rate would be about $950, a one-bedroom at the “affordable” rate would be about $1350. The scheme proposed significant height and density increases and relies on uncommitted federal / provincial money and developer levies. We feel that the “upzoning” being proposed will cause significant land lift and resultant speculation that will negatively impact retail and industrial diversity as well as social sustainability and liveability, and ironically the very “affordable housing” it is proposing to protect. For perspective on the market economics driving purpose built rental, we suggest the Western Investor’s recent “Why New Rentals are Being Built” article provides some context behind the market economics behind schemes like this and Rental 100 in the West End.”

We also need to talk about the City’s rather arbitrary population growth projections which seem to be the justification for allowing developers the density bonuses they seek. Not that density is bad, but how is the idea of density being mobilized and for whose benefit?

Circle game

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Circle game

Circle Game. Sorry.

Ultra Ruin in Taiwan by Finnish architect Marco Casagrande

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Ultra-Ruin_jungle_Casagrande

“Ultra-Ruin is a wooden architectural organism that is growing from the ruins of an abandoned red brick farmhouse in the meeting place of terraced farms and jungle. The weak architecture follows the principles of Open Form and is improvised on the site based on instincts reacting to the presence of jungle, ruin and local knowledge.”

For more photos of Ultra Ruin see Marco’s post here. For my other posts on Marco Casagande’s work see Chen House and Apelle House.

I have always liked Marco’s work. His use of materials has an ancient feel – you often can’t tell if it’s modern or very, very old. The locks/door handles on this house are both beautiful and ingenious.

Taiwan is lucky to have a climate that allows free flow between indoor and outdoor area and you can see this realized in all Casagrande’s projects there.

This is a beautiful tree house – or system of houses between tree bridges – sitting fairly lightly on the land.

Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande Casagrande

Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande Casagrande - roofs

Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande Casagrande - bench

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Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande  bath

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Marco Casagrande - Ultra Ruin - door_lock+open