Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Be careful what you wish for. New York’s MoMA thought it had commissioned a group of artists and architects to create a farm in the courtyard of it’s Queens outpost, P.S.1.  And on opening day they didn’t disappoint.

Surprise! Unbeknownst to MoMA, a “tool shed” the architects were building was actually a chicken coop. On the day of the opening they smuggled in six chickens and a dozen chirping chicks.

But all chickens aside, P.F.1 (Public Farm 1) was a very impressive achievement. This urban farm supported more than 30 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers — it also included a solar-powered phone-charging station and even a juicer for fresh veggie cocktails. A project this ambitious took a team of architects, farmers, politicians, artists, and scientists several months to put together.  The video below (by architecture partners WORK) gives you a sense of the logistics required for a project of this scale.

The team’s efforts are chronicled in Above the Pavement – The Farm!

P.F.1 reminded me of another outrageously ambitious urban farm project: “Wheatfield – a Confrontation“.  In the summer of 1982, a flourishing field of wheat sprung up in a vacant lot near the World Trade Center. It was the work of ecological artist Agnes Denes.

It took two assistants and a bunch of volunteers to help her remove trash from the land, spread truckloads of topsoil, and plant nearly two acres of wheat. The result: a beautiful field of golden wheat planted among the sleek steel skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan. After harvesting, the hay was fed to the horses stabled by the New York City Police department and the grain traveled around the world as part of an art exhibition organized by the Minnesota Museum of Art.

Dene’s art and efforts like the P.F.1 project prove that we can use our cities as laboratories for experimentation, and that even the most impossibly utopian visions of green city living may be within our reach.

-Britta Conroy-Randall

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Kurt’s Vanity Fair article on the new era of Beijing architecture, “From Mao to Wow,” just won a Deadline Club Award for best Arts Reporting.  Lucky for us, he did a radio version of the piece, too.  Listen here.

Sir Norman Foster's airport terminal in Beijing (flickr SillyJilly)

The new Beijing airport terminal (Flickr user SillyJilly)

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Name that building: revealed!


This afternoon, Leital and I were hitting up some souvenir shops when we spotted this building across the river.  We were just as surprised when we found out what company it represents.

Any guesses?



Indeed, it is the Asahi Breweries HQ.

Our pal here says that the French architect actually planned 3 gold flames, all sticking straight up.  But Tokyo nixed that plan — not earthquake safe.  (Speaking of which, word has it we had a small one yesterday evening, though I didn’t feel it.)  However, one flame blowing horizontally has been quite enough to make the building famous.  Of course, it also has its share of not-so-nice nicknames… which I’ll let you imagine (or post!) yourself.  No comment here, except that I give the beer a thumbs-up!

– Jenny Lawton

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Kyoto Station

Kyoto may be the 1200-year-old home of Japanese classical arts, but you wouldn’t know it when you first get here.

Kyoto Station

Kyoto Station

Built in 1997 by Hiroshi Hara, Kyoto Station is a stunning living monument to modern Japan.  A hub for multiple regional and local train lines, it’s also home to great restaurants and multiple shopping centers.  Travelers step off the bullet train, wind their way to the Central Gate, and emerge into a 60-foot atrium made of a glass and steel.  It’s remarkably quiet for a station so big, and so busy.  But kyoto-girlsthis is a space that was clearly built to keep the people passing through it breathing deeply and looking all around them — especially up: on one side of the main arrival hall, an escalator stretches up to the 15th story, a beautiful outlook over the city.

But I think my favorite part of being in Kyoto Station is the way the building becomes even grander when glass/steel reflects off of itself, creating the illusion of even more gravity-defying shapes.


Apparently, when the station was finished, the locals were none too happy with it.  And I’ve heard that some Kyotoites suffer from a sort of second city syndrome which manifests as snootiness.  Could it be that they’re just suspicious of something so modern shifting the city’s action away from its temples?  (Because it is.)

Whatever, I say.  This place is fantastic and should be praised as Kyoto’s newest crown jewel.  I’ll be back tomorrow.

– Jenny Lawton

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