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Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

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Historians had believed modern-day Istanbul was first settled around 700 BC.

However, a grave that has been recently discovered at the site of a rail project instantaneously added 6000 years to Istanbul’s history.

“We found the grave, pots and other artifacts. There were signs of houses made of tree-branches and next to the settlement was a swamp where we found small tools, wooden pieces and bones,” explains Ismail Karamut, head of the Istanbul Archaeology museum, which is leading the dig.

“It all shows there was a Neolithic settlement here in the historic peninsula of Istanbul where people lived, farmed and fished,” he adds.

The Neolithic era – when man abandoned the nomadic, hunting lifestyle and settled to farm the land and raise cattle – began east of here, gradually carrying the foundations of “civilised” life west, to Europe. The new find in Istanbul helps map that transition.

“Neolithic culture changed as it moved west. Not all of what we call the ‘Neolithic package’ was transferred,” explains Professor Mehmet Ozdogan of Istanbul University.

“Domesticated animals and some of the cereal crops came, but mud brick became wooden architecture, settlements were re-organised. The transformation is important to understand the Neolithic culture in Europe. Every new site adds data to the picture.”

The team’s first major discovery was a section of the first city walls, believed to date back to Constantine I.

As anticipated, they also uncovered a 4th Century port – once the busiest in Byzantium – and the stunningly well-preserved remains of more than 30 wooden ships, many wrecked in storms in the 10th and 11th centuries.

“We’re expecting to find more – maybe a small settlement,” Yasar Anilir explains. “We have to remove the Byzantine ships first, then we can complete our dig.”

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Seventy-five years ago, in Los Angeles, with a no-interest loan from Dutch philanthropist Dr CH Van Der Leeuw, Viennese-American architect Richard Neutra, rightly called ‘second only to Frank Lloyd Wright’, built a radical “glass house” with rooftop and balcony gardens on Silverlake Boulevard.

Richard Neutra\'s VDL

This is the place where Neutra had designed hundreds of projects over the four continents among which are some of the finest schools, public buildings and distinguished residences. So many architects were trained here and whose careers started in this office/studio.

Neutra’s residence played host to cultural figures like Frank Lloyd Wright, Lazlo Moholy Nagy, Jorn Utson, Charles and Ray Eames; religious figures like Robert Schuler and J Krishnamurti; scientists like Rene Dubos and Linus Pauling; and to political figures and activists like John Anson Ford, Frank Wilkinson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

VDL, as Neutra had named his residence, was very dear to him. His ashes were later scattered in the backyard.

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Shekhawati Region Rajasthan IndiaHow big can you imagine an open air gallery to be? Well, here you are… 13, 785 sq. km [5130 sq. miles] of painted walls, havelis, palaces and forts in the vast expanse of the desert of Rajasthan in India. Town after town, street after street, home after home has been painted with frescoes depicting characters and stories from Indian mythology, history, vernacular culture and life, erotica, and even imaginary and hilarious depictions of science fiction!

This is the Shekhawati region of state of Rajasthan in India. Established and ruled by the Shekhawat rajputs for centuries till independence of India in 1947, it was the largest Nizamat of Jaipur State. With more than 120 villages, 50 forts and palaces, it was definitely the most happening place for architecture and art development. Few of these have been restored or remodeled to be reused as heritage hotels or museum or schools. Others have become obscure or peeled off.Rao Shekha

Why paint the walls of the towns? Neighboring Marwar region influenced the Shekhawati region a lot. The marwar community was rich, and prosperous. This was the ‘business class’! For over a century between 1830 and 1930, marwaris or the business community made Shekhawati their home, before they started migrating to other parts of India. Family names that are now associated with some of India’s big business houses, originated here. As the ultimate symbol of their opulence, the Marwaris commissioned artists to paint those buildings. Hundreds of these courtyard houses cropped up in the desert landscape, each of them covered inside out with colorful frescoes. This art was kept alive for almost 300 years. Eventually it started falling apart as more and more families from this community started settling elsewhere, and these houses were locked up to ruins.

Fresco from ShekhawatiHow? In Shekhawati, the fresco painter or the chiteras belonged to the social class of potters or kumhaars. The technique employed for the Shekhawati frescoes was elaborate, and comparable to the Italian frescoes of the 14th century. The colors were mixed in lime water or lime plaster and were then made to sink into the plaster physically through processes of beating, burnishing, and polishing. All the pigments used were prepared with natural and primarily household ingredients like kohl, lime, indigo, red stone powder, and saffron. Cow’s urine was dried up to get the bright yellow!Amusing Fresco from Shekhawati

There are instances where these frescoes were complimented with gach [mirror] work and intricately carved wood work. Some merchants and ministers even got the havelis painted in gold and silver. There are havelis which have frescoes which amuse everyone- showing King George and Queen Victoria of England in an Indian landscape! Some even illustrate modern machinery of the times such as airplanes, cars, telephones et al!


Read more:
Painted Walls of Shekhavati by Francis Wacziarg, Aman Nath
Photo credits in slide show: Pavan Gupta of Destination India.

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Gensler Building 2008 GreenUnited Kingdom- Gensler’s design for Herman Miller’s international headquarters, also called Village Green, has been short listed for Corenet’s 2008 Sustainability award and is the first building in the UK to receive both BREEAM (excellent rating) and LEED (gold) accreditation. The 20,000-square foot facility is located in Chippenham, England.

Several notable details that make Village Green green and intelligent:

  • Natural ventilation. A computerized system adjusts airflow, eliminating the need for air conditioning.
  • All timber is from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) sustainable sources.
  • Recycled aggregate building materials are sourced from within 30 kilometers.
  • All carpeting is recyclable.
  • Energy-efficient lighting is activated by movement sensors.
  • Seventy-five percent of the building is exposed to natural daylight and 95 percent of the office space includes a view of the outside.
  • Cycle racks and showers are provided to encourage alternative transportationInteriors

‘Village Green provides an efficient and dynamic work environment for employees and it also has become a popular customer destination,’ says John Portlock, president of Herman Miller International. ‘It also serves as a living case study about the possibilities that exist with sustainable design.’

Read more: Gensler short listed for Corenet’s 2008 Sustainability award

 

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Nanocity- the idea of a sustainable city ‘with world class infrastructure and to create an ecosystem for innovation leading to economy, ecology and social cohesion’ is taking place near another architecture paradise- Chandigarh, which was commissioned by first prime minister of independent India to reflect new nation’s modern and progressive outlook. Nehru famously proclaimed Chandigarh to be ‘unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation’s faith in the future.’

In 1966 French architect Le Corbusier and his team produced a plan for Chandigarh that conformed to the modernist city planning principles of CIAM, in terms of division of urban functions, an anthropomorphic plan form, and a hierarchy of road and pedestrian networks. Chandigarh, for a very long time, was perceived to be an experimental city!

Today after forty some years, Sabeer Bhatia [of Hotmail fame] has embarked upon another multi-billion dollar Nanocity idea in collaboration with Government of Haryana [India] and the faculty and students of UC Berkeley, California [USA]. Nanocity will replicate if not surpass the standards of the Silicon Valley of US.

Nanocity

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AREAS CONSIDERED FOR ECOTOWNS IN UKJuly 2007- Britian had announced that it will initiate ‘zero carbon’ architecture and town planning by building 5 ‘Ecotowns’ to meet their demand for 2 million new homes by 2016.

‘The towns, each with a minimum of 5,000 to 10,000 houses, will be built to meet zero carbon standards and will each showcase a specific project promoting energy preservation or green technology. Projects to be showcased could include use of communal heat pump systems or car pool schemes,’ the Communities and Local government office said.

UK government even launched a Architecture Design Competition and invited entries for design and layouts of Ecotowns.

You can view the Ecotown prospectus here.

 

NO ECOTOWN HERE

While the government offices move ahead with their plans, people have opposed the plans. People of Warwickshire threaten to march in protest. OPPOSITION to a proposed 6,000-home eco-town at Long Marston also intensified this week as a second Conservative MP came out against the scheme and a petition appealing directly to Prime Minister Gordon Brown appeared on the website of 10 Downing Street. You can read more here: Risible Claims for Ecotown and Protest over plans for Ecotown


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This week while China was in the limelight with its ‘blue box beating with a green heart’- the Water Cube ‘National Aquatics Centre in Beijing’, Korea’s one-hundred-and-five-story Ryugyong Hotel got a severe blow in the architecture world. It was declared the ‘worst building ever’. Esquire says ‘Picture doesn’t lie.

Aerial View from Google‘the one-hundred-and-five-story Ryugyong Hotel is hideous, dominating the Pyongyang skyline like some twisted North Korean version of Cinderella’s castle. Not that you would be able to tell from the official government photos of the North Korean capital — the hotel is such an eyesore, the Communist regime routinely covers it up, airbrushing it to make it look like it’s open — or Photoshopping or cropping it out of pictures completely’

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