Monthly Archives: November 2009

chinaHAA : Design, China, and Details 01

A few weeks ago, two of our employees trekked 24 travel hours across the globe to Hefei, China.   Upon arrival, HAA commenced an innovative cross-cultural, cross-professional exchange.  For the next four months, these employees will be working directly for the Hefei University of Technology within their architecture/design department.  During this time, they will be posting illustrative photos that speak to Design, China, and all of the discovered Details. Continue reading

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BACK TO THE FUTURE.  Last month the Taubman School of Architecture hosted the ambitiously titled Future of Design Conference, bringing together a prestigious group of design professionals to present their thoughts and work on the conference topic. Based on the Pecha Kucha format, each individual was given fifteen minutes to present a rapid-fire succession of projects, speculations, and research, and diatribe. While certain thematic similarities surfaced throughout the course of the presentations, by and large the variety of presented topics reflected the current diversity of the design field. One consistent topic, however, centered on the ways technology is changing the means and methods of architectural production. To contextualize this theme, it is interesting to trace the evolution of technology as it relates to avant-garde architecture and design practices.

Historically, “visionary architecture” has existed as work which is often highly polemic and rarely built. In his book Visionary Architecture: Blueprints of the Modern Imagination, Neil Spiller writes that “this history is linked to the metaphorphosis of the ‘machine’ and the technologies that embody it. Whether ‘machines’ are the conceptual ones of Marchel Duchamp, the mechanized armatures of cranes on a building site, the virtual machines within computers or the cabbalistic machines of Daniel Liebskind, they have all influenced the course of architectural vision.” Works such as, Constant’s New Babylon (1950), Archigram’s Walking City (1964), Superstudio’s Continuous Monument (1971), or even Buckminster Fuller’s proposed Dome for Manhattan (1960), functioned not as serious proposals for built work, but as devices for questioning certain social, political, and technological issues. Continue reading

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“Desire is the very essence of man.”  This quote by 17th century philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, opened Lars Gräbner’s lecture this past October 13th at the Johanson Charles Gallery.  As principal architect of VolumeOne Architects and full time faculty member at the University of Michigan’s College of Architecture, Lars has traveled extensively throughout the world.  Most recently, his architecture studio spent the summer in Europe, touring successful post-industrial regions and composing a ‘generic urban strategies menu’.  His lecture titled, “The City of Desire”, offered a tantalizing prospect.  As these projects have already succeeded in regenerating post-industrial cities, can these same urban strategies apply to Detroit?  Can Detroit become a “City of Desire”?

Suburban Destiny.  To fully address these questions, Lars outlined one of the fundamental conflicting desires of modern man – to live in the city or to live in the suburbs.  As Lars stated in his lecture, the desire to leave the city is strong, originated by decades of aggressive marketing campaigns.  Continue reading

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