Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I was chatting with a friend about redesigning everyday objects a moment ago, and then I saw this mowercycle photo at Inhabitat. What a bright idea to transform the tedious yardwork into personal workout! Needless to say, you can stay away from the air pollution produced by gas-powered lawn mowers. I hope such mowercycles can be manufactured.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Shopping Cart Chair

When I looked at the shopping carts at a supermarket last night, I suddenly noticed the proportion of the shopping cart resembles that of a chair. Why not design a shopping cart chair or convert a shopping cart into a chair? Would that be fun?

Later I did an internet search and found someone already had this idea. The following are ANNIE shopping cart chairs by UK designer Max McMurdo. He turned old unwanted shopping carts into beautiful and functional chairs. I wonder if they offer the option with wheels, 'cause some people may want an exhilarating ride:)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Eames Stamps!

My husband bought me the last 2 sheets of the newly released Eames Stamps from a downtown post office. These stamps are gorgeous!! If you wanna collect them, hurry up 'cause only some post offices carry them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Toronto Arch Tour

As a water-front metropolis, Toronto is not as appealing as New York, Chicago or Seattle. My initial purpose of the trip was to see several new buildings in town and to visit the spectacular Niagrara Falls the 4th time.

Our first stop was the Royal Ontario Museum by Libeskind. I was so eager to see a Libeskind’s building, but felt a bit disappointed when I got there. Maybe I’m no longer strongly attracted by striking forms. The play of form here didn’t invent a new model for exhibition or offer the visitors a new way to experience a museum, almost the same feeling I had when visiting Akron Art Museum by Coop Himmelblau. To me, the only interesting space is the Stair of Wonders which combines the sculptural form with fascinating object display at each level. However, I still want to visit Berlin Jewish Museum since the spatial sequence generates deeper meaning.

Gehry’s new addition to the Art Gallery of Ontario is under construction right now. Unlike his signature sculptural exterior, this building has a simple linear transparent skin while the crazy forms are kept inside.

Ontario College of Art & Design by Will Alsop is such a playful and structurally challenging building. I really hoped to get to the top, unfortunately it closed during the weekend.

Later we walked by the Graduate House by Morphosis and Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building by Norman Foster on Univeristy of Toronto campus, the last two stops of my architectural tour.

From the Ground Up

The latest Architectural Record is titled Beijing Transformed which focuses on the Olympic projects and reflections on the speedy changes. They even included an interior shot of BNCC which we worked on, but didn’t mention NBBJ’s name.

After seeing the pictures of all the famous buildings again and again, what caught my eyes are the ‘behind the scenes’ photographs: those captured the construction workers taken by photographer Iwan Baan. These migrant workers should not be forgotten, for they are the people who are building the new Beijing under heavy workload and low wages.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jail Hotel VS Restroom Castle

Michael Moore’s documentaries always reveal some shocking facts, such as the “prison hotel” in Roger & Me (1989). As a response to the increasing criminal rate in the abandoned automobile city Flint, a large brand-new jail was built. On the night before it opened, a big party was held there and a couple could pay $100 to stay overnight. Many people paid to stay because they wanted to have the experience of living in jail. Ironically, the most luxury hotel Hyatt went bankrupt due to lack of visitors.

This phenomenon reminds me of the world’s largest restroom, as one of the main structures of a theme park in Chongqing. The building looks like a cheap amusement park castle with 1000 toilets inside. Some of the urinals have fancy shapes such as a crocodile mouth and Virgin Mary. It was the mayor’s decision to make a new attraction or a “culture” out of the toilet. To their satisfaction, the huge restroom entered the Guinness World Record. But I doubt what kind of attraction or culture it will bring to people simply considering the smell of that place.

In the realm of profit-driven capitalism, either the form or function of a familiar space can be replaced. In this case, prison and restroom are transformed into festal space. The degree of being public or private in such space also gets shifted: the jail hotel becomes
publicly private; the restroom castle becomes privately public. Is it a new type of heterotopia?

More satirically, the restroom is made of all recycled materials. Perhaps it’ll get LEED certified? Remember the 60-story single-family home being built for the Indian rich is also a green building? Does the idea of sustainability not offer a convenient excuse to build socially controversial buildings today?