Bucky Restoration

Hailed as “one of the greatest minds of our times”, R. Buckminster Fuller was renowned for his comprehensive perspective on the world’s problems. For more than five decades, he developed pioneering solutions that reflected his commitment to the potential of innovative design to create technology that does “more with less” and thereby improves human lives. Developing design solutions rooted in technology, in 1961 Fuller filed the patents for an autonomous dwelling machine he called the “Fly’s Eye Dome.” It was envisioned as a fully functional, air deployable, off-the-grid shelter. Though never fully realized in his lifetime, Fuller created three prototypes – a 12, 24 and 50 foot dome.

The architectural historian and modern architecture preservationist Robert Rubin has purchased the largest of Buckminster Fuller’s “Fly’s Eye” domes from the Buckminster Fuller Institute. The dome is currently being restored and will be displayed, for the first time in more than 30 years, at the Festival International d’art in Toulouse, France, from May 24 to June 23.
Although imagined over 50 years ago, the design of the Fly’s Eye Dome is still relevant, if not radical even today. An inspiration for independent thinking and beauty redefined.

Image and excerpts sourced at Buckminster Fuller Institute. Sourced at Architects Newspaper.

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Resource Visual

Design. At the core, it is the art of problem solving. This beautifully presented and startling BBC Infographic in Fast Company, translates graphically the state of our depleting non-renewable resources. For me, it is a call to action. To reinvent, redesign, and repurpose. Not only for big businesses who depend on many of these elements for product production, but also for each of us as individuals, to design our daily routines and process’ to make better use of, or even eliminate our dependence on these fleeting resources. To support companies doing the right thing, like FLOR, and to take steps locally in our communities.

Realizing reporting varies on this subject, it does seem that time is fleeting. An exciting design opportunity, with a deadline. Let’s get to work.

I’d love to hear about your ideas, plans and creative solutions. What do you think?

Images and excerpts sourced at Fast Company.


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Take the Plunge

It’s been a hot and steamy week in many parts of the country. It certainly was here in Chicago. With widespread power outages, one of the only sources of relief has been the water. I found myself dreaming of a pool of my own. It seemed unlikely, given the constraints of space and budget. Yet, when looking at the problem with some creativity, I realize a pool can be defined in numerous ways. Not everyone needs to swim laps to enjoy the refreshment of a dip in the cool water. And, in the case of this ‘plunge pool’, the view sustains interest for an extended and leisurely visit to the lagoon.

Sparks Architects designed this home, conceived as an opportunity to explore the ideas of sustainable design on a modest budget. You see, the ‘plunge pool’ utilizes the same prefabricated vessel used for the rainwater containment system. Brilliant! Not only is it a beautiful pool solution, in this case the benefits of these tanks go much deeper. The precast concrete rainwater tanks provide thermal massing, with the walls of the tanks being incorporated into the studio, ensuite and cellar spaces of the lower floor of the home.

The footprint of the home is minimal and efficient. Constructed from nine prefabricated modules, it incorporates solar panels, passive heating and cooling, and rainwater harvesting. The section drawing below describes the sustainable design elements. The last image takes a slice through the building looking in detail at one of the nine prefabricated modules. The home lives large because of the consideration taken for optimal light, views and open, contiguous space.


Images and excerpts sourced at Sparks Architects
For the refreshing plunge pool source, I thank you Tyler.


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The Greening of SOM’s Inland Steel Building Chicago

Chicago’s Inland Steel Building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), was built in 1958. It is a recognizable icon, representative of commercial high rises of the post World War II era of modern architecture. In 2008, SOM was asked to renovate the stainless-steel Chicago Landmark into an office hotel. This concept “offers tenants a sustainable and fully outfitted office space, while still allowing for flexibility in office layout, size and lease duration.”
The project has faced obstacles preventing its progress over the last few years due to a tough economy and strict historic preservation restrictions. Because of the buildings landmark status, the process of implementing sustainable building methods used in new buildings, has proven difficult. Elements such as a double glazed curtain wall for energy efficiency were not approved. The project has prompted important conversation on the issue of preservation, landmark status and sustainable design.

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An Interview With Jimmy Chiang Of Way Basics

Modular storage cubes and shelves are nothing new, but there's something special about these ones: they're made from recycled paper! I recently encountered some of this paper furniture from Way Basics and discovered that in addition to being fun and affordable, it's also surprisingly strong. The self-assembled cubes, bookcases, and other pieces are made from post-consumer recycled paper, water-based glue, and no formaldehyde or VOCs. Curious to learn more about these eco-friendly products, I interviewed Jimmy Chiang, CEO of Way Basics.

How did you come up with the idea for making furniture out of recycled paper?

Furniture made from recycled paper isn't new. For years people have been constructing furniture, structural pieces from cardboard. Famous designers like Frank Gehry have created recycled paper masterpieces. Most of the offerings in the marketplace are high-end design pieces or temporary solutions made from cheap cardboard. At Way Basics our material is zBoard, which is also made from recycled paper, but constructed in a way that feels just like a wood engineered board, yet it's up to 70% lighter and just as strong.


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