Watch Ancient Ruins Get Restored to their Glorious Original State with Animated GIFs: The Temple of Jupiter, Luxor Temple & More

The "seven wonders of the world": all of us have all heard the phrase so many times, but can we name the specific wonders to which it refers? Though the list took its final form in the Renaissance, it originates all the way back with the ancient Greeks who wanted a sense of the most majestic man-made landmarks that lay within their territory. These were eventually narrowed down to the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (whether they really existed or not), the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Today we offer you an alternative set of ancient wonders, made even more wondrous by a technology wholly unimaginable to ancient Greeks: the animated GIF. You see here four of the set, which in total includes the Parthenon in Greece, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Nohoch Mul Pyramid in Mexico, the Temple of Lago Argentina in Rome, the Temple of Luxor in Egypt, the Temple of Jupiter in Italy, and Hadrian's Wall in England.




The GIFS, which trace the lines of the original structures over the ruins and then fill them in photorealistic detail, are the work of husband-wife team Maja Wrońska and Przemek Sobiecki.

"Despite their ‘ruinous’ condition, these structures have influenced many of history’s great architects, and continue to be an inspiration today," writes Designboom's Rob Reuland. "These sites have been depleted by time and by conquest, parts are reused, others just fall away with neglect. Seeing them restored is a bit like hopping in the Delorean and cranking the flux capacitor, and reversing their slow decay." And as a commenter adds below, "the next thing would be this in combination with AR-glasses while visiting the site" — the ongoing collaboration, in other words, of the wonders of the ancient world and the wonders of the modern one. See all seven of the animated GIFs here.

via designboom

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Buckminster Fuller’s Collaboration with The North Face Culminates with a New Geodesic Dome Tent, the Geodome 4

Most anyone who regularly spends time in nature knows the name The North Face. For fifty years now, the company has furnished outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen with not just apparel but much else of the equally rugged gear they might conceivably need to go hiking, camping, or permanently off the grid. Some of their product designs have remained basically the same through the decades, while others have changed dramatically. Even early in the company's life it knew that a better tent, for instance, would get the outdoorsy world beating a path to its door: hence its engagement of no less a design thinker than R. Buckminster Fuller.

Bruce Hamilton, who worked for the company from 1970 to 1989, recently wrote a few posts (part one, part two, part three) telling the story of the North Face/Buckminster Fuller connection. It began in his first year on the job, when the company's owner Hap Klopp asked a friend whose family had connections to Fuller to send the already world-famous architect-systems theorist-inventor a letter. Describing The North Face as "a small company that produces what I believe to be the finest equipment presently available," the friend asked Fuller for ideas on how to improve the "archaic designs" then used to construct tents. "I have thought a great deal in the past about your subject of the compact, lightweight, back-packable environment controlling device," Fuller replied. "I am accepting your challenge."

Hamilton, a fan of Fuller's work, had already been thinking about how to use the principles of the light but sturdy triangle-and-dome-based "tensegrity structures" Fuller so often wrote and (as in the clip above) talked about. One day Hamilton showed Klopp a model of a Fullerian geodesic sphere, and "it was at that moment that he connected me with Bucky and with his drive to bring a new tent to life." The result, the Oval Intention tent, first appeared in The North Face's Fall 1975 catalog, accompanied by a photo of Hamilton relaxing inside one and a typically sweeping quote from Fuller himself: "It is no aesthetic accident that nature encased our brains and regenerative organs in compoundly curvilinear structures. There are no cubical heads, eggs, nuts, or planets."

The North Face kept incorporating Fuller's ideas into their tents, and they hammered out the terms of  direct collaboration on a new model in 1983, a month before Fuller died. Judgments about other tensegrity structures — geodesic dome homes, for example — have varied over the years, but the Oval Intention lives on in the form of the new Geodome 4. "Thanks to the most spatially efficient shape in architecture, it can withstand winds of up to 60 mph as the force is spread evenly across the structure whilst even providing enough height for a six-foot person to stand comfortably inside," writes Archdaily's Ella Thorns. "The extremely efficient design has allowed the tent to weigh not much more than 11kg and comprise of 5 main poles and the equator for fast and easy assembly and storage."

If this already has you excited about your improved prospects for more geometrically and structurally efficient camping on the surface of our Spaceship Earth, do be warned: at the moment The North Face has only made the Geodome 4 available in Japan (see its Japanese page here), and with a price tag equivalent to $1,635 at that. Even so, one hopes that Bucky — as Hamilton and many of the others who knew him called him — looks on with pride from whichever spaceship he now finds himself aboard.

via Arch Daily

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Time Lapse Video Captures Light Illuminating the Stained Glass Windows of Washington National Cathedral

Colin Winterbottom specializes in taking photographs that offer a fresh perspective on America's capital, Washington DC. As his web site tells us, his photos seek to express "not just what a place looks like, but how it feels to be there." A point that also comes across in a video he shot several years ago.

He introduces the video above, entitled "Stained glass time lapse, Washington National Cathedral," with these background words:

I am primarily a black and white architectural still photographer, but while documenting post-earthquake repairs at Washington National Cathedral I was impressed by the drama of the vibrant colors the windows "painted" on stone and scaffold. With just weeks before a related exhibition was to open I began mounting cameras to scaffold to take advantage of rare vantage points. The opening and closing view, for example -- with Rowan LeCompte's remarkable west rose window at eye-level and centered straight ahead within the nave -- cannot be recreated now that scaffold is down.

The photographs in the exhibition "Scaling Washington" (which was at the National Building Museum in 2015) often played off the unexpected harmony between the Cathedral architecture and scaffold, both having engaging rhythmic structural repetitions. Thus the inclusion of wonderfully painted scaffold herein. For the purpose of the exhibition (which had much other content) the video was left silent and had remained so for several years until composer Danyal Dhondy recently offered to write an original score for it. It fits so well and complements the rhythms of the original edit so perfectly. Now the piece has new dimension and life outside the original exhibition.

It's good to know there's still some beauty and tranquility somewhere in Washington. Do enjoy.

via Aeon

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Enroll in Harvard’s Free Online Architecture Course: An Introduction to the History & Theory of Architecture

Enroll in Harvard’s Free Online Architecture Course: An Introduction to the History & Theory of Architecture

So, you want to be an architect. Where to begin? It seems like a very big aspiration. One theorist argues that modernist architecture has been “characterized by a thaumaturgic… ambition which would heal the ‘diseases’ of individuals and society.” As anyone who’s spent much time in a housing project, faceless office park, or strip mall might attest, more recent approaches can also have “the power of hurting.”

If you’re intent on wielding the power of architecture for good, you’ll need many years of study and apprenticeship. But whether you’re just getting your feet wet or have already waded into the field, you’ll likely gain quite a lot of understanding from “The Architectural Imagination,” a free online course from Harvard's Graduate School of Design, in which you will “learn how to ‘read’ architecture as a cultural expression as well as a technical achievement.” The course, which begins on February 28th, is free, but for $99 students can also receive a certificate of completion.




“Architecture is one of the most complexly negotiated and globally recognized cultural practices,” notes the course introduction. Building design “involves all of the technical, aesthetic, political, and economic issues at play within a given society.” In addition to creating single-family dwellings, architects are tasked with designing harmonious spaces through which thousands of people might move on a daily basis.

Successful design requires more than an understanding of the necessary relationships between form and function. “In some ways,” the course trailer video above tells us, “it’s just what exceeds necessity that is architecture. And it’s the opening onto that excess that makes architecture a fundamentally human endeavor.”

Healing society? Grasping the big issues in arts, politics, and engineering? Designing for the “fundamentally human”? These are deep briefs indeed. A more lighthearted approach to the field—the tongue-in-cheek “I Am an Architect” rap above—suggests a couple simpler prerequisites for the aspiring architect: a lifelong passion for making things (with blocks, Legos, Jenga, etc.), and, of course, a pair of black plastic glasses. If you can relate, sign up for Harvard’s “The Architectural Imagination” and find many more edX Architecture courses here.

via Arch Daily

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How to Write Like an Architect: Short Primers on Writing with the Neat, Clean Lines of a Designer

We have another national crisis on our hands.

Our children are not only ill-equipped to read maps and tell time with analog clocks, their handwriting is in serious decline.

Forget cursive, which went the way of the dodo earlier in the millennium. Youngsters who are dab hands on the keyboard may have little impulse—or opportunity—to practice their printing.

Does it matter?

It sure as shootin’ might be during a zombie invasion, given the attendant breakdown of digital communication and the electricity that powered it.




But even in less dire times, legible penmanship is a good skill to master.

As Virginia Berninger, professor emeritus and principal investigator of the University of Washington’s Interdisciplinary Learning Disabilities Center, told The New York Times, “Handwriting — forming letters — engages the mind, and that can help children pay attention to written language.”

Hand lettering is also a complex neurological process, a workout involving various cognitive, motor, and neuromuscular functions.

There’s also a school of thought that teachers who still accept handwritten assignments unconsciously award the highest grades to pupils with the neatest penmanship, which is easier on tired eyes. Something to keep in mind for those gearing up to take the handwritten essay portions of the SAT and ACT.

Let's remember that letters are really just shapes.

The Finns and French have long-established uniformity with regard to handwriting. In the absence of classroom instruction, Americans have the freedom to peruse various penmanship styles, identify their favorite, and work hard to attain it.

(This writer is proof that penmanship can become part of the DNA through practice, having set out to duplicate my mother’s delightful, eccentric-to-the-point-of-illegibile hand at around the age of 8. I added a few personal quirks along the way. The result is I'm frequently bamboozled into serving as scribe for whatever group I happen to find myself in, and my children can claim they couldn't read the important handwritten instructions hurriedly left for them on Post-Its.)

Historically, the most legible American penmanship belongs to architects.

Their precisely rendered all caps suggest meticulousness, accountability, steadiness of character...

And almost anyone can achieve it, regardless of whether those are qualities they personally possess.

All it takes is determination, time, and—as taught by Doug Patt in his How to Architect series, above—more tools than can be simultaneously operated with two hands:

an Ames lettering guide

a parallel rule or t-square

a small plastic triangle customized with bits of tape

a .5mm Pentel drafting pencil

If this sounds needlessly laborious, keep in mind that such specialty equipment may appeal to reluctant hand writers with an interest in engineering, robotics, or scientific experimentation.

(Be prepared for some frustration if this is the student’s first time at the rodeo with these instruments. As any veteran comic book artist can attest, few are born knowing how to use an Ames lettering guide.)

It should be noted that Patt’s alphabet deviates a bit from traditional standards in the field.

His preference for breathing some life into his letters by not closing their loops, squashing traditionally circular forms into ellipses, and using “dynamic angles” to render crosspieces on a slant would likely not have passed muster with architecture professors of an earlier age, my second grade teacher, or the font designers responsible for the computer-generated “hand lettering” gracing the bulk of recent architectural renderings.

He's likely the only expert suggesting you make your Ks and Rs reminiscent of actor Ralph Macchio in the 1984 film, The Karate Kid.

There’s little chance you'll find yourself grooving to Patt’s videos for anything other than their intended purpose. Whereas the late Bob Ross’ Joy of Painting series has legions of fans who tune in solely for the meditative benefits they derive from his mellow demeanor, Patt’s rapid fire instructional style is that of the busy master, deftly executing moves the fledgling student can only but fumble through.

But if the Karate Kid taught us anything, it’s that practice and grit lead to excellence. If the above demonstration whips by too quickly, Patt expands on the shaping of each letter in 30-second video tutorials available as part of a $19 online course.

Those looking for architectural lower case, or techniques for controlling the thickness of their lines can find them in the episode devoted to lettering with a .7mm Pentel mechanical drafting pencil.

Explore further secrets of the architects on Patt’s How to Architect channel or 2012 book, also called How to Architect.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Hear the Hagia Sophia’s Awe-Inspiring Acoustics Get Recreated with Computer Simulations, and Let Yourself Get Transported Back to the Middle Ages

The technology used to produce, record, and process music has become ever more sophisticated and awe-inspiring, especially in the capability of software to emulate real instruments and acoustic environments. Digital emulation, or “modeling,” as it’s called, doesn’t simply mimic the sounds of guitar amplifiers, pianos, or synthesizers. At its best, it reproduces the feel of an aural experience, its textures and sonic dimensions, while also adding a seemingly infinite degree of flexibility.

When it comes to a technology called “convolution reverb,” we can virtually feel the air pressure of sound in a physical space, such that “listening in may be viewed as much as a spatial experience as it is a temporal one.” So notes Stanford’s Icons of Sound, a collaboration between the University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) and the Department of Art & Art History. The researchers in this joint project have combined resources to create a performance of Byzantine chant from the 6th century CE, simulated to sound like it takes place inside a prime acoustic environment designed for this very music, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.




Built by the emperor Justinian between 532 and 537, when the city was Constantinople, the massive church (later mosque and now state-run museum) “has an extraordinarily large nave spreading over 70 meters in length; it is surrounded by colonnaded aisles and galleries. Marble covers the floor and walls.” Its center is “crowned by a dome glittering in gold mosaics and rising 56 meters above the ground.” The effect of the building's heavy, reflective surfaces and its architectural enormity “challenges our contemporary expectation of the intelligibility of language.”

We are accustomed to hear the spoken or sung word clearly in dry, non-reverberant spaces in order to decode the encoded message. By contrast, the wet acoustics of Hagia Sophia blur the intelligibility of the message, making words sound like emanation, emerging from the depth of the sea. 

The Icons of Sound team has reconstructed the underwater acoustics of the Hagia Sophia using convolution reverb techniques and what are called “impulse responses”—recordings of the reverberations in particular spaces, which are then loaded into software to digitally simulate the same psychoacoustics, a process known as “auralization.” CCRMA describes an impulse response as an “imprint of the space,” which is then applied to sounds recorded in other environments. Typically, the process is used in studio music production, but Icons of Sound brought it to live performance at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall last year, and made the group Cappella Romana sound like their voices had transported from the Holy Roman Empire.

“To recreate the unique sound,” writes Kat Eschner at Smithsonian, “performers sang while listening to the simulated acoustics of Hagia Sophia through earphones. Their singing was then put through the same acoustic simulator and played during the live performance through speakers in the concert hall.” As you can hear in these clips, the result is immersive and profound. One can only imagine what it must have been like live. To complete the effect, the production used “atmospheric reinforcement,” notes Stanford Live, “via projected images and lighting." The audience was “immersed in an environment where the unique interplay of music, light, art, and sacred text has the potential to induce a quasi-mystical state of revelation and wonder.”

The only sounds the researchers were able to record in the actual space of the ancient church were four popping balloons. By layering the reverberations captured in these recordings, and compensating for the different decay times inside the Bing, they were able to approximate the acoustic properties of the building. You can hear several more audio samples recorded in different places at this site. In the video above, associate professor of medieval art Bissera Pentcheva explains how and why the Hagia Sophia shapes sound and light the way it does. While purists might prefer to see a performance in the actual space, one must admit, the ability to virtually deliver a version of it to potentially any concert hall in the world is pretty cool.

via The Smithsonian

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

An Espresso Maker Made in Le Corbusier’s Brutalist Architectural Style: Raw Concrete on the Outside, High-End Parts on the Inside

From the 1950s through the 1970s, Brutalist architecture flourished in North America and Europe (both West and East) and many countries beyond. Made out of raw concrete, Brutalist buildings--usually municipal buildings, campuses, and housing projects--have an almost unfinished look to them. The first and most famous example of this architectural style is the Unité d'habitation, the housing complex built by Le Corbusier in Marseille between 1947 and 1952.

Though Brutalism has since fallen out of fashion, it might be poised for a comeback, especially if this new espresso machine is any indication. After a successful Kickstarter campaign this summer (raising $145k), the Norwegian-Californian design firm Montaag Products is putting the finishing touches on a brutalist espresso maker. They wanted to design a machine made out of "completely honest materials.” Hence the raw concrete. Inside the espresso maker, however, they've used materials typically found inside $1300 Italian machines, according to Food & Wine. You can pre-order the machine at Indiegogo for $799. It should be ready in March (or thereabouts).

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