Friday, April 24, 2009

Recent Trips

It's been a while, but we have gone on one more field trip. Four of us went up to the Bay Area to visit two companies.

One is called ConXtech, located in Hayward, CA, a steel frame manufacturing company that is designing a cutting edge space frame with system that allows for steel beams to slide into place within specialized connections that are welded onto moment columns. The welding is done in the factory; the erection of the frame on site is quick and efficient, requiring only bolts and with no on-site welding, time and cost is greatly reduced. We had to sign a non-disclosure form, so none of the photos we took will be placed on this site, but going to their website will inform you of their many innovations.

The other company we went to is called Swerve, a furniture company that is creating prefabricated kits for custom furniture. The designer is actually one of Mark Mack's former students, and an alumnus of Cal. I'm not sure if we're allowed to show all of the photos, but here's a before and after of the aluminum pieces he creates with robotics:
Before going into the machine...

The latter half of the trip involved seeing the Academy of Sciences, one of Renzo Piano's recent works. This has nothing to do with pre-fabricated design, but in terms of architecture, the building is amazing:


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Retrospective: Vienna

And now, Vienna, where we got to see some more amazing spectacles:

Zaha Hadid's housing project that should have been successful, but now stands empty.

This project was a cooperative effort between Mark Mack and Roland Hagmueller, with 126 units in the 22nd District of Austria.

There's Mark, sporting a new trend.

Mark and his buddy Roland, having a grand old time.

A beautiful sunset to finish off a wonderful trip.

So that was our trip, a radical sprint through Europe, 4 countries, 6 cities, 10 days. I'd suggest it to anyone who wants to be inundated with architecture and culture and drowned in the spirit of travel. It was exhausting, exhilarating, and exciting. I'm glad I went, and I feel ready to tackle the issues of prefab multistory housing in the following months ahead.

That's all for now.

Well, just one more photo:

Retrospective: En Route to Vienna

We headed to the ELK factory after we left Judenburg, after a super amazing home cooked dinner with Mark's childhood friend and wife.

So we piled into the Focus and the Mondego and drove to the boonies, where we toured the ELK Factory. They pre-fabricate homes so you don't have to. Here's some videos of the factory bustling with activity.

Moving a wall over to another belt.
Mirror To YouTube

Using a vacuum to pick up wall elements.
Mirror to YouTube

Mirror to YouTube

Pan of the final factory area, where the finished walls are loaded onto trucks and sent off.
Mirror to YouTube

When we finally arrived in Vienna, we met up with Professor Hubert Riess who designed this project below:
This was a housing project in Vienna, the Residential Project Spottlegasse, built between 2003 and 2005. It's a complex of 150 subsidized apartments, and is built mostly out of wood, in fact, out of KLH panels. The use of wood was hoped to promote the use of wood in multilevel construction, to make it more acceptable, and to prove that it could comply with Vienna building code, which only allowed wood buildings to be up to 4 stories.

The KLH panels, due to cost, were used as load bearing elements but not always exposed to show that it was bearing the weight. Cladding for low energy requirements covered up the KLH panels in most places, taking away the ability to see the wood and its strength in holding up the building. Nonetheless, the fact that the structure was entirely made of wood shows new possibilities in timber fabrication and new thoughts about how we in the United States could potentially use this material in our projects.

The prof also gave us the most delicious apples that I have ever eaten, and will probably be the best apples I will ever eat in my entire life. I regret that I didn't eat more of them...

Tons of wood jokes were made during this trip. Holz-o-matic.

Retrospective: En Route to Salzburg

Continuing our sprint through Europe, we drove madly down the autobahn towards Austria, stopping at the border to get some kind of car tax sticker before careening through the countryside towards our destinations.

The lovely Red Bull Hangar in Austria was a nice site to see along our crazy drive through the country.

These next two detail shots were taken at the house en route to Salzburg that Mark designed, which was a very nice house, and I'm sure my classmates will post more photos; I only have the two, unfortunately.

This appears to be some kind of epoxy with pebbles embedded in it, used for the bathroom tile.

This is KLH, the company that makes cross-laminated timber, and it is a very viable building material, if only they produced it in the States...

Right, moving on to Judenburg and Vienna.

Retrospective: Munich

Ah, Munich, city with the sausages and the history. Well, that's all I can say about that for now, since most of this has already been written about. Photo dump!

These photos were taken at the BMW Welt in Munich. We had a nice dinner there, and I finally learned what a real wiener schnitzel is:

This was an interesting building just because the damaged portions are called out due to the difference in materials. You can easily tell where the building got bombed, and it makes no attempt to hide it.

I can't remember what this building was, I just remember that it was closed and we all attempted to get in somehow...

Allianz Arena by HdM.

The site of the Munich Olympic Games. Hard to believe that all of this was done before Rhino3D!

Right, now off to Austria, where we hit Salzburg, Judenburg, and Vienna.

Retrospective: Copenhagen

Beautiful, lovely, cold Copenhagen. It was tragic that we couldn't stay beyond our 2.5 days, but still, it was well worth it.

My colleagues have already waxed poetic on the day we spent traipsing around the city of Copenhagen looking at latest and greatest architectural works, and that was the day my camera was unfortunately out of commission due to me forgetting to put my charged battery into the camera. Outright stupidity on my part, but fortunately, the others have tons of photos.

During our stay, we visited the office of BIG, one of the hottest firms today. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post photos of inside the office, but at the very least, I can post the photo I took of their front door to prove we were there.

So one of the project managers of BIG took us out to two of their housing projects and gave us a personal tour. I'll just post some photos here, since it's already been written about at length:

And now, on to Munich.

Retrospective: Stockholm

This is a little outdated, but of course, only one of us had a laptop during the trip. So I'll be posting a 6-part retrospective on the trip, with my photos and notes along the way. (It'll be mostly photos, since Ryan has so kindly provided most of the technical information about our trip.)

During our stay in Stockholm, we took a little bus tour with Dr. Bo Göran from KTH Stockholm. We saw a lot of housing communities, each with their own character, but for most of them there was a strong emphasis on the Swedish aesthetic.

Typical Housing

Duplex Housing

Single Family Homes with Sod Roofing

Super Colorful Housing Community

Multi-story housing in construction.

Dr. Bo Göran's son's House

Check out the detail of the first few stairs!

Awesome built in deli slicer on the kitchen counter.

BO KLOK Housing by IKEA and Skanska.

More housing communities.

Even more housing communities.

We mistook these for BO KLOK upon arrival, but these are just normal duplex housing.

This is all for Stockholm images; Copenhagen is next.