Monthly Archives: August 2012

Junk I Buy…

Gadget No. 1: Olloclip

There are really only a few things I spend money on other than the necessities; I have an unquenchable thirst for books, I thoroughly enjoy video games, and I have a strange habit of buying junk. Junk meaning things I don’t really need or things I won’t want in a few months that will eventually be donated the next time I clean my room. I tend to be a sucker for things in the “As Seen on TV” section of Walgreens as well as decorative thrift store items like old toys and mallard decoys. But occaisonally I’ll spend money on junk that turns out to be a useful gadget. This time it was an olloclip for iPhone 4.

This handy little device is a small, clip-on lens that offers three modes: Macro, Wide Angle, and (my favorite) Fish-eye. It is incredibly useful when you don’t particularly feel like carrying around your camera, especially since the iPhone takes magnificent pictures already. Here are a few sample photos I (and friends) have taken so far with the olloclip, with a little color help from the app called Snapseed.

Macro Setting: Cucumber Water (which is gross, by the way)

Macro Setting: BB Pellets

Macro Setting: Finger Print

Fish-eye Setting: American Scent Tree

There are a few problems with the design of this gadget:

1- You cannot use this clip with your iPhone case on, which is a hassle if you have a stubborn case.

2- If you use screen protectors, its likely that the clip will peel it off.

3- When the clip is attatched, it covers the lock button on the top of your phone. This means that whenever you take a photo, you either have to remove the clip to lock the phone or wait until the phone autolocks before putting your phone back in your pocket (or else you will likely call everyone you never call).

4- You cannot use flash while the olloclip is on your phone, or else this happens:

Fish-eye Setting: Restaurant with Flash (The flash glare actually enhanced this photo)

Though there are some frustrating flaws, the olloclip is still a blast. There are similar items on the market that use magnets that shouldn’t destroy your screen cover or tamper with your ability to lock your phone, but I still highly recommend the olloclip. Who can resist the ability to take REAL fish-eye photos?

Certainly not this junk buyer…

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A Reason to go Back to Hamburg

Miniatur Wunderland

Hamburg, Germany

I’ve actually been to Hamburg before while studying abroad. Unfortunately, it was on a school trip, so I had no time to explore on my own. This is an absolute gem that I am burning inside for missing. I suppose the only solution is to return to Hamburg someday…

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Why Comic Books Still Matter

comic book:

n. A book of comics strips or cartoons, often relating a sustained narrative.

It is safe to say that comic books, in one way or another, have affected everyone. Most people are exposed to them at a young age, following their favorite super heroes and heroines one issue at a time. It seems to be a phase in life that either leads to newer and more “mature” fads, or becomes a life long hobby (Though it is important to note that comic books can be more “mature” in their nature and can contain content unrelated to super hero mythology).

There is a strange appeal to comic books in general, having to do with the relationship between text and graphics. Novels allow the reader to paint a world limited only by their imagination, creating a reasonably unique experience per individual. Comic books, on the other hand, have the ability to allow the reader to understand things without reading. There is an art to what must be written and what can be visually communicated. The best comic books, in my opinion, are those with the least amount of text. Comics that rely solely on graphics to communicate plot lines and information are incredibly beautiful, fun, and clever.

Example of visual information found from google:

In my experience, the value of comic books extends beyond entertainment. The comic book’s ability to graphically communicate ideas has been an incredible precedence for me in life. Though most comics are typically narratives in that they are based around a plot line, the comic style can be incorporated into any presentation.

Timeline of my Life: created for World History class in high school

I have on multiple occasions used a comic book as a template for school projects, taking a topic that, for me, would otherwise be boring or difficult to enjoy and turning it into a project that I can spend countless hours on. For example, a comic created for my calculus class in high school that I recently found in a hidden folder.

Timeline of my Life: created for World History class in high school

The comic’s plot is incredibly similar to an 80’s action hero film and the illustrations, text, and sensibility are childish and juvenile. However, this project was infinitely more enjoyable to make and present than a simple essay or power point about calculus and makes me laugh endlessly each time I read it.

Calculus Comic: created for Calculus class in high school

Architectural monographs are similar to comic books in that they rely on images as much as (if not more than) they do on text. A person’s ability to graphically communicate ideas is an essential part of any effective designer’s skill set. Comic books can and should serve as precedence to all architects and designers either completely literally (like the archicomic “Yes is More”) or in a more partial sense (See Edward Tufte’s “Envisioning Information” and “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information”).

If you take away anything from this post, let it be that its okay to read comic books. In fact, it’s good for you.

With that said, I need to catch up on the Amazing Spiderman.

Design Work just thinking

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On the Nightstand, 005: Concrete Regionalism

Concrete Regionalism

“Crucially, [regionalism] learns from experience. It tinkers, crafts, accepts, rejects, adjusts and reacts. It is immutably rooted in the tangible realities of its situation: the history, geography, human values, economy, traditions, technology and cultural life of place.”

The idea of regionalism, for me, is verified and real. There is no question in my mind that architecture responds (or rather should respond) to its geographic location as well as to its cultural and economic situation. So the idea that regionalism can be associated with a material that is notoriously modern, in that its use is ideally international and generic, is intriguing.

The book covers four different projects for each of the four featured architects; Antoine Predock, Tadao Ando, Wiel Arets, and Ricardo Legorreta. The argument is made that each of these architects come from different geographical and cultural backgrounds and hence have varied approaches to building design that reflect and conform to what this book is calling regionalism. Also, all of the buildings feature concrete as one of the prominent building materials (though you’ll see, some more than others).

The visual content of the book (plans, sections, and photographs) is rather good. There isn’t much in the way of diagrams, which is what I always look for, but that is understandable since the book discusses architectural forms and materials and not process. The text is also informative and concise, though it can be a bit wordy.

There are a few issues I have with this read that, in my opinion, lower the quality and credibility of the book:

Many of the projects do show some form of regionalism embedded in the architecture, but many seem to just be buildings that use concrete. Often times the distinguishing characteristics of the regional aspects of the building have nothing to do with the fact that the building is made of concrete. Several buildings feature materialistic qualities of regionalism that are simply combined with concrete and are labeled as examples of concrete regionalism. For example, a building that is distinguished by the use of glass blocks also features concrete work and is labeled as concrete regionalism. It just seems as though many of the projects are a bit of a stretch away from the ideals of the book.

From a purely visual standpoint, the book has some questionable design tactics that render the reading experience tiresome and arbitrary. There are often pictures or text under-laid beneath the main text that make reading sometimes a hassle. All of the image captions are rotated 90 degrees clockwise, making it necessary to turn the book each time you read the caption. This would be okay if the images were also rotated, however they are not.

Verdict: Pass

If you have a particular interest in these four architects and the four featured projects, you may enjoy the book as a visual read (meaning a picture book). Unfortunately, the questionable layout and unconvincing arguments made in the book make the time spent reading the book not equal to the knowledge gained.

On the nightstand

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Internal Conversation

I recently decided to upload the book I made for my fourth and final undergraduate architectural studio. I put a lot of time into making it, and the time we (as a class) spent appreciating it wasn’t necessarily satisfying. So, I am making the book available to the world for the selfish purpose of mass appreciation.

Here are the first few spreads:

You can see the entire book by clicking here.

Design Work

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