Archive for the 'architecture' Category


Cheap living

I recently thought about how when my parents were my age, they hadn’t been paying rent for years. I’ve not only been paying rent ever since I’ve had a job, but I’ve also spent most of my savings when I went to Australia for a year. Now I pay rent again and it bothers me, because even if I lived in the same place for 20 years, I’d basically have spent over 100.000 EUR on rent without getting anything in return. Or well, what you get in return is a place to live, but the money basically just goes out the window.

At any rate, I’ve looked for cheap ways of living now, and one i particularly like is living in a cheap concrete tube, like this one (via

Concrete Tube with a bed in it

Concrete Tubes as hotel rooms in the TuboHotel.

A concrete tube is probably no more than 200 EUR, so if I had three of them (bedroom, kitchen, study) we’re looking at, say, no more than 1000 EUR including delivery. (I’m making all of this up. It’s an estimation.) I’d need a place to put them, so I’d have to rent a little garden somewhere for maybe 30 EUR/month which should have water from a garden hose and hopefully a community toilet. Of course, it might be semi-illegal to live in a little garden you rent. Plus, without insulation, I’d freeze to death in winter (and in summer, with the summer we’ve been having…)

Next option would be to get a tree house. One with electricity and a shower and all sorts of stuff, like this one (as seen on


They write on their website that they’ve built tree houses for 12.000 EUR to 150.000 EUR and I don’t want to think about what price range this one has if it even has a bathroom and electricity. But if it were only 12.000 EUR, it could quickly be paid off and then of course all the money you earn is yours alone. And if you get tired of living in a tree house, you can sell it to someone else, along with the land, and spend all the money you made on something bigger later.

Ideally, of course, you’d live somewhere without having any expenses, that means usually your parents’ house, but of course then you have to answer to them (“as long as you have your feet under our table” etc.) and you get asked to put on your slippers and make your bed.

Oh well, the things I think about on a Sunday afternoon. :)

Here’s some YouTube links about houses and tree houses and all sorts of stuff:

Peter Bahout interview (this has a great tree house)
Tree House Living for adults
Garbage Warrior
(about Earthship houses)
Permaculture – True Way of Life


MyZeil – Pretty, but not waterproof

MyZeil - The new shopping mall in Frankfurt am Main.

There’s a spankin’ new shopping center in Frankfurt am Main that is called MyZeil and that turns heads with its, say, peculiar architecture. As you can see in the picture above, it has a hole, and the glass roof twists and turns into a fancy looking glass tube.

(Click to enlarge.)

(Click to enlarge.)

Now I bet you are imagining all kinds of exciting possibilities of where this glass tube could end, you’re thinking maybe a fish tank, maybe a little garden, maybe in an open air café or something? Ha! You wish. It ends in this beautiful scenery, and please do click on the image to enlarge it and look closely:

(Click to enlarge.)

Yes. It ends in an ugly weird box and concrete and some dirt and cables in the background (not really visible in the photo). Nice. Millions and millions spent in fancy architecture that draws your attention to dirty concrete. But with this the question arises – and I have heard many ask – “So, what happens when it rains?” You want to know what happens to an architectural gem that has cost millions… when it rains? This:

(Click to enlarge.)

In my opinion, this is more than just a little embarassing.


Architecture: More Defensible Space

Today I found out that Oscar Newman’s book about Defensible Space can be downloaded for free on Oscar Newman’s Website in .PDF format.

Part of his fascinating theory is that there will be less crime and vandalism if people identify with their surroundings or feel a sense of responsibility. If there is something they feel is their property, they care about it. “Where only two families shared a landing, it was clean and well-maintained,” (p. 11) he writes about an otherwise catastrophic housing project (Pruitt-Igoe). It makes sense. If you feel the landing is your responsibility, you will take care of it. If you, however, walk through a corridor that is shared by everybody and their uncle, you don’t care about it. You won’t pick up the trash, if there’s graffiti it has nothing to do with you, etc.

This actually reminds me much of when I still went to school. The wooden tables we had there had names scratched in them, things scribbled on them, they had plenty of dents and a gross bubble gum coating on the underside. I actually once saw an otherwise cleanly, tidy, well-adjusted young girl stick her old bubble gum under one of these tables, and when she saw my look of utter disbelief, she just shrugged and said: “Everybody else is doing it, too.”
To me this shows that these kids (ehm, we) simply didn’t value school property. It wasn’t theirs, they were just using it for a year or two. That young girl would never ever have stuck chewing gum under her desk at home, she would never scratch or write her name on it either. Additionally, the kids didn’t feel obliged to take good care of the desks either, because the school is an abstract entity that can’t be mad at them. Not like when they borrow daddy’s binoculars and make damn sure they don’t scratch or drop it, so as not to disappoint him.

Something to think about!


Architecture: Defensible Space

Every once in a while when I have nothing to do, my interest in architecture attracts my attention again and I surf the web looking for all sorts of info on urban sprawl or interesting buildings or I browse the architecture category on Wikipedia.

Today I came across a list of unfinished buildings on Wikipedia, which is also somewhat interesting. I knew of course about the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona that has been under construction for the past 125 years (I’ve been there), but had never heard of the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang.

“Construction began in 1987 and ceased in 1992, due to the government’s financial difficulties,” Wikipedia says, and while it’s often said that you should aim for the stars and think big and so forth, it must be a huge disappointment to see your huge project just sitting unfinished and slowly decaying for 20 years, reminding you every day what a failure you are. (I bet the architects don’t live in Pyongyang.)

My search led me further to Pruitt-Igoe, a big housing project in St. Louis, Missouri. It was completed in 1955 and completely demolished by 1978 after it had basically decayed and become a ghetto plagued with crime and more crime. More about Pruitt-Igoe can be found in an interesting term paper by Kevin Law, entitled Pruitt-Igoe: A High-rise Public Housing Failure (here’s the term paper as PDF).

Related to this is the theory of Defensible Space by Oscar Newman, which is also explained better in the article High Rise Hell by Roger Cohn.

If you’re interested in architecture, too, this should make for an interesting reading list.


Linkage #4: Architecture: 100 Most Viewed Projects

Today I would like to refer you to an interesting website about architecture, called The Top 100 Most Viewed Projects. I’ve recently developed an interest in architecture and I’m wondering if you can become an architect even if you have no skills (yet) in drawing or sculpturing or any of that. It must be an interesting job.

I like architecture that is “pretty”, simply put, and I think it’s boring if somebody just tries to build something that is supposed to impress people because it’s very tall, like this:

I do have to admit, though, that I think the Etihad Towers (scheduled to be completed in 2010) look pretty cool, although they cast a lot of shadows. But maybe that’s not even bad for Abu Dhabi – I assume it’s a very warm country.

And isn’t this fascinatingly unusual? It’s the Apeiron, which has an underwater restaurant and a helipad and will generate two thirds of its own energy.

Also, the OPUS project by Zaha Hadid looks quite spectacular, but my appreciation of her decreased when I read that her design for the Aquatic Center now costs three times as much as had been planned in the original budget – £210 million GBP instead of £75 million GBP. The roof alone will cost about £60 million GBP. I think that’s pretty outrageous. There certainly would’ve been a cheaper way to do it… Either way, here’s the OPUS:

For more interesting building projects, once again, check out