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  1. Article intéressant dans le NYMAG : The Psychological Cost of Boring Buildings By Jacoba Urist April 12, 2016 10:56 a.m. <cite class="credit">Photo: Philip Laurell/Getty Images </cite>New Yorkers have long bemoaned their city being overrun by bland office towers and chain stores: Soon, it seems, every corner will either be a bank, a Walgreens, or a Starbucks. And there is indeed evidence that all cities are starting to look the same, which can hurt local growth and wages. But there could be more than an economic or nostalgic price to impersonal retail and high-rise construction: Boring architecture may take an emotional toll on the people forced to live in and around it. A growing body of research in cognitive science illuminates the physical and mental toll bland cityscapes exact on residents. Generally, these researchers argue that humans are healthier when they live among variety — a cacophony of bars, bodegas, and independent shops — or work in well-designed, unique spaces, rather than unattractive, generic ones. In their book, Cognitive Architecture: Designing for How We Respond to the Built Environment, Tufts urban policy professor Justin Hollander and architect Ann Sussman review scientific data to help architects and urban planners understand how, exactly, we respond to our built surroundings. People, they argue, function best in intricate settings and crave variety, not “big, blank, boxy buildings.” Indeed, that’s what Colin Ellard, a neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo and director of its Urban Realities Laboratory, has found in his own work. Five years ago, Ellard became interested in a particular building on East Houston Street — the gigantic Whole Foods “plopped into” a notoriously textured part of lower Manhattan. As described in his book, titled Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life, Ellard partnered with the Guggenheim Museum’s urban think tank to analyze what happens when someone “turns out of a tiny, historic [knish] restaurant” and encounters a full city block with nothing but “the long, blank façade of the Whole Foods Market.” The Whole Foods on Houston. In 2011, Ellard led small groups on carefully planned Lower East Side walks to measure the effect of the urban environment on their bodies and minds. Participants recorded their response to questions at each stopping point and wore sensors that measured skin conductance, an electrodermal response to emotional excitement. Passing the monolithic Whole Foods, people’s state of arousal reached a nadir in Ellard’s project. Physiologically, he explained, they were bored. In their descriptions of this particular place, they used words like bland, monotonous, and passionless. In contrast, one block east of the Whole Foods on East Houston, at the other test site — a “lively sea of restaurants with lots of open doors and windows” — people’s bracelets measured high levels of physical excitement, and they listed words like lively, busy, and socializing. “The holy grail in urban design is to produce some kind of novelty or change every few seconds,” Ellard said. “Otherwise, we become cognitively disengaged.” The Whole Foods may have gentrified the neighborhood with more high-quality organic groceries, but the building itself stifled people. Its architecture blah-ness made their minds and bodies go meh. And studies show that feeling meh can be more than a passing nuisance. For instance, psychologists Colleen Merrifield and James Danckert’s work suggests that even small doses of boredom can generate stress. People in their experiment watched three videos — one boring, one sad, and one interesting – while wearing electrodes to measure their physiological responses. Boredom, surprisingly, increased people’s heart rate and cortisol level more than sadness. Now take their findings and imagine the cumulative effects of living or working in the same oppressively dull environs day after day, said Ellard. There might even be a potential link between mind-numbing places and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. In one case, physicians have linked “environmental deprivation” to ADHD in children. Homes without toys, art, or other stimuli were a significant predictor of ADHD symptoms.Meanwhile, the prevalence of U.S. adults treated for attention deficit is rising. And while people may generally be hardwired for variety, Dr. Richard Friedman, director of the pharmacology clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, makes the case that those with ADHD are especially novelty-seeking. Friedman points to a patient who “treated” his ADHD by changing his workday from one that was highly routine — a standard desk job — to a start-up, which has him “on the road, constantly changing environments.” Most ADD is the result of biological factors, said Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD, and co-authored numerous books on the subject, such as Delivered From Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life With Attention Deficit Disorder. But, he explained, he sees a lot of socially induced ADD, too, a form of the disorder that makes it appear as though you inherited the genes, although you really haven’t. And one way you might have the socially induced condition, according to Hallowell, is to suffer severe boredom or live in a highly nonstimulating environment. “It makes total sense that for these people changing where they work or live to add more visual stimulation and daily variety could be extremely helpful,” Hallowell said. At the same time, many adults may feel they have ADHD because the world has become hypersaturated with constant texts, emails, and input. For them, life has become too adrenalizing. “They don’t have true ADHD,” Hallowell said, “but, rather, what I call a severe case of modern life.” So the trick, it seems, is to design a world that excites but doesn’t overly assault our faculties with a constant barrage of information: Scientists aren’t proposing that all cities look like the Vegas strip or Times Square. “We are, as animals, programmed to respond to thrill,” said professor Brendan Walker, a former aerospace engineer and author of Taxonomy of Thrill and Thrilling Designs. In Walker’s University of Nottingham “thrill laboratory,” devices gauge heart rate and skin conductance to see how people respond to adrenaline-producing experiences such as a roller-coaster ride. And he’s reduced “thrill” to a set of multivariable equations that illustrate the importance of rapid variation in our lives: A thrilling encounter moves us quickly from a state of equilibrium to a kind of desirable “disorientation,” like the moment before you rush down the hill of a roller coaster. “Humans want a certain element of turmoil or confusion,” he said. “Complexity is thrilling whether in an amusement park or architecture.” Environmental thrill and visual variety, Walker believes, help people’s psyche. As many of us instinctively feel a wave of ennui at the thought of working all day in a maze of soulless, white cubicles, blocks of generic buildings stub our senses. It’s not only that we’re genetic adrenaline junkies. Psychologists have found that jaw-dropping or awe-inspiring moments — picture the exhilarating view of the Grand Canyon or Paris from the Eiffel tower — can potentially improve our 21st-century well-being. One study showed that the feeling of awe can make people more patient, less materialistic, and more willing to help others. In an experiment, researchers showed students 60-second clips of waterfalls, whales, or astronauts in space. After only a minute of virtual images, those who said they were awed also felt less pressed for time. In a second experiment, individuals recalled “an awe-inspiring” event and then answered a range of survey questions; they were also more likely to say they’d volunteer for a charity, as compared to those who hadn’t spent time thinking about a past moment of awe. And in yet another variation, people made hypothetical choices between material and experiential goods of equal monetary value: a watchor a Broadway show, a jacket or a restaurant meal. Those who recently “felt awe” were more likely to choose an experience over a physical possession, a choice that is linked with greater satisfaction in the long run. In other words, a visual buzz — whether architectural or natural — might have the ability to change our frame of mind, making modern-day life more satisfying and interactive. It’s important to note, however, that architectural boredom isn’t about how pristine a street is. People often confuse successful architecture with whether an area looks pleasant. On the contrary, when it comes to city buildings, people often focus too narrowly on aesthetics, said Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City: Transforming Our Through Urban Design. But good design is really is about “shaping emotional infrastructure.” Some of the happiest blocks in New York City, he argues, are “kind of ugly and messy.” For instance, Ellard’s “happier” East Houston block is a “jumbled-up, social one”— the Whole Foods stretch, in comparison, is newer and more manicured. Sometimes what’s best for us, Montgomery explained, just isn’t that pretty. His research also shows cacophonous blocks may make people kinder to each other. In 2014, Montgomery’s Happy City lab conducted a Seattle experiment in which he found a strong correlation between messier blocks and pro-social behavior. Montgomery sent researchers, posing as lost tourists, to places he coded as either “active façades” — with a high level of visual interest — or “inactive façades” (like long warehouse blocks). Pedestrians at active sites were nearly five times more likely to offer help than at inactive ones. Of those who helped, seven times as many at the active site offered use of their phone; four times as many offered to lead the “lost tourist” to their destination. Fortunately, it’s not necessarily a dichotomy — new architecture can achieve the optimal level of cacophony and beauty. Take the 2006 Hearst Tower in midtown Manhattan. From the outside, the façade is likely to jolt city dwellers — if anything will — from their daily commutes, while “thrilling” employees who enter it each morning. Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize–winning architect Norman Foster, Hearst Tower is a glass-and-steel skyscraper, 40 stories of which are designed in a triangular pattern contrasting the 1920s Art Deco base. For many who walk by, Hearst Tower’s design may not be the easiest to understand; it’s both sleek and old. The top looks like it traveled from the future. Inside, workers travel upon diagonal escalators, up a three-story water sculpture, through the tower’s historic atrium” flooded with light. It’s not the view from the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon, but it’s probably as close a modern lobby can come to awe-inspiring. Few New Yorkers who pass by would find this building boring. And they’re likely happier — maybe even nicer to each other — because of it. <cite class="credit"></cite>
  2. The office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has been commissioned to design a large-scale residential complex in Singapore. The project will be located on an expansive 8 hectare site bounded by the Ayer Rajah Expressway and Alexandra Road, in a central position between the National University and downtown Singapore. With 170,000 m2 of built floor area, the development will provide over 1,000 apartment units of varying sizes with extensive outdoor spaces and landscaping. Instead of creating a cluster of isolated, vertical towers – the default typology of residential developments in Singapore – the design explores a dramatically different approach to the issues and challenges of living and social space. 32 apartment blocks, each six-stories tall, are stacked in a hexagonal arrangement to form six large-scale permeable courtyards. The interlocking volumes form the topography of a “vertical village” with cascading sky gardens and private roof terraces vertically extending the landscape of the courtyards. Extensive communal facilities which are embedded in the lush vegetation offer multiple opportunities for social interaction in a natural environment. While maintaining the privacy of the individual apartment units through unobstructed views and generous spacing of the building blocks, the horizontal and interconnected volumes create an explicitly social network of outdoor spaces within the green terrain. The site completes a green belt that stretches between Kent Ridge, Telok Blangah and Mount Faber Parks, while the stacked volumetric relationship of the apartment blocks extends the landscape and forms a mount/hill that relates to the surrounding topography. Beyond the extensive presence of nature and collective space, the project will be designed to respond carefully to the tropical climate and address issues of sustainability through incorporating multiple features of energy-saving technologies. The project is lead by Ole Scheeren, Director of OMA Beijing, together with Eric Chang, Associate. http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=1943
  3. Luckily the fire department only a few blocks away and we ended up changing the fire extinguishers a few weeks back. This is something you don't want to wake up to at 1 something in the morning. I can't wait to hear how this electrical fire started. One thing, at least we don't use chlorine in the pool. If there was some of that laying around, it probably would have been worse. Plus its a small building, only 5 of the 13 units were supposedly occupied
  4. (Courtesy of Luxist) :eek: If I had $200 million. Not sure I would spend it on a condo maybe on a townhouse.
  5. Une des forces de Montréal est sa diversité. Et une des raisons pourquoi j'adore cette ville est bien évidemment la diversité que l'on peut décliner de plusieurs façons différentes. La diversité s'exprime par une diversité de climats/saisons, une diversité de restaurants/gastronomies etc. Mais une facette de la diversité de Montréal est son coté multiethnique, religieuse et/ou linguistique. En voici un bel exemple dans cet article provenant du New jersey et faisant part du dynamisme de la communauté juive qui s'exprime dans les nombreux commerces, lieux de cultes et quartiers ayant une forte concentration de gens de cette communauté. http://www.jewishlinknj.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8716:vacationing-in-montreal&catid=165:travel&Itemid=577 Merci à Montréal city weblog pour avoir posté cet article. C'est là que je l'ai vu et j'en profite pour le partager avec la communauté de mtlurb.com
  6. Roman Bezjak Roman Bezjak, who was born in Slovenia but was raised in West Germany, set out to document the everyday qualities of communist buildings. Once the Ministry of Road Construction, this building in Tbilisi, Georgia, consists of five intersecting horizontal bars and resembles a Jenga game. It was designed to has as small a footprint on the ground as possible and to allow natural life to flourish. Now it houses the Bank of Georgia. Roman Bezjak Pictured here is a Cold War-era commercial complex in Leipzig, eastern Germany. Bezjak wants viewers to approach his photos "with a gaze uncontaminated by ideology." Roman Bezjak Nemiga Street in the Belarusian capital Minsk, where an old church still stands in the old city core, between two monstrosities of postwar modernism. Bezjak made repeated trips to Eastern Europe over a period spanning five years. Roman Bezjak Prefabricated apartment blocks in St. Petersburg, Russia. Bezjak wanted to show the buildings from eye level, the way local citizens would have seen them every day. Roman Bezjak A patriotic mosaic on the National History Museum in Tirana, Albania, built in 1981. Roman Bezjak This massive 1970s government building in the eastern German city of Magdeburg become a department store after 1991. Roman Bezjak The "three widows" in Belgrade, Serbia -- three massive apartment blocks. Roman Bezjak Bezjak's book has collected photos of post-war architecture from countries including Poland, Lithuania, Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine and Georgia. Roman Bezjak The 12-story building in the middle is a three-star hotel -- the "Hotel Cascade" -- in the Czech city of Most. Roman Bezjak This publishing house in Sarajevo, Bosnia, looks like a spaceship. It shows signs of damage from the war. "It was near Snipers' Alley," Bezjak recalls -- a street in the Serbian capital that received its nickname during the Balkan wars. Roman Bezjak An earthquake in 1963 gave city planners in the Macedonian capital of Skopje the chance to envision an "ideal city" in concrete. The city's main post office could be from a science fiction movie. Roman Bezjak A department store in the Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk. Roman Bezjak The center of Dresden, where a state department store built in the 1970s was meant to be the height of modernity. The building was torn down in 2007. Roman Bezjak A dinosaur of communism: The roof of the sports hall in Kosovo's capital Pristina looks like the back of a stegosaurus. Built in 1977, it's still in use for athletic events and concerts. Roman Bezjak The Polish port city of Gdansk has prefabricated apartment blocks from the 1960s and 1970s that are supposed to look like waves from the nearby Baltic Sea. Called "wave houses," they take up whole city blocks. The largest is 850 meters long and is said to be the third-longest apartment building in Europe. Roman Bezjak For Bezjak, these buildings are not just relics of a failed system, but also, simply, home. "That can't be measured according to aesthetic or social categories, but only in terms of memories," he says. This photo shows the city of Halle in eastern Germany. Bezjak's photographs repeatedly met with incomprehension from Eastern European colleagues. "They can't understand why anyone would focus on this phenomenon," Bezjak says. Roman Bezjak's book "Sozialistische Moderne - Archäologie einer Zeit" is published by Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011, 160 pages. http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,777206,00.html
  7. (By Roger K. Lewis For The Washington Post) Enlarge Photo Real Estate Search By Roger K. Lewis Saturday, October 17, 2009 Chicago's 2016 Olympics bid was rejected, but the city hardly needs the Olympics. Chicago 2009 is already uniquely "Olympian" thanks to its soaring urban architecture and architectural legacy, its skyscraper-flanked downtown river, its Lake Michigan waterfront and its beautiful public parks. Chicago is "my kind of town" and a kind of Mecca for many architects. Even if you are not an architecture aficionado, you can't help appreciating the Windy City's size and scale, bustling street life, aesthetic bravado and innovative design traditions. And Chicago is not just a magnet for architects. Unlike residents of most other American cities, Chicagoans generally seem more knowledgeable about and more proudly respectful of their well-publicized architectural heritage. A conversation topic on a par with politics, sports and weather, Chicago's old and new buildings, along with the city's architectural heroes, get star billing and are among the city's top attractions. Horizontal and vertical size is the most visible of Chicago's unique urban and architectural characteristics. The Chicago metropolitan area stretches for dozens of square miles north, south and west of the lakefront. Like metropolitan Washington, Chicago is a sprawling mosaic of diverse municipalities, villages and neighborhoods. Fortunately, they are woven together by extensive networks of roads and transit. Chicago's downtown is huge, and during the past 20 years it has grown even larger. High-density commercial and residential real estate development has spread along scores of blocks to the north and south. Chicago's well-known Loop, the central business district encompassed by the century-old elevated transit line, today constitutes a small percentage of downtown. Central Chicago is blessed with a rational grid plan of north-south and east-west streets forming comfortably walkable city blocks. And many east-west Chicago streets, perpendicular to the lakefront, afford views of the lake and lakefront parks. ad_icon But it's Chicago's vertical dimensions that are most awe-inspiring. The city is famous for tall buildings, although its urban fabric is layered in height. The oldest layer of buildings, constructed after the 1871 fire that destroyed the city, are only a few stories high. With the advent of Otis's elevator, America's first skyscrapers -- short by today's standards -- appeared in Chicago. Instead of thick masonry-bearing walls, multi-story buildings were structured using steel skeletons to which non-bearing curtain walls of glass, terra cotta, brick, stone and metal could be attached. Chicago lays claim to inventing the skyscraper, with authorship attributed to local engineers and architects. Their turn-of-the-century designs and aesthetic language became known around the world as the Chicago School. Subsequently, buildings grew larger and soared higher as construction materials and structural technology advanced, and as land values and real estate market opportunities increased. The Sears Tower (recently renamed the Willis Tower), built in 1973 and reaching over 100 stories, was for many years the tallest building in the world. Half a century earlier, Chicago's Merchandise Mart was briefly the world's largest building in floor area. Varying greatly in height, mass, geometric composition and materials, Chicago's buildings exhibit every architectural style and decorative motif: neoclassic, Victorian gothic, Romanesque, art nouveau, art deco and limitless varieties of 20th-century modernism. Observing the city via the Chicago River is equally memorable. Threading through the heart of downtown, the river is one of America's most extraordinary urban spaces, a veritable architectural fiord. Countless historic and modern buildings rise next to the river. Whether on a boat or riverside promenade, you can readily perceive the city's fabric of streets and blocks, in part thanks to the iconic steel-truss drawbridges spanning the river at each street. It's easy to understand why architects are such heroes in Chicago. Recall some of the talents who produced original work there during the late 19th and the 20th century: Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Burnham and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Architects following in their footsteps include Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as well as Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, designers of more Chicago skyscrapers than any other firm. A few years ago, Frank Gehry arrived on the lakefront scene with his trademark stainless steel shingles to design the curvaceously exuberant Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a band shell, in fabulous Millennium Park, along with the BP Bridge snaking its way from the park over a road and eastward toward the lake. Celebrated architect Renzo Piano recently designed the latest addition to the Art Institute of Chicago, immediately adjacent to Millennium Park. The museum's new wing is rectilinear and rational, glass and pure white metal, elegantly composed and immaculately detailed. Its cool, controlled geometry contrasts sharply with the exploding form of Gehry's visually hot pavilion rising in the park a few hundred yards to the north. The museum addition and Millennium Park, completed five years ago after substantial delays and huge cost overruns, reaffirm a Chicago tradition: Architecture and architects deserve to be front and center. Roger K. Lewis is a practicing architect and a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/15/AR2009101504559.html
  8. Bonjour a tous, Je n'ai pas vu de thread pour ce projet alors je me permet d'en créer un. Le projet en lui-même n'est pas exceptionnel: une garderie, a l'angle de Jean Brillant et Gatineau, a Cotes des Neiges. Toutefois, c'est le procédé de construction qui est visiblement assez particulier, et j'ai pense que vous pourriez être intéressé. Ce sont des blocks de polystyrène, assembles l'un sur l'autre comme des legos. Le béton est ensuite coulé a l'intérieur. Il parait que c'est l'une des rares construction faites ainsi sur l'ile en ce moment. Je vous mets des photos que j'ai pris cette semaine.