Recession = architects getting the free jobs.

•October 17, 2011 • 1 Comment

You mean I didn’t get the free job?

It is no surprise that with our current economic situation – a large number of people unemployed in various fields with various skills- starchitecture is feeling the pain. I read in ARCHDaily this morning (http://www.archdaily.com/page/2/) regarding the withdrawal of Calatrava on the Denver International Airport Extension. Calatravas team has stated it would be rather difficult maintaining and providing the standards and quality of a Calatrava signature design.

I am not sure why, but this sparked a few questions for me. Perhaps it is my “design is for everyone” mentality. I mean it is 2011, budget cuts are not just happening in schools – people want everything and anything for free.

So what does this mean for designers and architects? How will this affect the starchitects of our time> as more projects are terminated due to funding? Do the rest of us have to be adaptable? Do we adjust our designs to adapt to the economic changes? I mean, we are the masters of seeing things in multiple scales (I would like to think anyway), so can we “scale back” when needed? More importantly, what elements define an architect and designer’s signature?

My personal take on it is that we are capable of producing projects that transcend our design values, ideas and perspectives, working within a limited budget while composing new innovative strategies to execute quality. Am I being optimistic about this whole thing? Maybe. Call me crazy but design and quality are possible with any budget, it is just a matter of “how”…

We can be reasonable but not cheap. And as long as you and I keep saying “no” to the free job, we can educate people on the value of design.

PARK[ing] Day LA 2011

•September 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I almost forgot how good it feels to write – to translate thoughts into reading material for myself, for others to see. I have been in debate with myself for quite sometime, as to how personal this blog should really be. At times I have these ideas that extend beyond the idea of what archeffect is and will be. My answer, or rather my conclusion, is that personal life and archeffect are really one. My dreams, aspirations and passions are lived and achieved through both equally. Well enough inner debate dialog for now, let’s get to it.

Last week my friend Laura and ARCHEFFECT set out to ask, see, explore what Park[ing] Day in LA was all about. We packed our cameras, wore our favorite out and about outfits, packed our sketch books and pens in our bags and got into my truck to start the rounds, roughly 10am. Here is an overview of what we saw~

Our First stop was, well, let’s just say so “not OK” – we did not even take a photo!! We were super excited to make a pit stop at the rootBEER Garden, designed by GRUEN Architects, but it was so not happening. The location – right across the street from LACMA, Ogden at Wilshire Blvd. All I can say, Laura and I we were highly dissapointed…NEXT!

Our second stop was in Culver City, an installation done by AHBE Architects in front of the yummy coffee place, Tea Forest. The concept was to introduce a “new kind of park”, an agricultural and farming space. The overall design utilized recycled palettes (our first love at AE), hay stacks, plants and greenery donated by Monrovia and a few brick tiles. The PARK created different levels of interaction – a goat pen and a community seating space. I liked it very much. Out of our whole day of travels and exploration, we ruled this one as our favorite. We will soon post the interview of what PARK[ing] Day LA means to AHBE. But for now, here is a “park” view:

Our 3rd stop was non-existent. It stated the PARK was located on Beverly Blvd at Orlando Ave. WTF? Did NOT find this one. Anyone out there see this???

Our 4th Stop was in Echo Park, right in front of the Old Circuit City Structure off Sunset Blvd and Fountain Ave. The park was put together by the Echo Park Community Bank – a bank that operates on he barter system, providing a platform for community member to exchange and request services. Cool concept yeah? The PARK they built last Friday was focused around the question, “What should this old Circuit City abandoned space become?” They set up a writing board for everyone to contribute new ideas, green turf and a few love & joy brews. Oh, and I almost forgot – there was a psychic reading booth and a gentleman willing to cleanse your aura in 5sec. We contributed our community garden idea, see below.


Our Last Stop was also in Silverlake at LOCAL. A PARK installation by Standard Architects, very nice. The setup was a symbolic installation – providing different textures: greenery, sand, wood. The letters spelled it out, which made it stand out really nicely with a contrast of the busy city. I thought it had good colors, good placement and like i said before, good textures. Unfortunately, we weren’t quite sure wether or not we could inhabit the space?? I was scared to sit on the chairs, there was no one else here – dead. The idea was presented clearly, but the functionality I think lacked a bit of attention. It got me thinking….

I started to think, “WHY ARE MORE PEOPLE NOT DOING THIS??” Not the symbolic approach, or the urban farming approach specifically, just anything in general? Is LA taking itself too seriously that there is not room for creative minds to breathe anymore? Where is the fun, the kid in our hearts expressing ourselves and our interests? The crazy thing is, after running my own design firm for a while – there is all this talk EVERYWHERE about “green” ideas, “green” spaces, “green” products, “green”, “green”, “green”…but what does it all mean if we can’t get it together enough to present some bad-ass ideas?

With that said, AE is up for the challenge. We are planning and discussing an outstanding PARK[ing] Day LA Installation for 2012. I want to personally thank everyone who put in the effort this year – let’s keep it rocking for next time! As designers we must inspire others, we must present the crazy and have everyone else rationalize it…PDLA 2012 here we come. Anyone else?

its the questions…imagination.

•August 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Why is a humming bird so small and so attracted to beautiful things?

Why is LA so hazy?

What kind of questions shall we be asking as designers if the world is set to end next year anyway?

With more and more people urbanizing, migrating from their home towns into cities, more children being born, the domestication of farming and ideas and philosophies that the computer and the self are one – what will become of the urban scape?

What if the city where you dwell today were to specialize in something? What if everyone you new in your neighborhood collaborated to create this one thing your city was known for? Created something that other cities could not live without?

What if the city you lived in today would provide all the renewable paper goods our children needed for school? What if the city next to you produced all of our crops & produce, all of our greens to nourish our souls and our minds? What if the city infront of you crafted the best furniture and spaces for you to dwell and live? What if the city behind you was full of music, musicians-dancers-performers that can capture time with one moment, one beat, one lyric? What would this all look like?

Sharing cities. People sharing. Communities that share. Communities that provide. Communities that cultivate and facilitate other communities, new born communities. Forget time. Forget borders. We are all cities. We are all specialists at one, two three things. We are all in sync with each other. We are all energy to be consumed and re-generated. Re-generating cities.

…its time we share this mentality of helping each other – our spirits, our minds and our future.

as our design emerges, my body and mind change

•July 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

We have been working for the past 4-months on our design-build project “porouCITY” – which will debut inDowntown Los Angeles in a few days. The design phase went really well – we conceptualized, sketched and drafted our ideas to form what the project would be. About 3-months ago, we began our fabrication.

It has been quite a journey making this ALL OUT OF RECYCLED PALETTES. At first I would wake up 530am everyday and do a local drive-by to shops and factories in the area, in hopes of “catching/collecting” the biggest and best palettes. At times we were lucky, other times, someone had already beat us to it. This pattern of collecting eventually phased out into a fabrication schedule that included 12-15hour days, noise complaints by local artist haters and tons and tons of water drinking under the sun.

Now it is one week before our debut – swollen hands from working 3-months with carpentry tools, my mind has an internal clock which does not let me sleep past 545am, my arms have some serious muscle from lifting and pulling out narly nails and all in all, my mind feels design can help many people achieve their dreams. It sure has aided me in fulfilling mine –

crafting a full scale (life-size) project, out of recycled materials, intended for the use of the community and to exemplify we really could do more with less…

That’s me on the left, looking proud next to one of our 4ft modules.

If you would like to see some pictures of our project in progress – follow this link: porouCITY PHOTOS

For more info of the debut event, please email me at lcastro@archeffectdesign.com

Looking forward to many great moments this upcoming week!

Recycled Shipping containers used to re-build

•June 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I have spent sometime in New Orleans, post hurricane Katrina, and although everyone was talking about re-building, there was very little action being done. There were many schools that continued to be boarded up and many homes that looked as if the Hurricane had just occurred. My visit down south was back in 2008, I was still an architecture student back then. More than just spiking my interest for community architecture, this experience led me to be fascinated with relief architecture.

Relief architecture is so far considered “temporary architecture”, in that you provide solutions for a community in need after a natural disaster…for example the Tsunami that struck Japan last year…or the killer earthquakes of Haiti. All in all, this is a topic that has floated in and out of my mind and hope to one day be the architecture firm that colaborates with relief non-profits to make good architecture happen.

Last year, Chile experienced an 8.8 Earthquake in February and it displaces approximately 1.5 million Chilean residents (NY Times reported). In attempts to rebuild,  Viento Fuerte  along with the Finis Terrae University gathered 56 design students to design a new school in Tubul – one of the areas most affected by the earthquake. The project uses 22 shipping containers, which were donated and are used as prefab modules.

For full article please visit Recycled Shipping Containers as Disaster Response – Chile

 

porouCITY: A Design-Build project by ARCHEFFECT

•June 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I am so glad to announce our upcoming architectural installation porouCITY, debuting in Downtown Los Angeles July 14, 2011. Back in January of this year, I initially planned this project to be platform for current SCI-Arc students and SCI-Arc Alumni to collaborate in a workshop-like environment. Unfortunately, we did not receive the support needed to make this happen…

Nonetheless, we are very happy of the new shape this project has taken and very excited to see how it exhibits local designers within the community.

On July 14, 2011 – ARCHEFFECT in collaboration with The Hewitt Gallery Lofts, arcBUREAU and Elizabeth Lande from The Lande Group – will exhibit (2) architecural installations at 130 South Hewitt Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. The event will be curated by E.Lande.

Our project has been very exciting for us – working with only recycled and refurbished materials. We would like to continue this line of work, exhibiting the many possibilities design provides with reclaimed goods. I hope to eventually lead a workshop for high school students or at a location abroad to share this gift with others…

For now, please support our work by joining us July 14 at 5pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more photos – a sneak-peek at our installation, please visit our facebook photo album “porouCITY”.