Archive for November, 2009

Room Temperature

November 30, 2009

According to our building physics consultant 23 degrees Celsius is nowadays considered a pleasant temperature for the living room. Rather warm, we thought, but apparently it is perfectly normal.

That is quite confusing if you realize that most red wines “can be best consumed at Room Temperature of 14 – 18°C”. How can we match these figures?

Not long ago 18 degrees was the usual temperature for living rooms. Things were still in balance.

But now there is a tendency that is even widening the gap: it has become fashionable to drink red wines chilled…  Is this a side effect of living rooms that are too warm? Or will it affect the way we heat our homes?

Silo’s Zeeburg: Home of Annie M.G. Schmidt

November 26, 2009

Annie M.G. Schmidt was a writer and poet, mainly of children’s books. And catchy rhymes that are part of the collective memory of the entire nation. The winning entry by Arons en Gelauff for the re-development of the Silo’s in Zeeburg was based on the brilliant idea to launch a kind of theme park about her work.

But do they realize what they are up for? In 1955 Annie M.G. wrote:

“Never build a home. It will take dozens of years for it to be completed. One will be of age before it is finished; old, grey, worn out, tired and ruined. Afterwards one realizes it didn’t take decades, no, not even a year, but that one year breaks your body and your spirit”.

Atomic Spa

November 20, 2009

The Swedish town of Östhammar is one of the 4 sites of this year’s Europan competition. The assignment is to re-develop the waterfront; the program contains a Hotel, a Restaurant and a Spa.

In spite of the local Atomic Power Plant, the village is a holiday destination. On a population of 21.000 there are some 6.000 summerhouses. The municipality seeks to increase popularity with potential tourists while at the same time it is in a bid to locate the premises of the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. A mind blowing 85% of the population is in favor of constructing the Nuclear Waste Storage within the city limits.

According to one of the site representatives this unexpected enthusiasm can be explained from the fact that the inhabitants actually TRUST their politicians. They feel represented in the correct manner. You could say the growing ´gap´ between People and Government here is completely absent. Democratic Refuge.

Östhammar has a history in wellness. In 1884 the first bathhouse was opened. The spa offered a wide range of services, including mud baths, pine needle baths and carbon dioxide baths. One explanation for the miraculous passion for radiation perhaps could be found in an old custom: “one key activity of the visitors travelling to Östhammar was the morning march to the nearby Boda spring which featured very healthy radioactive water”…

Multi Story Pushchair Parking

November 20, 2009

Verdana: Font War

November 14, 2009


When the residential blocks in Funenpark went on sale they were assigned a font name: Bodoni, Melior, Syntax, Cecilia, Plantin. What used to be called Blok K was re-named Verdana. Until now it is not completely clear who decided on these names. And why. But since Verdana seems to originate from Verdant which means “something green”, it might be an appropriate choice.

After 50 years IKEA changed typeface. Among graphic designers this caused what Time labeled a Font War. Previously IKEA used Futura for their products and Century Schoolbook for descriptions. Now the first catalogue (of which 200 million copies have been brought into circulation!) is published with the new font: Verdana.

Verdana is a “humanist sans-serif” typeface. It was designed by Microsoft and was intended to be readable at small sizes on a computer screen. The lack of serifs, large x-height (heights of lower-case letters, as scaled to the letter x being exactly equal to one), wide proportions, loose letter-spacing, large counters (spaces inside partially enclosed portions of letters or symbols such as c, s, or curved quotation marks), and emphasized distinctions between similarly-shaped characters are chosen to increase legibility. (Wiki P)

IKEA decided to use one single font for both web-use and print. Since the typeface was meant to be used on a screen, not on paper, designers are offended. “It’s like building a skyscraper with LEGO”.

Some claim that Verdana cannot exist outside the virtual world. Is this a parallel with these 10 houses? Blok K remained a virtual project for a decade. Will it survive in the real world?

Bad Publicity

November 12, 2009

10AM: Bad Timing

This temp agency features a clock as a sign. The picture was taken at 10AM. Timing is Everything. But this clock never indicates the right time. How annoying…


November 5, 2009


When Joanna left after her internship she gave us a billboard with a handcrafted redesign of the .NL Logo. Will this draw a new target group? New potential clients? Could this lead to a Gothic project?

Black Grass

November 3, 2009

Ophiopogon Nigrescens

For an office building at Touwen, a small compound that is currently under construction in the historic center of Amsterdam, we proposed a black wooden facade as a reference to the sheds that could have been here.

Since the neighboring structures are taller and look upon the slightly sunken two story building, a sculptural ‘vegetation roof’ would be attractive. But green (or red for that matter) would appear sort of ‘discontinuous’.

Could we use BLACK grass?

We soon discovered a blackish plant, the Ophiopogon Planiscarpus Nigrescens that perhaps could do the trick. But according to Stephen Tas of Sant & Co, our consultant and collaborator on the project, the layer of soil on the roof would not thick enough for this particular kind of plant. We had to skip this counter intuitive idea and use the more common Sedum instead.

But the current state of the roof is not that bad either: the particular kind of soil deployed here to embed the Sedum in is nearly black. And as such gives the impression of a volcanic island…

Touwen, Blok C

Urban Karaoke

November 1, 2009

Urban Karaoke?

We didn’t have time to stick around long enough to double check, but could it be true that in Mönchengladbach the villagers engage every Wednesday in some sort of civic Karaoke?