Monday, May 07, 2007

Naked news

Oscar Kai, a fellow teacher at Tec de Monterrey, told us once about his "encuerado" attention method. You know there are times when the teacher is talking in front of a classroom but nobody is listening... you just have to use the word "encuerado" (naked) and suddenly all students will turn around to listen what was that about... a very useful technique indeed. Now that I have your attention, if you want to know about the naked story, you'll have to read some other things first.

Another fellow teacher from Monterrey, Jaime Alvarez called me from Japan a couple of days ago. Among other things, I told him about the controversy on sustainability and responsibility of designers. He told me about the theory that the reason for the Irak invasion are the millions of SUVs. He reminded me about Victor Papanek's books too. Here's a small quote:
“There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a few of them. ... designers have become a dangerous breed by creating whole species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breath.”
Papanek wrote those words almost 35 years ago, and now they are becoming a "Nostradamus-like " terrifying prophecy. On his book "the green imperative" Papanek takes also on architecture and dwelling. It may have seemed too radical at the time, but green auto-sustainable dwelling environments have become a real need and not a luxury. There will be the time when they become standard.
The Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa in California is attempting to become 'green certified' by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Council developed the LEED rating system seven years ago, where buildings are graded on their environmentally friendly features. The hotel features waterless urinals, solar lighting and recycled paper. Another nice touch is the replacement of the standard hotel-room bible with a copy of An Inconvenient Truth. (treehugger)
Eureka towerNot necessarily environmentally friendly, but sure interesting is the new Eureka Tower in Melbourne, which will open next week. I just love the golden windows detail on top. But the best "gizmo" is the so called Edge cube. The glass cube projects itself 3 meters out from the building using some rails. The whole cube is covered with glass... when you get in, the glasses are opaque, and then with a loud breaking glass noise, all windows become transparent in "ein Augenblick" Not good if you are claustrophobic or are afraid of heights! I'm wondering if that technology could also be used as a thermal control instead of blinds or other window covers.

Speaking of sustainable dwelling. Last weekend, Yvonne and Roberto invited us to have some delicious taco dinner. They put a music/video DVD with images from Tibet, and I was fascinated with that... when I was young, I used to say that I would like to become a Tibetan Monk. Anyway, one of the scenes was how they make adobe bricks. I told them immediately that we should start building adobe houses in New Zealand to solve many of today's leaky homes crisis in NZ:
An estimated 15,000 to 30,000 families are living in leaky homes throughout New Zealand. Thousands of those families cannot afford to repair their homes (with repair costs averaging $100,000 to $150,000) nor can they afford the legal costs to pursue compensation (which can be as high as $20,000 to $50,000). As a consequence, many families continue to live in the unhealthy environment caused by leaking homes whilst the damage to their homes continues to worsen.
For example:
  • Adobe bricks are known for their great insulation properties (warm in cold weather, cool during hot season).
  • The hay used to make them, can be grown in shorter periods of time, unlike timber, which requires many years and re-planting to be sustainable.
  • It would also solve the problem of what to do with the so called "fart tax"... which is not just about livestock flatulence, but also about what to do with millions of tonnes of poops.
  • Then, I inisist, in terms of the search of national aesthetic search, a new adobe architecture could become iconic for the NZ "Landschaft". It would certainly match the idea of a green, sustainable country.
  • And it would be certainly nicer to look at, than the horrible shoe boxes we have at the moment for houses.
Finally, the much expected comment about nakedness. Spencer Tunick broke his own record with 20,000 naked people for his photographic installation in Mexico city. Take that "girls gone wild"! ... by the way, some of the naked guys started taking pictures with their cell phones, which created some confusion by the end of the shooting. I would have never expected so many participants... but Tunick convinced even the religious moralistics, when he said that there are naked people painted on many churches, including the Vatican.

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