Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Human-centered Design

Refugee Camp Shelter/Structure, Is it architecture?
Is it Architecture? Which is better?  What makes it better?
I am documenting the photos of different refugee shelters from various countries. The last video shows the shelter designed by architect.

1- Dedaab Refugee camp Structure.
This is a sad narrative of the temporary structures.  They are as shown in the photos, made by plastic sheets and tins and clothes. There are dried branches as walls. Want to know more about the shelters and people living in them, please read the book, "City of Thorns" by Ben Rawlence.
It seems like the largest refugee camp, Dedaab in Kenya, where the approx. 400,000 refugees live with the fictional dream which are difficult to sustain after more than 20 years. They are not allowed to work and earn, as well as they are not allowed to leave the camp so they live in those temporary structures for 10 to 20 years. Check out the tents made from whatever materials available to them.


An Aerial view of one of the camps at Dadaab, Kenya; credit B.Bannon, UNHCR
2- Container Shelter

Syrian refugees are moved to these sturdier houses made from container boxes. These are Syria but towards the border of Turkey

Syrian Refugees transferred to containers shelter Credit- http://en.trend.az/world/arab/2281806.html

Credit- Kilis, a refugee camp in Turkey near the Syrian border. 
CreditTobias Hutzler for The New York Times

Bakka Camp in Lebanon credit- Dubai Media Office




Bakka Valley, Credit
3-Better Shelter by IKEA in Europe for Refugees

IKEA Foundation along with Swiss architects came up with the best solution. This structure is durable and easy to install, costs $1000, but of course these are shipped in Europe.Check out the video below.
IKEA Shelter equipped withinsulated and sturdy panels plus solar powered LED light which can give electricity for few hours in the night for reading
Check out the video below-




credit- http://www.bettershelter.org/

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bold Colors for Museums in San Jose and a Painted village in Mexico.

Bold Colored Children Discovery Museum and The Tech Museum , San Jose.
These both bold colored buildings are the landmark Buildings in San Jose Downtown. It is a focal point for many cultural activities and melts well with the fabric of the city and local community. Both are designed by Internationally well known architect, Ricardo Legorreta, known for the bold-colored splashed walls. They are in my radar and can be seen from different highways. People can enjoy them from different vantage points, driving around and also from walking around the area. Locals also view their colors and shapes from up above the buildings around, while dining on the terraces of the restaurants. See below -
Children Discovery Museum, San Jose, CA
The Tech Innovation Museum, San Jose, Photo Credit- Neela Shukla
Colors used as a solution and a strategy to intervene into the community.

Rainbow painted village Pachuca in Mexico
This project is a perfect example of improvement of the urban and social environment by collaboration of government, community and youth. It created  a largest mural project by just painting houses with bright colors. Check the photo below and for more details go to those both links below. 
Painted village through community effort.Credit- Photograph: Sofia Jaramillo/AP



Monday, January 11, 2016

Colors - a tool for problem solving!

Color has been an ongoing topic on my blog. Every kid smiles seeing a rainbow in the sky and brightly colored ladybugs in the soil. Colors are everywhere and everyone sees colors differently. Dogs see only four colors and do not see reds and Butterfly see more colors than human. I do not know how dogs and butterfly feel when they see colors. but I see the color and my eyes flutter and my heart beats little louder which I could hear. I see them in nature and I see them in our environment.

Way-Finding and Landmark

Each one sees the colors differently and also perceives differently. The correct use of color at the right place can help solve some problems which can improve our daily life. Here I am talking about the color improved my few driving moments. See the photos below; which made me think.
While stopping at the traffic light from Highway 280 to San Jose downtown, I see the dark space under bridge and suddenly saw circles of dark blue sky wandering on the concrete walls. It even inspired me do this doodle. See below.
'under the overpass bridge'
Having FUN by Doodling!
Now I remember that exit and do not mind to stop at Red light there. This could have been applied at few other places, specifically driving in San francisco, while passing long underpass bridges as well as walking under those parking spaces. It would be great if the City planners or urban designers could have some LED lights installed or collaborate with artists to show their work under those concrete surfaces. It would be helpful to remember specific spots. It might make us look up at sky too. :)., away from our phone screen.  Well, here is the photo of my idea. All these ideas are flying through in my mind because the residence I am designing has this tall concrete retaining wall and the client does not find much beauty in the concrete wall. So I was thinking of alternate ways to enhance it.

Idea of LED  under the over bridge -San Francisco

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A glimpse into 2015!

Looking back to 2015!
2015 has been a remarkable and unique year as any other year such as 2014 or 1994 or 1984. The difference is that in 2015, I got some time for my internal journey. Ups and Down, yes starring at sky, clouds and flowers; hiking, walking and getting my hands dirty in the garden, meditating, listening and reading. Lots of face-timing with kids. Of course buildings, projects, drawings and even sketching, digital painting, photography.  A mind's journey to go into these sublime and unknown territories was highlight of the year. I am ready for the new adventures in 2016. Below is a collage to represent some glimpses in 2015!

2015 Collage



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Life of Abandoned Structures!

When I saw this photo of  a small abandoned train station,200 sq. ft space covered by papers and read the story, my dormant emotion of happiness and joy got activated. Also,it reminded my visit of the unused and historic Dye studio of the same sq. ft space. I experienced the same feelings.
I know it sounds confusing, but it is fascinating to see two similar types of spaces in different countries, using papers and muslin to cover the interior walls and ceiling and telling telling unique story. The process for this space at the station grew organically by people while the other was conceived and created by an artist.

KOFUKU station, - people participation
abandoned KOFUKU train station(meaning Happiness), Hokkaido Japan,
photo credit- Getty Images
There is a train station in Japan, named Kofuku meaning Happiness, which is abandoned for the past 26 years and located on the Hokkaido island of Japan. It is literally a rectangular space of 200 Sq. Ft  created by the walls with windows and ceilings but what makes the space unique is what people or visitors come and bring the  happiest moments of their life on Business cards, photos and railway tickets and  thumb-tacked or pinned up on the walls and ceiling. It is a major tourist attraction and brings approx. 175,000 tourists every year. Now the new station is under construction and is planning to include similar space. In this case, the tourists participated in designing the space and people bring their happy moments from past and celebrate them again by stopping to remember. For detailed story, click Here- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201308310054

The similar type of space and story I experienced when I visited Penland school of crafts two years ago.
DYE Studio, Penland School of Crafts- art Installation by Elison Collins
Unused and historic Dye Studio, Penland School of Crafts
photo credit- Neela Shukla
Designed by an Artist
On the other spectrum, there is a similar type of cottage sitting on Blue Ridge mountain, here the artist recreates an installation named- "Temps Perdu". It is the name of the hand written work of French novelist Proust. It means " In Search of Lost time " or "Remembrance of things past". Elison Collins was inspired by the rust of her past metal sculptures sitting in the studio floor. She used the metal pins and rust with soy milk to write selected text from the Proust's Novel on the muslin and pasted on the walls and ceilings of the studio, as you can see in the photo above.

The most important and common ingredient is the location of these both buildings, they are located in beautiful surroundings. See the photos below. It is the inanimate beauty of nature adds or initiates the happy feelings when one enters that physical space. 

Kofuku station photo credit- https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/user:Captain76
Dye Studio photo credit- Neela Shukla
Kofuku station photo credit- https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/user:Captain76
Dye Studio photo credit- Neela Shukla




Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Human and Nature!

I have been lagging off to posting and the reason for it of not having enough ideas.  I am feeling blank in my mind, which is unusual. Generally, I do not run out of ideas to write, and this time, due to my calm mind I am trying to write deep and complex post and it is about "Nature".  I think, other reason might be because I have been spending time in nature, taking an exercise class every week in the surrounding parks, going for a hike near Stanford University and also spending some time to grow vegetables in the garden. I am starting to enjoy the company of nature here in Dry California. To match this state of my mind, I am posting photos of nature along with some sketchy descriptions of my feelings and observations.
Less is Beautiful 
Everyone knows that Human and the Natural world/Wild Environment are not separate entity, they are interrelated. I have noticed and experienced many large spaces or areas where landscape designers, urban designers and architects have masterfully incorporated natural elements along with buildings for people to use and enjoy. I would consider those as one type of relationship with nature. But here I am intrigued by the spaces and areas where minimal intervention is done by human being so the area and spaces still appear wild and in its natural state and feel safe and usable. The best part of these spaces are not only they are functional and tamed enough to lift the human spirit.

Carefully chosen elements and design considerations were perfect to make the nature shine in the photos below.

The steps with small riser, made simply with wooden posts and filled with crushed gold fine dirt are not only comfortable to climb up the hill but makes a smooth and gentle statement.



Copper lotus flower on the chain to guide rain water as well as the smooth, rounded pebbles to hold the chain as well as protect the chain from animals or any mechanical movements by people creates visual rhythms.


The photo of path lights under the starry sky and tucked at the base of the mountains struck me in awe as well as grounded me in the present moments. Well, now, I am thinking back and going into past moments. 


What I see below is a retaining garden wall and  incorporated perfectly with nature by using large boulders on the sides and making variations in height.


I love this dramatic tree with branches varying in colors from Orange to Red to Brown. It is Manzanita. The Placement of this tree was on the top of the hill, at few feet away from the steps at the place where people will rest a moment and enjoy the ongoing changes of the tree, life. See the photos below.


These elements are placed and designed very mindfully. I do believe that nature is a great teacher and we all should learn to use them so they integrate in our life. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dots Per Inch on Wire Fence

Magical feelings by Hands!
Sometimes magical moments are experienced when a large object or art piece appears on your way to somewhere. You are not expecting anything among the urban landscape and suddenly, there you see a large scale poster or graffiti or sculpture. I have experienced those moments while traveling in different country or even on the same route, unexpected object appears. Of course it is not only the scale but the quality of that art or object matters.
I remember one experience while driving to at the San Jose Airport. It is a newly designed airport and that is a whole new post, but this art installation is to cover 7 story parking garage. It is seen from the road far away but the real magic I experienced when I was driving  my car on the road next to the 60 feet tall gray color photo of many hands. I had to click my cell phone, yes, it is not safe while driving, but those magical feelings made me forget about the rules for a moment.
HANDS at San Jose Airport photo credit- Neela Shukla
It was commissioned by artist Christian Moeller. Hands are very powerful part of the human body. In Eastern culture, palmistry is a popular field of studies, where the shape and size of palm and fingers are analysed to predict the temperament of people. Hands are literally and physically the direct link to art, craft and commerce. However the process involved here does not have the direct use of hands. The grey color graphic created by using the photos of hands of over 50 local Silicon valley residents working in different fields, ranging from a surgeon, teachers and students, technologists and construction workers, musicians and poets. Those DPI (Dot Per Inch) of digital images created in photoshop. The white plastic disks installed on wire fence are representing those dots, the fusion of Digital and Real process. 
Yes, It still creates magical feelings when I drive by and look up to glance at it.






Sunday, May 24, 2015

Magical Space 2

Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC)
Photo credit: Neela Shukla
Earlier I described experiencing magic while strolling out in Sunnyvale Downtown. I also felt uplifting feelings while walking in 115 feet tall steel structure, enclosed with inflated  (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene)  ETFE cushions, ARTIC, designed by HOK.
Credit- http://www.hok.com/
The structure covers 200,000 sq. ft area with views of surrounding landscape. The diffused light and the fluid design of the building forces everyone to stop for a moment to look up and around, to experience the space.  I always wanted to walk under Eden Dome (check out my post- Here ) as it has the same type of  roof. Now that I visited this place, I  can imagine the lights under Eden Dome. This is constructed just few months ago and appears technologically more advanced than Eden Project. Check out the photos below.
Photo credit: Neela Shukla
I was amazed by the building in the day time but the real magic happens when the sun goes down. The installed art, basically LED lighting makes the structure and space vibrant and dynamic. The photos are just little glimpse into magical field.
From Outside  Photo credit: Neela Shukla
Photo credit: Neela Shukla

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Magical Spaces

The Magic of Sunnyvale Wine Stroll


Lately, every time, I visit Sunnyvale downtown, I am under the charm of magic, especially I was completely blown away by the real magic tricks and magic of downtown. I had to analyze so I can capture few ingredients of those magic.
In fact, the real magicians on the street were performing mini magic tricks, was it that or more? Well, I decided to figure it out, So here are my notes-
First of all, I was impressed to see all these parties collaborated for this event;  (small business owners) 20 retails/restaurants/clubs + 17 wineries from surrounding mountains + 20 individuals, magicians and approx. 300 people were all spectators and participants and it was all on Murphy and Washington street  for an afternoon.  "The Magic of Sunnyvale Wine Stroll" was organized by downtown association and sponsored by Sunnyvale City.  Just to get some idea, see the 3D map below-
Stroll on Murphy Street and Washington Street
The other direct reason, I felt the air of magic was what I was doing.  Wine tasting, eating, talking, strolling, shopping with friends and stop in between the stores to watch magics performed by different individuals on the streets. Yes, that can totally relax anyone. The cool thing about it was that these magicians were up close standing next to us and would involve us in the play and story. I got so wrapped into those and still could not get clue about how they did it. Was it magic or illusion?  It did not matter, we were enjoying everything.  I was strolling with a wine glass in hand chatting and laughing sipping of red, white and rose wines, commenting on the acidity and smoothness of wines. Also, many of them were checking out displayed merchandise at certain clothing and accessories shops and few were even helping out the local vendors by purchasing items.  I also could not resist a beautiful summer batik dress.

Oh yes, we checked out this new spinning club and lobby of just recently opened new apartment complex. See the photos below.
Sunnyvale Town with new Residential Apartment 
Magic was at many levels and I felt it. The realization of the concept of  Work, Shop, Play, Dine and Stay has started to work, it does create magical vibrations for community.
By the way, just for fun, there is a magical trick-
Look at the photo below- it is not a trick, it is a magic. The shadow does not show the real object, I learned a trick. :)
Magic in the shadow!!!!




Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Two Buildings in two countries!

Below, I am showing two buildings in two countries but having similar functions. Both display old classic and vintage cameras. The one on the left side is Rayko, which is in San Francisco City in California, USA; while the one on the right side is The Camera Museum in George town, Penang Malaysia.
RayKo Photo Center In San Francisco, CA, USA  and  The Camera Museum, GeorgeTown, Penang, Malaysia
View of  over-bridge of Highway and view of the house verandah across the narrow street with Chinese Lantern above
RayKo is in 12,000 sq.ft. warehouse building and offers digital printing services, classes, workshops to local community and exhibits local photographers' works. The camera museum is in well preserved historic and cultural city, listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  The building is on a small, narrow but deep lot with courtyard. It is designed specially for tourists and exhibits vintage camera, accessories and works of well-known local photographers. Also, it has a coffee store at the back.
RayKo, Vintage Cameras on brackets & old brick wall and central enclosure shines with the band of artificial lights above

Camera Museum in George town, Cortyard flooded with natural light and Display of vintage camera on the wall cladded with re-claimed wood boards
It is nice to see that people respect and admire vintage cameras. And I wonder how did the photographers take some superb photos with those simple mechanisms. 
I want to end this by the photo below, I llike the photo because it appears 2D but more than that, I love the caption on the wall. It says-

WHEN YOU PHOTOGRAPH PEOPLE IN COLOUR
YOU PHOTOGRAPH THEIR CLOTHES.
BUT WHEN YOU PHOTOGRAPH PEOPLE IN B&W
YOU PHOTOGRAPH THEIR SOULS

Camera Museum in George town, Penang, Malaysia,  Photo Credit- Neela Shukla