Bonded Logic's Cotton Insulation

March 23, 2009 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 
photo via Bonded Logics website

photo via Bonded Logic's website

Hugging insulation is not really something we see children doing every day.  The reason hugging is allowed here is that Bonded Logic has created an insulation using denim scraps from textile mills.  They figure they have saved about 200 tons of denim from landfills.  LEED credits are available because there are no VOC or off-gassing problems, cotton is a rapidly renewable resource, and UltraTouch is made of 85% post-industrial recycled content.  Also, to reach an R-value of 30 UltraTouch needs to be 8″ thick, while the typical Owens Corning Pink Fiberglass Insulation needs to be 9.5″ thick.  The only potential problem is water absorption, which would affect the R-value, but if water has reached your insulation that’s the least of your worries.  I’m always glad to see innovative products like UltraTouch.

Backflow Prevention

March 17, 2009 · Posted in Uncategorized · 2 Comments 
Buster Backflow

So this whole week I’m at school to get certified as a “Backflow Preventer Tester.”  It’s taking up a little more of my schedule than I was hoping so I don’t think I’ll be posting, but I’ll see if I can squeeze some of the info in someday.  For a look at how much fun I’m having, check out the web page for the American Backflow Prevention Association.

Cool City #5: Curitiba, Brazil

March 14, 2009 · Posted in Architecture Around the World · 1 Comment 
photo via henribergius

photo via henribergius

In writing these articles on these cities, I have called them “Cool Cities.”  I didn’t really want to call them “Green Cities” becuase I feel somewhat skeptical about the whole “Green Rush.”  Obviously, there are incredible things that are being done, and incredible things that need to be done, to prevent our daily habits from slowly rotting our planet.  However, I fear that being green has become a trend that people get into because of guilt-trips or hip bumper-stickers on the back of Subarus.  We, humans, tend to get wrapped up in causes that are absolutely wonderful, and we look down on those that aren’t as involved or enlightened.  Our error is that we forget the very thing our important causes should point back to:  humans.

That’s where Curitiba comes in.  Instead of lengthy studies and arguments about “the environment,” when I was studying Curitiba, I found articles on people.  Studies say that 99%  of Curitibans are happy with their town.  99%!  One of the most impressive aspects of Curitiba is its ability to deal with the very poor.  One article says that “Curitiba may have broken the back of its social problems.” This statement comes from program after program helping those in need actually get what they need.  For instance, if you bring in a bag of collected garbage the city will give you a bag of food.  This makes the city, even the slums, clean- and it gives the people that live in the city a sense of pride.  Also, a section of large farmland was purchased by the city and cleared so that homeless people could own a piece of land.  The city helped with materials, but the people had to build their own homes.  The city also provided one hour with an architect so that the homes would be unique and personalized.  Thanks to a dedicated mayor and urban planner, Jaime Lerner, people seem to be at the center of what makes this city unique.

Curitiba is also, of course, green.  There are 150 square feet of green space for every inhabitant (one article I read said 580 square feet per inhabitant?), 115 kilometers of bike lanes, walking – no car- zones, and a world renowned bus system (some 85 cities are working on replicating it).  Here is a city that, to me, has got it right:  Environment- important, Humans- most important.  For a great article on Curitiba check out the article, by Bill McKibben, entitled: Curitiba: A Global Model For Development.

Throwback to Cool City: London 1853

March 12, 2009 · Posted in Throwbacks · 2 Comments 


I was on a hunt this morning for the first city to legislate against pollution.  I may be wrong, but the earliest thing that I could find was London in 1853.  The act was called the Smoke Nuisance Abatement Act.  It was pushed through the House by a man named Mr. Palmerston and their were, apparently, quite a few prosectutions of companies that didn’t adhere to the act.  If anyone knows of anything any earlier let me know.

Cool City #4: Portland, Oregon

March 11, 2009 · Posted in Architecture Around the World · Comment 
Photo by DubbaG

photo by DubbaG

Portland, Oregon is commonly placed #1 among the U.S.’s green cities.  Why?  Categories like “transportation,” “electricity,” “green policy” and “recycling efforts” usually separate the city from the competition.  The City of Portland even has a “Green Building Program” to inspire, support and promote green buildings within the city limits. reports that “half its power comes from renewable sources, a quarter of the workforce commutes by bike, carpool or public transportation, and it has 35 buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.”  I went on to and found a 46 page document produced by the City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development on how to make your business more environmentally friendly.  I read most of it, and it has some rock-solid ideas in it.  Lastly, said that Portland, Oregon is “consistently named the number-one city for bicyclists.”  It’s always more expensive to be green, but the idea is that it’s better in the long run; and Portland gets that.  They seem to be leading The United States of America in what is beginning to be called “The Green Rush.”

Cool City #3: Reykjavik, Iceland

March 10, 2009 · Posted in Architecture Around the World · Comment 
Andreas Tille

Andreas Tille

Reykjavik, Iceland comes in as Cool City #4.  Though there’s no order to the way these cities are coming to you on The Architecture Program, Reykjavik was rated #1 by and  Some of the incredible actions that this city is taking are:

  • Zero fossil fuel by 2050 (using hydrogen instead)
  • 72% of total energy needs for the city, currently, come from renewable sources
  • Free electricity for electric vehicles
  • Free parking for environmentally friendly cars, footpaths will be broadened and the number of drinking fountains and benches increased
  • Takes part in Nordic Cities Environmental Indicators Project, which monitors specific environmental parameters
  • 500,000 trees will be planted within the city limits
  • Pledging to become the cleanest city in Europe

All of these comprise what is called the “Green Steps of Reykjavik.”  Not much of a wonder that it’s ranked as one of the greenest, if not the greenest, city in the world.

Cool City #2: Vancouver

March 9, 2009 · Posted in Architecture Around the World · Comment 
Thom Quine

Thom Quine

Vancouver, Canada has officially been named our Cool City #2.  Especially for their efforts to make their 2010 Olympics the greenest yet.  Imagine capturing methane gas from a landfill to use for heating the Olympic Village.  That doesn’t sound like a fun job, but Vancouver plans on doing it.  Also, their Community Centre is going to be LEED platinum, while the other buildings in the village are going to be LEED gold.  Besides the Olympic efforts, Vancouver already leads the world in hydroelectric power; and is investing in solar, wave, tidal and wind power sources to reduce environmental impact.  I also read that they are using solar powered trash compactors in their waste baskets to minimize the amount of times their garbage trucks have to collect the waste.  Keep up the good work Vancouver.

Malmo, Sweden

March 4, 2009 · Posted in Architecture Around the World · Comment 

In “all” my years as a nerd, I have never heard of Malmo, Sweden.  I don’t even know how to describe my new favorite city in Sweden.  I guess it all starts with a picture that I found of a development called Bo01.  So I google the place and find 20 others in the same development, and find out that Bo01 is an old shipyard and industrial site that is being converted into a residential area that will use 100% renewable energy.  There are lots of green spaces, water features, small streets and amazing residential architecture.  Turns out Calatrava (who I love love love) has designed a skyscraper for the development, and that is the only “high density tower block.”  The rest of the city is traveled by walking, riding bikes, and buses that run on a combo of natural gas and biogas.  Living roofs control rainwater, the size and position of buildings control wind, the ponds and water add to wildlife, solar panels create electicity, and a heat pump 300 ft. below the surface uses the temperature of water in the limestone bedrock to heat in the winter and cool in the summer.  I can’t get enough of this place.

ps. check out the song by Album Leaf entitled “Malmo.”

via BBC News

via BBC News

via BBC News

via BBC NEws

Check out the article in BBC News,


February 26, 2009 · Posted in Throwbacks · Comment 

Today, I throwback to Japanese  joinery.  It is an art, and I know that it was used in Japanese architecture, but I’m looking for modern applications.  Anybody seen beautiful joinery used in a modern building’s structure?

Reclaimed Wood and Bricks

February 24, 2009 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

So I guess that I’m in a rut, but here’s another cool product.  The website is Elmwood Reclaimed Timber, and they have some really cool stuff including brick and stone.  I’ve featured my two favorite pictures, but there’s lots more (check out the antique tin and the barn siding).  The Barcelona Chair never hurts, but the wood does look beautiful.  And I’m totally a sucker for herringbone.  Prices on the flooring range from $4 – about $12 a square foot, which is nice, but I couldn’t find a price on the stone.  Elmwood is a member of the USGBC, you can earn LEED points by using their recycled wood products, and they have been awarded the FSC designation.

« Previous PageNext Page »