Posted on October 30, 2009 by mtidry
This massive construction was the main entrance to the ancient city of Babylon. Mud brick masonry tiles make up the entire structure; the tiles were glazed to make the bright patterns and figures seen here. Three animal figures are repeated over the surface of the gate – lions, bulls and dragons. The lion was the symbol of the Assyrian goddess, Ishtar, for whom the gate was named. She was the goddess of fertility, love and war (she continued to be worshiped by the Romans as “Venus”) and many kings of Mesopotamia believed that their rise to power was contingent upon her personal involvement.
Lion Symbolizing Goddess Ishtar
If you look at the top of the Ishtar Gate, you can see the decorative crenellations added by the builders. High quality craftmanship, as seen here, was only possible in societies that had significant agricultural success and surplus. This allowed individuals to develop their talents and specialize in a certain field, such as architecture or masonry work.
Bull and Dragon Tiles from Ishtar Gate
The bull and dragon tiles also on the Ishtar Gate represented the gods Marduk and Adad, respectively. King Nebuchadnezzar II was also known for restoring the temple of Marduk. His famed Hanging Gardens are one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Filed under: Daily Dose of Masonry | Tagged: architecture, brick, daily dose, history, ishtar gate, linkedin, masonry, tile | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 29, 2009 by mtidry
It’s a beautifully simple concept, really. The new kind of concrete still cracks, but the fissures are much smaller. After the next few times it rains, the combination of the moisture and carbon dioxide reacts with the concrete, healing the cracks with the resulting calcium carbonate. Victor Li is the innovator behind this new “engineered cement composite”, or ECC, and has been working on it for the past fifteen years. Li’s concrete is more flexible than other materials on the market, so its average crack width is a mere 60 micrometers (only half as wide as a human hair!). This allows for full healing and a much stronger, more durable concrete in general.
Li also spells out his commitment to green building saying that “rebuilding with [ECC] would allow a more harmonious relationship between the built and natural environments by reducing the energy and carbon footprints of these infrastructure. As civil and environmental engineers, we are stewards of these mega-systems. Advanced materials technology is one means to keep them healthy.”
Now for another exciting tidbit: this calcium carbonate is the same stuff that creates the mineral deposits in caves! Stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone? All calcium carbonate. The milky white tracings running down concrete and brick buildings? Same thing. As a cave tour guide, artist, and writer for a masonry company, it’s rare that I find something with a direct connection to all three! Thanks for letting me gush a little about this, and check out some of my favorite calcite creations:
Calcite drips in Decorah, IA
Calcite drips and drapery stalactite
Filed under: Daily Dose of Masonry | Tagged: concrete, daily dose, linkedin, masonry technology, mti | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 28, 2009 by mtidry
The Hermitage; 65 square foot house kitchen
The Hermitage, a 140 square foot house built by Shafer and Tumbleweed Homes, doesn’t require a building permit. Since it is on wheels, it’s considered a travel trailer. You can either build this model yourself or buy it ready-made. The image next to the Hermitage is the kitchen of an even smaller (65 sq ft) home.
The Loring is a 251 sq ft home whose building cost ranges from $100-200/sq ft. This is classified as a “small” home (vs the Hermitage’s “tiny” category) and meets all international building codes. I’d love to see a picture with someone standing next to this house – it looks fairly large from this perspective!
This house was the most interesting to me – yes, a little plain, but the rolled hot steel siding is so rich in color and texture! Called the “Z-Glass,” it’s 392 sq ft but only 14 feet wide so it can be taken on the road. The exterior finish is also optional – you can choose veneers other than the one pictured in this example. (masonry, anyone?)
I have to say, after reading through these articles and looking at the pictures, I want to be a member of the Small House Society! (Although come to think of it, I’d say life in a 100-something square foot apartment counts, wouldn’t you?) Much more charming and welcoming than your average trailer home, these portable habitations are also important steps in our green building efforts. Come visit me in my Z-Glass!
Filed under: Daily Dose of Masonry | Tagged: daily dose, green building, linkedin, mti, sustainability, tiny houses, tumbleweed houses | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 27, 2009 by mtidry
Plaster Cast of Ant Colony
This plaster cast of an ant colony was made by Walter Tschinkel, professor at Florida State University, who is studying ants’ architectural methods.
Concrete Cast of Ant Colony
Scientists pumped 10 tons of concrete into the tunnels of this (thought to be) abandoned ant colony, creating the complicated structure you see in these images. Visit the source link to see the video of the process.
Termite Colony and Buddhist Temple
Ants aren’t the only insects that are master architects. Termites, though markedly different as they build above the ground instead of tunneling into it, are also creators of amazing structures. This image reminded me of ancient Buddhist temples.
Filed under: Daily Dose of Masonry | Tagged: ants, architecture, concrete, daily dose, insects, linkedin, termites | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 26, 2009 by mtidry
MUMUTH staircase, Image © Iwan Baan
What does this have to do with architecture? Today, I was reading about the Haus für Musik und Musiktheater (MUMUTH) in Graz, Austria and its fabulous staircase. Ban Van Berkel, a principal at UNStudio, the design firm in charge of this impressive project, discussed the staircase’s connection to serialism in contemporary music. He claimed that the staircase and serialism both had the “ability to absorb and regulate intervals, interruptions, changes of direction, and leaps of scale without losing [their] continuity.”
MUMUTH staircase, Image © Iwan Baan
The building’s focal point is indeed impressive, as it needs to be to hold our attention and interest. It reminded me of Michelangelo’s stair design for the Laurentian Library in the San Lorenzo Monastery in Florence, Italy. Not quite as impressive to viewers of today, Michelangelo’s staircase was considered revolutionary for the 1500s, as the MUMUTH staircase is now. The three parallel flights of stairs expand as they descend the single level from the library to the entryway. This slight fanning out gives the illusion of much greater depth and spatially transforms the building.
Staircase for Laurentian Library
A beautiful, elegant staircase to be sure (I wish I could contribute more personal insights, but it was being restored when I visited San Lorenzo…), but a little lackluster when viewed with 21st century eyes that have come to know a much broader scope of the human possibility for creation. I suppose that’s the price we pay for progress – the dimming of awe at the effects of past achievements. Take a little time with this one, and see if you can’t see what Michelangelo’s admirers did – a truly innovative piece of architecture.
Filed under: Daily Dose of Masonry | Tagged: architecture, daily dose, linkedin, michelangelo, mumuth, staircases | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 22, 2009 by mtidry
Posted on October 21, 2009 by mtidry
Zumthor has a small portfolio compared to many well-recognized architects throughout the world. What has been honored, in lieu of a prolific career, is his exceptional skill and quality of work. See more at http://www.architectureweek.com/2009/1014/culture_2-1.html
Filed under: Daily Dose of Masonry | Tagged: daily dose, linkedin, Peter Zumthor, Pritzker | Leave a comment »