In 2014, Green&Blue launched the production of bricks with holes that can serve as homes for solitary bee species. These bee bricks are the same size as regular bricks, but have a series of narrow holes similar to where solitary bees nest.
One-third of the world's food production depends on bees and other pollinators, with one in ten bee species in Europe on the brink of extinction. This is due to climate change, the use of pesticides that are destructive to bees, and disruption of the natural ecosystem.
Earlier this year, the city council of Brighton-y-Hov in England obliged developers to include bricks with holes for bees in the facades of buildings 5 meters high and higher.
Proponents of the initiative believe that such simple solutions will improve the situation and increase opportunities for biodiversity.
But a number of experts have also emerged who oppose it. They fear that mites and bacteria could breed in the holes, and this would increase the spread of disease. Professor Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex believes that the holes are not big enough to be a good home for bees, and that having one brick, even if in every house, is totally insufficient, it can only serve to assuage conscience, with no real benefit.
I think perhaps bricks with holes are not ideal and are not a panacea.
But it is better to do than to do nothing.
Using such bricks can make a difference, albeit a small one, along with increased planting area, etc. And their centralized use in new buildings can help to collect statistical data and prove or disprove their effectiveness.
An interesting project with an idea that appeals to me - eco-friendliness and the union of opposites, exclusive luxury goods and recycled materials.
For the new Bulgari store in Shanghai, MVRDV created a green jade façade made of brass and recycled champagne and beer bottles.
The art deco architecture is reminiscent of Shanghai itself, a blend of Eastern and Western cultures.
The panels are made of sintered green glass with a translucent effect, which looks very effective.
And the gold-colored brass trim makes a reference to jade jewelry.
At night, the lighting further enhances the unique textural quality of the glass and is designed for minimal energy consumption of the facade.
This is the third Bulgari store whose facade was designed by MVRDV. In Kuala Lumpur, the store has a marble facade with gold veining and in Bangkok also a combination of brass and glass, but in warm yellow hues and with more emphasis on the openings.
The Pantone Institute named the color of the coming year. Usually the color was chosen from the existing palette, this year the employees created a new one.
The color of the year 2022 was named PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri.
According to Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, "the color of the year reflects what's happening in our global culture," so in a wave of coming out of isolation and at the same time pushing the boundaries of the virtual world, the experts created a new color that combines the "constancy" of blue with the "energy and excitement" of red.
It is kind of new, but you can notice a certain cyclicity in the choice of tone, 4 years ago in 2018 the color of the year was Ultra Violet, and in 2014 - Radiant Orchid.
In architecture, this color is applicable to futuristic forms as a backlighting.
For me the color Very Peri is softer, more lyrical, more dreamy. It's the reflected light of a sunset in the trim. Hues of lavender, delicate violet, and a peek of pink undertones look particularly effective on white facades and on houses finished in dark steel.
In a broad sense, the term is used for all glazed ceramics. Going deeper, a true majolica should be glazed twice. First the first, the background layer for the pattern, and then the transparent glaze on top and baked at high temperature. The implication is that the tiles are patterned, but it can also be a full fill of one color.
I often use majolica mosaics in projects I work on.
Majolica has an uneven surface, so it casts light in different directions, catching my eye. And so it's great to use it as accents on the facade, for this a small amount will be enough.
What areas can be accentuated on a facade?
— window frames
— individual panels
— flights of stairs
— column inserts
Majolica combines well with matte materials - wood, plaster, brick.
Important! Since with such materials it has a great contrast of texture, the color contrast must be low, it is good if majolica combines the shades of other materials of facade finishing.
It is also necessary to remember about the proportions. More does not always mean better. A good example is the main accent piece above the entryway and the supporting elements above the windows. Or an interstory belt and a panel that crowns the main gable..
The classic look of the house is relevant at all times, no matter how modern houses with flat roofs try to take the lead. Today I will take apart a recent French château-inspired project I worked on and talk about the techniques I used during the design of the façade.
The first thing to look for is symmetry, one of the main characteristics of a classical heritage. The expressive central risalite with a wide staircase of the main entrance, framed with balusters, immediately sets a solemn tone.
The decor is simultaneously plentiful, but it does not sting the eye, thanks to the fact that it is in a single pastel palette, the contrast of the transition is smoothed as much as possible.
By decor I mean not only window frames or pilasters. The first floor is completely rusticated, and above the openings there are arcs of rustication and volumetric elements, like keystones.
At the corners of the second floor are corner bosses, in support of the first floor rustication.
Going up, I added framing to the dormer windows with semi-circular tympanas, balancing the large number of corners, and graceful brackets on the pilasters.
But since everything is basically the same color, you need different materials to make the façade not look boring.
The ground floor, which is more visible and interacts more with people, is more expensive with natural stone; the second floor is separated by a belt and plastered, and the risalita above the entrance portal is tiled.
The house, by Indian Architects, which I particularly liked. How well they managed to combine modern architecture and pleasing patterns! Two years ago I wrote a post about an ethno-trend that seems to be emerging. This house is a fitting illustration.
A lot of vernacular humanized design has been lost and replaced by a unified international approach, where any pattern or pleasing excess is perceived as a crime against the idea of rationality. And of course this approach excluded "old," "naïve" art as a relic, and ethnic design seemed to threaten the globalist project.
I'm all for finding a balance. You don't have to throw the baby out with the water. Corbusier is good, but this radical lacks softness. A house is not only a machine for living, but also a place of aesthetic experience. The house should be pleasant for the child and the old lady, not just the man in the suit. A home should remind us who we are, where we come from, and where we are going.
It's interesting to be in good-quality "historic" buildings. When you get from the context of the decades in which my Soviet rational house is built into the context of the centuries, it's a different scale, a different perspective.
Ethnic style speaks to me on an even more general level - the level of millennia of human history. That's why it's so interesting to be in Indonesian villages. Traditional arts and crafts are alive there while building modern homes to please tourists. This unification gives birth to surprisingly comfortable and beautiful spaces.
Native patterns, carvings, weaving, give such nice filler.
The choice of tones for the façade design depends on the customer's taste preferences. Both can look equally interesting and stylish.
In this project, for example, the range of tones is quite large, but all four variants look bright and complete and absolutely appropriate.
But you have to remember that a darker color will heat up more in the sun, which means the temperature inside will also rise in hot weather.
Also, saturated colors are more susceptible to fading.
Another important nuance - shades, even if in the project, sketch, visualization you are in full delight with the chosen color, in reality the selected color will be a little different, so you need to do test painting materials.
An interesting house, at the intersection of country and half-timbered styles.
One unusual detail is the color of the thermal wood beams on top of the façade.
In the traditional version of half-timbered houses they are usually dark.
In this project I chose white, which brings lightness and refreshes the façade.
By using decorative beams and alternating two colors of plaster in the decoration of the second floor, the asymmetric windows on the main gable were masked, and their complete absence on the side façade. And the use of diagonal fragments allowed us to combine the carport with the overall image of the house.