For some time, designers, architects and builders all over the world have tinkered with the idea of turning excess standard shipping containers into living quarters. Some of the incarnations of the lowly metal box are downright chic, including artist-architect Adam Kalkin's Quik House for which he apparently has more orders than he can handle.
But these metal containers have also drawn the attention of some leading brands that have started to use the eye-popping ideas to full advantage. Holiday shoppers milling about the Time Warner Center in New York will have a fabulous chance to experience one of these soon. Between November 28 and December 29, 2007, they can rest, relax and sip a perfect cup of illy espresso in one of Kalkin's creations, the temporary Push Button House cafe that the Trieste, Italy-based illycaffe will install there.
The European premier of this concept by Alan Kalkin and illy took place at the 52nd Venice Biennale where illy continues to partner with the Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia by providing the visitors each year a space to relax and enjoy their complimentary espresso. This was illy's fourth year of establishing the refreshment area at the Biennale but the Push Button House version created an unprecedented buzz.
With the push of a button, the house opens in 90 seconds like a flower and transforms from a compact container into a fully furnished and functional space with a kitchen, dining room, bathroom, bedroom, living room and library. All materials used in the Biennale house were recyclable or recycled. As Andrea Illy, chairman and CEO of illycaffe, has been quoted as saying, illy was initially interested in Kalkin's idea as an examination of 'home as one continuous mouldable surface, a relief against which human activity would pop out.';
Kalkin's concepts have proven to be adaptable to many circumstances. His company has developed container-unit projects for everything from disaster-relief housing to luxury dwellings (pictured below), and for promotional purposes such as the illy cafe. By Tuija Seipell.
Walking past a series of drab estate agent windows doesn't really make you want to part with your hard earned cash. Even if you are looking to move out.
That's why estate agents Hotblack Desiato - depicted as a keyboard player in the cult sci-fi novel, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - decided to spruce up their Islington offices in London.
These little clusters of property were inspired by the revival of cubism within architecture. The 3-D squares created by designer Paul Crofts are set at varying depths to create an almost pixel like installation that spills over onto the adjacent wall inside. Which makes poking your nose round other people's houses that little bit sweeter. By Matt Hussey
Ikea pack furniture in it. Gehry has made furniture from it. Now architects are shaping spaces with it. Is there any limit to the creative re-use of corrugated cardboard? With its unique physical consistency, its decidedly axial strength, and its deadening acoustic absorption, corrugated cardboard has many inherent qualities. As such it was the perfect material for this particular sound installation.
Made from 720 half square sheets of 7mm thick corrugated cardboard, stacked in 360 layers, this cavernous sound space is set within a 2.5m cube. As a space for listening to and experiencing music, the initial concept for the design developed from the architect's ambition to create a strong spatial intensity and a distinct internal atmosphere. With an irregular free-form interior set within a regular cubic volume, the object has a profound duality. Made from one material it also has an implied solidity that strengthens the architect's distinction between inside and out - a distinction that is heightened when the full acoustic ambience is experienced from within.
Cutting the cardboard took three working days, and assembly just one. The structure sits under its own dead weight, without any fixings or glue. And, for those of a technical persuasion, a simple calculation reveals that the combined compression of the 360 layers of cardboard is 20mm over the 2.5m height, or an average of 500ths of a millimetre per sheet. All services are integrated within the stack, including cable runs and apertures for the six-speaker surround sound system. R. G.
Everyone is a pimp or a pinup, according to Simon Charrison and his cousin James. Not content with the current trend of hair salons - emaciated stylists, pissed-off pundits and sound systems capable of melting your face - the two South Australians decided something had to be done. So they decided to open their own hair salon that prioritised service over grandiloquence right in the heart of London's east-end.
“Both I and Simon have an 'old-school approach'. The stylists have a very close working relationship with the clients, old and new, and many of them come in just for a chat and a coffee. We offer a range of complementary refreshments in the salon and we even offer beer and wine, which is always well received, especially by the clients who have just finished work.”
The styling and design take a similar approach. Vintage Japanese chairs decked in thick black leather mould to your body while the vaudeville decor offers a sense of theatre. Simon has been cutting hair for over twelve years and James has worked in customer service for a similar period. The sense of personal empowerment at the heart of Pimps & Pinups has attracted the likes of Green Day, not to mention local bands who regularly feature on the in house stereo. “The music we play is really important to the ambience. There's a lot of indie rock, but Saturdays mainly just ends up being the ACDC day though,” muses James. By Matthew Hussey
Bathroom, washroom, toilet, powder room, ladies’/men’s room, whatever we call it, it is the one place in any public or semi-public place – including restaurants, hotels, concert halls, clubs or bars – that really tells what the entire establishment is all about.