“A hundred years after we began building with tall buildings, we have yet to understand how the tall, high-rise building becomes a building block in making a city… in creating the public realm,” says legendary architect and teacher Moshe Safdie of Safdie Architects in Boston. This is the driving force behind his TED talk on How to Reinvent the Apartment Building.

Emphasizing the importance of light, permeability, and nature, Safdie demonstrates how breaking the mold of the standard residential skyscraper could transform the urban environment and the experience of those living in high-density housing.

Much has been made in recent years about the low percentage of women in the engineering industry, but comparatively little progress has been made. The question remains: How do we encourage a young girl’s interest in designing, problem-solving, experimenting, developing, and building? Because if we can do that with the current generation of imaginative, technologically-inclined youngsters, there could well be a marked increase in the number of women who choose careers from among the broad range of engineering disciplines.

This new advertisement from GoldieBlox, which has “developed a set of interactive books and games to ‘disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers’”, is a fantastic start!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFpe3Up9T_g&w=640&h=360]

 

Set to the tune of the Beastie Boys’ famously catchy Girls, we see the execution of a fabulous Rube Goldberg machine as a trio of excited would-be engineers uses their perpetually pink toys to play a new version of house.

There may be many answers to the question of gender disparity in the engineering industry, but this is definitely one of the more fun, optimistic ones. Well done, GoldieBlox! And just in time for Christmas.

The Textiles of a Not-So-Famous Skyline

Photo by Jonathan Camp

Oslo, Norway’s waterfront has undergone major reconstruction and renovation in the last few years. Following the completion of Oslo Operahuset (white building at the left of the photo) in April 2008, developers pushed forward with several new commercial high-rises nearby. It appears that the architects of each building created a unique textile for the building’s face by utilizing a wide range of materials, colors, window patterns and building silhouettes. While nowhere near the height, number, or drama of other major world skylines, Oslo’s is fresh, clean, and has quickly become a favorite of mine.