Category Archives: Architecture

Sustainable High Rise Living and Deceitful Data

Hey! In this trendwatching podcast, Cathi Bond talks about Clear Point Residencies, which takes the ‘green roof’ a step further by imagining a high rise with vegetation cladding. Check out the pics in the gallery

Nora Young talks about lying with data, thanks to Mushon Zer-Aviv’s post about how infographics can deceive.

Christmas Special 2013!

Hi there,

Happy Holidays! Time for our annual Christmas Special full of lots of whimsical toys.

This time, Nora Young likes Urbio, a cool looking modular set of plates that you mount on the wall, then attach sleek white pots of various sizes to using magnets. Nora likes the mix-n-match quality of it, and the space saving aspect for those of us without a lot of counter space or window sills. You can use it for planting kitchen herbs or for general storage of small items in a home office.

Also, cool: Beer! Nora talks about Collective Arts Brewing, a new craft beer company that features artists of all stripes on the beer labels. They select a curated crop of artists to put on the labels, and you can use the augmented reality app to learn more. Neat-o.

Cathi Bond is thinking about experiences and travel this time, and has found two wild places. First is Kulturinsel Einsiedel (Culture Island) a whimsical, huge park near the Germany-Poland border. It features a series of treehouses (you can even spend the night) windmills, and all sorts of fantasy architecture (via Gizmag).

She also showcases a wonderful art installation in Russia by Estonian architects Salto: a 170 metre trampoline road. See pics of the road in action over at The Guardian. Fun!

And, because it wouldn’t be a Sniffer Family Christmas without it, the Christmas Eve scene from The Thin Man:

The Sniffer, Nov 3rd, 2013: Trends in Housing and Web Nostalgia

Hi!

This time around, Cathi Bond talks about The Citadel, a new project from the design firm Waterstudio. The idea is to design luxury housing units in the Netherlands as a possible response to climate change. They float! The plan is to re-flood the “polders” (low lying areas now surrounded by dikes) so that they can respond to rising water levels. Cathi thinks the aesthetic is reminiscent of Expo ’67’s Habitat project.

Nora Young talks about a cool project from CERN, which is trying to re-create aspects of the early Web. They’ve created a simulation of the early text-based “line mode” browser experience that you can run on your current browser (via Ars Technica). (Note: at the time of posting, the link to the bookmarklet doesn’t seem to work, though it did when we recorded the project). Nora talks about it not just because it’s a cool little thing, but because it suggests the Web is mature enough for us to have nostalgia about. She points to The Wayback Machine as a way of visiting the early Web, and Wochit, a startup that uses A.I. to create video news stories (an example of how visual the Web has become compared to the old days).

Finally, Nora mentions Relately, a way of managing your social network connections (via Springwise).

The Sniffer, July 5, 2013: Trends in Wearables and Architecture

Happy summer, trendwatchers! This time around, Nora Young talks about this intriguing analysis by Tom Emrich over at Techvibes. If Apple’s iOS7 is looking to be more compatible with wearables, is it yet another sign that wearable, single purpose devices are taking off? The buzz around Pebble, FuelBand, FitBit, not to mention Google Glass or Muse, seems to suggest so. Do you use wearable tech, or do apps do it for you?

Cathi Bond returns to one of her fave topics: sustainable, inexpensive mini-homes. This time, it’s the FoundHOUSE, currently hoping to raise some Kickstarter dosh to support $5,000 mobile homes at less than 150 square feet. It’s also taking advantage of a very cool project called WikiHouse: Creative Commons’ licensed building plans.

Finally, Nora tips the hat to Cathi’s excellent sniffing skills, which she’s talked about before. The New York Times is reporting on the new trend of ‘nest’ architecture (or “twigitechture”). Does the appeal go back to our primordial selves settling in trees, as Janine Benyus suggests in the article? Did you build huts, nests, or tree-houses when you were young? Is there something primordial about the way Cathi’s dog, Roo, scratches the carpet at the end of the episode?

Nov 4th, 2012: Trends in Electronics and Urban Planning

Hey trendwatchers! This time, Nora Young talks about PredictGaze, software that can be incorporated into electronics such as TVs. It tracks your eyes so that you can, for instance, stop the TV when you walk out of the room. Also, marketers could use its facial recognition capability to see how you’re reacting to what you watch (via Digital Trends) It brings together several trends: facial recognition technology, ‘relationships’ with our technologies, and non-touch interfaces.

Meanwhile, Cathi Bond talks about [Y/N] Design Studio’s concept plan for London’s old canal system: turn it into lanes for swimming! (Via Gizmag) The charmingly wacky idea reminds Nora and Cathi that here in Toronto, we often lose sight of our history, in spite of attempts like the Distillery District. Nora herself just discovered “The Ward“. Who knew?

The Sniffer, Sept 16th, 2012: Cutting Edge Architecture from the Venice Biennale

Cathi Bond is just back from the Venice Architecture Biennale, which features the latest thinking about architecture and development. This year’s show is called Common Ground, and Cathi finds it an apt term, as she finds themes of sustainability and community enliven the mind and boost the spirit.

Nora Young talks about the new Kindle Serials plan (via Fast Company), and wonders whether this is good for writers and readers. If you’re a writer, what would you make of this? As a reader, would you contribute to the critique of a writer you like?
Update: We had a problem with the original audio file, which will be the one you have if you got it on the evening of Sept 16th. New file in place now. Thanks!

The Sniffer, June 30th, 2012: Trends in Housing and Bartering

Hey trendwatchers! In today’s podcast, Cathi Bond talks about a gorgeous – and tiny – portable home by Leaf House, and a fellow named Laird Herbert. Small houses are picking up as a trend; could you see yourself living in one? (Via Jetson Green)

Nora Young mentions Springwise’s story about the Clarion Hotel in Stockholm, which now accepts art by artists as barter payment for a night’s stay in the hotel. It has Nora wondering whether the barter economy could make the leap from peer-to-peer, to individual-business bartering. More on the barter economy from Business Week, here.

Finally Meagan Perry has created this very cool project called Stationary Groove. It maps what music people at different Toronto subway stations are listening to and offers up a playlist.

The Sniffer, June 15th, 2012: Trends in News and Architecture

On today’s trendwatching podcast, Nora Young talks about a new entry to the Knight News Challenge (which is a funding contest to help re-invigorate news for the 21st century). The proposal is to engineer online news feeds so that you can access the perspective of people who are UNLIKE you. It’s to combat the problem of the social media echo chamber that we encounter when we just read the news our like-minded friends read (via The Atlantic)

Cathi Bond brings us a cool project in more sustainable architecture. It’s a social housing project near Madrid. Cathi likes it because it’s designed with ‘flow through’ in mind, and because it uses “cogeneration” as a power source, which allows the waste heat generated to be used for things like heating water (via Architecture Today).

Finally, for history buffs out there, check out Orbis, a project from Stanford University which is best thought of as “Google Maps for Ancient Rome”. Once you get to the website, just click on “Mapping Orbis”. How would you get around? (Via Ars Technica).

The Sniffer, April 1st, 2012: Trends in Solar and Just-in-Time Service

On The Sniffer this time, Cathi Bond looks at trends in solar power, in particular carbon nanotubes as a way to add solar generation capabilities to windows. (Read more at Flinders). Nora Young points to Lisa Rochon’s article on the energy loss problems of today’s glass tower condos. Could this be a solution?

Meanwhile, Nora talks about a pilot project in Japan to allow motorists to pre-order their drive-through meals via two-way navigation systems. Convenient, sure, but what about distractible driving? (Via Trends in Japan).

The Sniffer, Feb 5th, 2012: Trends in Advertising and Eco-Housing

In this podcast episode, Nora Young gets her rant on about new trends in tech-flavoured advertising. Sure things like QR Codes are cool and all, but are you really interested in using your phone with them to get yet more ads? Tell us, would you interact with Coca Cola’s polar bears online? Read more at CNET

Meanwhile, Cathi Bond talks about the CHIP house, an experimental prototype in building a net zero energy house that competed in the Solar Decathlon in the US. Interesting design – could it be the house of the future? As an aside, Nora mentions all the cool things people are using Microsoft’s Kinect for, from research projects to art installations. (Interaccess featured a piece by David Rokeby that used the Kinect to allow visitors to interact virtually with gallery goers in Europe. I wish I could find video documentation).

And, just for fun, via Swiss Miss, this wonderful look at British coffee culture. Check it!