Thursday, October 26, 2006

Solar power at Home Depot

In California, the Home Depot, which has partnered with BP Solar, has already begun marketing a solar system and installation program to the mainstream by offering its customers the ability to sign-up online for free, in-home consultations.

State and utility incentives now available cut thousands of dollars off the cost, making solar power more affordable than ever. For a comprehensive review of available incentives visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) website.

watch BP's Solar Home Solution®. video

+Home Depot
+BP Solar

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Charity Fundraiser at DWR

An evening of cabaret and celebration for a good cause at DWR

DWR, Bacardi, Miller Light and Butter Catering are hosting Modern Carnivale, an evening that promises tantalizing performances by the Concrete Rose Cabaret girls and DWR furniture from the time period.

A silent auction will be held, including everything from original artwork to celebrity sports memorabilia, with all proceeds going to Casa de Esperanza, a local nonprofit that has been providing loving homes and medical attention for abused and neglected children since 1982. All donations are tax deductible. Suggested donations of $20 in advance ($25 at the door).

RSVP to by October 27

Modern Carnivale
Thursday, November 2, 7–11pm
DWR Houston Studio
1956 West Gray
Houston, TX 77019

Monday, October 23, 2006

Path Concept Homes

"On October 18, 2006, HUD Assistant Secretary Darlene Williams, Regional HUD Director Macie Houston, Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey, and Builder Fernando Pages broke ground for the first PATH Concept Home and unveiled revised plans for a 2,000 square foot vernacular farm house."

The Concept Home uses innovative building technologies to enhance a home's flexibility and make it more efficient to build and maintain.

Six principles create the foundation for incorporating innovative systems into the Concept Home. PATH has prepared a series of reports which explore technologies and systems that support each principle.

Principle #1: Flexible Floor Plans

Principle #2: Organized and Accessible Systems

Principle #3:Concept Home Principles - Improved Production Processes

Principle #4: Alternative Basic Materials

Principle #5: Standardization of Measurements and Component Interfaces

Principle #6: Integrated Functions

Friday, October 20, 2006

Induction Cooktops

Want to cook faster, using less energy, with more control? Magnetic induction cooking uses electricity to produce a magnetic field that sends currents into iron atoms that react by movement which causes friction and heat in a metal vessel.
Unlike conventional cooktops that create heat below a pot, the magnetic induction process makes the pot into the heating element. Food is heated more quickly and to precise temperatures.

Operational Cost
Cooking with magnetic induction is 90 percent efficient, as compared to resistance electric at approximately 65-percent efficiency, and open-flamed gas which measures in the 55-percent efficiency range. Magnetic induction cooktops also feature sensors that adjust the energy setting to the pot size and a broader range of settings than traditional cooktops.

Initial Cost
A magnetic induction cooktop costs three to four times more than an electric cook top. A magnetic induction cooktop with four elements ranges in price from $1800 to $4000, dependent upon the manufacturer and features.

Read more

related articles: 37th Annual Report on Cooking Appliances

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century

from Smart Mobsby Gerrit Visser:
"Alex Steffin, Worldchanging editor and chief is releasing their first book: Worldchanging: a users guide for the 21st century.

Packed with the information, resources, reviews, and ideas that give readers the tools they need to make a difference. With an intoduction by Al Gore.

Read more about it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bayou City Arts Festival

WHEN:October 14 & 15, 2006
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: The festival is showcased in front of City Hall and around Hermann Square on the streets of Walker, Bagby, and McKinney, as well as Sam Houston Park.

The annual, juried, fine art event boasts a stress-free outdoor gallery brimming with 300 artists working in 19 artistic media.

Adding to the festive outdoor gallery are wine cafés, an interactive Creative Zone for children, restaurants, Broadway in Houston’s Broadway Café, and a performing arts stage with on-going multicultural musical and dance entertainment presented by the Cultural Arts Council of Houston | Harris County.

Admission is $8 for adults and free for children 12 and under.

For more information about the Bayou City Art Festival Downtown, please contact the Art Colony Association.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Improve your "archi-speak"

Basically, while the students felt confident of their work they lacked the confidence and knowledge on how to verbally express their ideas....thus came about... Architecture on Air,which is put on by the College of Architecture at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The interview series via podcasts is "meant to focus on helping students build a more nuanced and attentive language with which to describe the built environment and their own work (as opposed to fixating on images). The series covers architecture, history, theory, industrial design, urbanism, allied professions, social discourse and the role of architects in contemporary culture."

Interviews :
Danny Forster - "Dizzy Heights" Mark Morris 9/15/06 Danny Forster is host of "Extreme Engineering" on the Discovery Channel. As many newspapers and magazines have recounted, Forster got his current job answering an on-line want ad featured on Craig's List while a graduate architecture student at Harvard. An amateur video shot by his girlfriend in his living room (an act of procrastination to avoid finishing essays) was enough to get him to the auditions alongside actors, engineers and weight-lifting models.

Steven Connor: Castles in the Air - "Transdisciplinarity, Space and Rem Koolhaas" Mark Morris 9/14/06 Steven Connor is Academic Director of the London Consortium, Professor of Modern Literature and Theory and Birkbeck College Orator. An advocate for interdisciplinary studies and alternative research methodologies, Steve has lectured widely (particularly to architecture audiences) and been a contributor to several radio programs. His research interests are diverse: sound, space, literary studies, skin, atmospheres and broadcasts. He has written extensively on Michel Serres, Dickens and Beckett. His books include Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism (Oxford Press, 2000) and The Book of Skin (Reaktion Books, 2004). He has recently completed a book entitled Fly (Reaktion, 2006) on the history of the fly in poetry, painting, religion and science. His current research is on the air.

Iain Borden - "Skateboarding to Architecture" 38:33 Mark Morris 8/16/06 Dr. Iain Borden is Director of the School of Architecture, Director of Architectural History and Theory and Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at the Bartlett School of Architecture. Educated at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UCL, University of London and UCLA, Iain is an architectural historian and urban commentator.

Monday, October 09, 2006

WaterSaver Technologies Aqus Uses Sink Greywater for Toilet


The Aqua catches the water flowing down your sink drain, filters and disinfects it, and stores it ready for the next toilet flush. It is designed to be easily retrofit into existing fixtures and boasts low maintenance....The system retails for about $200, and has a lifespan of 10-12 years, with a payback of about 4 years, depending on local water and sewage costs.
The primary market will be home building professionals, but the company will also sell the units over their website WaterSaver Technologies.

Read more via

Friday, October 06, 2006

80's "Super Heros" Strike Back


Hulk Hogan Seeks Tougher Animal Fighting Law
"The Miami Beach resident sent a video message Thursday to all 435 members of the House of Representatives. In it, he says laws against dog fighting and cockfighting aren't tough enough.
The Hulk slips into wrestling terminology in his message, saying offenders should be hit with a "felonious legdrop."

View Video HERE

Mr. T is promoting his new reality show “I Pity the Fool” where he motivates procrastinators and revs up slackers.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wind Energy in Texas Gets $10 Billion Boost

Dallas, Texas []
Texas Governor Rick Perry announced a major public-private initiative this week that could increase wind-generated energy in the Lone Star State by approximately 7,000 megawatts. Eight companies have committed to invest a combined $10 billion-plus in new wind projects -- as long as the state's Public Utility Commission constructs the necessary transmission lines.

Read the whole story HERE

The Lorax and Cat Stevens

Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character the Lorax, warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the earth. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is an ecological warning that still rings true today amidst the dangers of clear-cutting, pollution, and disregard for the earth's environment. Great book.

Check out the video (below) someone did a great job of putting the Lorax together with a song by Cat Stevens.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006


The first lecture in the RDA fall lecture series: Resurfacing the City, will begin Wednesday, October 4th at 7 pm in the Brown Auditorium at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

In addition there will be a pre- lecture wine reception from 6 pm to 6:45 pm, upstairs in the museum lobby.

Charles Waldheim is Director of the Landscape Architecture Program at the University of Toronto, and will kick-off the series on the 4th.

Read more on this Lecture Series

Series Tickets:
$20 - RDA, MFAH members
$15 - Senior citizens 65 and older
$10 - Students with identification
$30 - Others

Single Tickets (upon availability):
$7 - RDA, MFAH members
$5 - Senior citizens 65 and older
$3 - Students with identification
$10 - Others

Isabella Court Apartments

My favorite example of what housing can be in Houston.

Isabella Court Apartments have a covered yet open air 2-tiered courtyard (it has an open-air clere-story) . Letting in natural light and fresh air.

Also several apartments are split levels-usually enter into the living/kitchen area, with bedroom and bath on the upper level, about 5-6 steps up. The split level successfully separates the private and public areas in small apartments and makes for a pretty dynamic space.


A reflection on cities of the future

Excerpts from artcile published on 28 Sep 2006 by Energy Bulletin.
by James Howard Kunstler

"....As the industrial age gained traction in the early 19th century, so did the demographic trend of people increasingly moving from the farms and villages to the big cities. Industrial production was centralized in the cities and recruited armies of workers insatiably. Meanwhile, mechanized farming required fewer farmers to feed more people. The railroad, by its nature, favored centralization. By 1900, cities such as London and New York had evolved into mega-urbanisms of multiple millions of people. Around the same time, electrification was generally complete and with it came skyscrapers serviced by elevators. Over the next twenty years, oil moved ahead of coal as the primary fuel for transport and, especially in the US where oil was cheap and abundant, led to mass automobile ownership. That, in turn, sparked the decanting of households into massive new suburban hinterlands, and to the extreme separation of activities by zoning law there, which climaxed – with interruptions for depression and war – in the evolution of the late 20th century car-dependent metroplexes like Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, and Atlanta. That is where things stand now."

"...So, on top of the sheer distortions and perversities of the glut in bad mortgage paper, America will be faced with the accelerating worthlessness of the collateral – the houses, Jiffy Lubes, and office parks –
as gasoline prices go up, and long commutes become untenable, and jobs along with incomes are lost, and the cost of heating houses larger than 1500 square feet becomes an insuperable burden."

Read the whole article

Monday, October 02, 2006

Rain Gardens: Improve Stormwater Management in Your Yard

Rain gardens are depressed or “bowl-shaped” landscaped areas that function as miniature wetlands. Typically planted with wildflowers and other native vegetation, a rain garden provides a place for stormwater to infiltrate, allowing approximately 30% more water to soak into the ground.

A simple rain garden can be planted in most landscapes with little or no modification to existing conditions. It is easiest to plant the garden based upon natural drainage flows (look for low spots where water ponds following a heavy rain).

Because the depth of a rain garden can be as little as six inches, heavy machinery is not necessarily required. Even sites with heavy clay or compacted soils can be conducive to rain gardens. For clay or hardpan soils, some excavation and replacement of soil may be necessary. When replacing soil, a mix of 50-60% sand, 20-30% topsoil, and 20-30% compost is recommended. Compacted, hardpan soils should be loosened, for drainage and root growth, to two feet deep. Ideally, the rain garden should be planted with native or locally adapted plant species. This provides for ease of care and maintenance as well as habitat for local, often beneficial, wildlife.

Sources: DC greenworks
View and detail drawings of example raingarden