Archive for the ‘architecture’ Category

Funky Spheres

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

by Brian Carroll


Emerging from the rain forest of Vancouver Island in Canada are the futuristic designs known as Free Spirit Spheres. The “treehouses for adults” are handmade from local wood and suspended from the tree canopy. The spheres are recommended for meditation, photography, canopy research, leisure, game watching and other activities. Some are available for rental, and DIY kits are offered. There are separate bathroom spheres.

Read more:

Building a Brand

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

by Brian Carroll


Imagine that you are a new immigrant arriving at Ellis Island for the first time after a long  journey across the Atlantic.  It is the early 1900′s and you have just left a country where the tallest structure you have ever seen is probably the church in your small village.  As you make the fifteen minute trek from Ellis Island to Battery Park in lower Manhattan, you are in awe of these amazing structures that just reach for the sky. 

This was a common occurrence in for many of the immigrants making their way to the “new world” here in the United States.  As they crossed over to the magnificent island called New York, these structures were pointed out by the names of the companies that were having them built.  “That is the Singer Building, there is the Chrysler Building, and over there is the Hearst Building.”

Companies in these days were expanding their empires, and battling it out for who could go the highest. These companies were not only building up due to lack of space, there were literally building their brand.  The brand with the tallest building would be the most recognized on the New York skyline.  Even today, when visitors arrive in New York City, they can point out buildings, based on nothing but brand recognition.

In Japan, Living Large In Really Tiny Houses

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

by Lucy Craft


The Japanese have long endured crowded cities and scarce living space, with homes so humble a scornful European official once branded them rabbit hutches.

But in recent years, Japanese architects have turned necessity into virtue, vying to design unorthodox and visually stunning houses on remarkably narrow pieces of land. In the process, they are also redefining the rules of home design.

Few Americans would consider a parking-space-sized lot as an adequate site to build a house. But in Japan, homes are rising on odd parcels of land, some as tiny as 300 square feet.

Yet the term “house” doesn’t really do justice to these eye-catching architectural gems, fashioned from a high-tech palate of materials like glittering glass cubes, fiber reinforced plastic and super-thin membranes of steel.

Click here to read the full article and listen to the interview on NPR.

Astana City Activation – World’s Largest Tent

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

by Christian Bayley


Astana the capital city of Kazakhstan unveiled a landmark designed to help brand the city on the world stage – the worlds largest tensile structure (or tent to us laymen) named Khan Shatyr. This free standing structure is nearly 500 feet tall and is designed to remain 60-85 degrees inside  despite outside temps that vary from -30 to 95 during the year by utilizing 3 layers transparent of ETFE fabric and a top level venting system. The structure contains 1 million sq feet of space with gardens, restaurants, a shopping mall and movie complex. A nod to Foster and Partners for the design. . . as fans of burning man we love big tents!


Oregon company to build paper houses in Haiti and beyond

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

by Brian Carroll


We are always inspired over here at Olive by great design, especially when it involves sustainable and inovative techniques.  We have seen buildings and homes built out of almost every material imaginable, so I am not sure exactly why this idea caught our attention.

Portland-based Pacific Green Innovations is set to build up to 10,000 homes in earthquake-ravaged Haiti — out of paper.

The business was created in October 2009 to help bring a German-made product, known as a SwissCell, to the United States. The SwissCell is a building panel made from 100 percent recycled paper and coated in a tough, recyclable resin that makes it both fire and waterproof.

We cannot wait to see what great structures they come up with next using this great technology.  We think it is great they are offering their ideas to help those in need down in Haiti.  To read more about the company and the efforts they are taking on in Haiti, click here.

Block of Time

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

by Brian Carroll


This cleverly designed desktop or bedside clock with an alarm and snooze function has four LED cubes each displaying a digit, which can be creatively arranged horizontally or stacked vertically to display time any way you like.

Click here to check out more great functional designs at MOMA



More Great Home Designs

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

by Brian Carroll


Like a shard of metal breaking through the earth’s surface, this beach cottage design (dubbed “Klein Bottle House”) by Melbourne-based architecture firm McBride Charles Ryan also breaks the boundaries of conventional residential architecture. Located in Rye, Australia, this modern vacation home is surrounded by sand dunes and beaches along the Mornington Peninsula. Click here to read and see more.


The Glacier is the latest in prefab sustainable homes, by Method Homes. This eco sustainable home in Washington is helping homeowners stay ahead of the game by going green and doing it in style. This wood cabin design features a cedar exterior and interior; Eco Top counters; bamboo and cork floors; bamboo cabinets and shelving; no- and low-VOC paints and stains; radiant flooring; and marmoleum and recycled tile. Click Here to Read and See More.

Summer Homes and Cottages

Friday, June 4th, 2010

by Brian Carroll

As summer draws near it is time to start thinking about making those plans for trips to the beach.  For many, this means booking the summer house, or visiting the summer cottage that has been handed down from generation to generation. 

For myself, as a child, our summer house consisted of a small (and by small, I mean 8×12) cabin, with an area to throw up tents for sleeping.  For other, it may mean a small rustic beach cabin along the Atlantic, or even a funky cedar shaked house along the Pacific.  There was an era though, when the very wealthy built magnificent homes (or cottages as they referred to them) along the shores of Rhode Island.

Before there was such thing as personal income tax, wealthy people such as the Vanderbilts were ablet to make massive fortunes.  With this huge amount of money they needed to have summer retreats along the coast.  One can not even fathom what they had in mind when they set out to build these so called “cottages.”

Below you can see a few of the summer homes that are still standing along the shores of Newport, Rhode Island

Vanderbilt Marble House

Vanderbilt Marble House

The Elms

The Elms



The Breakers

The Breakers

To Learn more about these castles cottages, visitit The Preservation Societ of Newport.

Beautiful Home Offices

Monday, April 12th, 2010

by Christian Bayley

With the economy the way that it has been, more of the workforce has returned to the idea of the home office. . .and here are a few stunning examples of stylish yet functional spaces that can tuck in neatly into a backyard.


WorkPod by Ecospace is a gorgeous, contemporary backyard office would definitely appeal to design addicts. Other than its great looks, the space is built-in the office technology you need to get your work done.


There’s something about the round shape of the Archipod (which we’ve written about before) that makes me want to wrap my arms around it when I see it. It looks small, but it’s actually bigger inside than you think and it fits in with the backyard landscape very nicely.


dmvA’s Blob VB3 is an egg-shaped unit that can be used for an office or even a living space. It definitely reminds me of a giant marshmallow jelly bean.


The OfficePOD creates an environment that supports productivity and provides the user with an efficient use of space. It’s made using as many recycled and recyclable materials as possible and there’s a low level energy consumption along with a high level of insulation.


This small recording studio designed by Piet Hein Eek for entertainer Hans Liberg is a modern spin on a log cabin. The exterior is consists of many logs that cover a plastic and steel frame.

Thanks to the folks over at Design Milk for bringing these to our attention.

Dubai / New Cultural Centre / Zaha Hadid

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

by Eric Goldstein


Zaha Hadid Architects have unveiled designs for a new opera house and cultural centre in in the new Seven Pearls district of Dubai. The development will be built on an island in Dubai Creek, just off the Seven Pearls mainland, and will accommodate a state of the art opera house, arts gallery, theatre, performing arts school and themed hotel.

The design will house all of the facilities of the centre within a single structure with a gentle winding form which is both a part of the landscape yet very much a distinct element on the skyline. The centre consists of two peaks correspond to the opera house and the theatre evoking images of sand dunes or mountains. The surrounding landscape forms build up gently to the main building and will consist of open parkland as well as parking facilities and a monorail station which will be integrated into the landscape.

Another wonder project under the aesthetically charged Zaha Hadid. Beautiful.