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Remembering architect Oscar Niemeyer (RIP)

Oscar Niemeyer, builder of Brasilia and one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture, died on December 5th in Rio de Janeiro, aged 104. Rest in peace, Oscar Niemeyer!

Oscar Niemeyer Drawing - Brasilia

Three years ago, at the age of 101, when he still designed buildings every day in his office, the guys from Vice did an interview with him. A man who had build an entire city from scratch and had seen an entire century told them that nobody in this life is important. The quintessence of his architecture as put in his own words: “Architecture can’t be like Bauhaus wanted, a ‘habitation machine.’ Architecture has to be pretty. It has to amaze to be a masterpiece.” Thank you for a lot of masterpieces! For more insights in the life of a great architect you can read the whole interview with Oscar Niemeyer over at vice.com or watch the two videos with Oscar Niemeyer below.

Oscar Niemeyer interview – Part 1

Oscar Niemeyer interview – Part 2

 

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R.

Random Selection In Random Image

Random Selection In Random Image - A website by Jan Robert Leegte

Random Selection In Random Image - A website by Jan Robert Leegte

I love one-page-sites that do just what they say. They are funny, interactive or just useless and therefore great. Random Selection In Random Image .com is an outstanding, arty and quite sophisticated example of a one pager. The website was created by Jan Robert Leegte, and it does exactly what it says: it loads a random image from Flickr and it makes a random selection which looks like the Photoshop marquee tool. The website is quite addictive (not only for Photoshop geeks) and I am pretty sure you will hit the reload button a couple of times. Enjoy the double random!

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H.

How to visit a French Bakery

French Bakery - Tartelette aux framboises (c) Olive Us

Olive Us is a weekly video series created by Ben and Gabrielle Blair and featuring their six kids: Ralph, Maude, Olive, Oscar, Betty and Flora June. In Episode 5 Olive, Betty, and Ralph demonstrate how to properly visit a French bakery. The video features some of my favorite french pâtisserie like pain au chocolat, croissant and tartelette aux framboises. But there are also missing some of the best ones, like for example mille feuilles, opéra and éclair au chocolat. This video is mouthwatering and I’m happy to live in Paris with a French bakery just around the corner. Enjoy!

French Bakery - Tartelette aux framboises (c) Olive Us

All images (c) Olive Us

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M.

Multi-touch tables for the classroom of the future

Classroom of the future with multitouch desks - Synergynet

Multi-touch tables or ‘multi-user smart desks’ have been trialled in a three-year research project at Durham. More than 400 pupils and their teachers tested the new design for the classroom of the future, nick-named the ‘Star Trek classroom’. The researchers of the University’s Technology-Enhanced Learning Research Group (TEL) designed new learning environments using interactive multi-touch desks that look and act like a furniture version of an iPad. Could that be a design for the ‘classroom of the future’? A recent research paper suggests that this new classroom design supports the learners’ collaboration and interaction.

Classroom of the future with multitouch desks - Synergynet

Collaboration and interaction in the classroom of the future

TEL’s interactive classroom solution is called SynergyNet. It is designed to achieve active student engagement and learning by sharing, problem-solving and creating. To test the new design TEL learning experts compare the achievement to groups performing the same task in a standard or paper-based versions.

For their latest research paper TEL looked at small groups of 10- to 11-year-old children who undertook a history task. They had to connect various pieces of information about a mining accident to reach a consensus about who had been responsible. Their interaction using traditional paper-based resources was compared with their interaction when using a multi-touch table. The researchers found that the design and capabilities of the multi-touch technology offers some key features that supported the collaboration and interaction of the participants, particularly in the early stages of the task.

Using a Kinect to run the classroom

The TEL learning experts based their research and design on the simple principle that seeing what your friends are doing, and being able to fully participate in group activities, offers new and effective ways of working in class. The new classroom system means that the ‘move-to-use’ whiteboard is replaced by and connected to the new desks that can be both screen and keyboard. TEL also conducted a first pilot study enabling teachers to use the Kinect to run the SynergyNet classroom.

Even though SynergyNet’s design for the classroom of the future is still in its early stages, this new vision of the classroom is a promising, engaging approach to put technology in the learning equation.

You can also find the SynergyNet project and software on the Google code repository: https://synergynet.googlecode.com. If you’re interested in developing with SynergyNet read this article by TEL team member James McNaughton.

All images (c) Synergynet

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P.

Pencil sculptures by Jessica Drenk

In her sculptures Jessica Drenk transforms familiar objects – such as books, pencils and toothpicks – into nature-inspired forms and patterns. My favorite is definitely Jessica’s “Implement” series. For this series she used glue and pencils to create nature inspired pencil sculptures. Each one is made of several thousands of pencils. After being glued together the artist applies a belt sander among other power tools before finishing each piece by hand. Jessica’s elegant pencil sculptures blur, deconstruct and inverse the boundaries between natural and man-made things.

“Manufactured goods appear as natural objects, something functional becomes something decorative, a simple material is made complex, and the commonplace becomes unique.” (Jessica Drenk)

Pencil sculpture by Jessica Drenk

All images © Jessica Drenk

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