This week, we were assigned to find a room or space in Copenhagen, which we were to analyze in terms of lighting conditions, accoustic conditions, etc. This project is for a minor presentational poster we are to make by Monday, which is part of our current workshop (Technology). The field work was to be done groups of three. Our group decided to visit some of the new apartments in Bjarke Ingels Group's (BIG) 8-tallet (8-tallet is Danish for "the number 8" - referring to the shape of the complex). In order to visit the apartments, I contacted the entrepreneur of the building (and also BIG's VM-apartments and the VM-mountain in Ørestad, Copenhagen). Per Høpfner as he is called, agreed to give us a quick tour of the building yesterday morning, as well as give us a new perspective about architect and entrepeur relations.

The mentioned Mr. Høpfner, was a rather interesting character. His looks were those of the stereotypical Hollywood capitalist, followed by a matching personality and attitude. At first sight, it was clear to see that he was a no-time-for-nonsense type of person, getting straightly and directly to the point with things. He gave half an hour of his rather busy work time to wander around the building and into some of its apartments, while also acting as a tour-guide. I'll have to admit that I've never before experienced such a hasty tour, and the things we were told weren't lengthy stories of how the building came to be as one would expect, but rather straightforward facts.

The most interesting part of the tour was not so much the building itself from my point of view, but rather the comments and facts that were told by the mentioned Per Høpfner. Being an entrepreneur, he naturally focused a great deal on the economic elements of the architecture. Among the many things he managed to tell us during the tour, was that it is really important for architects to stay realistic when it comes to the construction budget - a thing that from his own experience, can often be rather problematic. Many of his other comments were also focused on economical aspects, and being more focused on design and such, I instinctively disagreed with many of his oppinions. But then again, entrepreneurs are the people paying for architects' projects, so like it or not, you're going to have to stay realistic with their demands. Being a first year student, I have yet a long way before having to face entrepreneurs, but since the architectural school doesn't have an obligatory economical course, Per Høpfner's views have thought me an early lesson of having to mind economic realitys when the time comes for such matters. I'm futhermore very grateful for the kind Mr. Per Høpfner who found time in his busy workday to give us the tour. Thank you!

Further reading:

- Andy Minchev


Concrete Ocean is a series of urban installations by a street artist by the name of Slinkachu. The installations consist of miniature people-figures that are placed in real-life locations, to create scenes that are similiar to those of actual real life situations. This is achieved by heavy zooming into tiny urban areas (or rather elements) such as lamp posts, sidewalks, etc.

The interesting thing is that there is a huge focus on those tiny spaces that we hardly ever notice in the urban landscape, spaces such as a tiny crack on a railing or the little space created between the meeting spot of a wall and the ground, and so on. From an architectural perspective, I believe that such unnoticed miniature spaces might just have some strong, unexplored architectural potential. Next time you're moving around town, you might want to take an extra look at those tiny spots, because you never know what fascinating tiny spaces you might find. The artist's street art photography is currently displayed in London's Andipa Gallery.

Further reading:

- Andy Minchev


We just ended a three week 3D course last week. The 3D course focused on SketchUp and a renderer called Maxwell, as well as how to best upload traditional drawings in a mix with traditional 3D rendering, and a quick photography course as well. Most of us in my department have been using SketchUp for quite a while now, so besides som minor tips and tricks the course was basically a revisit to the elements of the program that we know. Of course there were also some who were new to the program as well. 

Now having said that much of the material in the course wasn't all that new to most of us, I have rather few things to showcase in this post. Since my renderings are nothing new (they look a whole lot like the pictures I took for my Light and Sound Art Center project - link to the project is at the bottom of this post), I've decided to show some other illustrations I've made instead. I have before done technical illustrations of projects as I believe I also have uploaded here on the blog, but since another important theme in this course was to experiment with personal styles in illustration of a project, I decided to try to make shaded and textured sections instead of traditional ones. I furthermore gave the illustrations some artificial soft shadows in Photoshop to give the illustrations a sort of 3D feeling and an illusionary depth.

As I also mentioned, we worked with the renderer called Maxwell (link bellow as well). Now as far as I understood, this renderer those a great effort to mimic a real-life camera. This is also very clear in its render adjustments and options. It seems indeed to be able to create photo-esque renderingers and many real-life camera adjustments such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO values are adjustable. Furthermore it is really quite easy to use - Even for more advanced settings it seems to be rather user-friendly. But then again comes the necessary evil. If I've experienced something, it's that almost all such programs have their issues, and this one is certainly no exception. The greatest problem with Maxwell is its ridiculousy slow rendering speed! 

I spent an hour for each image, and even after that sort of time, photographic grains plagued most of the renderings! Now I now that almost all renderers are required a great amount of time before the pictures rendered look really good, but never have I experienced a renderer as slow as Maxwell! That said, it really ain't worth the time if you ask me! I used to work with V-Ray and that worked just fine, being MUCH faster than most renderers and especially Maxwell! I do have to admit, that I am still in the fase of searching for a good CAD program and a good rendering program, but I guess that is quite normal for a first year student to be wondering about.

Further reading:

(P.S. I'll be sorting Courses under Workshops since I believe they sort of fall in the same category in our sense of work)

- Andy Minchev


Skateistan: To Live and Skate in Kabul is a short, 10 minute documentary about a young group of skaters in the war-plagued country of Afghanistan. I highly recommend you go to the YouTube site to watch the video in HD.

The documentary itself doesn't directly focus on architectural and urban themes, but the footage of the capital of Kabul - a city wrecked by the destruction of war - is amazing. It is interesting (and to say the least, rather tragic as well) to see how the Afghani urban society interacts with and lives in such a city of ruins. The story told in the documentary is furthermore one of hope. It shows how young Afghanis, despite their tragic conditions, seek to live out their passion, and how they seek ways to skateboard and play in areas that are utterly destroyed. The young skateboarders' ability to interact with the ruins of war and decayed architecture in an entertaining manner is utmost inspiring and brave. The story itself is a strong and dramatic one, about how a young generation tries to ignore the condition of its society, and seek joy and serenity - A generation that is hoping for a brighter future.

- Andy Minchev


Never have I seen a city have so few garbage cans! I know it sounds odd, but this was one of the first things I noticed during the first two days of my stay in London. From the very moment I claimed my bagage at London Gatwick airport, I struggled to find a rubbish bin, in which I could dispose my bagage sticker. I fortunately  succeeded in the end, but I have to say the search was long! Besides the whole garbage can issue, my trip was delightful to say the least. I stayed in the suburban town of Kingston - home of Kingston University London - where my host studies psychology. Since this is an architectural blog, I'll do my best to stick to the architectural content, rather than making this a post about my personal holiday. I've taken a great deal of photos during my visit, and since this might end up being a rather lengthy post, I'll try to upload as many as possible to ease the long reading. By the way, it was raining practically speaking all of the time, so it was some challenge taking good photos! In many cases I was forced to take pictures from sheltered areas, due to the heavy rain.

So having mentioned the whole garbage can issue, London seems to have a greater problem than that. Before I go on to explain and comment on this metropolitan issue, do keep in mind that what I write in this blog is most often my personal views and oppinions on the architectural universe, so whether my writings are right or wrong, well, that is always a discussible subject - as are a lot of general things in the architectural line of work. This issue that I speak of, is London's infrastructure.

The thing about it is that the city is often somewhat messy. Vast lengths of the streets are patched up in different patches of asphalt, sidewalks are covered with patterns of old dried-out chewing gum, that has become one with the sidewalks, and at the railway stations, the metal beams and pillars that hold the stations' long shelters are covered in rust. Such infrastructural issues would seem unnoticeable, but once they gather in great numbers, they seem to become quite clear in the urban landscape. To be fair, London, being perhaps Europe's greatest city and a with a population of 7,5 million, is so huge in its size, that keeping the infrastructure perfect may be a somewhat impossible task - especially during these days when budget cuts are ever so common due to the global economic situation.

Besides the infrastructural issues that London faces, I also believe that the city often has some issues with integrating modern architecture with historic architecture. As I have experienced, the two most dominant architectural styles in London are industrial-era architecture and modernist/brutalist architecture. These two have little in common, and since London doesn't seem to have taken great consideration to integrate the two architectural styles so they coexist harmoniously, the urban image is often one that shows a somewhat messy mix up of different architectural styles. Again, I have to admit that I haven't read on the history of London (I visited the Museum of London, but only briefly, so I didn't manage to get in detail with the history), so I'm judging based on what I saw and how I experienced it. I furthermore believe that my photo above illustrates what I'm talking about, regarding the whole architectural contrast.

As you may have noticed, I'm really trying to be critical here, but the fact is that I actually like London. Sure it has its flaws, but don't all cities? And once again, I'm quite sure that many of these flaws can be related to the colossal size of this British metropolis - It must really be some challenge to maintain a city of such dimensions! But the thing is, when you ignore the architectural flaws and such, it is a city that is bustling with life, and I have to admit that the British people are rather friendly and open (at least that's what I experienced). A city having great life, isn't that what it's all about? It is also a city of many architectural monuments, such as The Gherkin on the photo above, or Big Ben below. 

It is a city of greatness. One with a long and powerful history. After all, it was once the capital of the greatest empire on earth, and traces of its greatness still characterize the city this very day. Having made a brief visit to the London Building Center, I saw that upcoming projects in the capital are pointing towards a more sustainable London, and projects that better the city's infrastructure were plentiful as well. Furthermore, developement is bustling (well, as much as it can anyway, in these economically harsh times) due to the upcoming 2012 olympic games. The great city of London has far from lost its greatness, and the future looks promising. I could write much, much more on the subject of this great city, but I'll end this post before my enthusiasm seduces me to write for hours and hours. Below are a few links for those interested in knowing more about London.

Further reading: 

- Andy Minchev


Most modern cities are still plagued by huge dull and gray industrial buildings. Buildings such as factories and powerplants. What do these have and common and why are they so ugly? Well basically, they are completely functional structures - They are designed in a way that only serves their function, and in a way that is as economically cheap as possible. The result of designing in such a manner has resulted in massive unwelcoming structures, that are intended solely for the use of workers and for production. To be fair, there are people who actually like such buildings and rural industrial areas, due to the murky and somewhat mysterious dystopian spaces that they create, but let's face the facts, I can surely say that the majority of the public dislikes such buildings and areas. But what if such buildings were to be made more welcoming to the general public? What if industrial buildings and their surroundings became areas of great entertainment and pleasant places, which one would joyfully want to visit?

The picture above is a rendering of the infamous Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels' (BIG) newest project. The project is a design for a waste-to-energy plant just four kilometers from downtown Copenhagen. As you may have noticed, the building may not look much look as a traditional industrial plant, and guess what, it really isn't. As a matter of fact it as a building that flirts with architectural styles of the likes of Las Vegas. The thing about this structure is, that besides being a waste-to-energy plant... It also functions as an all-year ski slope!

Now having mentioned the possibilites of making industrial areas more appealing to the general public, this is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Making a building that normally would repeal people into a tourist magnet and a popular activity area (and yes, I'm quite sure that this building will become extremely popular, due to the fact that Denmark has just about no mountains, and quite the few skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts). There is no doubt that this sort of industrial architecture can render empty industrial areas into the likes of amusement parks! By going for a Las Vegas Effect in a desert of industry, this building may just prove that rethinking such structures can perhaps change the ways people interact with entire neighbourhoods. 

It is of course too early to judge the success of this building. The concept seems ideal, but even so, time has proven that anything can happen in the world of architecture. This new waste-to-energy plant has furthermore some (discussible) flaws and issues, such as aesthetic problematics. The thing on that point, is that I believe that the structure is just a bit too massive. It is clear that it is supposed to symbolize a mountain with the ski slopes and everything, but I have to tell you that the area around it is rather flat, so the structure might become far too dominant. Furthermore, some details about the concept seem a bit kitschy, such as the pine trees on some of the levels of the structure - This, I believe, crosses the border between a symbolic mountain design, and one that almost directly resembles a mountain, thus once again creating a bit of a cheesy structure. But that of course is a thing of aesthetical opinion. Besides such details, I believe this structure will dramatically change the attractiveness of the industrial area, and might as a matter of fact begin a new architectural trend in industrial design. Who knows, we might just end up having rollercoasters on factories and waterparks in warehouses some day!

Further reading: http://www.big.dk/

- Andy Minchev


As my studies progress, our assignments and projects grow lengthier, thus the time between postings here on the blog would probably grow larger and larger. I have therefore decided to begin posting about stuff that interests me in the architectural sense, that is not directly connected to my studies - Spare time interests if you will. This post is about an exhibition called "Postcards from the Future" and is currently exhibited at the museum of London till the 6th of March this year. Since I'll be visiting London next week (and possibly this specific museum) I thought I'd share this.

The exhibition is as the name "Postcards from the Future" implies, an exhibition about the future of London. To be more specific, it is about a dystopian London, that has been affected by global warming to an extreme degree. The exhibition features fictional visualisations of a (perhaps realistic) London that has been ravaged by natural catastrophies such as floodings and extreme weather conditions. Furthermore, it also simulates immigration tendencies as a result of global climatic change. When third-world populations are left with barren lands and hunger, they might at some point breach the fortified walls of Europe and immigrate in massive numbers, causing nightmarish infrastructural results. The picture below - yet another from the exhibition - illustrates this issue, (to a rather extreme degree perhaps, but you get the picture) through a London which is quite litterally flooded with slums, or shanty towns, as the exhibitors have named them.

Whether or not the future of London and other European cities will be such, well, only time can tell I guess. But with rapidly rising global populations and shortage of food (and rising prices of the mentioned), this scenario may just be frighteningly realistic. There is no doubt that future urban planning and architecture will be strongly affected by such global conditions and fortunately, it seems that the problem is in focus amongst many architects, city planners, designers, etc. Let's just hope that we're finding solutions faster than the issues are growing!

- Andy Minchev


Today I happened to have a load of spare time, so I decided to take a look at the blog. I quickly realized that the layout and design needed a new touch, and the logo above just didn't fit in. So I spent about two hours trying to make a concept for a new logo. During this time, I experimented with dozens of different complex logos, but at the end, I realized (as so many times before) that the most simple solution, was the most aesthetically pleasing one. Perhaps I should begin with the simple concepts next time I start on such a project! Furthermore, I've taken a look at the layout of the blog, and decided to narrow the main text area, in order to make the text "tighter" and thus more readable. The font has been changed from Arial to Calibri due to its elegance, and finally, I've also narrowed the side-menu, and simplified my personal introduction into one single textbox instead of the rather job-application layout with name, occupation, etc. Hope you find this new layout more pleasant and orderly!

- Andy Minchev


On Thursday the 3rd of February, we had a short one-day intro course to photography. It was a course that covered the basics of photography, and focused mostly on the compositions' of photos. Having been given a new DSLR camera for Christmas, it was very exciting for me to start working with photography this way, so expect much more photography (especially architectural) to be uploaded here on the blog. I'll be visiting London nexy week, so I expect many photos will be taken! Here are a few of the pictures I took yesterday, they mostly focus on contrasts:

- Andy Minchev