growing up to be #BIG… ?

Posted in projects, sustainability by DS26 on 01.06.2011

As we quickly approach yet again another graduation, a license and legitimate practice, and the place in adulthood of no return (and no excuses)… we continue to strive to understand what it is DS26 will be.

We spend a lot of time looking at firms that we greatly admire, BIG among others.

Bjarke Ingels, a 36 year old Danish guy with fantastic architectural vision and mad skills to retain private developers as perpetual clients, has lead BIG (the Bjarke Ingels Group) to become one ‘universal’ practice. He’s being recognized for his radical aesthetics yet he insistently retains sustainability as a core value in the work… creating many instances of daylighting, endless paths for pedestrians, and must-have routes for bicyclists. BIG recently opened shop in NY.

One should have great admiration for such projects accomplished as the mountain and the 8 house.

We always joke saying “we want to be like BIG when we grow up”… but is it really this BIG?


Spontaneously the both of us continue to feel there has to be more to life than simply a design-service pratice… and more to life than design for money. That sustainability does matter a great deal. And that there must be a way we can actually have a BIG-ger impact.

We (definitely I) don’t want to deal with the everyday headaches I’ve already experienced… client-based practice, billing, contract issues… and in this market? We (definitely Bobby) would much rather experience design in its pure form, unapologetic, unbound by the mundane. See design actually change lives… that it becomes appreciated… enjoyed.

I, particularly, think education is a great part of my calling. I want to educate through Arts+Sciences. I mentioned in my “death” the High Tech Center.

So maybe we should be looking at other big ones, with a different type of architecture and maybe a bit more impact, like Samuel Mockbee

Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee (12/23/1944 – 12/30/2001) dedicated his life, as a teacher and as an architect, to creating architecture that not only elevated the living standards of the rural poor but also provided “shelter for the soul.”

He, with his Rural Studio at Auburn, managed to lift many spirits in the rural south. His architecture was BIG in other ways.

Also Michael Reynolds (aka Garbage Warrior), who in his own quirky way is slowly building what he calls ‘biotecture’.

Reynolds’ work is so radical, even the AIA banned him from his credentials at one point.

We recommend you watch the movie ‘Garbage Warrior’ because in a little bit of his madness, it actually makes sense. He builds a city with man hours in exchanged for your eventual own home. He uses garbage disposed (by the megatons) every day as building materials… and with it he is creating a completely self-sustained community. Talk about a living city

Here’s your sneak peek… Believe me it’s so worth your time…

> We think there’s something to this “helping others” and “truly sustainable practice” thing…


ProBono Architecture…

Posted in responsibility by DS26 on 12.19.2010

We firmly believe that good architecture is a public right and not the wealthy’s priviledge.

With that said, we have made a commitment to regularly help 501c(3) and other community-based organizations develop their projects. We are a registered group under  the 1%.

So if you, or someone you know is looking for some help… and are a 501c(3) exempt organization (or pending) let us help you.

We have the combined experience of nearly 20 years in architecture and construction, most of which we have spent in completing public works.

Send us a note telling us more about your goals : Tabitha@DS26.com

let’s talk CONCRETE(ly)..

Posted in a design education_@Duke by DS26 on 05.28.2010


. . . + C H E M I C A L   A D M I X T U R E S  +  R E I N F O R C E M E N T . . .

Simply put, the material rules our world. It can be found everywhere from infrastructure (roads, bridges, tunnels, highways, etc) to buildings, sidewalks, furniture, and more.

Understandably, it is so widely used because of “permanence”. It’s ability to exist, its strength, and to resist wear and tear, all for a really long time.

Don’t take me wrong… we love it. Concrete that is. It can be ‘formed’ at will.

[ formed: cast – in – place by means of wood formwork ]

Why are we discussing it if it’s loved, widely used, and “permanent” ?

Good question !

Concrete is really old, and common place. At one point in time, back before we lost its recipe (after the fall of the Roman Empire) it might have been a ‘Sustainable’ material.

Today, the process of making concrete is everything but sustainable.

Also, we’ll look to see if there are alternatives…

IN HISTORY [ Opus Caementicium ]

Caesarea Maritima, city harbor built by Herod the great (25-13 B.C.) now found in ruins in the mediterranean coast of Israel, is the earliest known use of underwater Roman Concrete technology.

Types of Concrete, as well as preparation methods and instructions, can be found in the “Ten Books of Architecture” by Vitruvious, dating back to 25 B.C.



‘Clinker’ is made by combining limestone and clay, and heating in kiln at 1450 d C. (2642 d F.)

Following, the clinker is ground to powder form. Now clinker, in raw material is a combination of elements such as calcium, silicon, aluminum, oxygen, and iron.

[ So far so good… sustainably. Or so it seams. What about the grinding process ? The equipment required ? or the energy used ?… and furthermore, the energy that is used by the kiln ? ]


Water will be the agent to take cement into the process of ‘hydration’.

Depending on water to cement ratio, one can control workability versus strength.


Fine or coarse. Usually sand, crushed stones, and other natural material.

Most of the time recycled aggregates (those from previously demolished material) can be used in mix design, helping preserve those ‘sustainable’ construction methods.

So… they are all natural materials ?… Doesn’t that make it ‘Sustainable’ ?

The answer to that, sadly, is no.

Even though all materials are natural, the processes we use to crush and grind the materials, the energies used in the ‘kilns’, and even all of the oil used for transport, and emissions, actually create one very un-sustainable cycle.



Additional substances that, combined with the Basic Composition of concrete, will give the material additional desired qualities or specific characteristics.

EXAMPLES of Admixtures:

1. Superplasticizer: increases strength by reducing needed water in mix.

2. Accelerator: reduces time needed for curing.

3. Retarding: increases time needed for curing.

4. Pigment: adds color to concrete.

[ curing: the process of the concrete drying, while gaining strength… must be according to engineered mix design, strength desired, etc. ]

Unlike the basic composition of concrete, now we have seen that artificial additions are made for either looks or characteristics.

This ‘artificiality’ only exacerbates our ‘sustainability’ (lack thereof) problem.


Reinforcement is steel, in the form of bars or ties.

Concrete is reinforced because without it the material is weak in ‘tension’. Concrete without reinforcement is good only in ‘compression’.

Reinforcing Steel (or commonly ‘rebar’) is made of carbon steel, carbon as an alloying natural base, but then manufactured into ribbed barks.

And, you guessed it ! … creating ribs cannot be too sustainable.

For a Bigger Picture of the material, and processes related, do refer to bottom of post for the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels – Concrete”


Listen in to a leader in the forefront of bio-material development. The video will speak for itself…

But, isn’t Rachel Armstrong just speaking of an idea ? a concept ? … she is not showing us anything.

well, that is true, but hold on.. there are other people that are diving into this with some physical evidence.


Correct !

for example, Ginger Krieg Dosier, an assistant architecture professor, received the 2010 Next Generation Design Competition award for the development of a bio-brick.

– Dosier’s act of alchemy was to apply science to design. “There are thousands of examples of microbial mineral precipitation in the scientific literature, but few if any of them have been explored for use in fabrication of construction or design materials”

( excerpt from Metropolis Magazine )

For more on her design / development, you can visit the article for [ Next Generation Design ]


Also, let’s listen to someone that’s thought up a natural remedy for concrete…

Bio-Concrete. He poses the possibility of “maintenance and repair in the future”… but

what if we could implement the same natural processes for simply its creation ?

BIOMIMICRY (or Biomimetics):

A new emerging science where natural processes, systems, and materials, are being emulated for the creation of problem solutions.

The one at hand : Architecture and Construction.

If you are interested in learning more about Biomimicry, visit the [ Biomimicry Institute ]