Dutch Architects Plan to 3D Print a House!

3D printing has come a long way, and the devices have become affordable enough for people to have them in their homes. Now, a Dutch architecture studio is planning on construction a complete house using a 3D printer.

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Read more @ Technabob

VanDamm House on Mount Rushmore in North by Northwest

The VanDamm House on top of Mount Rushmore in North by Northwest

This house reminds me of the house on stilts in Lethal Weapon 2. I’ve discovered more about it and I was actually surprised to find out that this house was never real.

The set designers on “North by Northwest” were Robert Boyle, William A. Horning, Merrill Pye, Henry Grace, and Frank McKelvey. It has not been possible to sort out exactly which of these men was responsible for the house design, but whoever did it did his homework. The final design was of a hilltop house of limestone dressed and laid in the manner made famous by Wright, along with a concrete cantilever under the living room area. The house was correctly situated just under the top of its hill; Wright was famous for saying, “of the hill, not on top of the hill.” The house’s massing- heavy with limestone in the rear where the house met the hillside, light with glass and concrete at the free end of the cantilever- was also correctly Wrightian. To the knowing, the design contained one element that would not have been used by Wright; there were steel beams supporting the cantilever. Wright would almost certainly have come up with an unsupported cantilever, as he did at “Fallingwater”, but very few viewers would know that. It is also possible that the mass audience requirements for “North by Northwest” dictated the use of the beams; Hitchcock may have felt that a true Wright cantilever would distract audiences from the plot, making them wonder what on earth was holding the house up, instead of focusing on the action. In the event, the beams also served the plot by giving Cary Grant a way to climb into the house.

The portions of the house that were actually built were the living room, part of the bedroom wing, the carport, and a bit of hillside under the living room where the cantilever beams were. Most of the construction was of interiors only, but certain areas like the outside of the bedroom wing had their exteriors finished, so that they could be shot from inside looking out, or outside looking in. The interiors were masterpieces of deception: nearly nothing was what it appeared. The limestone walls were mostly plaster, real limestone was used in a few places where the camera would be very close. The expanses of window were mostly without glass; glass reflects camera crews and lights. For a few shots where reflections were needed, and could be controlled, glass was used in some places. And in the best tradition of movie-set building, some of the walls were “breakaways”- walls that looked perfectly real and solid, but were capable of being unbolted and taken away to accommodate the bulky VistaVision ® cameras used in 1958. An enormous black velvet cyclorama surrounded the sets, to give the illusion of a deep South Dakota night. All the house sequences were deliberately done as nighttime ones, because the special effects needed to create the house’s exteriors would be best concealed that way.

The luxurious Modernism of the house extended to its furnishings.
The living room set was dressed in the best of 1958’s furniture and art, and it makes a very interesting point. The furniture is largely Scandinavian Modern. There is Chinese art, and a Pre-Colombian statue figures prominently in the action. Greek flokati rugs are on the floors. Vandamm’s spying is meant to set the nations of the world at war, but it seems they co-exist peacefully enough under his roof!

The exterior sequences were done using a pre-digital technique called ‘matting’. In matte photography, a real location or set is combined with a painting; the real portion is then made to appear part of a larger area that does not actually exist. A very famous example is when Dorothy and her friends run toward the Emerald City in “The Wizard of Oz”. The foreground with the actors and the deadly field of poppies is a set; the background is a painting. (See the sidebar article below for pictures and a simplified explanation of matting.)

And there it is- the truth about the Vandamm House. It’s not real, and it never was. It’s imagination and technology and our dreams, all wrapped up together. It’s exactly where we wanted a Hitchcock villain to live. And if it never existed in Rapid City, South Dakota, it is real where it counts- in the minds of the millions who have seen it, and loved it, and coveted it for their own.

{via Stewf}

The house viewed from afar

You Lie!

That was pretty bad. This was the shout that the world heard. Republican rep Joe Wilson shouted this at President Obama when he was delivering his speech to the house on healthcare. Bidden and Pelosi in the back of President Obama looked extremely shocked, but POTUS didn’t miss a beat. He calmly said that it wasn’t true, hunched up his left shoulder and continued on. President Obama is cool under pressure, especially when facing hecklers like Wilson.

The House was shocked. Republicans condemned the outburst. I love this site. It says that Wilson dissed the President, so they will diss Wilson right back. I read about the outburst on Schott’s Vocab, which picked my interest. To me, the expression sounds like something out of South Park:

You lie! You lie and go to Hell!
Mr. Hat to Kyle

Actually, he didn’t really say this, he just said that Kyle would go to Hell.

To be precise, Wilson shouted this out when President Obama said that healthcare wouldn’t cover illegal immigrants.

Hat House Party

Flag of the Métis people via Wikipedia
Flag of the Métis people via Wikipedia

I was over at a friend’s place for a house party on Saturday night. My roommate was supposed to go with me, but he was elsewhere. I had been playing Mass Effect most of the night and decided to hope into the shower later. I almost didn’t go, but decided that I needed to socialize with people. I rarely socialize and the only socializing I usually do is thanks to my roommates and their friends.

Things went awry when I tried calling my wife. Apparently, our internet phone line was down and it took me a while to figure this out. I left late and had to walk there as I had just missed a bus. It was only a 10 minute walk though. The hostess is an ESL teacher and most people there were ESL teachers and graduate students. It makes for a great mix of nationalities, languages and conversation.

I arrived at an apartment which was completely packed. A lot of people were squeezing around. It was a fun night. I met Angela the roommate, who’s doing a doctorate in history. She’s a self-confessed feminist. She talked like women were still stuck in the fifties. I told her that I couldn’t fathom being with a girl who wanted to stay home and take care of the kids. She liked hearing that. I had a long talk with Anne, who’s doing a doctorate in ethnology on the Métis from Saguenay. We talked about how disconnected with reality graduate students become. I told her that real life was all about money, so she wasn’t missing much.

I saw Heather and Nat again. Heather has started working at a school as an English teacher in 2nd grade. She loves it. I told her that 4th grade was the worst. 2nd is fine because the kids still respect you and your authority as a grown-up.

As the night progressed, the party-goers became more and more intoxicated. I was hit on by women and men, which is always surprising.

At one point, a lot of people left. Mihow started dirty dancing with some girls. It was kind of a spectacle since everyone was inebriated. Then again, no one really noticed. Others joined in. I found it funny and had a talk with Darryl, who wants to go teach in Doha, Qatar.

I left the party when it was winding down. It was a fun night.

AIG Spending Habits Questioned

Today, AIG execs were questioned by the House for their incredible spending habits, even in tough times like these. These execs are used to wiping their asses with $100 bills, so I’m not surprised about this. One thing that this crisis will hopefully teach these guys, is that they are always accountable. In fact, they are alway accountable to their shareholders. It makes you wonder why these execs still receive multi-million bonuses, even though their companies are making a loss.