The broader system of environmental technologies to which air conditioning corresponds — climate and atmospheric control — was the subject of a seminar at Columbia’s GSAPP this past fall, entitled “The Artificial Cryosphere” and led by instructor Nicola Twilley, author of Edible Geography and a couple of Omnibus features that explore how the networks and flows of food determine the shape of cities. Carafa’s “Field Guide To AC Units” emerged from work she prepared for that class, alongside student projects that explored everything from ice bridges to thermoacoustic heat transfer to vending machines. The ways in which refrigeration has affected patterns of trade, industry, settlement and architecture is an under-investigated theme of urban studies, just as the sensory experience of living in a city with a lot of window AC units — humming, dripping and potentially falling on your head — is an under-observed phenomenon of urban life. Read more…
Urban Omnibus » A Field Guide to AC Units. It’s almost that time of year again, when respite from our hot and humid summers comes in the form of an ugly box we tend to stick out our windows. Despite its prevalence in the urban landscape — messing with the visual coherence of apartment building façades, introducing a variety of chemical refrigerants into the environment, or contributing to otherwise unsustainable cooling practices with excessive demands on water and energy — air conditioning is not an aspect of urbanism whose implications we often consider. What follows is Alison Carafa’s fresh and cheerful journey through some of the unintended uses for, hacks to and consequences of this unloved but, for many, indispensable addition to urban windows.
With Google announcing the launch of Voice Search for desktop, we couldn’t help thinking that there was even more fun to be had with talking to a computer. So, we went ahead and built an open source dev board to inspire people to build their own useful and wacky contraptions to take Voice Search to another level.
Blimpin’ aint easy. This year we went all out wiring up our favorite floating friend to give him some super cool features.
It all starts with the on-board pelican case full of wires and blinky lights (images below). This crazy looking box gives Blimpy the ability scour down below for things he’s in the mood for, whether it’s a Slushie from 7-Eleven, or a dance from Daisy at the local gentleman’s club.
The html5 bonanza of a site puts you quite literally in the pilot’s seat, giving you a live 24 hour-a-day view out of the windshield along with real time instrument readings. The blimp is once again the Foursquare location in the sky, and when people check in they can watch as they show up on the site, gain the Blimpspotter badge, and even get a actual badge delivered in the mail.