Construction Begins on Guadalupe River House

September 13, 2014. By Ryan. 1 comment(s).

We've got a couple of design/build projects going on at the moment and we are very excited to start building the River House in New Braunfels. We started prepping the site for construction in early August and now are waiting for the pile driven pier contractor to arrive. The house is sited to weave through a cluster of trees, minimizing the amount of clearing required while still taking advantage of views to the river. 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockefeller Foundation Innovation Challenge Award

April 8, 2014. By dk. 1 comment(s).

Low Design Office has received a Centennial Innovation Challenge Award from the Rockefeller Foundation for the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform, "in support of the design, testing and implementation of a physical and digital platform that would enable young e-waste workers in Ghana to collaboratively create tools to transform e-waste materials and recyclable goods into products that could be sold for higher value." LOWDO Principal DK Osseo-Asare and Dr. Yasmine Abbas, Professeur Associé at l'Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and Director of Pan-Urban Intelligence, an urban strategic design consultancy, are co-leads on the project.

Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) is a collaborative project to upgrade the quality of life and environment at Agbogbloshie, the largest e-waste processing site in Ghana and the "worst polluted" place on Earth for 2013, according to Green Cross Switzerland and the Blacksmith Institute.

AMP contends that (domains of) architecture and electronics have converged. At such a moment -- if we can make open, democratic and collective the capability of manipulating materials from the level of chemistry up, by means of digital technology -- we can move beyond the notion of “e-waste”. Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE or 3E), old or new, constitute a vital stream of raw material for the global production chain. In particular, while there is fundamental overlap with the elemental “stuff” of digital space, it is equally important to note that the majority of EEE materials are generally recyclable such as plastics, steel, aluminum, copper, or other specialized or high-value materials.

The project seeks to create an alternate convention that links Agbogbloshie's e-waste, scrap & recycling industry with the technical know-how and social entrepreneurial framework to itself remake the landscape, over time. The approach is to design and build locally a knowledge database and set of tools for e-waste processing and digital fabrication. The intention is to empower informal sector e-waste workers and their peer groups to rehabilitate the environment of Agbogbloshie and to help green the community's current recycling practices. The short-term goal is to design and build a makerspace for the hyper-local context of Agbogbloshie, together with an open-source technology platform to support its operation. The long-term goal is to transform Agbogbloshie's e-waste and scrap industry into a network for more advanced materials processing and small-scale distributed manufacturing.

Participants in AMP work collectively to make & gain exposure to new horizons of digital fabrication, with potential for contributing to youth employment and advancement of Ghana’s maker community. To develop AMP, makers conduct a series of maker workshops (qamp or "camps"), ranging from design research to fieldwork, community outreach and workshops with stakeholders for e-waste dismantling, materials processing and prototyping solutions.

Refer to the project website for more information: http://qamp.net/

the LowDO housoffice | revealing the past

November 15, 2013. By ashley. 0 comment(s).

LowDO is slowly but steadily transforming its Southtown San Antonio location into a vibrant office space. In doing so, we want to create an inspirational office environment that celebrates the historic nature of the 1907 building that we are renovating.

The "Beauregard House" has, in its 100+ years on this site (one mile south of the Alamo), functioned as a private home, a multi-resident apartment building, a bed+breakfast, and most recently the crashpad/workspace for some software developers. While the building hasn't always received much TLC, it does have a remarkable set of remnants from these various stages of existence. So before we act as designers, we get to play the role of archeologists, uncovering clues about the past of this soon-to-be LowDO living+working housoffice.

Peeling carpet back to reveal where an outdoor porch was added-onto in order to form an enclosed dining room. Peeling drywall off to reveal various layers of paint and wallpaper on cedar shiplap.

Walls that have been opened, closed, opened and closed again. The wood pattern suggests windows that originally existed were removed in favor of closing them and inserting a door, which later was also closed off. We have uncovered three brick chimneys in the house; those and the transom windows above the doors represent some of the strategies for passive climate control that kept this house livable for most of the past 100 years (and still do, until we install an HVAC system). We have no idea what the square opening in the wall (that the yellow ladder is resting against) at the upper level was for, other than aethetic value.

We may never have the answers to some burning questions about the house, such as, "What year are these soda cans from?" (They were found among the studs in the walls.)

The house has its fair share of quirks and surprises, but it also has an incredible richness of material layered into its architecture. We look forward to utilizing these existing materials in concert with new (experimental?) finishes and details.

But before we start adding...we have some subtracting (delicate editing really) to do. Next up: three walls and half a floor come down.

Come make with us

November 2, 2013. By dk. 0 comment(s).
Are you a young architect, artist, designer or computer programmer interested in making stuff? Low Design Office is hiring for project-based design work through the first quarter of 2014.

LOWDO is an architecture and design studio based in San Antonio, Texas and Tema, Ghana that aims for more with less: we make high performance buildings, landscapes, tools and systems with low environmental impact and low energetics (efficient use of materials, optimized operations and maintenance, low carbon footprint). We contend that low is the new minimalism: meaningful aesthetics and design innovation emerge from bottom-up responses to low supply.

To date our team has worked on projects on five continents that span social design, community engagement and low-cost sustainable construction with a practical, hands-on commitment to innovative environmental research through design/build. We are looking for dynamic, highly motivated and proactive candidates with strong design, graphics and 3D modeling skills who are precise, detail-oriented and capable of working independently.

Preferred Qualifications:

. Bachelors or Masters Degree in Architecture, Art, Design or Computer Science
. Proficiency with AutoCAD and Rhino
. Working knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator)
. Experience with rendering, illustration and graphic design
. Capable of concept design and development, rapid iteration at high level
. Hands-on ability to build physical models, prototypes, construction and finish carpentry
. Any experience in the following is a plus: web development, mobile, hardware, robotics and mechatronics, metal-work, environmental science, videography and media communications

Interested candidates should submit a PDF portfolio to lowdo@lowdo.net with portfolio, resume and cover letter indicating your timeframe of availability and preference for Ghana or Texas office. Please note that given volume not all submissions may receive a response.

AIMS Ghana

October 20, 2013. By dk. 0 comment(s).

A week ago I gave a guest lecture at the Ghana campus of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Biriwa, Central Region. AIMS launched in Capetown, South Africa and was founded by theoretical physicist Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute and winner of the 2008 TED Prize. (Watch his powerful talk and vision to find the “next Einstein” in Africa.)

It was amazing to spend an afternoon overlooking the Atlantic, discussing the world of ideas with AIMS Ghana's pan-African group of young mathematical minds.

Shared notes on enterprise and entrepreneurship; the production of social versus economic value; innovation and the iterative nature of design. Full notes here.

"Stellate innovation", a design theorem that postulates a methodology for inducing urban innovation (with Yasmine Abbas):

  

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