Yale’s Jim Vlock Building Project

The Yale School of Architecture established the Jim Vlock Building Project in 1967 and students have since been building homes in low-income neighbors ever since. Originally established by Charles W. Moore, the project was developed in hopes of students gaining experience outside the studio. Moore wanted students to “commit to positive social action by building for the poor.” This year, the students of Yale School of Architecture came up with several proposals for a home that was to be built in New Haven, Connecticut.

Jim Vlock Building Project, from dezeen.com

Jim Vlock Building Project, from dezeen.com

“Students were challenged to develop a cost-efficient and flexible design prototype that could be adapted to similar sites in New Haven and other environments across the country,” the school said in a statement for dezeen magazine. The winning proposal, judged by faculty members and guest jurors, then set out to build their low-cost home in the “economically distressed neighborhood.”

The house, constructed with red cedar, has both traditional and unique architecture. It’s interior focal point is based on “the idea of a multi-functional core.” This “core” acts as a staircase to the upper floor as well as the fixture to which the kitchen cabinetry and appliances are attached. This unique approach gives the homeowners an open floor plan to work with for their communal areas. The team used bamboo and concrete floors throughout in order to maximize on cost effectiveness.

Fortunately, the project was funded by a number of companies who donated the materials. The students also worked with NeighborWorks New Horizons, a nonprofit organization that supports the development of affordable housing, who sold the house to a local family. In previous years, Yale has also partnered with organizations like Habitat for Humanity in their efforts to create sustainable, affordable housing for their Jim Vlock Building Project.

Programs such as Yale’s are a great way to bring fresh eyes and innovative ideas into the world of architecture. It challenges students to be creative and resourceful when proposing a housing development in a low-income neighborhood. While their focus is around an economical structure, they’re still conscious of aesthetics for the homeowners.


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The Top Online Real Estate Start-Ups

As technology develops people tend to become more forward thinkers, and those same people are the ones shaping the online real estate world. Now that developers have seen the success in online real estate practices it has become somewhat of a race to the top. So who exactly are the companies in the running? According to Yulia Kozhevnikova of Tranio.com, these 5 startups are the ones to look out for.

99.com, Singapore city property hunters: This 2014 start-up aims for convenience and efficiency in their business. They offer their consumers a search option that saves them time by analyzing their behavior and suggesting relevant properties. 99.co is an online platform for urban properties of Singapore both for sale and rent. A feature on 99.co allows potential buyers to search for a home based on distance from a particular location, a metro station, or even as far as political beliefs of a community. Since launching in 2014, 99.co has raised $2.16million from investors, and as been deemed “the fastest growing web portal in Singapore.”

Online Real Estate

Another online platform shaping the real estate market comes from Washington State. Surefield is a website that provides its consumers with 3D-virtual tours inside and outside each property. Their service, also directed towards efficiency, allows for consumers to visit any property they want in an instant. Launched in 2013, Surefield.com charges 1.5% on a sale at $500,000 for their services, which is a competitive rate compared to agent commissions.

“The Airbnb for event spaces” is the next online platform worth mentioning. Splacer is a website for consumers to rent out spaces by the hour for company events, lectures, parties, etc. Currently available in New York, Israel, and Tel Aviv Splacer allows a variety of spaces including lofts, bars, studios, garages, and museums. Splacer’s motive is to “bring together owners of unique spaces with people looking to create event experiences.” Seeing as, thus far, it is a service uncomparable to other, Splacer has received funding of $1.4million from Carmel Ventures.

Essentially, each of these start-ups’ focus is around efficiency for their consumer. The real estate market is constantly conforming to the new age of technology. Consumers seek a faster, more efficient way to gain access to the real estate market they’re interested in. I’m eager to see which of these online platforms expand to reach a greater market. To read more on these start-ups check out Adrian Bishop’s article.


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Architecture Basics

Looking for a quick overview of what architecture actually is? Check out the video below by MAYA Design about architecture in a short film. This is also part of a longer explanation about Information Architecture that can be found here: What is Information Architecture?

Architecture from MAYA Design on Vimeo.

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Turner Prize Nomination, Assemble

A collective of 18 London-based artists and architects, all under 30, were recently nominated for the Turner Prize. The Turner Prize is an annual award named after the painter J. M. W. Turner, and presented to a British visual artist under the age of 30. Since 1984, the Turner award has become the United Kingdom’s most publicized art achievement celebration. Previous recipients of the award include English artist Malcolm Morley (1984), conceptual artist Gillian Wearing (1997), and general artist Duncan Campbell (2014).

Assemble, the Granby, Liverpool re-development collective of young adults, has been working with the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust (CLT) to refurbish ten abandoned terraced houses over the past two years. Although media has recently given Assemble a plethora of attention due to their placement as a Turner Award nominee, members of Assemble deflect credit back to CLT as the initiators of the current project. CLT began area development over 20 years ago.

Initially, the CLT began stand-alone plans to remodel the Granby houses until they realized they needed professional architectural help to make their vision become a tangible reality. Thus, the Assemble was recruited to map out and design the renovated properties. The CLT and Assemble have strong support and backing from the city. In the same area, 47 houses are being worked on by Liverpool Mutual Homes and 26 by Plus Dan. Assemble, a relatively new force to the coalition, began working on the homes in 2010. According to Lewis Jones, one of Assemble’s members, “A lot of us graduated in 2009 and were working for a year or so in different architecture practices. We wanted a way to be more hands on and test ideas out within the city, rather than being stuck behind a computer working on a small part of a very large project.”

As a collective of so many individuals, Assemble delegates work via buddy system. Two participants manage one project to improve accountability and work off of each other’s strengths. Assemble is currently involved with a number of projects, including designing a new art gallery for Goldsmiths College in a former Victorian bathhouse.

Other nominees for the 2015 Turner Award include Bonnie Camplin, Janice Kerbel, and Nicole Wermers.

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Tips For Selling Your Home

SellingYourHome_ AaronYashouafar

1. Know Your Market

Before you put your house on the market, research your neighborhood and plan out a timeline for your sale. Depending on your pricing and time concerns, a house can either go immediately or take up to six months to find a satisfactory buyer. If you’re in a hurry to sell, be prepared to take a deal that may be well below your expectations.


2. Build A Great Impression

You’ll want your buyer to be able to visualize themselves living in your home. Clean up nicely, fix any lighting issues, and show how spacious the property is. Keep the closets clean to show how much space there is, and open the curtains to let as much light in as possible. Also, be upfront. If they ask about conditions and problems, you don’t want to lie and get caught. Even better, have an inspector check out your property to alleviate any concerns before they come up.


3. Hire A Good Agent

Don’t hire the first realtor you find in the newspaper. Instead, ask for advice, read reviews, and interview multiple agents before making a decision. A good agent with a solid track record can make things infinitely easier for you. Look past the pretty cover and make sure he or she isn’t more concerned with their image than helping you get the right deal.


4. Pretty Up The Right Things

Some people go to great lengths to make their properties more presentable to prospective buyers. However, These high priced investments rarely bring a good return. Don’t put in the fancy chandelier or a glass sunroof just to make a good impression. Instead, use that money to upgrade the kitchen and closets. Studies have shown that they’re the things people value the most in a home, and selling prices have gone up tangibly with them upgraded, as opposed to other more expensive items, which rarely bring about any sort of return. Be smart!


5. Always Be Ready

You never know when you might need to show your place to the next buyer. Keep your property in the best condition possible so that you don’t miss an opportunity for a potential deal. If you happen to be unavailable, don’t hesitate to call back and work out a schedule that works for the both of you. Don’t leave dirty dishes lying around, or the grass uncut. Remember, the devil is always in the details!

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Common Misconceptions About Real Estate Agents

There are many different ideas the general public has about real estate agents. The most common misconception is that agents make monefor doing nothing. In fact, agents do a lot of work on a day to day basis that most people, including their clients, don’t see. Here are few other common misconceptions:

1. The biggest name is the best name

Most people try to choose the agent with the most listings. They think the realtor would have better connections, and that’s true. However, a busy agent will have less time to devote to your specific case. Compared to what probably amounts to a one-off payday, they might have regulars who will always take priority over your business. Go for the agent with the better reviews instead. They all have access to the same information, so what matters is the amount of effort they’re willing to put in for you.


2. Agents will do anything to make a sale happen

First of all, if an agent knowingly withholds or falsifies information in order to get a sale done, they are subject to lawsuits. Second, a bad review or a lack of references could sink a realtor’s ability to do business. A customer who gets duped into buying a home will eventually realize the truth, leading to a black mark on the realtor’s reputation. Better to have you walk away happy and possibly bring them more business in the future.

3. You shouldn’t tell your agent everything

Yes, some agents will only show you the most expensive houses and try to force them on you once they know your budget. However, the vast majority of them don’t have the time. Tell your agent your price range and expectations, and they’ll get you the best deal they can. If you don’t, you’ll both be wasting precious time and effort while most likely ending up compromising.


4. Real estate agents are extremely wealthy

While that may be true for the lucky few, most realtors make less than 36,000 a year. That’s enough for a decent living, but hardly what you could call rich. A realtor might make a good amount per commission, but the number of deals they actually manage to close down is extremely low, so don’t think you’re putting your hard-earned money into deep pockets. Chances are, they’re not that different from you own.


5. Real estate agents have easy schedules

While it’s true that realtors don’t have to punch timecards or be in the office from 9~5, they are at the mercy of their clients. They must be willing to get to meetings and come up with houses to check out at a moments notice, including on weekends. In a business where promptness communications are so important, real estate agents often have to sacrifice their own schedules to fit that of their clients. Their schedules are flexible, but not easy.

Also on Slideshare:


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U6 Studios Interior Design

U6 Design artists use a combination of photographic realism and VFX to produce print and digital media graphics. They provide a wide range of services from advertisement to television and cinema production. The video below is an example of their high quality interior design work. Many companies use 3D rendering to solidify a final project vision. This is just an example of what top of the line rendering can produce. Check it out.


Interior Design Animation from U6 Studio on Vimeo.

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