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Oops and back..

April 1, 2008

Dear reader,

Whether you are a city guy, an archi girl, a design freak or just a random blogsweeper, I want to thank you for your belief in my short writings at this address.. Unfortunately I have neglected this spot for a while since I started my professional tasks in an architectural workshop here in Brussels. I’m working on different exciting projects in the domain of architecture and design, two things i’m fond of!

Since my job is a little sensitive on some parts of these domains, I won’t write explicitly about those specific projects, but I’m quite sure there are many other interesting things going on to share with you! I’m reading a lot, these last days, on the developement of Brussels as an internationally oriented city and I’m getting some thoughts on sharing some of these articles with you. You can smack your chops that’s gonna be interesting! Just give me some more time since all week long I’ll be celebrating my 1/4 century’s birthday!! Congrats to myself and see you @ Bulex this saturday 5 april!!

Also, since I take a train like every day of the week, I’m getting inspired by those neglected spaces in the middle of the city alongside undefined borders and hollow tunnels. That seems to be a starting point to show off some photographs on these architectually interesting non-spaces. I gathered some knowledge while writing my master thesis on “uncanny” architecture but was thinking of turning this information into practice. You’ll be finding this out pretty soon I hope!

Last but not least, I’m working on a newly designed blog that will be available soon on-line. Brace yourself!

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Harder Better Faster Stronger

January 24, 2008

The way music videos should be! 🙂 

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Flock 1.0: The social web browser

January 10, 2008

Flock (Media Streams)

After erasing my iBooks hard drive – which became quite overloaded since the last few projects – I was coping with the problem that Apple’s Safari 3 still being in the state of a public beta version, could not open every single webpage as most so called web designers still haven’t got rid of their blinkers yet.

Ebay is one of those websites on which logging on using the Safari web browser just wouldn’t work. Anyhow it’s really none of my business which platform people use to develop their website, it still seems quite disappointing for the world’s leading website in online auctions to have a website which cannot be accessed through the third largest web browser!

So I rushed myself to the Apple Downloads page and scrawled around for a nice alternative. I had used Camino before, which is a good and very fast browser for os-x but I somehow was attracted by a new browser named Flock.

People use the Web today in extremely different ways than they did a decade ago. However, web browsers – the application at the center of all that we do online – has not kept pace with these changes in online behavior. Flock, that calls itself the social web browser, was founded on the vision that the web browser can and should enable the richest user experience possible across information-gathering, sharing, communication, self-expression and interaction. Flock is built on Mozilla technology and has therefore the power to be some piece of reliable open-source software.

But why would anyone in the world start using a new and unknown web browser? Well, the funeral of Netscape earlier this month could be an argument to do so… But there’s a much smarter reason why. It has a powerful rss reader built-in which actually puts data from your favourite websites as well as your social networks right at the surface of your browsing interface.

Flock has some nifty side bars, top bars and tabs that flawlessly stream updates of your most precious entourage’s media, news and messages in networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Flickr. The RSS feeds pane may not be that advanced as it is in dedicated news readers, but the fact that it’s right there where you expect it, right at the moment when you’re expecting it, is just.. wel.. just nice!

Flock (Feeds)Flock (My World)

One can carry its del.ici.ous or ma.gnolia right into the browser interface without having to actually lose the time opening the website. Or you can directly preview Google Maps directions from your home to an address that figures on a website with one single mouse click.

Personally I got addicted to the People’s side bar which displays real time status updates and messages my contacts in Facebook wrote, or to the Media bar which streams the latest photographs of my favourite groups and contacts on Flickr, or which previews the media content of an open web page without actually having to browse trough it.

Flock may not be the best browser in the world, for those who are webwise socially engaged trough blogs and social networks, this is a decent and fun way to experience the web in 2.0 style!

Available for OS-X, Windows and Linux

http://www.flock.com/

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Some toughts on a sweet 2008…

January 2, 2008

First and foremost I wish all of you a sweet 2008 with lots of love, luck and money!

2008 hopefully brings some positive stress and productive results for myself, but I also wish others some fine results, especially some politicians… I intend to write you some more frequent about architecture and design here in Brussels, and will soon start working on a decent website, too.

Some other wishes for this year are the addition of some new destinations to my humble travel list. I just got back from Paris, where I celebrated both the last and the first day of both years. Didn’t saw any fireworks, at least not at the Champs ElysĂ©es, but we did have a nice dinner in a trendy restaurant and lived the action together with 400.000 others at Europe’s most beautiful avenue…

Champs Elysees 31122007

New York and MontrĂ©al, CN are on my list, but I’d love to make some free time for a trip to the South as well. Suggestions for other destinations or nice places to see in both NYC and MontrĂ©al are welcome!

I have plenty of new stuff to post but haven’t got the time yet to write a story around all of these subjects. Design and architecture are omnipresent, but I have got some “lighter” content pending as well. Also, I know lots of you, just as myself, speak Dutch, but I’d prefer to continue my writing in English for various reasons.

It only remains for me to wish you once more a bright 2008!

Greetings,
Francis.

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A peek on the future Schuman Station

December 9, 2007

schuman 1

schuman 3

It has been a while since the last post, but I’ve got plenty of new ideas to post!

I’d like to start with a first brief preview on the metamorphosis of the Schuman station in Brussels. This station actually situated behind the Berlaymont Building will be extended to be one of the largest main subway stations in town. The station will serve the existing train station, the renovated subway station and the new train station that is nowdays being built under the rue de la Loi / Wetstraat, between the Berlaymont Building and the Residence Palace (near the Schuman Square). The new station will be situated at the end (start) of the brand new RER-rail tunnel Schuman-Josaphat. The platforms of the new RER-station will rest upon the existing subway station in order to create a higly inter-modal junction.

schuman 2 schuman 4
From an architectural point of view, this new complex aims to pay a lot of attention to the practical organization and the incidence of light in order to provide a comfortable way of transfer between the new RER/GEN suburb railway system, the subway system and the inter-city train system. Remarkable is the new glass roof that will flank the exit of the tunnel used by cars and that actually attracts daylight into the subway station.

The subway station, a realization of “W.J. & M.C. Van Campenhout” will shortly be overhauled and will incorporate both subway and trains in the same space.

The information used for this article comes from the newsletter “GEN-krant” edited by the NMBS/SNCB-BELIRIS.

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Thurn & Taxis update

November 3, 2007

T&T Developent (2007)

Computer image courtesy of Ateliers LION, architectes & urbanistes, Paris.

Some time passed since the latest update on the Thurn & Taxis site development in Brussels. This ancient industrial site close to the city centre harboured once the Belgian Royal Warehouses. Due to the opening of European borders and the evolution of transport, the site was put for sale in the late 80’s and became abandoned little by little.

An early development project at the beginning of the year 2000 proposed “Music City”. This was a project that foreseed the reconversion of the Royal Depots into a huge concert hall. As far as I remember there were concerns on the roof structure that wasn’t protected yet back then. The project met with lots of opposition and got abandoned.

In 2001, Robelco and Lease Invest mounted a joined venture named T&T. The hunting for a new development was open. They attracted study and design teams to effect a thorough feasability study. And today we know the results of that study. The picture below shows a rendering picture containing some early lines of force for the developement of the site. Basically, nothing will happen there at all! It’s just a 13 in a dozen drawing with some greenery fields – call it “a parc”. A pity they did not portray the cows and sheep…

The humble tower at the upper south of the site (upper right) is nothing but a down toning of the ambitious visions of specialized teams around well known architecture critics. Well – honestly – it’s not from a big “promotor” that we should expect architectural statements – at the utmost some modern commercial rubbish. That’s why I already proclaim the Brussel’s Tour & Taxis / Thurn & Tassis site tis decade’s flop!

Comments are welcome…

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LOTR: How it should have ended…

November 2, 2007

Some of you know already that ever since the trilogy came out, I had been a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings. But hey, 3 hours of non-stop movie weighs a lot on your bladder! That’s why this hilarious alternative is non that bad!- “Throw in the Ring, Frodo!”- “Weeeee…”