The smart folks over at ANIMAL have created this handy single-serving site called Medal Count which is regularly updated with the medal counts from the 2012 London Olympics. It’s simple, no fuss interface gives you the rundown of who’s winning what as well as the ability to favorite and keep track of 4 of your favorite countries. There’s even a little schedule which is geolocated to your position so you can easily see what events are coming up and when you can watch them. Really nice work on this.
For whatever reason I hadn’t seen the design of the London Olympic medals, so I thought I’d look them. As you can see above they’re a nice blend of both contemporary and classic, featuring the image of Nike flying out of the Parthenon to go to London (their words, not mine). That’s pretty straightforward, and while I like the main side, the reasoning seems a bit… silly.
– The curved background implies a bowl similar to the design of an amphitheatre.
– The core emblem is an architectural expression, a metaphor for the modern city, and is deliberately jewel-like.
– The grid suggests both a pulling together and a sense of outreach – an image of radiating energy that represents the athletes’ efforts.
– The River Thames in the background is a symbol for London and also suggests a fluttering baroque ribbon, adding a sense of celebration.
– The square is the final balancing motif of the design, opposing the overall circularity of the design, emphasising its focus on the centre and reinforcing the sense of ‘place’ as in a map inset.
I really like the 2012 design, but really? It seems like there was a lot of desperate thought put into that description. Nonetheless, I think the design feels extremely contemporary and exciting. You even have to admit that the 2012 logo that everyone loves to hate looks good as extruded metal.
You can read more about the medals by clicking here.
The first ever basketball shoe to feature Nike Air-Sole units for cushioning, the AF1 was originally released in 1982. Thirty years after its birth, the footwear icon is modernized with a reflective upper to celebrate the medal stand look. Inscribed on the left and right foot insole reads “land of the free,” and “home of the brave” respectively.
I got to wear these in yesterday and they’re pretty awesome. The first thing I noticed was the reflective material on the top… or maybe you don’t. There’s this subtlety to the material, which only in specific lighting the shoes appear to glow, it’s really fantastic. When I think about the future, it’s subtleties like that which come to mind. It’s not like you’re wearing dorky, glowing shoes, these are well thought out pieces of design which sit on your feet.
The other thing that really stood out to me is the transparent sole which makes them even cooler, in my mind. It gives the shoe a lightness, almost like you’re walking on air or light. Thankfully though there are no LEDs in the bottom of the shoe, making it look like you’re a grown-up toddler.
The shoes are being released today in the UK and I think around Europe, and then released here in the U.S. next week.
I have avoided talking about the convoluted mass of red steel and coiled stairs that stands next to the Olympic stadium because I’m not sure how I feel about it, let alone how to talk about it. This project has a name: Orbit Tower, and was designed as a collaboration between Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond. Since it looks like the tower will be in virtually every aerial shot of the stadium, maybe you’d like to know what exactly it is. It’s a tower with viewing platforms. And, of course, it’s so much more.
“I wanted the sensation of instability, something that was continually in movement. Traditionally a tower is pyramidal in structure, but we have done quite the opposite, we have a flowing, coiling form that changes as you walk around it. … It is an object that cannot be perceived as having a singular image, from any one perspective. You need to journey round the object, and through it. Like a Tower of Babel, it requires real participation from the public” — Anish Kapoor
Undoubtedly many folks will participate in the project during the Olympics, and even more afterwards. Orbit tower is the tallest work of art in London. For a mere 15 pounds you can take an elevator to the top of the perplexing steel arcs look out across the city. If you can also see inside the stadium, the cost of the ticket may save you a hefty amount compared to the cost of a ticket to sit inside the stadium.
This short animation is merely a preview for a longer animation that the BBC will use in a title sequence for the London 2012 games. It’s a pretty simple idea: showing athletes training around the UK… in a stadium that apparently wraps around the entire country– but what’s particularly nice about the animation is the attention to detail. Everything is gorgeous: the rocks are gorgeous, the diving boards and the caricatural anatomy of the athletes. Direction is by Pete Candeland from Passion Pictures.
These are images of the Coca-Cola Beatbox Pavilion designed by Pernilla & Asif. From the model, you may guess that the project was inspired by a stack of hot sauce packets, but it’s actually quite different. The project is an interactive musical instrument that you play as you walk through the structure and interact with its large panels. These panels are the ones lit to stunning effect at night with LEDs around the perimeter of each panel. The sounds are sports-centric: things like sneakers squeaking on a court, or “an athlete’s heartbeat” or an arrow hitting a target. Visitors to the pavilion with eventually make their way to the roof, which offers views of the surrounding park.
Although the events of the Olympics are ephemeral, the games last only 17 days, the infrastructure that supports the olympic games is more stubborn. There are some exceptions this year, but buildings (along with roads, pipes and other concrete things) don’t typically pack up and leave after the closing ceremonies. So what will be the most stubborn, the most lasting remnant from this year’s games in London? Will it be the sensuous Aquatics Centre? The pokey stadium where so much of the games will take place? Maybe neither. It might end up being the less flashy and less frequently discussed Olympic Village that has the most enduring impact. These are the places where the atheletes stay, and there’s an excellent overview of the history of Olympic Villages on Design Observer, including this interesting tidbit:
“The first Olympic Village was built in 1932, in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, but it was dismantled after the games and virtually no trace survives today.”
The essay talks about the economic potential of these villages, but I’m not sure if the London Olympic Village will become a booming economic neighborhood after the games – in part, because these things can’t really be predicted and in larger part because I went to architecture school and have no idea how money works.
A detail on one of the completed buildings in the Olympic Village caught my eye. Specifically, this athletes housing that was designed by Niall McLaughlin Architects. As you can see in the photo above, the facade is finished with pre-cast concrete panels that feature low-relief motifs taken from the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum. It’s a reference to the history of the Olympic games – games that originated in Greece. But because Greece is also known for it’s classical architecture, it might be construed as reminder about the timescale of architecture in the midst of fleeting sporting events. Architecture isn’t a stubborn remainder that’s hard to get rid of, but an enduring accomplishment and artifact about who we are at the time we make it.
Still, it isn’t the nicest reminder since not everyone agrees who should have the Elgin Marbles. And if the Olympic Village becomes derelict in a decade’s time, the thin concrete might be better interpreted as evidence of how prohibitively physical architecture will always be in a world that is now more compelled by things ephemeral and fleeting.
This week the TFIB editorial staff decided to try out another theme week, this time centered around the Olympics and sporting in general. With the start of the 2012 London Olympics this Friday we thought it would be fun to dabble into the world of sports, something we don’t generally talk about here on the site. That said, we’ll stil be concentrating on the art, design, architecture, music and culture of sports – the things we’re good at. If you have any good ideas for post ideas hit me up on Twitter or on our Facebook page.