Friday, June 29, 2012

NaCl in Architecture and Song

I recently saw a building inspired by the chemistry of salt (The Fox Is Black). Architect David Jameson designed the NaCl House of Bethesda, Maryland, USA, to be white with a crystal-like structure mimicking mineral rock salt. While the lines are as rectilinear as most buildings, the varying scales, like a natural crystal, are unexpected and beautiful.

Crystals seem to be omnipresent in a lot of popular art and culture, but I had not previously seen their influence on architectural design (at least not in such an obvious and direct fashion).
When I was searching more more information about this, I found the proposal by Faulders Studio for the GEOtube Building for Dubai, which would be able to grow and expand, as it features a self-built exoskeleton made from accumulated sea salt deposits. Built of a structure of 'vascular pipes', the mesh around the building would employ solar power to pump salt water from its pond (which in turn would be pumped the 4.6 km from the high salinity Persian Gulf) to the roof, and then down through the vascular pipes (driven by gravity). The salt water would be misted from the pipes and salt would accrue on the mesh through evaporation (as shown in the images of meshes above). The water there is so salty that the building's transparent skin would rapidly take on a new crystalline appearance. After 15 to 20 years, the architects predict the skin would be opaque; then the salt could be harvested, and one presumes, the process begun anew. This strikes me as an innovative way to let the extremes of the local environment actually serve to benefit of, and to some degree, build the edifice. (&web urbanist)

What brought this to mind today, was actually CBC radio, who were playing a tribute concert to the late Kate McGarrigle. It included a cover of her composition, 'The Salt Song' by Jane Siberry, who called it a frighteningly honest love song. Here, I've found Kate and her sister Anna's own version for you. I find it delightful, happy yet bittersweet, though not salty, and effortlessly accurate.

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