5 cm

Biblio (26) Bike engineering

4-bicicleta ESTEYCO-

I’ll begin by talking about an American; not a bike runner that has become sincere, but a certain Steve Jobs (even if I write in Windows) that apparently said he thought that computers were to be bicycles for the mind. He meant that the energetic output of the human body when moving, poor when compared to that of other animals, was better than that of the condor when using a bicycle. Because that is what a bicycle is for, as it multiplies the human muscular efficiency.

Fundación Esteyco has published in 2010 the book “La Ingeniería de la Bicicleta”, with the contribution of a number of authors. It is a wonderful reference on the object itself, its origins, the problems and solutions raised in engineering terms, and, why not, the sheer aesthetic beauty it sometimes shows.

The last chapters focus on the engineering of the spaces the bikes use (from the Tour de France mountain roads to the urban spaces) and the bike as an urban transportation system. There is also a set of short texts from authors as Hemingway and Delibes, and artistic visions on the bicycle.

A complementary vision (this time in English) can be seen on Pucher & Buehler, Transport Reviews, Vol. 28, No. 4, 495–528, July 2008

Water (2) Waterless wc

The introduction of modern sewage in the XIXth century was largely related to the invention of the modern wc. This device had undeniable health advantages, but a clear problem: the need for a water volume that, combined at the scale of large cities, can become relevant. According to New York’s PLANYC, some years ago that city was considering a new reservoir to cope with a rising water demand; the final solution was a wc renovation program, with model whose water demand was lower, as to eliminate the need for the new reservoir. On the other side, the disposal of used water also requires a costly infrastructure.

The problem is where you have no water pipes, a common situation in many countries. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched in 2011 the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, aimed at designing a toilet with no water needs. The aims where:

–           Remove pathogens and recover resources as energy, clean water and nutrients

–           Operate without need for water, sewage or electricity grids

–           Cost less than 5 dollar cents a day to operate

–           Promote sustainable sewage services in poor urban environments

–           Become an aspirational next generation product that everyone will want to use in any nation.

The result has been a series of grants to varied institutions to develop prototypes. A wonderful idea for developing countries, a chance to reduce infrastructure and environmental impact in any country.

The Kings gift

Today, january sixth, is the Kings day in Spain; it is a cellebration of epiphany and the three wise men or Kings that came to see Jesus in Bethlehem. The local tradition is that the presents are not given in Christmas by Santa, but today by the Kings.
This is a very simple cutout that you can print and then assamble. It is subject to the specifications of a stringent client that any architect would respect (a three year girl): it can be folded and unfolded for transportation with a regular square shape, needs no glue to stand (folds must be well made, and to be honest it is not easy to have it entirely vertical…), and it has some kind of inner space (and a fence for animals… the two light color strips on the right to be cut). Who says no one is building in Spain? you could even be making a full city for almost no cost…Enjoy.

Save the image full size and then print it without distorsion

Save the image full size and then print it without distorsion. Black lines are folds, blue ones are to be cut

casita reyes4

Architectural plug-ins or makeshift aditions

In western world cities buildings are usually designed according to bylaws that set, among others, aesthetical guidelines. We are (at least out of the historical precints) far from permit denials due to a bad integration in the area or outright uglyness (Adolf Loos would no more be “declared artist” by an administrative act…), but it is common to se that ocupying balconies, installing air conditioning fixtures on façades and other acts are forbiden.
But all norms are as strong as the enforcement measures that are associated, and it is clear that often there is no such enforcement. This produces a somehow caothic image of the cities in which we live. And we could use a little more pedagogy on why bylaws establish such rules, so that, incidentally, we could also get to think again on what is asked for…


In historical architecture moldings and other elements that usually are perceived as decorative had a function, be it constructive (junction elements) or to conceal imperfections (decoration has sometimes that role…). On industrial products as airplanes, the same thing happens.

Instituto Cervantes, Madrid