Google Spiral 2 prototype Project Ara modular smartphone

"I can see this knocking Apple off its perch"

Comments update: could Google's modular smartphone prototype topple the market dominance of Apple's iPhone?

The latest version of Google's Project Ara customisable phone concept features individual components that slot onto its main shell, allowing each correlating function to be updated without having to upgrade the entire device.

The idea of being able to upgrade components appealed to readers. "This actually looks like an innovation I could get behind and excited about," said Julie G. "I want to replace my Apple iPhone 4 but keep dreading the expense and new releases in a year".

"I can see this knocking Apple off its perch," added David. But while many were singing Google's praises, not all readers were convinced the modular design would replace the cycle of upgrades or even be successful.

"By the time your screen cracks they will have launched a new 2.0 platform that is 'better in every way' and you will buy a whole new phone just as you did before," said one reader calling themselves boooRead the story and comments »


Jean Nouvel
Portrait of Jean Nouvel

Nouvel approach: last week French architect Jean Nouvel released a statement outlining the reasons why he was boycotting the opening of his Paris concert hall, declaring that the building was "not finished" and saying his firm had nothing to do with cost overruns.

But one reader accused the design of being "an extension of the architects ego". If the concert hall had been designed "as functional building to serve the public, the cost would have been a lot lower," suggested Michiel.

"What does a purely functional building look like? A garage? Yes, a garage would have cost less," parried Davvid.

"Architecture needs a level of inefficiency to relate to the human experience in a more touching way than say... a parking garage," added AdrianaRead the story and comments »


Refurbeasts by Lisa Louwers
Refurbeasts by Lisa Louwers

Fur real? The use of real fur in design tends to provoke a strong response. Dutch costume designer Lisa Louwers' Refurbeasts project transforms unwanted fur coats into soft toys as a tribute to the animals that the material was taken, but some readers felt this "tribute" was unnecessary.

"Isn't this as bad as wearing a second-hand fur coat?" asked Anders. "Reuse may reduce the intensity of fur production in the short term, but in the long term it helps to normalise its use."

The point was reiterated by Rafael who, despite liking them as design objects, described the tribute to dead animals angle as "dubious at best".

Not everybody agreed with this sentiment. "They look freaky and mutated but also extremely petable and soft," said M. Vitruvius. "Great use for the old furs. I want one!"

"If I was a dead furry animal, I would prefer that my fur was used to warm a person," responded Xnt. "Dead animals don't need tributes". Read the story and comments »


Architecture for Humanity co-founders Kate Stohr and Cameron Sinclair
Architecture for Humanity co-founders Kate Stohr and Cameron Sinclair

Social responsibility: non-profit organisation Architecture for Humanity closed its San Francisco headquarters this weekend, after apparently being unable to continue funding humanitarian projects. AFH raised money to fund architectural solutions to humanitarian crises around the world, and the news of its troubles prompted a discussion of architecture's role in society.

"In other news, Architecture for Corporate Concerns posted record profits this year," wrote Felix Tannenbaum.

Regular commenter The Liberty Disciple took a strong stance: "Architecture should solve architecture problems, not social problems".

"Architecture for Humanity was a good intentioned idea. Good intentions don't advance architecture, practice does."

"Architecture should solve at least some social problems," retorted spadestick. "Architects solve social problems by making dwellings, spaces and buildings for people."

"Good architects work to beautify and improve the environment, helping blighted places regain their confidence." Read the story and comments »