John Barboni Featured in Uomo Japan



John Barboni, co-founder, is selected by fashion brand Lacoste as one of downtown New York City’s most influential professionals.

Carl Stein, Panelist at NYU Emerging Markets Association Conference


Carl Stein, FAIA, co-founder, is a panelist at New York University Stern School of Business annual Emerging Markets Association Conference. The panel, which includes top business leaders, is titled ‘Sustainability and the Competitive Advantage of Countries and Firms.

John Barboni Interviewed by Top Billing



John Barboni, Co-Founder, is featured in South Africa’s Top Billing Magazine and primetime television segment as one of New York City’s top creative forces to discuss elemental and sustainable architecture.

Justine Cottrell writes:

Each year at New York Fashion Week Lacoste selects 6 men to be part of a photo shoot where they are dressed in the new season of Lacoste.  These guys are dubbed The Cool Guys of New York.  They are successful, powerful men with presence and ambition and their own senses of style.  They are the modern men who demonstrate the same qualities as those of Rene Lacoste.  They pay attention to detail, invest in quality, and have a tendency to buck the trend.

It’s clear to find the inspiration needed for all this flavourful fashion on the very streets of New York.  In a country like South Africa the key word among creative industry professionals is exposure.  Big budgets are obliterated at high class events in Johannesburg and Cape Town while in New York owners of restaurants, clubs and bars are trying to hide their locations in order to preserve their cosy and exclusive atmospheres.

It’s these spots that the genuine, native New Yorker frequents.  Hidden down a dark street behind a roughly nailed door and a thick velvet curtain, Milk and Honey is a bar like this.  Here John Barboni co-founder of Elemental Architecture reclines in a cushioned booth in dusty lamplight and a waiter who looks like something out of the Rat-Pack, hands him a cocktail which he says is called a “Dark and Stormy”.

With 2 partners, one of whom he calls his greatest mentor, John specializes in what New Yorkers term Green Architecture, “the method of designing buildings that work in conjunction with natural forces for daylighting, ventilation, water and shelter instead of trying to draw power from natural resources and in turn depleting them.  As opposed to sheltering yourself form the environment, we draw inspiration and knowledge from the architects of the pre-industrial era and ask how we can work with nature to be comfortable and fulfil our modern requirements,” he says.

With New York constantly under construction and development John is at the heart of architecture’s progressive elite who seek to make their buildings sustainable through a poetic assimilation of building techniques that ensure as little damage to the environment as possible.  “In my opinion architects have made the mistake of building first and then trying to make that building green.  I believe that green buildings, like nature, need to be organic, they need to be conceptualised with green at heart from the very beginning” he says.  Having grown up in California and spending time in both Italy and France, John moves easily in front of the camera for Lacoste’s shoot.  It’s clear that though his buildings may be green they certainly don’t compromise on aesthetic.

Elemental Selected by Print Magazine – Best of 2007



Print Magazine selects elemental as among the best brand and identity developments of 2007 and is included in Print’s Regional Design Annual for New York City. The name and brand identity were developed, incorporating the golden mean, Helvetica typeface, and monochromatic presentation, as informed by a minimalist aesthetic. The primary brand colors – black and white – reference cosmic polarity and equilibrium manifested in light and dark, day and night, life and death, self-destruction and self-preservation, and other opposites. Work was completed in collaboration with Camillia BenBassat.

John Barboni Interviewed in Men’s Uno Hong Kong



John Barboni, co-founder, is featured in November issue of Men’s Uno Hong Kong fashion magazine where he discusses architecture, sustainability and elemental.

CUNY Video: Preserving the Past, Building for the Future at City College


Architect George Post’s neo-gothic confection at City College “would be almost impossible to conceive of today,” says architect Carl Stein, who recently completed a two-decade restoration that uses modern technology and materials while remaining faithful to Post’s artistic vision. The University celebrated the centennial of Post’s collection of buildings in 2007.

Sardinian Observations


We tend to think of indigenous Sardinian construction as robust and direct although not particularly refined. This is due in large part to the widely published images of nuraghi, the stone towers that gave name to the Nuragic Era which spanned from about 1800 to 535 BCE. It is believed that at one time there were as many as 20,000 of these constructions of massive, roughly hewn volcanic stone. Their simple geometric forms are iconic in the natural landscape. Of the approximately 7,000 that have survived, many are sufficiently intact to be experienced as buildings.

There is, however, another archetypal form of masonry from the Nuragic Era. This is the precisely cut stonework of the pozzi saccri (sacred wells).Examples include the limestone remains at Perfugas and the reassembled pozzo at the Santa Cristina archeological site, about 115 kilometers from Cagliari. Here, the carefully finished blocks of stone, many non-orthogonal, generate complex geometry both in volume and surface. Built around 1000 BCE, the well itself and the walls that establish its precinct define a construction vocabulary that can be seen in Sardinian architecture for the following 2,000 years; that is emphasizing symbolic building elements by contrasting their high level of finish against a rough background. This may be seen not only in the ceremonial buildings such as churches and tombs, but also in the details of vernacular building. While this device is not unique to Sardinian architecture, there are few other places where a 3,000 year continuum is so clearly seen.

Images 1, 2 Nuraghe, Santa Sarbana
Images 3-5 Nuraghe, Santu Antine
Image 6 Sacred Well, Perfugas
Images 7-15 Sacred Well, Santa Cristina (Image 14, Aperture at top of Tholos – well chamber)
Images 16, 17 Necropolis (cave tombs), Sant Andrea Priu
Image 18 Santa Sarbana
Images 19, 20 Ss Trinita di Saccargia
Image 21 Santa Maria Regno in Andara
Image 22 Duomo di San Nicolo, Sassari
Image 23 Santa Catarina, Sassari
Image 24 Decorated entry, Perfugas

Carl Stein Presents "Sustainability Lessons on Modernism" at the Scuola di Architettura Universita di Cagliari


Villa Tugendhat Day in New York



Following up on our previous post: On October 1st, the Bohemian National Hall , at 321 East 73rd Street will host an afternoon and evening devoted to Mies van der Rohe’s recently restored Villa Tugendhat. For those who have not had the chance to visit Brno in the past eight months, here is an opportunity to get some sense of this remarkable work of architecture. Iveta Cerana, Director of the Villa Tugendhat, offers unique historical and cultural perspectives on this Modern monument.

Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic


West Facade
The work of Mies van der Rohe is often viewed as being exercises in purist geometry, dry and mathematical.

The work of Mies van der Rohe is often viewed as being exercises in purist geometry, dry and mathematical. A May 2012 visit to newly restored Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic, most easily recognized from its west façade (image 1) with its precise and controlled layering, as seen in Mondrian paintings (image 2), Mies’ European work is also deeply involved with the transparency, reflectivity and ambiguity of Moholy-Nagy. (image 3, 4, 5, 6,7) This is in addition to the unmistakable concern with the architecture of material and construction (Materiality) (image 8) which has been discussed with clarity and detail by Professor Ivo Hammer in several articles; or the effect of the understated entry (image 9) that begins the experiential drama resolving in the remarkable public spaces. Since the 1970’s and before, there have been efforts in architectural and social criticism to discredit Modernism as simplistic and bland, cold and antihuman. Experiencing Villa Tugendhat, as well as Modern icons such as Villa Savoye (image 10) and the Barcelona Pavilion (image 11) totally contradicts these claims.