Time machines

The World’s Littlest Skyscraper / Diedrica, a weblog about architecture / Minecraft is a skill / Landscape, Art and Architecture, a tumblr / What did you do in the design studio today, Daddy? A 1996 view from the drawing board, before visual culture changed irreversibly: ‘There are indications that design is in the process of becoming more visible to the general public, and that in its intersections with music, fashion, publishing and technology, it is accruing some cultural capital.’


Mapping change with Google Earth Engine / photography of the things left behind and the places marked by events / Spotting Real-World Architecture in Monument Valley / Nick’s World of Synthesizers, some great homemade machines in here / PAL 9000, a free Windows noise generator / Progress is Fine, a weblog about old technologies / Bizarre homemade attractions / Bye Buy Stuff, Kate Bingaman-Burt is drawing the things she is ridding herself of / Swissted turns post-punk into a 1970s graphic fantasy.


Charlotte Bland is a photographe. We especially her project, The Coast (via The Common Pursuit, which collects together interesting places to stay around the world) / Like Love Want presents an ever-changing selection of artists exhibiting online / Nick Cobb’s fabulous images of Peckham’s multi-storey car park in ruins; urban bucolic / Derelict London on Instagram / an online index of artist-designed Hermes Scarfs / a re-engineered Polaroid SX-70.

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The Curta calculator

The Curta is a cult mechanical calculator, a complex arrangement of gears and cogs that can be used to perform a wide array of calculations by a combination of rotating and arranging an array of dials and sliders. There are plenty of Curta pages out there, including this great image of the tightly packaged internal mechanism. If you have access to VRML, you can even try YACS (Yet Another Curta Simulator), although there’s a flash version here.

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High and dry

The Frontier House

Daniel Stier’s project The Frontier House looks at new housing and communities in the UK. The sudden arrival of instant nature and landscaping and the juxtaposition between newness and what existed on the site before / Operation Redsand Forts proposes the transformation of the Thames Estuary’s Redsand Forts into a hotel and leisure complex (via The Spaces). The forts are rusting hulks (via the excellent Caroline’s Miscellany, which has an ongoing series on the memorials at the Postman’s Park), slowly being reclaimed by the waves. Would a hotel work? The existing Spitbank Fort in the Solent is around £750 night / Colossus is the making-of video of a massive illustration of New York by Patrick Vale / candy in the park: Serpentine Pavilion 2015.

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Islands in the sun

Nostalgia and technology, music and memory / the Aibos are dying. Back in 1999, they really did seem like the future / a post celebrating the glorious world that was SNUB-TV, coming via the world of Spamula.net, one of those online treasure troves that you never wanted to end / Tammy Ruggles takes photographs, although she is legally registered as blind / not content with building a bridge in London, Heatherwick is creating an island in New York for Barry Diller / China is also building a few islands / The Dom-Ino Effect, the skeleton of a house. The modern design that foreshadowed half a century of loophole-dodging construction / there is now a book of Ugly Belgian Houses / turn your computer into a Jazz Computer.

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High and low

A whole load of randomness today. The story of Wendon, ‘Ireland’s first modern home’, a thesis by Brendan Madden / KLF: Embrace the Contradictions, a documentary (via b3ta) / paintings by Martin Wehmer (via Miss Moss) / Brutalist Walking Simulator / The Order of the Good Death, ‘a group of funeral industry professionals, academics, and artists exploring ways to prepare a death phobic culture for their inevitable mortality’ / an exhibition of work by Richard Prince / a documentary about Slowdive / a demo of holographic Minecraft / find fine samples via the Wide-band WebSDR, an online radio / Una Vida Moderna, ‘mid century modernism in Mexico and Detroit’.

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Trial treatments

From Woman and Home magazine, December 1937: these two adverts were on different pages. Each cream promises a very different result, with a very different price, even though they come from the same postal address in Willesden Green. Could the ‘Vegetable Flesh Former’ and the ‘Vegetable Reducing Cream’ have been the same formula? And were these adverts a joke from the consumer watchdog of the day? Click to enlarge…

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The 19-day, 57-storey skyscraper

Chairman Zhang’s flatpack skyscrapers: ‘Steel is delivered to one of Broad Group’s six huge hangar-like factories, where it is machine-cut and welded into one of a few basic modules – a column, crossbeam or floor section. These are then loaded on to lorries and driven to the site, where they are slotted into place like Tetris pieces, and finally bolted and welded together.’

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Things made and unmade

Unbelievably, we have overlooked the excellent Unmaking Things for so many years (link via). Born out of the Royal College of Art / Victoria and Albert Museum History of Design MA course – just like things itself – it is space for looking at new ways of talking about the study of design and objects. Topics include ‘ugly things‘, the design of the everyday and specific objects like the Malacca Cane, gingerbread house and the British plug socket. This publication began in exactly the same way, although the current editorial board has no connection whatsoever with the RCA and our academic rigour and intellectual scope has certainly coarsened over the past few years. Every now and again we toy with the idea of transforming things back into a print object. Would this be a raving folly?


By way of illustration, a selection of links from here and there. Apologies in advance for any inappropriate juxtapositions. Unusual homes from around the world / a selection of pervy vintage ads – ‘x-ray specs’, that sort of thing / a map of UFO sightings across the US / architects defend the indefensible / some thoughts on the Link Trainer, the first flight simulator / the lasting legacy of cassette tape / the Fallen of World War 2, a visualisation / Isopresso, a collection of balloon animals / expert answers questions on the life and work of Robert Smith.

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Don’t go in the basement

Architecture and design round-up. A couple of titanic Art Deco piles to kick-off: Villa Cavrois, France (via The Spaces) and Villa Dirickz, Belgium (via Wowhaus) / Cartastrophe, ‘mistakes were made’ in the presentation process. See also London-tubemap.com, a new way of looking at the city / sort of related, a map of the United States Settings of Horror Movies (via MeFi). See also the Lake Monsters of America and Monsters in America (via Boing Boing). Rather more functional, a Cryptozoological map of the World / design for film: Jensen Skodvin and the sets of Ex Machina / the aesthetics of the off-shore world, a photographic exhibition by Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti. Related, Who owns London’s most expensive mansion? Lots more info, images and rampant speculation on twitter.

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In the round

Musings on the lure of nostalgic technology, including the Fisher-Price PXL-2000 camera / slightly more up to date: plan your wedding with Google / the Pole House, Australia / a skimpy history of the bathing suit / Phaidon continue their foray into art forgery with the story of Ely Sakhai, a New York dealer who ran a lucrative racket making copies of ‘middle market’ works by big name artists. ‘When Christie’s and Sotheby’s released spring catalogues for their modern-art auctions, they were alarmed to discover that each was offering [Paul Gauguin’s Vase de Fleurs (Lilas)] – and each house thought it had the original


Departed Flights hosts a treasure trove of content relating to the history of civil aviation / the story of the Clearmountain Pause, a largely invented musical styling / Black Moon Pursuit, at Automobiliac / Pickadolla, a pop culture website / Mad Men Integrated mashes up the tedium of modern day Madison Avenue with the rose-tinted dramatic visions of AMC (via (MeFi) / Monocle get in on the travel guides market, channelling the retro spirit pioneered by Herb Lester / the above film shows Mat Collishaw’s 3D zoetrope entitled ‘All Things Fail‘, a three-dimensional animated recreation of Peter Paul Reubens’ Massacre of the Innocents.

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One dot at a time

A short history of Barbapapa, who turned 45 yesterday. We hadn’t realised you can buy a model of the Barbapapa House, a seminal piece of architectural design on the page. Still, you can always make your own / rich and raucous pixel art animations by kéké. See also A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art. See also Super Micro Paint / a collection of bicycle paintings by Taliah Lempert / assemble elements of the preceding links into something approaching a record of your visual surfing with Curator, a new app that turns tablets into wunderkammers.

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Everything is going to burn

Five human activities you can see from space / Historical Maps – Exploring Lambeth, at Understanding Cities and Spatial Cultures / welcome to Fear City. New York, 1975. See also Survival in the City, 1974 / a nice bit of tilt shift. Whatever happened to tilt shift? A device that was easy to imitate, or even apply post-production, it’s perhaps unsurprising it should have a ubiquitous art director’s tool before vanishing just as quickly. We’re just surprised that no-one has made a tiny model and then shot it as if it were tilt shift. Just because. Perhaps something like this massive Russian railway wonderland / LapseLondon, a film.

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Rocking the suburbs

Our band could be your life: Hardcore Architecture looks at the leafy suburban origin stories of American punk and post-punk (via MeFi). See also Breadcrumb Trail, the Slint documentary, which has lots of basement rehearsal action / sort of related: Failed Architecture tells the tale – and lives the life – of the The Nagakin Capsule Tower, still slowly rotting away (also via MeFi).


Other things. The Powerwall: a bright future? (‘A JG Ballard would unravel such a world beautifully, as a kind of lithium-fuelled hybrid of his High Rise meets HBO’s Silicon Valley meets Felicity Kendall’s The Good Life’) or one stuck in a perpetual charge cycle? / the ashram in the forest / the house built by Grayson Perry (with a little help from his friends) / a bus stop that references Totoro?


Cloaque, a ‘digital landfill …. the result of the collection, treatment and joining together of a series of images found online, to create a column of digital compost’. More gifs here, all potentially and unpredictably nsfw (via Triangulation) / Square Go’s, photographs by Logan Hill / The Secret Life of the Pencil, favourite writing devices of famous writer types.

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The preservation of remoteness

‘Two people sleeping in one room, even if they are man and wife, is neither wholly hygienic nor always aesthetically agreeable. This is particularly so if one has a cold, or is otherwise unwell. Some young married couples may not like the notion of separate rooms at first though, but after a little reflection they may, I think, realize that it has its advantages. After a few years of married life such an arrangement would be generally appreciated, and is more likely to preserve romantic feeling than when all the processes of going to bed and rising in the morning are completely familiar to one’s husband or wife. The maintenance of romantic feelings depends a little on the preservation of remoteness about personal habits and intimate ways of life.’

‘A Minimum Standard for Accommodation’, in ‘The Small House: Today and Tomorrow,’ Arnold Whittick in collaboration with Johannes Schreiner, Crosby, Lockwood & Son, London, 1947, p49-50

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Biff! Bang! Pow!

Unseen film starring Adam West surfaces on YouTube (via Reddit) / Zhou Hang collates visual essays on notable buildings and more, such as these images from the current Ravilious show at Dulwich Picture Gallery. More on the show at Books & Boots. It is highly recommended / The Junket, an online quarterly featuring essays, short fiction and poetry / The Giant of Happy Valley, an archaeological hoax? / dumb things become ‘smart’ / Cereal Magazine is a glossy-looking independent specialising in travel and lifestyle.

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