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Monday, April 19, 2004
Underground Kent, all about one of Britain's most tunnel-ridden counties. See the Wishing Towers beach tunnel, for example, and the 1880s attempt at a channel tunnel. Some more about this tunnel at this comprehensive site. This original attempt, which reached some 2km under the channel from each side, was abandoned in 1883 after the British army got twitchy about the possibility of the dastardly French using it for a lightning-quick invasion. Ironically, some suggest a tunnel might have considerably shortened WW1 by improving British supply lines.

The current dream of subterranean engineers is the link between Siberia and Alaska (two quite barren places, no?), the so-called Bering Tunnel, which would run the 55 mile distance across the intermittently open Bering Land Bridge. The sea is shallow here, and the last window for a dry crossing was between 13,000 and 23,000 years ago, giving credence to the Bering Strait Theory of migration. Even more tunnels.

There’s also talk of a tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar. Last year we attended a brief talk on the history of Gibraltar while taking a very pleasant cream tea on a sunny verandah overlooking the Mediterranean (where this photo was taken, in fact). One fact (fact? more like an anecdote) we learned, as the choice of jams started to overwhelm, was that the Mediterranean was originally formed when the Atlantic poured over a breach in Europe’s mountain ranges (of which the Rock of Gibraltar is a surviving remnant). Apparently this waterfall was many miles high and cascaded billions of tonnes of water for century upon century. Well, probably not, but the image was magnificent, and shook us out of our jam-induced reverie. And, as everyone knows, the Rock is riddled with mile up mile of tunnels (although various sources say 30 miles, 80 miles and 80 kilometres). Which takes us neatly back to where we came in.

Two interesting posts on metro-centric design subjects: Anti-Mega on Habitat, Terence Conran and Tom Dixon, and City of Sound on the Design Museum's current Archigram show, which reproduces the group's cut'n'paste, pop-culture aesthetic. Is their rough and ready approach ready for a come-back?Interestingly, architecture's current iconoclast, Rem Koolhaas, has eschewed the slick Bruce Mau-designed monograph (although there will be more in the Harvard Design School Series) for his latest book, Content. This publishing project uses collage, cartoons, photo-montage, diagrams, and a generally anarchic approach to its subject (not to mention a low price - thanks to magazine-style adverts) – the recent work of OMA. Engaging with disengagement, might be one way of looking at Koolhaas’s methodology. See also here and Kool in the Haas at at Greek Tragedy.

Other things. Three weblogs of note: red elephant, a.j.duric, drink me (who links to this collection of Nancy Drew merchandise) / public housing in Chicago / the-history-of.net claims to set out 'the history of stuff explained in simple terms' (via muxway). There's a pleasingly eclectic selection of stuff, from Bras ('an uplifting story', ho ho) to web hosting / world sex records.

Old woodies / desktop wallpaper of classic games / the CD covers archive (both via muxway) / the art of the obsessive compulsive / modern classics reinterpreted by the University of Massachusetts' Minuteman Marching Band, including their seminal version of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android / real paranoid androids in this special-fx showcase video - 'a futuristic robot polices the chaotic streets of a developing nation in this spec commercial/corporate video' (via Sachs Report).