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Thursday, April 12, 2007


There are plenty of ways of tackling memory in architecture. One is to just let things be and try and record the inevitable slide into decay - like at Endangered Machinery, 'the industrial and industrial heritage photography of Haiko Hebig'. The other is to dress up the new so that it reflects the old. And so we come to 'Airship Park', a masterplan for RAF Cardington. Cardington was once the home of the British airship industry; two of the gigantic hangars used as airship stations are still in existence (only just).

Happily, commerce has come to the rescue. At the heart of the development, the work of PRP Architects, will be a 'tree cathedral', which, according to the press release, is 'planted as an outline of the R101 airship, [and] replicates the airship’s actual size' of 777 feet. 'No. 1 Shed measures 213.4m long, had a clear width of 55.3m and a clear height at its centre of 37.2m. It has full-height sliding doors at both ends.' The two sheds are incredible, dominating the local landscape, looming out of the mist (view the site on Google maps). But the redevelopment plans are kitsch in the extreme.

The Airship Heritage Trust was pushing for airship industry to return to the site, which still maintain their fitness for purpose (although Shed 2 was a key set location for Batman Begins - read a production diary, with pictures, at The American Cinematographer Magazine). The British airship industry imploded with the loss of the R101 in 1930, effectively ending development. The R101 became one of the first modernist ruins. An airship-shaped tracing in a suburban housing estate does not seem like a fitting memorial.

*

Other things. Ten Concepts Detroit Should Have Built, show cars from the archives / what's the formula for an A-Bomb? / a dizzying round-up of the things that have crossed BLDG BLOG's radar in recent weeks; skyscraper farms, American droughts, desertification and hyper-thyroidal log cabins / not sure how interesting this really is, the Electrolux Image Bank / revisiting Penguin's beautiful Great Ideas series / architectural vod pods - short videos and interviews (via No.2 Self) / Jamglue, a flash-based sequencer / fascinating things at Candyland, a weblog.

Visions of a wind-powered London. It should be noted that the Palestra building's much-vaunted wind turbines appear to have vanished / the Museum Plagiarus, a display of the world's greatest knock-offs, near Cologne. Not so much as products inspired by other products, but direct rip-offs that could almost be taken from the same moulds. The Chinese are especially good at this, check out the CMEC Electric City Smart. CMEC make a huge number of electric vehicles: they are the kings of the golf cart.