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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Skyway's the Limit, Lewis Mumford in the New Yorker from November 1959, describing the dawn of the new age of town planning: roads, preferably elevated ones, over everything else: 'At the very moment, as I have remarked before, that we have torn down our elevated railways, because of their spoilage of urban space, our highway engineers are using vast sums of public money to restore the same nuisance in an even noisier and more insistent form. But what is Brooklyn to the highway engineer—except a place to go through quickly, at whatever necessary sacrifice of peace and amenity by its inhabitants?'. Shunted off the streets, the pedestrians have now taken to the sky. A prescient piece, which continues, 'The ultimate form of such a topsy-turvy city is an acre of buildings surrounded by a square mile of parking lot.' This is the fastest growing urban condition in the developed world, epitomised in New York by the $27 billion legacy of Robert Moses

Related. '250 New York City local bus routes are isolated from their geospatial context and organized by frequency of service, low to high', part of Christian Marc Schmidt's Adaptive Landscapes series. See also Form Follows Behavior, his 'adaptive design journal' and his flickr photos, with sets like geometric abstraction ekeing out every last nuance of the urban fabric'.

Jessica Francis Kane on The Observer's Book series at tmn. An Observer collection / Justinsomnia, a weblog / Why not try? / the Crazy Horse is an enormous sculpture, a work in progress / photography by Thomas Aus der Au / the wii News and Weather Channels (via Rotational). Scroll around the world / 3D Renders of Naomi Campbell (via bb).

Esquire magazine's Napkin Project / helping you find some epic metal / The Motorway Archive. See also Apex Corner, a site dedicated to British roads. And Pathetic Motorways, seen before but worth a revisit / art by Catherine Story. We like Nuclear Power Station.

Friday, January 26, 2007
Patterns, 'taken from public transport vehicles'. These range widely from the vaguely retro to the raw ugliness of the sort of anti-vomit dazzle pattern employed on most of London's modern trains and buses. The company that makes them, linked via the comments, is John Holdsworth, and informs us that it began trading in 1822 and has always been the principle purveyor of moquette to London Transport. Check the Geometric Comfort exhibition as well. The LT's museum is still shut, but there's more background detail at the London Transport/Designing Modern Britain exhibition site that was previously at the Design Museum. From that site:

'When the London Passenger Transport Board was formed in 1933, most of the upholstery fabric used in its vehicles was moquette, woven by the jacquard process from wool and nylon backed by cotton. Moquette was exceptionally durable, but the designs were purchased off-the-peg from the manufacturers. Pick and Barman decided to commission designs specifically for London Transport. They approached prominent designers and artists including Marion Dorn, Norbert Dutton, Enid Marx, Paul Nash and, later, Marianne Straub. Many of their designs – such as Nash's 1936 Alperton, Marx's 1937 Brent and Dorn's 1938 Leaf – were used by London Transport until the late 1950s, when plainer, less obtrusive fabrics were introduced.'

Other things. The It Factor, 'why some things have it and some things don't'. Design Observer on Betty Cornfeld and Owen Edwards' 1983 book Quintessence, essentially a list of iconic designs (and a remarkably prescient one at that: 'If you doubt the critical acuity of Edwards and Cornfeld, consider that of the sixty-plus items they selected for Quintenssence, in my opinion only a few would fail to make the cut nearly 25 years later.') Read the New York Times review from 1983. Quintessence, was published at about the same time as Deyan Sudjic's Cult Objects (actually from 1985). Together, they (probably unwittingly) laid some of the ground work for the icon-obsessed culture we have today (be it product design, architecture or even celebrity). Extract (pdf) from Designing Britain 1945-1975: Are you what you own?

The Festival of Britain, a collection of primary material / Preston, Lancashire, in the 1950s, from Continuity in Architecture, which also makes a visual connection that the architects in question would probably welcome / The Myth of Competition, a feature at anarchitecture. See also 'Time to give our new architects a break'.

Discovering Electronic Music Part 1, via haddock / a large collection of Lancia Pictures / probably everywhere, but this is the very first Apple Phone / take the RPM Challenge, write and record an album in February / maybe use IanniX, music composition software inspired by the work of Iannis Xenakis in converting images into sound (via me-fi) / Blueprint magazine has a weblog / UK comics Mitchell and Webb shill for Apple. More. Via.

Live Weather News Map / Scintillating Bullshit Version Two, a weblog, which sits in the same place as Writing Design Criticism / Dark Daze, indie rock photography / Live.Work.Play, 'tracking the lives of Bristol folk', via Google Maps Mania / links at Viva Lancia / Ross Langdon, whose weblog is subtitled 'in pursuit of an architectural education' / go and vote in the 2007 Bloggies / Jason F King, a weblog / Fawny, a weblog / snowsquare, urban postings from Moscow, Russia.

Thursday, January 25, 2007
Random selection. Demolition Derby at i like. Also linked by the great 'i', Ace Jet 170, 'Found Type, print and stuff' (like Austins' for police use) as well as the great news that SVC is back. Linked onwards: Judge a book, a cover weblog. We started doing this a while back but ran out of steam. See also Mr Bingo's Penguin covers / extraordinary project for a new inhabited London Bridge / photography by Mikheal Subotzky.

The Art of Camo / 360 panoramas of modern architecture (including works by FLW and Le Corbusier) at Columbia University's website / the Bat House Project, design a home for a bat / Ellen's Attic's Photos, a flickr set of some of the more anthropomorphic and bizarre Japanese architecture of the 80s and 90s, before the current trend for reductivism set in / influenced? spruce vs spa source / Cities and Sand at Kosmograd. We just love it that people take the time to find and present this sort of thing on line.

Don't photocopy your face. From the same article: 'Sales reps who drive about 30,000 miles a year often have brown marks and red veins on their right cheek but not their left, he says, because UVB light travels through a car's side windows but not windscreens' / improve your life: one click butter cutter / the Historical Bridge Foundation / a tempting preview of Nokia's forthcoming N95 / come and Park at My House. Actually, don't, but other people want you to / extracts from Studio International's Archive.

Ruins and History at LOST Magazine; Matthew Roberts on the allure of San Francisco's Sutro Baths, once epic, now abandoned (and one of the locations in Harold and Maude / Random Thoughts Stray Memories, a weblog / after diskant's recent destructo! compilation of axe-shattering antics, here are the 20 Greatest Guitar Solos Ever.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

'The age of technological revolution is 100 years dead,' Simon Jenkins on the apparent futility and illusion of technological progress: 'Most attics and garages are stuffed with kit for which there was no sensible use, from exercise bicycles to fondue machines. Middle-class women probably do more manual labour than in the 19th century, assisted by such old technology as the washing machine and vacuum cleaner.' Two things bookend the slightly flimsy premise, a new book called 'The Shock of the Old' by David Edgerton (see also the q&a at the OUP blog), and HG Wells' The Shape of Things to Come, which, Jenkins notes, predicted a world (summary) which airpower would come to dominate, rising out of the ruins of conventional technology, focusing on a global air hub in, of all places, Basra. As Wells notes in Chapter 30 (The First Conference at Basra: 1965): 'The lighthouses, lightships, sea marks, channels and harbours of the world were suffering from a decade of economy, a decade of wartime destruction and a decade of chaos and decay. The meteorological services were no longer operative. All this had to be restored. The definite abandonment of every type of railroad was accepted as a matter of course. Railways were buried at Basra forever.'

Poignant, yes. Back in 1937 Basra didn't look like the Heathrow, Dallas/Fort Worth or even Louisville of the future, but it had been British-controlled from 1914 to 1932, when Iraq became independent. Basra existing as a detached colonial outpost. Interesting too is Wells' concept of the 'air-dollar' as a new means of currency: 'This was not a metallic coin at all; it was a series of paper notes, which represented distance, weight, bulk, and speed. Each note was good for so many kilograms in so much space, for so many kilometres at such a pace. The value of an air-dollar had settled down roughly to a cubic metre weighing ten kilograms and travelling two hundred kilometres at a hundred kilometres an hour.' Such was the world before containerisation. (Illustration, 'The aviator Lieutenant Ronin shows the box which carries the mail on his monoplane to M. Massé, Minister of Post and Telegraphs.' Musée de la Poste, Paris, reproduced at The History of Air Cargo and Airmail).

Other things. Trailerpark, a wallpaper by David Monsen (via Pruned) / my best first Sony, Russell Davies on the company's primary plastic offerings from the 90s, lost to a generation of apparently more sophisticated young consumers / the web eats itself, kottkecomments / just what is the secret of the book reviewer? / Robert Hampson at MySpace. Mp3s of his 'Maps' project, spiky soundscapes that are too abstract to be just dismissed as 'ambient' / nice circular reference, Shapes of Things is pointing to us right now / many Maseratis.

Photographs by Gary John Norman / the work of architect Luigi Cosenza / Lomografia Portugal / Dead Christmas Trees, spotted by blogmarch / Recyclicity, trying to promote the re-use of waste materials for construction / Exploring Concepts of Landscape Architecture: OKLAHOMA, self-explanatory weblog.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Kiruna: The Town that Moved, a post at Strange Harvest: 'This January, Sweden's northernmost town of Kiruna, 145 kilometres into the Artic Circle has decided to move itself 4km in order to save itself from sinking into cracks created by the worlds largest iron ore mine.' / Sleepwalker, a rather charming video by Norwegian electro-pop outfit Frost, 'shot on the arctic island of Svalbard in the sixties'.

The Victorian "fear of emptiness", or Horror Vacui, looked on fondly at (what is this?). The post begins with Philip Henry Delamotte's extraordinary image of the Crystal Palace (original linked from the Viewfinder Collection of images of the Palace after it had been relocated to Sydenham. It was monumental).

Seibe Thissen, architectural and cultural historian. Great-looking website. All in Dutch / Alex de Jong and Marc Schuilenburg operate as Studio Popcorn, striving to make sense of the modern media-saturated city / a Paul Rudolph house being demolished, caught at the pointy intersection between high culture and real estate / Icon is worth saving, as a Marcel Breuer-designed library in Grosse Pointe is threatened with demolition. Some original images of the library (including a design sketch) and its predecessors.

Pamela Stonebrooke is an intergalactic diva / pavement art by Julian Beever. Our favourite is Batman and Robin / Josh's Blog / photographs by Sarah Pickering, including the series 'Explosions' / Neighbors, paintings by Amy Bennett at the tmn gallery, depicting a model-like world of mystery and horror, 'Inspired by curiosity and meticulous scale models.' Also via tmn, Normal Rooms / Found, shared: The Magazine Photowork / Genmaps, old British cartography / Tulsa to dig up car buried for 50 years.

An amazing Journey into Niagara Falls (via me-fi). More urban exploration at Sleepy City. Even more: Undercity, beneath NYC, tales from a 'guerilla historian' / ARO's City of the Future (via kottke). More on the project. Related, rising sea level maps: I, II.

Make your own protopage. As if you need another portal / bring on Google Download, an online e-book service / Storm from the east, contemporary culture and commerce blog / Meejahoar, a weblog. Hi Lizzie / Palla Palla, design in Chicago / MSC Napoli beached off East Devon, flickr pool. This shot in particular.

The Sesquipedalist, 'a monthly review of books about architecture'. The review of Above Paris (published by PAP) has a comparison of the book's imagery with Google Earth shots / car design by Gio Ponti. More Ponti pics / Cave Story, a fun and free PC game / Incubator, slick site for a lush design monograph / so while Samantha... / step inside the Galeria Pilar Parra and Romero.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The architecture of anonymity. The Architect's Journal uncovers a neat little scam run out of China. Aware of the colossal opportunities for construction professionals in the rampant Chinese economy, a new breed of 'fake architects' have established themselves, creating sites like the Hong Kong International Engineering Design Research Institute and the RHM Architecture Design Institute, stuffed with work, both real and rendered, pilfered from online portfolios around the world.

The fraud is pretty transparent - the RHM's four directors are called, in a Ballardian kind of way, Cornelius, Euphemia, Aldridge and Dalton - and the language is machine translated garbage. And some of those architects look awfully familiar. But the problems really occur with the buildings, some of which are so ghastly it's a wonder anyone would claim to have designed them, let alone steal the credit. Symptomatic of the cut-n-paste aesthetic that predominates in hyper-accelerated building cultures (see, as endlessly mentioned before, Dubai, Shanghai, Beijing, etc.), these buildings are homeless before they've even broken ground. With no sense of place, no sense of stylistic belonging or integrity, they're condemned to drift around the internet in search of an author. Ultimately, they get built, condemning the ground they stand on to the same emptiness.

(As an aside, the AJ only reveals its content for subscribers, which is rather short-sighted. Surely the print magazine exists for photography, plans, details and longer analysis, while the news and comment section of the website drives subscribers to the magazine?)

Other things. Google Earth getting appears to be getting ahead of itself. The above view of the city, looking across to Canary Wharf, incorporates several buildings which don't actually exist on the ground. The Bishopsgate Tower (kpf, due to start on site this year), 122 Leadenhall (RRP, due for completion in 2008), Heron Tower (kpf, due to start in 2008) and the Willis Building (Foster and Partners, due for completion this year). What's going on? Is anyone allowed to tip a building into the program? Designs for high-rises in London come and go, so it is perverse for a mapping application to be portraying an uncertain future.

The Riot Wine Blog / Sit Down Comedian, a weblog, which links to The Kubrick Site / very 2001, when Claudio Silvestrin met Kanye West, Dezeen has the scoop on the musician's new minimalist pad in NY / a knock-off of the Farnsworth House in the Netherlands.

Museum Blog on the installation of the Dymaxion House at The Henry Ford (formerly the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village). The 'basic line was that the evil bankers wouldn’t support the brilliant Buckminster Fuller', noting sagely that '"Evil bankers" resonates badly at at place called "The Henry Ford"'.

Things that might have been, a collection of industry design sketches over at BibliOdyssey / Single Shot, short artists films available for download / a collection of photography e-zines collated by Photo headlines / steamSHIFT blogs about digital arts / the Million Dollar Facade (more in spirit than in reality) at the Sandberg Institute.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

An epic, fully illustrated post on fantasy cityscapes at approximationer: from Blade Runner to Urville to City 17. There's also a post on the upcoming reconstruction of the Halley Research Station in Antarctica (the sixth building on the site), a pleasingly retrofuturistic creation that stalks across the ice. When the RIBA design competition was held for this job, back in 2004, it's fair to say that of the shortlisted designs, Faber Maunsell were seen as a bit of dark horse, up against knowingly Archigram-esque imagery from the likes of Richard Rogers, Hopkins and Buro Happold, all of whom had served their time at the coal-face of corporate design and could reasonably be expected to land a project that literally realised the dramatic potential of high-tech modernism. In other words, there wasn't enough art in their architecture. The winning design. The official site of the British Antarctic Survey.

The Hunt for Architecture in Second Life, a popular theme right now if this me-fi post is anything to go by / 'A fine line, there is a need for some closeness and much detachment between architect and critic', an essay by Jonathan Glancey / the Tate being splintered by the wind. Private Eye's Piloti will be pleased.

The weblog of the Swedish architectural magazine Arkitektur. Our Swedish isn't up to much, but this post appears to be tracking new developments in Naypyidaw, the new capital of Burma / arkitekturbloggen, another Swedish architecture weblog / the inner sanctum at A Doodle A day / more Fictional Towns and Cities.

Weblog round-up. Some interesting linklogs, others more the speak-your-brains type stream of consciousness: MK Carroll / the elusive pringle / Next Generation Internet / Mattias Wirf / a small site about musician Robert Hampson / Grandma's kitchen / a bit late, maybe, The Year in the Internet 2006 at Burncopy.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Clip/Stamp/Fold, 'the radical architecture of little magazines 196x-197x', via another company. These publications were the fanzines of the age, an aesthetic that was to be so enthusiastically taken up by punk. See Esther Leslie's The Punk Paper: A Dialogue, or read the reproduced copy of 1-2-3-4, a Leeds-based publication from the 80s. There's also Phil Stoneman's Fanzines: Their Production, Culture and Future. These essays are concerned with music, an industry that thrives on an active sub-culture of experimentation and alternative means of promotion. Were there once the architectural equivalents of punks?

Four Stone Hearth, 'a new blog carnival about anthropology and archaeology' (new term for us, 'Each edition of a blog carnival is in the form of a blog article that contains permalinks links to other blog articles on the particular topic.'). Via Aardvarchaeology / Life Without Buildings ponders Libeskinds's forthcoming Contemporary Jewish Museum extension in San Francisco (official site) / something rather creepy about Insect Lab.

Photographs by Vera Hartmann, especially the series of portraits and landscapes taken at the The Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station. Via conscientious, who also links to Arun Kuplas' images of bunkers / a website cataloguing Schools for the 21st Century, or rather the US approach. In the UK we have the Academy Schools, which aim for architectural and academic greatness and frequently fail to provide either.

Visual overload, imagery without comment (or source) at musselsoppansvanner / extracts from Taryn Simon's An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, a photographic essay of hidden or inaccessible places and acts; the almost baroque splendour of the Contraband Room at JFK International Airport, or a crop of Research Marijuana / Ten Most Expensive Books Sold in 2006 / Patent of the Month, interesting essays.

Packet Garden, 'grow a world from network traffic' (via lpc) / must try to get along to this exhibition, London: a life in maps / as well as another company, here are a few more design blogs (for want of a better term): David Report, Good Old Design, Contemporanea, apt broadcast / more weblogs: apophenia, sauf la nuit, Sans Houses, which looks at Nashville's homeless community, Ghost of a Flea / Zinc Panic, an archive of Japanese pop culture / Miffy is poison, thunders columnist AN Wilson in the Daily Telegraph. Read Peter Rabbit instead.

U.S. Architecture in Moscow, a Time article from 1958 (found via Google's new archive search) chronicling the reaction of Russians to an exhibition of American modernism: 'Visitors stood openmouthed in front of a photo that showed cars parked on a rooftop, bewildered about how they got there.' Was this a turning point in Soviet modernism? Related, the occasional bit of Russian Architecture, tagged at English Russia (which also ponders the impact of global warming on Moscow). Thrilling Wonder also collates a two-part series, One Day in the Life of a Russian Motorist.

Finally, has anyone been having troubles with our rss feed?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Forgot to post this lot last week, so apologies for any slight staleness. The Mazda Museum, a very elegantly conceived online exhibition. We want a Cosmo Sport 110S. Best of all is the Mazda CVS, a rail-based, computer controlled vehicle system that (unsurprisingly) never made it out of concept stage in 1974. Many people were thinking hard about this strange compromise, half mass-transit system 16 years ago (pdf), and even before, but only now is the technology actually becoming available.

Somewhere in the American desert, the Red Team and the Blue Team strive to learn more about downtown Baghdad, a facsimile for orientation. See also the Dugway Proving Ground (seen on Google Maps), which had its own 'German Town'. More from the Center for Land Use Interpretation / Metro-land, 'Railways Around Amersham and The Metropolitan Line', via me-fi, romanticises the appeal of suburban tube lines somewhat / also via me-fi Photographs of the Unexpected and Neglected Architecture / Running from Camera, is exactly that / Honda's 1981 in-car navigation system, otherwise known as the 'Electro Gyrocator'. You placed special maps over the screen.

Need an instant, iconic cultural institution? Here's one we made earlier; now rent bits of it. A new Louvre for Abu Dhabi. The country is also due to get a Gehry-designed Guggenheim (the foremost museum 'brand' in the world). All this cultural activity will be located on Saadiyat Island, the country's answer to Dubai's various Palms.

I did not know that yesterday! Indeed / iPhone as substitute for books? / artful smut at CoolGirl365 / a fashion shoot featuring Swedish Librarians / the art of Tansy Spinks / a selection of concept boats / the idea that Thomas is a Money-Making Engine has got some rather upset: 'Anyone with a vocabulary that includes the word "verisimilitude" can surely find better ways to express anger at a fictional train than with profanity.'

The Necessity for Ruins, 'an exploration of Philadelphia's built environment'. An enormous amount of information on buildings old and new, like the Egyptian revival Debtors' Apartment at Moyamensing Prison. See also the Harrisburg Transportation Center. Related, Ghosts of South Philly and The Virtual Motor City, images of old Detroit, including the notorious Father Charles Coughlin (who popped up in Philip Roth's recent The Plot Against America).

Depressingly, Archinect takes the time to look around and discovers that Architecture in Second Life 'just sort of replicates suburbia. In a universe built from free and easily manipulated virtual building units, there is a surprising lack of interesting work going on. Evidence, perhaps, that spatial banality is not just a symptom of something larger, but an affliction in and of itself.'

The sci-fi art of 2006 (via Boing Boing). Also via bb, a set of images of Soviet Bus-Stops / derelict London, a journey through the city's ripped back streets / an artists' directory at Map Magazine / Wedding Photography Blog, musings on and around commercial and art photography / photographer Michael Danner's Suburban series / tmn delves into the interior design nightmares that are Love Hotels.

Found via the Richmond and Twickenham Times' nostalgia section, the demolition of the Firestone Factory in West London, an art deco masterpiece by Wallis Gilbert and Partners that was swiftly demolished over a Bank Holiday weekend some 27 years ago in the face of imminent listing. Scroll down for some original images an a snapshot of the wreckers. It joins the long list of conservation disasters in the UK and was one of the first major cases for the Twentieth Century Society. The demolishers were Trafalgar House.

Friday, January 12, 2007

We don't exist in Second Life, but you might. If so, you may want to visit Keenag, a 'pop-surrealism and lowbrow art gallery in the game'. We also weren't familiar with Slurl, which appears to be a kind of Google Maps for the game (Keenag is here, for example). It's a bit like taking a birds-eye view of a giant Lego set / Walden, a minimal shelter concept. At first glimpse this appears to be a fabulous combination of Swiss Army Knife and architecture, but the more you look at it, the functional element is subsumed by the theoretical. Designed by Nils Holger Moormann.

Sexuality in Art, a weblog with images from comics to Kahlo. Love this cartoon / a bunch of Whitney's stuff for auction. She'll never join the JAMs / yet more iPhone questions. Apocryphal tech-related story. Collecting our laptop for its second excursion to the Sony Vaio menders of central Europe, the DHL driver remarked, 'we see a lot of these.' / Jitterbuzz, 'Swing Dancing and Retro Lifestyle in Washington DC' / more on that missing polar bear, the stuffed example that once took pride of place in the Horniman Museum's exhibits / a design backlash?. No, really? (via).

The Malling of our cities, Tom Dyckhoff rages against Drake Circus in Plymouth, which is attracting critical ire faster than almost any other building in living memory. The architects, Chapman Taylor state boldly that 'there is no in-house style for the practice'. No style at all. The project doesn't appear on their website. Here it is, in all its 'surreally grotesque' glory / images of Tunnel construction at Science and Society / Eisenstein, the Glass House and the Spherical Book at the excellent Rouge magazine / diskant sifts through Youtube to find several clips of onstage guitar destruction / Rene Wanner's Poster Page / the weblog of the Euston Manifesto.

Just concentrate on the words... Dark Room, a minimal text editor (via, via) / Foam, the photography museum in Amsterdam / we must remember to check out Marcus Fairs' Dezeen more regularly / sifting through the call-outs at BLDG BLOG to find a few places we've never been; The Dirt, Future Feeder (random onward link, the BumpTop desktop concept - iPhone take note?), Brand Avenue (rol: Streets in the Sky, a pretty good discussion of the future of Sheffield's Park Hill estate), Centripedal Notion (rol: Forests Forever), hippoblog (rol: the 2006/7 London Fireworks on Youtube).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Small update. Yet another look at Dubai (found via design observer, at streetsblog: 'Dubai and New York may be two of the world's most rapidly growing cities, but the long term sustainability and competitiveness of both will be determined by their ability to wean themselves off the automobile and create highly functional destinations at every scale'. See also Mike Davis's Sinister Paradise essay.

Some comparisons: American University Campuses, good and evil (not sure what that's about), starship dimensions, the Nazca Lines, consumer products, warships (OK, so some of these might not be real), skyscrapers under construction, New York in 1935, console sizes, destroyed buildings.

Also via do, construction images of the Festival of Britain. More from the official Festival of Britain publications / Casio sells its one billionth calculator, a fairly startling statistic / model railways, the On My Workbench section is particularly fine / Chinese-controlled MG (formerly 'Morris Garages') is now to be known as 'Modern Gentleman'. Not a lot more to say about that.

iPhone, good or bad? / the work (and weblog) of artist Laura Gonzalez / wretched, overpriced, overweight coffee table books / Objects in Waiting, 'artists were invited to exhibit not an artwork, but an element of an artwork yet to be realised' / documenting the state of Peckham Rye Station / more calculators at the PC Museum.

controversy in the world of heraldic symbols (search for 'Elzabeth Osanna Zelter') at the The Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., a 'a medieval recreation group' / John Isaacs' exhibition You Said You Would Always Be There / a collection of Grand Illusions, including optical examples / the art of James R.Bingham at Today's Inspiration, which collates advertising and editorial illustration from the 40s and 50s.

Sunday, January 07, 2007
A pneumatic system for the co-ordination of time, the story of the clocks of Paris, via me-fi, via Brainwidth, which sent us to investigate The Interpretive Engine, 'a location-based narrative, which can be accessed on any laptop with Wi-Fi. Storytelling merges with wireless communication. The early history of the telecommunications and transportation industries inspires this story, told by 6 characters. In the Industrial Era communications, navigation, and transportation systems existed side by side in an interdependent network. These technologies as well as the profound philosophical, theological, and social shifts that ushered them in figure prominently in this story.'

London-on-Sea, more tidal jitters. Someone wrote a book about this once, although the cover looks a little bit closer to 'firestorm' than flood / German Industrial Buildings 1910-1925. See also Andy's Early Comics Archive, hosted on the same site / a collection of travel labels (via). More sets from cottoncandyhammer: Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus and vinyl records / SandiTan, a weblog /

Gene Gill's one-of-a-kind miniature buildings are based on historical architecture and landmarks from around the world.' Drop the work into the context of the Saatchi Gallery and you immediately start looking out for Jake and Dinos / the art of Carson Ellis (via tmn) / Scattergun, a weblog / paintings by Oliver Clegg / reprappers, creating self-building machines / Life Without Buildings looks into Dubai's The World / the Poetry Archive.

Ambient urban landscapes, Northmancbeds. See also their site Manctransit, which has great images of Preston Bus Station Car Park, still under threat. For more noises, check 2006's Top 50 instrumental releases according to The Silent Ballet. This sent us off on long spirals of discovery, including Te', from Japan and Blueneck, from the UK.

The Colchester Places and Spaces weblog, a fascinating and personal view of new development and old architecture in the town of Colchester. If only every UK town had this kind of resource / A House is Three in Second Life, in which Andreas Angelidakis discovers Eisenman-esque constructions in Second Life. Related, is SL really a silicon ghost town? / Museum Blogging. Related, Architectural Drawings on Transparent Paper: Modifications of Conservation Treatments / Stephen Gill and his buried photographs.

Carl Zimmerman's Landmarks of Industrial Britain, a photographic series of fictional public buildings derived from small scale architectural maquettes... envisaging a worker's state in Britain at the time of the Industrial Revolution'. Discussed in more detail at BLDG BLOG's recent post, Fictional ruins from fictional worlds (via). From the comments, images of long buried cars (retrieved in a distant future?) by Patrick Nagatani.

We were going to try and get through this year without thinking about ruins, but they seem to surround us even more than before. With Battersea Power Station sliding inexorably towards total collapse, the victim of both the markets and the conservation industry, and the online enthusiasm for quasi-derelict industrial landscapes growing by the day, ruins are the popular obsession that counters our addiction to novelty and technology. There's something very fundamental and solid about a good ruin, if that isn't an oxymoron. Related, Spillers Millennium Mills, an abandoned hulk in London's East End (via Abandoned Britain. We love the chute)

The imagery of Baron George Hoyningen-Huene / play multi-player Jet Set Willy online / Slaw, a Canadian legal weblog / Ingeos, a sound weblog / 'Architecture and Consumption in Sweden, 1930-1970 is a research project that looks at how the architecture and politics of the Swedish welfare state (known in Swedish as Folkhemmet – literally, “The People’s Home”) were shaped by a consumer-oriented perspective that has been central to Social Democratic policies ever since the 1930s.'

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Anthony Greenbank's cult book Survival in the City shows you how make your way through the urban jungle, with gritty black and white illustrations and a sense of impending peril around every corner. The urban survival handbook is not quite as popular as it once was (although Greenbank's book eventually morphed into the Book of Survival, and made its way into things like the low-tech library), we're now too cynical and jaded to look at this advice except through a fug of irony.

Did we ever take this sort of thing at face value? Witness the enormous success of the Worst Case Scenario series, useful/useless advice presented with a nod and a wink, more likely to surface in a Christmas stocking than a mercenary's backpack. Admittedly, true practitioners of the dark arts of survival can find a market for their less ironic tomes (and dig a little deeper into the world of the survivalist and your pixels will start oozing pure panic) but it seems that 21st irony has largely superseded the streak of urban panic that ran through the 70s and 80s.

Perhaps Greenbank blamed the French. The riots of 68 had nailed the idea of the city as a device of perpetual control, a theory based on the demolitions and constructions of Baron Haussmann, the best-known proponent of the rational, socially-divided city. According to the Situationists, "he nicely separated leisure areas from work places, thus announcing modern functionalism, as illustrated by Le Corbusier's precise zone tripartition (one zone for circulation, another one for accommodations, and the last one for labour)." Take a look Above Paris, courtesy of the tmn gallery of the work of aerial photographer Roger Henrard, two decades before the barricades went up.

Greenbank's urban environment was, of course, America, where simmering unease had sporadically exploded into confrontation. Urban survival combines the fear of widespread disorder with an ongoing, unrelenting attack on life and liberty from all corners, be they drug addicts, muggers, kidnappers, whatever. This was the era of Assault on Precinct 13, and the city was, by its very nature, unsafe. It's ironic that disorder should plague the American city, given the European experience of reconstruction to maintain division and control. Before Haussmann had even been let lose on Paris, Christopher Wren wanted to have a go at post-Great Fire London, drawing up a classic plan for the medieval morass that was the City (taken from the many maps at London Ancestor). A similar story is told in Lynda Nead's Victorian Babylon, which chronicled the removal of Holywell, a small thoroughfare north of the Strand lined with bookshops, many of which were prone to displaying saucy pictures, hastening the street's destruction, and the passing of the Obscene Publications Act of 1857.

The act was a form of Hausmanisation, just not an architectural one. (Hausmanisation is not a word in common usage, but one which crops up in this post, This is not architecture, over at Kosmograd. See also the post Spore Cities and, while we're at it, the 'Julian Opie Lenticular' cover for Draft Magazine, which also introduces us to the works of Garth Walker and Asuka Ohsawa. The latter produces ultra-twisted little vignettes in a quasi-traditional style. Phew).

We digress. Paris in the floods of 1910: big, striking images. Another set of 1910 images, taken by Pierre Petit, hosted at the Historic Cities site. See also the Seine at a low point in 1943. Related (and referenced in today's Guardian), Global Warming - London Flooding, a projection using the amazing Virtual London / New Popular Edition maps. The UK in 1940 / the work of Andrew Bracey (via Flavorpill) / DesignNotes, a weblog by Michael Surtees / when is Brand X better? / why is the CGI in Jurassic Park so good?

Was there a mysterious 13th episode of Fawlty Towers? / 2006, the year in pictures, courtesy of i like / The Ryde, a group of courtyard houses in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. One of the best is currently for sale / Cafe Kafka, a weblog / architectural objects available at Cornucopia3D / the soundblog / the survival books has also been commented on by others, and it has even inspired some rather creepy music / designer Eliot Noyes' own house in New Canaan, still lived in by his widow, Molly / Jeff Bezos's Goddard space vehicle, built by his Blue Origin company, finally breaks cover, two months after the first trials / celebrity patents / is the American house reaching its peak? What was supersized may one day be downsized: 'Today's McMansions, with their overbearing scale and frenetic ornamentation, are a pretty close match for Victorian excess.'

Six Months in a Fleecy Coat, blogging from Antarctica. See also the Antarctic Conservation Blog, concerned with 'conserving artefacts from the explorer's hut left behind by Ernest Shackleton in 1908.' And just for good measure, Tchotchke schlock, Laurel Blossom's musings on 'Souvenirs of the Shackleton Exhibition', back in things 10 / Mr K puts together an impressive list of the Best Links of 2006; reading it is like delving back into the artworks, trends, events and oddities that spiked into our consciousness these past twelve months. All of them now seem so last year, as the internet's relentless whirl and churn makes novelties ever shorter-lived.

Poppytalk, a weblog / visual weblog: thrilling wonder. The post on the Winstanley Lighthouse (scroll down) is fun, the second of five built on the Eddystone Rock since 1698. Winstanley's eccentric tower has survived in many reproductions and prints. A fine collection of thirty famous British lighthouses (at The Seafarer / The One Train / marketallica, marketing trends via Turkey / the preservation woes and wonders of 2006.

Monday, January 01, 2007
Like someone scrounging through the remains of the Christmas day wrapping paper avalanche for some scraps to use again, here are a few links we have picked up over the festive season, all smoothed down and de-crinkled, with the tell-tale bits of sellotape removed from the corners.

The eerie story of Undark, glow-in-the-dark paint that was a combination of 'radium salt with glue and a compound called zinc sulfide which glowed in the presence of radiation', devised by William J.Hammer (via me-fi). More on the United States Radium Company. Read about Hammer's showpiece 'Electrical Dinner', given in 1884. The dinner took place in Hammer's gadget-filled residence ('The whole house was fitted throughout with electric bells, burglar alarms, fire alarms, telephones, electric cigar lighters, medical coils, phonographs, electric fans, thermostats, heat regulating devices, some seven musical instruments, operated by electricity, etc.') and the menu included "Electric Toast," "Wizard Pie," "Sheol Pudding," "Magnetic Cake," "Telegraph Cake," "Telephone Pie," and, best of all, "Ohm-made Electric Current Pie."

Scans from the seminal Manplan 3 and Manplan 4, published by the Architectural Review in the 60s and part of no,2 self's Architectural Advent (also note the new blog address:, and moblog). See also these selections of AR covers from the 60s and 70s. So when did the AR lose its visual edge? Some time around the early 80s, it seems / outsider architecture in Russia / Threads, the psychological scar that hangs over the 1970s generation thanks to ill-advised showings during general studies classes at school. The same fears troubled Samantha Reed Smith, the schoolgirl emissary for peace, who wrote to Andropov and got invited to Artek, the Soviet Union's All-Union and international Young Pioneer camp, now the International Children Center. Here, 'Happy fairy tales with no evil wizards dwell here. Here myriads of stars are reflected in the sparkling waves of the warm and clear sea, and the little pug-nosed Future in short pants runs in the shady alleys of the old parks. Four and a half miles of the beaches, coolness of the ancient cottages, light buildings letting in the rays of sunshine through the glass walls, palaces, stadiums, swimming pools — all that and much more one can find on the magnificent cost of Tavrida.'

Modelling a chunk of Newham, over at dde. See also the Flickr Digital Urban pool / the Evolution of Urban Space at the Independence National Historic Park / The Machine: Pruned on ATLAS, a particle detectors for CERN's Large Hadron Collider being constructed underground in the Swiss Alps / artworks old and new at The Sudden Curve / Lenticulations (via projects). This one is great / Richard May, illustrator / two via Coudal: A 38-State Nation. The Jet-Man / Dubai is nuts.

The floorplan art of Scott Teplin (via bb), like '13 rooms'. Also via the Boing, What's Noka worth?, an investigation into upscale chocolate price fixing. We'd never heard of Noka Chocolate before, but given that they operate out of Plano, Texas, and our knowledge of American chocolate began and ended with the Hershey Bar, their claims to be the world's best luxury chocolate need to be taken with added salt / Soviet Military Prison Dream Vacation / maps and infographics.

Pictures from The Secret World of 007 / French space agency to publish UFO archive online / Abbot Kinney created Venice, California / collision detection ponders How YouTube is saving the lost art of guitar wanking: 'Because 1980s-style shredding faces problematic paradox: "Very often," as [Chuck] Klosterman pointed out [in Esquire], "profoundly exceptional guitar playing is boring to listen to."' / whatever happened to Donna from Elastica?.

The Usborne Guide to Computer and Video Games, spookily prescient / the manikken / key shelf / the work of Alasdair Gray, over at wood_s_lot / 100 things we didn't know last year / Mr Hill leaves the BBC for Monocle. See also, from the 'where does he find the time' department, a collection of Top 12 Appearances by Bands in Films at City of Sound / Visual Acoustics, via music thing / Driko, a weblog / the trick: Cheap Trick on the road in the mid 1980s.

Frumination, a weblog / Aardvarchaeology, a weblog / the tagging of Camden Town; London Underground gets blitzed (thanks Rod) / photographs by Aubrey Edwards of the Rebuilders of New Orleans (see also the weblog) / Re-visited, Joyce's World of Transport Eclectica, including maps and Life on the Travelling Post Office Trains. The massive Railways Archive has a section on the Reshaping of British Railways / Cinema Treasures, picture houses of the past / Scripophily, authentic stock and bond certificates.

ObscureTags, HTML from the past, via projects / videos. lots of them / great me-fi post on the history of the drum machine / tingle's blog / 'Big Games' and Environmental Space: 'Imaginary places, constructed from code, are now being represented not just as pixel grid windows into synthetic 3D environments, but mapped onto the actual 3D environments in which we live' / a secret history: GM, Opel and WWII / the cinema posters of Peter Strausfeld, who worked for the Academy Cinema on Oxford Street, demolished in 1989 (thanks Joe) / an (official) archive of National Theatre Posters / Picasso's thought process (via / fairly mild, some typographical cheesecake / not at all sfw, famous women in slips / This is our favourite image from Daniela Edburg's series Drop Dead Gorgeous series at tmn / learn to play ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man.