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Sunday, September 28, 2008


Some catching up to do. The photorealist art of Don Eddy / dysturb.net, all about Dutch architecture / core.form-ula, the digital realm blogged / 'New York City, Tear Down These Walls', Ouroussoff on the city's worst examples of 21st century architecture / related, a piece about 190 The Bowery, a photographer's haven in New York. 190 The Bowery is owned by Jay Maisal, and the piece also taps into that great urban myth, the overlooked and undiscovered room: 'The building is still giving up its secrets. About a month ago, Amanda discovered a room she never knew existed. "It's kind of in the mezzanine between the first and second floors," she says. "It's a cool little room. I donít know why they donít use it. It is just kind of full of pieces of mirror." This recalls a post we've referenced before, BLDG BLOG's The Undiscovered Bedrooms of Manhattan (via kottke). See also this NY Times piece on the (surely now-long-passed micro) trend for installing secret rooms: 'he had wanted a secret room, he said, "since watching Scooby-Doo way back when."'

Architectures de cartes postales, old images on what some might call Boring Postcards. Not us / from the Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the work of Nicolas Grospierre and Kobas Laksa, examining life in Poland's architectural marvels 50 years into the future: The Afterlife of Buildings, intense collages that turn today's shiny new high-tech palaces into repositories for chaos.

The Oxford Project at tmn. Stunning / also via tmn, a set of modernist gas stations. Many people presumably still wish we could build gas stations like this. We recall that Prince Charles once wished for what was effectively a half-timbered fuel pumping palace.

Western nostalgia for the lacklustre progress of the American space programme can be solved by a visit to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, where things seem to be doe the old fashioned way. But why don't the Gulf States do space? Their earthbound realities are now so extraordinary that they will only be topped by extra-terrestrial architecture. Right now, spaceports are the new aesthetic sleight of hand, luminous distractions. Put these things in Dubai, and they'd be built before the end of the year.

Some tabloid madness injected in the calm, rational world of Richard Meier / thanks to Draplin for the link / sometimes we think the internet is best simply for lists of things, e.g. 10 seriously unusual Asian hotels / Mirror Dash, couture by Kim Gordon / Moscow Zoo in 1920.

Netherlands Picture books from 1810 to 1950, via me-fi / the iconic GMC Motorhome, now 30 years old. See also SquobStock, a Flickr group featuring 'the best RV photography on the web' / May tries the offspring of the Caspian Sea Monster. Ekranoplans are internet-nurtured cult objects / we've mentioned this before, the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society.

Referrer round up. Design for Mankind, a weblog / Planetaki is a web page you can configure yourself, probably to look a bit like Alltop / Intensify, a personal weblog / ArtJetSet, rather overwhelming, but art-focused. Related, the 2008 Turner Prize Nominees / unlimited edition, all those projects that live in the blurred zone between design, digital and beyond / ArchFeed, collating architecture weblogs from around the world.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008


A few thoughts on the incredibly limited interaction between architecture and contemporary literature, triggered by the occasion of David Foster Wallace's death. DFW is perhaps best known amongst those with only a casual relationship with his work as someone who turned the footnote into a meta digression, a literal subtext that could then occupy another space within the main narrative, a place for digressions, expansions, and diversions. His journalism, if one could call it that, was a particular favourite, dense explorations of the apparently trite or over-worked, extricating fresh meaning and inevitable absurdity from each situation.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again is the stand-out essay on the relationship between place and space (originally published in Harper's as 'Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise' (pdf)). For Foster Wallace, the cruise ship was not simply a closed, hermetic environment, but a place for a dense, tragicomic exploration of social interactions and expectations. The piece also touches on suicide and the 'unbearable sadness' of the entire concept of cruising, making much of the ironic contrast between the pristine whiteness of the ship itself and the human decay within - 'every type of erythema, pre-rnelanomic lesion, liver spot, eczema, wart, papular cyst, pot belly, femoral cellulite, varicosity, collagen and silicone enhancement, bad tint, hair transplants that have not taken'.

Those gymnastic sentences and deep pile footnotes were once revolutionary. But even though all text is supposed to be multi-layered and hyperlinked, few have exploited the digital medium with the innovation that Wallace brought to the printed page. A recent visit to the Venice Biennale made us wonder about layering and complexity, and how theoretical and analytical complexity is evaporating like a puddle in the sun, replaced by extreme visual complication. Above all, this is a new world of explication, where clarity is wilfully overturned in favour of multiple paths. In a way, the architectural avant-garde has evolved into a landscape where the footnotes - in the form of half-baked theory and intellectual posturing - are already in place. It's left to the reader to choose their own easy path through a text.

As we walked down to the Giardini for the last time, two vast liners sailed east along the Lido di Venezia, heading from the cruise ship docks at the Bacino Stazione Maritima to the open sea. Each towered above the terracotta roofs and elaborate facades of the palazzos and churches, modern monuments that will forever have a sheen of faintly misguided mechanistic fetishism about them (one wonders what the effect of the last twelve years has on the atmosphere of the cruise industry; bigger, better and more seem to be the watchwords, a trajectory it shares with architecture yet both are strangely reluctant to draw parallels to each other). Corb's passion for the mechanical ultimately turned out to be rather fickle; he was in love with the romance of the machine, not the mechanisation of romance. Strange that such a totemic slice of modernism, an object so integral to the modern movement itself, should enjoy notoriety as the site of a fatal self-analysis.



You can read also the chapter 'derivative sport in tornado alley'. See also Consider the Lobster (pdf) and the selected material from Harper's (The Depressed Person (pdf) is particularly difficult). McSweeneys is running a tribute front page, while tmn has a round-up (Jessanne Collins' My Life in Jest is also a must-read), as does The Howling Fantods' comprehensive collective of online tributes and obituaries.

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Other things. An essay on the Biennale by Jonathan Glancey (whose new book, Lost Buildings encapsulates the sense of modernism-as-nostaglia) / Venice Biennale coverage at the AJ / strange object found in space? / the H1 Fugu helicopter concept; we're living in an age when this kind of aesthetic is starting to be expressed in real products / 5B4 is a weblog devoted to the photographic monograph / artwork by Esther Stocker.

A Little Piece of Mind, creating a quilt from multiple sources / Floater Magazine offers a utopian view of future architecture / Confessions of an awards juror: '... we donít know what graphic design is for any more' / the work of Neave Brown, architect and artist / Lego instruction scans / more intense cruise liner axonometrics at the website of Beau Daniels and Alan Daniels. See also their automotive portfolio / a cup of tea and a wheat penny, a weblog.

Very happy to be mentioned in RB's The Digital Ramble - tracking sites that are 'meaningless deep down, sure, but still charmingly poignant on the surface.' We (think) we knew nothing of Jjjjound, which more than anything reminds us of a modern day collection of Gainsboroughs, a world of self-aggrandisement in which the perfect lifestyle pose simply mirrors Mr and Mrs Andrews, replacing their sweep of Suffolk with semiotically dense dioramas of urban life. Also, nothing like a big link in to get a post up swiftly.

The man clutching box image is a very modern form of visual shorthand. The BBC website spotted this, noting that for many newspapers the main challenge of a big story like the Lehman collapse is 'how to illustrate the collapse of a bank with pictures of pretty, high-achieving, Home Counties thirtysomethings carrying their possessions in a cardboard box'. It's been a visual trope since Enron, and presumably many years before that.

We'll be away for a week.

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Monday, September 15, 2008


Apologies for the lack of posts. We've been busy and travelling and proofing. And reeling from this (via).

A few Venice Biennale opinions: The Venice Biennale British Pavilion remains steadfastly London-centric. Compact and bijou - the slums of tomorrow? (whatever happened to the Microflat?). Fun pics from NL Architects - with an innate understanding of what you need to create to ensure global press coverage.

Polar exploration vehicles, an evolving typology / Farnsworth sinks again / Fixture, 'construction of a living apparatus'. Yes, but what does it actually do? / Andreas Angelidakis, a weblog / travel to the Isle of Wight with Martin Parr. Is this the ultimate post-ironic activity? Do you really need to 'train your eye to see the ugliness in beauty and the horror in leisure'? / an obituary for Rodney Gordon, architect (along with Owen Luder) of the Tricorn Centre Cut-Click, a new online magazine. Quite refreshingly low key.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Random links / k3n's blog / ffffound as a 'deracinated, uncredited, untraceable image orgy ... the nadir of the eye candy, surface-uber-alles design world', according to gret. Although we do like these floorplan plates / compare and contrast: Cordaid advertisement versus Vogue India fashion shoot / Rolls-Royce now has six showrooms in China, located at Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Hangzhou. Strange that our geographical knowledge of country is only being expanded via the infiltration of ultra high-end Western brands.

A Building-by-Building Survey of New York's Last Great Architecture Boom at NY Mag / Tokyo Architecture, a flickr set by Bruce Nihon / a selection of images from CERN / David Foster Wallace Motivational Posters at The Howling Fantods! (via crazymonk) / the world of virtual property, enduring its own digital credit crunch.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Why the fascination with the end of the world? Contemporary visions of apocalypse have become relatively sophisticated, invoking the extremes of the natural, rather than the supernatural, order. The wild speculation about the LHC's apparently inherent and unpredictable ability to consume us all has encouraged a look back at recent impending apocalypses (although those with concerns about the Large Hadron Collider should be sure to reference this helpful website).

In the days before we were capable of imagining the planet folding into a void, consumed by strangelets or roasted by a flying ball of rock, the apocalypse was more localised, resulting in mass extinction, but in a rather bucolic, romantic fashion whereby the remnants of humankind simply withered, faded and eventually crumbled, perhaps allowing the few survivors some semblance of life within the ruins. In strong contrast to most Doomsday Cults, whereby destruction is invariably total and essentially a form of release that will enable followers to enter another plane of existence, the romantic view of destruction has become one of the major narratives underpinning contemporary culture.

With its origins in post-nuclear survivalist literature, a richly paranoid seam that deserves a whole post of its own, the mass cultural manifestation of our perverse obsession with self destruction results in images like Tokyo Fantasy: Images of the apocalypse and Flooded London. These scenes will always hold a fascination, just as modern ruin exploration has emerged from a subcultural culvert into the bulging fringes of web-driven pop culture. Witness the countless games that feature post-apocalyptic scenarios at their heart (Earthrise, S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Clear Sky, Half Life, etc., etc.

Real world thinking about real world ending scenarios don't give much though to the persistence of some form of basic material culture and value system to sustain the post-apocalyptic humans. Usually, suggested value systems are largely unconscious, usually subsumed beneath layers of political and/or religious revenge fantasies. Concepts like post-apocalyptic economics are usually discussed in the context of a game, a religion or simply as idle speculation ('And I came to the conclusion that probably the two most useful things to have lots of would be cigarettes and condoms. Those are probably going to be the most valuable non-essentials around in a barter economy').

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Other things. A set of pictures of the breaker's yard at Chittagong. After Edward Burtynsky's set of pictures, taken back in 2000, eventually found their way online, the Chittagong yards has become visual shorthand for the chaotic undercurrents within progressive modernism. Ships have to be broken; nothing lasts forever. Yet disassembly is perversely hidden away, confined not just by raw economics but by the apparently undignified spectacle of industrial immutability returning to whence it came, rusting on an oily sandbank.

Douglas Coupland on Visual Thinking (via MagCulture): 'Once sensitized to text as an art object, the visual artist must, in a way, learn his or her own language all over again from scratch.' Are words objects? 'What font do you think in? Do you see subtitles?'. Is DC suggesting that 'visual thinkers' enjoy some kind of synthesthetic experience, their brains constantly engaged with the world in a way that the textual simply cannot understand. He also comes down squarely on the side of Mac users versus PC users (for the record, this weblog is ambidextrous, ambivalent and agnostic when it comes to this most heated of debates). Related, 'What if you could trick wasps into using human paper to make their own paper?'.

Within the Mercedes-Benz museum, albeit the storage portion of it, and not the UN Studio designed Museum in Stuttgart / Yue Minjun and the Symbolic Smile / vintage stationery at Present and Correct / 'A Geometer's Washington D.C. Notebook: A Frame-by-Frame Look at Geometric Aspects of the Design of Washington D.C.' / Creative Digits, 3D animation weblog.

The above image is a detail from Albrecht Durer's 'St. Michael's fight against the dragon' of 1498, one of 'series of large woodcuts illustrating the Revelation of St John'.


Saturday, September 06, 2008


A general collection of links today. An introduction to salvaging, an essay at the sadly defunct Salvager. Related, Fallen Fruit, 'a mapping and manifesto for all the free fruit we can find'. Includes fruit tree maps of West Coast localities, such as this one, from Beverly to Wilshire, Western to Vermont. Via their links, Fritz Haeg and the book Edible Estates.

The Farmers Weekly website has a ghoulish, presumably schadenfreude-driven section of their website dubbed Wrecker's Yard, cataloguing mishaps involving tractors, trailer and other bulky farm machinery. It has a similar vibe to Cargo Shipping Casualties. More here at this Me-fi post.

Vertigo: Collecting and Reading W.G. Sebald / photography by Andrew Freeman / From Here to There, photography and art collective based in LA. Main site. Includes photographers Gilda Davidian and Jeff McLane.

Short Schrift, pop culture and politics, with more of the latter right now / Theme Park Junkies, keeping tabs on the activities, big and small, of UK theme parks / Resonata, a 'machine' for generating waves, by Fergus Ray-Murray, who has a mean way with Plasticine. See also his blog Oolong's Long Oo / Diddy Wah, mp3s and more.

The Tombstone Deep Dish Pizza vending machine, at She Eats. More information at Wired's round up of ingenious new vending machines / FAARQ, design and architecture / All But the Dissertation, a weblog / Crust Station, a weblog / UUIUU!, a tumblr page / Dump Site, ruins and more.

The Outdoor Love Map is a clever idea but is looking pretty bare (pardon the pun) right now. See also the work of Kohei Yoshiyuki and the art of dogging; this Caitlin Moran piece is as close as we're going to get / rock photography by Autumn de Wilde / the Veuve Cliquot Bentley, at Wretch / The Eureka Machine for Composing Hexameter Latin Verses / skynoise, a weblog.

A Watercube-branded mobile phone / Usborne Book of the Future, sci-fi predictions, via CTRL+V / Steve Haslip, design and more / Design Problematique, a French design weblog / Vitrin, European architecture and design / Graphicology, a design weblog.

The above image is a detail from Dad's Wall, a poignant look at the objects that help make up a life. Check the list of things that accompanies it / we're not sure what to make of Spaceegg. This clearly goes beyond flattery.

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Friday, September 05, 2008


This weblog used to be called 'newthings', implying that we were only really interested in novelty and invention. In truth, the title was chosen as the world of the internet seemed represented the 'new' when compared to 'oldthings', our printed output. When we started, the idea of the internet as perpetual repository for stuff, as opposed to searchable directory of information that facilitated the finding of real world stuff. We've always known that the object in isolation is not as fascinating as the object within its cultural context. The internet provided not just a new context, but a new way of looking at existing contexts. It took a while to realise it, but the collection, presentation, and curation of objects has become an intrinsically revealing way of tracing the ins and outs of modern culture.

This new curatorial context is also a space of collision. The work of Iris Schieferstein, taxidermist and artist, illustrates one such collision (via Ravishing Beasts, an excellent taxidermy weblog that delights in concepts like Fraudulent Animals, still very much a contemporary concern). RB writes, 'Generally speaking, I am not a fan of taxidermy that makes new - and often woebegone - creatures from the parts of other animals. I think much of such combinatory art uses animals as mere raw materials, manhandled for shock effect or to manifest the dark depths of the human imagination.' Although these hybrid objects are clearly analogue, they are above all digital creations, relying on the rolling wunderkammer of the internet for a place of display.

Also via RB, Curious Expeditions and Morbid Anatomy (from where the above image of an elephant skin being cleaned at the American Museum of Natural History, date unspecified, is taken. Both deal with the vast, relatively uncharted world of pre-digital collectomania.

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Other things. The Double-Breasted Dust Jacket, fine title for a book-centric weblog / London from the air at night, via CTRL+V / Rich and Grace, an art and design weblog / Old Soviet Christmas card collection / photography by Sannah Kvist / A DSLR catechism, neatly summarising the nature of technological upgrades / Mapping Star Wars influence / Jumbo Hostel, cheaper than flying first class in the A380 / make a pinhole camera out of Lego.

Shutting down the Shuttle, NASA's Wayne Hales on the economic impossibility of keeping the craft alive, the role of small scale craft and production in building the machine in the first place and the inevitably bespoke nature of the modern spaceship / a collection of news infographics / peacock moon, product and design weblog / Setagaya-mura, the 'open tech house', an ongoing experiment in architectural design by Osamu Ishiyama. More on the work of this outsider architect.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Analagous Spaces, a conference looking at the parallels between architectural space and theoretical space - the structuring of knowledge, if you like. Presentations included 'From Civic Space to Virtual Space: The Past and Future of Early Public Library Buildings in Britain' (pdf). There's also Koos Bosma's 'In Search of DataSpace' (warning, 13mb pdf), which posits that the relationship between the physical world and the world of data is no longer clear cut: 'The analogous space is denoted as a city of bits and bytes, an analogous urban, wireless space that communicates via satellites. Generally this space is visualised by means of metaphors. The best known is the Electronic Highway, with a junction to another metaphor, the Digital City, which is situated under a dark DataCloud. But metaphors are not very helpful, they are soon worn out.' Rather than the linear grid of the city, the interlinked relationship between data encourages a new, random DataSpace, a digital city of nodes and links.

Sonja Hnilica gave a presentation on memory and planning, describing how the remnants of cities past left imprinted on the urban landscape. In History or Fairytale? (pdf), she invokes the work of Camillo Sitte, the Austrian architect whose 'City Planning According to Artistic Principles', published first in 1889 eschewed the formalism of the block plan - by then finding favour in the New World - and also the relatively sterile grand designs of the City Beautiful Movement. Instead, Sitte favoured the dense and the layered, the adhoc appearance of 'urban rooms' in the medieval city as it swallowed up what went before, although he noted that inevitably there was an 'innate conflict between the picturesque and the practical'. In this sense, the 'metaphor of urban space [is] as a memory' of what went before, an idea that displeased the modernists no end, in particular Le Corbusier - an architect who, as others have noted, 'hated streets.'

See also Naoya Hatakeyama's Untitled/Osaka Diptych. The ultimate solution for Osaka Stadium was Namba Parks, designed by Jerde, reinventing the space left over by the stadium as a 'green oasis'. Below, Piazza del Anfiteatro, Lucca (left) versus Namba Parks, Osaka (right) - both links go to respective Google map pages.



Vaguely related to the shape of data, cities and lives lived: does a surfeit of personal data mean the end of privacy? Anecdotally, it seems the younger generation - those for whom the internet is as natural as breathing - are less concerned with their inevitable digital trail, seeing it as part of their lives, as impossible to erase as footprints and also the means by which people engage and commune / another set of mental images: "I think most men carry around a secret library full of films they've shot of every woman they ever met. Crude little sequences strung together that help us imagine what life might be like with a particular person - buying a car, going to Disneyland, standing around in Sears while she checks the price on bath towels. Despite popular belief, guys don't mentally undress every woman they meet; they simply thread them up and run them through the imaginary film projector in their heads to see what comes of it." (Neil LaBute, from "Look at Her" in Seconds of Pleasure).

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Other things. Pica + Pixel, a design blog / Eightfish, photography by Justin Guariglia / all about Distill magazine at via magCulture, a new publication which seems to be doing what a weblog does, except in print - collate, curate and re-present. Via the comments, Permanent Food magazine, an Italian equivalent: 'Every issue is an amusing, sometimes shocking and ironic selection of images, literally ripped out of other periodicals from around the world. The instant before an airplane crashes on a pic-nic field, a stolen frame of a skinhead rally, a girl throwing up with a finger stuck in her throat or a Raymond Pettibon drawing are just a small selection of the images you could probably stumble into while skimming one of the latest issues'.

Osteria L'Intrepido di Milano, a nice little place in Milan (via Fooled Again via tmn). The response / Buck Macabre, a weblog / another concept caravan, by Niels Caris (via Muuuz ) / Tiina Itkonen's photography series Ultima Thule at the Michael Hoppen Gallery / Songsterr, an 'online tab player' (via largehearted boy).

Jimmy Stamp has a comprehensive post about New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, Three Years Later. Vaguely related, Kosmograd on the largely bungled Eco-town saga, the struggle for bucolia ??? and the complex shadings of brown- versus green-field that tend to overshadow the debate about the need for more houses TKTKT / to accompany the new exhibition 'Modern Times: untold story of modernism in Australia', City of Sound presents a collaborative map of Modernism in Australia, 180 'buildings and structures, located pretty exactly, and many with links and images'. More to come apparently (check the CoS link for details of the collaborators).

a short history of anatomical maps / a brief history of female robots, both at design boom / Build Blog, design and architecture / photographs of Wiltshire / Matrixsynth, everything to do with synthesizers. See also the peerless Music Thing / a handy shopping list of military aircraft prices / drive big (and very big) diggers with Bagger Simulator 2008 (via rps) / Juxtaposed Tatlin, the endearing aesthetic legacy of the unbuilt.

The world's tallest finished building has just opened, albeit 142m shorter than the world's tallest incomplete building / Architectural Styles of Contemporary Universities / The Archdruid Report, 'Druid perspectives on nature, culture, and the future of industrial society'. Turns out that in this context 'Druidry' really does refer to the 'traditional British Druid practice that explores the Sun Path of seasonal celebration, the Moon Path of meditation, and the Earth Path of living in harmony with nature as tools for crafting an earth-honoring life here and now'. Perhaps it's unsurprising that Druidry should pay a keen interest in the Coming of Deindustrial Society.

On the left above, a new apartment complex by Sou Fujimoto, currently nearing completion in Tokyo. On the right, Herzog + de Meuron's forthcoming VitraHaus at the Vitra campus in Germany.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008


There is a long tradition of concealing spaces - even whole worlds - within existing structures. From CS Lewis's Wardrobe to the expedience-driven space and time shifting properties of the Tardis, through to the pragmatic continuation of the streetscape through structures like 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens, a famous false facade in London (and surely in need of being given a fitting fictional character as its occupant). Wikimapia shows what's behind the facade. Another picture at Geograph and another at flickr, part of an abandoned buildings set.

China Mieville's short story "Reports of Certain Events in London", which appeared in McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories (it's also collected in his book Looking for Jake), examines the sudden and chaotic appearance of ghost streets within London's fabric, spaces that open and close leaving little evidence of their existence - a roof tile, some broken glass. Mieville is another author with an established alternative world, in this case New Crobuzon. See also the Fictional Cities and Towns page on wikipedia.

More architecture of concealment (portals concealing practicality). The 'Transformer Houses' photographed by Robin Collyer and covered in a typically thorough BLDG BLOG post, the comments to which revealed a rich thread of false architecture, concealing structures and dummy houses. Related, the Swiss Bunkers series by photographer Leo Fabrizio. More of Fabrizio's Bunkers, all concealed so as not to denigrate from the spectacular landscape. Also of interest, Fabrizio's ongoing series about the Sonnenberg Tunnel (wikipedia).

Also related, The Pet Architecture Guide Book, Atelier Bow-Wow's monographic guide to 'the buildings that have been squeezed into left over urban spaces'. More about Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima of AB-W at Archinect. See also the work of Joel Tettamanti. Above image of the Inversion House, a 2005 installation in Houston. Archinect gallery. The project was subsequently tagged then demolished, although it lives on virtually on thousands of weblogs. The site is now a Coffee House.

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Other things. 'Entdeckung der Korridore/Discovery of Corridors', an artwork by PRINZGAU/podgorschek, via anArchitecture, a 'buried autobahn' set into the landscape as a piece of found archaelogy, the remnant of a lost civilisation. Yes, that does sound rather Ballardian. Should you so desire, there's even a track called 'Abandoned Motorway' on Ballard Landscapes 2, an album by Cousin Silas.

Chris Morris visits the Large Hadron Collidor, via cook'd and bomb'd / Picdit, yes, a link blog / Wolfenflickr (via Wonderland) / extremely large tanks, a top ten. More pictures here of the heaviest and biggest tanks / My Bloody Valentine: Sound as Substance, Sam Jacobs on sonic holocausts and growing old / Top Architecture News, an aggregated list / Emu Graphic Design, a steady stream of links / the Greene and Greene Architectural Records and Papers Collection.

O Meu Outro Eu Esta A Dancar, a weblog / phantom plate, evade speed cameras / Grow your own home / some more anti-whimsy, albeit in extended rant form / Best Practices for Time Travelers, a 2003 post at Idle Words that can be used as reference for kottke's Survival Tips for the Middle Ages / related, Empirical Evidence of Time Travel, a post at Wide Scope. Check the wikipedia time travel page for more discussion.

Wannes Deprez's content rich flickr stream (via continuity in architecture, which has also linked to Britischer Architekt, the classic Rover commercial from the late 80s. It seems it was actually called 'Schnell'). See also this fine suite of beach houses at the California Coastal Records Project, including Craig Ellwood's Hunt House of 1955. Also, the Rose Studio Pavilion, better known from its role in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and designed by David Haid of Cowell and Neuhaus. Also, New York, 1978, all that theoretical potential. The construction of Claude Bell's Cabazon Dinosaurs.

Recent British architecture, some photography / thanks for inclusion in the east coast Architecture review's favourite 20 design blogs / contribute to Capsule's Home of Metal, an 'online digital archive that actively engages its audience in the creation and shape of....online digital archive of memories, images and pictures to tell the story of this unique moment of Midlands' musical heritage' (via diskant) / thanks for the link at Beyond the Beyond.

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Monday, September 01, 2008


The art of Francois Schuiten, creator of Les Citťs Obscures (together with Benoit Peeters), a fantastical series of books about an alternative reality, obsessively detailed and chronicled. The sort of thing that might be lumped in with Steampunk, although the emphasis is more on urbanism and technology. The official site, Urbicande, is lavish and inclusive, opening a whole world of fansites and source material. Obskur is another very good place to start, although there's are rather clunky sites at Les Cites Obscures and Tram 81. The Obscure Cities page is also a good English language resource, while the obscure dictionary chronicles the micro-managed history, objects, places and people that make up their world, like this gazetteer of the imagination.

Schuiten and Peeters painstakingly created a world that was part Metropolis, part Art Nouveau fantasy, extrapolating alternative histories, physics and even biologies (animals specific to the world include the aquatic Spongias, the bunyips and the Boustrophedon). Part of the world's internal consistency derives from the use of real people and places, intermingled with the fictional, but integral to the narratives. Thus Victor Horta becomes a central figure in the series. Schuiten and Peeters own the architect's Maison Autrique in Brussels, which they saved and restored. Through the restoration, the artists purported to find a 'passage' to the 'Obscure World' chronicled in their books, using historical characters as passeurs ('often artists, writers or architects') to facilitate moving between the two worlds.

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Other things. 50 books, a weblog / a modernist doll's house / photography by Benedict Redgrove / the flickr page of Michael Surtees / car company logo rip-offs, at cartype / ebay to go (via bowblog) / photography by Ilona Jurgiel / A bit of curating. Lost and Found photos, a dissertation project / House 2.0, a weblog / now voyager, a weblog / Polanoid, 'building the biggest Polaroid-picture-collection of the planet....' / Hi + Low, a weblog / Bevel and Boss, a weblog / mafia hunt, a weblog / The Brand New Honda, a weblog.

Is it just us, or is everything lists? Listophilia has infected the internet to such an extent that the dominant mode of weblog post is the illustrated list / adaptivereuse, 'contemporary metamorphoses' / hyperscale, a resource for modelmakers / 100 years of illustration / Rad Library, book plans / Le Cool Books, a slick set of travel guides / The Toolbox Book / Unknown Knowns, a weblog / The House Vote, one way of rating the link stream (via Coudal) / Odd Instrument, self explanatory / does the Livescribe actually work?

The origin of the Apple key symbol / Things, a new task manager for Apple products. Looks slick. On the other side of the divide, we are boggled as to why Yahoo seem unable to integrate a calendar into their new Yahoo Go 3.0 application / Tuvie, a useful repository for the constant stream of conceptual products / the reality is shaped more like Paroxody, which produces physical things, eking novelty out of strictly analogue processes, rather than digital ones.

Thanks to Paul K for pointing us towards the concept of Greebling, ably explained in this tecznotes post as 'all those little nubs on the Imperial Star Destroyer and other ships make it look big, and real'. A (Lego) modeller explains: 'We greeble to break up boring areas'. The tecznotes post is interesting, because it posits links between greebling and tiling, each sleights of hand devised in order to deceive us into reading the parcelled up city as one continuous piece of flowing data.

A Layperson's Guide to Graphic Design, a talk by Adrian Shaughnessy / Squob, our new favourite website, looking at mobile architecture 'beyond the white box'. Traditionally the realm of conceptual renders (like the multi-faceted Mehrzeller caravan concept currently doing the rounds), there is still a massive gulf between 'designed' travel travels and the industry's definition of 'designer' products.

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