From outer space

Land aus Feuer und Hochhauser at Bauzeitgeist, a trenchant analysis of the role of architecture – in particular of the gilded, megastructural ‘starchitectural’ kind – in the dubious national advertorials that have become such big business in recent years, whether in print or in film, produced by the likes of The Report Company and Raconteur Media. Unsurprisingly, these are commercial arrangements which sometimes rub up against editorial ethics, as noted in recent clashes at The Guardian and CNN. Ethics apart, what fascinated Bauzeitgeist was the aesthetics of two short films for Azerbaijan and Astana, and how these mark the culmination of architecture’s iconic period; building dubious structures for dubious governments as a means of display above all other considerations. See the earlier BZ post, Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan about a promotional brochure for the country, ‘one of the greatest examples of the contemporary intersection between autocracy and starchitecture’.


The deconstructed installations of Stefan Sous have proved hugely influential. See Pallas, Taxi, Berliner Luftpost and Kieler Foerde / #SIDE line, an intermittent architecture weblog / Dallas’s Museum Tower threatens the very museum it is named after / we love this: Why are Americans so… (via MeFi and others) / Why social media isn’t the magic bullet for self-epublished authors, about the road through the ghastly mire of self-promotion, twitter consultants, platform building and bogus 5-star Amazon reviews. From the comments: ‘It seems to me that the real problem is not the inadequacy of social media for self-promotion, but the excessive expectations of those who self-publish’.


Adam Curtis on Dr George King of the Aetherius Society, one of the first wave of flying saucer-inspired cargo cults, or UFO religions: Mental Channel Number One – the man from Mars. Somewhere we have a pamphlet from the Aetherius Society, which as Curtis notes is alive and well today. See also Watch the Skies!: A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth, eclipsed rather by Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time and Francis Wheen’s How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World: A Short History of Modern Delusions.


Jonathan Meades’ new book, Museum Without Walls is an Unbound project (although also available via Amazon). A collection of Meades’ essays, writings and scripts from the past two decades or so, its tone largely predicts the way that romance and pragmatism have been elbowed out of British architectural culture in favour of the bottom-line. It’s also as rich with history and vignettes as one could wish for. See also the hallowed Jonathan Meades Collection DVD.

‘I have to admit to a fondness for pitted former rolling stock dumped in fields and for abandoned filling stations. But man cannot live by oxidisation alone. It’s not a question of either atmospheric scrappiness or gleaming newbuild. It’s a question of both / and. It’s a question of the quality of the atmospheric scrappiness, the quality of the newbuild. Any place is better than the place which invites no response, which breeds indifference. The greatest offence in the creation of place is to attempt to avoid giving offence. (2006)’

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