things magazine / about / what's new? / archive / photos / projects / order / rss / search
photography from the pre-flickr era
projects, scans and collections
Where is things 19/20?
What is things magazine?
The Pelican Project
external links
2 or 3 things I know
adam curtis
agence eureka
aggregat 4/5/6
alice the architect
all about nothing (x)
all things considered (x)
amass blog
ambit magazine
and another thing
apothecary's drawer
arch daily
architects' journal
architect's newspaper blog
architectural review
architectural ruminations
art fag city
art is everywhere
art newspaper
arts journal
atelier a+d
atlas (t)
atlas obscura
bad british architecture
beatrice galilee
bifurcated rivets
the big picture
bldg blog
b'blog of 'israeli
boing boing
b******* to architecture
books from finland
bottom drawer (x)
bradley's almanac
cabinet magazine
cabinet of wonders
candyland (x)
cartoonist (the)
celeste olalquiaga
christopher stocks
city of sound
city comforts
collision detection
continuity in architecture
cosmopolitan scum
creative review blog
curious expeditions
daily jive
dancing bears (x)
daniel eatock
dark roasted blend
david thompson
death by architecture
delicious ghost
deputy dog (x)
derelict london
design bivouac
design observer
diamond geezer
digitally distributed environments
eliot shepard
entschwindet und vergeht
ephemera assemblyman
excitement machine
eye of the goof
fantastic journal
fed by birds
first drafts
floating podium
future feeder
gapers block
giornale nuovo (x)
grafik magazine
hat projects
hello beautiful!
htc experiments
hyperreal and supercool
i like
incoming signals
infinite thought
the interior prospect
irregular orbit
jean snow
joe moran's blog
josh rubin
judit bellostes
kanye west
keep left london
largehearted boy
last plane to jakarta
life without buildings
lightningfield (x)
limited language (x)
literary saloon
loca london
london architecture diary
london review of books
low tech magazine
made by machines for people
made in china '69
making light
map room
material world
men's vogue daily
metafilter projects
militant esthetix
millennium people
miss representation
moosifer jones' grouch
mountain 7
mrs deane
music thing (x)
myrtle street
no, 2 self
nothing to see here
noisy decent graphics
noticias arquitectura
obscure store
obsessive consumption
one plus one equals three
open brackets (x)
ouno design
overmorgen (x)
partIV (x)
pcl linkdump
the peel tapes
platforma arquitectura
plasticbag (x)
pointingit (x)
polar intertia
print fetish
quiet feather (x)
re: design news
reference library
repository of records
rock, paper, shotgun
rogue semiotics
route 79
russell davies
sachs report
sam charrington design
samuel pepys' diary
sandy rendel architects
school of life
segal books
sensing architecture
sensory impact
shape and colour
significant objects
sit down man, you're...
slow web
space and culture
speak up
spitting image
strange attractor
strange harvest
strange maps
subterranea britannica
swiss miss
tecnologia obsoleta
telstar logistics
that's how it happened
the art of where
the deep north
the letter
the model city
the moment blog
the morning news
the nonist
the northern light
the one train
the serif
the silver lining
the white noise revisited
they rule
things to look at
this isn't London
tom phillips
tomorrow museum
tomorrow's thoughts today
turquoise days (x)
urban cartography
vitamin q
voyou desoeuvre
we make money not art
we will become
where (x)
white noise of everyday life
witold riedel
whole lotta nothing
wood s lot
wrong distance
y mag

weblog archives
eXTReMe Tracker
Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A small selection of general links. Right now, haddock is the place to go to catch up on all the holiday media splurges, like the BBC Today programme guest editors (who included Zaha Hadid) / 'An animation showing edits to the project during 2008' / six-month pinhole camera exposure / R Cubed is an astonishingly bitter newsletter, now defunct, that excoriates the critical community.

The Rat and Mouse has a go at predicting the next shift in the UK property market / Strange Maps on cartocacoethes, 'the compulsion to see maps everywhere' / on the possibility that hauntings exist but ghosts do not / on 60 years of the 7" single. See the flickr 45rpm Group for several thousands fine examples of the art / is the latest Libeskind design little more than 'a crude and unavoidable reminder of the horrors of 9/11'? More images at Curbed; are those 'gashes' or simply openings?

Ben Fry's All Streets project creates a skeletal map of the USA from its tarmac infrastructure (via SuperSpatial). See also James Medcraft's Anatomy of the UK series / Swapatorium moved to flickr / would Curbed's Floorplan porn section work in the UK? The real estate market here isn't as spatially aware as the Americans (or even the French).


Pelican of the Week: Digging up the Past. While the back covers of these books rarely match up to the fronts, there are plenty of nuggets to be gleaned from the jackets. Sir Leonard Woolley's classic introduction to the archaeologist's work was an attempt at confirming the profession as a science, not the preserve of treasure hunting gallivants, the fedora-toting hard-men battling through lost civilisations on the covers of countless pulp novels (and later burnished into mass culture through the composite character of Indiana Jones.

Woolley was best known for his 1922 excavations at Ur, the ancient Sumerian city that sits slap bang in the middle of modern Iraq. He was also a close acquaintance of Agatha Christie, who was fascinated with the Middle East and its potential for myth and mystery. Twenties Iraq was quite the hotbed of activity for the bright young, and not so young, things, including Gertrude Bell, founder not just of the lately much beleaguered Baghdad Archaeological Museum but also the very make-up of modern Iraq, soon to become a very strategic location indeed.

Hackney-born, Woolley led an often unconventional life, immersed in his work and ruled by his women. From the Christie link at the fascinating (though highly partisan) Winscan site: 'A man who goes to bed in one room with a length of string leading from his big toe to his hypochondriac wife's wrist in another room, so that she can tug on it at the onset of a headache, might be said to deserve his fate, or perhaps a sainthood'. Such were the preoccupations of the people who created modern archaeology, the modern mystery thriller and the modern mixed-up nation state, each entirely unrelated save for the close proximity of their creators.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hyper-dense urbanism versus wide open spaces. Roadless Space Uneven Across U.S.: 'In the continental United States, roads are never more than a reassuring 22 miles away.' The National Roadless Map, shown above, uses blue to represent counties with low per-capita 'RV' (roadless volume). Road maps are like artery diagrams, a two-dimensional depiction of flow. This original 1957 map of the Interstate and Defense Highways system (at Steve Alpert's Roads page, which includes his interchange drawings) shows the main arteries; the tens of thousands of smaller routes are almost impossible to depict all at once.

But what if roads were in three dimensions, not two? The highway interchange is the closest we get to layering transportation, and although these can get pretty complex, they're usually clustered at key nodes. In dense cities, stacking transport interchanges isn't really an option. Future city projections have traditionally taken transportation into three dimensions. Eugene Henard's Cities of the Future, a paper given in 1910 (and reproduced on John W.Reps' Urban Planning 1794-1918 site), suggested layering cityscapes, using elaborate cross-sections to show how space could be increased if transport and services were stacked. According to Henard, 'all the evil [of today's city] arises from the old traditional idea that "the bottom of the road must be on a level with the ground in its original condition." But there is nothing to justify such an erroneous view'.

Central to Henard's vision was the widespread adoption of the cement flat roof (a good decade before it became a key feature of the emerging Modernism): 'With all the varied advantages which the employment of armoured cement offers, the covering-in of our houses with a level platform has become a simple matter, and this platform could be planted with small flower gardens or adorned with verdure clad trellises.' This would, he felt, be a perfect stepping stone to an inevitable technical development: 'But a still more important function to be performed by these terraces is that in the near future they will be used as landing stages for aeroplanes. We have not as yet arrived at that point because up to the present the aviator has not gained sufficient mastery over his machine: but as man has at length succeeded in imitating the flight of the bird it is by no means improbable that he will eventually succeed in imitating the flight of the insect.'

It was a fantasy ahead of its time (influenced, in part, by H.G.Wells' The War in the Air, with its airships and bird-like contraptions. Wells much of the distinction between European machines and their Eastern equivalents, described as 'strange steeds [that] the engineering of Europe had begotten upon the artistic inspiration of Japan, came a long string of Asiatic swordsman. The wings flapped jerkily, click, block, clitter clock...'). Henard's vision encompassed architecture, too, as he imaged how cities would have to erect towers, up to 500m tall, for navigation purposes (he cited the importance of church spires to the early aerial navigators).


Suffice to say that the dream of the three-dimensional city is still very much alive. In their new book, Skycar City, Dutch architecture firm MVRDV, together with students from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning, propose a 'pre-emptive history,' an attempt to define how the metropolis of tomorrow would appear if, and it's a big if, the technological dream of the flying car was finally mastered. Splicing a timeline of emerging (if perpetually stalling) technologies like the Moller Skycar, with the science fiction visions of Syd Mead, George Lucas, Fritz Lang, etc. etc., the team behind the book posit a future of vertical construction around the giant tubes formed by the aerial routes, along which semi-automated craft zip relentlessly, from tiny sky bikes and sky Vespas, up to larger vehicles. Envisioning new typologies for everything from parking garages (below) to stadiums, the team's work is an experiment to see how far transportation can go towards shaping architecture.

MVRDV are adept at mixing theory with practice. Without compromising the quality of their built work, the firm has published several monographs and stand-alone projects (like Container City, 2002) that explore the role of density in modern life, and potential - often highly politically charged or deadpan ironic - methods of abating the crisis of space, like the vertical Pig City, or the cantilevered WOZOCO housing, or even the stacked landscape of their EXPO 2000 pavilion, a 'mini-ecosystem' that 'saves space, energy, time, water and infrastructure.'

On one level, Skycar City is a supreme piece of informed science fiction, an extrapolation of what we would do to embrace a seductive piece of imagined technology. On the other hand, it's also a way of trying to arrive at a place that already exists in our imaginations; the sci-fi metropolis with its swarming skies and three-dimensional, roller-coaster streets. These are cities familiar from Metropolis, Blade Runner, and The Fifth Element, by artists like Eric Hanson, carefully built up using models and now digital models, with the future literally pasted over the past. Skycar City envisions a world that will be shaped by modernity's accretions, leaving the original architecture beneath a 'city of canyons and a look of coral'. In this vision, there is no chance of being located away from the road, for within access to the transport network, you are stuck in one place, embedded in perpetual transportation. That which does not move, dies:

'Year 2210: The parts of the city that atrophy in darkness and isolation eventually fall into ruin; this includes most of the ancient 20th century structures holding onto addresses at ground level. Quality of life still dominates the city's organization: what was dark or decaying is discarded, and space not served directly by skycars is abandoned.'


Some other things. Stephen Zacks has an extensive story on Dubai in the current issue of Metropolis, entitled 'Beyond the Spectacle', in which he implies that New York will be considered an antique city in a century's time, 'a place to visit for the sake of nostalgia... .somehow like how we think of Paris.' Its place will be taken by Dubai, where some 310 billion dollars has been spent on construction in ten years. A place of social, political and architectural hybridity, where Western firms can indulge their computer-generated fantasies and a veneer of liberalism cloaks an oppressive state.

Curbed snoops around the Richard Meier-designed penthouse at 176 Perry Street, 40 million dollars of real estate. Little more than an urban version of Meier's earlier Douglas House, with pine trees replaced by the urban landscape / the village of Sipson, inconveniently placed in the pathway of Heathrow's proposed third runway / more 'heat maps,' (or rather, Death Maps) this time showing 'choke points' in Half Life 2 levels where the most players meet their doom (via kottke).

Chinese Star Wars, a 'web site for global Chinese fans of Star Wars' / that's one giant printer, via k / flickleech, via Rasmus Broennum's architecture weblog / The Classic Rock Realm of Ferro-Cement, the link between organic architecture and prog rock, with plenty of pictures / 'The Firm', a series by photographer Jocelyn Bain Hogg / yesterday was No Music Day. Can we get a bit more warning next year?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

At times, the weblog feels like a very transitory format. It is the VHS cassette of media delivery. There came a point where everyone had videos: they were the future, and huge sums were being invested in ensuring the technology was as efficient as possible. The fall-off from ubiquity to obsolescence was precipitous - and video was unceremoniously ejected. And the weblog? What use a steady stream of pointers to new corners of the digital realm when we are slowly but inexorably heading towards an ultimate goal: the digitisation of absolutely everything.

Last week, both The Guardian and its sister paper the Observer announced their digital archives, pay to view sites that 'will eventually contain reproductions of every page, article and advertisement published in The Observer since its birth in 1791 and in our sister paper The Guardian since it started in 1821.' It's not cheap; a monthly pass costs 49.95 (and one wonders how long this data will stay secure in this leaky world of 1s and 0s). But it is a start. Weblogs will lose their status as custodians of the leaky, poorly-catalogued and dusty library that is the internet. Instead, they will be the modern equivalent of Gilbert Bland, map thiefs and bookbreakers for a new era.


Other things. Those crazy 80s. See also our gallery here / go on, build a Lego model of the Imperial Executor, the 19km long 'personal flagship of Darth Vader'. The instructions are a work of art, and the model only includes 1548 more pieces than Lego's own Imperial Star Destroyer model / Military Planes Collide over East Braintree / BackStory: Casa Da Musica, the Archinect series looks at OMA's faceted masterpiece in Porto.

Good to see that Gillespie, Kidd and Coia have their own website, many years after their demise. There's also an extensive flickr pool for explorers of the modernist ruins of St Peter's Seminary in Cardross, the firm's abandoned masterpiece. It has an extensive web presence: SubmitResponse, Risky Buildings, Glasgow Architecture, Hidden Glasgow, and the Twentieth Century Society. The fashion for building websites for the dead continues - see the Basil Spence Archive.

London's new Olympic stadium unveiled, fresh controversy follows close behind: Bland as a bowl of blancmange. Really? Few building types are more suited to being empty vessels than stadiums. Conversely, the superficiality of applied decoration or elaborate structural conceits also looks most obvious on a stadium, a building of raw functionality (and flexibility, far more so than any number of cultural or creative spaces).

House and Garden shuts up shop, citing excessive operating costs. A million subscribers left bereft / The Fourth Plinth, Thomas Schutte's imaginary Philippe Starck hotel for pigeons. Flickr sets of previous Fourth Plinth projects. The official Fourth Plinth site / Why VHS was better than Betamax.

More Hidden Glasgow, a gem of a site (see 'water towers') / The Piracy Paradox, James Surowiecki in The New Yorker on the role copying plays in progressing planned obsolescence. (via La Petite Claudine). Also via LPC, Bob Truby's Brand Name Pencils. A world of long and oversized ferrules. It is a thing of beauty.

Labels: , ,