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Sunday, February 28, 2010


The US embassy proposal has become the online architecture subject of the week, with countless (or probably very countable, if you know what you're doing) virtual column inches devoted to the competition, the controversy, the winning scheme, the design, the constraints, the problems, the impossibility, etc. Will Wiles goes a little more in-depth in Why Ambassador, With This Perimeter You Are Really Spoiling Us, exploring the brave new world of Hostile Vehicle Mitigation ('there are such things, for instance, as armoured trees; a growing tree can absorb steel bars that will help it stop or slow a rogue vehicle' - at what point will this kind of subject stop being 'Ballardian' and start being 'BLDG BLOGian'?), and how this has resulted in 'a building designed with explosions in mind. A shape formed by the manipulation of spheres of destruction.' Just wait until the pigeons get into that funny plastic facade.

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In and Out of History, on Tintin, banality, collaboration and imagination / Tintin drives a car / from the film Tintin and I / Notes + Links by Casey A.Gollan / New British Comedy Relationship Chart / Of paper and things, more indications of the tangible interacting with the digital. Their sidebar offers a huge collection of illustration, craft, design and ephemera blogs, e.g. Bold on Grey.

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Film grabs of London in the 1960s, via The Cartoonist (a car that's still alive). Good then and now comparison to be made with this shot from 35 years ago. Also, Alexandra Road under construction / thanks to Yes We Work for suggestions.

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What Am I Doing Here? Tall Buildings and High Anxiety in Las Vegas, a piece by Mark Lamster. Accompanying images / a fun piece of fantasy urbanism / all about the mellifluous 'cellar door', which always makes us think of the Lemonheads / beautiful infographic on Snake Oil Supplements.

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Become a werewolf icecream man / far more about Survival in the City, with scans aplenty at David Galletly's great site / Leeds: the human expectoration is black here, a photo essay of staggering bleakness / Ampere's And, a tumblr.

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A quick trawl through the latest in urban presentation and 3D tech. It's early days at the Day Trail Pool (via Digital Urban) / also via DU, the work of Rob Carter - animated cityscapes and buildings, especially the fabulous modernism-to-gothic transformations of Stone on Stone / the Martin Jetpack.

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Android entertainment: ULoops / Music 4.5, a conference / Thounds, 'a recorder for your music thoughts', smoky ears and all / time-lapse movie of home-working by Dorian Moore / related, a quote from Geoff Dyer, 'Writers always envy artists, would trade places with them in a moment if they could... In the age of the computer the writer's office or study will increasingly resemble the customer service desk of an ailing small business.'

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House life in a Koolhaas: 'Characteristically, Koolhaas — whose projects are always radical and frequently perverse — flouted received wisdom about architecture for the handicapped with his House in Bordeaux, which American building inspectors would deem a potential death trap.' (clip) / Lewis's Fifth Floor: A Department Story (via the Guardian). Inside an abandoned department store in Leeds, photography by Stephen King.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Aussie homes three times bigger than British (via super colossal). From the article: 'NSW has the biggest houses in Australia and by a large margin. The size of the average new house built in NSW in 2008-09 was 262.9sq m, followed by Queensland with 253sq m. In Europe, Denmark has the biggest homes (houses and flats), with an average floor area of 137sq m, followed by Greece (126sq m) and the Netherlands (115.5sq m). Homes in the UK are the smallest in Europe at 76sq m.' See also Hometta

Slowly she turned, 'Living the Slow life in North Carolina' / build Bill Gates' house in paper / Photographs of Afghanistan, mostly in Kabul in 1967-68. Especially Diplomat and Apartments and stores / Tin Trunk, a weblog / photography by Stefanie Gratz / photography by Isabelle Pateer, including 'Unsettled', a portrait of the Belgian city of Doel, 'threatened by the vast expansions of the port of Antwerp'. More images. See also Doel, The Village That Does Not Want to Disappear and KunstDoel, a plan to turn the abandoned village into an arts centre.

Moomin Valley for the home (via) / The Known Universe, worth bookmarking / on colour via Boars and Fury, a tumblr / Logos, a good-looking book shop. See also Abebooks's> 'Weird' section / endless amounts to browse at the Noughtie List, the kottke-hosted round-up of every list imaginable.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009


Romania Shrugs Off Reminder of Its Past: 'sycophants kept a virtual army of state-approved artists busy painting portraits of Ceausescu and his wife, thousands of them..... As it happened, the National Museum of Contemporary Art here had some of them on view the other day. Mihai Oroveanu, the museum's director, hung them in one gallery - diagonally, to make clear that the show was not actually a tribute.'

Phil Gyford on the psychological transition of the digital object into a physical entity: The £10,000 playlist. 'It wasn’t long ago that buying a purely digital piece of music — downloading a file rather than paying for a piece of holdable plastic — seemed terribly modern. But already I feel like an old fool when I visit Amazon or 7Digital to pay for an MP3. These days, a several-megabyte file on my computer is starting to feel as much of a burden, as much of a physical thing to cart around for the rest of my life, as a CD or a cassette or a record.'

Sevensevennine, a weblog on photography / Shouting to Communicate, an art blog / House of Cars, 'innovation and the parking garage' (via Design Observer): 'The parking garage may have a reputation as an eyesore, but House of Cars challenges this notion using examples of well-designed garages that add a creative tapestry to our streetscapes.' Interesting that this notion should come relatively late to American urbanism.

Photopia and Architecture, a blog by Lauren Fenton / we have a top 5 at The Silver Lining / The Pop Fop, 'The Aristocracy of Mass Modernism' / work by Simon Hollington of Hollington and Kyp, especially The Outward Urge, a series of dark drawings of space chimps / Relics of the Cold War, images by Martin Roemers.

Michael Wolf on his Paris Street View project: 'The problem is that compared to Asia, Paris is a stagnant city - very little has changed architecturally since Atget's times, and the cliches are a nightmare to get out from under of. Strangely enough, it was Google Street View which enabled me to take any photos at all of Paris. I spend weeks going through the city on my monitor, street by street, looking into windows, discovering reflections, searching out interesting juxtapositions, topologies, trying various crops/styles (Frank, Doisneau, Ruscha, and so on). The lack of a third dimension wore me down at times, but it was quite an interesting journey.'

We absolutely love 'then and now' posts, even when the original landscape has been as scoured as Scouting NY's exploration of the locations of Taxi Driver. See also: Manhattan Street Corners (via) / Unrealart: 'All artworks have been created using data from the game "Unreal Tournament". Each image represents about 30 mins of gameplay in which the computers AI plays against itself.' (via rps, which also has a post on speculative large-format touch screen games of the future, with video).

Blue Tea has gathered a collection of links to several dreamy, highly art directed online games / Bureaux, a weblog / Independent Collectors, for small-scale Saatchis / Pilot School contains pdfs of show pilot scripts / Van der Leun, a weblog / Awkward Yearbook Signatures (via me-fi projects) / Leiris, a tumblr.

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Monday, June 22, 2009
In the UK, the impending 'end of analogue' broadcasting is expected to be widely resisted, especially since recent plans brought forward the switch off date to 2015. In the US, all TV broadcasts are now digital, a switch that mattered less in a country with such widespread cable access (via me-fi). But apart from reducing the chance capture of errant signals, plus the crackles, whistles and pops that characterise analogue, what's happening here is the anticipated nostalgia for a lost technology (ham radio sounds).

Nobody really cares about VHS videos any more. Charity shops in Britain struggle to sell films for 50p each. In the UK, Dixons killed the VCR in 2004, while in the US Walmart followed in 2006 (although some reports claimed you could still buy a VHS on the high street in 2009). It's taken barely three years for a device to pass into technological history, implying that the emotional hold of the video cassette was never terribly strong.

But as sites like The Impossible Project attest, certain technologies transcend their obsolesence through being perpetually desirable. The Impossible Project aims for the 're-invention of analog instant film', engineering a 'new analog instant film for Polaroid vintage cameras' to supply professionals and enthusiasts who refuse to give up the fight (NYT article. 'We think it's one of the greatest inventions in the history of photography, because we're tired of tons of boring digital pics that surround as every day,' the new company's PR told us, 'but we love analog things, things you can touch, smell, see, hold in your hands, and things that surprise you. Like Polaroid does.'

Certainly there are a host of Polaroid blogs out there, either devoted entirely to the film and cameras or tangentially cribbing the hazy, memory-soaked aesthetic: Last Days of Polaroid, Peonies and Polaroids, my Polaroid blog, Polapremium and Polanoid. Predictably enough, the Polaroid name has now been attached to a range of micro-printers and digital photo frames (although our prediction that the inevitable camera with integral printer came from Japan, the TOMY Xiao). Polaroid's own PoGo launched in March but doesn't seem to have made much impact.

The loss of these things stings more than mere nostalgia, but why? Polaroid has a noble history, intertwined with commerce and culture. These days, the idea of writing about 'beloved gadgets' is simply an opportunity for a advertiser-pleasing linkfest, rather than a real consideration of why certain things and devices connect so readily, and what the inescapable (rather than cynical) planned obsolesence of contemporary digital devices. The Impossible Project is knowingly named, for the wholescale reconstruction of defunct product works is unprecedented on this scale. But should they succeed, Polaroid will acquire yet another layer of patina on its already overburdened shoulders, a form of image making that carries a serious weight of expectations.

From The Impossible Project: 'Ranging from simple screwdrivers via special spare parts up to 10 giant Integral Film assembly machines, all machinery and tools needed to develop and produce up to 100 million new Integral Instant films per year are present in Building North. Impossible b.v. has purchased the complete production setup in working order (which produced film up to the middle of the year) from Polaroid. All machines are still fully connected and operational. The original total costs of this unique and highly specialized setup today is approx. 100 million EUR.'

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Monday, March 16, 2009


Images of China in the 1980s by Leroy W.Demery, via the Shenzhen Biennale weblog. Fascinating, e.g. steam locomotives from 1983 and an early image of Shenzhen itself, from 1980. The city today / Giant Soviet Signs Cut into Forests, self-explanatory post at Strange Harvest / photos by Susanne Ludwig.

After the rather glum 'day out with Corb' article by Lynsey Hanley several posts have surfaced offering trenchant criticism, especially My stupid day as a Corbu hater... at Douglas Murphy's Entschwindet und Vergeht, and an earlier deconstruction by Nigel Warbuton (Goldfinger biographer, no less).

The Pocket Square, a new weblog / Juxtapoz publishes a selection of work by Alex Lukas. Very (although not deliberately?) Ballardian / Bristol Models at First Gear Collector / Vague Terrain / On mobile cities, Archigram, invisible networks and ubicomp.

Everyone is suddenly on twitter, twittering a constant buzz of architectural and cultural criticism from one to another. This unseen world is something of a revelation to us. See feeds from Kieran Long, Hugh Pearman, Ian Martin (amusing), Sam Jacob, Geoff Manaugh, Jimmy Stamp, Alexander Trevi.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Photography by Andras Gefeller, including the Supervisions project, which feature carefully stitched together birds-eye views of every day scenes, each composed of hundreds of individual images / oh we like this: design books, a collection / the collections of Vladimir Arkhipov. See also folkforms.ru. Arkhipov wrote Home Made, a gazetteer of improbably but essential (to their makers) anti-consumer objects, created for a highly specific purpose. His "Museum of the Handmade Object" project is very low key, much like these objects, which could sit unnoticed on a shelf or in a cupboard, untroubled by taxonomers or anthropologists / For Once, We Welcome Your Bulldozers, Russian conservationists finally agree with developers / old cars never die, they just go to China.

New things that look like old things. Announcing UPPERCASE magazine, which has that 60s art directed vibe, at least on the cover. In the other corner, Icon tears a strip off the new Routemasters, or at least the design competition to find a worthy successor to the original bus. But alas, all is not well, and 'the designs are rife with cuddly, friendly, smiley anthropomorphism'. This is partly due to the way the Routemaster has been drilled into the public consciousness as both a design 'icon' and an example of British engineering skills at their best. Any attempt to recreate them is dabbling in nostalgia, a dangerous commodity that resists being controlled. Good piece: 'Foster's entry looks like a bone to gratify the polo-necks.'

Some more about nostalgia (and long titles are back): Attending the NME Awards With Pete Doherty and a Whole Bunch of Actual Musicians, Feeling Nostalgic, a new Letter from London.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Signing away your rights is not cute, Conscientious on the new era of content management and the discrete evaporation of rights. In a world where web content is easily repurposed into something more lucrative (ironically usually a book), it's worth noting that 'if you upload a photo to Facebook, they can sell copies of it without paying you a cent. If you write lengthy notes (or import your blog posts!), Facebook can turn them into a book, sell a million copies, and pay you nothing. This deserves careful consideration!' (Legal Andrew, linked from the post. Also at C, a remarkable image showing just how hellbent we are, collectively, on capturing the moment.

Latitude is one of those quiet paradigm shifts that we have anticipated for so long that it comes as no surprise when it actually becomes a viable technology. The idea that we could see instantly where family and friends are on a map is almost as natural as the idea that we could be contacted via phone wherever we are in the world. It's something Dan touched on in his epic post on The Street as Platform (subsequently reprinted in 'Things Our Friends Have Written on the Internet' - thank you very much to whoever sent us a copy). There is, of course, this.

Unwanted (?) infrastructure as creative spur: The New Road versus Solsbury Hill / farewell Hans Beck, founder of Playmobil (via me-fi). Check out Collectobil for his back catalogue / London in just four photographs / things, a project by Stefan Ruiz / Lebbeus Woods' sketches for Alien 3 (via archinect) / McMansions are Built With Paper and Staples / nerdy fun with URLs / / largest snake 'as long as a bus' / rich people's rooftops / the Long Car Purchase. We certainly don't hate cars, but agree wholeheartedly with the idea of intense research being far more fun than the actual purchase itself.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Growing stocks of unsold cars around the world. There's nothing like seeing a supposedly desirable object, one that is intended to represent your taste and character, stacked up and racked up to reveal their total lack of distinguishing marks. The above image is of Corby, Northamptonshire, where Gefco keeps unsold new cars before distributing them to dealers. The Guardian's photographs have a snatched, paparazzi-style feeling - as if they were stolen glimpses of something you're not really supposed to be seeing / a series of models by architecture students at Kingston University, deliberately emulating the work of Thomas Demand / a work of Daniel Eatock's, the Prismacolor Pen Print / Jan Kaplicky of Future Systems, 1937-2009.

Picdit suggests a collaborative project of imagery of objects thrown in the air, referencing the beginning of 2001, a Space Odyssey (the flying bone cut into the space station or objects being dropped (Martin Klimas's ceramic sculptures , or Naoya Hatakeyama's Blast Series, or even high speed photography or this set of 25 photographs taken at exactly the right moment (the type of post that gets sneakily 'syndicated' by numerous weblogs, so apologies if that wasn't the original source).

Related. Simon Hoegsberg's vast photograph 'We're All Gonna Die - 100 meters of existence' is cinematic in scale, but defiantly low-key in terms of subject and composition. Shot in Berlin in Summer 2007, the finished piece is 100m long. The (usually) detached subjects float in horizontal space, occasionally engaging with each other across the frame or lost in their own thoughts. Hoegsberg's other work is worth a look as well: Professional Fury, life on the road with Denmark's premier heavy metal band, and The Tower of Babel, an abandoned project on New York.

The Skira Yearbook seems to be a fairly accurate summation of the current state of architecture / another page of links: architexture centrifuge / one to watch, New Architects in Latin America / now voyager, a weblog / Always Looking, a weblog / welcome reddit people. The project page you might be looking for is here: Survival in the City, 1974.

Where can I live?, houses for sale arranged according to commuting distance / photographs by Eric Tabuchi. We, naturally, like the ruins series / photographs by John Wycherley / always looking, a weblog / sunbathing on a crane (via Building magazine).

Also capturing the moment, but in another way.Things Our Friends Have Written on the Internet 2008 captures the passing ephemera and text of the weblog world and translates it, effortlessly, into a desirable package (although thanks to its tabloid paper format it's still arguably more ephemeral than an object like tmn's Manual). magCulture has an excellent post on the publication (which is sadly all gone).

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Sunday, November 02, 2008


End of week round-up. From Silver Lake to Suicide: One Family's Secret History of the Jonestown Massacre / Cemeteries of the Century / Paper Jam, excellent UK weblog / Piran Cafe, a weblog that links the National Media Museum's flickr page, with sets including spirit photographs of William Hope, one of Britain's premiere spirit photographers at the turn of the twentieth century. Whatever happened to spirit photography?

Mixin'Jams, the weblog as box of chocolates. Drill down to find soft centres, like Henry Bursill's Hand Shadows to Be Thrown upon the Wall / Bodas/Weddings, a photographic project by Juan de la Cruz Megías / design by Enzo Mari / photography by Tamir Sher.

Showing a savvy understanding of the kind of story that drives site traffic via sites like this one, the AJ presents the 10 scariest buildings in Britain. A pretty broad selection, but not really scary as such, just frightening in an Orwellian or ugly kind of way. Once again, St George Wharf comes in for a well-deserved kicking, but its inclusion merely highlight the clippings job nature of the article.

Key Ideas, a weblog allied with the Camberwell College of Arts and overseen by Peter Nencini. The weblog attempts to put a bit of theoretical heft back into the endless stream of imagery that has become so prevalent / 12 clay car mock-ups. at oobject, via Twirk Ethic. The site also linked to this NYT article from last year, Sketches of Optimism From Detroit's Glory Days

Browsing through other people's lives and likes / Adam Macqueen, a weblog / Today is a Good Day, a weblog / Le Peu Introverti, a weblog / The Lamp Post, a weblog / 3D printers approach the mass market, now 'As Cheap as Laser Printers Were In 1985', via haddock. We're waiting for the killer app that turns the 3D printer into the must-have item for every home.

Phil Beard's 'notes on the visual arts and popular culture'. Great stuff, including this post on illustrator Tony Sarg, purveyor of art to London Transport / graphic design and photography by Jon Spencer (not that one) / the Victoria and Albert Museum has its own Vimeo page, featuring just four films so far, but with huge potential.

Before we turn into the BBCS, or delve deep into the world of skunk apes, chupacabras and dead black panthers, things hears credible word of some cryptozoological goings on in Wiltshire. Watch this space.

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Monday, June 02, 2008


RIP Bo Diddley / Items I didn't win, an eBay set / 44, a tumble log / feeding the 5000 aggregates feeds from various sources / Channel 4 at 25 / the new proletariat, an architecture weblog / the great sale of Margate. 'asset management consultations' never end well / shep.ca, a weblog / some books set in underground locations / forthcoming BMWs promise the apotheosis of in-car electronics, at least for now / all about a Prefabricated Building System developed by artist George Maciunas in the 50s and 60s. Rendered in the modern style, the designs look - unsurprisingly - incredibly contemporary.

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Revisiting an old favourite, 'Blast', by Naoya Hatakeyama. Found via Hippolyte Bayard, an excellent photography blog. Also found via HB, Infinite palaces and buildings, a manipulated set by photographer Fabiano Busdraghi. His Antarctic portfolio is also worth a look. See also Wan.der.lust.ag.ra.phy, more photography, with an emphasis on portraiture.

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