The year end approaches

Random things today and the start of a holiday recess. Has Abu Dhabi gone bust? / will refurbishing the Sydney Opera House really cost $1.1bn (Australian dollars) / the Skyscratcher, the ultimate accessory for cat-loving architects (or architecture-hating cat lovers) / in other news, the things magazine tumblr has recently broken through 10,000 followers. Thank you all / a couple of tmn stories worth checking out: Giles Turnbull swaps Twitter for stamps; Alex Catt’s The Continental Tour features landscapes that swap between the prosaic and sublime / this intrigues, but doesn’t quite deliver: Western Soundscape Archive. There’s also an Arctic Soundscape Project, perhaps to be used as an ambient background soundscape to Radio 4’s dramatisation of The Mountains of Madness / Tinsel Matrix, a tumblr / a blog on art and photography by Siong Chin.

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The elaborate Diamond Jubilee barge art that will grace the Thames next year puts us in immediate mind of Barbara Jones, who had an eye for the point where kitsch and skill intersected to create something truly unique. We’re imagining the DJB to resurface in the silty mud of the Thames Estuary in 500 or so years, its rich ornamentation tarnished and chipped, the velvet long since rotted away except where it has been preserved by the thick mud / Another Nickel in the Machine, an excellent London history weblog (via b3ta).

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The Architect’s Newspaper tracks the origins of MVRDV’s Cloud, how research, generative architecture, fascination with seemingly randomly constructed low-level urbanism and the ongoing exploration of high rise form and structure led to the this now infamous clunker of a building. We don’t think for one moment that any irreverent or even offensive symbolism was intended, let alone even noticed by the architects. Instead, the eclectic tumble of buildings at the ‘explosive’ heart of the cloud is presented in detailed renders as a romantic, picturesque piece of urbanism, a condensed urban village given added frisson by its altitude. Had the rest of the two towers been given similar articulation, perhaps the comparisons would never have been made. And with that, we’re going to take a few days away from the computer. Happy Christmas and New Year.

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