Stuffocation by James Wallman

The subtitle of this book is Living More with Less and its an examination of a post materialistic future for our society today.

Taking the book title of Stuffocation James Wallman shows that in developed economies we have started drowning in too much stuff. Then he looks at different movements and how they address this problem. From Minimalism, The Simple Life, The Medium Chill to the Experientialists. The experience economy and a new view of whats important in our lives is what this book finally comes out in favour of.

The Minimalists who cut out more and more ruthlessly their material possessions can maybe be a little to ascetic for James’ taste. The Simple Life followers who follow Henry David Thoreau who tells in his book Walden of getting back to nature for two years also comes up short, it’s often too hard, Thoreau himself only lasted two years and then went back to the city.

The medium chill a sort of midway between following a completely aspirational life and chilling out is what many people might be doing already and anyway it’s not that aspirational is it?

Experientialism is James Wallmans’ answer to the materialist society and the economic never ending chase of raising GDP and I think I agree and see something to be taken from all these ideas.

One thing that kind of rubs me though is that as an Architect it is easy to see a sort of minimal style that just drips opulence. This shows itself in interior design, art, fashion and I think I detect it also in some of the minimal lifestyle guru set.  It’s rather easier to cut out the things you own if your socks count as one thing or you ripped all your cd’s and dvd’s to your laptop. If you only own three sets of 250 dollar jeans, and can buy another in a heartbeat,  how is that not fully partaking in materialistic Western society? This type of minimalism somehow doesn’t seem that much more than a different type of ostentation, one that leverages the feel good factor of youtube and facebook as you sit atop your influencer network while sipping your fruitshake on a Bali beach (Instagram moment!). The book to be fair does touch on this subject but only just in passing.

I do also see the point in a kind of empowering minimalism when it comes to personal finance. Mr. Money Moustache to take one example shows a way of looking at finances and savings, possessions and even experiences which I think can really empower people. Again this personal finance side of the coin is not touched on in the book.

So overall I really like Stuffocation and it does really make you think about your life and provide a jumping point for further reading and maybe action in your own life. You should definitely read it, but just don’t stop there!

Further Reading:

 

Mimoa 2.0

Mimoa has been around for a while, it’s a great resource for finding good modern architecture anywhere in the world and is the first site I go to when planning to visit a new city. So this morning when I signed up for the office architectural trip in the spring I saw that they are running a kickstarter campaign to raise money to update the site.

Also I saw John Hill over at DDA posting about their campaign so I put in a pledge. With crowd sourced photos, reviews and project information it harks back to a more open time on the web. It’s become a great took for anyone interested in Architecture while travelling, but it is not optimised for mobile and nowadays thats of primary importance, so they need money to redevelop the site for mobile first.

Here is a guide I made for a trip to Berlin a few years ago. Please go to the kickstart page and support Mimoa 2.0

Week Update 18.11

The story of 666 Fifth Avenue the New York Skyscraper that might help bring down the Kushners. Finland tops 2018 UN global happiness index (up from 5th last year) good job since I live in Finland! Kottke is 20, looking forward to the next 20 Jason. The Portland Building a Postmodern posterboy back in the day is getting refurbished, I have never understood why this building is famous….Also RIP Stephen Hawking.

Week Update 18.10

MIT releases A/V lecture material for a bunch of courses including Architecture. A new 6 storey high vertically stacked school by Hayball in South Melbourne looks great with other community services in the ground floor this is the way many better designed schools end up looking at the moment, like community hubs. Rent an Architect designed house at Living Architecture (via things). Some awards have been handed out for 2018 Balkrishna Doshi wins the Pritzker prize this year, the first Indian to do this. Peruvian Architect Sandra Barclay is Woman Architect of the Year and Gloria Cabral from Paraguay is emerging Woman Architect of the Year a nice summary of their work can be found here.

Week Review 2

spomenik#1

Photo above is from Spomenik #1 by Jan Kempenaers who took three years travelling to the remotest parts of former Yugoslavia to capture these strange monuments read about them here.

Did Atopia and not Thomas Heatherwick come up with the design of the 2012 Olympic flame cauldron? Heatherwick denies it but look at this from the Guardian article which broke the story

Locog has been disbanded, but its former design principle, Kevin Owens, described the situation as “unfortunate”. “Atopia really are forward thinkers,” he said. “Strands of their work became part of what was taken forward, and I wish there was a way we could acknowledge that.” Via

Atopia’s work looks the same and aside from a few details is also conceptually and functionally the same.

A lovely well put together website on Scottish Brutalism called Scottish Brutalism but they haven’t documented anything outside of Strathclyde yet, come on guys what’s keeping you?

Christoph Ingenhoven, Meinhard von Gerkan and Pierre de Meuron are all lightly grilled by Spiegel as to why their big German Architecture projects are so massively over cost. This is a must read, it’s so rare to see behind the curtain so to speak of projects which while being great Architecture have failed in some way to deliver otherwise, along the way there is some deep insight into team working in projects.

Berg | C.F. Møller’s proposed design is a 34-storey skyscraper made of wood. On deeper investigation though it has a concrete core!

Kone have invented a new carbon fibre lift cable which will make possible 1km high lifts double todays limit, effectively doubling the limit of skyscrapers in the process.

The New Aesthetic, if you name it you should own it.

Declad one

‘Declad’ doesn’t have an official meaning exactly, but tentatively it could mean to remove cladding, to literally de-clad, which I want to make a good metaphor for this website. There are many Architecture news blogs but fewer which look behind the glossy renderings and photographs and look for a context in this most context dependant area. So declad is trying to remove the outer layer, to look beyond the quotable image, to find the best and worst (they are the most interesting categories after all) and look more closely at them.

Also we are in a really interesting time for Architecture in culture. This is already evident in writing about technology and Architecture. In Technology blogs, editorials in the Verge more and more intrude on Architectural subjects, Gizmodo has recently hired Geoff Manaugh as chief editor, on the other side of the divide Domus devotes increasing space to technology. We live in a truly exciting time where the division in these subjects has blurred, technology will transform the subject and the practice of Architecture, even its meaning. Having been blogging haphazardly now for quite a few years I thought I could take these basic insights focus it and give it its own legs…….let’s see what happens.