Links of Note (week 49/20)

Every week I highlight the most interesting items from my media diet.

Video

Article

  • Creative community issues a call to remove Philip Johnson’s name because of his fascist past Archinect Reports on a group trying to remove Philip Johnson’s name from any reference of honor. It should be noted that it wasn’t just that Johnson was a racist, he founded an explicitly racist and fascist party before he went into architecture. There is a great biography of him The Man in the Glass House by Mark Lamster.

Once the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope, the Arecibo facility has been the site of many key astronomical discoveries over the years, including observations of the spinning stars known as pulsars that led to the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics. Before its collapse, astronomers were using the telescope for a number of scientific studies, including radar assessments of near-Earth asteroids, to measure their threat to the planet.

Opinion

Norman Fosters and Zaha Hadid Architects formerly withdraw from Architects Declare a network of architectural practices committed to addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency.

My first reaction was that the practices should have stayed in and fought for environmentally friendly buildings no matter what the client or program.


But I think I was wrong. It really is a climate emergency in which we have about ten years to half our emissions. See a good article here about the problematic nature of aviation for global warming.

The other thing is I don’t think these two offices have taken it seriously. Signing up, but not changing your business model or design approach leaves only an empty and cynical PR strategy. Sad really. The AJ has an interesting overview of Architects Declare predating these offices leaving but they imply that while many offices have taken their commitment seriously some didn’t. Their passive aggressive withdrawal letters only underline this reading.

On what I feel is a related note Architects have a thing for strongmen. In Kazakhstan, the big global practices – from Norman Foster to Zaha Hadid – have piled in to help the dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev, build his trophy city.

Links of Note (week 47/220)

Every week I highlight the most interesting items from my media diet.

Photo by Sushant Jadhav

Arecibo Observatory (°18.35,-66.75) used by scientists to look through space and time, is going to be demolished as two of the main cables suspending the structure have snapped. Luckily we will always have Goldeneye!

Articles

Not only is eelgrass naturally fire-, rot- and pest-resistant, it also absorbs CO2, and as it doesn’t require heat to produce, is carbon neutral when harvested and used locally. Eelgrass becomes fully waterproof after about a year and has insulation properties comparable to those of mineral wool, a dense, fibrous material made from molten glass, stone or industrial waste. A roof can last hundreds of years – one of island’s remaining seaweed roofs dates more than 300 years – for comparison, a concrete tile roof typically lasts around 50. –via

According to Mitchell, our intestinal microbiome isn’t keeping up with the rapid pace of globalization. “Things are changing incredibly quickly,” he says, “but our genetics are still pre-industrial.” He associates modern ills such as high rates of allergies, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease with modern substances that affect the gut, from antibiotics to fast food. “Parts of us are coping, but other parts are suffering,” Mitchell says.
via polymath

Thanks in part to its adoption in the 1840 presidential campaign, what began as a lame joke in a Boston newspaper morphed into one of the most ubiquitous expressions in the English language

Podcasts

  • On Deviate with Rolf Potts and Stephanie Rosenbloom talk about The pleasures of (and strategies for) traveling solo. I know it seems strange to talk about travelling at this time but the conversation is a real pleasure. Part vicarious travel part warm memories resurfaced.

Quote

Sooner or Later All Games Become Serious – J.G.Ballard Super-Cannes

Declad Articles

Links of Note (week 45/2020)

Every week I highlight the most interesting items from my media diet.

Photo and Plan of building no.30 in Hashima Island (Image from Japanpropertycentral)

Hashima /Gunkanjima Island in Japan was the most densley populated place on the planet until it was abandoned. Building No.30 on the island was Japans oldest reinforced-concrete apartment building (1916). Now partially collapsed, a good example of how Japan treats many of its old buildings. (via Irène DB)

Articles

  • The Swedish Housing Experiment designed to Cure Loneliness Sällbo, is a radical experiment in multigenerational living in Helsingborg, Sweden. The Architecture is very unremarkable it’s the social organisation, the way this group have decided to live which is interesting.
  • Finland is a Capitalist Paradise Behind a NYT paywall but if you have access well worth a read. A Wife from Finland and her husband from the US reflect on living in both countries.

Quote

Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations

-George Orwell

Links of Note (week 44/2020)

Every week I highlight the most interesting items from my media diet.

You can still see the divide between West and East Berlin from space. The Photo (taken by ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers) shows the Berlin from the International Space Station. The street lights in former East Berlin are more orange, in the west they are a colder yellow.

Articles

  • Kiruna the town that moved a Swedish mining town that had to be moved or it would have been swallowed up by the the iron ore mine it sat too close to.
  • Daisugi -The Japanese Technique of Creating a Tree Platform for Other Trees

Sometime in 15th century Japan, a horticulture technique called daisugi was developed in Kyoto….The technique was developed…as a means of solving a seedling shortage and was used to create a sustainable harvest of timber from a single tree. Done right, the technique can prevent deforestation and result in perfectly round and straight timber known as taruki, which are used in the roofs of Japanese teahouses. via

  • Work From Home and how it may effect apartment block design. So while I would agree with Norman Foster for the most part there is an interesting kind of in-between place for a cohort of new work from homers that might mean the designing of more varied and better co-work spaces not based on office but on location.

Videos

  • Designing Temporary Urbanism from The Life-Sized City youtube channel. A lovely slice of inspired Urbanism from a channel worthy of your time.

Quote

What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.

Valery Legasov

Links of Note (Week 43/2020)

Every week I highlight the most interesting items from my media diet.

project-o (photo by Aleksi Hautamäki and Milla Selkimäki)
Articles
  • What Neuroscience Says About Modern Architecture Approach Quite possibly the most stupid article I have read for some time. Modernism swept across the world partly because it articulated an architectural language that followed the industrialisation of the building industry (it was in some ways inevitable). Overlooking this for two Architects Brains malfunctioned as an explanation is beyond dumb.
  • Designing and building a Cabin in Finland (via). The Instagram feed has great photos of the Cabin being lived in. Project-o embodies the kesämokki life the Finnish dream of a simpler living either on an island in the Baltic or beside a lake in the forest.
Videos
  • The Chudobín Scots Pine is European Tree of The Year 2020 Watch the video of why it won. The other finalists all have their own videos, some beautiful trees to enjoy.

Podcasts

  • Fungus Amungus A fascinating podcast that explains why mammals might have triumphed in the race to become the dominant animal type after the dinosaurs disappeared and why our edge might be slipping now.
Quotes

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as escaping from the old ones

John Maynard Keynes (via)
Declad Articles
  • Declad posts this last week A review and notes on the iconic Book Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen.

The Haiku Houses of Japan

An overview of Japanese House Design and why they are like solid Haiku Poems.

As a little follow up to some reading and thinking around the books Lost in Japan and In Praise of Shadows I think its worth looking at an aspect of Japanese architecture I love and I think could be understood better through the lens of the above books and a little analogy which might bring some different insights.

Ghost House by Datar Architecture (Photograph by Takeshi Yamagishi)

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100+ Inspirational Design and Architecture Quotes

I have made a list of some of my favourite Architecture and Design Quotes. Some of these are all time classics and canonical, and some are much less well known. I have tried to organize them so the list has its own flow for example one of the most famous Architecture quotes ever is ‘Less is more’ by Mies Van Der Rohe.

I have added a few quotes below that which are replies to it like Robert Venturi’s ‘Less is a bore’ which is a direct repudiation of Mies’s quote and an example of his and Denise Scott Brown’s writing which as much as their buildings made them famous. It appears if you look hard enough even Ed Sheeran has an opinion about Architecture too!

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Fast Architecture

Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital under construction. Source Wikipedia

A couple of things recently came up on my radar that coincided and that I thought I would write about.

Firstly was a list made by Patrick Collison called fast which is about projects which were made quickly enough to appear anomalous and impressive. This hyperlinked list is really nice and I have already spent some time clicking through and reading.

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Helsinki Design Week

Today I went to The Helsinki Design Week Design Market in Kaapelitahdas. It’s billed as the largest design stock sale in the Nordics and its a great place to get a sense of what is going on in the Finnish Design scene. Mainly fashion and product design but food, interiors and jewellery etc was there to see and it was great to see how many future worldwide brands could be bubbling up here.

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Generative Architecture

I found a project by Joel Simon called Evolving Floorplans (via Kottke) which is all about the algorithmic generation of floorpans, specifically in reference to a school design. Evolving Floorpans is the first time I have seen a clear visualisation of an algorithmic architectural design, it’s quite beautiful.

Firstly I should note I’ve no experience in the writing of code such as for the alogorythm that Joel wrote and only an interest in the experimental zone of 3d architecture printing, so having said all that some observations;

Just programming for efficiency of circulation gave a remarkably ‘organic’ plan structure but maybe this is not be surprising given how things are designed ‘bottom up’ in the natural world.

The plans, optimised for traffic flow didn’t translate at all for classroom use, building usability or internal legibility. Square up the classroom sizes a bit and use something that errs towards more modern classroom layouts like joined classrooms etc and lab spaces. The structure was not addressed, and we probably shouldn’t kid ourselves that new structural materials or techniques will either come soon or deliver greatly enhanced results than right now. The hierarchy of the room types could also be factored in, ie. the gym and cafe of larger volume, environmental site factors accounted for. Joel already understands much of this though,

‘The metrics could be expanded to include terrain maps, sun paths, existing trees and other environmental input, allowing the buildings to be highly adaptive to their context. The physics simulation could force certain boundary shape constraints.’

Conclusions

If developed further this could easily inform outline design and progress until some baselines and agreements in the basic design have been set. It could provide very soon a tool to help the design team and Architects, how much further it could go I don’t know.

Links

Thread on reddit/architecture