Delirious New York By Rem Koolhaas: The Film Version (and Review)

Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan by Rem Koolhaas

Opening shot / A black limousine pulls up in front of a glass skyscraper in Manhattan. The camera is so close to the base of the tower that it appears to go up forever disappearing into the clouds. The light bouncing off the plain glass elevations as though all the glass was reflected back, the only articulation of the building are the reflections of the clouds in the sky. Out gets Edward Norton the famous Hollywood actor, director, writer, polymath he is shown limping into the building.

The book Delirious New York was written in 1978 and pushed OMA and Rem Koolhaas into the spotlight where they have never been out of since. This book helped OMA became the architectural office probably with the most influence in the Architecture scene from the 90’s into the 2000’s.

Delirious New York is a retroactive manifesto of the Skyscraper and for New York City. The birth of which occurred around 1910 and its death some thirty years later. The manifesto is an unconscious programme embarked on in the city during its massive growth which only now Delirious New York properly reveals.

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Underground Helsinki and Underground Urbanism

Map of Central Helsinki Early 1900’s (Map: Wikipedia)

Although a country with few people and plenty of space, Finland’s capitol city Helsinki being located on a peninsula finds itself constantly constrained for space by the sea. Luckily the city sits above bedrock which is deep and which frequently punctures the ground. So Helsinki has increasingly used its bedrock to tunnel into and create an underground city. Now with over 400 documented underground facilities and 200 more planned, Subterranean Helsinki is probably one of the largest and most comprehensive underground city systems in the world for its size.

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Soft City by Jonathan Raban

Soft City by Jonathan Raban

Soft cities is like a city reader, a book about how cities work on our inner selves and how we live in them and Iain Sinclairs’ introduction hits all the right notes locating Rabans’ book within the London of the 70’s, and the literary traditions from which it springs.

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The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

The Ghost Map : The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

by Steven Johnson

Compare a bacteria with a human, with a city, with the planet. Weave in two personal stories and the clash of ideas and of the inherent messiness of progress, and you may get the outline of this book. The Ghost Map is at once a real map, but also a metaphor for progress, for navigation of the future using the past.

The scale at which this book is written jumps all the time and could have collapsed in on itself because it constantly pans and zooms through its subject matter, yet it always stays focused and gripping. The book’s main story are the events around an outbreak of Cholera in London in 1854 around Broad Street, Soho. Two very different people, John Snow and Henry Whitehead, became entangled in the outbreak and eventually through their efforts the battle against Cholera was won, mega cities became possible and the foundations for modern epidemiology were laid.

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Week Review 6

Soviet era miners' cable car

Chiaturas’ extreme geography made the use of a cable car system widespread. Since the 50’s this soviet era system hasn’t had much work done on it.

In central Turkey, an ancient people dug, over 200 underground cities. The deepest of these, under the present day town of Derinkuyu, goes over 250 feet below the Earth’s surface.

Ross Langdon RIP.

The Brutalist masterpiece that is Preston Bus Station has gotten a reprieve from being knocked down.

Another post looking at mapping the age of buildings in different cities, a good overview here.

Week Review 5

De Karel Doorman

Ibelings Van Tilburg has reused an old Department store due to be demolished as a plinth for a new housing hi-rise in Rotterdam. It’s a Densification, mixed use project that is very compelling, perhaps even a little controversial, read more with this nice write-up by Anneke Bokern in Uncube.

If you are walking in London watch out for the Walkie-Scorchie otherwise known as 20 Fenchurch Street by Rafael Viñoly building which can melt cars developers have blamed the problem on “the current elevation of the sun in the sky

Engineers will construct a mile-long ice wall around the Fukushima nuclear plant in an attempt to stop the continuing leak of radioactive water, and set to cast a cool $320 million.

Anyone who in their job has to use some sort of CAD tool will know how the complexities of the interface make for a frustrating block to the flow of design thinking and conceptualizing. You have to concentrate on mastering the interface at the expense of understanding and designing the thing in question. Elon Musks video showing a little of what they are doing at SpaceX hints at the exciting, intuitive future of CAD. (via)

Week Review 4

amsterdam_bydatebuilt

The above picture is of Amsterdam with the buildings coloured by date of construction. A dataset of 9,866,539 buildings to come up with this amazing map. It is a mesmerizing experience and informative, Rotterdam bombed by the Nazis in WWII is light blue compared to the red of Amsterdam which wasn’t bombed. (via)

How do you get rid of a listed building when you are redeveloping? Add a new elevation and ‘partially demolish it’ as is the case in my hometown of Edinburgh with the old Scottish Provident building on St. Andrews Square. It’s a beautiful 60’s building in its own right and in context I agree with Malcolm Fraser. Keep it.

UCL’s New Hall Housing a student apartment block in London had won this years Carbuncle Cup in the UK. An award for the worst building. Why is it so bad, well read this article on the Guardian about it. Cheap, ugly,designed to maximise paid student numbers  cramming them together like battery hens. Not only this but like in the example in Edinburgh above planning regulations have been bent and floated cynically. A deserved winner.

Scottish Castles are cheaper than New York Apartments, is this really a surprise? What are the three rules of Property development again? Location, Location, Location.