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Villa Savoye Photos from January

2 Sep

No green carpet… Just a white building, above snowy white ground, below feather white sky.

Some photos of the masterpiece from a trip I took on January 2010.



2 Sep

Architecture takes itself seriously.  Very seriously, infact.  It’s a professional field which, today, is draped in a veil of semi-academic esoteric statements – associated with a psuedo-scientific language which does anything but simplify communication between the architecture world and the wider public.  Not to say there aren’t many exceptions to the rule, but  a walk round the Bartlett or AA summer shows is some proof of an entrenched way of talking about architecture in architecture schools and in architecture literature that is extremely difficult to engage with.  In fact, architecture is hard to imagine as ever being popular in the same way as other cultural activities. Is there today a pop-architecture?  The past is full of 60s, 70s and 80s examples, but today it is perhaps only FAT, Allsop, Feix + Merlin and a few other Venturi/SITE/Archigram influenced designers who spring to mind, if I purposely avoid such current meetings of pop and buildings such at MTV Cribs.

I’d like to add Koolhaas to the list – a recent trip to the Kunsthal was full of humour and jokes – but all to often it’s ironic or condescending.  Whereas the visual, digital, film and sonic arts have embraced pop culture, architecture, for the most part, tries to avoid being seen as anything but a noble, serious activity.

So it was a breath of fresh air to stumble upon a project at the Bartlett show a few months back which was fun and serious.  It was tongue in cheek but extremely precise and incredibly well thought through.  More excitingly, it was a great comment on the work and the institution surrounding the display drawings on show.  I can’t remember the girl’s name.  I’ve searched and search to no avail – but the project was for a Church for a cult of Lady Gaga – reappropriating and tranplanting a baroque church to the site of central London, complete with a wonderful dreamt up religio-mytholody.  It was a work of architecture which was cutting in its criticism of so much of the world’s cultural behaviour – and yet, this is not to see it wasn’t pop and it wasn’t fun.  The sharpness of the project’s conceptual strategy made the other work filling the Slade seem hyperbolic, inflated and infatuated by a self-seriousness.  Here was a project that could be enjoyed from both a (very) high and low(er) critical perspective.  Pop meets architecture, rather than pop-architecture.

So what might happen if OMA and Gaga collaborated.  It’s far from an absurd idea – fashion clearly the connecting thread.  But as well as just a collaboration in terms of an exchange of services (a set design for Gaga…A song/performance for OMA’s latest project..see here) it could be something far more exciting.  Architecture is floundering in my opinion as an art that can be appreciated and which has real cultural value.  Modern architecture is STILL looked upon with fear and mistrust by a fast majority of people.  Architects and architecture are an extremely fashionable area of interest and gain plenty of attention, but contemporary work is still an area of potential conflict.  Colchester’s VAF case in point. Both Gaga and OMA have an avant-garde approach to being overtly commercial – a truly stunning collaboration could be as powerful as the Church of Lady Gaga project – a functioning building which really can be understood in pop terms and can be embraced by pop culture.  And there would be plenty of criticism I’m sure from the architecture world.

Kunsthal Rotterdam Details

1 Sep

Some great details in Koolhaas’ Kunsthal. Completely mindblowingly brilliant building and fantastic material juxtapositions. Humour, elegance and confidence.


28 Aug

Once again PingMag is writing about some very interesting stuff:


And when composing, how do you feel mixing synthetic with human sounds?

I really don’t hear the difference anymore. I’m just interested in a sound and if it happens to be produced electronically or maybe played by an accoustic instrument, it’s just all one. It’s how it shapes that matters. You could have a door slam, it might be just a door slamming and mean nothing more than that. On the other hand, if it slams at the right moment at the right time, it can be very profound if the setting is right and that’s how I feel about all sounds. Depending on how a sound emerges it can be a jewel or nothing.


AAHAH..I love Klein Dytham:

Rubiks Reality

12 Jun

So I while back I posted about moving, rotating buildings and urban environments, which was really interesting. A little while after I came across some more posts about some potential projects and today I found out Dynamic Architecture has designed an actual rotating tower, together with some of the environmental, power generation, and user friendly benefits I suggested might be offered by this type of design.

So, Inhabitat has a nice post about the project and some great pics. Unsurprisingly Dubai is the base for the first of these towers, construction is to begin soon. And whilst I am against a lot of what Dubai is about – the superficiality, the environmental negligence, ostentatious luxury, worker exploitation and so on – it is an incredible opportunity to test out experimental, unique designs and ideas.

I really feel that this could be the start of something really exciting. This building is self sufficient too, in terms of energy requirements! Sure it’s in Dubai, but with the exponential improvement of voltaic cell efficiency it surely won’t be long before more innovative solar techniques are applied to everyday builds. There’s so much further to go before the Rubiks City I imagine could become reality, but I feel like this is a massive step forward and can’t wait to see the results. It’s the natural evolution of the merry -go-round via the Dymaxion House.

The next step might be an integration of flexible transport systems into city – lane alteration, for example for rush hour seeing 4 lanes of a 6 lane motorway allocated to the influx or exodus of workers in morning and evening respectively, retractable drainage systems and pedestrian crossings, roads turning to walkways and so on.

However, Dubai is also the land of the architectural gimmick. (Take your pic…)

World largest, biggest, tallest, shiniest…world’s first, world’s only, world’s most expensive…..And this all means there’s a threat of genuinely interesting ideas like this being cast in the mould of the Palm islands – pretty pointless in reality, all show and no tell. I guess we’ll see in the next few years if this building is a success, if it works. The architects/developers have gone for a big first development – it’s Dubai after all.

I’ve got a feeling though that working out new ideas on a smaller scale might be more useful. 7 smaller projects, but still larger than the several rotating homes already built, each completed in a fraction of the time of the Rotating Tower (Despite it’s relatively fast construction time) could offer 7 experimental approaches and then those outcomes could be factored into a really well thought out, more ideologically and technically sound buidling.

Anyway, i’m really excited just to see this being built. This is experimentation…and I love it!


Funnily enough there is a new car advert out, which is all about adjustable features/customization.

What is it about car adverts and rubiks like city environments?

Rubiks City

9 Feb

City blocks

Brilliant new advert at the moment for VW’s new Tiguan. But not because of the product, instead the brilliance of the CG urban landscape. Basically the city morphs, storeys of buildings rotate, pavement stones rearrange themselves, levels detach and reattach… It’s crazy metabolism gone mad. But just imagine how amazing it could be if there was such a level of flux in the real city environment. Natural environments are constantly in a period of change – cycles of seasons, erosion and so on. The city’s normally a fixed state, with solid add ons or demolitions – the (relatively) slow changes brought about by construction crews. But what if buildings could be made to interact with their environments a little more…dynamically?



Obviously a rotating apartment block would raise many a problem, but think about it. What if that rotation was a lot slower (i.e. tower observation desks) but allowed for equal sunlight to all sides of a building – that would potentially make solar energy production and urban farming a lot more successful, and allow everyone to see the nicest view and get a bit of sunlight. There would no longer be an extra cost for a south facing view.


Shifting windows and photo-voltaic panels would follow the sun round buildings, bringing the optimum light into buildings and generating the greatest amount of energy. Windows might move forward, pulling out of the building to catch those last rays of sunlight, or to provide a shelter from the rain when sensors detect the threat of precipitation. Building could be taught to sense, and adapt their form as required. What if roads changed to walkways as pedestrians approached them? Or drains appeared and disappeared as necessary?


And such buildings could react to more than just environmental factors. A child is born, a new module attaches itself, the whole building rearranges to suit the family’s needs a little better. If most residents are 9-5 workers then the building adapts depending on when it is “needed”. Balconies might retract for better safety. Health and Safety could relax: no more worrying about dangerous building and furniture layouts – the structure itself will do the work for you. Someone breaks a leg, their apartment moves down 5 floors.

Volkswagen Tiguan Advert
Uploaded by hamster1992

Home on ice

18 Dec


So, winter is here. The arctic ice is nearly back fully frozen after its record summer thaw. But I was thinking today about what more, and earlier, ice melt might mean in the immediate areas around glacier mouths. I’ve always been amazed by iceberg and their frozen river origins and a warming world means that ice break off will be more dramatic than ever before. The size of icebergs is likely to increase. Huge, bobbing offspring of a vanishing, diseased parent.


More icebergs, crashing off ice sheets and piling up against one another in the fjords and oceans of the north. Initially a mix of individual blocks, fused together as they form pack ice. Then breaking up and spreading out. Growing up and leaving home.

In themselves I imagine then as these modular habitable units where, in a parallel universe, people might live inside hollowed out bergs, initially fused together with their neighbours, a strong community where everyone is forced together. Then as the year progresses the break up of the ice occurs and people spread apart, are forced to separate and become independent. It would be like our lives on a hugely exaggerated scale, completely at the hands off the seasons.

But i’m still struck by the image of these habitable units. You’d be completely powerless as to where they take you. Reliant on ocean currents, storm systems and the tides. You’d be blind essentially. Trapped in a glassy mirrored interior. As the summer went on the walls would thin, the outside would become more visible. Eventually the berg would entirely melt. And then what?

The old maps of the Arctic chart out the northern landmasses like icebergs themselves. You can imagine the giant bergs which occasionally break off Antarctica and Greenland would be continental in their scope. Floating country sized slabs of ice. People would chisel their own homes out of the ice. Communities would form, societies would develop, there would be a whole civil system…just for a few months. Each individual mountain of ice would be weathered individually, shaped by its journey. A complete expression of the landscape and seascapes it encounters. Some stained grey by a journey along the petrochemical works around Arkangel, others clear, blue and shining as they glide past Svalbard. Battle wounds would show where collisions would have taken place. Waring iceberg inhabitants even resorting to conflict – invading passing floating communities. Other bergs would seek alliances.

But the sun would keep rising and the winds would shift and 2000 miles from where you started out that society would be shattered, broken up – floes the last melting remains, eventually recycled when the next freeze arrives.