Recently in Places

From November 2017, Shannon Mattern on the material archives of climate science.

As she explains “In the geosciences, there’s a long tradition of regarding the Earth itself, the terrestrial field, as an archive. Talk about big data…Over the next century, this metaphor multiplied across layers of abstraction. First there was the Earth as archive; then fossil records and specimen collections, visual representations of those collections, textual catalogs, and, eventually, databases…In classifying and indexing samples of ice, rock, soil, and sediment, we acknowledge the Earth as a vast geo-informatic construct. It is both geology and data, ontology and epistemology.

From December 2017, Amelia Taylor-Hochberg on Frank Pick, the London Tube and how as “chief administrator of the London Passenger Transport Board” he leveraged art and architecture to advance the “progressive ideal that public transport ought to be more than a means of getting around and that the ever expanding network was an unparalleled opportunity to enhance the lives of London’s citizens.

Also from December 2017, John David Rose on The house in American cinema, from the plantation to Chavez Ravine. Therein he reflects on Gone with the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird

When we see a house onscreen, the property relations implicit in the seemingly simple activity of moviegoing proliferate into confusion. And yet there is a kind of clarity in what is at stake here. In purchasing a movie ticket we pay for the right to occupy a space in order to gaze up at a space we can never occupy.

This is the story cinema has been mutely telling all along — a story about the house, the security and ease it promises, and the horrible anxieties produced when we try to force the house to deliver on those promises.

From Jan 2018, Douglas Murphy on The Modern Urbanism of Cook’s Camden.

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review of Drosscape by Alan Berger

Just came across this old book review on Amazon.

From back in 2007. I think I posted a version of this to Archinect’s old Book Review section as well. Which vaporized with the Nect 3.0 launch.

This book is a natural extension of the direction Alan Berger took in his first book Reclaiming the American West. While in his first book he examined the “leftover” space, of human industrial development in the American West in his new book he examines the range of wasted spaces which are created by current urban development patterns. Although specifically about the American urban landscape, his work can be at least loosely applied anywhere where sprawl or horizontal urbanity has become the norm. A key aim of his book is to go beyond the partisan debate of pro-or anti sprawl activists. Instead, Berger sets out to initiate a conversation and to develop a vocabulary through which this phenomenon of “inevitable” horizontal development can be understood and critiqued. However, this is arguably one weakness of the book. Although he develops a wonderful analysis of the phenomenon, his acceptance of it’s inevitably, especially in the face of the efforts of many to change the game, can come off as defeatist. Yet, his focus on the liminal nature of the typologies he outlines does open up many fascinating areas of discussion. For inspiration he draws on everything from William Gibson’s Neuromancer to Lars Lerups’ concept of Stim & Dross. Ultimately, his approach is hopeful though. He concludes that because of the large scale nature of the problem, any solution must draw on abilities and knowledge of all the design disciplines from landscape architecture to urban planning. Berger suggests a paradigm shift, asking “designers to consider working in the margins rather than at the center.

 

Two from Places; re: neo-Gothic fantasy and Jakarta

Back in October, Places Journal published Belmont Freeman’s case against the architecture of higher education, which all too often abdicates “leadership in promoting artistic innovation as they pander to plutocratic donors.” Choosing instead a nostalgic “idealized version of the Ivy League“.

The next month, Joe Day explains, the history of contemporary architecture in Jakarta, in the utopian terms of the Pancasilas, the founding principles of modern Indonesia.

Which includes the below, as it’s last footnote;

It should be noted that this “Architectures of the Pancasilas” approach underserves more than few gifted Jakarta architects. Between the AMI and the post-’98 generations — that is, between those now circling 60 and those still under 40 — I would point to Anthony Liu and Ferry Ridwan, partners in the prolific Studio TonTon (designers of the widely published Kosenda Hotel), to Ahmad Djuhara (the outspoken president of the Indonesian Institute of Architects) and his partner Wendy Djuhara, and to Stanley Wangsadihardja and Susi Gunawan, both educators as well as designers. It is in this group that Jakarta’s specific rapport with Japanese contemporary architecture is most profound. 

 

Two from Literary Hub

Don’t believe I have heard of this platform/publisher before. Then in last week to ten days, have come across it twice. In both my Facebook and Twitter feeds/networks.

First an old piece, from 2016, by

Walking had returned to me a greater set of possibilities. And why walk, if not to create a new set of possibilities? Following serendipity, I added new routes to the mental maps I had made from constant walking in that city from childhood to young adulthood, traced variations on the old pathways. Serendipity, a mentor once told me, is a secular way of speaking of grace; it’s unearned favor. Seen theologically, then, walking is an act of faith…Walking while black restricts the experience of walking, renders inaccessible the classic Romantic experience of walking alone. It forces me to be in constant relationship with others, unable to join the New York flaneurs I had read about and hoped to join…Walking as a black man has made me feel simultaneously more removed from the city, in my awareness that I am perceived as suspect, and more closely connected to it, in the full attentiveness demanded by my vigilance. It has made me walk more purposefully in the city, becoming part of its flow, rather than observing, standing apart.

Later Olivia Campbell on Climate Change and the Fairy Tale Forest.

As we consider the potential loss of plant, animal, and human life at the hands of climate change, we must also ponder what we stand to lose in culture—in stories yet to be told. Lost or devastated landscapes stand to radically alter the trajectory of our tales.

Or as @elisehunchuck shortened “What tales will go untold as we lose islands, coasts change, species go extinct, and forests wither?

re: what it means to be a citizen architect

Dean Milton Curry at the University of Southern California

‘Design thinking’ is, for me, the instrumentalization of methods of design for profit. “Architectural thinking” is understanding that the role of the designer, within the context of architecture, always incorporates the public good no matter if you are you doing a private or public building. The notion of public good is embedded within the DNA of architecture period. That has to be and has to remain in the DNA of architecture and architecture schools.That’s what I call “architectural thinking”. 

via Archinect