Recently in Places

Two published this month;

Daegan Miller, On the liberation cartography of Henry David Thoreau, which concludes

It is tempting to read Thoreau’s river survey as a satirical anti-map, a snide rejection of disciplinary pretension that leaves its viewer wallowing in relativism. How could anyone measure anything with a tripolar scale whose differing notions of what an inch is babble over each other? But irony is only one of the tropes that Thoreau drew on. He was always more interested in improvement than deconstruction, and his countermodern map is affirming in its self-aware subjectivity, its desire to picture Concord as situated in a landscape teeming with life and human usage. This was a political choice. If Baldwin’s and Perham’s Concord River is anonymous and untouched and dead, an ahistorical space that denies change, a river that can be manipulated and controlled; then all those notes pinpointing where the plants grew, all those piles of figures and ghosts of surveys past, make of Thoreau’s a deep map — a view of an impressively interconnected world where nature, commerce, culture, history, and imagination all grow together — something nonfungible and specific: a full, a wild land living at once beyond and beneath the confined landscape of the town’s grasping improvers, both agricultural and industrial, who, despite their superficial differences, ultimately agreed that the best use of a river is to turn a profit.

Lizzie Yarina on Negotiating rhetorics and imaginaries of climate resilience, wherein she examines four large cities in Southeast Asia facing major climate risks: Jakarta, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, and Bangkok. As she explains

Across Southeast Asia, infrastructures (often at incredible scales) are promoted as the answer to climate and environmental risks. Importantly, these projects provide an image of resilience, even if the actual merits are uncertain. But when I spoke with technical experts on the ground in these four cities, they emphasized the gap between what is attractive and what is needed….But the deeper and more insidious problem is that the technocratic language of climate adaptation rationalizes mass evictions….Too often, global media and institutions measure the impact of disasters by their monetary cost, rather than by the number of lives lost or impaired. We must ask, then, whether climate change adaptation is framed through the same lens. Do resilience projects truly alleviate risks for those who are most vulnerable to floods, storms, and heat? Or do they protect investments and foster speculative development by global elites? When adaptation planning is sponsored by developers or international banks, these categories become blurry. 

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9 reasons why ‘Zero-Carbon Buildings’ is the wrong target

Therefore;

“For architects and their clients, and others in the construction industry, the right scale is almost certainly at a single building, site or project scale. However, we should be focussed on radical energy efficiency, not on balancing complex CO2 accounts.

Passivhaus Standard buildings are radically energy efficient and ensure very low CO2 emissions over the lifetime of the building. And importantly, passivhaus buildings match this with simplicity, comfort and reliability.

Read more, via Elrond Burrell

the original ten founding principles, for GDS’ Digital Service aka GOV.UK

1. Start with needs
2. Do less
3. Design with data
4. Do the hard work to make it simple.
5. Iterate. Then iterate again.
6. Build for inclusion.
7. Understand context.
8. Build digital services, not websites.
9. Be consistent, not uniform.
10. Make things open: it makes things better.

Via Design Observer

re: Stock Orchard House

In 2015 Hattie Hartman memorialized “Sarah Wigglesworth and Jeremy Till’s straw bale house and associated office at 9-10 Stock Orchard Street in Islington, London“.

To wit,

The surfeit of its architectural moves borders on the overwhelming, but mostly this is a house to engage with and live with. Windows and vents can be easily adjusted with the seasons. Views are carefully framed on a highly constricted site. Light falls mostly in the right places, though sometimes there’s too much of it. As Till observes: ‘What we knew then about green design was primitive compared with what we know now.’

Via Architects Journal

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. 

 

An architecture of “cowboy nomads” + Depoliticization

Over at e-flux, Douglas Spencer reflects on the exhibition California: Designing Freedom at the Design Museum, London, 2017.

California’s “tools of personal liberation” further the depoliticizing ends of neoliberalism, both in the conditions of temporality they impose, and in their tendency to atomize the social into an aggregate of hyper-connected individuals constituted, as such, by their investments in capital and its technological apparatus. Depoliticization, rather than some unfortunate and unforeseen outcome of an originally radical counterculture, is inherent to it.

h/t @NicholasKorody