Archive for November, 2004

latest discoveries:

Monday, November 29th, 2004
  • ‘Save Architecture’

    photos of today’s protest at Cambridge (from ‘lluniau bach traed’ @

  • Space and Culture : Lost in Space

    ‘…I love this tension between mobility and stability, the local and the global. This sort of complexity cannot be easily modelled, nor reduced to either structure or function…’

  • Arcsoc: Cambridge University Architecture Society

    ‘…It is quite probable that the University is unaware of the impact the closure of the Department of Architecture in Cambridge will have…It has uncomfortable echoes of the closure of the Bauhaus…’

  • How to write like a wanker

    ‘..No matter what Flash-blinded web monkeys would have us believe, the Internet is a text-based medium…’ (via growabrain

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latest discoveries:

Friday, November 26th, 2004

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latest discoveries:

Thursday, November 25th, 2004

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work ethic

Thursday, November 25th, 2004

Hi honey, I’m home.

Hard day at the office dear?

Yes, it was a real grind…

desk grind

via MoBlogUK

latest discoveries:

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

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another chance

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

I was wrong. You haven’t missed it. It’s a touring exhibition which will also be shown during 29 January – 9 April 2005 at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston. See here: RIBA news

a call to the lazyweb

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

About a year ago I found a project that used a flash file to record
network traffic and then allow you to shape the data in a graphical
format. I think it was called Cannibal. I’d like to take a
look at it again but I’ve had no luck Googling for it. It was an arts
project of some description and possibly the winner of a competition.

I’m paging the lazyweb
for help to find the link. Add a comment if you know the
project I’m looking for.

Fantasy Architecture, Fantastic Architecture

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

Tonight’s offering is mostly photos, apologies to all on a dial up connection. As promised in my previous entry, I visited the Fantasy Architecture exhibition at Walsall Art Gallery on Sunday.

We arrived with only hours to spare, Sunday was the last day of the exhibition, if you haven’t been yet you’ve missed it. The tight deadline didn’t worry me as I’d brought the whole family and I knew this would only be a cursory glance at best. Taking your kids to a gallery can be both a burden and a joy, depending on your luck/mood. Our most successful visit yet being a trip to the Tate Modern, during which our son decided he would turn himself into an installation to demonstrate the acoustic qualities of each room – screaming and laughing at everything. The faces of the other visitors was itself a picture that deserved framing.

I managed to get a few moments peace this weekend thanks to a model by the artist Nils Norman entitled Let the Blood of the Property Developers Run Freely in the Streets of Hackney. Josh and Josie were captivated by the detail (on the left).

nils norman

It was a much more extensive collection than I’d expected since it has sifted through the archive of the RIBA library and produced work from over 150 years of architectural drawing. One of the most striking realisations to come from this diversity was how pathetic many of the contemporary computer generated illustrations looked against the hand crafted work.

Here’s the FAT project I mentioned in the previous entry, against a drawing of the design for the Imperial Monumental Halls and Tower by John Pollard Seddon and Edward Beckitt Lamb.


And I’m not just talking about whether bigger is better. An MVRDV image of their Pig City project suffered from the same problem against a Paulo Soleri sketch of equal dimensions.

The Fourth Grace – the latest dream from Will Alsop to prove itself beyond the imagination of the people who have to fund it – was looking somewhat less than graceful.

forth grace

A model of Foster’s Twin Towers proposal was also on show. It’s better than Libeskind’s.

kissing towers

Regardless of contents of the exhibition, a trip to Walsall gallery is always a delight. It’s one of the best pieces of contemporary architecture in the Midlands. It’s rigorous, inviting, intriguing, warm, dark where it should be dark and light where it should be light. The coffee is quite good too.

The foyer is a knockout.

walsall foyer

It’s a lesson in how to make an entrance to a public building.

walsall stairs

I’ve trained my daughter to do a little jig whenever she’s within 20 metres of good architecture.

walsall entrance

It passes the test with flying colours. Go see for yourself.

Philip Johnson’s new job

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

After the recent news
that architect Philip Johnson has decided to retire
, I was a
little surprised to find this in my inbox a few minutes ago. It seems
he has found himself a new vocation.

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 13:02:19 +0100

Calvary Greetings,
I am a preacher with the Seed Harvest Ministry, and I will like to get
advice from you. I believe the advice I need is secular to some extent,
but do have the patience to understand my intention. A few year’s ago I
was in Liberia were I had established a little congregation where I preached
regularly, but the civil war escalated and the church was converted to a
hospital of soughs.

On one faithful day three Nigerian Soldiers came to me and left trunks of
Money with me and swore to come back for it….

I think you can guess the rest of the message.

I will be glad to get a response from you to show your interest.
My Regards,

short back and sides

Saturday, November 13th, 2004

I always dread getting my hair cut. Waiting your turn, cursing yourself for not bringing a good book, feeling obliged to engage in the obligatory hair cut conversation. Going anywhere nice this year?

This week’s trip was no exception. Left for lunch early to beat the queue and got beaten by people leaving work early to beat the queue. Waiting. Cheeky Girls on the stereo. Waiting. One of the staff has the audacity to have a lunch break. Further waiting. The guy ahead of me has shorter hair than I do. I begin to hate him. Why should he get to go first? He had the foresight to bring a book too. Now I really hate him. It’s called ‘A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away’ by Christopher Brookmyre. I hope it’s rubbish.1

Perhaps I can make the waiting more productive. Perhaps the magazines over by the shampoo will provide something worth recording and hyperlinking. I grab a copy of City Living magazine.

First to catch my eye is an article on Edward Burne-Jones. Pre-Raphaelite artist, student of Rossetti and born here in Birmingham. I walked past his birth place on the way to the barbers. It’s a restaurant now (a friend of mine did the refurbishment a couple of years ago) but you can see the English Heritage blue plaque above the door. The fact that the building is called Burne-Jones House is also a bit of a give away. One of the easiest ways to see some of his work (I mean see some of his work, not look at it online) is to visit Birmingham Cathedral and look at the stained glass windows.

Keith? says hairdresser number one when she’s finished mopping up the left overs from her previous victim (an OAP who came back in the shop afterwards to tell us that her friend had declared her haircut worthy of ’10 out of 10!’). Keith puts away his book and takes a seat, confessing that things had got so desperate he’d been forced to resort to the tub of ‘backup wax’. I’m glad I let him go first. Mercifully, hairdresser number two, the new girl, is stuck with the perm from hell. It’s obviously a lost cause but her hairdressing Hippocratic oath prevents her from giving in. I shall have to wait till the lunch break is over for hairdresser number three.

Back to the magazine. Damn. I’ve missed a photography exhibition at the Custard Factory. 24 hours in Birmingham with a Lomo camera. I’m fascinated by the results these cameras achieve and the content could have been useful inspiration for the phonecam exhibition that Alfie and I are hoping to put on next year. We’re currently wandering around places and minds trying to agree a theme/justification. You’re more than welcome to give us your input by visiting the notes on the wiki: MoBlogExhibition.

A scruffy looking chap comes in and starts to browse the designer shampoo products. Hairdresser number one stifles a laugh and asks if she can help. He clearly hasn’t washed his hair in weeks, so why should it seem so odd that he wants to buy shampoo? Surely that’s exactly what he needs. Is it for you Sir? Hesitation. Err, ummm. Can it be that difficult? Yeessss. He leaves again with a jolly expensive hair care product in the pocket of his tweed coat.

Ah, pay dirt. An article about Walsall Art Gallery running an exhibition called Fantasy Architecture. A collection of images of work that was never built. Some I recognise, some I don’t. It’s on until the 21st of this month so I still have time to drag The Wife and kids round there. I scan the article, disagree in places, agree in others. I certainly don’t agree with the suggestion that Foster’s bridge to the Tate is a better solution than FAT’s unbuilt proposal for a Diana memorial. Regardless of how you feel about Diana, their design for a rolling meadow of grass seems preferable to the anonymous grey steel work that eventually got built/de-wobbled. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the beautiful drawings of Birds Portchmouth Russum again. I saw them give a really enjoyable lecture some years ago, it was one of my first experiences of the value of wit and humour in creativity. I remember that the fact almost all of their projects were fantasy did raise some concern from someone in the audience about their ability to pay the rent off the back of so much unbuilt work. I also remember they didn’t give a straight answer.

The haircut2 proceeded without further ado.

  1. Ha! According to The Sunday Herald, it is rubbish: “The key to good genre writing is plotting and pace. Brookmyre achieves neither… bulking out the page count are Brookmyre’s attempts at humour… “. Although respect is due to the author for posting both good and bad reviews on his site. Note the way he splits them up as pre and post 9/11 – a section of the story apparently involves terrorists and planes.
  2. number 4 on top, 2 on the sides