Archive for May, 2005

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Tuesday, May 31st, 2005
  • Processing 1.0 (BETA)

    ‘…Processing is a programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and sound…’

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Friday, May 27th, 2005

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RIP R. Erskine

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

A late entry, on the late Ralph Erskine. I discovered an old double issue of AD magazine from 1977 and proceeded, in the usual way, to scan and share.

I’ve uploaded a series of pages at hi-res so that they can still be read. The ‘Office in a Barge’ drawing is worth close scrutiny.

ad_ralph_erskine_cover ad_ralph_erskine_6

At no extra charge I’ve also added a couple more images to the previous Designers in Britain series.

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Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

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Monday, May 23rd, 2005
  • gumstix

    ‘…tiny computer boards about the size of a stick of gum, but powered by the same Intel XScale processor often used in PDAs, Linux smartphones, and other relatively powerful mobile multimedia devices…’

  • Paul Catherall – illustrator

    ‘…designs are inspired by classic 20th century poster desgin, Soviet propaganda art and artists such as William Nicholson…’ (via L+L)

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Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

Those of you who are avid listeners to Radio Stoke (hundreds of you, I’m sure) will have already heard me talk about a photography competition I’ve been running with some school kids in Stoke-on-Trent. Last week we presented the prizes and the radio station sent a reporter along. I had my computer set to record the internet stream, but mercifully (for you) it choked while I was away from my desk, so you’ll have to find some other way to hear my dulcit tones.

It was a big success, so I’m keen to share it here too. Here’s one of the entries:

kids with cameras

The rest can be viewed on the project web site I put together.

It’s a part of a few different methods of enquiry we’re using to develop a clear path towards some urban regeneration proposals. The output on this project provides several different benefits; the kids begin to feel some ownership of the problems and become more interested in a solution; they drag apathetic family members with them; we get a view from a different age group than would normally attend standard consultation events; images allow the kids to project their concerns more effectively than they might do with the written word.

We’ve also had a text messaging project running in a nearby neighbourhood but to my surprise it’s been a complete failure and had no interest. Next time I’m going to bring these two ideas together into one project…

*edit: I should also point out that all these fantastic pictures were taken with single-use disposable cameras


Friday, May 20th, 2005

Buildings that rock: Architectural dream no. 1256

To make a building whose narrative develops when you walk through it with the exact same change in tempo as Lynard Skynard’s Freebird.

It would take nine minutes and seven seconds to complete the journey.

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Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

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Here and There

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

From the introduction to Townscape by Gordon Cullen:

One building standing alone in the countryside is experienced as a work of architecture, but bring half a dozen buildings together and an art other than architecture is made possible. Several things begin to happen in the group which would be impossible for the isolated building. We may walk through and past the buildings, and as a corner is turned an unsuspected building is suddenly revealed. We may be surprised, even astonished (a reaction generated by the composition of the group and not by the individual building).

In fact there is an art of relationship just as there is an art of architecture. Its purpose is to take all the elements that go to create the environment: buildings, trees, nature, water, traffic, advertisements and so on, and weave them together in such a way that drama is released. For a city is a dramatic event in the environment.

We turn to the faculty of sight, for it is almost entirely through vision that the environment is apprehended.

In exactly the same way that Thom Mayne1 isn’t, Cullen is interested in the formal appreciation of the city. If Jane Jacobs – writing her introduction to Death and Life of Great American Cities in the same year (1959) as Cullen was writing his – writes solutions to the social/cultural problems of urbanity; Gordon Cullen sketches solutions to the formal/visual problems.

His proposals are categorized under three main titles: Optics (or Serial Vision), Place and Content. In an effort to better understand his principles and simultaneously revitalize the somewhat neglected sketches category here on no, too self, I’m going to try and explain a few using drawings. As a homage to the originals, they’ll be in a Cullenesque stylee, except I’ll be using Photoshop instead of Letratone.

First up will be examples of Place.

Place…is concerned with our reactions to the position of our body in the environment. This is as simple as it appears to be. It means, for instance, that when you go into a room you utter to yourself the unspoken words ‘I am outside IT, I am entering IT, I am in the middle of IT’. At this level of conciousness we are dealing with a range of experience stemming from the major impacts of exposure and enclosure.

Arising out of this sense of identity or sympathy with the environment … we discover that no sooner do we postulate a HERE than automatically we must create a THERE, for you cannot have one without the other. Some of the greatest townscape effects are created by a skillful relationship between the two…

Sketch 1: Glebe Place (sight of the previous postcard entry):


showing (click image for flickr notes),

fluctuation: ‘…the stimulation of our sense of position through moving from the wide to the narrow and out again into some fresh space…’

closure: ‘…the creation of a break in the street which, whilst containing the eye, does not block out the sense of progression beyond…’

1. winner of this year’s Pritzker Prize – see his lecture at for more on his interest in process rather than form: Part 1 | Part 2.

Hi honey, I’m home

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Is there a cake in the world that can rival the Eccles cake? I doubt it.

I’m back. It’s been a busy few weeks. Thanks go out to Alfie for keeping the motor running with a couple of entries whilst I was away. If you’re a lazy aRSSe who tunes in via the newsfeed, you should have received a few image transmissions from me too.

In the intervening time I have…

  • stumbled across a curious piece of domestic delight in Chelsea (did you get my postcard?).
  • put my piece of domestic delight up for sale. SOLD!
  • reinstated – despite a worrying story once told to me by a scholar in Georgian architecture – my National Trust membership.
  • stumbled across the delightfully curious domestic residence by FAT – it works even better in the flesh than it does on the pages of a magazine.
  • missed a party in a squat in Hackney, simply because I was too tired from a weeks parenting (old age: 1 – hippy credibility: 0)
  • revisited Jane Jacobs’ ‘Death and Life of Great American Cities’
  • self administered the Jacobs antidote – Gordon Cullen’s ‘Townscape’.
  • left both books on the bookshelf and ventured out onto failing 50s housing estates and tried to convince the people that lived there that I could deliver the changes they’ve needed for the past 20 years.

This last one was the trickiest.

Building Design magazine ran an article this week called ‘Impact 100’, it’s a chart of the top 100 architects that have had the most impact on the industry in the last year. By combining a number of factors – total value of projects, number of prizes won and number press column inches – they created an impact rating and constructed a chart. Norman Foster came out on top. No surprises there then.

I wasn’t on the list. No surprise there either, but as I sat in the living room of a resident who’d lived in his house since it was first built in 1953, raised a family, lost a wife, ended up alone; I couldn’t help thinking that he’d probably put me pretty high on the impact list as I asked him to give up his home for the good of the community.

I’ll remember that next time Foster makes another wobbly bridge or tower block shaped like a vegetable.

George Ferguson, President of the RIBA has suggested this week that the future winners of the Stirling Prize, of which the tower block shaped vegetable was one, should be made to wait a year before being allowed to enter. A defect in 300 of the ‘gherkin’s’ windows sent a sheet of glass crashing to street this week.

It’s a good idea, it should at least get out of the standard defects liability period before we all bow down and pay homage. Maybe it should be even longer. Maybe we should wait until a generation of people have used it. Maybe we should ask the people of that generation if it should win.

Coming up: sketches and photos exploring the contents of the aforementioned ‘Townscape’ book.

It’s nice to be back.