Archive for July, 2006

today’s links

Monday, July 31st, 2006
  • Upside-Down-Ternet

    ‘…My neighbours are stealing my wireless internet access. I could encrypt it or alternately I could have fun…’

  • Spam Architecture

    ‘…The images from the Spam Architecture series are generated by a computer program that accepts as input, junk email. Various patterns, keywords and rhythms found in the text are translated into three-dimensional modeling gestures…’

(taken from my linklog, broadcast using deloxom)

today’s links

Friday, July 28th, 2006

(taken from my linklog, broadcast using deloxom)


Thursday, July 27th, 2006

We have a handful of members after day 1. I should point out that one of the most interesting features of the group is the page containing the group zeitgeist.


Thursday, July 27th, 2006

LibraryThing continues to impress. Book groups can now be set up on the site, so as you might expect I’ve leapt in and started one for the architecturally interested.

The paint is barely dry on the walls but come and help me build it into something useful:

today’s links

Friday, July 21st, 2006

(taken from my linklog, broadcast using deloxom)

the kids are alright

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

In respectful silence we shuffle around the room. Lips tightly sealed, chins being stroked pensively; nobody daring to appear unaware of the importance of the artefacts on the walls and floor. We’re monks in a monastery of modernism. Spectacles, testicles, wallet, watch.

Chattering as she goes, my three year old daughter rattles across the floor with her toy buggy and parks herself over the sign that says please do not touch on the plinth carrying a Rietveld chair. Disapproving looks ensue and a stoney faced guard starts to stride towards us. The games commence.

The modernism exhibition at the V&A has only a few days left to run. I can’t report on the contents in much detail (too busy stopping my daughter sitting on iconic furniture) but I can tell you that the compact layout and the hushed atmosphere that everyone seems to fall into doesn’t make it easy to take kids. You win some, you lose some. It’s important though, for both us and them, to keep in the habit of going to galleries and exhibitions.

In the courtyard outside, free from the clutches of the gallery police, I’m feeling quintessentially British with my trousers rolled up to my knees paddling in the blessed relief of ten inches of cool water. Matt Webb – trousers in a similar state – confesses that he would never have thought to paddle in the V&A courtyard pool had he not seen the kids do it first. You win some, you lose some.

We talk about rabbits, neo-cons and perturbations.

Perturbation theory comprises mathematical methods that are used to find an approximate solution to a problem which cannot be solved exactly, by starting from the exact solution of a related problem. Perturbation theory is applicable if the problem at hand can be formulated by adding a ‘small’ term to the mathematical description of the exactly solvable problem.

Next stop: Hyde Park and the Serpentine Pavilion. As I’m taking some photos of the outside a passer-by notices the golden cover of the Zumbotel photography competition disposable camera in my son Josh’s hand and stops to talk for a moment.

edge light side anchor dark side

He asks about the building and I explain that it’s a temporary structure by Rem Koolhaas constructed as one of a series of pavilions that have been erected each summer over recent years. Going for bonus points, I repeat something I’d half read in the press earlier that week about how the up-lift of the inflated roof is roughly equivalent to the weight of the lower section, therefore cancelling each other out.

“So it’s a neutral building then?”

Well, yes, I say. I suppose it is. Neutral. Oh dear, this doesn’t feel like a good start. We step inside and I deploy my ‘small’ term to find an approximate solution to a problem which cannot be solved exactly.


Reconfigurable, adaptable, democratic space? Building blocks. Like any other five year old would, he’s built an island in the time it takes most adults to realise the foam chunks can even be moved.

to me, to you stepping sliding pushing

Great stuff. Meanwhile, Tom and I wander and take some more pictures. Some nice detailing, shimmering translucent surfaces everywhere and an unexpected form to the underbelly of the balloon. Having completed perturbing the space, Josh is now leaping between foam stepping stones, zig-zagging between visitors.

sliver nestle

Neutral. The idea won’t budge. If the actions that define its position are cancelled out to zero, what do you have left? Nothing. I’m feeling nothing.

Josh takes a tumble and lands in a heap on the sharp holes punched through the stainless steel floor. As I step forward to pick him up a staff member chooses that moment to move in front of me, preventing my progress, and points out that jumping on the blocks is unsafe and the floor is sharp. I thank him for the timely advice. Bloody exhibition police. Can’t we create any space today that doesn’t need policing?

An approximate solution to a problem which cannot be solved exactly … If we accept that the quest for the perfect architectural solution is a problem which cannot be solved exactly … the model or diagram or sketch is the utopian exact solution of a related problem … so perhaps the final, constructed problem at hand can be formulated by adding a ‘small’ term to the mathematical description of the exactly solvable problem or diagram … meaning that we need to admit perturbations by ‘small’ terms are necessary to move from the idealistic exact solution of a related problem to find an approximate solution to the architectural problem we wisely recognise cannot be solved exactly.

Meaning that a system which denies the possibillity for perturbation by ‘small’ terms is still just mucking about with the related problem, not the problem. The pavilion feels like the exact solution to a related problem because I can’t perturb it with a personal, subjective viewpoint given it’s neutrality.

Perturbing the foam cubes is fun though.

24 hours later I realise that the emptiness is also to do with the way I feel about actions defining character.

We head for the Diana Memorial. An Aussie in a lifeguard t-shirt gets perturbed, waves a walkie-talkie at us and tells us to stop paddling in it. Strewth.

Related entries: Tyred, Fantasy Architecture, Fantastic Architecture, Hands that do fountains.

If nothing else I can at least say that I now know how to spell pavillion pavilion correctly.

Full flickr set of photos: Serpentine 2006

Elsewhere: Dan Hill, Rod McLaren.

serpentine pavilion hacking

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

The most successful bit of the Serpentine Pavilion: movable chunks of foam


Related Entry: The Kids Are Alright

today’s links

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

(taken from my linklog, broadcast using deloxom)

today’s links

Friday, July 14th, 2006

(taken from my linklog, broadcast using deloxom)

urban embroidery

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

Note to self: Must find a way to involve these guys in my next community consultation project…

This week we’ve been running a 5 day workshop with a class of 30 nine year olds in Year 4 at the Jenny Hammond Primary School with our friend and collaborator Loren Chasse. The workshop focused on ‘everyday archaeology’ – a term we’re using to describe investigations of the local environment using a combination of Feral Robots, Urban Tapestries, Sound Scavenging, an Endless Landscape, StoryCubes and eBooks.

Over the course of the week we have been using everyday archaeology to teach the students about relationships between the environment and pollution. The students have been acting as scientists and archaeologists to gather evidence about the world around them to uncover causes of pollution. This has been a trigger for them to imagine what they could do to help the environment and think about the kind of world they want to grow up in. The students gathered audio recordings, photographic evidence and used the Feral Robots to detect air quality in a local park, wrote stories based on the Endless Landscape, designed their own robots and created structures and environments using the StoryCubes.

from Urban Tapestries