Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thames Town: another ghost city in China


Thames Town  is the English name for a new town in Songjiang, about 30 km from central Shanghai, China and situated on the Yangtze River. It is named after the River Thames in England, the United Kingdom. The architecture both imitates and is influenced by classic English market town styles. There are cobbled streets, Victorian terraces, corner shops—empty as in an abandoned film set. Some of the architecture has been directly copied from buildings found in England, including the church (copied from one in Clifton, Bristol) and a pub and fish and chip shop (copied from buildings in Lyme Regis, Dorset).(wikipedia.org)


Thames Town in Songjiang. Wikipedia.org
Thames Town in China. From metagini.com
Thames Town in Songjiang. Wikipedia.org
Another empty street in Thames Town. Picture from contactcollective.blogspot.com

Business Insider brings us a look at another ghost town built to capture the spirit of Britain: Thames Town. To really throw off your bearings, here is the Times of India reporting from Chicago on the Chinese city that conjures old England:
One such city is Thames Town, built as a replica of an Austrian village, Hallstatt, at the cost of $9 billion. It was built in 2006 as part of Shanghai’s “One City, Nine Town” initiative, an attempt to decentralize the city. Today, it’s a ghost town, with empty shops, almost no resident and unused roads.
It has an artificial lake and a few tourists – photographing every building there for the past few years – have been the only sign of human life there.
Blogger triplefivedrew, who visited Thames Town in 2010, likened the place to the set of The Truman Show.

This is a 3D render of what Thames Town was expected to be. Picture from metro.co.uk

First picture and excerpt from Eric Jaffe´s post:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

El templo, la ciudad, los arquetipos, el sueño

Recreación artística de la ciudad de Lagash. Google images

Lugar sagrado por excelencia, el templo tenía un prototipo celeste. En el monte Sinaí, Jehová muestra a Moisés la «forma» del santuario que deberá construirle: «Y me harán un santuario y moraré en medio de ellos: conforme en todo al diseño del tabernáculo que te mostraré, y de todas las vasijas para su servicio... Mira y hazlo según el modelo que te ha sido mostrado en el mundo.» (Exodo, XXV, 8-9, 10.) Y cuando David entrega a su hijo Salomón el plano de los edificios del templo, del tabernáculo y de todos los utensilios, le asegura que «todas estas cosas me vinieron a mí escritas de la mano del Señor, para que entendiese todas las obras del diseño.» (Crónicas. I, XXVIII, 19.) Por consiguiente, vio el modelo celestial. El más antiguo documento referente al arquetipo de un santuario es la inscripción de Gudea relacionada con el templo levantado por él en Lagash. El rey ve en sueño a la diosa Nidaba que le muestra un panel en el cual se mencionan las estrellas beneficas, y a un dios que le revela el plano del templo. También las ciudades tienen su prototipo divino. Todas las ciudades babilónicas tenían sus aquetipos en constelaciones: Sippar, en el Cáncer; Nínive, en la Osa Mayor; Assur, en Arturo, etc. Senaquerib manda edificar Nínive según el «proyecto establecido desde tiempos remotos en la configuración del cielo». No sólo hay un modelo que precede a la arquitectura terrestre, sino que además éste se halla en una «región» ideal (celeste) de la eternidad. Es lo que proclama Salomón: «Y dijiste que yo edificaría un templo en tu santo Nombre y un altar en la ciudad de tu morada, a semejanza de tu santo tabernáculo, que Tú preparaste desde el principio.» (Sabiduría, 9, 8.)
Una Jerusalén celestial fue creada por Dios antes que la ciudad de Jerusalén fue construida por la mano del hombre: a ella se refiere el poeta, en el libro de Baruch, II, 2, 2-7: «¿Crees tú que ésa es la ciudad de la cual yo dije: "Te he edificado en la palma de mis manos"? La construcción que actualmente se halla en medio de vosotros no es la que se reveló en Mí, la que estaba lista ya en el momento en que decidí crear el paraíso y que mostré a Adán antes de su pecado...» La Jerusalén celeste enardeció la inspiración de todos los profetas hebreos: Tobías, XIII, 16; Isaías, LIX, 11 sigs.; Ezequiel, LX, etc. Para mostrarle la ciudad de Jerusalén, Dios transporta a Ezequiel en un sueño extático y lo lleva a una montaña muy elevada (LX, 6 sigs.). Y los Oráculos sibilinos conservan el recuerdo de la Nueva Jerusalén, en el centro de la cual resplandece «un templo con una torre gigantesca que toca las nubes y todos la ven». Pero la más hermosa descripción de la Jerusalén celestial se halla en el Apocalipsis (XXI, 2 sigs.): «Y yo, Juan, vi la ciudad santa, la Jerusalén nueva, que de parte de Dios descendía del cielo, y estaba aderezada como una novia ataviada para su esposa».

Reconstrucción del Templo de Salomon. De arcspace.com

Mircea Eliade, El mito del eterno retorno (1951). Referido por Borges en Libro de Sueños.
Lea El Mito del Eterno Retorno:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Beehive-shaped mud architecture in Syria

Beehive green architecture. Syria. By James Gordon


"According to Earth Architecture, half of the world’s population live of work in buildings constructed of earth. So rather than seeing earth architecture as something of the past we must accept that in some way and in some places, earth architecture still rules supreme. Mud, dirt and straw are the oldest building material on the planet as they are widely available, cheap and relatively easy to manipulate and build with.
Other earthen buildings in the Middle East include adobe (mud brick) houses in the Marshes of Iraq, the tallest city of Shibam in Yemen, the city of Bam in Iran as well as the eco-friendly architecture of the Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy.
The beehive houses is an ancient dwelling with evidence of its existence going back to 3,700 B.C. There have been recorded examples of their construction in Palestine, Cyprus and Turkey although it is only in Syria that they have persisted to this day. The Syrian beehive-houses are located on the edge of the Syrian desert with whole beehive villages in Aleppo and are used for storage as well as housing.
It is believed that the conical homes continue to be built in areas of Syria as there are no alternative building materials available which were better suited to the environment. Beehive homes are built using mud bricks which are stacked in a conical shape which allows hot air to travel upwards allowing the ground floor where the residents live to stay cool."
Beehive green architecture. Syria. By James Gordon

From Arwa Aburawa's post:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Contemporary Vernaculars: Places, Processes and Manifestations. Call for papers


EUROPEAN ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY NETWORK. ISVS-6 Sixth ISVS Conference
Contemporary Vernaculars: Places, Processes and Manifestations
19-21 April, 2012
Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, North Cyprus

Call for papers
The International Seminar on Vernacular Settlements (ISVS) aims to promote awareness and research on vernacular traditions by organizing seminars focused on important aspects of vernacular every two years in specifically chosen places across the globe. The last seminar, ISVS-5 held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, focused on Vernacular Futures and provided a great opportunity to explore the future of the vernacular traditions resulting in a suggestion that the survival and continuity of vernacular traditions may lie in ordinary informal buildings which are usually not regarded as vernacular.
Building upon this insight, ISVS-6 in 2012 is delighted to lead the debate on vernacular traditions of contemporary societies and their building and settlement forms which display the same characteristics of the conventionally conceptualized 'vernacular'. This does not mean that the 'historical vernacular' is out of the conference scope. Instead juxtaposition of 'historical vernacular' and the 'contemporary vernacular' is expected to be explored in such a way that the nuances of their makings, and relevance in today's world could be understood thoroughly.
Under this scope, ISVS-6 is announced on the theme Contemporary Vernaculars: Places, Processes and Manifestations to incite and welcome interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners from around the world working in the disciplines of architecture, art & architectural history, urban studies, city & regional planning, cultural studies, anthropology, sociology and environmental studies for proposing papers and meeting in North Cyprus in April 2012. ISVS-6 also expects to attract young researchers involved in postgraduate studies on contemporary vernaculars and offers a scientific platform to present and discuss their hypothesis and arguments, understandings and approaches, and methods and models with the scholars participating in the seminar.
Please note that submision of abstracts for all sessions is before 30th September, 2011.Once approved by the end October, final papers are due on 30th January 2012.
ISVS considers publication and expansion of knowledge and experiences on Vernacular traditions as one of its key objectives. With this purpose in mind, ISVS-6 has negotiated with the prestigious OPEN HOUSE INTERNATIONAL (Vol 37, No. 3 September Issue, 2012), journal to publish three selected papers which will meticulously deal with the themes of ISVS-6. Once chosen, the authors of the selected papers may have some revisions to be made upon the suggestions of journal's editorial board.
The venue of ISVS-6, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and houses different building traditions; testimony to rich living patterns and complex interactions between different Mediterranean communities and cultures over successive generations from Asia Minor, the Middle East, Africa and Europe for three millennia. Evidently, natural and built environments strongly reflect this cultural complexity of the island. As the home of several civilizations and different geographic characteristics, the vernacular architecture of Cyprus undeniably exhibits a variety of building forms and traditions. However, they are now struggling to survive under the present day circumstances as in other parts of the world in different ways and modes on which this conference will focus. The conference participants will have a unique opportunity to visit and experience for themselves some of the unique vernacular traditions, and built forms of North Cyprus in the company of those who care and cherish those traditions.
We invite you to send your abstract for a paper presentation and join us in North Cyprus in April 2012 for an enjoyable and unique opportunity to explore the vernacular of the contemporary world.
For more details and abstract submissions please visit the seminar web-page http://isvs-6.emu.edu.tr/
and send your inquiries to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hifsiye PULHAN, Conference Chair at isvs-6@emu.edu.tr

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jim Campbell en Buenos Aires: 20 años de arte electrónico

Reloj Digital. 1991. Fundación Telefónica
Low Resolution installation. 

El de Jim Campbell es un universo de complejidad cierta pero en absoluto vociferante; arte electrónico con amable rostro low tech , elaboradas reflexiones sobre la percepción humana en las que el entramado de LED, monitores y circuitos se transmuta en una delicada poética de lo mínimo.
"Muchas de mis obras parten de experimentos con la percepción. Cuando comienzo a trabajar con ellas, no siempre sé si van a funcionar como obras de arte, si lograrán generar alguna conexión con la gente", comenta el artista, de paso por Buenos Aires, donde participó de la inauguración de Tiempo estático , muestra que recorre sus últimos 20 años de trabajo y puede visitarse actualmente en el Espacio Fundación Telefónica. Además, el estadounidense, considerado un pionero en el uso expresivo de los LED, integró el jurado de la edición 2011 de los premios Mamba-Fundación Telefónica Arte y Nuevas Tecnologías.
Formado en Ingeniería Eléctrica y Matemática en el Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Campbell explora, en la instalación Marcos de referencia , el principio físico que indica que la perspectiva del mundo varía de acuerdo con la posición en que se encuentre el observador, sumergiendo a éste en el punto de vista de un? clavo.
Menos lúdica, Reloj digital , al profundizar en el registro sobre lo temporal, gana en misterio y sugerencia. La precisa articulación de dos videocámaras y un monitor de retroproyección "atrapa" al espectador -o, más bien, a su imagen ralentizada- dentro de una obra que oscila entre ofrecerse como espejo fantasmal o singular referencia a la fractura entre el tiempo de lo analógico y el de lo digital.
En el otro extremo, y debido tanto a su tamaño como a su textura visual, obras del tipo de Un fuego, una autopista y un paseo o Pelea ofrecen la fugaz ilusión de una tela de pequeño formato. Pero, en lugar de evanescentes "óleos" abstractos, se observan refinadas estructuras conformadas por LED, fruto de indagaciones sobre los efectos de la luz a partir de otra de las obsesiones de Campbell: las imágenes en baja resolución.
En esta línea, el autor parte de videos caseros (algunos son de 1950) en los que se preocupa, particularmente, por el registro del movimiento. Como el destilado de una fragancia, lo que finalmente se traduce en los LED es algo así como el grado cero de la ilusión óptica del movimiento: no hay rostros, edades, vestimentas o contexto. Sólo la huella de algo que alguna vez fue, discretamente aludida, ahora, por un conglomerado de píxeles.
Aunque más escultórica, Vista explotada insiste en las tramas lumínicas. En este caso, a partir de una impactante estructura cúbica conformada por hileras de LED suspendidos por cables. La abstracción de los juegos de luz se transforma en marca figurativa a medida que el observador se aleja de la obra. Campbell desarrolla así un paradójico dispositivo sensorial que fascina en la misma medida en que procura desmontar algo de ese efecto hipnótico para reflexionar sobre lo perceptivo como resultado de una construcción.
Una línea de trabajo tan marcada por lo temporal y los enigmas perceptivos tenía que derivar en obras relacionadas con la memoria. De eso se tratan Retrato de mi padre y Foto de mi madre , obras conmovedoras, más allá de estar inscriptas en una aséptica exploración sobre la analogía entre la memoria humana y la memoria informática.
En la primera, una foto digitalizada del padre del artista aparece y se esfuma de manera intermitente, al ritmo de los latidos de un corazón. En la segunda ocurre algo similar, pero lo que se escucha es una respiración. Imágenes y sonidos, preservados digitalmente, son capaces de evocar, capturar incluso, un instante del continuo temporal que atraviesa todo lo vivo. Pero no sin la misma cuota de carencia, parcialidad y persistente sensación de arena que se escurre entre los dedos, que irremediablemente acompaña a la memoria humana.
"¿Qué queda de la memoria, sin un relato que la sostenga?", parecen preguntar estos objetos. "Sólo el enigma", podría pensarse que les responde la obra Nunca he leído la Biblia , en la cual la memoria es un texto bíblico, susurrado a razón de una letra por vez.


Home movies series
Powell St
East Broadway
Bus stop
Library


Tiempo estático. Jim Campbell: 20 años de arte electrónico , en Espacio Fundación Telefónica (Arenales 1540), hasta el 1 de octubre
Siga leyendo la nota de Diana Fernández Irusta:
Visite la página web de Jim Campbell

Friday, August 26, 2011

Muta-Morphosis: cityscapes´ collages


¨Our cities change everyday, in ways which probably escape our notice until it’s too late. Driven by temporary gain, or, conversely, a false inherited nobility, we choose to excise parts of the city while preserving others. At the time of our choosing, the selection may have revealed itself in the most logical and positive terms, but further down the trajectory of time, those terms mutate or disappear altogether, replaced by a fabricated, that is, more digestible history. The parts of a city which do manage to survive must always be willing and able to undergo further adaptation. Architect/photographer Murat Germen documents the natural selection of cities and builds on their fragments, creating imaginative, unwieldy cityscapes.¨
Excerpt from the post by Samuel Medina.
Keep on reading:


Thursday, August 25, 2011

William Morris and his work in the Oxford Union Debating Chamber

William Morris. Design of ¨Tulip and Willow¨. 1873. From http://www.artyfactory.com/

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement. He founded a design firm in partnership with the artist Edward Burne-Jones, and the poet and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti which profoundly influenced the decoration of churches and houses into the early 20th century. As an author, illustrator and medievalist, he is considered an important writer of the British Romantic movement, helping to establish the modern fantasy genre; and a direct influence on postwar authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien. He was also a major contributor to reviving traditional textile arts and methods of production, and one of the founders of the SPAB, now a statutory element in the preservation of historic buildings in the UK. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Morris)
The following pictures were downloaded from google images and are examples of some of Morris´ designs:




Tiles by William Morris
Trellis wall paper


Panel rug

In 1857, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Morris, with Arthur Hughes and three companions, were allowed to paint the upper reaches of the walls of the Oxford Union Debating Chamber. A gallery runs round the oval room the walls above it pierced with windows that form ten bays. The friends filled seven of these before the enterprise was brought to a standstill by temperament and misunderstanding. William Morris pained a picture of Tristam and La Belle Isoude, whose foreground was filled with sunflowers (...)

The Recognition of Tristam by La Belle Isoude. By William Morris. Angelfire.com
Tristam and Isolde at King Arthur´s court. Angelfire.com

(...) while he was painting the walls of the Union, he felt the need of armour to copy and he had a helmet and a coat of ringed mail forged for him (...) Burne-Jones said the mail was very heavy to lift, but once one had put it on, the weight was balanced and not uncomfortable.
When Coventry Patmore saw the paintings in the bays, he wrote in The Saturday Review that the colour was ¨so brilliant, as to make the walls look like the margins of an illuminated manuscript¨. It reads like some dire allegory that the paintings rapidly crumbled and all but disappeared. The walls were unplastered brick and the young men, with a lack of craftsmanship of which Morris, for one, would have been incapable in after years, had not prepared the surface to take the paint; they had only whitewashed it. Today faint ghosts of Arthurian legend glimmer, almost indecipherable on a background murky and dim; but Morris´ absorbing interest in the craft of the Middle Ages, and in the matter of Arthur, took a more enduring form. 
In 1858 when he was twenty-four he produced The Defence of Guinevere and Other Poems. Of these, the most valuable are perhaps those which give the reader the benefit of Morris´s visual imagination; applied in a medieval idiom, which found immortal expression in his wallpapers with designs of sunflowers and pomegranates, his spare, beautiful furniture, the swatches of silk dyed by himself, scarlet, amethyst and gold with red lights in it.
REFERENCE:
The Mystery of King Arthur. By Elizabeth Jenkins. Chapter The Pre-Raphaelites, Tennyson, ourselves. P. 198-9

Oxford Union Debating Chamber. From http://oxfordunion.clients.squiz.co.uk/
Sir Pelleas leaving the Lady Ettarde by Valentine Prinsephttp://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/
William Morris by George Frederic Watts. 1870
Read more about Morris´ work inside the Oxford Union:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The 43rd Annual Conference of the Environmental Design Research Association. Call for papers

Solar panels. From moneymakinggreenenergy.com

EMERGENT PLACEMAKING
The Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) is an international, interdisciplinary organization founded in 1968 by design professionals, social scientists, students, educators, and facility managers. The purpose of EDRA is the advancement and dissemination of environmental design research, thereby improving understanding of the interrelationships between people, their built and natural surroundings, and helping to create environments responsive to human needs.
EDRA has released a detailed call for submissions to EDRA43 Seattle May 30-June 2, 2012 at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel. Click here to view the Call for Proposals, or read more below. Conference registration information will be available in Fall 2011.
Submission Types
There are a number of session types at EDRA43Seattle. Please read the descriptions carefully to determine which type is most appropriate and what information is necessary for submission. Many sessions will be submitted by EDRA for continuing education credits from such organizations as AIA CES, LA CES, APA CM and IDCEC, therefore additional information such as learning objectives and author biographies may be required upon submission.
All sessions have a September 23, 2011 deadline for submission of paper or abstract, except for Display Posters, which have a deadline of December 2, 2011.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ArchNet: Middle Ground / Middle East: Religious Sites in Urban Contexts

Omar ibn al-Khattab Mosque, Dawmat al-Jandal, Saudi Arabia. Photographer: David W. Tschanz. 1998


ArchNet is pleased to announce the video recordings of the Yale School of Architecture symposium "Middle Ground / Middle East: Religious Sites in Urban Contexts" in the Digital Library. Focused on the role of religious sites representing the three Abrahamic traditions in shaping contemporary urban environments in the Middle East, the symposium addressed questions such as:
how has the persistence of religious conviction forced us to broaden our understanding of urban space in relation to social identity? how do religious sites today engage contemporary concerns regarding urban regeneration, economic growth, and cultural heritage within the region?
Recognizing that sacred buildings and sites are often representative of division, the symposium instead emphasized the importance of religious sites as an expression of a layering of religious traditions, inter-faith relationships, and long practices of learning and tolerance.
Each of the five symposium sessions is available in high and low resolution and features talks by architects active in the design of sacred sites with responses by scholars. Follow the link:

Monday, August 22, 2011

EAHN European Architectural History Network. Call for papers


Andrea Longhi (Politécnico di Torino, Italy) and Esteban Fernández Cobián (Universidade da Coruña, Spain) are chairing a session on "Worship, Liturgical Space and Church Building" at EAHN Second International Meeting (European Architectural History Network) in Brussels (in early June 2012). The call for papers is available here (deadline 30 Sep 2011).
The time has come for scholars who share research and teaching objectives in architectural history to gather at a single pan-European meeting. In accordance with the EAHN mission statement, this meeting proposes to increase the visibility of the discipline, to foster transnational, interdisciplinary and multicultural approaches to the study of the built environment, and to facilitate the exchange of research results in the field. In 2010, the first EAHN conference was successfully held in Guimarães, Portugal. The second EAHN-conference will take place from May 31st to June 3rd in Brussels, in a distinguished historical venue; the Palais des Académies. Though the scope of the meeting is European, members of the larger scholarly community are invited to submit proposals related not only to Europe’s geographical framework, but also to its transcontinental aspects.
The main purpose of the meeting is to map the general state of research in disciplines related to the built environment, to promote discussion of current themes and concerns, and to foster new directions for research in the field.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The truth about toilettes

Museum of decorated toilettes. From Idelisto.com


Continuing with the previous post about Italo Calvino´s story Wind in the City, there´s another part of it that made me remember a wealthy architect in Buenos Aires, who is -or was, I don´t know now- a collector of antiques. One day, we were to a Faculty´s party at his house and was astonished to see that he also had a collection of toilettes. Nice porcelains, painted in blue, delicate flowers, different models, but toilets.
Here, a funny thought from Italo Calvino´s story:

Broken toilettes. From apartmenttherapy.com
Hand painted toilettes. From adoox.com.mx
Decorated Toilet. This is the type I´ve seen in the collectors´ house.From imueblesdecoracion.com
Another toilet with delicate decoration. From tias.com

I live in a rented room on the fifth floor; beneath my window the trams roll in the narrow street day and night, as if rattling headlong across my room; night–time, trams far away shriek like owls. The landlady’s daughter is a secretary, fat and hysterical: one day she smashed a plate of peas in the passageway and shut herself in her room screaming. The toilet looks out on the courtyard; it’s at the end of a narrow corridor, a cave almost, its walls damp and green and mouldy: maybe stalactites will form. Beyond the bars on the window the courtyard is one of those Turin courtyards trapped under layers of decay with iron balcony railings you can’t lean on without getting rust all over you. One above the other, the protruding cages of the toilets make a sort of tower: toilets with mould–soft walls, marshy at the bottom.
And I think of my own house high above the sea amid the palm trees, my own house so different from all other houses. And the first difference that comes to mind is the number of toilets it had, toilets of every variety: in bathrooms gleaming with white tiles, in gloomy cubby–holes, Turkish toilets, ancient water–closets with blue friezes fabling round the bowls.
Remembering all this I was wandering round the city smelling the wind. When I go and run into a girl I know: Ada Ida. (....)
I  don’t know how she does it, Ada Ida, how any of them do it, all those men and women who manage to be intimate with everybody, who find something to say to everybody, who get involved in other people’s affairs and let them get involved in theirs. I say: ‘I’m in a room on the fifth floor with the trams like owls at night. The toilet is green with mould, with moss and stalactites, and a winter fog like over a marsh. I think up to a point people’s characters depend on the toilets they have to shut themselves up in every day. You get home from the office and you find the toilet green with mould, marshy: so you smash a plate of peas in the passage and you shut yourself in your room and scream.’
I haven’t been very clear, this isn’t really how I had thought of it, Ada Ida certainly won’t understand, but before my thoughts can turn into spoken words they have to go through an empty space and they come out false.
‘I do more cleaning in the toilet than anywhere else in the house,’ she says, ‘every day I wash the floor; I polish everything. Every week I put a clean curtain on the window, white, with embroidery, and every year I have the walls repainted. I feel if I stopped cleaning the toilet one day it would be a bad sign, and I’d let myself go more and more till I was desperate. It’s a small dark toilet, but I keep it like a church. I wonder what kind of toilet the managing director of Fiat has. Come on, walk with me a bit, till the tram.’
The great thing about Ada Ida is that she accepts everything you say, nothing surprises her, any subject you bring up, she’ll go on with it, as if it had been her idea in the first place. And she wants me to walk with her as far as the tram.
‘Okay, I’ll come,’ I tell her. ‘So, the managing director of Fiat had them build him a toilet that was a big lounge with columns and drapes and carpets, aquariums in the walls. And big mirrors all round reflecting his body a thousand times. And the John had arms and a back to lean on and it was high as a throne; it even had a canopy over it. And the chain for flushing played a really delightful carillon. But the managing director of Fiat couldn’t move his bowels. He felt intimidated by all those carpets and aquariums. The mirrors reflected his body a thousand times while he sat on that John, high as a throne. And the managing director of Fiat felt nostalgic for the toilet in his childhood home, with sawdust on the floor and sheets of newspaper skewered on a nail. And so he died: intestinal infection after months without moving his bowels.’

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A city's memory through the wind

Portsmouth flood. From metro.co.UK

Too much has been said about cities and memories. But to relate them to weather's memories, it's not common. Though, I'm always missing my beautiful Buenos Aires and every time I think of it, I remember terrible cold and hot days, huge storms and even snow there was a few years ago.
This story by Italo Calvino, author of the great book The Invisible Cities made me think about it. Its name is Wind in a City, from the book Dark Numbers. Here, my favorite part, enjoy!:

Storm in Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, 2010. Posted by Sebastián López Sánchez. Flickr.com

Something, but I couldn’t understand what. People walking along level streets as if they were going uphill or down, lips and nostrils twitching like gills, then houses and doors in flight and the street corners sharper than usual. It was the wind: later on I realized.
Turin is a windless city. The streets are canals of motionless air fading into infinity like screaming sirens: motionless air, glassy with frost or soft with haze, stirred only by the trams skimming by on their rails. For months I forget there is such a thing as wind; all that’s left is a vague need.
But all it takes is for a gust rising from the bottom of a street one day, rising and coming to meet me, and I remember my windblown village beside the sea, the houses ranged above and below each other, and the wind in the middle going up and down, and streets of steps and cobbles, and slashes of blue windy sky above the alleyways. And home with the shutters banging, the palm trees groaning at the windows, and my father’s voice shouting on the hilltop.
I’m like that, a wind man, who needs friction and headway when he’s walking, needs suddenly to shout and bite the air when he’s speaking. When the wind lifts in town, spreading from suburb to suburb in tongues of colourless flame, the town opens up before me like a book, it’s as though I could recognize everybody I see, I feel like yelling, ‘Hey there!’ to the girls, the cyclists, like shouting out what I’m thinking, waving my hands.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A new style for a Victorian rail


Since the station's entrance was tacked on to it in 1972, King's Cross in London has presented travellers with an oppressive black canopy and a vile scrum-space of a concourse. It may be in keeping with the area's grotty reputation, but it hardly fills passengers with hope or joy. That will soon change, however, with the unveiling of the station's new western concourse.
Designed by John McAslan + Partners, its 140-metre wide canopy is Europe's largest single-span station structure, a fine fusion of architecture and engineering, on the part of Arup, that barely touches the Grade I-listed western façade of the 159-year-old station. This is unquestionably the most innovative piece of British transport architecture since Stansted airport in 1991, and Waterloo's Eurostar terminal in 1993.


Text and pictures from: The Independent. Architecture

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

World Trade Center Overview: Progress made

World Trade Center Overview. Progress made
As the tenth anniversary of the 9.11.01 tragedy fast approaches, progress on the World Trade Center site ramps up. Site security and coordinating the many projects and stakeholders are daily challenges

Monday, August 15, 2011

The ceremony of tea and Taian teahouse

Taian Teahouse. From columbia.edu.The original Taian was built between 1582 and 1583, over 400 years ago. Recently, Nakamura Toshinori reconstructed the Taian at the Daitokuji Temple. The Taian was reconstructed according to an account left by Sen no Rikyu’s disciple, Yamanoue Sojiki.  Taian was originally built within Hideyoshi’s castle in Yamazaki. 
Taian Teahouse, isometric view. From columbia.edu
Tokonoma of the Taian Teahouse. From columbia.edu

The Japanese tea ceremony involves the ritual preparation, serving, and drinking of green tea. The fundamental practices begin in China, but they developed in Japan to a much higher degree of sophistication, peaking in the Momoyama period. Simple forms of the ceremony tea started in Japan in Zen temples as a symbolic withdrawal from the ordinary world to cultivate the mind and spirit. The practices spread to other social groups, especially samurai and, by the late 16th century, wealthy merchants. Until the late Muromachi period, grand tea ceremonies in warrior residences served primarily as an excuse to display treasured collections of Chinese objects, such as porcelains, lacquers, and paintings.
Initially, the Japanese held tea ceremonies in a room or section of a house. As the popularity of the ceremonies increased, freestanding teahouses became common. The ceremony involves the sequence of rituals in which both host and guests participate. The host’s responsibilities include serving the guests; selecting special utensils, such as water jars and tea bolws; and determining the tearoom’s decoration, which changes according to occasion and season. Aknowledged as having superior aesthetic sensibilities, individuals recognized as master tea ceremony practitioners (tea masters) advise patrons on the ceremony and acquire students. Tea masters even direct or influence the design of tea houses and of tearooms within larger structures (including in teriors and gardens) as well as the design of utensils. They often make simple bamboo implements and occasionally even ceramic vessels.
From: Gardner´s Art Through the Ages: Non Western Perspectives.  By Fred S. Kleiner, Christin J. Mamiya.

Tea ceremony water jar. Momoyama period, late 16th Century. From Gardner´s art through the ages.
The Taian teahouse, one of only three in Japan designated as National Treasures, is the oldest in Japan. Said to be the creation of Sen no Rikyu, the interior of the tea room measures two tatami mats in size. http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/en/theme/sites/traditional_buil/myokian/

Read about Taian Tea house, the most ancient one:

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