Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The booming of Hanoi´s ancient quarters

Pattern of Hanoi´s tube houses. Picture from García Lamarca´s post.
Hanoi´s street. Picture from García Lamarca´s post.

I´m sharing an interesting post at Polis by Melissa García Lamarca:
¨Hanoi’s “36 Streets” or Ancient Quarter, an area that has existed since the city was founded in A.D. 1010. Originally the center of supply for Vietnamese rulers in the Imperial City and a residential area for “commoners,” the area emerged as an important trade and craft center in the early 13th century. This was due to its privileged location nestled between the country’s seat of power, the old citadel destroyed by French colonizers, and the Red River, whose flow provided an important connection to nearby regions.
The urban morphology and function of the Ancient Quarter has, remarkably, remained largely intact throughout Vietnam’s more recent history of French colonization and decades of war. Its "spaghetti" street pattern remains from the 15th century, when trade streets emerged that specialized in a particular craft or good, still reflected in street names today. Constant division of properties over the centuries led to the creation of the Quarter’s characteristic "tube" or "tunnel" houses, providing live-work spaces for the residents of the area.(...)
Since the late 1980s, the Ancient Quarter has undergone a massive entrepreneurial boom. A high proportion of the local population has benefited, as they have transformed their "tube" house living quarters into shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels. There is a thriving pavement economy, with street hawkers — overwhelmingly women — commuting in daily from the countryside to sell vegetables and other goods. Foreign tourism is also booming.¨

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

An artificial glacier in Mongolia´s capital for air conditioning

Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. Photograph: Doug Kanter/Getty Images

¨Mongolia is to launch one of the world's biggest ice-making experiments later this month in an attempt to combat the adverse affects of global warming and the urban heat island effect.
The geoengineering trial, that is being funded by the Ulan Bator government, aims to "store" freezing winter temperatures in a giant block of ice that will help to cool and water the city as it slowly melts during the summer.
The scientists behind the 1bn tugrik (£460,000) project hope the process will reduce energy demand from air conditioners and regulate drinking water and irrigation supplies. If successful, the model could be applied to other cities in the far north.
The project aims to artificially create "naleds" - ultra-thick slabs of ice that occur naturally in far northern climes when rivers or springs push through cracks in the surface to seep outwards during the day and then add an extra layer of ice during the night. Unlike regular ice formation on lakes - which only gets to a metre in thickness before it insulates the water below - naleds continue expanding for as long as there is enough water pressure to penetrate the surface. Many are more than seven metres thick, which means they melt much later than regular ice.
A Mongolian engineering firm ECOS & EMI will try to recreate this process by drilling bore holes into the ice that has started to form on the Tuul river. The water will be discharged across the surface, where it will freeze. This process - effectively adding layers of ice rinks - will be repeated at regular intervals throughout the winter.
The qualities of naleds (also known as Aufeis, German for "ice on top") have been known for hundreds of years. The North Korean military used them to build river crossings for tanks during the winter and Russia has used them as drilling platforms. But engineers usually see them in negative terms as a threat to railways and bridges.¨
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Disertación del arq. Clorindo Testa con complicaciones

Arq. Clorindo Testa en la UNLP. Foto UNLP

No es la primera vez que suceden rencillas serias en el Centro de Estudiantes, del que nunca participé, bajo ningún partido político. Mis soportes a la FADU fueron trabajar como docente gratis (Ad honorem) por un tiempo, hasta ser rentada con un sueldo que no se puede ni mencionar (al que hay que descontar estacionamiento, gastos varios, viáticos, etc) y aún sigo siendo investigadora Ad Honorem, pero lo hago con mucho cariño.
Mi esposo, el arq. Luis Makianich, también dió clases Ad Honorem y cursos de ArchiCad para los alumnos, gratuitos, con las computadoras del Centro de Estudiantes, hasta que ellos mismos, en estas rencillas políticas nos las quitaron, es decir, no se las llevaron, sencillamente no permitieron que los alumnos de nuestra cátedra las usaran, por supuesto todos los profesores teníamos computadoras en casa.
Sigo avergonzándome de su comportamiento, tanto en La Plata como en la UBA, y puedo entender que no son todos culpables, algunos se acercan al Centro con buenas intenciones. Del diario La Nación, transcribo un párrafo sobre el escándalo por la disertación del arquitecto Clorindo Testa, quien no se merece semejante actitud, menos aún considerando su prestigio y edad avanzada.
Dejo el link para que sigan leyendo y saquen sus propias conclusiones:

¨Y finalmente Clorindo Testa, uno de los más prestigiosos arquitectos del país, pudo brindar su conferencia académica en la Facultad de Aquitectura y Urbanismo de la Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP), tras la controversia desatada entre las autoridades de esa unidad académica y la municipalidad de La Plata.
Sucedió que la conferencia de Clorindo Testa, con el título de Clorindo x Clorindo, estaba prevista a comienzo de este mes. A último momento, fue suspendida por el decano Gustavo Azpiazu porque en plenas elecciones estudiantiles Franja Morada y una agrupación kirchnerista se disputaban la exclusividad de la charla del arquitecto.
La iniciativa había surgido desde la Municipalidad de La Plata, por medio de la Dirección de Articulación Ciudadana, y fue propuesta a las autoridades de la facultad. Antes de que estallara la disputa estudiantil, la intención de la comuna era reconocer la trayectoria de Testa. Por eso, el intendente Pablo Bruera (FPV) iba a entregarle un diploma como ciudadano ilustre.
Si bien las elecciones estudiantiles pasaron, ayer se percibía un clima tenso en la facultad. La charla había sido anunciada a las 10.30 pero comenzó a las 10. Esto indignó a Bruera, que había ido a la facultad a entregarle el diploma.¨

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A fractal as a concept of an urban intervention

This is a fractal I´ve generated myself and it´s not a real urban intervention. But, while I was making zoom, I´ve seen they show the concept of the influence of an urban intervention.
Let´s suppose it´s an important huge building or a recreation area, shopping mall, whatever. All the blocks around will be directly affected and the influence will spread through the urban tissue.
Depending on the scale, maybe the intervention is smaller, but we shall always see the changes in the city.
Creative Commons License
A fractal as a concept of an urban intervention by Myriam B. Mahiques is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is GeoDesign?

Image from University of Redlands

Shannon McElvaney at ESRI is working on a book on GeoDesign -- a growing movement of academics, community planning and development practitioners, ecosystem managers, and geospatial tool developers interested in the nexus between geography, design, planning, ecosystem management and community decision making. (....)GeoDesign is about decisions connected to place. It’s about context sensitive process, perspective, action, and implementation – nature and nurture integrated. The interplay of the two words offers a framework and paradigm for decision making. Geo can be as simple as 2 coordinates pinpointing location or as complex as the geological, biological, social, economic, and built elements associated with a park, city block, neighborhood, town, region, or watershed. Because the word Geo is often associated with the earth and its natural components – natural systems are given appropriate prominence in GeoDesign decision making. Design adds intention to decisions. It can lead to art, economic strategies, building construction, environmental mediation, or conservation priorities to name a few. It can be a single event but is more often an iterative process of continuous improvement. The GeoDesign movement represents a broad range of professionals interested in making the world a better place with belief that location-based decision making provides a valuable framework tackling a wide range of challenges.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A description of the arabesques in the walls of the Alhambra. By Edmondo de Amicis

Alhambra palace with arabesques in walls.

" We entered the tower called the Tower of Comares, or vulgarly, of the Ambassadors.
The interior of the tower forms two halls; the first is called the Hall of the Boat: some persons say because it is shaped like a boat; others, because it was called by the Arabs Hall of the Baraka, or benediction, a word which the 81 ignorant have corrupted into that of boat (barca). This hall does not seem of human workmanship; it is nothing but a stupendous interlacing of embroideries in the form of garlands, rose-work, branches, and leaves that cover the ceiling, the arches, the walls, on all sides, and in every way, crowded together, twisted, in net-work, one upon another, and combined in such a manner that they are all seen in a single glance and present an astonishing magnificence and an enchanting grace. I went up to one of the walls, I fastened my gaze at the beginning of an arabesque and tried to follow its twistings and windings: impossible ! the eye loses itself, the mind becomes confused, and all the arabesques from the pavement to the ceiling seem to move and commingle to make you lose the thread of their inextricable net-work. You may make an effort not to look around you, concentrate your attention upon one little place of the wall, put your very nose in it, and trace the design with your finger: it is useless; in one minute the patterns become involved, a veil spreads between the wall and yourself, and your arm falls. The wall seems to you to be woven like a textile, crinkled like brocade, of open-work like lace, and veined like a leaf; you cannot look at it closely, you cannot fix the design in your mind, — that would be like counting the ants in an ant-hill." 

Alhambra dome. From

From Romantic Castles and Palaces, As Seen and Described by Famous Writers, edited and translated by Esther Singleton; New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1901; pp. 78-88.

Friday, November 11, 2011

2nd International Congress on Ambiances. CALL FOR PAPERS

The second International Congress on Ambiances will be held under the aegis of the Ambiances International Network. The congress, organized every four years, is one of the network’s main events, an international gathering for researchers, artists and players engaged in analyzing the ambiance-related dimensions of the built environment and in the sensory construction of the contemporary world.
Many approaches are at work in the field of architectural and urban ambiance, and these multiple contributions nurture its rich diversity. The International Congress on Ambiances aims to give voice to this activity, feeding on work exploring new forms of exchange between what is designed and what is experienced, between the measured and the qualified, the projected and the tested, the material and the immaterial.
The Congress will be held for four days at the Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA), in Montreal, from 19 to 22 September 2012. It will seek to express advances in learning and new hypotheses proposed by the various disciplines and fields of activity which address the question of ambiances.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Comentarios acerca del derrumbe del edificio de la calle Mitre al 1200, Buenos Aires

Edificio colapsado en la calle Mitre al 1200, ciudad de Buenos Aires. Foto de
Foto de

Estoy siguiendo consternada las noticias sobre el colapso del edificio de la calle Mitre al 1200 en Buenos Aires, y recuerdo cuando hace varios años cayó un balcón en Capital y fue una gran noticia: los hierros estaban mal ubicados. Pero en estos últimos años, cada vez es peor, aún está presente el caso del gimnasio derrumbado en Urquiza, y hoy leo sobre el juicio a un arquitecto a quien lo acusan de mezclar basura en el hormigón de las columnas.
Me he tentado a comentar en el diario pero, he visto que mucha gente acusa sin conocer cómo son los procesos. Si bien hace varios años ya que no trabajo en mi país, puedo dar fe de los procesos clásicos de supervisión-dirección de obra, en los cuales, no siempre se presenta el inspector de la Municipalidad, por no decir que nunca, a no ser que venga a pedir ¨coimas¨ por alguna razón, las que tengo el orgullo de no haber pagado nunca, ni siquiera para conseguir entradas para recitales.
Una torre así se calcula con ingenieros estructuralistas, y los cálculos deben ser aprobados por el inspector de la Ciudad al que se le haya asignado el proyecto.
Difícilmente se pueda esperar un margen de error cuando los cálculos son hechos con softwares, debiera ser un error mayor, para que cualquiera de los profesionales intervinientes lo note por experiencia, a simple vista.
Que existan vicios de obra (como agregar basura a las bases, cambio de hierros, etc) podría pasar, generalmente por obreros malintencionados o constructores irresponsables, pero siempre debe haber una supervisión de la estructura ANTES del llenado. 
En un edificio en construcción, intervienen los siguientes profesionales: el jefe de obra de la empresa constructora, el arquitecto e ingenieros que firman, el inspector de la Ciudad. El propietario está representado por el arquitecto y lo bueno del sistema es que está confrontado por otros profesionales ajenos al propietario. Cabe aclarar que no siempre el arquitecto que firma el proyecto es el que firma la dirección de obra, que se paga aparte.
Cada día, cada parte, anota en cuadernos por triplicado lo sucedido, los pedidos, sugerencias, conclusiones, reuniones, descargos, etc, es decir, como los diarios de a bordo, los hechos e inspecciones visuales deben quedar registrados por escrito.

Fisura lateral, edificio Mitre al 1200. Foto de

Realmente me extraña que a todos se les haya pasado un problema que, según la foto de la gran fisura lateral, da la impresión que han cedido las bases.
Uno de los lectores de La Nación, preguntaba, de qué universidad es el arquitecto? A tantas preguntas ridículas, respondo que la justicia, a través de los peritos, determinará las culpabilidades y grados de responsabilidad, mas espero que estos tristes ejemplos ayuden a sanear la corrupción entre los inspectores de la ciudad.

NOTA al 12 de noviembre, 2011: Estas noticias las leo en los diarios argentinos on line. Hoy me entero que el derrumbe podría haber sido ocasionado por la construcción de un edificio lindero. Porque éste ya estaba construído hace años. Entiendo que los periodistas van publicando información sin conocer bien los hechos, induciendo a la gente a opinar en contra de los profesionales y la empresa constructora de este edificio que no debiera haber caído. Sea como fuere, mi intención es explicar procesos de obra relacionados con responsabilidades.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A controversial house design by Zaha Hadid in La Jolla, San Diego

I live close to La Jolla, maybe 2 hrs trip. This is a beautiful coastal city in San Diego, and its architectural style is like any other city in California, Spanish and post modern emulating Spanish. Most valuable for me is the landscape, the architecture is not interesting, from my point of view. With some exceptions, like The Salk Institute by Louis Kahn. So, it´s curious for me that the City Council has approved the request of a house design by Zaha Hadid, an enormous one, and we´ll see what happens next with the neighbors´ opposition. This is true that many decisions from the City Council are based on politics.

Salk Institute by Louis Kahn. La Jolla, California. Picture by Jim Harper

Despite strident appeals from some neighbors, it looks like Zaha Hadid is coming to San Diego.
The city’s planning commission on October 20 approved a request to have Hadid and San Diego firm Public demolish an existing house on 8490 Whale Watch Way in La Jolla and replace it with a 12,700 square foot residence with four bedrooms, six bathrooms, and an indoor pool.
The project, which has been described by the firm as an “introverted sculptural structure,” displays Hadid’s trademark focus on elegant plasticity. Sitting on a tight half-acre site, its roofline will curve up like the prow of a ship, making it easily identifiable and marking the boundary between inside and outside. Hadid’s office has posted renderings of the project on its web site while London-based Rove Gallery has posted an artwork by Hadid called “La Jolla Residence.” (...)The La Jolla Community Planning Association would not comment on whether it planned another appeal, but if that were to happen the next step for the project would be approval by city council, an environment that Public Brown admits is much more challenging. “There’s nothing about city council with a design attitude,” said Brown. “It’s 100 percent politics.”

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The pictures of Zaha Hadid´s project have been downloaded from the article at

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fallecimiento del arq. Mario Roberto Álvarez

El arq. Mario R. Álvarez junto a Clorindo Testa, Daniel Silberfaden y Enrique Pichon Riviere, 2008
Edificio IBM, Retiro, Buenos Aires
Hotel Hilton, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires

Con gran tristeza la SCA informa que el 5 de noviembre falleció el arquitecto Mario Roberto Álvarez, decano de nuestra matrícula y en actividad hasta el presente.
El Arq. Álvarez, socio vitalicio de la entidad, recibió en 2008 el Premio Trayectoria SCA-Batimat Expovivienda (en forma conjunta con el Arq. Clorindo Testa) en su primera edición, como reconocimiento a su trayectoria de excelencia en la arquitectura y como profesional.
Nacido en Buenos Aires el 14 de noviembre de 1913, egresado con Medalla de Oro del Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires y de la Facutlad de Arquitectura de la UBA en 1936, obtuvo en 1938 la beca Ader -por concurso entre los mejores promedios de los años 1935-1938, que le permitió recorrer ciento quince ciudades de Europa en un viaje de estudios que se ve reflejado en su reciente publicación del “Cuaderno de viaje”. Durante ese viaje conoció a los más importantes representantes del Movimiento Moderno del momento: Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Breuer, Neutra.
En 1939 obtuvo su primera obra por concurso: la Corporación Médica de San Martín, (---) A partir de entonces conformó su estudio, con el que siguió trabajando incansablemente.
Era Académico de Número de la Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes desde 1983, Doctor Honoris Causa de al UBA y otra universidades del país y del exterior; recibió perstigiosas distinciones como el Premio del Fondo Nacional de las Artes.
En la SCA integró en dieciocho períodos (hasta hoy) los Colegios de Jurados y Asesores en Arquitectura y Urbanismo, y ocupó la vicepresidencia de la entidad en 1961.
REFERENCIA: Sociedad Central de Arquitectos, Buenos Aires

Torre Galicia y Banco Ríos. Buenos Aires.
Torre Le Parc, Palermo, Buenos Aires. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Myth about the Palace of the Alhambra.

¨A massive gateway of Grecian architecture, built by Charles V., forming the entrance to the domains of the Alhambra. At the gate were two or three ragged, superannuated soldiers, dozing on a stone bench, while a tall, meagre l varlet,  whose rusty-brown cloak was evidently intended to conceal the ragged state of his nether garments, was lounging in the sun shine and gossiping with an ancient sentinel on duty. He joined us as we entered the gate, and oifered his services to show us the fortress.
I have a traveller s dislike to officious ciceroni, and did not altogether like the garb of the applicant.
" You are well acquainted with the place, I presume ? "
" Nobody better; in fact, sir, I am a son of the Alhambra! "

Alhambra Palace. From

" The common Spaniards have certainly a most poetical way of expressing themselves. A son of the Alhambra ! The appellation caught me at once ; the very tattered garb of my new acquaintance assumed a dignity in my eyes. It was emblematic of the fortunes of the place, and befitted the progeny of a ruin.
I put some further questions to him, and found that his title was legitimate.  His family had lived in the fortress from generation to generation ever since the time of the conquest. His name was Mateo Ximenes. "Then, perhaps," said I, "you may be a descendant from the great Cardinal Ximenes?" "God knows, seflor! It may be so. We are the oldest family in the Alhambra." There is not any Span iard, however poor, but has some claim to high pedigree. The first title of this ragged worthy, however, had completely captivated  me, so I gladly accepted the services of the "son of the Alhambra."
We now found ourselves in a deep, narrow ravine, filled with beautiful groves, with a steep avenue and various footpaths winding through it, bordered with stone seats, and ornamented with fountains. To our left, we beheld the towers of the Alhambra beetling 1 above us; to our right, on the opposite side of the ravine, we were equally dominated by rival towers on a rocky eminence. These, we were told, were the Torres Vermejos, or vermilion towers, so called from their ruddy hue. No one knows their origin. Ascending the steep and shady avenue, we arrived at the foot of a huge square Moorish tower, forming a kind of barbican, through which passed the main entrance to the fortress. Within the barbican was another group of veteran invalids, one mounting guard at the portal, while the rest, wrapped in their tattered cloaks, slept on the stone benches. This portal is called the Gate of Justice, from the tribunal held within its porch during the Moslem domination, for the immediate trial of petty causes a custom common to the Oriental nations, and occasionally alluded to in the sacred Scriptures. " Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all tliy gates, and they shall judge the people with just judgment."
The great vestibule, or porch, of the gate is formed by an immense Arabian arch, of the horseshoe form, which springs to half the height of the tower. On the keystone of this arch is engraven a gigantic hand. Within the .vestibule, on the key stone of the portal, is sculptured in like manner a gigantic key. Those who pretend to some knowledge of Mohammedan symbols, affirm that the hand is the emblem of doctrine; the five fingers designating the five principal commandments of the creed of Islam fasting , pilgrimage, alms-giving, ablution,
and war against infidels. The key, say they, is the emblem of the faith or of power; the key of Daoud or David, transmitted to the prophet. " And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open and none shall shut, and he shall shut and none shall open" (Isaiah xxii. 22). The key, we are told, was emblazoned on the standard of the Moslems in opposition to the Christian emblem of the cross, when they subdued Spain, or Andalusia. It betokened the conquering power invested  in the prophet. " He that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth ; and shutteth and no man openeth" (Rev. iii. 7).
A different explanation of these emblems, however, was given by the legitimate son of the Alhambra, and one more in unison  with the notions of the common people, who attach something of mystery and magic to every thing Moorish, and have all kind of superstitions connected with this old Moslemfortress. According to Mateo, it was a tradition handed down from the oldest inhabitants, and which he had from his father and grandfather, that the hand and key were magical devices on which the fate of the Alhambra depended. The Moorish king who built it was a great magician, or, as some believed, had sold himself to the devil, and had laid the whole fortress under a magic spell. By this means it had remained standing for several hundred years, in defiance of storms and earthquakes, while almost all other buildings of the Moors had fallen to ruin, and disappeared. This spell, the tradition went on to say, would last until the hand on the outer arch should reach down and grasp the key, when the whole pile would tumble to pieces, and all the treasures buried beneath it by the Moors would be revealed." 

Aerial view of The Alhambra and the Palace of Charles V in Granada,

Tales of the Alhambra. Washington Irving. New York, 1901

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pruitt Igoe today

Pruitt Igoe collapse series. From Source U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

For whoever has learnt about the implosion of Pruitt Igoe, this post from will help to figure out what has become of the land. I´ve forgotten about it, and never thought what had become of this doomed place.
¨Pruitt–Igoe was a large urban housing project first occupied in 1954 and completed in 1956 in the U.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly after its completion, living conditions in Pruitt–Igoe began a qualitative decline; by the late 1960s, the extreme poverty, crime, and segregation brought the complex a great deal of infamy as it was covered extensively by the international press. The complex was designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center towers and the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport main terminal.
At 3 PM on March 16, 1972 – 16 years after construction was finished – the first of the complex's 33 buildings was demolished by the federal government.¨ 
Charles Jencks defines the event as the death of Modernism.
Now, it´s landscape with a few memories of the buildings.

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