Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Monday, July 30, 2012

Liturgy and Sacred Space Architecture for Divine Worship in the 21st Century

Liturgy and Sacred Space Architecture for Divine Worship in the 21st Century Tiltenberg, November 5-6, 2012
 Preliminary program (July 12, 2012)

The conference is held under the auspices of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Art in the US Open in Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach

¨With the US Open of Surfing opening tomorrow in sunny Southern California, Push was commissioned to paint some murals for Converse. This piece was painted at Livery Design Gruppe in Huntington Beach featuring some of the MSK-affiliated writer’s signature patterns and colors. Check out a photo set of the walls below as well as some in-progress shots. Photo credit: James Ng for Arrested Motion.¨

Yesterday I was passing by the  US Open in our way to Laguna Beach. Too much people, but it´s a real urban feast. I took these pictures at approx. 4.30 PM at the corner of Main St, Huntington Beach

Then, in Laguna Beach, I´ve seen the guerrilla knitting (also called yarn bombing) on two trees at the Main Beach Park, and I was wondering if it was the work of Magda Sayeg. But no, I´ve been researching and here is the permit for the temporary installation by Twisted Stitchers:

The Laguna Beach Independent says that this wrapping is an ¨unusual venue¨. It seems to me that the article´s author doesn´t know too much about the subject. I think it´s a mere copy of the mere copy .... of the works of Magda Sayeg. Read the note here:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Massive crocheted alligator in Sao Paulo

After looking at the pictures of Magda Sayeg´s urban guerrilla, with her knitting in urban spaces, I´m wondering who was first with the idea. 
Anyway this is not urban guerrilla, this is Art or, landscape art. The pictures posted here have been downloaded from MSN (worst of all, they don´t mention the author, not even the place) and Inhabitat, from where I also took this excerpt:
With the help of a team of “crocheteiros,” Olek completely covered the massive alligator in colorful yarn and ribbons. Kids can climb in, through and on top of the brightly-colored alligator, which loses some of its intimidation with that blanket of pink yarn. The crocheted alligator is part of the SESC Arts Show 2012, a non-profit arts show across several venues that runs from July 19 to 29 in São Paulo.
The Polish-born artist has been quite prolific recently, covering everything from a convertible to the bull on Wall Street in bright-colored yarn.

This is Olek´s design for an apartment in NYC, also from

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sacred Street Theater in Medieval England

Medieval Mystery Play by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton, twentieth century.
—Private Collection/© Look and Learn/ Bridgeman Art Library

Soldiers Dividing Christ’s Coat, detail of Byzantine fresco in Macedonia, fourteenth century.
Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

Doomsday, 1433. In York, after dark. A red curtain. Painted stars. Actors in hoses, wigs, and two-faced masks—some in angel wings, some with trumpets. Wooden clouds and pieces of rainbow, and an iron frame with pulleys meant to effect Christ’s movements between Heaven and Earth. a “hell mouth” billowing smoke and the smell of sulfur. Even a host of tiny puppet angels, set running about the firmament by means of rollers and a bit of twine. And in the midst of all this pomp and technology, God the Son, wearing a crown and golden mask, Holy Wounds gaping, enters from above:

This woffull worlde is brought till ende,
Mi Fadir of hevene he woll (wills that) it be;
Therfore till erthe nowe will I wende,
Miselve to sitte in magesté.
To deme my domes (issue my judgments) I woll descende,
This body will I bere with me,
Howe it was dight (put to suffering), mannes mys (man’s sins) to mende.
All mankynde there schall it see.

“Obviously,” says Clifford Davidson, “it was intended to be a big flash. Everything builds up to the Last Judgment.” That’s right: Everything. Davidson, professor of English and medieval studies emeritus at Western Michigan University (WMU), is referring to the York Corpus Christi Cycle in toto, a daylong theatrical celebration of the eucharist, held on the seventh Thursday after Easter, that almost every year, from 1377 to 1569, wound through the narrow streets of England’s then northern capital, presenting its audiences with nothing less than a staged vision of the sacred history of the world—all of it, from the pre-Creation Fall of Lucifer to the Savior’s final sifting of the faithful from faithless at the end of time. As many as forty-six plays, amounting to more than thirteen thousand lines of verse, may have preceded the performance of the Doomsday play. Together they hit most of the highlights of the Christian canon and apocrypha. There was The Creation of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, The Temptation in the Wilderness, The Coronation of the Virgin, and so on—each mounted on a wagon, known as a “pageant,” and hauled about the city, stopping at anywhere from ten to sixteen predetermined and municipally approved performance stations. According to a contemporaneous document, the entire affair began “at the mydhowre betwix iiijth and vth of the cloke in the mornyng,” and, though its exact duration is debated among scholars, it almost certainly lasted well into the night. Each individual pageant was the responsibility of one of York’s craft and trade guilds, fraternities whose members shared both a profession and a patron saint. They didn’t write the scripts—and, in fact, scholars aren’t quite sure who did—but raised money for their production, maintained the stage wagons and their trappings, and, very likely, performed many of the roles. Friends and relatives of the guild members, as well as others, including musicians and maybe even the York Minster choir, would also have lent a hand, fleshing out the cast and crew. “It was,” says Davidson, “the biggest, most expensive civic effort of the year.”

KEEP ON READING this article by James Williford for Humanities Magazine:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Society of Architectural Historians 66th Annual Conference Conference. CALL FOR PAPERS

Abstract Submission Guidelines
The Society of Architectural Historians is now accepting abstracts for papers for its 66th Annual Conference in Buffalo, NY, April 10-14, 2013. Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words no later than June 1st for one of the thematic sessions listed below. There will also be open sessions for those whose research does not match any of the themed sessions. Those submitting to the open sessions will follow the same deadline and process as those submitting to a thematic session. This is a change from previous call for papers. Only one abstract per author or co-author may be submitted. SAH is using an online abstract submission process – please do not send your abstract to the session chair’s email address as this will delay the review of your abstract or possibly void your submission. 
If submitting to a thematic session, send your CV to the appropriate session chair and the SAH office. If submitting to the open session, send your CV to the SAH office only.
Abstracts should define the subject and summarize the argument to be presented in the proposed paper. The content of that paper should be the product of well-documented original research that is primarily analytical and interpretative rather than descriptive in nature. Papers cannot have been previously published or presented in public except to a small, local audience. All abstracts will be held in confidence during the review and selection process and only the session chair and General Chair will have access to them. 

SAH Conference session topics include: early modern architecture, diasporic architecture, Buffalo in 19th and Early 20th century, architecture and the book, post-modernism revisited, conservation and restoration, and postwar architecture.

Organized by: Society of Architectural Historians

Deadline for abstracts/proposals: 1st June 2012 (passed)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Buenos Aires: un country ¨fantasma¨ en el Nordelta

Agentes de ARBA inspeccionando. Foto de

Es habitual que a veces nos llamen algunos clientes pidiendo presupuesto para un diseño de casa en México. Cuando indagamos sobre las cuestiones de código y presentación municipal, nos dicen, no, la zona es rural, nosotros nos arreglamos solamente con el albañil.
También he tenido oportunidad de ver unos planos de un local de yogur helado para Filipinas, los arquitectos me explicaron que no necesitaban pasar el filtro del departamento de Salubridad, cada cual presenta lo que quiera, generalmente proyectos standard.
Por supuesto, hay casos peores como las construcciones de países sin desarrollo, recordemos a Haití y la catástrofe de las viviendas desmoronándose en el último terremoto.
Siempre pensé que Buenos Aires, salvo por algunos casos aislados en zonas más rurales, era una ciudad-provincia más controlada. Y JAMÁS hubiera imaginado que un country, de cientos de viviendas y natatorios, se hubiera construído sin planos, sin inspecciones, sin impuestos, por supuesto.
Me pregunto si la gente no se da cuenta que una obra ilegal es como no tenerla, incluso, si se pudiera legalizar, cómo comprobar -salvo por pericias exhaustivas- los materiales ocultos empleados, serán lo suficientemente seguras estas viviendas que construídas en el Nordelta tal vez ni estudio de suelos tengan?
Una situación lamentable, en una época en que desde Google Earth, todo lo vemos. ¿Cómo puede haber pasado TANTO tiempo para que se descubra?
Vergonzoso, sin excusas.
Del diario Clarín, comparto unos párrafos y dejo el link para que lean la nota completa:

La Agencia de Recaudación de la Provincia de Buenos Aires detectó que todas las casas del country Los Alisos, ubicadas en el Complejo Nordelta, en Tigre, no estaban declaradas ante el fisco y figuraba como baldío. Se trata de 234 casas y 75 piletas de natación, comprendidas en 68.261 m2, lo que junto a otras propiedades de lujo fiscalizadas en el predio totaliza 114.721 m2 sin incorporar al fisco y una evasión de más de $1,3 millones de Impuesto Inmobiliario. El country Los Alisos cuenta con un lago interno de 7,3 hectáreas, un Club House con quincho, parrilla, 4 canchas de tenis y una cancha de fútbol 5. Con la evasión en el Impuesto Inmobiliario, los contribuyentes habían dejado de pagar $674.944, por lo que la Agencia los intimó a regularizar su situación, o si no serán incorporados de oficio y recategorizados de oficio en los próximos días. (....)
En estos controles, los fiscalizadores también hallaron sin declarar un complejo de departamentos, "Quartier Nordelta", unos 30.000 m2 que tendría que pagar en Impuesto Inmobiliario $171.790 y que estaba declarado como baldío. Por su parte, también se detectó al edificio "Loft de Bahía Grande" declarado ante el fisco como baldío. Son 10.300 m2 que tendría que pagar de impuestos $96.456 al año. Tampoco estaban declaradas las mejoras en el Hotel Intercontinental de Nordelta, un emprendimiento 5 estrellas que no incorporó 900 m2, lo que representa una evasión a la Provincia de $155.983.

Breakfast with a landscape in the sour cream can

I´m a person of light and open windows. I´m always looking through the windows while cooking, while having breakfast, sometimes without attention to whatever I see.
A client of mine told me a few days ago, ¨Myriam, when you feel sad, look through the window, enjoy nature, life is beautiful.¨
Of course, not for everybody. 
Anyway, I´ve been having the same breakfast since I was 12 years old, two wheat toasts with sour cream or cream cheese and black tea with lemon and sweetener. 
A few days ago, I opened a new can of sour cream and was delighted to see, instead of plastic, a nice print on Aluminum, a landscape from the Grand Canyon, Arizona. A small detail that enlightened my morning. ¨ENJOY 100% NATURAL BEAUTY¨

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tides of water and people. A Romantic point of view by Ebenezer Howard

Every year, upwards of 135,000 music fans camp among stages in the fields of Glastonbury, a small town in Somerset, England. The influx of people who come from all around the world for the weekend festival swells the population roughly 1,560 percent. Photo Chris Drake.

While reproducing the following words by Mr Ebenezer Howard, I take the opportunity to show some examples of temporary massive migrations, what in Fractal Urban Morphology could be associated to a dynamic system with an attractor, indeed a strange attractor.
All pictures and texts (except for the one in China) below have been downloaded from POV25

Under the reign of Saddam Hussein, openly celebrating Arba’een was illegal. Since his fall from power, hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims head to Karbala, a city south of Baghdad, to mark the religious rite. The event marks the end of a 40-day period of mourning after the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad, who was killed in the seventh century. 

In 2009, this 10-day annual festival saw 2.5 million women descend on the area near the Attukal temple in Kerala to give offerings to the Hindu goddess Bhagavathy — an incarnation of the goddesses Kali and Saraswati. What used to be a traditional smaller pilgrimage and festival, in recent years, has become the Guinness World Record holder for the largest annual gathering of women.

The fifth and final pillar of Islam is the Hajj, a pilgrimage which every able-bodied Muslim must complete once in their lifetime if they can afford it. During the month of Dhul Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, upwards of 2 million Muslim pilgrims travel to Mecca in order to take part in the rite. Photo Ali Mansuri

The annual two-month festival at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala attracts between 45 and 50 million pilgrims each year. During this time, pilgrims make their way up a hillside to enter the Sabarimala temple where the Hindu god Ayyappan is believed to have meditated. The mass of pilgrims is primarily composed of men, as women aged 10 to 50 (those of typical reproductive age) are not allowed inside the temple, due to the fact that Ayyappan was celibate in Hindu mythology.

MR EBENEZER HOWARD (Founder of the Garden City Association) said: 
 I have read and re-read—in the proof forwarded to me—Professor Geddes' wonderfully luminous and picturesque paper with much interest. He has given us a graphic description of the geographic process which leads to the development of the city. We see vividly the gradual stages by which the city grows and swells, with the descent of the population from the hillsides into the valleys, even as the river which flows through the city is fed continually by the streams which flow down to it. But is there not this essential difference between the gathering waters of heaven, as they pour into the great city, and the gathering tide of population, which follows the path of the waters? The waters flow through the city on, on toward the mighty ocean, and are then gradually gathered upward into the soft embraces of the clouds and wafted back again to the hills, whence they flow down once more to the valleys. But the living stream of men, women, and children flows from the country-side and leaves it more and more bare of active, vigorous, healthy life: it does not, like the waters, "return again to cover the earth," but moves ever on to the great city, and from thence, at least for the great majority, there is no chance of more than, at best, a very short stay in the country. No: the tide flows resistlessly onward to make more crowded our overcrowded tenements, to enlarge our overgrown cities, to cause suburb to spread beyond suburb, to submerge more and more the beautiful fields and hilly slopes which used to lie near the busy life of the people, to make the atmosphere more foul, and the task of the social reformer more and yet more difficult. But surely there must be a way, could we but discover it, of imitating the skill and bountifulness of Nature, by creating channels through which some of our population shall be attracted back to the fields; so that there shall be a stream of population pouring from the city into the country, till a healthy balance is restored, and we have solved the twin problems of rural depopulation and of the overcrowded, overgrown city.

2009 Chunyun period, ( Spring Festival Travel Season) Beijing West Railway Station,China. Photo Charlie Fong

Civics: as Applied Sociology by Patrick Geddes Read before the Sociological Society at a Meeting in the School of Economics and Political Science (University of London), Clare Market, W.C., at 5 p.m., on Monday, July 18th, 1904; the Rt. Hon. CHARLES BOOTH, F.R.S., in the Chair.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sidewalkings. By Bret Harte

The time occupied in walking to and from my business I have always found to yield me a certain mental enjoyment which no other part of the twenty-four hours could give. Perhaps the physical exercise may have acted as a gentle stimulant of the brain, but more probably the comfortable consciousness that I could not reasonably be expected to be doing anything else—to be studying or improving my mind, for instance—always gave a joyous liberty to my fancy. I once thought it necessary to employ this interval in doing sums in arithmetic,—in which useful study I was and still am lamentably deficient,—but after one or two attempts at peripatetic computation, I gave it up. I am satisfied that much enjoyment is lost to the world by this nervous anxiety to improve our leisure moments, which, like the "shining hours" of Dr. Watts, unfortunately offer the greatest facilities for idle pleasure. I feel a profound pity for those misguided beings who are still impelled to carry text-books with them in cars, omnibuses, and ferry-boats, and who generally manage to defraud themselves of those intervals of rest they most require. Nature must have her fallow moments, when she covers her exhausted fields with flowers instead of grain. Deny her this, and the next crop suffers for it. I offer this axiom as some apology for obtruding upon the reader a few of the speculations which have engaged my mind during these daily perambulations. 

 Few Californians know how to lounge gracefully. Business habits, and a deference to the custom, even with those who have no business, give an air of restless anxiety to every pedestrian. The exceptions to this rule are apt to go to the other extreme, and wear a defiant, obtrusive kind of indolence which suggests quite as much inward disquiet and unrest. The shiftless lassitude of a gambler can never be mistaken for the lounge of a gentleman. Even the brokers who loiter upon Montgomery Street at high noon are not loungers. Look at them closely and you will see a feverishness and anxiety under the mask of listlessness. They do not lounge—they lie in wait. No surer sign, I imagine, of our peculiar civilization can be found than this lack of repose in its constituent elements. You cannot keep Californians quiet even in their amusements. They dodge in and out of the theatre, opera, and lecture-room; they prefer the street cars to walking because they think they get along faster. The difference of locomotion between Broadway, New York, and Montgomery Street, San Francisco, is a comparative view of Eastern and Western civilization.

There is a habit peculiar to many walkers, which Punch, some years ago, touched upon satirically, but which seems to have survived the jester's ridicule. It is that custom of stopping friends in the street, to whom we have nothing whatever to communicate, but whom we embarrass for no other purpose than simply to show our friendship. Jones meets his friend Smith, whom he has met in nearly the same locality but a few hours before. During that interval, it is highly probable that no event of any importance to Smith, nor indeed to Jones, which by a friendly construction Jones could imagine Smith to be interested in, has occurred, or is likely to occur. Yet both gentlemen stop and shake hands earnestly. "Well, how goes it?" remarks Smith with a vague hope that something may have happened. "So so," replies the eloquent Jones, feeling intuitively the deep vacuity of his friend answering to his own. A pause ensues, in which both gentlemen regard each other with an imbecile smile and a fervent pressure of the hand. Smith draws a long breath and looks up the street; Jones sighs heavily and gazes down the street. Another pause, in which both gentlemen disengage their respective hands and glance anxiously around for some conventional avenue of escape. Finally, Smith (with a sudden assumption of having forgotten an important engagement) ejaculates, "Well, I must be off"—a remark instantly echoed by the voluble Jones, and these gentlemen separate, only to repeat their miserable formula the next day. In the above example I have compassionately shortened the usual leave-taking, which, in skilful hands, may be protracted to a length which I shudder to recall. I have sometimes, when an active participant in these atrocious transactions, lingered in the hope of saying something natural to my friend (feeling that he, too, was groping in the mazy labyrinths of his mind for a like expression), until I have felt that we ought to have been separated by a policeman. It is astonishing how far the most wretched joke will go in these emergencies, and how it will, as it were, convulsively detach the two cohering particles. I have laughed (albeit hysterically) at some witticism under cover of which I escaped, that five minutes afterward I could not perceive possessed a grain of humor. I would advise any person who may fall into this pitiable strait, that, next to getting in the way of a passing dray and being forcibly disconnected, a joke is the most efficacious. A foreign phrase often may be tried with success; I have sometimes known Au revoir pronounced "O-reveer," to have the effect (as it ought) of severing friends.

But this is a harmless habit compared to a certain reprehensible practice in which sundry feeble-minded young men indulge. I have been stopped in the street and enthusiastically accosted by some fashionable young man, who has engaged me in animated conversation, until (quite accidentally) a certain young belle would pass, whom my friend, of course, saluted. As, by a strange coincidence, this occurred several times in the course of the week, and as my young friend's conversational powers invariably flagged after the lady had passed, I am forced to believe that the deceitful young wretch actually used me as a conventional background to display the graces of his figure to the passing fair. When I detected the trick, of course I made a point of keeping my friend, by strategic movements, with his back toward the young lady, while I bowed to her myself. Since then, I understand that it is a regular custom of these callow youths to encounter each other, with simulated cordiality, some paces in front of the young lady they wish to recognize, so that she cannot possibly cut them. The corner of California and Montgomery streets is their favorite haunt. They may be easily detected by their furtive expression of eye, which betrays them even in the height of their apparent enthusiasm.

Speaking of eyes, you can generally settle the average gentility and good breeding of the people you meet in the street by the manner in which they return or evade your glance. "A gentleman," as the Autocrat has wisely said, is always "calm-eyed." There is just enough abstraction in his look to denote his individual power and the capacity for self-contemplation, while he is, nevertheless, quietly and unobtrusively observant. He does not seek, neither does he evade your observation. Snobs and prigs do the first; bashful and mean people do the second. There are some men who, on meeting your eye, immediately assume an expression quite different from the one which they previously wore, which, whether an improvement or not, suggests a disagreeable self-consciousness. Perhaps they fancy they are betraying something. There are others who return your look with unnecessary defiance, which suggests a like concealment. The symptoms of the eye are generally borne out in the figure. A man is very apt to betray his character by the manner in which he appropriates his part of the sidewalk. The man who resolutely keeps the middle of the pavement, and deliberately brushes against you, you may be certain would take the last piece of pie at the hotel table, and empty the cream-jug on its way to your cup. The man who sidles by you, keeping close to the houses, and selecting the easiest planks, manages to slip through life in some such way, and to evade its sternest duties. The awkward man, who gets in your way, and throws you back upon the man behind you, and so manages to derange the harmonious procession of an entire block, is very apt to do the same thing in political and social economy. The inquisitive man, who deliberately shortens his pace, so that he may participate in the confidence you impart to your companion, has an eye not unfamiliar to keyholes, and probably opens his wife's letters. The loud man, who talks with the intention of being overheard, is the same egotist elsewhere. If there was any justice in Iago's sneer, that there were some "so weak of soul that in their sleep they mutter their affairs," what shall be said of the walking revery-babblers? I have met men who were evidently rolling over, "like a sweet morsel under the tongue," some speech they were about to make, and others who were framing curses. I remember once that, while walking behind an apparently respectable old gentleman, he suddenly uttered the exclamation, "Well, I'm d——d!" and then quietly resumed his usual manner. Whether he had at that moment become impressed with a truly orthodox disbelief in his ultimate salvation, or whether he was simply indignant, I never could tell.

I have been hesitating for some time to speak—or if indeed to speak at all—of that lovely and critic-defying sex, whose bright eyes and voluble prattle have not been without effect in tempering the austerities of my peripatetic musing. I have been humbly thankful that I have been permitted to view their bright dresses and those charming bonnets which seem to have brought the birds and flowers of spring within the dreary limits of the town, and—I trust I shall not be deemed unkind in saying it—my pleasure was not lessened by the reflection that the display, to me at least, was inexpensive. I have walked in—and I fear occasionally on—the train of the loveliest of her sex who has preceded me. If I have sometimes wondered why two young ladies always began to talk vivaciously on the approach of any good-looking fellow; if I have wondered whether the minor-like qualities of all large show-windows at all influenced their curiosity regarding silks and calicoes; if I have ever entertained the same ungentlemanly thought concerning daguerreotype show-cases; if I have ever misinterpreted the eye-shot which has passed between two pretty women—more searching, exhaustive and sincere than any of our feeble ogles; if I have ever committed these or any other impertinences, it was only to retire beaten and discomfited, and to confess that masculine philosophy, while it soars beyond Sirius and the ring of Saturn, stops short at the steel periphery which encompasses the simplest school-girl.

Francis Bret Harte (1836-1902) was a prolific American author and poet, best remembered for his accounts of pioneering life in California.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The importance of place, tradition, education and social organisation in town evolution

All the way up. Digital art by Myriam B. Mahiques

DR. J. LIONEL TAYLER (Author of "Aspects of Social Evolution") said: 
While agreeing with Prof. Geddes in his belief in the importance of institutional and geographical studies as a basis for the investigation of the development of cities, it yet seems to me that these studies cannot prove of supreme value to society unless they are accompanied by a detailed examination of the natural characteristics of all individuals who have been born into and existed in, or merely dwelt in, these surroundings. It is not enough to trace out, however accurately, the various stages of a town's growth from its commencement to the present time, because the cause of  the evolution of any city aggregate lies deeper, is in large part animate, and not inanimate, in character. The value of the surroundings depends at least as much upon the capacity of the individual citizen, singly and collectively, to utilise what he or she is brought in contact with as upon the peculiarities of these surroundings themselves. Place, tradition, social organisation, individual development, education, are factors in town evolution that cannot safely be overlooked, and they all vary from age to age and in place and place. If it were possible to completely exchange the inhabitants of a large town in England with those of an equally large town in France two groups of changes would become more or less rapidly observable: (1) the French and English citizens would adapt themselves, as far as they desired and were able, to their altered conditions; (2) the characteristics of both towns would gradually change, in spite of geographical position, in response to the altered human needs. Similarly, a town composed of individuals who are naturally uncultured and unprogressive will tend to preserve its uncultured and unprogressive characters more than another that has alert citizens to carry on its activities. Every profession and every trade tends to foster its own social atmosphere; and towns will vary with their industrial life, and individuals favourably disposed to this atmosphere will come to the town, and those unfavourably inclined to it will leave. These changing citizens, as they act upon and react to their surroundings and vary in their powers age by age, are the real evolvers of the conditions in which they dwell; hence the citizen must not be omitted from our study if we are to understand city growth. In other words, I think that every investigation of civic, and for that matter country life should be studied from two aspects: (1) to note the peculiarities, growth and development of the material, non-living and non-thinking elements in the problem—the buildings, their geographical position, their age, their fitness for past and present life, and the distinctive local features that are evolving or retrogressing with the multiplication of some trades and industries and the decline of others in each area that is studied; (2) the change in the quality of the citizens themselves through racial, educational, and other factors, noting how far ideals are altering, not only in the mass of individuals taken as a whole, but also by examining the changing outlook in every trade and profession. With these two parallel lines of investigation to study, we could then determine how far environment—social and climatic—how far racial and individual characteristics have been powerful in the moulding of the fabric around us. With these two lines of study to our hands, we could predict the vitality, the growing power, and the future possibilities of the social life of which we are a tiny though not an insignificant part; we could, knowing something of the response that we make to that which surrounds us, form some estimate of how the future ages will develop, and, knowing the intensity of the different national desires for progress and the causes which are likely to arouse such desires, we could realise what will stimulate and what will retard all that is best in our civic life. 

Civics: as Applied Sociology by Patrick Geddes Read before the Sociological Society at a Meeting in the School of Economics and Political Science (University of London), Clare Market, W.C., at 5 p.m., on Monday, July 18th, 1904; the Rt. Hon. CHARLES BOOTH, F.R.S., in the Chair. Pages 126/127

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

From My Suburban Residence. By Francis Bret Harte

Mancha urbana en crecimiento. Pintura digital de Myriam B. Mahiques

I´ve been happily reading URBAN SKETCHES by Francis Bret Harte (1836-1902) who was an American author and poet, best remembered for his accounts of pioneering life in California.
This particular story, called My Suburban Residence made me laugh, because it reminded me my neighbor below, complaining about the front door´s slam, needless to say our front balcony is like a wind tunnel, my plants are almost dead -though I take care of them-.
And the anecdote of the hose, a relative of us told me he was photographed by the pilot of one of the City´s airplanes and was given a fine of $300: he was watering the lawn with a hose, and it means too much water, nowadays.
My neighbor was at the same business of watering and my daughter complaint, she didn´t have cold water to mix the hot water while she was taking a shower.
And I live close to the City Hall, but, after all, who cares?
Though, an old story, it could be anywhere in California today. 

I live in the suburbs. My residence, to quote the pleasing fiction of the advertisement, "is within fifteen minutes' walk of the City Hall." Why the City Hall should be considered as an eligible terminus of anybody's walk, under any circumstances, I have not been able to determine. Never having walked from my residence to that place, I am unable to verify the assertion, though I may state as a purely abstract and separate proposition, that it takes me the better part of an hour to reach Montgomery Street.

My selection of locality was a compromise between my wife's desire to go into the country, and my own predilections for civic habitation. Like most compromises, it ended in retaining the objectionable features of both propositions; I procured the inconveniences of the country without losing the discomforts of the city. I increased my distance from the butcher and green-grocer, without approximating to herds and kitchen-gardens. But I anticipate.

 Fresh air was to be the principal thing sought for. That there might be too much of this did not enter into my calculations. The first day I entered my residence, it blew; the second day was windy; the third, fresh, with a strong breeze stirring; on the fourth, it blew; on the fifth, there was a gale, which has continued to the present writing.
That the air is fresh, the above statement sufficiently establishes. That it is bracing, I argue from the fact that I find it impossible to open the shutters on the windward side of the house. That it is healthy, I am also convinced, believing that there is no other force in Nature that could so buffet and ill-use a person without serious injury to him. Let me offer an instance. The path to my door crosses a slight eminence. The unconscious visitor, a little exhausted by the ascent and the general effects of the gentle gales which he has faced in approaching my hospitable mansion, relaxes his efforts, smooths his brow, and approaches with a fascinating smile. Rash and too confident man! The wind delivers a succession of rapid blows, and he is thrown back. He staggers up again, in the language of the P. R., "smiling and confident." The wind now makes for a vulnerable point, and gets his hat in chancery. All ceremony is now thrown away; the luckless wretch seizes his hat with both hands, and charges madly at the front door. Inch by inch, the wind contests the ground; another struggle, and he stands upon the veranda. On such occasions I make it a point to open the door myself, with a calmness and serenity that shall offer a marked contrast to his feverish and excited air, and shall throw suspicion of inebriety upon him. If he be inclined to timidity and bashfulness, during the best of the evening he is all too conscious of the disarrangement of his hair and cravat. If he is less sensitive, the result is often more distressing. A valued elderly friend once called upon me after undergoing a twofold struggle with the wind and a large Newfoundland dog (which I keep for reasons hereinafter stated), and not only his hat, but his wig, had suffered. He spent the evening with me, totally unconscious of the fact that his hair presented the singular spectacle of having been parted diagonally from the right temple to the left ear. When ladies called, my wife preferred to receive them. They were generally hysterical, and often in tears. I remember, one Sunday, to have been startled by what appeared to be the balloon from Hayes Valley drifting rapidly past my conservatory, closely followed by the Newfoundland dog. I rushed to the front door, but was anticipated by my wife. A strange lady appeared at lunch, but the phenomenon remained otherwise unaccounted for. Egress from my residence is much more easy. My guests seldom "stand upon the order of their going, but go at once"; the Newfoundland dog playfully harassing their rear. I was standing one day, with my hand on the open hall door, in serious conversation with the minister of the parish, when the back door was cautiously opened. The watchful breeze seized the opportunity, and charged through the defenceless passage. The front door closed violently in the middle of a sentence, precipitating the reverend gentleman into the garden. The Newfoundland dog, with that sagacity for which his race is so distinguished, at once concluded that a personal collision had taken place between myself and visitor, and flew to my defence. The reverend gentleman never called again. (...)

Space is one of the desirable features of my suburban residence. I do not know the number of acres the grounds contain except from the inordinate quantity of hose required for irrigating. I perform daily, like some gentle shepherd, upon a quarter-inch pipe without any visible result, and have had serious thoughts of contracting with some disbanded fire company for their hose and equipments. It is quite a walk to the wood-house. Every day some new feature of the grounds is discovered. My youngest boy was one day missing for several hours. His head—a peculiarly venerable and striking object—was at last discovered just above the grass at some distance from the house. On examination he was found comfortably seated in a disused drain, in company with a silver spoon and a dead rat. On being removed from this locality he howled dismally and refused to be comforted.
The view from my suburban residence is fine. Lone Mountain, with its white obelisks, is a suggestive if not cheering termination of the vista in one direction, while the old receiving vault of Yerba Buena Cemetery limits the view in another. Most of the funerals which take place pass my house. My children, with the charming imitativeness that belongs to youth, have caught the spirit of these passing corteges, and reproduce in the back yard, with creditable skill, the salient features of the lugubrious procession. A doll, from whose features all traces of vitality and expression have been removed, represents the deceased. Yet unfortunately I have been obliged to promise them more active participation in this ceremony at some future time, and I fear that they look anxiously forward with the glowing impatience of youth to the speedy removal of some one of my circle of friends. I am told that the eldest, with the unsophisticated frankness that belongs to his age, made a personal request to that effect to one of my acquaintances. One singular result of the frequency of these funerals is the development of a critical and fastidious taste in such matters on the part of myself and family. If I may so express myself, without irreverence, we seldom turn out for anything less than six carriages. Any number over this is usually breathlessly announced by Bridget as, "Here's another, mum,—and a good long one."

 With these slight drawbacks my suburban residence is charming. To the serious poet, and writer of elegiac verses, the aspect of Nature, viewed from my veranda, is suggestive.(...)


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A video about ¨modern map making¨ in 1940

Now that we have Google Earth, we don´t even think about map making. I love old maps, when I was 9 years old, I was delighted by an Egyptian map with depictions of gods and treasures located in every point of interest; it was in the first page of a children´s archaeology book. From this map, I took the habit of copying old maps for the elementary school, in China ink. The teachers, very happy with my ¨new skill.¨
This video was posted at 

Monday, July 16, 2012

¿Se necesitan ¨impluviums¨ en Buenos Aires para lavar las veredas?

Si Ud llegó a este post es porque conoce las veredas de Buenos Aires, y seguramente muchas veces se tropezó, se mojó inesperadamente (y se manchó con barro) al pisar una baldosa floja, y tal vez muchas veces lavó la vereda con manguera, o como mi mamá hacía, con muchos baldes de agua y detergente.
Yo ayudaba a mi mamá en la tarea, que con los años, me pareció extraña. ¿Porqué sacarle lustre a la vereda?
¿Cuál es el propósito de baldear una vereda y gastar litros y litros de agua? Pues, que la basura aún sigue en la calle y entre cartoneros y perros, todo se desparrama y se llena de moscas y otros bichos; que no hay bicisendas suficientes y las veredas también se usan para andar en bicicleta; que nuestras veredas no son de concreto (en otras palabras de cemento armado) y el diseño de vainillas junta tierra, barro, hojas. Y finalmente, ¿cómo se entera uno de los chismes si no sale a baldear la vereda y así poder charlar con los vecinos?.

Estas fotos que ven aquí, son tres ejemplos de veredas con plantas que he tomado en Beverly Hills. Pero no hace falta visitar semejante lugar de costosas viviendas para ver este diseño. La combinación pasto-cemento es típica de las veredas estadounidenses. Al menos en California, está prohibido regar con manguera, el pasto es de bajo consumo de agua o en los lugares más secos SE BAJAN IMPUESTOS MUNICIPALES por plantar suculentas, en otras palabras, plantas carnosas de montaña que no requieren riego (o apenas) y además tienen bellas flores.
¿Quién hace las veredas? La Ciudad (traducido, el Municipio). Si Ud se cae en una de estas veredas lisitas, con sólo las juntas de trabajo, Ud puede hacerle juicio a la Ciudad y ganarlo, por supuesto.
Las veredas son uniformes y el paisaje de plantas obligatorio.
Es por ello que leer la nota del Clarín, que ahora será obligatorio juntar el agua de lluvia para baldear las veredas porteñas (y vaya, que tenemos cantidad de tormentas), me tomó por sorpresa, y pienso si mis colegas han reparado en los gastos para los edificios y si de pronto no es mejor reciclar el agua de lluvia para un mejor uso, crear bicisendas, buscar otros sistemas de recolección de basura, que sean inviolables, controlar y penalizar a quienes dejen que sus animales nos ensucien las veredas, y otras medidas más para que el baldeo de la vereda se minimize, si bien tal vez no se pueda eliminar.
Desde que he dejado la casa de mis padres, no he baldeado mis veredas salvo por los desmanes mencionados arriba, pero sí las he barrido. Es mi punto de vista....

A continuación, reproduzco el artículo de Silvia Gómez para Clarín:

Con 50 votos a favor la Legislatura porteña aprobó ayer una ley para que los nuevos edificios que se construyan en la Ciudad r ecuperen el agua de la lluvia para usarla en la limpieza de las veredas y el riego de plantas . Y aunque quedarán exceptuados los que tengan menos de cuatro pisos, regirá tanto para los destinados a viviendas, como oficinas, depósitos y fábricas . Además, con una campaña de concientización sobre el cuidado del agua, buscan que todas las edificaciones incorporen paulatinamente este cambio , más allá de que la ley no obligue a las ya existentes a tener el sistema. Se estima que para lavar una vereda se usan 300 litros de agua potable. Y es una queja recurrente de los consorcistas el derroche esto genera. “Tendrá un costo estimado del 0,2 % del total de la inversión para un edificio nuevo de 1.000 metros cuadrados”, estimó la legisladora Karina Spalla, autora del proyecto junto a Cristian Ritondo (ambos del PRO). El cálculo responde a un edificio de unos cinco pisos en un terreno de 8,66 metros de frente. El sistema de recolección es sencillo: se colocan cañerías pluviales que evacúan el agua en tanques de reserva exclusivos , instalados en las plantas bajas de los edificios. A su vez, los tanques se conectan a bombas para elevar la presión del agua y facilitar, y también agilizar, las tareas de limpieza. Además del ahorro evidente que generará en el uso del agua potable, el sistema permitirá “ amortiguar el impacto inicial de las tormentas que viene sufriendo la Ciudad”, explicó Ritondo. Una parte de las lluvias cargará los tanques. Si el sistema se adoptara masivamente, también entre los edificios 50.000 edificios que ya existen, mejoraría mucho la absorción de las napas , que se perdió justamente a partir de la construcción. El proyecto pasó dos veces por la Legislatura para aprobarse. En noviembre se realizó una audiencia pública en la que hubo críticas. Cuando la ley se promulgue modificará el Código de Edificación de la Ciudad. Recién entonces regirá para quienes tramiten permisos de construcción. Los ya entregados no serán alcanzados. La intervención del Consejo Profesional de Arquitectura y Urbanismo (CPAU) aportó cambios. “El proyecto original establecía tanques de almacenamiento en relación a los metros cuadrados del edificio. Nosotros planteamos que se determine en función del promedio de agua caída ”, explicó la arquitecta Cristina Beatriz Fernández, a cargo de la Comisión de Arquitectura de la CPAU.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My pictures of the Paul Getty Villa

In 1945 oil investor J. Paul Getty purchased a 64 acre site in the beautiful Malibu, Southern California; in 1954 he opened the original Paul Getty Museum in his home to exhibit his collection of Greek and Roman antiquities.
In 1968, Getty decided to re-create a first century Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri on the Malibu property to display his growing collection of art. This Villa was opened to the public in 1974, and though he followed up all the construction works from England -where he was living-, Getty was never able to visit his own Villa, he died in 1976.
In 1997 the Villa was closed to the public for renovation works, assigned to the Argentine architects Machado-Silvetti, whose main studio is established in Boston. In the meanwhile, the Paul Getty Center, designed by Richard Meier opened to exhibit mostly modern art.
In 2006 the renovated Villa was opened again.
My impression is that the Villa design is a kind of kitsch, you can feel it is not real, except for the Greek and Roman exhibitions.
Anyway, I enjoyed walking around, took a lot of pictures and had a wonderful afternoon.
Regarding the work of Machado-Silvetti, the idea of the archaeological stratification is great, made with expertise, and the details, were excellent. My architect husband says some expensive details by Machado-Silvetti are only understood by architects, maybe he is right, while inside the gift shop, I missed an impressive marble at its corner, a complete piece cut in a slight arch to make a perfect -almost hidden- finish. 
These pictures belong to my archives and please, do not reproduce without my permission.


From the web page of Machado-Silvetti:
The project includes the remodeling of the existing J. Paul Getty Museum (a re-creation of the Villa dei Papiri, a first-century Roman country house) to create a new home for the Getty’s permanent collection of antiquities; the transformation of Mr. Getty’s ranch house into a research facility; and the construction of new buildings, public areas, and gardens. The various elements—including the new Entry Pavilion, the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater, Café, Museum Store, conservation labs, scholar’s library and educational facilities—are conceived as an integral part of the new gardens and outdoor spaces, with the original villa serving as the centerpiece. These new elements are either expressed as stratified retaining walls (such as the Auditorium, the Museum Store, and the conservation labs) or articulated as discrete architectural elements (as is the case with the Entry Pavilion and the Theater). The new architecture neither contrasts nor emulates the architecture of the museum building itself, but defines the character for the new Getty Villa site so that it stands on its own while seeking harmony with all the disparate existing structures, steep topography, the gardens, and public spaces. What had originally been a set of unrelated buildings and paths is now a coherent, harmonious environment. The new architecture transforms the inherent topographical difficulties into an amenity, allowing visitors to wander through the lush site, following the contours of the design and terrain, as if experiencing the drama of an archaeological dig.


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