lundi 29 juin 2009

# Empty cities on NDLR

Here is an article on NDLR starting from Werner Herzog's short movie La Souffriere introducing the town Saint Pierre (Guadeloupe) empty from its inhabitants because of eruption risk (La Souffriere is the local vulcano). From then, NDLR presents Nicolas Moulin (Paris) and Masakata Nakano's (Tokyo) work.
We could add to this article two movies: Vanilla sky (Cameron Crowe) and Seuls two (Eric Judor & Ramzy Bedia)

vendredi 26 juin 2009

# Underground video

I have just found this video on Vimeo and I'm glad to share it with you,
Surface is a short movie by graduate students of the Parson New School of design.

The camera is filming under a translucent ground, following people activities in public or private spaces.

We can notice the eye dropping work of ground textures and uses. It's great visualisation of our house and urban environement with the beauty of the undefined bodies that move around like unknown people in a city.


SURFACE : A film from underneath from tu on Vimeo.

Directed by: TU+// Varathit Uthaisri
Sound: Plum// Napat Snidvongs
DP: Jun Oshima
Production: Tong// Thitawan Chaiwong

Original Set design idea : Richi Owaki

More info here

in the same style here

# Triple Canopy Issue 6

Online magazine Triple Canopy has released its third issue called Urbanisms: Model Cities. I particularly recommend the article The City that built itself by Joshua Bauchner about Caracas.

# CRAZY MUMBAI /// Monsoon starts

Streets are rivers, back-alley are affluents, you're walking within a 10cm high water to reach work, monsoon starts !

jeudi 25 juin 2009

# Interview of Stephen Graham by Subtopia

Here is a very interesting interview of Stephen Graham by Brian Finoki (talented webmaster of subtopia) tackling the relationship of architecture and transcendental control in a warfare society as defined by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt's Empire.

mercredi 24 juin 2009

# American Theaters by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre are photographers who released a serie about those american theaters built in the beginning of the XXth century which function evoluated depending on the society's needs and sometimes even became ruins.

Here is their presentation text:

In the early 20th century, following the development of the entertainment industry,hundreds of auditoriums were built everywhere in North America. Major entertainment firms and movie studios commissioned specialized architects to build grandiose and extravagant theaters. From the 60's, TV, multiplexes and urban crisis made them becoming obsolete. During the following decades, when they were not modernized or transformed into adult cinemas, they closed one after the other and many of them were simply demolished. Those which remain forgotten, escaping from this fate, were converted to varied purposes. Now, many are reused as churches, retail, flea markets, bingo halls, discos, supermarkets or warehouses. Some others just sit abandoned.

mardi 23 juin 2009

# Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt's Multitude

Democracy at a global scale is becoming for the first time, a real possibility that we call the multitude’s project. Multitude’s project is not only expressing the desire of a world of equality and liberty, it does not only claim for a global democratic society open and inclusive: it actually demonstrate the means of releasing this desire.

lundi 22 juin 2009

# CRAZY MUMBAI /// Dharavi

Dharavi is said to be the largest slum in Asia with around one million people living in 175 hectares. This district was first populated by fishermen, potters from Gujarat and Muslim tanners which produces an own economy to the district. Self urbanism follows a hierarchy of streets going from 15 meters wide to less than 1 meter wide.
You can obviously observe Dharavi's morphology on google earth which impress by its density.

# CRAZY MUMBAI /// Distributing stairway

Beauty of functionality...

samedi 20 juin 2009

# What is resistance in architecture ?

For a while I'm being obsessed by this question, what is resistance in architecture. Architecture is both a representation and an expression of a power. Reading Eyal Weizman, you even understand that architecture can be (and may always be) a weapon from the governing power. How could this static entity be part of resistance. Can we even talk about a resisting architecture or is it an oxymoron ? Does an architecture loses its power of resisting as soon as it is getting built ?
All those questions are occupying my mind currently... If anybody wants to react or to share some references, I think it could be interesting.

vendredi 19 juin 2009

# Iran's revolt / Time's article about Twitter

Read this article on about how Twitter is used to keep alive Iran's current revolt beyond censorship and repression. It reminds me of Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt's polycentric networks (or swarms) of resistance.

picture: Tehran University's dormitory after militia's repression (

# INDIA /// Towards a developpers' global city

found this morning in The Hindustan Times.
When architecture is directly transformed into a capitalistic product, its uniqueness disappear in favor of generic structures we can find everywhere in the world...

jeudi 18 juin 2009

# Radical ecology

I wanted to destroy everything beautiful I'd never have. Burn the Amazon rain forests. Pump chlorofluorocarbons straight up to gobble the ozone. Open the dump valves on supertankers and uncap offshore oil wells. I wanted to kill all the fish I couldn't afford to eat, and smother the French beaches I'd never see.
I wanted the whole world to hit bottom.
Pounding that kid, I really wanted o put a bullet between the eyes of every endangered panda that wouldn't screw to save it species and every whale or dolphin that gave up and ran itself aground.
Don't think of this as extinction. Think of this as downsizing.
For thousand of years, human beings had screwed up and trashed and capped on this planet, and now history expected me to clean up after everyone. I have to wash out and flatten my soup cans. And account for every drop of used motor oil.
And I have to foot the bill for nuclear waste and buried gasoline tanks and landfilled toxic sludge dumped a generation before I was born.
I held the face of mister angel like a baby or a football in the crook of my arm and bashed him with my knuckles, bashed him until his teeth broke through his lips. Bashed him with my elbow after that until he fell through my arms into a heap at my feet. Until the skin was pounded thin across his cheekbones and turned back.
I wanted to breathe smoke.
Birds and deer are a silly luxury, and all the fish should be floating.
I wanted to burn the Louvre. I'd do the Elgin Marbles with a sledgehammer and wipe my ass with the Mona Lisa. This is my world, now.
This is my world, and those ancient people are dead.
It was at breakfast this morning that Tyler invented Project Mayhem.
We wanted to blast the world free of history.
We were eating breakfast in the house on Paper Street, and Tyler said, picture yourself planting radishes and seed potatoes on the fifteenth green of a forgotten golf course.
You'll hunt elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center, and dig clams next to the skeleton of the Space Needle leaning at a forty-five-degree angle. We'll paint the skyscrapers with huge totem faces and goblin tikis, and every evening what's left of mankind will retreat to empty zoos and lock itself in cages as protection against bears and big cats and wolves that pace and watch us from outside the cage bars at night.

Chuck Palahniuk. Fight Club. Vintage books 2006

picture: Francis Lawrence's I am legend

mardi 16 juin 2009

# Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault

When we, architects, speak of Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault, we usually focus on Bentham's panopticon because it is definitely the most architectonic concept of this book. However we could also think about those pages, mostly about Jean Baptiste de la Salle's system of christian education which contemplate time and space in the same way that Charles Eames did with his powers of ten (see previous post); those time and space are not only controlable in the scale we experience but the real control can be reachable by exploring this infinite dimension of the "smallness".

Nowadays, this disciplinary society could seem not to exist anymore, in favor of Virilio's society of control. Nevertheless, principles remain and their application become even more subtle as long as materiality is often not visible anymore.

lundi 15 juin 2009

# Answer from Archdaily to the previous article

Answer from David Basulto, webmaster of Archdaily to the previous article called Broadcasting Architecture

>Dear Leopold,
>This is not the first time that people addresses the "editorial
>line"t. First, I think that traditional publications and editorial
>linnes are no longer valid when it comes to cover a broader aspect of the
>lprofession. I even step aside from people too focused on that, who end
>upr looking so inside of their head looking to fit everything under one
>rurle, resulting in a disconnection from what is really happening.
>Regular publications often left outside a tremendous amount of work that
>ies being produced around the world. We feel that it should be put on the
>itable to shows the community what is being done. I rather feature a work
>ithat some might say that is "a plain box, more of the same"
>buialt in Iran (a totally different context that in Europe or the US) and
>bget criticized for featuring it along some project by established
> architiecture practices, than not doing it.
>And actually, that became our editorial line. Plataforma Arquitectura,
>the site that we started before ArchDaily, has a very active role on how
>tthe profession is being developed in Latin America, becoming a valid
>voic e on the recurring debates. This line has been replicated in
>ArchDailny through our interviews. I wonder if you have seen them, as
>theyD clearly have one line (the role of the architect on contemporary
>Also, keep in mind that this ranking is sorted by traffic (visitors) and
> lhas nothing to with influence (altho it becomes related with traffic at
> some point).
>I´m glad to see that ArchDaily operative becomes questionable, as this is
>Isomething we wouldn´t question ourselves. And I´m glad you share your
>quemstion with the rest of the world through your blog.
>best regards,
>David Basulto
>Plataforma Arquitectura

samedi 13 juin 2009

# Broadcasting Architecture

Broadcasting Architecture Worldwide is Archdaily's motto. This website you might all know just communicated about its award of the most popular architecture exclusive site which brings me to tackle some question about what happens in architecture communication nowadays...

First I want to say that I am an Archdaily reader and I'd like more to question the statute of this way of communication (and its includes some other websites like Dezeen) than to criticize its specific webmaster(s) which deserve all due respect.

However I am curious about one ambiguity here. Is this website and its cousins some democratic platform where everybody can take the microphone in order to be heard for few seconds or is it a journalistic collection which follows a coherent editorial line ? I claim that for now it is neither of them and this ambiguity is for me a problem because those websites are working with bouncers who take care of always let the consensus express itself and never the anomaly. Problem with those visitors meters we all put on our sites is that it can become the whole purpose of them. The more you get consensual, the more people are going to visit your site. People who do not listen to you either do not know you or are not interested by you. We can then try to meet the first but we should not make concession to the seconds who may be very glad to listen to someone else. I think we should be cautious about that...

Now that I wrote that, I own my blog and am ready to integrate remarks of anybody who would say that boiteaoutils also belongs to this ambiguity...

vendredi 12 juin 2009

# Fight Club and the moment theory

Tyler was pulling driftwood logs out of the surf and dragging them up the beach. In the wet sand, he'd already planted a half circle of logs so they stood a few inches apart ans as tall as his eyes. There were four logs, and when I woke up, I watched Tyler pull a fifth log up the beach. Tyler dug a hole under one end of the log, then lifted the other end until the log slid into the hole and stood there at a slight angle.
You wake up at the beach.
We were the only people on the beach.
With a stick Tyler drew a straight line in the sand several feet away. Tyler went back to straighten the log by stamping sand around its base.
I was the only person watching this.
I asked if Tyler was an artist.
Tyler shrugged and showed me how the five standing logs were wider at the base. Tyler showed me the line he'd drawn in the sand, and how he'd use the line to gauge the shadow cast by each log.
Sometimes you wake up and have to ask where you are.
What Tyler had created was the shadow of a giant hand. Only now the fingers were Nosferatu-long and the thumb was too short, but he said how at exactly four-thirty the hand was perfect. The giant shadow hand was perfect for one minute, and for one perfect minute Tyler had sat in the palm of perfection he'd created himself.
You wake up and you're nowhere.
One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work had for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.

Fight Club. Chuck Palahniuk. Vintage books 2006

mercredi 10 juin 2009

# Sebastien Wierinck's bench for 104

Public bench designed for Paris art centre Le 104 by Sebastien Wierinck (who also directly work there).
See also this article on Architechnophilia

mardi 9 juin 2009

# CRAZY MUMBAI /// Local train vision

What do you see from a Bombay local train ? A generic vision of a specific city...

samedi 6 juin 2009

# Architecture of Energy by Lebbeus Woods

Read this very interesting article written by Lebbeus Woods on his blog about vectors of energy expressed by an architecture and its attempt of representing it by a project called System Wien.

“What exactly do the vectors represent?”

“They don’t represent anything. They are just themselves—embodied energy.”

“They contain energy?”

“Yes. Can’t you see it?”

“I see white lines on a black surface.”

“Tell me, what do you see when you look at that building? Bricks, windows, metal, glass?”


“That’s all?”


“Ah, then that’s the problem. You can’t see energy, just its effects.”


“The vectors contain the energy that it took to make them. It is a measurable amount of energy, but it has not yet been measured. It consists of physical energy, intellectual and emotional energy. Certainly we will be able to measure it by its effects, if and when there are any.”

“So, then, the vectors are a form of energy?”

“Yes, that is what they are.”

“Well, there’s nothing new there. Any drawing, any word or act has the potential to have an effect. All you’re doing is seeing it differently.”


vendredi 5 juin 2009

# AHMEDABAD /// Lost Buckie

Few people might know that but Ahmedabad hosts a Geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller and which has been collapsing since then. Ruins are nevertheless still use and represent an interesting example of architecture of destruction.

jeudi 4 juin 2009

# Things which necrose by R&Sie(n)

Here is the latest published work by R&Sie(n) called Things which necrose, for the current exhibition Green Architecture for the future in Lousiana Museum of Modern Art (Denmark). By designing a bio-plastic pavilion, I feel that R&Sie(n) emphasizes the ambiguity of the paradox between biodegradable and sustainability like all their other work always question this politically correct dogma of ecology.
This pavilion is thus going to die little by little during all the time of the exhibition and its degradation can be manually controlled by the humidity degree in the atmosphere. The program asking for a temporary building is thus considered as litteral here, as long as, its own death is included in its protocol of life.
This pavilion has been realized thanks to bio-plastic with hydrosoluble polymers and then casted in CNC moulds.

Architect: R&Sie(n)… Paris

Creative team: François Roche, Stéphanie Lavaux

Collaborator : Maxime Aumon-Bemelmans

Contractor : CHD / Christian Hubert Delisle

mercredi 3 juin 2009

# Organizing media resistance in China / Picidae

Since yesterday, Great Firewall of China is blocking new 2.0 websites, Twitter, hotmail, wordpress and flickr. Tomorrow is the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen revolt by Beijing students and Chinese authorities still want to delete this event from History. (see BBC article)

In front of the biggest state machine of the world what can we do ?
One answer to this question is provided by picidae (woodpecker in latin in reference of Berlin's wall Mauersprechte) which organize a system of worldwide miror connections to websites which avoids a control of Chinese censorship. You can join Picidae by allowing it to use your computer as a relay; see here.
Media freedom is in my opinion the fight priority in China and that is probably the battle field which recquires the most energy. If you are interested you can visite Reporters without borders website.

# AHMEDABAD /// Louis Kahn's Indian Institute of Management

Indian Institute of Management designed by Louis Kahn in 1963. To see more, and it may sounds cliche but watch the very good movie My Architect by Nathanel Kahn.

mardi 2 juin 2009

# AHMEDABAD /// Corbu colonized by monkeys

The Ahmedabad Millowners Association Building was designed in 1952 by Le Corbusier. This building is not really used anymore, except by architecture amateurs who still visit it and...monkeys who seem to have so much appropriated themselves the top floor of the building that they are ready to fight if you cross their territory !