Monday, 22 August 2016

Danish Architecture

I recently had a trip to Denmark, and made a point of heading to the suburbs of Copenhagen to check out work by BIG architects - Bjarke Ingels Group. Specifically, I went to see 8TALLET and the nearby VM Mountain.

Frontal view of VM Mountain - foliage now well-established on the balconies

VM Mountain from rear

8TALLET - entire building in a figure of 8 shape

Responsible for this year's phenomenal Serpentine Pavilion, London, it was great to see residential accommodation on an imposing scale, utilising similar ideas of using the simple and standard into something extraordinary through intriguing repetition - in this case, the brick, offset to incredible effect. Fibreglass frames, wooden boards, and aluminium are the only materials used.

Bjarke Ingels is a really engaging speaker - the video below is quite long, but exciting - the opportunity to come up with future visions of city planning in NYC is particularly impressive to hear about.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Life Cycle

A beguiling little animation from Kouhei Nakama on Vimeo.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Retro Modernism

Some fantastic photographs by Laurent Kronental have been doing the rounds recently. His studies of now-fading visions attempts to create utopian mass housing in the suburbs of Paris are absolutely fantastic, particularly so when these still surprising structures are thrown into sharp contrast by the typical decor and style of the actual residents inhabiting them.

It's all too easy for aspiring architects to think of the one-off - spectacular money-no-object (/vanity projects?) by superstar architects such as Gehry or Norman Foster - but they often forget to consider mass housing problems and the range of solutions that have been proffered.

More here, and of course on his own site (above). The portfolio on his site includes more portraits of the local residents.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Clive Bowen ceramicist

An OW working in the field of ceramics recently drew my attention to this fantastic and absorbing 20 minute film of potter Clive Bowen talking about his process and inspirations, from digging out the clay himself at a local stream, to the final outcomes.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

British Library releases huge image database

The British Library has recently released over a million images to the public, following a digitisation project with Microsoft. The images can be found through Flickr, and the BL is keen to get the public to find new ways to 'curate' and organise the vast collection of 17th-19th century scans.

Much more here.

Access the full collection here on Flickr.   I find it best to explore it through the albums already set up.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Lutyens' war memorials gain listed status

The government's Department for Media, Culture and Sport, on the advice of Historic England, recently announced that they were applying new or upgraded listed status to the last few of all of Edwin Lutyens' war memorials, ensuring that all 44 spread across the UK are now protected. Over £2m has also been allocated to the conservation and preservation of these important monuments. While London's Cenotaph is very well-known, Lutyens was responsible for a wide range of memorials across the country, less familiar to most of us.

More details here at the Architects Journal.

One of his less well-known works turns out to be very close to where I grew up - a the simple cross monument found on Lindisfarne/Holy Island in Northumberland, with the island's castle in the background (which he also designed).

Autumn cheer

Take the next few minutes to sit back and enjoy Norman McLaren's 1949 classic piece of animation, 'Begone Dull Care'. A little like Stan Brakhage, who many of you will know about, McLaren's first forays into animation involved actually scratching and staining the film stock itself, to create very direct and technically simplistic animation.

Although his 1952 anti-war animation titled 'Neighbours' (featuring 'pixilation' - the use of live actors as stop motion elements) is probably the more famous of his works, I'm a big fan of the simple cheer provided by 'Begone Dull Care' in its abstract flowing colours and patterns, pulsating to the catchy and extraordinary keyboard skills of Oscar Peterson which it is set to. Enjoy.


Friday, 17 July 2015

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Spocking Fivers

Following the recent death of Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy, amongst other tributes, images of his character Spock have started popping up all over Canada.  On banknotes.

As the Toronto Sun reports, the Bank of Canada has had to issue a plea to ask people to stop 'enhancing' images of their 7th Prime Minister, Sir Wilfred Laurier to create a Spock likeness.

Unfortunately, they've clarified that the act is not actually illegal - merely (in their eyes) unpatriotic, so the practice is unlikely to die out any time soon...

It reminds me a little of 'Hobo Nickels' - an American subculture of carving miniature bas reliefs onto soft nickel coins. More here.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Soviet Bones

I heard the tail-end of a fascinating discussion on BBC R4's Today programme a few days back and remembered to follow it up.

These astonishing objects are essentially vinyl records - but with the recording embossed into old x-rays. They were a black market music industry to circulate recordings officially banned by the USSR; they're commonly known as 'bones' or 'ribs'. 

More here at Stephen Coates' project.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in London has seen some exciting developments in recent weeks.

First was the unveiling of an astonishingly complete stegosaurus, positioned at the Exhibition Road side entrance to the Museum, which is already proving to be a real draw.

The BBC reports today that the decision has also been taken to swap the iconic diplodocus skeleton from the main entrance for that of a blue whale.

"Everyone loves 'Dippy', but it's just a copy," commented Sir Michael Dixon, the NHM's director, "and what makes this museum special is that we have real objects from the natural world - over 80 million of them - and they enable our scientists and thousands like them from around the world to do real research."

The move will take some time - the ambitious diving pose selected for the whale skeleton, and the structures required to hold it in place, means that it won't be on display until 2017.

Follow the BBC link for superb series of archive photographs of the Museum over the years.

Impression of new display