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Category: HISTORY


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1965–1980 Japan

1965–1980 Japan
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Neighbours on Longitude 135° was the backslappy motto of Australia’s presence at Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan. An accompanying graphic showed longitude 135°E pleasingly spanning the middle of Australia and the expo’s location of Kansai still regarded by many as the heart of Japan. Many Japanese thought the Australian pavilion reminded them of Hokusai’s famous […]

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The Will of the Epoch (1/2)

The Will of the Epoch (1/2)
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Large buildings don’t build themselves. They’re always going to be the product of some well thought-out and scaled-up system of production. The field of project management exists to comprehend and control this system to deliver the required result at the appropriate level of quality, the required budget and the required time. I used to begin […]

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1950–1965 Australia

1950–1965 Australia
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An Unfinished Experiment in Living is the title of a 2018 book describing Australian architect-designed houses over the period 1950–1965, and how they not only reflected what was happening in Australian society but created the grounds for wider changes. It was a time when architecture could make a difference – until it wasn’t anymore. Hence the […]

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The History of Forgetting

The History of Forgetting
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All buildings begin as architectural fantasies and perhaps one in a thousand or more get built. In addition to us hearing more and more about the ones that don’t or never will, a steady stream of updates – “X tower receives planning permission!” “Y tower topped out!” – accompanies those that do. Conditioned to living in perpetual anticipation, […]

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Madame Butterfly

Madame Butterfly
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Japanese people don’t all live in houses like the one above but how are we ever going to know? I left the recent Barbican exhibition The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945 wondering what anyone can ever know about anything but decided to defer judgment until I’d gone through the catalogue. Pippo Ciorra told of […]

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Detective Story

Detective Story
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Sunday, May 28, 8:00 am: I publish a post titled The Piano and The Double-Sided Apartment and refer to this next plan as “an embryo unité d’habitations.” I go on to say that, “the overall intention, the end apartments with their different orientation, the way the elevator lobby has been accommodated, and the lax attitude towards fire escape […]

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The Piano and the Double-Sided Apartment

The Piano and the Double-Sided Apartment
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All double-sided apartments have windows on opposite sides enabling views in opposite directions, cross-ventilation, and variations in daylighting. There aren’t many ways to configure a double-sided apartment and most have at least one of the following flaws. Multiple cores It’s almost impossible not to make a double-sided apartment if there are only two apartments per […]

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Buildings That Lean

Buildings That Lean
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When we look at buildings or even at images of them, we barely register their shapes and surfaces before moving on to consider the next. Building alignment seems to only ever matter when it attracts our attention and one way it can do that is by thwarting our expectations. Why is Le Grande Arche not looking straight […]

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Keeping it Real

Keeping it Real
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If the history of the decline and fall of architecture ever gets written, it’ll mean we finally cared enough to learn from it, perhaps even restore it to being a noble activity. In that history, the name of Philip Johnson will feature prominently for introducing into architecture now-standard practices such as equating celebrity with worth and detaching publicity from truth. Johnson didn’t invent these […]