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Category: HISTORY


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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 […]

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Pilotis

Pilotis
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An important step in Le Corbusier’s career as an architect was the 1912 house he designed for his parents – he charged them a fee. The house was too expensive to maintain so they sold it in 1919. By then, Charles-Édouard had already decamped to Paris, bigger fish to fry. Little wonder his mother always preferred his brother Albert. […]

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1930: De-urbanism

1930: De-urbanism
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Vladimir Paperny’s Architecture in the Time of Stalin contains the following wonderful analogy. Paperny uses it to describe the kind of ideal “horizontal society” imagined in the late 1920s in the Soviet Union in which all goods and population are uniformly distributed. Russian Futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov wrote of the possible evolution of mass communication and transportation and housing. He described a world in […]

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The Free Facade

The Free Facade
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The Free Plan featured in an earlier post and Pilotis will feature in a future one. Roof Gardens have been mentioned and not much can be said about Horizontal Windows. The Free Facade always seems to come last. At the time, it meant nothing more than external walls having the potential to be arbitrarily penetrated by openings preferably sideways but, of the Famous Five, […]

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Pietro Lingeri and the New Realism

Pietro Lingeri and the New Realism
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New Realism implies a Realism just as Neo-rationalism implies a Rationalism, or Post Modernism a Modernism that once was. They’re all moveable feasts. Neorealism we know from Italian cinema, the most widely-known films being Obsessione (1943), Rome, Open City (1945) and Bicycle Theives (1948). Neorealism kept it real and gritty but, as the memory and reality of WWII […]

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The New Japanese House

The New Japanese House
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Summer last year in one of Hyannis’ many secondhand bookstores, I found a copy of this 1980 book I had to have. Memories. It describes the then new Japanese houses in terms of our preconceptions of Japanese culture in 1980 when everything was rich in meaning. It’s heavy on terms such as “ritual”, “ritual-affirming”, “ritual disaffirming” and, at the end, […]