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Category: PERFORMANCE

milestones in the pursuit of better performing buildings


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The Catalogue House

The Catalogue House
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When the market for architect-designed private houses finally dries up it will be said in today’s world the private house is passée and anachronistic and no longer capable of conveying architectural meaning of any relevance. We’re practically there now and architects have no option but to cast their nets wider and embrace the mass-produced home as […]

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The Landscape Within

The Landscape Within
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I’d been seeing images of one corner of this project on and off since 1975, as if elevational hijinks were the only thing of general architectural interest. Times being the times, they probably were but, in my own way, I was equally guilty of not being curious as to what lay below the surface of Ricardo Bofill’s Walden 7. This wasn’t […]

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Machines for Living Longer

Machines for Living Longer
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Neuschwanstein Castle was completed in 1882 as a retreat for King Ludwig II of Bavaria but was also lived in by many servants and courtiers. Some servants may have been there as families and some courtiers may have been Ludwig’s relatives, but Neuschwanstein Castle was no residential palace. It was one man’s architectural fantasy alluding to the romance of knights but speaking clearly and loudly of the […]

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Waterworld

Waterworld
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This graphic of comparative emissions suggests that cruise liners are the bad boys roaming the ocean. It doesn’t look good, even if all the cars are Volkswagens. At full power, one Harmony of the Seas combusts 1,377 US gallons (5,200 lit.) of diesel per hour. This sounds like a lot but think about it – it’s the total energy required to sustain the lives and […]

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Machine for Living

Machine for Living
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Royal Caribbean’s new cruise ship, Harmony of The Seas has much in common with the buildings along some of the coasts it will cruise. A maximum number of rooms face the ocean, and under and alongside them are entertainment, food and drink, and shopping districts providing daytime and nighttime activities for its 5,479 passengers. Somewhere away from all the fun are […]

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Advance of the Sheds

Advance of the Sheds
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For every force there is an equal and opposite reaction. As the level of amenity, let alone luxury, people can reasonably aspire to steadily lessens, the market for Architecture must continually expand downwards by appropriating materials, configurations and concepts formerly the realm of Building. The absence of applied finishes occurs in vernacular buildings as the expedient use of resources […]

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The Lighthouse is Not Trying to be Beautiful

The Lighthouse is Not Trying to be Beautiful
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The crucial part of any lighthouse is a beam of light alerting shipping to the presence of something potentially dangerous. A building is neither implied nor necessary. Lighthouses resist architectural design. It’s very unusual to see an ugly lighthouse. Unlike other buildings of a purely utilitarian nature, lighthouses are often located in places having a rugged beauty and this makes us think of […]

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The Shameless Skyscraper

The Shameless Skyscraper
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Before anything’s even been said in this BBC news report, the title “Flatpack Skyscrapers” makes this building sound like something cheap and mass-produced, and definitely not something handmade and of quality and classy like, say, William Morris wallpaper. We’re not even past the title and already we’ve encountered the reaction to the very same Industrial Revolution that was supposed […]

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The Forgotten Function

The Forgotten Function
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There’s more than one way to incorporate the eclectic and often random stuff of everyday life into the supposed ideal of an architectural whole. 1. Design it all! This is the default position for architects. For one, it means increased commissions as the rascally perfectionists can charge a client to design the door handles, for example, and then launch their […]

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1928: The Meeting

1928: The Meeting
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“Hello. I’m Moisei Ginzburg and I’d like to thank you for allowing my team and I to give this preliminary presentation on the analysis of apartment types that we’ve been conducting over the past three months. We can’t claim to have finished but are presenting it to you today in order to discuss its methods and methodology.” When Moisei Ginzburg and […]

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The Water Tower is Not Trying to Look Beautiful

The Water Tower is Not Trying to Look Beautiful
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Just like the communications towers in The Television Tower is Not Trying to Look Beautiful, water towers also have a job to do. Many are examples of performance beauty in that they have been designed to do what they need to do.  Krasny Gvozdilshchik Tower This first tower dates from 1930-31 and was designed by Yakov […]

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Sheds Without Shame

Sheds Without Shame
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And Peter Behrens saw the shed was naked so he covered it up.  And so the shed was made to feel shame. Taking something virtuous and forcing it to wear an aesthetic statement of questionable value is the original sin of architecture, its genesis. It’s as if architecture loves to see good ideas killed through a process of aestheticisation – the […]

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1928: The Types Study

1928: The Types Study
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The Competition had no winners, no prizes. Instead, Moisei Ginzburg put together a team to take what was learned from the submissions and bring it together in a preliminary study of apartment types. He requested approval to work under the aegis of STROYKOM (Building Economics Committee of the U.S.S.R.). Ginzburg wasn’t stupid. STROYKOM’s official support and cover were essential if future testing, implementation […]

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The Constructivists

The Constructivists
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The Constructivists are poorly understood. Constructivist art is often thought of as Russian Futurism and Constructivist architecture is often thought of as Russian Modernism. There is a kernel of truth in this. Moisei Ginzburg – that’s him in front of the middle lady in white – he wrote the manifesto of Constructivist architecture in 1924. He did study architecture in […]