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Tag: History and its uses


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Rapid Cities

Rapid Cities
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It was maybe February 2019 and I was living in Dubai when this invitation to participate in this event arrived in my inbox. Rapid Cities – Responsive Architectures seeks to examine the dialectic, tensions, problems and possibilities of architecture and urbanism as technologically imbued, fast-paced commercial exercises.  These questions are all provocative but still manage […]

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The Wrong Side of History

The Wrong Side of History
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I only learned about Victorian era architect Decimus Burton (1800–1881) a few months ago when two articles on him appeared in The Guardian online the same day. Decimus Burton was a skilled and prolific architect who, until recently, was mostly forgotten or, more to the point, never remembered. Both articles suggested this was because he […]

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The 3 R’s

The 3 R’s
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The Three R’s used to without irony refer to Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic but, more recently, we know them as the sustainability performance mantras Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. There are as many R’s as you want. Re-use works for buildings but Repair works better for washing machines and Replace better for old refrigerators. It’s not […]

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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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The Fireplace

The Fireplace
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Fireplace is one of those reliable English language words that don’t leave you guessing. This abridged history begins with the traditional European fireplace of mediaeval times. The one in the image on the left, below, is from a house The Black Knight once stayed in circa 1400, hence the insignia on the mantel – or at least that’s […]

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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 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, […]

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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 […]

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Architecture Myths #1: “Islamic Architecture”

Architecture Myths #1: “Islamic Architecture”
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(1) The term “Islamic Architecture” is seen by many scholars and architects as a certain architectural style that most of the buildings in the Islamic World and others are still designed according to. They tend to believe, and make others believe too, that in order for a building to be of an “Islamic Style” it […]