53. Mies Flees

Why Mies really left Germany

From The Guardian, “Mies and the Nazis” by Tom Dyckhoff:

“It was hard for someone to ignore politics in 1930s Germany, but Mies did his best… Starved of work, Mies tried to ingratiate himself with this new, powerful and rich state patron, signing a motion of support for Hitler in the August 1934 referendum and joining Goebbels’s Reichskultur-kammer, a progressive alternative to Rosenberg’s ministry, which asked for “fresh blood” and new forms to give “expression to this age”. Mies was shortlisted to build the state’s new Reichsbank, with a fiercely modern, abstract design; and Goebbels even pressed him to design the Deutsches Volk Deutsches Arbeit exhibition. Things were on the up.

But in 1934, Hitler, by chance, came across Albert Speer, a young architect who had caught the Nazi bug.  … With furious speed, Speer found himself spun from apprentice to chief architect for Goebbels’s propaganda ministry, then to designer for Nazi rallies at Tempelhof Field, and then, in 1934, to Hitler’s personal architect, designing, the Führer promised, “buildings for me such as haven’t been built perhaps for 4,000 years”… Hitler cancelled the Reichsbank competition on which Mies was depending financially. And every architect was forced to adjust his or her style to suit.

Modernism, the International Style, would succeed as the landscape not of communism, bolshevism or nazism, but of international capitalism. Its modern Medicis, such as Mies, weren’t interested in politics. Well, not the politics of nationalism, just the quieter, subtler politics of making money.”


52. Big Brother

Where the CCTV cameras are

The CCTV Map project is an attempt to map out the location of all the security cameras in London (though it seemed to start and end in 2012). In 2013 Fast.Co wrote an article about a proposed app SURV which would show users their location vis-a-vis nearby security cameras (spoiler alert – the Kickstarter for SURV was unsuccessful).

 The Overexposed City by Paul Virilio is an essay describing the changing geography of cities defined by security have changed from peripheral city walls to TSA checkpoints at airports and police presence at train and bus stations. The glossary website Atributos Urbanos covers this essay, including the following passage:

“The Overexposed City is also characterized by a certain form of architecture, constructed with highly processed materials and finishes that are polished, shiny, reflecting… The major protagonists are the membranes, skins that no longer respond to the structural and functional logic of the inside of the building, and which have become simple limits that only assume commitments … with the commercialism that prevails in the Overexposed City. In this way, the shape of the city is no longer generated by architecture; it is now generated by a flow of images in permanent evolution, by “processes on physical shapes,” by lines that draw dematerialized profiles to insinuate a city with neither weight nor consistency. This is the Overexposed City, a place where nothing is constant and where everything exists at the same time.”

38. Color Wheel

The color wheel

Light uses color in an additive process to combine red, blue and green to make white. Pigment uses subtractive color to combine cyan, magenta and yellow to make black. I’ve had a few teachers and colleagues make a point to view images on a computer screen using CMYK, rather than RBG, because the images being worked on would eventually be printed out via CMYK printer.

The first image is rendered in CMYK, the second is RBG:

38 Color Wheel CMYK38 Color Wheel RBG

37. Elementary Ergonomics

Elementary ergonomics


Photograph from National Museum of American History, Behring Center, Division of Work and Industry Collection.

The blog/podcast (now magazine) Funambulist focuses on the ‘politics of space and bodies’ and has looked often oat the interface of the human body and the built environment. The article “Patterns of Life” by Gregoire Chamayou surveyed many examples of mapping the movement of people (or just their limbs). The image above shows Lilian and Frank Gilbreth’s ‘chronocylcegraph’ in which lights were affixed to a workers body and long exposure photographs would document the path of various body parts while performing specific tasks. This research was used to recommend alterations to workflow in an effort to improve productivity. Below are two images of a cast I made to document the motion my right arm made while I read a book. This ‘research’ was used in making the reading chair project previously described on this blog.

37 Cast Section37 Cast Use

Ergonomics focuses on designing for the natural ability and limitations of the human body, but another project discussed on the Funambulist blog (Arakawa/Gin) took the approach that architecture could make “people use their bodies in unexpected ways to maintain equilibrium, and that, she [Madeline Gin] said, will stimulate their immune systems.” – (NYTimes 2008). See also – The Function of the Oblique by Claude Parent and Paul Virilio.

36. Vastu Shilpa

Something about Vastu Shilpa

Vastu Shilpa is an architecture firm (VSC) focusing architectural practice, and a foundation (VSF) focusing on research linking the profession and academy. Their firm website (Vastu Shilpa Consultants) shows an entry for the Guggenheim Helsinki competition, and Youtube shows their entry for a new government city in Amaravati, India. The scale and purpose immediately bring Brasilia and Chandigarh, but should also be seen in the context of the two competing master plan schemes from Rogers Stirk Harbour and Maki & Associates.

35. Feng Shui

Something about feng shui

Feng Shui has gone from orthodox principles, with holistic philosophy and worldview to a plural marketplace of ideas as many different schools coexist, to be interpreted by the individual student. This has some parallels to contemporary design schools, two generations removed from the orthodoxy of Modernism and one generation removed from high Post Modernism and Deconstructivist architecture. Today ideology is suspect, and similar formal gestures akin to a former ‘school’ are often dismissed as ‘style’, but elements and strategies from these older movements are freely taken as precedent or guiding logic.

The most compelling explanation comes courtesy of an uncited passage from wikipedia: “Feng Shui may be simply understood as a traditional test of architectural goodness using a collection of metaphors”

The Skeptic’s Dictionary has this summary for feng shui: “Feng shui is related to the very sensible notion that living with rather than against nature benefits both humans and our environment…that our lives are deeply affected by our physical and emotional environs.” and this criticism of its current use/abuse: “Feng shui has become a kind of architectural acupuncture: wizards and magi insert themselves into buildings or landscapes and use their metaphysical sensors to detect the flow of good and bad “energy.” These masters for hire declare where bathrooms should go, which way doorways should face …”