EEA in Russia

30 September, 2007

It seems somewhat fitting to continue the theme of ludicrous mega-urban developments in countries with near-dictatorial political regimes, by sending along news of Erick van Egeraat’s design for a chain of artificial islands in the shape of Russia. Enough already.

I haven’t seen the book yet, but apparently Mike Davis is taking a critical look at these urban fantasies in his next, titled Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of NeoLiberalism.


Foster in Libya

24 September, 2007

Foster + Partners has been chosen to assist in the development of the Green Mountain region in Libya, apparently “…one of the 10 last paradises of the Mediterranean”. According to the news item on the Foster website the region “…has the potential to become one of the world’s most desirable tourist destinations. Its allure to visitors however depends on the effective protection of the natural environment and controlled development, free of urban sprawl.”

Perhaps its allure to visitors might also depend on the fact that the country is ruled by a military dictator who apparently doesn’t like foreigners very much?

I’m not sure what they think architects can do that politicians and heads of state can’t. I mean architecture is pretty damn fabulous and all, but I’m not really sure that it has the power to make Libya a tourist destination.

I think Rem summed it this kind of situation nicely in the introduction to SMLXL:

“Architecture is a hazardous mixture of omnipotence and impotence. Ostensibly involved in “shaping” the world, for their thoughts to be mobilized architects depend on the provocations of others – clients, individual or institutional. Therefore, incoherence, or more precisely, randomness, is the underlying structure of all architects’ careers” they are confronted with an arbitrary sequence of demands, with parameters they did not establish, in countries they hardly know, about issues they are only dimly aware of, expected to deal with problems that have proved intractable to brains vastly superior to their own. Architecture is by definition a chaotic adventure.” (S, M, L, XL, OMA, Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, Benedikt Taschen Verlag, Köln, 1997, pp. xix)

Crap construction

24 September, 2007

Apparently a hell of a lot of newly built apartments/profit generating souless boxes popping up all over the place are in fact as badly built as they look.

Venice 2008

17 September, 2007

Speaking of Beer Swilling OZ architects overseas the Venice 2008 shortlist looked something like this: Heneghan, Neustein, Corrigan, BKK and Soren Luckins. “Fleur” Watson, Captain Hook, Ray Edgar and Stuart “Melancholic” Geddes. O’Brien and Markham Holt-Damant, Frost, Lewin, Warner and Kerstin “Kermit” Thompson. Tone “Loc” Wheeler, Jan O’Conner and Sue Barnsley. Lawrence Nield, Gollings and Pidgeon. Word has it the BKK Corrigan partnership has already imploded over…..wait for it…….yes you guess it………that old chestnut……….”ideological differences.” Apparently Yoda (Corrigan) didnt like the cut of BKK’s giblets. Rhinogirl will be following this saga in detail and looking forward to the RAIA making a choice based on the abilities of one of the above teams to deliver. But of course when did the RAIA ever pick some one on the basis of merit ???

On my way to work this morning…

17 September, 2007

Wood Marsh‘s Balencea has emerged from it’s hole in the ground on St Kilda Road. Well, the service core has, no actual walls yet. I’m very fond of this building. Still reminds me of Mies’ unbuilt work in Berlin in the 1920’s.

John Wardle‘s new building at Melbourne Grammar looks pretty close to completion.

Cassandra Complex‘s Shilling Wall at the Queen Victoria Womens Centre seems to have started, though it was a little hard to tell what exactly was happening behind the hoarding. The wall is great, but that building needs so much more help, it was treated really badly in overall QV design, it has just been left as the blank edge of the central square (which is not in itself a design masterpiece). Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Australians in Berlin

12 September, 2007

There is an exhibition of Australian architecture on in Berlin opening today at the Deutches Architekture Zentrum, featuring work from Glenn Murcutt, Harry Seidler, Gabriel Poole, Sydney Ancher, Neville Gruzman, Stan Symonds and Robin Boyd, Wood Marsh, Collins and Turner, Iredale Pederson Hook, Kerry Hill and Terroir among others. In all there are 25 architects or firms and 50 project being shown.


11 September, 2007

The nominations for the 2007 Stirling Prize are out, there’s a nice little gallery at The Guardian.

The token ‘blobby’ building up for nomination seems to be like a lot of other blobby buildings in that it kind of doesn’t look like a building but like a discreet scaleless object, something I think a lot of the big modernists buildings do too (Farnsworth house is a good example).

On the Farnsworth house, according to the wonderful Rory on The Architects this evening, Brad Pitt is shooting a Japanese jeans ad there and donating part of his fee to help fix the place up a bit.