Porcupine Tree

17|04|09

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Moxon Architects design for Oliver’s Place Preston via Ecofriend

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Upcycling

14|04|09

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Upcycling | Recuperating Past Lives

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Francesco Borromini Rome S. Ivo della Sapienza interior-dome

Alternative title: The Age of Arrogance

Just came back from the ‘Ethics in Architecture: The Corbusian legacy‘ at the Barbican Hall. Just a few notes/bits and pieces  from what was said (apologies if what I write does not match exactly the words of the speakers, I will try to find some audio/video material soon):

Cameron Sinclair: “Ethics is aesthetics.”/”Asking from Zaha Hadid to talk about ethics in architecture is like asking from Robert Mugabe to talk about human rights.”

Winy Maas: “I’d love to live in a manifest!”

Charles Jencks: “I like the multiplicity of positions we have today, you didn’t have that with modernism.”/”Koolhaas morphing to Herzog morphing to Zidane: all unhappy men.”

Sean Griffiths: “Then again, arrogance is not necessarily a bad thing.” (Think Borromini.)

The Zaha Hadid understudy, Fabian Hecker wore a nice suit.

Yeah, “no conclusion was reached” but I could visualize Jencks and Maas engaging on this endless discussion on whether architecture is a political act while sitting on an active volcano. Move people move!

And thanks Cameron. If only for being there and for showing actual architecture work.

And an excellent article here: The Architect’s Dilemma: The Architecture of Excess vs. an Architecture of Relevance

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Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

An update: Apparently, websites and the press responded quickly to Sinclair’s polemic language so you can find an analytical review of the debate via Treehugger: Cameron Sinclair Lights Fuse Under Zaha Hadid Architects at The Barbican Debate.

The article ends with the question:

Why Fabian Hecker couldn’t have defended his office with the ‘Bilbao effect’ argument and the role that iconic architecture has to play in city regeneration I don’t know.

For some reason I still have on mind not only the Age of Stupid archivist’s musing at the end of the film:

Maybe we weren’t sure if we were worth saving?

but also the Red Army Colonel Kotov, the Stalin-like moustached hero of National Theatre’s recent production Burnt by the Sun, asking his ex-bourgeois in-laws who sip their tea reminiscent of their pre-revolution times of easy living, Puccini and biscuits:

If this life meant so much to you, why didn’t you do anything to defend it?

So God save the Borrominis and Puccinis and Hadids of this world, if only because they cannot defend themselves. And God save tea and biscuits too. After all, isn’t this the life that the young doctor from Nigeria in the Age of Stupid again is aspiring to? Isn’t this what keeps her going during her daily fight for clean water in her village facing the impacts of the climate change that the starchitects and politicians of this world have been blissfully ignoring for so long?

More dialogue here.

A must-watch. So yeah, it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but it will hopefully help some people out there join the dots. I am going to spam a few of my friends now, with the hope that the next time we meet up they will stop going on about how cheap the plane tickets they’ve just booked with SleazyJet, CrapAir and the like were.

And an excellent very social media-savvy campaign/website, too: The Age of Stupid

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I think that from this crisis will emerge another moment. An architecture that is essential and not reliant on things that are not needed.

Alvaro Siza, RIBA Gold Medal Award 2009

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Image credits: archidose, archdaily

Climate crunch

02|04|09

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Image credits: Have Some Hats

Workload and a flu kept me away from ‘the streets’ unfortunately. But I’m enormously happy to find out that people around me are so deeply frustrated with the way ‘the system’ works/is failing. And what’s more, the word ‘ecological’ precedes the word ‘financial’ before ‘crisis’ in many of the articles I’ve been reading since yesterday.

Mat Meggary talks about yesterday’s Climate Camp [source: Red Pepper]

Is the financial crisis good for the climate?

In terms of changes to investments and output, to various climate friendly and not so climate friendly projects, its a bit of a mixed bag. But that’s not really the point. The financial crisis could be an opportunity for renewal. For making the changes we need to tackle climate change and finally bringing some sense of equity to the world. But we can’t just hope for change and we shouldn’t rejoice in something that’s bringing ever more suffering to millions in the here and now. For the crisis to really be good for the climate, we need to use it to expose the inherent contradictions in the financial system and empower people to imagine something new. The crisis certainly exposes the insanities of carbon trading to a whole new level.

More on the Climate Crunch and the inherent failures of carbon trading schemes here.