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Mon Dieu ! Apple Store Coming the Louvre

Malin comme tout !
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There’s a price for everything, even in the Louvre: Tomorrow, Apple will be opening up their very first Parisian Apple Store, and it’ll sit in the concourse right below I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid.

According to Bloomberg, this’ll be Apple’s 277th store, worldwide. It’s set to be slightly smaller than the one on Oxford Circus in London. But it’s not tiny: The bilevel store will employ 150 people. You can expect the place to be mobbed. The Louvre concourse is one of the most heavily trafficked places in Paris. It links all of the wings of the Louvre, and visitors to the museum have to pass by before entering the museum.

For Microsoft, it comes at a particularly irksome time. Last month they opened a very sad looking cafe to coincide with the launch of Windows 7.

By next summer, Apple will open two more stores in France–one near Opera, a major hub on the Left Bank, and another in Montpellier, the economic powerhouse of southern France.

You’ve gotta wonder just how many records the Louvre location is set to smash. The 5th Avenue store in New York, which isn’t very big at all or even particularly pleasant as Apple stores go, is thought to earn far more than any of its neighbors, with yearly receipts of around $350 million.

Come to think of it, design wise, coming to the Louvre actually makes a lot of sense–the glass cube of the 5th Avenue store was basically a straight-up theft of I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid, and his widely celebrated idea of turning the entrance to a dark, underground space into a dramatic point of pride:

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[Via Bloomberg; picture by Al Ianni]

Haus proud: The women of Bauhaus
Bauhaus women

Bobbed, geometric haircuts. Chunky jewellery. Vegetarian diets. Saxophone playing. Breathing exercises. Painting. Carving. Snapping with brand new 35mm Leica cameras. Dressing in the artiest handmade clothes. Attending arty parties. Ninety years on from the founding of Walter Gropius‘s legendary art, craft and design school, the female students of the Bauhaus appear to have been as liberated as young women today.

At least they do in the photographs in Bauhaus Women, a book by Ulrike Muller, a “museum educator” in Weimar, the German town where the Bauhaus opened in 1919, declaring equality between the sexes. Where German women had once received art education at home with tutors, at the Bauhaus they were free to join courses.

And yet the photographs of those seemingly liberated women tell, at best, a half truth. Yes, the world’s most famous modern art school accepted women. But few became well known. While the men of the Bauhaus – Gropius, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – are celebrated, names like Gunta Stölzl (a weaver), Benita Otte (another weaver), Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain (ceramicist), Ilse Fehling (sculptor and set designer) or Alma Siedhoff-Buscher (toy maker) mean precious little.

If these bright young things came to the Bauhaus as equals, why are the women so obscure? The school’s fleeting existence (just 14 years), the rise of the anti-modern National Socialist movement and six years of world war may have been factors, but the uncomfortable truth is that the Bauhaus was never a haven of female emancipation.

More women than men applied to the school in 1919, and Gropius insisted that there would be “no difference between the beautiful and the strong sex” – those very words betraying his real views. Those of the “strong sex” were, in fact, marked out for painting, carving and, from 1927, the school’s new architecture department. The “beautiful sex” had to be content, mostly, with weaving.

The school’s students produced radical work, but Gropius’s vision was, at heart, medieval, if apparently modern, and he was keen to keep women in their place – at looms, primarily, weaving modern fabrics for fashion houses and industrial production. He believed women thought in “two dimensions”, while men could grapple with three. ()

The Freedom to Dream

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR PUBLIC ART PROJECTS TO ADDRESS ISSUES OF SOCIAL AND CULTURAL JUSTICE? YES, ARGUES ZAYD MINTY IN HIS PROFILE OF DOUAL’ART, A CAMEROONIAN PUBLIC ART ORGANISATION 

Ananya Roy’s injunction that a shift in urban planning practices towards a distributive justice that profiles the object of urban planning – the people themselves – forms part of a growing critique of dominant modernist paradigms of planning.1 According to Roy, a comparative urban studies and international development expert at the University of California, Berkeley, this dominant paradigm is founded on an overriding “ideology of space” in which the built environment is given priority over people and their livelihoods. She suggests we need to engage with the so-called developing world more pragmatically and practically – to become involved with the “Politics of Shit”.

Roy’s critique proposes a city that is at once socially and culturally just, wherein citizens are active players in re-imagining and making real their own conception of place (rather than having it planned for them from above without their involvement). Collective or participatory engagements with planning are seen as particularly necessary. Such seemingly utopian approaches, which centre on dreaming better cities, propose that vibrant groupings in civil society can and do create such outcomes – better cities. It is precisely this sort of approach I hope to argue is what makes doual’art’s practice special. This Cameroonian public art organisation’s independently developed practice, which draws heavily on its work with artists, resonates strongly with a critical planning that emphasises the need to ensure a re-imagining of city through collective engagement. Doual’art’s greatest strengths, suggests artist Achille Ka, resides in its ability to allow the residents of a crumbling “pirate city” the freedom to dream new futures.2 Founded in 1991, doual’art’s premises are located in an old cinema behind La Pagode, an exquisite 1905 landmark in Bonanjo, Douala. A small garden cafe leads into espace doual’art where a small bar and stylish gallery – together with mezzanine offices and resource space – are located. The venue is used to host exhibitions, performing art events, conferences, seminars and a residency programme.

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Aqueous

New York architects The Living, mentioned in an earlier post, have completed another recent project called Amphibious Architecture. This one is an environmental monitoring station—a subtle filigree of colored lights—floating in the rivers of New York.

 

As such, it is more or less a direct outgrowth of their earlier project River Glow:

Amphibious Architecture is a floating installation in New York’s waterways that glows and blinks to provide an interface between life above water and life below… Two networks of floating interactive tubes, installed at sites in the East River and the Bronx River, house a range of sensors below water and an array of lights above water. The sensors monitor water quality, presence of fish, and human interest in the river ecosystem. The lights respond to the sensors and create feedback loops between humans, fish, and their shared environment. An SMS interface allows citizens to text-message the fish, to receive real-time information about the river, and to contribute to a display of collective interest in the environment.

The idea of text-messaging fish adds a dream-logic to this project that I find intensely enjoyable. A man lost somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean who retains his sanity only by texting Leviathan. Screenplay by Ernest Hemingway.

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La Mano Dell’Architetto / The Hand of the Architect (8.25 x 11.75)

The Hand of the Architect (La Mano Dell’Architetto) is a limited edition Moleskine book filled with drawings from 110 internationally renowned architects. The compilation is a tribute to Piero Portaluppi, who in 1932 designed Villa Necchi Campiglio, located in the heart of Milan. The participating architects donated a total of 378 signed sketches. These were then exhibited in Milan and auctioned to raise funds for the maintenance of Villa Necchi Campiglio, which is now open to the public.

Get a glimpse into the sketchbooks of visionaries like Michael Graves, Zaha Hadid, Piero Lissoni, Kengo Kumo, Mario Botta, Tadao Ando, and many more. From whimsical to philosophical, simple sketches to elaborate renderings, the images in this book are a source of inspiration that will make you think, smile, and create.

Then, capture your own ideas with the companion special edition blank journal – this set includes the hardcover 272 page Moleskine Folio filled with architectural sketches, and an A4 Cahier with 120 blank pages for you to fill up!

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The Archaeology of Seclusion

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Journalist Christoph Hinterreiter recently teamed up with photographer Wolfgang Thaler to document a nuclear bunker called D-0 in what is now Bosnia.

As Hinterreiter wrote in an email:

The bunker was the largest structure of its kind, and was for use by the upper echelon of the former Yugoslavia. The premises are still fully furnished and equipped with military apparatus—code books are positioned beside telexes and restrooms are equipped with originally wrapped paper towels. Its construction lasted for 26 years (1953 – 1979) and it cost 4.6 billion USD.

The bunker’s construction required “20,000m3 of excavated material,” Hinterreiter adds, all of which “was secretly transported from the site. A major part was further processed in the nearby JNA quarry and disguised as construction material.”

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Manual of Architectural Possibilities
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Open the poster up and there are habitats excavated directly from the ice, their dimensions and size based on the carving radius of industrial digging machines; there are seed archives entombed throughout the polar glaciers, marked only by GPS; there are abandoned airplanes all hooked together into a grounded megastructure and reused as research labs; there is a catalog of snow crystal geometry; and there is a photo-survey of exploratory housing for visiting scientists.

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