ruminations about architecture and design

Saturday, September 23, 2017

the imagery of the 1970's

It did not seem to be a happy decade. Vietnam, Chicago, Watergate, New York City Bankruptcy, Inflation, Oil Crisis, Jonestown, and bell bottoms. Women's rights made considerable advances, but in the context of retrograde positions that persist to this day (see Schlafly, Phyllis and Trump, Donald)

The architecture continued the awfulness of the 60's.

Friday, September 22, 2017

houses are a good idea

Why would this even be phrased as a question? Even the most hardcore modernists loved houses--especially when they were located in remote areas uncorrupted by neighbors. A house encourages some degree of social isolation, which in proper doses is necessary for sanity.

So, forward exterior insulation!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

are houses a good idea?

Let's look at this question from a slightly different angle. Assume that houses (detached, single family, car dependent) are indeed a good thing. Then what about having more than one house? What is the limit to the number of houses a person could own and still derive use or pleasure from? The very wealthy probably limit themselves to two or three, even though they could own a few dozen.
Costs associated with travel and upkeep become more burdensome with multiple properties. 

At what density level do single family homes become miserable? In some large cities property developers made the decision that density pays. Do all apartment dwellers yearn for a yard?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

one good thing perhaps

It is getting hard to keep track of the natural disasters in the Americas of late. Harvey, Mexican earthquake, Irma, Maria, Jose, Mexican earthquake.

This building was damaged in the most recent quake in Mexico city. It does not appear to have collapsed although it probably cannot be repaired. We can speculate that arched windows helped to even out the stress distribution and save the walls from buckling. The diagonal shear cracks in the stucco and brick are very typical.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

not quite the truth

The problem with sketches is not that they lie, but that they reveal the truth. (Picasso said that)
The rougher a sketch is, the more it is appreciated by people who speak the same language--i.e. belong to the peer group of the artist. The rough sketch captures emotion and relieves the creator of having to solve fussy details. Clients and consumers are frequently overwhelmed by the sketch--or unappreciative of the subtlety of its intent. Feedback tends to focus on what is left unanswered.
Don't stop sketching, though.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

tribute post monday

Occasionally--nay, frequently, towers of ilium has to acknowledge the genius of others. In this case, it is Katerina Kamprani.

Her efforts are in some cases more practical than common items at Ikea.

Friday, September 15, 2017

a fantastic sense of style

Towers of ilium is adding Bruce Lee's iconic film Enter The Dragon to its architectural movie list.
This shot from the panoramic scene of Hong Kong's Aberdeen Harbor is particularly relevant. It captures a moment in history that hints at the explosive power of the city. The film is a careful mix of order and chaos--Bruce Lee demonstrates the discipline essential to his execution of the martial arts. His enemies pretend at discipline, but are ultimately a bunch of poorly organized rabble. Characters frequently crash through walls and windows, or use the architecture around them as strategic props. An example of this is when Lee evades the gaze of a guard by hiding (improbably) behind pieces of furniture. The climactic fight in a room of mirrors is a heavy handed metaphor of the limits of deception in combat.