Weekread 002: Architecture in an age of depletion; CLOG discussing Brutalism; A Small Lab and Tokyo Green Space exploring Tokyo's gardens on a water bus; everything else

CLOG opens the discussion on Brutalism, the topic of its forthcoming issue, on the Glass House Conversations with this question Should we consider Brutalism as an ethic or an aesthetic? You can answer on Glass House Conversations. Note: 11 days left…

The little publication Pidgin is back with a 14th issue edited by Aleksandr Bierig, Julia Chapman, Ivi Diamantopoulou, Anna Knoell, and Gabriel Fries-Briggs. Contributors are: Phoebe Springstubb, Paul Lewis, Griffin Ofiesh, Laura Isabel Ettedgui, Henry Ng, Jesse Seegers, Trudy Watt, J. Brantley Hightower, Grayson Cox, Michal Koszycki, Ang Li, J. Robert Hillier, and William Sims.
Rendered view of Regeneration of Martiri Partigiani Plaza | © LED Architecture

The industrial city is in mutation. One (among many others) reason is the digitisation of manufacturing which is transforming in depth fabrication of goods, The Economist reported in April. The first two industrial eras made us richer and more urban. How will the third revolution turn? Who knows. What is at stake, however, is the future of industrial cities: as companies are closing their doors, what futures for the industrial areas? An example is furnished with Ömer Kanipak's paper titled Dirty City posted on The Istanbul Design Biennial online journal edited by Emre Arolat and Domus's editor-in-chief Joseph Grima posted the 23red October 2012. Istanbul's industrial areas and commercial zones of small-scale manufacturers and industrial products are changing rapidly. Henceforth, luxury residences, shopping centres are replacing industrial areas. And this has a price: by-product city. A city — note: Istanbul is far from being the exception — now is becoming shaped by and for… its consumers. As Ömer Kanipak points out, "What underlies this transformation is the anxiety to build more housing and facilities to accommodate more tourists." Like a large majority of post-industrial cities, Istanbul, "that has once embraced the immediate aesthetic of engineering and technology as the indicator of modernization and advancement, is now viewing industry and all its emanations through a different perspective. All the visible elements of the infrastructure that make a city into what it is, are decorated or covered out of sight. Greater industrial areas and structures that cannot be hidden out of view are merely awaiting the barbarous arms of bulldozers to make space for luxury residences and hostels. Ultimately Istanbul is evolving into a new city, shiny and hygienic, yet devoid of all its patina and memories."
Zeiterstrasse 5, Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg | © Zanderroth Architekten
Image courtesy Zanderroth Architekten

Adhocacy. So is today's architecture… according to the curators of this edition of Istanbul Design Biennial.
Recent Domus, for instance, explores a new architecture that, despite austerity, privileges people who make things, namely "a race between bureaucracy and improvisation, authority and the irrepressible force of networks, in search of a new language and a new commons."
About an evidence: the results from austerity are: much of projects are slowed up, if they are not cancelled. The economic leanness is impacting a large number of architects.
Yet austerity brings good news: architecture, this spoiled child of the two first industrial ages, is forced to get rid of the residue of dominant economic forces.
Rendered view of Scotswood Expo | courtesy of Fashion Architecture Taste

Architects are attempting to do more with less. This is the price of austerity in a depressed economy.

According to Jeremy Till, who, recently, guest-edited, for the Architectural Design magazine, an issue dedicated to scarcity, scarcity opens up new possibilities for redistributing what already exists. While austerity privileges the "more with less" since, in my view, being self-defeating, Till, on the contrary, argues for "different kind of activity in which the creativity of the designer is focused not on objects but on the processes that precede and follow the making of objects."
Bronx Park East (2007 -) ı Supportive Housing | © Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects
Image courtesy of Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects
Jeremy Till poses a very pertinent question: "What if architects took on the creative challenge of redefining those quantities and cost and construction materials in light of such pressing realities as finite resource flows and proliferating waste streams?"
> "Renew Newcastle makes temporary use of empty space for artists and creative enterprises, Newcastle, Australia." Jeremy Till
Map by Renew Newcastle
Image originally appeared on Design Observer

Uncube Magazine posted an interview titled AircraftCarrier about the Venice Architecture Biennale exhibition Aircraftcarrier — American Ideas and Israeli Architecture after 1973 and the accompanying book. The exhibition and the book — that I have not read yet — explore "the connections between Israel's fraught political position and the country's adoption of capitalistic systems": "With the current dynamic of the region, there's no telling where things will go. However, I do believe architecture can take an active part in the shaping of the social and political spheres. In the last four decades, Israeli architecture copied almost everything, and not always successfully. But now we are at the point where we can discuss the mechanisms behind the formation of Israeli space. These mechanisms became so degenerated that today the system is destroying itself. This moment of weakness is the loophole through which architects can act as dormant agents in the heart of capitalist development, and work to change it from within. On the way, maybe we will even have better architecture."

Urban exploration in Tokyo. October, 30th, 2012: Still City Tokyo — Tokyo by water, a project proposed by Jared Braiterman of Tokyo Green Space and Chris Berthelsen of A Small Lab. Jared Braiterman and Chris Berthelsen will visit a traditional Japanese garden near Shibaura House on a water bus up the Sumida River, Tokyo. The program: The traditional Japanese garden at Hamarikyu Garden; Boat up the Sumida River to Asakusa to meet at Hinode Pier's Waterbus Station; Exploration of the old Tokyo at Asakusa. If you have a chance…

Studio Magazine's third issue is out. The topic is Icon. Contributors are: BIG, Klaus, Leopold Lambert (The Funambulist), Fake Industries, Jose Davila, Nicola Emery, Serafina Amoroso, Clet Abraham, Boa Mistura, Scott Budzynski, Léa Caillard, Alicia Guerrero Yeste, Fredy Massad, Franco Purini, RRC Studio, Luis Santiago Baptista, Leslie Sklair, Guido Tesio, WAI Think Tank.

The Guardian Books announced a new book on the London Underground titled Underground: How The Tube Shaped London by David Bownes, Oliver Green and Sam Mullins, a mix of social history with the pioneering engineers, designers, and social reformers that shaped today's London.
1922 | © Tfl from the London Transport Museum collection
> "A crowded platform at Piccadilly Circus underground station. A parliamentary select committee set up in 1919 to investigate congestion, overcrowding and fare increases on the tube said the problem had become 'a public scandal' but because London's public transport system remained in the hands of various private companies, a coordinated solution was impossible." [The Guardian Books]

I am currently reading The Action is the Form. Victor Hugo's TED Talk, an ebook written by Keller Easterling. I am among these readers who are impatiently waiting for her forthcoming book Extrastatecraft (an abstract is available on Design Observer titled Zone: The Spatial Softwares of Extrastatecraft). This ebook is part of a series of ebooks edited by British author and critic of architecture Justin McGuirk and published by Moscow and London-based Strelka Press, a platform for international debate. Below an abstract:
The TED audience will recognize Hugo's supernatural giant with a thousand heads and a thousand arms as an apt model for the role of space in global politics. Some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are being made, not in the language of law and diplomacy, but rather by contagious spatial formulas. Often at a remove from familiar legislative processes, these infrastructures generate defacto forms of polity faster than official forms of governance can legislate them.
For example, the infrastructural model for Dubai and Shenzhen — the free trade zone — provides one glimpse of the giant. In the early 20th century, the free trade zone was a fenced compound for storing custom-free goods. As those compounds began to incorporate manufacturing, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation began to promote the form as an industrial installation to kick-start the economies of developing countries. With administrations that are separate from tier host state, the zone offers exemptions were designed to avoid local bureaucracy, soon every corporation and every urban function wanted in. As a test of free market principles, China adopted the form for an entire city, first and most notably in Shenzhen, and incentivised urbanism has since become a global addiction. HITEC City in Hyderabad or King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia join scores of other similar zone "cities" around the world. Many adorn their corporate office parks with glittering skyscrapers and ecstatic signals of national pride as they celebrate entry into a network of similar zones. Growing exponentially, zone cities appear in almost every country — some a few hectares, some a few kilometres in size. The zone has swallowed the city.
The book is available in two formats: Kindle and iPad (check out your local Amazon and iTunes for further information). I will go back to this ebook for a review soon.

Source: CLOG, Still City Tokyo, Uncube Magazine, Scarcity contra Austerity, NCR-06 Industry - Dirty City/Istanbul Design Biennial, The Guardian, Still City.

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