urbanus vulgaris

urban life & culture / ideas & insights / innovation & development

Category: utopia

Brutalist architecture

by gailiute

brutalist-ski-resort_flaine-france_photography-essay_alastair-philip-wiper_dezeen_936_0

Today I came across an interesting article about 60s brutalist ski resort by Marcel Breuer, architect, known for Whitney Museun NY builbing among others (which recently reopened as the Met Breuer) and his iconic chairs – Wassily and B32.

This article is a photo-essay trying to explain the ambivalence of this architecture and in general is a nice way to spend few minutes of your time.

Alastair Philip Wiper finds “noble failure” at Breuer’s Brutalist French ski resort of Flaine

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We really need some big institutional housing programs again. ;)

by jiookrednav

 

 

 

 

And as a dessert a Japanese Gem from the 80’ies:

Today is a great day to publish an insight on creativity.

by jiookrednav

150104_John Cleese on creativity

Well I started to get interested in creativity about thirty years ago, because I went to a conference at Cambridge and I started reading the research and I started comparing it with my own experience and I got very, very interested in it and I also got interested in the fact, that basically once you’ve established one or two principles, that’s all you can say about it, because to sum up something I sometimes take three hours to say:

All creativity comes from the unconscious. If creativity came from logic and intelligence, then all the logical and intelligent people could do it. But they can’t. It all boils down to getting to a playful and relaxed frame of mind. Most of it has to do with relaxation, because unless you’re relaxed you can’t hear the promptings from the unconscious.

Nobody ever had a bright idea when they were attacking a machine-gun-nest. You see what I mean? If you’re occupied with activity -and that is one of the reasons why there’s so little creativity at the moment, because nobody gets any peace any more, because these damn things are ringing all the time, and beep there and you know. You sit down, another e-mail comes in. It’s absolutely poison, because interruptions and anxiety will kill any kind of creativity.

You have to get in an atmosphere where you’re a little bit in a cocoon of you’re own, you close the door or you go sit in the park and you just stay quiet and for 20 minutes nothing happens, because you can only think of the things you ought to be doing: You know, people you forgot to telephone…, so you have to have a little notebook and you write those down and after 20 minutes, the mind starts to calm down, just as it does in meditation, it’s almost an identical process. And then if you start thinking about the subject, not too hard, you don’t want to get tense, play with the thought, and you get little ideas start popping up, but if you’re mind is full of, zoom, zoom beep, beep, you’ll never hear those little ideas, it’ll be drowned out you see what I mean?

This remarkable insight was explained by John Cleese in this interview, starting at about 52 minutes: http://www.npo.nl/college-tour-special-john-cleese/25-12-2014/VPWON_1234760

And here’s some more from Cleese on this blog:

As well as identifying that ideas and breakthroughs percolate in the deep recesses of our brain, Cleese talked about some of the key, practical traits of truly creative people. In doing so he told a story of Brian Bates, a psychology professor at Sussex University. Intrigued by how the creative mind works, Bates chose to study the work practices of architects, because the profession required the combination of two brains in the creation of beautifully groundbreaking yet structurally sound buildings.

“He did a very simple test. He asked various architects to name who, in their opinion, were the most creative architects in the field. He then asked those creative architects to tell him what they do from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed. He then went to the uncreative architects—without perhaps explaining that’s why he was talking to them—and asked them the same thing. Then he compared the two. He discovered two differences, and neither was to do with intelligence.”

“The first thing he discovered is that the creative architects knew how to play. They could get immersed in a problem. It was almost childlike, like when a child gets utterly absorbed in a problem. The second thing was that they deferred making decisions as long as they could. This is surprising.”

“If you have a decision to make, what is the single most important question to ask yourself? I believe it’s ‘when does this decision have to be made’? When most of us have a problem that’s a little bit unresolved, we’re a little bit uncomfortable. We want to resolve it. The creative architects had this tolerance for this discomfort we all feel when we leave things unresolved.”

“Why would those two things be importance? The playfulness is because in that moment of childlike play, you’re much more in touch with your unconscious. The second is that when you defer decisions as long as possible, it’s giving your unconscious the maximum amount of time to come up with something.”

Summing it up, he narrows it down to 5 Lessons in this lecture (transcript here). “Creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of operating”:

150104_John Cleese on creativity 02

  1. Space (“You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures.”)
  2. Time (“It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.”)
  3. Time (“Giving your mind as long as possible to come up with something original,” and learning to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time and indecision.)
  4. Confidence (“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”)
  5. Humor (“The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else.”)

 

Flashback: Some 25 years ago some people had their first banana.

by jiookrednav

titanic-banane

Meet “Zonen-Gaby”  from the Germany Democratic Republic. This year the “Mauerfall” is 25 years ago and I saw this legendary magazine-cover from 1989 in today’s newspaper. ;)

The cover takes a pun at traditional media of the time, that portrayed the new Germans with western consumer goods and western products reducing new found freedom to, well, consumption.

E.Howard’s garden city vs. URBED’s garden city: spot the difference

by gailiute

540c47c5c07a808f0a0000bc_urbed-s-bold-proposal-to-reinvigorate-the-garden-city-movement_uxcester_-_snowflake_diagram-530x530

The Wolfson Prize, initiated in 2012, this year asked competitors to explore “the best delivery plan for a new garden city”. This years winning entry from British urban design consultancy URBED (Urbanism, Environment, Design) proposed to reenergise the Garden City (GC) movement, first conceived by Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1898.

“David Rudlin and Nicholas Falk’s submission argues that forty cities in England, including Northampton, Norwich, Oxford, Rugby, Reading and Stafford, could benefit from ‘GC status’. The award comes in the wake of polling conducted for the prize showing that 68% of the 6,166 Britons polled thought that  would protect more countryside than the alternatives for delivering the housing we need.” (quote from here).

If you read URBED’s proposal (can find it here) it seems that their are not really trying to re-invent a wheel, instead just merely adapt what was once written and drawn by E.Howard.

So my question that arose while checking this award and winning entry is this: why competition asks to revitalise Garden Cities idea? wasn’t it long ago rejected as romantic utopia?

As Richard Rogers, strong opponent to this movement points out: (this) “ridiculous concept” risks “emptying out existing cities and that is a ridiculous idea.” One of his arguments is that GC idea – the play toy of major political parties  in recent years, would bring benefit first and foremost to the developers, as greenfield is much easier and cheaper to develop in comparison to numerous brown-fields within existing cities and their centres. R.Rogers says ““We have 61,000 hectares of brownfield land in England and the government has approved half of it as potentially suitable for development. That would allow 1.3 million dwellings to be built even at a low density.” (You can read more here or full article here)

So again, even this one argument (not to mention revitalisation benefits of inner cities, cost for traveling from new suburban cities to city centres, benefits of existing social, spatial and economic tissue in the inner cities, etc) gives me a strong feeling that something becomes fundamentally wrong in UK if they want to revitalise GC idea.

 

Or do I miss something?

 

Strelka Talks. From welfare city to neoliberal utopia

by gailiute

One more interesting talk from Crimson Architectural historians. Enjoy :)

City apart from the world / where those, who want to leave are rare

by gailiute

THE OIL ROCKS – Behind this enigmatic name lies the first and largest offshore oil town ever built. A vast, sprawling web of oil platforms in the middle of the Caspian Sea, commissioned by Stalin in 1949.
Imagine: 2,000 oil rigs, 300 kilometres of bridges, rusty old Soviet trucks rolling back and forth, nine-storey building blocks, thousands of oil workers, a cultural palace, a lemonade factory, a green park…
Sixty years on, the Oil Rocks still stand. But two-thirds of the infrastructure has been regained by the sea. A kind of Oil Atlantis, only real.
Combining black-and-white archives from the Soviet era and contemporary footage, the film tells the story of this timeless place and of some of its amazing inhabitants.
It is the first time a Western film crew is allowed to make a documentary on the site since its creation.

Jeremy Rifkin: A New Era of Capitalism

by vytasvulgaris

Jeremy Rifkin about the current global development trends and “the third  industrial revolution”. About the emerging new political order, about the new generations of social entrepreneurs, about survival of human race etc.

Some more of Rifkin’s quite fascinating anthropological concept – Empathic Civilization (RSA Animate)

Bonnington Square

by vytasvulgaris

 

A docummentary film directed by Alistair Oldham

“Bonnington Square is right in the heart of London, just two minutes walk from the river and just ten minutes from the Houses of Parliament. In the early eighties the one hundred houses of the Square were all squatted, forming a bohemian community from all around the world.The squat had two community gardens, a cafe, a wholefood shop, a nightclub, a newsletter and even a milkbar. Although it is no longer squatted, there are still many low rent housing cooperatives, and the cafe and the gardens are still collectively run, and the Square is now a model of a modern sustainable urban community” (http://vimeo.com/36595608).

Jerry’s map

by gailiute

Some time ago I was thinking for a while what i perfect city would look like. well, maybe not a perfect, but the one that comes up only from your imagination. Mine would be partly on the gentle downhill with historical down town, one bottom-edge facing the waterfront of the huge lake (that on the other side transforms into the river or at least connects with other lake). packed with houses but with small pocket parks distributed densely throughout the city. And so on, and so on :)

The movie is about a man, who accidentally started drawing his own city and never stopped. for a few moments his talk about how his city transforms sounded very much like the real world behaviour.

Movie was found here:

http://ryeisenberg.tumblr.com/post/9521157949/iheartchaos-this-guy-started-making-city-maps

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