Table and chairs for WAM

  I have completed a new set of table and chairs for a client in Beijing. The pieces are prototypes but will be developed for production in the next few months.

EastWest

The table is called EastWest and echoes the architecture within which it will stand; one of Beijing's best preserved Qing dynasty courtyard houses in Heizhima hutong, just North of the IFP Studio. The name is also a reference to a book When East Meets West by Werner Blaser which draws parallels between the work of modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and traditional Chinese and Japanese wood architecture. The table is made in pinewood, also frequently used in Japanese furniture, treated with wood oil and white pigment to keep the wood from turning yellow with time. The legs protrude the table top in the shape of crosses, which helps increase the contact surface between the top and the legs, as well as referencing Mies frequent use of the cross in building elements.

WAM_stol_EW08

WAM_stol_EW07

IMG_7294

IMG_7292

Untitled

The chair Untitled is a simple dining chair made from solid wood, with the seat and back in nylon bands, normally used in clothing, bags and accessories. The entire frame is made from square profile ashwood, drawing inspiration from Donald Judd's minimalist furniture and Sol Lewitt's grid structures. I have adjusted some of the angles to provide more comfort for everyday use, and tapered the bottom of the legs to make the chair look lighter. The bands making up the seat and back are wrapped around the wooden frame several times in an ad hoc manner, to give a more complex texture to the chair. Compared to a wooden seat and back, the bands adapt to the body and allows for longer-term use.

WAM_stol_EW01

WAM_stol_EW03

WAM_stol_EW04

WAM_stol_EW12

New residency programme

  IFP_logo

Finally, after months of preparation, the Institute for Provocation is launching a new residency programme in collaboration with IASPIS. The 2-month residency is open for Swedish visual artists, architects and designers and starts in August this year. Deadline for applications is May 8, application here.

 

More information:

Iaspis – the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s international program for visual art, architecture, design and craft – announces a new residency collaboration with the Institute for Provocation (IFP) in Beijing during 2013-14. The residency is open to applications from visual artists, architects and designers, and is thematically focused on the topic of public space in China.

Residency period: In 2013, two separate residencies of two months each are offered to two candidates, one from August 22 - October 22, and one from October 20 - December 22. Please indicate on the application form which period you are applying for.

Application deadline: 8 May 2013

Application procedure: The Iaspis delegation of the Visual Arts Fund selects a shortlist from the received applications. The final selection of grant holders is made by IFP. Successful applicants are informed by Iaspis on behalf of IFP at the end of June.

Grant: The total sum of the grant is 50 000 SEK per person and residency. This should cover costs for return travel Sweden-Beijing, food, sustenance and eventual production costs over the 2 month residency. As part of the residency, IFP provides shared workspace, accommodation and a part-time assistant. Please see more detailed information below. About Institute for Provocation

The Institute for Provocation (IFP) is a Beijing-based workspace and think tank hosting residencies, research projects, workshops and lectures stretching the borders between visual and performing art, architecture and design. As a workspace, IFP focuses on the thinking process before or even beyond the actual creation of an artifact: the collection of dramaturgical information, the testing of different architectural scenarios, the summarizing of existing artistic vocabularies and realized projects, the experimenting with new media or disciplines, and so on. Space, territory and geography serve as bridges between many disciplines and IFP has a specific interest in research that proposes cross-disciplinary strategies to open up for inquiries into topics related to these notions.

IFP was originally established under the name Theatre in Motion (until 2010) by sinologist and dramaturge Els Silvrants and architect Shuyu Chen and has since 2005 collaborated with artists, architects and performers on a wide range of projects and residencies.

The studio and workspace is located in a 85 sqm renovated courtyard house in the old city of Beijing. The studio is shared with 1-3 other resident artist(s) and IFP staff, has basic facilities such as internet, projector and screen, basic hand tools, shared kitchen. The resident artist will be accommodated close to the studio in a private or shared apartment with private bathroom. About the residency

As a part of an ongoing research project into the conditions for public space in Chinese cities, the Institute for Provocation in collaboration with Iaspis invite artists, architects and designers to apply for a residency based around the topic of public space.

China's economic rise over the past three decades is the result of a conscious strategy in which cities are playing a key role. Urbanization has been and will continue to be the main instrument for bringing the people out of poverty and into a consumption- and service lifestyle. But as the existing cities sprawl out and new ones are built from scratch, little attention is paid to their spatial and social qualities. The massive leap in scale from the ancient architectures to the new forests of highways and high-rises that now dominate the cityscapes create an array of problems related to space, identity, environment and social and economic equity. The juxtaposition of opposites – formal and informal, open and closed space – shapes the syntax in the reading of the Chinese city.

The applicant is intended to form their own interpretation of the theme and eventually find a focal point for his/her research. Responsible for running the programme in Beijing will be Max Gerthel, Swedish architect and IFP collaborator since 2011, and IFP's artistic director Shuyu Chen. We will guide the artist and provide insights into China and Chinese culture, special knowledge about cities and public space as well as local contacts in various fields. The residency will revolve around research as the main activity, without any specific requirements from the host organization regarding output or production by the artists in residence.

The purpose of this thematic residency programme is both to have a close dialogue and exchange between IFP and the artist, as well as to create more continuity, as each artist contributes to a larger body of research. This accumulation of knowledge, observation and interpretation can thus be shared internally, but also to the local community.

As a part of Sessions, IFP's public programme, the artist will have the possibility to present themselves and their work, listen to other practitioners and take part in discussions. There will also be possibilities of collaboration with external institutions for lectures and/or academic exchange. The residency will also be announced through IFP's network and newsletter, further enhancing the artist's visibility in China.

Residents will be provided with a desk space in the shared workspace of IFP's studio, accommodation in the vicinity of the workspace, a part-time art assistant providing interpretation/ translation and other assistance, support and guidance from IFP staff and opportunity to meet other artists in related fields. If the resident wishes to bring their partner/family for the full length of the residency s/he must inform IFP two months in advance. Any extra expense for accommodation of related guests will be carried by the resident.

IFP Sessions: Maurice Carlin

For the second IFP Sessions of 2013, Institute for Provocation will host Manchester based artist Maurice Carlin, who is the current resident artist Homeshop . His work revolves around the practice of publishing, defined as ‘the creation of a public’, a collective consciousness built around actions in public space.

Maurice will give a talk about his work and how it has developed from his experience of self-organisation through Islington Mill Art Academy, a peer-led experiment into alternative modes of art education. Islington Mill is a mixed-use building providing artists with incubation, production, collaboration and performance spaces. Home to over 50 cross-disciplinary studios, an artist-run B&B, gallery, residency and club spaces, it occupies a unique position within the UK, and has evolved over eleven years to become the cultural haven that it is now.

Maurice's work has been featured in publications including Frieze, The Guardian and A-N. Recent shows include First...Next...Then...Finally, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2013), Blanco Blanco, La Escocesa, Barcelona (2012), Self Publisher and Other Works, Banner Repeater, London (2011), How to Stay Awake, MCP, Antwerp (2011) Other Forms of Life (with Bik van der Pol), AND Festival, various locations (2010) and Beyond the Dustheaps, Dickens House Museum, London (2010).

IFP Studio, Saturday, April 6 at 6 pm (18:00 for our 24 hour friends)

The talk is held in collaboration with Homeshop, and the following day we will join there to take the discussion further. Se below.

 

Open discussion at homeshop

What are the challenges of establishing and running an independent art space/community? What possible structures can enable an independent art space to become independent of its core team? From another perspective, is there a line that separates, blurrily, an art practice from institutional organization, and what are the critical capacities proper to the different gradations?

On Sunday, Institute for Provocation will be joining Michael from Homeshop, Maurice from Islington Mill and others to launch a discussion around the topic of independent art spaces. Since we all represent various types of art spaces and collectives, we thought it fit to share our experiences in a public format, inviting everyone in to join this moment of self-reflection.

We have lined up with even more questions such as:

What contexts or practices does your space arise from? Who do you consider your "stakeholders"? What is the distribution of locality/international among your concerns? How long have you been active? What have been some changes during the life of your space? e.g. moves, reorganizations, renamings? Is there a separation between your physical space and your "project"? Is the space an institution? What necessitates or allows such a title? Is the space a form of artistic practice? Is authorship involved? How do you fund your space? How much does this enter into the activities that you consider your core concern? How are decisions made? How does this shape what takes place? Do you consider the way you run your space as a "model"?

Sunday, April 7 at 6 pm at Homeshop, Jiaodaokou beiertioao number 8

Welcome!

Metamorphosis

I had seen some of Günther Domenig's work, but this bank (sic) building in Vienna is outright bizarre. I don't know whether to be excited or disgusted... but for sure some of the ideas carried out here are epic. The guy must have read Kafka's Metamorphosis during the concept phase because if it doesn't look like a giant insect of a bank building, I don't know what.

 

This looks mostly like the underside of Darth Vader's mask in scale 50:1

And the inside is somewhat anatomical...

Domenig, who sadly passed away last week, is one of those extremely talented visionaries who became hugely influential among a younger group of architects; Wolf Prix, Zaha Hadid, Thom Mayne, the ones that were better at branding themselves and reaching out internationally. The few buildings that were built by this master are worth a closer look, as they will reveal the source for much of the formal language seen in many projects by the above mentioned above (and others).

Read more at: http://www.domusweb.it/en/from-the-archive/remembering-gunther-domenig/

Best album of 2012

John Talabot - Last Land from Stroll TV on Vimeo.

 

Runner-up:

Matthew Dear - Beams

Matthew Dear - Her Fantasy from SonoroHelicoidal on Vimeo.

 

And  according last.fm, this is what else I listened to:

Grizzly Bear - Shields

The XX - Coexist

Cat Power - Sun

The 2 Bears - Be Strong

College - Northern Council

Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

The Weeknd - Trilogy

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine Jubilee Edition

Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn't

Rodriguez - Searching For Sugar Man

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

Drake - Drake

Gotye – Making Mirrors

Incarnations – With All Due Respect

Active Child – You Are All I See

Glasser – Ring

IFP Sessions #4: Hans van Houwelingen

 

On November 24, the Institute For Provocation here in Beijing will host a talk by the Dutch conceptual artist and sculptor Hans van Houwelingen.

Hans van Houwelingen mostly works within the realm of public space and his artworks often take on ideological contradictions and ambiguities, representing them in a physical form.

Feel free to join us at the IFP Studio, heizhima hutong 13 at 6pm. More information about the artist here.

UPDATE:

The talk was very interesting and lead to the eventual interruption of the presentation as a discussion over one of the works (proposal for a memorial for guest workers in Rotterdam) became extensive. Indeed the conceptual nature of Hans' works are open to interpretations and criticism of various kind, and I definitely enjoy the way he discusses the meaning of things, rather than their formal attributes.

Below some photos of the talk.

Omni table now in production

After spending the last four months in Sweden I have found a producer for the Omni table and it is now in production and sold through the furniture shop OLSSON & GERTHEL in Malmö. The table top is make in solid oak and comes in three finishes: Black stained, white oiled or natural soap treated. Black painted steel frame. More finishes and sizes coming soon.

You can order the table here, free delivered in Sweden, please contact OLSSON & GERTHEL for information about overseas shipping.

IFP Session #2 Film screening

Tonight at 6 pm in the our studio, Institute For Provocation will host Belgian filmmaker Bram van Paesschen who is screening his latest film Empire Of Dust. The film depicts the reality of the Chinese involvement in Africa through the eyes of two middle-men in on the ground in Congo Kinshasa. Synopsis: Lao Yang and Eddy both work for a company called CREC (Chinese Railway Engineering Company). They have just set up camp near the remote mining town of Kolwezi in the Katanga province of the RDC. The goal of the company is to redo the road – covering 300km - that connects Kolwezi with the capital of the province Lubumbashi.

Lao Yang is head of logistics of the group. He is responsible for the equipment, building materials and food (mainly chickens) to arrive in the isolated Chinese prefab camp. The Congolese government was supposed to deliver these things but so far the team hasn’t received anything.

With Eddy (a Congolese man who speaks Mandarin fluently) as an intermediate, Lao Yang is forced to leave the camp and deal with local Congolese entrepreneurs, because without the construction materials the road works will cease. What follows is an endless, harsh, but absurdly funny roller coaster of negotiations and misunderstandings, as Lao Yan learns about the Congolese way of making deals.

Bram van Paesschen

Born 1979 in Vilvoorde, Belgium. Graduated in 2002 from Sint-Lukas in Brussels, film/video specialization documentary. Lives and works in Brussels. (Except for when he’s elsewhere)

The work of Bram Van Paesschen is indebted to various traditions of documentary filmmaking, from "classical" to fake documentary and essayistic formats. What unites this very diverse body of work is a sometimes radical, sometimes playful reflection on the rapport between the filmmaker and the filmed, as well as the necessary and responsible involvement of both in creating the documentary artifact. (Katrin Mundt)

Date & Time: Saturday March 10 at 6pm in the IFP Studio, Heizhima hutong 13, Dongcheng District, Beijing.

Because of the limited space, please notify us by email to max@iprovoke.org if you plan to attend the screening and following talk. And please don't arrive after 6.30! Thank you

Junkitecture and wood SUV's

This text was originally posted on the blog of the upcoming workshop I am currently organizing in my studio, starting next week. Through the collection of reference projects, I have come across a few very interesting practices, and here is one of them:  

The work of German duo Köbberling Kaltwasser address a very contemporary issue with sophisticated social criticism and humour. Through their remodeling of redundant commodities: turning scrapped cars into bicycles, raising self-made pavilions from debris on empty lots in Berlin, and building a temporary theatre out of disused woodboards and pallets, they are seemingly interested in the processes of consumtion and its environmental impact. But this is not an idealist practice with a "save-the-world" approach. The issues they address also reach beyond the idea of reuse.

As an artist-architect couple, Folke Köbberling and Martin Kaltwasser also deal with sensitive ideological aspects of their own native country of Germany. By building full-scale models of Audi and Porche SUV's, they are poking at something deeply embedded in the identity of the engineered German society: Despite its ability to solve serious problems, most of the engineering ingenuity goes into creating advanced metal monsters for consumption with giant's appetite for fossil fuels, eating up valuable land in our cities.

Below a few of their works:

Musterhaus (Model House), Berlin 2006

Built on a green area of the Martin Gropius Bau premises in Berlin, the Musterhaus (Model House) is a one-family prefab model house. In its cube shape it rather resembles the T-Com House, a hightech house which a manufacturer of prefabricated houses has put on show in central Berlin to advertise the delights of suburban life. In contrast to this, we have made the Musterhaus from materials that are widely available on Berlin’s streets, disused lots and building sites: bulky scrap, used materials, random finds and construction waste. We put these production cycle rejects to new use and imitate the cultural technique of direct, sustainable, user-based recycling which is primarily practiced in the southern hemisphere. The Musterhaus brings the globally prevalent concept of informal building, which has also characterised the recent urban development of Istanbul, to the heart of central Berlin. The Musterhaus, just a stone’s throw from Potsdamer Platz, forms a marked contrast to the Berlin monoculture of block buildings and the rigid plans for the city’s urban development.

 

 

Jellyfish theatre, London 2010

Built from locally sourced discarded materials by 100 volounteers during the summer of 2012, the Jellyfish was used as a theatre for the Red Room Theatre Company. Seating 120 and featuring a lounge, dressing corridor and backstage area, the creation also created quite a lot of PR for the theatre, igniting discussions about the Themes South Bank area in which it was placed.

 

Crushed Cayenne (2007)

 

Koolhaas on ice

 

"SPIEGEL: Just now, when we were in HafenCity, standing in the new Unilever headquarters building designed by the Behnisch architecture firm, you said that ugliness can make a building more open.

Koolhaas: I don't think the Unilever headquarters is ugly. But the building is more disorganized and more chaotic. And disorder can have a stimulating effect. It is more accessible to people than a rigid form. What's more, it was louder there. But, with time, you'll get louder here. You seem a little unhappy with this building that was built for you. And you are skeptical about this new neighborhood in which the building is located. I get the feeling that what you need from me isn't so much an interview as an hour of therapy."

For more architectureal acidity read the full interview here.

Spring Festival workshop 2012

From January 30 to February 12, I will host a workshop in our studio in Beijing together with architect Jordan Kanter. The workshop will investigate the nature of the hutong as a public space through reiterative analytical processes, with the aim of introducing architectural intervention(s) in the city. We will also host a number of lectures during the course of the two weeks.

Below a short introduction:

 

ITERATE workshop 2012

This workshop aims to create new perspectives for activating, illuminating and informing new meaning to the everyday spaces of the city.  Working in the neighborhoods, streets and hutongs of Beijing, we will identify and define ongoing patterns of use, materializations and micro-topologies as a catalogue of the urban experience.

Using a variety of computational tools, including the KML language in Google Earth and the Processing coding language, we will develop techniques to operationalize this data as dynamic diagrams.  These diagrams, in turn, will guide and inform a series of interventions back into the public space.  The process is inherently iterative, alternating between observation, activation and evaluation of the intervention, constructed with new or reconfigured material on the site.  The computational diagrams function as a mediating framework between these modes of work by charting and informing the interventions as an ongoing emergence. The first part will be a series of exercises familiarizing ourselves with the site and the scripting tools, proceeding to the formulation and execution of rigorously conceived, team-based projects engaging (physically, virtually or both) the public space of Beijing.  It will culminate in a review by an outside jury and a public showing (and possible publication) of the work.  A lecture series exploring the relationship of public space to politics, individual agency, computation, art and architecture will coincide with the workshop.

The workshop is open to architects, artists, planners, geographers, engineers, programmers and students of the above or other disciplines; anyone interested in exploring the intersection between design, computation and public space.

Instructors: Max Gerthel (SE) (KARCH, Tsinghua, HUST) Jordan Kanter (US) (Sci-Arch, Tsinghua)

Lecturers: See the workshop blog

Software: Processing Google Earth KML Rhino/Maya

Date: 2012-01-30 - 2012-02-12 Location: IFP workspace in a Beijing courtyard near Nanluoguxiang Cost: 2000 RMB for students 2500 for professionals

Apply by sending a brief portfolio (max 10 MB) to: hutongworkshop2012@gmail.com

Find more information on the workshop blog

Organizer: Institute For Provocation (Beijing)

Supporter: Huazhong University of Science And Technology (Wuhan)

 

Best of 2011

It's still a bit early to list the 10 best albums of 2011 as there's still a chance to release something brilliant, but I reserve the right to  shuffle things around before the year is over. In general, this year was a better year than most recent, and I made a few discoveries, as can be concluded from the list. There are quite a few newcomers, which pushed new releases by some of (previous?) favourites off the chart. Björk, Junior Boys and Jay-Jay Johanson all released new stuff this year, but their efforts never really took off and left me quite a bit disappointed. My all-time most frequently played artists list will be hard to budge though, since I tend to get tired of an album after just 10-15 plays, thus not allowing new artists to rise very high. I often find myself looking for the next big thing 3-4 plays down the line of an album I really like. Maybe also because I don't want to get tired of it so soon, and need to balance with something more difficult. Another sad thing is that I didn't go to ANY live show this year. Visits by big (and medium and small) artists remain scarce and the last show I saw was The Whitest Boy Alive in late 2011. There are a few venues for electronic music though, and occasionally some interesting names fly by for gigs. Come to think of it, didn't I see The Field in Dos Colegas? Nope, that was also last year...

Anyway, here's the list:

1. Planningtorock - W (DFA) This is definitely this year's biggest and most overwhelming musical experience. As a big fan of The Knife I was already sort of adapted to the dark twisted world of pseudo-gamelords and masked kidnappers with crow-bar nose jobs, but this shemale opened the door to a parallel universe, seemingly governed by a strange ageless dictator whose androgynous tunes stroked me just the right way. The songs just seem to come from a place I'm carrying around inside myself, but never been confronted with before. Extremely well composed and endlessly beautiful. Most raved-to song: Manifesto

Since I cannot make up the ranking order of my other most listened-to albums this year, I'll just list them and you can imagine which ones I like better. As if it mattered. But they're all not as excellent as Planningtorock.

Jay-Z + Kanye West - Watch The Throne

Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise

Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

Radiohead - The King Of Limbs

James Blake - James Blake

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

Kate Bush - Director's Cut

SBTRKT - SBTRKT

Crystal Fighters - Star Of Love

 

IFP Sessions No 1

In the past few weeks I have been planning a lecture series hosted by Institute For Provocation, the art organization with which I share my studio space here in Beijing. The lecture series we call IFP Sessions is a public event and a contribution to the wider discourse on art, architecture and design in China. For each session we invite someone to present their recent work, followed by a talk with other invited guests. Our ambition is to create a forum for artists, researchers and designers based in or visiting China, to share and discuss their work. Last Wednesday we hosted a lecture by Brendan McGetrick who is a writer, editor and curator, to present his work as curator of the exhibition Un-Named Design at the Design Biennale in Gwangju, Korea. The exhibition was initially a collaboration with Ai Weiwei but following his arrest in April, was carried out by Brendan as chief curator together with Michelle Liu, Naihan Li and a group of students from the Oslo School of Architecture. The lecture was followed by a discussion with artist Tudor Bratu (currently in residence with IFP), art critic Mia Yu (PhD researcher on Chinese art at McGill) and architect Anu Leinonen.

Brendan's essay about the project for Gwangju biennale can be read here.

Below a few photos from the session. The next IFP Session will be on Nov 30 when architect Jordan Kanter will present his research on Tiananmen square and Mao symbolism.

 

Zero Energy Slum

The other day I paid a visit to the newest addition to Huazhong Architecture School in Wuhan where I am currently teaching. I had found this Panoramio photo with description on Google Maps and I got curious to see what these new premises were housing. I quote from the description (presumably written by someone highly involved in the project): "The national demonstration project of renewable energy building in Huazhong University of Science and Technology, approved by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, is dedicated to construct a teaching or office building with renewable energy use to adjust temperature and comfort all year in hot summer and cold winter area. To begin with, the project has taken advantage of Active Dynamic Hollow Walls (ADHW) with fluid air layers and climate adaptive windows. Furthermore, renewable energy, collected and stored by circulating water in the underground heat sink or heat source, has earned its position in the project because of the local advantage of an underground temperature annul balance. Fresh air exchanges heat with the water containing renewable energy in an under-floor radiator to adjust its own temperature. The fresh air is released into the indoor through an under-floor air supply system, thus regulating comfort in an indoor environment. In addition, the annul power consumption of the comfort regulation system is no more than the annul power generation of solar cells on the roof of a building. In a word, buildings in the project succeed in utilization of solar energy, underground heat sink in summer and heat source in winter for anti-reason use and have achieved the goals of saving of energy, land and water along with building materials, of environmental protection and of pollution reduction."

High ambitions, no doubt. Actually, whether or not this building lives up to its environmental claims become quite irrelevant when confronted with the architecture and construction materials. Below are a few photos I took of the inside, and bear in mind that this building is built less than two years ago:

As an experiment to show that these energy-saving technologies are efficient, this building might be successful on paper. But the extraordinarily poor quality of design and materials completely undermines the possibility of convincing anyone that these techniques are compatible with ordinary construction procedures in China. Building it in the first place is not only a waste of money and materials, but a liability to the real research and work that is going on to find truly sustainable solutions to housing construction.

The art of being difficult

 

I am reading an article in the Guardian about almost-forgotten British architect hero James Stirling. He is one of those curious types that never really made any big landmarks, but still managed to cause quite a stir in his time. According to the article, and another one I found on line, this had a lot to do with his personal traits: Charming, funny, confident, ostentatious and a general clodhopper. He might not have been the most talented architect but always very ambitious, and he teamed up with more precise associates with whom he produced, in a small number of cases, brilliant pieces of architecture. Some of them still suffer from those ambitions; extravagant amounts of thin glazing which causes serious overheating and malfunctioning plan organisations, but they still look amazing; floating, eclectic, complex and elegant. Especially Leicester University Engineering building looks like a masterpiece. More beautiful photos by Quintin Lake here.

I clearly remember my first, and so far probably my only first-grade encounter with a Stirling building. It was, not surprisingly, the Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart. Cosidering I was nine or ten at the time, I was allowed to stay outside in the green swooping glass foyer and ended up running up and down the entrance ramp, lined with funny pink and blue steel tubes. I had never seen this kind of building before; colourful and playful, and great for physical exploration, up and down and through the round passage of the sunken sculpture garden. I thought the place was designed for children! It was only later I learned about his ideas for the interior, of special views and spatial surprises.  The second time I was in Stuttgart with my father, only 5 years later, I was already appreciating the building in a more mature manner, but unfortunately it was a Monday so it was closed.

 

 

He was given the Pritzker Prize in 1981 (incidentally the year of my birth) but let's for once conclude that the similarities between the Pritzker and the Nobel are more than the prestige: The jury have done quite a few blunders through the years, with the peace prize to Henry Kissinger perhaps being the crown error. Maybe Stirling actually deserved it, but I'm sure it also pissed some people off, and if I am to guess, they were the one's who had worked with him. And as with this year's winner, I can think of quite a few other names of more talented and dedicated architects to better deserve the prize.

More photos of Stirling's works are found on Flickr: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/tags/jamesstirling/interesting/

Beyond Index

It is an unusually creamy sky this morning. Yesterday broke the streak of 43 consecutive days of clear blue skies and sunshine and today is even worse. A reading from the US Embassy's air pollution meter shows a return to a state of public hazard to the point that it is beyond the index of 500. At 4 am this morning, the PM2.5 (nano particles) reading was 595, the highest I've ever seen. In november, this reading was called "crazy bad", probably the most accurate description, but was soon modified to "beyond index". Between 400 and 500, the reading is "hazardous". Which means we are currently in a state "beyond hazardous". Below are photos from my window, roughly the same view eastwards. From today and December 12. Congratulations if you can identify any similarities.

I like Chopin

My ears are ringing a bit after I just spent half an hour playing with the game above. Just click on it and you will get hooked. I tried everything: Geometric patterns, Tetris shapes, stacks, letters...it all sounds great. And my leg started jumping up and down in the first minute. Found on Prejka, it originates on this site. Great work!

It's amazing when you realize how easy it can be to make music, as long as someone (tech-savvy musician) has set up the game for you to play. And because music is all about intuition, there is no way of going wrong.

Above is just one of the patterns that came up. Making it made me think about how I was alternating between thinking of the pattern and the music as I was playing. Sometimes it sounded better, but then the pattern was slightly irregular, but when I built a regular pattern, it didn't sound very interesting. Makes me think about architecture and the way we as architect often try to reduce and refine our drawings until they become regular and "correct". If it was music, it would probably be very boring to listen to. This makes me came to think about a lecture I attended this summer, with a Jan Henrik Hansen, a Swiss architect living in New York who has started to transform music into spatial objects; sculptures and patterns.

If the most interesting music is irregular, how come we keep defining irregular architecture as flawed and unfinished. I guess you need to be a master to master irregular and ambiguous space. Taking the example of a real master, Álvaro Siza Vieira builds in a modernist tradition using white rendered walls as his main material, yet he never reproduces the regular grid. The buildings always have irregularities and variations which make them pleasing to the eye in the same way you might enjoy Debussy rather than a regular scale.

Finally, a new song (Feist cover) from a young man whose music I am really enjoying at the moment:

James Blake - Limit To Your Love