teahouse, jun igarashi

two-in-one lunchtable plus underground tea room. i want.


muschamp, loos, george michael

"even if architecture cannot reform society, it can clarify our vision of the status quo."
herbert muschamp

fact hunting on the subject of adolf loos's three-year stay in the u.s. of a. i found this charming (i daresay retro) little muschamp piece, called "austro turf." try to pay as little attention as possible to the fact that he quotes george michael.



"nostalgia (in architecture) convinces the viewer because the actual events of the past have been forgotten. in fact, the past is not the issue at all; it serves merely as a 'rosy' container for the anxieties of the present."

norman m. klein, the history of forgetting



"fractals with les baxter"

summer looming. first official hot day in barcelona. water shortages and no eggs due to the transportation strike. calls for exotica.

to the fair!

since the eighteen-hundreds, the world had never seemed so nineteenth-century.


bipolar living

the aftercity is bipolar, neurotically split. compare recent reports on contemporary urban living, here or here with here. tijuana spilling over to san diego, mumbai tearing itself into bits (healthy and diseased, although it remains unclear which is which), and london just tearing itself apart from the rest of us, dazed and glazed it its preciousness. which one hints at things to come? they all do.
Blogged with the Flock Browser


bury the architects

architecture and urbanism graced the pages of this past weekend's nytimes magazine. i wasn't particularly surprised, but a bit disappointed, that even in a relatively forward-thinking context (and possibly my favorite day-to-day source of information), architectural perspectives still smell of the old and spent. a long nic ouroussoff piece on the instant city phenomenon not only stutters on the same 'ol viewpoints (koolhaas, et. al.) and themes, but dangerously contributes to the clouding and distortion of these wild contemporary afterurban situations.

these are architects working on huge commissions from autocrats and sharpening the divide between wealth and poverty, with the pretext that “the old contextual model is not very relevant anymore” (jesse reiser dixit). maybe not the usual pulling shit out of your ass waxing on aesthetic and historical (authentic) as "contextual analysis" crap. but here and now the context -immediate, quick, shifting and crude- is as big of a deal as always, probably even more so. the tabula rasa b.s. is sustained on supersaturated political and economic strata. there is no possibility of "fine-grained texture of a healthy community" (at least not in the mean time)(see this proposal for "cohabitation", i.e. aesthetic apartheid) because this scheme doesn't coincide with the purpose of what's behind the architecture: money and power.

i'm fine with koolhaas being fine with building massive instrumental artifacts for authoritarian governments. but i really can't take mindless remarks like steven holl's:

“in america, i could never do work like i do here...we’ve become too backward-looking."

where is the context in a place like dubai or new chinese cities? it's the politics, stupid (not the style). urbanism is not about implementing an abstract, physically-driven "model": it sprouts from basic forms of social and economic threading. koolhaas is right, the heroic architecture of the xxth-century is dead. but modernist spoils (basically, in the form of style and approach) are still thriving.

"the particulars of place no longer matter." says mr. ourossoff. oh but they do. they are everything. without the political and economic particularities of places like dubai or shenzhen, there would be no architecture of this sort. period. the particulars of these places are making the architecture happen.

can you bury modernism without burying the modernists?


the architect as punk

santiago cirugeda gave a conference at the cccb last night. he's shorter than i expected. actually he looks like a kid, a little rascal, a rollicking misfit. he's cute and scruffy and has a big fat smile. he has to be the most unpretentious architect and speaker i've ever met (bordering on reckless). in a messy presentation, spiked with a foul mouth that delighted the audience, cirugeda did a quick overview of his heavier, hands-on building projects, like the aula abierta student shack at the university of granada, the art barracks on the roof of the university of málaga or the i want a house! temporary rooftop housing project (including a coquettish playmobil reenactment video).

cirugeda's work takes architecture as a means of confronting legal and political intransigence. his basic premise is that one can still do architecture without money, without a client, without a program, and even without a project. his philosophy is do now, ask later (or better sorry than safe). negotiation–be it in politics, architecture, or both–is never even or lineal, but a discontinuous process of positions and tactics that are constantly in flux. this adds to the spirit of an architecture that is quick, dirty, pragmatic and ephemeral. someone asked him what he hoped the future of his buildings would be. he replied, without haste: "i hope they disappear. imagine you fuck something up and it's standing there bugging everybody for years and years. who the hell wants that kind of responsibility? buildings should always be designed with and expiration date in mind." he admitted to creating fugly architecture, but charmed his way out of the muck, comparing his cooperative buildings with the ill-favored best friend that you can't help but love. for cirugeda building has to go back to its popular roots, understood as binding (and bonding).

he complained that most of the people in the practice take him for a buffoon, a sort of archicourt jester. there's something to it (he did a fantastic impersonation of richard rogers staring at infinity on the roof of the T4 in madrid), but hey, after all, clowns are usually the highlight of the circus. when i asked: santi, what drew you to informality? he said: my dad is in the military, and showed his pearly whites.



speaking in the broadest of terms, cities are basically great complex piles of shit; accumulations of active waste, both physical and abstract.


this is one of the original ca. 1960 promotional tv ads for ciudad satélite, the first american-style planned suburb in mexico (the 1940's-50's el pedregal, with its posh barragán-style modernist caserones scattered over a volcanic rock landscape and tied together by winding one-way circuits doesn't really count as middle-class suburb), the bastard brainchild of mario pani (mexican le corbusier, father of the multi, a developmentalist take on the unité d'habitation). satélite was supposed to be a "green belt" and provide "working class housing" but it was fueled by dirty interests (the land was property of former mexican president, miguel alemán) and turned into an aspiring middleclass nightmare of over 3 million people scarred with water scarcity, crime, congestion, informal subdivisions and a name for being mexican whitetrash heaven.

it takes spanish and at least faint notion of what satélite is these days to fully appreciate this, but here it goes:

lookie lookie lookie!
city ahoy! ahoy!
city ahoy! for you and for everyone to see
with its wondrous realities
don't look anywhere else, ciudad satélite has it all
water! electricity! telephones!
true and existing services
concrete pavement, sidewalks, sewage
everything finished with the best of qualities
public lighting, trash collection
everything working, not only projected
a unique shopping mall, open everyday from 9.30 am to 10 pm
where you'll find, just a few steps from home, everything that you need
schools! sunday mass!
in other words, a complete and finished city



my first barcelona rainbow (over the rooftops)
. . . . faggoty-ass post