November 29, 2008

Bright Lights, Big City

Following up on the last post, here are some tunes for your enjoyment while you browse the mockitecture.

November 27, 2008

City as Sex

Freud would say that sex is at the root of all subconscious.  He would also say that subconscious is at the root of all human activity. If the city is the construction of such human activity, then sex is at the root of all cities. Everything from storefronts full of scantily clad models to buses taking people to eventually fulfill their conquest for sex are the pulse of the city. Is this a by-product of consumer society, where advertising has taken over as organizer? Probably...but sex sells. Even our cars are based on bodies and sex. The car is adventurous, the city is romantic.

Most of our buildings are inexpressive of their interiors. This lack of transparency not-so-accidental facadery represent some of humankind's most sexual urges for privacy. What goes on behind the curtains in the windows of those buildings? That is not for us to know. The construct of the city as millions of private areas is City as Sex.FAT's Semi Dysfunctional House explores these themes about what goes on in the private sections (of a house in this case.) The public areas are designed with the ultimate goal in mind: privacy.

In his book Building Sex, Aaron Betsky outlines the inplications gender plays in creating space. Interiors and side spaces such as cafes, homes, and salons are feminine, warm sensuous spaces, while Exteriors, Streets, Public Spaces, and Monuments are cold, masculine constructions. How can we develop the ambivalent both-and of gender roles in constructing the city scape? In other words, can we have the desirable qualities of the interiors of our cafes, homes, and salons in our streets? Can irony and humor help fight the stark and violent gray of a city? What are the limits of the combative ironic warmth in the cold city? What is the cure for this cold, hostile environment that our cities have become? How does the boundary between interior and exterior, warm and cold, feminine and masculine break down?

November 26, 2008

Image as Force: Learning From Learning From Las Vegas

"Skeptical: erasure of context and denial of shared meaning"
"Ordinary: argues for the recovery of context and shared meaning through our 'ordinary' language"
In a new book, "I am a Monument," (2008, MIT Press), Aron Vinegar dispells the skeptical nature of Learning From Las Vegas. According to Vinegar, LFLV has been mischaracterized as only a "playfully ironic postmodern approach to architecture." While Venturi calls for the ordinary, there is hidden meaning within the text. The opposite of ordinary is skeptical. The extreme of skeptical is nihilism, where nothing matters. The extreme of ordinary is that everything matters, and we must do everything in our power to affect our community. While Venturi advocates the ordinary (via his preference for "Ugly-Ordinary" over "Heroic-Original"), Vinegar explores the hidden questions Venturi proposes about "the skeptical".

Vinegar describes this more serious side of LFLV:
It is a "subtle but trenchant analysis of the impact of commodity culture and media on language and architecture, and its critical role in determining how, or even if, it is possible to have a voice in talking about these effects at all."
What voice, if any, does architecture have?
"meeting the architectural implications and critical social issues of our era will require that we drop our involuted, architectural expressionism and our mistaken claim to building outside a formal language and find a formal language suited to our times."
Mockitecture deals with our times. It is not a physical representation of someone's political view, as is the case with much classical architecture. It is not a monument to wealth. It is a proactive expression, with in a context. It aknowledges its surroundings and responds to them, with a voice. The question is what does that voice sound like? How to columns become verbs, entrances become adjectives?

November 24, 2008

Buildings as Black Holes

Competition among surrounding luxury resorts and casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada has created an environment where each building attempts to "out do" their neighbor. The facade of the new Tropicana Casino in Vegas has been branded as a "WOW" experience by the architects, utilizing interactive media graphics on a glass facade to lure people into the casino. The interior rooms are, by contrast, very generic and not significantly important. The goal is to lure people in, thus creating a massive "black hole effect" on the Strip. As money continues to be pumped into the facades of such buildings, one has to wonder how far the "black hole" concept could be taken. Driven to the extreme, a superior building on the Strip would invest so much money in it's facade, that not enough money would be left for the interior, creating unsafe, and uninhabitable spaces. The very purpose of architecture - to create shelter - becomes threatened in this extreme case: luring in unsuspecting customers only to provide no way out. Black Hole Architecture.

Prada Meets the Wild West

Prada Marfa, located in the desolate West Texas landscape, off of the only major highway to cut through the area, blends advertising and art. It is a "time capsule" specifically designed to decay into the desert (through biodegradable adobe construction), responding to the dozens of decaying American frontier towns. Prada Marfa is part sculpture, part billboard, and part monument to America's consumer culture. For more images and description visit here (*image credits from linked website).

BarCode Building by Vitruvius & Sons

Yes, Vitruvius. This building is expressive of function. Literal references connect with the public, and convey messages more efficiently and directly than abstract imagery. Depending on context, this can be very useful. [more...]

November 21, 2008

The Front Lines: S U P E R S I Z E D stuff

Follies From France
I've always been fascinated with questionably large, over-scaled objects in the landscape.  They make me feel so small and unimportant::

November 20, 2008

International Competition for Inventive Architecture

International Design Competitions are the breeding grounds for ideas like mockitecture.  The International Competition for Inventive Architecture, judged by Peter Cook of Archigram, is one such competition.  This year's competition was sponsored by the nation of Cyprus.  Cypriot architecture has a rich history and is now at the center of modern Cyprus.  Politically and culturally, Cyprus is the bridge between the Middle Eastern and European people.

Two of the main traditions in contemporary Cypriot culture are coffee and backgammon.  This submission is a monument to those two cultural mainstays.  Excerpt of design intent below:
"Representing a new attempt at distinction, the return to pure form, the coffee house and public open space have been reinterpreted.  The iconic building references two activities essential to the Cypriot coffee house... coffee and backgammon.  these literal references engage and educate tourist, giving the coffeehouse new meaning.  Bouy-tables allow the open public space to reorganize itself, extending throught the beach and into the water itself."

November 19, 2008

The Front Lines: {[(r e t r o)]} fit

The Hayward Gallery, London
photographs from the 2008 Psycho Buildings Exhibition shows the roof of this brutalist building converted into a temporary lake where exploration into uncharted territory was facilitated by hand-made rafts::

November 17, 2008

DAMP: Design Art Mockitecture and Planning

This is Art Lebedev. I assume thats a person, and thats his real name. Lebedev. His work portrays the two most important themes of mockitecture: communication of culture and provocative irony (a.k.a. icons and statements).
The first example of Lebedev's work is the iconic and beautiful mac os 9 speaker icon speaker. An exemplary piece of mockitecture, it is a model for good looking iconography. The reference is there with out being to forceful. It is still legible, however, because it remains a direct image. The question is: Is it possible for an ambiguous, abstract image to retain the meaning inherit in the orginal object(s)? Can direct iconography and formal references be interesting without ambiguity?
Another of Lebedev's designs is the "Fuck the Rain" umbrella. It is a strong message delivered succintly and powerfully to the rain. I'm not sure if the rain would get it, but I do, and I think it is hysterical. From the website:
"From the rain's point-of-view"

November 14, 2008

Ricky Gervais meets Larry David

Check out this great conversation on humor and honesty from Larry David and Ricky Gervais. This is part 2 of 6.

November 11, 2008

Palin on Bloggers

After a historic and entertaining election season, Buildings Weekly is back. I chose not to cover the election, despite the McCain campaign's endless supply of material. They were begging me to post almost daily on the three ring circus that was McCain/Palin. I held back, and even pulled my knee jerk post about Palin being mockitecture. (Scary, terrible mockitecture.)

But I cannot help myself here. Apparently, Sarah Palin reffered to bloggers as "kids in pajamas." I will take offense to her insults as soon as she insults me in a complete sentence. Until then, no more Palin references, no matter how tempting.