Blog Archives: admin

Greased up muscle men smash through walls!

I just came across this frankly bizarre video that made me feel like it was suddenly time for a either a nap, or a big glass of cactus.

From what I can gather, the story goes like this:

I’m a Japanese (of course) body builder (which goes without saying) racing across town with my five buff buddies (and a…what? what is that? A… somehow sexy lady polar bear?), smashing through walls, running over taxis and ultimately attempting to shut down/pile upon a shifty grid iron player who has stolen my protein powder.

MY MOTHERF*ING PROTEIN POWDER!!

So, it’s actually a downloadable game for the wii, called Muscle March. Here’s the site, which is well worth a look, even if it is totally in Japanese and all you can do is, like me, randomly click around and squeal with glee.  For some reason there’s a wombat on the page. It’s like they’ve been reading my diary!

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Pics: World Environment Day

The Guardian has produced a nice little photo essay of the impact of pollution on poor communities in various places around the globe. The critical thing to remember, which is what keeps getting imprinted on me again and again this year, is these examples are not sad exceptions but are tragically normal. Click on the image to follow the rest of the images.

garbage-a-polluted-creek-003

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Purpose

This entry follows on from the excellent dialougue started by Monsieur Fincham, where he argued, amongst other things, that creating Architecture is an inherently intellectual activity and that Architects should be more aware of this.

I take something of a big-tent approach to design and architecture and prefer not to spend too much energy following the seams and fissures in language which are used to divide disciplines, and so I’m quite comfortable with the idea that design is an inherently intellectual activity.

I’d like to renew this discussion by exploring a specific aspect of these statements.  I am personally rather ambivalent about the need for Architecture or Architects to realise the intellectual component of their disclipline as I find the concept of Intellectualism, or the Intellectual rather void of meaning until there is some content poured into the phrase.  For my mind being intellectual is a means, not an ends, and is a rather neutral position until the ends are more explicitly explored.     So I’ve become curious to understand what the purpose of intellectualism is?

Purpose is itself an interesting word which in this context is meant to suggest force and direction rather than a neat resolution.  It asks what is the tractory of intent of Intellectualism?  Where does it lead?  I fear if we don’t ask these questions, and answer them honestly we risk becoming trapped by our own language, becoming imprisoned in our own textual constructions.

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I met the Walrus

I’ve been looking into various things around Gardening and the nature of Violence lately, and via www.point3recurring stumbled across this incredibly erudite interview with John Lennon by a 14 year old who broke into his hotel room. It was animated recently and nominated for an academy award.

“In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced him to do an interview. 38 years later, Levitan, director Josh Raskin and illustrator James Braithwaite have collaborated to create an animated short film using the original interview recording as the soundtrack. A spellbinding vessel for Lennon’s boundless wit and timeless message, I Met the Walrus was nominated for the 2008 Academy Award for Animated Short.”

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An Introduction to Free Range II

Barnaby Bennett & Tania Sawicki Mead

In 1968 when Nina Simone sung the haunting line ‘“What? Gonna happen now? In all of our cities?”. she was raising the spectre of the significant protest and civil unrest that affected America in the 1960s. The line is both a warning and a call to duty.  In the same year that saw the rise of the civil rights movement and the fall of Martin Luther King, the empire that was unable to contain the peaceful force of Kings message, had through the power of its technological might, gifted humanity one of its most consciousness altering moments. The first full view of Earth came from the moonbound Apollo 8 mission, during the waning days of the chaotic year of 1968. Because of the distance needed to see the entire circumference of the earth only 12 humans have ever witnessed it. The American Astronaut Bill Anders, who photographed the first famous pictures of the round blue shape in space, commented

“We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”

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A thought

NZ Politics.  I can’t help but be amazed by how badly the reconfiguration of Aucklands Council system is being managed.  Ultimately it is probably a good idea, but the speed and manner in which Hide and Key are facillitating this process is terrible and abusive of their power.   I just don’t understand why Key is letting such bad publicity affect his government so early.  My prediction number one is that he has done a deal with Hide to let them have their way with Auckland if they shut up about Climate Change and let National return to some middle ground on this.  Notably Hide and the other Act MPs have stopped going to the select committee meetings about the current climate change review.

I am also really suprised with how quiet and obidient the Maori Party is being about the removal of Maori Representation from the new Greater Auckland Council.  I can only think that they too have been promised something big to keep them quiet and this would have to be the repeal of the Seabed and Foreshore Legislation.  This would be classic Key, he gets to make seemingly pro-environmental and pr0-maori gestures which in reality are weak and don’t change the reality of the alternative agenda they are quietly running behind the scenes.

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some hope for justice

In the endless struggle between the awesome power of the multi-national corporates and national justice systems there are occasionally seminal cases which become defining precedents.  The court case surrounding the tragic death of Nigerian environmentalist and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa is about to start, and it has Shell under intense international pressure.

Keep an eye on this, it will be very interesting.

Link to Guardian Story.

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Hopefully a monsoon cleaning, and not an ethnic cleansing.

I will post more soon, and in some depth about my thoughts on what is happening in Sri Lanka at the moment.  For now I am on the east coast in the beautiful but often violent town of Baticoloa.  We drove through around 20 military and police points yestersday to make it to an amazing Grand Opera performed by the local kids from the Butterfly Peace Garden here. The poem below is from a Ben Okri book  called Mental Fighting lent to me by Sam the landscape architect who is designing the new garden when it moves later this year, it is about humanity’s opportunities at the turn of the millinium but could just as easily be about the small sliver of hope that exists in Sri Lanka at the moment.

Everyone loves a spring cleaning.
Let’s have a humanity cleaning.
Open up history’s chamber of horrors
And clear out the skeletons behind the mirrors,
Put our breeding nightmares to flight
Transform our monsters with our light.
Clear out the stables
In our celebrated fables
A giant cleaning
Is no mean undertaking.
A cleaning of pogroms and fears
Of genocide and tears
Of torture and slavery
Hatred and brutality.
Let’s turn around and face them
Let’s turn around and face them
The bullies that our pasts have become
Let’s turn around and face them
Let’s make this clearing out moment
A legendary material atonement.

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Sort-of-Registered Architects

On an unrelated visit to the New Zealand Registered Architect’s Board website (I have at some point, I think, declared that I will never be a Registered Architect), I was drawn to a bold Notice, which grabbed both my attention and imagination, it reads:

“Notice

Annual Certificate of Registration invoices were mailed out on 15 May 2009. Payment is due by 20 June. 

Please note that, despite the economic downturn, the NZRAB cannot accept payment by instalments. Architects who cannot pay should consider taking voluntary suspension. As soon as they find work again, they can revive their full registration. This is done very quickly, once payment has been received.”  [NB, the cost of the ACR is $551.25]

 

This is obviously a horrible situation for some Registered Architects, who may be forced to suspend their registration, and risk future employment.  The effects could be drastic.

 After recently attending a presentation by Geoff Manaugh (of the prolific www.bldgblog.blogspot.com) I felt compelled to ponder in a speculative manner, both conservatively, and perhaps a bit radically.

 

The chain of effects branches out in all sorts of directions.  Firstly, if the population of Registered Architects plummets, will the Registered Survivors pounce on all the Registered Work?  Will the Registered Survivors (most predictably the handful of larger offices in New Zealand) gain an even greater monopoly of project procurement, escalating an already apparent homogeneity across New Zealand’s larger projects?  Will larger practices cull their registrations, leaving a Grand Master Registrant to sign each project off, and might the GMR be a scapegoat, or a powerhouse?

For the Voluntarily Suspended, what will practice life be like?  What might be the legal risks of a temporary sojourn from the tribe?  What about having to change all your letterheads and business cards, to remove the coveted “Registered” from your professional status?

In a reverse swing of fate, will the lost fees from the Suspended cripple the NZRAB?  Will architects be forced to gather in their community cliques, re-inventing new codes and costumes to signal their allegiance to the Architects Act?  These factions could incite highly competitive and wonderfully innovative design practices, fighting over project as if it were the last (which it could be)…

I am in the end inconclusive about whether less Registered Architects might be a good thing, or an indifferent thing.  I just haven’t met enough Registered Architects I suppose, but I feel spontaneously that I would prefer to meet the Illegal ones.

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The many (and varied) roles of the architect

It is often said that an architect’s role is that of a generalist; that is one who not only has to draw from many fields of knowledge, but also collaboratively orchestrate that expert knowledge through a rigorous design process to eventually create architecture (one would hope).
As Vitruvius states in book one of his ten books on architecture, when talking about the education of an architect:

‘To be educated, he must be an experienced draftsman, well versed in geometry, familiar with history, a diligent student of philosophy, know music, have some acquaintance with medicine, understand the rulings of legal experts and have a clear grasp of astronomy and the ways of Heaven.’

This holistic view for an architectural education may seem like it’s well established and even completely obvious (with possible exception of ‘some acquaintance with medicine’ perhaps), but something that should be given attention to is the very act of Vitruvius writing a treatise (in this case the ten books on architecture) in the first place for this cemented a very important role for the architect, which should not go amiss in this day and age; the architect’s role and responsibility as a social/public intellectual as well as a designer of buildings.

The practice of architectural journalism and the visual culture of architecture

In this sense it can be seen that the definition of an intellectual goes beyond the walls of academic institutions, where all it simply means is for one to use their own intelligence in a critical manner. The act of making can be seen as an intellectual activity for an architect, whether it is done through writing as a form of architectural journalism or the practice of designing buildings.

It is well documented that Le Corbusier dabbled in painting, sculpture as well as writing. Books in particular were of utmost importance to Le Corbusier’s intellectual life, as they were catalogues of images documenting the surrounding visual culture of the time, which in turn influenced his architecture. Architectural writing and journalism can open doors to new forms of inquiry, much like the way the Archigram magazine influenced a whole generation of architects and designers during the sixties, through its intellectual probes into futurist ideals and questioning the wider architectural scene at the time through the paper architecture of urban reinvention.

It can be seen that architecture is essentially a philosophy that goes beyond the ‘making of buildings’, where the words ‘architectural practice’ take on many fluid forms through architectural journalism, critical writing, curatorial work, architectural research and education as well as the design of buildings.

Dale Fincham

References

Cook, Peter (ed), Archigram, Archigram, 1972

De Smet, Catherine, Le Corbusier Architect of Books, Lars Muller Publishers, 2005

Vitruvius, Ten Books on Architecture, Ingrid D. Rowland and Thomas Noble Howe (eds), Cambridge University Press, 1999

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