Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mapping Architectural Controversies

Just picked this up off the Volume Magazine RSS [], a course initiated and managed by Dr Albena Yaneva of Manchester University which attempts to map architectural controversies for projects such as the London Olympic Stadium. The method is transferred from the social-scientific community, based on the work of Bruno Latour, and seems to ascribe to the fashionable Actor-Network Theory []:

“The methodological and conceptual roots of this approach stem from the discipline of Science Studies, with the writings of the French sociologist and philosopher Bruno Latour forming the primary source for its subsequent development. Latour first developed his ideas in relation to the analysis of scientific and technological controversies in his book Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1987. Controversy analysis is also part of the Actor-Network-Theory developed in his most recent book Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. ”

The published work samples to date seem to have followed the London Olympic Stadium with some animated network diagrams, with a bunch more seemingly in pipeline. The project sounds interesting, I would be curious about the production of outcomes which might effect the design or regulatory processes of similar schemes, so that the work becomes more then the recording of traces and relationships, but I’m ahead of myself there without having gone into this in any considerable depth.

Here’s some more about the project and its supporters:

“Documenting and visualising recent controversies in architecture, it also aims to address a broader audience interested in the design of cities, spatial networks and built environments as well as planners, representatives of city government, NGOs and citizens. As it is a part of the EU-funded project MACOSPOL, Mapping Architectural Controversies draws on a variety of documental sources and visual methods to explore the multifarious connections of architecture and society.”

London Olympic Stadium Visualisation

Thoreau: not just an old crank in a cabin?

I had forgotten about this tidbit until recently when I accidentally clicked the link on my toolbar. It’s a great little piece from the folk Grist (“A beacon in the smog”), who are always good for environmental commentary with a dash of humour and a pinch of practical advices.

Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobediance

Thoreau is not someone that is talked about so much these days, at least not in my circles, but this article/book review argues for his relevance today, not as a hermit but as someone committed to ‘walking the talk’. There’s also a interesting aside on the context of ‘Walden’, written as it was in a time of an economic recession.

“Let your life be counter friction to stop the machine”

Call for submission.

Next Volume open for submissions:  ‘The Trickster: Today”

After two succesful Volumes of Freerange Magazine (Vol.1 and Vol.2 for free download) we are now inviting people to submit ideas for the next volume.  Freerange is changing its format slightly this year and will roll out 2-3 purely online smaller 20-30 page issues, which will culminate in a print version at the years end.   Have a read of the starting text below and see where that leads you…

The stories of our fore-bearers, our wise and brutal ancestors, tell us tales of events long before we laid our bare feet upon the earth. Folklore, mythology and religion reveal brilliant forces of light and dark, played out by a myriad of colourful characters.

There are a number of archetypal roles that link our own short lives to the activities of the gods, including that of the ‘trickster’. Many cultures have a central character that is an anthropomorphic animal or semi-divine demi-god, a mischievous rule breaker, artful swindler or independent outlaw. This character held an important purpose; to push accepted boundaries, to enter realms others were afraid of, to stir the waters, provoke thought and discussion, to speak truth to power.

The trickster is the court jester, the archetypal joker in the pack, the coyote, the neutral angel, the benevolent pirate. Although the trickster may cause collateral damage along their way, the change they create builds resilience and opens opportunities in the face of the inevitable pressures that this world inflicts.

But does the trickster exist today? If so, what roles do they play in modern societies? Are they the protesters, dissidents, radicals and revolutionists who challenge our systems of power, governments and ideologies? Or are they trouble-making drop outs who have nothing better to do but create societal discord? Can the trickster be found in the social entrepreneurs, the hopeful musicians, or urban artists? Maybe God is dead, but has capitalism now killed the trickster?

Submissions of interest are due on the last day of march.  Thats the 31st.

From 16

Freerange Press Launch: Tsunami Box

Freerange Press launches its first book:

Tsunami Box
By Gerald Melling

I am very happy to announce the launch of Freerange Press.  This is a new project that is going to start publishing the best of online freerange as a magazine, and a selection of new exciting writing from around the globe.  We are very lucky to start our publishing enterprise with NZ Architect/Author/Long Suffering Socialist/Poet, Gerald Melling of MellingMorse Architects. The book will be for sale at a much reduced price at the launch on the 26th of March, (details below) and for those not living in Wellington it will be available on the freerange website soon after the launch.  Our friends at the Architecture Centre in Wellington are hosting the launch.

“Tsunami box tells the story of an architectural journey into the heady tropics of emergency housing in Sri Lanka, following the Asian tsunami of 2004.

With tenacious commitment, an eye for detail, and a reckless sense of humour, architect and author Gerald Melling launches fundamental ideas about architecture onto the troubled waters of post-tsunami re-construction and hopes to see them float.

They sink, of course, but not without a trace – this book offers genuine insight into the nature of ‘good intentions’ and the anatomy of a useful architecture.

This is a great opportunity for freerangers to turn up en force, get some free booze, and show your suport for both Freerange and Gerald Melling.

Come along on Friday 26 March to LT1 at the Victoria School of Architecture, 5.30 pm drinks and nibbles, 6.00pm for Lecture and Book Launch. CPD points avail for NZRAB Architects. If you can, please RSVP so that we can gauge numbers, to

So we say!

After years of trying to cloud the public mind by calling it “piracy” instead of “unauthorised downloading,” key copyright industry reps are starting to realize that “piracy” actually sounds kind of cool. So now they’re lobbying for the even less intellectually rigorous term “theft,” which describes an entirely different offence, enumerated in an altogether different section of the lawbooks. This has all the dishonesty of calling everything you don’t like “terrorism” (or as my friend Ian Brown says, it’s like rebranding jaywalking as “road rape”).

link to full boing boing article.

I’m not quite sure why, but there is definately something very cool about pirates.  (and ninjas) Those sexy subversive bastards!

Remarkable Breaking news: The Leasons

quite amazing!  So three people break into a top secret facility, do something like a million dollars worth of damage as a protest, they get caught (on purpose), they get told of by the prime minister. Two years later the high court in Wellington finds them not-guilty.  I’m fascinated to see how this decision was come to. But in the mean time here’s to civil protest and independent courts!

read the short stuff article here

below is the interview the family of one of the defendants from freerange vol.2:

Extract from Freerange Vol.2: Gardening and Violence

WARNING for Aucklanders

Dear Aucklanders

Here at freerange we are concerned with things urban, designy and political. So the current changes to the governance of the greater Auckland region are of great concern.  As residence of this region I hope you are actively taking note of the corporate takeover that is happening to your fine city.  While Wellingtonian’s are wrestling to avoid another mayorally induced embarrassment, and the citizens of Melbourne are protesting about threats to their god given right to party loud and late, the young residents of Auckland seem asleep while billions of dollars of rate payed assets are been quietly shuffled over to corporate governance.

If there’s ever been a time to get angry and start protesting, this is it.  75% of Aucklanders hard earned resources, thats the water, the roads, council run facilities are about to be handed over to corporate styled entities that have no democratic control whatsoever.  Consider that for a moment, all the billions of wealth and future planning of it will be run by government appointed boards of directors with no oversight from Auckland Councilors or Mayors.   This is been pushed by a party that received 3.75% of the vote last election, the same folks that sold Telecom, sold the Railways and sold BNZ.   Add to this the fact that the current National governments promise not to sell any assets finishes in about 15 months,  these new entities will already be packaged and ready to sell by then.  Over half of the rate payers annual income will be given to these new entities and will have no responsibility to the citizens of Auckland. Whats going on with this process is ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT, and only some significant protest and disapproval from the people of auckland is going to slow them down.  So Aucklanders, time to sit up straight, take heed, and get stuck into this one.

Here’s a bunch of links from the past few days:

Russell Brown on Auckland Leaky Council

Joyce the truck lobbyiest lovers dream

Mike Lee outlines the details of the takeover

Supporting the questioners…

In the lastest edition of freerange there is an excellent interview with the family The Leasons. Pg 20-26.  This article is a lovely background to a family that has raised some very timely questions about what is the right way to protest in today complex global environment.   Otaki organic gardener Adrian Leason is one of three individuals charged with crimes related to a non-violent and quite successful attack on the American led spy base in Waihopai.  After a long wait the three appeared in court yesterday and were accompanied by some 50 protestors outside of court. The Dominion Post in Wellington has the following article about the first day of the trial.  The author of the freerange article Ruth Hill introduces the family with the following:

“A small organic holding in sunny Otaki, New Zealand, sprouting kids and pigs and walnut trees, seems a world away from the devastation of war-torn Iraq. But for Adrian and Shelley Leason, the two are intimately connected.”

I’d have thought that most of the world is a world away from the devastation of war-torn Iraq, and this I guess is the point.  In our highly choreographed democracies it takes  something special to remind us of the devastation that war actually is.  The three individuals readily admit to committing the acts, but argue however that it was an act of self defense on behalf of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

My personal view falls a few different ways on this: On one hand the war in Iraq was and is an absolute travesty of the worst sort of lies and distorted politics, and the Blair’s and Bushes who created it should be locked away forever. There is no crime worse than the fabrication of lies to a population and an army which then leads to all out and very one sided war.  On the other hand we have to ask if the breaking of more laws is a suitable way to draw attention to this matter?  And on another hand we have to ask if attacking a spy base in New Zealand is the appropriate means to protest a war in another part of the world?   It does strike me as a remarkably daring and effective display of activism, and given the absolute and utter devastation acted upon the people of Iraq, this was a pretty small scale act of protest.  I draw the readers to Nicky Hagar’s book Absolute Power for an indepth background to the role of the Waihopai spy base in the international ‘intelligence’ network.

What does everyone else feel about all this?  Given that we are about to start investigating the role of the trickster in todays world its seems a good place to start a conversation about how to respond to violent power.