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ShardnadoClick to enlarge

“Why is it the tallest? I don’t really remember. I don’t really care. It was actually taller at the beginning, it was 400 meters, but then aeronautics came and they said that you can not because you interfere with the flight of the air planes. So we broke it. The building is now 310 meters but it is still designed to go up to 400 meters. Many people still believe it is unfinished… this idea is part of the game in some way,” says Piano in the 20 minute interview.

 “As an architect you have a very dangerous job to perform. Dangerous for you but even more dangerous for other people. Because if you do something wrong it is forever. I think it [The Shard] is fine. I stopped crossing my fingers only a few months ago. You do everything you can to make it right but the truth is that you only understand at the end when it is built if it is right or wrong. I was not very good at school. I grew up with the idea that what you do is fine but it is probably not good enough. And so even now at 75 I still feel that every time I do something right it is a miracle. I don’t live in the sensation that everything I do is right. It is always a great surprise.”

Responding to criticisms that The Shard is a symbol of the welath dividie in London, Piano says that only 50 or 60 of the 10,000 people that will visit The Shard every day could be classified as rich. But he agrees that £25 is too much to charge to access the viewing platform at the top of the building.  “£25 is too much but in this town everything costs too much… I agree it is too expensive. Because one of the aims of this building is to give London back to the people and to be public. But this is the normal price. If you go to the top of the Empire State building you spend more than that.”

Er, Renzo, let me remind you. It’s that tall because you all wanted to make A SHITLOAD OF MONEY.

22 Feb

And, by the way, a ticket to the top of the Empire State building is $25/£16 which is a lot cheaper than going to the top of the Shard.

……………………………..

Nuff Said.

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MAS_Context_Issue20_v 00 1Click to enlarge

So… finally! After more than a year in the works, the 20th issue of MAS Context, a special issue under the motto “Narrative”, is out. Talks about this issue started on October 2012, amidst the MAS Context: Analog event in Chicago that also featured the “Architectural Narratives” exhibition, originally intended to be called “Building Stories”, after Chris Ware’s eponymous magna opus –that is, until we found that Mr. Ware was opening an exhibition himself in the same city, on the same dates, and under the same title! In any case, the exhibition, which featured some works by Jimenez Lai and yours truly was accompanied by a text, also entitled “Architectural Narratives”, which dealt with the varying relationships that architecture and graphic narratives have maintained throughout the years. Happy with our previous collaborations in Ownership and Communication, Iker Gil, chief editor of MAS Context, suggested the possibility of expanding it into a whole issue of the magazine, and, after some hesitation (a whole two minutes), the ball was set rolling.

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 00 2As the editor’s note points out (and I’m not going to put it in between quotation marks because I wrote it myself), Architecture and narrative, as Victor Hugo nostalgically pointed out, have walked hand in hand through history, crossing paths without really risking the extinction that the archdeacon of Notre-Dame gloomily predicted. Moreover, today, in a moment where the conjunction of the crisis and the entrance into a new stage in the communication era impulse the discipline into new, multiple directions, the narrative aspects of architecture come to the front, and comics are not alien to this. The last few years have seen an increasing enthusiasm within architecture on the possibilities of graphic narrative, both from a historical point of view, with a blossoming of either academic or informal studies on the exchanges between both disciplines, and from architectural practitioners. Even in a moment of digital explosion such as the one we are living, comics and graphic narrative are the new ‘cool’ in architectural schools (sorry), making it into architectural design courses, and showing up as a new fashion in architectural representation/communication. There we have, most notoriously, starchitecture’s enfant terrible Bjarke Ingels and his excessive (but still pretty well crafted) Yes Is More, which we discussed some time ago, but also Herzog&De Meuron’s MetroBasel, Wes Jones’ Beyond Dubai, Jean Nouvel’s Louisiana Manifesto, Neutelings&Robdeen’ European Patent Office at Leidschendam, Olivier Kugler & Fletcher Priest’s Freethinking, and a long etcetera. Even more interesting are those instances where the comic book form is used as a parallel research environment, prominently presented in the work of Jimenez Lai in Bureau Spectacular, but also by Studio CEBRA’s toons, or Leopold Lambert’s Lost in the Line.

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 00 3Thus, MAS Context: Narrative(s) was set to offer just a glimpse of the phenomenon with no aim to exhaust the topic—even if some of the authors of the essays have built some rather encyclopedic works on it themselves- but wanting to offer a taste of the different faces that this interaction between architecture and graphic narrative presents. Within its overall theme, NARRATIVE tries to explore this issue from both sides of the of the line that separates these two disciplines, and is roughly divided into three big sections: the first one deals with the presence of graphic narrative in disciplinary architecture, both past and present, and includes the works of some architects who have used graphic narrative in their work, in one way or another. The other side would be covered, in the second section, by those comic book artists who have also crossed the border between disciplines, making forays into the built world. Finally, the third one, an addendum entitled in our drafts “Beyond the (Comic) page”, moves conceptually towards both sides of the spectrum, briefly covering the tangents with (implied) written narratives and emerging animation practices in architecture.

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 22Factory Fifteen

We have been so lucky as to being able to feature an impressive team of contributors, which includes legendary names both from the comic book and the architectural field, who have contributed with their works and their words: Originally entitled Narrative(s) or Narratives (although finally simplified for the sake of clarity) the issue features a combination of essays and, primarily, interviews, where these creators explain their works in their own words, therefore providing the readers with different narratives on the issue of (graphic) narrative. Thus, illustrating the role of comic book artists as architectural performers, we are proud to include interviews with comic legends François Schuiten, acclaimed author of the series Les Cités Obscures (along with co-writer Benoît Peeters), Joost Swarte, Dutch creator of the ligne claire (also in a literal sense), Marc-Antoine Mathieu, author the of mesmerizing series Julius Corentin Acquefacques, and two architects who crossed to the other side and stayed there: Italian architect-turned-comic book artist Manuele Fior, and Tom Kaczynski, artist and chief editor of independent publishing house Uncivilized Books.

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 09

François Schuiten

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 10

Joost Swarte

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 15

Marc-Antoine Mathieu

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 18

Manuele Fior

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 20

Tom Kaczynski

On the other side of the spectrum, the magazine features an interview with Sir Peter Cook, who graciously answered our questions in his London office, on the making of ‘Amazing Archigram 4’ (the Zoom issue), as well as three stories by Wes Jones&Partners, Jimenez Lai, and Léopold Lambert (aka The Funambulist). And, in its last part, the issue closes with a conversation with Jonathan Gales, who sheds some light on the work of London-based office Factory Fifteen. Many thanks to all of them for their kindly collaboration, and also to the conductors of the interviews: Clara Olóriz, from the AA, who also made all arrangements to meet Mr. Cook, Léopold Lambert, who provided his knowledge of Borges, Kafka, and the French language, in the interview with Mr. Mathieu, Andrea Alberghini, author of Sequenze Urbane, La Metropoli nell Fumetto, who contributed his mastering of Italian and of Manuele Fior’s work, and both members of Barcelona-based publishing House DPR, Ethel Baraona Pohl, and Cesar Reyes Nájera, who took some time off their extremely busy schedule to interview the equally busy members of Factory Fifteen. A very special thanks must go to cultural anthropologist Mélanie van der Hoorn, author of the monumental “Bricks and Balloons – Architecture in Comic Strip Form”, who shared with us her extensive research in the form of not just one, but three articles. Last, but not least, we have to thank Chris Ware for putting the icing on the cake by sending us a drawing from his seminal Building Stories for the cover of the issue, masterfully designed by Renata Graw, from Plural -thus replacing my own rather banal design, which you can enjoy (irony, yes) below.

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 01Peter Cook

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 05Jimenez Lai

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 03Léopold Lambert

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 06

Jones and Partners

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 07Author Unknown

Also below you can check the table of contents of the issue, which are fully accessible via MAS Context’s Page, or downloadable in .pdf. Also, MAS Context will be printing a limited edition of the magazine, so if you want a hard copy of it, you’d better be fast in contacting them.

1. Introduction: Architectural Narratives. Issue statement by Iker Gil,editor in chief of MAS Context.

2. Building Stories: Drawings by Chris Ware. Text by Klaus.

3. Comics and Architecture, Comics in Architecture. Essay by Koldo Lus Arana.

4. Buildings and Their Representations Collapsing Upon One Another. Architecture in comic strip form. Essay by Mélanie van der Hoorn.

5. Amazing Archigram! Clara Olóriz and Koldo Lus Arana interview architect Sir Peter Cook.

6. Lost in the Line. Graphic Novel by Léopold Lambert.

7. Out of Water. Graphic Novel by Jimenez Lai.

8. Kartun: The View! Graphic Novel by Jones, Partners: Architecture, Mark Simmons, and The Southern California Institute of Architecture.

9. Cartooning Architecture and Other Issues. Iker Gil interviews graphic artist Klaus.

10. Starchitecture Redux. Cartoons by Klaus.

11. Sensing the Comic’s DNA: Excerpts of a conversation with François Schuiten. Mélanie van der Hoorn in conversation with François Schuiten.

12. Swarte’s Mystery Theater. Koldo Lus Arana in conversation with Joost Swarte.

13. Labyrinths and Metaphysical Constructions: An Interview with Marc-Antonie Mathieu. Léopold Lambert interviews graphic novelist Marc-Antoine Mathieu.

14. Images Come First. Andrea Alberghini interviews Manuele Fior.

15. Beta Testing Architecture: Yearning for Space with Tom Kaczynski. Koldo Lus Arana interviews Tom Kaczynski.

16. Archiporn or Storylines? Creative Architectural commercials as challenges to the communication and marketing of architecture. Essay by Mélanie van der Hoorn.

17. Beyond Built Architecture. Ethel Baraona Pohl and César Reyes from dpr-barcelona interview Jonathan Gales, founding member of Factory Fifteen.

MAS Context: Narrative, Winter 2013, with contributions by Andrea Alberghini, Ethel Baraona Pohl, Sir Peter Cook, Manuele Fior, Factory Fifteen, Iker Gil, Jones, Partners: Architecture, Tom Kaczynski, Jimenez Lai, Klaus, Léopold Lambert, Luis Miguel (Koldo) Lus Arana, Marc-Antoine Mathieu, Clara Olóriz Sanjuán, Cesar Reyes Nájera, François Schuiten, Joost Swarte, Mélanie van der Hoorn, and Chris Ware.

Edited by Iker Gil (Chief editor). Guest editors: Luis Miguel (Koldo) Lus Arana, Klaus.

Cover 02 sm 01

NK09 Viñoly attacks uncube 03Click to enlarge

“Developers have promised urgent action to “cover up” the Walkie Talkie skyscraper in the City after an ultra-bright light reflected from the building melted a Jaguar car on the streets below. 

The 525ft, £200 million building has been renamed the “Walkie Scorchie” after its distinctive concave surfaces reflected a dazzling beam of light which blinded passers-by and has now caused extensive damage to vehicles parked beneath it. Martin Lindsay, director of a tiling company, left his Jaguar XJ for one hour opposite the building, and returned to find warped panels along its side, accompanied by a smell of burning plastic: ‘They’re going to have to think of something. I’m gutted,” he told City A.M. “How can they let this continue?

Eddie Cannon, a heating and air conditioning engineer, said his Vauxhall Vevaro had suffered similar damage: ‘The van looks a total mess – every bit of plastic on the left hand side and everything on the dashboard has melted, including a bottle of Lucozade that looks like it has been baked. When I got in the van it was a really strange light – like it was illuminated and they were filming.’  David Banks, a PR consultant who felt the force of the intense beam, said: “It is like a huge lens. It is magnifying the sunbeam. It’s like trying to fry ants with a magnifying glass.” He added: “It was uncomfortable to be underneath and I was conscious that it was probably unsafe to spend too long under that particular beam.” Mr Banks expressed concern that the blinding rays could impair motorists’ vision. Joint developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf said they are looking into the incident. In statement they said: “As a precautionary measure, the City of London has agreed to suspend three parking bays in the area which may be affected.”

Rafael Viñoly said he designed 20 Fenchurch Street “to respect the city’s historic character, following the contour of the river and the medieval streets that bound the site, while further contributing to the evolution of the high-rise building type.” […]

Pffffffffff…..

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The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #14: Small Towns, Big Architecture, edited by Sophie Lovell, Florian Heilmeyer, Jessica Bridger, Elvia Wilk ey al. Above text extracted from: SHERWIN, Adam: “Walkie Talkie City skyscraper renamed Walkie Scorchie after beam of light melts Jaguar car parked beneath it”. The Independent, Tuesday 03 September 2013,

 

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