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NK15 Underwater Zoom

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The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #22: Water, edited by Sophie Lovell, Florian Heilmeyer, Elvia Wilk et al, which focuses on Water as a design material, and gathers everything from Matthias Schuler to the Hoover Dam or rei Otto. Federico Fellini, Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ and Archigram’s Warren Chalk may not seem to go hand in hand to everyone, but in my mind, it makes perfect sense. Maybe that speaks tons of the way it works. More on that later. Maybe not.

This cartoon was drawn on May 2014, which marks the 50th anniversary of the original publication of ‘Amazing Archigram 4: Zoom Issue’, where ‘Underwater Zoom’ was a whole section. Happy Birthday! An exhibition may be in the works.

NK14 blog 01

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“On our third week, we arrived in the city of Amaphonia. Some centuries earlier, the inhabitants of the city had filed a formal complaint, claiming that their architects did not pay attention to the acoustic needs of buildings. They should have known better. As architects’ minds go, this call for attention ultimately led into a fascination for the shapes of sound devices that soon translated into the urban form. Two hundread years later, the city showed the result of a formalistic fever that had turned the urban scene into a mechanical forest of gigantic microphones, loudspeakers and musical instruments that turned the amaphonians into Liliputians visiting a music store.(…)”

Rago Michaelis: Chronicles of the Pneumatic passage – A Scientific Approach. Tome III. Etterbeek: Erdna Éditions ; 267-74

– So, what’s the problem? …If a building has to work like a machine, it should look like a machine, right?

– Oh, shut up, Charles-Edouard… [*]

[*] If you don’t think it’s a joke, then you’re part of the problem.

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The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #21: Acoustics, edited by Sophie Lovell, Florian Heilmeyer, Jessica Bridger, Elvia Wilk et al., and even features a rare recording of Pink Floyd’s Intro to “Obscured by Clouds”, played to an article. The Pneumatic Passage is a project located somewhere between Les Cités Obscures, The Airtight Garage, and Le réveil du Z, which has been in the pipeline for a long time -and will be till I find some funding. More on that later.

A10 Piano Player Number Two - Joost Moolhuijzen

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Something a little bit different this time. A couple months ago, Indira van ‘t Klooster, editor-in-chief of A10 magazine contacted me asking if I would be interested in making some cartoons for a series of interviews with different architects they were featuring this year. Yes, A10 is that magazine founded a decade ago by Arjan Groot and Hans Ibelings, the man who not only wrote Supermodernism, but also a series of articles on comics and architecture back in the 90s), so, how could I say no?. It was a little thight for me to get to the first one, with Jürgen Mayer H (been there already, in any case), so we skipped ahead directly to Joost Moolhuijzen, the partner at Renzo Oiano’s workshop who was in charge of the Shard (yes, Piano and the Shard have also been guest stars here , thanks to Uncube . For those of you who want to check on the real thing, here’s a video of Joost himself speaking about the Shard at the BBC. Below, you have a taste of the interview itself. For the rest, you’ll have to buy the magazine (what are you waiting for?).

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It’s rare that an architect gets to explain his own project on CNN, but just that happened to Joost Moolhuijzen in 2012. You may not remember his name, but the name of his latest project is certainly familiar: The Shard. As senior partner at Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), Moolhuijzen was responsible for this remarkable London skyscraper. Despite not having his own practice, it seems his being willing to pay the price of never becoming well known publicly has its benefits.

While many young architects dream of creating famous buildings the world over following graduation, some of them actually do it. Joost Moolhuijzen joined RPBW at the age of 30 and became partner at the age of 37, after he had successfully headed the Debis Building, part of the Daimler-Benz project at Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz. We meet in a café on a rainy day in Amsterdam. He and his wife, who also works at RPBW, are in town for a short family visit. Moolhuijzen begins explaining how the ideas of Piano have gradually become his own. Also, we’re talking different scales than are usually seen in A10. ‘Once we were 150 people, but our natural size is 100, like we are now,’ says Moolhuijzen. ‘That means we’re still small enough to be picky in the projects we accept, and big enough to deal with the larger projects.’

So RPBW is critical in which projects to take on, or not?

‘Definitely,’ assures Moolhuijzen, ‘we do not simply follow the money in Dubai, China or Korea. We seek jobs that contribute to urban sustainability. We once had a job just outside Paris, but gradually it became clear that the project had too little in terms of urban capacity. New buildings should improve the existing situation with regard to public transport, housing and public space.’The Shard, sometimes criticized as an autistic high-rise funded by sheikhs from Qatar, he actually finds to be an improvement for the district. ‘The underlying station was rebuilt, while more and varied functions appeared on the ground floor. People have benefited from it. We preferably build on brownfields rather than greenfields. That is ultimately more sustainable.’ […]

Joost Moolhuijzen :  ‘The Piano Player’,  A10 magazine #57. May-June 2014.

The pharrell Review blog sm

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“Our built environment and the places we live in are so important to us, socially, economically, environmentally and culturally. Not just on an obvious day-to-day basis, but in relation to some of the big questions of our time – how do we build enough homes and make the places we live in outstanding? How do we meet the challenge of climate change? And, topically, how do we design places less susceptible to the terrible floods that hit so much of the country this winter.

My review of architecture and built environment, commissioned by culture minister Ed Vaizey, intends to answer these questions and many others besides. Crucially, it calls for a new proactive approach to the planning system: anticipating needs and opportunities, not simply responding to proposals for new development, and looking at places in their entirety rather than just at individual buildings and their design.

Sir Terry Farrell: “Why the UK does not need a formal architecture policy”. The Guardian, Monday 31 March 2014

In January 2013 Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, asked Sir Terry Farrell to undertake a national review of architecture and the built environment. A couple months ago, Phin Harper (@PhinHarper), from The Architectural Review, asked me if I would be interested in doing a tongue-in-cheek parody of it, substituting Terry Farrell for Pharrell Williams. Unsophisticated humor? How could I say no? In the end, we had to rush a little bit, because Sir Terry unleashed his review a little earlier than expected, so Phin and I had to work against the clock to squeeze Pharrell’s songs in between Terry’s assessments. The final words on the cartoon are Phin’s, and you’ll have to go to the AR’s site to read them, and see the cartoon in its full original glory. More on this soon.

For those interested in knowing more about the Farrell Review, you can check Dezeen’s Amy Frearson’s conversation with Farrell, read the full 60 recommendations at The Architects’ Journal, or go to the Farrell Review’s own site.

NK 12 sm

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They’ve built schools like wedding cakes and are making a real-life gingerbread house with Grayson Perry. But the UK’s most playful practice is breaking up after 23 years. They have built a romanesque church out of sparkly blue sequins, a school that looks like a gothic wedding cake and turned the head of Hercules into a squishy seat. Now, in an unexpected twist, the mischievous London architecture practice FAT has announced it will be no more. Architects usually die, divorce, or go bust – so why the boyband-style break-up?

“We all feel we’ve completed what we set out to do,” says Sam Jacob, who has worked with fellow partners Sean Griffiths and Charles Holland for the last 23 years on everything from art installations to social housing, alongside a prolific volume of writing and teaching. “FAT was only ever intended to be a project, a way of taking a set of ideas out into the world,” he says. “We still can’t believe we’ve had so many opportunities to make buildings.” […]

The three partners have yet to announce their future plans, but will end their collaboration at the Venice Architecture Biennale next summer, where they are curating the British Pavilion with Dutch practice Crimson and writer Owen Hatherley.

“They remain open to offers for a lucrative reunion in 20 years’ time,” concludes the official press release. “We’ve got to go on a victory tour,” grins Jacob. “Bands used to take 30 years to reunite, but nowadays they’re back together in a couple of months, so who knows …”

— Oliver Wainwright: The end of FAT: architecture’s biggest pranksters call it quits – boyband style.” The Guardian, Tuesday 17 December 2013

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The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #18: Slovenia, edited by Sophie Lovell, Florian Heilmeyer, Jessica Bridger, Elvia Wilk et al. And yes, that is Foster’s “Cycling Utopia” (for God’s sake…) in the foreground.

A tip of the hat to Sam Jacob and the rest of FAT. I’m really sorry to see them disbanding, but I’m also looking forward to seeing what comes out of this in the future. Best of lucks!

So, before January is over, I’d like to post the first one in a series of posts that look back at some of the stuff that happened in 2013 but which, due to the hectic-ness of these last months, had to wait till now. So, as a starting point, I thought it would be nice to celebrate the imminent -and eminent- first anniversary of my ongoing collaboration with Uncube Magazine, a Berlin-based, online journal that has managed to make its own place in the netsphere through a steady flow of thematic, monthly issues, since August 2012.

Drifting a little from my usually elusive manners, I offered them to draw an egotistic strip, “Numerus Klausus”, commenting on current issues on and around architecture in my own section within the magazine, ‘Klaus’ Kube’. Of course, even though it started as a regular-looking comic strip, they soon talked me into doing something a little more complex -they didn’t have to try too hard. Some of the strips are still pretty elusive, but at least this time their backstory is easier to trace back. Also, the editors’ suggestions gave me the opportunity to feature a lot of guest stars, such as the inevitable Rem-the-Man, but also MVRDV, Rafael Viñoly, Renzo Piano, Kieran Long, Pink Floyd (seriously), Florian Heilmeyer, Sophie Lovell, Zaha Hadid, Gregg Lynn, sylvia Lavin, Jean Nouvel or Sigmund Freud.

Scroll down for the whole series (including two non-posted ones)

Klaus's Kube 01 Delusional EconomiesI. Delusional Economies, in Uncube’s blogklaus Kube 02 You're so Kool blogII. You’re so Kool in Uncube Magazine # 07 : Off-places.

NK 03 On Intellectuality blogIII. On Intellectuality in Uncube Magazine #9: Constructing Images

NK 04 Taylorist Designs 01 blogIV. Tayloredist Designs in Uncube Magazine #9: Constructing Images

MVRDV Cloud EncountersV. Cloud Encounters of the 911th Kind in Uncube issue #10: Wood, Paper Pulp

NK06 - DEF 03 smVI. Metropol Para-Poli in Uncube Magazine #11: Charles CorreaUncube Numerus Klausus 07  Architecture Mon AmourVII. Architecture, Mon Amour in Uncube Magazine #12: Into the Desert NK08 02 xsmVIII. One of my Turns in Uncube Magazine #13: BerlinNK09 Viñoly attacks uncube 03IX. Faulty Towers in Uncube Magazine #15: Small Towns, Big ArchitectureShardnadoX. Shardnado! in Uncube Magazine #14: Veins

NK 11 01 smXI. Form Follows Friction in Uncube #17: Construct Africa

This last one came after a suggestion (as another one preceding it and yet one more to come) by Sophie Lovell, who thought it would be better not to have me making humor of anything Africa-related, and asked me to tackle on Zaha Hadid’s vagina-like stadium instead. I have to say that, were I an editor, the prospect of myself being given free reign to draw vaginas in the magazine wouldn’t make me any less worried, anyhoo… so, consequently, I took the opportunity to throw in some of all this phallic proliferation that’s been happening lately in architecture, ranging from Jean Nouvel’s dildo to Foster’s recently-flaccid Gherkin, China’s People’s Daily Newspaper circumcised HQ, or that infamous church that looks like a penis in aerial view (if you’re interested in this highly intellectual topic, check Cabinet Magazine’s 2003 Competition for the Most Phallic Building in the World). It also gave me the chance to feature Gregg Lynn and Sylvia Lavin (not her first time in the blog), who’s the subject of a cartoon I never get to sit and draw. Over there, writing on his blog in Providence, David Brussat identified this as an ITD (Internet transmitted Disease): “Klaustoon on Koolhaas and Penises” at Architecture Here and There.

Next issue, it  will be FAT time.

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.

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Nuff Said.

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