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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.

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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,

 

NK08 01 sm blogClick to enlarge

“He flew Tina Turner over her audience on a huge mechanical arm, drove U2 through their arena inside a mirror-studded lemon, and thrust the Rolling Stones between stages on a 45m-long telescopic bridge, complete with helicopter searchlights. The architect and set designer Mark Fisher, who has died aged 66 after a long illness, defined the rock’n’roll spectacular over the last 30 years, dreaming up ever more elaborate contraptions to match the wildest visions of his bands.

Vast inflatable characters were a regular feature of his shows, reaching a surreal climax when a 30m pig burst through a wall of 2,500 polystyrene blocks, for the ex-Pink Floyd member Roger Waters’s 1990 performance of The Wall in Berlin. Designed with Fisher’s then-partner, Jonathan Park, it was one of the most ambitious sets ever conceived outside an arena, with the wall marching 170m across the former no-man’s-land of Potsdamer Platz, before tumbling down in front of an audience of half a million people. A stage version of the show, which features flying puppets based on drawings by Gerald Scarfe – including a caricature of Fisher as a schoolteacher – remains one of the most complex rock shows on tour, costing almost £40m to stage.

Fisher’s designs always broke new ground in the sheer scale of their spectacle. For U2’s PopMart tour in 1997, he developed the world’s largest LED screen, stretching 50m across the back of the stage. In front of this glowing cliff of pixels rose a giant golden arch, in the style of the McDonald’s logo, from which a bank of speakers was suspended like a great basket of fries. Topping off this supersized satire of consumer culture, an illuminated olive shone at the end of a 30m cocktail stick.

“A rock show is a sort of tribal event in our culture,” said Fisher. “It’s preparing everyone for the arrival of the high priest.” In this case, the priestly vehicle took the form of a 12m-high lemon-shaped mirrorball, which flipped open to reveal the band inside. “The grail,” the designer would say, “is to give the audience something spectacular it really didn’t expect.”

Born in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, Fisher began his studies at the Architectural Association in London in 1965, where he was surrounded by the dreamy visions of floating cities and plug-in megastructures of the experimental Archigram group. Working on set designs for musicals after graduating, he was given the chance to test out his pneumatic ideas on Pink Floyd’s Animals tour in 1977, producing a striking inflatable menagerie that caught the imagination of bands and audiences alike.

Fisher designed the band’s lavish stage sets for the next two decades, culminating in a 40m-high tilting steel arch for the Division Bell tour in 1994. It was the biggest portable stage set of its kind; it took three days to erect the 700-tonne steel structure, three versions of which were fabricated, in order to leapfrog between venues on 53 articulated trucks. […] One of his most elaborate bespoke designs was “the Claw” for U2’s 360 tour, a 180-tonne steel arachnid that loomed over the stage, enclosing the band along with several thousand members of the audience.

“He was an architect with an extraordinary imagination,” says U2’s manager Paul McGuinness. “He turned everyone’s wild ideas into steel and lumber and canvas reality.” It was a reputation that drew a stellar client list, with Fisher crafting extravaganzas for everyone from Elton John to Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga to Take That, Madonna to Metallica.

Outside the world of rock’n’roll, he was invited to work on the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, constructing a glowing telescopic “dream sphere” around which swarms of acrobats performed. For the Commonwealth Games ceremony in Delhi in 2010, he developed an ingenious system of hanging everything off a 90m-long inflatable structure, as the suspended floor of the stadium could not take high loads. […]”

He is survived by his wife and fellow architect, Cristina Garcia. Mark Fisher, architect and stage designer, born 20 April 1947; died 25 June 2013.

Oliver Wainwright: Mark Fisher Obituary. The Guardian, Wednesday 3 July 2013

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The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #13: Berlin, edited by Florian Heilmeyer, Jessica Bridger, and Elvia Wilk.

Uncube Numerus Klausus 07  Architecture Mon AmourClick to enlarge

Architecture, one of the most revered professions around the world…

For a more accurate depiction of the current situation, check On Starvechitecture I and II.

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The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #12: Into the Desert, edited by Florian Heilmeyer, Jessica Bridger, and Elvia Wilk.

NK06 - DEF 03 smClick to enlarge

“Seville’s flashy new showcase is held together by extra-strong glue – but not quite enough to make its many parts connect.

Oh my God, it’s an icon. How very last decade. Did the city of Seville not get the memo? Big, flashy buildings are out; hair shirts are in. Then again, building projects are slow things, especially when they have hugely ambitious and untried structural ideas. In 2004, when the Metropol Parasol project was launched, and Spain felt flusher than it does now, few were thinking it would open after the country was hit by one of the worst of the European Union’s many financial crises. As it is, like the grandiose new City of Culture of Galicia complex in Santiago de Compostela, it looks like a late work of bubble baroque. (…)

Mayer’s design contributes to the disconnection. It puts too much faith in the power of look and shape, with the result that the appearance of fluidity masks – in fact, assists – a disjointed reality. The magic mushrooms demand both attention and energy: the complexity of the building contributed to its being many years in the making, and at one point it required a cash injection of €30m. The more everyday parts of the building are left looking eclipsed by the spectacles, and exhausted by the effort of achieving it. Which is a shame, as the Parasol is, almost, one of the smarter of the recent tide of iconic buildings.”

— Rowan Moore: “Metropol Parasol, Seville by Jürgen Mayer H – review”  (The Observer, Sunday 27 March 2011)

The original cartoon, in a slightly different fashion, can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #11: Charles Correa, edited by Florian Heilmeyer, Jessica Bridger, and Elvia Wilk.

klaus Kube 02 You're so Kool blog

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Ok, let’s see if I can bring this back on trail. I really need to catch up with the blog.

This comes from Uncube Magazine # 07 : Off-places. The published version is slightly different. In the same issue, there’s an interview with Gottfried Böhm by Florian Heilmeyer which is really worth checking, if you’re a Brutalist fanatic such as myself. So go check it.

Come on.

Klaus's Kube 01 Delusional Economies

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So, yes. It’s actually been a week or so since it was officially announced in their website, but I hadn’t really had the time to sit down and announce it here (see? that’s what twitter’s for), so there it goes: Several weeks ago, Jessica Bridger, one of the editors of Berlin-based online magazine Uncube wrote me asking if I’d like to start an ongoing collaboration with them, and -being the internet whore I am-, I immediately said yes.

So starting with their issue #07, “Off-Places”, I will start publishing a monthly cartoon in my own section, “Klaus’s Kube”. Some of the cartoons will belong in a series, “Numerus Klausus”, commenting on the things that are happening now in the architectural scene, but they will probably be combined with other more otherworldly stuff. Let’s see.

Special thanks to Jessica Bridger and Florian Heilmeyer for their interest and support (full team here).

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