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NK 23 -Pritzker 2015

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Back in March The Pritzker Award Committee announced that this year’s laureate would be Frei Otto. This was excellent news, especially for all megastructural-age nostalgics such as myself… if not for the unfortunate coincidence that Mr. Otto had sadly passed away a coupla days before that. Michael Graves, who passed away almost simultaneously, was not so lucky (I felt dirty I had done this some years earlier). Now, I’m not saying that Mr. (excuse me: Lord) Palumbo & friends changed their minds and tried to fix the mistake not to have awarded him a Pritzker in all these past occasions where they chose to reward today’s more popular and ‘kewl’ megastars… (I’m not saying it because I had actually drawn another cartoon just doing that -don’t look for it, it rests in one of my drawers). However, it would be nice if the Pritzker committee avoided pulling a Spencer Tracy and rushed a little to distribute those ones still missing. You’re running out of time, guys.

Here you have a few comments from other laureates praising Frei Otto. Please, try not to laugh at some of them.

Of course, the title is a pun on this.

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The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #33: Frei Otto, edited by Sophie Lovell, Florian Heilmeyer, Ron Wilson and Elvia Wilk et al. Worth checking, really.

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NK21 inks copy 04_01_sm

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(*) Yes, ‘Hanna’ is Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Warsaw’s current mayor. If you live in Poland and you don’t think Warsaw is suffering from a case of  major -and pretty late- Bilbao-itis, drop me a line.

The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #31: Poland, edited by Sophie Lovell, Florian Heilmeyer, Ron Wilson and Elvia Wilk et al.

NK13 01 blog

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“More than 100,000 people have applied to be a part of the Mars One project, which aims to colonize the red planet starting in 2022. Out of the thousands, 40 people will be selected. Of the 40, just four will participate in the first passage to Mars, which is scheduled to leave in September 2022 and land seven months later in April 2023. None of the four will ever return to Earth.

More than 30,000 Americans have applied for the chance to be the very first settlers on Mars, paying a $38 application fee. The audacious project is the brainchild of a Dutch company run by CEO and creator Bas Lansdorp. Lansdrop told CNN that the price based is on the gross domestic product per capita of different nations. For example, Mexicans pay a $15 application fee. ‘We wanted it to be high enough for people to have to really think about it and low enough for anyone to be able to afford it,’ Lansdorp said. The very first mission to Mars will cost $6 billion, according to Lansdorp.”

Alex Greig: “More than 100,000 people want to fly to Mars in 2022 – and never come back.” The Daily Mail Online, August 10 2013

Trying to catch up with stuff published in March-April. This one was commissioned for Uncube Magazine’s 19th issue, focused on Deep (architectural?) Space, which, knowing my penchant for sci-fi, came as a gift (thanks, guys). Not the last time, as you’ll see in Issue #21, Acoustics, which is due one of these days. More on that later.

The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #19: Space, edited by Sophie Lovell, Florian Heilmeyer, Jessica Bridger, Elvia Wilk et al. Anyone caring to name all the referents (sci-fi related or else) in the drawing, please help yourself and drop a comment for an invaluable no-prize.

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.

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.

MVRDV Cloud Encounters

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Dutch firm MVRDV has received harsh criticism since they revealed the proposal for two luxury residential towers in South , named after its inspiration, The Cloud. The two towers are connected by a “pixilated cloud of additional program.” Critics are outraged, stating the design resembles the collapsing twin towers of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

spokesman Jan Kinkker stated, “We’ve had quite a lot of calls from angry Americans saying it’s a disgrace. 9/11 was not the inspiration behind the design, the inspiration was a real cloud.” He added, “It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process. We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt.”

Project developer Dream Corporation selected The Cloud design proposal over a number of other options and will have the final say on whether or not they will consider another alternative.

“Controversy over The Cloud forces MVRDV to Apologize.”  ArchDaily, Dec. 12, 2011

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In an article titled “Do These Skyscrapers Remind You Of The 9/11 Attacks?” online magazine Fast Co. Design used Dezeen’s reader comments to explain the story, while gadget blog Gizmodo Australia led a piece with the question “What The Hell Were These Architects Thinking?”

In an official statement on their Facebook page, MVRDV apologise for any upset cause and explain that they did not see the resemblance during the design process. However, Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad claims that MVRDV representative Jan Knikker admitted that they in fact did notice, fuelling the debate further.

Most recently, American magazine the New York Post have picked up the story, blasting the towers as “sick” and “a spectacular case of architectural tastelessness” and the BBC reported the story in their televised news program.

“Exploding” twin towers by MVRDV cause outrage.”  Dezeen, Dec. 14, 2011

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The original version of this cartoon can be found in uncube issue #10: Wood, Paper Pulp, with contributions by Florian Heilmeyer, Dan Handel, Jessica Bridger, Luise Rellensmann, Rob Wilson, Elvia Wilk and more…

NK 03 On Intellectuality blog

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NK 04 Taylorist Designs 01 blog

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“Our Design for the Parrish Art Museum is a reinterpretation of a very Herzog & De Meuron typology, the traditional house form. What we like about this typology is that it is open for many different functions, places, and cultures. Each time this simple, almost banal form has become something ver specific, precise, and also fresh.”  — Jacques Herzog via Dezeen

Aha.

[As usual, the cartoons can be found in all their original glory at uncube’s website].

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