The Vanishing Library
Twice consumed by fire and set to be rebuilt anew, in what sense can Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s library at the Glasgow School of Art still be said to exist? Freudian derealization, Cartesian doubt and Gaelic allegory summoned by a resident scholar’s memories of reconstructed timbers and their smouldering remains.
In a time of fashionable talk of ‘global cities’, Göran Therborn has produced an antithetical panorama of the capital cities of the world, across all six continents, as centres of political power—combining a sociology and iconography of their lay-outs, buildings, monuments, from DC to Cairo, Brussels to Islamabad. Owen Hatherley reports and assesses his findings.
Learning from Lagos
Africa’s largest city not as chaotic laboratory of urban form, but end result of a specific historical trajectory. Beyond Koolhaas’s diagrammatic insights, the real context of spiralling debts, kleptocrat elite, infra-structural collapse and burgeoning informal sector as factors in Lagos’s expansion.
After the dilapidation of urban modernism, what kinds of city and what forms of architecture await us? The author of The Seeds of Time considers their flowers in the dizzying work of Rem Koolhaas, the mega-developments of the Pearl River Delta and the conceptualization of ‘Junkspace’. Breaking back into history with a battering-ram of the postmodern?
Situationists and Architecture
How dreams of unitary urbanism that would confound Le Corbusier could be a summons to social revolution. The Situationist ideas of dérive and détournement as gypsy principles of chance and larceny in the imagination of a utopian space. Inspirations from Neuschwanstein to the Watts riots, visions from Constant’s helicoptered nomads to Jorn’s ceramic garden.
Architecture or Technology?
“the sixth congress of the International Union of Architects, attended by 1,898 delegates from nearly 60 countries, met in London in July to discuss the theme “New Techniques and Materials —Their Impact on Architecture”. Considering that for the last fifty years one of the tenets of the . . .” read more
“nikolus pevsner opens his Outline of European Architecture by defining the distinction between “buildings” and “architecture”. “Nearly everything that encloses space on a scale sufficient for a human being to move in is a building: the term architecture applies only to buildings designed with a view to . . .” read more
“The Master Builders, by the American architect Peter Blake, frankly attempts to popularise modern architecture by means of the architectural biographies of three of its most important practitioners, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright. Mr. Blake suggests that the world today would not look . . .” read more
Which Machine Age?
“i was most disappointed with Max Neufeld’s review in NLR 6 of Reyner Banham’s new book. It amazes me that in a humanist journal an architect can accept with only a few minor reservations a profoundly mechanistic interpretation of our environment.” read more