And while I’m here talking about model urbanism and the additional benefit developing schemes have to offer in order to become attractive … Mel Johnson had a vision.
Click on the Picture above from the full article from Modern Dunkard.
Just imagine, he asks his audience, a resort entirely centered on the culture of alcohol. A boozer’s paradise built expressly to facilitate drinking and the good times that naturally follow. Where the bars, clubs and liquor stores never close. Where the police force is there to help drunks, not hassle them. Where even the street names salute sweet mother booze: Gin Lane, Bourbon Boulevard and Scotch Street. An adult playground like no other. Just imagine.
I guess i should check out the opposite.. some quaker/shaker/mormon/mormon urbanism, just for good measure, while i make me some organic tea…
There’s a city in California that was meant to become the 11th biggest city in the US (3rd in CA), but as of now, it only houses around 6500 people, a lot of whom work for the local penitenciary. (Because if there’s something the US need more of… but whatevz)
It was founded in 1965 to act like a sort of retention pool for the urban sprawl, but, as many a grandiose project, it was never completed. Why, exactly, i haven’t really found out. People just failed to come. Other cities in the Mojave Desert thrived at the time, but this one never really made it.
One might suspect that it might’ve had something to do with property pricing, accessibility or the likes. Maybe the target market was misjudged (as it often happened, racial and class segregation put an end to ambitious housing schemes when it turned out that the target buyers didn’t want in, and the ones who did, were … “undesirable” (read: coloured).
More likely, it was plain mismanagement. In fact, a great number of lots had been bought, but few people actually set up businesses or built their homes. So for most, there was no reason to stay, if nobody else commited. Talk about a sense of community, and keep this in mind for later downthread…
Its layout is amazing, though. Laid out on the desert is a Nazca-esque picture, composed of roads and paths that feed into highways or cul du sacs. You can barely notice them from the ground.
A virgin dystopia of sorts. Never completed, never used, but already abandoned.
This got me thinking of another city in the desert, one that is, in some aspects, the diametrial opposite of California City. Yet somehow eerily similar.
Black Rock City.
Every year, thousands of people gather here for a limited amount of time, do whatever people do at Burning Man, set an effigy ablaze, and leave without a trace.
Without leaving anything behind.
"Leave no trace" is, indeed, the motto of this metropolis. People come and go, and even used water is supposed to be taken back or evaporated on plastic sheets.
The layout of the city is suggested in advance: streets dispersed radially around the centre where ‘the Man’ stands. The main avenue is called the Esplanada, and all streets are named according to a yearly theme.
The radial streets are usually given a clock designation, for example, 6:00 or 6:15, in which the Man is at the center of the clock face and 12:00 is in the middle of the third of the arc lacking streets (usually at a bearingof 60° true from the Man). (via wiki)
Just like California City, the paths are there, but this time people come, if only for a while, before they and the city disappear for another year.
Ephemeral from top to bottom - and the amazing thing is, even though Black Rock doesn’t plan ahead, doesn’t speculate, doesn’t feed businesses and development schemes, it works better than cities planned through and through, that just fail to attract anyone.
At least for a few days a year, while Black Rock prepares its host grid, and California City spawns tumbleweeds, the two cities are the same. No sewage systems, no shops, no churches - no people. A set of lines etched into the desert. But that’s where the similarities end. Black Rock pulsates, blooms and withers, while California City falls victim to Entropy.
Black Rock, or Burning Man as a whole, should, in theory, be a lot more fragile - because if it fails one year, it might never return. If the community fails to gather once, it might forever dissolve - and herein lies the significant difference, compared to California City - people commit. They go through a lot of effort, travel across the world, carrying everything they need to survive, and call BRC into existence time and time again. Because there’s value there beyond property pricing! (it’s drugs…)
No, but seriously…
Planning and designing geometries is a redunant exercise when one big variable is neglected. Humans are an amazing lot, and despite my misanthropy i have to admit: there is still hope when a bunch of weirdos make for better working urbanity than all the baby booming developers of the so-called 1st world.
I wonder what Paolo Soleri would’ve had to say about all of this…
Guess some more research is due…
To learn more, go to the links below (that’s where i stole the pictures, too)
As some of you (so, like… you, single reader of the ‘logues) may have heard through my (grape)whines, i have been working on this one project for the past 10/11 months.
It took me a while to realize it, but this endeavour has been spawned in hell by the devil himself. It’s been a rough ride and it doesn’t show any signs of becoming any better, though it is, at times, becoming more fun. The fun part might just be a symptom of my descent into madness (some things are known to trigger latent sociopathy) or V. and me just not really giving a flying fuck anymore.
The reasons that are making this thing so difficult (enough to have sent a couple of the people involved to seek medical help, me included), i cannot discuss quite so openly… but to put it mildly, time is of critical importance (as in, there is none) and a very high power (you, too, are being watched by it) has been putting everyone under immense pressure to fulfill its every whim.
The entities assigned to mediate the devil’s wishes and assuring the fluency of the process have cracked under the task and failed epically. It doesn’t help that everyone involved is either a sociopath, 20 years older than my project leader and me, utterly overwhelmed, understaffed, underprepared or painfully inexperienced with handling such gargantuan tasks.
Alas, over time, i’ve come up with some analogies to describe the terror that is currently being built at an undisclosed location.
It’s like performing surgery on someone who was not fully anesthetized, while they are trying to dance a merry jig. Also, someone keeps turning the music louder.
Maybe like trying to perform a clean incision on a pulsating blob, right after someone gave you a good spin in a swivel chair.
Sometimes it’s like trying to perform an apendectomy on yourself, only you’re not a surgeon at all. Also, you’ve been lobotomized.
It’s like racing over hot coals with a backpack filled with fireworks. Also, someone keeps throwing firecrackers at you or sticking them in your pockets.
It’s like running through a rainshower, but instead of water, it’s raining knives that you have to dodge. Also, someone turned your wellies into flip flops.
It’s like feeding wild beasts that someone has been leaving to starve … while dangling over their enclosure from a helium baloon.
It’s like trying to make a bag full of ferrets dance the menuet. Also, someone has inoculated the ferrets with rabies.
It’s like that scene from Gravity where the cosmonaut tried to navigate a Soyuz spacecraft while reading a chinese manual. Also someone has been leaking your oxygen into the uncaring vastity of space.
It’s like pushing a huge rock up a hill, only for the rock to keep rolling down once you’re nearly there. Also, with every round, someone is adding more rocks for you to push, and bitchslaps you, just for good measure.
It’s like playing ping pong with someone who is occasionally throwing eggs or live rats at you. (Once in a while they throw a grenade.)
It’s like giving someone the instructions for making a paper boat, only they shit in a box and insist this is what you’ve told them to do. Also, they claim that they warned you about that, sorta.
It’s like someone asking you to bake them a stacked wedding cake (you are not a pastry confectioner) and when you deliver they only want to pay for a piece of soggy toast. They insist it’s your fault.
It’s like trying to defuse a time-bomb before it goes off, only you’re simultaneously assembling it.
It’s like being the guy who has to walk behind carriages and pick up the poop. Only the horse has the runs and also someone keeps feeding it beans.
A friend mentioned it might be like learning how to swim in the Atlantic, but there’s a row-boat nearby.
We’d beg to argue that it is, indeed, like learning to swim, in that you constantly think you’re drowning, but you live… just like being waterboarded.
It’s all of the above.
That’s it. Just wanted to get this off my chest, and have the list ready for the addition of future flashes of genius.
Whether you’re big into feng shui, hate your neighbors, want a nicer view or have to move out of the way of some cataclism, the brave engineers who specialize in moving buildings are there to help you.
Sure, in this day and age, with our fossil fuels running out, only mad millionaires (or the swiss) would fancy such a feat, but for a while there, moving whole buildings wasn’t all that insane.
Alice Young Bear’s house and shed being moved to new site after flood, 1852.
I do wonder, though… after a very sloppy research, it seems that these things mostly happened in the US, and occasionally, the UK. The english speaking world has it much easier when it comes to documenting their insanity, but might there be another conclusion to draw from this?
About the USs relationship to speed, maybe. Since the entire country was colonized extremely quickly, in bursts aided by technological developments like trains, the whole urban (and, more importantly, the suburban) landscape of the US only functions in terms of mobility. Nobody walks anywhere, because nobody ever did. No Völkerwanderungen, or slow nomadic population shifts like the olde continent endured; only rushes shaped the settlement dynamic of the new world.
"Oh, and did you notice the curved walkway and bridge? That was there because office workers were still working in the building while it was being moved!They had the electrical, water, etc hooked up via flexible lines to keep them operational.”(DarthClem3 on io9)
What does this say about context? Nobody in their right mind would want to literally move the Palazzo Farnese. Replicate it? sure, why the heck not, right? whatever floats your insane po-po-mo boat… but literally packing it up and shifting it a few blocks away? Highly doubt it.
Does this perhaps say something about mass? Why it is necessary to frame and anchor objects into urban grain? Sure, even the heaviest shit can, apparently, be lifted, but a balloon frame house is a little more inviting. (And how fitting it is, that frail little houses have to literally flee from the path of nature’s forces…)
The technical aspects are also intricate and intriguing: severing and sealing off the piping, replacing all bearing structural cellar walls with sturdy beams, loading the mass onto a moving platform. Beats me, like, i might be a german dipl.ing. but no matter how convincing i am and no matter how drunk you are, don’t trust me with moving anything!
Below i’ve embedded the weirdest ones, and even though i have included mostly massive public buildings, a quick stroll to io9 (seriously, that site is super) or a youtube search will have you hooked for the rest of the weekend.
Aaaaaand a little gem to top it off.
You kind of know you’re fucked up, when you hear disappointed, unrequited love songs, or songs about relationships gone wrong and think about your field of work instead of, you know… people.
Turns out, and i’m not sure yet if this is me or just the profession, but architecture is like a bad spouse.
It’s a textbook abusive relationship.
It starts off with everything being wonderful, interesting, albeit a little difficult … but that’s the charm of taming the beast. Not everyone can handle it. Sometimes it hurts you, like those all-nighters you pull in college, but then you get your As and your brownie points and you think it might’ve been worth it.
Then it reels you in, i mean, you’ve made it all those long years towards your diploma and you think now… it was definitely worth it. Now you get your reward. Sure, you think, work will be hard, but that’s fucking peanuts compared to how much it busted your ass for no money during your formative years. And damn it, you want this so much. You want it to work. You want to be worthy. You want to be better. Architecture is flawed but you can change it, it just needs someone to make it right.
Then it starts hurting you again, and every time you get a panic attack, every time you think you’re gonna miss the deadline, every time you’re on the phone with an engineer and have no idea what the everloving fuck he’s talking about, it makes you feel a little worthless.
But only because you haven’t been trying hard enough.
It hurts you because you provoke it, baby. Why do you always make it hit you? If you studied harder and worked longer it would be easier on you. Give it some time, yeah?
Then you slip in deeper and deeper. You ignore your friends and partners and only hang out at work. Architecture is always sure to let you know that nobody will satisfy you the way it does. No social interaction is worth that work-high you get at 1am after finally getting shit done.
No other profession requires more dedication, more talent, more hard work. After all, you too, have looked down on all the lazy assholes who just mindlessly work their 8-hour shifts and go home to watch tv and grow dumber and dumber (and richer and richer). You too, have laughed at all those psychos and morons who don’t do anything worth a fuck. Because only building and medicine are real professions - the rest is intellectual masturbation and self-indulging crap nobody fucking needs. Architects who have it easy are not doing good enough work, right? They don’t care, man… if you care, it has to hurt a little. Right?!
And if you, like myself, come from a history of abuse, where your parents and your parents’ parents worked their asses off because that’s just what good people do - work hard - it becomes internalized and normalized.
"Your parents toiled to allow you to chase your dubious dreams, so check your privileges, you little fuck!" you hiss at yourself in the mirror. Only instead of giving something back to your parents, you just work yourself into an early grave. If they were good people, they taught you about work and kindness, but guess which one of those is the easiest to accomplish?
One might argue it is pure upper middle class privilege guilt that makes us give ourselves away like this. Because we want to be good people. Right?
Architecture wants all your attention. Hobbies? Fuck them, you only need architecture. It’s the only thing you are allowed to love.
It isolates you, makes you feel stupid and worthless, makes you feel like you brought all the pain upon yourself because you’re not trying hard enough. Am i repeating myself?
It hits you then kisses you and swears it was an isolated incident. Oh that one time you worked a 116-hour-week? Oh that was an exception, it was just a very difficult project. And that time you cried in the loo because you thought you finally messed up and got your office sued? That too, was just an extreme moment that is not likely to reoccur, right?
Now look how pretty the house is becoming. Look how your office is the best in the country. Look how happy the engineer is with your feedback. Look how your boss taps you on the shoulder. Look how much responsibility you have. Look how much these people trust you. Look how much you’re learning. Look how your colleague brings you a cup of coffee and a stolen meeting-cookie. It’s all good, right? All those bad things are in your head, right?
Deep inside it loves you, too.
It’s your own fault it hurts.
If you were better at it, it wouldn’t be so hard.
And when your friends ask you how you’ve been, you fake a wide grin and say you’ve never been happier … while trying not to stare at the bruises they, too, are wearing, their blood-shot eyes and their trembling hands. Because you know… we’re all clumsy and just run into doors sometimes.
Two days ago i received a phone call from my parents in Romania. Someone very close to us had died.
They tore down the last building of my Steel Works.
Not even sure if it’s worth crying over broken concrete. I am ashamed, though, that i didn’t try harder, that i didn’t really try at all.
After doing a little intervention project, it has been recommended that i send it somewhere further to maybe… sensitize someone who might have some say about the issue. The point was that inserting something of apparent value (golden!) into this wasteland would maybe prevent its destruction.They would’ve tried to protect the shiny new, and accidentally would’ve ended up saving the truly precious. It was futile, as you can imagine. And it would’ve been, because the demolition has been going on for years, and nothing short of chaining myself to a cooling tower would’ve prevented it from happening.
When i first started looking into the industrial legacy of the CSH, it was but a scenery for my architectural vanity to unfold. It was a pretext to stroke my fondness of industrial brutalism, a hypothethical problem for me to solve inside the confines of my mind and to make pretty images of. Its imminent destruction was real, but i wouldn’t believe it. Now the last chimney has fallen, the blast broke the dam, and reality came flooding in.
And it broke my heart. Not because i was born in this town with the red ash clouds and the fuming silhouettes of the chimneys on the horizon, and not because i am aesthetically biased and predisposed to seeing the intrinsic, brute functionalist beauty of those constructions, but because the cultural and industrial heritage will be irreversibly lost!
By destroying something as colossally important as this, we are denying, nay, we are erasing an essential part of who we are and what brought us here. We are doomed to forget that Romania used to toil, prosper, and create. Now capitalism not only forces us to dissociate from our collective past and to destroy, but it is wiping our industrial heritage off the face of the earth, teaching us to steal, lie and murder.
"Money doesn’t talk - it swears!" (attributed to Bob Dylan)
The steel mill in Hunedoara has been a continuation of an ancient tradition of iron ore extraction and processing in the carpathian area, dating back to pre-roman times. It was the raison d’etre of the entire town which grew around it. It was the primus mobile and catalyst of settlements, civilisation and urbanisation in the area. Everybody in Hunedoara had worked in the steel mill at some point in their lives - she was the great mother of everyone. Mine too.
Now i cry matricide but alas, it is too late.
Still some wonderful people are keeping the legacy alive as best as it gets, so make sure to visit and support them. https://www.facebook.com/CSHunedoara
I’m late to this party. I’m generally late for parties these days, since i was too busy getting shit done at work and *gasp* reading books-books in the evenings. Felt a little guilty about abandoning the monilogues after a few very lazy posts. There were a few things i was preoccupied with over the past weeks, eh.. months, but let me start with the beginning.
Whenever i’m stressing out, my brain has this great little mechanism to keep me from going insane - it renders me obsessed with random things, to the point that, as i lie in bed at night, instead of pondering about whatever is really worrying me, i just spin these scenarios in my head until i fall asleep.
One storyline keeps recurring. The (zombie) apocalypse.
But to be honest, i don’t care about zombies, and the reason i ever watched anything that was remotely tangent to this topic was the collateral implications of such a thing happening. I wake up one morning and everyone has vanished off the face of the earth. Surely i am not the only one fantasizing about this.
(urghlll, fuck yeah..)
The ways this pans out vary, and before i bore you to death, let’s just say i have shit figured out, as long as, for my narrative’s sake, we assume that everyone neatly turned off all the nuclear plants and other dangerous things before getting super-rabies or whatever.
What’s really interesting, though, is that i often catch myself really wishing this would happen. There are many reasons, and apart from my general misanthropy (sometimes i imagine others have survived too, and not exclusively for my um… carnal pleasure), the most predominant argument is architecture. FUCKING ARCHITECTURE, MAN!
You should know by now that deserted dystopian landscapes really shiver me timbers, shit, before starting work, i had spent most of my university life thinking about them. And boy-oh boy did i quiver on the edge on my seat during that one scene in that bond movie where the grumpy looking brit and the hot ethnic lady drive up to this (clicky for external link):
These places harbour a kind of freedom from the trivial bullshit of life. No more worrying about the recognition of others, no more lethargy, no more uselessness - just anarchy and giving limited amounts of fucks about the truly essential things in life. And possibly some kickass fashion, something between steampunk and hobo chic. I’ll call it apocalypse-punk and i can finally wear that nearly black lipstick i paid WAY too much moni-money for.
Exposed concrete buildings with tiny holes in the walls (some call them windows) are the bees’ knees and there’s no way around this. They are efficient, sustainable (say what you want, i dare you, but you can downcycle the shit out of concrete, not to mention the awesomeness of insulating concrete) and the thermal qualities of a nice massive building are incomparably better than this whole light pretty feebleness trend that won’t disappear already. If the zombie apocalypse actually occurred, we’d have no excuses left than really building in a manner that actually protects us (from wind, rain, and zombies)! Maybe plaster them, sure, plaster is cool, but there’d be no more messing around with redundant materials and wasteful techniques for cosiness’ sake. Not to mention that we’d be finally freed from parametricism’s wretched grip.
Also, Poché, yeah!
A fresh start.
It’s been often quoted that war is an architect’s best friend. And, again, not considering how positively wonderful it would be if at least a fraction of the world’s population vanished (and maybe would be replaced by cats), ever so often, the proverbial tabula rasa is the only thing facilitating the development of new ideas. Think Brasilia, Chandigarh, even the Salines in Chaux or the Hausmann Plan - every utopian experiment needed a blank patch of desert to unfold in its true greatness (regardless if it worked or not) or some major, and i mean mahaaajor paradigm switch within society.
Maybe we can even consider, like, not building for once, and instead inhabiting whatever we’ve got. But also, every big change necessitates a clean canvas (and/or a dictator - who will surely emerge to rule the survivors), lest the conservatives get their panties up in bunches, clutching their pearls over how our crazy experiments won’t do the context justice. Fuck the context! Just this once, we can be free. Sure, some pretty horrible things arose from those experiments in the past, but if the shit hits the fan, we’ve still got bigger things to worry about instead of whining over aesthetics. (ahem, the zombies, remember?!)
Everybody wins! Except the poor schmucks who didn’t make it inside my fortress in time.
Look, i’m not a monster, i love our little speck of cosmic dust as much as the next girl, and a zombie apocalypse would definitely, finally, determine us to live locally, with as few resources as possible. And we’ll have plenty of resources as soon as 90% of the population will start going “braaaaaaaaaaaains” instead of “oooiiil”. Maybe we’ll send little kids to harvest old batteries for electricity, but either way, we’ll be much better off. Right, yeah, we won’t be really able to leave the fortresses but on the other hand, news had it that pollution levels in Beijing were so high today, that the population were advised to stay inside anyway. (Mr. monilogues read about it this morning, and i don’t know where, so just, google it, okay?)
The list is far from finished, so feel free to contribute if you think i forgot something.
See you on the other side!