Saturday, June 27, 2009


In the book, In Praise of Shadows, Jun'Ichiro Tanizaki laments Japan's insatiable appetite for Western products, specifically those inventions that changed the domestic landscape in his country forever. Written in the '60s, his observations of a fast-changing traditional Japan are simple, eloquent and quite fascinating. The wide hanging eaves, the filtering of light through soji screens, the use of gold as an accent which becomes more provacative when seen in the absence of light, the carefully built alcoves out of reach of direct light.
A calm sense of "being" is paramount in his ideas, which remind me of Carlos Castenada's thoughts on shamanism and "dreaming," in which years of careful study ("stalking") of shadows (ok - maybe with added effects of certain cactus extracts) enables shamans to be able to "see" differently, i.e. to "dream" while still awake.

Taking from these two sources, the effect that shadows have on our environment is profound. With light, there is shadow. Too much light is never a good thing. If we move back to Tanizaki's observations, it's precisely the western ideals of "white" and "light" which harm his traditions. The mechanization of space and domestic tools removed the mystery from the Japanese home and garden. C-Laboratoy via Daily TonicGhost Lab.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pavilions and the in between

I'm still waiting for the dutch to take over the world.
An unprogrammed space that doesn't need a profit motive.
Arch Daily
Rene Van Zuuk Architekten

Saturday, June 20, 2009


If you've ever been on a hike in the Pacific Northwest, you've probably seen a nurse log.. Old tree falls - new growth grows out of a decaying state.. What becomes older or of no use in an ecosystem changes, accomodating something new. That something new takes what it can from it's host, and grows in to a hybrid... Generations of growth pursue light and air.
Guerilla Architecture in MumbaiGuerilla Architecture in Hong Kong.
Law less building in Rio de JaneiroWill Alsop
Estudio Teddy Cruz
Korteknie Stuhlmacher Architecten

Lebbeus Woods

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Cities bombard us with imagery. Most of us have chosen to live in cities where everything and anything we need is (mostly) at our fingertips. Our immediate experiences traversing the grid unfold in casual, expected figures of the last real estate boom. Everything has become nice, cute, clean. That the image of the city has become an amusement park seeking to entertain. It has become nuanced towards consumption, with those servicing the serviced living out on the fringes.

I was wondering where to find those places of absolute emptiness, where the image actually stops your mind from making a consumptive decision, where the image is what it is, where it conveys a distilled essence of a time or place that does not exist in one's immediate present experience. Imagery of a shrinking city or lost Americana of the mid to late twentieth century brings me to places far from the consistent mental assault of cities.

Two incredible web presences:
America Suburb X
100 Abandoned houses

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

No words needed

via English Russia

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vertical Gardens

I have always been interested in the idea of entropy, where, in the end, nature will essentially have its way. We've seen this before in places as far ranging as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, yet also in more modern buildings. In the upper west side of Manhattan, for example, one cannot walk a block without finding 100 year old buildings with growth up their sides. And back then, I would assume, landscape architects were not building large apartment houses, specifying ivy and wisteria to grow up the sides. Instead, nature, as it always does, began its process of decay. Patrick Blanc has become a leading proponent of the idea of designing green into walls, into buildings. Through research, he has invented a symbiotic relationship between what is built and what is grown. His new book, The Vertical Garden: From Nature to City is chalk full of the research that led him to his ground breaking designs.
Moreover, there is the growing push to integrate verticality into food production. Personally, I think the perfect evolution of the vertical garden is the vertical edible garden. What if we took inventory of left over spaces in urban centers and constructed vertical food infrastructure, placing very local markets at the storefronts, creating mini-centers of food production throughout neighborhoods and cities? Vertical farming could help improve our bad relationship with food in this country, it could employ thousands, it could make use of left over space.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Aging Gracefully

I sometimes fail to become excited by the new-ness in buildings and objects because all I can do is imagine how they will look 10 - 20 - 50 - 100 years from now. Why is it that when I study photographs of old structures, I find so much more depth and life? How might we think more about design for aging gracefully,? projecting out the behavior of materials as a real estate developer would project the amortization of his loan over time.

Obviously, wabi sabi, "The Japanese view of life embraced a simple aesthetic that grew stronger as inessentials were eliminated and trimmed away," embraces the idea of simplicity, with exuberances stripped so that we can perceive built material as natural as possible in it's essence. In my opinion, a bilogical approach to building, in that attention is paid to the life of the object after it's conception.