Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space in New York City

A new, exciting museum is being planned to keep alive the rich history of reclaimed urban space in New York City. The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, MoRUS, will be located in the storefront of the historic East Village building C-Squat and will house artifacts like videos, photographs, fliers, posters and communiqués by grassroots community members who have squatted abandoned buildings, championed community gardens, and protested the restrictions placed on public space. MoRUS has the potential to strengthen transversal relays between activists and academics, and establish the environment and setting for new social creativity. However, it is not yet open to the public because it still needs additional funding. If you are interested, you can donate here: http://www.crowdrise.com/helpusstartanewhisto.

Charleston architecture–and thoughts from a New Urbanist…

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If you’ve been to Charleston, South Carolina–(home to the College of Charleston)–you’ve likely heard about/seen the typical Charleston house, which has a porch alongisde the entire length of the building (on two floors). The slideshow images above were snapped on a walk I just took around the downtown area–gotta get out of the office sometimes (In one of the shots you can see that the porch has been retained for show near the front of the house while the back section has been walled in as extra interior footage). The porch is marked by a ‘false door’ or sorts, which in years gone by was left open to signal that visitors were welcome (well, that’s what they tell you on the tourist carriage tours at least).

I was thinking about what was said in a recent lecture here by a self-proclaimed New Urbanist who came to speak at the College (here’s New Urbanism in a nutshell, and a New Urbanist site)–which was [take it with a grain of salt]:

this particular New Urbanist always tells Europeans that they shouldn’t leave their tours of the United States without first visiting Charleston, that while (in general terms of course) in Europe there are magnificent public spaces (walkable areas, broad avenues, parks etc.) and impoverished private spaces (apartment-caves with little light, little room, etc.), and while the United States is lacking in rich public spaces (strip malls, car culture predominates), but has rich private spaces (well, McMansions or the North Dallas special type construction of home, built for comfort, light, etc.)–Charleston has the best of both worlds–public and private spheres.

It follows from this contextualization that the Charleston architectural style, with its porch as an open habitable space between public and private (to use this binomial characterization that has been questioned by many…) typifies this connection…

All in all, happy to call Charleston home, and we’re happy to have an upcoming talk at the College by Dr. Sonia Hirt [who was not the New Urbanist discussed above, but who has done some research on New Urbanism] on “Jane Jacobs and Urban Knowledge” (flyer below with clickable links).

Sonia Hirt lecture CofC poster

urbanculturalstudies:

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino is a must read… great post from citymovement…

Originally posted on citymovement:

After a seven days’ march through woodland, the traveller directed towards Baucis cannot see the city and yet he has arrived. The slender stilts that rise from the ground at a great distance from one another and are lost above the clouds support the city. You climb them with ladders. On the ground the inhabitants rarely show themselves: having already everything they need up there, they prefer not to come down. Nothing of the city touches the earth except those long flamingo legs on which it rests and, when the days are sunny, a pierced, angular shadow that falls on the foliage. 

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

I have always been influenced by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.  As a work of fiction Invisible Cities offers a whimsical approach to thinking about cities and the built forms that shape them. Calvino’s imaginative descriptions defy the laws of physics and the limitations of modern urban design. He provided expanded…

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Science Fiction and the City

Critic Fredric Jameson–perhaps more well-known for his book Postmodernism: Or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (and the essay that inspired the book) has also written on sf (Science Fiction), noting that it is a ‘spatial genre’:

“We thus need to explore the proposition that the distinctiveness of SF as a genre has less to do with time (history, past, future) than with space”.

—Fredric Jameson, “Science Fiction as a Spatial Genre,” 1987, 58

With implications for urban cultural studies, he also notes that:

Many SF cityscapes and utopias seem to me to participate in this curious paradox: that what signals the constructed, invented, artificial nature of SF as a genre—the palpable fact that an author has strained her or his invention to contrive some near or far culture’s city (and to make it somehow distinctive and different from those of rivals or predecessors)—that very lack of ontological density for the reader, that very artifice and unbelievability which are surely disastrous in the most realistic novels, is here an unexpected source of strength, feeding into the more traditional SF estrangement effects in a curiously formal, reflexive and overdetermined way. (54)

See also an online paper titled “Architectural Representations of the City in Science Fiction Cinema” and the blog Science Fiction & the City (from which the above image is taken).

Images, essays related to Madrid’s inclined towers

For those who read the earlier post on the Torres KIO in Madrid with interest, here is a book just out featuring one half of the towers on the cover.

The great thing is the photo itself, which was taken by photographer Miguel Sandoval Díaz, an incredible shot–the extended exposure time allows for shadowy, mobile traffic at the bottom right (although that is slightly covered up in the layout). If interested in his photography (I believe he is based in Madrid), he has volunteered his email (msandoval1985@gmail.com) as contact information.

For hispanist scholars, there are three essays in the book (Nathan Richardson, Susan Divine and Thomas Deveny) that deal with the films of director Alex de la Iglesia–the towers, aka the Puerta de Europa appear in his cult classic The Day of the Beast (1995)–and a few more that deal with geography/urban space in literature and film (by Edward Baker, Susan Larson, Agustín Cuadrado, Araceli Masterson, Shalisa Collins…).

Deconstructing Reality | Gordon Matta-Clark

Originally posted on dpr-barcelona:


Conical Intersect 2. From “Conical Intersect” París, France [1975]

“A simple cut or series of cuts acts as a powerful drawing device able to redefine spatial situations and structural components”.
-Gordon Matta-Clark

The work of Gordon Matta-Clark has been deeply documented in several museums and architecture centres, the way his work changed the meaning and scope of sculpture through architectural interventions has been an undeniable influence in architects and students. He worked mostly with ephemeral interventions on buildings through cuts and extractions on floors, walls and other structures, somehow showing the possibilities of descontructing reality by transforming our consciousness and the way we perceive our world.

When thinking about the power of representation as means of architectural thinking, the way that Matta-Clark transformed real buildings into scale models 1:1 by cutting its abandoned structures is at least, provocative, because he was reverting the process of our lineal way of…

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