Madrid’s Gran Vía Digital Humanities Project

Brief video introduction [created with Camtasia 2] explaining a student-produced Digital Humanities project investigating Madrid’s Gran Vía [created with Omeka / Neatline].

This way of approaching DH work is particularly conducive to urban-scaled projects, and does not require extensive data mining or GIS components – although these approaches could certainly be integrated. (I will be presenting this project alongside my colleague at a June conference in Charleston titled: Data Driven: Digital Humanities in the Library.)

Explore the map-interface of the actual DH project here.

004 – Theory-Parkour – Lamb on Parkour, Architecture and the Body – Urban Cultural Studies Podcast

UCS 004 Lamb on Parkour, Architecture and the Body (12 August 2013)  Conversational interview inspired by scholar Matthew Lamb’s article “Misuse of The Monument: The Art of Parkour and the Discursive Limits of a Disciplinary Architecture,” forthcoming in the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (1.1, 2013). Pitched at a theoretical level (complementing the specific place-bound analysis of  Monument Circle in Indianapolis found in the article) discussion centers on the origins (and varieties) of parkour–an athletic engagement with the built environment (misuse through climbing, dropping, vaulting, jumping…)–and the conditioning of the body in place and as subject to architectural and urban forces.

The Shadows of Revolution

With a view to tracing further representations of space in Mexico City my attention has been recently turning to the work of Paco Ignacio Taibo II (or PIT) in his transgressions of story-history, starting with the novel Sombra de la sombra (1986) published in English as The Shadow of the Shadow with Cinco Puntos Press (1991). The book is both an exploration of social criticism as well as a work of historical crime fiction. The story is set in 1922 in Mexico City blurring the realms of fiction and history and is based around the secret Plan de Mata Redonda, a conspiracy of army colonels, U.S. senators, and oil company magnates, with the aim to separate the oil-rich Gulf Coast of Mexico from the rest of the country and turn it into an American protectorate. Where better to explore the spatial practices of Mexico City deciphered through historical fiction and the symbols of this city’s lived representational spaces?

Continue reading

The Madrid that may never be

URBAN PLANNING

[reblogged from El País; original post here]

The Madrid that may never be

The capital has been transformed by some major building projects in recent years

But budget cutbacks have since put the brakes on many other developers’ dreams

Architects Espegel-Fisac’s designs for the new-look Mercado de Mostenses.
-   –   –   –   -

It’s past 6pm, but the security guard who comes out to meet this reporter has beads of sweat rolling down his sideburns.

“There’s nobody here but me, building work has been stopped,” he says, informatively. “There’s nothing to see.”

Behind him loom the Cuatro Torres – the four towers. They are behemoths nearly 250 meters tall that watch over the north entrance into Madrid, on the Castellana boulevard. Between them and the security guard’s sauna-like cabin, there is a colossal hole in the ground. These 33,000 square meters of empty land are destined to one day hold the International Convention Center – if you look closely, you can dimly guess at its concrete foundations. “Madrid’s new architectural icon” is how then-mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón defined it when he laid the first stone in Continue reading

CFP-Boundaries International Architectural Magazine – ‘Re-Cycle Architecture’

Reblogged from h-net, see original post here.

Boundaries introduces a call for papers on the following subject: «Re-Cycle Architecture».Boundaries is a quarterly international magazine on contemporary architecture, with texts in English and Italian. The first issue, July – September 2011, is centred on the Contemporary Architecture in Africa, the second, October – December 2011, on the Architectures for Emergencies, the third, January – March 2012, on the Architectures of Peace and the fourth, April – June, on The Other City.The aim of the project in Boundaries is to offer a panoramic and critical view of the architectures that today face, in many different ways, the challenges of modernity, and of sustainability intended as a balance between problems of cultural, environmental, economic and social nature.

The fifth issue of Boundaries International Architectural Magazine will focus on : « Re-Cycle Architectures ».

Architectural reuse, rehabilitation, reconversion exist from long time ago but they are at the centre of heritage and architectural study issues only since recently. Nowadays, recycle and sustainability are ever more at the centre of architectural and urban planning researches and practices. The disproportionate loss of land has severely undermined our environment, it becomes necessary to reflect on how design could lead to the improvement of the existing architectures, rather than building new ones. Recycle has to be intended here not as a new vague for aesthetic or marketing trends, but as re-use, “life cycle extension” for materials and objects. This new cycle affect the materiality of the existing, its functions and its significations, thus creating an hybrid entity adapted to contemporary needs. How does the role of cultural tourism, globalization, politics and economic issues influence the treatment of a building such as recycling? After the rejection of postmodernism and the increase of new contemporary forms of architecture, how does an architectural gesture could enhance the existing fabric without a mimetic approach? From sustainable construction techniques and building strategies, to sustainable recycling of demolition waste, to sustainable preservation and restoration, Boundaries wishes to offer in the fifth issue an insight in all the best practices and researches.

All kinds of approaches to this topic are welcomed, but must be focused on the XXIst Century. Papers can be case studies oriented, or methodological and/or theoretical in focus.

The deadline for submission is July 18, 2012.

Contributors are invited to submit a title, an abstract (from 400 to 500 words, and three images), and a short biography stating their affiliation and professional interests (maximum 100 words).

Official language for paper presentation is English. The style, grammar and phrasing should be edited by a person with an excellent command of English and a good understanding of architectural terminology.

All submission of abstracts should be sent by email to redazione@boundaries.it (up to 15 Mb) before July 18, 2012.

The papers will be selected by the editorial board and subjected to evaluation with the blind peer review system. The authors will receive an answer before July 24, 2012. Articles should be sent to the editorial board, in their definitive form and with illustrations (free from reproduction rights), before August 12, 2012.

Articles length should be between 400 and 700 words, notes and bibliography included. Contributions must be original and should not have been previously published, even in part.

All articles must be illustrated (at least ten images, drawings, sketches, renders or other).

Boundaries
http://www.boundaries.it
redazione@boundaries.it
Fax: (0039)069085149
Email: redazione@boundaries.it
Visit the website at http://www.boundaries.it

Michael Wolf photos of Hong Kong / Architecture of Human Density

Here are some fascinating images of Hong Kong’s density by Michael Wolf. They appear in their original context here, and he has a (costly) book on the subject as well…

Lebbeus Woods: Architect of Spaces in Crisis

I first saw Lebbeus Woods’ science fiction inspired architectural drawings at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA. I was immediately drawn to his dystopian cityscapes overcome by buildings resembling machines and monsters. According to Woods, the spaces he designs are intentionally uncomfortable and aimed at disrupting bourgeoisie practices, “You can’t bring your old habits here. If you want to participate, you will have to reinvent yourself” (qtd in Ouroussoff, Nicolai. New York Times, August 2th, 2008). Primarily seen as an architect who is revolutionary but who ultimately designs the impossible, he theorizes places in crisis, re-designing buildings and structures such as the site of the former Berlin wall, war zones in Bosnia, and the Korean De-militarized zone. Described on his faculty webpage at The European Graduate School, Woods “holds the position that architecture and war are in a certain sense identical, and that architecture is inherently political. An explicitly political goal of his highly conceptual work is the instantiation of the conflict between past and future in shared spaces” (For his bio, click here).

It will be exciting to see one of Woods’ buildings leave the purely visual and be completed in real space. Set for completion in 2013 in Chengdu, China,  the structure that Woods, in collaboration with Christoph a. Kumpusch, designed is “a riot of angled steel beams housed in polycarbonate sleeves containing LEDs” (Fred Bernstein, Architectural Record. March 26, 2012). I love the disjunction of the word “riot” to describe what Woods envisioned as a sanctuary among the urban sprawl. Surely, its effect on the space and the experience of space will be interesting to follow. For more info click here.

Link

Dr. Reena Tiwari published a book called Space-Body-Ritual: Performativity in the City in which she puts a reading of Henri Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis to use in arguing for approaching the ‘city-as-body’, rather than ‘city-as-text’. It’s in my stack of current ‘to-reads’, and may be of interest to readers here.

Looking for information about the author, I came upon this Q&A, in which she touches on issues relating to urban architecture, public housing, poverty and migration. She makes some interesting points about making spaces that are ‘mixed’, both socioeconomically and public/private. Tiwari is both a scholar and an urban planner; is anyone here familiar with her book, or her work in general?

Note too that the website (www.cluster.eu) hosting this conversation may well be worth exploring, especially to readers interested in urban thought in Italy.

A Brief Building History: Madrid’s Torres KIO / Torres de Europa

Image

This photo shows the building(s) while still under construction–an essay by Malcolm Compitello notes “the original plan for the building dates from the mid-1980s. The architectural design was entrusted to the architectural firm of Burgee, Johnson and Associates known for their design of large buildings. Perhaps their most famous and controversial work is the firm’s initial entry into the realm of the grand postmodern, the AT&T Tower in New York. The elaboration of the plan for the work, the first inclined high-rise towers ever designed, was entrusted to Leslie E. Robertson and Associates. LERA is the New York-based structural engineering firm that has engineered the majority of the world’s tallest buildings, including the Torres Picasso in Madrid.”

See the original article here, and the building also plays a central role in the film El día de la bestia/The Day of the Beast (1995) by Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia. (a great cult classic)