Archive for November, 2010

November 8, 2010

a bit of trouble with terms

From Pamela Robertson Wojcik’s rorotoko precis of her book, The Apartment Plot: Urban Living in American Film and Popular Culture, 1945 to 1975:

“This book is neither a history of apartments, nor about architecture. Instead, it is about urban fantasy, or what I call a philosophy of urbanism. It is about the apartment as an imagined space, and a genre. It is about the way in which representing the apartment, in film, novels, comic strips and more, functions as a way of imagining the urban, and of imagining identities as produced and shaped by the urban.”

Um… if that’s not architectural history then I’m in trouble. And so is everyone else taught by Medina Lasansky – or Beatriz Colomina, for that matter.

November 1, 2010

flickr 2: models of the musee national de la marine, paris

So I finally made it to the National Maritime Museum in Paris (Palais de Chaillot, a remnant of Paris’ own “white city” of 1889, still linked to the Eiffel Tower) to see the remarkable and oddly moving Tous Les Bateaux Du Monde, (no direct stable link! look over on the left side for a link, at least until the current expo is over…) and I was struck dumb by the collection of models of ironclads on the floor above.

It made me think of steampunk, and the improvisational nature of invention. It also made me aware of the Jules Verne Trophy (which is made mostly from aluminium, floats on magnetic repulsion and is based on the radii of the Earth, the moon and the sun – it’s the most geekycool object I’ve seen in some time, and it’s awarded to whoever sets the world record for sailing around the world in the shortest time).

Also of incredible interest: a trio of tiny dioramas showing how the obelisk in Place de la Concorde was transported from Egypt. And a bunch of other models made out of god knows what. And this Japanese boat with accompanying (unique, I think) 19th century plans and sections.

November 1, 2010

Alas, flickr: 1. Grain Elevators of the Ile de France

Without taking anything away from the awesomeness of Buffalo’s grain elevators, I find myself wondering exactly when in the history of modernist architecture these similar structures were erected on the banks of the Seine. Could Mendelssohn and Corbusier have saved themselves an America jaunt? Or were they vital to the exporting of the type from the Great Lakes area?

I see curious horizontal striations under the layer of smooth render, which leads me to wonder if these were, like the Buffalo structures, created in one continuous pour. They look almost like they could be…cinderblock.