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Architecture

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INFERNAL DOMESTIC: HR GIGER BY CAMILLE VIVIER

HR Giger (1940–2014) is best known for the nightmarish creatures and environments of 1979’s Alien, and more broadly for his transgressive (yet deeply stylized and stylish) paintings on broadly “biomechanical” themes. Much of Giger’s work, which in addition to the paintings and drawings for which he was best known included sculpture, industrial art, and even furniture, was created in his Zurich home studio, which he transformed over the decades into a real-world embodiment of his aesthetic.

John Peck
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INVENTING GREENLAND

WITH A TOTAL population of 56,000 spread across a landmass twice the size of all other Nordic countries combined, Greenland’s overall density hovers at just over zero. The precursors to Greenland’s modern-day inhabitants were settlers both indigenous and European, dating back millennia and including the Saqqaq, Independence I-II, and Dorset cultures, as well as the Greenlandic Vikings who settled in the far south in 982 (led by Erik the Red). All these prior cultures and settlements, however, disappeared, leaving only archaeological records.

John Peck
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ROBOTIC LANDSCAPES: DESIGNING THE UNFINISHED

AT OUR CURRENT moment in third decade of the 21st century, the relationship between technology and conservation could generously be described as uneasy: decades of greenwashing have seen the goodwill behind formerly sound words like “eco”, “organic”, and “autonomous” erode like so much sand. Current technological advances, from electric / autonomous vehicles to drones to the self-perpetuating slurry of metaverse and NFT content, pay occasional lip service to the impending wave of climate catastrophes, while rarely working to counteract it, and in some cases even accelerating it.

John Peck
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ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE: MOON

ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE: MOON, published to broadly coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar mission, is a fascinating hybrid of various types of reference guide. From its first pages, the book fully commits to addressing the contradiction contained in its title: namely, how can one discuss the “architecture” of a place that is not just currently uninhabited, but could remain so indefinitely? While other entries in DOM’s Architectural Guide series are organized by region, the Moon guide is, understandably, instead chronological – after all, with most existing structures on the Moon having been built with little to no idea where they would eventually end up, the book can be forgiven for suspending the idea of architecture as a site-specific practice in this case.

John Peck
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ZACHELSBERG: POTSDAM’S ABANDONED SHOOTING RANGE

THOUGH THERE ARE dozens of locations in greater Potsdam with “Berg” (literally “mountain”, though often applied to much more modest hills) in their names, the region is overwhelmingly rural, flat, and agrarian. Nonetheless, even among the sprawling corn and alfalfa fields and winding highways of Potsdam Nord, occasional clusters of hills reach high enough altitudes to be notable.

John Peck
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SURVEY: ARCHITECTURE IN PEN AND INK

Survey, the newest addition to Park Books’ ongoing Architecture Iconographies series, is an examination of architectural drawings, paintings, maps, and photographs from the last five centuries. Rather than attempting to showcase the full range of images from such an eventful and prolific epoch, the book chooses instead to present its subject via six essays, each of which focuses on a single architect or scholar. Through these essays – which mostly focus on 18th-19th century drawings of classical architecture, many of them from the UK’s Drawing Matter collection – the book makes the argument that surveys are not just visual renderings of buildings, but also an integral part of the way those buildings are perceived and understood.

John Peck
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ORTHODOX CHIC

The post-Soviet architecture of Ukraine is a complex and often fraught subject we’ve frequently explored on this site. Kyiv’s Osnovy Publishing is at the forefront of documenting the Soviet architectural legacy, as well as its newfound vernacular architecture, via numerous books that illustrate the patchwork approach to building and city planning in Ukraine since 1990. Its Chic series in particular – which began with 2019’s Balcony Chic, and now continues with Orthodox Chic – offers a deadpan view of the motley, often improvised constructions that define the modern Ukrainian cityscape.

John Peck
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