place & bioregion

The shadow city

One of the North-South links we will explore at Doors 8 concerns the importance of un-designed urban areas as sites of social innovation. Half or more of the inhabitants of major South Asian cities like Delhi are ‘illegal’, but they are economically active, too. In Europe interest is growing in so-called ‘free zones’ as breeding […]

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Spatial slop

Tristram Hunt’s terrific book about the rise and fall of the Victorian city in Britain is full of insights about about infrastructure. One reason for the decline of cities, for Hunt, was the failure to control housing densities. By 1897 the quaker inspired Cadbury Bounville estate was built at 20 dwellings per hectare, and Ebenezer […]

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Clogging up the City: Flows of Fat in Bodies and Sewers

I’m repeating a plug here (published before in our newsletter) for this memorable paper, by Simon Marvin and Will Medd, about the circulation, deposition and removal of fat in bodies, sewers and cities. “Our emphasis is on the metabolisms of fat across the different levels of bodies, infrastructures and cities” say the authors; “We explore […]

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Museum mania in China

The Chinese government intends to build 1,000 new museums across the country by 2015.A scary piece by Elizabeth Casale in The Platform, an e-zine on cultural policy, says that with approximately 100 urban areas with a population of 1 million or more, China’s place-based cultural strategy favours buildings as a symbol of cultural sophistication over […]

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Human scale architecture

Architects frequently complain to me that the architectural models they make for competitions cost them tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to make. That’s curious, because one-tenth scale model of a person standing can be purchased for 75 cents – far less than the $5 it costs to buy a model car at […]

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The post-spectacular city

(This is my lecture to a conference at Westergasfabriek, in Amsterdam, called Creativity and the City, on 25 September 2003) In Rajhastan, travelling storytellers go from village to village, unannounced, and simply start a performance when they arrive. Although each story has a familiar plot – the story telling tradition dates back thousands of years […]

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Chain gangs: reinventing the Hanseatic League

In which I talk to Winy Maas about the design of webs, networks and archipelagos of cities and regions. This story was published in July 2003 In Domus magazine. Sustainable cities, working cities, are necessarily complex, heavily linked, and diverse. As the English writer Will Hutton has commented, just as local knowledge and information was […]

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Chain gangs: reinventing the Hanseatic League

(In which John Thackara talks to Winy Maas about the design of webs, networks and archipelagos of cities and regions. This was published in July 2003 in Domus magazine) Sustainable cities, working cities, are necessarily complex, heavily linked, and diverse. As the English writer Will Hutton has commented, just as local knowledge and information was […]

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Trophy buildings are over

Three developments are putting an end to the boom in landmark buildings. The first is over-supply. This year’s Venice Architecture Biennale show-cased literally hundreds of large, glamorous buildings that will be built in the next few years. But, precisely because they are conceived as spectacles, these signature buildings have started to cancel each other out. […]

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