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U and Non-U cities

(Seoul). In my car from the airport I am disconcerted by what sounds like someone drowning a dog in a bucket of water. It turns out to be the ringtone on my driver’s mobile phone. The traffic here is worse than ever so he probably has time in jams to [continue …]

2005-12-01T01:44:45+00:00December 1st, 2005|urban-rural|

Doors of Perception get-together in Seoul

I’ll be in Seoul next week (to speak at Design Korea 05) and would be delighted to meet any friends (or friends-of-friends) of Doors, who are also going to that event, or who are in town, the evening of Wednesday 30 November. Go to the Grand InterContinental Seoul, 159-8 Samseong-Dong, [continue …]

2005-11-21T12:46:12+00:00November 21st, 2005|urban-rural|

2-D cities

A quck reminder about the conference Urban Screens being organised by Mirjam Struppek in Amsterdam in three weeks from now. Presentations address the growing acreage of large digital moving displays that increasingly pervade our public spaces. Can the mainly commercial use of these screens be broadened to include cultural [continue …]

2005-09-01T10:17:42+00:00September 1st, 2005|urban-rural|

Urban planners in Fused Space

Can new technology improve the quality of public space? We know that technology changes the ways we use public space, but the most important ways tend not to have been consciously designed – they just happened. The widespread use of text-2-meet, for example, was not anticipated by the people who [continue …]

2005-08-29T08:15:50+00:00August 29th, 2005|urban-rural|

Creative communities in view

For the past year a network of six design schools in different parts of Europe has been collecting real-life examples of social innovation for a project called Emude, in which Doors of Perception is a partner. A lot of work has still to be done analysing these stories to figure [continue …]

2005-08-02T16:29:49+00:00August 2nd, 2005|urban-rural|

Urban burble

This podcast thing is a boon for bloggers. My interview with Carol Coletta, host and producer of the nationally-syndicated (in the US) public radio show Smart City Radio is now available online. I’ve said it once to Carol so I don’t need to say it again here: Apparently [continue …]

2005-07-27T16:54:21+00:00July 27th, 2005|urban-rural|

Brabant bound

Another day, another new European city-region. Yesterday I was in Breda, one of five cities in the south of the Netherlands that are joining forces (and 1.2 million citizens) to form a new entity, Brabantstad. The format of the day was interesting. Delegates were grouped into three blocks – investors/property [continue …]

2005-06-16T13:53:59+00:00June 16th, 2005|urban-rural|

My chances of survival

Is there something in the air in this town? Seattle’s W Hotel has more features than I need and they don’t all work. A 64-page catalogue in my room lists an extraordinary array of services ”masterfully orchestrated to surround you with style, service and comfort”. A menu for pets is [continue …]

2005-05-20T17:51:27+00:00May 20th, 2005|urban-rural|

Jugaad and its limits

Indian users of technology-based devices cannot rely on formal networks of distribution, support and maintenance: these are often incomplete, unimaginative or unrealistically priced. They therefore turn to the temporary fixes or ‘jugaads’ carried out by Indian street technicians. An army of pavement-based engineers and fixers keeps engines, television tubes, compressors [continue …]

2005-03-19T07:34:03+00:00March 19th, 2005|urban-rural|

Architecture as old media

Architecture used to focus mainly on the design of buildings. Nowadays, the spaces between them are also important. Applications such as geocaching make even small real-world spaces easy to locate and access; this transforms once marginal spaces into viable assets. A new variant of this theme, called [continue …]

2005-02-22T07:28:18+00:00February 22nd, 2005|urban-rural|

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 [continue …]

2005-02-08T16:56:15+00:00February 8th, 2005|urban-rural|

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 [continue …]

2005-01-14T06:49:24+00:00January 14th, 2005|urban-rural|

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 [continue …]

2004-11-22T08:32:53+00:00November 22nd, 2004|urban-rural|

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 [continue …]

2004-10-04T23:18:04+00:00October 4th, 2004|urban-rural|

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 [continue …]

2003-09-12T20:47:16+00:00September 12th, 2003|urban-rural|

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 [continue …]

2012-04-02T17:17:14+00:00July 22nd, 2003|urban-rural|

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 [continue …]

2003-06-12T20:53:11+00:00June 12th, 2003|urban-rural|

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 [continue …]

2012-04-02T17:17:43+00:00January 12th, 2003|urban-rural|

Architecture and flow

An introduction to flow issues for the October 2002 issue of Archis, the main media partner of Doors for its conference.
What happens to public space when there are hundreds of microchips for every man, woman and child on the planet – and when most of these chips talk to each [continue …]

2002-11-12T21:05:07+00:00November 12th, 2002|urban-rural|

Architecture, spectacle, performance

A chapter for the catalogue of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2002, edited by Deyan Sudjic (who was also overall Director of the event).
A few years ago I met a woman in Bombay who was completing her PhD in social anthropology. She had just returned from her last field trip to [continue …]

2012-04-02T17:18:13+00:00October 3rd, 2002|urban-rural|

Nine surprising new job titles for facilities managers

Summary of a lecture to an international meeting of Facility Managers in 1999.
How are we to design modern space? saturated with information and systems; complex but incomprehensible; an exhilarating human achievement, and a terrifying prospect, at the same time.
Management of work environments, in particular, is moving centre-stage in [continue …]

2000-01-22T17:16:19+00:00January 22nd, 2000|urban-rural|

Tokyo: Begin The Next

In 1990, Japan was at the height of its ‘bubble economy’. It popped, spectacularly, two years later. This text was originally published in The Listener, in the UK, in 1990.

In Tokyo, cement trucks sport the slogan, ‘Begin The Next’. Buy sellotape at the cornershop, and the bag carries a slogan: ‘Perhaps [continue …]

2022-08-28T16:22:33+00:00January 22nd, 2000|most read, urban-rural|
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