• May 9, 2011

    Transmission and Distribution %22T&D%22 loss - image.jpg
    Whenever electricity is transmitted from one place to another a certain amount is simply lost. In older grids, energy is wasted overcoming resistance in the lines themselves. In extremely high voltage lines, so-called corona discharge [continue …]

  • May 5, 2011

    Afbeelding 8.png[A new book from the Dutch publisher Bis, Open Design Now, includes essays, cases and visuals on various issues of Open Design. The book contains practical guidelines for designers, design educators and policy makers to get started with Open Design. It [continue …]

  • May 3, 2011

    Two images have preoccupied me in recent days.
    The first one [below] was taken in a lounge at Paris airport. I remember being struck by the intense design effort that had been made to create a controlled and insulated environment. On the tv screen were images of the popular revolt [continue …]

  • April 29, 2011

    I’ve written and spoken quite a lot in recent times about the changes designs institutions need to make. Sometimes, I was even asked to do so.
    Examples include a talk I did in Delhi earlier this year, What kind Of [continue …]

  • April 26, 2011

    The skyline of Pittsburgh, once America’s Steel City, is now dominated by towers belonging to two local giants of ‘Eds & Meds’ – education, and healthcare. Does this mean the city has successfully grown itself a resilient new economy?
    If architectural [continue …]

  • April 18, 2011

    Twelve-year-old childen in Rotterdam have never known a time when their city was not being rebuilt around them. And because they know no better, or at least no different, they are not much daunted by the huge scale of the projects [continue …]

  • April 12, 2011

    Dr Martin Schuepbach from Dallas, Texas, has the following plan, concerning natural gas, for the Cevennes region of France, where I live [below]:


    First, he will take millions of gallons of our clean mountain water. To this he will add a cocktail of [continue …]

  • April 8, 2011

    Up to 1,500 litres of that water are needed to grow enough biofuels to move one car ten kilometres. 2,000 litres are needed a day to feed each one of us. It takes 140 litres of water to grow [continue …]

  • March 30, 2011

    Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner, made in 1982, portrays a dystopian Los Angeles as it might be in 2019. In just eight years from now we are due to discover find out whether or not the film was an accurate prediction.

    Do [continue …]

  • March 27, 2011

    The Basque city of Bilbao was a pioneer in Europe in the use of showcase cultural buildings as a trigger for urban regeneration. Just a generation ago the city’s waterfront was an industrial port. Today, in addition to the Guggenheim itself, [continue …]

  • March 20, 2011

    They say that the last days of Rome were culturally rich – and the same seems to be the case in our own times.
    Choreographer Valerie Green and Dance Entropy, a New York City-based experimental dance troupe, will shortly premier a new work, Rise and Fall, [continue …]

  • March 20, 2011

    The Start-Up Kids is a documentary about young entrepreneurs who have founded web and media startups in the US and Europe. Made by two young Icelandic women, it contains interviews with tech-leaders of today and tomorrow.
    The founders of Dropbox, Vimeo, Flickr, WordPress, Posterous and many others talk about how [continue …]

  • March 11, 2011

    A premise of Joseph Giacomin’s new book Thermal is that global warming is hard to ignore when you view the world through thermal eyes.
    Hard, but not impossible, to ignore. We humans are skilful evaders of uncomfortable truths.
    The premise of the author’s reseach group [continue …]

  • March 1, 2011

    “Work faster, get time for life.” I just got back from a short trip to India where this insane slogan adorned a poster at a bus stop.
    It pretty much sums up a febrile mood in Delhi where it was announced [continue …]

  • February 21, 2011

    Global design education in a nasty bind. There are hints of the dot com boom a decade ago. New products [courses] have been launched at a frantic rate in recent years. New buildings are springing up. Global aggregators have even started buying design schools; an obscure American multinational, Laureate Universities, [continue …]

  • February 19, 2011

    A decision by the Indian government set up four new National Institutes of Design [NIDs] in the country has sparked a lively debate about the kinds of design they should teach.
    An influential group of design thought-leaders has launched a campaign called VisionFirst that calls for a “rigorous co-creation process [continue …]

  • February 18, 2011

    First published in Design Observer.[Introduction] As the global crisis unfolds, interest in alternative economic and social models is growing – and with it, attention to what we might learn from Africa.
    Most of us in the North are badly informed [continue …]

  • February 13, 2011

    On of the reasons we underestimate the sheer physical mass of our power and information networks is that they’re hidden from view. But not in Bangkok. The German photographer Thomas Kalak has spent ten years decade capturing images like these.They feature in an [continue …]

  • February 12, 2011

    An interesting rebound effect of public spending cuts in the UK is that the UK Design Council and CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) are to merge. The move brings UK policy for design, architecture and public space together in a single [continue …]

  • February 9, 2011

    I dislike the word ‘glocal’. It’s an ugly word used by high altitude thinkers to add zest to another word – local – that they find tedious on its own.
    I also dislike the word ‘creative’. It tends to be used by uncreative people to describe [continue …]

  • February 2, 2011

    [First published at Design Observer]
    Unsettling patches of metallic eczema have started appearing on former vineyards where I live in the south of France. They turn out to be solar farms, the first spores of a clean energy revolution that will soon cover the land. [continue …]
  • February 1, 2011

    A study by Transportation Alternatives found that up to 45 percent of traffic in an area of Brooklyn was caused by cars circling the streets looking for parking. And in 2006, UCLA professor of urban planning Donald Shoup calculated that, within a year, vehicles [continue …]

  • January 22, 2011

    A decision by the Indian government set up four new National Institutes of Design [NIDs] in the country has sparked a lively debate about the kinds of design they should teach.

    An influential group of design thought-leaders has launched a campaign called VisionFirst that calls for [continue …]

  • January 15, 2011

    Immagine 1.png
    Milan has approved a new Territorial Government Plan (Piano di Governo del Territorio] in which public services, and the way they are planned, are at the centre of the whole project.
    Since 2008, Id-lab has worked alongside the City Administration to change [continue …]

  • January 3, 2011

    A lifetime ago, during a six month journey in Afghanistan, I passed the spectacular site of Bamiyan, shown in this photograph, on my way into the Hindu Kush.

    This was long before the three enormous statues of Buddha, carved into the sides of cliffs, were destroyed [continue …]

  • December 29, 2010

    Totally thrilling news has reached me from the Netherlands: my book Plan B: Ontwerpen in een Complexe Wereld [Plan B: Designing In A Complex World] has been selected by the influential magazine de Architect as their best architecture book of the year. I [continue …]

  • December 29, 2010

    UnBox, a three day festival in Delhi, in February, brings together creative collectives from around India. One of these groups, Clay Futures, will brainstorm scenarios to do with sustainable, medicinal, and air filtering bentonite – hence the picture above.
    Doors of Perception’s role in [continue …]

  • December 19, 2010

    If it is true that the world’s information base is doubling in size every 11 hours then a lot of eco-design information, that could be valuable for professionals, presumably goes un-noticed, and thus unused.

    In the past month alone, for example, I’ve come across two paper-based design tools that would [continue …]

  • December 6, 2010

    Italians are the leading consumers of bottled water in the world. They drink more than 40 gallons per person annually. Among many ecocidal by-products: until recently, discarded plastic bottles littered canals all over Venice, a world heritage site.
    Appeals to civic duty came to naught. Exhortation and public education proved ineffective [continue …]

  • December 1, 2010

    and neither are these:
    Well I know they *look* like objects, but that’s because you have not read a new book called Nonobject about the design philosophy of Branko Lukic.
    Branko’s collaborator on the book, Barry Katz, cites respected commentators in [continue …]

  • November 25, 2010

    intheair landscape-frontis.png
    in the air screencapture.png
    Ever since we organised Doors of Perception 3 on the theme “info-eco” in 1995, we’ve been preoccupied by the dilemma of environmental data. Our world is awash in eco information, we concluded then, but starved [continue …]

  • November 15, 2010

    Each year 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness and on any given night, over 700,000 people are without a roof. In Houston alone, some 15,000 homeless people live in abandoned buildings, on cardboard makeshift beds, under freeways, and in shelters throughout the city.
    In Western [continue …]

  • November 13, 2010

    The future of the car has been electric for what? Five years now? ten? The answer is 110 years, for it was back in 1899 that La Jamais Contente (“The Never Satisfied”) became the first vehicle to go over [continue …]

  • November 8, 2010

    Before Twittter, a serious connoisseur might study the Mona Lisa for 20 years before reaching a conclusion. Today, the average museum visitor looks at a work of art for 42 seconds.
    Now 45 seconds is a long time compared to the 11 seconds that most shares are owned by high [continue …]

  • November 2, 2010

    I was snooty in suggesting, in my comment on Doug Rushkoff’s new book, that he should get out of the city more.
    But if I’m an armchair tree-hugger, Stephanie Smith is the real thing.
    Two months ago, this former architect abandoned her Los Angeles life for [continue …]

  • November 2, 2010

    I recently visted Luzern, in Switzerland, for a workshop at the oldest art and design school in Switzerland, Hochschule Luzern.
    My host, Andy Polaine had asked me to set students in the first semester of the MA Design a challenge.
    The task I gave them was as follows: find [continue …]

  • November 2, 2010

    Three years ago German photographer Thomas Kalak published a book called Thailand – Same same, but different!.
    Featuring all manner of bamboo scaffolding, knotted aerial lines, hand painted signs, or converted plastic bags, the book celebrated the Thais’ exceptionally gifted art of improvisation.
    The strange objects and [continue …]

  • November 2, 2010

    You don’t need to know how a combustion engine works to drive your car to work. Why should you need to know anything about the programming behind the pixels just to get around the web?
    For Douglas Rushkoff, in his new book Program or be [continue …]

  • November 2, 2010

    Shortly after my visit to Oslo I received this question from Andrea Siodmok: “what from Cornwall should the world know about?”.
    The director of Dott Cornwall is preparing an exhibit to celebrate the achievements of this fascinating region in south west England, and wanted me [continue …]

  • October 31, 2010

    Oslo Airport’s mean-looking bullet train reaches the city centre in nineteen minutes. At 210 kph [130 mph] it is not the world’s fastest – some of China’a new trains will soon reach nearly twice that speed – but Norway’s is surely the most macho to look at.

    [continue …]

  • September 26, 2010

    I just got back from Oslo where their Architecture Triennial has opened. I participated in its main conference, Man Made Tomorrow and will report on that event soon. But ahead of the conference, Bjarne Ringstad, curator of the Triennial, [continue …]

  • August 29, 2010

    (Summer re-run: first published July 2009)
    This scary hand smashing through the wall to get you is the logo of last month’s Insead conference on social entrepreneurship. Its slogan was “Reaching For Impact”.
    I’ve written critically here before about [continue …]

  • August 28, 2010

    (Summer re-run)
    I’m reading reading a moving and important book by Sharon Astyk called “Depletion and Abundance: Life On The New Home Front”.
    Uniquely among recent books on life after the Peaks – energy, protein, biodiversity etc – [continue …]

  • August 24, 2010

    Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), told the US Congress last year that Japan’s debt path was ‘out of control’.

    Simon warned of “a real risk that Japan could end up in a major default”. [The IMF expects Japan’s gross public [continue …]

  • August 22, 2010


    The criminal over-development of the Canary Islands – and the loss of biodiversity and social capital that followed – was financed by the same banks and speculators that our governments are now trying so desperately to save.
    Given the desecration of these [continue …]

  • August 21, 2010


    This blog first proposed the replacement of trophy buildings with street art back in 2002.
    In a piece called “Trophy buildings are over” we argued that because they are conceived as spectacles, so-called signature architecture would be subject to the law [continue …]

  • August 15, 2010

    [Summer re-run; first published last year] 83a.jpg
    The atmosphere at last week’s Megacities conference in Delft was subdued. I don’t suppose my own talk, which ploughed a similar path to the Debt, Diesel and Dämmerung narrative I mentioned yesterday, helped lighten the mood very [continue …]
  • August 13, 2010


    Every day 1.5 billion cups of coffee are drunk somewhere in the world – quite a few of them in this house – but few of us in the North know much about the 25 million families that grow and produce this [continue …]

  • August 12, 2010

    (Summer re-run: first published 26 July 2008)
    Bamboo scaffolding, knotted aerial lines, hand painted signs or converted plastic bags: German photographer Thomas Kalak has published a book called “Thailand – Same same, but different!” that celebrates the Thais’ exceptionally gifted art of improvisation.
    The strange objects and [continue …]

  • August 11, 2010

    (Summer re-run: first published 16 June 2008)
    Out-of-control buzzwords are like locusts: you can swat handfuls of them down with a bat, but more will come to take their place.
    I’ve been swatting away for ages in this blog at all things Conceptual, Cultural, Clustered and (especially) Creative.
    But now we’re suffering a [continue …]