Thursday, 29 April 2010

hermitage mooring

The Hermitage Mooring development is a beautifully executed architectural project. But it is also a proposition for the re-evaluation of the metropolitan citizen’s relationship to landscape. Perhaps most of all, it is a bold political statement – the result of a very personal struggle by its founders to demonstrate the possibility of individual will against established authority.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

comestible catastrophes

Images via Yofavo

After getting a tan yesterday I awake to find the world capped under tupperware. And the rain comes down. London in spring I suppose: some Sunday ruminations...

A few months ago Geoff Manaugh (BLDG BLOG) tweeted about a 1919 disaster, the "Boston Molassacre". A large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of treacle roared through the streets (apparently at over 50km/h) killing 21 and injuring 150. Wiki notes: "The event has entered local folklore, and residents claim that on hot summer days, the area still smells of molasses."

This put me on to the London Beer Flood of 1814. The whole strange tale begins with a party organised by Meux's Brewery (owned by the first Baronet Sir Meux, whose name is inexplicably pronounced 'myooks'), located on the junction between Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. The occasion was a grand dinner to celebrate the construction of a giant vat capable of holding 600,000 litres of the popular beer stout porter (now known simply as stout). It was allegedly two storeys high and had a diameter of 20 yards. 200 hundred people dined within it.

Subsequently it was filled to capacity and the full pressure of the porter put upon its 29 iron hoops. Shortly after a workman noticed a small crack in one of the hoops, but seeing as they each weighed more than 200kg, he thought nothing of it. At around 6pm the same day the vat burst, creating an explosion reportedly heard five miles away. The immense pressure from the first vat toppled the second, the weight of which fell through to the floor below. A chain reaction ensued, 1.4 million litres of beer tore through the building's facade.

At that time Tottenham Court Road was the boundary of the St. Giles Rookery, and the building was surrounded by low housing of a poor construction. Several of the buildings could not stand the force of the wall of porter and collapsed. Eight people are recorded to have died, drowning in basements, crushed by debris or subsequent alcohol poisoning.

Rescue efforts were greatly slowed by the drunken masses scooping the beer directly from the cobbles. An apocryphal story has it that as beer-soaked victims were rushed to hospital the smell of beer led patients on other wards to believe beer was being served for all patients except them. Not accepting this apparent injustice they started a riot, which increased the number of wounded.

After an investigation the courts ruled that the event had been an act of God, and that no one was responsible. The beer company continued on that site until the 20's when it was demolished and the Dominion Theatre constructed in its place. I would frankly quite like to see a tsunami of beer crush the home of the Queen Musical.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

cheer up (and get on with it), it’s archigram!

Peter Cook, taken by Matt Jones (of Berg London) at that recent Westminster Archigram shindig.

While I was drinking downstairs Matt got right at the action (definitely check out what he has to say about the legacy of archigram).

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

sign of the times

Two things are coming back: poster design + 80's graphics. Spread the word.

fistful of links

Beach near Trouville, 1865 by Gustave Courbet (via the humm of mystery)

Let me make this quick: some news.

Following up on the Archigram vibe: Cedric Price's Fun Palace at the CAA; Millennium People did a post on the project some time back, linking it with a Barbican exhibit and a pamphlet on forgotten spaces in the Lea Valley. Also architecture: the new Rennie Mackintosh site; a James Bond villain pool in your house (plus its eco-friendly). Still design, for all of you trapped in Milan + the helpful "so you need a typeface" infographic.

NY is all wringing their hands over a doorman strike? Man, we've got volcanoes in Europe, grow some. More evidence of weird stuff going on across the pond: teabaggers get preferential treatment from the police. In case you don't know who these nutjobs are, have a look here, here and here. For those of you a bit out of the loop, you might want to have a look at the other meaning of teabagging (urban dictionary, NSFW). Yep, its an unfortunate name for a political movement.

Still America, "boy stabs mom to stop her drink-driving"; the history of concealed weapons laws (over at Sociological Images). But seriously, The States are not that bad, viz: LA and NY at night; the destruction of Texas Stadium (must see); Lebbeus on the London 8... (related: an archigram-like pavilion for the park). We only needed a re-think of the American Dream.

Enough of them wide open lands. Closer to home, the girl shot in the chicken shop on the corner of Falkirk and Hoxton street has now died. What a pointless crime.

Apes found to suffer self-doubt; also animal, the Scottish Highland Tiger; a city of animals: the Illustrated London News goes digital; related, "Embrace the Endless City" (Owen Hatherley); not related, twin lens pencil sharpener; Venn diagrams about Venn diagrams; amazing images of icebergs. Some blogs out there: Landscape Suicide; circumnavigating a game world in 8 hours; Spillway on a low tunnel entry that catches at least one truck a week; the Shanghai Expo (Heatherwick's is dope); XYM, a temporary archive of artistic work and writing.

Finally (I had wanted to make this a short one), how to translate Cockney (requires knowledge of Jamaican patois):

archigram archives

If you want to talk about being on the pulse, then this has to take the cake: within three hours of the site-launch, Max Rosin-Melser (MP Australia) sent me an e-mail asking if I had seen Westminster's Archigram Archive project. Perhaps being in completely the wrong time zone put him ahead of the wave, but he even beat BLDG BLOG (who detail the contents and importance of the Archive more thoroughly than I intend to).

He also beat the official launch party, which I went to last night (lots of sweet prosecco = headache). All the team were there, with a hook-up to Web and Crompton in NY (something about volcanoes) + London's archi cool dudes. And to my great surprise I also saw an old lecturer of mine, the architectural theorist and historian Charles Rice (of UTS renown, although I know him from the end of his UNSW stint). Small world.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

prometheus unbound

Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson in Iceland (via) - compare with my own shot (from last December)

Above me the full glory of the Northern Lights was spread across the night sky, a magnificent slow-moving dance of green haze. “I think this is a life-changing phenomenon,” I said. “It’s the tipping point in my understanding. When I moved from Australia to Europe I had to accustom myself to a completely unfamiliar sky, strange new patterns of celestial and solar arrangements, but it is only now, now! Here! That I really comprehend the full significance of what it means to stand on the surface of a spherical body moving through space!” There was an uncomfortable pause, then Borja looked up from adjusting his tripod “Man, it just looks like a slow Mac screensaver.”

the sun

No fistful of links this week (not for lack of links, but lack of man-hours).

Please accept, as MP's apology, this video of the sun (original link here). It comes from part of a series of three by Nasa's First Light project, showing some pretty awesome solar activity.

Friday, 16 April 2010


Via information is beautiful.

In case you missed Millennium People's trip to Iceland last December and you want the inside story on the nation:

Thursday, 15 April 2010

master of all i survey

Shanghai, by Harry Kaufman

After the jump is a response to Mark Cousins' recent lecture series entitled 'the neighbour'...

fistful of links

Lake Reflection by C.D. Sessums

Millennium People, I'm talking to you. This is how we make it happen: some news.

Several months ago I wrote about Iceland (saga style) after a trip there. At the national soil institute I remember staring at a massive volcano on the horizon and asking if it was dormant. "Far from it" the friendly scientist had replied "its long overdue for a really impressive explosion!"

That has happened.

Signs of the times: You can now direct an ad campaign from your desktop with Google TV ads – makes sense really. TV killed the radio, and now TV itself is being killed by the Internet. But does Google have too many moving parts? Cuba starts down the slippery slope to capitalism... Pulitzer won by online journalism - final proof (no pun) that print is no longer relevant in a digital world. Quite sad really. Yes indeed, the future is coming at us thick and fast (that's what she said); related, something that's done the rounds several times, from waaay back in 1995, we discover why the Internet will fail.

"Polar Night", by Gronsky.

Signs you're behind the times: 3 years ago some friends in Sydney asked me if I wanted to come to Earth Hour. I said no, it would never take off.The Vatican tries to justify linking paedophilia with homosexuality. Idiots. That's like saying a beard is the same thing as a scarf. Beard scarf. Catholic related, three-person IVF: its like there's a party in my egg and everyone's invited. Parent related, sob story / what constitutes a mother?

source unknown

Lightning makes mushrooms grow, apparently. Also the case in East London. Unrelated, what's going on inside your body? Eventual Ghost tells rock stars to pull their goddamn heads in. Related, inside the biggest fact-checking conference in the world; (Where else but Germany?); Its lonely in the modern world: Unhappy Hipsters. Very similar, but serious: ArchNow (a new one of those daily architecture sites); Street View time-lapse: an inevitable project; Project Daedalus (sci-fi art, kind of); Kodak Moments: image library of the last several decades (in colour). Related, Nevada Test Site Oral History; Early digital art; cheating is hurting China's reputation; Amazing images of old New York; also NY: Easter shootings in Times Square.

Finally, in the words of a great man: "let's add a layer of awesomeness!"

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Saturday, 10 April 2010