During the fall semester my graduate students engaged in an internal competition to design and build an outdoor pavilion using only recycled cardboard. One student, who owns a programmable remote camera, snapped pictures of the build at 30 second intervals. He then made a video by stringing the images together and setting them to music. I was hoping for “We Built this City [on rock and roll]” by Jefferson Starship (released by Grunt in 1985), but the students chose a different soundtrack.
I started to wonder, how many popular songs exist which feature architecture as a core lyrical element? I thought of “Our House” (Madness, The Rise and Fall, Stiff Records, 1982), and “Burning Down the House” (Talking Heads, Speaking in Tongues, Warner Brothers, 1983), but was at a loss for notable others. “Welcome to the Jungle,” Guns n’ Roses’ song about Hollywood, doesn’t count, because it’s more sociological then architectural (Appetite for Destruction, Geffen Records, 1987).
I’d like to gather a playlist of architecture pop songs. Please post your ideas. ♦
I recently had the pleasure of attending the National Conference on the Beginning Design Student [NCBDS] hosted by UNC-Charlotte. I had a ball meeting new friends and learning new pedagogical techniques. Just prior to the opening night’s keynote by Simon Unwin, participants had a chance to wander around Mario Botta’s new Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Included in my wandering was the ladies’ room, where I took some photos of the frosted glass bathroom stall:
As you can see, there is nowhere in this 8 foot high stall where a prying eye might see you. In your average bathroom stall, however, there are gaps all over the place, like between the door and the partition on both sides. Two of my lady students, one from Calcutta and the other from Tehran, asked me during a chance rendez-vous in the University bathroom why these gaps exist. I couldn’t explain. I’ve heard the theory that the purpose of these gaps is for authority figures to make sure only one person occupies a single stall at a single time. Clearly, if this is true, it’s only true in the United States. Such thoughts remind me to look around for tiny webcams whenever I enter a public bathroom. Point 1 for voyeurism. ♦
Victoria Meyers, principal at hanrahanMeyers, came to the University of Hartford to speak in our department lecture series on April 8, 2010. She mentioned Vitruvius in passing, relating that his first book was devoted to weather and solar geometry. She pointed out that as Vitruvius was the first architecture theorist, then the first treatise on architecture ever written notably deals with a building’s local climate. As Meyers’ work consistently takes advantage natural light, this is of great interest to her. What interests me is to probe the validity of Vitruvius as the ur theorist of built space.
Most Americans receive a Euro-centric education and generally do not stop to wonder if their beliefs hold true for other cultures, for other peoples, in other parts of the world. I once asked Peter Eisenman if his analytical drawing techniques would prove useful with Eastern architectural prototypes, and he replied yes, citing the Japanese ken as a geometric measure with fixed internal ratios, just like those of classical architecture. Had he actually considered the point before? When one speaks of the first of some thing, or the oldest, its important to consider the entire history of the world, not just Western history. China’s culture is far older than antiquity, with some scholars dating Chinese script to the Neolithic period. Isn’t it more rational, then, to assume that it is in the East where the earliest treatise on architecture can be found? ♦