Monthly Archives: January 2012

Architecture and Economics

While organizations as
occupy and documentaries like inside job point at bankers as the reason for our current economic crisis, the guys from Barclays Capital have now found the solution: let’s blame tall buildings!

Their recently published skyscraper-index (pdf) shows the link between the construction of the world’s tallest building and an approaching financial crisis. The report -written in the 42th floor of a Hong Kong office building- states that skyscrapers are not only the ultimate symbol of capitalism, welfare and power, but also a monument of hubris and megalomania. The development of the world’s highest building, so they say, is often representing a world wide construction boom: initiated in times of easy credit, rising land prices and excessive optimism, although completed when the economy has already slipped into recession.

The world’s first skyscraper -the 8 stories high Equitable Life Building in New York (1873)- is directly a textbook example since its completion went hand in hand with the five-year recession, known as the long depression. Many others followed. The Chrysler building and the Empire State building were completed on the eve of the 1929 Great Depression. The twin-towers opened their doors just before the oil crisis, the Taipei 101 when the Dot-com bubble popped and we don’t have to mention what happened around 2010 when the Burj Khalifa was completed.

Fortunately, there is currently no higher building under construction, but plans are made to reach the kilometer. At the same time Renzo Piano will this year top-off Europe, the Chinese won’t wait, and also Rotterdam’s high-rise ambitions and the forced construction of de Rotterdam does not predict a prosperous future. Maybe architects among us should think twice, before taking a commission for projects like these and watch out for the skyscraper curse. But well. Who trusts bankers now anyway?

Damn the Masters Plan!

If you happen to be in Luxembourg on February 3rd, you should definitely visit the conference on Architecture, European Urbanisation and Globalisation at the University of Luxembourg. Wouter Vanstiphout will give a lecture titled Damn the Masters Plan!: Riots, Plans and Politics in Western Cities”. Do I have to explain more?

The conference is open to public and free of charge, however reservation is required: For those who don’t speak Luxembourgish: The conference will be in English

Lecture Series Video

Dear students of the Blame the Architect lecture series,

This is what you should do to get your grade.

Make a Youtube video of 5 to 10 minutes, describing an urban riot that could happen in a place you know. Incorporate the themes presented in the lecture series and project them on a fictional situation, giving special attention to the role of architecture and urban planning. Use images, texts, maps, diagrams, drawings, numbers or just use your hands. Be creative! Like the Danish.

If you need more inspiration click Here, Here, Here and Here. Still completely lost? Follow the Roadmap below:

1. Select a city you know well that holds the ingredients needed for an Urban riot
2. Describe the urban and political history of the city in so far relevant for the incidents
3. Describe the social, economic and political structure of the city relevant to the incidents
4. Imagine, describe and visualize a triggering event
5. Describe and visualize the ensuing riots
6. Describe the use of modern media
7. Describe the physical and social effects on the city
8. Imagine and visualize the role of popular culture
9. Imagine the possible role of architects before and after the riots
10. Use the story to demonstrate your opinion and analysis of the relationship between architecture and urban violence

Your deadline is March 15th and you can send the link of your video to Students who cannot make it can also contact Marta and make a personal arrangement. This can be done until one week before the deadline. As promised, we added some (strongly) recommended literature at the end of this page

Blame the Architect update

Tomorrow Tuesday 10th January, 10.45-12.45, Berlagezaal 1

“Racaille!” The Banlieue riots, France 2005 -part II
“Broken city” The 2011 UK riots
Assignment description

Hope to see you all tomorrow!