Welcome to Varosha, once the glitziest beach district of Famagusta, Cyprus (and indeed the world – Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot were among the regular sunbathers); now a ghost town sealed off by the Turkish military. Since 1974. The story of Varosha is the story of the implications of escalating political conflict: sometimes it even ruins holiday plans. This great website has got a lot of pictures of the abandoned and slowly disintegrating neighbourhood, and a detailed personal account of what happened in 1974 can be found here. And if you want to know more about the (rather complicated, really)… Read More

And now for something completely different: Urbicide. Violence not only against city dwellers, but against urbanity itself. Read this: an article on US army activity in Sadr City, a district of Baghdad masterplanned by Greek visionary urbanist Constantinos Doxiadis. Obviously, destroying urban tissue and erecting huge concrete barriers have become important military tools since the cityscape has become the ultimate battlefield in the 21st century. Please note, by the way, how the Wikipedia-article also lists New Orleans (next to Sarajevo and Zimbabwe) as a victim of urbicide: in this case the violence against urbanity has been fabricated “not by military action but… Read More

He (three-part-documentary) not only renamed a country and most of its cities; he even forced its residents to change their identity. He not just embezzled an estimated 5 billion dollars while in power; he actually managed to become one of the world’s richest people while completely destroying a nation’s economy. He simultaneously was a CIA-backed anti-communist and a close friend of Nicolae Ceausescu. He not only had an ideology named after him; he also came up with linguistic gems like zaïrianisation for the main elements of this doctrine. Mobutu Sese Seko not only built a hydro-electric dam, a Concorde-proof airport and a nuclear… Read More

You too can now actively experience the assasination of OBL: download this Counterstrike map (rated 8.6/10!) and blast away with your friends from the internet! Or – for those who are not that much into CS – alternatively, try Kumawar’s attempt at semi-tasteless digital fun, which looks worse and thus better. Whether you can play the terrorists in either of the games is not quite clear. Furthermore, structural engineers might like this article, featuring the actual plans of the compound (or here). Please note the final quote by the villa’s architect, turning deficiency into defense: “We are more interested in making… Read More

Pretty self-explanatory, right? Starting around january 2012 (precise dates and locations to be confirmed), the Blame the Architect lecture series – more info here – will be held again at the TU Delft Faculty of Architecture. Enrollment for the series (a 3 ECTS Msc2 course open to students from all master tracks) has started yesterday and closes may 27th. 6 lectures, 3 ECTS, 1 video assignment, lots of violence, lots of in-depth riot analysis. Electives have never been as much fun. We promise. Like last year, all lectures will be open for all – you too are hereby cordially invited to… Read More

Little design, lots of politics: Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi has recently declared his state is going to boldly go where no one has gone before: into the future. All 180,000 Samoans will, very soon, be skipping an entire day, effectively traveling through time. Probably, there will be no December 31st 2011 in Samoa. Ever. Twenty-four hours. Gone. Strangely disappointing though, the underlying reasons are quite mundane (synchronizing with Australia and New Zealand will improve trade) and, admittedly, Samoa did celebrate the 4th of July twice a few decades ago so the country does have a day to spare anyway.  Back to the future… Read More

Terrorists should definitely stick to destroying buildings rather than designing them: that’s one really ugly villa. More ugliness, via ABC News (which will undoubtedly spin the story for another few weeks),  here  – annoying commercial alert – and here (in PDF format). Post-mission-reconnaissance or morphological analyses can be done through Google Earth, and please do check Boston.com’s semi-interactive feature if you’re interested in web 2.0-ishness and 3D models. The 2005 and 2011 satellite images makes one wonder: was Osama just as afraid of urban sprawl as, for instance, these Canadians? Did he tremble too, like so many urbanists, watching suburbia slowly crawling towards his once… Read More

Design As Politics goes Youtube: as of now, we have our own channel/tube! Since everyone has one nowadays (I mean, even MIT has one, and so does North Korea), we decided to jump the bandwagon – a couple of years late perhaps but whatever. We can’t wait to subscribe, favourite, rate, comment, dislike, share, and video-reply all that is out there, so keep posted for updates on things to come. The first two lectures of the Blame the Architect series have already been uploaded  – other parts will follow asap. Although the video’s look like they have been shot by drunk… Read More

Politics as vehicular design: the interior of a US Airforce C-17 Globemaster (a huge airplane) retrofitted with a series of classic Airstream trailers to transport political celebrities and house in-flight press conferences, or a tactical command post, or top-secret VIP meetings. US Secretary of defense Robert Gates is on the frequent flyer list, as are/were Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Also, NASA apparently transports its astronauts to and from spaceships in Airstream trailers. Political hotshots eating microwave meals inside a vintage trailer inside a plane cruising over Afghanistan at 30,000 feet – it doesn’t really get more fascinating. Lots of pictures… Read More

More radical geography: nuclear testing obsessed Richard L. Miller this time. Pretty self-explanatory, the above map is called “areas crossed by two or more radioactive clouds during the era of nuclear testing in the American Southwest, 1951-62.” Found here. Want to know more? Read this. Or this. Or contact Richard himself to order any of his books: his e-mail address (and a short bibliography) can be found here.