With the police studying grainy CCTV riot footage, it seems the violence that swept London and a number of other UK cities the past days has finally quieted down. Thank God. Time for reflection, careful analysis of causes and events – and perhaps a tiny bit of finger-pointing. Wouter Vanstiphout has joined the discussion using the medium of the magazine: bdonline.co.uk has published an article by him, and the current issue of Australian Design Review features  and interview by Rory Hyde. Grim stuff, mostly. For those who don’t like reading (or Vanstiphout) that much, the Telegraph keeps track of the aftermath of… Read More

Check this. One hundred dollar bills make perfect building material – you can more or less rebuild the World Trade Center out of the US national debt. Just imagine what happens when you change that into Zimbabwean dollars first.

An interesting new chapter in the story of the legendary catastrophe that was Pruitt-Igoe: an independent committee has launched a design competition aiming at generating new ideas about what to do with the legacy and the former site of the once-great-but-now-completely-gone housing project. Nothing more than a brainstorm-fantasy-idea-challenge perhaps, but hey: thinking about public housing seems to be quite relevant again for some reason. Besides, we know you got nothing to do this summer anyway. Deadline is March 16th, 2012. Also, and perhaps not coincidentally, a documentary on Pruitt-Igoe got launched last february – read Architizer’s great (!) review of… Read More

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It appears that 1974 was an excellent year for abandoning things: not only the world’s most popular resort town (see post below), but also its most densely populated area became completely deserted that year. About 5,000 people lived on Hashima (also know as Gunkanshima), a small island near the Japanese city of Nagasaki, once – but not anymore. Owned by Mitshubishi, Hashima used to be one large coal mine – its inevitable demise came when Japan’s industry switched to petroleum and virtually all coal mines in the country were disbanded. Abandoned virtually overnight in 1974, the island was shut off… Read More

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