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Sod pods, this is the age of juxtaposition and clutter - click opera
February 2010
 
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Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 11:12 am
Sod pods, this is the age of juxtaposition and clutter

Jan Kaplicky of Future Systems will build a new library in Prague. The blotchy green and purple building has its opponents in the Czech Republic, Stephen Bayley tells us in his Guardian article, but now looks as if it will shortly rise, like a blob, a noro-viral spore or a jellyfish, in the centre of the city of Kafka.



I have to say I'm a bit tired of this style. It smacks of the recent past, evoking my 1990s Swatch pod-phone, my old JBL Creature subwoofer. Sure, the rounded organic curves of the International Pod style are preferable to the razor-sharp angles of sharkitecture unleashed by Liebeskind, Hadid and co. But blobitecture, over the past fifteen years, has replicated too quickly, mutating its "natural" forms through a whole range of plastic consumer products. It's time for something fresh.

I posed in front of another Jan Kaplicky building -- Selfridges in Birmingham -- a year or so ago, and wondered at the time whether its "panspermian" futurism wasn't already retro (and not in a good way). I can't help thinking of 90s Bjork albums when I look at this stuff; it seems informed by the same collision of techno and the computer-organic. We even have some of it in the London skyline now in the form of the gherkin-shaped Swiss:Re building.



Personally, I'm much more excited by architects and designers who neither blob nor shark, but clutter their spaces with a kind of radical impurity, a cheapness, an equality of all forms, a generosity. I've been watching Mike Meiré talking about his Farm Project in three interesting videos spread out on Vernissage TV:

Farm Project 1
Farm Project 2
Farm Project 3



If Kaplicky's blobs smack of the last decade, Meiré's farm kitchen feels very much a product of the current one, with its boredom with minimalism, its desire for human clutter and impurity, its emphasis on sustainability and affordability, its eclecticism rather than didacticism, its post-bit love of the things computers can't do.

In Meiré's farm-lab there's straw on the floor, there are references to Vermeer, there's a Philippe Starck-like use of stuffed trophy heads on the wall, there are parallels with Lacaton and Vassal and Rem Koolhaas in the way cheap plastic panels define a space which is essentially about human interaction -- a space that's relational, communitarian, reassuringly post-digital, and rather shelfish. Think of Liam Gillick's plastic panels and didactic spaces, or Phoebe Washburn's Regulated Fool's Milk Meadow installation.

Meiré's farm kitchen project is a place of plethora and plenty, a place between Dean and Deluca and Chinatown, between children's zoo and fish store, restaurant kitchen and plyboard art installation, manufacturing plant and plant shop. The self-described "professional dreamer" likes crossing inter-disciplinary boundaries and fusing disparate lexes, but says that "architecture is the most creative field we have right now because architects are able to realise physical new contexts". He quotes Krishnamurti and calls Mark Borthwick a friend, which brings in a whole host of other connections (with Cosmic Wonder, for instance, and even the Boredoms crew -- and speaking of them, you might want to know that someone is currently giving away Yoshimi's "Yunnan Colorfree" documentary soundtrack).

Oh, and while I'm signalling cool things, there's a newish "magazine for architectural entertainment" called Pin-Up which I've found interesting recently, and which I think embodies the same spirit of generous clutter and juxtaposition I find in Meiré's work. Read it in your laboratory kitchen before feeding the black sheep.

65CommentReplyShare

electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 10:21 am (UTC)

Noro-viral spore? It looks like a giant´s snotwad.

Which is never, ever a good thing to have to walk past on your way to work.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 10:27 am (UTC)

Any nice buildings I should be looking out for in Utrecht?


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 10:24 am (UTC)

I have to say I'm tired of this style. It's time for something fresh. I posed. A year or so ago! I can't help thinking of. Personally I'm much more excited by. I've been watching. Think of.

Oh, and while I'm signalling cool things. I think. I find.

Read it. Now.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 10:28 am (UTC)

See, you took out all the interesting stuff. I'm so bored with minimalism. And anonymous internet negativity is so 1995.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 10:39 am (UTC)

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 10:53 am (UTC)

We left in everything you wrote. Anything wrong?


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 10:59 am (UTC)
1995

It's Important To Be Trendy

When the fashion's to be friendly
When the fashion's to be wild
It's important to be trendy
Shake your body like a child

Have you been to see The Sandals
Have you been to see The Goats?
They do trippy gigs with candles
Wearing Afghan coats

When the fashion's to be crazy
When the fashion's to be free
It's important to be trendy
Catch the disease

First I'm going to pierce my penis
Then I'm going to pierce my eye
Get a tattoo on my anus
I'm a trendy guy

It's important to be funky
It's important to be free
Shake your body like a junky
Me be you and you be me

I've got a woolly hat with pom poms
I've got rucksacks too
In the shape of baby pandas
That guzzle real bamboo

Stock your fridge with vodka shots
Keep some candy round your neck
Play The Astronauts
On your 8 track deck

It's important to be trendy
It's important to be cool
Be a trendy not a stinky
Be a funky not a fool

When the fashion's to be friendly
When the fashion's to be wild
It's important to be trendy
Shake your body like a child

And I'm switching back to vinyl
I love my analogue synth
Got a nick in my eyebrow
And a diamond in my tooth

Dance around like a gorilla
In a wild and funky
Be a mella yella fella
Walking swanky like a gay

I saw a culture in a hairstyle
Saw an empire in a rave
I'm a connoisseur of trainers
I'm a rubber slave

When the fashion's to be friendly
When the fashion's to be wild
It's important to be trendy
Shake your body like a child

Shake it now!


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)

Your band wagging jumping skills does seem to of diminished somewhat. Why so?
Although you are good enough to write for those free papers they bombard you with here on the streets of London. Thats something I suppose. Not sure if they would pay you a lot if anything. Tout it around sunshine, you never know.

mmwwahh x 2


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC)

Your band wagging jumping skills does seem to of diminished somewhat.

Not sure why I'm helping you with your jibes, Mmwwahh, but that sentence would be far more effective (and sound more intelligent, to boot) rendered:

"Your bandwagon-jumping skills do seem to have diminished somewhat."


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
dzima
dzima
ralf dziminski
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC)

The blotchy green and purple building (...) looks like a jellyfish

I have noticed, Momus, and a cat has seen that new icon and confirmed to me that you've become quite keen on jellyfishes recently.


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brokenjunior
brokenjunior
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)

Fact is: "squids are the new skulls", thou her jellyfishes are nice too:


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 01:22 pm (UTC)

When my parents moved from London to rural Ireland in the early seventies(was that ever a culture shock!) we lived close to an old man whose kitchen quite resembled Meire's so to me this idea seems quite retro already.
Goat crap in the kitchen....that's sooo passe.
Such uniquely odd personal associations aside Kaplicky's library's or more specifically that amorphous blobular architecture seemed oddly retro even in the nineties,so regardless of the importance of observing trends I suppose some things just date better than others...at least Meire's living space seems more eccentrically inviting rather like a kitchen populated by chickens seemed to a six year old boy from London.
Thomas S.


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mandyrose
mandyrose
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)

I'm really in love with Christopher Alexander these days

[img] http://www.katarxis3.com/images/Julian%20Street%20Inn.JPG [img].

and his giant books, "The Nature of Order".


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)

Chris Alexander is one of those things I keep hearing recommended, and baulk at for textural-political reasons. A bit like The Sartorialist blog... and for almost the same reasons.


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ex_newironsh15
chris
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)

that exact sort of blob and that exact sort of retro:

http://www.retrojunk.com/details_commercial/2644/


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
Miralles

Enric Miralles' parliament building? Cheapness and clutter? fo' sho'...


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mandyrose
mandyrose
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)

Lovely as usual, Whimsy!


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hunchentoot
hunchentoot
Joseph C. Krause
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)

James Howard Kunstler wrote about this building in his recent Eyesore of the Month column. I have lately found myself a fan of Kunstler's, even though his criticisms have lead me to feel harshly critical of building types that do not fall into the "new urbanism" category. But New Urbanism has been guilty of regurgitating imitations of old buildings in its attempt to repair America's destroyed urban fabric. I happen to think it's better to have a good building type with an uninspired execution than the other way around, but wish these things didn't seem to be mutually exclusive in new developments.

I live in central Detroit, where the urban fabric has been destroyed to the degree that it's almost like a new kind of suburbanism. This creates a mindset that any new development is good, regardless of whether or not it's ghastly. Yesterday, a new building was announced to fill a very important site in the center of downtown, closing in the new Campus Martius Park. I think it looks like two tornadoes playing tug-of-war with an exercise belt in front of a glass slug, but my critical facilities have been dulled by the excitement of new development such that I can't decide whether I think tornadoes and slugs are good for downtown.


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mandyrose
mandyrose
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)

Yes, Kunstler is where I found out about Christopher Alexander.

I live in Columbus, Ohio which is a rotten place for architecture. Our star buildings are the Convention Center and the Wexner Center for the Arts, both Peter Eisenman creations. I really dislike having to live around tboth of those buildings, and they both require constant bizarre upkeep. Much has been made of the antagonistic debate between Eisenman and Alexander. They are almost presented as a binary. So pardon me if my bias falls on Alexander's side- I may be biased.


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bikerbar
bikerbar
bikerbar
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)

Here in Prague I'd say there is a 50/50 split on public approval of the Kaplicky blob library thing. It is ugly and ridiculous. I don't think it will age well .. a bunch of dirty green and purple plastic in the end.

A shame it got pushed through. I wish the public had more say in these decisions.

The library itself is a treasure and although it is a shame to house it in such an ugly childish blob, its better than the idea of moving the library to Brno, which was suggested.


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hunchentoot
hunchentoot
Joseph C. Krause
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)

All the stuff behind and around the unfortunate blob looks pretty good.


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