— Field Notes


I have been doing a lot of thinking  about Where We Live Now. The places between city and country, inner cities, suburban landscapes there are many versions of “here”, the classic city of our imagination is really that an imaginary place. No one can close their eyes and visualize their city or town with out seeing the “downtown”, the classic city center around which most cities radiate, but these city centers are just a very small part of the city we live in.

There are numerous ideologies and interest groups vying for  control of the future of where we live now, the developers, the speculators, businesses such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Home Depot, ecologists, neighborhood activist, governments. Each of these see where we live now differently, if where we live now is to succeed and to be a viable community we need to synthesize the disparate visions and work together. Community implies cooperation and harmony, finding ways to bring the different visions together is a great challenge, our politicians don’t seem up to the task.  We need new modes, new eyes, and a new appreciation of where we live now. The beauty and aesthetics of the in between places, the awareness of what is close, our neighbors, businesses, families, wild life, all these need consideration.

Planning is necessary,  local government is good at designing building codes, street safety and some transportation planning but where we live now transcends boundaries, the in-between places are seldom planned well and no group or government is taking responsibility for the WHOLE.


 Where We Live Now: an annotated reader edited by Matthew Stadler


(image via: animatedGIF)

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My friend Mike Berg designed a trellis for other friends, The Lathams. Chris and Alida Latham live here in Seattle, Mike lives in Istanbul.

Alida took some photos of the installation process you can see those here.  It was an impressive process, the location is  four stories above the street.

A few years ago we were lucky to have a large sculptural piece by Mike Berg installed at our home, I have a photo set of that here.  Mike’s work is figurative, imaginative and in the case of these two pieces, very substantial. Mike often works with metal, bronze, steel, copper. Some of his pieces are extremely light and seem to be made of gossamer [link]. He also works with crafts people in Turkey and has amazing weavings done based on his designs [link].

Mike Berg is extremely talented and worthy a little of your time, check him out.

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Hong Kong Polytechnic University has chosen Zaha Hadid as the designer of their new School of Design building dubbed Innovation Tower.

Their are many more pictures at the design magazine de zeen.

The buildings fluid design will mix external court yards with and out door recreation facility with a tower that is meant to stimulate  public accessibility and the way the University is integrated with the urban setting.

This building will be her first permanent architectural work in Hong Kong. The structure is expected to be completed by end 2011. The 130,000 square foot complex will cost $51 million (mostly funded by the local government).

Hong Kong sets a stake in 21st Century Architecture.

Z. Hadid strikes again!   Thanks de zeen!

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Via Peruvian Architectural Blog we get news of a rising star in Chinese Architecture.

Ma Yanong a protege of Zaha Hadid, has won major design competitions, in Canada and China. His work has a similar feeling to that of Hadid, sensuous lines, futuristic concepts,  a sci-fi aesthetic.

I found a video that showcases a number of his projects. The Canadian building dubbed the Marilyn Monroe building and a few in China. All the 500 units in the Absolute Tower (Marilyn Monroe building)  sold in a day, prompting Ma to design a second, smaller building that also sold out instantly. This success has brought numerous commissions in China.

The video is in Chinese but has subtitles.


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imagedezeen design magazine has a large set of drawings of the new Court House for Madrid, designed by Zaha Hadid, the controversial Iraqi born London based architect.

This building will part of a larger campus with structures designed by such luminaries as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, IM Pei and others.

Critics have been quick to compare this building to an air filter a toilet seat and worse. dezeen has many drawings if you have in intrust in cutting edge (bleeding) design you should visit them for a more complete look.

The fact that this will be a court house makes it even more intriguing .

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A video of a debate in London in preparation of the 2012 London Olympics.

This is a debate between 12 leading figures in London’s civic life; architects, designers, civic activist, children advocates, a politician, an artist; they each present their own dream or wish list for London’s near future.

Discussing the roots of poverty, the need for social support to be considered in architectural planning, the effects of space on the inhabitants, the need to think of children and the family in every public project; many ideas are explored. After presenting their concepts or wishlist, the panel takes questions from the audience and then start a real debate.

The areas covered here are important to any modern city, mine included. The moderator does an excellent job of engaging the panel in an honest debate of controversial ideas.

Architects talking to passionate civic activists, debating the relationship of architecture to crime, social support or lack of, beauty, the future, the arts, real stuff.

The problem that comes front and foremost during the discussions is the idea that London is and always has been a tale of two cities, the rich and the poor. Political will is the solution to the problems and the fuel that will bring abut the dreams and fulfill the wishes of this wonderful panel. Seeing these ideas debated is certainly worth while, I recommend this debate to architects, and anyone who thinks about how architecture can be a tool to make life better in our cites. London is one of the great cities of the world; watch this video and see the the passion that these folks bring to the debate.

Participants: Ben Page (Introduction), Paul Finch (Chair), Zaha Hadid, Camila Batmanghelidjh, Fritz Haeg, Helen Marriage, Tom Coward, Celine Condorelli, Shaun Bailey and John Bird.

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