Tag Archives | Architecture

What Happens When A City Tears Down Its Highway?

2030625405_dd165e29fcFive years ago, Seoul, South Korea demolished the Cheonggyecheon Freeway, an elevated highway running through downtown, in a move critics called “crazy”. The results have been nothing short of beautiful. Is there a lesson for other cities? Via Grist:

What he and his colleagues accomplished — tearing down a busy, elevated freeway, re-daylighting the river that had been buried beneath it, and creating a spectacular downtown green space, all in under two and a half years — is nothing short of amazing, not because it actually worked (there was plenty of evidence from other cities to suggest that it could), but because they were able to get public support for it. It’s the stuff urban planners dream about — not to mention a timeline for a major freeway project that would make Seattle drool.

By the early 20th century, as Seoul was burgeoning into the megacity of 10 million it is today, the river was bordered by a slum and used as a dumping ground, resulting in an eyesore of polluted water.

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Britain’s Stylishly Mod Secret Underground City

How To Be A Retronaut has an arresting set of images of Burlington, the 35-acre “Cold War City” lying twelve stories beneath Wiltshire, England. Built during the 1950s, it was to be home to the prime minister and a few thousand others in the event of nuclear apocalypse. With record players, rotary phones, and Singer sewing machines folding out from enclosures in the walls, it makes the prospect of a post-disaster future seems quite charming:

It was equipped with the second largest telephone exchange in Britain and a BBC studio from where the prime minister could make broadcasts to what remained of the nation. 100,000 lamps that lit its streets and guided the way to a pub modeled on the Red Lion in Whitehall. The bunker’s very existence was meant to be top secret until it was decommissioned in 2004.

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Thousands Of Tourists’ Photographs, Combined Into One

Framing sites of mass tourism in our viewfinders, we create photographic souvenirs that are integral to the touristic experience. These products, coined “photograph-trophies” by Susan Sontag, separate our leisurely pleasures from the real everyday experiences of work and life.

Artist Corinne Vionnet begins with the most recognizable of images and creates something unearthly and unsettling — from Flickr and personal blogs, she culls thousands of tourists’ snapshots of a well-known landmark (such as the Taj Majal, below) and overlaps them into single composite, revealing the collective “tourists’ gaze” produced by the absurd behavior of millions of people endlessly taking the same photograph over and over. Via My Modern Met:

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The Occult Symbolism of the Los Angeles Central Library

LA LibraryThanks to veteran disinfonaut Nimrod Erez for sending us along this story from Vigilant Citizen:

Throughout the history of Western Civilization, libraries have been the repositories of nations’ accumulated knowledge and the epicenters of their culture. Central libraries, more than being big buildings containing books, are important landmarks designed with impressive architecture and filled with symbolic art. The Los Angeles Central Library is certainly no exception. An in-depth look at the art found at the Library is quite a revealing one: It describes the occult philosophy of those in power. We will look at the Central Library’s history and the hidden meaning of its architecture.

Built in 1926, the Central Library is an important landmark of downtown Los Angeles. It is the central piece of one of the largest publicly funded library systems in the world, the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). Most touristic pamphlets describe the building’s design to be inspired by ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival architecture.

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Mobile Bubble Homes In France

Initially produced by designer Pierre Stephane Dumas, “bubble tents” are now available for use at a growing number of campsites across France, the Daily News reports. Equipped with wardrobes, shelves and electric lights, the bubbles can be rented for around $600 per night, or purchased outright for $12,000. Right now they’re a luxury option for European campers, but I dream of a day in which this will be a viable housing option:

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Las Vegas Hotel Accidentally Produces “Death Ray”

1285688921650 A hotel in the Las Vegas desert was built with a super-reflective, concave exterior that concentrates sunlight to create an unintentional “death ray.” People lounging outside have complained of burning, singed hair, and the feeling of being cooked alive. Just more proof that Vegas is evil.

Las Vegas resorts have long vied to be known as the hottest place in town. But that’s not such a great distinction for Vdara, a 10-month-old Strip hotel-condo where a “death ray” of strong Nevada sunlight reflects off the concave, all-glass facade and onto sections of the pool deck throughout the day.

Chicago attorney Bill Pintas felt its power firsthand after returning to his lounge chair after a swim last week. “It felt like I had a chemical burn. I couldn’t imagine why my head was burning,” said Pintas, who owns a condo in the 57-story building. “Within 30 seconds, the back of my legs and back were burning.

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The World’s Tallest Building: A Symbol of Global Excess in Dubai

Juan Cole writes on Informed Comment:

The world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifah or Khalifah Tower, was unveiled in Dubai on Monday:

Dubai is a finance hub, the bubble of which has burst, so the building’s opening now seems a critique of past excesses more than the triumph originally dreamed of. Now that Dubai is having to be bailed out by its oil-rich sister emirate, Abu Dhabi, the tower had to be named for its ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, rather than retaining its original name, Burj Dubai. Many critics have seen it as a monument to hubris likely to remain mostly empty, as the 21st century Tower of Babel.

As you can see, Dubai nevertheless went all out to celebrate the opening.

The Burj Khalifah is a symbol of everything wrong with our present moment. Rooted in a finance and real estate bubble, planned as big for the sake of bigness, opulent, now saved from disaster by Abu Dhabi’s unsustainable oil revenues, it casts its shadow on a nation of guest workers, many impoverished and exploited. If global warming proceeds at the pace some climate scientists fear, and the seas rise substantially, it may, ironically enough, be all that is visible of the low-lying United Arab Emirates a century from now.

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