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Architecture

This category contains 117 posts

The smart of the deal

I’m interested in the technologies, claims and challenges of the smart city: its structures, platforms, processes, security and surveillance systems, involving big data flows and encryption, as well as the city’s opportunists, underworlds, hacks and how cities get interfered with. While futurists, urbanists, academics and cultural commentators probe the city’s covert and overt sign systems, … Continue reading

Nested parentheticals

Sometimes it’s hard to get back on track. People tell stories and construct arguments with subplots and digressions. It’s fine for stories to wander. But for coherence we expect the story-teller to return to the main point, to rewind the string they just unravelled back into a neat ball. One of Trump’s improvised speeches illustrates … Continue reading

The platformization of cultural labour

“Platform” is a handy architectural metaphor. In a seminal article from 2010, Tarleton Gillespie reveals the architectural origins of the term. “In this sense ‘platform’ has been broadly used to describe human-built or naturally formed physical structures, whether generic or dedicated to a specific use: subway and train platforms, Olympic diving platforms, deep-sea oil rig … Continue reading

Recursive cities

Recursion simply means return. So a recursive city could be a city that you return to, or that encourages or requires you to keep coming back — like your home town, or a site of pilgrimage. The metaphor of excursion and return applies in many city contexts. See blog post on that theme. Where there’s … Continue reading

I am not a statistic!

“Don’t become a statistic!” That was the warning teachers and parents would direct at young drivers some years ago, when news broadcasts used to feature weekly road casualty figures. The psychologist Carl Jung amplified the despair of associating the human with a number: “If, …, I despise myself as merely a statistical cipher, my life has … Continue reading

Too much information

Someone (perhaps Slavoj Žižek) said that Trump’s greatest offence is not that he breaks the law, but that he breaks unwritten norms and conventions. There’s no law that says you have to be polite to everyone, say kind things, always be truthful, apologise when you make a mistake, or give credit where it’s due. Stick … Continue reading

Obfuscate!

Why do zebras have stripes? The stripes aren’t very successful as camouflage. If anything, a stripy lone zebra stands out against the grassland. But any single zebra will blend in with the herd when they stand together. It’s harder to tell where one zebra ends and the next one starts. As they approach the herd, … Continue reading

A thousand insides

Most cities old and new have underground tunnels, passageways, services, and communication systems, many of these conduits are unused and obsolete. I live in a street with a 15 metre deep tunnel that for 21 years had a rail and cable system for hauling goods and passengers along its 1:27 gradient. The tunnel was since … Continue reading

Forked paths

The usual method for creating a puzzle maze is to start with a rectilinear, triangular or radial grid and mark it up with a convoluted route from start to end. Then draw in branches, loops and deviations that make the route less obvious. The challenge for a maze architect is to provide the appearance of … Continue reading

City on a hill

The maze serves as a metaphor for the city. People get lost in the streets, corridors and communication systems of the city. Cities give the appearance of regularity, symmetry, and order, at least on a map. In his description of cities and places, the writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) affirmed that a maze is a … Continue reading

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