Monday, 15 December 2008

Holbeck Urban Village site

Originally uploaded by hilarypowell
Photos of Holbeck Urban Village site by Hilary Powell
More Holbeck photos on flickr.
Architecture for Orang Utans in Perth

Rumours are circulating in mid March that the competition entry prepared by Collins Cowan and Skeete had been selected by the jury for the short list. The final result is due in May.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

birds bats and bees

Designing some animal habitats for Holbeck Urban Village in Leeds is the subject of a new competition which caught my attention. An engineer colleague, one of a trio with whom I worked on the Ken Saro-Wiwa Mobile Memorial competition, was interested in a collaboration. Not far from Camley Street we talked over a couple of pints of London Pride about human-animal and animal-human interaction in this 'urban regeneration' area, and found consensus on some issues including biomimicry, and human-centred principles which might allow birds to nest, bees to pollenate, and otters to hide from human residents of the area.

A recent discussion about the transdisiplinary work of OOZ in this area was drawn to my attention by a friend commentating on the work. Geese, Birds, Fish and Bats have been studied and the discussion ensued about human and non-human interactions.

Annick the engineer and I discussed the competition judges Hale (an artist) and Ward (an architect) and determined that Annick and her partner would inspect the Holbeck site during a planned Christmas visit nearby.

Postscript: Natalie Skeete joined the team and we submitted the proposals in February.
News: In March our team was shortlisted

Other links:
Holbeck Tour: and 18 part zipped Audio Guide
Biomimicry at the AIA 2007 Convention
Presentation about OOZ
Ecological sustainability
The Biomimicry Institute and its ask.nature website

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Hilary Powell: from Pudding Mill River Works

As the 2012 Olympics becomes gradually more temporary and flexible, I have been enjoying looking at Hilary's drawings for the Pudding Mill River Factory Tour, and was reminded of her film The Games, where I played the extra part of one of the athletes waking in a tent camp in the overgrown Lee Valley wetlands...

•see Iain Sinclair's essay - The Olympics Scam
• new clip from Pudding Mill River
• amateur city games; climbing club

drawing.. and studying architecture

My father recently sent me an interesting cutting; a review of a new book about Michaelangelo. It tells of how he invented through drawing. He apparently disdained the authority of Vitruvius' theory, learning slowly by copying architecture. Drawing was itself a mode of education, and he found his way into architecture in the 16th century using drawing-as-thinking. (education comes from e-ducere, drawing out). The review, by Philip Drew, is from The Australian.

Monday, 8 December 2008

white walls

In 1938, while visiting a new villa built by the Irish designer Eileen Gray, Le Corbusier was inspired to "improve" on her work. He admired the white-walled classicism and industrial finesse of the home, which was built in the spirit of his own domestic architecture. But he thought it needed a little something.

And so Le Corbusier stripped naked, took out his paint brushes and covered the house with large, sexually provocative images. "One of the murals was on the previously spare white wall behind the living-room sofa, so that what had been specified by Gray to be a point of visual respite was now an animated scenario," writes Nicholas Fox Weber in his new biography, Le Corbusier: A Life. Gray, who admired Le Corbusier and was, like many architects, proprietary about her work, felt "raped" by the incident.

from Washington Post's review of Nicholas Fox Weber's new biography 'Le Corbusier - A Life'

The story reminded me of Beatriz Colomina's book Privacy and Publicity - and reading of the house E1027, a site of competition and rivalry between Gray and LC. The 'Murals at Cap Martin', apparently commissioned by Jean Badovici without Gray's consent, are in the house overlooking the site where Le Corbusier died swimming in 1965.

Le Corbusier's naked redecorating antics are hypocritical in light of his attitude to interior design. Charlotte Perriand was at first turned away as "cushion embroiderer" but later designed items like the LC2 armchair and the B306 chaise which added to Le Corbusier's fame.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Energy Cafe

At Gunpowder Park yesterday, near Rammey Marsh and Waltham Abbey in Essex, I visited Amy and Ella's project 'Under Construction' taking shape on this former munitions test site. Local geographic naming history, overlaying blast mound and cob fields was curious.

Their self-built wood stove reminded me of some Mongolian ones I'd seen, like Jadamba's in Zuragt. I used the kitchen (comparing water systems) and the bicycle power station, and was shown around the camp. We discussed making things from material on site, the process of building a Ger (Mongolian Felt Yurt) and whether one could be adapted to suit the damp in a place like this. I recommended viewing the film Mujaan, depicting a Mongolian craftsman building a Ger.

We ate some local food and talked about ideas like fishing in nearby King George's Reservoir and collecting mushrooms in Epping Forest.

Informal Architectures Mongolia

Ger Districts
Urban UB