Archive for March, 2009

Video of the Week XI: Architecture & energy 1

Amid all of the hooha surrounding our Supreme Court – symbols of power, propaganda, and hair loss – we should take time out to step back and really consider the dome issue in a more holistic way. You see, as this remarkable little film sets out, there really are supernatural consequences of building domes, which have no doubt been taken into account by the architects of our esteemed Supreme Court (who are obviously well up on their freemasonry)… The result being, of course, to hide the dome away in the interior so as not to expose bystanders to the energy drawn therein.

The energy will, of course, be invoked by the highest powers of judiciary in this country when passing judgment and handing down sentence, and will no doubt contribute to the building’s green star rating…

You may want to look away if notions of anti-christ, other dimensions, ley lines (must check Wellington’s position wrt this), or the new world order offend thine eyes…


Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 31st March 2009
Under: Video of the Week | Comments Off on Video of the Week XI: Architecture & energy 1

Which apocalypse is nigh?

I recently came across Gregory Greene’s (dir.) The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream, 2004. The time of its release saw an American public becoming mobilised against the war in Iraq and, according to the doomsayers in the documentary, global oil production reaching the cusp of its peak. Perhaps the most chilling point of the documentary, watched with hind-sight, was the prediction of America’s economic collapse, drastic job losses and a recession (leading to a depression) in the global economy scheduled for, well, round-about now actually.

In the documentary, suburbia, powered by fossil fuels, and the domestic consumption that it facilitated, is identified as the engine and but also the expected victim of the 20th century boom-time. I’ll admit that for me, watching was a bit like preaching to the converted, but one thing stood out. The doom and gloom merchants predicted a progressive turning inward of society; they foresaw that an increasingly xenophobic, protectionist and militant/coercive society would vote for the neo-con bloc. This (we assume) is the opposite of what the American public has done in electing Barack Obama.

Toward the end of the doco. the New Urbanists step forward to define a possible future where we return to that small window of time when strong communities, housed in suburbs of medium density, were connected by light rail… the fact that their design also seems to return to this time (a lot of brick and columns, and even in the crowds on the street, a homogeneous Anglo community) creates pangs of discomfort. Perhaps more realistically James Howard Kunstler predicted that, with the decline of energy resources, people will just get on and do what they can, with what they’ve got; in other words adhoc patching and infill.

The important message from The End of Suburbia is not that oil will suddenly end, cause it wont, but that unless we, as architects, as individuals and as a society, work strongly toward maintaining the best aspects of 20th century affluence (such as being able to look after people and provide beautiful, interesting or at least safe, built environments) the future is going to be bleak.

Note: they never talked about developing a lower energy economy; perhaps re-fitting homes with solar hot water and insulation could free up energy for other (industrial) uses!?

Posted on 30th March 2009
Under: RANTING | 4 Comments »

Public Lecture @ Massey :: Jane Rendell :: Monday 30th

VENUE: Theatrette 10A02: Old Dominion Museum Building, Wellington

DATE & TIME: Monday 30th March at 5:30pm

Site-Writing: Subjectivity and Positionality in Criticism.

A rare opportunity to hear a guest lecture by Professor Jane Rendell (Bartlett, London)

She will speak on current research and design work in relation to interdisciplinary meeting points – feminist theory and architectural history, conceptual art practice and architectural design, art criticism and autobiographical writing.

Rendell’s paper will discuss two of her site-writing works, ‘Les Mots et Les Choses’ and ‘An Embellishment: Purdah’, in the context of relational aesthetics and dialogic practice citing the work of psychoanalytic practitioners/theorists Jessica Benjamin and Jean Laplanche.

Posted on 28th March 2009
Under: EVENTS OTHER, Lecture | 1 Comment »

Keith Ng – Being a dick about Earth Hour

This is hilarious – Keith Ng of the Public Address, in simple calculations, takes apart the whole Earth Hour project: 


How much can you save during Earth Hour? If you completely stop using electricity in your house, by my rough but generous estimate, you’d saved about 2,800Wh and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by 420g.

If you change a 75W incandescent lightbulb to an energy efficient equivalent, you’d save 65,700Wh per year (assuming it’s on for 3 hours a day). That works out to 9,950g of greenhouse gases. That’s one lightbulb…

Blacking out the entire house for one hour every year = 420g reduction per year.
Replacing one lightbulb with an energy saving equivalent = 9,950g reduction per year.

To put it indelicately: Fuck Earth Hour.

While I’m not quite in agreement with his support for banning incandescent bulbs (as CFL’s are not an equivalent replacement given the different qualities of light), Keith puts a very good argument forward, which is, as always, also very entertaining to read. I recommend reading the whole article


Posted on 27th March 2009
Under: RANTING | 5 Comments »

Mock Deco

Following on from my previous comments on the great work of the Art Deco Trust in Napier, its also worth looking at the efforts, some good, some bad, of architects and others who have tried to replicate the art deco look in that city. There were 3 good heritage buildings knocked down, with two of them facing each other on the major street corner of Hastings St and Emerson St. The ANZ was one: it was replaced by a blueish mirror-glass cube with few redeeming efforts at all, except for its propensity to reflect back the facade of the BNZ opposite. Really, only one good thing came out of the demolition of the ANZ (and the National Bank building diagonally opposite): they provided the impetus for the creation of the Art Deco Trust.

What happened since then was truely bizarre: the BNZ moved out of its fine headquarters, to construct a new headquarters a few doors down, with the most hideously bad interpretation of Art Deco ever seen: we’ll not name or shame the architects: it was the 80s after all… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 25th March 2009
Under: EVENTS OTHER, RANTING | 8 Comments »

Letting Dwell – exhibition by Tim Larkin & Luke Feast

Where: The New Dowse, Lower Hutt

When: till May 10

Tim Larkin won the 2008 Deane Award for Decorative Arts with a proposal based on the long-redundant, yet highly efficient food safe. Larkin, writer Luke Feast and photographer Pete McColl, have created a body of work that explores the food safe and its unique architectural position between the indoors and outdoors.

‘Letting Dwell’ is drawn from Martin Heidegger’s important text (for architecture) ‘Building Dwelling Thinking’. The work shifts scales, from models to full works, but also imaginatively, from the scale of furniture to that of architecture.

Posted on 25th March 2009
Under: EVENTS OTHER, Exhibition | 2 Comments »

One Day Sculpture Symposium : Jane Rendell (keynote)




Keynote lecture costs $15 waged / $10 unwaged

Coordinators of the One Day Sculpture Project, hosted by Massey University as a Litmus Research Initiative, are please to invite the Wellington architectural community to participate in the symposium and/or keynote lecture by Jane Rendell (Director of Architectural Research, The Bartlett, Faculty of The Built Environment, University College London and author of Art and Architecture: A Place Between (I. B. Tauris, 2006))

Her talk will examine the concept of ‘critical spatial practice’ (Rendell, Art and Architecture, 2006) with respect to site-specific art practice, curating and criticism. It will look at definitions of key terms such as site, space and place, as well as dialectical relations of site and non-site/ site and off-site.

“The ONE DAY SCULPTURE symposium brings together leading international curators, cultural theorists and historians, participating artists, writers and curators to address the principal ideas and contexts that have informed the development of the series. The symposium will consider the issues underpinning the commissioning and production of temporary place-responsive artworks in the public domain.”

Posted on 25th March 2009
Under: EVENTS OTHER, Lecture | Comments Off on One Day Sculpture Symposium : Jane Rendell (keynote)