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In this new 3 part series we’re trying something a little bit different, we’re going to try and think about the monastery from deep time up to the present day. The monastery is an almost unique architectural typology; in its continuity, the specificity of the brief and its legacy and afterlife. In this first episode we discuss the origins of the mo…
 
In our second episode on Christopher Alexander, we discuss 'A Pattern Language', the book he wrote with Murray Silverstein and Sara Ishikawa, published in 1977. The text proposes a list of patterns, derived from experience, imagination and vernacular traditions, from the scale of the city to the balcony and the flowerbed. The text has been influent…
 
This is the first episode of a new series on Design Theorist, Architect, Mathematician and Computation Fan, Christopher Alexander. Alexander studied Mathematics at Cambridge University in the 1950s, then undertook the first ever PhD in Architecture at Harvard, where he applied newly emerging ideas of computational analysis to questions of design. T…
 
In this final episode on Zaha Hadid we discuss a small fraction of the huge number of projects that ZHA produced from the early noughties up to Zaha's untimely death in 2016. We attempt to reflect on Zaha's legacy as a designer, try to understand what concepts defined her design process, from Parametricism to pure sculptural form. There are so many…
 
The third part of our ongoing series on Zaha Hadid! In this episode we discuss the early buildings of the practice, including IBA housing in Berlin, Vitra Fire Station, Spittelau Viaduct Housing, and the unbuilt competition winning design for the Cardiff Opera House. As always, make sure you check out our pinned instagram story to see pictures of a…
 
UNLOCKED PATREON BONUS This unlocked bonus episode comes from our Patreon feed, where we post extra content and bonus discussions with every episode of the podcast. This bonus follows on from Episode 48, discussing the early projects of OMA and the theory of BIGNESS developed by Rem Koolhaas. If you want to access many hours of bonus material like …
 
In our second episode on Zaha Hadid, we're covering the rest of the 1980s, from the competition to design the Peak Leisure Centre in Hong Kong, to the Deconstructivism exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The episode also includes an interview with Andrew King, a principal at Lemay Architects in Canada, Professor at McGill University…
 
In our first episode on Zaha Hadid, we dive into the spell-binding work of one of the most famous, controversial and interesting architects of her generation. We begin by imagining the unique atmosphere of the Architectural Association in the 1970s, where Zaha was a student, taught by Leon Krier, Rem Koolhaas and innumerable other architectural lum…
 
In our final episode on Andrei Tarkovsky, we discuss the two films he directed after leaving the Soviet Union: Nostalghia (1983) and The Sacrifice (1986). Both films see a continued intensification of the directorial moves that Tarkovsky had been developing for his whole career: from heightened and ecstatic soundtracks to long and suspenseful shots…
 
In our second episode on Soviet director and auteur Andrei Tarkovsky we discuss his most well known film and possibly his magnum opus, Stalker (1979). The last film that Tarkovsky made whilst living in the Soviet Union, Stalker is loosely adapted from the novel Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. In Stalker, Tarkovsky takes decaying the…
 
In this first part of our new series on legendary Russian director Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky we discuss his early films: Ivan's Childhood (1962), Andrei Rublev (1966), Solaris (1972) and Mirror (1975). We will also be releasing a Patreon bonus very shortly with discussions of the work Tarkovsky did whilst studying at film school, including The V…
 
62 — Leon Battista Alberti — 2/2 — Building the Quattrocento Having discussed his magnum opus, 'De Re Aedificatoria' in the last episode, here we discuss the curious collection of buildings that Alberti designed across Italy over the course of his lifetime. From the hulking and austere white stone of the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini to the careful…
 
In this first episode of a two parter, we tackle the original big beautiful bouncing boy of the High Italian Renaissance, Leon Battista Alberti, and his 1485 blockbuster publication, On the Art of Building in Ten Books. After Vitruvius' original Ten Books, De Re Aedificatoria represents only the second explicitly architectural treatise in the histo…
 
In our second and final episode on Reyner Banham, we discuss his pivot to Los Angeles, his love affair with Archigram, his theories of Megastructure, and his later projects on American industrial vernacular ('Concrete Atlantis') and his unpublished book about the High-Tech movement. After his support of the Smithsons and the 'New Brutalism' Banham …
 
As requested by the listeners, part one of a two parter on Reyner Banham! Banham was an architectural critic, historian, scenester and prophet of the future, with a flair for iconoclastic and pugilistic writing. In this first episode we discuss his background in Norwich and his studies at the Courtauld Institute under Nikolaus Pevsner, where he wro…
 
In our final episode on Reactionaries, we explore the politics and theory that underpinned the reactionary rejection of Modernism in the 70s and 80s. We discuss Prince Charles' architectural interventions and the theories of our future king's favourite architect, Leon Krier (and Krier's problematic fave, Albert Speer). We also dive into the hotbed …
 
In our second episode on Reactionaries, we explore the rejection of modernism by traditionalist architects and theorists in England after the Second World War. Modernism became the hegemonic architectural and urbanist mode in England during this period, and we examine those who rejected the consensus, and sought to continue the retreat into the pas…
 
This is the audio from our live panel discussion at Dulwich Picture Gallery, where we were joined by the gallery's assistant curator, Helen Hillyard, and Neba Sere, founder of WUH Architecture and co-director of Black Females in Architecture. The discussion took place in the gallery's summer pavilion, the Colour Palace, which we strongly recommend …
 
Come and see us record a live episode at Dulwich Picture Gallery on the 26th June! We'd love to meet you! Modernist Architecture has always had more than its fair share of critics. In this episode, the first of a two parter, we discuss the reactionary, counter-revolutionary opposition to modernism in Britain during the interwar period. First, comes…
 
In this concluding part of our discussion, we interview Anna Mill, artist of ‘Square Eyes’ about Akira from the point of view of an illustrator, and also discuss the feature length Akira anime (1988), and the wonderful soundtrack by Geinoh Yamashirogumi. You can find more about Square Eyes here. This episode is sponsored by the Article Trade Progra…
 
In the second part of our discussion, we talk through the whole, incredibly epic six-volume manga 'Akira' from start to finish. Music is from the soundtrack to the film 'Akira' by Geinoh Yamashirogumi. This episode is sponsored by the Article Trade Program and The Great Courses Plus Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts. Support the show on Patreon to re…
 
Katsuhiro Otomo’s vast magnum opus ‘Akira’ (1982-90) is one of the landmarks of late 20th century science fiction — a story of psychic battles, youth counterculture and technology run out of control — all set in Neo-Tokyo, a vast megastructure in the Tokyo bay. If you’ve only ever heard of one manga, it’s probably this one. We’ve been reading the d…
 
We conclude our discussion of the churches of Nicholas Hawksmoor in London, featuring discussion of church politics, 'the primitive church of the early Christians' and wet and windy site recordings from St George in the East, Shadwell (1714-29), Christ Church Spitalfields (1714-29), and St Mary Woolnoth (1716-27). Sponsored by the Article Trade Pro…
 
Nicholas Hawksmoor, born in 1661, built six churches in London between 1711 and his death in 1736. Vast, white, monumental and enigmatically detailed, the Hawksmoor churches are a looming and mysterious presence in the architectural consciousness and mythic history of London, somehow both of time and out of it. Bombed, burned, spurned by popular ta…
 
The second part of our discussion of the utopias and dystopias of the late 19th century 'machine age'. Including a discussion of Edward Bellamy's 'Looking Backwards: 2000-1887' (once incredibly famous and now almost unknown), William Morris's 'News From Nowhere: Or, and Epoch of Rest' and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'Moving the Mountain.' Edited by …
 
We start a two-part discussion of the utopias and dystopias of the late 19th century 'machine age,' when new technology seemed to be remaking the world, and society along with it. What sort of world would the machines bring? In this episode we discuss Samuel Butler's novel 'Erewhon' and the extraordinary speculation on machine life that it contains…
 
Rem Koolhaas and the firm he founded with three partners in 1975 — Office of Metropolitan Architects, OMA — are fascinating, critical and provocative presence within the architectural culture of the 1970s and 1980s, riding the wave of the crisis of modernist collapse while positioning themselves outside or against all of the main tendencies in the …
 
We continue our discussion of the theoretical works of Robert Venturi with this episode on ‘Learning from Las Vegas — The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form’ — researched and written with Denise Scott-Brown and Steven Izenour, and published in 1972. The book, which examines the architecture of the Vegas strip, is the origin of the famous ‘Du…
 
For the first AB+C of 2019 we’re tackling one of the seminal texts of the 1960s, and an iconic moment in the stylistic overthrow of the postwar modernist order — Robert Venturi’s ‘Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture’ (1966). It’s a slim, lavishly illustrated volume, which seems lucid and straightforward, but upon closer reading turns out t…
 
We're a bit late with the first episode of the new year, so I'm releasing our bonus conversation on Italian fascist architecture to tide you over until then. If you want more material like this, there's a link to the Patreon below. We talk about the architecture of the Italian fascist period. Some of it is pretty good, unfortunately. Some of it is …
 
We finally get onto the last book of Stones of Venice, and its reverberations through the long second half of the 19th century. Young Ruskinians, EL Godwin, William Burges, William Morris and so on. Music — Vivaldi concerto for two horns, strings and continuo in F major RV 539 pt IThe Fall — Living too late Support the show on Patreon to receive bo…
 
Giovanni Michelucci was born in 1891, and lived through nine-tenths of the 20th century, through all its terrifying and perplexing twists and dislocations. Throughout his career, his work manages to express an idiosyncratic and critical relationship to the spirit of the age. Over fifty at the end of the war, and sacked from his university job in th…
 
A collaboration between About Buildings + Cities and Stories from the Eastern West (@sftewpodcast) — a cool podcast telling little-known stories from Central & Eastern Europe. We discuss Tomas Bata's modernist shoe-factory Utopia in Zlin, Moravia, his project to create an orderly (and suitably hierarchical) paradise for loyal, productive, clean-liv…
 
This is the audio from our ‘In Conversation’ with Adam Caruso, held at Nottingham Contemporary on October the 4th. You can (and probably should, if you want to know what’s going on) download the slides from the presentation here — https://tinyurl.com/y7gab672 We didn’t get through the whole slideshow, but we’ll talk about what we missed on the seco…
 
This is the audio from our ‘In Conversation’ with Adam Caruso, held at Nottingham Contemporary on October the 4th. You can (and probably should, if you want to know what’s going on) download the slides from the presentation here — https://tinyurl.com/y7gab672 We didn’t get through the whole slideshow, but we’ll talk about what we missed on the seco…
 
We discuss the first two volumes of 'Stones of Venice' — the interminable first and dream-like second. Shafts, archivolts, more shafts, rotten and sun-whitened vegetation, encrustation, palaces (Gothic and Byzantine), melancholy ruins, the sound of distant seabirds, and lapis luzuli and gold aplenty. Thanks for listening — we're gearing up for a pr…
 
John Ruskin’s ‘Stones of Venice’ is one of the monuments of architectural theory in the 19th century. But it’s a hard book to get through, or to get inside. It’s incredibly long, and animated by a kind of moralistic passion that feels a little alien, at best quaint, or childish. Part of the reason is that Ruskin was a Victorian — indeed, one of the…
 
A short post-script to the Space Age episodes — we talked to Fred Scharmen about the mid 1970s NASA Space Settlements design study. You can read his essay at Places Journal where you can also see a selection of Rick Guidice and Don Davis’s illustrations. We’ll have a new full episode out very soon — Luke's graphic novel is here Support the show on …
 
The second part of our discussion of '2001 — A Space Odyssey'. At a certain point quite early on we started referring to the Monolith as 'the Obelisk' and neither of us noticed. Oh well. Thanks for listening and let us know your thoughts. Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show. Follow us on twitter // instagram // faceb…
 
Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001 a space odyssey is the iconic depiction of space travel, channeling the optimism and excitement of radical advances in space exploration and technology. It’s an uncompromising, utterly singular film, whose vision of a possible future is carried through comprehensively. Its scope and ambition are still basically uneq…
 
The 1990s were when computers really entered the mainstream of architecture. The rise of personal computing, with wider access to inexpensive machines, the world wide web, advances in software and hardware, all took place against the background of global political transformation that at the time was theorised as the End of History, the breakup of t…
 
We now have a Patreon — you can subscribe to get additional content for every episode. Projects like the Villa Stein and Villa Savoye are icons of modernist architecture — among the most famous of all modern buildings — images and symbols of what modern architecture is. Below all the machine age crispness, there's also a certain amount of weird bou…
 
We now have a Patreon — you can subscribe to get additional content for every episode. Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanerret's 'Five Points' (1926) were an attempt to condense the fundamental structural and design principles underlying their new architecture. Drawing on the discoveries made during design and construction of their early villa projects, …
 
We’re launching a Patreon — you can subscribe to get additional content for every episode. Bernard Rudofsky’s exhibition Architecture Without Architects at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1964 — and the fantastically successful book which followed it, have become an iconic polemic in support of the architectural ‘vernacular’. Ever-keen to p…
 
Jacques Tati's 'Mon Oncle' (1957) and 'Playtime' (1967) playfully dramatise the clash between old and new in the fast-changing cities of post-war France. Nostalgia, alienation, the absurdity of modern life and work, play, rhythm, rebellion and the curious affordances of materials and everyday items... serious fun, with silly noises. Hope you're all…
 
Adolf Loos’s essay ‘Ornament and Crime’ (1910) is considered the classic modernist polemic against the frills and folderols of the established arts of the day. We're in the city of Freud — and the neurotic subtext is very close to the surface. We discuss a little of Loos’s career as an architectural iconoclast, jersey fanatic, and pervert :-/ Then …
 
In this episode we explore in two early schemes for mass housing, at Pessac and in Stuttgart. Among many other things, we talked about — Bourneville New Lanark - Arnold circus - Bruno taut’s horseshoe estate - Pessac - Henri Frugès - The Weissenhofseidlung - Margarete Schutte-Lihotsky - Hannes Meyer’s essay ‘The New World’ Music & Interlude — - Har…
 
The concluding part of our discussion of ‘Urbanism’ (1925) — we look at the proposals for a Contemporary City for Three Million (1923), and the notorious Plan Voisin (1925). For Le Corbusier’s detractors, these are really the crimes of the century. We did our best to think of something nice to say about them. Music — Dave Gabriel ‘Midst of their mo…
 
The first of a two part episode exploring Le Corbusier’s infamous and much-derided urban proposals, exhibited in the Esprit Nouveau Pavilion in 1925. In this part, we’re conducting a close reading of ‘Urbanism’ (sometimes known as ‘The City of Tomorrow and its Planning’). We mostly stayed on topic but there are allusions to Camillo Sitte Augustus W…
 
Franz Kafka’s first, and least-finished, novel is an imaginary journey around the USA (a country he never visited). Written in 1912, it’s a fantasy of America at a time when seemed, to Europeans at least, to be the most futuristic (and mysterious) place on Earth. Kafka’s fascination with machinery, technology and engineering is on display in ‘Ameri…
 
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