Wednesday, 30 January 2013


A younger man than myself helped me remember this beautiful piece of music, written by Philip Glass for the film called Koyaanisqatsi (1982). The title derives from a scene in which the failed housing project named "Pruitt-Igoe", designed by Minoru Yamasaki (mostly known as the architect of the Twin Towers), is being demolished.

Although frequent attempts have been made by architects to blame the failures of the project on other aspects than the architecture, it has remained a symbol of  how ideology-driven, de-humanizing thinking in our craft can result in horrible and uninhabitable places. The famous architecture historian and theorist Charles Jencks has even claimed that the tearing down of Pruitt-Igoe nailed the moment where Modernism's optimism on behalf of the future and itself ended, and post-modernism started.

The site is now mostly empty, but suggestions have been made for it to be rebuilt in completely different ways, for example in the charming and thought-through master plan developed by architect Samuel Lima. He suggests applying traditional architecture, extracted from examples in the nearby area, and is firmly planted within the New Urbanist approach.

Thursday, 24 January 2013


Almost three years ago, I wrote a short post explaining about our particular academic discipline at BAS, called visual structure. Today, I was made aware of this video, showing an assignment usually done in Decembre first year, where uniformly coloured geometric shapes are given a contrasting treatment of different colours in non-geometric patches. The idea is that you should be curious to find out what the next side of the shape looks like, so that you'll be intrigued to look all the way around it. Quite charming video, and I think it expresses this concept clearly.

Monday, 21 January 2013


Surfing Wikipedia looking for cool pictures of monasteries, I found this picture after reading the article about the Ursuline order. It bears the title "Looking North from Ursuline Academy, Showing Wrecked Negro High School Building" (very direct language, don't you think?). The 1900 Galveston hurricane is the deadliest natural disaster ever to have struck the United States, with an estimated death toll of between 6,000 and 12,000 people.

While this was happening, Barack Obama's second inauguration was taking place in Washington, DC. (If you're bothered by me posting a picture with a title containing the word "negro" while writing about Obama, please remember that he's not any more "black" than "white".) Here, he finally spoke of the main challenge of this age in human history:

'We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.'

Although this picture was taken long before the scientific proof of climate change was established, please let it be a reminder of what lies ahead, if this generation fails to take action.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


In architecture, we talk about scale a lot. In my first year spring project, I added a tower to an already quite large barn that I remodeled into a house. The tower was twice as tall as the barn, and I was accused of not understanding the scale of the place.

This autumn, I've been working with urban fabric in a part of Bergen where the buildings and streets have very different scales.

I even have a book called "Scale in Architecture, and let's not forget the architect's scale!

The only problem is this: Every time someone mentions the word 'scale' (including yours truly), I immediately start humming this song. It's unstoppable. Help me.

PS. I love "The Aristocats" (and their house).

Sunday, 6 January 2013


Happy new year! The world didn't end this time, either. The above picture was taken by yours truly in September, in a strange room behind the clocks of the tower of Nykirken ("The New Church") in Bergen:

I like how things sometimes are much more weird than we believe them to be.

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