14 August 2006

blog radar :: 14 august

Just catching up the highlights of my Google Reader feeds these past few weeks:

  • BLDGBLOG. Geoff Manaugh has kept up a constant stream of noteworthy posts, including the Kazys Varnelis interview noted previously, speculation on "landscape theology" (whatever that is) in an interview with Erik Davis, and a feature on inflatable/biodegradable toilets for refugee camps by Studio Cycle.
  • Subtopia. Another blog with consistently high-quality posts, ranging from border station design ( "Welcome to America") to refugee urbanism in Israel and Lebanon ("War as Vacation" ) to a review of an exhibition on the city of Tijuana ("Strange New World" ). The recurring theme of border urbanism reminds me of an article in the most recent issue of Log (#7) by Marie Aquilino ("Free Zone: A Conversation with Amos Gitai"), which addresses Gitai's film "Free Zone" and the the strange phenomena of free-trade cities, particularly Zarqa City in Jordan, a hub with links to the borders with Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
  • The fallacy of New Urbanism. From Planetizen, Leonardo Vazquez has written an article ("Urban Fables: The Role Of Storytelling And Imagery In Successful Planning Movements") on how the New Urbanist movement has ap propriated religious strategies of allegory and myth to further their cause. Vazquez compares the New Urbanists to the conservative property rights movement (in terms of their similar appeals to " people's hopes, fears and beliefs") -- while this is certainly right on the mark, I would go further and say that New Urbanism not only takes hints from property rights activists, but in fact operates in an almost identitcal manner as the broader political and religious right wing. Readers of this blog have heard me rant previously on the convergence of New Urbanist and conservative political ambitions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I must say that there is a certain satisfaction in seeing other writers not only comment on the ultimate fiction of New Urbanism -- its false nostalgia for a past that never existed in the first place, as I like to say -- but also relate it to the fictions (and, dare I say, untruths) that underlie the contemporary right-wing agenda in this country.
  • Niemeyer still going strong. From Tropolism, some cool photos of Oscar Niemeyer's latest project, a theater in Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo. Looks like the old guy still has it...
  • Keller Easterling talks. An Archinect feature: Mason White interviews architect, theorist, and Yale professor Keller Easterling about her writings and practice. From having seeing Easterling's lectures and having her on a couple reviews while at school, I've always been intrigued by her fascination with such strange things as third-world golf courses, cruise ships, and industrial tomato farms. I've been meaning for a while to check out her latest book Enduring Innocence -- check out the interview for a taste.
  • Why Sylvia Sucks. From Michielangelo, a humorous yet enchantingly critical review of a lecture by Sylvia Lavin. I won't go into the details, but topics include iconography, dildos, and pet rocks. Worth checking out.

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