Saturday, 3 January 2015
New Years Resolutions:
1) Get back into Art and Drawing
So here's a sneak preview of one of the pieces I have been working on. I've called it Naked1, for lack of imagination of anything wittier; it's a former pen drawing of a model I made during a life drawing class back in Sheffield last year, scanned and reinterpreted using photoshop. It's the first time I have tried out something like this, so let me know what you think!
Sunday, 21 December 2014
Amanda Burden, one of New York's city planners who fought for the creation of now world famous High Line gives an inspiring TED talk on the importance of public spaces in cities and how they are what makes a city special.
I have always been interested in Urban Planning, as I'm fascinated by the creation of the built environment on a scale that takes the whole city into consideration. As an architecture graduate who is investigating other career paths, the world of planning is something that I have been quite intrigued in. I always ask myself the questions of who actually makes the key decisions that relate to the future and well being of the city, and through being immersed in my architecture graduate job, I have realized that it's not the architects, or the developers, but the planners who make the city go round. Without Amanda Burden, there would be no high line, in fact the disused railway probably would have been torn down. Before the land is bought, before the designs are made, it seems like the city planners are the ones that are able to fight for our public spaces and turn our cities into visions of tomorrow.
(I am also currently reading a book about urban planning called The Happy City by Charles Montgomery, which is a really great read!)
Thursday, 4 December 2014
Allan Teger is one of my favourite photographers; influenced by the concepts of altered realities and mystical consciousness, he creates his images by using the body as backdrop on which he places toys and miniature people. The result is is an picture that can be interpreted as just a body or the body as a landscape ie perhaps a hill (image above), and a lot of people can enjoy the fact that both perceptions are correct at the same. I first came across Teger's series on a poster in one of my flatmates bedrooms at university and was instantly drawn to his work, the subtlety and humour of the compositions just make me smile!
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Being a vocal feminist and an architecture graduate, I have always been interested in our society's obsession with architecture that manifests itself in the form of human genitals. From the Gherkin to the Malaysia's Petronas Twin Towers, phallic references never cease to be present and I have to come to the understanding that some of the fundamentals of our architectural influences must be derived from our awareness of ourselves and the body in which we occupy. The Ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated phallic festivals where they constructed penis-like shrines to Hermes, the messenger of the Gods, and many ancient cultures in the Far East also celebrated the phallus as a symbol of fertility. Thousands of years later in the present day, we celebrate the penis again through the erection of skyscrapers that dominate our cityscapes. In the voice of feminist theory, high rise towers embody the symbols of male authority, power and the extension of man's ego. Anthropomorphism, in terms of the phallic, is the evidence of a male dominated society.
The relevance of this topic to me stems from the fact that having completed a 10000 word dissertation on the perception of the female architect and having established my thoughts on the patriarchal framing of architecture, I have found myself a year later in an architecture practice, working on a skyscraper project, that looks exactly like a penis (balls and everything...!). Oh the irony..! The project having started out as a low rise proposal has gradually escalated in size through the developer's wishes of wanting more and more square metres; his eyes squealing in delight every time our sketch models increase in area. My female colleagues and I have been giggling about this, especially when I attempted to colour the shape in a light-orange-flesh like tone when producing a diagram (ended up having to change the colour to blue to minimise resemblance!).
But in all seriousness, if skyscrapers are a reflection of masculine power, what buildings embody the symbols of female power? I didn't want to stereotype or mention Zaha Hadid's Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar -aka the 'Vagina,' but can we define buildings as being 'masculine' or 'feminine'? I read an interesting quote last year that said, 'cultures that revere the feminine principal and treat women as equals produces built forms related to the morphology of the female body' [J.Rendell in Gender, Space, Architecture], which seems to suggest and stereotype that buildings with curvaceous and womb like qualities are produced in more gender equal societies. However, looking at the fact that the vagina stadium is in Qatar and Middle Eastern countries are famous for their repression of women, presents this statement to be quite false. So, when will architecture stop being a man's world? Will it be when more women reach the top? When the balance between the genders is not 21% female to 79% Male (statistics for RIBA membership that is)? Or conversely, do we need to stop attributing the penis to the skyscraper and accept that in the modern world, where ground space is a becoming a problem for exploding cities, that towers are in fact an ideal form for the development and progression of our society?
Saturday, 29 November 2014
It's that time in winter, where the days have got noticeably shorter and the bitterness of the cold has begun to kick in. The longing for the warmth, sun and sea is almost a daily thought. Here are 2 pictures from my travels around South East Asia 2 summers ago. The first is me in meditation on a beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia and the second is of a colourful boat in Koh Phangan, Thailand. Enjoy :)
Thursday, 27 November 2014
Last night, I was fortunate enough to be able to get a last minute invite from my friend to an Architecture Foundation event which consisted of a discussion surrounding the future of Architectural Education, in conjunction with it's current Futures in the Making Exhibition. Having just started my first graduate job and currently being in a debate with myself about whether to study the part 2 or not, I was very excited to hear about how the profession will soon be changing for the good. Hosted at Feilden Clegg Bradley's lovely studios in Goodge Street, the night featured a lively talk with panelists Peter Clegg (Senior Partner at FCBS & Professor of Architecture the University of Bath), Gemma Barton (editor of the Edge Condition & Interior Architecture lecturer at Brighton) and Neil Spiller (Dean of Architecture at the University of Greenwich), all chaired by Professor Robert Mull (Director of Architecture at The Cass).
Sat down with our complementary glasses of wine, my friends and I (also recent architecture graduates) found ourselves nodding in agreement to Robert Mull's engaging introduction. With a note to the long awaited reforms of education, he was spot on with all the concerns that us students are constantly battling with and habits that are so hard for such a well-established profession to drop. The debate between the necessity of both ARB and RIBA, the length of the courses, which 'hold us hostage for so long', the 24 hour studio culture which leads to the institutional exploitation of graduates in practice, the competitive environment which bring forth a lack of collectiveness in the job, which then leads itself to low starting salaries and etc... All of which are vital questions that need to be solved before the current educational system can be readjusted. Though, as Mull was about to finish his speech, he hastily mentioned that during the discussion the panelists should not mention the dreaded words of Part 1 and Part 2 and any of the above... to which my friends and I looked to each other with slightly concerned expressions on our faces.
The rest of the evening was divided into a speech by the panelists followed by further questions from Robert Mull. Despite the fact that the speakers did not actually contribute any valid answers or solutions to the pressing concerns that we are facing, the discussions were relatively interesting and dwelled into the unique perceptions of each speaker. Peter Clegg spoke of bringing the freedom of architecture school into the professional world, calling for more disciplined research to be part of practice. Clegg reflected on how architecture these days has a wider philosophical approach than when he was at school, stating that in the present moment we have a lot more to offer the world and a stronger chance to make a political statement using our work, with architects able to be a catalyst for social change.
Gemma Barton questioned the point of architectural education and commented that these days students are refreshingly not conditioned to a certain way of thinking, as otherwise they would turn into miniature versions of ourselves. This seemed like a fair point, yet I have been lead to believe that certain architecture schools with strong social or political agendas do instill a certain way of thinking about the world upon their students; its how we are able to say in a colloquial way , 'oh that's such a Bartlett drawing' or 'that's such a Sheffield concept' etc. However, Barton rounded off with a very valid point that 'before we attempt to reroute education, we need to decide where we are going'. As we a profession we need to figure out what we actually to achieve before we start making any changes, and called for students to join up in a super symposium to be part of the decision process.
Neil Spiller, last of the panelists discussed the positives of what architectural education does do and mentioned the 'great tsunami of technology' and something about how universities are agile...? I think at this point I started feeling a bit sleepy from the wine I had drunk, my concentration started dwindling and I was confused as to why the discussion was going so off topic.
All in all, the debate were engaging and thoughtful, there was a lot of talk about 'radicalism' (definitely the word of the evening), Can you teach radicalism? How are architecture schools radical? With the panelists stumbling for cohesive answers on such a pensive question, I was reminded by all those 90s TV shows I watched as a kid where they would all say, 'that's so radical, dude', to each other.
Nevertheless, another event down, another discussion later, we are still no closer to solving the most important questions of why is our education so long? Do we really need to have all of Parts 1, 2 &3? How do we change the obsessive late night culture of the profession and how do we value ourselves more in the real world in order to raise our starting (and continuing) salaries? Our futures are definitely still uncertain and definitely still in the making.
(found on tumblr)
Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Pictures from my girlies reunion weekend with my housemates. Longleat is an English stately home, the seat of the Marquesses of Bath. It is located near the town of Warminster in Wiltshire, and has a safari adventure park right next to it. Longleat currently features a brilliant light display as shown in the pictures above with all the funky models, which all contain colourful lights that look beautiful at night time.