Writing Architecture

Imagine Coney: Now A Real Website


Ha ha, joke's on us. Here we thought MAS was just going to accept ideas for its Imagine Coney project through public forums and such. No, they were just hanging onto a wonderful website where you can click "Submit Idea" and it goes into their internetwork (text only, images need to be emailed in). Or, you can real-mail them something called a "CD". The website is really beautiful, too. Be sure to submit your stuff before November 12th.

PS if you still want to go rogue and send us your stuff too, we'll still publish the best ideas we receive.

Concrete Ammonite


In keeping with two of our favorite themes here at Tropolism (arctic residences and drawing) we direct your attention to Concrete Ammonite, the work of Lewis Wadsworth. Like a cross between John Hejduk and Lebbeus Woods, Lewis's work combines a densely layered architectural fantasia labyrinth (or is it many?) with densely layered narrative. What is powerful about it is the text is readable, like fiction, and it provides an expanded understanding of the images. Not only is a narrative about a labyrinth created, but the author at the same time talks about the process of drawing, and the blog itself becomes the architectural work, like an illustrated Borges.

Tropolism Newsletter 1.1 Coming Soon


What do Zaha Hadid, Art Museums, and Video Games have in common? In the next few days those pioneering readers who have signed up for our newsletter will be getting a very special entry in their inboxes to tell them the answer to that question. Sign up now in the top far right email field on this page.

Imagine Coney Reminder


Reminder: send us your ideas for Coney Island! Tropolism means good ideas win. We are asking all our readers to send us your ideas (especially visual illustrations) for Coney Island. Anything we get we will forward to the Municipal Art Society; the best ideas we will post on Tropolism. This is open to everyone and anyone. Whether you're an architect or an admirer, t's time to fantasize again. Send whatever you can to [email protected]; the deadline is November 12.

Bureau Of Architects


The latest wave in social networking has finally come to architects with Bureau of Architects. It's a nifty network for everyone in the design sphere, but without the extraneous geegaws of The 'Book. What's particularly great about this micronetwork is that it turns out to be not so micro: the applications and feeds that are included are going to be stuffed full of images, competition dates, and news feeds before too long, making this a very useful meeting place for the architecture world.

Be our friend?

Imagine Coney


Send us your ideas for Coney Island! Tropolism means good ideas win.

The Municipal Art Society of New York today announced a new initiative to re-imagine Coney Island, called Imagine Coney. Coney Island, that land of mystery and wonder, the genesis of delusional fantasies both distant and contemporary, has been in decline for some time. New York City has taken some actions to spur its revival, but the plans that have come forth have been less than satisfactory. To that end the MAS is leading an effort that only they can lead: bringing the public and private concerns together. In addition, they are drawing upon their line of recent successful design competitions, where they solicit public input but wisely create their own design short list. Today they are announcing this effort, part of which is to solicit design ideas for their design team to look at in mid-November.

Tropolism is inspired by this public brainstorming session. We are asking all our readers to send us your ideas (especially visual illustrations) for Coney Island. Anything we get we will forward to the MAS; the best ideas we will post on Tropolism. This is open to everyone and anyone. Whether you're an architect or an admirer, t's time to fantasize again. Send whatever you can to [email protected]; the deadline is November 12.

Tropolism Books: More Mobile: Portable Architecture for Today


Title: More Mobile: Portable Architecture for Today

Author: Jennifer Siegal

Publication Date: November 1, 2008

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

ISBN: 978-1-56898-758-3

The last few years have seen an explosion of explorations of the structures, armatures, tools, and systems that constitute a new nomadic living. The explorations chosen for this book range from smart fashion installations to surrealist fantasies to RVs for the West Elm set. But they all have one thing in common: they expertly explore what architecture can be in the wireless age. They suggests that transitional, temporary, and moveable placemakers are not merely appropriate for our digital lives, but they can even be comfortable. All of the projects here challenge what is expected of house and home, from the art installation tricked-out sleeping bags of Studio-Orta to Andrea Zittel's A-Z Wagon Station (pictured). They challenge conceptually what can be made into a home or public space, the way Archigram's work does. Yet many of them go far beyond being polemics of our time; some (like Zittel's work) strive to being useful, giving us entirely new architecture even as they strip most of the materials away.

This book can be purchased at Amazon.

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Keep Loving Plans


In this crazy online architectural wonderland, pictures rule all, be it renderings or photos of the built work. Less common is the underused (but still useful) tool of plans and sections, as well as the relative newcomer, the animated diagram. It's a way of understanding projects that can add (or detract) from the genius of a design. Sometimes interesting photographs of a house reveal, in plan, to be a lame 3 bedroom 3.5 bath house. Sometimes the plans and sections support brilliant awesomeness in the pictures. I am tempted to complain about how the general level of skill at drawing has dropped precipitously since schools started going all-digital, but I think that is a topic for another post. Besides, I think the pendulum is swinging back to drawing, since renderings of clouds with text labels on them are not cutting it as cutting edge anymore.

It should come as no surprise then that my favorite weblogs are those that include plans and sections with every project selection. Daily Dose deserves special mention for devoting posts soley to plans and diagrams.

Tropolism Newsletter 1.0: Sign Up Now


Some of you have signed up for The Tropolism Newsletter. Ages ago. And you have never received anything. Soon your infinite and kind patience will be rewarded. Launching soon: Tropolism Newsletter. In it you will be able to read even more writing from the Tropolism crew. The first few will be some in-depth commentary and inside scoops only available through the newsletter. Sign up today so you don't miss newsletter 1.0. Just enter your email address in the box on the right, and click yes when you get the follow up email.

Next Generation House Update: Winner!


This just in: Sou Fujimoto Architects' Next Generation House, as seen here on Tropolism yesterday, won the Private Houses jury at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona. We concur with their report, this house is a winner.

Stair Porn


Stair Porn. The title (and design) of this blog says it all: it's about stairs of every kind, leaning toward the awesomely designed. The categories of stairs on the sidebar are going to turn this into a great architectural reference. It's run by the same people who do the brilliant Materialicious. Pictured is a stair by Gio Ponti with the comment "All we need now is for Sophia Loren to walk down those stairs."

Note to Stair Porn: include my West Village Duplex stair?

Libeskind Does Shopping Malls


Daniel Libeskind designed a shopping mall over in Switzerland.:

“Architects for a long time thought malls were below their dignity,” Libeskind says. “But if you bring nature and culture into the building, you can make it a radically different place.”

He's absolutely correct. Architects did some amazing shopping malls in the 1960s and 1970s, and then they kind of let go of those projects. The only problem is that what Libeskind designed actually looks like any ole mall in New Jersey.

Via Archinect.

Switch Bays


One of our favorite articles over the summer, during our sleepy time, was Daily Dose's piece about buildings with Switch Building like facades. While we will always have a fondness for the original Switch, we admit we are swayed by SHoP's M127 facade for its more elegant assembly of a diversity of typical New York materials: brick, metal, glass, into something entirely new. But still lovely.



Our favorite small mag has changed its name. Monu is now mudot. Yeah we don't get it either. What hasn't changed is their great design, their commitment to pdfs of every page online, and the microcontent mashup. It's our flavor of obsessed.

Herzog & DeMeuron's Tate Modern Mountain


While we were intrigued with Tate Modern 2.1, revealed way back in 2006, the stacked box pyramid we think has since found better expression and program and site in their proposal for the Parisian mega-pyramid of residences, mostly because the Paris project is much larger, and so the box thing turns into a pyramid from far away. It looked too jumbled to be Tate 2.1.

We are much more excited with Tate Modern 2.2, a smoother pyramid that works better with the existing power station and neighborhood, without losing its crazy awesome loudness. Check out their site geometry image at the bottom of this page for how it was generated. It also keeps with today's boulder theme.

Buildings On Video


0300 TV does what I was groping at with my post about that AIA site a few months back: simple video check ins on great buildings, some familiar, some not. With a minimum of interface. It's obviously a travelogue from someone based in Chile (today is Chile day at Tropolism) but we think it's the start of something great.

The site also contains videos on related topics, with interviews, art installations, and commentary about contemporary urban and media issues.

AIA Makes Videos


In celebration of the American Institute of Architect's 150th Anniversary, they have launched Shape Of America, a video diary of American (presumably United States) buildings.

As of this writing, there are only seven buildings profiled. We like the assortment of off-the-beaten-path buildings (the upcoming video on 1963 Air Force Academy's Cadet Chapel by Walter A. Netsch) and the big name superstar buildings (at least for the FAIA set, like 1937's Taliesin West by Big Frank 1). Also, we love snapshots of old buildings in their current state, seeing what worked and didn't work in groundbreaking architecture. The video of Exeter Library shows just such snapshots, complete with cracked concrete and repointed bricks.

There are some quirks that read as crazy to this young internet user. The search function is buried in the lower right and clicking on View Entire Conversation leads one to...random long letters written by more FAIA members. It would have been much better if they'd just set up a channel on youtube and run an embedded blog. Also, the graphic design: what is up with those fat red gridlines they have insisted on using since the 1980's? Looks like a little less committee and a little more student intern control would have been in order, but all in all looks to be a good google-able resource once they get a critical mass posted.

Tropolism Is MoPo's #9


We were happy and surprised to learn that Tropolism is #9 in the 2008 MoPo, the list of Most Popular architecture blogs in the world. Ah, the power of a great publicist. Kidding! Eikongraphia uses a bunch of internety measures to determine their list.

But it wasn't the fact that we coined the term pop-up park last week (a friend overheard people using that phrase on the Brooklyn Bridge two days later, after seeing it on television, after coming from us). Or our awesome book reviews. It's you, dear reader. You are the ones that truly make Tropolism great!

Tropolism Books: Minka: My Farmhouse In Japan


Title: Minka: My Farmhouse In Japan
Author: John Roderick

Publication Date: November 1, 2007

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

ISBN: 978-1-56898-731-6

John Roderick leaves his metier of journalism (he was an Associated Press correspondent in Asia for almost forty years) and enters the much trickier realm of architectural memoir with Minka: My Farmhouse In Japan. It is his experiences as an American journalist in post-war Japan who purchases a minka, reconstructs it, and makes new home out of it.

Click Continue Reading for the full review.