Writing Architecture

Your Hidden City Winner: Best Building


Rue marcel proust--some of the better housing around Paris... all are encouraged to look up the plan on google earth--maybe 1 or 2 directly km s.e. of the periphery--you'll find it.

From time to time we’re all compelled to renounce our city for someplace new and unfamiliar. On saturdays I’d swipe my Carte d’Orange and take the Metro to the end of the line—in this case the 8. From a strictly visual standpoint, this part of Créteil has scarcely anything in common with Paris proper (one could make a case for the Guimard stations but It’s a stretch), or few other places for that matter.

Your Hidden City Best Building goes to John H. Drain's image "Créteil". Thanks go out again to the participants and the jury for making this contest a success!

Open-Source Jury

The best part of the open-source part of Your Hidden City is the diverging views of the jury. Each of the jury members was selected because they were enthusiastic about the possibility of having our readers give us a glimpse into their world...instead of the way it usually goes (we write, you read).

First, we had Geoff "disqualify everyone!" Manaugh from BLDGBLOG, who picked some gorgeous images that got ignored by the final vote. I have to say, being someone partial to the reification of shopping carts, I was partial to the last image he picked.

Next is David Cuthbert of architechnophilia, who gives us a taste of his differing opinion on Density.

As the other jurors post their thoughts and favorite images, you'll see them here, too.

Your Hidden City Winner: Best Natural/Urban Overlap


I rode the A Train to the end of the line from Times Square. It's amazing that the same train that goes through the middle of one of the world's busiest cities also rides along a quiet, lonely beach. These houses sit on poles, suspended over the calm waters of Jamaica Bay. You never think of it, but this is New York.

Your Hidden City Best Natural/Urban Overlap goes to Adam Pietrala's image "Jamaica Bay, New York". This photograph stirred up the most votes of any of the winners. Tomorrow: Best Building!

Your Hidden City Winner: Best Vantage Point


« Shadows lurking in the windows are watching every step of the careless newcomer, preying on him, waiting for the dark to engulf him. Then, the fear comes. »

This yard is where you end up when you exit one of the "Bonjour" stores in the center of Sofia. Few people look up at that exact moment and so few people will recognize the location, even though they pass through there each day. The yard is very gloomy and you get a certain feeling of uneasiness if you stay there too long, particularly on dark and overcast days.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Your Hidden City Best Vantage Point goes to Sergey Todorov's image "The Yard". Serdjo's images were a big favorite of jury, who really hit a moody note here. Check back later today for another winning entry.

Your Hidden City Winner: Best Hidden Place


A dark alley, illuminated by a lone lamp leads you uphill to the ruins of an old medieval house (not in the picture) closely resembling a castle. Locals pass by this place everyday without considering the strong mysterious atmosphere it has. The paved road, standing there for ~800 years perhaps (the mediaval town house is from ~XII century) has a very long story and you can stand there and imagine the events it has witnessed and still has to witness.

Melnik is a small town in Southern Bulgaria. In the past it was a large merchant center with a population of over ~10000. Now there are only ~200 residents and the town is an architectural reserve.

You can read more about the town at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melnik,_Bulgaria

Your Hidden City Best Hidden Place goes to Sergey Todorov's image "Secret Alley In Melnik". Check back later today for another winning entry.

Your Hidden City Winner: Best Density


one of the most amazing things about this city is remembering to look up and seeing the most extraordinary ceilings above the most ordinary of settings.

The jury has voted, and the winners have won! Your Hidden City Best Density goes to Steph Goralnick's image "escalate". Juror Geoff Manaugh, of BLDGBLOG, interpreted density as "the light effects, where 'density' is interpreted as 'contradiction,' or multiple counter-motions in one frame". The rest of us agreed.

The contest created a gorgeous Flickr Pool. The jury thought they were going to be able to wade...instead, we had to swim. Deep pool. Thanks for being patient. Each of the winners will be posted each day this week.

Part of the open-source nature of this contest is that the other jurors may be posting their own winners. We were far from unanimous on our choices, and I invite you to discover the diversity of opinion by visiting the other jurors:

Lisa Chamberlain of Polis and who also covers real estate for the New York Times
David Cuthbert of architechnophilia
Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG
Shawn Micallef of Toronto Psychogeography Society Blog
Miss Representation
Jimmy Stamp of Life Without Buildings

Pretty Pictures Week!

This week is Pretty Pictures Week! at Tropolism. Also Known As: Totally Subtle Buildup to Announcing the Winners to Your Hidden City (we didn't forget, yo!).

Shakespeare Brings Out The Stars


Leave it to the ever-brilliant Choire Sicha to collapse Tropolism's categories in a single article. New York, Celebutantes, Public Effect, Theaters, and Writing Architecture. All we need is a location: Governor's Island. Mr. Sicha does a fascinating comparison of the roles celebrities (real celebrities, not architect celebrities) are playing in cutting-edge public space projects (High Line and Globe Theater on Governor's Island) in New York City. In an era when singularities like Robert Moses are long gone, and the Governor of the State or the Mayor of the City cannot get a single building built at Ground Zero, we appear to be left with one political/architectural force: movie stars!

Your Hidden City Judging Extended


Your Hidden City was such a success (over 1,000 entries) the judging has been ongoing. My fellow jurors and I are kicking back and forth on the winners, which will be announced when...they are announced. We're going to commit to 'soon'.

Tropolism Films: The Gamble House


Some buildings acquire so much affection, they show up in films again and again. Here a lovely bungalow for a mad scientist; there a lovely bungalow floating in, er, outer space.

We are equally enamored of sites like mirage.studio.7, which is currently tracking the appearance of the Gamble House in films, such as Back To The Future and Zathura. That's the power of love.

JG Ballard on Modern Architecture


JG Ballard, the novelist who wrote one of our favorite books (Concrete Island, of course), has extended his concrete reverie to discuss modern architecture directly. The article is a familiar love note to the bygone era of early Modernist architecture; his admiration for that era offers some insight into the fantasia that is Concrete Island

Through Boing Boing.



We are breaking our rule about not posting about posts about Tropolism for this: we apparently have coined a name for a whole movement. Viva El Tropolismo!

Picture by sgoralnick, from the Tropolism Flickr pool.

Your Hidden City Closing Soon!


Submissions for the Your Hidden City project end today at 5pm Eastern Standard Time. Click here to read the details on how to post.

After 5pm, the estimable jury will judge the photos and select winners in the following categories:

Best Hidden Place
Best Density
Best Natural/Urban Overlap
Best Unofficial Landmark
Best Building

The jury, you'll recall, is composed of:

Lisa Chamberlain of Polis and who also covers real estate for the New York Times
David Cuthbert of architechnophilia
Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG
Shawn Micallef of Toronto Psychogeography Society Blog
Miss Representation
Jimmy Stamp of Life Without Buildings

The contest was expected to be a little stream: it turned into a deluge. With close to 1,000 entries, we have our work cut out for us. The winners will be posted to Tropolism, as promised, but the posting date is delayed. Stay tuned for updates. Good luck!

Photo by We {Know}, You {Don't}! in the Tropolism Flickr pool.

The A to Z of Critical Regionalism

velux nordmarka0312.jpg

While we've always thought that "Critical Regionalism" was a construct of architectural historians (ever since I was in one of Ken Frampton's first classes on the topic in the mid-1990s), and not of much use to architects, we are thrilled to see the imagination at work on a series called The A to Z of Critical Regionalism over at architechnophilia. A is for Aalto, of course. But the real goods start flowing in with C (Correa), who we always need reminding of, and J (Jarmund / Vigsnaes Architects), pictured above, who we'd never heard of. But we're glad to know of them, even if it needed to be spelled out for us.

Madison Square Garden: Episode VI


Sorry, we skipped an episode of the Madison Square Garden Relocation series. We left you at Episode IV. For those of you that missed it, Episode V included a memorandum of understanding being signed by Cablevision (owner of MSG), and Vornado and Related, all but sealing the deal to move the Garden to be part of the former Post Office but soon-to-be 21st Century rail hub. The lights dimmed as everyone cackled.

This week's installment includes a heady dénoument: the memorandum was NONBINDING. And so there are now two to five celebrity architects involved, two real estate companies, one stadium-owning company, and probably about a dozen state and federal government agencys who will duke it out to see what gets built and who will design it.

Tipped off by the even more annoyed Curbed. One thing we aren't annoyed about: even though we still aren't convinced of the MSG as part of the rail station idea (does anyone else have a big HUH? around this), we would love to see them tear down the existing MSG. We've totally gotten thrilled about that part.

Your Hidden City Grows


Your Hidden City, the world's first open-source architectural contest, is only open for submissions for one more week! On March 10, at 5pm, we will close the Flickr pool and the jury will begin deliberating. Check out the full details at our announcement a couple of weeks ago.

If you place your entry right now, you will join 551 556 560 entries from 156 158 160 entrants. The pool is growing. The jury has its work cut out for it already, we hope you will add to the collection. Be sure to include your caption on why this is part of Your Hidden City.

Tropolism Books: LIC In Context


Title: LIC In Context: An Unorthodox Guide to Long Island City

Author: Paul Parkhill and Katherine Gray

Publication Date: 2005

Publisher: Furnace Press, Brooklyn, New York

ISBN: 0-9772742-0-9

Continuing with our month-long theme of Your Hidden City, we came across LIC In Context: An Unorthodox Guide to Long Island City. The book is a collaborative project of Place In History, an organization devoted to a deeper understanding of the city, so as to effect better urban design. The book is one of the infinite possible mappings of New York City, in this case with the sometimes-beloved but rarely cozy 'hood called Long Island City, in Queens.

LIC includes a short forward by Paul Parkhill explaining how the project is intent on "evoking what is compelling and unusual about the neighborhood." He explains that the book is not an encyclopedia about Long Island City; in fact, the impossibility of such a project is implied. Some of the buildings and places catalogued have been demolished or never built. Some, like the Terra Cotta Building, are facing radical and immanent changes. Also of interest is the collection of information from people's memories. Because industrial areas tend to be a little light on historiographers, this seems as suitable a method as poring over maps in the New York Public Library's Map Room for collecting vital information about what was there, and why what is there is there.

The introduction to the book is a four-page essay telling a brief history of Long Island City. The essay focuses almost entirely on the 19th century, with everything after 1930 being wrapped up in the last two paragraphs. The introduction betrays a bias: that the actual neighborhood documentation speaks for itself, and so recent history can be reduced to a few notations in the larger essay. The rest of the book is devoted to expanding these notations: 54 sites are brought to our inspection, with notes, photographs, illustrations, and sketchbook drawings. They are a wonderful walking tour of this sprawling neighborhood, without all the long distances or tiresome walking. They are also a valuable snapshot of LIC before its denoument as another center of residential and commercial density in New York.