Chlorofilia - a new species of architecture


The History Channel recently held a competition inviting architectural teams to design a city of the future, to envision Los Angeles, New York and Chicago a hundred years from now.

The entry from Xefirotarch, invents and imagines an organic, biomimetic future for LA - literally a new species of architecture. You can view the video (created in collaboration with Imaginary Forces) on YouTube here.

Los Angeles in 2106 becomes Chlorofilia, a "self-sustaining, self-protecting natural ecology, used converted highways as aqueducts and dispersed nutrients into an adaptable organism that continuously adjusted itself to changes in demographics and housing requirements."

[via Morfoll]

Team Helsinki

London 2066 [London 2066, as painted by Zaha Hadid]

Things have been a little quite here on the Kosmograd Newsfeed recently. One of the reasons for this was that I was working on the Team Helsinki submission for the Greater Helsinki Vision 2050 ideas competition.

It was an interesting project to work, both in terms of the subject - reimagining Helsinki in 2050, as well as working collaboratively online, making use of tools such as a blog, Google groups etc.

The Team has a blog at:

Some of my posts have looked at urban visions of the future in other cities:

New York 2106 London 2071 London 2066 Tokyo Fibercity 2050

Other posts have explored a range of themes, some of which fed into the final proposal:

Modern movements in Mass Transit Real Time Rome Car free Helsinki City as Playground City as Operating System

As it is an anonymous competition it's not appropriate to discuss our proposal here at the moment. Once the competion results have been announced I'll be able to post more details.

The virtual bleeds into the real

wireframe subaru

While computer graphics, animation and games get more 'real', far more interesting to me are the cases where the virtual bleeds into the real.

The best recent example of this was "Modern Japanese Classic" this wire-frame sculpture of a Subaru Impreza by artist Benedict Radcliffe. It was recently parked outside a gallery in Mayfair which was showing more work by Radcliffe inside.

wireframe subaru

wireframe subaru

The wireframe car, sits impassively, unexplained, a ghost from the virtual. It marks a point of slippage between the world and a mirror world. It certainly confused the hell out of local parking wardens, who issued it with a number of tickets.

This slippage between the real and the virtual - sometimes called Hybrid reality - is also the work of artist Aram Bartholl. In the installation Speed, he faithfully recreated the track marker arrow from the computer game Need for Speed in Bremen, Germany.



Then of course, there is the emergence of real world Google map pins. There's no limit to where this could end.

Google Map pin

London: A life in maps

London Maps

London Maps

London Maps

Currently showing at the British Library, until 4th March 2007, is an [exhibition] ( looking at the history of maps of London, from the panoramic views across the Thames, to Regency masterplanning, to Google Earth.

It never fails to amaze the phenomenal growth of the city in Victorian times, in the 18th Century a map of London was drawn to try and impress that London was as big as Paris, but by the middle of the 19th Century thhere was no contest. How quickly the collection of villages in north London, the sleepy hamlets of Tottenham, Highgate, Friern Barnet, Colney Hatch became swallowed by a sprawling monster.

There's a great book to accompany the exhibition in case you can't make it to British Library, a dog's breakfast of a building compared to the breathtaking beauty of the neighbouring,St. Pancras, of which more another day.

From the British Library website you can also download overlays of some of the maps as layers for Google Earth. But it would be great if there was some kind of time dimension capability to Google Earth, so that you could zoom backwards and forth in time as well as space. This is something that Dan Hill at the wonderful City of Sound has been banging on for a while, with particular reference to Barcelona.

Wilfullness reigns at Gazprom

The six architects solicited by Russian oil giant Gazprom to design their new headquarters after relocating from Moscow to St. Petersburg, have revealed their designs this week.

Situated directly opposite the Smolny Cathedral on the Neva River, the brief for a building not higher than 300m drew condemnation from locals, and a boycott from Russian architects.

Which left the door wide open for a gaggle of starchitects (and RMJM) to submit their designs. You can't tell RMJM aren't starchitect quality because on the official competition page they have their company logo instead of a photo of a serious looking bald-headed man.

Gazprom are set to reveal the chosen design on December 1st. But they've got a tough job - all the designs are unspeakably hideous. Where do you start? Herzog & de Meuron, RMJM, and Massimiliano Fuksas all offer dreamy spires, Nouvel a kind of bridged glass slab, and Libeskind has created what has been called "Brancusi's poodle". Which just leaves Koolhaas/OMA's "will this do?" sugar cube stack. If I was a betting man, I'd put money on Herzog and de Meuron.





In a competition where context has been banished, pure willfulness runs riot. The buildings could look like anything, and as a consequence, they all look like shit. It's rather depressing that the five of the biggest names in world architecture (and RMJM) couldn't come up with a half-decent design amongst them. Fuksas' design looks the most polished, but that's hardly surprising since he's used it before for a project in Savona.

Mikhail Piotrovski, director of the world-famous Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, has urged that the project be blocked.

"Some of the designs show genius," he said. "But putting it opposite Smolny would deform the historic skyline of the city and look like a challenge.... It was mere accident that we inherited this fantastic city. We must not damage it."

I find it most surprising that Koolhaas, having spent so long courting the Hermitage as a client, would risk damaging the relationship by coming up with this clunker.