Skip navigation

I have been doing lots of cycling recently after buying an old Dawes Galaxy on ebay in the autumn. Spent some great weekends travelling out of London on the bike to Portsmouth, Brighton, Southampton, and recently took it to wales for some riding in Pembrokeshire which was amazing.

We have started using mapmyride to plan routes and then using my android phone as gps for the rides. Works very well, and you get nice stats on climbs etc. Google maps also works very well on android, but you cannot get the turn by turn written instructions like a sat nav, just the map view with your planned route on top. The rides in wales used the National Cycle Networks at times, which are very well planned to be away from traffic and give you  a good range of scenery. Check them out here SUSTRANS

I have also been working on designing a new bike! It will be based on an Ottandini frame, which seems to be a bit of an enigma in terms of heritage, as no one knows what happened to the brand name or where it started, roughly north england? Anyway, my plans for the frame are to celebrate the mighty Norwich City’s football team and thier recent ascendancy, potentially to the premier league!

The history of the Canaries kit and logo is very interesting, if we ignore the original beginnings of a blue and white kit, then we see the yellow being a major part of the club’s design from the early years of 1907, with the green canary bird being a feature even back then. The kit then evolved with experiments of more even proportions of green and yellow, in stripes and halves, until 1947 when the modern design emerged with the first shield badge. This badge evolved again in 1972 just before the age of corporate kit design came in, Umbro being NCFCs first which was followed by many others. My favourite was the asics kit of 1992 because i used to have it when i was a kid and it is closely followed by the marmite of kits, the 1994 ‘pebbledash’, which was worn in the European Cup campaign that season.

norwich city 1907-08 (2) norwich city fc 1949-50  norwich city 1972  norwich city 1989  norwich city 1992 norwich city 2010-12

My ideas for the bike are to create a paintwork that replicates this history and merges it with traditions of cycle design. Some early sketch ideas are shown below.

I am also thinking about creating a new head badge for the bike which would create a new logo for a Canary Cycling Club, obviously made up, but there are plenty of clubs in Norfolk as it is great cycling terrain being so flat.

Some people have suggested that the original logo is something to do with this local brand, which preceded the Football club by a few years, so something could be done to use the red from this logo as a nod in that direction.

I messed about with a dwg file i found on the internet of the existing badge to make these two new compositions, so anything is possible really!

I’ve been included as part of the inaugral group of exhibitors who will be represented by a new gallery called Dainow & Dainow. It has been set up to promote and sell the work of young architectural designers in high quality editioned prints. My work from the British Centre project has been selected alongside another piece of more abstract drawing which was part of my research in 5th year.

Other exhibitors are an internation selection of graduates and students and the work is of an exceptional standard which vary in style, method and character to complement each other very well as a group of drawings.

The launch night was on Thursday and was incredibly busy, so very good PR work must have been done by all to make it such a fun night and it was great to see so much interest in all the work on display.

I have had a few more attempts at printing now, and its proving very fun. A full image set of the results can be seen on flickr here.

I used a few techniques to experiment how you can make an image, my favourite is very quick and fun to do which is basically trial and error. It was inspired partly from a recent BBC program on Matisse which talked about his cutout paintings which involved making large sheets of painted colour which were then torn or cut with scissors to make a collage image on a canvas.

This was all the result of his declining health and being confined to his bed or wheelchair, but the technique is a joy to pursue as it requires instant compositional decisions and is a great chance to explore hands on craft rather than computer based designing. It is also very well suited to the stencil based designs required for screenprinting, so i made a series of prints with a ‘set of shapes’ which were cut out from an A3 sheet of card. The first composition became a face, initially because of the balance between the linear pieces and the circular piece which created a partner hole in its parent.

After placing the image once on the page, i began the next stage of composition which was to re colour and change the meaning of the image by rotating and superimposing it on the page.

The second composition that i made from the shapes became a rocket, which i added detail to with a handrawn circular element. These were fairly abstract at first…

but a slight incline in the orientation and it instantly became some kind or spaceshuttle!

I’ve been learning to screenprint recently at the Printclub in Dalston. I went on one of their short courses which teaches you how to set up artwork, prep screens and apply emulsion, expose the screen and then print onto various media. Having loved the workshop after playing around with some simple ideas i decided to join up for a months membership so i could use their beds and storage areas.

My first print was inspired by the cycle trip last summer when we visited corb buildings and drank local wine.

inspiration from ronchamp…

…le Modular

…and kraftwerk

full print

i got one of them framed for my mum to hang on her wall

these are some details of the print

Just returned from 2 weeks cycling in France from Paris to Marseilles to visit some of Corb’s famous projects. Having never really been educated about his work aside from tutors mentioning them in passing it was fascinating to see them in the flesh before reading much about them, presumably the opposite for most making the pilgrimage to his projects. My knowledge extended as far as his 5 points and the Villa Savoye  which demonstrated them and also the modular system of proportioning. As part of this recession busting holiday/field trip we also visited the Molitor apartments he lived in and designed, Firminy, Ronchamp, La Tourette and the Unite in Marseilles. We are currently editing some film footage which will make a short about the trip.

This summer I have been working on a second outdoor classroom project with Handspring Design who were consultants for the original project as they are residents of the Sawmill site in Ecclesall Woods. The new commission was won by Handspring from a Sheffield City Council open competition and as part of their proposal they proposed using some students from the University run project I was a part of to continue our education.

We have spent the summer discussing designs possibilities with the timber specialists at the Shepherds Wheel site and also consulting with the council team and local groups with interest in the ancient listed monument which has until recently been running as a museum. The outdoor classroom is part of a regeneration of the entire site which includes dredging and resealing the milldam wall and clearing the banks to uncover more of the Mill’s character.

Our site is a sloping area to the rear of the mill which includes an outdoor toilet. Part M access for the entire site is essential so we have worked on refining a landscaping strategy which will make the most of the small site but also climb to the upper level that the toilet sits at.

My thesis project was awarded the silver medal at RIBA Yorkshire’s student awards in Sheffield this summer. To see the press release visit the RIBA website here.

logo

To see the review of our School’s summer show click here

Perhaps a slightly enigmatic review as it tries to give constructive criticism alongside a context for the future of the School, it is a good piece of publicity for an institution that will always suffer from its location in the north and thus an enduring definition of a provincial agenda. It is good to see that we have at least got a review though in comparison to last year where there was no mention of the exhibition in either BD or the AJ. The student led team focused on publicity and publishing this summer will have hopefully taught the school a lesson in the value of assigning funding to raise the profile of the school to support the graduating students. The fact that there is no shortage of applicants to the school seems to have clouded the issue that there needs to still be a annual presentation of the research and design work at a national level beyond a 4 week exhibition.

To see Studio 1 at the exhibition click here

This looks like it is going to be spectacular, hopefully at the level of Pans Labaryth rather than the tired imaginations found in the Harry Potter franchise. Spike Jonze, who made some of the best music videos of the last 15 years and also directed ‘Being John Malcovich’ and ‘Adaptation’, has been faily quiet in recent years whilst his comparable contemporaires such as Michel Gondry and Wes Anderson have continued to direct new feature length productions. So this new film promises to be a return to the quirky style and fun that he has previously shown in both 3 minute shouty beastie boy format and also 2 hour entangled charlie kaufman narrative.  The film is due out for Christmas in the UK.

I stumbled on Martin Firrell’s (http://www.martinfirrell.com) work today whilst looking through an old copy of Creative Review and it seemed to strike a few similarities to what I have been thinking about recently and also our Sheffield provisional construction.

His work appears projected, printed or placed in urban environments as public art. The work is predominantely carefully composed captions or statements that he sees as ‘life-affirming interventionist pieces’ which cover topics from climate change to the Iraq war. The obvious similarity with our sheffield cinema is the media and technique of getting the messages into public space. It is an idea that has been tested before in more permanent ways and with varying levels of design and success such as the new poems around large Sheffield buildings in super size font and fragmented verse on apartment balconies and ironmongery. Firrell himself said in the interview from 3 years ago that his dream job would be to work with the manhole covers for london sewers which shows a move to these more permanent creations and away from transient installations that fade in and out.

600px-mfroyaloperahouse1.jpg

2.jpg

However the idea of permanent installations interests me less aspart of the excitement of our sheffield cinema was the uncertainty of how long we would be able to work in a place and how many people would see it in that time. This made the process as well as the product into an engaging exercise and it was due to our impulsive arrangements and decisions. It could also be argued that what we were doing became more visible to people as it was never constant and had to searched for, dug out and found.

“I put a picture up on a wall. Then I forget there is a wall. I no longer know what is behind this wall…I also forget the picture, I no longer look at it, I no longer know how to look at it…Pictures efface walls. But walls kill pictures. So we need continually to be changing, either the wall or the picture, to be forever putting other pictures up on the walls, or else constantly moving the picture from one wall to another.” Georges Perec, Species of spaces and other pieces

“Art has a tremendous power to charge architecture and change our understanding of space, but that is usually limited in the way that people relate to art in their own homes. In a gallery context shows open and close and the art changes, and our understating of the space transforms along with it. At home, on the other hand, most people don’t change their art.”
John Pawson, Themes and Projects

Hector, University of Edinburgh’s new toy

I was reading an article in the paper during the week about a new superduper computer that The University of Edinburgh has recently finished and how shiny and powerful it is and how it ranks internationally to other machines (apparently it comes 17th in the world). The article also talked about the possible uses of such a machine and what new modelling could be achieved which led me to look up a website mentioned (www.top500.org incredibly geeky let me tell you)

Here there were all kinds of ideas about how you can make your own supercomputer with off the shelf products like Playstations if only you had them time. Also mentioned was the truly interdependent method that was used to crack the humane genome where thousands of people registered their computers on-line and downloaded a bit of software that allowed the Cambridge University people to access their machine and use it as part of a massive network of computers simultaneously. This allowed them to get massive amounts of processing power to work for them just by using the internet.

Apparently a similar but illegal technique is used by the Russian mafia to make money from online companies. They harness innocent computers in the same way but without permission by use of Trojan viruses that are stealth downloads from ‘dodgy’ sites. They then use their new multi-nodal supercomputer to hack a company website or repeatedly log on and off to make it crash and then demand a pay-off to make them stop. Allegedly this was down to online betting companies over the World Cup period.

All this seems so similar to Douglas Adams’ vision of a computer so complex that even people were part of its analytical process as life itself was the subject of the calculation. So not a huge amount to do with buildings, architecture, urban space or even mapping really, but very interdependent nonetheless.

I would say that i saw this over the Christmas break by chance, but truth be told i saw it ages ago and something reminded me of it, maybe blade runner’s recent re-release. Anyway, the film is set in the dizzying year of 2002 and is about a new form of holiday entertainment where you go to a resort and live a week with robots doing whatever you want. This scene shows how they pick what theme you will have for your holiday by ‘looking directly into your brain’!-queue amusing machinery with flashing lights and 70’s special effects. The predecessor to this film, ‘Westworld’ 1973 was the first film to use computer digitised images in a feature film to show the view of one of the robots.

Some of the ideas of reality and control over personal and collective experience which are used in this film are shared and represented by many other productions such as ‘Blade Runner’, ‘2001’, ‘1984’, ‘Total Recall’ etc. It could be said that the ideas in many sci-fi films of recent times can be boiled down to the basic human concern of man vs machine and the philosophical question of what conscious thought is.

Another theme that occurred to me watching this clip is the way it has been created. The mediation of an idea or process from one place through a system of different technologies and onto endless other iterative uses and places could be likened to that of a mapping of a place, or an architectural drawing.

The script was written, actors assembled and acted, the director directed and then edited, the film was released and the audience watched, it was then shown again and again on television as more people watched, someone videoed the TV and then posted it on you-tube, more people watched, I post it here and then on it goes from there.

Each time it changes a little as the process or technology it is going through distorts it, like an engineer would when commenting on the reality of an architects sketch, or a planning committee might to a submission.

This treads into the area i am interested in exploring this year with the idea of the mediated public realm and whether there really is anything public about it any more. I am concerned with the way we experience space and the mechanisms that hinder our relationships with reality. This could be blamed generally on the capitalist society that has evolved and its omnipresence in our lives with ideas ranging from 2d advertising and branding through to the way we think and work.

The interdependence of people in their everyday lives whether it be an act of shopping, working or relaxing means that there really is no idea of personal experience anymore either. Even the idea of you as a person is effected by the clothes you wear, where you are from, who you know, what you do for work. It would be interesting to investigate if there was a way of breaking down some of these barriers to work on a more basic level where the interdependence is simplified so the public as individuals can regain their often mentioned ‘realm’.

Maybe a starting point could be to implement devices that filmmakers use to create a timeline that tells the story the way they want it told. Examples like Tarrentino jumbling chronology and ‘Memento’ playing sections backwards could be rethought as architectural interventions, preliminary constructions in urban space.

“the poetic act has no past, at least no recent past, in which its preparation and appearance could be followed” Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

t1_cityofglass.jpg

karasik_city-of-glass1.jpg

Having not read either the original Paul Auster trilogy, of which City of Glass was the first, or this graphic novel adaptation which I found, I am unsure which to start with. It seems natural to start with the pure words and powerful narrative which the novel is described as so you can then form your own images and characters from what the author has given you for clues, and thus you pay attention to every detail to further describe the sketches in your mind. But what if you began with the graphic novel, the adaptation. What would differ in the experience and can you compare one to the other as ‘better’ or ‘worse’.

This in essence is the question that has troubled lovers of the written word since the Daguerreotype and Calotype processes were invented to create frozen images of life with the camera. The now commonplace discussion after a film adaptation of a book is released is does the experience compare, does it live up to the book, are the actors and director doing the original work justice? How relevant are these questions though as they are fundamentally different products, albeit about the same thing.

The world we are living in today is an image saturated envrionment. Images catch the eye and are more easliy remembered than advertising copy, even when spoken or sung. This of course leads to an industry striving to create the most unique, memorable images or scenes for mixed media campaigns and these creations pour out into our lives as we pass around, through, under and above them. These images become the spaces we inhabit, they are the shouty shouty man ranting about ‘cillit BANG’ which defens our domestic home; they are kate moss lounging along the gable end of our terrace.

But has this saturation become such that we except it and see it as normal now, we have lived with it for long enough for it to become uninteresting, we expect it and thus cease to notice it. Just as the Perec quote from the previous blog highlighted the idea of the permanent adornment of walls as an invisible exercise, especially in the domestic space, so the advertising world are stuggling to make the impact they had maybe 20 or 30 years ago when the density of all this was much lower.

Can we then move on to think about what this means for the narrative, the use of words and writing to describe space more emotively. The graphic novel adaptation of Auster’s book is certainly a work of great skill and design, but can it ever have the same impact to people who live with images of every concievable kind all around them demanding attention and of which they take no notice. Do we now not need a different approach to space so we can understand it and allow us to see and use it as it really is.

This is how space begins, with words only, signs traced on the blank page. To describe space; to name it, to trace it, like those portolano-makers who saturated the coastlines with the names of harbours, the names of capes, the names of inlets, until in the end the land was only separated from the sea by a continuous ribbon of text. Is the aleph, that place in Borges from which the entire world is visible simultaneously, anything other than an alphabet?” Georges Perec, Species of spaces and other pieces

This is a brilliantly realised film that was made by making over 18,000 photocopies of the filmed footage to create the xeroxed effect. The subject matter is a very simple idea but worked through with admirable vigour and style which earned an oscar nomination. Similar to ideas Michel Gondry likes to dabble in with his music videos and films about mental disintergration and mania but also visual tricks and surreal imagery.