Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Friday, October 26, 2007

InterSections 07: 3 - Lines, words, pictures and sounds

Notes from the talk by Peter Higgins of Land Design Studio, addressing the question, "Does the convergence of architecture, narrative and communication media create a new genre?"

- A stream of sub-conscious throughts

- Contexts are important when considering the built environment

- They used to make films about town planners...

- Legacy of Archigram, and the Architectural Association: hand-drawn pictures, with an incredible impact of the world of architecture

- BBC theatre and scripted space: the importance of working with a script, not just a brief: structural narratives

- Theatre: upstage - where you can play with time and space; downstage - where you must obey the laws of physics, and describe reality

- Imagination: Brandscape - Sell cars, brands, communications: a user out there that could be profiled

- Architecture, storytelling and communication = destination (The Land philosophy)

- Placemaking: cities have lost their souls through segregation. Can be revived through exhibition design. But the term placemaking is up for grabs? Disney through Celebration are doing it.

- Chernobyl is a destination too: 5,000 visitors too

- Masterplanning: a diagram of what? (Servantplanning is a better term)

- Olympics: about infrastructure, land use, traffic planning. Legacy is still indeterminate. Nobody knew what to do with the Dome when it closed. So, a legacy park?

- Outside in - no programme, no chance: Jewish Museum, Berlin - scar on the landscape. The diaspora's story, just chucked in. How was the programme developed without understanding of the story, and the story of the architecture behind it?

- Public sector: charged to manage, not to imagine

- Client responsibility: BBC Salford and Portland Place. But lost opportunities, at the two sites. Masterplanned to death. Why was a brief written by a project manager and not a scriptwriter? Commercial imperatives?

- Why isn't Selfridges Birmingham a science centre? But will a developer buy it? Would change the visitor profile of the mall. Can only justify emotional impact of a project if can show commercial impact.

- God is in the detail: People are not - McLaren Internatikonal, Woking.

- Who curates urban media? branded facades of buildings; santisied, for our proctection. Who authors this? Use as part of embedded narrative of a city?

- The geographer - context is king. Who has excited me:

1) Patrick Geddes and photos of Edinburgh
2) Mecannoo, Library, Delft
3) Ito - Tower of the Wind
4) Pei - Louvre: juxtapose shopping, and learning, and art
5) FOA - Yokohama terminal
6) Diller & Scoffido - Blur
7) London Eye
8) Gateshead bridge
9) Paxton's crystal palace
10)Grant Associates, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore - stories of horticulture and biodiversity
11) Conisbee - Urban Jungle, King's Cross - was never going to happen

- The artist, at architectural scale: Eliasson's weather project - this sort of project could be used in cities, taken on the road. Also Heatherwick - what is he? No one's sure.

- The auter/scenographer: Robert Lepgae, Richard Hudson, Jim Clay (deconstructs the script), Ken Adam, Artichoke (Sultan's Elephant), Clough Ellis (Port Merion, Prisoner). Where are the auters in our city centres?

- The Digeratti: Jenny Holzer, Art + Com (Berlin, wrapping Central in responsive LEDs), Urban Screens (

- The entrepreneur: Powell Tuck - Bloomberg London (cultured, branded and held together), Roland Paoletti and curating Jubilee Line extension stations - put together architects who would sit together in the projects); Eden and Tim Smit, Grimshaw (visitors centre while being built)

- Review/The press: architectural journalists review buildings with the architect, two weeks before it opens. Less understanding of how building will be used, as a mechanism. We need better jounalism about the built environment; review buildings one year on. Plus make really good TV too

- Research/academia - CSM course, on narrative in place

- Re-value procurement

- Case studies:
1) Dome: play zone there; wrote own brief: an ironic arcade of possibilities, anticipating Nintendo Wii, setting a standard for interactivity
2) UK Expo Pavillion Japan '05: partner with National History Musuem, how have British scientists learnt from nature. Pieces of theatre; communications when you go home as well.

- Who makes place and space? Not just architects and engineers. Needs intellectual sustainability; or interlopers.

- How do interlopers break in? Through writing, teaching, media. Do a programme, just with Google Earth and a filled studio. Engage with city planning, articulate a language we can confront politicians and planners with. Contacts too - right place and right time. Need to write about it, articulate it.

- Places and spaces which have content, and those which are content-less. Also seems to be a divide between design with content, and that which is empty? Architecture wraps content. It drifts where it starts to become less determinate - buildings where the functionality is less fixed. It's the grey areas that need to be influenced: shopping centres - buy and learn at the same time. A science centre, dedicated to the science of shopping.

- Take a piece of the building away with you? A souvenir of the building, the actual building.



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