August 24, 2015

A Meander Into Architecture

After visiting the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal last month I’ve been swept away for hours in the process, history and mechanics of architecture. How fascinating the topic of constructing, designing, engineering and thinking about building the environments we live in?

Prior to my trip to the CCA I had never read much about architecture, and so I knew (and still know!) very little about it. So it’s been a fun opportunity to think more closely about the architecture of the world that surrounds me and to dive into some interesting nooks and crannies of the internet…

What follow is a collection of interesting links & articles I’ve found in my wanderings:

The SAAL Experiment

The Canadian Centre for Architecture exhibit on SAAL was the thing that kicked off the last month of exploration into architecture so I suppose this has to be the first thing I link to. The notion of architecture as a symbol for revolution is fascinating.

Political upheaval leaves cracks in the foundations of a society. But alongside the loss of stability, sometimes radical change (at the end of a fascist regime, for example) also creates a space for radical experimentation – which can require dropping social or professional boundaries and just “doing it together”.

One such unique project in 1970s Portugal was called SAAL. It may have been short-lived, but it marked a fundamental shift in the evolution of architecture as social practice.

Archizines - a collection of architecture zines

I want to subsrcibe to every single one of these…

Soiled - an architecture zine

Found via the above Archizines…

SOILED is a periodical of architectural stories that makes a mess of the built environment and the politics of space. Our stories are unexpected, accessible, and they instigate mischief! This means a close and serious—and sometimes humorous—examination of the mundane and in-between spaces we inhabit or traverse on a daily basis; a license to boldly, creatively, and irreverently challenge conventional architectural interventions and interpretations.


A constant source of joy in my timeline - Darran Anderson curates and tweets fascinating links about imaginary, real and forgotten architectural spaces. Be sure to buy Imaginary Cities a book of creative non-fiction around the myths and realities of cities.


This Sub-Reddit devoted to renderings and imagined cities is incredible.

Do you want to be an Architect?

A walkthrough for prospective students interested in studying architecture from a working architect. Plenty of other jems on this blog too aorund what it actually feels like to be a working architect.

Captive Atria & Public Spaces

The ever-thoughtful Anil Dash shines a light on captive atria - semi-public spaces…

In 1961, New York City adopted a new zoning program that allowed commercial buildings to exceed the constraints which zoning regulations required of them if they made accommodations for use as Privately-Owned Public Spaces.

Artificial Intelligence in the Architecture of Games

Games form a major part of our present. Currently dominated by computer games, their audiovisual language along with the interaction processes associated with them have crept their way into our everyday lives in ways we are not even aware of. Yet, these games would be rendered irrelevant without space, or a context in which, on which or at which they are based.

An Interview with Ken Wong - Designer of Monument Valley

Of course any discussion of architecture and video games has to mention Monument Valley. Those early architectural sketches tho…

The Museum of Unnatural History

Follow along with this one at home - there’s a new museum of climate change coming and no one is quite sure how to build it. Not only that but these early concept sketches are to die for:

The Secret Lives of the People in Architectural Renderings

Wow - I wish I had a chance to see this art show. Exploring the history and trends in architectural renderings and the things that are non-architecture in them (such as people!).

There’s a reason for these bizarre, nonsensical additions—ooooh, balloons!—to these future landscapes. Architecture is becoming less about a single walled-off phallus on the horizon, and more about parks and public spaces which engage with the city. As these types of projects evolve, they’re not as much about bombastic design as they are about community-focused improvements, so the people and how they’re actually using the space become even more important.

Elektrograd: Rusted Blood by Warren Ellis

A 10,000 word short story set in a fascinating architectural backdrop. As Warren Elllis said “A science fiction crime story about theoretical architecture, AI and vintage robotics.” Here’s an exceprt:

There was a crest of pyrotechnic sparks, and a great cough of steam, and the umbilicals detached from the underside of the building, falling back into the foundation.

Free of its final pinions, the building flexed its arms and stood all the way up. And, shaking the last of the snow from its shoulders, it began to move, rolling out to the wide road before it.

Behind it, another apartment building shook the snow from its shoulders. The walking district was awakening.

Defensive Architecture: Keeping Poverty Unseen

A sobering read. This gets to the root of why architecture is so important - it’s everywhere! And largely it goes unnoticed but the consequences are huge…

From ubiquitous protrusions on window ledges to bus-shelter seats that pivot forward, from water sprinklers and loud muzak to hard tubular rests, from metal park benches with solid dividers to forests of pointed cement bollards under bridges, urban spaces are aggressively rejecting soft, human bodies.

How to see infrastructure: a guide for 7 billion primates

Verging into infrastructure not architecture but frankly where do you draw the line?

Perhaps because infrastructure wields great power and lacks visibility, it is of particular concern to artists and writers who bring the mysterious influencing machines into public discourse through their travels and research.

Slow, flexible & cheap

A fascinating exploration into building a dome kit - how the protoypes evolved and valuable insights into building flexible structures as opposed to permanent rigid structures. Architecture and process together.

What did I miss? I’m going to keep updating this list as I find new and interesting things to read about architecture, infrastructure and the hidden forces building the world around us.

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This post was written by Tom Critchlow - blogger and independent consultant. Subscribe to join my occassional newsletter: