Going Underground*

Going Underground*

To me, the Moscow Metro of the 1930s, the London Underground of the 1930s and the New York subway form a subterranean “public transport troika” (excuse the Russian pun) of sorts. The station architecture and infrastructure of each system is fascinating in their own right; characterised by flamboyance (Moscow), modernism (London) and just plain urban grit (New York).

Remember – a keen interest in the architecture of underground metropolitan rail systems doesn’t mean you’re a train-spotter! Let’s have a look at Moscow first.

Sumptuous Moscow Metro (Part 1)

Undergoing a bit a refurbishment phase of late, the Moscow Metro is a stunning example of architectural and engineering public infrastructure. Here’s a video introduction, for those who haven’t had the benefit of visiting Moscow yet…

Continue reading “Going Underground*”


3 Degrees of Jean Nouvel

3 Degrees of Jean Nouvel

This week we have the “3 degrees of Jean Nouvel”, a thinly-veiled attempt at a thematic post set out in three parts; The Architect, The Botanist and The Photographer.

Jean Nouvel (photograph by Thomas Mayer)

The Architect : Jean Nouvel
Every architect’s favourite Dr. Evil look-a-like, Jean Nouvel, reveals all in a personal interview. Learn about his seasonal dressing habits, his small “pets”, and his love of silence. Apart from that, he does get to express why his architecture is so evocative:

there is the desire to analyze and understand the world but this should not prevent us from expressing something, from inventing, and in that sense ‘utopia’ is a part of our work.

More on the the man behind the utopian architecture here. Alternatively, have a look at a slideshow of Nouvel buildings by a bunch of talented photographers.

The Botanist : Patrick Blanc
Next is an interview by PingMag about the amazing vertical green walls and gardens by Nouvel collaborator, Patrick Blanc, a French botanist. Blanc worked with Nouvel on the vertical gardens of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, however, the main landscape design is by Gilles Clément. Whilst these “living walls” are intriguing, there is some discussion about their environmental viability and general maintenance. although it’s hard to argue against Blanc’s objective; “The city needs urban nature. There are masses of places one can create greenery without needing to take up large spaces.”[1] Takes me back to university and The Granite Garden published in almost a quarter of a century ago.

A photo essay on the landscape of the Quai Branly museum is available here.

The Photographer : Thomas Mayer
A huge gallery of photographs from an archive spanning 35 years by professional German photographer, Thomas Mayer. His archive is well worth visiting as there are over 10,000 architectural photos alone, including buildings by Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Peter Zumthor, Richard Meier and of course, Nouvel.

Torre Agbar, Barcelona

Mayer’s Torre Agbar set shows the building rising from the gritty urban surrounds of Barcelona like a umm… well, let’s just say looks a bit suspect. Nouvel’s description of the Torre Agbar (aka. Agbar Group tower) is a little more poetic; “a distant echo of old Catalan obsessions, carried on the winds that blow in from Montserrat” but, really, it must be a homage to his love of Cuban cigars.

Also check out the official Torre Agbar site which has a wealth of information – all embedded in Flash unfortunately (gee it does horrible things to text legibility).

DCM’s Brisbane Square

Brsibane Square by Denton Corker Marshall

Characterised by signature Denton Corker Marshall (aka. DCM) design elements (grids, yellow ‘sticks’, blades and fluro colours), the 37 storey tower is a welcome improvement to the bland Brisbane skyline and downtown.

Up close, the detailing is typically crisp and efficient – as you would expect from one of Australia’s elite architectural practices.

The building houses Brisbane City Council’s offices and city library, tenants (denoted by floors above the yellow ‘sticks’) along with podium retail facilities and a substantial public plaza.

More Photos or View a Slideshow

Jacques Herzog, Urban Photos & MoPo 2007

Mid-Week Linkage No.2

The 503

Jacques Herzog Interview | There’s worthwhile interview with one half of the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron on why they don’t have website (everyone else does it for them by writing about H&M on the Internet apparently), their stadiums and football. Of particular interest is the “photo essay” on Herzog & de Meuron which has some good pics of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Stadium (also this page) under construction, the Tate Modern Extension in London (which looks like a deconstructed Habitat ’67 by Moshe Safdie) and a bizarre Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg.
[via Archinect]


JPG Magazine | Both an website and a published magazine, JPG has been around since 2004 and each issue is thematic. The latest issue is titled “Street” and you can download the entire issue as a PDF (12mb) or just browse online. A small selection of stunning photographs from the Urban theme accompanies this post. 10 points for anyone correctly identifying the designers of the top and bottom photographs. A few more urban and architecture related photos here, here and here.

MoPo 2007 – redux | What started as a joke listing of the most popular architecture blogs of 2007, has now returned (a week later) with a more thorough list of the Top 25 individual and Top 25 collaborative blogs on architecture. This time, there is also an online poll if you want to push your favourite up the ladder. Who knows, next year maybe Arkhitekon.net will make the list!

Any suggestions for future mid-week linkage? Post a comment below or contact me by email.

The Pantheon, Rome

The Pantheon, Rome by Matt
The Pantheon, Rome (taken by Matt in 2002)

This photo is a favourite of mine, not because it shows the sunlight streaming through the oculus of The Pantheon but because the way the ‘grain’ of the film conveys an aged appearance.

Gotta love Kodachrome 100ASA (slide film)!