About Buildings + Cities

By Luke Jones & George Gingell Discuss Architecture, History and Culture

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A podcast about architecture, buildings and cities, from the distant past to the present day. Plus detours into technology, film, fiction, comics, drawings, and the dimly imagined future. With Luke Jones and George Gingell.

Episode Date
36 —  Bernard Rudofsky & 'Architecture Without Architects'

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Bernard Rudofsky’s exhibition Architecture Without Architects at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1964 — and the fantastically successful book which followed it, have become an iconic polemic in support of the architectural ‘vernacular’. Ever-keen to play up his own iconoclastic distance from mainstream of architectural thought, Rudofsky would later claim that the idea was, at the time he proposed it, ‘simply not respectable.’ In hindsight though, the exhibition actually fits very clearly within a broader ‘return’ to an image of architecture’s pre-industrial roots among the postwar avant gardes all over the world.

Architecture Without Architects definition of vernacular architecture is (typically) idiosyncratic. It contains more or less everything outside the canon of architectural history, and free from entanglement in industrial supply chains. There are 3000-year-old rock dwellings, bamboo houses under construction. The images in the catalogue are carefully paired — the hollowed-out tufa pinnacles of Göreme in Turkey above a village of Apulian trulli — each one an ingenious conical pile of stones around a pitched circular chamber — mountains above and below. But what matters is that these houses, towns, and structures, the anonymous creations of these isolated and anonymous designers are presented, in the clarifying light of black and white photography, as a window into a world outside the prison of modernity — organic, communally unified and bizarrely and daringly creative.

We’re talking about Architecture Without Architects within the context of Rudofsky’s polymathic, crankish, sarcastic and wholly inimitable vision and career.

Music —  Eddie Dunstedter — ‘Dancing Tambourine (Pandereta)’ Dick McDonough and his Orchestra — ‘My Cabin of Dreams’ from archive.org Athenian Mandolin Quartet — ‘Cacliz March’ Chris Zabriskie — ‘The Dark Glow of Mountains’ From the Free Music Archive

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Jun 13, 2018
35 — 'Playtime' & 'Mon Oncle' — Modern life in Tativille

Jacques Tati's 'Mon Oncle' (1957) and 'Playtime' (1967) playfully dramatise the clash between old and new in the fast-changing cities of post-war France. Nostalgia, alienation, the absurdity of modern life and work, play, rhythm, rebellion and the curious affordances of materials and everyday items... serious fun, with silly noises.

Hope you're all enjoying the summer weather and speak soon!

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May 07, 2018
34 — Adolf Loos's 'Ornament and Crime' — Bathroom Kink

Adolf Loos’s essay ‘Ornament and Crime’ (1910) is considered the classic modernist polemic against the frills and folderols of the established arts of the day.

We're in the city of Freud — and the neurotic subtext is very close to the surface.

We discuss a little of Loos’s career as an architectural iconoclast, jersey fanatic, and pervert :-/

Then we go on to a more freeform discussion of ornament in the contemporary, during which we massively contradict ourselves several times.

We discussed — 

  • Freud Nietzsche Hegel Darwin
  • Louis Sullivan
  • Mrs Beeton
  • English Free Building — Hermann Muthesius
  • Peter Behrens
  • Karl Friedrich Schinkel
  • Joseph Maria Olbrich
  • Henry van der Velde
  • Joseph Hoffmann
  • Josephine Baker’s 'Banana Dance'
  • The black granite bathroom at Villa Karma
  • (On the subject of reprehensible characters) Albert Speer

Contemporary ornamenters — 

  • Caruso St John
  • Farshid Moussavi & her book on facades

Music — 

  • Victor Sylvester and his Ballroom Orchestra ‘Vienna, City of my Dreams’
  • The Three Suns ‘Alt Wien’ (1949)
  • Philharmonic Orchestra Berlin ‘Von Wien durch die Welt'
  • Oldbrig's zither trio ‘Wien bliebt Wien’
    All from archive.org

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Apr 10, 2018
33 — Le Corbusier — 7 — Early Mass Housing

In this episode we explore in two early schemes for mass housing, at Pessac and in Stuttgart.

Among many other things, we talked about —

  • Bourneville
  • New Lanark
    - Arnold circus
    - Bruno taut’s horseshoe estate
    - Pessac
    - Henri Frugès
    - The Weissenhofseidlung
    - Margarete Schutte-Lihotsky
    - Hannes Meyer’s essay ‘The New World’

Music & Interlude — - Harry Ross ‘Get Me an Apartment - Part 1’ from archive.org

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Mar 25, 2018
32 — Le Corbusier – 6 – Urbanism — Let's Demolish Paris (Again)

The concluding part of our discussion of ‘Urbanism’ (1925) — we look at the proposals for a Contemporary City for Three Million (1923), and the notorious Plan Voisin (1925). For Le Corbusier’s detractors, these are really the crimes of the century. We did our best to think of something nice to say about them.

Music —
Dave Gabriel ‘Midst of their morning chimes’
Oneohtrix Point Never ‘Nobody Here’

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Mar 05, 2018
31 – Le Corbusier – 5 – Urbanism – Of Men & Asses

The first of a two part episode exploring Le Corbusier’s infamous and much-derided urban proposals, exhibited in the Esprit Nouveau Pavilion in 1925. In this part, we’re conducting a close reading of ‘Urbanism’ (sometimes known as ‘The City of Tomorrow and its Planning’).

We mostly stayed on topic but there are allusions to

  • Camillo Sitte
  • Augustus Welby Pugin’s ‘Comparisons’

Music —

  • Glass Boy ‘WELP’
  • Lovira ‘All Things Considered’
  • Loyalty Freak Music ‘Once More With You’ and ‘Waiting TTTT’
  • Three Chain Links ‘Heavy Traffic’
  • All from the Free Music Archive

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Feb 13, 2018
30 – Franz Kafka's America

Franz Kafka’s first, and least-finished, novel is an imaginary journey around the USA (a country he never visited). Written in 1912, it’s a fantasy of America at a time when seemed, to Europeans at least, to be the most futuristic (and mysterious) place on Earth.

Kafka’s fascination with machinery, technology and engineering is on display in ‘Amerika’, in which the young Karl Rossmann finds himself cut adrift in a land of glass elevators, miles-long traffic jams, endless hotels, filled with delirious extremes of luxury, poverty and inventiveness.

The edition we read is the current Penguin translation by Michael Hoffman.

We made brief reference to Joseph Roth, and to Neuromancer’s ‘Villa Straylight’.

Thanks for listening and Happy New Year!


  • David Rose and his Orchestra / Anton Dvorak ‘Humoresque’ (1946) archive.org
  • Felix Arndt / Anton Dvorak ‘Humoresque’ (1917) at archive.org
  • Dvorak, Casals, Szell, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra ‘Cello Concerto’ I / II (1937) archive.org
  • Dvorak, Szell, Cleveland Orchestra ’Slavonic Dances’ 2, 4 & 5 (1947) archive.org
  • Efrem Zimbalist; Sam Chotzinoff; Zimbalist ‘Hebrew Melody and Dance’ (1912) archive.org
  • Riccardo Martin; Dvorak; Victor Orchestra ‘Als die alte Mutter’ (1910) archive.org
  • Ukrainska Orchestra Pawla Humeniuka ‘Kozak-Trepak’ from the Free Music Archive
  • Jack Perry & the Light Crust Doughboys ‘Oklahoma Waltz’ (1947) youtube

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Jan 14, 2018
29 – Le Corbusier – 4 – At Home He Feels Like A Purist

For our Christmas episode, we're discussing the early Purist villas!

Knowing the right people, and a relentless programme of self-publicity yielded a steady stream of clients for Le Corbusier in the early 1920s, and allowed him to explore an architectural complement to Purism, most notably in a pair of houses for art-loving ‘batchelors’ — the Ozenfant Studio and Villa La Roche. We found time to discuss (probably with unwarranted levity, sorry) the death of Le Corbusier’s father George, and his troubled marriage to Yvonne Gallis.

Topics include —  - Maison Citrohan
- Villa Ker-ka-re
- Studio Ozenfant

  • Villa La Roche
    - Allusions to the English House and Pliny episodes 01 & 05, and 02 Strawberry Hill (Horace Walpole)
  • The Architectural promenade
    - The Hôtel Particulier
    - CN Ledoux
    - Ryue Nishizawa & SANAA
    - Domesticity, Layered Space and the ‘Buffer Zone’
  • Villa Le Lac in Corseaux
    - The 'involuntary euthanasia' of his father George
    - Luigi Snozzi
  • Yvonne Gallis

Music —

  • Emile Petti and his cosmopolitans — Cocktail Hour at the Savoy Plaza
  • Joseph C Smith’s Orchestra ‘Oh, Frenchy!’
  • Charles Trenet ‘En ecoutant mon cour chanter’
  • Jean Sablon ‘J’attendrai’ all from archive.org

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Dec 23, 2017
28 – Le Corbusier – 3 – Towards a New Architecture

A new epoch has begun! Le Corbusier’s ‘discovery’ is that the style of future architecture is to be found new inventions of the machine age — planes, cars, ocean liners. But ‘Towards a New Architecture’ is, at its heart, an argument for a fusion of timeless values and contemporary technology — provocatively encapsulated in its juxtaposition of a sports car and the Parthenon.

We went through the book in order, focussing on the chapters:

  • The Engineer’s Aesthetic
  • Three Reminders to Architects
    - Regulating Lines
  • Eyes Which Do Not See
  • The Pure Creation of the Mind
  • Architecture or Revolution

Mentioning along the way: LC’s early books

  • ‘Etude sur le mouvement d’art décoratif en Allemagne’, ‘Apres Le Cubisme’, ‘L’Art decoratif d’aujourdhui’, ‘La peinture moderne’
  • Adolf Loos
  • Piranesi’s ‘Campo Marzo’
  • The Ecole des Beaux Arts
  • Poché as a heuristic
  • Christopher Alexander’s ‘A Pattern Language’
  • Rob Krier ‘Architectural Design’
  • Greek temples in Athens and Paestum
  • Michelangelo
  • Patrick Schumacher’s ’Autopoiesis of Architecture’
  • at the end I sort of talked rather half-heartedly about Full Luxury Communism

Music is by Lee Rosevere
From the albums ‘Music for Podcasts’ and ‘Music for Podcasts 2’ ‘Musical Mathematics’, ‘Biking in the park’, ‘Featherlight’, ‘Places Unseen’

The outdo is by Mde. Ed. Bolduc ‘J’ai un bouton sur la langue’ archive.org

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Dec 13, 2017
27 – Le Corbusier – 2 – Oyster and Breezeblock Years

We’re in Paris, 1917, where Charles-Edouard Jeanneret is making friends, thinking about sex (and writing enormous letters about it), designing the occasional mechanised abattoir / concrete garden terrace, going bankrupt, trying to sell concrete blocks to postwar society, inventing a new style of painting, launching a highly costly art magazine, and (finally!) acquiring the name under which he would become famous — Le Corbusier!

One of us had a very creaky chair in this episode. Also we were drinking again. Apologies for both.

We discussed — 

  • The breeze block plant at Alfortville
  • Societe d'Applications du Beton Arme
  • a Slaughterhouse at Challuy, near Nevers
  • (for no good reason) Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’ (1906)
    - Unbuilt project for a dam
  • a Water Tower in Podensac
    - his meeting and collaboration with Amedée Ozenfant
    - Purism as a style in Art — the Tate has a good definition
    - Fernand Léger
    - L’Esprit Nouveau
  • Pierre Jeanneret

We’ve been reading — 

  • Nicholas Fox Weber ‘Le Corbusier: A Life’ (2008)
  • Jean-Louis Cohen ‘Le Corbusier: Le Grand’ (2014)
  • Oppositions 15-16 (1980)
  • Catherine de Smet ‘Le Corbusier: Architect of Books’ (2004)

Music —
Charles Trenet ‘Le Retour des Saisons’ archive.org
Victor Marching Bank ‘French Reel’ (1918) archive.org
Jean Sablon ‘Sur Les Quais de Vieux Paris’ (1941) archive.org
Vaughn Monroe and his Orchestra ‘The Last Time I Saw Paris’ (1940) archive.org

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Nov 27, 2017
26 – Le Corbusier – 1 – Have Formwork, Will Travel

We’re taking on the origin story of (for better or worse) the most important architect of the 20th century — Charles-Edouard Jeanneret aka Le Corbusier. His origins — petit bourgeois, Swiss, provincial — can make his eventual rise to world-enveloping notoriety and era-defining influence seem all the more unlikely. We’re digging into his childhood, family, education and travels as a young man before taking on a couple of early projects.

We discuss — 

  • La Chaux de Fonds
  • Charles L’Eplattanier, his teacher
  • Jugendstil & Art Nouveau

Early projects — 

  • Villa Fallet
  • Villas Stotzer & Jacquemet
  • Villa Jeanneret
  • Villa Favre-Jacot

Travels, and meetings with — 

  • Otto Wagner
  • Josef Hoffmann
  • Vienna Secession Building
  • Auguste Perret
  • Rue Franklin Apartments
  • Peter Behrens
  • Mount Athos

And a more detailed look at — 

  • Villa Schwob (including Colin Rowe’s ‘Mannerism and Modern Architecture’)
  • Maison Domino

We've been reading —

  • Nicholas Fox Weber ‘Le Corbusier: A Life’ (2008)
  • Jean-Louis Cohen ‘Le Corbusier: Le Grand’ (2014)
  • Oppositions 15-16 (1980)

Music — 
The final part of Beethoven’s 9th — the Ode to Joy

An excerpt from —  Mahler: Symphony No. 3: iii. Comodo. Scherzando. Ohne Hast from archive.org

Britt Brothers — ‘Alpine Milkman Yodel’ (1933) from archive.org

Thanks for listening!

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Nov 13, 2017
25 – Palace of the Soviets – Wedding Cake Stalinism

First announced in 1931, the project for the Palace of the Soviets in Moscow evolved into a staggeringly vast and bizarre proposal which stalled during WWII when only the foundations had been completed. A 400m tall neoclassical fantasy topped with a vast statue of Lenin; the Palace would probably, if completed, have still been the tallest building in the world in the year 2000. Forming a counterpart of sorts to our discussion of the Chicago Tribune — the Palace is another worldwide competition of the interwar period in which the battle over architectural style and ideology played out in the process of selection and development, as the old 1920s avant grade felt the ground shift under them and the ideology of Stalinist architecture began to solidify.

A couple of helpful listener corrections (here)[https://www.instagram.com/p/BbUxAq2FLaj/] (and here)[https://www.instagram.com/p/BbUxB0vlmnJ/]

We discussed — Joze Pleçnik Edwin Lutyens (neither in the competition)

Russian Avant-gardists — Ivan Leonidov Konstantin Melnikov Mosei Ginzburg

The League of Nations Competition entries of Le Corbusier & Hannes Meyer

Foreign modernists in Russia Ernst May

And the entries of —  Le Corbusier Walter Gropius Erich Mendehlson Hans Pölzig Auguste Perret

The winners —  Boris Iofan Vladimir Shchuko Hector Hamilton

Plus the later designs of — Ilya Golosov’s Vladimir Shchuko and Vladimir Gelfreikh Alabian, Kochar and Mordvinov’s Simbirtsev

Alexander Brodsky’s Reminiscences

Anatole Kopp ‘Foreign architects in the Soviet Union during the first two five-year plans’ Sonia Hoisington ‘Even Higher: The Evolution of the Palace of the Soviets’

Music —  ‘A1’ from the album ‘ΝΕΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΚΟΚΚΑΛΑ’ by Kοκκαλα, from the Free Music Archive ‘Bolshevik Leaves Home’ (1918) by D. Vasilev-Buglay, Demyan Bedniy Soviet National Anthem, Stalin version

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Oct 30, 2017
24.5 – Blade Runner 2049

Don’t listen if you haven’t seen the movie yet!

We discuss Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. It’s pretty formless and we forgot the names of most of the characters, actors, significant plot entities. You’ll get who we’re talking about it you’ve seen it.

We refer in passing to —  Moebius & Jodorowsky ‘The Incal’ Vladimir Nabokov ‘Pale Fire’ Robert Louis Stevenson ‘Treasure Island’

Outro —  Dharma — Plastic Doll (1982)

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Oct 23, 2017
24 – Blade Runner – Do You Like Our Owl?

As a postscript to our discussion of Cyberpunk in episodes 20-21, and vaguely looking ahead to the release of the upcoming sequel, we talked about Ridley Scott’s 1982 film ‘Blade Runner’.

We were really winging it on the research for this one and as a result it marks a high point for getting key facts completely wrong, including — the name of a key character (see if you can guess which one!), various attributions of ethnicity, dates, names, places, the ending of the book on which it’s based, and a bunch of other things. Oh well. I edited out what I could… some moments deserve to be lost in time & without any tears being shed over it…

Things we mentioned —  Nicholas Røeg Peter Sloterdijk's book ‘Terror from the Air' Dashiel Hammet’s ‘The Thin Man’ Akira Kurosawa ‘Stray Dog’ (again) Some great photos of the model shop for the film Caravaggio ‘The Calling of St Matthew’ Antony Burgess ‘A Clockwork Orange’ Richard Jeffries ‘After London’ Yvegeny Zamyatin ‘We’ (discussed in episode 3)  T.S. Eliot ‘The Wasteland' Johannes Vermeer Wilhelm Hammerschoi Jan van Eyck ‘The Arnolfini Portrait’ Vernon Shetley, Alissa Ferguson ‘Reflections in a Silver Eye: Lens and Mirror in ‘Blade Runner’, in Science Fiction Studies Mar 2001, Vol 28 Issue 1 Michel Haneke ‘Caché’

Music and sound effects are from the film.

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Sep 16, 2017
23 – Chicago Tribune – 2 of 2 – Honourable Mentions

We conclude our discussion of the 1922 Chicago Tribune competition, going through a few of the less favoured entries, and discussing how it’s been seen and understood in the years since. Apologies for some clipping on the audio – we’ve tried to edit most of it out but some is still left.

As before, you can see all the entries in this book

We discuss the entries of – Walter Gropius (197) Adolf Loos (196) Paul Gerhardt (159 & 160) Saverio Dioguardi (248) Vittorio Pino (252) Alfred Fellheimer & Steward Wagner (158) – the big pyramid Emile Pohle & Adolf Ott (200) – the bridge Walter Fischer (221) Bruno & Max Taut (231, 229) Gerhardt Schröder (228) Fritz Sackermann (225) Anonymous (281) 

Plus anonymous entries by –  Hans Scharoun Wassili Luckhardt

Manfredo Tafuri’s 'The Disenchanted Mountain' — published in ‘The American City’ (Cambridge, MIT Press, 1979)

Ludwig Hilberseimer’s unentered design

Hugh Feriss’s Envelope Drawings

Pier Vittorio Aureli’s ‘The Barest Form in which Architecture Can Exist’

The book of ‘Late Entries’ can be found here

Diana Agrest ‘Architectural Anagrams’ in Oppositions 11

Music includes Collins and Harlan ‘The International Rag’ King Olivers Creole Jazz Band ‘Just Gone’ …both from the Free Music Archive and first heard on the excellent Antique Phonograph Music Program

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Sep 02, 2017
22 – Chicago Tribune – 1 of 2 – World's Most Beautiful Office Building

In 1922, to coincide with its 75th birthday, the Chicago Tribune set out to endow the city with ‘the world’s most beautiful office building’. The results of the design competition have been seen in retrospect less as ‘the ultimate in civic expression’ than as an expression of aesthetic and theoretical crisis within architecture. Hugely varied, bizarre, ingenious and occasionally grotesque, the entries provide a window into a discipline in transformation, as well as into the politics of a new American metropolis.

Apologies for some slight issues with the sound.

A book showing all the competition entries has been uploaded to Monoskop — if you download it you will be able to see what we’re talking about… https://monoskop.org/File:TribuneTowerCompetitionvol1_1980.pdf

We discuss the entries by John Mead Howells & Raymond Hood (plate 1) Eliel Saarinen (13) Holabird & Roche (20) John Wynkoop (90) Ross & Sloan (84) Hornbostel & Wood (91) Daniel Burnham (44) Jarvis Hunt (118) William Drummond (134) Sjostrom & Eklund (190)

Music includes — Arthur Fields ‘How Ya Gonna Keep Em Down on the Farm After They’ve Seen Paree?’ Jockers Dance Orchestra ‘The Royal Vagabond’ The Columbians ‘Just Like a Rainbow’ Victor Dance Orchestra ‘The Great One Step’ …all from the Free Music Archive and first heard on the excellent Antique Phonograph Music Program

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Aug 10, 2017
21 – William Gibson's 'Neuromancer' – 2 of 2 – A Haunted House in Space

Leaving the waste-strewn Earth behind, we follow the team on their run all the way to its conclusion in orbit. On the way, we cast our eyes over the weed-smelling shanty-hulk of Zion, the sunlit Condé Naste-styled resort-perfection of Freeside, and the gloomy, Victorian-styled warren of the Villa Straylight. Fewer mattresses, more carpets.

Music – ‘Heliograph’ ‘CGI Snake’ ‘Wonder Cycle’ and ‘Oxygen Garden’ from the album ‘Divider’ by Chris Zabriskie – from the Free Music Archive

Outro – Hypnosis ‘Pulstar’(1984)

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Jun 14, 2017
20 – William Gibson's 'Neuromancer' – 1 of 2 – Foam Mattress, No Sheets

We’re back in dystopia, soaking up the glamour, danger and decadence of the cyberpunk city. We’re reading William Gibson’s seminal science fiction novel Neuromancer (1984), which combines the pace of a thriller with a vivid and almost archaeological view of the technological and material fabric of the near future city – glue, chipboard, broken TVs, epoxy resin, dirty water, and a strange profusion of foam mattresses. Gibson has spoken about the city as a ‘compost heap’ – and we’re sifting through it alongside Case, Molly, Armitage, the AI Wintermute, and the rest of the misfit expedition – and considering Noir, technology, desire, fear of the suburbs, and the vast consensual hallucination you’re plugged into right now.

Some topics – – Chiba – Kowloon walled city – White flight – Noir – Paris review – William Gibson, The Art of Fiction No. 211

Music from Chris Zabriskie 'Cylinder Seven’ from the album ‘Cylinders’ And from Three Chain Links ‘Demons’, 'The Chase’, ‘Phantoms’, 'Magic Hour’ all from the album ‘Phantoms’ both from the Free Music Archive

Outro music is from the Neuromancer computer game (1988)

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May 23, 2017
19 – Jean Renaudie – French Concrete Utopia

During the 1960s and 70s, the French architect Jean Renaudie designed and built a series of projects in which he attempted to upend the staid and formulaic model of postwar slab-block mass housing. Architecture, for Renaudie, had to acknowledge and enshrine human being's 'Right to Difference'.

But this didn't mean discarding the achievements or social ideology of modernism – rather, as part of a wider European project of dissent, critique and reformation, he formulated his own daring formal solution to the problem of uniting the needs and image of the individual with those of the collective.

And how did he do it? Well, for a start, the rooms are mostly triangular…

We discussed –

  • slab blocks and Le Corbusier's Unite d’habitation in Marseilles
  • 'Jean Renaudie: A Right to Difference' by Irénée Scalbert
  • CIAM (Congress Internationaux d'Architecture)
  • George Lucas's 'THX 1138'
  • Team X and the ‘Mat Building'
  • Renaudie's theory of 'structuralism'

The Projects

  • The New Town of La Vaudreuil
  • Ivry-sur-Seine
  • The Jean Hachette Building, Flats 4, 16 and 9
  • Town Plan at Vitrolles
  • Housing at Givors

Music by – Chris Zabriskie – The House Glows With Almost No Help from The Dark Glow of Mountains from the Free Music Archive Robert Cogoi - Pas une place pour me garer (1966)

We've posted some pictures on our twitter and instagram feeds – addresses for these at aboutbuildingsandcities.org

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May 04, 2017
18 – Junkspace – Rem Koolhaas & the End of Architecture

A fuzzy empire of blur, a low grade purgatory, a perpetual Jacuzzi with millions of your best friends…

We're discussing Junkspace (2001), Rem Koolhaas's notoriously elliptical wander through the dystopian and formless morass of early 21st retail architecture that seems gradually to be devouring the city, and the world.

In keeping with the essay, the episode is radically unstructured, only barely makes sense, and is held together largely by hyperbole.

We discussed – – Rem Koolhaas and OMA – The books SMLXL and Delirious New YorkExodus: The Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture – Frederic Jameson's review of Junkspace in NLR 21 (2003) – Jameson's Postmodernism, Or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991) – Walter Benajmin's Passagenwerk or Arcades Project

Music – 'Ruca' and 'Agnes' from the album 'Teal' by Rod Hamilton and 'Curiosity', 'Quisitive' and 'Biking in the Park' from the album 'Music for Podcasts' by Lee Rosevere; both from the Free Music Archive Blue Gas 'Shadows From Nowhere' (1984)

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Apr 17, 2017
17 – Michelangelo – 3 of 3 – St Peters, Last Judgement, and Late Style

Michelangelo’s incredibly long career meant that he was old for a very long time, and the idea of death, and of what comes afterwards, hang over many of the projects he worked on late in life. We discuss his pivotal role in the design of St Peter’s in Rome, the sombre and terrible ‘Last Judgement’ in the Sistene Chapel, and a series of fragmentary late drawings, designs and sculptures which seem to be pointing to the future and the past at the same time.

It’s been about four hours of solid Michelangelo now, and it’s time to send him (and the other cast of characters) into the tender arms of our Lord & Saviour. It'll be back to late Capitalism next time.

Please let us know what you think – tweet us @about_buildings or email aboutbuildingsandcities@gmail.com – you can also find links to subscribe to the podcast, and all our social media profiles at our website – aboutbuildingsandcities.org

Music – Gervaise 'Bransles de Bourgogne' from Gothic and Renaissance Dances at https://archive.org/details/GOTHICANDRENAISSANCEDANCES Vocal Ansambl Gordela ‘Zinzkaro’ Lee Rosevere ‘Dream Colours’ from the album Time-Lapse Volume 4 Sleep Music at the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rosevere Ago ‘Trying Over’ (1982)

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Apr 06, 2017
16 – Michelangelo – 2 of 3 – Laurentine Library and Campidoglio

We continue our discussion of the architecture of Michelangelo Buonarotti with an exploration of two of his most important projects – the Laurentine Library, in which his sculptural understanding of form and mass is most powerful and disconcerting – and the Piazza del Campidoglio, an urban ensemble which would become a definitive reference for the idea of civic space.

In between George extemporises for about 20 minutes on late medieval Italian history despite having done no research, and we dip into the memoirs of Benvenuto Cellini.

Music – Tielman Susato (c. 1490-c. 1560)- Pavane - ''The Battle'' from Gothic and Renaissance Dances at https://archive.org/details/GOTHICANDRENAISSANCEDANCES Koto ‘Chinese Revenge’ (1982)

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Mar 15, 2017
15 – Michelangelo – 1 of 3 – David and the Sistene & Medici Chapels

The first of a three-parter in which we try to understand the work, and myth, of Michelangelo Buonarroti, referred to by followers as ‘the Divine’, and genuinely described by his biographer as a messenger sent from God to stop people from doing bad art.

It’s a long recording and we may have spent a bit too long talking about the ‘New Sacristy’ in Florence. But the 15 minute, rhapsodic description of David’s perfect body?

We regret it Not At All.

Some slightly excessive chat about a particular part of David's body but otherwise extremely wholesome.

Music – GF Handel’s ‘Unto us a son is born’ ‘Kyrie Chant’ from Cantores in Ecclesia on archive.org https://archive.org/details/CantoresInEcclesia/05Track5.wma

Outro: Kano ‘I Need Love’ (Full Time / Zig Zag, 1983) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AypT-SaUJE

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Mar 06, 2017
14 – Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead' – 2 of 2

The second part of your discussion of Ayn Rand's extremely long fantasy about the 'ideal man' and the buildings he makes. The book gets weirder and more political as it goes on, and we meet Rand's Mary-Sue character, the long-suffering helmet-haired ice princess Dominique Francon.

All these things make the book worse.

Features music by Chris Zabriskie – 'Heliograph' from the album 'Divider', 'We always thought the future would be kind of fun' from the album 'The Dark Glow of Mountains' and 'Cylinder 3' from the album 'Cylinders'. and by MMFFF –  'Meeting the Demon' from the album 'The Dance of the Sky' All at the Free Music Archive

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Feb 13, 2017
13 – Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead' – 1 of 2

This isn't one of those book reviews where you're expected to read the book first – we did it so you don't have to.

Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead' is a 750 page long novel which at times is physically painful to read. It's a supposedly 'philosophical' book in which none of the motivations and actions of the characters make any sense. People have long conversations which are nearly impossible to follow. Rand maunders on about apparently random bits of mise-en-scene for pages. Even if you were going to live for a thousand years, it would still be an outrageous misuse of your time.

In spite of this, it's probably the most successful and influential depiction of an architect in fiction – the indominatable will of one (orange haired) man, Howard Roark, pitted against the entire resources of a corrupt and servile society, determined to try and make him care about other people's well-being.

Millions of people have read (and claimed to enjoy!) it.

We've had a moderately good time making fun of it.

Expect bad language and worse politics throughout.

Features music by Chris Zabriskie – 'Heliograph' from the album 'Divider', 'The Dark Glow of the Mountains', 'I need to start writing things down' and 'We always thought the future would be kind of fun' from the album 'The Dark Glow of Mountains' and 'Cylinder 3' from the album 'Cylinders'. All at the Free Music Archive

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Jan 30, 2017
12 – Aldo Rossi's Buildings – Part 2 of 2 – Venice Theatre to Disney HQ

The second half of Aldo Rossi's career. We discuss his role on the ushering in of the age of po-mo, a few selected monstrosties, and do listener correspondance (one email – that's how easy it is to get read out).

Music includes: ‘Β15’ and 'B16' from the album ‘ΝΕΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΚΟΚΚΑΛΑ’ by Kοκκαλα, from the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org

Jan 22, 2017
11 – Aldo Rossi's Buildings – Part 1 of 2 – from the Partisans to the Cemetery

Aldo Rossi’s strange and elegiac early buildings – from the tiny Monument to the Partisans, to the vast, unfinished cemetery at Modena – set him on a path toward the widespread fame and influence he would achieve during the 1980s. In many ways, his architectural vision seems to arrive already fully formed – the strange geometry, the stripped down, abstracted versions of familiar types. We explore these varied works, and how his ideas he was formulating about urban memory and history became works of architecture.

Music: Chris Zabriskie 'Cylinder 4' and 'Cylinder 5' from the album 'Cylinders' at the Free Music Archive at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Chris_Zabriskie/2014010103336111/

Dec 24, 2016
10 – Aldo Rossi's 'The Architecture of the City' – Interrupted Destiny

A valiant attempt to understand Aldo Rossi's 1966 'L'Architettura della Citta', a book which both Luke & George have owned for years, but which neither have actually read until now (the pictures are nice, and the spine is an attractive orange colour).

Aldo Rossi's celebrity began with this book, and a certain mythic image of him – gloomy, nostalgic, perverse – is widely recognised within architectural history. But what does the book actually say? We explore monuments, urban artifacts, fragments of the city, the persistence of time and memory; and the promise of a new 'science' of urban analysis.

Music – 'Sleep Trance' and 'Ciro' both by Lee Rosevere from the albums 'Time-Lapse Volume 3: ASMR' and 'Farrago Zabriskie'... at the Free Music Archive http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rosevere/

Look at pictures on our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104384327113725304822

Dec 06, 2016
09 – The Glass Paradise – 3 of 3 – The Crystal Chain

The collapse of the Imperial German state after WW1 seemed an opportunity for Taut and his fellow visionaries to become architect-leaders themselves, and shape the form of post-war society. But faced with widespread political violence, and all at sea in dealing with bureaucratic power, Taut and his fellow avant-gardists retreated together into the secret group correspondance – 'The Crystal Chain'.

The final episode in our three part exploration of the Glass Dream, including ecstatic visions, the architecture school as monastery, and Bruno Taut's pitch for a big-budget movie feature – 'The Lucky Slippers.'

Music by – Chris Zabriskie 'Cylinder 2', 'Cylinder 4', 'Cylinder 5', 'Cylinder 6' and 'Cylinder 7' from the album 'Cylinders' at the Free Music Archive at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/ChrisZabriskie/2014010103336111/ ‘Tarnished Copper’ from the album ‘Marimba, Vibraphone, Chimes & Bells’ by Podington Bear at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/PodingtonBear/MarimbaVibraphoneChimes__Bells

Look at pictures on our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104384327113725304822

Oct 31, 2016
08 – The Glass Paradise – 2 of 3 – Bruno Taut dissolves the Cities

Paul Scheerbart is dead, and Europe has dissolved into conflict, but the Glass Dream continues. Luke & George explore Bruno Taut's manifestos, the dissolution of the dirty old cities, the transfiguration of the Alps into crystal, and the uniting of the people around the new religion – architecture.

Featuring Alpine Architecture (1917), The City Crown (1919), The Dissolution of the Cities & the Earth – a Good Dwelling (1920), and an original audio-only translation of Die Weltbaumeister: An Architecture Play (1920).

Music by – Chris Zabriskie 'Cylinder 2' and 'Cylinder 9' from the album 'Cylinders' at the Free Music Archive at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/ChrisZabriskie/2014010103336111/ Lee Rosevere 'Cat Wearing Glasses' from the album 'Disquiet Junto' at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/LeeRosevere/Disquiet_Junto/ Schemawound 'If You See Nothing' from the album '@@TRANCOUNT' at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Schemawound/TRANCOUNT/

Look at pictures on our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104384327113725304822

Oct 24, 2016
07 – The Glass Paradise – 1 of 3 – Coloured Glass Destroys Hatred!

We begin a three-part exploration of the Glass Paradise – an early 20th vision of a better world – starting off with Bruno Taut’s extraordinary Glashaus (1914), and the even stranger text which inspired it, Paul Scheerbart’s ‘Glassarchitektur’. Conceived as a model for a new and more beautiful way of living – the Glashaus is a glimpse at a future that never came to pass, filled with jewel-like cites and kaleidoscopic colour. Also, vacuum cleaners as insect exterminators, spinning crystal globes at every door, gold-leafed factories, glass fibre soft furnishings, and the ever-present threat of zeppelin attack.

Much of our material is drawn from the excellent ’Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion!!! A Paul Scheerbart Reader’ by Josiah McElheny & Christine Burgin (eds) (University of Chicago, 2015) – highly recommended.

Music by – Albert Campbell & Irving Gillette ‘By the dear old River Rhine’ (1911) at https://archive.org/details/edba-2410 Arthur F. Collins, Byron G. Harlan ‘On the banks of the Rhine with a Stein’ (1905) https://archive.org/details/edgm-9124 ‘Ice Chimes’ from the album ‘Disquiet Junto’ by Lee Rosevere at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/LeeRosevere/DisquietJunto ‘Tarnished Copper’ from the album ‘Marimba, Vibraphone, Chimes & Bells’ by Podington Bear at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/PodingtonBear/MarimbaVibraphoneChimes_Bells

Look at pictures on our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104384327113725304822

Sep 27, 2016
06 – Tate Modern – Herzog & de Meuron Before and After

Luke & George visit and discuss Switch House, the new extension to Tate Modern – and the architects of both it, and the original museum, Herzog & de Meuron. Plus – thoughts on the machine tool utopia also known as Switerland, design process, and the centrality of the spreadsheet in modern architecture.

Music: ‘Holy Roller’ from the album ‘Shangri-La (Instrumentals)’ by YACHT. From the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org

Look at pictures on our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104384327113725304822

Sep 19, 2016
05 - Living The Roman Good Life – Pliny's Letters on the Villas

Luke & George read and discuss Pliny the Younger’s two luxurious (but still so modest!) villas, as described in his letters. The box hedges have been trimmed, and dinner is swimming around on the back of a wooden duck.

We discussed the essay ‘The Villa as Paradigm’ by James Ackerman, from Perspecta, Vol. 22, Paradigms of Architecture (1986) pp10-31

Music: ‘Curiousity’ and ‘Quizitive' from the album ‘Music For Podcasts’ by Lee Rosevere. From the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org/music/LeeRosevere/MusicFor_Podcasts/

Look at some images on our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104384327113725304822

Sep 05, 2016
04 – Barbican Estate – Establishment Brutalism

Exploring the history and architecture of the inimitable Barbican Estate, the joys of brutalism, concrete, late modernist planning, concealed historical references, getting lost, etc. Includes a couple of short forays into the imagined lives of inhabitants and visitors...

Music includes: ‘Β6’ from the album ‘ΝΕΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΚΟΚΚΑΛΑ’ by Kοκκαλα and ‘Heavy Traffic’ from the album ‘The Happiest Days Of Our Lives’ by Three Chain Links. Both from the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org

Look at pictures on our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104384327113725304822

Aug 29, 2016
03 – How To Run An Efficient Dystopia – Taylorism and Science Fiction Cities

George & Luke survey three dystopian cities; the glass perfection of Yvegny Zamyatin’s ‘We’, the consumer World State of Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, and the shattered ruin of George Orwell’s ‘1984’. Competing visions of technological progress gone awry, and the real-world ideas that inspired them.

We read: Yvegeny Zamyatin ‘We’ tr. Clarence Brown (Penguin, 1993) Aldous Huxley ‘Brave New World’ (1932) George Orwell ‘1984’ (1948)

Music: ‘Shadows’, ‘Fearweaver’, ‘Bindings’ and ‘Demons’ from the album ‘Phantoms’ by Three Chain Links. From the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org

Aug 24, 2016
02 – Strawberry Hill – Horace Walpole's Gothic Fantasies

An exploration of Horace Walpole’s mid 18th c. Gothic fantasy villa at Strawberry Hill, purple cushions and all. Contains readings from his highly indigestible novel ‘The Castle of Otranto’, intermittent bursts of tuneless medieval music, and George singing. Be warned.

Find out how to visit the house yourself at www.strawberryhillhouse.org.uk

Music includes: David Munro ‘Bladder Pipes - Pastourelle’ and the album ‘Gothic and Renaissance Dances’ by Klaus & Michel Walter et al, both from archive.org

Look at images of the house on our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104384327113725304822

Aug 24, 2016
01 – 'The English House' by Hermann Muthesius – A German Spy in the Inglenook

The first episode of a new podcast!

Luke and George read Hermann Muthesius's early 20th c. epic 'The English House'.

Learn about the English, their famed love of nature, damp, draughty buildings and burnt meat. Discover how these strange proclivities shape the homes they build and inhabit. With digressions on inglenooks, William Morris, and how to become 'safe for the drawing room'.

The edition we read was this one: Hermann Muthesius, Dennis Sharp (ed) ‘The English House’ (Rizzoli, 1979) https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0CdUAAAAMAAJ&dq=editions:ISBN0847802191

Music: Ukrainska Orchestra Pawla Humeniuka ‘Kozak-Trepak’ From the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org

Look at images of the projects on our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104384327113725304822

Aug 24, 2016