Monotony vs. Chaos

Rigid facades

The front: rigid facades: alonging for more law and order?                                                                                                             Photos: RM

According to art historian Wilhelm Worringer the chosen style in art (or architecture) reflects not only the current state of society, but also is the fulfillment of a desire for something that is lacking. The dominant style in art and architecture tells us something about (the future of) a given culture. Continue reading

Longing for the Absence of Design


Pavement on a streetcorner, somewhere in southern Europe. Photo: RM

In a world where almost everything is designed, it can be a relief to come across something that has obviously NOT been designed. What characterizes design? Continue reading

Constructional Jam Session

Power Transformer Folly

Power Transformer uilding with folly in Bagnols-en-Forêt, France Photo: RM

After the construction of this small power transformer building on the outskirts of Bagnols-en-Foret  (Var, France) there were some bricks and tiles left over. This probably made the construction workers decide to go on a little more, this time improvising, without construction drawings, as a kind of constructional jam session after work. The result was a sloping piece of wall next to the house, covered with tiles, containing an asymmetrical gate. Continue reading

Hear no evil, see no evil…

sound barier

This week, hundreds of prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawking, published an open letter warning against the use of autonomous weapons, such as military drones that can select and attack a target without human control. It is the well-known specter of the invention turning against its inventor, of technology ultimately taking over the human race. It is clear that this is no longer fiction. In numerous fields, technological and economic, humanity is being dominated by its own inventions. Also in spatial planning. Have we become enslaved to our ever growing need for more infrastructure? Continue reading

Skaeve Huse: Can dwelling be learned?

Dwelling school

Can dwelling be learned? Image: RM

The city of Rotterdam is putting up 11 so-called “Skaeve Huse”. Skaeve Huse is crooked Danish for “crooked houses”. These are container homes for maladjusted people who in recent years have misbehaved in such a way  that they no longer qualify for a regular apartment in Rotterdam housing associations. The choice is: either move to another town or to the Skaeve Huse where, under supervision and at a safe distance from civilization, they will be prepared for a return to a “normal” home. Can dwelling be learned?  Continue reading

Urban Heat Islands and the Origin of the Apartment Building.

Differences in temperature (heat islands) in The Hague on a summer day. Image: NRC

Differences in temperature (heat islands) in The Hague on a summer day. Image: NRC

Interesting reseach was done recently at the University of Wageningen, about the occurring of so-called heat islands in cities during the summer. On hot days certain places in the city can become up to 8 degrees hotter than the temperature in the countryside. This is due to the presence of much stone surfaces and little green in the city. Houses and buildings warm up during the day and capture the heat in the streets. During the night the stored heat is then radiated back. The higher the density in the city, the greater this effect becomes. Up to a certain extent at least, because the research also shows that the higher the buildings and the narrower the streets are, the smaller the heat island effect in summer.

Manhattan of the Desert

In the construction of Shibam, an ancient town in Yemen, also known as the “Manhattan of the Desert”, one apparently was already aware of this. The houses here, in fact apartment towers, are built out of clay, up to 11 storeys high. Continue reading