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Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

A Temple for Atheists

In Architecture, Philosophy on January 31, 2012 at 11:23 am

Above, a tall dark tower looms over a crowded city of London. Pigeons scatter across the sky while some perch nonchalantly atop the structure. Almost looking like a still straight out from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, this photograph instantly caught my eye. Seen on the website of The Telegraph, it is a concept visual for philosopher Alain de Botton’s proposal for secular temples to be built in cities across the country, starting in London.

Why Atheists would need temples is curious food for thought. Raised as a Atheist himself, Alain de Botton explains that in today’s busy world, people have little time for organised religion. However, it does not mean that they do not appreciate the nostalgic memories and charming rituals that religion presents. In a way, these religious buildings bring across a sense of calm, much like how old architecture from ages past, do. He hopes that these “secular spaces for contemplation” will help cure modern egotism and encourage oneself to be less selfish and more aware of the world around them.

The design of the tower itself has a interesting story- it will be made from different types of stones spanning across human history, forming a visual geological timeline, starting with a 1mm band of gold at the foot of the tower which symbolises man’s time on earth, relative to the age of the earth. Alain de Botton believes that this structure will be able to compete with great churches and “will have a timeless quality”.

This in my opinion is such a forward thinking proposal which addresses modern needs and captures current lifestyles so effectively. I have always been in admiration of the energy that active religious-activity-goers have, especially in this fast paced lifestyle where time is never enough. Unfortunately, many people find the amount of time or energy needed to seem ‘devoted’ so intimidating that it drives them away from the religion in question. This beautiful structure is a great way of reminding us to be contemplative of our place in this big world. The open attitude that it upholds bridges the gap between belief and nothing at all- be spiritual in your own time, in your own way.

Alain de Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness is proving to be a very enlightening read. I am quite a fan of his work- he writes with purpose and has the ability to present complicated concepts in the simplest ways. Religion for Atheists is definitely next on my list.

I tried to scour the internet for more photographs but I guess the plans are still in its initial stages. For the full article head over to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/authorinterviews/9045391/Alain-de-Botton-puts-faith-in-temples-for-atheists.html

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Post-flood Candyfloss

In Post-Apocalyptic on January 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Just the most amazing photograph, taken in Bangkok right after the flood.

The floss-like covering on the trees are actually spiderwebs. Thousands of spiders which tried to flee the flood, climbed up the trees and made it their new home, creating this surreal post-flood landscape of soft fluffy clouds.

Re-live Rome and Pergamon

In Architecture, Art on January 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm

The Staatliche Museen in Berlin has given us a chance to be part of the past, in the present. Artist Yadegar Asisi has worked together with the Museum in Berlin to create a true to life 360 degree panorama of Pergamon, derived from his realistic panorama paintings. The panorama will be housed in a special exhibition area set up in the museum where viewers can climb a tower to admire the spectacular digitally rendered scenery, complete with audio samples, lighting and special effects specific to the different time of day.

He has also created a 360 degree panorama of Rome for the Asisi Panometer in Dresden where people can admire the view of the ancient city from the comfort of their safety rail platform.

Quoted from CNN.com, “His 360 degree view of Rome 312 AD is 27 meters high, 107 meters long and weighs 750 kilograms, making it one of the world’s largest panoramic scenes.”

Ancient Rome in Dresden

Asisi has been creating super sized panoramas since 1994, subjects including Mount Everest and rainforests. He also created the panorama for architect Daniel Libeskind who won the tender for the Ground Zero site in New York.

This is an excellent way to immerse yourself into a different world while remaining in your own.

PERGAMON: Panorama of the Ancient Metropolis is now on until 30th September 2012

http://www.smb.museum/pergamon-panorama_/

ROME 312: Experience the Ancient Metropolis is now on until September 2012

http://asisi.de/en/Panometer/Rom312_neu/Panoramaprojekt/

 

Better to be safe than sorry.

In Architecture, Design, Post-Apocalyptic on January 23, 2012 at 11:40 am

In the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, it’s every man for himself. What are you going to do to ensure your survival? Architects Southwest have come up with a creative competition to honour the best safe house designs for the hypothetical aftermath. Vagabond pictured above has been awarded the Juror’s Choice Gold Shovel Award for it’s proposed mobile safe house design. Intelligent and highly inventive, it illustrates a good understanding of a life with Zombies. Also, the shiny reflective coating is a nice touch.

Here’s another example:

It’s just amazing how detailed they are! For more designs head to http://zombiesafehouse.wordpress.com/

John Martin

In Apocalyptic, Art on January 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm

The Great Day of His Wrath‘ 1851 – 1853 by English Romantic painter John Martin above was featured in a recent exhibition hosted by Tate Britain. The exhibition entitled ‘Apocalypse’ was dedicated to Martin’s body of work, which was famous for it’s apocalyptic, epic and sometimes biblical content. Back in the day, people flocked to see these massive pieces- they almost treated it as a form of entertainment as it had such ‘blockbuster’ energy. Many critics were skeptical however, and even described it as ‘sensationalistic’ and repetitive.

Beautifully executed, there is no doubt that Martin was a skilled painter, on top of being the King of Mezzotint. The sheer size of his more popular pieces is staggering (especially ‘The Last Judgement’ triptych) and if that did not take your breath away, the content will.

The exhibition was well curated and succinct, providing insightful explanations about Martin’s style. It is small in comparison to most exhibitions held by Tate. However, at the end, you feel as if you have finished watching a full length feature film. What a visual feast it was and a breath of fresh air to see cataclysmic disaster executed in such a traditional painterly way, in an age where anything ‘blockbuster’ could be rendered at a click of a button.

The Fall of Babylon, Mezzotint with etching, John Martin

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, Oil on canvas, John Martin.

Belshazzar’s Feast, Oil on canvas, John Martin.

The exhibition just ended, however look to Tate Britain’s Apocalypse section- http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/johnmartin/default.shtm for a more detailed look into Martin’s world. To end off, they also created an amazing ‘trailer’ to promote the exhibition which is located below.

The Lilypad – Floating City

In Architecture on January 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm

A constant problem of our urban environment is the lack of land space for our ever growing population. Behold, the Lilypad! Designed by Principal Architect Vincent Callebaut (Vincent Callebaut Architecture) who designed this concept for a floating ecopolis. Originally intended for climate refugees, it is a breathtaking and eco-friendly solution to our dwindling space issue.

For the complete gallery and written explanation of The Lilypad- http://vincent.callebaut.org/page1-img-lilypad.html

Left Behind

In Post-Apocalyptic on January 21, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Seen on theatlantic.com is a series of hauntingly beautiful photographs taken by Reuters Photographer David Gray on a trip to Chenzhuang Village, China, about 20 miles northwest of central Beijing. The series shows an unfinished amusement park called ‘Wonderland’ which was intended to be the largest amusement park in Asia. Construction was abandoned after the project ran into disagreements over property prices between the developers, the farmers and the local government.

What now remains is the skeletal structure of would-be fantasy castles amidst fields of corn.

It definitely feels like this amusement park could belong to a world that lived before ours- almost post-apocalyptic. What did the people do here? What did they do to pass the time? Why did they leave?

For the full article and more photographs, go to http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/12/chinas-abandoned-wonderland/100207/