i just got back from detroit, where i was playing at the movement festival (which was as festivals go, i say with some objectivity, amazing).
i’ve been going to detroit since the late 80’s (as it is the birthplace of modern electronic music), and i’ve always loved it.
culturally and musically and artistically it’s a fascinating place, but it’s also fascinating in that it has more remarkable abandoned buildings than any other city in the western world (this might sound like hyperbole, but i’m guessing it’s actually true).
it’s worth stating that there are big parts of detroit that are not filled with abandoned buildings. and those are nice, too… but the parts of downtown detroit that are filled with beautiful old abandoned buildings are aesthetically amazing (as evidenced by the fact that lots and lots of people have taken pictures of them).
on saturday i had the afternoon off, so my friend shannon (who lives in a former abandoned building) took me on a bike ride around detroit to look at her favorite abandoned buildings (what she refers to as ‘ruin porn’).
here are some of my favorites.
and i hope that these buildings at some point get the love and care that they deserve. but in the meantime: ruin porn.
ok, i’m including this in my oddball architecture blog for a few reasons…
- i think it’s a really beautiful video (as made by my friend colin rich).
- with clearly no objectivity i like the song a lot (as made by mark lanegan and i).
- it’s all based in and around los angeles (salton sea, joshua tree, and the angeles national forest).
- it’s kind of an entropic love letter to los angeles and the desert around los angeles.
- there are lots of buildings in the video (even if some are very far away…)
oh, and i highly highly highly recommend watching it full screen, as it’s really beautiful.
just got back from coachella (which, i feel the need to state the obvious, was amazing: the weather, the line-up, the audience, the location, etc, etc).
and i posit that these are architectural photos… (or, rather, photos of architecture). in that: they’re photos of a space expressly designed and constructed for a specific purpose. it’s temporary architecture (well, from a broader perspective of impermanence i guess all architecture is temporary), in that it’s erected, filled with technology and people, and then disassembled.
it’s also quite unique, as far as the history of structures is concerned, in that there aren’t too many open-air but enclosed structures designed to hold 25,000 people (the whole festival is around 100,000 people each day, i believe. this is the sahara dance tent, designed to hold around 25% of the festival attendees). it’s also a fascinating structure in that it’s aesthetics are utilitarian but powerful and impactful.
oh, and i just realized that i failed to take a picture of the outside of this gigantic people-hangar… hm. oops.
maybe i’ll try to do that next weekend.
in the meantime: the inside of the sahara tent at coachella.
ok, not sure if this is architecture.
or l.a. (actually i’m pretty sure it’s not l.a).
but it’s coney island and it’s the mermaid parade, and coney island and the mermaid parade are two of my favorite things, so i’m going to stretch the boundaries/criteria of architecture to include old amusement park rides and mermaids (both of which are sort of architectural, well, broadly speaking. or under the influence of peyote).
so today (saturday) i joined a bunch of luminaries (like darren aronofsky and his adorable nieces) to observe and judge (benignly) the mermaid parade. the sun was shining, the mermaids were shining, the old amusement park rides were shining.
generally things were very shiny.
and here are some pictures of/from coney island and the mermaid parade.
in the sort of almost middle of hollywood is the magic castle.
it is, as the name sort of suggests, a little castle. where they perform magic.
‘they’ being, in this case, magicians.
i, in this case, am good at stating the obvious.
not to schill for the magic castle, but it’s great.
it looks like a magic castle.
which sort of makes sense, as it’s a magic castle.
it makes less sense as it’s baking in the sun beneath the blue sky and palm trees across
the street from a park where spiderman smokes crack and in the shadow of what is, i believe, the worlds
largest japanese restaurant.
a scary ominous victorian sort of castle sucking up light and radiating darkness in the middle of the afternoon
on a cloudless day.
which, fantastically, makes no sense at all.
i like buildings that don’t make a lot of sense.
or that purport to make sense but then end up being absurd when you look a little closer.
like a fantastic spooky magic castle in the shadow of palm trees.
today i’m including just one picture of one house.
a very pretty center hall colonial with stately pine trees and a nice little yard.
‘why?’ you might ask, ‘include a picture of a pretty and conventional center hall colonial in an architecture blog?’
the following reasons (i like lists, by the way)
b-semiotically and rosebuddy it reminds me of the houses my friends lived in when i was growing up.
c-it sits perfectly parallel to the street.
d-and, most importantly, it’s completely incongruous with any contemporary and conventionally agreed upon sense of what urban architecture could or should be.
i mean, center hall colonial houses with stately trees and green lawns:
in a city of 15,000,000 people
in the desert
75 feet away from crack smoking spiderman
and that just makes me like it more. it’s not modern, it doesn’t represent an innovative use of materials, it wasn’t designed by morphosis or bernard tschumi (nothing against either one, but they generally are published more than pretty center hall colonials).
it’s a pretty house in the middle of a desert city and everything about it is nice and disconcerting and probably baffling and annoying to most architecture critics.
oh, and ok, i’ll include a second photo, another pretty picture of the sun hitting the hills after todays crazy rainstorming.
i’m sorry if my utterly uncohesive approach to documenting the weirdness and random beauty of l.a is, well, uncohesive and off-putting.
but it all makes sense to me.
which probably means i need more therapy.
i hope you had/have a good weekend.
it would be odd to have a fully functioning public pool in the middle of a big city.
it would be nice, but it would be odd.
and then i guess it would be even odder to have a fully un-functioning pool in the middle of a big city.
just a big hole in the ground, unceremoniously surrounded by a cheap chain link fence.
but there, right in the middle of hollywood, is a giant moribund pool surrounded by a cheap chain link fence.
which is odd.
‘how is it architecture?’
well, someone built it and it looks amazing, especially in the middle of the city.
and the twisty turny blue fiberglass slide in the corner is a pretty remarkable structure in it’s own right.
i guess the giant empty pool in the middle of the city begs some questions.
like: ‘what happened?’
i mean, it would seem as if a functioning gigantic pool in the middle of the city might be pretty popular.
so let’s look at hypotheses as to why it’s empty and in pool prison:
- they ran out of water and/or pool toys.
- aliens landed here and this is now a black ops government site like area 51.
- it’s actually a piece of installation art, possibly by ai weiwei. maybe the pool is actually filled with invisible sesame seeds.
- it’s a pool for mimes.
in any case, it’s a big amazing photogenic hole in the ground in the middle of a huge city.
spread throughout l.a are countless little craftsmen (or arts & crafts) houses.
the operative word being: little.
most of the craftsmen houses i’ve seen are cute little 2 bedroom houses, sort of like adorable little hybrids between houses and bungalows.
and then there’s the granddaddy (or grandmommy) of the craftsmen houses in l.a, the gamble house.
it’s so renowned it even has it’s own website.
i discovered the gamble house due to it’s being right next to (and/or a part of) a unitarian church in pasadena. i was at the unitarian church to see a screening of miss representation but i arrived early and wandered aimlessly for 15 minutes.
and in those 15 minutes i stumbled upon:
- a zen meditation group
- a tibetan buddhist meditation group
- a choir singing plainsong
- this gigantic craftsmen house
- pine trees
it was this remarkably and perfectly idyllic evening, the sun setting behind the pine trees while well intentioned meditators did their well intended meditating
and the choir singing plainsong (which sounds really nice in the pine trees) and this house sat there like a gigantic wooden arts & crafts spaceship.
it’s a REALLY big house, by the way. and it sits kind of majestically and imposingly on a big green lawn, like a gigantic wooden arts & crafts spaceship(i’m plagiarizing myself cos it’s late).
oh, and miss representation is a very important movie, too, and i highly urge you to see it.
and pasadena is really nice and it stoked fantasies i’ve had of becoming an academic and having friends who work at the jet propulsion laboratory.
or, as my imaginary friends who work there call it, ‘the jpl’.
‘what did you do today?’
‘oh, not much, just figured out how to send humans to mars.’
‘oh, nice. would you like a brownie?’
that’s how the conversations go in pasadena, i’m guessing.
i’m rambling, too.