September 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Imposing – Sarcastic – Arrogant }{ Imperialist – Villain – Lair 


Evil is really interesting to me, to us. Where does it come from? How do we see it coming? What do we do when it arrives? And what does evil really look like?  Movies and literature try to help us, as does architecture.  And much like what I find tidbits in, these  disciplines link themselves in a nice complimentary package.

Skyfall – the latest James Bond movie – had a villain that was pure evil.  Coming from good intent, and working to achieve it, ultimately resulted in the creation of a corrupt character.  The villain, Raul Silva, made his lair (such an evil word) on a fictional ghost island off Macau.  There, the concrete buildings beautifully tattered, he began his genius plan of killing and terrorizing the world.  Besides the incredible amount of new technology Raul inserted into the buildings,  the homes and work places were simply cavities of past use. They were homes and work places without the new paint. 


Homes by a simple turn of time and neglect inspired a lair.  I found it telling of a small root to evil – negligence and father time.  And following a theme, what best to see negligence and father time than in the built environment which travels through the generations of society. Time makes for forgetting and negligence makes for ignoring – both places evil can find fertile soil.

The island was loosely based on an island off Japan – Hashima Island – and it’s story is really nothing “lair”-ish. A mine created the town, the market fell for the mine’s content, and the people left the town.  Pretty simple. There is really nothing evil about the island, it’s a benign little place where people can now slowly wander around on metal gangways and snap pictures of some long lost civilization. What filthy evil that is.

What I’m concluding to is – tear it down or walk around it. If we tear it down we had to have found the villain, but if we walk around it – well – maybe we’re not so uneasy with a little evil.


China and The Manufactured Decay

April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

China has too many apartments – it has too many retail spaces, and not enough people spending money they don’t yet have. The people of China need to all get credit cards and mortgages and start buying the things they are producing, that way they won’t all have to work in factories and eat rice with beans for every meal. Chinese people need to all own their own car, the need to have their own apartments, and they need to figure out how great suburbs are. The Chinese need to get with the program otherwise their their growth in GDP, their standard of living, their economic and political might will be for nothing.

I for one am not so concerned about this juggernaut of power that is fast becoming the best in everything, namely because I feel – as a lowly couch newspaper reader – that it’s all inflated numbers and expensive construction projects that are  not serving the actual people yet. What I mean by saying this is the people of China are growing their state incredibly fast, they’re doing this on premise that they no nothing better can come from what they are accomplishing except they have a roof over their heads and a few meals a day.

The Chinese have not been taught how to properly consume yet. By consume I mean meat for every meal or going to watch a movie every Friday night. I have a hunch most Chinese don’t enjoy these little things, but when they do  the state of China best watch out. The revolution of unions and class warfare of our past will pale to what will happen in China.

A link to a great video made by an Australian news program highlights one aspect of China that I find incredibly interesting – the over supply of retail and residential space throughout China. China has been the hottest place on the planet to practice architecture, mostly because they are building so much there. The preparation for the consuming everyman of China began several decades ago, mostly on the investment of the extremely rich and powerful.  Whole cities are designed and built for the onslaught of people moving up the economic ladder. Only problem is, the people are not moving up the ladder to actually live in these huge cities.  To me, they designed and built urban decay. Unlike here where we saw a quick blossom of city centers lead to decay China has millions of square footage that has never blossomed. If something like this had happened in the US, those responsible would be the greatest idiots in history – but in China…. eh, no big deal.

Check out the video here at Grist.com:  China’s Ghost Cities

Borders Buster

February 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

So, Borders Books has announced they are busted and broke. They owe publishers and creditors it seems – hey, it happens to the best of us all. Not needing to dig into the demise much I can find many reasons for the failing, namely that the book industry is over and that the web was the beginning of the long slow walk for the Gutenberg renaissance. The execution has been threatening and approaching for decades, these days the New York Times is always on the ropes, Big Box Bookstores are dwindling, and periodicals are finding their way onto Issuu much easier than onto a grocery store shelf.

Sure I’m sentimental towards the feel of the paper, the dusty and overstocked bookstore of the 90’s and 2000’s. I’m going to miss their mammoth hardback economies of scale and their prevalence in every single strip mall landscape. Just like many things, I still expect to go to a single banner store and find all my music, literature, caffeine, and movies in a quick linear experience. It was rather “green” in a way, packaging all my shopping and errands into a one stop trip. Anyone who’s everyone under a design or economics ritual will tout the need for greater density, greater diversity, greater autocracy (maybe not) and these stores, such as Border Books, did that. It was this formula that made our country great, and Borders a successful brand. But, alas, it was unstable. It relied on Harry Potter for too many years and then the Twilight kids. Now, there are reliable online sources and handy little Ereads that put the Borders model the way of the dodo.

I was interested in digesting this headline by visualizing  the spatial voids Borders is leaving as it abandons it’s 138 stores (don’t worry there are roughly 400 more still alive for now). Voids meaning the sheer square footage left by the bankruptcy action and the company going to liquidation. Because the disappearance of 138 stores there is now 3,510,0073 square feet of perfectly good climate controlled enclosures. That’s an average of 26,391 square feet per store.  Sure, it’s small change in the big picture but this is a single company in a long line of strip mall and stand alone buildings. What replaces the 3.5 million square feet? We used to all fear the big monolithic bookstores (You’ve Got Mail), now I fear for the huge holes it leaves in the fabric between work and home.

Maybe, for the right price, I’ll rent out one of the stores here in Austin and move myself and the beagle into a sweet 25,000 square foot bachelor pad.

Huffington Post Gone in 2011

Wall Street Journal Article

Images From A New Detroit

December 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Detroit, ah Detroit I hardly knew ya.

Stumbled across this website via a good friend and fell in love with the work done by a few photographers and errant law breaking trespassers. The site hasn’t been updated since July of 2010, but hell – there are so many images to go through that it feels to be constantly updated.

Now that I live in Texas I reflect more on my time spent so close to Detroit. I ventured the half hour drive in on occasion, but really there was little that drove me there. Albeit I’m not much for the scene there, which there is one, and I had very little exposure to even the Ann Arbor hamlet I called home for three and half years. The Cobo Center is a block of cold and heartless arrangement downtown. Woodward is a graveyard of strip malls. Detroit is a romantics wet dream, full of ruin and rust, the chance to at the same time fall in love with a masterpiece such as the Penobscot Building and then feel the abusive juggernaut of organized chaos at the Heidelberg Project(s). A person can literally find a building and squat in it, the wild west turned in on itself and able to house the decade’s wave of poor artists and idealist professionals. It is said Detroit will be back, and it is said it will never be back. Millions are being invested in green technology manufacturing and in courting the movie industry. As the concrete erodes at some of these factories and churches it’s hard not to believe Detroit can go any lower. A city of such conflicting and beautiful conundrums makes it hard to look away from and not have some pains of abandonment.

For more visit the guys at detroiturbex

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Urban Decay category at Add.a.m.