Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘cities’

20 JULY, 2011

Urban Atrophy: Haunting Photos of Architectural Ghosts

By:

What Classic Coke has to do with abandoned dolls and the afterlife of buildings.

The Japanese find beauty in decay, accepting the natural cycle of growth and collapse. This philosophy might be foreign to our Western clinging to the corporeal, but since 2005, Dan Haga and Dan Ayers have been looking for beauty and poeticism in abandoned schools, psychiatric hospitals, missile silos, amusement parks, cathedrals, jails, churches, and other remnants of modern civilization.

This year, they immortalized their finds in Urban Atrophy — a spellbinding collection of 560 striking, haunting images, alongside text that contextualizes these architectural ghosts and exposes the afterlife of ordinary buildings.

Pennhurst Hospital

Charles H. Hickey, Jr. School

Pennhurst Hospital

The Queen Theater

United Cross

Fort Washington

Hebrew Orphan Asylum

The Queen Theater

Mayfair Theatre

via Web Urbanist; images from Urban Atrophy

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

07 JULY, 2011

Built to Last: The Illustrated Secrets of Mankind’s Greatest Structures

By:

What gargoyles and mosques have to do with King Edward I and the secrets of Ancient Rome.

Castles. Cathedrals. Mosques. Those are some of humanity’s greatest feats of architecture, design and civic engineering, but how exactly were they built and what makes them stand the test of time? That’s excatly what Caldecott Medal-winning artist and prolific how-things-work author David Macaulay explores in Built to Last — a fascinating illustrated volume of insight into the how and why of mankind’s greatest structures. It combines three of Macauley’s most beloved construction books — Cathedral (1981), Castle (1982), and Mosque (2003) — into a single tome full of never-before-seen full-color drawings and new material.

A reference model for the ribs of the vaulting on the roof truss

Laying out the drawing of the roof trusses

A quick reference model for the roof trusses

An early sketch of the flying buttresses and one gargoyle

Sketch for the kitchen scene while making dinner fit for a king

Macaulay modeling for the drawing of King Edward I. Note the headband and royal Tin Tin watch

Whether the three building types in this book were built to last or simply to impress, they were certainly constructed with determination and care. And without the lessons they offer, our past would be more remote and therefore less useful as we stumble into an uncertain future.” ~ David Macaulay

Combining rigorous research, poetic illustration and the captivating human stories behind these architectural marvels, Built to Last is equal parts illuminating and inspirational, brimming with a kind of visceral curiosity that makes Macaulay’s timeless drawings spring to life.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

08 JUNE, 2011

The Perfect City: What Does “Community” Mean to You?

By:

What borrowing sugar has to do with robust public life.

Last year, the wonderful Fifty People One Question offered a poetic glimpse of the soul of four communities, and last month the city of Grand Rapids demonstrated the goosebumps-inducing power of community. I’m relentlessly fascinated by cities and what it is that transforms them from shared urban space into thriving, lively communities full of shared humanity, vision and aspiration, so I was happy to take part in a think-tank event by nonprofit CEOs for Cities last fall, which assembled some of the country’s brightest minds in urban planning, design, policy, information technology and other facets of culture to dissect the elements of “robust public life” and how to best foster them in building successful, happy communities that attract and retain talent.

That’s exactly what this beautifully filmed short video explores, by asking people one simple but profound question: “What does ‘community’ mean to you?”

I’d love to be able to walk out and know everybody in my community.”

Something that kind of has a little bit of everything and access to everything, but still is quiet, so it’s not so quite so hustle-and-bustle.”

I like to pass other people who are walking their dogs early in the morning or late at night.”

A few universal needs seem to emerge: Walkability, a combination of private space and readily available entertainment, face-to-face interaction with neighbors and, more than anything, a sense of belonging.

What’s your ideal community?

via The Atlantic

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.