Book Watch | Orientalists

During the nineteenth century, European and American artists flocked to Eastern cultures, from Morocco to India. Their works fueled the exotic and mythical perception of the Orient with cinematic depictions of islamic culture that continue to influence the arts today. These artists are commonly referred to as the Orientalists.

Last year while exploring and working in Marrakech I came across numerous books on or related to the topic. Following are some noteworthy selections.

If you’re ever in Marrakech, be sure to visit the oldest book store in Marrakech, open since 1948, it can be found within the medina’s souks. Publisher ACR also has a well stocked shop buried in Gueliz, the city’s French section.

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Posted in Architecture, Books, Film | 8 Comments

Gaming’s Repurposed Spaces

Since the turn of the century, repurposed spaces have proliferated, spurred by 21st century cultural influences and the green initiative. It’s redefining the urban fabric, evident here in Lower Manhattan where the world’s commercial mecca has become increasingly residential since 2001. More creative endeavours have led to efforts including the iconic Freitag store in Zurich and a Redondo Beach house, both utilizing the ever popular recycled shipping container.

Recently, the most creative repurposed structures have existed in the digital realm of games, from Mirror’s Edge to Fallout 3.

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Posted in Architecture, Games

Book Watch | From Burma to Chicago

21st Century Masterpieces

21st-Century Masterpieces – Architecture of the New Millennium

“A concise overview of the most extraordinary landmarks built around the world since the turn of the millennium including stadia, theatres, museums, offices, government buildings, chapels and retail spaces.

Features such noteworthy projects as the Casa da Música in Portugal by OMA, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in the United States by Frank Gehry, Federation Square in Australia by Bates Smart, and the National Stadium in China by Herzog & de Meuron.

Includes a descriptive text for each project, accompanied by an extensive selection of exterior and interior photographs, plans and architectural drawings.”

Editor’s Note: This inexpensive hardcover volume will hit shelves along with 21st Century Houses. Both appear derived from the hefty Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture.

Hardcover | 160 pages | Phaidon | May 2009

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Book Watch | Massive Black, Monochrome & More

Book Watch is a new periodic feature highlighting noteworthy upcoming and recent releases in architecture, design and photography. On occasion, this will include books not yet revealed to the general public and newly discovered older titles of note. A concerted effort is made to view books prior to their inclusion in Book Watch.

This series will supplement’s focus on editorials and unique stories, infusing new content with greater regularity.

Authors and publishers are welcome to submit publications for consideration in Book Watch via’s contact form.



“A global, up-to-the-minute overview of contemporary architecture selected by ten prominent members of the international architecture community. Features the work of 100 rising stars curated by Shumon Basar, Mercedes Daguerre, Luis Fernández-Galiano, Bart Goldhoorn, Joseph Grima, Carlos Jimenez, Kengo Kuma, Andrew Mackenzie, Peter Cachola Schmal and Ai Weiwei.

Selected projects include “a variety of buildings from private houses and apartments to schools, offices and stadia that redefine architecture, exploring never-before-used materials and proving that ‘green’ is the new standard in innovative design.” 1500 color illustrations and 300 line drawings.

Editor’s Note: Based on the sheer wealth of work and quality of presentation in its predecessors, this is one to watch.

Hardcover | 448 pages | Phaidon | May/June 2009

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Architecture by Subtraction

IDEA Vertical Campus

We are somewhat conditioned to think of architecture via construction. Yet this isn’t always the case.

In Mahabalipurum, India reside five Rathas temples, Chariots of the Gods, carved from a single to five large slabs of granite (sources vary). Known as the Pancha Pandava Rathas, they represent an evolution in Dravidian style architecture. A progression from rock cut caves whose pinnacle was reached elsewhere at Petra. Yet these ornate freestanding structures situated in a sandy compound amidst Casuarina trees, were built purely by subtraction, carved from the top down.

Architecture by subtraction was also the process used to create spaces in computer gaming’s The Dark Engine. The engine was developed in the mid nineties by Looking Glass Technologies and put to use in their fabled titles, Thief I & II and System Shock 2. Documentation for the level editor, DromED, describes the process.

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Posted in Architecture, Games, Sculptures

March Arrives

March Rick Joy Avraverde

Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO) in Brooklyn, resides the former Grand Union Tea Company warehouse. Entering the understated foyer one is greeted by welcoming aromas from a small coffee bar, wedged next to a staircase. One that leads to a bar and restaurant with an atmosphere befitting the latest mecca of artists in New York.

A quick walk up another flight of steps leads you to one of the building’s earliest post renovation occupants, the corner office of March. Here against the rustic load bearing walls is a dash of modernism where custom white desks, shelves, partitions and doors featuring meticulously flush edges, offer insight into the partners design sensibilities and attention to detail.

March is at the avant-garde of a new breed of architecture practice dedicated to digital architecture.

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Posted in Architecture, Websites | 1 Comment

A Cross Section with Mark Magazine

Dark Knight Production Design

Through issue sixteen of the superlative MARK Magazine, Tino Schaedler and Alice Charlotte have offered a commentary on the production design of Hollywood’s latest releases. In an online exclusive, three of the articles originally featured in the Cross Section segment of issues 12, 13 and 16, are now available for download in pdf format.

The Golden Compass
The Darjeeling Limited
The Dark Knight

Posted in Architecture, Film, Print

Zion Control

Matrix Reloaded Zion Control

Infinite white spaces have proliferated as a basis for virtual realities, exemplified by the Matrix film trilogy. In the most iconic example, an armory session begins with gun racks rushing toward the screen. A visual demonstrated in the trailers that helped catapult the Matrix to box office success. One that inspired other works including the once oft-played commercial, AutoTrader Whoosh.

The aforementioned scene ultimately overshadowed a more intriguing infinite white space. In the Matrix Reloaded, six off-white clad individuals arranged in circular formation constitute Zion Control. It’s a utopic sight as they manipulate multi-touch HUD’s atop physically three dimensional wireframe visuals. A scaled blueprint replication of reality, stylized to match the aesthetically pleasant grayscale interface.

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Posted in Film | 1 Comment

Interior Morphology

V Hotel Interior Design in Progress MAD

The clutter within modern interiors has created a disjointed occupation of space. The bulk of modern devices from televisions to air conditioners consume valuable real estate while negatively influencing aesthetics. Unsightly cords and cables tether us to walls. Even seamless integration of lighting remains an expensive proposition.

All stuck in the ubiquitous box. The form that has defined interiors for millennia. Exasperated by furniture designed to complement such rigid space. The mass proliferation of such interior dimensions inevitably assures its continued survival. Yet a solution may reside in a more organic approach with biomorphic facades inserted into existing interiors. A new interior shell, functional within current infrastructures.

The seeds of such a paradigm shift have already begun. In the Graft designed Hotel Q, floor blends with walls and furniture from benches to beds and sections of wall emit light, all serving to create a more homogeneous space.

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Posted in Architecture, Interiors | 3 Comments


As a site dedicated to architecture and design in media, I’m remiss for not having mentioned nous.

“A gallery, network, and publication with an initiative to expose and promote design qualities inherent in digital media and technologies for architecture and design.”

nous network is especially interesting as it “provides a communication platform for work, ideas, and discourse to be shared by practitioners, theoreticians, students, offices, and universities.” Anyone can peruse the work of its members in the exposure section; already an impressive repository of design concepts.

Founded by three distinguished architects with backgrounds in computational architecture, (Christian Derix, Melissa Woolford and Paul Coates) their latest exhibition, Border Lines, debuts next week in London, November 11 – 17.

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Posted in Architecture, Exhibitions, Websites