Great Fire of 1666
News

Great Fire of London recreated in Minecraft, complete with blaze

Header image: © Museum of London, created by Blockworks. /// The history of a city is littered with fires. Smaller ones that take down neighborhoods and large-scale disasters that change the landscape. The Great Fire of London in 1666 was such a fire. It destroyed the medieval City of London, incinerating the homes of 70,000 of the City’s 80,000 inhabitants. The fire was so bad, one of the factors credited to its quenching was the Tower of London garrison using gunpowder to halt the spread east. Your fire has gotten out of hand when you have to fight it with gunpowder.…

Mirror's Edge: Catalyst
Review

Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, a radical city in a failed system

I’ve always been fascinated by the coherence and incoherence of cities. The system and interface of their streets. The network logic of their rooms. In my fifth year in London, buried in basements fashioned to appear as French cafés or Italian bistros, I obsessively traced the shapes of silver ducts and pipes, interwoven along the ceilings as if they were circuit boards. Among the fake leather seating and off-white walls, the large canvas prints of Parisian street scenes and the art-deco light fixtures they stood out as uniquely functional objects, unornamented, hidden in plain sight. I followed them down flights…

generative brutalism-1
News

Where does brutalism go after concrete?

The primary material of brutalism, the oft derided and now vaguely in vogue architectural movement, was concrete. Every architectural movement has its primary materials, be they glass, wood, or steel, but in the case of brutalism concrete dominates all discussion of the style’s underlying ideas. It is both the literal and figurative building block, such that it is hard to imagine brutalism as being in any way extricable from concrete. Designer Dantilon Brown’s “The Brutal Deluxe,” the latest in his series of generative architectural images, reimagines brutalism with a different building block: pre-existing buildings. “I set about programming algorithms to…

Nova Alea
News

Nova Alea has a go at criticizing the state of urban housing

Molleindustria’s Nova Alea is a parable in search of a game. It is the story of real estate speculation, housing bubbles, and capitalism run amok. The story takes place on a chessboard—that or a graveyard for skyscrapers. Maybe both. “For its masters,” the gentle-voiced narrator intones, “the city was a matrix of financial abstractions.” Note the use of the past tense: that’s the first sign you’re inside a parable. The powers of finance are represented by a tilted pink cube—think Tony Rosenthal’s “Alamo,” but cuter—that floats above the city. More accurately, it looms, dropping capital in underdeveloped neighborhoods and hopefully…

Untitled-1
News

Artist gives brutalist architecture a singing voice

Brutalist architecture has gotten a bad rap over the years—so much so that Goldfinger, the villain of James Bond fame, was named after Ernő Goldfinger, an architect inspired by brutalism. Mo H. Zareei (aka mHz) is trying to fight back against this societal repulsion with his evocative sound sculptures. He’s an Iranian electronic musician, sound artist, and music technology researcher, who is actively finding ways to use his interests in both brutalist architecture and noise to show how nuanced and poetic these two concepts can really be. In his series machine brut(e), Zareei makes use of three sound sculptures rasper, Mutor and rippler, to make unusual audiovisual combinations. Each…

v r 1
News

It’s time to confront the uncanny potential of virtual architecture

A room enclosed on all sides sits naked in grayspace. Inside is a trunk, a bed, a tube, a radiator, a light, and little else. A sharp sound swells and suddenly the room snaps out of place. Now it is upside-down. You can’t even enter through the open doorway, barely able to peer inside through the window, the objects once sat neatly now thrown into disarray across a ceiling that is now a floor. The sound comes again and the room changes, again. It sits as it did before, at the center of a square cut of rock floating in a…

High-Rise
Feature

High-Rise; a very British psychopathology

The first time I saw the Barbican Estate in London I was entranced. The layered terraces of pitted concrete, the crisscrossing walkways, those monolithic towers that seemed—as with Petra or Al-Hijr—like they might have been carved out of natural stone. It is rare, especially in a city like London, as layered and complex as a geological event, to walk into such a large space that feels so designed, so ordained. Yet, setting foot in those 20 acres of roughened concrete, I somehow felt that I was stepping into an idea, or an ideal, and out of reality entirely. Even now,…

Grandmother
News

Visit the latest haunted cities from the queen of horror games

Further cementing herself as an architecture goddess, Kitty Horrorshow has publicly released a collection of three games and a flash-fiction story called Haunted Cities. These were all projects originally made as exclusive rewards for those backing her on Patreon for $5 a month, the deal being that you get one of Horrorshow’s virtual worlds a month for the subscription—these four were released across November 2015 to February 2016. If you’re familiar with Horrorshow then your expectations for Haunted Cities shouldn’t be amiss. These are lo-fi videogames that prioritize looming architecture and eerie synth work over everything else. Rather than offering, say, puzzles…

Tectr
News

Play a dating sim about hooking up with erotic architecture

It’s very likely that I fucked a building last night. Now, hold up, I don’t know if I did. We hooked up and then I’m not sure what happened. Unfortunately, the erotic architecture dating sim Tectr doesn’t go beyond depicting your conversation with hot local masonry on a Tinder-style app, and into the awkward realm of human-building coitus. That is an idea for a sequel, though… What this means is I told a horny panopticon that I would push my naked body against a dirty suburb window so it could watch, it then accepted, and I opened “Maps” to find the…