Christoph Gielen’s “Ciphers”: Aerial Views of American Sprawl

Courtesy of Jovis Verlag

From the Publisher. Christoph Gielen’s aerial views offer a look at America’s most aberrant and unusual forms in ways we usually don’t get to see them: from far above the ground—a vantage point that reveals both the intricate geometry as well as the idiosyncratic allure of these developments. Here, encountering becomes an aesthetic experience that at the same time leaves us with a sense of foreboding, of seeing the “writing on the wall”. At once fascinating and profoundly unsettling, these photographs detail the potential ramifications of unchecked urbanization. When these settlements were developed, neither distance from work place nor gasoline prices much mattered in determining the locations of new constructions. These places are relics from an era that was entirely defined by a belief in unlimited growth, of bigger is better. The startling extent of those practices, and their inherent wastefulness, come to light in Gielen’s pictures—as if looking at a microcosm of non-sustainability through a giant magnifier.

Contributing essays by Johann Frederik Hartle, Galina Tachieva, Srdjan Jovanic Weiss, Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris contextualize Gielen’s work by focusing on a range of aspects, from aesthetics to climate change and futurology. They also examine why taking a closer look at these places is particularly crucial at this juncture, when we are faced with a new wave of building booms in developing nations such as in China.

No More Play / Michael Maltzan

In this book holds conversations with a photographer, architects, a landscape architect, a futurists, and a urban planner about Los Angeles’s recent past and its near and distant future. For Maltzan, Los Angeles is currently in a delicate moment of transformation “where past vocabularies of the city and of urbanism are no longer adequate, and at this moment, the very word no longer applies.” In order to guide this transformation in a positive direction Maltzan asserts that “architects, urban theorists, architects, designers, planners, and city leaders requires keen investigation to produce forms that represent this city and and its culture, as opposed to importing other urban models.” The conversations along with the photographs by Iwan Baan presented in this book are part of the keen investigation Maltzan advocates for. This makes for a very engaging book for anyone interested in Los Angeles and shaping the future of cities in general.

Landscapes of Quarantine

1251425787-quarantineSeveral times I haves asked myself what is inside ’s mind. The author of the BLDG Blog has been pushing architectural thinking (or more like stretching, bending, twisting…) by proposing views of an uncertain future (while linking this to our past),  leaving an open door that invites us to think about architecture in a non traditional space-restricted way.

Sounds weird, but I can´t really define it.  Maybe we should stick to his definition:  ”Architectural Conjecture, Urban Speculation, Landscape Futures”.

A couple of days ago Geoff told me that he is going to be in NY during the fall, where he will run an  an independent design studio, called Landscapes of Quarantine, “meeting to explore the spatial implications of quarantine”. The studio will run from Oct 6 to Dec 5, and he has already confirmed a  group of ten people, whose backgrounds include architecture, sound design, urban gaming, comic books, film, photography, art, landscape, and food. The studio will conclude with an exhibition at the Storefront Gallery.

But the interesting part, at least for our readers, is that the studio is open for public applications. If this sounds interesting to you, just head to and read the details about Landscapes of Quarantine and on how to apply.

p.s.: I also recommend you to follow Geoff at Twitter, as he is constantly sharing ideas and links worth reading. And another thing worth reading is his book: The BLDGBLOG Book.