Monday, March 16, 2009


In Bangkok's Chinatown, I routinely looked upon a storefront window display that included packages of birds' nests - with staggering price tags attached to them. In search of program for BKK's abandoned towers, I set out to assess the potential for profitable high-rise bird houses. I didn't have to look far.

This terrific blog entry tells of another Bangkoker's story of discovery on a trip to his father's hometown of Pak Phanang, in the far south of Thailand.

To summarize, one abandoned building became the home of nesting cave swifts, whose nests are the most highly valued animal product in the world. The owner became rich, spawning a slew of copycats. Now the small town is littered with 'bird condos'. And due to the highly-speculative nature, only 10% are inhabited by swifts! How quickly serendipitous re-use begets a new round of speculation!

So my fiction in this case is a slow cousin to fact. I'll be rereading that post...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


The CCA in Montreal has a great site for their current Actions show.

The site shows 99 actions to 'instigate positive change in contemporary cities around the world.' my guess is there are some that pertain to using the unused.

Monday, March 9, 2009


A recent Guardian article talks about The Architecture of Recession.

While saying nothing new really, it did remind me of the Form Follows Finance neo-maxim. And the notion of a new modesty in architecture:
A new modesty, then? Yes, for a while. But, when the wheel of fortune turns up again, expect a reaction to the New Modesty. Expect, at the very least, a Modesty Blaze, and then new forms of architecture that those being made redundant from their jobs, and those about to leave architecture school, are only beginning to formulate.

I guess he mean me. Onward ho!

Friday, March 6, 2009


Reading just now about David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel, which centers around workers at an IRS office in Illinois. "Properly handled, boredom can be an antidote to our national dependence on entertainment..."

Which gets me thinking on tediousness. And repetition. And all of those empty, identical bays, bounded by bare, identical reinforced concrete columns. At my old job I would think alot about the meditative aspect of repetitive work, though mostly worrying that it was dulling my psyche, muting some joy center in me.

But I can't escape its draw. Watch any capable AutoCad user (I am not one), and you know what I mean.

So am I getting at what Milan Kundera calls the 'third infinity' - that of variations within a pattern. (the first infinity expands outward to the universe, the second looks inward to the atom)

Is modernity most marked by industrial process, optimizing the use of industrial materials? Is then the area of operation only within the realm of variation?