Ghost in the Smart Home

The new movie by Rupert Sanders, based on the hugely popular anime Ghost in the Shell by Musamune Shirow opens with a haunting preface. It is set in 2029 and observes as the boundary between human and machine becomes more and more blurred. In the time it has become customary for people to choose to “enhance” themselves by replacing a limb or an internal organ with a synthetic one, therefore also one with many new high-tech features. In that context, one private company works on blurring that boundary even further by creating the first “synthetic full-body prosthesis augmented-cybernetic human” – Major Mira Killian. She has an entirely robotic body except for her human brain. Therefore the story argues that by keeping the brain the soul, or the ghost, remains unaltered independent from the body, or the shell.

Now the obvious question this setup poses is where the boundary between human and machine really stands – how far can one go on altering and enhancing  before one turns to a cyborg? All that further leads to the discussion what is it that defines a human at all.

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With a Scent of Tobacco : A Story of Plovdiv’s Tobacco Factories

Buildings denote space. They give it meaning and fill it with function and life. Interestingly though, sometimes buildings come to describe not only space, but also time. They become symbolic for the people and the events they lived through. Breathing in history firsthand, buildings sometimes mean so much more than their function and design. This story is a part of a series, dedicated to such buildings and the fascinating way in which they remember, inspire and describe us.

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Connecting Music and Architecture

In a 2010 TED Talk on passion and creativity David Byrne draws an interesting connection between architecture and music. Through the ages, he argues, it was the change in architectural style that induced progress in composing music and stimulated the birth of new genres and musical structures. Each new space has different acoustics and therefore needs a different sound. This direct connection between the two arts, which seemingly have nothing in common, made me wonder if this connection works the other way around as well. Has music influenced and inspired the development of architecture in history? We do know that of all the arts, architecture is the one, which develops the slowest, so whenever a new movement in philosophy, painting or music arises, buildings are the last to catch up and therefore receive heavy influences by all other arts. But music… how?

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Lessons from the Past of the Future

“Who can still believe the opacity of bodies, since our sharpened and multiplied sensitivity has already penetrated the obscure manifestations of the medium?”¹

Nowadays it is common to talk about the revolution that technology caused in our lives and its profound influence in every field. Of course we mean mostly the digital technology and the revolution that happened in the last decade – the unique circumstances and consequences that surround it. However this is by far not the only technological revolution that our civilisation has seen and neither are its consequences unique.

When in the beginning of the 20th century railway and motor cars entered our lives for good, the entire perception of space, time and mainly speed changed. Science explained it, but it was artists who first expressed the altering sensitivity and worldview that was soon to infect us all.

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In Search of an Invisible Building

The Cosmicomics bt Italo Calvino are a collection of beautiful stories flowing through the pages with a witty view on science fiction and jokingly deep philosophical insights. The stories flow, but one thing about them stuck with me, teasing my mind and imagination. Doubtlessly that would be the deliberate choice of the autor to give utterly unpronoucable names to all his characters. Qfwfq, Xlthlx, Vhd Vhd, G’d(w)n, Bb’b and Mr Hnw – just to “name” a few.

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The Dam(n) Changes

“It is getting harder on me lately. The hardest thing is the loneliness. Once I used to stand tall, taller than anything on this big square and the bigger the square was getting, the prouder I was. Now I feel like I am disappearing into a pit in the middle of this endlessly big square that keeps me away from everything that could pull me back to life. A pit as deep as my memories and as grave as my sorrow. I weep not for the times that have gone by never to return, but the times that are to come, which I will see, but never really live. Looking forward to a brighter future is what makes a present so exciting. Looking forward to my future… I become desperate.

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Gossips from the Jordaan

This is a story about the everyday lives of every street’s buildings. The happiness and worries of those most prominent residents, who don’t even have a name, but we sweetly call them home.

One of the main reasons why we love cities is because in their royal slowness, they are also so dynamic. Every city changes with its residents, new neighbourhoods pop up, old ones change and so on. One of Europe’s (and not only!) most charming move is the transformation of previously poor and downtrodden areas by artists. As the story goes – a district on the lower end of the spectrum catches the attention of local artists and young people for its low rent prices. The new life in the area inspires many new activities and soon it is the hip place to be.With people on the move, the entire districts changes, but it is only the architecture that remains the same. All the way from Oslo’s Grünerløkka to Berlin’s Kreuzberg, we all know about the social policies that changed their status and the economical aspect to it.  This time, we’re looking into the architectural side of the question to see what do buildings have to say about that shift. The following is a conversation we happened to overhear at a street in de Jordaan – Amsterdam’s hippest district, which almost got demolished after WWII for the bad smells of its canals, but now is a blossoming tulip in the capitals garden with property prices sky rocketing.

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Casa Batllo meets Hundertwasserhaus

In today’s conversation we have invited two distinct guests, one based in Spain and another in Austria. The two share a similar intention at their conception and a common start in life, however although both largely succesful now, they occupy a very different status today. In the following quite existential talk between Casa Batllo from Barcelona and Hundertwasserhaus from Vienna, they discuss topics such as concept display, meaning of existence and ways to connect to the public.

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