Author Archives: cosmopolitanscum

About cosmopolitanscum

Journalist, writer, commentator, blogging about architecture, urbanism and design from a humanist perspective.

In search of the Brutalist churches of America…

I have been trying to find Brutalist churches in the Americas as part of my interest in the different attitudes to Brutalism on either side of the Atlantic. In doing so I came across the story of the demise of … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Jane Drew: A Teller of Stories

We know little of Jane Drew through her writing. Of course, she co-authored works on building in the tropics with her husband but these are generally technical in nature; part of the programme of international expertise that Drew was part … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I think Ian Nairn is not just rubbish but wrong and rubbish.

The recent BBC 4 documentary on Ian Nairn is just the latest attempt to bolster the reputation of a  writer and broadcaster who is often described as desperately needing of rediscovery yet who has in fact had a singular, negative … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Rockefeller Center Wants To Disappear or Something That I Thought When I Went to New York Recently Part II 

It didn’t turn out quite as I had expected. From the moment the tour guide announced that he had helped Andrew WK write the lyrics for his latest album to watching the outside audience for NBC’s Today Show form an … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Engineering, Urbanism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

On the urban character of the Arab Spring

It may have started with noble intentions; to halt the idea that social media somehow brought about the Arab Spring and to remind us that real protest – people in the street – actually delivered the end of regimes. However, … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Urbanism | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Highline and Social Voyeurism or Something That I Thought When I Went to New York Recently Part 1 

There is something pleasantly unsettling about the Highline and it is not just the richness of the plantings in an urban context; prairie dropseed; spiked gayfeather; wild quinine; yeah whatever. It is the inversion of the usual egocentric co-ordinates of … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Design, Urbanism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Getting the Folk out

Reading the early reviews of the American Folk Art Museum in New York makes you realise that there was a crushing logic to the decision by MOMA’s board to selected Diller Scofidio & Renfro to decide whether any parts of … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Squarepusher and the Geometry of Sound

In one of Arup’s London offices is an array of speakers designed to help architects and acoustic engineers hear how the designs of their spaces will sound when complete. It’s called an ambisonic array. Virtual sound models for proposed concert … Continue reading

Posted in Design, Engineering, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Avante Arduino

What’s the greatest piece of design to come out of Italy in the last decade? The Branca chair by Mattiazzi? Something by Patricia Urquiola for Moroso? It was the Arduino, a simple microcontroller board, named according to the Wall Street … Continue reading

Posted in Design, Engineering, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Endless Interruptions

Designer Sam Bernier’s starting point is the ultimate contemporary dilemna. “After finishing the content of a mason jar… I always clean it and keep it for later use. I quickly realised that I had almost no opportunities to actually reuse … Continue reading

Posted in 3D Printing, Design, Engineering | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment