Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Regina Spektor played last night in a circus tent in Hyde park. I was asked the other day what her music was like. I can never describe music.

I came up with: singer-songwriter, famous 4 years ago, Russian New Yorker.

It was the equivalent of saying I went to a play and there were words and actors.
I should have said that she is a storyteller with her grand piano and accompanying cello. Her music invites you into a Hansel and Gretal Wonderbread house with tales of Samson and Delilah. If it has been a while since Hotel Song, Us and Fidelity then I suggest a re-listen.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Sunday sermon

Alice Rawsthorn, design critic of the International Herald Tribune, spoke yesterday as part of The School of Life Sunday sermon sessions.

1. There are 6.5 billion people on this planet, 90 percent of whom can't afford basic products and services. Half of them don't have regular access to food, shelter or clean water. Yet when we talk about design, it's usually visual eye candy.
2. Policy makers are increasingly looking to designers to come up with solutions to social and humanitarian problems through the development of new products, systems and networks.
3. As consumers we are asking for designs to be ethically made. We need to know the life-span of a product. How it was made. How it will be disposed of. Is this design necessary. How it will contribute to finding solutions to the ecological crisis.
4. When the word 'design' is said, most people think of a chair.

Alice recommends:
Organisation: Participle
Preferred Slogan: Architecture for humanity's 'Design Like you Give a Damn!'

Referring to the hymn sheet, the 'congregation' sang a bit of Northern Soul with Gloria Jones' Tainted Love during the session and left the pews and the pulpit with The Clash.
p.s I am fascinated by Alice's side-sweep fringe. It's hard not to fixate on it. I don't know anyone who has a side-sweep.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Barking Riverside

RIBA seminar on design review panels at Barking Riverside. The development will comprise of 11,000 homes, 2 schools and a DLR station. It will be constructed over the next 25 years.

Imagine being one of the first people to live there. Little infrastructure, apart from a bus stop. Pioneer London living.

The discussions deviated from master planning and design panels, to biodiversity. Rare birds and a particular bee apparently gravitate towards this 350 acre site.
(image 2: the meeting rooms at the site are made of recycled container ships).

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The humble bookshelf

(Snooping around the home of Stefano Tonchi, editor of The New York Times Style Magazine via The Selby).

Scanning a friend's bookshelf always follows a similar pattern. You spy the hardbacks and the carefully packed in second hand peeling covers. Your head is tilted to one side as you respond to said friend who is making tea but your concentration (head still to one side) is on the book covers and the mass of title/ author/ title. You then think can I ask to borrow xyz book but you know you better not ask as you might never give it back which is the trademark of the annoying friend.

L & K used to crease my books, bend the spine and let them float in the bath. And then would hand them back to me recommending the tale that they had just read. Recipe books can be splashed with pasta sauce and the ingredients that are written on the page, but other books need to look unread (and unwashed) in my humble opinion.

p.s a new friend came to Flat 3 last year and questioned why I still had videos on my bookshelf. And why one of them was the film Iris. He had a point. Difficult to respond to why an alzheimer's Judi Dench film is on the bookshelf.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Amsterdamer weekend

Ingredients: a hammock on a boat, bicycles, architecture, Laura Basu catch up, apple cinnamon cake. Holiday weekend.
n.b Laura warned me about her flat's staircase in the east of the city. She said that 'everybody' was shocked by the gradient and that occasionally she just crawls up her ladder of stairs. Nothing prepared me. Once I had sat in her room in the sky, I started to consider the prospect of abseiling down four storeys.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Over a breakfast of mango

"Some of my things are still in Khartoum".
A friend from university is staying at Flat 3 in between travels.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Central Allotment

The three acre building site development, known as “Noho Square”, has been abandoned by Candy & Candy. Residents North of Oxford Street could well be invited to grow fruit and veg in portable grow bags in temporary allotments on the site.

(image 2:Mill Hill garden preparations)

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


I have a confession. Call it a Tuesday afternoon confession. Going to see Shakespeare usually bores me. It is a plebeian, plebe's response but so liberating to say so. The exact same liberating, sleepy feeling that happens as soon as The Tempest, Hamlet, King Lear reaches its long drawn out and overdue curtain call.

Updated versions have never convinced me, always feeling slightly twee and overzealous in their approach for the 'updated but thematically still relevant' 20th/ 21st century representations of the 'bard'. I have of course appreciated the magical fairy light of Regent Park's theatre on a midsummer's dream night and reading Julius Caesar aged 12 with Mrs Reid but my Shakespeare festivals have remained limited since Theatre Studies A-level.

I went to see Sam Mendes' production of The Winter's Tale at the Old Vic.

Seeing this production is like eating a bowl of berries. Raspberries, blueberries, and loganberries to be precise. Followed by a large peach. Hearing the language and the phrasing was beautiful. You could almost taste it. And you wanted more. The production is sumptuously designed (costume, set and lighting design) and all well-executed by accomplished, imaginative actors.

This production made me feel privileged to hear these words.

A lot of fuss has been made about the transatlantic bridge project in recent press coverage. I'm not too sure, apart from the accomplishment of securing work visas for cast and crew, why there is such applause over bringing renowned American and British actors together. However, on a personal note, this production changed how I view Shakespeare.


P.E.A.R. aims to re-establish the fanzine as a primary medium for the dissemination of architectural ideas, musings, research and works.
Each page of print from Issue #1 has been carefully pinned to The Building Centre wall and will be exhibited for a few weeks.

n.b Fanzines that evolve into 'professional' publications become known as "prozines". Publishing word play of the day.

Thursday, 11 June 2009


Lunch at the Wellcome Trust's staff canteen. I asked if there were any 'hidden' places that were off limits to the public. Maybe a look-out over London or a lift to the secret 7½ floor with extremely low ceilings. Instead, we discovered some old mural on the way out of the main exit.

"Representing the only mural Picasso produced in England, the work was created in November 1950 while the artist visited the home of his friend, Prof John Desmond Bernal of Birkbeck College, one of the greatest British scientists of the last century".

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


New London Rubbish Bin by Paul Smith is currently being shown at the Super Contemporary exhibition at the Design Museum.
(Images of his Californian 'museum' shops: San Francisco and Los Angeles).
p.s Dad- does Paul Smith still swim at London's most opulent swimming pool?

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

No real justification for this blog moment.

Just like this building and its signage very, very much.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Mushy (chick) peas

Sara and I entered a hummus competition. Sister-in laws at the ready with chickpeas, tahini and a masher. I need to tell you from the onset that the winning entry (based on texture, taste, presentation) is going to be sold at Hummus Bros cafes this week. Stakes were high.

The mushy (chick) peas duo lost in spectacular style having to resort to offering our teeny-tiny tapas sized 'test' version after a fiasco with the big batch.

Um. We also cornered one of the Hummus brother's to let him know that we thought that our version hadn't been tasted by the judges (his other brother and his 'put more salt in it' mother) by mistake. This is the opposite of losing gracefully. They had indeed tasted it. Our mistake was too much water (Drats).


Saturday, 6 June 2009

Doodle bar

Over Battersea's fairy light bridge and around a few corners*, lies Squint Opera's latest initiative, the Doodle Bar.

"We believe in the Freedom of Doodle" say the proprietors.

So grab a pen (bring your own as it's a bun fight for felt tips that work)and draw around your hand, or doodle the London eye or whatever you feel like. It's all writings on the wall.

*The trip down to the south of the river destination was involved. Texts, no A-Z, one ask to a bartender with the cry 'We are north and east Londoners lost in the depths of southern London', one case of déjà vu and 3 trains. Take a map young people.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Appropriate Thursday ven diagram

This evening involved a 3 hour council/board meeting. At first we wondered how everyone would get through all the many plates of sandwiches. By 9pm we wondered where the whisky, brandy, gin and even the Baileys were stored. A lot of hot air. Without the hot air balloon.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Time Out curators

I haven't read Time Out for a while. It used to arrive at my door and since I stopped the £2.99 weekly expenditure that served only to remind myself of what I could be but was not quite getting around to doing in London, I have started leafing through back issues.

But today I discovered that Time Out are curating a season entitled A Festival of Mirrors at Royal Opera House this September. And from first glance their programming is excellent. Timely, inclusive and exciting.

The season is set to include the usual programming suspects; site specific theatre, cabaret, dance and a little bit of magic.

There will be reminders from me. The weekend includes cabaret wonder-kids Bourgeois & Maurice so there will be reminders.

p.s I feel less geeky about my wish-moment to go to Kew as mentioned a few blog posts ago ( This week's Time Out headline confirms that yes, this summer, "It's all about Kew').

Who needs a rope and a harness?

Skyscraper climber, Alain Robert scaled a 41-storey building in Sydney today just using his hands. He may not have secured permission for this and as a result got arrested. So much red tape nowadays.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Make a bamboo bicycle

Inspiration found:
Bamboo bike studio
Their mission is twofold: "provide every cyclist the experience of building his or her dream bike from scratch, while advancing development through financing bamboo bike factories in Africa and South America".

"One weekend is all it takes to fabricate a frame from bamboo— a renewable and performance-positive material growing right in our backyard— assemble the components, and roll away with a custom-fitted ride. And the cost of the class directly supports the Bamboo Bike Studio’s efforts to seed the first bamboo bike factory in Ghana, where reliable and cheap bicycle transportation can dramatically improve access to jobs, commerce, education, basic food and water resources, and health care".

Liv, Katy and any other ex-bicycle couriers. This one's for you.


Not feeling inspired today. Not sure why or whether I should keep quiet about this lack of inspiration until it passes.
(hopefully by tomorrow. A 24-hour no inspiration bug. Or I'll have to re-read the wise words of Charles M. Schulz)

EVENT: Architecture Foundation & Tate

Architecture + Art : Crossover and Collaboration
11 - 25 June 2009

A series of trans-disciplinary investigations into how collaborative and artistic approaches can change the practice and products of architecture.

11 June, 7.00pm
Steven Holl and Vito Acconci - Sold Out
15 June, 7.00pm
Teddy Cruz and Pedro Reyes
22 June, 7.00pm
Elmgreen & Dragset and Jamie Fobert