About Buildings + Cities

About Buildings + Cities Podcast

A podcast about architecture, buildings and cities, from the distant past to the present day. Plus detours into technology, film, fiction, comics, drawings, and the dimly imagined future. With Luke Jones and George Gingell.

60 — Reyner Banham — 2/2 — Design By Choice
In our second and final episode on Reyner Banham, we discuss his pivot to Los Angeles, his love affair with Archigram, his theories of Megastructure, and his later projects on American industrial vernacular ('Concrete Atlantis') and his unpublished book about the High-Tech movement. After his support of the Smithsons and the 'New Brutalism' Banham was next renowned for supporting and publicising the work of English paper-architecture utopia-envisioners Archigram. We discuss Archigram, their lack of built f...

59 — Reyner Banham — 1/2 — Science for Kicks
As requested by the listeners, part one of a two parter on Reyner Banham! Banham was an architectural critic, historian, scenester and prophet of the future, with a flair for iconoclastic and pugilistic writing. In this first episode we discuss his background in Norwich and his studies at the Courtauld Institute under Nikolaus Pevsner, where he wrote his PhD on the history of the modern movement. We then consider his involvement with 'The Independent Group' at the Institute of Contemporary Art, his support...

58 — The Reactionaries — 3/3 — The Empire Strikes Back
In our final episode on Reactionaries, we explore the politics and theory that underpinned the reactionary rejection of Modernism in the 70s and 80s. We discuss Prince Charles' architectural interventions and the theories of our future king's favourite architect, Leon Krier (and Krier's problematic fave, Albert Speer). We also dive into the hotbed of Trad theorising, Peterhouse College Cambridge, and its two favourite sons, architectural historian David Watkin and philosopher Roger Scruton. We explore the f...


57 — The Reactionaries — 2/3 — Caesar's Palace without the Fun
In our second episode on Reactionaries, we explore the rejection of modernism by traditionalist architects and theorists in England after the Second World War. Modernism became the hegemonic architectural and urbanist mode in England during this period, and we examine those who rejected the consensus, and sought to continue the retreat into the past, designing architecture that occasionally verges on Caesar's Palace, without any of the fun. In this episode, we discuss Raymond Erith, the traditionalist arch...

Conversation 3 — Dulwich Picture Gallery — Soane in The Colour Palace
This is the audio from our live panel discussion at Dulwich Picture Gallery, where we were joined by the gallery's assistant curator, Helen Hillyard, and Neba Sere, founder of WUH Architecture and co-director of Black Females in Architecture. The discussion took place in the gallery's summer pavilion, the Colour Palace, which we strongly recommend going to visit. The Dulwich Picture Gallery was designed by John Soane in the early 19th Century. In this panel we discuss Soane, polychromy, tombs, the architec...

56 — The Reactionaries — 1/2 — Interwar Anxieties
Come and see us record a live episode at Dulwich Picture Gallery on the 26th June! We'd love to meet you! Modernist Architecture has always had more than its fair share of critics. In this episode, the first of a two parter, we discuss the reactionary, counter-revolutionary opposition to modernism in Britain during the interwar period. First, comes an examination of the stodgy, flag-waving, imperialist Classicism of the Edwardian era, which Luke thinks includes some of the worst architecture in Britain. On...


55 — Katsuhiro Otomo's 'Akira' — 3/3 — Good for Health, Bad for Education
In this concluding part of our discussion, we interview Anna Mill, artist of ‘Square Eyes’ about Akira from the point of view of an illustrator, and also discuss the feature length Akira anime (1988), and the wonderful soundtrack by Geinoh Yamashirogumi. You can find more about Square Eyes here. This episode is sponsored by the Article Trade Program Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts. Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show. Please rate and review the show on your podcast...

54 — Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira — 2/3 — Exploding Neo-Tokyo Twice
In the second part of our discussion, we talk through the whole, incredibly epic six-volume manga 'Akira' from start to finish. Music is from the soundtrack to the film 'Akira' by Geinoh Yamashirogumi. This episode is sponsored by the Article Trade Program and The Great Courses Plus Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts. Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show. Please rate and review the show on your podcast store to help other people find us! Follow us on twitter // instagr...

53 — Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira — 1/3 — Radio School
Katsuhiro Otomo’s vast magnum opus ‘Akira’ (1982-90) is one of the landmarks of late 20th century science fiction — a story of psychic battles, youth counterculture and technology run out of control — all set in Neo-Tokyo, a vast megastructure in the Tokyo bay. If you’ve only ever heard of one manga, it’s probably this one. We’ve been reading the definitive black and white version — worth getting hold of if you can. Actually we didn’t even get to start talking about the book proper because we went on...


52 — Nicholas Hawksmoor's Churches — 2/2
We conclude our discussion of the churches of Nicholas Hawksmoor in London, featuring discussion of church politics, 'the primitive church of the early Christians' and wet and windy site recordings from St George in the East, Shadwell (1714-29), Christ Church Spitalfields (1714-29), and St Mary Woolnoth (1716-27). Sponsored by the Article Trade Program and The Great Courses Plus Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts. Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show. Please rate and revie...

51 — Nicholas Hawksmoor's Churches — 1/2
Nicholas Hawksmoor, born in 1661, built six churches in London between 1711 and his death in 1736. Vast, white, monumental and enigmatically detailed, the Hawksmoor churches are a looming and mysterious presence in the architectural consciousness and mythic history of London, somehow both of time and out of it. Bombed, burned, spurned by popular taste before they were even completed, they have nevertheless survived to become objects of fascination, speculation and obsession. Created on the threshold of mode...

50 — 19th c Machine Utopias — 2/2 — Looking Backwards
The second part of our discussion of the utopias and dystopias of the late 19th century 'machine age'. Including a discussion of Edward Bellamy's 'Looking Backwards: 2000-1887' (once incredibly famous and now almost unknown), William Morris's 'News From Nowhere: Or, and Epoch of Rest' and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'Moving the Mountain.' Edited by Matthew Lloyd Roberts. Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show. Please rate and review the show on your podcast store to hel...


49 — 19th c. Machine Utopias 1/2 — Darwin Among the Machines
We start a two-part discussion of the utopias and dystopias of the late 19th century 'machine age,' when new technology seemed to be remaking the world, and society along with it. What sort of world would the machines bring? In this episode we discuss Samuel Butler's novel 'Erewhon' and the extraordinary speculation on machine life that it contains. We also talk about Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 'Vril' — to which it was initally (erroneously) thought to be a sequel — and Nikolai Chernyshevsky's 'What is to be d...

48 — OMA 1989 — Going Big
Rem Koolhaas and the firm he founded with three partners in 1975 — Office of Metropolitan Architects, OMA — are fascinating, critical and provocative presence within the architectural culture of the 1970s and 1980s, riding the wave of the crisis of modernist collapse while positioning themselves outside or against all of the main tendencies in the post-modern. In this episode we’re focussing on a particular, transitional moment, in which the early ‘paper’ projects start to be replaced by real buildings a...

47 — Venturi Scott-Brown & Learning From Las Vegas
We continue our discussion of the theoretical works of Robert Venturi with this episode on ‘Learning from Las Vegas — The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form’ — researched and written with Denise Scott-Brown and Steven Izenour, and published in 1972. The book, which examines the architecture of the Vegas strip, is the origin of the famous ‘Duck vs Decorated Shed’ comparison, and contains a lot else besides, including denunciations of the cult of Space, praise for the ‘ugly and ordinary,’ a certain ...


46 — Robert Venturi's 'Complexity & Contradiction' — Valid Banalities
For the first AB+C of 2019 we’re tackling one of the seminal texts of the 1960s, and an iconic moment in the stylistic overthrow of the postwar modernist order — Robert Venturi’s ‘Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture’ (1966). It’s a slim, lavishly illustrated volume, which seems lucid and straightforward, but upon closer reading turns out to be much more elusive. What are complexity and contradiction, where are they found, and what are architects supposed to do with them? On the bonus we’ll be dis...

Bonus Unlocked — 44.5 — Italian Architecture Under Fascism
We're a bit late with the first episode of the new year, so I'm releasing our bonus conversation on Italian fascist architecture to tide you over until then. If you want more material like this, there's a link to the Patreon below. We talk about the architecture of the Italian fascist period. Some of it is pretty good, unfortunately. Some of it is very weird indeed. We cover a lot ground, including — Gino Coppedè, Giovanni Muzio, Antoni Sant’Elia, Mario Chiattone, Giuseppe Terragni , Fortunato Depero, M...

45 — John Ruskin & the 19th century — Living Too Late
We finally get onto the last book of Stones of Venice, and its reverberations through the long second half of the 19th century. Young Ruskinians, EL Godwin, William Burges, William Morris and so on. Music — Vivaldi concerto for two horns, strings and continuo in F major RV 539 pt I The Fall — Living too late Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show. Please rate and review the show on your podcast store to help other people find us! Follow us on twitter // instagram // fa...


44 — Giovanni Michelucci — Late Style
Giovanni Michelucci was born in 1891, and lived through nine-tenths of the 20th century, through all its terrifying and perplexing twists and dislocations. Throughout his career, his work manages to express an idiosyncratic and critical relationship to the spirit of the age. Over fifty at the end of the war, and sacked from his university job in the late 1950s for being too old, he would go on to produce his best and most daring work in the 60s and 70s. We discuss Michelucci and Italy, fascism, post-war,...

Shoetopia! — by Stories from the Eastern West
A collaboration between About Buildings + Cities and Stories from the Eastern West (@sftewpodcast) — a cool podcast telling little-known stories from Central & Eastern Europe. We discuss Tomas Bata's modernist shoe-factory Utopia in Zlin, Moravia, his project to create an orderly (and suitably hierarchical) paradise for loyal, productive, clean-living workers, and the spread of his model all over Europe — even as far as Essex! Thanks a lot to Wojciech and Adam for coming to interview us. Support the ...

Conversation 2.2 — Adam Caruso — Second Thoughts
This is the audio from our ‘In Conversation’ with Adam Caruso, held at Nottingham Contemporary on October the 4th. You can (and probably should, if you want to know what’s going on) download the slides from the presentation here — https://tinyurl.com/y7gab672 We didn’t get through the whole slideshow, but we’ll talk about what we missed on the second part. Thanks a lot to Sam, Mercè et al at Nottingham Contemporary…! And to you, listener, for listening. Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus ...


Conversation 2.1 — Adam Caruso — On the night
This is the audio from our ‘In Conversation’ with Adam Caruso, held at Nottingham Contemporary on October the 4th. You can (and probably should, if you want to know what’s going on) download the slides from the presentation here — https://tinyurl.com/y7gab672 We didn’t get through the whole slideshow, but we’ll talk about what we missed on the second part. Thanks a lot to Sam, Mercè et al at Nottingham Contemporary…! And to you, listener, for listening. Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus ...

43 — John Ruskin's 'Stones of Venice' — Shafts!
We discuss the first two volumes of 'Stones of Venice' — the interminable first and dream-like second. Shafts, archivolts, more shafts, rotten and sun-whitened vegetation, encrustation, palaces (Gothic and Byzantine), melancholy ruins, the sound of distant seabirds, and lapis luzuli and gold aplenty. Thanks for listening — we're gearing up for a productive autumn I hope. Audio includes — the following site recordings from the Radio Aporee project on archive.org ‘Zadar, Sea Organ - Sea Organ’ by Doro-Koe...

42 — John Ruskin — Rock Lover
John Ruskin’s ‘Stones of Venice’ is one of the monuments of architectural theory in the 19th century. But it’s a hard book to get through, or to get inside. It’s incredibly long, and animated by a kind of moralistic passion that feels a little alien, at best quaint, or childish. Part of the reason is that Ruskin was a Victorian — indeed, one of the great formers of Victorian taste. We were planning to talk about the first part of the book, but in the end we just spent the whole episode trying to get to gr...


Conversation 1 — Fred Scharmen — Zero-G Carnival
A short post-script to the Space Age episodes — we talked to Fred Scharmen about the mid 1970s NASA Space Settlements design study. You can read his essay at Places Journal where you can also see a selection of Rick Guidice and Don Davis’s illustrations. We’ll have a new full episode out very soon —  Luke's graphic novel is here Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show. Follow us on twitter // instagram // facebook We’re on the web at aboutbuildingsandcities.org This pod...

41 — '2001 – A Space Odyssey' 2/2 — Live on BBC 12
The second part of our discussion of '2001 — A Space Odyssey'. At a certain point quite early on we started referring to the Monolith as 'the Obelisk' and neither of us noticed. Oh well. Thanks for listening and let us know your thoughts. Support the show on Patreon to receive bonus content for every show. Follow us on twitter // instagram // facebook We’re on the web at aboutbuildingsandcities.org...

40 — '2001 – A Space Odyssey' 1/2 — Pink Upholstery in Cartesian Space
Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001 a space odyssey is the iconic depiction of space travel, channeling the optimism and excitement of radical advances in space exploration and technology. It’s an uncompromising, utterly singular film, whose vision of a possible future is carried through comprehensively. Its scope and ambition are still basically unequalled. Kubrick is famous for the obsessiveness of his research — in this case bringing in expertise from leading scientists, cutting edge digital pioneers, anima...


39 — Catastrophe Curves — Early 90s Computer Architecture
The 1990s were when computers really entered the mainstream of architecture. The rise of personal computing, with wider access to inexpensive machines, the world wide web, advances in software and hardware, all took place against the background of global political transformation that at the time was theorised as the End of History, the breakup of the Soviet Union, democratisation, and the apparent rise of a single, global, liberal capitalist world order. But the exploration of CAD, rendering, generative...

38 — Le Corbusier — 9 — Villa Stein & Villa Savoye
We now have a Patreon — you can subscribe to get additional content for every episode. Projects like the Villa Stein and Villa Savoye are icons of modernist architecture — among the most famous of all modern buildings — images and symbols of what modern architecture is. Below all the machine age crispness, there's also a certain amount of weird bourgeois sex stuff as well. This is the second part of the conversation we began in episode 37 — it's best to listen to that one first. Music —  'Easy Living'...

37 — Le Corbusier — 8 — Five Points Towards a New Architecture
We now have a Patreon — you can subscribe to get additional content for every episode. Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanerret's 'Five Points' (1926) were an attempt to condense the fundamental structural and design principles underlying their new architecture. Drawing on the discoveries made during design and construction of their early villa projects, the points are in a sense the culmination and fulfillment of the original 'Maison Domino' idea of 1914. The points set the template for the most famous 'Puris...


36 —  Bernard Rudofsky & 'Architecture Without Architects'
We’re launching a Patreon — you can subscribe to get additional content for every episode. Bernard Rudofsky’s exhibition Architecture Without Architects at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1964 — and the fantastically successful book which followed it, have become an iconic polemic in support of the architectural ‘vernacular’. Ever-keen to play up his own iconoclastic distance from mainstream of architectural thought, Rudofsky would later claim that the idea was, at the time he proposed it, ‘simpl...

35 — 'Playtime' & 'Mon Oncle' — Modern life in Tativille
Jacques Tati's 'Mon Oncle' (1957) and 'Playtime' (1967) playfully dramatise the clash between old and new in the fast-changing cities of post-war France. Nostalgia, alienation, the absurdity of modern life and work, play, rhythm, rebellion and the curious affordances of materials and everyday items... serious fun, with silly noises. Hope you're all enjoying the summer weather and speak soon! Follow us on twitter // instagram // facebook We’re on the web at aboutbuildingsandcities.org This podcast is po...

34 — Adolf Loos's 'Ornament and Crime' — Bathroom Kink
Adolf Loos’s essay ‘Ornament and Crime’ (1910) is considered the classic modernist polemic against the frills and folderols of the established arts of the day. We're in the city of Freud — and the neurotic subtext is very close to the surface. We discuss a little of Loos’s career as an architectural iconoclast, jersey fanatic, and pervert :-/ Then we go on to a more freeform discussion of ornament in the contemporary, during which we massively contradict ourselves several times. We discussed —  ...


33 — Le Corbusier — 7 — Early Mass Housing
In this episode we explore in two early schemes for mass housing, at Pessac and in Stuttgart. Among many other things, we talked about — Bourneville New Lanark - Arnold circus - Bruno taut’s horseshoe estate - Pessac - Henri Frugès - The Weissenhofseidlung - Margarete Schutte-Lihotsky - Hannes Meyer’s essay ‘The New World’ Music & Interlude — - Harry Ross ‘Get Me an Apartment - Part 1’ from archive.org Follow us on twitter // instagram // facebook We’re on the web at aboutbuildingsandc...

32 — Le Corbusier – 6 – Urbanism — Let's Demolish Paris (Again)
The concluding part of our discussion of ‘Urbanism’ (1925) — we look at the proposals for a Contemporary City for Three Million (1923), and the notorious Plan Voisin (1925). For Le Corbusier’s detractors, these are really the crimes of the century. We did our best to think of something nice to say about them. Music — Dave Gabriel ‘Midst of their morning chimes’ Oneohtrix Point Never ‘Nobody Here’ Follow us on twitter // instagram // facebook We’re on the web at aboutbuildingsandcities.org This podca...

31 – Le Corbusier – 5 – Urbanism – Of Men & Asses
The first of a two part episode exploring Le Corbusier’s infamous and much-derided urban proposals, exhibited in the Esprit Nouveau Pavilion in 1925. In this part, we’re conducting a close reading of ‘Urbanism’ (sometimes known as ‘The City of Tomorrow and its Planning’). We mostly stayed on topic but there are allusions to Camillo Sitte Augustus Welby Pugin’s ‘Comparisons’ Music — Glass Boy ‘WELP’ Lovira ‘All Things Considered’ Loyalty Freak Music ‘Once More With You’ and ‘Waiting TTTT’ ...


30 – Franz Kafka's America
Franz Kafka’s first, and least-finished, novel is an imaginary journey around the USA (a country he never visited). Written in 1912, it’s a fantasy of America at a time when seemed, to Europeans at least, to be the most futuristic (and mysterious) place on Earth. Kafka’s fascination with machinery, technology and engineering is on display in ‘Amerika’, in which the young Karl Rossmann finds himself cut adrift in a land of glass elevators, miles-long traffic jams, endless hotels, filled with delirious extr...

29 – Le Corbusier – 4 – At Home He Feels Like A Purist
For our Christmas episode, we're discussing the early Purist villas! Knowing the right people, and a relentless programme of self-publicity yielded a steady stream of clients for Le Corbusier in the early 1920s, and allowed him to explore an architectural complement to Purism, most notably in a pair of houses for art-loving ‘batchelors’ — the Ozenfant Studio and Villa La Roche. We found time to discuss (probably with unwarranted levity, sorry) the death of Le Corbusier’s father George, and his troubled ma...

28 – Le Corbusier – 3 – Towards a New Architecture
A new epoch has begun! Le Corbusier’s ‘discovery’ is that the style of future architecture is to be found new inventions of the machine age — planes, cars, ocean liners. But ‘Towards a New Architecture’ is, at its heart, an argument for a fusion of timeless values and contemporary technology — provocatively encapsulated in its juxtaposition of a sports car and the Parthenon. We went through the book in order, focussing on the chapters: The Engineer’s Aesthetic Three Reminders to Architects - Regul...


27 – Le Corbusier – 2 – Oyster and Breezeblock Years
We’re in Paris, 1917, where Charles-Edouard Jeanneret is making friends, thinking about sex (and writing enormous letters about it), designing the occasional mechanised abattoir / concrete garden terrace, going bankrupt, trying to sell concrete blocks to postwar society, inventing a new style of painting, launching a highly costly art magazine, and (finally!) acquiring the name under which he would become famous — Le Corbusier! One of us had a very creaky chair in this episode. Also we were drinking agai...

26 – Le Corbusier – 1 – Have Formwork, Will Travel
We’re taking on the origin story of (for better or worse) the most important architect of the 20th century — Charles-Edouard Jeanneret aka Le Corbusier. His origins — petit bourgeois, Swiss, provincial — can make his eventual rise to world-enveloping notoriety and era-defining influence seem all the more unlikely. We’re digging into his childhood, family, education and travels as a young man before taking on a couple of early projects. We discuss —  La Chaux de Fonds Charles L’Eplattanier, his teach...

25 – Palace of the Soviets – Wedding Cake Stalinism
First announced in 1931, the project for the Palace of the Soviets in Moscow evolved into a staggeringly vast and bizarre proposal which stalled during WWII when only the foundations had been completed. A 400m tall neoclassical fantasy topped with a vast statue of Lenin; the Palace would probably, if completed, have still been the tallest building in the world in the year 2000. Forming a counterpart of sorts to our discussion of the Chicago Tribune — the Palace is another worldwide competition of the interw...


24.5 – Blade Runner 2049
Don’t listen if you haven’t seen the movie yet! We discuss Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. It’s pretty formless and we forgot the names of most of the characters, actors, significant plot entities. You’ll get who we’re talking about it you’ve seen it. We refer in passing to —  Moebius & Jodorowsky ‘The Incal’ Vladimir Nabokov ‘Pale Fire’ Robert Louis Stevenson ‘Treasure Island’ Outro —  Dharma — Plastic Doll (1982) Follow us on twitter // instagram // facebook We’re on the web at aboutbuildings...

24 – Blade Runner – Do You Like Our Owl?
As a postscript to our discussion of Cyberpunk in episodes 20-21, and vaguely looking ahead to the release of the upcoming sequel, we talked about Ridley Scott’s 1982 film ‘Blade Runner’. We were really winging it on the research for this one and as a result it marks a high point for getting key facts completely wrong, including — the name of a key character (see if you can guess which one!), various attributions of ethnicity, dates, names, places, the ending of the book on which it’s based, and a bunch ...

23 – Chicago Tribune – 2 of 2 – Honourable Mentions
We conclude our discussion of the 1922 Chicago Tribune competition, going through a few of the less favoured entries, and discussing how it’s been seen and understood in the years since. Apologies for some clipping on the audio – we’ve tried to edit most of it out but some is still left. As before, you can see all the entries in this book We discuss the entries of – Walter Gropius (197) Adolf Loos (196) Paul Gerhardt (159 & 160) Saverio Dioguardi (248) Vittorio Pino (252) Alfred Fellheimer & Steward...


22 – Chicago Tribune – 1 of 2 – World's Most Beautiful Office Building
In 1922, to coincide with its 75th birthday, the Chicago Tribune set out to endow the city with ‘the world’s most beautiful office building’. The results of the design competition have been seen in retrospect less as ‘the ultimate in civic expression’ than as an expression of aesthetic and theoretical crisis within architecture. Hugely varied, bizarre, ingenious and occasionally grotesque, the entries provide a window into a discipline in transformation, as well as into the politics of a new American metrop...

21 – William Gibson's 'Neuromancer' – 2 of 2 – A Haunted House in Space
Leaving the waste-strewn Earth behind, we follow the team on their run all the way to its conclusion in orbit. On the way, we cast our eyes over the weed-smelling shanty-hulk of Zion, the sunlit Condé Naste-styled resort-perfection of Freeside, and the gloomy, Victorian-styled warren of the Villa Straylight. Fewer mattresses, more carpets. Music – ‘Heliograph’ ‘CGI Snake’ ‘Wonder Cycle’ and ‘Oxygen Garden’ from the album ‘Divider’ by Chris Zabriskie – from the Free Music Archive Outro – Hypnosis ‘Pulst...

20 – William Gibson's 'Neuromancer' – 1 of 2 – Foam Mattress, No Sheets
We’re back in dystopia, soaking up the glamour, danger and decadence of the cyberpunk city. We’re reading William Gibson’s seminal science fiction novel Neuromancer (1984), which combines the pace of a thriller with a vivid and almost archaeological view of the technological and material fabric of the near future city – glue, chipboard, broken TVs, epoxy resin, dirty water, and a strange profusion of foam mattresses. Gibson has spoken about the city as a ‘compost heap’ – and we’re sifting through it alongsi...


19 – Jean Renaudie – French Concrete Utopia
During the 1960s and 70s, the French architect Jean Renaudie designed and built a series of projects in which he attempted to upend the staid and formulaic model of postwar slab-block mass housing. Architecture, for Renaudie, had to acknowledge and enshrine human being's 'Right to Difference'. But this didn't mean discarding the achievements or social ideology of modernism – rather, as part of a wider European project of dissent, critique and reformation, he formulated his own daring formal solution to ...

18 – Junkspace – Rem Koolhaas & the End of Architecture
A fuzzy empire of blur, a low grade purgatory, a perpetual Jacuzzi with millions of your best friends… We're discussing Junkspace (2001), Rem Koolhaas's notoriously elliptical wander through the dystopian and formless morass of early 21st retail architecture that seems gradually to be devouring the city, and the world. In keeping with the essay, the episode is radically unstructured, only barely makes sense, and is held together largely by hyperbole. We discussed – – Rem Koolhaas and OMA – The books S...

17 – Michelangelo – 3 of 3 – St Peters, Last Judgement, and Late Style
Michelangelo’s incredibly long career meant that he was old for a very long time, and the idea of death, and of what comes afterwards, hang over many of the projects he worked on late in life. We discuss his pivotal role in the design of St Peter’s in Rome, the sombre and terrible ‘Last Judgement’ in the Sistene Chapel, and a series of fragmentary late drawings, designs and sculptures which seem to be pointing to the future and the past at the same time. It’s been about four hours of solid Michelangelo no...


16 – Michelangelo – 2 of 3 – Laurentine Library and Campidoglio
We continue our discussion of the architecture of Michelangelo Buonarotti with an exploration of two of his most important projects – the Laurentine Library, in which his sculptural understanding of form and mass is most powerful and disconcerting – and the Piazza del Campidoglio, an urban ensemble which would become a definitive reference for the idea of civic space. In between George extemporises for about 20 minutes on late medieval Italian history despite having done no research, and we dip into the me...

15 – Michelangelo – 1 of 3 – David and the Sistene & Medici Chapels
The first of a three-parter in which we try to understand the work, and myth, of Michelangelo Buonarroti, referred to by followers as ‘the Divine’, and genuinely described by his biographer as a messenger sent from God to stop people from doing bad art. It’s a long recording and we may have spent a bit too long talking about the ‘New Sacristy’ in Florence. But the 15 minute, rhapsodic description of David’s perfect body? We regret it Not At All. Some slightly excessive chat about a particular part of...

14 – Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead' – 2 of 2
The second part of your discussion of Ayn Rand's extremely long fantasy about the 'ideal man' and the buildings he makes. The book gets weirder and more political as it goes on, and we meet Rand's Mary-Sue character, the long-suffering helmet-haired ice princess Dominique Francon. All these things make the book worse. Features music by Chris Zabriskie – 'Heliograph' from the album 'Divider', 'We always thought the future would be kind of fun' from the album 'The Dark Glow of Mountains' and 'Cylinder 3' ...


13 – Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead' – 1 of 2
This isn't one of those book reviews where you're expected to read the book first – we did it so you don't have to. Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead' is a 750 page long novel which at times is physically painful to read. It's a supposedly 'philosophical' book in which none of the motivations and actions of the characters make any sense. People have long conversations which are nearly impossible to follow. Rand maunders on about apparently random bits of mise-en-scene for pages. Even if you were going to live ...

12 – Aldo Rossi's Buildings – Part 2 of 2 – Venice Theatre to Disney HQ
The second half of Aldo Rossi's career. We discuss his role on the ushering in of the age of po-mo, a few selected monstrosties, and do listener correspondance (one email – that's how easy it is to get read out). Music includes: ‘Β15’ and 'B16' from the album ‘ΝΕΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΚΟΚΚΑΛΑ’ by Kοκκαλα, from the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org...

11 – Aldo Rossi's Buildings – Part 1 of 2 – from the Partisans to the Cemetery
Aldo Rossi’s strange and elegiac early buildings – from the tiny Monument to the Partisans, to the vast, unfinished cemetery at Modena – set him on a path toward the widespread fame and influence he would achieve during the 1980s. In many ways, his architectural vision seems to arrive already fully formed – the strange geometry, the stripped down, abstracted versions of familiar types. We explore these varied works, and how his ideas he was formulating about urban memory and history became works of archit...


10 – Aldo Rossi's 'The Architecture of the City' – Interrupted Destiny
A valiant attempt to understand Aldo Rossi's 1966 'L'Architettura della Citta', a book which both Luke & George have owned for years, but which neither have actually read until now (the pictures are nice, and the spine is an attractive orange colour). Aldo Rossi's celebrity began with this book, and a certain mythic image of him – gloomy, nostalgic, perverse – is widely recognised within architectural history. But what does the book actually say? We explore monuments, urban artifacts, fragments of the cit...

09 – The Glass Paradise – 3 of 3 – The Crystal Chain
The collapse of the Imperial German state after WW1 seemed an opportunity for Taut and his fellow visionaries to become architect-leaders themselves, and shape the form of post-war society. But faced with widespread political violence, and all at sea in dealing with bureaucratic power, Taut and his fellow avant-gardists retreated together into the secret group correspondance – 'The Crystal Chain'. The final episode in our three part exploration of the Glass Dream, including ecstatic visions, the architect...

08 – The Glass Paradise – 2 of 3 – Bruno Taut dissolves the Cities
Paul Scheerbart is dead, and Europe has dissolved into conflict, but the Glass Dream continues. Luke & George explore Bruno Taut's manifestos, the dissolution of the dirty old cities, the transfiguration of the Alps into crystal, and the uniting of the people around the new religion – architecture. Featuring Alpine Architecture (1917), The City Crown (1919), The Dissolution of the Cities & the Earth – a Good Dwelling (1920), and an original audio-only translation of Die Weltbaumeister: An Architecture Pla...


07 – The Glass Paradise – 1 of 3 – Coloured Glass Destroys Hatred!
We begin a three-part exploration of the Glass Paradise – an early 20th vision of a better world – starting off with Bruno Taut’s extraordinary Glashaus (1914), and the even stranger text which inspired it, Paul Scheerbart’s ‘Glassarchitektur’. Conceived as a model for a new and more beautiful way of living – the Glashaus is a glimpse at a future that never came to pass, filled with jewel-like cites and kaleidoscopic colour. Also, vacuum cleaners as insect exterminators, spinning crystal globes at every doo...

06 – Tate Modern – Herzog & de Meuron Before and After
Luke & George visit and discuss Switch House, the new extension to Tate Modern – and the architects of both it, and the original museum, Herzog & de Meuron. Plus – thoughts on the machine tool utopia also known as Switerland, design process, and the centrality of the spreadsheet in modern architecture. Music: ‘Holy Roller’ from the album ‘Shangri-La (Instrumentals)’ by YACHT. From the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org Look at pictures on our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104384327113...

05 - Living The Roman Good Life – Pliny's Letters on the Villas
Luke & George read and discuss Pliny the Younger’s two luxurious (but still so modest!) villas, as described in his letters. The box hedges have been trimmed, and dinner is swimming around on the back of a wooden duck. We discussed the essay ‘The Villa as Paradigm’ by James Ackerman, from Perspecta, Vol. 22, Paradigms of Architecture (1986) pp10-31 Music: ‘Curiousity’ and ‘Quizitive' from the album ‘Music For Podcasts’ by Lee Rosevere. From the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org/music/LeeRosever...


04 – Barbican Estate – Establishment Brutalism
Exploring the history and architecture of the inimitable Barbican Estate, the joys of brutalism, concrete, late modernist planning, concealed historical references, getting lost, etc. Includes a couple of short forays into the imagined lives of inhabitants and visitors... Music includes: ‘Β6’ from the album ‘ΝΕΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΚΟΚΚΑΛΑ’ by Kοκκαλα and ‘Heavy Traffic’ from the album ‘The Happiest Days Of Our Lives’ by Three Chain Links. Both from the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org Look at pictures ...

03 – How To Run An Efficient Dystopia – Taylorism and Science Fiction Cities
George & Luke survey three dystopian cities; the glass perfection of Yvegny Zamyatin’s ‘We’, the consumer World State of Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, and the shattered ruin of George Orwell’s ‘1984’. Competing visions of technological progress gone awry, and the real-world ideas that inspired them. We read: Yvegeny Zamyatin ‘We’ tr. Clarence Brown (Penguin, 1993) Aldous Huxley ‘Brave New World’ (1932) George Orwell ‘1984’ (1948) Music: ‘Shadows’, ‘Fearweaver’, ‘Bindings’ and ‘Demons’ from the alb...

02 – Strawberry Hill – Horace Walpole's Gothic Fantasies
An exploration of Horace Walpole’s mid 18th c. Gothic fantasy villa at Strawberry Hill, purple cushions and all. Contains readings from his highly indigestible novel ‘The Castle of Otranto’, intermittent bursts of tuneless medieval music, and George singing. Be warned. Find out how to visit the house yourself at www.strawberryhillhouse.org.uk Music includes: David Munro ‘Bladder Pipes - Pastourelle’ and the album ‘Gothic and Renaissance Dances’ by Klaus & Michel Walter et al, both from archive.org Look...


01 – 'The English House' by Hermann Muthesius – A German Spy in the Inglenook
The first episode of a new podcast! Luke and George read Hermann Muthesius's early 20th c. epic 'The English House'. Learn about the English, their famed love of nature, damp, draughty buildings and burnt meat. Discover how these strange proclivities shape the homes they build and inhabit. With digressions on inglenooks, William Morris, and how to become 'safe for the drawing room'. The edition we read was this one: Hermann Muthesius, Dennis Sharp (ed) ‘The English House’ (Rizzoli, 1979) https://books...