The M-Shaped Strategy newsletter for March 18th 2018
It seemed at one time that Paris might know how to do modern buildings. French architects in the US an elsewhere seemed to make objects of beauty, and objects that seemed right for their context, whether that was described as physical, temporal or cultural. But Paris is in the throes of anxiety now, with a new mayor who believes that un-Parisian high-rises are an essential component of economic advancement. "And so Mayor Hidalgo’s first high-rise, the Triangle Tower, will be built in the 15th arrondissement. Shaped like an enormous, flattened pyramid, it will challenge the Eiffel Tower for dominance of the skyline. Neighborhood residents violently oppose it. The project’s Swiss architects, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, are thrilled. 'This evocation of the urban fabric of Paris,' they offer, 'at once classic and coherent in its entirety and varied and intriguing in its details, is encountered in the facade of the Triangle. Like a classical building, this one features two levels of interpretation: an easily recognizable overall form; and a fine, crystalline silhouette of its facade, which allows it to be perceived variously.' Like so much else written about new architecture, this is nonsense."
New York, on the other hand, gets a Banksy.
And other places are getting 3-D printed houses. "ICON has developed a method for printing a single-story 650-square-foot house out of cement in only 12 to 24 hours, a fraction of the time it takes for new construction. If all goes according to plan, a community made up of about 100 homes will be constructed for residents in El Salvador next year."
What happens when the workplace is leisure? "Most people haven’t been taught to find fulfillment in their free time. To the contrary, rather than learning how to cultivate lifelong interests, students—both in primary and secondary schooling—are increasingly being educated to meet specific labor-market demands, demands that may also disappear or be automated away."
Deny the existence of consciousness? "This is the Great Silliness. We must hope that it doesn’t spread outside the academy, or convince some future information technologist or roboticist who has great power over our lives."
Millennials turn on the Boomers. "The boomers, according to Gibney, have committed 'generational plunder,' pillaging the nation’s economy, repeatedly cutting their own taxes, financing two wars with deficits, ignoring climate change, presiding over the death of America’s manufacturing core, and leaving future generations to clean up the mess they created." Here.
Do TOD's impose an urban future that people don't want? "Most environmental groups see such policies as an important tool, but they are often deeply contentious, even in liberal California. Unlike measures to add wind and solar power to the electric grid, land-use provisions involve wholesale transformations of neighborhoods where people have lived for decades, making the politics of change much more difficult and toxic."
Here's a great observation: "Prior to mass production and globalization, the kind of room-by-room makeover that dominates our remodeling discourse was the domain of the wealthy. Most changes in the average household came from gradual replacement of household goods with newer or better ones over time, rather than a premeditated overhaul. What we don’t realize is that this shift from partial to total is the outward sign of a more sinister change that occurred during the housing bubble leading up to the Great Recession: Average Americans began thinking of their homes as monetary objects to be bought, sold, invested in—consumed—rather than places to be experienced, places in which our complex lives as human beings unfold."
Arguments about the end of scale please me, yet confuse me.
That's enough for now. I might do more later this week to catch up. Pooped tonight.