Strelka Press

PublisherStrelka Press2012
There are few things in urbanism today so unfashionable as the ceremonial public square. The vast, proverbially windswept plazas built under “really existing socialism” from the 1920s to the 1980s are widely considered to be useless spaces, designed to intimidate or at least impress. Yet if they are only of use to those in power, why is it they have been used so successfully in protest? From Petrograd in 1917 to Independence Square in Kiev during the Orange Revolution, these spaces have become focuses for mass protest. Beginning in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, and taking in Warsaw, Ljubljana, Kharkov and Moscow, Owen ...
PublisherStrelka Press2014
A nuclear facility in Iran before and after an explosion, a village in Pakistan before and after a drone attack, a Cambodian river valley before and after a flood. The before-and-after image has become the tool of choice for analysing events. Satellite photography allows us to scrutinise the impact of war or climate change, from the safe distance of orbit. But one thing is rarely captured: the event itself. All we can read is its effect on a space, and that’s where the architectural expert is required, to fill the gap with a narrative. In this groundbreaking essay, Eyal and Ines ...
PublisherStrelka Press2013
Preservation is ordinarily reserved for architecture that is unique. So how would we go about preserving buildings that are utterly generic? Such is the case with Belyayevo, an ordinary residential district in Moscow. Belyayevo is a classic microrayon, the standardised neighbourhood system that successive Soviet regimes laid out across the USSR in what was the most expansive programme of industrialised construction the world has ever seen. Belyayevo’s buildings, and the desolate spaces between them, are identical to thousands of others, but is it different? Kuba Snopek argues that is. Home to many of the artists of the Moscow Conceptualism school, the ...
PublisherStrelka Press2013
These are serious times, or so our governments keep telling us. Strangling economies with their austerity policies, they assure us that they have no choice. In a world where “there is no alternative”, how do you dissent? Once upon a time, graphic designers would have made political posters and typeset manifestos. Today, protest has new strategies. Enter the internet meme. With its Darwinian survival skills and its viral potential, the meme is a way of scaling up protest. Hackers and activists have learned to unleash the destructive force of a Rick Astley video. They have let slip the Lolcats of ...
PublisherStrelka Press2012
We live in an age of sticky problems, whether it’s climate change or the decline of the welfare state. With conventional solutions failing, a new culture of decision-making is called for. Strategic design is about applying the principles of traditional design to “big picture” systemic challenges such as healthcare, education and the environment. It redefines how problems are approached and aims to deliver more resilient solutions. In this short book, Dan Hill outlines a new vocabulary of design, one that needs to be smuggled into the upper echelons of power. He asserts that, increasingly, effective design means engaging with the ...
PublisherStrelka Press2012
This is the account of a 14-hour drive around the perimeter of the largest city in South America. Exploring the edge condition of São Paulo, Justin McGuirk investigates the different forms of dwelling available to its would-be citizens, and meets some of the people carving a life for themselves on the verge of this unforgiving metropolis. Driving anti-clockwise, we take a journey backwards in time, moving from cardboard favelas and hastily built tower blocks, back to modernist social housing and the factory towns built early in the last century. Is this a tale, as the Brazilian flag attests, of “Order and ...
PublisherStrelka Press2013
“Less is more” goes the modernist dictum. But is it? In an age when we are endlessly urged to do “more with less”, can we still romanticise the pretensions of minimalism? For Pier Vittorio Aureli, the return of “austerity chic” is a perversion of what ought to be a meaningful way of life. Charting the rise of asceticism in early Christianity and its institutionalisation with the medieval monasteries, Aureli examines how the basic unit of the reclusive life – the monk’s cell – becomes the foundation of private property. And from there, he argues, it all starts to go wrong. By ...
PublisherStrelka Press2012
With each successive style or movement, redundant forms and technologies are replaced and then re-enacted in the name of progress. Ideologies and fictions become forms. And then there is the stranger world still of actual replicas, such as Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, where history is brought to life for didactic purposes. It can’t help it, architecture’s deepest instinct is to repeat, whether it’s columns, ceiling tiles or twin towers. Ours is a landscape of cover versions, copy and paste, rinse and repeat. In this polemical essay, Sam Jacob probes the architectural condition and wonders whether it’s all just an attempt ...
PublisherStrelka Press2012
Mao once called the Chinese “a blank sheet of paper”, and the modernising that came with the Cultural Revolution treated cities much the same. But Mao’s destructive impulses were as nothing compared to the liberalised policies of his recent successors. China has undergone urbanisation on a scale never seen before – much of it speculative, some of it a brazen display of power. In this incisive analysis by the acclaimed Sinologist Julia Lovell, we get inside the politics of architecture and city-making in China. There is a colourful cast, from the Western starchitects rushing into the land of opportunity, to political ...
Strelka Press is a digital-first publisher of new writing on architecture, design and the city. Reviving the essay as a popular form, we publish critical writing in digital and print editions.
PublisherStrelka Press2012
Space is a technology. Buildings and the cities they inhabit have become infrastructural – mobile, monetized networks. For the world’s power players, infrastructure space is a secret weapon, and the rest of us are only just beginning to realize. If Victor Hugo came back to give a TED talk, he might assert that architecture, which he once claimed had been killed by the book, is reincarnate as something more powerful still – as information itself. If this space is a secret weapon, says Keller Easterling, it is a secret best kept from those trained to make space – architects. Meanwhile, ...
PublisherStrelka Press2014
As growth was the defining condition of the 20th century, so scarcity is set to define the 21st. Already it pervades political discourse and shapes our reading of the economy and the environment. But scarcity is not just the inevitable result of growth and resource exploitation – every innovation results in new scarcities. Scarcity is constructed daily through the creation of desire, it is designed. The authors of this timely essay set out to establish a more sophisticated understanding of scarcity. Moving beyond the idea that lack and inequality are simply laws of nature, they argue that scarcity can be ...
PublisherStrelka Press2012
Monocultures have always been part of the appeal of the suburban headquarters, and it is especially true for the tech companies that dominate Silicon Valley. On their bland campuses, the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook dominate the world, removed from the mess and the prying eyes of the real city. But while their products are discussed endlessly, their urbanism has rarely been. So what does it look like? To date, the Silicon Valley campus has served as a backdrop to many a sun-kissed founder photoshoot, but there is little understanding of the distinctive urban personality that separates the village of ...
PublisherStrelka Press2014
If the hype is to be believed then the next big thing is the Internet of Things. But is it what you think it is? Because the Internet of Things is not about things on the internet. A world in which all our household gadgets can communicate with each other may sound vaguely useful, but it’s not really for us consumers. The Internet of Things serves the interests of the technology giants, in their epic wrangles with each other. And it is they who will turn the jargon of “smart cities” and “smart homes” into a self-fulfilling prophesy. In this ...
PublisherStrelka Press2014
Dharavi has achieved mythical status. Commonly, and mistakenly, cited as Asia’s largest slum, it is a symbol of Mumbai’s inability to meet the needs of its population, and the ability of Mumbaikars to meet those needs on their own. Commentaries usually fall back on the slum narrative, which sees Dharavi as resilient but backward, and in need of radical intervention. Matias Echanove and Rahul Srivastava of Urbz argue that it is time for this narrative to be rewritten. Dharavi residents do not recognise their home as a slum – the slum is always somewhere else, a few blocks away perhaps. ...

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