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XL master

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I am about to move house, for the third time in the (nearly) three years since I moved to Ireland. This gives an idea of what the housing situation is like here. The first time was expected, because I was in temporary accommodation anyway. On the other two occasions, it’s been down to landlords and money. I moved here to Blackrock a year ago after we were asked to vacate the shared house so that the landlords could fix it up a bit and make more money. I discussed the current situation a few days ago. On the other hand, moving has not been as much of a problem as it could have been, and this occasion is following the same pattern as on previous occasions:

  • When I realize I need to move, I tell a few people at work, put a few feelers out, nothing drastic;
  • A day or two later I’m informed of a spare room in a reasonable place;
  • I go and take a look, and it’s acceptable and better-priced than I had expected;
  • I move in and have no major problems.

This fits in with a general theme of my stay in Ireland: I have problems with the little things, but the big things – money, accommodation, work – are going surprisingly smoothly. Maybe it’s all relative to my experiences in London, but even then I thought I was lucky. I had my own place in Muswell Hill, with a landlord who neglected to increase the rent for nearly five years, until just before I moved to Ireland. I looked at a place here last Friday evening, and it looks quite acceptable. It’s more expensive, but it is larger, and the savings on transport costs cover half of the increase. I will be able to walk to work, instead of needing to take the train. It’s with the same estate agent as I’m with now, but they’ve had a “regime change” there too, and tomorrow I’ll be talking to a new person to negotiate moving in.

More updates to the quotes database today. I’m once again browsing through one of my favourite books; S,M,L,XL by Rem Koolhaas with Bruce Mau, (1995). It’s a huge portfolio of architectural projects undertaken by the Office of Metropolitan Architecture, a design firm set up by Koolhaas and partners.

The book roughly categorizes OMA’s projects from small to large, hence the title. Only about a quarter of the projects presented here were actually built, but those are no less shocking and effective than the ones which remained on paper. OMA got off the ground with the Netherlands Dance Theatre in Rotterdam, which was built to a very restrictive budget. The project is described in blackly humorous detail. It probably wasn’t funny at the time, especially when an OMA partner was murdered while on holiday in Brazil, but in retrospect it’s amazing the place was built. For example, the supplier of the chairs was paid for 600.6 chairs and donated the other 400.4. There would have been no stage curtain if the sponsors hadn’t stumped up the cash.

At the other extreme, OMA were the master planners behind the rebuilding of huge chunks of Lille to cater for the Channel Tunnel, and Koolhaas designed a huge conference and exhibition centre as part of the project. The book also includes reports on New York and Singapore, home to the kinds of skyscrapers that other cities would refuse to build for theoretical reasons.

Eight years have passed since the book was written, and Koolhaas has gone from strength to strength as a theoretician of Bigness and a constructive critic of current architectural theory and practice. He was awarded the 2000 Pritzker Prize, which is to Architecture as the Pulitzer is to writing or the Nobel is to Science. Quotes:

Through size alone, (Big) buildings enter an amoral domain, beyond good or bad. Their impact is independent of their quality.

Flexibility is not the exhaustive anticipation of all possible changes … flexibility is the creation of margin – excess capacity that enables different and even opposite interpretations and uses.

Where there is nothing, everything is possible. Where there is Architecture, nothing (else) is possible.

It’s the kind of book that, despite containing much critique of architecture as a profession, can still inspire one to become an architect.


Written by brian t

October 6, 2002 at 2:19 pm

Posted in culture

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