architecture – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Category Archives: architecture


[As a Friday return to blogging for mammoth, photographs of Formlessfinder‘s lovely half-pile under cantilevered canopy at Design Miami, December 2013. You can watch the architects talk about the design and construction of the pile over an exceptionally annoying soundtrack here. More architecture via material deformation, please. The photographs are, in order from top to […]

glitches, flash crashes, and very bad futurists

Last fall, Vincent deBritto and Ozayr Saloojee invited me to come visit their Resilient Infrastructures project at the University of Minnesota; my main contribution was to deliver the lecture above, “Glitches, Flash Crashes, and Very Bad Futurists”. The lecture examines a particular class of landscape problem, which I’ve provisionally described as “glitches and flash crashes”, […]

finance fundamentals i

Mammoth has long held an interest in the broad social, economic, and logistical systems which provide the context within which any infrastructure, landscape, or building is designed and constructed. One particularly important contextual component is the nature of a project’s financing. This is true for the Panama Canal Expansion, it is true for the Fresh […]

the geopolitics of subtraction

[Map of the IIRSA’s Amazonian axis, connecting the Pacific to the Atlantic across the Andes; from IIRSA document “8 Ejes de Integración de la Infraestructura de América del Sur”] Keller Easterling, speculating about “a new counterintuitive economic model” of “infrastructural subtraction” in Domus last November: “What are the points of leverage, trip distances or economies […]

the new modulated world of invisible fields

[A portion of Nicolas Rapp’s map of the internet for Fortune magazine.] Writing for Quaderns, Kazys Varnelis argues for an infrastructural urbanism that not only embraces and seeks to design (or design with) infrastructure, but also imagines new infrastructures “more appropriate to network culture”: But we have not gone far enough yet. The Deleuzian modulations […]

zones and extrastatecraft

[A zone: Ebene Cybercity in Mauritius. As a bonus, Ebene is also an excellent example of the capacity of the Tubes to direct urban futures, as one of its prime selling points is that it sits at a landing point for the “the SAT3/WASC/SAFE sub-marine cable which links Southern Europe, Western and Southern Africa and […]

“brute force architecture”

We highly recommend checking out Bryan Boyer’s latest post, “Brute Force Architecture and its Discontents”, which is a fascinating take on OMA and its uinque impact on the operational models of other architecture firms around the globe: OMA is famous for two things: its astounding output, and the extent to which its operations chew through […]

unknown unknowns

0. Everyone’s favorite Donald Rumsfeld quotation: “[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.” (As evidence […]

dharavi: globalization and spontaneously mixed uses

[The following piece, on the surprising ways that the residents of the Mumbai settlement of Dharavi have integrated that urban agglomeration into global economic networks, and the value of the unique spatial formatting that both enables and results from that integration, is the second thoroughly-footnoted guest post we’ve run from Peter Nunns. (The first was […]

hypothethical signs

[An image from Mehmet Ali Gökçeoğlu’s mayoral campaign.] This past summer on Places, Rob Walker, one of the artists behind the “Hypothetical Development Organization”, penned a brief history of architecture fiction and discussed the even-briefer history of that organization.  (The Hypothetical Development Organization was, if you are unfamiliar with it, a brief initiative which produced […]

the network as industry

[“Interior components of the cooling system” at a Facebook data center in Palo Alto; image via Alexis Madrigal’s report for Domus on Facebook’s Open Computer Project, which “describes in detail how to construct an energy-efficient data centre”.] “Secret Servers”, an article by James Bridle originally published in issue 099 of Icon magazine, looks at the […]

low roads and architecture

[Building 20 at MIT, a “250,000-square foot wood building [that] hosted the development of many important research disciplines from Chomskyan linguistics to the new style of computing promoted by early hackers”.] 1. Alexis Madrigal writes about “Low Road” buildings: …startup lore says that many companies were founded in garages, attics, and warehouses. Once word got […]

window washing

[Facade of Pharos Building, Hoofddorp, Vanessa van Dam, 2002 — never realized.] Given our recent thinking about the role of maintenance in urban design, I was quite interested when I noticed, in a couple-year-old copy of 306090, an article by Hilary Sample (of MOS) on the potential of maintenance in architecture.  The piece, “Towers, Maintenance, […]

phantom stories

[Homes on the outskirts of Shanghai, via Google Maps.] A recent report in the New York Times which looks at global marriage patterns from an economic perspective contains the following fascinating excerpt, which indicates that China’s one-child policy, “combined with a cultural preference for sons and technologies that permit selective abortion”, has indirectly produced a […]


We recently wrote a brief piece, “Appeal”, for the excellent architecture journal Quaderns in response to their most recent issue, “Parainfrastructures”. We used this response as an opportunity to consider why we are so drawn to infrastructural landscapes like Blue Plains — not just as sites of logistical and technological operations, but aesthetically as well: […]

residue treatment center

[Residue Treatment Center (or CTRV) in Vacarisses, designed by Batlle i Roig. While the CTRV is a municipal solid waste treatment facility, not a wastewater treatment facility (where flushed feces usually go), the two kinds of facilities are commonly linked by the need to dispose of solid materials separated out of water at wastewater treatment […]

reluctant migration

In yet another great little piece at Domus, Fred Scharmen and Molly Wright Steenson look at the history and potential of the relationship between architecture and the field of interaction design, arguing that further disciplinary promiscuity would benefit both architects and interaction designers: “Instead of bringing together users through machines, what if interaction design were […]

i-beams and networked screens

[A pair of projects by David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang (The Living); top, Amphibious Architecture; above, Living Light.] The thirtieth anniversary issue of Metropolis has a number of great articles in it (and I hope to write at length shortly about one of those, Andres Duany’s apology for the New Urbanism), so I’d recommend picking […]

splash house

A group of graduate architecture students from Parsons’ Design Workshop is attempting to (partially) fund an unsolicited project called Splash House using Kickstarter: The Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center is an invaluable place for kids to play and learn. Yet for several months every summer the Washington Heights community is denied this critical resource when […]

infrastructure without architects

[Photo of Global III, by Alan Berger via NAi Publishers] Approximately seventy-five miles due west of the gleaming towers of Chicago’s Loop, Union Pacific Railroad, the United States’ largest railroad company, operates the Rochelle Global III Intermodal Facility, twelve-hundred acres of switching yards, train tracks, loading facilities, and container-sized parking spaces.  Rochelle, a small Midwestern […]