Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Esteban on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Brian Micklethwait on Zooming in on the workers
Rob Fisher on Zooming in on the workers
Brian Micklethwait on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Rob Fisher on Zooming in on the workers
Rob Fisher on Big Things on Boris Bikes
Rob Fisher on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Prudy on Skyscraper covered in Gothic sculpture proposed for Manhattan
Brian Micklethwait on Big Things on Boris Bikes
Javier on Big Things on Boris Bikes
Most recent entries
- Footbridges in the sky
- White vans in Kentish Town
- A busy day and a collection of Big Things
- A still life and a cat cushion in Kentish Town
- A Japanese torpedo bomber that could use some zoom
- A good time of the year
- 148 to Burgess Park
- A Big Thing and a Much Bigger Thing – on a not-black cab
- Another way to photo my meetings
- Quota Pavlova
- The first Brian’s Friday of the year tomorrow evening
- Walkie Talkie looking not that huge
- David Pierce on what it’s like using an electric scooter
- Shard behind the Tower of London (reprise)
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Category archive: Computer graphics
More and more, as I browse around in places like dezeen, I come across pictures looking like this:
The this in question being the idea of connecting the tops of towers with footbridges. And that particular picture having been produced to advertise a new scheme for jazzing up Paris.
I love bridges of all kinds, and footbridges just as much as any other sort, so I have been paying attention to such pictures as the above for quite a while now. And I reckon there’s now something of a buzz developing around this idea. Simply, there are about to be a lot of such bridges as those fantasised above, connecting the tops of buildings, and often for the use of the general public, rather than just the people in the buildings directly connected. There will, in some big cities, in only a few years, be entire new alternative worlds at the old roof level, where you will be able to travel for miles without ever touching the regular old ground.
I am now going to scroll down at dezeen, to see if I can find more pictures like the above. Bear with me. …
Well, it took a while. Dezeen has lots of postings about stand-alone little modernist buildings, which, frankly, don’t interest me that much. My feeling about such stand-alones being: we already know how to do those. Modernist versions of big sheds or older school houses are just stylistic tweaking. Nothing profound is going on. But pictures like this …:
… and this …:
… (which I found in this posting, and which I remember being very struck by when I first set eyes on them) tell me that a seriously different urban future will soon be happening, in cities all over the globe.
The underlying story here is that cities are ceasing to be mere machines for living in and for working in, with occasional little spots that tourists will like to visit and have fun in (but which the locals ignore). They are becoming nice experiences. Everyone is becoming a tourist in them, you might say.
Central to this process is the banishment of big old road vehicles, and an alternative emphasis on being a pedestrian. Or even a speeded up pedestrian. Think of how the old dock districts of big cities are being turned into nice new developments with lots of waterside footpaths. Think of what has been happening to canals.
What’s going to happen is that one city – maybe Paris? – will do this in a big way, and tourism, including by the locals, will surge upwards, in the city and on the graphs. People will love it. And then lots of other cities will do it. Including London, because London has a natural pre-skyscraper height at which this will make sense, and because London is now so full of stuff that is worth seeing from this particular height..
A big reason why all this is going to happen is that it will not be all that expensive to do, one of the big reasons why pedestrian footbridges are already a major design flavour the decade being that public money is now tight, and footbridges are relatively cheap. Designers love them, because although footbridges do not involve that much metal or timber or concrete, they do often involve a lot of design.
The picture at the top of this posting has the words “Ternes-Villiers, La Ville Multi-Strate by Jacques Ferrier” attached to it at dezeen, and I just googled those words. And, I immediately found my way to this, here:
It’s not clear from this picture just how public these bridges are intended to be. Other pictures suggest that the “community” able to use these bridges will just be the people who live in the apartment blocks thus connected. But this doesn’t alter the fact that the general public are going to want to get involved in all this high-level fun and sightseeing (and photography), if only because it will all be so clearly visible from below.
This picture of a taxi ticks two BMdotcom boxes. First, its a black cab which isn’t, either because it just isn’t, or because it is covered in an advert. In this case, it’s a bit of both:
But better, we observe in the advert on the not-black cab two Big Things. The Big Thing on the left says: London! And what is actually the much Bigger Thing, on the right, says: New York! I am collecting imagery that says: London!, and this fits that bill very well, even if it does say: New York! as well.
I quite like the replacement for the Twin Towers, but it seems to me rather bland, in a picture, when you can’t see how very big it is. Bland being what you do not want in a Big Thing for saying: New York! But I guess, the Twin Towers having established themselves as the Big Things that formerly said: New York, whatever replaced them was going to have to do that job as soon as it appeared, bland or not. The Empire State or the Chrysler would no longer do, them having already been dethroned as the sayers of: New York!, by the Twin Towers.
I think it is very telling that in the New York picture there is a clump of skyscrapers rather than just one. Because New York is not any one skyscraper. It’s a forest of skyscrapers. Each individual skyscraper may be rather bland, but what it all adds up to is anything but bland.
But New York is not my town, and that is only me guessing.
Indeed. 6000 miles away, in Cape Town, England have been making hay in the sunshine:
Sunshine? Well, I heard a commentator say at the start of the game that it was 43C out in the middle.
I do love the screen capture function. I can’t think of any better way to frieze an otherwise doomed-to-oblivion sporting moment. Now, it makes little difference. But when, as death approaches, I entertain myself by scrolling back through this blog, postings like this one will be very sweet to remember.
England reached 629-6 after being 223-5. And now, South Africa are 7-1 in reply:
Anderson to van Zyl, OUT, oh no! It goes from bad to worse for South Africa! A shambolic piece of running. Van Zyl pushed the ball into the off side and set off for the run, but Elgar wasn’t interested at all. Van Zyl was halfway down the pitch and had no chance to get back as the throw came in from Compton to Bairstow at the stumps.
Hashim Amla now in. Out of-form-batsman, and out-of-depth captain of a team already one-down in the series, and he knows at least one of these things and probably both. So if he also got a double century now, that would cheer me up too, because look what the human species - the species that both I and Hashim Amla are members of - is capable of when under extreme pressure.
Amla doing well now would also be good for cricket. You know your team is doing well, when you start thinking that if the other guys were to start doing a bit better, that would be good for cricket. Although, were Amla to get out soon, I could just about stand the disappointment.
Well, I think it’s artistry. It is definitely wrap advertising:
Using what is known as a “conformable vinyl wrapping” material, a high-quality print or protective clear wrap can be molded to almost any and every part of a vehicle. Typically, conformable material is used because it is the easiest to work with, especially on contoured surfaces. Using the proper adhesives when applying the material to the surface of the car is essential, otherwise the wrap can lead to adhesive failure in a few months after the application.
Advancements in plastics have led to new types of vinyl designed specifically for wrap advertising, including vinyl sheets that feature bubble-preventing air channels. Microscopic glass beads are used to prevent an adhesive from functioning until the user is ready (the beads allow the material to be repeatedly lifted and reapplied during the wrapping process, without compromising the longevity of the wrap). The vinyl is heated with a heat gun or torch for the purpose of molding the material around objects.
Yesterday’s posting here was all about hand-painted vehicles. Here are some photos of some of London’s famed black cabs which have been wrapped with adverts, in the manner described above. I have concentrated on black cabs which are wrapped all over:
Again, I make no artistic claims for these photos, just for the people who wrapped the black cabs, and above all for the people who worked out how this could be done, in the elegant way that you can observe.
Resulting in all these “black cabs”, like so many of the species these days, not being black at all.
I got talking to the owner of “black” cab 2.2, i.e. the one in the middle of the bottom three, in close up, and he said he gets paid £70 a month. Which is not enough for anyone to make a living just by riding around inside a 3D advert. But, enough to make a nice difference.
The commenters on this Guardian piece by Oliver Wainwright and Monica Ulmanu disagree about what it all means and whether it’s good or bad. But all who express an opinion on the subject consider the piece itself to be an outstanding piece of explanatory work. I share this opinion. If you want to know why London looks the exact way that it does and how it is developing the exact way that it is, then you really should read this.
It contains this graphic, which concerns the elaborate rules that have accumulated over the years concerning views of St Paul’s …:
… and much else besides.
I think I’ve linked to this guy quite a few times before, but before I just called him The Guardian. Which he is. But he is also somewhat more than that. By that I mean that his work is better than his mere opinions, and the latter is probably a very reasonable price to pay for the former.
My bet? It won’t be built in New York. It will be built somewhere else.
Where would we be without maps? In what world would we be living, without maps? A very different world, I think, and a much less coherent and join-up world. While travelling we consult maps, and are often unable to distinguish later what we learned by actually going there and being there, and what we merely saw on maps while going where we went, and being where we went. That was my experience anyway, when, much younger, I roamed about in Europe, on a bike.
However, when I am on one a walk with Goddaughter One, I tend to learn rather little from maps, until afterwards. She is usually the one choosing where we go, and I just follow her lead. And, I don’t consult a map, because I always have my bag with me, and my camera in the other hand, and would need a third hand for a map, but do not have a third hand. There is accordingly a basic sense in which, after one of our joint expeditions, I don’t know, at the time, where I am, and don’t know, afterwards, where I have been.
It would be different if I was taking photos with my mobile phone, and also using that as a map. But, I use a regular old camera to take the pictures I take. I only use a mobile when (a) I want to take a photo, (b) have forgotten to bring my regular camera, and (c) have remembered to bring my mobile. This circumstance is very rare.
Take our most recent trek, the one which began when we met up at Manor House tube, talked for a while, and which only really got started after we had found our way to that amazing castle. I only worked out quite recently that we had started our walk here:
When we walked from Manor House tube we were walking south. When we reached the Castle Climbing Centre, we arrived at the southern most point of our travels that day. Then we took the path in an easterly direction along the canal, i.e. the blue line. The map looks a bit like a pair of spectacles, I think.
Here are some of the pictures I took that day, when the journey really began:
As you can see the path we took is called the New River Path (the canal being the New River). Wikipedia seems to be quite informative about “New River (England)”, but my blogging software seems to refuse to do that link (brackets?), so you’ll have to take my word for it that some of the words there are these ones:
The New River is an artificial waterway in England, opened in 1613 to supply London with fresh drinking water taken from the River Lea and from Chadwell Springs and Amwell Springs (which ceased to flow by the end of the 19th century), and other springs and wells along its course.
I don’t know when those reservoirs happened. Later, I presume. Until this expedition, I had no idea that the “New River” even existed.
As I said at the end of this recent posting here, I have some catching up that I want to do.
Last night I gave a talk about London’s Big Things and their historical and theoretical backstory, at Christian Michel’s place. The talk felt very disorganised from where I was sitting, on account of me trying to say too much, but it seemed to be quite well received. Aiden Gregg was kind enough to compare my talk to London itself: crazy, but lots of interesting things vying for attention.
Last July, I featured a computer fake-up picture of the next London Big Thing, and there on the right is the same picture, again, smaller. The new building, under construction now, is the one in the middle, and the tallest.
But now, just a day after giving my Big Thing talk, I learn of the next but one London Big Thing, which will, if all proceeds according to the current plan, look like this:
I like it. On its own it’s nothing very fantastic, but presumably, this being the City of London, the detailing will be stylish. And it will lift the City Big Thing cluster to new heights. I think the combined effect will be excellent, and I rather think that the consequence may be that after it goes up we may talk of the City Cluster, rather than of its individual Big Thing bits. I also think I detect the influence of the Broadgate Tower, with those big Xs all of it.
A pattern seems to be emerging with these Big Things, aside from the patterns on the outside of them I mean, which is that they stick an eatery-and-drinkery and a viewing gallery at the top, to get at least some of the public (definitely me) behind the Big Thing.
The architects are really selling this latest Big Thing as something that may help to stir up the weekend in the City, weekends in the City at the moment being about as lively as the inside of a coffin. Not only are they throwing in a bar/restaurant and a viewing gallery at the top, open free of charge to all comers, but they are also clearing out some space at the bottom of the Big Thing for us punters to wander about in, and presumably buy yet more stuff. We’ll have to ask nicely on the internet the night before to go to the top of this Big Thing, if the rules for the similarly welcoming Walkie-Talkie top are anything to go by. But the big space at the bottom will - presumably again – be a place you can just show up in and enjoy. Photoing upwards from that space should really be something, as well as outwards and downwards from the top.
I don’t really know how this sort of thing works, but what seems to be happening is that they are trying to make this Big Thing as popular as possible out here in punter-land, to maximise its chances of getting a smooth ride on the planning permission front. I’m guessing that in a deal like this, there is just nothing better than getting your Big Thing built really big (and it really is big), as planned and on schedule, with no grief from the politicians. That’s all well worth a public space and whatever places up top that Joe Public (aka: me) and his digital camera may desire.
LATER: The Guardian - 1 Undershaft, the tallest skyscraper in the City of London, revealed - goes into much more detail, very informatively, if a bit sniffily in the way you’d expect from the Guardian talking about trade. Ends by saying what I say about how the City Big Thing cluster will “congeal” into one lump.
Will this Big Thing just be called “The Undershaft”?.
These are Shanghai, Seoul, Beijing, London, New York:
The rest here.
Photo taken in 2008 by me, from a train, just past Queenstown Road railway station, on my way from Waterloo to Egham, the railway station of my childhood:
That’s not two towers joined together by a bridge.
This is two towers joined together by a bridge:
Those two towers are going to be built in Copenhagen harbour. They’ve just received the go-ahead. Here’s hoping they do indeed go ahead.
I see that of Counting Cats, in the person of Julie near Chicago, recently linked to a piece by the late Antony Flew entitled The Terrors of Islam, a piece which I had totally forgotten about. But I am sure that this piece influenced me very strongly when I read it. And I definitely did read it because I published it, for the Libertarian Alliance (Chris Tame Tendency).
It always pleases me hugely when someone links to an old LA effort of mine like this. Not exclusively mine, you understand. Somebody else had to write it. But … mine. And this particular piece of Flew’s is downright prophetic.
Counting Cats had a strange outbreak of junk postings about fake university essays a week or two back but seems to be over it now.
Because of the uncannily precise weather forecasts with which modern civilisation is blessed, I know that today will be a great day to be going out, which I have not done for a while. And I intend to check out this, which is a gas holder that has been tarted up into a big old public sculpture stroke small park inside:
There are mirrors. I like mirrors. Mirrors make for fun photos.
Also, notice how, in this other picture, …:
... it would appear that they (Bell Philips) will be inserting a block of flats into another nearby gas holder. Cute.
I’ll let you all know how it is all looking, at the moment. Assuming I manage to find it and it’s not still a building site behind barriers. With these kinds of things, the internet can only tell you so much. By which I mean that it could tell you enough so that you wouldn’t have to go there to check it out, but it generally can’t be bothered. So, since it’s only a short Victoria Line journey, I will go there. To check out not only the Thing itself, but to see what other Things I can see from inside it, framed by it.
Vanity Fair piece about Frank Gehry. Key paragraph:
Things progressed slowly from there, as the architect continued to work more audacious swooping and compound curves into his designs. Eventually he found himself hitting the outer limits of what was buildable. This frustration led Gehry on a search for a way to fulfill his most far-reaching creative desires. “I asked the guys in the office if there was any way they knew of to get where I wanted to go through computers, which I am still illiterate in the use of,” he explains. Gehry’s partner, Jim Glymph - “the office hippie,” in Gehry’s words - led the way, adapting for architecture a program used to design fighter planes. As Gehry began to harness technology, his work started to take on riotous, almost gravity-defying boldness. He dared to take the liberties with form he had always dreamed of, fashioning models out of sensuously pleated cardboard and crushed paper-towel tubes. He always works with models, using scraps of “whatever is lying around” - on one occasion a Perrier bottle. “I move a piece of paper and agonize over it for a week, but in the end it was a matter of getting the stuff built,” he tells me. “The computer is a tool that lets the architect parent the project to the end, because it allows you to make accurate, descriptive, and detailed drawings of complicated forms.”
“Frank still doesn’t know how to use a computer except to throw it at somebody,” ...
I smell a classic two-man team there. Gehry dreams it. And this guy called “Glymph” (ever heard of him? - me neither - I got very little about him by googling) works out how to actually get the damn thing built. To quote myself:
Even when a single creative genius seems to stand in isolated splendour, more often than not it turns out that there was or is a backroom toiler seeing to the money, minding the shop, cleaning up the mess, lining up the required resources, publishing and/or editing what the Great Man has merely written, quietly eliminating the blunders of, or, not infrequently, actually doing the work only fantasised and announced by, the Great Man.
Glymph now seems to be on his own, although you can’t tell from the merely institutional appearances.
In general, the role of the Other Sort of Architect, the one who turns whatever some Genius Gehry figure wants into something buildable, and which will not be a mechanical disaster, seems to be growing and growing.
I found that picture of Gehry’s epoch-making Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao here. The VF piece identifies this as the most “important” building of our time. Architects love it. The public does not hate it.
Indeed. It was front page news yesterday in the Evening Standard. I’m guessing that the way Renzo Piano and Shardeveloper Irving Sellar have been emitting verbiage about how Paddington is now “soulless and has no life” may be what got this story onto the front page:
Images of a 65-storey “skinny Shard” of apartments, offices, restaurants and a roof garden designed by Renzo Piano - the Italian “starchitect” behind western Europe’s tallest building - were unveiled today ahead of a public exhibition.
Irvine Sellar, chairman of Shard developers Sellar Property Group, said although Paddington was one of London’s most important gateways it had been overlooked for decades.
He said: “At the moment you only go to Paddington for two reasons - to catch a train or to see someone in hospital. It is soulless and has no life and yet it is only five minutes from Hyde Park and seven or eight minutes from Marble Arch.
“It is a fantastic location but it is stuck in a Fifties time-warp. We intend to create a place for people to go, where they will want to live, work, eat and shop.”
I imagine many current Paddingtonians actually quite like living in a “Fifties time-warp” that has been “overlooked” by the likes of Piano and Sellar “for decades”.
I of course love the idea of this new Big Thing. I hugely admire Renzo Piano. His new tower and its new surroundings, and in the meantime the process of building it all, will turn Paddington into the kind of place I will want to visit far more often than I do now. And by 2020 there’ll be another London Big Thing for me to observe and photo from afar. So I hope this goes ahead. (Part of the reason for this posting is to remind me to check out that public exhibition that they mention.)
But these guys sure know how to talk about locals in a way calculated to piss them off.
When I photo a scene, I like to get other people’s screens into my pictures:
The weather was grim and grey today, when I took the above snaps, but the paintings were bright!
Painting. Before computers, this was how they did Photoshop.