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Browser: Sutherland Lyall separates cyber wheat from chaff on architectural threshing floors. (View).

Pleasure principle

Klein Dytham Architecture is the youngish Tokyo-based practice whose interactive communication experience was featured in AR's April issue. The practice is, apart from the local staff, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham. Eight years ago they took a three month break in Japan from the RCA architecture school and forgot to go back. The nine-strong practice s new site,, designed early this year by SuperFuture, is grey and white with a thick pale orange indent strap, black and grey sans serif text with changeable items in dark blue. It's simple, fast and effective. It's a big site covering a range of work from architecture, design, interiors, exhibition design plus some left-field stuff which includes a Pecha Kucha Night during which you can show and tell about a recent project, building, whatever. You have to show exactly 20 images and you get 20 seconds for each and you can do explanatory voiceovers. This is also the site which 'catches Western stars in Japan who would not be seen dead pushing pr oducts in their own country' such as Antonio Banderas, Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford (he does Kirin beer in a sauna)--and Meg Ryan endorsing the Mitsubishi Dingo. A tad irritatingly you are asked to download Japanese text display support just about whenever you click on a new item. You don't because the menu says it's a 2.7MB, 23 minute download. When, perversely, I tried, I got a failure notice so I haven't bothered again because apart from the persistent download urging it seems to work sweetly anyway. This is not an especially marketing-orientated site but who cares, it's so full of seriously intriguing goodies (the architecture included) that you want to explore everything.

Celluloid factory

At a time when most of the old cinemas in Britain have been partitioned up into video projection booths, it's nice to see the Cinema Theatre Association (CTA) has a site at www.cinema- uk. Its archive included downloads of such music as Lloyd Thomas playing Donkey Serenade on the Tooting Granada Wurlitzer, recorded in MP3 format from the original Regal Zonophone 78. There's a members gallery and CTA archive. Selections from the latter include progress photos of cinemas being constructed--one of them culled from a 58 year old issue of this very organ. Supporting the CTA site is The Picture Palace at, an 'online source of information about cinema buildings and their architects'. This is an enthusiast site run by Louis Barfe and is, as yet a bit sparse--although it has exemplary colour photos of a number of London cinemas. Barfe's links are idiosyncratic but worth checking out.

Come back Roget

I thought I would check out the Getty Foundation's online art and architecture thesaurus at the unpleasantly designed knicker-pink, dull orange, white and black site at research/tools/vocabulary/aat/index.html. Materiality happily produced no result but then neither did Ictinus or Callicrates. Maybe that's reasonable because these two are blokes' names rather than terms. So how about 'metope'? It produced semi-metopes and demimetopes, the latter apparently being the kind you need for corners. I'm not sure this is a lot of use to practising architects but it would be invaluable to academics short of a term or two--and repro architects scamming up a bit of instant knowledge to impress the client. Mind you, try saying semidemimetopes with an entirely straight face. As to the effectiveness of the Getty thesaurus, it has evidently been designed by librarians with bewildering and unexplained numbers and brackets and left and right arrows which all look very purposeful but are scary for innocent newco mers.

The rivals?

We've Browsed several times before. Associated with it is the online magazine, Architecture Week at which is financed largely by private subscriptions and some advertising. Given its relatively enormous size, the staff must be working for peanuts or voluntarily. The long list of regional contributors means that there is a good spread of stories--the issue I looked at had three major British reports--though they were not exactly the latest news. There's a free newsletter, access to Great Buildings, a library whose topics range from 'Daily Head lines' through 'Alternative Building' to 'Collected Quizzes' and 'Business Practices'. Don't sneer at the quiz. I bet you didn't know that double glazing was invented in 1865. I suppose I shouldn't be noticing a rival to our own sister online weekly AJ Plus--at but the two are quite different--AJPlus, like its parent print version The Architects' Journal, maintains the old journalistic urge to have the late st stories out the day they happen--as well as providing a comprehensive technical resource and a terrific image bank.

Conservation corner

Take a look at site which owes, if only it knew it, a great deal to the Venturis' Ducks and Decorated Sheds. It's a site celebrating the 1949, 70ft high, 25ft diameter, 100 000 gallon capacity World's Largest Catsup Bottle on its 100ft tower in downtown Colliniville, Illinois. Restored in 1995 following a two-year conservation programme by the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group it surely has a place alongside the canonical Brown Derby--and the World's Largest Strawberry at Strawberry Point, Iowa or the giant former Uniroyal Tire Gal, Peoria, which are also to be seen on the site along with others. There are probably important lessons here for the UK's official preserver of anything that doesn't move including ex-mining slag heaps, English Heritage.

Frozen music

When, in his 1905 Philosophie der Kunst, Friedrich von Schelling produced that subsequently much misused expression about architecture being frozen music, he can hardly have imagined the London Sinfonietta's web-based exercise in 3D music, All right, it's more surreal-objects-and-spaces as musique concrete. You'll need a broadband connection --even so I never did get the 'collect' box to glow red. No, you find out. You might also look at the London Sinfonietta's site at Nothing wrong with a bit of hot music while you work on the frozen variety.

Sutherland Lyall is at
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Author:Lyall, Sutherland
Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:May 1, 2003
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