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Sutherland Lyall munches his way through the heavy and spicy mid-winter diet.

Spread bets

Archiseek continues its inexorable global expansion with http://germany.archiseek.com and two new mini-portals http://scotland.archiseek.com and http://canada.archiseek.com. They are in their infancy and, although content is all in website design, the basic infrastructure looks solid: these are sites you should put in your international Favourites list. You have to admire Irish chutzpah in going for the big picture for these are more from the Desire Publishing stable that runs the excellent www.archeire.com which, last month, had (and possibly still has) the full skinny on all the entries for the recent U2 Landmark Tower competition.

Oh, pooh, snigger, snigger

There was a demonstration home assembled in the car park at January's International Consumer Electronics Show and the parallel 2004 International Builders Show in Las Vegas--try www.nextgen04.com. Designed by a company associated with a home plans outfit and rather obviously not by architects, the accoutrements stuffed into the half million dollar building suggest that the Big Things for the coming year are giant tvs and (unlike last year when wiring new houses up for networks was hot) wireless networks--which need nothing at all in the way of installation from the builder. The most interesting things seemed to be in the kitchen and loo departments. Distance-controls people, TMIO, had a stove/refrigerator (try www.tmio.com for an explanation of that) and the world's largest water closet manufacturer, TOTO USA, whose output includes the slightly bewildering self-generating hydropower faucet (not another way of describing a genetically modified tap but one whose power supply is generated by a miniature water-powered turbine), washlets (the site is so coy about these streamlined water wands that it's not at all clear what they do and how they are used) and the NEOREST water closet. It is operated by wireless remote, has a 'gentle front-and back aerated warm water spray', a lid which opens when people approach it--and closes when you have risen from the throne. Among many other features including a heated seat and warm air dryer, it uses fuzzy logic to establish your pattern of use. Take a peek at the future at www.totousa.com/toto/totohome.asp where the motto is 'Beauty is More than Porcelain Deep'.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

To the rescue, Blobbistes!

We looked at the Frank Gehry site two years ago. One of the problems with being so grand that you distain setting up a site yourself and allow fans to create one for you is that you're dependent on their continuing commitment. The site at www.frank-gehry.com is the work of Coventry-based Briton, James Avery, and is billed as the '"official unofficial" Frank Owen Gehry web page'. Avery's admiration seems undimmed but he's not had a lot of enthusiasm from the Gehry office. There are now around 31 000 Google entries for 'Frank Gehry' and perhaps it is this wide unofficial coverage which has persuaded Avery to call for someone else to perhaps take over the running of the site. That was, er, a year ago. Shame, I say. Look, there must be somebody out there. Go on, call Avery at james @ architects.net (the spaces are deliberate, he says, to prevent spam robots).

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Pied a I'eau

Excuse the pedalo joke but it's a Dutch one (at least I hope it's a joke) to be found on an otherwise fairly sober site www.h2olland.nl. It's the title of a design for a floating house at Amersfoort by architect Rik Lagerwaard, one of many look-worthy schemes to be found on the site. Lagerwaard's own potentially intriguing site is at www.lagerwaardarchitect.nl but, even when you use two screens, it turns out to be unmanageable. I could just make out the tops of what have to be long-lost frames from Tin Tin but there was no way to scroll down. The main site, h2olland, is, as its sub-title explains, devoted to 'architecture with wet feet.' When you think about it almost all the Dutch schemes you know about are on dry land despite the fact that much of the country is below sea level and has been intimately involved with water for most of its history. So this is a great site for setting the record straight about Dutch water-related architecture, design, landscape, engineering, urban planning and regeneration. In comparison with some of the content, it's a distinctly unflashy site. But that's because the designer has grasped that simplicity and plainness are terrific virtues when you have a lot of visual stories to present.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Missed all the tricks

You have to get cheerful about practically any debate about architectural education because there seems to be so little of it about. Debate, that is. So I was intrigued to hear about a new site of the highly regarded Penn State school. It is called REBOOT: Rethinking the Design Thesis at www.courses.psu.edu/arch/arch491_clg15/. Bizarrely, it starts by asking you to download the Chinese (Simplified) Text Display Support but since the download time is 23 minutes you don't. Maybe that was why I later got a Blue Screen of Death when I tried to leave the site. REBOOT was sponsored by the Graham Foundation so some if not lots of dosh for all that hard work. But the end result of the inquiry seems to be no more than a set of dreary interviews with current and recent celebrities. Journalists do this kind of thing off the tops of their heads before breakfast but we get published and paid only when the story says something new or interesting. I dozed off during the interview video so maybe I missed the whole point. I never did work out what the Chinese connection might be.

Firmness, commoditie ...

Coincidentally, a great site that I mentioned recently, a-matter, is trawling the world for architecture students design theses, a selection of the best and most interesting of which it features on the site at www.a-matter.com. Even a quick run-through reinvigorates the impression you have always had that education is where quite a lot of that Woottonesque delight in architecture takes place. But perhaps not at Penn State any more.
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Title Annotation:Browser
Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:1035
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