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Sutherland Lyall takes off his sandals and socks and dips his toes in the cyber flow.

Modesty and movement

What's missing from the current architectural interest in amorphous (or perhaps more accurately a-orthogonal) forms is any sense of movement or transformation. You sort of expect amorphous shapes to morph. You have this image of the Bilbao Guggenheim slowly unfolding its thin metal wings and, shedding sheets of titanium, flapping laboriously, gradually gaining height in the arid skies of the Basque country to the south. All right, maybe just things like adjustable brises-soleil. I was reminded of all this by the Hoberman site at www.hoberman.com. Chuck Hoberman. is famous for his Hoberman sphere, a geodesic globe which can expand to up to five times its diameter. He runs a design/engineering/ 'transformable design' practice which has been used by the Foster office and which was showcased at MoMA this year. What is interesting about the site is its extensive, and perhaps inevitable, use of movies. They appear to be embedded in the site rather than linked from You Tube--which is a common, and successful, option. Equally interesting is the soft sell. The practice's name and New York address appear in small print at the bottom of the home page. I guess the big lesson is to only put stuff on your site which is going to knock the socks off viewers and make them feel you've given them a real treat. And let your work blow its own trumpet.

Why do it? It's fun

There is a species of blog, not least among architectural blogs, known as an aggregator. In a sense all news, printed or digital, which comes via an intermediate source rather than the horse's mouth belongs to the aggregator class. Think of all those newspaper stories by-lined AP or Reuters. And think especially of newsblogs such as the excellent daily ArchNewsNow at http://archnewsnow.com and Archinect Weekly at http://archinect.com. Enter prss release at www.prss-release.org. It cheerfully subtitles itself as the 'independent paper blog aggregator'. It nicely relies on the often undiscussed truth that a lot of news is either recycled press releases or at least sparked off by press releases. The compressed 'prss' (instead of 'press') suggests the way this is, ahem, suppressed by magazines. The authors are graduating architecture students, Marten Dashorst and Edwin Gardner, from Delft. They explain: 'The basic premise behind this idea is that most people-have no time to plough through hundreds of posts every day...Although a lot of people think there is nothing interesting being posted on blogs, we beg to differ ... Mostly because it's just fun'. As with all good news feeds, the editor's nose for what's intriguing, informative, and up-to-date is all-important. Keep your fingers crossed that the exigencies of architectural practice leave our duo enough time to continue.

Plot the sites

I'm never quite sure about architectural holidays. Spouses have this difficult-to-grasp obsession with lying on the beach rather than exploring the greater architectural heritage. I've gone to the Greek islands for a dozen summers without once seeing so much as a Corinthian capital. Still, the architectural tourist has a number of sites to work from and who better than a fellow architect to advise. One such site is MIMOA (MI MOdern Architecture geddit) at www.mimoa.eu which relies on architects putting in details--and providing a precise location on a Google map. If you've spent the time I have trying to find such buildings as Facteur Cheval's Palais Ideal you'll know how-crucial that map can be. Cheval isn't on the list, but a large number of modern architects are.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Women in black

I'm a sucker for animation. So great excitement at the BaumanLyons home page www.baumanlyons.co.uk where enigmatic figures in black architectural kit stride around, some crossing each others' paths, some carrying laptops, some just sitting down on Jacobsen chairs. All from a vantage point overhead. Occasionally the screen goes blank and you feel a sense of deprivation. Reluctantly you click on 'enter site' and when the striding (now closer up, still from overhead and misty) stops, you click on 'Projects' and down comes the list: 'Cultural', 'Health' and so on, and then project snapshots and then...it's a bit of a letdown because you could trudge through lots of projects for some time. So back to 'Profile and 'Directors' and you realise the black- clad people down there on the home page were really the black-clad directors and (when you click on 'Staff') staff. You click on these small images for further particulars and, big disappointment, because you want to see the whites of their eyes but get to write them an email instead.

Image bank

And here for the weekend is Oamos at www.oamos.com. Click on either Oamos or Fullscreen and on the next screen move the Objective-Entertaining slider right until the frame turns red and enter a name or word in the white section of the top strip. I tried 'Mies van der Rohe', 'Dada', 'Tristan Tzara'. And when I entered 'Art Nouveau', among the multiple visuals came the recitation of a poem about farting. The search engine had found words surrounding 'art'.

Sutherland Lyall is at sutherland.lyall@btinternet.com
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Title Annotation:browser
Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 1, 2008
Words:864
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