The Devil is in the Details – Bugs in the Project Catalogues

When I first started the analysis of housing project catalogues, I wouldn’t think this is going to be such an experience! I would say, it was quite hilarious, well, on occasion 🙂

Before you read more, I have to say, the issues I am talking about here are not related to the analysis itself at all, but all about my experience.

Let me start first with the moment when I felt like playing Where’s Wally?  It was fun to play this game when I was a kid. We all know Wally is hidden somewhere in the picture with a bunch of other people, etc. But, in the catalogues, of course, I was looking for particular things, not Wally. I would say it was a little bit more complicated than finding Wally 🙂

While analysing this catalogue visual below, I felt exhausted, too much details, too many people. It was that moment I felt like I am looking for Wally again 🙂 Look at the people planted in the visual 😀

fw.bmp

Then I realized some awkward details in the visuals.

Another hilarious moment of my experience was the moment I realized someone hid a scene from The Walking Dead in one of the catalogues! Check this out:

wdThese four guys are absolutely not aware of what is going on around, but just wandering like zombies! Seriosly, guys, what were you thinking while designing this? Too much coffee perhaps 😀

Another scene from a zombie apocalypse below. Seriously, where those people are looking at? Or it may be an alien invasion, who knows 😀 (Yes, I am a sci-fi fan, so)

za

It was a moment of enlightenment for me 🙂 I was focused and concentrated on my work, then all of a sudden, I saw these group of people, all looking at the sky and various sides, indifferent of the place they were in… They were so randomly placed in the visual, it was quite funny to discover.

I even discovered some ghosts wandering around like these guys below. OK you would say, “well, it might be a tehnique”. Sorry but no, I am not buying it.

Ant it was the time I felt like I am looking at a scene from Romero movie when I saw this shopping trolley on the grass! Yes a trolley!
2

I would say, this is a criticism to the designers of the catalogues, and an honest advice!

Pay more attention the figures you place in your works guys. One day an over-enthusiastic researcher may look at much more deeper than you would think 🙂

To be continued 😉

Advertisements

Busted: How Aid Money was Invested in Housing Enclaves and Shopping Centres

In 2014, Guardian revealed that British anti-poverty aid money was spent for gated communities, shopping centres and luxury property in poor countries.

CDC, the little-known investment arm of the British aid programme, has invested more than $260m (£154m) in 44 property and construction companies in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

At least 20 of these are hotels, shopping centres or companies that build or manage gated communities and luxury property, according to Guardian research.

CDC, formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation, says these investments will create thousands of jobs for poor people in construction and services. But leading British NGOs questioned how supporting upmarket property could be an acceptable use of UK aid money. (Guardian)

Some examples CDC was invested in are taking attention with luxury lifestyles they offer (below):

A glossy brochure for Garden City in Nairobi, which includes 400-plus flats and townhouses, boasts: “From the aquamarine water of the heated swimming pool to the ultra-modern fitted kitchen, solid bamboo flooring and glass balcony balustrades, quality is the defining characteristic of the Garden City Village.”

A brochure for Azuri, a development for the CDC-backed Indian Ocean Real Estate Company, invites would-be residents to “Close your eyes and imagine yourself breathing in the warm Indian ocean breeze, absorbing all that the Mauritian lifestyle has to offer.”

Azuri offers “exquisite, high-quality living” with an expansive oceanfront resort, five-star hotel, yacht club and spa – “the ideal living environment to promote both bodily and spiritual happiness”.

In Nigeria investments also include two Protea hotels – part of a chain recently bought by Marriott International – including one in Lagos at which rooms booked online start at $400 a night.(Guardian)

I wonder what happened since 2014. I don’t think much has changed since the excuse is to create jobs with luxury investment. This also shows the approach to working class people: people who have nothing to do but serve the rich and accept this as a good thing to do. The framing is so obvious and hideous: we create jobs for them with our luxury lifestyles, so they should be grateful for us to live like that! Shame on you!

This is not the only case, though. TOKI-Housing Administration in Turkey-, for example, claim that by constructing luxury housing enclaves for upper-middle income groups, they are able to build affordable housing for the poor. So, the poor should be grateful to TOKI by construction houses for the rich.

Thank you, thank you sir, case closed.

Commodification of the Pillars of Life: The Water

As Aristotle pointed out a long time ago, when two equal rights meet, power decides. Indeed, under the current neo-liberal hegemony, water rights are increasingly articulated via dynamics of commodification of water, private appropriation of water resources, dispossession tactics, and the like (Bakker 2003). (Swyngedouw)

As Erik Swyngedouw argues, in the age of commodification of everything, a.k.a. neoliberalization, water has been a pioneering issue via which neoliberal policies of privatisation have been rolled out and tested.

By the effect of climate change, the condition has become even more severe.

cityLab’s recent article, Class Warfare and the California Drought, highlights the inequality of access to water and the risk of normalisation of the commodification of vital aspects like water.

Steve Yuhas, a conservative talk-show host and part-time resident of Rancho Santa Fe, explained in a Washington Post hate-read this weekend: “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he said. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.” (cityLab)

People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. (The Washington Post)

“You could put 20 houses on my property, and they’d have families of at least four. In my house, there is only two of us,” Butler says. “[T]hey’d be using a hell of a lot more water than we’re using.” (cityLab)

Wow, these guys are absolutely right. Why people wouldn’t think such solution?!

Ordinary people, please stop using water, so more-equal-people can water their multi-acre gardens comfortably and use as much water as they want.

Although the issue is prone to many questions, the main breaking point is water as a human right or a market commodity.

Water and oil are both highly limited resources. Yet water, unlike oil, is a human right—for Californians and for the 750 million who live without access to clean water worldwide. The attitude that money can, and should, buy any quantity of water isn’t common yet in California, but as droughts become longer and more dire all over the planet, it will likely spread. And the gap between who can drink freely and who cannot will grow. (cityLab)

(Image Credit: The Washington Post)

From Billboards to Street Charts: Housing Crisis in UK

The housing crisis in the UK is visible all over the cities. It is turning to be a human disaster as Guardian article defines:

The housing crisis is an accelerating human disaster. It is creating exploitative landlords, overcrowding and poor-quality homes. Private renters spend 40% of their income on housing. It is shocking that many people in their 20s now regard it as an accepted fact that they will never have much by way of a home. (Guardian)

Check the full story here.

Just Fair Consortium, which is formed by charities and institutions including Amnesty International UK, Oxfam and Unicef UK, defines this housing crisis as in breach of human right in its report.

While in many cases it is regarded as a matter of quantity, the issue is deeper than that. It is also a matter of quality of living. For example,

The Citizens Advice study says 740,000 households in England live in privately rented homes which present a severe threat to tenants’ health from problems like damp and rat infestations. (BBC)

Protests and rallies are taken place in London as CityLab points out that they are bot just about affordable housing but about right to stay in London. In addition to recent protests, people are responding this crisis in very creative ways.

London is Changing project strikingly shows the effects of the crisis to the daily life of people living in London.

If you are relocating out of London, how do you feel about it? Bitter, excited, saddened or relieved? (Guardian)

‘I feel I’m being forced out’: London billboards highlight stories of relocation
The London is Changing project is bringing the voices of those affected by the housing crisis to the city’s billboards – and our readers have been involved. Here are some of their stories: from the optimistic to the heartbroken. Check here for full story.

 

These street charts may be the best graphs explaining the severity of the crisis and protesting it:

Arman Naji, the creator, came up with the idea after renting in Hackney, east London for four years after moving from Canada. An advertising creative, Naji used utility boxes around the capital to demonstrate how unaffordable and insecure housing is in London. (Guardian)

https://i1.wp.com/i.guim.co.uk/static/w-1920/h--/q-95/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2015/5/13/1431518690248/8d8d25b0-9063-4475-8022-7e4d2906d948-2060x1236.jpeg

Image Credit: Roberta Schmidt and Duarte Carrilho da Graça

Segregation 2.0: We live side by side, but…

New York condo which seperates the entrances for the ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ residents has sparked a discussion of contemporary patterns of spatial segregation in the cities we live in.

Luxury Apartment Building Will Have Separate Door For Poor Residents

A luxury condo building on New York City’s Upper West Side has gotten clearance from the city to have a separate entrance, or a “poor door,” for low-income tenants, according to the New York Post.

Extell, which is building the 33-story complex, will build a specific door for the 55 affordable housing units it’s including in order to be allowed to build a bigger building. The low-income units, which are available to people making 60 percent of median income or less, will also be in a segment that only contains affordable apartments and that faces the street while the luxury apartments will face the river.

Details can be found in New York Post article (City OKs UWS development with ‘poor door’ for residents) and Business Insider articles (New York City Approves Controversial ‘Poor Door’ In Luxury Condo An NYC High Rise Is Putting In Separate Entrances For Rich And Poor Renters)

The New York condo is not the only example for poor doors. Such practice can be found in London condos, as well. See Poor doors: the segregation of London’s inner-city flat dwellers

Multimillion pound housing developments in London are segregating less well-off tenants from wealthy homebuyers by forcing them to use separate entrances.

One Commercial Street development

(Image Credit: Sarah Lee)

The image shows the One Commercial Street apartment’s ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ entrances. No need to mention which one is for whom.

This practice is a part of building affordable housing units in central areas of the cities where the land rents are at the highest points. In that sense, Owen Hatherley’s commentary in Guardian shows the contradictions of relying on private developers for affordable housing: ‘Poor doors’ show why we can’t rely on developers for affordable housing

Reformism in local government has a Faustian history, often involving shady deals, compromised principles and unexpected outcomes as much as successful attempts to establish social justice in cities.

On the other hand, this vertical segregation is not always part of affordability problematic. For example, Metropol Istanbul Project in Istanbul builds segregated enterances for VIPs and other residents. In the case of this project, it is not aimed to have any ‘affordable units’ (although affordability of the units in previous examples can also be questioned).This project is under-contruction now, and it is designed to have ‘VIP’ entrance for the residents who live on the upper floors than 30. This is going to be a segregation between the residents who will use common entrance together with home office users of the tower and the VIPs who will have their own special entrance.

(Image Credit: guncelprojebilgileri.com)

In that sense, we have segregation within the already-segregated-spaces, and so on.

The question can be posed here as why we are so willing to live in such ‘segregated’ or ‘special’ places;

and what was Maggie saying again, “economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul“.

Empty Houses All Around the World: Construction for the Sake of Construction

Inequality of housing provision is not news. However, with the level of global urbanization and the planetary expansion of inequalities in urban space, it became more visible all around the world. This manifestation also provides some clues for the reasons behind this urban problem.

One example is the Ghost Estates of Ireland, where the building boom magesticaly bursted.

Built with visions of suburban prosperity in more optimistic times, the empty shells of former dream homes dot the countryside among piles of construction rubble and fallen-down fences. Economic highs and lows have led to abandonments of entire villages all over the world, from China to the Mediterranean, but Ireland is among the nations that was particularly hard-hit. 

Ghost Estates of Ireland 1Image Credit: weburbanist

Image Credit:  valérie anex

Photographer valérie anex documented the condition of Ireland’s ghost towns (click here for details). These new build and sometimes unfinished estates present a picture of commodification of housing in our urban age.

The story repeats itself in Spanish towns. La Muela is one of the ghost towns in Spain, which are a result of building boom and burst in this country.

“There are so many empty houses; thank god people haven’t gone in like in the big cities, where there are squatters,” says Victor Canales, 49, as he gestures at a shuttered building across from his row house. Canales brought his family from Zaragoza to La Muela in 1999, attracted by the quality of life of the small town, which then had about 2,500 residents.

Or it repeats itself as an empty housing project near Madrid, Valdeluz.

The construction giant Reyal Urbis invested $1.6 million in the construction of Valdeluz—it would be their “jewel in the crown,” a dormitory town utopia 15 minutes from Guadalajara and less than an hour from Madrid—a place for the comfortable middle-class to rest and play and raise their children amidst lush greenery, away from the dirt, grime and clutter of the capital.

Valdeluz

Image Credit: Newsweek

By 2013, there were new-build and unsold 750 000 housing units in Spain!

Yes, that is the real figure!

The probem is far from being a European-centric one. China is notorous with empty estates, and even cities. An example is the Chinese city of Ordos. Ordos presents a striking example of constructing for the sake constrcution.

Ordos, an empty new-built-city.

It’s been called the Dubai of northern China, showered with wealth, packed with public infrastructure and located near to precious natural resources in a region plagued by water-supply troubles. But the urban center of Ordos City, known as ‘Kangbashi New Area’, has been mostly deserted for five years. Kangbashi isn’t a ghost town due to economic issues, contamination or any other common cause of suchabandonment – the government simply can’t convince people to move there.

Ordos, China: A Modern Ghost Town Meant as home for one million people the Kangbashi district remains nearly empty five years after construction began

Ordos, China: A Modern Ghost Town Meant as home for one million people the Kangbashi district remains nearly empty five years after construction began

Image Credit: Michael Christopher Brown

The cases present different faces of commodification of urban space for the sake of commodification in our age.

The cities, estates, projects, … are built for the sake of construction. Space consumption may be the highest level in our century.

While millions of empty houses stand as a statue for the contemporary level of spatial inequalities, millions are struggling unbearable housing conditions or living on the streets.

Istanbul, Candidate for Green Capital of Europe! Seriously!?

Istanbul is among the applicants to be 2017 Green Capital of Europe!

Considering the loss of green open spaces in the city, loss hectares of northern forests for the roads and the third bridge, and Gezi Resistance sparked on the demolishment of Gezi Park last year, it truely sounds like a joke for people who are familiar with the context.

Here is the condition of public open spaces in Istanbul together with a comparison with other global cities according to World Cities Culture Report 2013.

Resim1Percentage of Public Open Green Spaces (Public Parks and Gardens) within Urban Macroforms

Info Graphic by sunipeyk.com

The application comes at a time when the city’s authorities are clamping down on environmental protests while forging ahead with projects that threaten Istanbul’s few green spaces.
“It’s a joke,” said Oğuz Kaan Salici, the Istanbul chairman of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)

Read the full story here with reactions from activists here in Guardian article.

In-situ Simulacrum or Extreme Forms of Theming in Urban Space

Theming urban space is an issue for decades, it is nothing new in that sense.

However, something about its scale is happening in China: the Clone Cities.

No, it is nothing to do with clone wars!

The copycat city in north-eastern Liaoning province is just the latest example of China’s fondness for replicating Europe’s greatest architectural hits Check the here for galery!

Chinese people can now experience Venice without actually going to Italy after the Northern Chinese city of Dalian built a 4km canal lined with European style buildings.

Venice recreation in Dalian, China

(Image Credit: Guardian Cities)

Welcome to Venice, China: Dalian copies canals, palaces … and gondoliers

Another example is Hallstatt in Guangdong, replica of Australian town.

Replica of the Austrian alpine town Hallstat in Guangdong Province, China

(Image Credit: Guardian Cities)

When it was reported last year that the ­Austrian town had been “secretly cloned”, right down to its statues of angels, some ­residents were outraged. But the mayor, ­Alexander Scheutz, was over the moon. “We are very proud,” he said, as he signed up to a cultural ­exchange with his town’s new twin. It is now clear why: the clone has been a lucrative means of cultural ­promotion, with the number of ­Chinese visitors to the real Hallstatt jumping from 50 to 1,000 per year. For the full story check here!

Or if you would like to see world of wonders in one city without traveling around, check Chinese city of Suzhou, the city of clone landmarks!

Suzhou’s Tower Bridge is not quite a carbon copy of the London original; it has four towers and no raising mechanism.

(Image Credit: Guardian Cities)

Check here for the full story!

From Tower Bridge to Sydney Harbour, welcome to China’s city of clones

As a bonus, you can even find Corbu around!

Ronchamp, Zhengzhou, 2004

A barbecue restaurant in Zhengzhou (Image Credit: Guardian Cities)

The Mega Projects as ‘Artworks’ Raising On the Worker Deaths

qatar

(Image Credit: Smithsonian)

An elevator plunged from the 32nd floor to the ground, 10 construction workers were killed in a condo construction in Istanbul last month today. They were forgotten just in a week. However, sadly, this is only the top of the iceberg. Death toll at Istanbul construction site reveals dark side of building boom in Turkey

The accident at the glitzy skyscraper in one of Istanbul’s busiest areas prompted a huge wave of indignation that was exacerbated by the police’s typically heavy-handed crackdown on mourners, many of who marched to the site shouting 'murderers.' DHA Photo

(Image Credit: DHA)

During first five months of 2014, 97 workers were killed in skyscraper constructions in Turkey according to report published by Izmir Medical Chamber.

Gökdelenler için 5 ayda 100 kisi öldü! (in Turkish)

Since those deaths happen to be one by one in several constructions, they were not even in the daily news.

The severity of the situation can be seen via the cases such as the construction works for Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022. According to Smithsonian, more than 900 workers have already died building Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure.

The International Trade Union Confederation says that if conditions don’t improve, at least 4,000 migrants will die before kick-off.

4000 workers are expected to be dead!

Such cases present an alarming situation of the level of exploitation of workers, which threats the very human right-right to life.

Another issue considering those worker deaths is the architects’ indifference for worker deaths in constructions of their ‘art works‘, which actually makes them partners in crime. Here is Zaha Hadid’s response to the case of Qatar Stadium:

Zaha Hadid on Worker Deaths in Qatar: “It’s Not My Duty As an Architect”

“I have nothing to do with the workers,” she said. “I think that’s an issue the government – if there’s a problem – should pick up. Hopefully, these things will be resolved.” (Dezeen)

We all know what this means in plain English, “It is not my problem!“.