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Manmade Modular Megastructures

Ian Abley (Editor), Jonathan Schwinge (Co-Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-470-01623-7 April 2006 128 Pages


There will be 8.3 billion human beings on Earth by 2030, and the more the better. We have the opportunity to create a world of expansive megacities - including one around old London. Doing so will advance the art, science and processes of manufacturing. But to deploy those abilities we must shrug off the dogma of sustainability that insists only small can be beautiful.

Humanity has come a long way since the first modular mega-structure was built at Ur, on land that is now Iraq. There, four millennia ago, and by hand, the Sumerians built a mud-brick ziggurat to their Gods. Today, the green deities of Nature we have invented for ourselves are worshipped with humility. Eco-zealots argue against the mechanised megaforming of landscape and the modularised production of megastructures.

The guest editors, Jonathan Schwinge and Ian Abley of the London based research organisation audacity, call for development on a bold scale. They argue that by rapidly super-sizing the built environment society is not made vulnerable to natural or man-made hazards, and that design innovation surpasses bio-mimicry. Designers can learn from materials scientists working at the smallest of scales, and from systems manufacturers with ambitions at the largest. This issue calls for creative thinking about typologies and topologies, and considers what that also means for Africa, China, and Russia. Megacities everywhere demand integration of global systems of transport, utilities and IT in gigantic structures, constantly upgraded, scraping both the sky and the ground, outward into the sea.

Editorial (Helen Castle).

Introduction: Things Will Endure Less Than Us (Ian Abley).

Beyond Little Britain (Ian Abley).

Fumihiko Maki (Jennifer Taylor).

People, Not Architecture, Make Communities (James Heartfield).

London 2030: Taking the Thames Gateway Seriously (Ian Abley).

Travelling in a Straight Line (Oliver Houchell).

Cloud Piercer: Mile High (Jonathan Schwinge).

Architecture with Legs (Ian Abley + Jonathan Schwinge).

Standing Tall in the Estuary (Natasha Nicholson + Pamela).

Charlick Mega Rural: Made in Sunderland (Jonathan Schwinge).

Mass-Customisation and the Manufactured Module (James Woudhuysen).

Why Drive a TT and Live in a Broken Teapot? (Ian Abley).

Triumph and Tragedy on the Home Front (Martin Pawley).

Prefabricating Memory Lane: Whatever Happened to Systems? (John McKean).

Designer Volumetric at IKEA Prices (Ian Abley).

What’s Wrong with This Approach, Comrades? (Bee Flowers).

Functionality Rather than Good Intentions in Design (Michelle Addington).

Biomimicry versus Humanism (Joe Kaplinsky).

Our Overdeveloped Sense of Vulnerability (Frank Furedi).

Eero Saarinen and the Manufacturing Model (Jayne Merkel).

Think Big for the Developing World (Ceri Dingle + Viv Regan).

Appreciating Cumbernauld (Gordon Murray).

Cedric Price: From the ‘Brain Drain’ to the ‘Knowledge Economy’ (Stanley Mathews).

Waltropolis: City in a Box theboxtank (Emily Andersen, Geoff DeOld + Corey Hoelker).

Interchange Now (Robert Stewart).

Hollywood’s Noir Detours: Unease in the Mental Megalopolis (Graham Barnfield)

Building Profile: McLaren Technology Centre (Jeremy Melvin).

Practice Profile: McGauran Giannini (Soon Architects Shelley Penn).

McLean’s Nuggets (Will McLean).

Home Run: Evelyn Road, Silvertown, Niall McLaughlin Architects (Bruce Stewart).

Interior Eye: ‘Springtecture’ B (Masaaki Takahashi).

"[Abley's] enthusiasm for the idea of the compelling" (Prospect Magazine, April 2006)

"...compelling...plots an intelligent course..." (Prospect Architecture Scotland, April 2006)