Festarch - episode 2

While some of us had the time to enjoy some sunbathing and the windy beaches near Cagliari, José and Nico - the students from Cologne - had an intense schedule today. They've been attending speeches, wandering around the Festarch spaces and, of course, pursuing the noble goal of shooting us this mission. Their most glorious deed so far is an interview with Oliviero Toscani, soon to come on our video-blog. You can admire our heroes in a snapshot up here, as Toscani was sharing some thoughts with them and discouraging the two Cologne guys from attending his speech. He proved quite funny, so they went there anyway.
Stay tuned for the video, and of course for José and Nico's mission.


Checking-In at Festarch

We got to Cagliari just in time to go pick up our friends from Cologne, José and Nico, and take them to their luxurious accommodation. They're here to shoot us this mission, while we take care of our check-in point at Festarch.
Come check us out, we're right inside of the ex Manifatture Tabacchi, longing about in the clear sunlight of Sardinia, trying not to work too hard, but failing as we tirelessly toil for the greatness of the cause.



We've been earing the rumblings of wealthy libertarians sick of being unable to change the system for a awhile now, and now they've seemed to have shifted their attentions (slightly) away from invisible hand free market domination and towards a simpler means to achieving their economic and political goals: starting their own countries

Apparently it's easier than it sounds. Sealand has long claimed independent status, and though they've been unable to win anything in court acknowledging it as so for their man-made island in international waters off the coast of Britain, no one's really done anything to them either.

Rarely can we actually build declarative, political architecture, a phrase that Geoff Managh at BLDGBLG calls "post-terrestrial sovereignty, i.e. governance freed from landed terrain."

Here's the original Wired article here and some nice commentary at BLDGBLG.



Check-in Architecture is not afraid of moving, and we're more than happy when escape to the seaside. If you missed us in Milan and Turin - or if you live there, or if you're there for some reason - you should join us at Festarch in Cagliari. It's the right place to hear some interesting stuff about architecture, literature and global tourism, and sundry other issues and themes, and to have a dip in the Mediterranean. And get back massages and drink saccharine sweet daiquiris while staring absentmindedly at the waves lapping a the shore. We, as Check-in Architecture, have a check-in point you should pass by, and even somebody shooting a mission for us. Come look us up!


"We Love Magazines!"

Signjammin' Signjammin'
Gonna keep this party cracking
CIA has got your attention
and we’re rocking on the Signjammin’ rhythm
They say people can’t relate to our band
Misfit children making missions by hand
We’re not tapping out the beat on our laptops
Save your secretary jive for nerdstock
We’re thumping and strumming and a-banging
At the club or in the basements
It’s always a party when the mission gets started
and the screaming hasn’t stopped in Milan
Signjammin' Signjammin'
Just a abumpin' and ahumpin' and aslappin'
Signjammin' like this...
(Grossly adapted from Dub Narcotic Sound Systems "Handclappin'")

Signjam: the final frontier of commercial street culture, we wrote a mission about it already just a short while ago. And yes, the topic is so full, rich, bursting with possibilities, we are shooting another documentary on them. Or rather, Signjam is another project made by the same agency that makes Check-In Architecture, Metaflow. So we felt a healthy helping of shameless self-promotion was in order.

Soon, right at our new headquarters in Via Oslavia, 27, another round of workshops about cashing in on street culture will go down, this time regarding diffusion and communication, along with networking and the satisfying sensuality of printed paper.

The first day's topic is guerrilla advertising, with the international Cunning agency involving the attendants in a viral campaign brainstorming session. On the second day, lecool magazine editor Andrew Losowsky and shift! magazine creator Anja Lutz will discuss tendencies and new grounds in the world of commericial street mags, from nightlife mapping to street art and, let's hear that dirty word again, networking.

So if you're egualrly buying things you see advertised in graffiti magazines, this might just be your scene.


Artists Using Youtube(?)

There is no doubt that YouTube is the brave new world. It accepts and brings together all manner of production into an unrestrained archive of virtual culture. Video production and films, experiments and documentaries, random acts and everyday performances, catalogues of stories, tastes and personal obsessions are all cinched together under the single broad banner of YouTube. By certainly changed the way we access, consult and broadcast, YouTube has fast become the inventory of sources and information.
What happens when artistic events are reappropriated by a generation that has witnessed the overturning (and has contributed to overturning) equipment, media, times, distances and representations?

Andrea Lissoni, excerpted from “In Search of the Imaginary,” Check-Architecture Magazine #1

We’re going to take a few minutes to do some navel-gazing on YouTube. A big part of our project is making user generated content, meaning you, making research-driven video documentaries, and not for us necessarily but for the free open market of YouTube where we post all the videos. Our project at heart is creating a channel and tools to promote investigations into living and travelling low-cost in today's cities, and through your travels using new media platforms to revolutionize where we get our information and entertainment. But Youtube as a marginal space is ripe for all kinds of pretty awesome creative innovation, which mosts artists, in the mainsteam art world, it would appear simply aren't using.

So right now in New York, the curator Rachel Greene has put together an exhibition called “Artists Using YouTube” at The Kitchen. The different artists were invited to cull from YouTube whatever they liked, approaching it in whatever poetic and unpoetic manner they saw fit. The participants, Sue De Beer, Matthew Higgs, and Matthew Ronay.

Based on the excellent descriptions in Virginia Heffernan’s mixed review of the exhibition in the New York Times, I can’t help but feel that the way the artists ended up using YouTube kind of missed the point a little bit about how an artist could use YouTube. Matthew Higgs was the guiltiest by simply playing hipster music videos from the ashcan of 80s nostalgia to make his point. Sue De Beer did better but still merely wrote an essay using smart videos from cult and pop culture icons in a way that really reaches to make it’s point (Fassbender and Columbine, you connect the dots). Matthew Ronay seems to be the only one who really used the archive that is Youtube aesthetically by bombarding the viewer with a set of frenetic images relating to practical uses of the supernatural from voodoo to hypnotizing an alligator.

In the end of course, artists, like everything else relating to the mercurial breed, will do whatever the fuck they want, regardless of some critic’s dictums, but our critique relates more to the limitations of their use rather than the fact that they’re using it. A playlist of your favourite songs seems a rather weak way to utilize Youtube when Youtube’s greatest strengths aren’t that it simply reposts mainstream media since discarded, but that it’s an untamed wilderness of images, posted by whomever feels like it, whenever they feel like it. Rather than the set paths and roads that traditional media set out for us (like the moribund and largely irrelevant MTV), with commercial breaks at regular intervals, Youtube has expanded through the multitudes in a manner nearly completely liberated (copyright issues like a bad traffic cop still hangs over our roadless travellers, handing out tickets to violators). Ronay gets the closest, but these artists aren’t using Youtube as artists but as users. A hip teenage girl could’ve come up with a better playlist than Higgs, and besides why aren’t artists posting their content on Youtube,. From here, it appears that most artists seem to be missing the boat on this one.

A quick search on Youtube yielded zero hits for any of the artists participating. I think it’s a bit of an indictment that none of the artists in this exhibition have any thing they’ve done posted on the site that the exhibition claims they’re using.

The question that “Artists Using YouTube” should be answering is not “How are artists using Youtube?” but rather “When are they going to start using it?”

Nevertheless at the top is one of Sue de Beer’s choices (So Much Tenderness - Guenther Kaufmann from Fassebender's "The American Soldier)," and below a few others from the exhibition, recreated here for your enjoyment.

CHANEL: Coco Chanel parle de la mode, chosen by de Beer

New Order: Confusion, chosen by Higgs

Guy hypnotize alligator, chosen (we think) by Ronay


Typed out - Olivetti and Ivrea in Turin

Our Check-in Point was just a few steps away, so we couldn't miss the exhibition celebrating a hundred years from the founding of the Olivetti company, and its relationship with the city of Ivrea. In case you don't know, we also wrote a mission about it. Check out the video we made, there are a couple interviews that might inspire you to apply for it. In the end, there's something strange and moving about the rise and fall of the Olivetti dream, maybe it was always doomed to failure, but one couldn't help but wish it might have worked.


Collapsing Buildings

We all have some fascination with collapsing buildings. The World Trade Center tumbling down had the kind of national weight not to be sneezed at for a simple conversation of aesthetics and urbanism, but aesthetics it was, no more striking repeating image drove home both the failure of American foreign policy and the realization that America, for all its broad-smiled vim and vigor, was not universally loved.

I brisk jaunt through YouTube finds collapsing buildings to have fairly high view counts, often in the hundreds of thousands for each building (not even counting the twin towers which oddly have a faction of the views to a video called XXX PORN XXX, with 54,605,695 views and counting).

The urban fabric is composed of these brick and mortar structures, as nothing says city like the towering apartment block or glass and steel modernist spire pocking a hole through the smog.
But these demolitions are as much a destruction of history as march forward of progress (a word you don't heart too much anymore as Western projects has hit a few moral, economic, environmental snags to pure growth). We at Check-in Architecture are neither preservationists or laissez-faire capitalists. We like cities, we like the way they grow and change as humans use them and misuse them over time.

Merely observers, though not detached.

And we hate to psychologize too deeply about the sex appeal of collapsing buildings but we all love to see the seemingly permanent fall, we all find a strange thrill in watching the bricks come down, and the city shift and change forever, the taste of apocalypse, the awesome explosions. An element of human tragedy can always be found here as psychic spaces and human experiences in space are dissipated and destroyed by the wrecking ball or the stick of dynamite.

Below is one of my favorites, the two towers look like crumpling flowers, a stark contrast to the seeming permanence and broken promises of the atomic age.


Justice - Stress

There's been some talk about this video being censored in many countries. Maybe it's because it's fucking hardcore? You can't really tell whether the people in it were aware of the taping or not, maybe it's just state-of-the-art prank, but it really does look scary. It's like the guys from La Haine got shitfaced with the Man Bites Dog crew and decided to raid the streets of Paris. As for banlieu-savvy directing the closest thing that comes to mind is this video, but Romain Gavras adds a much thicker atmosphere to it, along with tons of movie references.
Just like La Haine and The Warriors were intense cityscape crossings dealing with urban space and subcultural codes, you can't really watch these images without feeling the subterranean grain of street life. Be it Paris or New York, sometimes a moving picture can help a city keep up to its status of myth.



Dotted across the globe sit, ramshackle, dusty, sometimes dangerous, sometimes beautiful, often unloved abandoned buildings. Wrecked and rotting, our forgotten buildings take on narratives heavier than if they were occupied. Sometimes these are cottages in the countryside, abandoned when the farmhands got pushed out by tractors or ghost towns of all sorts where broken dolls and empty beer cans mix with the dust and broken glass, to bigger buildings iron smelters and insane asylums, fortresses and coal mines, these buildings, sometimes built at great expense and sometimes simply beautiful as buildings have served their use, but exist in a part of the world where movement for whatever reason is slower, sometimes abandoned buildings sit in limbo because their caught in protracted court battles (see Dickens' Bleak House) or because it's more expensive to tear them down than to let 'em rot until the land is useful again. Anyway you cut it, the landscape is populated by ghosts of humananity's past endeavors, since failed.

In Europe you leave a nice building without people and chances are people will find it, and the stories if any will change dramatically with graffiti and punk bands, teenage squatters and middle aged shooting galleries. The buildings in the countryside in many ways take on the most ghostly presence, as the chances of their rehabitation, even by squatters, are minimal

The Opacity blog documents dozens of building in Europe and North America in states of beautiful decay, collapsing in on themselves, former mental hospitals and prisons, these grand edifices made of brick and steel for a permanence of the ages along with the giant industrial factories are the most breathtaking. One feels like a civilization, not so far away or different from our own, has collapsed. Creeping through these crumbling structures makes one feel as if some lesson about human frailty is to be learned, though often the approach is not unlike Romantic poets about empty abbeys in the 19th century. Sometimes this poetic becomes research, like the case with Industrial Archeology, but we at CIA feel there's nothing wrong with being a little poetical.

Though Opacity has many beautiful photos, the blog also links here to dozens other sites devoted to abandoned buildings.


Cannes Film Festival

Most people are attracted to glamor like flies on shit. Not us though, we are sturdy academics, researchers, we would never fall under the spell of cheap champagne or the flickering flash bulbs of the paparazzi, of the phonies and cheats of the film industry, we have no screen plays in our drawers nor aspirations to bag Paris Hilton on video.

Except of course, when we do.

Which isn't to say CIA has a hotline to the Hiltons but rather that we're sending a couple of wide-eyed students to suck in a little sun and cinema at the Cannes Film Festival in southern France.

The mission is serious, the environment dangerous, the films dubious, and the video is coming next week to a channel near you.

Mission #64: Cannes Film Festival
How does the cinematic transform the space of a city?
City: Cannes Country: France


Nothing about Cannes is easy. A vanity fair for movie moguls, porn stars, and art-house auteurs to strut and fret their hour upon the stage, for the past 61 years, the Cannes Film Festival has emerged as a showcase for some of the most important films ever made by some of the most influential filmmakers: Walt Disney, Buñuel, Antonioni, Tarantino, Coppola, Spielberg, Hitchcock, the list could go on. Foundeda s a anwer to Fascist tampering at the Venice Film Festival, the Festival de Cannes has long stood arbiter of international filmmaking, especially by striking a balance between quality and commerce. In the beginning of the twentieth century, Cannes became a resort town with the construction of modern hotels along the coasts of the Mediterranean. Since 1939, the city has grown and changed alongside its most famous festival, from infrastructure to attitude. In the end, the festival is so famous it’s surely difficult to say anything new about it, but one still can approach it in a new way. The Festival promotes a very particular imaginary for the city that affects the locals as well as the visitors. Your role is to discover the shape and influence of this imaginary on the city and its temporary cinematic circus, to show what is not normally shown by journalists covering the festival.


- Go to Cannes and explore the city. Find out how it’s changed to accommodate the festival.
- Discover how the rhythm of the city changes. How do locals and then visitors feel about the space of the city and how it changes?
- Ask people to tell their stories about the Festival, both newbies and long-time festival goers, older locals and kids in the street.
- Find out the shape and expression of the imaginary of Cannes.
- Most importantly, explore the fringes of the festival, attempt to capture moments not normally covered by mainstream media.

Travel bag

Barney Wilen, Cannes Film Festival 1958
Tarkovsky and Bresson in Cannes (1983)

Cannes: A Festival Virgin's Guide
Festival de Cannes: 60th Anniversary


CIA in Turin: Check-In Point, Check Out the Party

From the pulsing creative factory of Via Ventura in Milan, where our headquarters sit, we're all heading to Turin tonight for a cool party at The Beach, on the city's riverside. If you've heard about Murazzi you know it's Turin's best nightlife scene.

The party starts at 11 pm, but you should also come over earlier to take a look at our Check-In Point, beautifully placed at the Politecnico, in the Castello del Valentino. Take a look, apply for a mission if you like and then, later, come join us for the Matthias Tanzmann dj set at The Beach.


The Naked City

There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.


Shitfaced at Gallery Weekend Berlin

Here's the latest video blog from the gang at CIA. We were lucky enough to witness some real performance art at Gallery Weekend Berlin, art that challenged the boundaries of art, that toyed with government and government and good taste. Well, the performance was shit, both literally and figuratively; the real performance was the art dealers calling the local police. We think the performance was awful, but the gallerist cgetting the cops to arrest made us feel that these alleged hip patrons of the arts are nothing but tawdry merchants.

Let's not too harsh, the performers had a nice bottle trick and the dealers, I'm sure the dealers can do interesting things with bottles too.

In the height of Berlin Gallery Weekend, a man in his thirties, short hair, button shirt, blue jeans, screamed at the top of his lungs while a stylish lesbian played tambourine alongside, screeching in a regular rhythm. Clothes came off at one point as they moved from one high-end art gallery to another in the building. The woman’s shirt became unbuttoned, the man’s pants descended round his ankles, his green American Apparel undies shifted down around his thighs, he shat into his hand (not pausing in his screams) and smeared it onto his forehead. The German gallerists said nothing. But of course, called the police.

As for the shitsmearing American Apparel model, exceptions exist as with anything, but transgressive performance art more often than not is bad, boring, and shudder inducing. But not the shudder of shock and horror that the artist may be shooting for, but a shudder of pity and embarrassment.

Somehow this scene acts as a metaphor for what Berlin as a center of cultural production is going through, the old style radical and transgressive actions still weakly cling on, but are quickly squashed by the local art marketeers. The gentrifying of a city changes the space for radical action, making a world (the art world) that no matter how bad the art should have acted less reactionary (and let’s call it, fascistic) to artists.


Invisible Cities

This is how it began:

We're fascinated at Check-in Architectuer with Italo Calvino's landmark book about the imaginary potential of cities, Invisible Cities. While doing research for this blog post, we realized that the Wikipedia page for Invisible Cities was pretty weak. So given this project is about webmedia in its own way, we decided to almost entirely rewrite the Wikipedia entry. We kept some of the original content, and thus we credit the other anonymous researcher, but we added to it greatly. So here is the new Wikipedia entry for Invisible Cities for your enjoyment, courtesy of the researchers at CIA.

Invisible Cities (Italian: Le città invisibili) is a novel by Italian writer Italo Calvino. It was published in Italy in 1972 by Giulio Einaudi Editore.

The book explores imagination and the imaginable through the descriptions of cities by the narrator, Marco Polo. The book is framed as a conversation between the aging and busy emperor Kublai Khan, who constantly has merchants coming to describe the state of his empire, and Polo. The majority of the book consists of Polo's descriptions (1-3 pages each) of 55 cities. Short dialogues between the two characters are interspersed every five to ten cities and are used to discuss various ideas presented by the cities on a wide range of topics including linguistics and human nature. Not only is the book structured around an interlocking pattern of numbered sections, but the length of each section's title graphically outlines a continuously oscillating sine wave, or perhaps a city skyline. The interludes between Khan and Polo, are no less poetically constructed than the cities, but form a framing device, a story with a story, that plays with the natural complexity of language and stories. Other postmodern writer's such as John Barth, who also uses multiple framing devices, cites in interviews precedents such as Scheherazade in the Arabian Nights.

The book is probably based on The Travels of Marco Polo, his travelogue of the Mongol Empire written in the 13th century, which shares with Invisible Cities the brief, often fantastic accounts of the cities he visits, accompanied by descriptions of the city's inhabitants, notable imports and exports, and whatever interesting tales Polo had heard about the region.

One of Calvino's masterpieces, the novel does not fall under the aegis' of either magical realism, science fiction, or speculative fiction, and in fact is closer to poetry than classic novel writing. In the end, the book creates its own universe, neither that of a futuristic world or one based on classic fantasy fiction (pagan myths, Christian folklore, etc.) nor does it obey E.M. Forster's classic model for the story, but creates a new form, a new model, and for this it can be easily considered not only unique but revolutionary.

The book, because of it's approach to the imaginative potentialities of cities has oft been used by architects and artists to visualize how cities can be, their secret folds, where the human imagination is not necessarily limited by the laws of physics or the limitations of modern urban theory. It offers a beautiful alternative approach to thinking about cities, how they're formed and how they function.

The book was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1975.


A Handy Dandy Guide to Architecture Festivals in Europe

Over at anArchitecture, Christoph Wassman has set up a handy dandy guide to architecture festivals in Europe this summer, of which there are gobs. These festivals mark an interesting trend in architecture, as it become a little sexier, a stitch more glamourous, and maybe, just maybe, even cool. That we at CIA have Architecture in our title (and we're cool, right?), might be another emblem of this trend.

But anArchitecture asks the most important question concerning this robus amount of attention to architecture: Where are the clients?

The same reason that Rosalind Krauss said architects would never be artists, is really the reason architecture is what it is (alongside the limitations of physics, materials, and usage), clients. Architecture is shaped by reality, and reality costs money, for engineers and construction workers, materials and autoCAD software) and who's got the money, well, clients, the name for customers and patrons of the architect class. People (and sometimes companies) with very deep pockets to build a unique building rather than just having an engineer throw together some plans (which is how most buildings are built).

Enough navel-gazing, here's anArchitecture's handy-dandy guide for arch festivals this summer, and don't worry, CIA will doubtlessly be at most of them.

Architekturtage, architektur erleben, Austria,
May 16th to 17th
"Experiencing Architecture is the motto under which all the provinces of Austria will present a wide-ranging programme, providing you an exciting overview of the most varied aspects of architecture."
factor: have fun, a lot of office parties, www.feld72.at, www.000y0.at and more.

London Festival of Architecture 2008,
June 20th to Juy 20th
"The London Festival of Architecture 2008 is a celebration and exploration of the city's buildings, streets and spaces, aimed at Londoners and visitors alike."
factor: have fun

XXIII UIA World Congress of Architecture, Transmitting Architecture, Torino 2008,
June 28th to July 3rd, 2008
"Architecture that is a part of an overall process that wants to face problems that go beyond the tight environments and languages of the profession to face the mankind's true and far-reaching problems."
factor: be smart

La Biennale di Venezia, 11th International Architecture Exhibition
from September 14th to November 23rd, 2008
According to Aaron Betsky, the 11th Architecture Biennale "points out what should be an obvious fact: architecture is not building. Buildings are objects and the act of building leads to such objects, but architecture is something else. It is the way we think and talk about buildings, how we represent them, how we build them".
factor: be a dandy, architecture and Venice – simply great

World Architecture Festival, Barcelona,
October 22nd to 24th, 2008
"The World Architecture Festival is the annual event for architects worldwide. The Festival will celebrate the work, concerns and aspirations of the international architectural community, during a three-day event taking place 22-24 October 2008 in Barcelona."
factor: be competitive, each competition entry costs 950 €


CIA on Tour

In a way, Check-In Architecture is always on tour, traveling around in cars, airplanes, boats, and on foot, from city to city across Europe. But we, CIA staffers rarely get a chance to get unshackled from our desks, so now we get to trot around the continent ourselves to present the project to different universities. So if you study near or in to one of the following schools, run don't walk, to one of our presentations, meet a few of us. We'll talk to you about how great this thing is and the possibility of traveling around Europe for free and making documentaries. Come meet us, we don't bite or anything.

If you come, you can sign up for one of our missions!

Date - City, University, "Mission" Sign Up

13 May - Delft (Rotterdam), TU, "Festivalism" Barcellona
13 May - London, Metropolitan, "Portrait of the Pilgrims", Santiago De Compostela
13 May - London, East London, "Portrait of the Pilgrims", Santiago De Compostela
14 May - Leeds, School of Design, "Gypsy Caravan", Prague
14 May - Köln, KISD, "Festarch", Cagliari
15 May - Paris, ESAM, "Commodity Exchange", Leeds
15 May - Paris, E. N. S. d'Architecture Belleville, "Commodity Exchange", Leeds
15 May - Barcellona, ETSAV, "Corporate Living", Belfast
16 May - Berlin, TU Architecture, "Acqua Alta", Venice

Here's the link to all the schools participating in the project so far.


Ba-da Boom, Ba-Da Bing

In this week's edition of Mission of the Week, we take you strip-clubbing.

Place: Italy, Milan
Location: Piero Bottoni multi-functional building, Corso Buenos Aires, 36
Title: Ba-da Boom, Ba-Da Bing
Date: every week-end from 15:30 to 18:00 and from 1:00 to 4:00

Q: How to redevelop the strip clubs?

After the war, modernist architect and Italian Rationalist Piero Bottoni, designed a multifunctional building in Milan’s major commercial district, Corso Buenos Aires. During the reconstruction of the country, this innovative building not only changed the street, but transformed the district. Finished in the 1950s, the building, now after more than half century, has become sexy, seedy, and downright decadent.

The basement hosts strip clubs where the cinema used to be. One is an historic Milanese joint once based in downtown called “Il Teatrino” where porno superstars of the 80s (like Cicciolina and Moana Pozzi) shook their moneymakers. The second “Lily la Tigresse,” though masquerading as a nightclub, is a little more of an indefinable space. Explore the possibility of a compromise between the seedier elements and the locals’ hopes for gentrification.


Life: A User's Manual

Though the central metaphor of George Perec’s encyclopedic novel, Life: A User’s Manual is the puzzle, a single Parisian apartment house on the imaginary Rue Simon-Crubellier forms the frame for this playful, profound, and masterful work of fiction. Check-In Architecture is interested in how spaces and buildings affect people’s lives, and no book to our mind captures better how people’s lives unfold in buildings than in this novel. As Perec himself wrote,

"I imagine a Parisian apartment building whose façade has been removed [...] so that all the rooms in the front, from the ground floor up to the attics, are instantly and simultaneously visible."

The book travels through all of the different apartments and all the different lives of its inhabitants, sometimes the history of the apartment and its myriad tenants and the histories of each of their lives, troubles, fevered imaginings, and documents, become interwoven into the text. As everything crystallizes and culminates in a single moment and written under an array of specific constraints, the book unwinds and unfolds its seemingly endless interlocking puzzles taking us, the reader, on a trip through the potent imaginative qualities of everyday spaces and everyday things.

The book is available widely in English and its native French, as well as in Italian.


The Riesumazione of San Padre Pio

Certain devout Catholics fiercely believe that the Padre Pio's stigmata - the wounds of Jesus on the cross sometimes divinely remade on his most devoted followers - are evidence of his sanctity, others, more skeptical, assert that he acquired carbolic acid from a local pharmacist to create his wounds.

What is interesting for us is that 15,000 worshippers gathered the 24th of April at the shrine of the Roman Catholic saint and mystic Padre Pio, and a few days ago hundreds of videos uploaded by onlookers - and not - swarmed into Youtube. You can start the tour at the video above tracked from here.

His exhumed body went on display for the first time since his death almost 40 years ago.

We haven't been able to take a student in front of the glass coffin at San Giovanni Rotondo, in the Apulia Region in southern Italy. More than a million people are expected to line in front of the transparent casket between now and September 2009. Catholic practice allows for
the remains of saints to be exhumed, checked for their state of deterioration and exhibited as relics for veneration. No Check-in Architecture researchers has been there yet to investigate, but beside we are working on another pilgrimage mission, for a real missionary.

Destination: Santiago de Compostela.
Vehicle: just your feet and your
travel bag.


Trapped in an Elevator for 41 Hours

Nick Paumgarten uses as the dramatic pull for a story on the less than dramatic topic of elevators, the story of Nicholas White, a production manager at Business Week magazine who in 1999 was stuck in an elevator for 41 hours.

The video above is the security camera, fast forwarded to cover 41 hours in three minutes and thirty seconds.

Elevators make modern cities possible, without them, who'd live or work in a building over five stories. And the towering blocks of financial centers like New York, London, Tokyo, Beijing, or the insta-metropolises of Dubai, etc would simply not be possible without them. As an experience of space, social, architectural, technological, elevators are the part of the building we usually most try to ignore. Occassionally strapped to the side of the building and constructed of glass, most people want to merely teleport and not to be annoyed byt he presence of others while doing it, watching the digital numbers tick up, as if it made the machine go faster.

All these ideas and more can be found in Paumgarten's story, "Up and then Down: the lives of elevators" from the New Yorker magazine.


CIA on Domusweb

In the initial post we promised, in addition to regular musing, shameless self-promotion. Don't worry, such a policy continues truly. The positive press has started to roll in and we want you burnish our credentials with a few independent (positive) reviews. Okay, tongue firmly in cheek. But unlike any underpaid creatives working from a lonely cafe somewhere in Berlin (or factory district in Milan as the case may be) we like the sweet taste of recognition, before we return to our keyboards and third cup of coffee, trying to not to stare at the girl crossing her legs on the other side of the cafe.

Which is to say Domusweb has interviewed some of our fearless leaders, Luca Martinazzoli, Mario Flavio Benini, and Luca Legnani Jr., to chat about our projects, a few cups of coffee probably played a role in that conversation as well.

Check it out here on Domusweb.