Category Archives: Interdisciplinary

Caucus day: On architecture and politics

A collage of the Republican candidates' houses from the New York Times

In honor of Iowa caucus day, I think the architecture of the Republican candidates’ houses is worth considering. An in-depth breakdown after the break.

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The way(s) forward for urbanism, part VI

Particularly astute readers might have noticed that this is the second time part VI has appeared. Why? Because the post formerly with this title, which can be found here, really isn’t about urbanism at all. I lost focus, and now I hope to correct that by redoing this correctly.

Yes, this is strange, and far more flashy and polished than most urban gardens, but I do think it's interesting enough to merit a photograph. (I certainly would like this garden.) Photo courtesy Bella Online.

Apparently, in some major cities, urban gardening is on the rise. More on this new trend after the break.

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Architectural lessons from Arrested Development

This is not the first time I’ve blogged about architecture as it relates to a TV show. Remember my post about The Office?

The Bluth family's model home. Photo courtesy the-op.com

But this time I’m not going to write about social commentary in a show — instead, I’m going to address the architecture of a set.

The show is Arrested Development. If you like The Office and other shows in the same vein, you probably know it. If you don’t, watch all of it right now. (Don’t worry, there are only three seasons.)

Much of Arrested Development centers around a family living in a model house — the Bluth family’s company sells homes, and when the business starts to fall apart, almost the entire family moves into the model for a new development. The home is frequently seen as it is above: a lone McMansion sitting in the middle of what appears to be something of a desert.

A running joke in the show is the home’s shoddiness: everything in it seems to break constantly, a testament to the company’s poor work and, perhaps, to the state of most American residential architecture. It’s poorly thought-out, badly built and very, very ugly.

But it’s still the Bluth’s. It’s still a home. And it seems to say that in a way, despite all the bad features of today’s American architecture — and today’s American life — we’re maybe still not all that far from what it really means for something to be a home.

But we are somewhat far off, and we really ought to try to get back on track.

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Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands has it right

In my post the other day, I talk about how the suburbs are here to stay, and how they need to be treated like opportunities, not irreparable blights on the face of the earth. The filmmaker Tim Burton is an excellent role model in this regard. Below is a screenshot from the film Edward Scissorhands (1991 — and highly recommended). Burton’s caricature of suburbia is spot-on, but not vicious. He sees it for the flawed, and yes, ugly, place that it is, but also makes its inhabitants endearing, real people, and sees that there is some visual wit to be found in its matchy-matchy lawns and colorful houses.

I love this movie.

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