Buildings, cities and Utopia by Bodys Isek Kingelez

Bodys Isek Kingelez designs and creates maquettes for fantastic buildings.

Bodys Isek Kingelez designs and creates maquettes for fantastic buildings. The sculptures are made from recycled materials. They are full of vision and energy, expressed in  bright colours and variety of shapes. They are very carefully made. There stations, pavilions, pagodas, skyscrapers, airports lagoons and outdoor swimming pools. There’s lots of pattern. The commercial packaging (uhu, soft drink cans) is redefined as a structure for its shape, colour and decorative letter forms. Its like a colourful postcard of 1970s city architecture.

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His work is in the show at the Hayward Gallery called  Alternative Guide to the Universe.This is what the  curators at Hayward Gallery have written about him.

b. 1948, Kimbembele Ihunga, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire); lives in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Bodys Isek Kingelez dreams of a better world, where there would be lasting peace, justice and universal freedom. Since the late 1970s, he has been creating vibrantly ornate models of futuristic buildings and cityscapes. Made from waste materials from the packaging industry, his scale models of exotic hotels, sports stadiums, and civic buildings envision exuberant urban utopias for ‘the modern society of the third millennium.

One point perspective

A Victorian ropery, Singing in the Rain and Stanley Kubrick.

It’s not often that you can see the vanishing point of one point perspective inside a building. This Victorian ropery at Chatham Historic Dockyard is so long a structure that it goes back as far as the eye can see. The ropemakers travelled up and down on bicycles and the ropes are laid out to their full lengths.

Here is a visual joke as seen in Singing in the Rain. The corridor is painted by the set builders  using one point perspective to give the illusion of space on film. Donald O’Connor is about run up the wall and back flip off the fake corridor. He then does the same on a real wall and goes straight through feet first.

This scene is from Make ’em Laugh!

And here is a video montage showing Stanley Kubrick’s use of one point perspective to a variety of  emotional effects.

Kubrick // One-Point Perspective from kogonada on Vimeo.

Muster (River Thames)

Photos taken on a Thames walk the day before the Jubilee Flotilla. 

“A vast range of vessels also plied their trades upon the water. Barges and barks sailed beside chalk-boats; they were joined by small work boats, by pikers, rush-boats, oyster-boats and ferry boats, by whelk-boats and tide boats….

There were boatmen and chalkmen, eelmen and ballies, gallymen or garthmen, ferriers and lightermen, hookers and mariners, petermen and palingmen, searchers and shipwrights, shoutmen and piledrivers, trinkers and water-baliffs and watermen. …

It became the river of magnificence, used as a golden highway by princes and diplomats. Barges were ‘freshly furnished with banners and streamers of silk’while other boats were ‘richly beated with the arms and badges of their craft’; there were may covered with awnings of silk and silken tapestry, while around them the wherries took their course heavily weighted with merchants or priests or courtiers”

From London, the biography by Peter Ackroyd. Chapter; London’s Rivers.


Aquatics centre

The Olympic site is looks like an unfinished airport today. There is a lot of tidying and simplifying to get to the aquatic centre and its surroundings to look like the  space age park of the original artists’ impressions.



My NHS reforms, part two.

Here is an update on a previous post about my own NHS reforms.

I visited the Wellcome Collection’s exhibition ‘Dirt’, a tour of our relationship with dirt, illustrated by different places and times. One of the places was the 1938 Finsbury Health Centre, a modern and pioneering design which helped to advance healthcare in Britain. On show was a drawing by Tecton. It contrasted a run down, victorian waiting room and the words ‘Lack of confidence in everything!’ with an airy spacious clean lined entrance hall, who’s ‘glass bricks, clean surfaces and bright colours produce a cheerful effect’ and an ‘ air of efficiency gives confidence to the patients’.

I was interested in this as it seems to fit in with my ‘keep to the notice boards’ policy change.

>> RIBA image

A small change in behaviour can have big results. A study has shown that the words used by GP receptionists when booking appointments and positive messages in posters can dramatically reduce missed appointments and save a great deal of time and money. This is a very clever change – a  free ‘tweak’ to cut costs. (I wonder if this method could have been applied to other areas in the public sector to reduce the vast cuts.)

Here is a brief interview on the Today programme. with Professor Robert Caldini.

NHS reform? A small change

The coalition government are working on proposals for large scale reform of the NHS. Here is a policy suggestion from a designers’ point of view.

A characteristic of  waiting rooms of the NHS, and mainly the GP surgery, is the information poster. The posters – how to quit smoking, what to eat, opening times etc – spill out of the notice boards, and are blue tacked on to the the walls and doors, as if aiming to cover every surface.

The posters and print outs are full of good information. But there is a lot of visual clutter. Is there too much to take in? Are there too many diseases, photos of diseases, hazards and things you should be doing presented to you as you sit and wait for your appointment? And you may not catch those important opening times, if you don’t scan every perpendicular surface.

So, here is the new policy. All posters and notices to be confined to notice boards!

The result? A calmer, cleaner, more organised looking space. The service feels more organised and reassuring as a result.  It is a better place to sit when you are uncomfortable or worried.  The pinned up posters look tidy and professional, not just stuck up on a door by overworked staff trying to communicate with the public.

There may be fewer messages, but they could have greater impact and authority. They would have space around them to breathe.  Its a way of rationalising a space, just the way a designer would organise a web or magazine page.

The new found space could make way for a calm area of well chosen flat colour or a soothing image of a landscape, a ‘window’ on the outside world that everyone responds to.

Looking ahead, as print dwindles, it may be that all the information will come to us via a stimulating large bright screen with moving update-able graphics, in the post reform NHS waiting rooms.

Warmth in a cold snap

Britain is experiencing a cold snap and consequently there is talk of how to keep warm. This has made me look at old ways to keep out the cold.

.This is a detail of a tapestry  which hung in a hall in Medieval England. It was a barrier against the cold drafts which crept in through the walls.

It shows a summer hunting scene. Dogs are chasing a bear and a boar. At the same time, well dressed courtiers are chasing each other. The flowers and foliage, fine dress and warm cheerful colours are designed to make the onlookers think of the warm months. We are transported to summer for a moment.

The Guernsey sweater is a traditional woollen jumper which has been made since the 1400s.  It was knitted, with pride, in the Channel Islands and designed to be worn by the local fisherman. It is easy to move around in and has a tight knit and oily wool to resist sea spray and wind. The fisherman wore the sweater loose and next to the skin, so a layer of insulating warm air built up.

I noticed that the Inuit wear their parkas with the fur directly against bare skin when one of the characters in the film Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner peeled off his parka. The film, which gives a realistic picture of Inuit life, could be set at any time in the tribes’ history. People have lived in this area of Arctic Canada for 4000 years. This kind of clothing has ensured that they survived. The Inuit wear a second parka on top of the first, this time with fur facing outwards, so snow and ice can be shaken off.


>>Reference Library Blog
Parka from the BM

Public art in Dartmoor villages

Dartmoor Great Torrington

Dartmoor villages feel as if they have been built to withstand the harsh and changeable weather of the moor, even on a summer’s day. The buildings look thick walled and sturdy and the space in the streets is intimate. Here the buildings are decorated with bunting and, in a small public area, a sculpture shows appreciation for the sturdy sheep and ponies of the moor.