Category: city

Borek, biryani and skyr: notes from flaneuring

I’m back at my writing desk after a four week break of flaneuring and flouncing about Europe.

From the buzz and crowds of sunny summer London. Pints on the pavement, sun-bathing in the park, striking a stony Tube face, history intermingling with hipster. A city uniting against tragedy, once again.

To the majestic peaks of Iceland. Twenty four hours of daylight without warmth. Sweet scent of freshly baked sugary cinnamon rolls. Cold toes and sunburnt noses. Blue crystalline ice-bergs and black sand beaches. Frolicking whales and petite puffins.

To the unexpected beauty of Albania. Townspeople of all ages proudly promenading after dark. Lingering over an espresso for hours. Beers under the blare of the call to prayer from the speakers above. Rich strong coffee and sweet fresh cucumber. White pebble beaches lapping sapphire blue water.

New friends. Old friends. Planes, trains, boats, furgons and Ubers. Ancient landscapes, castle rubble, roadworks. Borek, biryani and skyr. Garbage, car fumes, sea salt, sunscreen, crisp Arctic air.

With my creative well replenished, I’m ready for the rest of 2017.

Tiny apartments – the fancy and the appalling

As cities get bigger and more people move to find work, pressure on housing increases. Tiny apartments is one solution.

Like all interior design porn, small apartments get attention. The perfectly minimalistic Nordic designed tiny space with only the bare essentials.

A micro-apartment for James Bond perhaps?

www.businessinsider.com

Or a pristine serene monk cell? But where do you put the telly?

www.lituanus.org

That is all nice for a photo shoot but how do people really live when they only have 10sqm (300 sf), or less, of space.

Look at Hong Kong…

www.nvusdesigns.com

…where whole families live in similarly small space.

www.nvus.nl

www.cantonese.tierlinck.net

…or live in bunk like storage cages.

www.dailymail.co.uk

It’s not just in Hong Kong, here’s an example in London

www.guardian.co.uk

Dystopia is here already.

How to find your way home without breadcrumbs or GPS

Another world building inspiration post today, but quite different to my last post on city living. This week, I’m intrigued by natural navigation, how to read the landscape, whether using trees or animals or the more obvious sun and stars, to find your way home without maps or GPS or breadcrumbs (if you’re Hansel and Gretel).

This is information we’ve (city dwellers) lost and the people who’ve retained this ancient wisdom are now shrouded in mystery and awe – Aboriginal trackers from my side of the globe or Inuits reading ice formations or Bedouins understanding the direction of the wind from dune shapes. An interesting side note, the last official Aboriginal police tracker retired from the Queensland police force in 2014. The skills, whilst rare, are still vitally important when people go missing in the “wild”.

I stumbled across Tristan Gooley‘s work on a podcast. Gooley teaches natural navigation in his native UK but his website covers small tips even for the city dweller. For examples birds sitting on a rooftop will face away from the wind, trees grow thicker on the sunny side and spider webs are woven out of the wind.

www.wallpaperhi.comHe even has tips on navigating in a city – if it’s 8.30am and you’re looking for a train station, go against the flow of people and you’ll most likely find a station. Common sense, yes?

I’m currently writing about a fictitious native people who live closely associated with the land. This information inspires me when developing how they read their landscape and navigate through thick forests. But in my real life, I’m now watching the clouds whenever I walk outside, trying to understand where weather fronts are coming from, especially if I’ve forgotten my umbrella.

The Tower of David

I’m introducing a different segment of posts – inspiration. Interesting stuff sparking my imagination.

A central theme of my writing is how we humans are adapting to our changing world. Whether we like it or not, we are animals, but we are living in an alien world of the built environment. A world changing so fast, can we keep up?

I came across the story of the Tower of David (Centro Financiero Confinanzas) in Caracas, Venezuela, a half-finished abandoned skyscraper taken over by squatters. The squatters building their own homes with bricks, bringing in electricity, setting up businesses and growing a community. It appeared in an episode of the TV show Homeland.

www.hereisthecity.com

www.meridithkohut.photoshelter.com

www.we-heart.com

Known as the tallest slum in the world, the government moved the squatters out in July 2014 into new homes as part of their rehousing scheme.

I am interested in the way people scrape together shelter in a modern built environment, exactly as if they were living in nature, building a home out of whatever they can find. These skills still exist in the modern world.

The Tower of David is an interesting example of people “making do” when the economy and the government fails them. People falling back on their own resourcefulness.

More stunning pictures in The Atlantic.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén