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Historians had believed modern-day Istanbul was first settled around 700 BC.

However, a grave that has been recently discovered at the site of a rail project instantaneously added 6000 years to Istanbul’s history.

“We found the grave, pots and other artifacts. There were signs of houses made of tree-branches and next to the settlement was a swamp where we found small tools, wooden pieces and bones,” explains Ismail Karamut, head of the Istanbul Archaeology museum, which is leading the dig.

“It all shows there was a Neolithic settlement here in the historic peninsula of Istanbul where people lived, farmed and fished,” he adds.

The Neolithic era – when man abandoned the nomadic, hunting lifestyle and settled to farm the land and raise cattle – began east of here, gradually carrying the foundations of “civilised” life west, to Europe. The new find in Istanbul helps map that transition.

“Neolithic culture changed as it moved west. Not all of what we call the ‘Neolithic package’ was transferred,” explains Professor Mehmet Ozdogan of Istanbul University.

“Domesticated animals and some of the cereal crops came, but mud brick became wooden architecture, settlements were re-organised. The transformation is important to understand the Neolithic culture in Europe. Every new site adds data to the picture.”

The team’s first major discovery was a section of the first city walls, believed to date back to Constantine I.

As anticipated, they also uncovered a 4th Century port – once the busiest in Byzantium – and the stunningly well-preserved remains of more than 30 wooden ships, many wrecked in storms in the 10th and 11th centuries.

“We’re expecting to find more – maybe a small settlement,” Yasar Anilir explains. “We have to remove the Byzantine ships first, then we can complete our dig.”

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The idea of designers and architects working together is nothing new, from the Tokyo store collaboration between Prada and Rem Koolhaas to Hussein Chalayan’s techno virtuosity in morphing dresses into chairs.

Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture\'.

We all live in buildings and wear clothes. Traditionally, fashion and architecture have remained quite distinct. However, since 1980s the two disciplines have become closer than ever before.

(more…)

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I have never heard of a profession being related to a particular community or country. Never heard, “Oh, this country produces maximum architects,” or “Architects of this country are the best,” or “This is a country of Architects”, or even “This country loves her Architects.”

Though I have heard about particular communities or countries becoming famous travel destinations because of their architecture. Italy, Greece, India are a few examples falling in the latter category.

Says Christian Lander, “If you ask white people what they love about cities they don’t live in, they will say “restaurants,” “culture,” and “architecture.” They just can’t get enough of old buildings or ultramodern buildings next to old buildings.

If you want to fit in with white people you need to learn about IM Pei, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, and a whole swath of others. Also, be prepared to say “Bauhaus” a lot…

…The reason white people love architecture so much is that deep down they believe that they could have been a great architect. They feel the same way about other professions including: professor, writer, and politician.

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New York HotelsIs it fair for one architect to design 36 hotels in a prestigious urban district like Manhattan, especially when New York is home to some of the finest architects and designers of the world?

Architect Gene Kaufman is designing 36 hotels in Manhattan, including three that will share a single building on West 39th Street near Times Square, right, and three more on West 40th Street.

The developer of most of Mr. Kaufman’s projects is the McSam Hotel Group, which is based in Great Neck, N.Y. Its chief operating officer, Gary Wisinski, said Mr. Kaufman “has a wonderful and deep knowledge of Manhattan, and is well respected at the Buildings Department.”

Fred A. Bernstein of New York Times reports the architecture design trends diverting from aesthetics to economics in Manhattan.

What he brings to the table, he said, is the ability to maximize the number of hotel rooms on a given site. Recently, he said, a client showed him another architect’s plans for a hotel in Lower Manhattan; Mr. Kaufman was able to alter the plans to squeeze in 25 percent more rooms. In the current market, a mid-range Manhattan hotel room — typically 250 square feet — is worth $400,000 to $500,000 to the developer.

To hoteliers, Mr. Kaufman provides entree into the sui generis Manhattan market. But to architecture and to the city of New York, is he providing compromised aesthetics suppressed by self-centered motives of a few businessmen?

Read on: In Hotel Design, He’s Mr. Prolific

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Shekhawati Region Rajasthan IndiaHow big can you imagine an open air gallery to be? Well, here you are… 13, 785 sq. km [5130 sq. miles] of painted walls, havelis, palaces and forts in the vast expanse of the desert of Rajasthan in India. Town after town, street after street, home after home has been painted with frescoes depicting characters and stories from Indian mythology, history, vernacular culture and life, erotica, and even imaginary and hilarious depictions of science fiction!

This is the Shekhawati region of state of Rajasthan in India. Established and ruled by the Shekhawat rajputs for centuries till independence of India in 1947, it was the largest Nizamat of Jaipur State. With more than 120 villages, 50 forts and palaces, it was definitely the most happening place for architecture and art development. Few of these have been restored or remodeled to be reused as heritage hotels or museum or schools. Others have become obscure or peeled off.Rao Shekha

Why paint the walls of the towns? Neighboring Marwar region influenced the Shekhawati region a lot. The marwar community was rich, and prosperous. This was the ‘business class’! For over a century between 1830 and 1930, marwaris or the business community made Shekhawati their home, before they started migrating to other parts of India. Family names that are now associated with some of India’s big business houses, originated here. As the ultimate symbol of their opulence, the Marwaris commissioned artists to paint those buildings. Hundreds of these courtyard houses cropped up in the desert landscape, each of them covered inside out with colorful frescoes. This art was kept alive for almost 300 years. Eventually it started falling apart as more and more families from this community started settling elsewhere, and these houses were locked up to ruins.

Fresco from ShekhawatiHow? In Shekhawati, the fresco painter or the chiteras belonged to the social class of potters or kumhaars. The technique employed for the Shekhawati frescoes was elaborate, and comparable to the Italian frescoes of the 14th century. The colors were mixed in lime water or lime plaster and were then made to sink into the plaster physically through processes of beating, burnishing, and polishing. All the pigments used were prepared with natural and primarily household ingredients like kohl, lime, indigo, red stone powder, and saffron. Cow’s urine was dried up to get the bright yellow!Amusing Fresco from Shekhawati

There are instances where these frescoes were complimented with gach [mirror] work and intricately carved wood work. Some merchants and ministers even got the havelis painted in gold and silver. There are havelis which have frescoes which amuse everyone- showing King George and Queen Victoria of England in an Indian landscape! Some even illustrate modern machinery of the times such as airplanes, cars, telephones et al!


Read more:
Painted Walls of Shekhavati by Francis Wacziarg, Aman Nath
Photo credits in slide show: Pavan Gupta of Destination India.

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