Modernology in Yangon

Evening activities in secondary streets after shop closing time.

Rope elevator: given the higher ceiling height of houses and the lack of elevators many houses have ropes coming down to the side walk. These are used to get daily newspaper, food, as a door bell…

A strange gap next to the side walk used as an AC shelter…

In terms of diversity Yangon has nothing to envy to any city: a sinagogue, a hindu temple, a church and a mosque stand few hundred meters from each other.


Colourscape: who is afraid of colours? (why are european cities so gray?)


Thick green threshold:
A very interesting solution for the threshold between property and sidewalk. The outer fence was taken down, a thick vegetation is filtering between sidewalk and the cafe that is running just next to the building.


Canopies: cantilever shading and rain protection seem to be never enough


Literally life between buildings. Between two buildings that have nothing to inspire joy and activities a vibrant market takes place.


Sidewalk vendors adopt many well design solution to sell products while using the least amount of space.

This pharmacy has a foldable platform that at night gets back behind the shutter.

in the city centers all the buildings have back alleys often not used. There is great potential in them.


yangon has very large gutters! Finally a city in tropical climate that addresses this issue


There are still many houses,probably built by wealthy merchants,that have a portico. These spaces become very pleasant public areas with small street tea shop.


Face to face. Two facades so close to each other and yet so different.


interesting height gap between the area that shops can use and sidewalk.


 

Urban nights

Paolo Conte in his lectio magistralis for his laurea ad honorem suggests an interesting exercise: to imagine the time of the day drawn in a painting. What time is it in the Dance of Matisse? And what about the scream of Munch? Or the Mona lisa?
I think it is interesting to apply the same idea to cities. When is a certain city splendid, interesting, charming, unique? At what hour?
While working a little bit around different cities i realize that in my memories what i recall in urban space is not so much its feature but a specific moment.
These moments are often evenings because darkness increase intimacy not only towards people but also toward our surroundings.
For Tokyo, I remember walking back home through small similar irregular alleys. These formed a labyrinth that probably Borges would have liked. There, for the first and only time in my life, i completed an involuntary circle and after 2 h found  my self in the same exact spot, confused and speechless.

Beijing, despite all the destruction that was made in the last 30 years, has a specific moment in which it is splendid. It is around 1 am during winter nights. Inside the second ring road. At that moment, with a dark bright sky, one can see the shadow of the hutongs on both side of the alley. The branches of a tree will extend above the roofline. Silent and naked.  The moon is shining above. Silence all around and a thick cold air.

Phnom Penh has change a lot. Probably, according to most, in the better but I still remember that in 2010 most of the streets at nights were dark. That darkness was different. That darkness showed abandon. That darkness was a scar but it also showed possibility and hope. It always reminded me of the first scene of the movie Sur.

And one more tip: you might consider to hire personal bodyguard to feel safe.

 

 

Homo sapiens sapiens sapiens sapiens sapi…..

Tens and tens generation lived before me, defeating natural cataclisms, famine, wars. Turning rocky soils in to farming fields, finding the right name of gods to pray. Killing ferocious animals. Accumulating enough stock to be able to survive winters.

Finally today after all their efforts I can sit on top of this pyramid and live withou historical and moral obligations, with a lot of free time that i can rightously spend on facebook or on an online videogames.
Human evolution has reached its peak.

Contemporary luxuries

In the village there is almost no internet connection. Only in few occasion when the wind, satellites and the moon are aligned the signal comes through.
In this”uneasy” situation a person cannot check his messanger every 20 minutes, cant write his university friend in Mexico what he had for breakfast, cant even watch a video of a panda trying to use a mobile phone.
One is also cut of from the last Trump boutade, Ronaldo last hair cut and the latest USA sanction.
In this bubble one is forced to look at what is front of him with no screen meadiating. One finds himself with many hours available and slowly discover that the sunrise is different everymorning, that the neighbor
have has changed haircut, that he can finally start reading that book that has been sitting on the shelf for months.
Time has appeared again in his life. Taime to talk face to face, time to observe, time to draw, to exercise, to walk, to make leather bags.
In that precise moment he feels rich. Rich in a different way. Rich of opportunities and rich of the most valuable and convertable currency: time.

 

Equilibrio Digitale

The order of modernity

The current reconstruction in Nepal surely is improving the structural qualities of the built environment but what about the rest? Some traditional details (slate roof, mud plaster) are getting replaced by more modern materials ( corrugated metal and cement plaster). Beside the obvious visible changes and consequences of this there is a more subtle change. The change from a pre-modern vibrant, imperfect, ondulated, irregular surface to the modern, flat, mono dimensional surface. As Pallasmaa wrote, we move towards a “soporific unnifromity of experience”. Surely the richness of the surrunding compensate this but it seems that in people mind the step into a modern aesthetics has been made. Now we just need to sit and watch the monsters that this will create.

P… come Parise come povertà

Questo articolo apparve il 30 giugno 1974. Alla faccia di tutti queeli che credono in uno sviluppo. Più di 40 anni dopo è ancora attuale e affilato.

«Questa volta non risponderò ad personam, parlerò a tutti, in particolare però a quei lettori che mi hanno aspramente rimproverato due mie frasi: «I poveri hanno sempre ragione», scritta alcuni mesi fa, e quest’altra: «il rimedio è la povertà. Tornare indietro? Sì, tornare indietro», scritta nel mio ultimo articolo.

 

Per la prima volta hanno scritto che sono “un comunista”, per la seconda alcuni lettori di sinistra mi accusano di fare il gioco dei ricchi e se la prendono con me per il mio odio per i consumi. Dicono che anche le classi meno abbienti hanno il diritto di “consumare”.

 

Lettori, chiamiamoli così, di destra, usano la seguente logica: senza consumi non c’è produzione, senza produzione disoccupazione e disastro economico. Da una parte e dall’altra, per ragioni demagogiche o pseudo-economiche, tutti sono d’accordo nel dire che il consumo è benessere, e io rispondo loro con il titolo di questo articolo.

 

Il nostro paese si è abituato a credere di essere (non ad essere) troppo ricco. A tutti i livelli sociali, perché i consumi e gli sprechi livellano e le distinzioni sociali scompaiono, e così il senso più profondo e storico di “classe”. Noi non consumiamo soltanto, in modo ossessivo: noi ci comportiamo come degli affamati nevrotici che si gettano sul cibo (i consumi) in modo nauseante. Lo spettacolo dei ristoranti di massa (specie in provincia) è insopportabile. La quantità di cibo è enorme, altro che aumenti dei prezzi. La nostra “ideologia” nazionale, specialmente nel Nord, è fatta di capannoni pieni di gente che si getta sul cibo. La crisi? Dove si vede la crisi? Le botteghe di stracci (abbigliamento) rigurgitano, se la benzina aumentasse fino a mille lire tutti la comprerebbero ugualmente. Si farebbero scioperi per poter pagare la benzina. Tutti i nostri ideali sembrano concentrati nell’acquisto insensato di oggetti e di cibo. Si parla già di accaparrare cibo e vestiti. Questo è oggi la nostra ideologia. E ora veniamo alla povertà.”

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