The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

April 4, 2017
by Dan
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The Last London

The London Review of Books has a brilliant, sprawling, melancholy essay by author and psychogeographer Iain Sinclair titled ‘The Last London’. It’s difficult to know what to quote from the essay as it touches on so many interesting, diverse things, but this … Continue reading

January 12, 2017
by Dan
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Brutalist Dreams

At the New York Review of Books, American architecture critic Martin Filler casts a critical eye over a slew of new books on Brutalist architecture:  In addition to its echoes of art brut—Jean Dubuffet’s name for outsider art—New Brutalism was … Continue reading

October 26, 2016
by Dan
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Darran Anderson on Imaginary Cities and Books as Maps

Author Darran Anderson discusses his book Imaginary Cities with Rhys Tranter: [M]y intention was to write something that isn’t self-contained; a book that somehow spills out of its pages and into the world… I wanted to send people out looking for … Continue reading

February 18, 2016
by Dan
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Robert Caro on New York

At The Gothamist, Christopher Robbins talks to writer Robert Caro about New York and The Power Broker, his classic Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of city planner Robert Moses: Moses had done something no one else had ever done. Everyone thought power comes from being … Continue reading

December 15, 2015
by Dan
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Ever Wanted Something More?

Although the early reviews have not been especially kind to the Ben Wheatley film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, the trailer looks amazing.  The Anthony Royal Architecture website is also a nice touch. I can’t wait.

August 13, 2015
by Dan
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The Real-World Architecture of Monument Valley

Architecture critic Alexandra Lange, author of Writing About Architecture, talks to the creators of Monument Valley — an award-winning video game in which players must navigate the Princess Ida through a maze of impossible buildings and architectural puzzles — for Curbed: Much of Monument Valley … Continue reading

November 24, 2014
by Dan
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Major Styles in Troll Bridge Architecture

Tom Gauld.

June 27, 2014
by Dan
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German Post-War Modern

Focusing on European architecture, art and design in the second-half of the twentieth-century, German Post-War Modern is currently one of my favourite Tumblrs.

April 12, 2014
by Dan
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Skydweller: A Portrait of London

Skydweller combines over 5,000 photographs of London taken from the top of Cromwell Tower, one of the three residential towers in the city’s Barbican Estate. The short film is accompanied by music specially composed by Tom Rosenthal and poetry by … Continue reading

February 3, 2014
by Dan
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I Am Not a World Improver: Mies van der Rohe and Building Seagram

Christopher Turner reviews Building Seagram by Phyllis Lambert and Mies van der Rohe by Franz Schulze and Edward Windhorst for February’s London Review of Books: Mies had dreamed of building skyscrapers since the early 1920s when, as a young architect … Continue reading

January 27, 2014
by Dan
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Save the Rizzoli Bookstore in New York

The Rizzoli Bookstore is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world and an icon of New York City architecture. Unfortunately the owners of 31 West 57th Street, the store’s home for 30 years, have recently announced their plan to … Continue reading

November 21, 2013
by Dan
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The Absent Column

I was just in Chicago this past weekend, so I was really interested in this short documentary about the battle to preserve the former Prentice Women’s Hospital in the city. Designed by modern architect Bertrand Goldberg, the building — composed of a … Continue reading

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