The best of the Cosmic Inspiro-Cloud 2012

3 January 2013 | blog, comment

federico fellini - la dolce vita, 1960

Federico Fellini – scene from La Dolce Vita, 1960 – a favourite but not highly rated

For the last four years, I have published a daily image on Tumblr under the banner of the Cosmic Inspiro-Cloud. This started out as a collection of images that I wanted to keep for easy reference – a sort of Pinterest before its time – but I developed a curiosity about the popularity of certain images and the lack of appeal of others, measured through Tumblr’s notes system. I know that many people from a planning background – including some that I work with – find many of these images rather challenging (grim, depressing, cheerless). Many of them lie well outside the boundaries of acceptability for many practitioners – or perhaps many can’t associate these images with actual practice. This is especially the case with images featuring the recurring themes of concrete, brutalism, modernism, Le Tiers Paysage or Terrain Vague.
During 2012, the Cosmic Inspiro-Cloud posted 366 images in monthly themes as follows – with their numbers of notes (likes) shown in brackets and their ranking:

  • January – Infrastructure (372) 10th
  • February – Fritz Schupp (986) 1st
  • March – Ulrich Müther (201) 11th
  • April – Small Japanese Houses (377) 9th
  • May – Installations and projects (145) 12th
  • June – California Modern (623) 6th
  • July – Infrastructure (446) 8th
  • August – Stripes (726) 4th
  • September – Czechoslovakia Modernism (683) 5th
  • October – Hungarian Modernism (741) 3rd
  • November – Polish Modernism (888) 2nd
  • December – Italian Rationalism (477) 7th

Scan through the images in the archive.

The most popular theme for the year was the work of Fritz Schupp, architect of many coal mines and industrial facilities of the late 1940-50s in Germany. This theme also supplied the second placed image – Zeche Adolf von Hansemann, Dortmund, designed in 1954 by Schupp. In second place was a collection of images of Polish Modernism. The enduring popularity of modern architecture was also evident in the third to sixth placed themes of Hungarian Modernism, Czechoslovakian Modernism, Italian Rationalism and Californian Modern.

At the other end of the scale, infrastructure, projects, art installations and the architecture of poor old Ulrich Müther just didn’t appeal at all as a group although there were individual images that were popular. Even the work of Frei Otto was overlooked and challenging projects such as the Euthanasia Coaster were largely ignored.

In August 2012, inspired by an article in AA Files 63 by Ashley Paine, I put together a month of striped buildings to see what the reaction would be. The theme ended up in fourth place for the year but more or less on the basis of one image alone. This was the most popular image of the year, namely Mario Botta’s Church of St John the Baptist, Lavizzara, Switzerland, 1996. I was surprised. Fritz Schupp was second with the Zeche Adolf von Hansemann, Dortmund from 1954 and in third place was William Russell Everett’s Everett House, Orinda, California from 1951.

The top ten images from the year are shown below: