The best of the Cosmic Inspiro-Cloud 2013

2 January 2014 | blog, comment

two storey caravan - in 6th place

A personal favourite, the two storey caravan – location unknown – made it to 6th place

For the last five 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 was also aware 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 practice. This is especially the case with images featuring the recurring themes of concrete, brutalism, modernism, Le Tiers Paysage or Terrain
During 2013, the Cosmic Inspiro-Cloud posted 365 images in monthly themes as follows – with their popularity shown in brackets:

  • January – Buildings, landscape, installations (4th)
  • February – Japanese houses (10th)
  • March – Caravans (9th)
  • April – Asnago e Vender, small projects (11th)
  • May – Netherlands, early modernism (2nd)
  • June – Western Infirmary, Glasgow (6th)
  • July – Japanese Gardens by Mirei Shigemori (1st)
  • August – Joseph Emberton, Architect (3rd)
  • September – Gillespie Kidd and Coia, Architects (5th)
  • October – Buildings, installations, landscape (4th)
  • November – Modern Landscape Architecture from Denmark (10th)
  • December – San Cataldo Cimetero, Modena by Aldo Rossi (8th)

The most popular theme for the year was Japanese Gardens designed in the 20th century by Mirei Shigemori followed in second place by Early Modernism in Netherlands. These were followed by the architecture of Joseph Emberton in third place with a collection of Buildings, Installations and landscapes in fourth place. I was surprised at the appeal of Mirei Shigemori’s gardens as my experience on Tumblr suggests that architecture tends to rule with landscape and gardens following a long way behind, with photograph and art installations making up some sort of grumbling rear-guard. Second place was taken by a collection of images of early modernism in the Netherlands featuring the work of JJP Oud, Joseph Crouwel, Dick Greiner and others. In particular, a stunning image from 1927 of Amsterdamse Hoofdweg by Hendricus Theodorus Wijdeveld seemed to catch the imagination.

At the other end of the scale, Japanese Houses were in last place this year though much more highly placed in previous years. I was particularly disappointed that a month of the buildings of one of my favourite Italian practices from the mid 20th century, Mario Asnago e Claudio Vender, failed to catch the imagination and ended up in 11th place.

mirei shigemori - ashida residence, osaka, 1971

1st Place:Mirei Shigemori – Ashida Residence, Osaka, 1971

2nd Place:  Jean Nouvel - EXPO, Switzerland, 2002

2nd Place: Jean Nouvel – EXPO, Switzerland, 2002

aldo rossi and gianni braghieri - cimitero, modena, italia, 1971-78

3rd Place: Aldo Rossi and Gianni Braghieri – Cimitero, Modena, Italia, 1971-78
image courtesy of Stefano Topuntoli – see this link for more wonderful photography

The most liked single image of the year was the Garden of the Ashida Residence by Mirei Shigemori with 581 notes (likes) followed by Jean Nouvel’s Expo Switzerland Pavilion from 2002 in second place with 395 notes. A great image of Aldo Rossi and Gianni Braghieri’s San Cataldo Cimetero in Modena came in third with 286 notes.

So a rather odd year in which Mirei Shigemori, the rebel in the garden, disrupted the dominance of architecture and lifted landscape and garden design to new heights. At the same time, modern Danish landscape architecture and my carefully curated caravan collection went down badly. I won’t mention Asnago e Vender again – or publish more of their wonderful work – but I will try out a collection of the work of Adalberto Libera on Tumblr sometime in 2014. It will likely go down like a lead balloon.