Tuesday, March 26, 2024






It's a long time since I've ventured down (or up?) the trunk of the palm. Makes me wonder how many other "fun places to hang out" I'm missing, as I live out my hermit life-style.

Sure enough it took a visitor from UK to entice me out here. The place is called "the Pointe" and you can take your pick of F&B outlets to sit out at while admiring the view. Plus various other entertainments I'm sure.

At some point I will have to let go of Dubai and the whole ex-pat thing. Probably I should try to savour every moment in this city of ridiculous contrasts while I can.

I guess that's what I'm trying to do really, but in a balanced way. Sprinkling these "tourist class" experiences sparingly over the steady routines of my day-job: remote work from a dormitory suburb next to the sewage works 🤣🤣🤣


Parallel worlds. I like to listen to the theoretical physics stuff, but this is a much simpler tale. Sitting at a table in International City, waiting for Karam Baki. We had a nice evening, by the way. Such a gentleman. A couple of guys cancelled at the last minute. It's OK. We are all racing away on our parallel tracks of deadlines and "client issues" 🤣🤣🤣

One duality would be the contrast between this, and my previous post. The dormitory suburb v the tourist attraction. Dubai's essential split personality, much maligned in the Western Press, but my home for the past 20 years. I've come to view that tension with affection as part of the rich tapestry of human culture.

The other parallel reference is just the composition of the image. Reflections. Inside-outside. The chaos of the street and the homely Syrian decor of the restaurant. We talked about AI and my hope that automation will eventually free up people to pursue meaningful work: a revival of traditional hand-crafted buildings and other trappings of daily life.

Can we have the dignity and deep satisfaction of skilled work in parallel with the benefits of abundance? Or is that just a dream world, through the looking glass?



Irish father, Swiss mother, born in Chicago, left school at 16, one year of architecture school.

Louis Sullivan learned on the job. He went out into the world and honed his craft by doing the business. He reached the pinnacle of success, found a partner who brought in the work and handled the nitty gritty.

Part modernist, part celtic revival with a dash of art nouveau for good luck. His work with Dankmar Adler was innovative on many levels. Who did what? Who cares? Together they were unstoppable. Until they weren't.

Economic depression. (panic of 1893) Split up. Alcoholism and decline. Louis burnt so brightly, then faded and faded. Sometimes it's like that.


I went to St Louis for a Revit conference. Took photos of the Wainwright building and knocked up a quick BIM sketch at my daughter's house in Florida on the way back. That has become part of my WWB (way we build) archive on the Autodesk Construction Cloud.

I've thrown in some hand sketching for good luck. Searching for a balance between the physical and the digital. Work in progress.


Ten or twelve years ago I was obsessed with the challenge of representing organic shapes in Revit. Not the Zaha Hadid type. My heroes were Gaudi and Mendelsohn Expressionism and Art Nouveau.

Not that I ever wanted to bring these styles back from the dead. I just felt (still feel) that we need a better understanding of that period of time when the continuity of human history was effectively broken.

It's fun to break things when you are young. Disruption is seen as a positive thing by many today, not just the young, but especially the believers in relentless technological progress. I guess I am still hoping for a middle way, a nuanced view. Some progress is good but a sense of continuity with the past is also important.

The fact that I have been doing digital studies like these for 15 years and more suggests that I am not a luddite. All the same I would like to see more young people pursuing traditional craft apprenticeships. Fewer mass produced trinkets in our lives : more objects of beauty worthy of passing on to our grandchildren.

We preserve "listed buildings", but what about the way of life that gave them meaning?



All I knew of Klint was the Expressionist west front of Gruntvigs church. And I almost missed my chance to see it. My last morning in Copenhagen was blighted by rain and the day before a group of North African boys charmed me into conversation on the metro while one of them stole my wallet.

I overcame adversity to catch a bus ride, miss my stop, walk too far with a borrowed umbrella and soggy shoes, but I saw his masterwork in the flesh. The photos inspired me to study his unusual brick bonding when I got home, then research his other work.

There followed a BIM sketch of his 3 Copenhagen churches and their location within the city. I realised that the "extreme style" of his iconic west front was actually deeply rooted in traditional Danish church design. This is what my "WayWeBuild" work is all about, digging deeper into the meaning and purpose of buildings that have been an inspiration. Putting them into social and historical context.

It's an endless task, but I am trying my best to shape my efforts into an intelligible body of work that can be of some use to younger generations long after I am gone.

They stole my purse and that is symptomatic of some of the difficult issues that Europe faces and the contradictions of globalism. But all the same they are part of the future. We need to understand our past better and to navigate the way forward.




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