ERA21 #01/2020 Logistics Landscapes

kniha editorial

Logistics Landscapes

Kateřina Frejlachová, Miroslav Pazdera, Tadeáš Říha, Martin Špičák

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kniha discussion

Not a Short-term Activity. Editors-in-Chief Discuss ERA21. Moderated by Karolína Vránková »

“We believe this will not be a short-term activity,” wrote Rostislav Koryčánek, then editor-in-chief, in his first ERA21 editorial in 2002. Being published in Brno, in the beginning it looked as though the periodical, focused chiefly on ecology and construction, would only have local reach. ERA21 now celebrates its 20th birthday, still bringing important information from the world of architecture, putting it in a wider context, and influencing the architectural discourse in Czechia. To discuss the evolution of the magazine, all four of the former editors-in-chief – Helena Šnajdarová, Rostislav Koryčánek, Osamu Okamura and Zuzana Morávková – met with the current editor-in-chief Filip Landa in Brno. The final agreement was reassuring: it certainly has not been a short-term activity.

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“Sublime” »

Christoph Morlinghaus

The aestheticization of logistics, as seen for example on the famous “Amazon” photo, by Andreas Gursky, is a useful tool, which captivates the viewer and motivates them towards deeper exploration of the subject. In some ways and at the same time however, it also prevents such deeper exploration, redirecting the attention from the essence of the phenomenon towards its most imposing aspect, its scale. It stuns us with grand dimensions, or hypnotic order of endless shelving. Such an effect, creating the feeling of something beyond humanity, or something which transcends us, is a well established concept in art history called the sublime.

kniha essay

Asphalt, Concrete, and Other Rocks. A Natural History of Logistics »

Tadeáš Říha

Logistics centers somehow seem to occupy more land than other development sites. The main reason for this is that their architecture does little else besides occupy space. While individually problematic enough, they offer a valuable insight into how we transform “natural” agricultural land using different “artificial” surfaces. With logistics and agriculture both significantly contributing to ongoing climate change, however, the seemingly clear divide between the natural and the artificial world disappears.

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Steel Cities »

Zdeněk Porcal / Studio Flusser

Seeking ways to interpret the buildings that visually transform our landscape and vastly influence our everyday lives, we explored structures that were designed for ergonomy but that defy all common ideals of beauty, and traveled through places where efficient architecture subjugates all the surrounding urbanism. We became aware of the repressed images burnt into our retinas from watching the world flash behind car, bus and train windows. Images of grey, metal masses conquering the landscape. Rectangular sections in the naturally rolling terrain, governed by artificial lighting, inhumanely lengthening the workday to 24 hours, 365 days a year. A world that cannot stop. A frequency of light projecting itself as a mirror, where we can see ourselves, perpetually and simultaneously being found and getting lost.

kniha stories

Logistics Stories »

Kateřina Frejlachová, Martin Špičák

Warehouses along the highway have their own stories. Three case studies from three parts of the Czech Republic represent the embodiment of the global logistics system in the local context of our everyday landscape. The goal is not to mediate a complete, clear or fully objective picture, but rather to record and tell the stories of real experiences, from the point of view of the people living in the affected areas who must confront the new development. The first story, Nová Hospoda, is a history tour of the optimistic beginnings of logistics planning in the CR. The second story, Krásný Les, is an example of how massive warehouse constructions won’t stop, even for naturally or culturally valuable localities. The third chapter, Koridor D8, describes how civic resistance against warehouses gradually changed into constructive coordination and conceptual planning in a broader sense. The stories are followed by an interview with the Deputy Mayor of Odolena Voda, architect Tomáš Lohniský, discussing the question of storage and territorial planning.

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Our Surrounding Landscape Forms Us. Tomáš Lohniský Interviewed by Kateřina Frejlachová and Martin Špičák »

The town of Odolena Voda is located 15 kilometers north of Prague in a strategically important area for many significant infrastructural projects, which either exist at present or are proposed. Apart from industrial buildings these include a high-speed railway or an international airport. Odolena Voda is the founding member of Koridor D8, an association of municipalities aiming to coordinate the particular activities associated with the realization of problematic projects around them. We spoke with the Deputy Mayor and architect, Tomáš Lohniský, about warehouses mushrooming in the fields along the highway and this phenomenon’s relationship to local government, spatial planning, and the architectural profession as a whole.


Borská pole. Heroic Urban Planning in the Turbulent 1990s »

Milan Svoboda

Situated on the outskirts of Pilsen, Borská pole certainly isn’t amongst the most admired urban complexes, especially considering the contemporary principles of urban design and planning. It is a 125-hectare industrial site, with a shopping center but without any valuable public spaces; a purpose-built space where people only go for work, business or shopping. Only accessible from downtown Pilsen by road, until 2019. But let’s briefly return to the first years after the Velvet revolution, when the times were full of searching, uncertainty, enthusiasm and naivety.


New Interfaces in the Automated Landscapes of Logistics »

Jesse LeCavalier

Metaphors of flows are often used to describe aspects of logistics, thereby suggesting smooth and inevitable operations while also obscuring the friction and contingencies that characterize the industry. This article explores the consequences and possibilities of these modes by first elaborating some aspects of logistical operations in order to connect them to the contemporary built environment. It looks at the architectural components of the company Walmart in order to present hypothetical scenarios related to the future of the logistical landscape. By connecting these visual experiments to questions of representation, automation, and systems thinking, the article explores the ways we might challenge and extend the possibilities of logistics.


Amazon Urbanism. Patents and the Totalizing World of Big Tech Futures »

Matthew Stewart

Taken as whimsical follies by the design press and broader culture, Amazon's architectural and logistical patents are altogether more sinister, signalling new, automated urban ambitions.


Work Tools »

Jan Kolský

Logistics still depends primarily on human labor, hidden behind mundane warehouse walls, despite ever-expanding automation. The idea to start recording the working environment of logistics centers came to me after I asked myself how this work looks, where it happens, and which tools are used. The tools are more or less similar everywhere. Scanners, gloves, cutting knives. By comparing them we can gauge the level of organization, often closely associated with the extent of algorithm used in storage management and the extent of standardization of work environments. Sometimes the workers themselves have to improvise solutions to simplify their jobs. This phenomenon starts as their own initiative, but at the same time it is encouraged by the management as another tool of work  optimization.


Dobrovíz: Disorder in Store »

Lynda Zein

According to the urbanist Pierre Chastel, the mythologies we create about suburbs are battles between two giants, the village and the satellite. This gigantomachy shows a polarizing view of the suburban phenomenon: a village house vs. a family home. Then a third phenomenon – a logistics center – comes to break up the classic gigantomachy and the suburban landscape. Chastel uses the term mithridatism to refer to the absence of spatial planning in suburbs, where whole territories are being developed recklessly and disorderly. Mithridatism generally means regular use of small amounts of poison until the body gets used to it and becomes immune. Urban mithridatism shows how the land between suburbia and countryside is being developed. We keep believing that the body will become immune because it keeps functioning and adapting itself. But the opposite is true. The American Way of Life can become a social and an economic poison.


Seeking Freedom in the Everything Store »

Margherita Marri, Andrea Mologni / CAPTCHA

In the late 60s, groups of young architects that studied at the fertile Faculty of Architecture in Florence, proposed experimental projects such as the No-Stop City (Archizoom Associati, 1969) or Continuous Monument (Superstudio, 1969). They were trying to address the fear of the irreversible corruption of the Italian society encountering consumerism, becoming consequently more and more subjugated by capitalist market dynamics through the commodification of every aspect of life, transforming every human action in an act of production or consumption. What was just dread back then, has now become reality.


Floor.dwg »

Keller Easterling

Floor.dwg rehearses the impact of new vehicles on architectural morphology. Given the merger of cars and elevators in warehouses, ports and other logistics environments, the research argues that the common floor, which provides navigational instructions for these automated vehicles, is the new germ of architectural design. Here, floors are horizontal elevator shafts and loud graphic surfaces continuous with what used to be the exterior space of parking and roadway.


Landscape 2.0 »

Wilhelm Klauser

The logistics real estate market is not transparent. In Germany, no official data exists for the availability of free space in existing storage halls. However, according to a study, there appears to be approximately 50 millions square meters of storage space of interest to investors. The warehouses in question share certain minimal qualities: their size on average exceeds 8,000 m2 and they were built after 1985. These places are what comes to mind when we hear the word “logistics.” “A booming industry!” the Immobilien Zeitung magazine declares. There are 24,000 transport companies in Germany alone, and the economic boom the country benefited from after 2011 strengthened the industry even more. The case for the logistics boom is clear. Its effects, however, are not.


Googlebourg »

Luigi Savio, Mattia Inselvini, Marcello Carpino, Davide Masserini / (ab)Normal

Googlebourg shows a possible and somehow probable scenario, inspired by the constant depletion of the nation-state authority of Luxembourg for the sake of transnational corporate interests. The images show speculative visions of digital ecosystems, logistic infrastructure and automated mechanisms, and their influence on the future of society. Googlebourg forms one chapter in a graphic novel without chronology. Illustrations based on normal maps carefully deconstruct the photorealism of architectural images.



Review of Key Details in Masonry Buildings

Zuzana Hejlová


Psychoacoustics in Open-Plan Offices

Iveta Králová

completed project

Restart. Vlněna Business Center in Brno »

Václav Hlaváček / Studio acht

A second phase of the Vlněna textile factory brownfield redevelopment is now under way in Brno, erecting an office complex of the same name instead. So far it has garnered interest from mostly IT companies. In this sense, the new Vlněna could be seen as symbolic of an ongoing transformation of Brno, whose face and identity was shaped by the textile and engineering industry during the last century, while today this role is taken on by high-tech and IT industry.

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