Friday, February 27, 2009 is a new image resource drawn from Scotland's national collections, including the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), making available for licensed usage selected images from the collections' extensive and often unique holdings. I had some problems getting the ‘search’ facility to work properly, but the resource seems to include a vast range of colour and black and white images which are constantly being added to, and many of which have an architectural theme.
Access: Free, but registration required to use some features

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The value of parks

CABE (The Commission on Architecture and the Built Environment) has published a report ‘Making the invisible visible: the real value of park assets’, which is freely available online. The report notes that most councils assume that the value of each public park they own is worth just £1, and it suggests a new way of valuing parks which takes better account of the financial value they bring to society.
Access: Free

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Philadelphia architects and buildings

The Philadelphia Architects and Buildings (PAB) website is a regional initiative that provides free access to information on the built environment in the Philadelphia area. It provides access to architectural, historical information and images for over 35,000 structures, a web-based library of more than 25,000 images, and biographies of over 2,500 architects. The database is searchable by name of building, architect and location.
Access: Free, but registration required

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Invincible cities

This complex but fascinating website by Camilo Vergara uses photographs of the built environment of US cities to document poor, minority communities. Hundreds of color photographs of Richmond, California; Camden, New Jersey; and Harlem, New York provide what Vergara describes as a "visual encyclopedia of the American Ghetto." and how it changes over time. The website, which is supported by the Ford Foundation and Rutgers University, features a detailed introduction and databases of images of each city which can be navigated using interactive maps.
Access: Free

Monday, February 23, 2009

Digimap consultation on Northern Ireland maps

Students at Glasgow School of Art (and those in other UK Further and Higher Education institutions) might be interested in responding to a consultation about enhancing the map data currently available through the EDINA Digimap service. The proposal is to add a range of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland (OSNI) data to Digimap. GSA students should respond to me (; students at other institutions should respond to their own Digimap site representative (list at More information about the proposals can be found at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Frank Gehry talks

Science, teaching and research portal has provided access to a 50-minute video of a talk given in 1990 by architect Frank Gehry to the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. Gehry takes the audience on a whistlestop tour of his work up to 1990, ranging from his own Venice Beach house to the American Center in Paris (which was still under construction at the time of his talk). Heavily illustrated with drawings, models and photographs of his work in this slideshow, Gehry provides background information to the influences and inspirations for many of his designs, including his interest in the shape, structure and finish of fish. Gehry was concerned that discussions of his work are taken out of context as his buildings are site-specific, so he was giving this talk to explain his method of working.
Access: Free

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Architectural drawings explained

The excellent Intute Arts and Humanities Service has picked up on an interesting website from London's Victoria and Albert Museum which presents a series of short online videos of examples from the Museum's and the RIBA's drawings collection. Expert Michael Snodin demonstrates how drawings are used in the building process, with videos are organised in the following sections: First sketch ideas and sketchbooks; Drawings showing design development; Presentation techniques; Drawings for construction; and Drawings to record completed buildings. They feature work by architects ranging from a 1700s drawing by Nicholas Hawksmoor to a 1987 design by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners. Also featured are the flats for White City by Erich Mendelsohn and the GLA headquarters by Foster and Partners.
Access: Free

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mies in Berlin and America

Published by the Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA), this website is a record of two architecture exhibitions held in New York during 2001: 'Mies in Berlin', held at MoMA; and 'Mies in America', held at the Whitney Museum. The exhibitions focus respectively on the early career and the American career of German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969). The site includes background texts, images and bibliographical references.
Access: Free

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Reimagining outdoor learning spaces

Futurelab, the Bristol-based non-profit organisation which is looking at innovative approaches to education, has produced a handbook which aims to inspire and provoke creative thinking regarding outdoor learning and play spaces for children. 'Reimagining outdoor learning spaces' looks at issues such as the incorporation of mobile technologies in play spaces; the importance of co-design; and ensuring the economic and environmental sustainability of play projects. The report is well-illustrated and packed with useful links, and can be freely downloaded as a pdf.
Access: Free

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Marcel Breuer papers, 1920-1986

'Marcel Breuer Papers, 1920-1986' is a website which provides access to the digitised papers of architect and designer Marcel Breuer in the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution, New York City Research Center. The collection contains biographical material, correspondence, business and financial records, writings, project files, interviews, notes, sketches, exhibition files, and photographs.
Access: Free

Monday, February 09, 2009

Directory of architecture competitions

The weekly magazine Building Design has launched a free online directory of the latest architectural competitions. Drawn from around the world, and featuring both small- and large-scale projects, each featured competition includes a useful summary with deadlines and eligibility criteria, together with a link to the full competition entry. The directory will evolve to provide details of the results of competitions.
Access: Free

Friday, February 06, 2009

Fabprefab: modernist prefab dwellings

Fabprefab is a superb web resource which looks at developments in the market for prefabricated housing, focusing on its ability to deliver affordable modernist-style dwellings. It includes examples of commercially-available structures; projects from Schools of Architecture; a section on the use of shipping containers as the basis for habitable structures; links to information sources; and a discussion board. The website is heavily-illustrated and enthusiasts can also sign up for the Fabprefab newsletter.
Access: Free

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Mackintosh School of Architecture exam papers

Students at the Mackintosh can now access past exam papers (the questions only!) for 2005, 2006 and 2007, including resits, on the Glasgow School of Art VLE. They can be found as a link within the Mackintosh School of Architecture general information pages. The Library will continue to hold hard copies of these and earlier exam papers.
Access: Restricted to students at the Mackintosh School of Architecture

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Good design: the fundamentals

CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) has published a useful document which sets out why good design matters. ‘Good design: the fundamentals’ explains what excellence in design is and why it needs to be championed. In addition to providing ammunition for architects and urban designers, it includes a valuable passing mention of some of the UK’s most robust, efficient and beautiful buildings and public spaces.

Monday, February 02, 2009

New Resources on SCRAN

The long-running Scran image database has been adding to its already vast collection, with the new additions providing a useful reminder that the database includes much non-Scottish material. Of particular interest to architects is the large image collection from Education Bradford, which shows and describes buildings, sculpture, public spaces and other places of interest in the industrial heritage village of Saltaire, near Shipley, West Yorkshire.
Access: Athens account required