Saturday, October 30, 2010


Favelas in Rio de Janeiro

About 1.3 millon people lives in the app. 750 favelas in Rio de Janeiro.They have gradually been build on public land inside the city the last 100 years by newcomers from rural areas.Especially in the 60's it boomed and some of the favelas like Mare and Rocinha has over 150,000 inhabitants.
Most live without proper sanitation and electricity but also do not pay tax for the missing public service. There are a big number of social, educational, construction and infastructural projects in favelas in Rio. When Rio was host city for Eco 92 - UN conference on Environment and Development - the federal government poured US$ 1 bill. into improving the city. Later the 'favela-bairro' project was initiated to integrate favelas into the rest of the city by providing basic sanitation and planning leisure areas, health clinics, schools, preschools and community centers.
But in general it is a problem because of underdevelopment, lack of education and class differences. If you have an address from a favela - if the favela has postal service at all - it is very hard to get a job. If you went to public school as is the only opportunity for poor your chances of getting accepted into university is minimal. Even if you manage to pass the college-test you cannot get into the most attractive colleges.
Drug trafficing is haunting favelas in Rio. The drug barons, Command Vermelho (Red Command) and Third Command are controlling all but one (renowened) favelas and are always in war with each other or the police. Police are very badly paid, some even live in favelas - but without unveiling their job position - and are corrupt. I heard stories from people from favelas that those you cannot stand the pressure of not earning money and enter the drug trafficing usually only turns 25 when they are killed by police, competing barons or their own - because of their insights!
A few years ago a drug baron was killed and the ground commanded all shops to close for the day in Rio. The risk of getting shot made them follow the command!
But all this being said the inhabitants of the favelas are hard working people who have chosen to be part of a city that does not offer opportunities for all. Therefor there is a big unofficial service and trade industry. To sell coconuts on the beach, polish shoes, sell pirate CD's, programmes, sneakers, etc. All the non-favela cariocas I meet had maids

Rich and poor. Because of the attrative view on the mountain side rich and poor often live side-by-side.
(Left) Below villas and above favela!

View from the top of Santa Marta or Dona Marta, as it is often called.

Here a French photographer runs a project to educate youngsters to become photo journalists or art photographers. These young people are the only ones that have free access to take photos in their favela. The myth is that any tourist doing it 

 First, you construct the foundation, then the walls, then the ceiling. Then you sell the roof to someone else to build their house. For the money you begin to do the interior. Over the years and if you make it OK you can begin to consider the exterior, plaster the facade, paint, etc.

Left: Water is often pumped up from mountain springs and distributed with plastic pipes throughout the favela into the blue tanks on top of the houses.
Below: Electricity is often from "tapping" into wires in the near by streets.
In Rocinha (left) a race track road that was build through the mountain and was a perfect site for a favela. Therefor they have have a public road through their community. Because of the service this provides the people who live along the road pay taxes. Even a bus route goes through but only when it reaches Rocinha the sign is changed to "Rochina" as no one dares to ride a bus heading to a favel

Opportunities for Children

One of the greatest problems for favela-kids is lack of education to break the social heritage. There are a well developled school system offerede for them but most drop out after 5 years.

 In Mare, one of the biggest with 160,000 people and oldest favelas in Rio six youngsters who got into college sat down and talked about their situation. Why did they get in and not someone else? They were not more intelligent or skilled then so many else in Mare. So they decided to found a preperation course to enter college. After 4-5 years 200 people have entered college!
Library (left) and class room (below)

              In the very small favela Vila Canoas the guided tours company is part finansing an after school programme with Para Ti Friendship and Solidarity. This is also a favela that lives close to one of the richest areas of Rio. Along the "class-line" you have a millionaire villa next to a favela house!

Other Aspects

 From the guided tour I took for my first every favela visit. It was organized by Marcelo Armstrong tel. 3322-2727 and he has done it for years. Some people I meet who work in the favelas are quite skeptical towards organised favela tours because of the risk of exoticism. But on the one I took they made a great effort to take away the well known prejudice about favelas and showed a majority of positive aspects and only mentioned the drugs briefly

The main reason for visiting favelas are to buy drugs, do social work and go to the samba schools. There are about 20 samba schools in Rio and they are all located in favelas. This is a photo from Mangueira who is the biggest and most famous. Every Saturday they practice and the audience is invited to join.
 In the favela on top of Santa Teresa you have the most magnificent view. On top of the favela is a soccer court with Christ on top of one goal and the Sugerloafs on top of the other - the two most famous tourist attractions of Rio.
In the chicken bar you pick out a chicken to have served with your beer

The entrance of Santa Marta  that is reputed for its drugs partly because of a former drug dealer who wrote his memories from his time in Santa Marta.
Below youngsters bathing in the small piazza used for washing clothes.

Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson Architecture Tour, Glasgow, Scotland

Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson Architecture Tour, Glasgow, Scotland

Tell me a little about Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson
Thomson was a giant of 19th century Scottish architecture. He was born in Balfron, Glasgow in 1817 and died 1875 at the home he designed in Moray Place, Glasgow. He was inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece which he did not copy but used Greek architecture as a living language to speak to his own time whilst incorporating new inventions such as plate glass and cast iron in his designs. During Thomson’s lifetime Glasgow rose to become an industrial powerhouse and ‘Second City of the British Empire’ and thus Thomson was well positioned to influence the distinctive character of Glasgow via an extensive array of designs many of which are still visible today.
Tell me more about Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson
Despite his ‘Greek’ sobriquet Thomson never actually departed the shores of Britain let alone visited Greece. He was a devout Christian and interested in philosophical ideas and in the ‘eternal laws’ which governed architecture and was influenced by images of Old Testament catastrophes by the painter John Martin.
As the City of Glasgow expanded, Thomson designed a wide range of buildings to accommodate the growth. His designs included commercial, warehouses, tenements, terraces of houses (row houses), villas and buildings for the United Presbyterian Church.
During his early career Thomson experimented with various styles including Italian Romanesque, Scottish Baronial and even Gothic. It was later in his career that Thomson championed the superiority of the Greek ideal over the Medievalism then fashionable in England.
Here is a listing of the principal extant buildings by Thomson which can be seen in the Glasgow conurbation. For a full listing of his work visit the Thomson section ofthis web page.
Glasgow City Centre
The St. Vincent Street Church  (1857-59), Corner of St. Vincent Street and Pitt Street.
This is the only surviving intact church by Thomson. It is raised up on its own mad-made Acropolis on a steeply sloping site. Features Ionic porticoes which are purely symbolic.
Grecian Buildings  (1867-68). 336-356 Sauchiehall Street/Scott Street.
Originally a commercial warehouse but now the centre for Contemporary Arts.
West Nile Street Warehouse (1858). 99-107 West Nile Street.
A small commercial building in an abstracted Greek style.
Gordon Street Warehouse (1858-59).68-80 Gordon Street.
Features a façade full of subtleties and distinctive ornament. Arguably spoiled by a massive superstructure placed on top during the Edwardian period.
Egyptian Halls (1870-72) (84-100 Union Street)
Named after the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London and originally featured a bazaar or shopping centre with an exhibition gallery.
Bucks Head Building (1863), 59-61 Argyle Street & Dunlop Street.
A commercial building in which the cast iron construction is expressed externally.
Beattie Monument( 1867), the Necropolis.
A monument to a Church Minister comprising a pylon topped with a beautiful urn rising from a base of Cyclopean masonry.
West End of Glasgow
Eton Terrace (1862-64), 41-53 Oakfield Avenue/great George Street
A terrace with ends made prominent with pedimented temple-fronts and square columns.
The Sixty Steps (1872), Kelvinside Terrace West & Queen Margaret’s Place
A monumental flight of steps connecting with a now demolished bridge across the River Kelvin.
Great Western Terrace (1867-77), Great Western Road.
A grand terrace with the taller houses in the middle. A severe design relying on repetition and careful proportions.
South Side of Glasgow
Caledonia Road Church (1856-57), Cathcart Road and Hospital Street.
This was Thomson’s first church but now a forlorn ruin after burning by vandals. However, the remains retain dignity and distinction.
Walmer Crescent (1857-62), Paisley Road West above Cessnock subway station.
This represents one of Thomson’s few surviving tenements. An austere composition with no ornament.
Moray Place (1859-61), 1-10 Moray Place, Strathbungo.
A terrace of ten small houses where repetition and unity is everything. An unbroken run of 52 square columns on the first floor links the two projecting end houses. Thomson lived and died at No 1 Moray Place.
Millbrae Crescent (1876-77), 2-38 Millbrae Crescent, Langside.
Completed posthumously by Thomson’s partner, Robert Turnbull. However, flair and elegance and other clues suggest the design was by Thomson.
Holmwood House (1857-58), 61-63 Netherlee Road.
This is considered Thomson’s finest and most elaborate villa. Designed in the Greek style asymmetrically and incorporating a wall that connects the main house with the coach house, a feature associated with designs of Lutyens and Frank Lloyd Wright.
How can Catswhiskerstours help?
  1. We can design a Thomson themed architecture tour of Glasgow.
  2. We can provide a general tour of Glasgow incorporating a selection of Thomson designs.
  3. We can provide a wider themed architecture of Glasgow incorporating the work of other architects such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

For more information and help contact Nigel-

T  44 (0) 141 638 5500

[email protected]
Or [email protected] 
We look forward to hearing from you!

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Richard Meier

Richard Meier is one of the foremost contemporary American architects. In 1984 at the age of 49, Meier was awarded thePritzker Architecture Prize, often referred to as the Nobel of architecture. He was the youngest architect to receive the profession's highest accolade. Meier is known for resisting trend-based designs, instead developing his own design philosophy rooted in rationalism and noted for its use of the color white. His designs can be seen as Neo-Corbusian, referencing the famous French architect's early phase in particular. Meier has also named Frank Lloyd Wright as another major influence. Perhaps his most famous design is The Getty Center, a Los Angeles art museum funded by the J. Paul Getty trust. Meier was born in Newark, New Jersey, and educated at Cornell University.

Famagusta.The Turks left to collapse one of the 12 most important archaeological sites in the world

The Turks left to collapse one of the 12 most important archaeological sites in the world7:04 pm | Posted by Visaltis

Collapsing the medieval town of Famagusta monument. The Turks are indifferent and left at the mercy of. Revealing Report of the Global Cultural Heritage
Distress signal emitted by the medieval town of Famagusta, according to a report by the GIF (Global Heritage Fund), which reveals h. .. Cypriot newspaper "O Liberal".The medieval town of Famagusta, one, as the report among the 12 most important archaeological sites in the world in danger of collapse.
In the report, writes the newspaper "O Liberal", indicating that the medieval town of Famagusta is located in northern Cyprus, which has been occupied by the Turkish army. The city, says the report has not been officially recognized as a historical monument and archaeological research is needed immediately to preserve what is left and restored what has been destroyed. It stresses that, while international organizations have tried to attract international attention on the need to rescue the city-monument, the "authorities of Northern Cyprus" has shown little interest.
The Report of the GIF entitled "Saving our vanishing heritage" (Save our cultural heritage at risk) has been prepared to attract attention at many archaeological sites around the world with a common feature of their presence inThird World war zones and countries that are on the verge of irreparable destruction due to mismanagement, looting and neglect, conflict and uncontrolled tourism. Among these are Hisham Palace-Palestine, the medieval city of Ani on the border between Turkey and Armenia, the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh in Iraq, Kherson Ukraine and others.
Famagusta flourished the Frankish period (1192-1489). It was a city surrounded by strong walls and had the most important port in the Eastern Mediterranean. This became a landmark transit trade between East and West.In 1571, the fall of Famagusta completed the conquest of Cyprus by the Ottomans.Cyprus has been incorporated in the final Ottoman Empire for three centuries remained an obscure province of the Sublime Porte.
Some of the most important monuments of the city: the Gothic Cathedral of St. Nicholas (14th century) architecture mimics the French cathedral city of Reims. In this temple crowned the Frankish kings of Cyprus and Jerusalem. The church was originally decorated with frescoes but destroyed when the Ottomans converted the church into a mosque in 1571. Then it is destroyed and the statues that adorned the temple (eg the statues found in niches of the main entrance and projections of human figures that were life-size windows on the roof of the two towers). Traces of frescoes preserved in the northern wall (St George on horseback) and arch (Crucifixion).
The Church of St. George Greek Orthodox is the largest temple of the Frankish period in Cyprus with dimensions 37.5 x 20.5 m. The construction of the temple located in the second half of the 14th century. Architecturally, the church combines Gothic basilica with a Byzantine dome. The church interior was painted, but with the collapse of the dome of the superstructure and a large section of the north wall of the church, the majority of the murals is not preserved today. Some sections of murals that have survived (the dome of the central apse, the south apse and southern wall) were malicious damage after the events of 1974.
Attached to the south of the church of St. George of the Greeks is a small ruined church dedicated to St. Simeon, which was probably the Orthodox cathedral of Famagusta. The original church probably built in the late 12th century. and belonged to the type of cruciform church with dome.
The great church of St. Peter and Paul was built during the reign of Peter I (1358-1369). It consists of one central and two side aisles. In the east there is a central semi-circular apse and two side chapels. The church combines Byzantine arches with Gothic arches. This temple was not destroyed by the Ottoman cannon attack, then the Cathedral of St. Nicholas was the second temple was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest. During the British domination of the building was used as a granary. The church of St. George of the Latins in the northeastern part of the occupied Famagusta is a fine example of Gothic art with excellent masonry, thoughtful and simple volume ratios. Today the church is kept in dilapidated condition and saved only the north wall, the three-sided arch and a portion of the south wall has been restored.
The Royal Palace (Ralazzo del Rroveditore) is located in the town of Famagusta, opposite the Cathedral of St. Nicholas. This building was probably originally the Lusignan palace built in the 13th century. In the Venetian domination the building became the official residence of the Venetian Rroveditori (Captain). With the siege of Famagusta by the Ottoman palace was badly damaged by cannon and ended up ruined.
The medieval town of Famagusta walls surrounding possible with 15 bastions and other fortifications that a perimeter of about 3.5 km and an average of 15 m. The entire city was surrounded by a deep ditch filled with seawater. The walls and fortifications were strengthened by the Venetians, particularly during the period 1540 - 1570 when he was no longer expected to attack the Ottomans. Some of the most important parts of the fortifications is the Othello tower above the gate of which is a marble plaque with the Venice Lion winged.
The castle is surrounded by a moat and is isolated from other fortifications. In the main hall there are the arms of the kingdom of Jerusalem. From the castle began breakwater that protected the harbor. Martinengo Bastion (Martinengo) is one of the finest examples of military architecture. The Portal Thalasssas (Rorta delMare) was built in 1496 by Nicholas Priolo (Nicolao Rrioli), one of the Venetian generals of Famagusta. The entrance is decorated with a marble slab with winged lion, symbol of Venice.

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