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Lower Ninth Ward flooding

The flooding of the Lower Ninth Ward explained and performed on a map by climatologist Barry Keim from Louisiana State University on his Hurricane Katrina & Environmental Tour of Metropolitan New Orleans at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) 2018. Many thanks to Barry for geographical insights and stories told of life and death in New Orleans now and then.

The clip was recorded at the Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Platform, located at the end of Caffin Avenue at the intersection with Florida Ave. The spot is worth visiting as it offers further information on the ecology of the Main Outfall Canal situated behind the Lower Ninth Ward.

For information on why the Katrina disaster was man made and not ‘natural’, see the grassroots website levee.org.

As an urban geographer and ethnographer, I could not resist to film some of the more performative aspects of the tour and the ways geographers talk about and listen to how cities are transformed over time. Using maps is of course just one geographical thing to do on a field trip. Other spatial practices and gestures of interest: pointing at landscape features, taking pictures, taking notes, searching for shadow, walking and talking, categorising spaces, moving and looking around, group behaviour (such as getting on and off the bus), personal (geographical) conversations (e.g. ‘where are you based’) and many more.

(Recorded on 11 April 2018. Video published courtesy of Barry Kim)

Evacuate the city

Salman Rushdie recounts the event in his novel The Enchantress of Florence: The destruction of Fatehpur Sikri had begun. . . . Slowly, moment by moment, retreating at a man’s walking pace, the water was receding. [The emperor] sent for the city’s leading engineers but they were at a loss to explain the phenomenon. . . . Without the lake the citizens who could not afford Kashmiri ice would have nothing to drink, nothing to wash or cook with, and their children would soon die. . . . Without the lake the city was a parched and shriveled husk. The water continued to drain away. The death of the lake was the death of Sikri as well. Without water we are nothing. Even an emperor, denied water, would swiftly turn to dust. Water is the real monarch and we are all its slaves. “Evacuate the city,” the emperor Akbar commanded. (Rushdie 2008, 344–45)

Paragraph as found in Nikil Anand’s book ‘Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai’ (Durham and London, 2017, p. x).

 

Heating repair

You can find out more here about our new ethnographic research project on the work of HVAC* technicians. The project is attached to the Institute of Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. In collaboration with Alain Bovet and Moritz F. Fürst. Started 1.10.2017. Duration 3 years. Read more

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Image via www.lausanne.ch

*HVAC – heating, ventilation and air-conditioning

 

 

 

 

Building identity through maintenance work

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New publication:

Der Beitrag der Hausmeister zur ldentität von Gebäuden – Block Checks in der Großwohnsiedlung Red Road in Glasgow. Identifikationsräume: Potenzial und Qualität großer Wohnsiedlungen. M. Harnack and J. Stollmann. Berlin, 2017, Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin: 54-69.

Subway crisis in the making

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Increasing passenger volumes + reduced investment and maintenance = declining performance. This equation and what it means for riders on NY subway in a NYT article really worth reading.

 

Door without draft of air

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Read this article on how Theophilus Van Kannel was awarded US Patent #387571 A for the revolving door (a “Storm-door structure”) and how some researchers have found out that people don’t like to use it. Via 99percentinvisible.org

There is a lot to read about the revolving door. However, I have found not much on what’s happening when people go through them. Further reading:

James Buzard on Perpetual Revolution

Reyner Banham on The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment (pp.73-75)

Study on revolving door usage