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


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


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


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