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Tom Wilkinson

Tom Wilkinson is History Editor of The Architectural Review and the author of Bricks and Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made

Stories

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    Mikve Rajel by Pascal Arquitectos, Mexico City, Mexico, 2011Subscription

    13 February, 2018

    The purifying ritual bath or mikveh is central to Jewish religious life, and there are numerous strict rules regarding the purity of the water, which should preferably be ‘living water’ from a spring or alternatively rain water, and the facility in which it is stored. Although there are notable ancient mikveh – among them a subterranean, sixth-century example beneath Syracuse – most modern mikveh are of little architectural merit. However, the influential orthodox Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schnee

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    Löyly by Avanto Architects, Helsinki, Finland, 2016Subscription

    13 February, 2018

    Although Finns have a reputation for being sauna-mad, the Finnish public sauna is in decline, displaced by private domestic examples. In recent years, several attempts have been made to reverse this trend, among them Tuomas Toivonen and Nene Tsuboi’s subtly fascinating Kulttuurisauna on Helsinki’s harbour, with its columns and rooftop pyramid. Recently, this has been joined by a larger sauna in the dockland development area of Hernesaari, which is intended to help bring new life to the former

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    Crossing Parallel(s) by Studio MRDO and Studio LaM, Korean Demilitarised Zone, Korea, unbuiltSubscription

    13 February, 2018

    Prodded by President Trump, the cold war between North and South Korea – which never formally declared a truce – threatens to return to boiling point, with potentially world-ending consequences. What solutions can architecture offer to the crisis? This is of course a ludicrous question; nevertheless, architectural research group Arch Out Loud recently held an open competition to design an underground bathhouse in the demilitarised zone, with the aim of emphasising the shared culture of the tw

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    Typology: BathhouseSubscription

    13 February, 2018

    Since time immemorial, and from continent to continent, saunas or bathhouses have played a community role, stripping their users of social distinctions and affording a rich seam for architects

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    Princess Diana Memorial Playground Lavatories in London by Jestico + WhilesSubscription

    29 November, 2017

    The incorporation of a toilet into the memorial for a beloved public figure is a delicate matter, and one that fully justifies a revival of the otherwise tediously prudish British tradition of the subterranean lav. Here, however, the monument takes the form of a children’s playground inspired by Peter Pan, incorporating wigwams and a pirate ship, and the toilets are accordingly anything but po-faced. Rising from the landscaping (designed by Land Use Consultants), a grassy mound covers the dom

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    House of Toilet on Ibukijima Island, Japan by Daigo Ishii + Future-scape ArchitectsSubscription

    29 November, 2017

    The symbolic or signifying functions of the public toilet are usually secondary, at the most speaking of civic generosity, or, more accidentally, of meanness and neglect. But why shouldn’t the smallest room commune with the cosmos, as in this public lavatory on the Japanese island of Ibukijima? Taking its cue from the sliced spaces of Daniel Libeskind, the structure – which appears similar to other local houses from the outside – is divided by imaginary lines stretching out beyond the borders

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    Typology: Public toiletSubscription

    29 November, 2017

    From the pissoir to the sanisette, from the communal to the stand-alone pod, from male to female provision, a rich seam of history runs through toilets

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    Women’s Toilet in Thane, India by Rohan ChavanSubscription

    29 November, 2017

    The lack of toilet provision in developing countries is not limited to India, but it is here that it is most dire, and perhaps most detrimental to women. The scandalous sexual abuse suffered by Indian women, which has recently received much attention from Western media, frequently occurs while they are trying to relieve themselves in the open air. The government and NGOs have made many attempts to ameliorate the problem, with varying degrees of failure. In the large city of Thane, a local soc

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    Purposive purposelessness – Walking in Berlin: A Flaneur in the CapitalSubscription

    24 November, 2017

    Franz Hessel’s 1920s guide to Berlin, translated into English for the first time, is a melancholy guidebook to a since vanished city

All by Tom Wilkinson