Short Stories: London in Two-and-a-half Dimensions
Routledge – 2011 – 240 pages
Combining place and fiction in an imaginative interpretation of ten sites in the city of London, CJ Lim and Ed Liu take well-known institutions, epochs and lifestyles in the British capital and renders them fantastic in a string of architectural short stories.
The medium is an intersection of paper assemblages with short stories. The stories have been exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Victoria and Albert Museum but are collected for the first time in a single volume, laid out as they were designed to be seen as one phantasmogoric city vision.
Painstakingly constructed, the stories assemble a sequence of improbable marriages between architecture and story, encompassing a retelling of the Three Little Pigs at Smithfield, a dating agency at Battersea, and a ringed transport system manifesting as a celestial river over the great metropolis. Drawing on a wealth of literary symbolism from Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities and imbued with humour and irony, the book builds on London’s rich mix of extravagance and fictive tradition.
Enthralling, inspirational and entertaining, this cabinet of curiosity and wonder depicts a vision of the city that is immoral, anarchic, and unscientific, and at the same time, glorious, ravishing and a pleasure to behold.
"Swollen by tides of disappearance and dreams, this urban hologram is a gift from CJ Lim and Ed Liu: an extraordinary carousel of romance and nursery rhymes, spinning a new London from artificial Thameside islands and abandoned sandcastles, its slum constellations acupunctured from above by celestial postcodes. Lim and Liu offer us Eden: mythic respite from a world where architecture means nothing but backdrop. Here, we see, the city will always be canine, animated by angels, ungoverned and anything but mundane."
Geoff Manaugh, BLDGBLOG
Preface. Prologue: Dream Isle. NW1: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. SE1 to EC4: Discontinuous Cities. SE16: Darwin’s Islands. SW1: Madam Delia’s Urban Roost. SW7: Carousel. SW11: Battersea Dating Agency. EC1: The Nocturnal Tower. W1: The Baker’s Garden. W2 to EC3: The Celestial River. Any Public Square in London: The Globetrotter
CJ Lim is the Professor of Architecture and Cultural Design at the Bartlett, UCL, and founder of Studio 8 Architects, a multi-disciplinary practice in urban planning, architecture and landscape that specialises in cultural and social sustainability. His tenth authored book Smartcities and Eco-warriors was published by Routledge in 2010.
Ed Liu is a partner at Barnaby Gunning Architects, and is a long-time collaborator of Studio 8 Architects. He has worked in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Sri Lanka, and is the co-author of Smartcities and Eco-warriors.