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December 09, 2010, Thursday

1/1600s | f5 | 18mm | One of the skyscrapers I made a point in visiting when I was in NYC was Norman Foster's Hearst Tower, an amazing structure of glass and steel rising from a 1920s Art Deco building.

Back in early August, when the sun still shone brightly at 8pm and London was balmy, I signed the lease to my current "double studio" flat. Do not let the word "studio" fool you into thinking it's a fancy loft; it's an old flat with ancient wirings and kitchen fittings from the 1980s. What sealed the deal was that the flat is a 5-minute amble to the office; a big plus as I wouldn't have any trouble getting to work when the tube workers go on strike again (which is quite often, this being a country where no one could stop firemen from going on strike on a day traditionally celebrated with fireworks).

Needless to say, I was totally impressed when a colleague first let on that his house was used in the Stanley Kubrick classic, A Clockwork Orange and that it was designed by a young Norman Foster! To have two big names, well-known beyond their own practice, associated to your house sure beats having the two words, "double studio", euphemistically describe your shabby flat. But my modest colleague explained that the house was used in the "rape scene" (he was indeed being modest because the house is more memorable than said scene because of its uber clean modern design) and that it is north-facing which results in a lot of condensation.

I can see why condensation is not a good thing because my very own north-facing flat suffers from the same curse. If Norman Foster hadn't seen it as a problem, I, sure as fate, didn't either when I handed the deposit to the smirking estate agent. To make matter worse, the flat has only single-glazed windows which keep the room at a cool 8C, perfect for a makeshift wine cellar, but not so great if you want a warm cosy flat without the exorbitant heating bills.

So tucked in my warm duvet, I dream about owning a well-insulated house that's heated by osmotic power and one that's off-the-grid as a fuck-you gesture to greedy utility companies who are dilatory in passing cost savings to customers but have no qualms in hiking the prices when there's the slightest hint of an increase in wholesale energy prices. And while I'm dreaming, the house will be designed by Norman Foster, who hopefully, had wised up over the past 40 years or so and will not design a house to be north-facing again.

posted at 11:59 PM