Who really owns the past?

Whether we look at political, economic or military capital, one thing is clear. Heritage is a top-down idea – it is defined and used by the most powerful members of society, rather than by society as a whole. Cultural heritage tells people – it does not ask them – what they should care about. How can we change this?

Why cultural heritage benefits the rich and powerful above all | Aeon EssaysAeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking. No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it …

Mecca to the Max: The Holy City Transformed

In this episode, we discuss with various experts how this rising number of pilgrims is fueling a radical makeover of the city. While Mecca has always been changing and under construction, the current developments are of an unprecedented scale. What does Mecca’s radical makeover look like? Who is profiting from these developments and what does it mean for the city’s spiritual character? What does the current building craze mean for older buildings, and what will happen to the hundreds of thousands of people who live in the city’s informal settlements?

#10 Mecca to the Max: The Holy City Transformed – Failed ArchitectureMecca is the holiest city in the Islamic religion and the birthplace of the prophet Mohamed. Located just off Saudi Arabia’s western coast, all Muslims are required to visit at least once in their life if they are physically able

Detroit and Łódź – Cities in Crisis

Although separated by thousands of kilometres, both are prime examples of deindustrialization. How do they deal with it? What solutions do artists suggest?

Is it Really Brutalist Architecture in Blade Runner 2049?

This is why director Denis Villeneuve’s aim to make the world of 2049 “feel brutalist” falls flat. To concentrate merely on the look is to eschew the principal aim of the brutalist architects. Indeed, while the architecture in Blade Runner may resemble those buildings built in the postwar period, it is a brutalism stripped of all sociality, and stripped of its most important element: people. In that sense, it’s not really brutalism at all.

Rixt Woudstra, Le Corbusier’s Vision for Fascist Addis Ababa

This little known sketch for the town in the Italian colonial empire in Africa, made in 1936, therefore not only presents radically new ideas on colonial urbanism, but also serves as a testing ground for the critical relationship between ‘theory and practice’. The sketch can also be used to think about several questions: how were ideas about urbanism and political, social and economic agenda’s translated into the final building plan? How were radical utopian ideas on the city of the future were translated into concrete form? How did architects mediate between a ‘virgin territory’ and an irrevocable reality?

Synagogues become nightclubs in Eastern Europe

In a recent and controversial development in Eastern Europe, former Jewish houses of worship left abandoned after the Holocaust are being renovated for commercial ends by contractors who capitalize on their Jewish history and incorporate it into a brand.

Britain Wants to Protect Its Postmodernist Architecture

Following an announcement by Historic England yesterday, the country will grant preservation orders to 17 Postmodernist buildings, the youngest of which was designed in 1991. To some, protecting such young buildings might seem a bit like preserving yesterday’s leftover sandwiches in a museum, but the sites chosen are unquestionably memorable and distinctive. They also come at a period of renewed enthusiasm for PoMo architecture in Britain, with the first exhibition overview of the subject opening at London’s Sir John Soane’s Museum on May 16. It’s not hard to see why the newly listed buildings caught conservationists’ eyes. Beyond the high-water mark of the Victorian gothic revival, it would be harder to find a more aesthetically elaborate set of buildings in English architecture.

Bijlmer (City of the Future, Part 1)

Pi de Bruijn was an architect in Amsterdam who, as a young man, was hired to help plan the Bijlmermeer. The utopian ideals of the project captured de Bruijn’s attention for seven years, as he worked as part of a team headed by an architect named Siegfried Nassuth. Nassuth was an idealist who felt the cities of the past had failed and needed to be rebuilt from scratch, using the modernist principles developed by CIAM. http://Bijlmer (City of the Future, Part 1)

Blood, Sweat & Tears (City of the Future, Part 2)

But the fact that the Bijlmer had become undesirable to people with the means to live elsewhere was really disappointing for the people who designed it — they had thought they were creating a better kind of city, a utopian paradise that people would line up to live in. In the late 1970s some them were still working on the project, including the lead architect Siegfried Nassuth. Partly because of his disappointment, in 1979, Nassuth abruptly quit his job at the Bijlmermeer. He walked out of the office, and didn’t even say goodbye.  http://Blood, Sweat & Tears (City of the Future, Part 2)

The David Rumsey Map Collection

The David Rumsey Map Collection was started over 30 years ago and contains more than 150,000 maps. The collection focuses on rare 16th through 21st century maps of North and South America, as well as maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. The collection includes atlases, wall maps, globes, school geographies, pocket maps, books of exploration, maritime charts, and a variety of cartographic materials including pocket, wall, children’s, and manuscript maps. Items range in date from about 1550 to the present. 

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection

An extensive map collection owned by the Perry-Castañeda Library at The University of Texas at Austin. Most of the available online scanned maps are public domain.


Old maps of the world, some historic atlases of the world as well as thousands of topographic maps, several road maps, numerous general maps, hundreds of road maps and drive-through maps, special maps and city maps mainly from Germany, Central Europe, and the world, beginning from 1730.

Old maps of Polish cities

MAPIRE – Historical Maps Online

Large-scale city maps of major European cities. All of the above maps are shown in a common map coordinate system, as an overlay on the OSM (OpenStreetMap) or the HERE satellite baseman.