mago, Persons, Places

this and that

Some time ago I mentioned the architect Antti LOVAG and his “palace of bubbles” here. As I learned from this interesting article (only Ger. sorry) meanwhile a book is published about him: Pierre ROCHE: Antti Lovag. Habitologue. France Europe Editions, Nizza 2010. 98 S., € 25.–.  LOVAG, meanwhile 91, is still active and planning. For an English article about him go here.

I needed to hook up another computer to the web, a not too modern laptop, and it took hours to update things. Now I only have to make it start and shut down a bit faster and all will be fine; it’s the google machine. Very friendly people invited me to have a look into google+,  it’s a bit confusing at the beginning.

Now it’s correcting again – ah for the sake of it … for the vague promise of a bottle of Pálinka sometimes in August … friends …



Until the 17th of October the Paris Motor Show will take place, but major magazines already present photographs of the new models. Clicking through these collections I come to the conclusion that the new models are the old models – I miss something.

Most cars look the same. And if it’s low and loud it’s a Porsche – but I do not want to ride one inch over the tarmac and peep trucks under the belly while overtaking.Porsches surely are good cars, reliable, fast, carrying tons of status and a handbag.  They are produced in high numbers, what is basically no bad thing. They combine the high quality of modern industrialized production with the possibility of individualization: My Porsche is green with pink stars, see? A Mangusta is assembled by hand, as is a Wiesmann, let alone the iconic Morgan Roadster with it’s wooden frame, in production since – oh, before the war. Of course Morgan uses Ford engines, as Wiesmann the BMW power plants, while Porsche still builds it’s own six cylinder boxer.

One has always  the possibility to build a kit, put an individual body shell over a frame – by far no new idea. There is still a hard-core community for 2 CV conversions and various small companies offer their products. After WWII a lot of kits were produced in the UK and elsewhere, Ashley and Scimitar may be known still today. A nice publication is OldClassicCars. Actual one can have a boattail from Deco Rides for example.

But all these cars are or at least pretend to be sports cars: Low, loud, fast. To sum it up: Uncomfortable.
Of course one must not turn to the other extreme and jump in – or better climb onto a Landrover. It was once built under license by German company Tempo, who had developed a very interesting overland vehicle of it’s own. But riding high over the tarmac and having the theoretical possibility to drive the beast nearly anywhere on the planet not necessarily includes comfort.

Comfort as it was found in the DS for example, years after production’s end still a design and technical icon. A friend once owned a real Pallas seven-seater and I can assure you that it is like riding on the magic carpet. Sadly enough déesses rust away in exceptional speed. The hydropneumatical suspension and spring responsible for the smooth ride is developed further, actual Citroen cars are fitted with mark three of the system.

While Stutz is out of production my personal favorite is the Blenheim 3 G by Bristol Cars. It’s comfortable, compact but roomy and no-nonsense.  A comfy fauteuil on wheels. And as I see it the last really independent car producer.


Under the Sea

Mankind over time lost one or another item to the sea; mostly ships and airoplanes, and archeologists are happy when they recover more or less well-preserved specimina. Well known examples are f.e. the Vasa (Ger., Eng.) (sent to the bottom by a devious gust of wind on her maiden voyage on 10th of August 1628), the Oseberg ship (Ger., Eng.) (here‘s a list of other historic Norwegian ships and boats), or the Brandtaucher (Ger., Eng.), the first working submersible of the Reichsflotte. Divers enjoy more or less the visit of wrecks and some of them – wrecks – are notorious and well know today, especially in areas where scuba diving is a touristic amusement and offer, f.e. in the Red Sea. The SS Thistlegorm shall be mentioned representative for others.

But diving is hard work and having a resting place at hand would be nice, why not built a house? Through the 1950s and 1960s underwater stations were constructed, tested and used, serious scientific research was done. Most of these stations were movable and in fact were removed after having served their purposes. As I see it only Jules’ Undersea Lodge was kept and transformed into a kind of hotel. The only active and regularly used undersea research station today is AQUARIUS Reef Base. The undersea laboratory is owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and managed by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). (The NOAA has also an interesting collection of photographs.)

Historical undersea habitats are listed in the Habitat Archive, sadly the English page does not to work but it is a starting point. The 1969 SEALAB III seems to have reached the deepest point with more than 180 meters, tragically a deadly accident occurred and the project was ceased.  But not only the Americans did research in this field, Europeans too were interested in the underwater possibilities. The 1968 German station HELGOLAND today can be visited in the Nautineum departement of the Deutsche Meeresmuseum. But all these devices are closely related to submarines, they are moving, transport their crew to the bottom of the sea, shelter them there and bring them back – in a way they are giant decompression chambers (Ger., Eng.).
I think besides JULES’ aforementioned Sea Lodge only Jacques-Yves COUSTEAU (Ger., Eng.) built lasting structures under the surface of the sea, the remains can be visited still today. The projects CONSHELF or PRECONTINENT I to III were realized 1962 near Marseilles, 1963 in the Red Sea and 1965 near Nice. The remains of 1963 are still visible (examples here and more here, beware pics are free to look but not free to use!).
The French seem to have a special relation to the sea and embrace modern technical possibilities, but whether the SEA ORBITER will ever drift across the oceans may at least be questioned – I am admittedly a complete bloody layman regarding technical things. Other ideas include floating homes, interesting cliff houses and landscape design – whether it will look like this?

I myself will not swim to look at COUSTEAU’s crumbling ruins in shark infested waters, but would like to sit in the Red Sea Star and work my way through the bar. Is there a drink called Calypso?