Monday, November 26, 2007


starchitect noun [C] /st(r)ktekt/

a very famous architect, especially one who has designed a well-known building in the recent past.

starchitecture noun [U]
a style of building design which has become particularly famous.

starchitectural adjective

starchitecturally adverb

“In these important markets, many hotel projects are large, iconic structures employing some of the world’s most famous starchitects and designer groups…”
Hospitality Net 9th October 2007

Starchitecture on Campus - Colleges and universities from Boston to Chicago are hooked on celebrity architects whose signature designs can help boost a school's reputation…”
The Boston Globe 22nd February 2004

“Now the Bilbao effect has spread slightly south to Rioja, one of the richest wine-producing areas of Spain. The starchitectural branding is being applied to some of Rioja’s oldest and most respected wineries.”
Belgrade Design Week May 2007

Do you have a favourite building? If you do, and your choice is a product of 21st-century architecture, then the chances are it was designed by a starchitect.

A blend of the words star and architect, starchitect is a recent coinage used to describe a famous architect who has been responsible for the design of an iconic 21st-century building. This is typically some kind of public building which attracts a degree of media interest, and thereby imparts a sort of celebrity status to its designer. Examples of such buildings and their respective starchitects are: the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, designed by Frank Gehry, the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, UK, designed by Daniel Libeskind, and the headquarters of Swiss Re in London (informally known as ‘the Gherkin’), designed by Lord Norman Foster.

A key characteristic of the work of starchitects is what is popularly referred to as ‘the wow factor’ - the creation of an impressive building which incorporates unique features and is highly visible within its location. Current technology and the influence of mass media in the digital age mean that the wider public get to see and appreciate such buildings a long time before they actually, if indeed ever, visit them for themselves. The buildings therefore quickly assume a kind of iconic status and turn their designers into starchitects renowned for a particular ‘signature’ design.

On the model of the words architect and architecture, the noun starchitecture is also sometimes used, along with derived adjective/adverb starchitectural/starchitecturally.

Used since around 2001, the terms starchitect and starchitecture are clever blends of star and architecture/architecture which neatly cash in on the repetition of the vowel // in the two words. The concept of starchitecture is thought to have arisen from what is referred to as the Bilbao Effect in architectural contexts. This expression refers to the aforementioned Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which opened in 1997 and was designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. Now hailed as a landmark project, the seductive architecture of the museum put the old, industrial city of Bilbao on the international cultural map. Cities on both sides of the Atlantic followed suit, inspired by the transformation of a run-down area into a magnet for tourists. The Bilbao project proved an influential example of how new architecture had the potential to revitalise cities in economic decline.

Starchitect has mildly pejorative overtones, and has also been used in a more tongue-in-cheek fashion to refer to popular celebrities who have become involved in architecture

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


wikiality also Wikiality noun [C/U] /

something which is considered to be true because the majority of people agree on it, rather than because of real facts

"Colbert praised Wikipedia for "wikiality," the reality that exists if you make something up and enough people agree with you - it becomes reality." 1st August 2006

“The world’s chimpanzee population is falling.”
“Brighton’s most frequently-ordered restaurant dish is fish and chips.”
“The M25 is carrying five times more traffic than anticipated.”

We all hear and read so-called facts like these, and nine times out of ten, unless we’re particularly prone to scepticism, we simply accept them as a reality. We wouldn’t usually stop to question their validity - let’s face it, most of us haven’t got the time! And so it seems that these ‘truths’ sit easily in our minds simply by virtue of being mentioned by enough people. But take a minute to consider this: are they reality or wikiality?

The expression wikiality has recently been coined to describe a reality that is determined by general consensus of opinion, rather than by cold, hard, facts. In other words, if enough people say something is true, then it is true.

Of course the concept underlying wikiality is nothing new. But it has been made all the more significant in an age where written information is so easily accessed and disseminated via the Internet. What’s more, people have the opportunity to modify that information through the medium of the wiki, a web page that can be edited collaboratively. Though websites like Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, are an invaluable resource for everyone, they also run the risk of giving us false information. A by-product of open access means that in principle anyone has the opportunity to make something become a ‘fact’, simply by tapping a keyboard and entering it on the relevant page.

The expression wikiality is a blend of the words wiki and reality. It was coined in July 2006 by US comedian Stephen Colbert, who featured it in his satirical news commentary programme The Colbert Report. Linking with his earlier coinage truthiness (the quality of stating facts that you believe or want to be true), Colbert threw the spotlight on Wikipedia, asserting that “… any user can change any entry, and if enough other users agree with them, it becomes true". The logical consequence is ‘truth by consensus’, or, as he calls it, wikiality. The spoof online encyclopedia is a parody of Wikipedia, describing itself as ‘The Encyclopedia of Truthiness’.

The word wiki, still itself very new, has proved very productive in our increasingly web-centered world. Other recent derivatives include wikification, the process of turning a website into a wiki, which has a related verb wikify, and wikinovel, a collaborative piece of fiction, whose co-writers are described as wikinovelists.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Afterparty also after-party, after party noun (also verb) [C]

A relaxed social gathering which occurs after a party, concert, or trip to a nightclub.

'Going three for eight wasn't the only thing that Mariah Carey and Kanye West had in common on Grammy night. Both also hosted the most anticipated afterparties . Revelers had to travel to a secret location in Beverly Hills and then board shuttles to get to Mariah's party .'
MTV News, 9th February 2006

'. i can honestly recommend the marriott in brighton. that's where we & our guests stayed (it also has a huge lobby bar that we afterpartied in...).'
personal weblog, 9th May 2005

One of the movie industry's most influential award ceremonies takes place on Sunday 5th March 2006 - the 78th annual Oscars, to be held at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. In the aftermath of the glitz, glamour and hype, and the inevitable speculation about the winners and the reaction to them, the media will be avidly following the afterparties, the exclusive social gatherings attended by celebrities wanting to 'chill out' after the excitement of the ceremony.

The word afterparty, also regularly occurring as an open compound after party or hyphenated after-party, is now used to describe a social gathering which occurs after a party or other potentially noisy and crowded event such as a trip to a nightclub. It has also morphed into a verb, with some evidence for forms such as afterpartying and afterpartied as illustrated in the second citation above. Afterparties usually involve people sitting down, relaxing, chatting freely and consolidating new friendships that may have begun during the main party. If the afterparty takes place in the early hours of the morning, it may go on to include breakfast.

Though afterparties can be impromptu gatherings in the homes of ordinary people, the use of the word popularised by the media refers to a pre-planned event held at a specific venue, including cocktails, entertainment and an exclusive guest list featuring high-profile celebrities.

The word afterparty first appeared in the early eighties, though has gained currency much more recently through its exposure in web-based journalism. A related term is the noun/adjective chillout (also chill-out), which emerged in the early nineties based on the phrasal verb chill out ('to spend time relaxing'). The word chillout encapsulates the quiet period after a party or other hectic event when slow, soothing music is played in a calming atmosphere. One of its most common uses is in referring to a style of soothing music, e.g. chillout music, or simply chillout. In 2002, the idea of chilling out was taken to the extreme in the new concept of a quiet party, an unconventional social gathering in which loud noise and talking are prohibited, with guests often communicating though hand-written notes.