On Slab

SLAB Magazine was founded in order to explore architecture and urbanism, without actually being qualified to do so. It is subjective, heuristic and empirical.

Architecture and the urban environment have a direct impact on our daily lives, but there are few formal channels for ‘unqualified’ critique. Architecture belongs to human culture, so critical reflection should not be reserved for schooled urban theorists or architectural practitioners. Anyone who can claim to have lived in a building is, as far as we’re concerned, an expert in the field of architecture.

The idea for SLAB came in the summer of 2003. The original idea was to produce a print magazine, simply because magazines smells nicer than websites and they look good on a coffee table. But print magazines have the disadvantage of taking over your life and costing too much. A ‘blog’-format was more approproate for a low-intensity start with zero distribution costs.

Initially SLAB was conceived as an ugly great howling vent for the seething fits of rage experienced by its founder in the face of the fungal spread of an architecture in Berlin which he varyingly termed ‘bland-box’, ‘Euro-bland’, ‘cooky-cutter-style’ or ‘Prussian-Lite’. The name itself was a pun on the English “slab”, meaning a massive block of something, and a contraction of the German “schlechte Architektur, Berlin”, which means “bad architecture, Berlin”.

After a year or so of fermentation, the founder teamed up with Oliver Miller, a Princeton-educated architect who abandoned his profession in order to run a table tennis bar in Berlin. He was a perfect collaborator because he broke the first rule of SLAB so stylishly, which states that contributors must be completely unqualified to criticise architectural endeavor. Mr. Miller helped steer the SLAB concept away from a frothy-mouthed hate piece into something more relevant and personal.