Oct 27: Body & Futurism

October 26, 2009

The Building in Pain: The Body and Architecture in Post-Modern Culture, Anthony  Vidler

Anthony Vidler argues that a transition occurs over the course of the Twentieth Century from the constructed humanist body to the psychological or psychoanalytical body which, rather than being the idealized inhabitant of architectural space, is transformed into the constructing body, which shapes spaces through its insecurities, phobias and compulsive disorders. Architectural becomes about control. a new relationship between body and architecture. The architecture envelope and the human body become seamlessly entwined and symbiotically dependent on each other. The body completes the architecture as much as the architecture enhances the body. Therefore now when the body exist now it can be managed and looked after. Vidler takes us on journey through history to show how past view body:“…from Vitruvius to the present, might in one sense be described as the progressive distancing of the body from the building… leading insensibly but inexorably to the final ‘loss‘ of the body as an authoritative foundation for architecture.” He talks about the form of the body and how it was presented in each stage in history .he even quotes Sartre (the big philosopher) “My body is everywhere: the bomb which destroys my house also damages my body, in so far as the house was already an indication of my body” where Sartre talks about a great relationship between body and his house. He then notes that the people such as Himmelblau, Tschumi, Duchamp, will have their work built even though they might stand as monuments o a particularly self—conscious and self representational epoch. But they of themselves will have little power to “transcribe their bodily projections back on to society, save perhaps in the inevitable unease that we experience at each moment.

is it possible to keep this idea in our modern world today??? or are we relaying on technology and 3d modelings so much that there is no need for a definition of body in design?

Notes:

• Three stages in transformation of bodily projections:

o The building as body

o The building epitomizing bodily states

o States of mind based on bodily sensation

• The body is not a screen between things and us; it manifests only the individuality and the contingency of our original relation to instrumental – things.

• Order to whole

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Futurist Manifesto, Marinetti

Futurism came into being a manifesto published by Filippo Marinetti. Marinetti summed up the major principles of the Futurists. He and others espoused a love of speed, technology and violence. Futurism was presented as a modernist movement celebrating the technological, future era. The car, the plane, the industrial town were representing the motion in modern life and the technological triumph of man over nature. Some of these ideas, specially the use of modern materials and technique, were taken up later by Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968), the cubist, the constructivist and the Dadaist.Like Eisenman, Marinetti’s main idea is to forget the past and be immersed in the present. He feels that art and life, in general, dwell in the past. Further, he feels that the present is always in the shadows of the past and Futurism is intended to reverse that and cast the shadow on the past. That is why he adamantly accepts, glorifies, and personifies the machine and the modern era. He wants to legitimize it and make the masses accept it and face it.

Greedy stations devouring smoking serpents; factories hanging in the clouds by the thread of their smoke; bridges like giant gymnasts stepping over sunny rivers…; large breasted locomotives; slippery flight of airplanes whose propellers have flag like fluttering and applause of enthusiastic crowds.”

The End of the Classical: The End of the Beginning, the End of the Ends, Peter Eisenman & Weak Architecture, I. Sola-Morales  & Introduction: Rhizome, G. Deleuze and F. Guattari

Three fictions that influenced architecture sine 15th century to the present: representation, reason and history :

  1. 1. Representation : embodies the idea of meaning
  2. 2. Reason codifies the idea of truth
  3. History recovers the idea of the timeless form the idea of change

Representation: the meaning of language is in a face value. Building doesn’t have meaning anymore. They are “representation of representation”. The message of the past is used to verify the “meaning of the present”. Objects don’t have meaning displayed in them anymore but a message. Modern architecture rectified and liberated itself from other architecture and it was embodied to its own function. The process was reduction became very important and abstraction formed. It can be said that the process” attempt to represent reality itself”.

Reason: simulation of the meaning of the truth through the message of science. Renaissance compositions were more based on the cosmological goals where enlightenment aspired to a rational process of design whose ends “where the product of pure, secular reason rather than of divine order.” The time for the quest for origin in architecture. Design was based on ones beliefs on gods.. Reason turned into focus onto itself and thus began the process of its own undoing. Analysis was a form of simulation. Knowledge became a new religion. “Once analysis and reason replaced self-evidence as the means by which truth was revealed, the classic or timeless quality of truth ended and the need for verification began.”

Timeless: history. Architecture was ineffable and timeless, divine and natural. Eisenman point out that  it is necessary to identify what style of architecture is relevant to the time. Man should always be in harmony or at least non-disjunctive relation with his time. He believes that one should not look at the past and just be in the present time that architecture is happening.

Eisenman discussed architecture itself as fiction.  He states that the three fictions mentioned above can become simulations when they do not recognize their conditions as fiction. The simulation of representation in architecture has led to an excessive concentration of inventive energies in the representational object. It is then than the architectural figure aims at the representation of some other objects, whether architectural anthropomorphic, natural or technological.  Reason, has been based on classical value given to the idea of truth. Error can have a route to the truth where one can learn truth through this path. And finally architecture must be reflection of its own time; architecture can be about present and universality.

It is not about the end. The idea of progress gave false value to the present. The desire is to manifest in the modern idea of utopia a time beyond history. Architecture can be like a wiring not an image. What is being written? It’s about the process that the wiring is going to become something meaningful. Architecture is seen as a process of inventing a reproduction of past and futureless present.

It seems that the Eisenman and the other two article shares an analogy of timelessness. Deleuzes’ idea of “rhizome” talks about a system with no end. There is a sense of continuity both with the rhizome and time. There is no end. It’s the present that is important in architecture. Sola-Morales in his article Weak Architecture state that Weak architecture achieves its strengths through its non-dominant approach.  Some of these strengths include monumentality, decoration and diversity of times. He states that weak architecture as a diagonal cut, not exactly as a generational section but as an attempt to detect in apparently quite diverse situations a constant that seems uniquely illuminate the present juncture. In one hand I think that we are moving forward in time that we try to change and be inspiring in our design  however we are still in the same position and same quality as we were with reframing the same issues that we had years ago. Is it about the monumental aspect of the architecture, or about the meaning and reasoning behind it? So I guess there needs to be change and these changes need so start from our own beliefs and desires.

Oct 20: Postmodern Form

October 23, 2009

Complexity and contradiction in Architecture, Robert Venturi

In his article, Venturi expresses his Post Modern ideas by affirming that firms that complexity and tension are essential in architecture and should not be ignored.

Venturi encourages architects to move away from the rigid “form follows function” principle of modernists like Mies van der Rohe and to look instead to the rich architecture of the past, to ancient and medieval buildings, and to architecture that reflected local and popular culture. By saying “Less is a bore”, Venturi reacted to the famous line “Less is more” by Mies Van Der Rohe, a phrase that characterized the architecture of the International Style and wrote: “I like elements that are hybrid rather than ‘pure, ‘ compromising rather than ‘clean, ‘ distorted, rather than ‘straightforward, ‘ ambiguous, rather than ‘articulated, ‘ perverse as well as impersonal, boring as well as ‘interesting,’ …I am for messy vitality over obvious unity. I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning; for the implicit meaning as well as the explicit function.”

Venturi believes that architecture is simplified and clarified to the point that it is moving away from the “the experience of life and the needs of society”. Venturi also suggests that architects are not assigned to solve all the problems. They must be more selective in determining which problems they should solve. He uses Mies as an example where he states: “Mies, for instance, makes wonderful buildings only because he ignores many aspects of a building, if he solved more problems, his buildings would be far less potent” (17).

Venturi stated that the Modern Architecture had become extremely simplistic, ignoring important points in a project in order to avoid ambiguities.” They ignore the real complexity and contradiction inherent in the domestic program- the spatial and technological possibilities as well as the need for variety in visual experience, forced simplicity results in oversimplification” (17). He gives examples of great architects works such as Alvar Aalto and le Corbusier and states that they rejected simplification “ that is simplicity through reduction in order to promote complexity within the whole”918). He also criticized the modern architects for not being very concerned about using old elements. He affirmed that the architects should familiarize with the existing conventional elements, being able to employ them successfully in new and unexpected ways.

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Post-functionalism, Peter Eisenman

Functionalism, according to Eisenman, is “no more than a late phase of humanism” as a result, to consider functionalism as the architectural manifestation of modernism reveals a poor conception and understanding of modern sensibility. Functionalism, being just another positivistic mode of thought, still belongs to the humanist tradition and does not contribute to this change. According to Eisenman, the break with the humanist tradition brought about by modernist architecture was a break of appearances. Modernist architecture just adopted “the radically stripped forms of technological production”; it did not introduce radically new forms of thought (237).

Eisenman advocates a “post-humanist”, “post-functionalist” architecture, concerned with “the evolution of form itself.” Post-functionalist form does not carry any meaning; it is created “in the process of extra-compositional decomposition, defined as the negative of (classical) composition.” Eisenman defines post-functionalism as “a term of absence” – “the negation of function”. In analogy, “post-humanism” is a “term of absence” –”the negation of humanism”(238).

Eisenman Questioned the term postmodern, claiming modernism itself never happened. He also believes that the between form and function had been present since the Renaissance Eisenman also reject literal representation of function while accepting the idea that function is still worthy of representation, as a meaning in architecture. He argues that there has been a significant shift since modernism, from a humanist to a modern conception of sensibility – “a displacement of man away from the center of his world, and no longer the originating agent”(236).

Eisenman suggests that this shift is the origin of a new modernist sensibility which he claims to derive “from a non-humanistic attitude toward the relationship of an individual to its physical environment, [one that] it breaks with the historical past, both with the ways of viewing man as subject and with the ethical positivism of form and function” (238).

The article precedes his conclusion by listing a number of historical precedents that have attempted to establish such revision of functionalism in the past, but have failed to do so. Amongst these is the ‘English Revisionist Functionalism’ attitude of R. Banham.

Oct8: Freespace

October 18, 2009

Anarchitecture: Architecture is a Political Act, Lebbeus Woods

“The only thing that is radical is space we don’t know how to inhabit. This means space where we have to invent the ways to act and to live.” Lebbeus Woods

The “free space” projects of Lebbeus Woods are, in his own words, “frontiers that challenge our existing modes of habitation”. Lebbeus Woods is interested on ‘frees pace’ or ‘free-zone’. To him these spaces are continuously changing. Architects need to design a space that does not follow the previous patterns. It should be able to create it own new patterns/programs. “Free space” is “useless and meaningless space” space that is constructed without any predetermined use or meaning. They are useless and meaningless, until “they are inhabited in specific ways”. Here architecture becomes a “political act of intensely personal meaning.” It investigates changes with “the extremes of plasticity and variation.”This has to do with the relationships between people and how they decide to change their conditions of living. And architecture is a prime instrument of making that change – because it has to do with building the environment they live in, and the relationships that exist in that environment. Here  Woods questions the social shifts in the newly reunited city and creates “free spaces”-individual “living labs” whose functions are determined by their users, rather than by the architect, and which come together into loosely formed and continuously changing communities. One can say that free space is free of architecture.

I do agree with Lebbeus that free space is open and free. But to me it is not construed as a place of endless possibilities. ‘[Free]dom’ here is limited. Although the place is open to be inhabited in any way, but on the other hand they are certain thing that one is not free to do based on the location and environment of the space. A simple fact of knowing of this is a park will make to monitor and discipline you .There are lots of things you can do in a park, but there are lots more that you cannot do.  I agree with him that the conception and construction of free spaces will brings more questions and focus on the nature of construction of the space calling for “ reevaluation of existing cities and societies as well as the ‘use’ and ‘meaning’ of any human life.”This is due both to the design of the space as well as the peoples and practices that are brought together there. Knowing of this is a park will make to monitor .discipline you . If you want to create spaces that open up new possibilities, they have to allow experimental movements and ways of thinking, but this can only happen in particular ways. You have to be attuned to the history of the spaces and the habits of the peoples you’re working with. Perhaps a big, empty space would offer liberating potential; perhaps something very confining in certain ways would be more freeing. It depends on what kind of  freedom we want. Is this about thinking? Physical activity? Market interactions?  Social formations? All of these are incredibly site-specific questions that make it more of a question of “highly-determined-experimental space” rather than “free space.”

The Third Typology, Anthony Vidler

Vidler in his article “the third typology” discusses three typologies that were informed the production of architecture from the mid eighteen century. The frist typology is one that is related to nature. Laugier’s idea of “primitive hut” where form is returning to its original condition to natural form. The second typology belongs to the industrial revolution where the idea of architecture is coming from individuals and should be founded in the process. This resulted in revolution technology and design for future. It was a start for detachment with inhabitants. For example, Le Corbusier “machine for living”. This idea transformed society to be more efficient through technology and authorship shifts architecture to be more individual. The third typology however, raises the question of the relationship of building to its environment. The third typology is the traditional city as the locus of its concern.

The first tow typologies are made out of quantitative elements where the third is not. They are based on nature. The notable “primitive hut” is based on the rational order of nature where the “origin of each architectural element was natural; the chain that linked the column to the hut to the city was parallel to the chain that linked the natural world”. The second typology is also related to nature, but sees the emergence of ideal types at the end of an evolutionary chain, that can be speeded up by the machine and by industrial production. In here the “mass production objects” is now related to the “nature of machine”.

The third typology however, is very different form the first two in that it does not take nature as a reference in any way, but the city itself. The city is seen as a whole that embodies both its history and its presence in its physical structure. This whole can be taken apart in fragments “urban facts”, as Aldo Rossi calls them that can be types. These fragments can be reassembling, as a conscient act of design, to produce meanings. First derived from originally “ascribed meaning of the form”, second derived from the specific fragment and it boundaries; and third, proposed by a re-composition of the fragments in a new context.  Vidler’s concept was motivated by ‘a desire to stress the continuity of form and history against the fragmentation produced by the elemental, institutional, and mechanistic typologies of the recent past’ It is “explicitly critical of the modern movement”. In such a process of formation, the city becomes a whole with its past and present as manifested in its physical structure. While such a view takes a formal coherence of the city as its objective, it fails to address the human aspect without which the city does not exist in the first place.

Vidler advocate the idea that the city itself is our source of typology unlike the earlier typologies that were based on nature and machine. The view of architecture that takes the construction of the city as an embodiment of history, values, and cultures can be used as a base for a new typology. “We might characterize the fundamental attribute of this third typology as an espousal, not of an abstract nature, nor of a technological utopia, but rather of the traditional city as the locus of its concern. The city, that is, provides the material for classification, and the forms of its artifacts provide the basis for re-composition”.

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Metabolism and Morphology, Michael Weinstock

We are living in a time that Architecture is on a rapid systemic change, driven by the dynamics of climate and economy, of new technologies and new means of production. There has been a lot of negative impact s from global warming and the way we are using our sources of energies. There is a need to change and to go back to the Mother Nature as a source of formal inspiration.  Michael Weinstock, in his article presents an account of the dynamics of natural metabolisms, and suggests an agenda for the development of metabolic morphologies of buildings and cities. Nature has order and it already solved all the problems for itself. Trees know when to grow leaves, spider all over the world design the web same way in order to catch food, gecko‘s body allows him to walk on the roof and etc. nature is a great source for us to follow and mimic. A good example in this context is the book “The Self-Made Tapestry” by Philip Ball where he talks about the bio-mimicry and how designers can benefit from it. He gives great researches that has been done based on mimicking nature (water-lily to create paint)in order to create new products and new ways to save energy and our sources.

Critique of Architectural ideology, Manfredo Tafuri

In this article Tafuri believes that the reduction of subject to object is the operation of the metropolis. In the expression of its inhabitant: the “blasé” city we see indifferent, which is the result of ineffectiveness of their actions in the face of capitalist control. Potentially a powerful expression of experience and identity architecture has, via the forces modernity, been reduced to a tool (an object) for the perpetuation of the capitalist machine.

The question remains why is modernity to blame?  A glace back in history helps, contextualize the gradual objectification of architecture via ideological and economic processes. In mid 1600 Englishmen was happening and this was a result of scientific knowledge and development of technology, increase in literacy, and changes in people’s perspective. With enlightenment came colonization and mercantilism. new class structure begin to form and dispersed control of capital .around late 1700 agricultural revolution happened and resulted in more access to food and technology developed .with advance technology  there was industrial revolution and therefore more people came to cities and population increase. It was then that there was a need to organize the city and there was a need for order.

So now subject to the laws of profit, architecture , which was one encompassed the whole, is left with only the utopia of form ; the organizer of human activity and technological production. Architectural ideology became commodified and rendered subject to capitalist intention; it “becomes a project aimed at the reorganization of production, distribution and consumption within the capitalist city”.  It was avante gard produced new ideology. They effectively instigate the dissolution of architecture into the “metropolitan machine”- the plan- and instead of determining overall dynamics and overall ideology. Architecture becomes a vessel for the “universal, systematic plantification of capitalism.” Therefore architecture becomes a tool. Le Corbusier develops the architectural analogy of the home as “machine for living.” It was around 1931 that Le Corbusier is invited to a conference about the future of Algiers- then a French colony- and takes it upon himself to create ( without commission) several potential city plans over the next decade. He developed a plan essentially in service to the “colonial mission “ ( synonymous with capitalism) which articulates the unification of Greater France through new architecture and urbanism ( image of connection to France).Tafuri explains that though the Algiers planning project, Le Corbusier develops pervasive ideas about the role of architecture and architects, declaring that the architect is an organizer, not a designer of objects.

Le Corbusier’s main ideas that were realized after the Algiers project were:

  • To temper “the improbable with the certainty of the plan. To reconcile organic structure with disorganization.”
  • Looking to the landscape / form thus extracted to offer a previously nonexistent unity.
  • Demonstrated that “the highest level of productive planning coincides with the maximum productivity of spirit.”

And at the end incorporated the Avant-Garde idea of the social machine; that the part defines the whole, and that in order for “form to be valid; each element must be reduced to cubic forms which can represent the basic elements of all architecture.”

Tafuri suggest that in the existing system the architectural profession has been reduced to that of the proletariat – thus ensuring the perpetuation of the status quo in this state of servitude to the capitalist machine

In conclusion one can say that Tafuri believe that architecture failed its historical mission because it was unable to present its promise of solving the problems of the city since that solution properly belonged to the realm of politics. In this article he opposed nothing less than the destruction of the practice of architecture. He argues that the only possible escape from the underlying falsity of arrangement was the abstraction of the architect from the position of designer and the agency that the term implies. Tafuri thesis is that the rise of capitalism had a negative impact on city planning as well as on the subsequence development of architectural styles.

Le Corbusier : Unite d’Habitation “Housing Unity”
Marseille, France, 1947-1952

Unite d’Habitation is one of the great examples that talks about the three main ideas mentioned above by Le corbusier had.Le Corbusier designed several variations of the Unité d’Habitation, the most famous of which is in Marseille, France. All were derived from Le Corbusier’s visionary 1922 city plan, known as Ville Contemporaine. The plan envisioned massive residential blocks set in open green areas — towers in parks, bringing light and air to the residents of urban housing.Through the Unite d’Habitation, Le Corbusier aimed to find a new architectural response to the problem of collective housing at a time when France was experiencing a severe housing shortage. According to Le Corbusier, the Unité d’Habitation creates a social space in which the individual and the collective are equally balanced. The central idea of the model remains simple: it’s to build on artificial grounds individual flats that are placed within the logic of a collective structure.He orients his construction techniques in the direction of the industrialization process based on the measures of the Modular.The scale is fundamental to the relationship of units to wholes in the design of the Unité d’Habitation. The way in which the Unité is organized and the integrated services it offers are meant to enrich social life in the building. By doing so, Le Corbusier invents a town object that transcends the ordinary functions of housing.

Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation has  1,600 residents, 337 lodgings (of 23 different types) and a series of equipment or services such as a nursery school, hotel, shops, offices and gymnasium. The Unité is 137 meters long, 24 meters wide and 56 meters high. It has 18 floors and a sun deck roof-terrace with an unobstructed view of the Mediterranean.

Sept 29: Natural Form

October 5, 2009

Architecture form the outside,  Elizabeth Grosz

It seems that Grosz introducing herself as and outsider to architecture . She talks about the outsider in this article : it is impossible to ‘always be outside” and this is rather a positive fact about being and outsider. To be and outside also allows one a fresh perspective on the inside. Outside also might refer to those in architecture who are left out while inhabiting a space, such as homeless, sick, dying.

It seems that Grosz asking a question on  how can we design or understand space in a way to structure our living accordingly .Grosz then focuses on two disciplines, architecture and philology,  that are outside each other require a third space to interact with one another. In this article she focuses on the in-between space. “ the position of the in-between lacks a fundamental identity, lacks a form, a nature. Yet it is that which facilitates, allows into being, all identities, all matter, all substance. “The space of the in-between is that which is not a space, a space without boundaries of its own, which takes on and receives itself. its form, from the outside, which is not its outside. But whose form is the outside of the identity, not just of another.”

I believe that she is introducing a kind of space which is not an actual architectural space but a feeling arising from the virtual possibility of architectural  space. It is the fraying of the possible limits of any identity, the undoing of the bounding conditions of presence. The space in which things are undone, the space of subversion and fraying, the edges of any identities limits. this space of the ‘in-between’ is the locus for cultural, social and natural transformations: it is not simply a convenient space for realignments but in fact is the only space, between identities where becoming, openness to futurity, outstrips the conversational need to retain cohesion and unity.

She also mentions the relationship and the in-between space between architecture and culture. Before going on to explain this relationship she talks about nature as a “stuff of culture and thus of architecture. Both architecture and culture are the consequences of the endless ramifications, intervening, and openness of the nature to all modes of manipulation; natures open ended completion by architecture …”

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Paper Part I : Space

St.Ignatius Steven Holl (http://www.persianupload.com/6874195)