AArchitecture issue 29
news from the architectural association
As a student at an architectural school comprised of a majority of individuals from seventy or so different countries around the world beyond the shores of the British Isles, the announcement of the 24th June that the UK intends to leave the European Union called into question a great deal of what it is that we value as an institution, as part of a national structure of education and as a profession at large.
In the great white gazebo at the heart of the rarefied Bedford Square garden some hours after the final votes had been tallied, those present for the AA graduation ceremony earlier this year would inevitably have felt some disquiet at the result of the EU referendum. The average student being handed their AA Diploma in 2016 will have cumulatively paid ÂŁ89,889 in fees alone over the course of their five years at the school. This is a large financial expense for every one of those students and the associated support network that has enabled them to be educated at the AA and as such must represent some greater value for the life of an individual beyond the school and for the wider architectural profession. However, in spite of the steadfast optimism of the British architectural press in repeatedly stating that architectural jobs are not suffering as a consequence of the referendum result, it is clear that finding employment in London for many AA graduates and year out students this summer has been an arduous and in many cases unfruitful task.
It is clear that this is not exclusively as a direct result of the decision to leave â€“ over the past decade or so, modifications to immigration policy have made it increasingly difficult for students from outside the borders of the EU to find employment in the UK within the architectural profession, as it has become ever more complex and costly for small firms without adequate legal resources to negotiate the necessary bureaucratic literature. As a result of this heightening stringency, the number of students from outside the European Union enrolled at the AA has seen a sharp decline and it is reasonable to suggest that pending the outcome of Article 50 negotiations that will in all likelihood place heavy restrictions on the free movement of labour to the UK, the quantity of European applicants to the school may well do the same. Following the outcome of this referendum, now is high time for the AA as an institution and school to reflect carefully on the values it represents to its students and staff, both in the immediate and more long term future. Given the apparent hostility of the job market to architecture graduates in London, what kind of education does the AA offer that differentiates it from or allows it to compete with other world-leading institutions? What are the values it represents that justify its financial cost to students and what does the association itself mean for the wider context of London as a global architectural capital in the future?
AArchitecture 29 4
Delving into the question of value in architecture beyond the Architectural Association, it is evident that whether or not there is any immediate tangible effect on the profession in London as a result of the Brexit, what appears certain is a more long-term repercussion for the creative output and fundamental composition of the city as a global creative capital and driving force of international architecture. If the UK cannot provide employment or the conditions that allow young, talented international students in the creative industries to establish themselves in London, this presents a clear and unequivocal contemporary statement about the value system of British education: that international fees are worth more than the educated student. This, however, is nothing new. The generational shift in the opportunities available to arts graduates has been listing tectonically for many years as the cost of housing and property in the capital has climbed exponentially. Such economic conditions have made it difficult for graduates from home and abroad to set up their own offices or establish themselves as independent architects in London as many of the most valued directors working in the profession today relished the opportunity to do twenty or thirty years ago. As established architects and designers collectively lament the projected post-Brexit difficulty of finding home-grown talent with the architectural
skills to match their EU educated counterparts, the system of architectural education in the UK and the values that the profession preserves ought to be open to far more rigorous and probing scrutiny. Institutions like the AA must continue to push architectural education forward, to provide an extraordinary education that goes beyond a skill base and defies both the norms of architectural study and the history of its own structure. We have been forced by the referendum to look into what it is that we value the most as a school and individuals, and the AA must now prove itself on all fronts.
AArchitecture issue 29
news from the architectural association
Contents Notes from Neue Remsterdam.................................... 8 The Innocent Eye is Blind .......................................... 16 A Neoliberal D.I.Y: Assemble’s Granby Four Streets.................................. 24 Abstract Working Methods....................................... 30 Independent Value ...................................................... 36 Travertino Romano: Nature, History, Value ............................................... 42 Interfacing Absorption .............................................. 54 Entertainment Value .................................................. 60
New from AA Publications ....................................... 68 AA Bookshop’s Recommended Reading ................ 72 AA News ........................................................................ 77 AA Notices .................................................................... 87 Issue 30: TITLE .......................................................... 89
August 15th, 2016 Images by the author
Notes from Neue Remsterdam — Muhammad Shamin Sahrum
Imagined from the perspective of a news journalist, Muhammad Shamin Sahrum unfolds the rise of Rem Koolhaas from designer and theoretician to EU Chancellor through a first person micro-narrative spanning the architect’s 13-month campaign.
AArchitecture 29 10
January 27th, 2017
August 15th, 2016 Reeling from Britain leaving the EU, Rem Koolhaas voices his opinion. Frustrated at the European Union’s failure to unite the nations and in a shocking move, he decides to run for the EU Chancellor position. No one took it seriously at first. Surely another classic Rem move; Rem the provocateur, now turned politician.
January 27th, 2017 Social media goes mad, ie, #remtakesover. His fans rejoice, forever propelling his already cult status. His supporters are known to be ardent fanatics, and his every word treated like gospel. To some he prophesied the rise of China as booming opportunity when everyone had eyes elsewhere. Billboards, media, all get plastered with his face. Rem as the saviour of Europe they say. He seems to be very popular with the younger generation... May 3rd, 2017 Opposition lashes out, making claims that this is all an ego trip as, ‘It’ll be good for his business,’ the architecture complex that is OMA. Former colleagues and workers make claims about OMA’s horrendous treatment of its migrant workers working on their projects on the far side of the globe. A media storm takes place, as OMA denies the accusations. Rem during this period remains quiet and elusive to the media.
AArchitecture 29 12
July 10th, 2017
September 21st, 2017
July 10th, 2017 Sales of his magnum opus, SMLXL, soar through the roof as if revived from architectural obscurity since being introduced in 1995. Rem becomes a global household name almost overnight.
September 21st, 2017 Voting day is nearing soon. Stock markets are jumping like a seismograph reading, and global investors are anxious. Critics predict a close win with the majority on the opposing side. But in these final hours, any certainty is met with pessimism and to be taken with a grain of salt. Only tomorrow will tell the fate of the EU kingdomâ€Ś
September 21st, 2017
‘the innocent eye is blind’ – the intentionality of empirical analysis in architectural drawing — Dor Schindler
The desire for clarity and legibility has long been a concern within architectural drawing. Today, paradoxically, both the technical ability for accuracy and misunderstanding have ballooned to a global scale. Dor Schindler examines the value of accuracy and consensus within architectural drawing.
Today, any reference to value is deeply entwined with an association to importance, what is right is right, right? Financial or ethical, the discussion around value seems so valued that we sometimes tend to forget the boring side of values: empirical measurements.
Algebraic or absolute, value can be expressed through conventional signs that help us to grasp quantity or magnitude. These sets of values are then translated into what we know as architectural drawing: scale, line weight, line type, colour, hatch, legend, registration, orientation etc, – a bank of differentiations, a conventional language of markers, building up hierarchy and enabling the drawing’s info-graphical legibility. Its legibility is achieved through precision, and its precision is achieved through scientific consensus. Trying to understand the role of science in relation to how we draw what we think we know raises questions about the legitimacy that both technology and precise sciences receive collectively. Half way into the 19th century, the ability to distribute precise measurements on a printed copy have made scientific concepts familiar to more than just the acute enough to observe, to a point, ‘where any significant qualitative difference between life and technics began to evaporate’1.
AArchitecture 29 18
Carte de Cassini 1797 â€“ Cassini attempted to create an unrestricted methodology of mapping in order to provide a complete representation of the French territory. A logical system of flawless sectorial data, the project spread across 180 sheets at 1/86,400th. Here his obsession with the absolute leads to a clutter; a mixture of both conventional and realistic notations as well as relatively vast blank s paces in rural areas. This proliferation, of both material and notation, reveals the intentional nature of the most ambitious scientific cartographical project at the time. Image courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection
The clerical position precise sciences have granted seems to embolden its status as an agent of general truth. The obsession to obtain collective precision has diverted the traditional way of operation (individual observation, then understanding), creating consumable prescriptions telling us how things are.
To an extent, the belief that empirical data is absolute, or in other words, the only way to objectively represent what is seen, seems to fall into its own trap, the intentional nature of scientific representation corrupts its neutrality. Warner Heisenberg, a Physicist and Nobel Prize winner, once said that ‘Mankind finds itself in the situation of a skipper who has his boat built of such a heavy concentration of iron and steel, that the boat’s compass points constantly at herself and not north’.2 As a post industrial aftermath, a situation of irony is born – science equals rational, and every alternative is disproved with the same scientific criteria: empirical data as a matter of fact!
1 Crary, Jonathan. Suspensions of Perception Attention 2 Vesely, Dalibor. Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation
We tend to reduce drawings to the matter of fact, in order to make a point. Rather than the interpretations of information that they are (again, observation – translation) we often see them as representations of a place. This makes the task of the reader ever more valued; ‘interpretation is an art, as well as science — because it inherently involves imaginative leaps, which are then filled by an interpreter to communicate his intention’.3 Just like any other drawing, scientific representation tells a story, of a place, an interest, an understating and sometimes a reaction. The value of a drawing is greater than the sum of its measurements. Value
3 Kurgan, Laura. Close up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics
Value Opposite page, an engraving detailing Robert Boyle’s air pump experiment apparatus. Boyle, a pioneer of experimental philosophy, sought to determine what is concrete by generating ‘matter of fact’ through physical experiments. Before the seventeenth century, scientific observation was mostly considered an opinion. The transition from logical observation to precise measuring led physical scientists to, ‘model their enterprise, so far as possible, upon the demonstrative sciences and to attain the kind of certainty that compelled absolute assent.’ (Shapin, Steven, Simon Schaffer, and Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan and the Air-pump) The matter of fact served (and might still) as a certain ‘mirror of nature’. New Experiments Physico-Mechanical (1660). Courtesy of Edinburgh University Library
A NEOLIBERAL D.I.Y: Assemble’s Granby Four Streets — Ushma Thakrar
Ushma Thakrar addresses the 2015 Turner Prize winning firm, Assemble, and the value implications of a ‘Do It Yourself’ approach to design.
Shortly after winning the prestigious Turner Prize, awarded to a design studio for their work on an architecture project for the very first time, members of Assemble have been on a tour of speaking engagements (including a date at the Architectural Association, earlier this year). Though all eighteen members rarely appear together to present their work, each carefully constructs sentences in the second person plural – making clear each piece, idea and opinion transcends the speaker and reflects the shared sensibility of the collective. The content of these presentations, largely follows its form: they discuss their particular process of working, as much as, if not more than, the final forms. Whether it be Anthony Engi Meacock and Maria Lisogorskaya at the Architectural Association in London or Lewis Jones and Jane Hall at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal or Fran Edgerley and Paloma Strelitz at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, what can be discerned from any of these presentations is the rationalising of the architectural project through a narrative of fiscal limitations and parameters. While their design processes are characterised by a lack of means, the resulting projects are self-described employing positive economic language like ‘value,’ ‘growth,’ and ‘expansion.’ The collective’s ongoing Granby Four Streets project, demonstrates a particularly ambivalent attitude towards the structural economic forces by which it is created and that it claims to generate.
AArchitecture 29 26
Granby Four Streets, Assemble’s largest scale project to date, has been described by Assemble as ‘an incremental vision for the area that builds on the hard work already done by local residents and translates it to the refurbishment of housing, public space and the provision of new work and enterprise opportunities.’1 The language in this statement is primarily that of real estate development: it implies little intrinsic value and through intervention generates value and the potential for value creation. In his essay Less is Enough, Pier Vittorio Aureli connects this attitude in architecture to structural shifts in global economics. Aureli demonstrates the do-it-yourself attitude and the associated aesthetic as directly symptomatic of the manufactured condition of economic austerity which requires individuals, households and governments to do ‘more with less.’2 Assemble’s attitude and work fit neatly into Aureli’s analysis, having formed only two years after the Great Recession, and their continual forwarding of their a-professional sensibility, refusal to label themselves with the professional title ‘architect,’ and the driving factor of their work being the project’s limitations. During a presentation at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Jane Hall described Assemble’s 1 Assemble. ‘Granby Four Streets.’ assemblestudio.co.uk 2 Aureli, Pier Vittori. Less Is Enough. Moscow, Russia: Strelka Press, 2013. pp.7
earliest projects (and the reason for which they began to work together) as processes of taking ‘valueless materials,’ both building materials and sites and minimal budgets and turning them into temporary event spaces. The approach described in the collective’s myth of origin persists in even their most recent projects. This working method has been labelled by the group as ‘do-it-yourself,’3 though only so much can be said of a group comprised largely of Cambridge architecture graduates, employing a do-it-yourself approach to architecture. Regardless of the accuracy of this characterisation of their method, Assemble’s do-it-yourself, bottomup approach is neither working against nor existing outside of the very economic system from which it attempts to disassociate. The group’s process in which ‘valueless materials’ are transformed is, instead, wholly intertwined with the contemporary Neoliberal condition in which austerity is posited as a collective and inevitable condition, and constructs a dominant subjectivity such that the condition reproduces itself. Although the collective’s discourse is one of working differently from the norm and seems to do so convincingly, the difference exists only at a superficial level. Fundamentally, their work is not an independent venture but is an entrepreneurial one, within a context of manufactured scarcity, where their work aims to makes more of less. In Granby Four Streets, Assemble’s work extracts value, not from the minimal budget they were
AArchitecture 29 28
afforded, nor from materials they purchased with said budget, but from the Granby community itself. The process by which four streets in Granby are converted to Granby Four Streets is primarily through the organisation, management and choreographing of preexisting, place-based human capital. Even more pervasive than the foundation of advanced capitalism, in which value is extracted from money itself, Assemble’s managerial role, is the extraction of embodied human capital from people. This method marks a transformation of the subject of architecture, from being a subject that the discipline constructs for or a subject that is constructed through a disciplining by architecture, to a subject that is a construction (and in this case constructing) element of architecture, in addition to being constructed by it. The constructed subjectivity coincides with the economic system as a valorised unit, a unit that has been made productive by and through the architecture project. Granby Four Streets was awarded the Turner Prize on the basis of its ‘ground-up approach to regeneration, city planning and development in opposition to corporate gentrification.’4 Though 3 See Giles Smith, from Assemble’s presentation, ‘Do It Yourself’ on the collective’s body of work at the Architecture Club in Somerset, which took place on 13 October 2015, shortly before the group was awarded the Turner Prize
4 Large, Martin. ‘Assemble and Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust Offer a Better Model for Living.’ The Guardian. 13 December 2015.
the project did, in fact, serve to keep several residents from being displaced and allowed them to keep their homes and social networks intact, the result was achieved through the very logic that created the threat in the first place. Granby Four Streets is exemplary of the fundamental contradiction within Assemble’s discourse and practice. While understanding themselves through their D.I.Y. method, as outside of the overarching forces of advanced capitalism, they simultaneously prioritise the construction of value. In a politically constructed condition of austerity which creates a condition of material and monetary scarcity, to build requires resourcefulness on the part of the designer who imbues the accessible funds and materials with their own human capital to make the resulting project greater than the sum of its parts. In addition to their own work on their projects, Assemble further instrumentalises and capitalises on a last unexploited source of value in the project: its inhabitants. Perhaps then, the second person plural, that plays such a central role in their discourse, extends beyond the eighteen members on the payroll, but includes all those that are used to build their projects.
Georgia Hablutzel, Collage of interior view, Lithographic transfer of text and found image on photograph of model
Abstract working methods – re-evaluating spaces for printing — Georgia Hablutzel
Different media have significant impacts on the way we understand and produce ideas. Georgia Hablutzel examines how we place value on different working methods, and the impacts each has, both at the scale of the individual and the school as a whole.
The process of making produces a continuous series of experimentation. The medium itself can begin to explain the subject of working. There is value in both how ideas come to be and how they present themselves. In fact, a person’s way of working directly impacts the way they think and conceive of ideas. Drawing, in all its various forms and mediums – from pencil, pen, AutoCad to printmaking – is a process through which ideas emerge and are communicated.
The disconnect, between input and output, was possibly the hardest understanding to grasp when working with print. How ink is put on a plate, the specific way you wipe, what you wipe the plate with (scrim or finger?, oil or water?, sponge or rag?, solid or clean?), the kind of paper and time it spends soaking in water, the unique pressure of a press – these are not simply technical procedures but in fact they are ways of thinking and developing ideas. Here the opacity of a medium becomes palpable, leading to a reorientation of both how work is produced but also how one sees. Perhaps the preparation is everything: what you produce from pressing an inky plate on to paper is pre-determined, decisively shaped, by the accumulation of processes you undertake beforehand.
Printmaking is possible on smooth surfaces. It has a history as wide as it is deep and is famously heralded for reinventing the world of mass communication. Posters, newspapers, books â€“ the press always took to surfaces with defined edges and borders. Lines were clear and messages took to paper. The history of print tradition, the craft and the industry, developed how we print and reproduce today through processes. Time urgently alters how these mediums and experiments evolve. My question however, is what exactly are we left with now? Moving through a traditional process, I investigate what can be done with it now â€“ not out of nostalgia or aversion to the digital but instead a different way or thinking. Value 33
AArchitecture 29 34
Alma Hawker, Woodcut of a macro view of grass from a film still: from zooming in on the individual fibre of a landscape depicting the individual blade of grass, a fibrous fixture, PVA and ink on paper
Independent Value — Adam Furman
Adam Nathaniel Furman is a London-based designer whose practice ranges from Architecture & interiors, to sculpture, installation, writing and product design. He graduated from the AA with honours in 2008, and has since been the recipient of the Design Museum Designer in Residence 2013-14, Blueprint Award for Design Innovation 2014, the UK Rome Prize for Architecture 2014-15, and is one of the Architecture Foundation’s New Architects 2016, as well as having worked at OMA, Ron Arad Architects, and Ash Sakula. www.adamnathanielfurman.com
As the annual trollfest that is the Carbuncle Cup gets underway, in which ‘the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months’ is crowned in humiliating glory by a crowd of sneering commentators, it is perhaps appropriate to question how – as a profession – we come to value, and devalue certain architects and architecture. What is ‘ugly’? It is not simply an issue of whether a building performs badly in relation to its occupants, the street, or is built to a low standard, or else the critics’ and commentators’ ire would be focused on the mass of terrible, soulless buildings that surround us in Britain. Instead the focus tends to be on buildings that actually do have a pronounced architectural ambition, but one which happens not to conform to any current notions of good taste. Buildings that wilfully and stridently flaunt an aesthetic which has just gone out of favour tend to be a favourite, or ones that simply do not follow any of the unsaid rules of decorum prevalent at a given moment in architectural time. What could win the Carbuncle Cup one year, might have been lauded a decade before. Iconic architecture was welcomed in 2000 as the sign of a British renaissance, but by 2016 its examples had become the bankrupt symbolism of a much hated economic model, and the architects of its last progeny have been lambasted where its instigators were once celebrated. ‘Ugly’, and conversely what we value as ‘worthy’, is not in any way objective. It is entirely based
AArchitecture 29 38
upon the combined prejudice of a vocal clique who define what is acceptable, and what is not. This changes from one period to the next with the same imperceptible ease as the cycles of fashion, and just as with fashion, those who do not conform are ridiculed or ignored by those who through numerical supremacy and dominance of tastedefining media outlets and forums, constitute a prevailing zeitgeist. Positive and negative value is all too often simply a question of aesthetic conformity to a set of arbitrary and insubstantial architectural codes of belonging. Ellis Woodman has recently pointed out how RIBA awards are almost entirely absent of either architecture which creatively engages with any pasts other than that of modernism, or with buildings by architects who operate in the very much living tradition of classical architecture. Why is this? Both strands of creative endeavour are rich with excellent buildings produced by thoughtful and praiseworthy architects, and which engage in complex ways with contemporary issues. There are unquestioned assumptions and biases providing the uncritical foundations of architectural value judgements everywhere one cares to look. Classicism is ‘pastiche’, unsuitable for contemporary expression, and is reactionary. The language of modernism is progressive, radical, and perpetually avant garde. Abstraction is sophisticated, while figuration is at best comic or satirical, but is mostly ‘kitsch’. Expressiveness,
colour and conceit are superficial and arbitrary. Restraint, dourness and severity are serious, intellectual and convey a sense of gravitas. These value judgements are damaging, ubiquitous, bountiful, ever-evolving, and they also penetrate deep into the heart of architectural education and academia. Fashions force their way through Architecture schools with even more vigour than they do through the wider profession. The creative freedom and gusto with which students can pursue an idea free of external constraints and contingencies means that everything necessarily becomes more extreme at university. This includes the architectural communityâ€™s predisposition towards exclusionary value judgements, which in architecture schools often reach vertiginous levels of prohibition. Perhaps, in order to expend the vast amount of energy required to complete years of often joyless labour, there is a need for architects and architecture students to feel passionately that what they are doing, and the way in which they are doing their work is the only right, acceptable, avant garde or progressive way. A corollary of this self-imposed delusion seems to be that in order to feel so passionately that what one is doing is right, one must also devalue the efforts of those others whose production, ideas and values, do not conform to yours. When I was a student at the AA in the early noughties, there was a degree of consensus in the school around a techno-positivist approach to architecture. Zaha Hadid, DRL, UN Studio,
AArchitecture 29 40
Asymptote, Plasma Studio, Emtech and Foreign Office were the models we were referred to. Mention James Stirling and you would either be met by dismissive laughter, a snarky comment, or stared at with wide eyes as if you were some kind of monstrous degenerate. James Stirling, an unquestionably great architect who had been an exemplar of intellectually engaging architecture only 15 years earlier. But he was out of fashion, by this point he himself had become fodder for the self-affirmation mechanism of the prevailing architects of that moment. And yet by asking questions, by wielding the simple and infinitely powerful weapon that is the question ‘why?’, again and again, ‘why are folded surfaces truly the embodiments of revolutionary politics in architecture?’ ‘why can you not explain to me in clear English what your unit is about?’ ‘why is the pastiche re-hashing of the architectural language of Russia circa 1923 radical, but when it is done with the language of England of the same period it is ‘Disney’?’ ‘Why does quoting a philosopher make my architectural drawing political?’, it is by getting into the habit of asking these questions relentlessly, in search of meaty, truthful and believable answers, that one quickly finds the lack of foundation beneath most architectural value judgements. Assignation of architectural value is too often entirely about the social mechanisms of acceptance into, and exclusion from, a hallowed centre of playground coolness. This however does not mean
that there is no value, only that one has to construct it elsewhere. The best recommendation I can give to any architecture student is to never stop wielding the question ‘why?’. Dig underneath the self-assured statements of your tutors, pull the rug from underneath their illusions. But do the same to yourself. Question your own thoughts. Keep asking, keep digging, get into the habit of catching yourself when you come across a building and think ‘ugh!’ and recoil in horror, catch yourself and ask what was it that made you react in that way, dissect your feelings, get to the bottom of your value judgements, see them for what they so often are – a restrictive filter that dramatically narrows the horizons of your world. It is in this way that one can discover the germ of the greatest kind of value in architecture. Liberated from the stifling value judgements of others that disallow so much from our possible appreciation, free from the suffocating snobbery of the academic avant garde that label so many things as degenerate, one can begin to define specific, precise, meaningful and singular notions of value. One can begin to unearth buildings, qualities, ideas and scenarios that have an importance defined by their own qualities, on their own terms, not by whether or not they are deemed worthy of interest by the posturing of others. Real value, in architecture as in any other worthwhile pursuit in life, lies in the open gaze of an independent mind.
Travertino Romano: Nature, History, Value â€”â€‰Thomas Hutton
Thomas Hutton is a British-born artist currently based in Athens. He has an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University (2012) and an MA in Architectural History from The University of Edinburgh (2006).
When a block of the highest grade Roman travertine is struck with a pebble from a river, it rings aloud like a bell.*
Travertine is a sedimentary limestone mostly composed of calcite, the crystalline, white, porous structure of calcium carbonate (the material that gives us chalk, marble and most types of organic shell). It is formed through rapid precipitation in ground or surface waters such as springs, seepages, or rivers. As the stone sets, carbon dioxide bubbles become trapped, leaving it with a vacuolar structure containing cavities that when cut become the pitted surface that makes travertine instantly recognisable. Whereas marble reveals its nature through its veins, and granite through its speckles, travertine allows us to glimpse into its own interior, and with its diurnal and annual rhythmic banding, traces out a precise chronology of its own making. Whilst there are earlier instances of travertine being quarried for building – in Egypt, for example, and elsewhere in Italy – the so-called ‘Roman travertine’ deposits from Tivoli, 18 miles north east of Rome, have played the most significant role in the material’s history. The very word ‘travertine’, travertino in Italian, derives from the Latin Tiburtinus, meaning ‘of Tiburtina’, the Roman name for Tivoli. The quarries themselves are situated a few miles west of the town in Tivoli Terme, whose name alludes to the thermal springs that first attracted the Romans’ attention to the area. The ‘Acque Albule’, as its water was known
(on account of its whitish colour), originates from the same volcanic activity that has been forming the beds of travertine over the past two hundred thousand years. The sulfurous notes that play in the air above ground are a key into the stirrings below its surface. Of the 450 hectares of travertine reserves in Tivoli, only a few tens of hectares remain. More than 90% of its beds (that lie 10m below the surface and fall as deep as 90m) have already been extracted from the ground. Cut and cut again into block, slab, panel, and tile to be redistributed across the earth’s surface as structure, cladding and aggregate, the quarries – or ‘cave’, in Italian – are emptying. As they diminish, so the material becomes evermore precious. Whilst Turkey has now succeeded Italy as the nation with the most substantial travertine production, Italian travertine has retained its seat at the very top of the market. A bancata of top grade Roman travertine would typically be worth 150% more than its Turkish counterpart. A bancata, meaning ‘bank’ or ‘bench’, is the large section of stone pried from the quarry wall (incidentally, the word ‘bank’ originates from the Old Italian banca that in Renaissance Italy referred to a moneylender’s exchange table, counter, or bench). Where solid blocks were once piled high, now pinned panels turn corners to lend a face of solidity and of warmth, a surface that masks the cold steel or grey concrete behind. The tan face of travertine has become synonymous with
AArchitecture 29 46
luxury. The facades of corporate headquarters, the bathrooms of high-spec apartments, and the polished floors of cultural institutions all feed from a genealogy of architecture that originated with the great travertine edifices of ancient Rome. The greatest of all these – the Flavian Amphitheatre, or ‘Colosseum’ (on account of its colossal scale) – is said to have made use of 100,000 cubic metres of travertine, weighing some 250,000 tons. Whole roads were built especially for transporting the stone from Tivoli. And when by the 15th century, the iron clamps that held the massive blocks in place had crumbled (causing the blocks to fall back down upon the ground), the Colosseum itself became a quarry and its material taken as spolia. In 1451 alone, 2,522 cartloads of material are recorded to have been removed from the Colosseum, to be repurposed by church building projects. The tribune at the Archibasilica of San Giovanni in Laterno (1439) and the facade of Sant’Agostino (1483) were both built from travertine quarried from the Colosseum. Travertine’s proximity to Rome made it much less expensive than the marbles that had to travel greater distances, down, round and through mountains. It was this fact, as well as its relative durability in comparison to the area’s volcanic tufa, that established its popularity as a building material in Rome during the latter part of the second century BC. Vitruvius noted its ability to ‘resist great weights no less than the action of weather’ (De Architectura, 2.7.2) and Pliny reaffirms
this in his Naturalis Historia, with the words ‘lapides Tiburtini ad reliqua fortes’ (XLVIII). Roman travertine’s grade is determined through its internal structure, through the form or straightness of its sedimentary layers, and then finally through its colour. The first blocks to be sawn with diamond coated blades from the bancata typically measure approximately 3.20 x 1.70 x 1.30 (7 m3) with an average weight per cubic metre of about 2.5 tons. At a cost of 1,000 EUR per ton, an ultra premium grade block can cost 17,000 EUR, whereas a third grade block from the same quarry will cost just 200 EUR (though these are considered to be waste blocks used simply to fill holes or block space). The primary mineral compound of travertine, calcite, is white, but the varying degrees of impurities that include ferrous compounds, organic pigments, and sulphur, produce a rich range of colours and tones. The beige colour known as ‘Travertino Romano Classico’ has typically been in the highest demand, but as its reserves have depleted, the quarries have begun to market other rarer and more unusual colours with names that associate with other precious materials, like ‘Silver’ and even ‘Platinum’. Its high cost and scarcity have also, of course, invited imitation by other more easily produced materials. A range of tiles named ‘Medusa Floor Tiles’ attempt to turn ceramic into travertine, and Formica® conjures a range of travertine effects, including even its very own ‘Travertine Silver’ (3458).
AArchitecture 29 50
Since Mies van der Rohe raised his 1929 Barcelona Pavilion on a floor of travertine and enclosed it in a travertine wall, modern architects have began moving vast quantities of it across the globe. Richard Meier quarried 16,000 tons of Roman travertine from Tivoli to create 290,000 slabs for the Getty Center in Los Angeles. According to the Getty Center’s website, Meier chose travertine because it ‘expresses qualities the Getty Center celebrates: permanence, solidity, simplicity, warmth, and craftsmanship’. China has, unsurprisingly, begun to match the USA in its use of Roman travertine. Several high-profile projects in the capital of capitals, London, have also been making something of a feature of ‘travertino Romano’. OMA’s headquarters for Rothschild Bank at New Court is floor and ceiling travertine; David Chipperfield discreetly lavished the interior of his apartments at One Kensington Gardens with it; and Broadgate Circle is a colosseum of travertine cladding. But meanwhile back in Rome, its plenitude and its proximity to its source gives travertine an altogether different character. Its abundance prevents it from seeming rare and its local identity means that it cannot be exotic. But just as a building in London, Los Angeles, or even Guangzhou might look to borrow a slice, or flavour, of Rome through the use of its travertine, so it can also lend this flavour to Rome itself. Its currency within its city of origin is its ability to parody itself and to continue authenticating and
re-authenticating Rome’s identity, or to brand it. It has been invested with a civic responsibility in Rome, where it is used for public park benches, as bollards, to support statues, or to face the walls of the train stations. Mussolini’s Fascist regime, in particular, was responsible for giving it a new civic purpose in the 20th century. Travertine was at the centre of its expansive building projects that sought to symbolically bridge their own endeavours with those of Imperial Rome. Armando Brasini’s Ponte Flaminio (constructed 1938–51) that crosses the Tiber right next to Rome’s oldest existing bridge, Ponte Milvio (115 BC), is a triumph of travertine’s deployment by Fascist Italy, and a monument to its ambitions to align with Rome’s Imperial past. Mussolini himself had a hand in its design. Vast travertine columns support lanterns that light the way, whilst giant travertine eagles look down from atop their travertine plinths. Cladding and paving and edging are all travertine. The walls of an ancient amphitheatre, the facade of a baroque church, flagstones of a 1930s piazza, or the floor tiles of a 21st century home have all become part of an uninterrupted landscape in Rome, a fabric stitched together by a material that at one point or another all came out of the same mass of land. But as it becomes evermore scarce and its production costs continue to climb, its use at home in Rome seems now evermore rare. It is cheaper to ship a block of travertine to China to be cut down into flagstones than it is to cut them at the quarries of Tivoli. Its fate now is for it to be
sold and shipped to China and elsewhere, and for it to remain there. It is destined eventually to become a thing of the past. And so it is perhaps somehow apt that the civil law of Italy (rather than by any natural law) sets down a rule that the great voids left by the extraction of travertine must eventually be filled by the quarries that dug them. And so all the excess stone that has no value â€“ all the off-cuts, the rubble, the debris, or waste from the quarry, goes back down into the ground from whence it came, buried and laid to rest like the dead.
* This was demonstrated to me at the Fratelli Pacifici quarry in Tivoli, where the blocks in the yard are struck in order to assess the quality of their interior structure.
INTERFACING ABSORPTION — FOAM
Ryan John King and Jonas Wendelin, of the office FOAM, describe a new economic scenario and system of ownership in the city. www.foam.space
[running frantically] I-330: Did u hear did u hearâ€Śâ€Ś. D-503: What did I hear what? I-330: It is done! It is finally done, what a glorious day. We are now One State. D-503: Sorry what? I am a bit lost in my thoughts to keep up. [pacing] I-330: Wake up D-503! the city the city. It is all one now one singular piece of foam. The very last square just got shared to the decentralised blockchain. Value
D-503 looked around, seeing only the endless world out there in its entirety, her thoughts clouding the realisation that the whole city had come outside to celebrate the moment. Relieved to be sitting on the edge of the now platonic platform, she remembered the feeling in her chest when privatisation was directing her heartbeat and her mind was filled with directions while walking through the canyons of the urban grid, beneath the shadows of capital in the form of junkspace condominium. When sidewalks were an alien territory and invasive spatial entities were assembling themselves for non-human agents. Falling back into her thoughts she recalled the time when public space had shrunk to the size of our dreams, with invisible financial forces manifesting themselves as luxury
AArchitecture 29 56
living, driven by revenue and the economic potential of a spreadsheet. But D-503 was calm now and she felt her 0.00354766845% equity of the pavement carrying her weight for her, letting her thoughts evaporate into the smell of the neighboursâ€™ restaurant with the shared kitchen she had just used a few days ago. Parks, streets, sidewalks, rooftops, balconies, airspace, lawns, gardens, backyards and inaccessible empty real estate are now a private investment opportunity for the public. The notion of collectivity and connectivity have been transformed by a communal sharing project, FOAM, initiated by the architect, completed by participants. She remembered when the idea had just come up, when the laws had just passed congress, when the first projects launched and the opportunity of public space came back like a spaceship hovering above the city, stalking its urban inhabitants until all were absorbed by this new economic tool. Emptiness is a structural component as the air suspends individual bubbles in foam. The architectural expression of FOAM manifests an appreciation of value in material and spatial markets of exchange. D-503 was still not quite certain how the new decentralised blockchain structures of politics and the FOAM platform could shape the new ideas of their non-hierarchal Meshocracy, but the foundation was built and the city had privately been in the hands of the public for long history began to float away. But there must be something
she could remember! When the Architects first began situating their projects where the infrastructure meets the territory, when new constituencies and cultural diplomats were first assembled. I-330 was still pacing back and forth, but stopped a moment to study the confused look on D-503. Having known her for so long the facial expression of confusion, and its content, was immediately recognised.
I-330: Commit this to memory! Have you forgotten your studies from the Froth academy so easily? ‘Space can no longer be valued abstractly on financial markets and instead needs to be assessed in tangible, material spatial indicators of value. In the sharing economy, we need more than public space. We need to be absorbed by foam space.’ [a crowd begins to grow] [chants can be heard] [‘Absorption!’ ‘Absorption!’ ‘Absorption!’ ‘Absorption!’ ‘Absorption!’] I-330: Let’s go already! We are going to miss the Absorption celebrations! D-503: Ok Ok Ok I am coming. I was just thinking back to how we got here in the first place. By the way, do you still want to trade me %0.000074335 of R-911’s restaurant for %0.0334 of J-878’s open source work space?
AArchitecture 29 58
Image from the recent exhibition, ‘Sharing Models – Manhattanisms,’ at Storefront for Art and Architecture, 2016
Courtesy of AA Archives
Entertainment Value — Edward Bottoms, AA Archives
AA Archivist Ed Bottoms looks back on some extraordinary AA sound recordings from the 1920s – 80s... collectionsblog.aaschool.ac.uk
AArchitecture 29 62
The Martin Creed pre-album launch performance in the AA Canteen in June this year prompted much heated discussion in the Bar over which famous bands had or had not played at the AA in the past. Subsequent digging in the AA Archives confirmed some but left many questions unanswered – was it a myth that The Who and Led Zeppelin had gigged here? Pink Floyd were confirmed however, their name appearing on flyers for the infamous AA ‘Prohibition’ carnival of December 1966 (a party which saw the AA entrance decked out as a funeral parlour, Al Capone lying in state in the Council Room, the bar as a ‘Speakeasy’, Ching’s Yard as a Wharf, complete with a mudbank and pier – and the top floor as a dope den). Indeed, photographs by Adam Richie recently emerged of a pre-record contract Pink Floyd performing in the old lecture hall (now AA Workshop), complete with psychedelic light show. A wonderfully psychedelic poster by Andrew Holmes also confirmed the remarkable line up for the ‘AAmazing’ night in 1967 when students hired out the Roundhouse in Camden – bands including Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Steve Winwood’s ‘Traffic’ and ‘The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’ (Brown’s signature flaming helmet reputedly sparking considerable alarm due to the length of time it took him to reach the stage from the wings…). Certainly, the 1960s British blues explosion was well represented at the AA, John Mayall’s Blues Breakers having played there in 1964 and
Poster by Andrew Holmes for an AA organised gig at the Roundhouse, Camden, 1967
AArchitecture 29 64
Chicken Shack a few years later at a gig arranged at the Marquee Club on Wardour Street. In the 1920s and 1930s it was the norm for AA students and staff to write and perform their own music at the annual AA pantomime, occasionally nipping down to a local studio post-performance to cut their own recordings. A whole series of records were produced, including one of the 1923 pantomime, for which we have a beautiful shellac 75rpm disc in the Archives. Recordings also survive from more recent decades and we also have a copy of the industrial noise pioneers and performance artists, ‘Throbbing Gristle’ playing at the 1978 AA Carnival – band members Genesis P. Orridge and Cosey Fanney Tutti playing within a scaffolding structure concealed behind black tarpaulin. Available on the internet is also a bootleg album by the influential early Goth band ‘Bauhaus’, from a private gig at the AA in 1981. However, amongst the most remarkable sound recordings are a set of tapes held in the British Library’s National Sound Archive from an historic day at the AA in June 1965 when key members of the Beat Generation descended on the Library for a poetry reading. Fresh from the International Poetry Incarnation held a few days earlier at the Royal Albert Hall, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso and Andrei Voznesenskii were invited by students including Jasper Vaughan, and can be heard on tape reciting their own works, Ginsberg performing his ‘Big Beat’, ‘Message II’ and ‘Ignu’...
If any alumni have ephemera, posters, tickets, photographs, sound recordings of any of the AA carnivals, parties or other performances, the AA Archives would be very keen to hear from you...
AArchitecture 29 66
Bauhaus bootleg album cover, â€˜Mechanical Partyâ€™, 1981
Poster for AA organised gig at the Marquee Club, Ian Layzell, 1967
new from aa publications And Bedford Press
AA Publications is one of the worldâ€™s leading architectural publishers. With an editorial programme including the launch of more than two dozen titles by architects, artists, AA tutors and students. The AAâ€™s own Print Studio includes architectural editors, graphic designers and an art director. AA Publications incorporates an in-house imprint, Bedford Press, publishing books and ebooks at the intersection of architecture, visual art, graphic design and theory. www.aaschool.ac.uk/publications www.bedfordpress.org
Sixty-six objects from Ryan Gander’s collection make up his major new works Fieldwork 2015 (2015) and Fieldwork 2016 (2016). Each object passes by a window, one after another, on a constantly looping conveyor belt. A National Trust sign protecting ‘Culturefield’, a chess set, a pair of dead pigeons, a kitchen sink. Found, fabricated, everyday and exceptional, these objects may represent the richness of our existence, mapping its totality one object at a time. Through
this work and a series of writings, Fieldwork serves as a reader to Gander’s on-going and ever-evolving practice.
Fieldwork, The Complete Reader Ryan Gander
Foreword by Kieran Long Supported by Lisson Gallery 464 pp, 285 x 217 mm Extensive colour ills, softcover with dust jacket September 2016 978-1-907414-51-0 £25
AArchitecture 29 70
Cedric Price Works 1952–2003: A Forward-Minded Retrospective
Cedric Price Works 1952–2003: A Forward-Minded Retrospective by Samantha Hardingham is a two-volume anthology, copublished by the Architectural Association (AA) and the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), and is supported by the Graham Foundation and the Cedric Price Estate. The books bring together for the first time all of the projects, articles and talks of British architect Cedric Price, aiming to present his munificence as thinker, philosopher and designer. A student at the AA in the 1950s, Price established his office in London in 1960 and went on to produce some of architecture’s
Samantha Hardingham Volume 1, 912 pp, Volume 2, 512 pp 310 x 240â€‰mm Hardback & paperback in custom-made slipcase 1,255 colour and b&w illustrations 978-1-907896-43-9 October 2016 ÂŁ150
most intensely imaginative and experimental projects of the latter half of the 20th century. His work is central in defining architectural discourse around the emerging postwar themes of mobility and indeterminacy in design.
AA Bookshopâ€™s Recommended Reading for Value
The AA Bookshop is one of Londonâ€™s leading specialist architecture bookshops. Order the following titles online, where a selection of new books, special offers and some backlist titles are available. www.aabookshop.net
Unbuilding is the other half of building. Buildings, treated as currency, rapidly inflate and deflate in volatile financial markets. Cities expand and shrink; whether through the violence of planning utopias or war, they are also targets of urbicide. Repeatable spatial products quickly make new construction obsolete; the powerful bulldoze the disenfranchised; buildings can radiate negative real estate values and cause their surroundings to topple to the ground.
Edited by Nikolaus Hirsch, Markus Miessen 112 pp, 150 x 106 mm Paperback £12.50
Critical Spatial Practice 4 – Subtraction
AArchitecture 29 74
Less is Enough ‘Less is more’ goes the modernist dictum. But is it? In an age when we are endlessly urged to do ‘more with less,’ can we still romanticise the pretensions of minimalism? For Pier Vittorio Aureli, the return of ‘austerity chic’ is a perversion of what ought to be a meaningful way of life. Charting the rise of asceticism in early Christianity and its institutionalisation with the medieval monasteries, Aureli examines how the basic unit of the reclusive life – the monk’s cell – becomes the foundation of private property. And from there, he argues, it all starts to
go wrong. By late capitalism, asceticism has been utterly aestheticised. It manifests itself as monasteries inspired by Calvin Klein stores, in the monkish lifestyle of Steve Jobs and Apple’s aura of restraint. Pier Vittorio Aureli 64 pp, 180 x 110 mm Paperback £5.99
Architecture and Capitalism tells a story of the relationship between the economy and architectural design. Eleven historians each discuss a specific time period, examining the cultural and economic issues that influenced architects and their practice. Beginning in the midnineteenth century and continuing up until the present day, a variety of case studies provide an insight into how architects dealt with the economic conditions of their time.
Edited by Peggy Deamer 264 pp, 150 x 225â€‰mm Paperback ÂŁ29.99
Architecture and Capitalism
AArchitecture 29 76
State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious ‘Years of remodelling the welfare state, the rise of technology, and the growing power of neoliberal government apparatuses have established a society of the precarious. In this new reality, productivity is no longer just a matter of labour, but affects the formation of the self, blurring the division between personal and professional lives. Encouraged to believe ourselves flexible and autonomous, we experience a creeping isolation that has both social and political impacts,
and serves the purposes of capital accumulation and social control. Isabel Lorey 128 pp, 130 x 196 mm Paperback £7.99
This year’s launch of Venice Architecture Biennale included significant AA representation in both the Giardini and the Arsenale venues. Particularly noteworthy were the contributions of recent AA graduates Jack Self and Shumi Bose, who were part of the curatorial team in the British pavilion, Home Economics, commissioned by the British Council. Others involved in this project were AA Councillor Vicky Richardson, AA academic staff members Pier Vittorio Aureli, Maria Giudici,
AA Alumni Involvement Australia, The Pool – Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia: Amelia Holliday Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia,
Former AA student, journalist, and media personality Janet Street-Porter was interviewed at the AA as part of a BBC documentary that looks at Britain during the 1960s. Generation ‘66 is a revealing portrait of ‘66 told by the generation that shaped it, featuring Michael Palin, Janet Street-Porter, Peter Stringfellow, Nina Baden-Semper and Geno Washington. Street-Porter was interviewed in one of the AA Diploma unit spaces, where she spoke about her time studying at the AA between 1965 and 1968. Generation ‘66 aired Sunday 31 July at 9pm on BBC FOUR, and is now available to view on the BBC website via BBC iPlayer. www.bbc.co.uk
and Fabrizio Ballabio and AA alumni Julia King, Jesper Henriksson, Magnus Casselbrant, Alessandro Bava, Luis Ortega Govela,and Octave Perrault. The Australian pavilion, The Pool – Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia, was co-curated by AA graduate and Director of Aileen Sage Architects, Amelia Holiday. Within the Israeli pavilion Shany Barath and Gary Freedman, AA academic staff members and alumni, and Directors of Shaga Shyovits Architects exhibited BEHAVE, an interactive installation in collaboration with Biologist Erez Livneh. BEHAVE was a holographic microscope that extended advancements in genetic engineering to the realm of spatial and interactive design by programming synthetic living materials with harvested biomarkers from the human body. The Kuwaiti Pavilion included four AA alumni who worked in collaboration, Fortune Penniman, Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki, and Hessa Al Bader, founders of Studio Bound and Directors of AA Jeddah Visiting School.
AArchitecture 29 78
Lithuania), The Baltic Pavilion: Niklavs Paegle, Jonas Žukauskas Belgium, BRAVOURE: Christoph Grafe Brazil: Rodrigo Azevedo Great Britain, Home Economics: Jack Self, Shumi Bose, Julia King, Jesper Henriksson, Magnus Casselbrant, Fabrizio Ballabio, Octave Perrault, Alessandro Bava, Luis Ortega Govela Greece, #ThisIsACo-op: Ana Melpomeni Danou Israel, “A is for Architecture, B is for Biology”: Ariele Blonder-Afek BEHAVE: Shany Barath, Gary Freedman Kuwait, Between East and West, A Gulf: Hessa Al Bader, Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki, Fortune Penniman Luxembourg (Grand Duchy of), Tracing transitions: Claude Ballini Montenegro, Project Solana Ulcinj: Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto Seychelles (Republic of), Between Two Waters, Searching for Expression in the Seychelles: Alex Ellenberger, Makoto Saito Slovenia (Republic of), Home@ Arsenale: Aljoša Dekleva, Tina Gregoric Thailand, Class of 6.3: Varudh Varavarn Participants Sir David Chipperfield, Eyal Weizman, Manuel Herz, Lord Richard Rogers of Riverside, Graham Stirk, Andrew Freear
Careers and Prizes 3. Former AA Lecturer, Unit Master, Council Member, and AA graduate Will Alsop (AADipl RIBA SADG DiplIng) won the first prize in the architecture room at this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. The £10,000 prize was awarded to Alsop for a model of a 15-storey CORTEN steel clad tower that is planned for a site in Battersea, and scheduled to go on site this summer. The model was submitted in response to the ‘Unbuilt’ theme of the architecture room this year, chosen by Royal Academicians and architecture curators Louisa Hutton and Ian Ritchie. Alsop curated the architecture gallery for the 2009 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. www.goo.gl/9m7FDn Kostas Grigoriadis (Diploma Unit 2 Staff) was awarded the Arup Prize-Special Mention for Emerging Talent in Architecture at this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. The award was given for the model titled ‘Fusion Superseding Tectonics: Multi-Material Building Envelope Detail’ that was exhibited as part of the Architecture Showcase. se.royalacademy.org.uk
Omid Kamvari (AADipl 2006, AA MSc EmTech 2007), Founder and Director of Kamvari Architects, was nominated for a national seat on the RIBA council. He is currently directing Tehran and Baku Visiting Schools. Election results were not known at time of print.
AA Tutor, Nuria Alvarez Lombardero, has won the XIII Spanish Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (BEAU) prize for best research work for her book ‘ArquitectAs.
dRMM’s newly built residential scheme, Trafalgar Place, won a London RIBA Award. Trafalgar Place was the first phase to be delivered as part of Lendlease’s regeneration of Elephant and Castle. dRMM’s Founding Director, Sadie Morgan, is a former AA Council President and current AA member. www.drmm.co.uk
Lacey Green Visiting School Director and AA Part 1 graduate, Clementine Blakemore, was selected as one of the four designers in residence alongside Alix Bizet, Andrea de Chirico and Rain Wu. Her residency will be focused on the potential of collaborative construction processes. The Designers in Residence programme at the Design Museum is a core part of the museum’s activity, and exists to provide emerging designers, across any discipline, with time and space away from their regular environment to reflect, research and consider new ways of developing their practice. www.designmuseum.org/exhibitions/ designers-in-residence-2016-open www.aaschool.ac.uk/study/visiting/ laceygreen
Redefiniendo la profesión’ - ‘ArquitectAs. Redefining the practice’ (2015, Recolectores Urbano). The edited book summarises the work of thirty international authors reflecting on a professional practice of architecture more equitable in terms of gender and some recent examples of young women architects. www. goo.gl/zsXeeC
Xinyue Zhang (AADipl 2015) and Elaine Yik Ling Tsui (AADipl 2014) received an honourable mention in the Museum of Capitalism’s recent architecture competition. In 2015 the Museum of Capitalism announced an architecture competition in the form of a call for ideas that answered the question ‘What should a Museum of Capitalism look like?’ www.museumofcapitalism.org/ architecture-competition 79
AArchitecture 29 80
Former AA student, Asao Tokolo (1992-93), designed the new official logo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The winning design, entitled ‘Harmonized Checkered Emblem’ is intended to represent different countries, cultures and ways of thinking. The device is slightly reworked into an upward-facing crescent for the Paralympics motif. John Coates, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, said: ‘The new Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 emblem symbolises important elements of the Tokyo 2020 Games vision and the underlying concepts of achieving personal best, unity in diversity and connecting to tomorrow.’ www.tokolo.com www.goo.gl/CqreGm
Published & Exhibited Former AA Visiting School Director, Unit Master, and AA graduate, Marianne Mueller - of Casper Mueller Kneer Architects - designed an installation with artist Fran Cottell. The installation reflects on the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground as the dream site for Jeremy Bentham’s experimental panopticon, the real Millbank Penitentiary, a military parade ground and now university campus, outdoor gallery and thoroughfare to Tate Britain. The intervention re-enacted a scaled version of the prison’s infamous plan, editing and reinterpreting it into a more socially active figure: a flower shaped bench. Each of the six pentagons or petals – originally shaped to facilitate social control and designated for solitary confinement – now invites informal gathering. The intervention plays with ideas of exclusion and segregation while offering a generous place within the larger barren square. The installation ran until 14 August 2016, with open talks every Saturday. www.events.arts.ac.uk/ event/2016/7/1/Pentagon-Petal/ www.cmk-architects.com Joe Walkling (AAIS MFA/MA in Spatial Performance and Design Tutor) was involved in a
Former AA Tutor and AA alumnus, Professor Tony Fretton (AADipl RIBA) of Tony Fretton Architects, held an exhibition of his work titled MINIS. The exhibition ran 5 May – 5 June at Betts Project’s new gallery space. Katherine Clarke described the exhibition as a ‘pioneering exhibition, an architect’s personal digital sketches are presented not as incidental to other modes of architectural representation, such as models, renderings or hard line drawings, but as part of the primary process of design.’
www.bettsproject.com www.tonyfretton.com Joshua Potter (Former AA 3rd year/ ex-Inter 11 student) launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the construction of a pavilion design using the mathematical theory of Pursuit Curvature at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, USA. Joshua went to the festival last year and assisted in the construction of three projects, and this year he is hoping to continue his involvement by building his own project out there. www.kck.st/22sEG3z Arthur Mamou-Mani (AADipl ARB 2008) launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the construction of an architectural installation for the Burning Man Festival 2016 in Nevada, USA. Rising to 30 feet high Tangential Dreams is a twisting tower with thin wooden tangents swaying in the wind featuring inspiring sentences written by people around the world - it is a statement for a new kind of architecture in which the Architect is also the Maker. With the belief that everyone is creative, the team behind Tangential Dreams hope that this project will inspire young generations to reach their dreams and empower everyone to create. www.kck.st/28KE49i
new performance event featuring acclaimed artists ScanLAB Projects, composer and cellist Oliver Coates, and award winning performers of New Movement Collective. Using pioneering image capture techniques, live and electronic music and striking choreographic imagery, Collapse celebrated the imperfect and accidental in today’s technology dependent world, probing the complexities of time, group memory and the cyclical nature of societal evolution. Performances ran at the Southbank Centre from July 30 – August 6. The stage set for Collapse was open to the public as a gallery show from 2–20 August 2016. www.newmovement.org.uk/collapse www.goo.gl/AP5di4
Lectures and Events
Natassa Lianou (AA MArch DRL 2011) and Ermis Chalvatzis (AA MArch DRL 2011) were invited to give a talk at TEDx Thessaloniki in Greece in April. The talk focused on the importance of good architecture in our everyday life and how good design in every scale can affect our quality of life. www.ted.com
Pradeep Devadass (AA Architectural Robotics Developer) presented at the RoboBusiness conference 2nd June, 2016. Devadass explained the innovative method of a fabrication process, developed by Design + Make programme based at Architectural Association’s, Hooke Park campus where the design is inspired by the material’s intelligence. www.robobusiness.eu Alexandros Kallegias (Programme Director / AA Athens and AA Greece Visiting Schools, AA Summer DLAB) and Elif Erdine (Studio Tutor / AA EmTech Graduate Design Programme, Programme Director / AA Istanbul Visiting School and AA Summer DLAB) presented at SimAUD 2016 Conference. They presented their paper from the final outcome of Summer DLAB
2015, titled ‘Modelling Natural Formations: Design and Fabrication of Complex Concrete Structures’. The Symposium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design was hosted by the Bartlett, UCL, the conference took place 16 – 18 May 2016. Elif Erdine (Studio Tutor / AA EmTech Graduate Design Programme, Programme Director / AA Istanbul Visiting School and AA Summer DLAB) also present her PhD paper, titled ‘Rethinking Conceptual Design: Computational Methods for the Simultaneous Integration of Tower Subsystems’. www.simaud.com/2016/
The AA was saddened to learn of the death of former AA Councillor and alumna, Janet Jack, who died aged 81. In February Janet kindly donated to the AA Archives several of her projects from 1957, including her ‘Open Borstal for Girls’ and ‘Bird Observatory, Annett Island, Scilly Isles’. The following obituary was provided by Janet’s husband, William Jack. Janet Jack graduated from the AA in 1957 following which she worked as an architect in both the UK and in the USA before turning to a career in Landscape Architecture in 1963. At that time Landscape Architecture was in its infancy as a profession. Janet worked in the mid-sixties for Sylvia Crowe, one of the few nationally recognised Landscape Architects, whilst studying, and graduated in 1971. She immediately set up her own practice and worked continuously in the profession, nationally and internationally, until she retired in 2007. Her architectural training at the AA and her office experience as an architect were fundamental in shaping her approach to designing the settings for buildings, and other types of landscape projects. Another prime influence was Danish landscape, and particularly the
work of Professor Sorenson in Copenhagen, and she visited Denmark several times throughout her career to study their work. In the 1970’s Janet Jack designed a number of projects, both large and small, mainly for architects she knew from the AA who were her friends. The largest of these projects was the three acre public park in the centre of a large social housing development at Alexandra Road, near Swiss Cottage, designed by Neave Brown for Camden Council. Both the architectural project and the park have subsequently been listed by English Heritage. By the end of the 1970’s Janet had become a nationally recognised top landscape architect in the UK. During the 1980’s she merged her practice into Building Design Partnership, a large architectural practice which included other professional disciplines, but not landscape. Janet Jack was asked to create and lead a new landscape architectural division within the practice, which she did very successfully, and during that decade she designed many significant projects. These included the landscape for the Channel Tunnel Terminal at Folkestone, where the landscape design was very important as the site was in an
AArchitecture 29 84
area designated as of â€˜outstanding natural beautyâ€™. Another major project was an acre garden over Canon Street station. Having attained the objective of setting up a major national and international landscape practice in BDP she retired in 1991 and reestablished her own practice, which enabled her to concentrate on her own projects. Some of these were for her AA friends. The Tate Britain gardens, including those around the Turner extension designed by Sir James Stirling, the gardens around the library extension at Jesus College, Cambridge and the Truro Crown Courts with Evans and Shalev. She also won a competition for the redesign of the historic Foundation Court for the Middle Temple, a teaching roof garden on the top of the James Cass School in the City of London, and a consultancy for the Henry Moore Foundation at Much Hadham with Dixon Jones, also friends from the AA. One of her more exotic projects was a very large internal atrium landscape for the Mayor of Moscow for a new Cultural Centre. Janet Jack was orphaned at 16 when her parents were killed in a road accident, and she had to cope independently with seeing herself through her final school years, and her five years
of study at the AA. She often referred to the AA as giving her wonderful support at this time and she regarded her friends there as extended family, some of whom have been life-long friends. She returned to the AA later to study historic garden conservation. Janet became a very wellknown and highly regarded national and international Landscape Architect. She was a quiet, but strong person, and highly creative in everything she did. She died of cancer, having fought the disease for over four years. Her legacy is many beautiful landscape projects which will bring joy to countless people. The AA was sad to report the death of architectural historian, former AA Graduate, Tutor and Lecturer, Jane Fawcett, who died aged 95. Andrew Shepherd, former Building Conservation Course Director, represented the AA at the memorial service and it was also attended by a number of her past students. She was appointed MBE for her services to conservation and elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, set up a groundbreaking Building Conservation Graduate Course at the AA during the 1970s and became an Academic Tutor and Lecturer at the AA. Fawcett was
It is with great sadness that the AA reported on the recent death of the graphic designer and illustrator Dennis Bailey. Dennis was the art director of AA Files for its first 22 issues (later succeeded by his wife Nicola), and in this capacity he developed not just the format but the elegant layout and typography of the journal in its first ten years – models still integral to the design of AA Files today. Dennis was part of the golden generation of English postwar graphic designers – alongside Alan Fletcher, Derek Birdsall and Richard Hollis – and in addition to his work for
the AA, he art directed Town magazine, taught at Chelsea School of Art, and produced covers and editorial designs for Penguin, The Listener, The Economist, New Statesman, the British Council and the Arts Council. The AA was sad to report the death of Pascal Schöning (HonAADipl). Pascal taught at the AA from 1983 through to 2008 in Diploma Unit 3. This was a much loved Unit for many generations of pupils; whether what he was teaching was architecture, was a much wider question for external examiners and for rigid professionals. Pascal himself relished the fact that his students’ final work rarely contained a building. But behind his façade of indifference to much architectural production, he was in fact an acute critic of architecture which seemed to flow in his blood. His answer to the question of what flowed in his blood was that he was descended from Karl Friedrich Schinkel and had been brought up in one of his villas. Over the years, increasingly his teaching and his interests focused upon film. Initially, this was born of an absorption in the Nouvelle Vague of French cinema starting in the late 50’s. The cinema of Jean Luc Goddard, in particular Le Mépris, captured him.
also Secretary and Committee Member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK, Architectural Consultant to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Council Member of the CPRE. She re-surveyed the list of Historic Buildings for English Heritage, was consultant to the English Heritage Tourist Board on Cathedrals and Tourism, and was awarded the MBE and Hon FRIBA for services to conservation. Fawcett is survived by her son, James, and daughter, Caroline. Obituaries and tributes were published in The Guardian, The Times and Telegraph.
AArchitecture 29 86
Pascal was born in Germany during World War II and his childhood memories fixed on the bombing of Hanover and Berlin. The flickering light of the bombing was his enduring memory. By twenty he was studying architecture in Berlin but certainly that did not take up too much of his time. The claims of theatre, the visual arts, film and politics absorbed him. In 1983, given the exhaustion and defeat of the challenge to the state, and the partial repression of its Nazi past, he moved to the AA to teach. Over the next years he taught both at the AA as well as at the Bartlett and East London Polytechnic as it was then. He had a talent for finding and releasing students’ projects. His pedagogy was based on permitting an extended collective discussion to take place from which individual students would take away what they gained and transform it towards drawing and video. In later years this teaching led him to what he conceived as Cinematic Architecture, an architecture more concerned with space and events than with physical buildings and materials. He was the author of ‘A Manifesto for a Cinematic Architecture’ (2006), and ‘Cinematic Architecture 1993-2008’, both published by AA Publications.
Later in his career, he developed a serious cancer of the jaw. It was entirely characteristic that his friends and colleagues had to bully him to seek medical help. Although he was cured, his health remained frail. The effects of increasing deafness were only mitigated by the fact that, as he said, he never really bothered to listen to people. His continuing liveliness was undoubtedly attributable to a continuous diet of cigarettes. At his retirement he was awarded an honorary AA Diploma. He was hardly able to speak about his feelings; his love for the school and for its students was enacted daily in his teaching. Obituary written by Mark Cousins, 4 July 2016 The AA was also informed of the deaths of former lifemember Dr Peter Willis; former member Rodney James Smith; AA Alumnus Nigel Grimwade; and former graduate school supervisor Doreen Massey.
Notices Members’ Screening Ekümenopolis / City Without Limits An AA Members’ Screening of a film by Imre Azan, 2012 Thursday 13 October 2016, 7pm, AA Cinema
Garbage Warrior An AA Members’ Screening of a film by Oliver Hodge, Garbage Warrior, 2007 Thursday 10 November 2016, 7pm, AA Cinema As a documentary following architect Mike Reynolds and his environmentally conscious ‘Earthship’ houses, this film explores his struggle with the New Mexico government to change building code laws. Reynolds is a crusader for sustainable living, building structures almost entirely from discarded materials, including tires and aluminum cans. His houses are extremely selfreliant on top of being virtually 100 percent recycled and have been embraced in third-world countries hit by natural disasters.
Ecumenopolis is a word invented in 1967 by the Greek city planner Constantinos Doxiadis to represent the idea that in the future, urban areas and megalopolises would eventually fuse and there would be a single, continuous worldwide city as a progression from the current urbanisation and population growth trends. Ecumenopolis aims for a holistic approach to Istanbul, questioning not only the transformation, but the dynamics behind it as well. From demolished shantytowns to the tops of skyscrapers, from the depths of Marmaray to the alternative routes of the 3rd bridge, from real estate investors to urban opposition, the film will take us on a long journey in this city without limits. We will speak with experts, academics, writers, investors, city-dwellers, and community leaders; and we will take a look at the city on a macro level through animated maps and graphics. Perhaps you will rediscover the city that
you live in and we hope that you will not sit back and watch this transformation but question it. In the end this is what democracy requires of us.
Only open to AA Students and Members
The Education of an Architect: Robust Guesswork Organised by John Andrews & Maria Theodorou with the support of Membership Office Part of The Shadow Series Thursday 20 October 2016, 7pm
The Shadow Series is set to explore the potential of the peripheral condition the AA’s numerous members and alumni hold in relation to the school itself. Since they do not need to adjust to its educational demands or are not involved with its running, AA members and alumni occupy the privileged status of the off. The series intends to turn the (usually) shadow condition of the members/alumni into a shadowing force that debates architecture at the present scale of an expanded AA. Unlike the global school, in which AA ventures into its worldwide colonies, the Shadow Series is an intimate event at the institution’s core that assembles the AA’s bodies, humours and brains into debating current architecture issues and processes. Every third Thursday of each month at 19.00–20.30, shadows of ‘the Architectural Present we have never been in’ will be cast by AA members on a variety of topics.
ISSUE 30 Title ‘From then on I always gave an important role to the title, which I added and treated like an invisible colour.’ – Marcel Duchamp Old French title, ‘inscription, heading; position; legal permit,’ and Latin titulus, ‘inscription, label, ticket, placard; honorable appellation, title of honour’. Often the first encountered sign; a title provides context and a sense of legibility within a work. #nofilter#vscocam#selfie#design
For issue 30, AArchitecture will accept submissions in the form of 10-12 images with accompanied captions by Monday 2 October 2016 to email@example.com
AArchitecture 29 / Term 1, 2016–17 www.aaschool.ac.uk © 2016 All rights reserved Published by the Architectural Association 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES Please send your news items for the next issue to firstname.lastname@example.org Student Editorial Team: Hunter Doyle Rory Sherlock Newsbrief and Obituaries: Romana Suszko
Editorial Board: Zak Kyes, AA Art Director Alex Lorente, Membership Brett Steele, AA School Director Design: Claire Lyon, Boris Meister Cover images: Thomas Hutton, 2016 Image courtesy of the artist AA Photography: Valerie Bennett and Sue Barr Printed by Blackmore, England Architectural Association (Inc) Registered Charity No 311083 Company limited by guarantee Registered in England No 171402 Registered office as above
Contributors Edward Bottoms Adam Furman Georgia Hablutzel Thomas Hutton Ryan John King Muhammad Shamin Sahrum Dor Schindler Ushma Thakrar Jonas Wendelin
Editors Hunter Doyle Rory Sherlock