RESEARCH Samples_Index Andrew Gipe-Lazarou email@example.com
RESEARCH • Cambridge conference article In December of 2018, together with Co-Director of the Diakron Institute Luigi Lafasciano, I presented an article titled “Sensory Studies and Deep History: A Proactive Critique of Academic Cognitivism” at the international conference “Sensual Reflections: Re-Thinking the Role of the Senses in the Greco-Roman World,” hosted by the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge. The article, which is included here in its entirety, is a work of critical and innovative research which presents and defends the Institute’s pedagogical approach. The text was presented with supporting images which are available, upon request. • Utopian communities research While completing my Masters degree at of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, I conducted an independent research project supervised by Professor Jay Wickersham, for which I received exceptional feedback: “In the spring of 2015 Andrew worked with me in an independent study, during which he analyzed different models of utopian communities. His capacity to devour and digest large amounts of information, relating to the nine different utopias he ultimately chose to study, was impressive. So was his ability to understand and apply theoretical constructs from writers as diverse as Aristotle, Thomas More, Lewis Mumford, and Dolores Hayden. I pushed Andrew hard during this independent study. We disagreed frequently, and sometimes vehemently. Through our arguments, I came to respect Andrew’s ability to listen, to adapt what was helpful from someone else’s perspective, while knowing where it was important for him to hold firmly to his own ideas. The result was one of the most substantial pieces of extended research and writing I have seen a student produce at the GSD.” Presented here is a copy of this study, titled ‘Eutopia: A Consideration of Precedence.’ • OMA’s Elements of Architecture In the fall of 2013, I worked with Rem Koolhaas and Stephan Trueby to compose the publication ‘Elements’ which supplemented the central exhibition of the 2014 Venice Biennale. I was principally responsible for the ‘Door’ and ‘Window’ chapters in the 14-element compilation. The project demanded extensive, original research across cultures with the intention of generating ‘a fresh understanding of the richness of architecture’s fundamental repertoire.’ One of my most significant contributions was a study of the fourteen-door defense system of the castle Burg Hochosterwitz. I applied for and was awarded external funding to travel to Austria, collect data about the castle gates, and secure the owner’s permission to include the castle as an exhibit at the central pavilion. Included here are photographs of the collaborative research process at OMA’s headquarters in Rotterdam, together with a sample of my contribution, in both draft- and published-form. • Palimpsest magazine In the fall of 2014, as a student of the GSD, I conducted independent research about the privatization of public space, and presented my work for course credit as a fictional magazine (included here in its entirety). The unpublished volume includes critical research about public spaces, juxtaposed with commentary from working professionals, many of whom were (and are) senior staff members of OMA – which is where I was working while I was collecting data. The project was supervised by architect Maryann Thompson.
RESEARCH Sample 1 Andrew Gipe-Lazarou firstname.lastname@example.org
• Cambridge conference article In December of 2018, together with Co-Director of the Diakron Institute Luigi Lafasciano, I presented an article titled “Sensory Studies and Deep History: A Proactive Critique of Academic Cognitivism” at the international conference “Sensual Reflections: Re-Thinking the Role of the Senses in the Greco-Roman World,” hosted by the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge. The article, which is included here in its entirety, is a work of critical and innovative research which presents and defends the Institute’s pedagogical approach. The text was presented with supporting images which are available, upon request.
SENSORY STUDIES AND DEEP HISTORY: A PROACTIVE CRITIQUE OF ACADEMIC COGNITIVISM Luigi Lafasciano & Andrew Gipe-Lazarou Sensual Reflections Conference University of Cambridge, U.K. Sat.8th – Sun.9th, Dec. 2018
Greetings everyone. This evening we are representing The Diakron Institute for Cross-cultural Exploration and Interdisciplinary Studies, a non-profit organization based in the United States which organizes educational activities to promote the international exchange of disciplinary expertise and cultural perspective. Together, we are its Founders and Directors. Luigi Lafasciano is an Italian Archaeologist currently doing a PhD in Archaeology and Religious Anthropology between the University of Salerno (Italy) and the École Pratique des Hautes Études de Paris (France): his work focuses on understanding the topographical relationship between sacred spaces and the dynamics of cultural memory in communities throughout the Mediterranean from the Archaic Age until Late Antiquity. Andrew Gipe-Lazarou is a Greek-American architect, with a Masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, currently doing a PhD about the relationship of architecture and community at the National Technical University of Athens, and is an Associate Lecturer of architectural theory at the Metropolitan College of Athens (Greece). The reflections we want to share today will be focused on the current state of Sensory Studies in the academic context and the results of our experience organizing multisensory activities for The Diakron Institute. In particular, we want to address three complex, but urgent, questions: 1. What is the objective of Sensory Studies in Antiquity? 2. What is the potential of these studies? 3. What are the responsibilities of Sensory Studies to the context in which they operate? Let us start from the first question. What is the objective of Sensory Studies of Antiquity? An obvious answer is that Sensory Studies aim to reconstruct (essentially meaning, to make comprehensible) Ancient sensory experience.1 But how does this reconstruction take place? How can Ancient sensory experience be framed in the perspective of a cultural history,2 which aims to investigate the present by understanding the evolution of cognitive dynamics? We propose that the recent work of historian Daniel Lord Smail provides a possible methodological approach. In his book On Deep History and the Brain3, Smail proposed a neuro-biological approach to the study of our past, considering the biologically-documented evolution of the human brain as a proper archaeological tool for understanding history. By observing that behind every historical phenomenon Or to reconstruct ‘historical sensation,’ according to Johan Huizinga. See his work on the late medieval period entitled In The Autumn of the Middle Ages ( 1996). 2 For the concept of ‘cultural history’, see Arcangeli, Alessandro. Cultural History: a Concise Introduction, Routledge, London, 2011; Burke, Peter. What is cultural history?, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2004; Ginzburg, Carlo. Clues, Myths and the Historical Method, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1989; Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books, New York, 1973. 3 Smail, Daniel Lord. On Deep History and the Brain, 1st ed., University of California Press, Berkeley; Los Angeles; London, 2008. 1
there is a cognitive process, he re-affirmed that history begins with the emergence of our species, and interpreted the basic motivation of human behaviour from a neuro-physiological point of view, as the constant need to induce specific states of consciousness, which are continuously influencing and being influenced by cultural phenomena. More specifically, our behavioural patterns are inscribed in and regulated by hormones and chemicals which activate when we face a given situation. These reactions are then codified and stored by the human brain (Dr. Smail refers to this neural database as our deep past). And finally, because this coding process has an effective genetic component, this means that cultural practices have deep neurophysiological consequences. From this point of view, we can say that human cultures have generated a wide range of mood-altering practices, habits, behaviours, et cetera, which are collectively referred to as psychotropic mechanisms. Social privilege, for example, which is defined by cultural patterns and historical trends, correlates strongly with the levels of particular stress hormones. These are present in both animal and human cultures in which dominance hierarchies are established, and maintained, by dominant members who engage in neurophysiologically-encoded cultural behaviour designed to generate stress hormones in submissive members in order to subordinate them. The connection between Deep History and Sensory Studies, therefore, is that the evolution of encoded psychotropic mechanisms (like the one previously mentioned) is directly connected to human cultural history and its dynamics. In the words of Dr. Smail, Deep History is ‘the only way to really understand why our brains operate the way they do’4. The understanding of this correlation leads to our second question: What is the potential of Sensory Studies? From the point of view of research, the perspective of Deep History (with its consideration of socalled psychotropic mechanisms at the core of human culture), can be received as an invitation to engage in Sensory Studies of cultural-historical phenomena in their authentic ecological context. A recent study about ungulate (or hooved-mammal) migration has shown that it arises through a combination of learned behaviour and genetically inherited, neurological, morphological, physiological, and behavioural traits, which are a consequence of social learning that persists across generations – in other words, they are a consequence of culture. So that if you relocate a moose from a habitat in which it has a history of migration to a habitat where it has none, you ‘expunge generations of knowledge’ about the locations of high-quality food by destroying the primary mechanism by which ungulate migrations evolve – cultural transmission5. Indeed, biologists and ecologists, for many years now, have been disseminating the idea that, like humans, animals, too, have a cultural history. We resolve, moreover, that a research method which is used to study the senses should correspond to an educational method which activates them, and, for us, this educational model involves
The full quote, found on p.163 of Dr. Smail’s book On Deep History and the Brain is as follows: “…the deep history remains essential to the story, since it is the only way to really understand why our brains operate the way they do. Our susceptibility to psychotropic mechanisms ultimately lies in the fact that we are social creatures. Over the course of our evolutionary history, we learned how to assess our status and our standing in the group through chemical clues as markers of our self-esteem and our sense of belonging, both of which were vital to survival in the Paleolithic era and remain vital today.” 5 Jesmer, Brett, et. al. “Is ungulate migration culturally transmitted? Evidence of social learning from translocated animals.” Science, Issue 361 (September 7, 2018), p. 1023-1025. 4
experiential learning6. When The Diakron Institute organizes an educational program, one of our principal lines of inquiry is how we can improve the quality of learning by incorporating multisensory experiences. Understanding that sensory experience has a much different cognitive impact than intellectual learning, we attempt to integrate both approaches, in a way that could improve the communicability of the perspectives we are trying to share or the skills we are trying to convey. From the very beginning, our work on the potential of multisensory experience has been inextricably linked to a strong ecologically-oriented and non-anthropocentric point of view, represented by the French conservation biologist and Executive Consultant of the Diakron, Nathan Ranc, who is currently developing his PhD thesis on movement ecology at Harvard University and the Fondazione Edmund Mach (Italy). Nathan directed our first educational project in the fall of 2016 and 2017; an eco-cultural tour in Abruzzo National Park (Italy)7 to investigate the relationship between nature and culture, from prehistory to the present, with activities that engaged all five senses. We were so confident in the effectiveness of our multisensory approach to education that we also opened this program to the blind and visually-impaired. Among the more effective activities which enabled our participants to learn about and to connect with the natural environment were, first, silent listening sessions, led by French audio-naturalist and guest collaborator Fernand Deroussen8. With pre-recorded audio samples from his international sound recording expeditions and with professional recording devices which we implemented on site in the national park, Fernand introduced us to the notion of “soundscape,” the idea that the visible landscape is also perceptible (and especially to wild animals) as a combination of sounds. In particular, we attempted to locate and listen for wolves (to learn how they maintain control of their territory by howling), and we listened to the red deer rut, an ancient mating ritual which takes place once per year. Then, we provided several lessons in tactile recognition, during which participants learned how to recognize tree species, animal tracks, and edible plants, and encountered the material culture of historical communities located in the mountains of the national park. And our most gastronomically-informative learning experience was a “historical meal”, organized at the Transumanza Museum of Villetta Barrea, during which we tasted authentic dishes characteristic of different historical periods, from Prehistory to the Present Day. We started with a Paleolithic snack of the hunter gatherers, which was a crude mixture of honey, fruit and grains, and ended with a patriotic ricotta symbolizing the unification of Italy. The depth of the sensory experience was further-enhanced by the involvement of our blind participants who were constitutionally better-adapted than the sighted members of the group to the reception of stimuli affecting the other four senses. To create the sensory experiences for this program, we received substantial assistance from Haben Girma9, deafblind American lawyer, activist and Executive Consultant of The Diakron Institute, and were inspired by Andrew’s experience organizing the first-ever architecture course for the blind and visually impaired.
In the study of Anthropology, this sensorial approach has been referred to as ‘sensorial fieldwork’ (Ethnographic Fieldwork: An Athropological Reader, 2007, by Robben and Slukka) or ‘sensory ethnography’ (see Doing Sensory Ethnography, 2009, Pink). 7 The project received official endorsement from the national park in 2017. 8 See “Naturophonia – L’Art des sons de la Nature” at https://naturophonia.jimdo.com/. 9 For more information about Haben, visit https://habengirma.com/. 6
In June of 2009, the University of Maryland School of Architecture collaborated with the National Federation for the Blind to create a course for blind students. Together with a team of architects and student professors, Andrew adapted the traditional10 first-year project of undergraduate architecture students (to design an artist’s house) to the sensory capabilities of blind learners. This required a fundamental shift in our pedagogical approach; we needed to orient our methodology to a different (i.e. non-visual) sense. And we concluded, considering how essential the hands are to the study and practice of architecture, that it should be touch11. The students laid out Braille program blocks, made drawings on Braille graph paper with bendable wax sticks, associated different materials to their diagrams according to the textural ‘personality’ of different rooms, and completed a final model using prefabricated architectural elements impressed into a clay foundation. The experience was transformative; it revealed the potential of an alternative sensory approach to experiential and conceptual learning. For the Diakron Institute’s educational project in Abruzzo, we adapted a similar sensorial approach to learning about antiquity. Touching a 6th century BC Greek-style razor, found in the graves of the historical settlements of the Sagittarius Valley, in the context of all the aforementioned ecocultural experiences, provided a powerful occasion to learn about the phenomenon of migration. This artefact, the razor (associated with the culture of athletes in Ancient Greece), evidences the early penetration of Greek culture into the mountains of central Italy. These places never received what we refer to as ‘proper’ colonization, but have long-been a fundamental corridor for the movement of animal and human cultures12. What gave further depth to this concept during our program was the multisensory discovery of wildlife migration strategies – by touching wolf prints, smelling bear scat, hearing the red deer rut – and of the seasonal migration of shepherds and their livestock from the mountains of Abruzzo to southern Italian pastures (known as Transumanza)13 – by walking portions of the route, tasting the shepherd’s diet, and receiving technical instruction and perspective about the phenomenon from local specialists. The Diakron’s most recent project was a three-week immersive exploration of the history and anthropology of the Cycladic islands in Greece,14 which took place this past summer between June and July. During Week 1, which we spent in Athens and then on the island of Paros, we taught our participants basic notions of the modern Greek language, to be able to interact within the modern context, and we provided a series of introductory lectures to Greek History and Archaeology (with an emphasis on the history of the Cyclades) while visiting key museums and archaeological sites, to cultivate a basic understanding of the historical context. During Week 2, we participated as volunteers in the archaeological excavation of the Archaic sanctuary of Apollo on the island of Despotiko, 10
See The New Architecture and the Bauhaus by W. Gropius, Faber & Faber, London, 1935. Regarding ‘sensation’ as a unit of experience, see “Introduction, Part I” of Phenomenology of Perception by MerleauPonty, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962; and “The Lived Body” of The Chiasm and the Experience of Space by architect Steven Holl, Journal of Architectural Education, 2005, p.53-59. 12 Del Fattore F., Rizzo A., Felici A., From people to landscapes. The Fluturnum Project: Archaeology and anthropology in the Tasso-Upper Sagittarius valley (Italy, The Province of L’Aquila - AQ), in A. PELISIAK, M. NOWAK, C. ASTALOŞ (eds.), People in the mountains. Current Approaches to the Archaeology of Mountainous Landscapes, Oxford 2018, pp. 15-46; Alessandri L., Del Fattore F. R., Schiappelli A., “Ricerche di superficie nel territorio di Scanno (AQ): primi risultati”, in Quaderni di Archeologia d’Abruzzo, 2011-2013 (forthcoming). 13 The cultural-historical phenomenon known as Transumanza was influenced by the human observation of wildlife migration strategies, which is why The Diakron Institute refers to the educational experience as ‘eco-cultural.’ See https://www.diakron.org/eco-cultural-tours. 14 Several participants were students of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil) with which The Diakron Institute had established an academic collaboration in order for them to earn university credits upon completion of the program. 11
directed by the Greek archaeologist Yannos Kourayos, where participants were taught the stratigraphical method of excavation. And during Week 3, we engaged in a series of cultural activities, organized as modern reinterpretations of rituals from the ancient transitional period of ephebia.15 The thematic focus of our three-week cultural exploration was the ancient cult of Apollo and, in particular, the rituals and activities connected to ephebia. Ephebia, especially between the Archaic and Classical periods, was a definitive educational period in the life of an ancient Greek. The patron deity of this transition, especially in the Cyclades where he was born, was the god Apollo. His cult addressed many relevant aspects of Greek (and Cycladic) life; including lawfulness, medical and ascetic practices, prophecy, and poetry16. These esteemed attributes defined the ideal of the “kouros”, the adolescent entering into adulthood and acquiring the social status of full citizenship. During the transitional period of ephebia, adolescents learned the Apollonian arts in order to manifest in themselves the ideal kouros. Physically and symbolically removed from their communities for several months, they learned how to hunt with a bow and arrow, how to sing and dance, how to use medical plants, and how to communicate with their patron deity in ecstatic meditations. From the Classical period onwards, ephebia was mainly instituted to prepare citizens for warfare. Up until the Archaic period, however, it more explicitly included a wider range of citizen “functions”17. Though there exists no complete account of how ephebia was structured in a single community, what is known to us is a series of details, of specific ritual celebrations which were likely associated with ephebia. Re-interpreting these details in context, in the Cycladic islands, enabled us to accomplish different educational objectives. Following is a brief discussion of some of the activities from our most-recent cultural exploration. Part of ephebic education was an experience of ‘wild’ nature (as opposed to the organized reality of the polis). In the context of the Cyclades, the ‘wild’ was the sea, where we can imagine a young Parian adolescent learning to fish in Antiquity. Our participants became familiar with the environment in which these ephebes learned how to move and hunt for food by snorkeling. Led by Italian underwater archaeologist and Executive Consultant of the Institute Paola Palumbo, we explored underwater archaeological structures located around the island of Despotiko. This experience also generated a deep understanding of how the landscape has changed throughout history; the change in sea level from the Archaic period until today, becomes immediately comprehensible while snorkeling several meters above the remains of ancient structures. Our participants also learned about local botany and its use in ephebia, ancient Greek religion and modern lore, during a hike along the Byzantine road from Lefkes to Prodromos, each time we stopped along our route to discuss and sense roadside herbs (like mallow and asphodel)18 which have been growing on the island of Paros for millennia.
According to recent research, the abundance of fragmentary statues of kouroi found at the sanctuary of Despotiko, the complexity and monumentality of the sanctuary’s architecture, and the presence of different cultic foci, strongly connect the Apollonian sanctuary of Despotiko to the rituals of ephebia. See Mazarakis, Alexandros Ainian (ed.), Les sanctuaires archaïques des Cyclades, PUR, Rennes, 2017. 16 See Graf, Fritz, Apollo, Routledge, London/New York, 2009. 17 See the classical studies on the theme: Vidal-Naquet, Pierre. The Black Hunter. Forms of Thought and Forms of Society in the Greek World, John Hopkins University Press, London/Baltimore, 1986 (or. ed. Paris, 1971); Brelich, Angelo. Paides e Parthenoi, Edizioni dell’Ateneo, Rome, 1969; Jeanmaire, Henri. Couroi et Courètes. Essai sur l’éducation spartiate et sur les rites d’adolescence dans l’antiquité hellénique, Bibliothèque universitaire, Lille, 1939. 18 J. C. Capriglione, La malva e l’asfodelo, in E. Federico (ed.), Epimenide cretese, in “Quaderni del Dipartimento di Discipline Storiche “E. Lepore” dell’Università Federico II di Napoli”, Luciano Editore, Napoli 2001, pp. 37-51. 5
The kind of ecstatic meditation practiced by archaic Greek “shamans” and later developed by Pythagoreans (between the 7th and the 5th centuries BC) was likely associated with the ritual actions undertaken by young ephebes19. Especially during the Archaic age, these kinds of rituals were practiced in caves, because “the whole cave experience intensifies one’s awareness of one’s body”20. This is confirmed by an understanding of how the blind ‘feel’ space (i.e. that not being able to see intensifies the perspective capacity of the four remaining sense). For this reason, we organized a guided visit to the cave of Antiparos (which likely hosted initiatory rituals for the cult of Artemis)21 with cave-specialist Dr. Fanis Mavridis, and engaged in deep meditation in the Marathi marble quarries of Paros. In their influential reformulation of the heroic model for the youth of their communities, the Pythagoreans linked the figure of Herakles to the ephebic ideal, as the pious hero undergoing different labors to achieve his ascension to the gods22. One mythical variation of Herakles’ youth, transmitted by Xenophon, describes the hero as an ephebe, performing ritual meditation in a solitary place.23 Another of our activities, therefore, was a guided meditation at sunset on the southwestern coast of Antiparos. When organizing sensory experiences of antiquity, one of our principle directives is to re-interpret rather than replicate, because, put simply, we consider re-interpretation to be a more stimulating educational approach. In the case of our cultural exploration of the Cyclades, the process of reinterpretation compelled constant reflection about the anthropological relevance of ancient practices to the present day; activating a direct sensory connection between the present and the past. We had been seeking this connection since the project was first-conceived; and our strict, thematic focus on ephebia challenged us to synthesize the sensory experiences of an ancient educational paradigm with the sensory stimuli of an ancient landscape, in order to generate a modern educational experience. One of these “shamans” was the Cretan Epimenides, who developed meditation techniques by which he was thought to be able to dissociate his soul from his body. In the Cretan tradition, Epimenides was consistently associated with the cult of the Curetes, which, in historical times, was a class of priests who worshipped the most influential deity of the island: Zeus Cretagènes. The hymn of Palaiokastro dedicated to Zeus “kouros,” which was found on a 4th century BC stele (copied from an archaic one), was probably sung by adolescents as part of their ephebic ritual demonstrations. See F. Driessen-Gaignerot, The frieze from the Temple of Dictaean Zeus at Palaiokastro, in M. Andreadaki Vlazaki, E. Papadopoulou (eds.), Πεπραγμενα Ι’ Διεθνους Κρητολογικου Σινεδριου (Χανια, 1-8 Οκτοβριου 2006), A5, Khania 2011, pp. 425-436; Détienne, Marcel. Les Maîtres de vérité dans la Grèce archaïque, François Maspero, Paris 1967; 20 Betts, Eleanor. The sacred landscape of Picenum (900-100 BC). Towards a phenomenology of cult places, in J. B. Wilkins, E. Herring (eds), Inhabiting Symbols. Symbol and image in the ancient Mediterranean, Accordia Research Institute, London 2003, p. 118. On the cave experience, see also the comprehensive study of Ustinova, Yulia. Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind. Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth, Oxford University Press,Oxford 2009; Whitehouse, David. A Tale of Two Caves. The archaeology of religious experience in Mediterranean Europe, in P. F. Biehl, F. Bertemes, H. Meller (eds), The Archaeology of Cult and Religion, Archaeolingua, Budapest 2001, pp. 161167. 21 See Angliker, Erica. A Case Study of the Cave in Antiparos, AA.VV. (eds), Πρακτικά του Γ΄Κυκλαδολογικού Συνεδρίου, Σύρος 25-29 Μαϊου 2016 (forthcoming). 22 Détienne, Marcel. Homère, Hésiode et Pythagore. Poésie et philosophie dans le pythagorisme ancien, Latomis, Bruxelles-Berchem 1962, pp. 82-93. 23 Xen., Mem., 2. 1. 21: “φησὶ γὰρ Ἡρακλέα, ἐπεὶ ἐκ παίδων εἰς ἥβην ὡρμᾶτο, ἐν ᾗ οἱ νέοι ἤδη αὐτοκράτορες γιγνόμενοι δηλοῦσιν εἴτε τὴν δι’(5) ἀρετῆς ὁδὸν τρέψονται ἐπὶ τὸν βίον εἴτε τὴν διὰ κακίας, ἐξελθόντα εἰς ἡσυχίαν καθῆσθαι ἀποροῦντα ποτέραν τῶν (22) ὁδῶν τράπηται· καὶ φανῆναι αὐτῷ δύο γυναῖκας προσιέναι μεγάλας..”. What is described in this passage is an ecstatic vision “received” by Herakles while “sitting down in a solitary place”. The greek expression “εἰς ἡσυχίαν καθῆσθαι” indicates a ritual action: in Aristophanes (Ploutos, 692) “ἡσυχία κατακεῖσθαι” refers to the sick practicing ritual sleep in order to receive dream healing in the Athenian temple of Asklepios; then, centuries later, Strabo (XIV, I, 44) uses the expression “καθ΄ἡσυχίαν ἐκεῖ καθάπερ ἐν φωλεῷ,” “lying in stillness like (animals) in a den” to refer to the same kind of ritual performed in the Plutonium of Acharaca, in Asia Minor. The ἡσυχία, when referring to the Pythagoreans, indicated the stillness and quiet necessary to perform their meditations. 19
From a neuro-physiological point of view, a ritual is, in itself, a sophisticated manipulation of one’s consciousness through precise and diverse sensory stimulation. By re-interpreting ephebia, therefore, we wanted to convey a fundamental message; that in Antiquity senses were deliberately used to create sense (i.e. senses created knowledge and identity). Then, by directly engaging with the ancient landscape – by excavating structures which had spatially accommodated the rituals we were reinterpreting – we were able to more-clearly comprehend the significance of ancient historical phenomena. Finally and more importantly, by reinforcing conceptual learning with sensory experiences, we also directly engaged the modern context in which we were operating. And this observation leads us to our third question: What are the responsibilities of Sensory Studies to the context in which they operate? The truth is that this last reflection can be extended to the entire field of Humanities, but we consider it particularly useful for Sensory Studies (having already highlighted some of its practical applications). For what concerns education, an experiential approach based on the perspective of Deep History and Sensory Studies, is eminently practical. In our educational projects in Abruzzo and the Cyclades, this methodological approach necessitated teaching our participants how to learn from experience; how to actively cultivate a relationship with the cultural context (be it a rural community in the mountains of Central Italy or a Greek island village) and how to respectfully and non-superficially interact with a place (be it an ancient beech forest in a protected national park or an ancient sanctuary on an archaeological site). Consequently, we recognize that sensory education directly affects and therefore has an active responsibility for the contexts in which it operates. Following the bio-cultural perspective of Deep History, we therefore propose another practical comparison between Sensory Studies and the study of Ecology: as the latter’s ultimate aim is the conservation of an ecosystem, so the former’s should be to conserve what it aims to experientially reconstruct. In our 2017 eco-cultural exploration of Abruzzo National Park, we encountered what we consider to be a virtuous example of Sensory Studies; an applied inter-disciplinary, multi-sensory communityoriented research. During our program, we were hosted in the small village of Frattura di Scanno, one of many rural villages in Italy (and many other parts of Europe), which is slowly dying from depopulation, disconnectedness and lack of municipal services. Despite having a unique cultural tradition and history, the village now consists of around 20 permanent residents. In the last 10 years Frattura has been the subject of Archaeological research and excavations lead by Francesca Romana Del Fattore; and of Ethnological research lead by ethno-archaeologist Anna Rizzo, from the University of Bologna. Their research has documented, among other significant cultural-historical dynamics, the existence of a rare type of white bean growing only in Frattura because of the village’s geographical orientation and unique exposure to the sun. This research, however, did not conclude after its findings had been documented and disseminated in an academic context; instead, working with the community, the anthropologists began to actively cultivate Frattura’s white bean. Today Frattura is a certified Slow Food Presidium; tourists come to participate in workshops for the restoration of community facilities and to learn about the unique history of the place and its several unique agricultural products; and finally, and more importantly, the community took an active role, 7
not only in promoting the research about its history and traditions, but especially in the selection of relevant research strategies.24 We present this example to state that in the critical cultural and environmental context we face today, from which both academic research in Humanities and the concept of an â€˜academic communityâ€™ are uniquely disconnected, the precept that researching or teaching History is useful in itself, is no longer sustainable or justifiable. The notion of an academic community, in particular, is an empty concept, if it does not proactively engage the communities in which it operates (and therefore becomes a part of). Sensory Studies, if understood and applied holistically, provides a proactive and virtuous alternative to traditional academic cognitivism, enabling the substantiation of research and education in Antiquity with legitimately meaningful consequences.
Aside from the researches on the Sagittarius Valley quoted above, visit: https://medium.com/@annarizzo_34202; http://community-pon.dps.gov.it/areeinterne/il-fagiolo-bianco-che-ha-salvato-frattura-dal-sisma-protagonista-di-unaricerca-antropologica/; https://www.fondazioneslowfood.com/it/arca-del-gusto-slow-food/fagiolo-bianco-di-frattura/; http://www.orticalab.it/Per-salvare-l-irpinia-ci-vuole-la. 8
RESEARCH Sample 2 Andrew Gipe-Lazarou email@example.com
• Utopian communities research While completing my Masters degree at of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, I conducted an independent research project supervised by Professor Jay Wickersham, for which I received exceptional feedback: “In the spring of 2015 Andrew worked with me in an independent study, during which he analyzed different models of utopian communities. His capacity to devour and digest large amounts of information, relating to the nine different utopias he ultimately chose to study, was impressive. So was his ability to understand and apply theoretical constructs from writers as diverse as Aristotle, Thomas More, Lewis Mumford, and Dolores Hayden. I pushed Andrew hard during this independent study. We disagreed frequently, and sometimes vehemently. Through our arguments, I came to respect Andrew’s ability to listen, to adapt what was helpful from someone else’s perspective, while knowing where it was important for him to hold firmly to his own ideas. The result was one of the most substantial pieces of extended research and writing I have seen a student produce at the GSD.” Presented here is a copy of this study, titled ‘Eutopia: A Consideration of Precedence.’
EUTOPIA: A CONSIDERATION OF PRECEDENCE by Andrew Gipe-Lazarou 9201 Independent Study (S2015) Supervised by Jay Wickersham
You may have noticed, I wrote “Eutopia.” Sir Thomas More created the word “Utopia” by reducing the Greek words “Outopia” (no-place) and “Eutopia” (the good place) to an equivalent spelling. And I cannot, in good conscience, approve of the implication that the good place is only an imagined “no-place.” Pick up any book about Utopia and there written, in its introductory pages, will be an acknowledgement of man’s natural tendency to perpetually covet the greener grass. Writes one author, “man is perennially dissatisifed with what he has and perennially longs for what he lacks... The impulse to create utopias, then, lies close to the fundamental motives of all human activity.”2 I’m obliged to discredit these cheap ambiguities as quickly as possible, because they distract from the essence of my investigation. (A duel with definitions!) First, man can attain fulfillment; and by this, I don’t mean complete satisfaction. Consider the decision of Cincinnatus and his subsequent apotheosis. If we keep in mind that imperfection and impermanence are integral to man’s nature, we’re off to a healthy start. Second, man will always lack more than he has; he is, himself, of limited constitution and potential. Even Dr. Faustus had to exchange something for “everything.” An understanding of and acquiescence to this condition must surely incorporate the constitution of a wise man. And lastly, the impulse to create utopias does not necessarily follow from the two aforementioned realities, unless we consider the imagination as, itself, a potential utopia. Lewis Mumford does. And, according to its purpose, he classifies the imagined utopia as, either, a “utopia of escape” or a “utopia of reconstruction.” “The first leaves the external world the way it is; the second seeks to change it so that one may have intercourse with it on one’s own terms.”3 It is a persuasive simplification, but a hindrance to us here. In the context of this study, the imagined places I might escape to (for whatever reason) are as much utopias as the thought of donating blood is an act of charity. Eutopia is a physical place; let’s ground ourselves in etymology. In the introduction to his study of the kibbutz, Melford Spiro concentrates on classifying the effect of man’s utopian vision, rather than its imagined cause (of which there are an unlimited number!): “On the one hand, there have been social theorists and philosophers who projected in literary form their visions of the ideal society, but who did not themselves attempt to establish one. On the other hand, there have been men and women, fired with conviction and purpose, who banded together in order to found [e]utopian socieities.”4 Theoretical eutopias and tried eutopias; here is a worthwhile distinction! But before we abandon the metaphorical “utopia of escape,” I want to use it as a provocation to the masters of cognitive dissonance who read works about utopias and think or say, “we really ought to try living in a new and different way” and then do nothing. Consider the difference between the maximally inactive sensorial-pleasure-seeking philosophy of Epicurus and the active, self-reflective,
contemplative philosophy of Aristotle. One of these dispositions tends towards self-actualization, and even tried eutopias! I needn’t say which. To aid us in our examination of theoretical and tried eutopias, we will orient our classification of “causes” of eutopia, around the triumvirate of Rosabeth Kanter, a sociologist specializing in 19th Century American utopias. “Historically, three kinds of critiques of society have provided the initial impulse for the utopian search: religious, politico-economic, and psychosocial.”8 The meaning of each of these categories will become evident forthwith. Lastly, I want to clarify my intention; in addition to writing this paper to satisfy 4 course credits at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, I genuinely believe that man is capable of so training himself and creating self-sustaining, ecologically integrated, collaborative networks, that the realization of a eutopian earth is possible (perhaps not plausible, but at least possible). And it’s with this hopeful frame of mind that I chose nine eutopian communities (5 theoretical and 4 tried) to critically assess and correlate; they are Plato’s Republic, Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, H.G. Wells’ A Modern Utopia, William Morris’ News from Nowhere, Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, John Noyes’ Oneida in New York, Twin Oaks in Virginia, the Kiryat Yedidim kibbutz in Israel, and our very own American Experiment (the United States in the year 2015). I will compare the “successful” and “unsuccessful” characteristics of each with the juvenile optimism that every trial and every error brings us closer to a “proper recipe.” The first ingredient on our list is population size. Aristotle sets the scene: “is there a limit of size for a circle of friends, as there is for the population of a state? Ten people would not make a city, and with a hundred thousand it is a city no longer; though perhaps the proper size is not one particular number, but any number between certain limits.”1 Let us consider a maximum. Plato’s Republic is constituted of 5,040 people, which is the maximum number that can be effectively addressed by a single orator (without a megaphone!) and “can be divided, for purposes of war, or to suit the engagements and combinations of peace, in the matter of taxes to be levied and public distribution to be made, into fifty-nine quotients and no more, ten of them, from unity onwards, being successive.”2 The population of the earth in the 4th Century B.C. is estimated to have been around 100 million. There are 70 times this number of people on earth today. There would be 1.4 million cities on earth if we followed the Platonic model! Or, put another way, 5,000 people would occupy just 1/5th of a square mile in 21st Century Manhattan. Other than being consequentially obliged to consider a larger maximum for our range (given the much larger population of the earth in the year 2015), Mumford reminds us that “in our time, new technical facilities have altered many social functions”3 and indeed, instant communication and advanced technology have made it possible to govern more-populous political domains. The town of Marblehead, Massachusetts, for example, one of only 5% of small towns in the United States to still govern itself democratically, has a population of around 20,000, and implements a local television broadcast to involve its citizens in its annual town meeting. I’m unconvinced that the effect of technology, however, despite its many capabilities, altogether improves the political process. James Bryce points out that “the small size of a(n) [Ancient] Greek republic, the territory of which seldom extended beyond a few dozens of square miles round the city, and the number of free citizens, usually less than ten and seldom exceeding thirty thousand, made it easy to bring within the hearing of one voice a majority of all who were entitled to vote in the popular 2
Assembly, and enabled everybody to form his opinions on the personal qualities of those who aspired to leadership or to office.”4 Assuming it is desirable for citizens to know each other (as in a democracy) or to know their elected officials (as in a representative form of government), can we say that technology really enables a person to access the personal qualities of those distant characters, who we see on television or hear on the radio? Can we know them well enough this way to entrust them with the privilege of political authority? I have my doubts about this. British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar has theorized that the maximum number of intimate personal relationships which the human brain can maintain at any one time is around 150. “The Hutterites and the Amish, two groups of contemporary North American religious fundamentalists who live and farm communally, have average community sizes of around 110, mainly because they split their communities once they exceed 150... They find that when there are more than about 150 individuals, they cannot control the behaviour of the members by peer pressure alone. What keeps the community together is a sense of mutual obligation and reciprocity, and that seems to break down once the community size exceeds about 150.”5 The important takeaway here is that human beings are physically capable of knowing a limited number of people. So that if the intimacy of interpersonal relationships in a community is important to the way that community functions; if, let’s say, it’s important in a representative democracy that representatives know their constituency so they can effectively represent them, then the population of that community, must be limited in size. But what is the purpose of having a maximum? What qualities does it safeguard? Plato insists that a limited population size preserves the quality of life in a self-determinate political domain; fewer people permits greater intimacy and brings the “good life” more within reach. I mention parenthetically that he suggested these limitations without the knowledge of an impending global resource depletion, 2,200 years before The Limits to Growth was published; there are, in other words, reasons to consider limited population size seriously, other than that we simply have no other choice. The “good life” at Twin Oaks community in Virginia, necessitates an even smaller population maximum. Founded in 1966, it started with 8 members and has topped off at around 100. This very small community is obsessed with equality, so much so that they shun “honorifics of any kind, including ‘Mrs.,’ ‘Dr.,’ ‘Mother,’ and ‘Dad.’” And everyone, at one point or another, takes his or her turn performing every available task; washing dishes, planting seeds, working on automobiles, collecting firewood, and so on. They don’t want any kind of elite; and in this case, they deliberately prevent the development of superior intellect and ability. “There is little or no room... for professionals, for artists, or for the exercise of advanced skills.”1 To achieve this condition, the population is deliberately maintained. “Additional problems will come with increasing size... Equitable distribution of power and responsibility is not a problem when there are more managerships than people, but when more people join, new forms of organization may be required.”2 The kibbutz, Kiryat Yedidim, was founded with a similar ambition; “At first it was assumed that any chaver [kibbutz member] could, with proper experience, occupy a managerial position. Hence it was believed that all offices would rotate among the entire membership, and that this restriction on the tenure of office, in addition to the restriction on the rewards of office, would preclude the rise of bureaucratic power. It was discovered through experience, however, that this assumption was 3
untenable, and that if the kibbutz were to achieve and retain its economic solvency, it could not afford to permit any but the most skilled and the most efficient to assume positions of responsibility.”3 The population of Kiryat Yedidim has maxed out at 250. And, despite the institutionalization of an Executive Committee, the kibbutz government is deliberately made accessible to those who are interested in participating. The cultural acceptance of acknowledging personal incapabilities and limitations is a value I would consider essential to our eutopian proposal. You have only to watch an “Epic Fail” video on YouTube to understand that leading a country isn’t for everyone. And yet, in our U.S. of 2015, those words “all men are created equal” manifest a strange fantasy in the public imagination; namely that anyone could be President. And indeed, it’s considered socially unacceptable to publicly acknowledge a person’s inferiority. Plato wouldn’t have hesitated; in fact, he didn’t. And this brings us to the next ingredient in our eutopian recipe; the concept of inherent inequality. The Republic is constituted of three classes: rulers, warriors, and workers. “Plato believed that the majority of people did not know how to mind public business... [and thought that] if the government is to be entrusted to a few, the few must be genuinely disinterested... For those who as Guardians were to apply the science of government to public affairs, a private life, private duties, private interests were all to be left behind.”4 Their purpose was to mind the breeding, vocational selection, and education of the state’s constitution. To accomplish ‘vocational selection’ in a popularly acceptable way, the Guardians were entrusted with a monopoly on the interpretation of the gods’ will. When the state’s youth was old enough that their natural abilities and dispositions were so exposed, the Guardians would administer a “medicinal lie.” “Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has framed you differently. Some of you have the power to command, and these he has composed of gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honor; others of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has made of brass and iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children. But as you are of the same family, a golden parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden son.”5 H.G. Wells’ Modern Utopia was also politically organized by class type. The four “classes of mind” are: “the kinetic, the poietic, the base, and the dull. The kinetic are the active and organizing elements of the community... The poietic are the creative elements... The residual classes of the base and the dull correspond to the slag of the community and the active elements in these classes... are exported to various islands in the Atlantic where they have organized a community of their own in which they may practice fraud, chicane, and violence to their hearts’ content.”6 Every community has a class of fools and drunkards, lazies and inepts, but frankly, Wells’ solution is cheap and undeveloped. Sir Thomas More does away with these “unwanteds” in a similar way in his Utopia by creating a class of slaves and advocating war as a means of “weeding out” the community’s most undesirable elements. Fortunately, our eutopian recipe is principled; and killing off or disappearing people with wildly different values or ineptitudes is not an option I’ll consider. Wells also instituted a Samurai class, much like Plato’s Guardian class, who would “provide for the education, discipline, and maintenance of people who will be sufficiently disinterested and intelligent to keep this vast organization a going concern.” I should mention that a Modern Utopia is 4
global; it encompasses a planet nearly identical to ours located just beyond the brightest star in the Earth’s sky, Sirius. “...It is a single community whose net of monorails and posts, whose identification bureau, whose rules of law and order are the same in England as in Switzerland; and presumably the same in Asia and Africa as in Europe.” On the one hand, I appreciate the consideration of a global network; our 21st Century eutopian recipe would be incomplete without an understanding of its relationship to the rest of the world (and not only to human beings!). On the other hand, in order to maintain order in his vision, Wells essentially creates an international totalitarian regime. Marie-Louise Berneri criticizes the work, stating that “Wells commits the faults of his forerunners by introducing a vast amount of legislation into his utopia... [his] conception of freedom turns out to be a very narrow one.”7 Plato, on the other hand, “expressely forgoes making laws to regulate marketing, the affairs of industry, graft, bribery, theft, and so forth; and he leaves these matters with the curt indication that men can be left to themselves to devise on a voluntary basis the rules of the game for the different occupations.”1 In a conversation I once had with the Town Supervisor of Marblehead, Massachusetts about the importance of limited community size, he told me he had no trouble imagining a situation where it would be justifiable to have a president of the world. I immediately recalled the words of Donella Meadows in The Limits to Growth: “One of the strangest assumptions of present-day mental models is the idea that the world of moderation must be a world of strict, centralized governmental control. For a sustainable economy, that kind of control is not possible, desirable, or necessary.”2 And yet it seems that there is a type of person who possesses the desire to be governed, or is satisfied with the illusion of self-governance. My father, of the baby-boomer generation, insists that because he votes once every four years for a Presidential candidate, he is sufficiently involved to consider his participation democratic. Imagine him explaining this definition of democracy to an Ancient Greek, who would first of all struggle to comprehend the word “politician.” They didn’t have one. Our modern word for politican comes from the Ancient Greek word for citizen (politis). Each citizen was his own politician; this is certainly a foreign concept to the America of 2015! The French philosopher Charles Fourier reasoned that there were 12 common passions which resulted in 810 personality types. Presumably in an effort to advocate a diversity of perspective, he reasoned that the ideal community size was therefore 1620 people. As Mumford points out, characterbased classes are a common method of simplication for social theorists; Auguste Comte proposed chiefs, people, intellectuals, and emotionals, Sir Thomas More instituted a system of Philarchs, people, priests, and scholars in his Utopia, and the old Indian script the Bhagavad Gita divided populations into Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisryas, and Sudras, each class being “determined by modes that prevail in their separate natures.” Despite the inevitable variations in character types and natural ability, Plato imagined that if each citizen could be fit into his proper place, the ideal community would function as a singular entity. “The first-best society, then, that with the best constitution and code of law, is one where the old saying is most universally true of the whole society. I mean the saying that ‘friends’ property is indeed common property’. If there is now on earth, or ever should be, such a society - a community in women-folk, in children, in all possessions whatsoever, if all means have been taken to eliminate everything we mean by teh word ownership from life; if all possible means have been taken to make even what nature has made our own in some sense common property, I mean, if our eyes, ears, and 5
hands seem to see, hear, act, in the common service; if, moreover, we all approve and condemn in perfect unison and derive pleasure and pain from the same sources - in a word, when the institutions of a society make it most utterly one, that is a criterion of their excellence than which no truer or better will ever be found.”3 And yet, I’m not sure I would want to live in such a place. Perhaps instead of personality type or passions, we might classify the citizens of a place by their desire to self-determine, as evidenced by their behavior. (I get nervous about labeling class types; once you know you have an illness, the symptoms intensify, or else denial does). On the other hand, the illusion of a classless society (as in the United States of 2015) isn’t healthy either; it’s made possible by a proliferation of technology which administers the necessary daily dosage of propaganda to perpetuate the idea that each person is so independent as to be living in his own reality (a utopia of escape!). This is context without culture; but how else is there to survive the mass? One of the successful characteristics of the United States is that it presents itself as a platform where inherently different personalities and character types might have at least an equal opportunity to self-develop. This is the cohesive element of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (published in 1888), which imagines the United States in the year 2000, when the country functions as a “single industrial unit.” “Everyone is credited with a sum of four thousand dollars per annum at the National Bank, a sum which he receives because of his needs as a man and not because of his capacity as a worker. Instead of being rewarded for giving the full measure of his energies and abilities, a man is penalized if he fails to do so... everyone must remain at work until he is forty-five.”4 The effect is that the “generous, just and tender-hearted” are just as well endowed as the “cold-hearted, the greedy, and the self-serving.” The class system is therefore replaced by a hierarchy of industrial rank. “The great corporations had gradually trained everybody into an acceptance of large-scale organization, and the final step of merging all the big corporations into a national corporation occurred without a jar. With the assumptions by the nation of the mills, machinery, railroads, farms, mines, and capital in general, all the difficulties of labor vanished, for every citizen became by virtue of his citizenship an employee of the government, and was distributed according to the needs of industry.”5 To accomplish this feat, the economy of Bellamy’s U.S. relies on a perpetual productivity (and, consequently, consumption) which is at least environmentally unsustainable. Moreover, the governmental system is strictly oligarchical; organized as a military regiment. “As for criticism of the administration, that would be treason; admiration for the practices of another country would be disloyalty; and advocacy of a change in the method of industry would be sedition.”1 Nonetheless, anyone could be President! They have only to work their way up the ranks. The last criticism I have of Bellamy’s utopian vision is that it is heavily reliant on mechanization; “mechanical marvels take the place of fully humanized life.”2 And this brings us to our third eutopian ingredient: technology. The effect of technology on Bellamy’s vision is to so equalize the opportunities for America’s citizens, that “there is a complete absence of personal contacts and relationships.” The human desire for social contacts is “dammed up;” so much, in fact, that sports have become the primary outlet for a profound social tension. “Bread and circuses,” writes Bellamy, are “wholly reasonable demands in the year 2000.”3 And the state, as so many great civilizations of the past (and, if I may say so, of today) gives its people what they want: spectacle!
When Aristotle listed the essential components of the city in his Politics, arts and crafts were second (after food), “for life is a business which needs many tools.”4 And yet, its overwhelming proliferation, particularly in the past two-hundred years, is having detrimental consequences to our quality of life. So that when we read about the technologically inundated utopias of H.G. Wells and Edward Bellamy, we ought to consider their qualities with the understanding that Wells (1866-1946) and Bellamy (1850-1898), had never had the experience of pocketing a mobile phone, signing on to Facebook, watching a video on Youtube, or using Google to satisfy their curiosity. In News from Nowhere, William Morris conceives of a possible harmony between technology and people originating from a novel perception of “human progress.” First, let’s set the scene: Big cities have disappeared and relatively small villages (of a few hundred to a few thousand people) riddle the countryside. There is no central government and “...in every direction, simplicity and direct action and the immediate supply and interchange of goods out of local produce, has taken the place of the monstrously complicated system of traffic that prevailed in the earlier imperialistic world.”5 There is no money and children are educated encyclopaedically. What interests us about Nowhere, is that the good life is firstly an active life and secondly that “the chief concern of everyone is to do his work under the pleasantest conditions possible... Although the mechanical arts have been improved in certain directions, for in his trip up the Thames our guest meets with a barge driven by some internal engine, a good many devices have been allowed to fall into disuse, because, although the output in goods might be greater, the work itself and the way of life it promotes are not so beneficial as the simple methods of hand labor.”6 Now here is a worthwhile re-definition of progress! Put another way, we might replace the misquote of Abraham Maslow “what a man can do, he must do,” with “what a man can do, he ought to consider carefully.” (The original quote refers to a man’s potential to self-actualize: “what a man can be, he must be”). In the United States of 2015, it’s left to each individual (as with most things, insofar as the exercise of the freedom doesn’t disrupt the established order) to determine his own relationship with technology. And thanks to the “culture” of consumption and productivity which is propagated in the U.S., we might say that a heavy reliance on technology (which is unavoidably manifested as perishable consumer products), is promoted through advertising. Another important characteristic of technology is its reliance on great networks of collective collaboration. The 100-person community of Twin Oaks, Virginia, for example, would never, on its own, be able to produce an iPhone 4. Why is that? Well, put very simply, there aren’t enough manhours among them to complete all of the requisite tasks that go into producing such a “high technology;” the ability to create this product is leveraged on existing transportation networks, specializations of labor, preceding technological advances, and so on. So that, for example, the number of people actually involved in making an iPhone is... let’s say, a lot. Twin Oaks isn’t even self-sustaining as is; despite their deliberate attention to agriculture, and some specialized production (of hammocks and tofu), they still rely on the income of members who work for institutions located outside the community. Frankly, the world of computers, is subsisted by a networked complexity that simply isn’t achievable in the small, tried utopias of the last two and three-hundred years; or even in Plato’s Republic for that matter. So that when the Twin Oaks community posts a quote like this one by the Indian mystic Parmahansa Yogananda - “The day will come when the idea of community will spread 7
through the world. Gather together those of you who share high ideals. Pool your resources. Buy land in the country. A simple life will bring you the inner freedom. Harmony with nature will bring you happiness and peace of mind known to few city dwellers. In the company of other seekers of the truth it will be easier for you to live in meditation and collective unity.” - we have to wonder if they really have any other choice. As Aristotle famously pointed out, “He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.” But as it happens, even beasts aren’t independent, and this brings us to the next ingredient in our recipe: agriculture. Despite all that man may accomplish, unless he can render himself independent of the material world (which includes his body), he will depend on the planet’s natural ecologies to survive. This reality is evidenced by every tried utopia there has ever been and is a central theme in the theoretical utopias we’ve visited. Plato was wise to locate his Republic “beginning in the mountains at the summit of the valley section with the evergreen trees and the woodcutter, going down the slope to the herdsman and his flock of goats at pasture, along the valley bottom to the cultivator and his crops, until at length one reaches the river’s mouth where the fisher pushes out to sea in his boat and the trader comes in with goods from other lands.”1 This densely populated city center surrounded by enough land to supply its inhabitants with food, brings to mind the landscape of southern Italy. Sir Thomas More’s Utopia is conceived in a similar fashion, and its people create a culture of interaction between the inside and the out; “Between the city and the country there is a monthly exchange of goods. This exchange is made a festival and the country people come into town and take back for themselves the goods which the townspeople have made.”2 In other instances, nature is conquered rather than harmonized with. Wells and Bellamy’s utopian visions see the earth as a resource which is managed for human consumption with shrewd regional coordination, much like the American Midwest is today. At Oneida, hopeful utopians began with an agriculture-based economy “but financial difficulties indicated to members the need for industrial enterprise. Their first edneavor was canning crops for sale to grocers, then in 1852 they began the manufacture of steel traps, which became the standard brand in the United States and Canada. Other industries included a foundry and the manufacture of traveling bags, silk, and later, silverware.”3 Kiryat Yedidim, on the other hand, has effectively resisted the introduction of industry and operates with a fundamentally agricultural economy. Their agricultural production is divided into eight branches: dairy, field crops, vegetable gardens, fisheries, fruit orchards, flocks, poultry, and fodder. Considering that, in order for a community to be politically independent, it must secure a sustainable means of obtaining, utilizing, and disposing of the natural resources required to satisfy the basic human needs of the entirety of its population, we can at least conclude that the degree to which a community controls its own agricultural production will greatly determine how independent it actually is. We move next to a very important ingredient; exclusivity. To partake of the benefits of collaboration, each member must be willing to concede a variable degree of individual liberty. In the case of the United States of 2015, a citizen first of all agrees to abide by the laws of the land (which is itself a significant concession) and second, to pay taxes. Other countries might include, for example, 8
a mandatory military service. At Twin Oaks, an aspiring member must prove he is capable of upholding the requisite level of tolerance which permits (at least superficially) total equality among members. Oneida’s membership requirement was an acceptance of ‘community spirit;’ “excessive introspection, for example, was considered a sin. There was no matter too private for mutual criticism.”4 Many theoretical utopian proposals portray a very idealistic vision of man and don’t often account for his inherent incompatibility; of H.G. Wells’ Modern Utopia, Joseph Conrad remarked that he did not “take sufficient account of human imbecility which is cunning and perfidious.”5 Wiliam Morris’ News from Nowhere features citizens who are completely disinterested in scholarly pursuits and express themselves exclusively in artistic media. Is this a realistic consideration? I don’t know. Indeed, sacrificing one’s individual political influence is a necessary concession to gain access to the collective effect; but to what degree and in what way is just or appropriate or balanced, is difficult to say. I suppose, in any case, I would at least want to have the option to affect the quality of my concession by actively participating in the political process. I would be remiss if at this point I didn’t mention the unavoidable consequence of exclusivity: lack of perspective. And to champion the importance of diversity, I call on the words of Gerald Frug, Harvard law professor and advocate of decentralization. “The hard work in community building - and the task I think cities should undertake - is to deal with the differences within the group. For me, this task requires not cultivating a feeling of oneness with others but increasing the capacity of all metropolitan residents - African American as well as white, gay as well as fundamentalist, rich as well as poor - to live in a world filled with those they find unfamiliar, strange, even offensive.” He would certainly have scoffed then, at the aforementioned “solutions” of H.G. Wells and Sir Thomas More (to “disappear” the undesireables). The “membership requirements” of a community often overlap with the next ingredient on our list: ownership of property. Upon joining communities like Oneida, for example, “all recruits signed a document transferring money and major possessions to the community... Even clothes were the common property of all, with the wearer merely allowed the use of them.”1 The potential for the private accumulation of wealth and subsequent inequality among members is one popular argument advocating this policy. A second was expounded by Plato: “The unjust state comes into existence by the multiplication of wants and superfluities... the possession of goods is not the means of getting happiness, but an effort to make up for a spiritually depauperate life... a good community could not be simply a collection of individuals, each one of whom insists upon some private and particular happiness without respect to the welfare and interests of his fellows... good and happiness consists in living according to nature,; in knowing one’s self, in finding one’s bent, and in fulfilling the particular work which one had the capacity to perform as part of the community.”2 So that, effectively, if there is private property, it ought to be limited to what is absolutely necessary. The same applies to More’s Utopia in which, very hopefully, he suggests (regarding the distribution of produce within the city) that “there is no reason for giving denial to any person, since there is such plenty of everything among them; and there is no danger of a man’s asking for more than he needs; they hae no inducements to do this, since they are sure they shall always be supplied.”3 This seems a particularly unrealistic expectation of man; though I suggested at the beginning of this
paper that man can find fulfillment, I must admit, it takes a great deal more wisdom than I yet possess and is at least uncommon. A third argument in favor of common property ownership is essentially a reaction to the socially disintegrating effects of capital. Writes More, “...as long as there is any property, and while money is the standard of all other things, I cannot think that a nation can be governed either justly or happily; not justly, because the best things will fall to the share of the worst men; nor happily, because all things will be divided among a few (and even these are not in all respects happy), the rest being left to the absolutely miserable.”4 More even conceives of a cultural method for popularly devaluing rarities of nature. “The precious metals are held in contempt: gold is used to make chamberpots and chains for slaves; pearls are given to children who glory in them and enjoy them while they are young and are as much ashamed to use them afterwards as they are of their puppets and other toys.”5 This brings us back for a moment to the concept of exclusivity; this perspective on the value of precious minerals is so exclusive as to be potentially destructive; it is only viable if every community on earth equivalently adopts this value system (which I find to be very optimistic!). Morris’ Nowhere also did away with capital. When his protagonist begins his journey through this new London, “he is first received... by a boatman who takes him for a morning swim on the Thames, and knows about the value of money only as a collector of copper curios might.”6 Likewise, property is common and “work is given freely, and the proceeds of work exchanged freely, as a man might give his goods and services nowadays when he welcomes a friend within his own house.” The alternate title of More’s work - An Epoch of Rest - reveals the common aspiration inspiring these decisions; but, as with the previous example, this humble, relaxed village system seems particularly vulnerable to the “outside world.” In fact, considering that the English countryside did once resemble this serene fantasy, but was extorted by industrial capitalists and corporate monopolies during the Industrial Revolution, I am suspicious of the “completeness” of Morris’ solution. The last official ingredient on our list is here because of the author’s circumstantial obligation to his profession: the built environment. It’s enough to say that the architectural expression of these utopian visions is a consequence of the ideologies and behaviors cultivated in each (and not by any means a cause of them!); but I will give some examples to clarify at least the potential which architected spaces have to reinforce a community’s purpose. At Oneida, according to the founder’s son Pierrepont Noyes, “the physical set up of the house the ubiquity of sitting rooms and the smallness of bedrooms - helped discourage personal isolation and exclusiveness.”8 This, I mentioned before, was a community where introspection was prohibited; more importantly, the form of this Perfectionist government and its primary method of social control centered around mutual criticism. “In addition to the daily evening meetings where general or individual problems were discussed, members submitted themselves periodically for criticism by a committee of six to twelve judges... The subject was expected to receive the criticism in silence and confess to it in writing.”9 Of the architect’s instructions, in other words, would have been to design spaces with a “complete lack of privacy.” The kibbutz Kiryat Yedidim is arranged “like the typical European agricultural village, [with] the village proper situated in a hub, from which radiate the various fields and orchards... The houses are laid out in parallel rows on either side of the communal dining hall, which is the physical and social 10
center of the kibbutz. ... Communal toilets and showers, separate for men and women, take the place of private bathrooms.”10 Private dwelling units include a minimum of program and are designed with their entrances all facing in the same direction, also “providing a minimum of privacy.” In the case of the kibbutz, the layout is less importance than the deliberate omission of particular programmatic elements in private residences; so that, to cook, for example, everyone must use a shared space. Charles Fourier’s famous phalanxes (grand hotels) attempted to coerce their inhabitants into living cooperatively. They therefore included as much essential program as possible and aspired to be “apartment villages,” of which Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation is the most famous example. “Inside, corridors run through the centre of the long axis of every third floor of the building, with each apartment lying on two levels, and stretching from one side of the building to the other, with a balcony. The flat roof is designed as a communal terrace with sculptural ventilation stacks, a running track, and a shallow paddling pool for children. There is also a children’s art school in the atelier. The roof has also hosted a number of theatrical performances. Unlike many of the inferior system-built blocks it inspired, which lack the original’s generous proportions, communal facilities and parkland setting, the Unite is popular with its residents and is now mainly occupied by middle-class professionals.”1 And I would be remiss, if i didn’t mention the architectural qualities of that fantastical capitalist utopia of which I am currently a citizen, the U.S. of 2015. Corporatized and mass-produced; propaganda has replaced culture as the generator of common sense and the expression of this condition is evident in the built environment. Everything looks the same and architects vie for position by proposing ever-more spectacular solutions to simple problems. There are no small communities in which people intimately know one another. So the idea there is no “community” value system with which to challenge the architect; the architect, consequently, tries in vain (as he has been trained) to create “value” with his spaces and plays the role of the traveling salesman, “pitching” his “solution” to clients; most of whose primary concern is the project’s cost. The mall has replaced the neighborhood square or community center, and emulates the “virtues” of the place; namely consumption (the freedom to buy!) and the importance of spectacle (for a generation of movie-addicts to plug in to the big screen and temporarily escape). In closing, I’d like to recall - and present a brief, biased speculation about - the ingredients in our eutopian recipe. Population size: first of all, what is the aspiration of the citizens of the place? If a great many of them desire to self-govern, we must consider Dunbar’s number. If they prefer to be slaves, to be ruled, or are satisfied with an illusion, our modern America proves that perhaps no size is too great. Social inequality: there will always be inequalities between people. Whether by their natural dispositions or inherited circumstances, people will always be “different.” A system which fights against this fact, is bound to fail. Why not embrace it and create equal opportunities instead? I’m not fond of class systems; seems to me they were invented by the rich man (and I don’t only mean material wealth). Technology: I don’t know how the disintegrative force of this potentially liberating medium can be combatted. But I suspect that the collective effect, the cultural impulse, is stronger than the individual will to resist. That’s all I will say about that now; it remains an open question to me. Agriculture: it’s essential; more importantly, regularly acknowledging our dependence on the natural environment seems absolutely imperative to the preservation of a healthy perspective. Moreover, it is the key to political independence; if you’re not harvesting your own food (and making 11
what you’re harvesting your food with!), you’re not independent from other people. End of story. Ownership: I think people should be permitted to have private property; it stands to reason that they own themselves but, more significantly, that preserving the act of sharing as a choice, exposes individual qualities the community (and the individual himself) might not otherwise be privileged to witness. That said, I think common property is essential. I share the concern of critics of laissez-faire economics - that the accumulation of wealth by a few is inevitable - which is precisely why I think that the property for which the community’s survival depends should be held in common. Exclusivity: I think a range of membership types (is it then a class system?) should correspond to the level of responsibility (and accountability) demonstrated by a person’s behavior; how much he works, how much he donates to the community, participates in its political process, etc. I’m not resolved on this suggestion; but it seems a strange thing to expect an idle, lazy, but capable man to reap the same benefits of a collaborative enterprise as an active, involved, accountable member. The built environment: it is an effect, a cultural expression of social values (or else the frankenstein of a valueless society). It is not a cause. Despite the last, desperate breaths of a master-less profession, it is not a cause! Having investigated so many different utopian ideas, some separated by two thousand years of human history, I understand that there certainly cannot be one perfect place to live. (I also don’t consider this study complete, or my recipe all-encompassing; far from it!) But I am frequented by the idea that human beings are capable of creating a “good place,” a eutopia appealing to those of us neither interested in ruling nor being ruled. And I’m left wondering, not simply about the place, but also about the qualities of the men who will be the next to build one. Understanding that there is no objective or divined meaning to human life, that we bear the responsibility of generating and preserving it ourselves, I imagine that these men would value first-hand experience, cultivated wisdoms; methods of perception which amplified individual fulfilment to the benefit of others and emphasized the poetry and beauty of those necessary activities on which we depend to survive. They would be intolerant of cognitive dissonance, respect consistency in a man’s behavior, foster a deep self-suspicion, and be eager to admit “I don’t know” in conversation. They would acknowledge the importance of individual choice, perpetually contextualize meaning and purpose, bear responsibility for their influence and actions, and fraternally affiliate themselves with the natural environment. In any case, they must be something new.
RESEARCH Sample 3 Andrew Gipe-Lazarou firstname.lastname@example.org
• OMA’s Elements of Architecture In the fall of 2013, I worked with Rem Koolhaas and Stephan Trueby to compose the publication ‘Elements’ which supplemented the central exhibition of the 2014 Venice Biennale. I was principally responsible for the ‘Door’ and ‘Window’ chapters in the 14-element compilation. The project demanded extensive, original research across cultures with the intention of generating ‘a fresh understanding of the richness of architecture’s fundamental repertoire.’ One of my most significant contributions was a study of the fourteen-door defense system of the castle Burg Hochosterwitz. I applied for and was awarded external funding to travel to Austria, collect data about the castle gates, and secure the owner’s permission to include the castle as an exhibit at the central pavilion. Included here are photographs of the collaborative research process at OMA’s headquarters in Rotterdam, together with a sample of my contribution, in both draft- and published-form.
RESEARCH Sample 4 Andrew Gipe-Lazarou email@example.com
â€˘ Palimpsest magazine In the fall of 2014, as a student of the GSD, I conducted independent research about the privatization of public space, and presented my work for course credit as a fictional magazine (included here in its entirety). The unpublished volume includes critical research about public spaces, juxtaposed with commentary from working professionals, many of whom were (and are) senior staff members of OMA â€“ which is where I was working while I was collecting data. The project was supervised by architect Maryann Thompson.
PALIMPSEST volume no. 1
december 20, 2013
NO loitering in groups NO bicycles or mopeds NO pets or other animals NO taking photographs NO drugs or alcohol NO pestering visitors NO roller-blading NO skateboards or scooters NO holding surveys NO distributing leaflets The area is covered by CCTV Please follow security staff instructions Thank you for your cooperation
you define public space?
Agency of Contemporary Anthropology
Copyright © 2013 by A.R. Gipe All rights reserved.
Cover photo by A.R. Gipe. Public signage in Beurstraverse Passage, Rotterdam, Netherlands The scanning, uploading and distribution of this literary piece via the internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage the piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the authors rights is appreciated.
“The popular permissibility of the
privatization of public spaces evidences a growing global acquiescence to subordinated living. - A.R. Gipe, 2014
“They who would give up essential
Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. - Benjamin Franklin, 1755
First Softcover Printing, January 2014.
ACA Trademark Registered U.S. Patent Office and Foreign Countries Printed in the U.S.A. i
INTERVIEW SUBJECTS Elina Theocharopoulou
Chris van Duijn
ET: I was born here in Athens. I had my diploma in Athens in architecture, at the National Technical University. I worked in Athens for a couple of years just before the Olympic games and then I left in 2002, I think, or 2003… I went to London and had my master’s degree at UCL Bartlett. I worked and lived in London for three years. After that, I moved to Rome for a year and a half where I worked for Massimiliano Fuksas. And then I moved to Thessaloniki where I lived and worked for three years for Katerina Tsigarida Architects and then back to Athens in 2010 finally, working for Tsigarida for another three years and now I’m having a few projects of my own.
IP: My name is Ippolito Pestillini Iaparelli. I’m from Italy. I’ve been working for OMA for the past eight years and I’m an Associate in the company.
AG: I’m an architect engineer. And I have studied real estate, finance, and project management. I have done a PhD in decision theory; how large organizations that do design engineering, make decisions about things they don’t know in the future. And my professional background is mixed. I have a combination of academic teaching and research, a combination of professional consulting on large scale developments, and a combination of experience in actual design of projects, construction of projects, and financing of projects. All of them in large scale infrastructural projects like airports, highways, urban renewals, and so on. Now I’m a full-time lecturer at the Harvard GSD and I direct a research group called the Zofnass Program for sustainable infrastructure… that has around, you know, five people full-time and around fifteen part-time research assistants from the student body.
CD: I’m 38 and I’m Dutch, one of the few here. I’ve been working at OMA for 13 years. And my background is as a trained architect in the Netherlands, from Delft and I”ve been working on all kinds of projects, from master planning to interior projects. And working currently on a museum in Milan, Moscow, a villa in Holland, France a project, something in London, so I would say from very small projects to very large projects. Finland… yeah.
KM: I finished Polytechnic school and I tried to become a psychoanalyst. I decided not to become a psychoanalyst and I continued with studies on political philosophy and ethics. And after that with Arabic studies and then I decided what I like most is to design. So I began designing things… all sorts of things from small things to parts of the city. And, I didn’t have the economical possibility to organize a studio and so I began taking part in architectural competitions with a group of some friends of mine and we won two or three important competitions and so I established a professional identity and because of this I had the possibility to become a lecturer at the university.
AR: I’m a 25-year old Greek-American from Athens, Greece and Washington D.C. I’ve worked for several architecture firms in the United States and Greece on every scale of design project. I received a Bachelors of Science in Architecture from the University of Maryland in 2010, achieved equivalency for my degree with the ARB in the UK in 2011, and became enrolled at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2012. Most recently, I worked with Rem Koolhaas to edit and compile OMA’s contribution, Elements of Architecture, to the Venice Biennale in 2014.
Former Project Leader Katerina Tsigarida Architects 12.11.2013
Associate Office for Metropolitan Architecture 11.22.2013
Professor Harvard Graduate School of Design 12.16.2013
Associate Office for Metropolitan Architecture 11.20.2013
Professor National Technical Univ. of Athens 12.11.2013
Chief Editor Palimpsest Magazine 01.20.2014
DEFINITIONS (int. w/E. Theocharopoulou)
(int. w/Ippolito Pestellini)
(int. w/Andreas Georgoulias)
(int. w/Chris van Duijn)
AR: How would you define public space?
IP: That’s a very good question. It would have been easier to answer this question probably thirty or forty years ago when the public domain was defined as part of a city project. While now, of course, with the rise of market economy, it’s almost impossible to declare what is really public and what is not. Very often the majority of projects are driven by private investments. So by public I mean the collective building of the past. A library is a public building. A square designed as part of an urban master plan by city officials is public space. A square within commercial development is not a public space ultimately.
AG: It’s a space that’s accessible to the public and owned by the public. A space that people have access to – unrestricted access to – is public.
CD: Let’s say, in a design, it’s usually a matter of the programming. When you’re talking about the private space in a master plan, usually it’s all of the offices, the apartments, all of the non-common facilities. And the public space includes the areas were people get together; where there are, let’s say, less programs. But it can be privatized public space.
ET: I don’t know. This is difficult because public space can be private and private space can be public, no? AR: How would you characterize the ideal public space? ET: You can access it at any time. AR: Anyone can? ET: Anyone. But of course, there are rules. They’re not written, though; they’re more like oral law. We say that in Greece. You have to keep it clean, you have to respect other visitors, who in turn respect you and your privacy. You have to feel free. You need to feel free, not you have to. You cannot go to a public space and start making fires, okay? But you can go with your friends; you can dance, you can sing. You can read your book. You can sleep or have your dinner or lunch, an ice cream, a cold drink. Kids can go there and play together. You can read your book. If you cannot do these things, then it’s not a public space, is it?
AR: Would you consider a mall to be public space? AG: No. The mall may have spaces accessible to the public, okay? But still it’s a privately owned space and not one-hundred percent public. AR: Why would you not consider it one-hundred percent? AG: Because there would be constraints in what you can do and in the times you can access it… and then there’s the process you would need to go through to make change as a civic group… AR: How do you define private space? AG: Private space is defined as a space that is owned by a single entity which is not the state.
CD: Yes. I think accessibility is number one and then ownership is obviously the element where, slowly, at the this time, there is an overlap. If you take, for example, a shopping mall; it’s considered public space by most people, even though it’s privatized.
ET: I don’t know. My house is not that private. People come and go all the time. I don’t know what private means.
2. open or available to all members of a community, or all who are legally or properly qualified; not restricted to the private use of a particular person or group 3. aimed at or devoted to the promotion of the general welfare; committed to the best interests of the community or nation. Etymology: classical Latin pūblicus of or belonging to the people as a whole, common to all, universal, of or affecting everyone in the state, communal, authorized, provided, or maintained by the state, available to or enjoyed by all members of a community.1
common (Modern English)
more than one as a result or sign of co-operation, joint action, or agreement; joint, united 3. of or belonging to a community at large 4. free to be used by every one, public Etymology: classical Latin commūnis, literally defined as ‘together as one’.1 PALIMPSEST
/’pəb;lIk/ adj. /ði:mos/ n 1. the and n. 1. of or re- subdivision of lating to the peo- open space 2. the comple as a whole; mon people 3. free citizens of a that belongs to, democracy. affects, or concerns the community or the nation democracy
/’ka;mən/ adj. and adv. 1. belonging to all mankind alike; pertaining to the human race as a posession or attribute 2. belongingt o
AR: And the ideal private space?
AR: You seem to be mentioning two characteristics of space here; accessibility and ownership.
/di’;mɒ;krə;sI/ n 1. a state or community in which the government is vested in the people as a whole
2. that class of the people which has no hereditary or special rank or privelege 3. government by the people; that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised by them. Etymology: Greek δήμος the commons, the people and κρατια rule, sway, authority.2 1. “public, adj. and n.”. OED Online. December 2013. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/view/Entry/154052?rskey=zxlI4u&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed January 20, 2014). 2. “common, adj. and adv.”. OED Online. December 2013. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/view/Entry/37216?rskey=xWhdl5&result=3&isAdvanced=false (accessed January 20, 2014). 2. Σταματάκου, Ιωάννου, Dictionary of the Ancient Greek Language, (Athens: Ι. Σιδηροφάγης & Σία Ο.Ε., 1994), 255. 3. “democracy, n.”. OED Online. December 2013. Oxford University Press. http://www. oed.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/view/ Entry/49755 (accessed January 20, 2014).
FREE EXPRESSION (int. w/Andreas Georgoulias)
(int. w/Ippolito Pestellini)
(int. w/E. Theocharopoulou)
AR: Do you think there can be community without common space?
IP: I mean, you have community when two people like me and you meet and talk. That’s of course an expression of community. That’s something that I don’t think any corporation could ever take away from us.
AR: Do you think you can have community expression in a space that’s owned by a private entity?
AG: No. AR: Why? AG: Because common space is a place to meet people and to develop a common identity. Community is, you know, a set of individuals who share common things. And a private space is, by definition, not designed to accommodate that interaction. There is an argument I have heard that claims that even in a rich community of isolated houses, let’s say, if at any time you would like to meet all your neighbors, you can simply have a party and meet all of them. This, for me, is irrational, and it assumes a human behavior we have not observed.
ET: No. AR: Why? ET: Because you’re not free.
AR: Do you think it’s necessary, or healthy, for people to identify with a particular place?
2014 Identities of public spaces carefully being monitored in Rotterdam by the modern police-state.
“You need to have spontaneous places.”
AG: Of course. People are social animals. This is said by Plato. ‘ινών κοινωνικόν.’ It’s not an assumption; it’s the fact we’re observing.
PRIVATIZED PUBLIC SPACE (int. w/Chris van Duijn)
(int. w/Kostas Moraitis)
CD: If you take an example in Rotterdam, you have the Koopgoot [Beurstraverse Passage], the area going underneath the Coolsingel [main street and rail lines]; it’s privatized. But nobody would know that. You don’t see any kind of clear façade or gate. There are small symbols on the side which say you can’t make music, conduct interviews, take pictures, this and that… And you see a difference in paving material from the rest of the street, the Hoogstraat, around it, the street level which is public. Still, people appreciate the Koopgoot much more. If you look at the quantity of people going down into the space or ask them which route they prefer, the majority will tell you they like the privatized public space. Despite the fact that you can do much less there. If you ask people, they completely appreciate it as public space. The restrictions are quite invisible. Everything the public space stands for is now being commercialized and privatized, but invisibly. There will not be a red line on the floor. There will not be a gate or a façade. And people appreciate it. The dividing line between public and private ownership is fading out. This is something that happened a long time ago already with the shopping mall. But also here [in Holland], and also in many other major European cities it’s happening very gradually, invisibly and yeah, it’s quite a change actually.
KM: The privatization of social life is a general tendency of modern capitalistic western societies. The important thing about Holland is that they have a very deep culture of public feeling for public spaces. AR: Do you think there can be free political discussion in a space that’s owned by a private entity, say, a corporation? KM: In normal conditions? Not revolutionary conditions? AR: Contemporary, non-revolutionary conditions. KM: I believe no. I believe there would be a suppression of expression of the population.
Present Day The invisibly integrated Beursplein passage calls itself a public space in the city of Rotterdam. But its 'publicness' is conditional on a system of rules imposed by corporate profiteers. To quote the security guard who asked me to stop taking photos in the space, "Why? Because it's important [in the Koopgoot] to not disturb the customers."
AR: Have you heard of this recently privatized public space in Rotterdam, in Holland, called the Beurstraverse Passage?
“Everything the public space
KM: [after being shown photos of public signage from the Koopgoot] I can’t believe this state of barbarianism. It’s not a European democratic condition, this. The suppression of free expression. It’s awful. That means that what’s happening nowadays in Greece is not the worst thing.
stands for is now being com-
mercialized and privatized, but invisibly.
AR: Is that good news? KM: No, it’s extremely bad news because the future of Greece will be like this, or even worse if this can happen in Holland…
AR: It’s happening. It’s not an ‘if.’
COMPLEX MANNEQUINS (int. w/Kostas Moraitis)
(int. w/E. Theocharopoulou)
AR: How did the Ancient Athenians regard public space?
AR: Do you consider the mall to be public space?
KM: The ancient Greek Athenian democracy had a very precise type of feeling regarding urban space. The agora [open forum] was a necessary component of a free and democratic society; where community existed and expressed itself.
AR: Are there any examples that come to mind of public spaces being privatized in modern Greece?
ET: Yeah, but there are rules you have to obey. Of course there are always rules, but they are rules of common sense. The mall creates rules that have a different agenda, not about promoting interaction, not oral law.
KM: Not public spaces, but public activities. The big problem for me is the construction of the malls in the territory of Athens. Before the construction of the mall, the central feeling of a commercial territory was just an extension of the urban character of that territory. It is the privatization of a public function, of the economic and cultural function of buying and selling. This is the most influential, most negative example I can think of.
“The past notion of the agora, the open forum, has
AR: Why not?
transformed into a place for
ET: Because it’s private. AR: Okay, it’s private, but it’s designed for public access.
consumption. - AG
1986-present The mannequin life advertised at the 'shopping trench' of Beurstraverse Passage in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
AR: And what do you think this says about the people of a community when they begin to prefer shopping areas to be enclosed, to be destinations, not integrated components of urban life? KM: Well, I believe that there is a general advertising effort to offer them a bright image of living through the culture of consumerism.
ANCIENT IDEAS (int. w/E. Theocharopoulou) ET: The [contemporary] plateia [public square] is characteristics of all Greek neighborhoods. There’s always a plateia. This is what defines a public space in Greece. The church, the plateia, and the kafeneio [coffee shop]. AR: And what happens in the plateia of a neighborhood? ET: Everyday life. Everything happens in the plateia. Gossiping, dancing, singing, meeting people, laughing, crying, having a souvlaki, having an ice cream… Everything! AR: And did you ever have conflict between people? ET: Yes of course, it’s everyday life. Maybe a baby is crying but someone else is in the space just to read his book. Okay, excuse me, can you please make your baby shut up? I’m trying to read. [laughter] Or kids fighting, people meeting in the plateia to solve their problems… maybe they would start fighting and then become friends afterwards. People just meet at the plateia and have discussions.
ET: [laughter] Yes, we have a plateia with a coffee shop. It’s also different, you know, if the plateia is surrounded by public buildings or private buildings. I think the one which is surrounded by houses is more spontaneous than the other. AR: Why do you say that? ET: Probably because people access the plateia of the public buildings in order to gain access to the public buildings. The plateia of Athens city hall is that way; people just walk through it. It’s not the plateia Varnava, for example. AR: I’m sure it’s also the population density of an area which relates to how you identify with the space. So maybe if you’re from a small community with a small plateia, it feels more like home; you’re always seeing people you know walking through… ET: Okay, so that’s the difference then between plateias surrounded by public buildings and plateias surrounded by houses; you can’t define yourself in the first one.
Early 1900s The culture of community encroaches on a public square in downtown Athens.
“Everything happens in the plateia... Everyday life.”
AR: Do you need a church to have a plateia? ET: Not now. But they needed it in the past. It was the place where people would gather; that was very important in difficult times I guess, when religion was something that united them. Now we don’t need religion to unite us.
AR: We have a coffee.
TAKING BACK PUBLIC SPACE (int. w/Kostas Moraitis)
(int. w/Chris van Duijn)
KM: If you want a unique example of public reaction to the privatization of urban spaces, you need to investigate Exarxeia in Athens. There was a parking lot in this district owned by the Technical Chamber of Greece and the Chamber had decided to construct a huge building for economic revitalization of the territory. When the inhabitants learned about this project, they went to the parking lot, tore up the asphalt, and began planting trees to create a public garden. Well, at that time, the Minister of Public Works was a friend of mine and he asked me to go to the Minister of Environment who was chairing a committee that had formed to regain the place. And I told her, you’ve already regained the place; it was a parking lot and now it’s a garden. And in a cultivated society, a Minister of Environment would have helped the inhabitants create this space, not contradict them. Finally I convinced her it would have been a bad political decision and the committee, four years after this incident took place, offered the park to the inhabitants and gave the Technical Chamber a plot of land of commensurate value in another location.
AR: Have you ever sensed in your work a struggle between the user and the client who has, perhaps, privatized a space and wants to limit how it’s used?
AR: It seems like if the citizens of a place don’t identify with or harbor a sense of responsibility for a space, it becomes lost in a way. KM: So we should probably try organizing communities and public spaces into smaller groups then. This is evidently already happening. 11
March 7th, 2009 Self-organized local residents of the Exarcheia neighborhood in Athens, Greece, gather by the hundreds to remove asphalt paving from an unwanted urban parking area in prepration for the planting of trees and the creating of a community-governed public park.
CD: No, not so much. I understand what you’re getting at, but at the same time I believe there is always a counter reaction to this kind of process. And I think that this process of privatization is probably much older than we think, that this is not something of the last ten years, let’s say. We still live in a fairly open society and I think there is a maximum degree of privatization that people will accept and then there will be other ways people will self-express. So I’m not so pessimistic.
“I think there
is a maximum degree of privatization that
April 13, 2010 Athens city police raid Exarcheia park and detain 70 people, hold them in custody for several hours, then release them without filing charges.
people will accept.
” - CD
NEO-FEUDALISM (int. w/Kostas Moraitis)
(int. w/Andreas Georgioulias)
KM: The use of public space and the feeling towards the landscape and the environment derives from its political structure and formation. And that means that the most important moments in modern European western history concerning the formation of public spaces are related to the formation of political structures, specifically the appearance of the bourgeois during the Medici period.
AR: Can you give me an example of a public project that you’ve consulted on in which local residents may have had more of a say than the regional government, or any at all?
AR: What was the relation between the bourgeois and public space? KM: In Medieval Europe, the feudal system allowed a small, wealthy group of people to command and profit from the whole population. But as the bourgeois class emerged by the Renaissance period, the formation of the city as an interior, walled construction, governed by a lording elite, had stopped. Cities begin to grow outwards indefinitely and this permits larger open-air spaces. And as the middle class grew in number, it began to assert a different kind of political control on society. And that meant that the urban character of cities with a strong bourgeois class began to reflect these changes. [Today in Athens] we have a city that’s not really a city but a huge metropolitan area. And modern Athenians don’t take care of their own spaces. Local populations don’t press governors or municipalities to tend public space; only in small, insignificant cases. And this loss of public culture concerns all of society.
“Everything is relying on the assumption that the people
AG: I’m trying to think of a project where we had actual participation from the public and I cannot think of one. The problem is there are no established frameworks to do that because everything is relying on the assumption that the people who have been chosen by the public to represent them will make the best decisions on their behalf. In a democracy, if people don’t like the restrictions imposed on them in public spaces, they are free to protest.
who have been chosen by the public to represent them will make the best decisions on their behalf. - AG
AR: When public projects are proposed for an urban space, does the design team ever consult with a town hall or community group representing the locality in which you plan to build?
AG: No, that doesn’t happen in Greece. AR: Then the interaction is primarily with whom? AG: With the agency, you know, the municipality, that will approve the design; the Ministry of Public Works in the case of Athens. But will that go through a public debate and presentation of proposals? No. Oct. 1-17, 2013 Government representatives close public spaces to compel Congress to appopriate more funding for the fiscal year 2014. PALIMPSEST
THE AMERICAN DREAM (int. w/Ippolito Pestellini)
(int. w/Kostas Moraitis)
IP: You know, I grew up as a reactionary in the eighties and nineties where, you know, there was a constant sort of financial crisis. And in this way, my generation feels very responsible for what we do. I mean I’m totally concerned with whether my choices are right or wrong, if I have an impact that is correct or not. People like the baby boomers, like Rem, are much freer in their mind; they don’t give a shit. But they’re also the people who left the world in this state, you know? So, I have some doubts about the righteousness of their arguments. They also created this sense of super individuality. They created this state system, and many other things I don’t really believe in. I’m a totally post-ownership generation. I invest more in travels, in education, than on things. I want to live in good spaces but I don’t have an obsession about changing or personalizing my space.
AR: What was the feeling the ancient Athenians had towards public space?
AR: I worry about the previous generation you mentioned and the influence that it’s had… specifically regarding this tendency towards the global ownership of everything. IP: Maybe, yeah. Global ownership but then people do not own anything. They’re just pieces in a mechanism.
ιδιώτης (Ancient Greek)
/i:ði:’ɒ:tis/ n 1. a private, atomistic citizen, who does not participate in the affairs of community; a soli-
KM: Public space was the most important aspect of ancient Athenian life. Public buildings were the most important and well-maintained parts of the city while the private houses, owned by the rich, were in a very low structural and formal relationship to the public buildings. And what is more, the word private for ancient Greeks meant at the same time ‘private’ and ‘silly.’ Because the place where a global mind, a global intelligence appears in the city is not in the private space, but the public space. Ιδιώτης. It is the derivation of the word ‘idiotic’ in English. If you were living a private way of life, you could never be clever, you could never develop a critical understanding of life and human behavior. It was a life of exteriority. Their whole lives were lived in open-air public spaces.
tary person abounding with self-interest 2. someone who is unexperienced, untrained, or unlearned.1
idiot (Modern English)
/’Id;i;ət/ n 1. a person who speaks or acts in what the speaker considers an irrational way, or with extreme stupidity or foolishness (colloquial) 2. a person so profoundy
disabled in mental function or intellect as to be incapable of ordinary acts of reasoning or rational conduct (historical in tech. use) 3. a person without learning; an ignorant, uneducated person (now rare). Etymology: classical Latin idiōta, ancient Greek ιδιώτης.2
1950 Levittown 'idiots' occupy suburban plots in an archipelago subdivided by white picket fences.
1. Σταματάκου, Ιωάννου, Dictionary of the Ancient Greek Language, (Athens: Ι. Σιδηροφάγης & Σία Ο.Ε., 1994), 463. 2. “idiot, n. and adj.”. OED Online. December 2013. Oxford University Press. http:// www.oed.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard. edu/view/Entry/91049?rskey=4nr5y4&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed January 14, 2014).
AN ODE TO SUSTAINABILITY (int. w/Ippolito Pestellini)
(int. w/Chris van Duijn)
AR: In one way or another, I presume you’re aware of the present environmental challenges facing the world. Do you feel like you play a role in helping to resolve these issues?
CD: If you really want to be serious about this ambition, you should not only focus on the pixel scale of a building, but how you can collaborate on the scale of a city, nationally, internationally, and how this can be profitable.
IP: I mean, as an architect it’s almost a contradiction. In a world that’s basically running out of resources… You’re obviously confronted with sustainability issues all the time. What I’m questioning now is whether architecture is relevant at all. Obviously what we do by definition drags out resources. AR: Maybe it just needs redefinition? IP: No no, I mean of course. You can be a different kind of architect. But to answer your question, I think that kind of thinking, about sustainability or eco-responsibility, has really permeated the domain of design and construction. It’s really something that is requested at every level of any project in any city, at least in the western world.
AR: In what way? CD: Well if you think… for instance, a lot of clients say, I want to have solar cells on my building so I’m sustainable. This is not a very efficient way of making energy. This, in Holland or Denmark, for example, is much less efficient both financially and in terms of energy gains than doing some kind of collaborative investment on a windmill park in the sea. If you do that and combine the same ambitions and efforts of many projects, you can get much more energy for much less money. Your building and its orientation are never ideal in the kind of urban conditions we’re designing for and you cannot put a windmill on your roof in the city center. These things cost a lot of CO2 to make in the first place and in ten to fifteen years you have to replace them. Anyway, if you really look at it from an efficiency point of view, it’s bullshit to spent two million on PV cells on a roof. You might as well put one million into a windmill park offshore. AR: So you’ve had this kind of conversation with a client before?
very dogmatic about certain things. So while the visual elements of sustainability like PV cells are highly overrated, the other thing is, of course, central cooling, central heating, passive solutions where there’s a lot of efficiency to be had. Every building should be as sustainable as possible but I think if we want to achieve the goals set for 2015, that’s not enough. OMA, for example, did a study of the European energy network [Roadmap 2050]. We saw a lot of good intentions to work with renewable energy. However, every country was only doing what it was capable of. So Holland, around the North Sea, has windmill parks. Germany and England have a few. Then other parts make use of PVs for energy. Some have tidal energy. But all of these energies have limitations because there are moments when they… let’s say, for wind, when there’s a lot of wind and other moments when there’s no wind. The same goes for the sun, and for tidal. So we attempted to structure a system which combined all of these renewable energy systems in a central energy ring for Europe to balance out all the peaks and make something which was much more reliable. So looking then on the scale of Europe, we found a highway of infrastructure for electricity to be much more efficient than the local energy networks that we have. Secondly, the locations of all these energy collecting systems was considered much more strategically all across Europe.
2010 Cartographic revolution of the OMA Roadmap 2050 project shows how a continental network of energy distribution can take full advantage of regional cultural momenta, particular geographies and climate conditions, and irregular access to natural resources.
CD: Yes, we have. But really, you know, it’s more about being responsible than being 17
THE PRACTICE OF SPACE-MAKING (int. w/Andreas Georgioulias) AR: How would you say the tendencies or priorities of the user are determined in a public project? AG: Okay, so for me there are three alternatives. The first is that the end user is not really thought of. The architect designs whatever he would like to design in the way that he thinks is best. The second is that the architect does substantial research on what people would need but that research is done entirely within the office. AR: Not experientially in other words. AG: Exactly. Not experientially, not in an ethonographic way, not in a behavioral, observational way. And this is part of architectural education for me because architecture schools don’t teach the methods that social sciences have developed for decades to observe and understand social tendencies from real, experiential learning. The third alternative is to actually study the people, to ask them. But this involves also refining spaces and how many design firms do you see involved in the buildings they produce after they’re built? Very few. Product design has forever had this kind of analysis – the focus group, user testing. And they’re biting off the job of the architect who most of the time doesn’t do it. But the big reason why it’s not happening in architecture is because the user doesn’t want to pay for it, so it comes down to the users who want to pay because it’s 19
part of their business, as with labs or hospitals. AR: Of course I understand that if you can offset the cost to do a post-occupancy study with the savings you get from doing the study in the first place, then it makes sense for the client to invest. But di you think there could be a different way of looking at this issue rather than just objectifying the costs and benefits with money? AG: Yes, there definitely is. When it comes to the interventions that affect built space, you have three impacts. One is direct, quantifiable impact. So you remodel your HVAC system and it costs you a million dollars but it will save you one-hundred thousand every year so you make your money back in ten years and keep it for thirty; net gains. The second is direct impacts to the project which are not quantifiable. Human comfort. Human wellness, health and safety, happiness and creativity. Would you desire an office building which is dull and gray? No, you want you’re people happy and healthy and capable of innovating. So, in many cases there are regulations and some owners will do only what’s required by law. Then others will go above and beyond because they realize that it benefits them. It’s a combination of values and the mission of the organization. This includes, for example, all the big software companies in California; Facebook, Google, etc. that put ping pong tables and restaurants in their buildings. And, at the end of the day, it’s good for their business because it also attracts the
kinds of people they want. And lastly you have the indirect benefits, for the good of all; what we call project externalities. Reducing paper printing because you want to protect the Brazilian rainforest. Reducing carbon emissions, etc. AR: How do architects actively influence the restrictions or regulation of public spaces? AG: Most of the time politicians create teams to study public spaces which architects are a part of. AR: They work as consultants. AG: Yeah. Because if you have a technocrat or an elected politician, they’re not really qualified to determine how a public space is used or what water filtration technology is or what military equipment does, etc. They have a specialist advise them on everything they need.
(int. w/Ippolito Pestellini) IP: In general… you know, OMA is a big office and obviously as any other big office, most of our clients nowadays are private clients. And it’s always a struggle in a way. Sometimes you find clients who are willing to take a risk. For example, Prada… this a long-standing client of the office. It’s a client that I follow. In a phase of their history, they were very much willing to take the risk, to do things which were even against what they stood for as a fashion industry. So we were able to design events with them which were not really based on the luxury system but were eventually much more democratic. We were able to change the mechanics of how they operate, how they organized their presence and their communication. Sometime’s it’s possible and sometimes it’s not possible. In a competition I did in Bologna two years ago, for example, we lost the competition because we pushed the client too much. They were asking for a specific amount of volume to build and we said you don’t need that because you have a lot of other facilities in the vicinity that provide the same program. And we proposed different ideas for the leftover volume in the brief; more flexible spaces for the city. If you do this, then you take the risk obviously. Sometimes it’s possible, sometimes you lose the client. Sometimes you just have to accept what the client wants.
IP: Obviously to our clients but most of all to the places where we work. AR: To the places? IP: Yeah, to the cities, to the landscapes. You know what I mean? AR: I do, but I’ve never heard it prioritized quite like that before. IP: Well places is a vast definition. People yes, but people live in places and places have a history. That history is made of built material, facts, traditions, by many many things. Obviously we have a commitment to people. But you commit to a context before you commit to a client. Unfortunately, in an office like this, where things are very big, the contracts are very big, clients spend a lot of money and your first responsibility is usually to satisfy the client. What I feel sometimes is that I don’t give a shit about the client’s request and I instead think about what’s good for the place or the context.
mit to a context before you commit to a client. - IP
AR: To whom do you feel like you have a responsibility as an architect?
AN ODE TO POPULATION SIZE (int. w/Andreas Georgioulias) AR: An oft overlooked aspect of the political system which is imperative to consider is the size of the population which constitutes it. When you have a regulation which applies to an enormous space, like the whole metropolitan area of Athens… it’s the difference between a residential square you feel like you have a piece of, that you can identify with and one that you just pass through, like Times Square. AG: How would you say that the size of a population affects the spontaneous social interaction that leads to the development of an identity in a public space? AR: Can I give you two exaggerated examples from one perspective and another? AG: Sure. AR: If you had a residential plateia, houses that were three or four stories high surrounding this plateia, we might say that the public space belongs to three or four hundred families. Now let’s assume that you have the same size plateia in New York City and surrounding it are residential apartment buildings that are fifty stories high. This urban room is now occupied by thousands of people at the same time. There is an obvious difference between a space which is overcrowded and one which is more intimately flexible. AG: Yes okay. There is a given size of a community that above this size, it’s not easy to develop meaningful relationships. 21
AR: Perfect. What’s this size? AG: I have no idea. AR: I think Hippodamus said it was around 10 or 20 thousand people for a city. Ancient Athens in the 4th century BC probably had about 50,000 voting members. I’m really curious about this. AG: I really have no idea. For the sake of discussion, let’s consider our educational system, the Graduate School of Design. You’re in the MArch program. How big is your class? AR: I think we’re around 70. AG: 70. Okay. And are you able to identify with all your peers? To meet all of them? Would you prefer there were fewer? That it was fifty, or ten? Or maybe you can identify with all seventy but you only spend time with five of them. AR: Have you heard of Dunbar’s number? AG: No. AR: Robin Dunbar is a British anthropologist who quantified the maximum number of people with whom you can maintain intimate social relationships. It’s around 120, which corresponds with the average social group size observed in nature. AG: Okay. I mean I’ve heard it said that when you work for a company, for an office, you should not have more than 11 direct relationships. At the Harvard Business School where they accept nearly a thousand people every year,
each class is divided into groups of 70 or 80 or 90. So then going back to our topic about public space, maybe the issue is how public space can accommodate this subdivision of individual groups. AR: But after a certain point, as a population continues to grow, it crosses the threshold and it’s time to create a new community. AG: Or the community will self-create. AR: Yeah okay. But it has a new identity. New York City, in other words, can’t have a singular identity… millions of people.
AR: Yes exactly. And then you say, I’m from this neighborhood, and this apartment block. I shop at this convenience store and so on. Now we’re starting to make sense. I see what you’re identifying with. The scale is relatable. I’m from Kifisia, a relatively small town outside of Athens. Saying that still means something. But if my town had the density and size of New York City, saying I’m from Kifisia would be like saying I’m human; it wouldn’t tell you much about me at all.
AG: No, it can, it can. You can have a singular identity that has subdivisions. It depends on how strongly the citizens of that place identify with it. AR: I don’t know Andrea. There is a level at which this kind of associative thinking becomes meaningless. If you say, I’m American, it doesn’t mean so much. You’re talking about an expanse of land and peoples, the scale of which is completely unrelatable. Then you say, okay, I’m a New Yorker. Now we’re starting to understand. We can visualize a particular place; still, the population in this place and the number of possible experiences are unfathomable. I’m from Brooklyn you might say next. Okay, we’re doing better now. I can start to make out a context and a character. But still we’re talking about… AG: A vast community.
1992 A range of 150-300 people approximates Dunbar's number, the suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. 22
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