«Sergio Miguel Figueiredo «Arjen Oosterman «Timothy Moore «Nick Sowers
«Koldo Lus (Klaustoon)
Ways to be critical | summer 2013
ways to be
Archis 2013 #2 Per issue € 19.50 (nl, b, d, e, p) Volume is a project by Archis + AMO + C-Lab…
critical «Markus Miessen «Douglas Murphy «Mimi Zeiger
«Rob Dettingmeijer «Justin McGuirk «Luca Molinari
«Demilit «Jimenez Lai «Amelia Borg «Michèle Champagne «Brendan Cormier «Justine Yan «Justine Clark
To beyond or not to be
«WAI Think Tank
«Owen Hatherley «Fred Scharmen «Charles Holland «Françoise Fromonot
«Jan van Grunsven
Ways To Be Critical The critic is dead. Long live the net work! So it goes in our world of diffuse and shared knowledge. But if criticism has evolved into criticisms, how can we interpret and learn from the babble of opinions? This dilemma comes in tandem with another: the crisis of pub lishing. With declining print sales and slashed subsidies, many critics are out of work. Two fundamental tasks lie ahead: reviving the productive value of criticism, and finding new profitable ways to broadcast it to the world. Table of Contents 2 Editorial Arjen Oosterman Foreign Dispatches 6
Taking Sides Luca Molinari
Criticism as Culture Françoise Fromonot
On Speaking Terms Rob Dettingmeijer
In the Architect’s Words Justine Yan
The Project as Potential Jan van Grunsven
Footprinting Secrecy Demilit
Print Matters 74 American Newspaper Advertising Revenue 76
Criticism Turned on Itself Steve Parnell
Keeping Up with the Avant-Garde Fabrizia Vecchione
Back to the Maestri
Little Magazines Urte˙ Rimsaite˙
Press Release Journalism
92 On Criticism as Fun Mechanism in Pain Relief for Designer Bullshit Michèle Champagne New Formats
16 Talking Criticism Arjen Oosterman 18 Unforbidden Planets: Form, Theory, Vacancy, and Robots Fred Scharmen and Michael Stanton
106 Caricature, Hyperbole and the Politics of the Cartoon A conversation with Jimenez Lai and Klaus 112 Toward a Collective Criticism Mimi Zeiger
117 Critical Aggregators
118 Losing my Illusions about Open-source Criticism Naomi Stead
Negotiating the Intention of the Work Justine Clark and Paul Walker
30 Evaluating Architecture: Where Performance and Reflection Meet Bernard Colenbrander
126 Architecture Museums: Between Critical and Popular Sergio Miguel Figueiredo
36 A Glass Farm in Schijndel Arjen Oosterman
131 Critical Petitions
38 Digital Distraction: Towards a Technological Criticism Colin Ripley
100 From Written Word to Practiced Word Markus Miessen interview
Identifying with the Oppressor Amelia Borg and Timothy Moore
Narrative Architecture: A Manifesto WAI Think Tank
132 Reviving the Long Form Justin McGuirk interview 136 Blogging the Photo-Essay Owen Hatherley, Douglas Murphy and Charles Holland 144 Colophon
Move That Body!
Volume likes to think of itself as a critical magazine. Not in that it reviews and criti cizes production, but in that it has a critical relation with architecture as practice and as notion. No problem up to now. Different worlds, different attitudes, the twain shall never meet, and they lived apart happily ever after… … until yesterday’s counter-culture became today’s accepted practice. To work unso licited as office, to develop as architect (anathema in most western countries only a decade ago), to create social projects, to see potential for all kinds of products and outcomes next to making buildings, to have hybrid and networked offices, under stand design as just another way of experimenting and challenging, of helping and reformulating, it all is normal practice these days. Maybe not in quantity, but certainly in mentality. Architecture schools have a hard time adjusting to these realities, to search for a new balance between hardcore design skills and other faculties that are equally needed. But that is not the subject of this issue. The interest in criticality and the practice of criticism had more to do with a felt uneasiness that the emerging practices just mentioned escaped our evaluative attention. Going beyond doesn’t include reviewing, right? Well, maybe it does and the time is right to combine an explorative and pro active approach with a responsive one, to include reality checks in the process and also to contextualize. This issue started under the working title ‘anything goes’, but its nihilist overtone became oppressive. So ‘ways to be critical’ was the more polite, more optimistic and neutral alternative, tying this issue into wider research on the potential of criticism nowadays and its different modes of operation. To come to grips, we had to revisit places like New York, Milan, Paris and London, to see were trajectories started deviating. To understand what the actual relation between architecture criticism and architectural production had been until recently, and to see what kind of relations are emerging. That quest is far from complete. What we present here is an interim report, at best suggesting ways to go about. But it all starts with ‘who cares?’ And ‘why care at all’? So, to find out if there is still vitality in this old body called architecture, we’ll have to kick it as hard as we can.
By Arjen Oosterman
ism itic e cr
m is ic
o n cr it ic
aph ic al is
it cr r de en
en G Impr
‘Reflections on a relatively recent phenomenon that contribute to the creation/ forming and dissemination of opinions thereon.’
duc tiv Pro
ic cr ns ri Int
i cr re
m is c ti
ero F ng i psi D hct a s e
Fore ign Disp atch es
Taking Sides A dispatch from Italy
Italy has long been a powerhouse of architectural criticism and publications, with an intimate relationship to production. Never criticism for its own sake, the architectural publishing complex of Italy has a tradition of stance-taking, actively shaping the direction of the profession. But the glory days of Casabella and other noteworthy publications has faded, leaving a void to be filled. Luca Molinari paints a portrait of the countryâ€™s new critical landscape.
By Luca Molinari
Volume 36 7
In Italy there is an architect for every 470 inhabitants, as opposed to a European average of one per 1353. In Italy there is one architecture student for every 761 inhabitants, as opposed to a European average of one to 2589. Italy thus has one architect for every two square kilometers. Italy publishes 44.8 percent of the world’s architecture and design magazines. There are approximately sixty million inhabitants in Italy as opposed to a world popula tion of nearly seven billion, and the Italian language is spoken by no more than a hundred million people throughout the world.1 Starting from these figures, we may expect to find comfort in assessing the condition of writing about architecture in Italy. However, I believe that assessing the health of architectural criticism in our country is a very tricky task, one that is undertaken with a mixed feeling of resigned dismay at having lost the way and a sense of urgent need to clearly delineate the terms and tools that we can apply in the near future. The feeling of having lost the way derives from the inevitable comparison with our recent history. Without summoning Ernesto Nathan Rogers’ Casabella-Continuità, Bruno Zevi’s Archittetura cronaca e storia, or Zodiac, and examining solely the weight that architectural criti cism has had in Italy since the 1960s, the comparative analysis of the current situation looks dismal. But perhaps it would make sense to quickly reread some of the principal elements of the recent history of critical writing on architecture in Italy to get an overview that will be essential for understanding the present and attempting to change our perspective in a way that will take us beyond it. In Italy, architectural criticism has always been as sociated with the emergence of debate on the role and weight of modern architecture in our country, in both pos itive and negative terms. Criticism was never undertaken for its own sake, it was never a narrative, but rather a militant and tactical stance-taking in the ongoing debate. Gio Ponti’s articles in the Corriere della Sera from 1932 to the late ‘60s and Bruno Zevi’s weekly column in Espresso from 1955 to 2000 are merely the most emblem atic examples of this attitude, which equated criticism with an active form of cultural militancy. It was an attitude that witnessed its most representative heights in ‘spe cialized’ magazines as early as the 1930s with Giuseppe Pagano, Raffaele Giolli, and Edoardo Persico who largely contributed with critical essays in Casabella and Domus. In this historical phase, spanning the period of the Second World War, modern architecture, its theory, the history of architecture, and architectural criticism all strongly overlapped and were employed with a militant and tactical stance to build a unitary and cohesive nar rative to affirm the role of modern architectural culture in Italian society. It was not until the 1960s that alternative situations began to emerge. One case was the journalist Antonio Cederna, who used architectural criticism and narrative as a mirror to talk about how the Italian landscape was being ruined by the building boom, marking the start of a form of environmentalist journalism that would steadily gain weight in the often negative critical analysis of contemporary Italian architecture. In those same years the theoretical work of Manfredo Tafuri established a substantial semantic dis tinction between the Modern quest and the history of architecture, leading progressively to the post-modern breakup of the modernist ethos and to the opening of
a period of specialization within the field of architecture that drained the life out of any idea of a unitary vision. The year 1974 witnessed the first issue of Lotus International, a quarterly magazine edited by Pierluigi Nicolin and one of the most innovative and highly evolved instruments of international architectural criticism, at least until the end of the 1990s. A different fate awaited the two flagships of Italian architecture after the seventies. Alessandro Mendini was the only director who succeeded in riding the wave from Casabella (1970 – 76) to Domus (1979 – 85), providing an original representation of the Radical and Post-Modern periods. But beyond Mendini’s exceptional experience, Casabella, initially under the stewardship of Tòmas Maldonado and later under Vittorio Gregotti, incarnated the keenest and most discerning reflection on modernity during the final years of the twentieth century and the legacy it has left. Gregotti’s Casabella (1982 – 96) in particular became a workshop of critical writing featuring a group of young journalists such as Mirko Zardini, Sebastiano Brandolini, and GeorgeTeyssot, who exercised an increasingly issue-oriented approach with an eye to the expressions of modern criticism, later acquiring the ‘heavy-hitters’ Manfredo Tafuri, Francesco Dal Co, Kenneth Frampton, Massimo Cacciari, and the circle of intellectuals who got their training in the Italo-American training camp known as Oppositions magazine. Domus took a different trajectory, presenting itself as a sort of barometer of the most international trends and fashions, changing hands in what became a rigorous three-year cadence from Mario Bellini (1986 – 1992) to Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani (1992 – 1996), Francois Burkhardt (1996 – 2000), Deyan Sudjic (2000 – 2004), Stefano Boeri (2004 – 2007), and Flavio Albanese (2007 – 2010). Domus was a more broadly encompassing publication, spanning architecture, design, art, and fashion in a reinterpretation of the Ponti legacy. The early 1990s also marked the beginning of Italo Lupi’s editorship of Abitare. In the fifteen years under his guidance, the magazine became an interesting critical workshop encompassing built architecture, graphics, interior design, and design, representing a sort of ‘third way’ between the two dominant magazines. The end of the century marked the closure of three culturally antagonistic magazines that had been the purveyors of heretical thinking on modern culture: Bruno Zevi’s Achitettura cronaca e storia, Paolo Portoghesi’s Parametro, and Giancarlo De Carlo’s Spazio e Società. At the same time, new publications were being born, such as Area and The Plan, conceived as supporting tools for professionals with a more agnostic, neutral stance regarding the architectural works they addressed. In this phase, the most innovative and open critical debate progressively shifted onto the web, representing mainly a new generation of architects and recent grad uates who do not feel that the traditional publications neither represent nor listen to them. Arch.it, created by Marco Brizzi in 1998, was the first online Italian archi tectural magazine in which critical interpretation of architecture and its culture framework acquired notable relevance thanks especially to an overarching reflection on the impact of digital technology on national archi tectural culture. Within the network, as well as via the critical action of a series of new players such as Pippo Ciorra, Stefano Boeri, Cino Zucchi and Mirko Zardini, it was finally possible to get beyond the almost theological,
outlet, asking for an interview, or eager to re-use argu ments from one of our articles on a current debate involv ing architecture. Thus appropriated, even reformulated, an analysis or a point of view elaborated through dis cussion in our editorial meetings and put forward in (somewhat confidential) writing, travels towards larger audiences. Such opportunities are a welcome escape from the confinement of the architecture scene. Ideas take off towards society at large, with a chance of bouncing back into architecture circles. Each time, it feels like a small achievement. The figure of the individual critic has had its day; the critic as a media figure emulating that of his subject only to enhance it – the ‘man-to-man’ relationship, by which architect and critic mutually benefit from the notoriety of the other and give the reader the flattering impression of being part of their intimacy. Criticism is sharper, more political and more effective when envisaged as a collective construct. It contributes to the knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms that shape our world as it is. Architectural criticism can help us grasp this. And as an attempt to facilitate an open discussion on our built environments and involving all concerned, perhaps it could help restore architecture’s empowering role.
1 Albeit a conservative or at least defensive one: see for instance
Cosa Mentale, created at the ENSA Paris-Belleville according to an editorial line inspired by Luigi Snozzi’s ‘10 commandments for resistance.’ 2 Le Journal Spéciale’Z from the École Spéciale d’Architecture (ESA, the only private architecture school in France) proposed to “look at architecture, art, and urbanism, bringing together academic research, interviews, commentary, narrative and projects”. Face B announced its intention to “present interviews and essays by renowned and emerging critics, curators, architects and artists”. Philippe Chiambaretta’s Stream suggested it would “explore the relationship between the world of production, con temporary art, design and architecture”, and “present a critical analysis of capitalist society and identify possibilities for action and collaboration in its various fields of study”. 3 Archizines, an exhibition of ‘new architecture fanzines’ published all over the world, was curated by Elias Redstone. It has travelled widely since. See www.archizines.com. 4 This is a recurrent issue with contradictory criticism, made worse by increasing legal protections of ‘image reproduction rights’. At criticat we have been trying to test ideas to replace unobtainable plans, for instance with hand sketches or thorough descriptions.
that describing and examining architecture and its issues could be a way to critique the world that builds it. Architecture is not so much, or only, an array of aesthetic artifacts to be examined primarily from the point of view of the discipline, but a cultural production. Seen thus, the choice of subjects and the angle of scrutiny changes. Common buildings become part of the discussion, whilst, conversely, investigation into what operates below the radar becomes paramount. This means taking seriously and looking at what is generally over looked at both ends of the spectrum: on the one hand, the ordinary built matter that makes most of our every day environments; on the other, the work of marginal, unknown practices, leading to the exposure and articu lation of their relevance. These can be some ways to escape the vicious circle whereby buildings are published because they are exemplary and exemplary because they are published. As for the architectural production unanimously deemed worthy of publishing, it could gain credibility and even pertinence if it was submitted to a relentless and uncompromising scrutiny from critics. Unconditional celebration of buildings and their architects, great or small, is deadly. It prevents the construction of a thorough body of knowledge on those works, and sterilizes debate by killing autonomous thinking and its expression: in the profession, in architecture schools, and in the public. It is urgent to reinstate a culture of irreverence, to launch polemics, to dare generate conflict, to recognize the virtues of controversy. Critics must take the risk of renewing with antagonistic criticism, articulated on the basis of explicit criteria and traceable arguments. Of course it is naïve to imagine that this can have an im mediate tangible effect on architecture. But these rising voices can instil and ultimately reinstate the simple idea that criticism is possible, and even contagious. Moreover, the generalized rhetoric of admiration proves counterproductive for those architects who cherish it most. Faint or true, praise can actually be damning. It reconfirms acquired certainties, quickens the withering of once innovative thinking or design into rehashed recipes. Should critics then operate only in their journals or act as consultants for practices whenever architects feel that a dialogue partner would be useful to question their projects (during the design phase) or evaluate them (once they are built)? The desire to embed critics into practice may seem contradictory when one acknowledges their main operative feature – distance. Like all com missions, embeddedness might sooner or later lead into friendly complicity, with its dilemmas possibly solved by complacency. Irreverence is only possible through independence. Can critics radically cut the umbilical cord with the architectural profession, i.e. eschew press visits, take their own pictures, and find alternatives to graphic documents usually provided by architects?4 To a large extent, yes. At present, conflict of interest is inherent to most architecture journals: architects are both their main readers and the main providers of the material that they publish. Changing the readership base, opening up the journal to wider audiences can also be a way to break with this incestuous situation. This entails working on the way criticism is written, to make it acces sible to curious readers and not only specialists. Jargon is more often than not a quintessential abuse of power, and synonymous with ready-made thinking. It happens sometimes that criticat is contacted by a journalist from a newspaper, or another large media
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran Azadeh Mashayekhi
Random corporate building, Tehran Azadeh Mashayekhi
CTV Building, Toronto Aydin Basoluk
Unknown Building in Soho, NYC, USA Aydin Basoluk
CĂŠsar Carlos student residence, Madrid Angel Borrego Cubero
Arch near the Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid Angel Borrego Cubero
Miss World Competition Andres Jaque
Farewell Miss America by Julia Sherman Andres Jaque
Silodam, Amsterdam Andrea Bertassi
Calypso, Rotterdam Andrea Bertassi
Digital Distraction: Towards a Technological Criticism
As architects race to keep up with technology, critics are involved in a race of their own â€“ to come to grips with what technology means; how it impacts architecture; and how it fundamentally shifts our criteria of evaluation. Colin Ripley views the critical field as seemingly blinded by science, unable to articulate how technology might combine with architecture to provide new benchmarks for good architecture, thus partly contributing to criticismâ€™s current state of crisis. Here he lays out some potential starting points for a renewed techno-critical culture.
By Colin Ripley
“All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned …”
Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels in the Communist Manifesto (1848)
In his 2009 A Brief History of the Future, Jacques Attali characterizes the history of progress as one of the conversion of service industries into consumer goods.1 In recent years we have seen this notion taken one step further, as consumer goods such as CDs and books – physical congellations of the music and storytelling industries – have vanished before our eyes, converted this time into pure information. What we are witnessing is a double change of state: relational to solidified to indexical; however, unlike the changing states of matter, these changes are irreversible. The worlds of architecture and urban design, which are after all service industries at their core, are far from immune to these effects. We are surely on the brink of massive incursions into the daily life of the professional architect courtesy of technological solutions – indeed, we see them already, as performance-modeling tools take over the traditional role of human calculation and BIM threatens the architect’s traditional role as coordinator and holder of information. There are more to come: the analysis software that verifies (and certifies, for official purposes) compliance with local building codes; detailing software that produces technically competent, affordable, and sustainable solutions for any tectonic situation (along with a discount on your liability insurance). Can design itself be far behind? Patrik Schumacher2 has suggested that parametric design shifts the role of the designer to that of curator, coordinating inputs and subsequently choosing among potentially many automatically generated outcomes, while Cynthia Ottchen3 points to a future in which soft data sets render even the curatorial services of the architect/designer unnecessary. But even this does not tell the full transformative story of the coming
evolution of the design professions, as the act of design itself becomes more and more a collaborative networked activity, involving intensive and extensive interactions among multiple design actors, both human and non-human. This radical shift in the core DNA of the design professions first began to attain a critical mass in the mid-to-late 1990s, with the widespread adoption of the computer in architectural and design offices. The trans formation goes far beyond the sudden ubiquity of CAD systems (the transformative history of the fax machine in design offices is, to my knowledge, yet to be written). Intriguingly, this development is almost precisely con temporaneous with the decline of a critical culture in architecture and urbanism that forms the fundamental impetus for this issue of Volume. This could be seen as pure coincidence, as simply an accident of historical progression: that the moment of the end of criticism, as pronounced by, say, Terry Eagleton, happened precisely in synchrony with the maturation of accessible design technologies. But what if it were not just coincidence? A slightly more aggressive formulation of that moment would be to suggest that the mushrooming possibilities of computer-aided design in the late 1990s and early 2000s supplanted a critical milieu, not simply filling a void left by the demise of criticism, but actively sucking the air out of the room – that our new-found excitement with all things digital produced a state of distraction in the architectural community, a state focused on projection and production, a state in which the friction of critical discourse was just not desired. Or – maybe there is something inherent in tech nological development that disenfranchises the critical voice. Walter Benjamin seems to have suggested this: writing in another world, about earlier, more primitive technologies, he pointed out the ability for technological development to penetrate deeply into reality, to reshape and reform our understanding of the world, to induce a state of a critical distraction ripe for exploitation.4 If this was true for film in the 1920s, it is surely even truer for our digital technologies today and in coming years, with their ability to reform the social and material realities of our world in front of our eyes – almost without our even noticing. So: has this new wave of intensified technological development produced a new state of critical distraction in the twenty-first century? One way to address this question is to look for signs of a developing critical position within the technical camp itself. To do this, I’m going to discuss three wellknown writers about digital technology in architecture: Patrik Schumacher, Lars Spuybroek and Antoine Picon.5 On the surface, the three writers provide widely divergent views on the digital in architecture. This is not surprising. Schumacher, the large-scale practitioner, is looking to develop an all-encompassing theory of architecture that will allow design decisions to be made in a clear and easily comprehensible fashion. Spuybroek, whose generally smaller scale work embraces a broad experimental agenda connected to a structural fascination within architecture, produces a deeply historically grounded and highly thoughtful tectonic position. Picon, the academic, histo rian, and theorist of architecture produces a broad dis course that delves into fundamental issues with archi tecture and making, in particular the relationship between representation and materiality. On reading the three pieces a few times, however, the similarities and overlaps among them start to stand
Distributor: Filmgalerie 451, Photo Paul Poet
Further, the fake practice had nothing at stake in the immigration issue because their real identities were not on the line. Neither was its attention or convictions. It has already moved on – its latest project is the facilitation of a canopy competition for a wine bar designed by famous Melbourne modernists. The act of overidentification, of embracing the core beliefs of one’s enemy, is not a strategy that belongs in the world of ironic paper architecture. In fact, its success hinges upon the fact that it is not connected to irony at all. Unlike irony – or its correlatives, parody and satire – the act of overidentification blurs the lines through its materialization in the physical world; that is, it appears as real. A successful and evocative example of overidentifi cation was the 2000 art project of playwright and artist Christoph Schlingensief – a Big Brother shipping container settlement in the middle of a Viennese public square to house ‘asylum seekers’. Over the period of Schlingensief’s TV show, Ausländer raus. Bitte liebt Österriech (For eigners Out. Please Love Austria!), Austrian citizens were encouraged to vote asylum seekers off the show. After being taken from the containers, the loser would be transported to the border of Austria and their removal from the country broadcasted. In the essay by Bavo (Gideon Boie and Matthias Pauwels), ‘Always Choose the Worst Option – Artistic Resistance and the Strategy of Over-identification’, Bavo writes: “The fact that this event took place in the heart of Austria’s capital, right in front of the Burgtheater, gave it a high visibility both nationally and internationally, with crowds assembling daily in front of the camp.”4 Schlingensief’s dramaturge Matthias Lilienthal recounted
that the performance seemed so real that not only did approximately 30,000 to 40,000 Austrians vote in the opening week to eject the first person, but when a bus load of Israeli tourists saw the banner on top of the con tainers saying ‘Foreigners Out!’ they immediately headed to the airport and flew out of the country, concerned that fascism could be sanctioned so publicly.5 The main intent of Schlingensief’s performance was to highlight the extreme position on asylum seekers held by the far-right party Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (FPÖ) in Austria, which used slogans like ‘Foreigners out!’ In the performance, presented as an FPÖ event, the cruel endgame of its doctrine is exposed, highlighted in the slogan above the container settlement: Foreigners Out! The fantasy is realized: Schlingensief makes manifest the rhetoric of the FPÖ, and the sight is not a pretty one. Unlike the projects of Godsell and Corrigan, Schlingensief’s performance was executed in front of a public and this was transformative. The public could not ignore this spectacle in Vienna’s civic heart and there fore could not continue to be complicit in the injustices it highlighted. A crowd of around five hundred people appeared most days on the street and started to discuss their politics in connection to the event. Some people approached the compound and protested against the show, while others who normally sided with the far right could not stomach the direct violence that was shown to be the manifestation of its policies. Identifying the elements in society that are capable of abusing human rights, however, does not necessarily mean that one must masquerade as them, i.e. participate in an act of overidentification. We can also embrace the rules of their game (but not look like them) to not only
“FOREIGNERS OUT! SCHLINGENSIEFS CONTAINER” (Austria 2002, Paul Poet)
make a critique about an abhorrent situation but to seek justice for these violations. Architect Eyal Weizman shows this pathway in his recent project, Forensic Architecture, based at Goldsmiths, University of London. In Forensic Archi tecture, identification does not overtly play out through speculation or spectacle. Instead, it is a research think tank that identifies with the language and tools of polit ical powers – and these powers’ rule of law – to show these groups up. But Forensic Architecture is not opaque about its aims – it wants to keep the bastards honest. One of its current research projects, Forensic Oceanography (with collaborators Lorenzo Pezzani and Paulo Tavares) maps ocean currents and mobile phone calls in order to tell the story of seventy-two migrants who fled Tripoli by boat only to drift in the currents for two weeks. (It is estimated over 1,500 people died fleeing Libya as they crossed the Mediterranean Sea on this journey in the spring of 2011.) The situation became a catalyst for taking organizations to court for their failure to prevent the deaths of sixty-three people from this vessel. Eyal Weizman recently explained how the rule of law that governmental organizations often use to enforce their power is in this case used against them: “ We can turn NATO’s surveillance against itself rather than complain about the oversurveillance of Europe’s borders. The laws of the high sea state that you have an obligation to save a vessel in dis tress. If a boat signals an SOS you must change course to help. I ask NATO and the United Nations … How can this one boat drift for two weeks without being noticed?”6 Since the release of the report by Forensic Architecture in 2012, French human rights lawyers have proceeded with legal action against those implicated in the criminal act, including the French military, which is suspected of knowing the vessel’s movements. For Eyal Weizman, to criticize a system one needs a forum. He says, “It is not enough just to produce evidence, such as an exhibition with drawings. It has no political effect. It speaks into a void.”7 One must take the critique into the wider public realm. Architecture does not have to oppose injustices in society by suggesting an alternative world. Instead, architecture can confront regimes that violate human rights abuses by identifying with what it despises, reveal ing the regimes’ methodologies and highlighting its contradictions. Doing this in the public realm is the key to success because every critical gesture needs a forum. This is what gives critical architecture its realness.
1 Godsell and Corrigan, telephone interview, 2011. 2 Slavoj Žižek, ‘Why Are Laibach and NSK Not Fascists?’
M’ars, Let. 5, št. 3/4 (1993) str. 3-4. 3 The real identity of the authors was unknown to the editor
of the magazine.
4 Bavo, ‘Always Choose the Worst Option – Artistic Resistance and
the Strategy of Over-identification’ in Cultural Activism Today: The Art of Over-identification, (Rotterdam: Episode, 2007). 5 Matthias Lilienthal, ‘Ausländer Raus – Bitte Liebt Österriech, or Christoph Schlingsief’s Big Brother Container’, Lecture, Former West, March 8, 2012. 6 Eyal Weizman, personal interview, September 2012. 7 Ibid.
Chapter I: AGNOSIA
BLINDNESS 1 It struck them by surprise… They found themselves trapped in a thick white mist where nothing they knew could be recognized anymore…
Chapter II NOSTALGIA
2 All their memories and certitudes had turned into uncertainties... 3 What was it they had come looking for… what was it that had driven them here…
4 As they were lost in their confusion, they didn’t notice the shapes rising in front of their recovering eyes… Shapes so pure… Nothing like what they had ever seen before… So close and yet so ungraspable… Then they felt it again… But this time out of the dazzling mist a clearer world… a better understanding… They were left with a decision to make… Which path to follow? … What way to choose? …
2 Derriere le mur, les formes
6 A Long Road 5 Slowly regaining their full perception, they were stricken by visions of an uncertain past… Where memories of fading dreams haunted their horizon… 6 There was no easy decision to make… Once the path has been unveiled it has to be taken…
3 The Window
7 Every struggle is a process of choice… And the inescapable loss of other possibilities… As they advance deeper into the secrecy of their journey, they begin to make out a distant silhouette, looking almost as if awaiting their coming…
8 Have they been here before? Was it where they had come from? What they sensed seemed familiar… but what they saw was unknown…
4 Hardcorist Oasis
8 Walled City
Chapter III ATLAS Illustrations What About It Think Tank
9 Once they entered the gates, they felt captive… held in by the walls of the city… There was no turning back… They had attracted the attention to themselves in a place where nothing could belong… 10 Four shapes soared into the sky… Perfectly identical… Ideal geometries stripped of any intention other than their form…
9 Inside the Wall, the City
10 Absolute Architecture, Absolute City Chapter IV THE ICON 11 Unconscious of the power that lies within them… Guiding them against their awareness… They were led to the source… 12 They were not prepared for what would come next… As darkness became their only surrounding… They couldn’t but wonder… Was this another purgatory… … or a place with no exit?
11 Monumento, Memento, Monstrum
Criticism is usually a sedentary affair, produced and consumed in relatively still environs. DEMILIT, a collective of architectural researchers in the San Francisco Bay Area, like to ‘walk’ their criticism, by physically investigating the landscape, and disseminating their criticism and insight through group hikes. These roving studios explore news ways to understand and read one’s surroundings, uncovering forgotten or covered-up artifacts, that ultimately reveal the relationship between power’s sheen and its spatial banality.
Volume 36 69
Back in 2010, the US military began its departure from Iraq, leaving behind heaps of waste from dismantled camps and bases. At the time, an account emerged of a certain type of dead scorpion found at one of the abandoned sites. There are approximately eighteen known types of scorpions in Iraq, but some argued that this species in particular was not indigenous to the immediate vicinity. It isn’t a secret that the American military admires scorpions. After all, the Pentagon named one of its major operations in 2003 ‘Operation Desert Scorpion’. Separately, the CIA baptized a paramilitary unit manned by Iraqis as ‘The Scorpions’. And scorpions are even rumored to inspire some visual patterns on military cam ouflage. Moreover, American military personnel appar ently enjoyed gambling on scorpion fights in Iraq and Afghanistan. But despite this history, many were quick to write off allegations from detainees in Camp Bucca that, like the abuse reported at Abu Ghraib, they had been tortured with live scorpions. Therefore, when a partic ular breed of scorpion was found in a place that was not its normal habitat, and where allegations were often repeatedly asserted over American soldiers’ denials, the plausibility of scorpion-enhanced torture at Camp Bucca became higher. Of course, this suspiciously displaced scorpion could have been accidentally transported by personnel move ments or even carried along as a prized fighter. But to us in the landscape group DEMILIT, such a scenario motivates further thought. It indicates that perhaps the only shred of evidence one may ever have of secret affairs could be something that is reminiscent of the recovered scorpion carcass – a kind of evidence that may be nearly indistin guishable from the spatial milieu it emerges from. When it comes to mapping landscapes of secrecy or violence, evidence needs to be scrutinized from an imaginative and experimental – even an artistic – stand point that accounts for environmental interpenetration. This oftentimes means going around in proverbial circles, open to contextual clues. We see this as a critical design process, a fictional imagination of possibilities that often gets overlooked by experts; a purposeful disorientation into a territory. As Walter Benjamin explains with regards to the urban, “Not to find one’s way in a city may well be uninteresting and banal...but to lose oneself in a city – as one loses oneself in a forest – that calls for quite a different schooling.” Of the scorpion torture story, nothing ever did seem to come. Nevertheless, the scenario became a signif icant launching pad for us in terms of seeking out and locating the kinds of innocuous forms of evidence that we might find lying around at our very own feet. And so, we began walking, like many others before us. In a fashion similar to artists and writers like Guy Debord, Rebecca Solnit, Trevor Paglen, Francis Alÿs, the L.A. Urban Rangers, kanarinka, and many more, we walk in order to balance the active intention of scrutinizing our environment with the kind of meandering curiosity that allows one to notice the unexpected – losing oneself in a perceptive way, to borrow from Benjamin. No sense of spatial speculation can succeed with out a regular regimen of combing one’s environment on foot with widely cast senses. Nor could we imagine an investigation of any sort taking shape without practicing the most basic political act of exercising our right to mere movement. Especially given the rampant securiti zation and privatization of places we’ve seen in the
spatial redacting of the post-9/11 landscape, the closures of borders, and details of clandestine military sites (some even in our own midst), methodical walking emerged in many of our conversations as essential. In 2005, Paglen led one of our members, Bryan Finoki, on a hiking tour of the notorious Area 51 military base in the Nevada outback. This came to be one of Paglen’s ‘experimental lectures’, scaling the rugged edges of mountain perches with telescopes hooked up to highend cameras. Finoki published an article about it and credits this experience as a primal provocation in recali brating his own lens towards the boundaries of state secrecy. All the while, Javier Arbona (another member) was busy writing an architectural thesis on the Vieques Island bombing test site in Puerto Rico, his national origin, where he had spent countless hours measuring the juxta posed contours of paradisal beach fronts pummeled by the toxic litter of military ordnance. Later on, Nick Sowers would take a year on a Branner Fellowship touring US military bases around the world and circumambulating their distinct edges with a sound recorder in hand, ulti mately re-imagining an acoustic reclamation in their ruins for his final master of architecture project at UC Berkeley. It was with the 2011 invitation to lead a group walk at the Headlands Center of the Arts in Marin County, California, that our practice found a palpable experiment. The Headlands, a tenant of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is laden with strange adjacencies and contradictions, perhaps typical of such post-military, public-owned lands. Old bunkers and missile silos crumble in the dry grassy hills, while even older army barracks have been restored as a youth hostel and housing for artists in residence. Rangers patrol around, maintaining the layer of bureaucracy and uniformed surveillance, and even manicure the grass per Army standards around a Cold War silo with missiles polished and displayed. Another tenant is the Marine Mammal Center. Using the vast underground silos to hold filtration tanks, refrigeration equipment, and ozone generators, the Center rehabilitates wounded seals and sea lions. We toured the Mammal Center and recorded the sounds of its mechanical pumps inside the old concretized bowels, the barking seals splashing in recovery pools, the amused delight in children’s voices, and the creaks and clangs of Cold War steel doors. While analyzing the rich layers of the Headlands’ hillsides, we asked ourselves about the relationship between military power and nature, and the various means of the former imitating and subverting the latter. We wondered how we could intervene in that feedback loop where military and landscape mutually reconstitute one another, and create a temporary space whereby we would not only extract information buried in the Headlands’ past, but remix and amplify that to uncover an even more disguised relationship lurking in its future. We designed a public walk as a cross-section through the former military ruins and through strategic props and dialogue, initiating subtle hints about the ways in which old and new collude. The walk provided a ground work to probe not only the past uses of the silos but also how a new military production of nature squats in their horizon. We positioned stops along the walk to analyze ‘postcard’ views. Meanwhile, a series of ‘sound grenades’ were planted in the landscape playing shards of sounds taken from our own field recordings of the missile silos, along with other recorded sounds of military landscapes. At the main building, we temporarily installed a ‘sound
On June 11th, Domus announced that current director Joseph Grima would be replaced by Italian architect and former Domus deputy editor Nicola Di Battista. After over two years of renewing Domus with critical content that focused on younger studios and new production techniques, the magazine is taking a dramatic swing back to the old guard in an attempt to boost print sales. Di Battista plans to establish an editorial board of five established ‘masters’ – David Chipperfield, Kenneth Frampton, Hans Kollhoff, Werner Oechslin and Eduardo Souto de Moura – stemming from his conviction that “there is a need to establish an empathic relationship between masters and the younger generation in order to promote this discipline’s worldwide advancement”. But for many this was seen as reactionary, patronizing, outdated, and even mafioso – a shift away from critical independent thought towards established institutional voices.
Kieran Long @kieranlong 11 Jun White male ‘maestri’ to have their egos stroked by new domus editorial concept. Jesus. Francesca Recchia @kiccovich 12 Jun so very sad. RT@kieranlong: White male ‘maestri’ to have their egos stroked by new domus editorial concept. Jesus. Kazys Varnelis @kazys 14 Jun Yikes! “@kieranlong: White male ‘maestri’ to have their egos stroked by new domus editorial concept. Jesus.
Domus@DomusWeb 11 Jun From September 2013, the new editor in chief of Domus will be Italian architect Nicola Di Battista Vera Sacchetti @verasacchetti 11 Jun It’s official… RT @DomusWeb: From September 2013, the new editor of Domus will be architect Nicola Di Battista pacelab Architects @ S spacelab_it 11 Jun “The new Domus”? Back to the past. Back to Italy. @DomusWeb @joseph_grima @mariofaranda# BoardofMaestri #ITcobweb Al Javieera @AlJavieera 12 Jun Domus was just screaming for a switch back to a master-apprentice discourse. Via @ULGlobalCities
ndres Barrios @andres_barrios A 16 Jun @JustineClark @jeremytill @DomusWeb @joseph_grima sounds just alike the recent dismissal of Denise Scott Brown’s retroactive Pritzker.Gross. Justine Clark @JustineClark 16 Jun @andres_barrios @jeremytill @domusweb @joseph_grima Yes, speaking of ‘sad, old, white men’.
In reply to Kieran Long Parlour @_Parlour 14 Jun Arrrgh! RT:@kieranlong: White male ‘maestri’ to have their egos stroked by new domus editorial concept. Jesus. In reply to Kieran Long
Justine Clark @JustineClark 16 Jun @andres_barrios@jeremytill@ domusweb@joseph_grima I suspect ‘focussing on readers’ is code for ‘shoring up the advertising $’.
Mimi Zeiger @loudpaper 14 Jun @kieranlong @amandakhurley ug, way to cash in on @DomusWeb’s hard-earned cultural relevancy. Frederico Duarte @freduarte 15 Jun This from @kazys, apt prologue to @DomusWeb’s next editorial board of “well-off sad, white men”? http://bit.ly/19Bhf0W
roy Conrad Therrien @ T troytherrien 17 Jun Masters? RIP @domusweb, it was nice reading you and caring about you and having you care about the 21st century Fabio Sergio @freegorifero 17 Jun The usual Italian vice of glorifying the past hard at work in @DomusWeb’s alleged new editorial strategy. Jeremy Till @jeremytill 18 Jun Writing to @DomusWeb to ask how their 5 white male ‘maestri’ might relate to my 70% female students and 40% non-white students.
Justine Clark @JustineClark 15 Jun New @DomusWeb editor and his male ‘maestri’ would benefit from reading @jeremytill Jeremy Till @jeremytill 16 Jun RIP @DomusWeb Once great journal now in the hands of ‘maestri’ taking it back to the dark ages via @JustineClark ndres Barrios @andres_barrios A 16 Jun @jeremytill @DomusWeb @ JustineClark @joseph_grima as if the architectural practice needed a Maestri board to enlighten us, the ‘proletariat’
Back to the Maestri
Torre Agbar, Barcelona Nick Axel
Sede de la Comision del Mercado de Telecomunicaciones, Barcelona Nick Axel
Immeuble Polyvalent ‘Chauderon’, Lausanne Oscar Gential
Echallens 1 – 9, Lausanne Oscar Gential
87 ROM Crystal, Toronto Mina Hanna
Robarts Library, Toronto Mina Hanna
BAN Centar, Zagreb Milijana Grujic
Villa in Zagreb Milijana Grujic
Latham House, London Michelle Kasprzak
Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham Michelle Kasprzak
Archizines that present themselves as writing about architecture and urbanism without emphasizing one specific field of interest. Although their editors point at varied reasons for running a zine: to share emerging ideas among friends, schoolmates, or office members; to provide a space for a more informal, loose, experimental writing; or to create an alternative to the increased rapid consumption of architectural images by slowing things down and writing more considered texts. ARCHITECTURE IN GENERAL
Archizines that publish the thoughts of architects and theorists alongside the thoughts of other disciplines: geographers, historians, philosophers, photographers, etc. They seek to approach architecture in a broad cultural context by investigating its relationship with other realms, such as politics, economics, and the arts. INTERDISCIPLINARY
Archizines that emphasize nature or contemporary landscape architecture as their main field of interest, investigating the juxtaposition of natural and man-made environments, as well as unexpected emergences of nature in urbanity. LANDSCAPE
Archizines with an emphasis on local issues, raising problems and investigating peculiarities inherent in a specific place. SPECIFIC PLACE
Archizines that emphasize their interest in thoughts on architecture and cities from a non-architect's perspective. This includes a focus on buildings or interiors created by their inhabitants or other non-professional builders. NON-PROFESSIONAL
Archizines that specifically concentrate on publishing works of lesser-known emerging architects. LESS KNOWN OFFICES AND ARCHITECTS
D D D
A Magazine About Places Loofy Junk Jet Sámi Huksendáidda Public Library Stream Criticat Face b Archive of Intuitive Structures Generalist Apartamento Kritik Club Donny Touching on Architecture Fresh Meat New Geographies Tyrannus The Weather Ring MAP Candide A4 Matzine
500 1000 Hunch Dérive On Site PRAXIS An Architektur Archphoto2.0 Nu Log MONU America Deserta Revisted last issue 2008 Go last issue 2008 Mono.kultur Pablo Internacional Camenzind Volume Megawords UR Dédalo Wilshire Star Maps Pidgin PIN–UP POST Noz
By Urte ˙ Rimsaite ˙
Editorial - institutions
Editorial - practicing architects
Editorial - others
Editorial - students’ initiatives
NL AT CA US DE IT PT US NL UK UK DE MX CH NL US AR PT US US US AU BR DE DE DE NO CL FR FR FR DE DE ES SE NL UK US US AR AU DK DE IE IE UK UK
new voluntary economy of architectural publishing is refreshingly autonomous, if not limited by its own mon etary shortcomings. Here we’ve attempted to visualize the landscape of small magazines, and the various edi torial strategies taken, based on their own descriptions.
Over the past five years there’s been a surge in small independent architecture magazines, as captured in Elias Redstone’s roving exhibit Archizines. These magazines are often run voluntarily, and produced through grants, crowd-funding, and from the editor’s own pockets. This
Archizines that emphasize their aim to investigate the role of architecture and design in a broader social context and to question its ability to go beyond providing shelter or aesthetic considerations. THE ROLE OF ARCHITECTURE
Archizines that focus on public space, seeking strategies to improve it or to reveal different ways of seeing and comprehending it. PUBLIC SPACE
Kerb Maximum Maxim MMX Plat +Print on demand Soiled Towards an Architecture of Opposition What About It? Boundaries Studio© Pollen Friendly Fire The Draftery Anza The Modernist The Unlimited Edition Another Pamphlet Clog Cornell Journal of Architecture Sin-título A.Mag T-R-E-M-O-R-S
P.E.A.R Preston is my Paris MAS Context Print on demand Thresholds Plot Journal Illustratif Piseagrama Bracket Scapegoat Proposals Le Journal Spéciale’Z Horizonte Urban Guerilla San Rocco City Vision Inventario Too Much Scopio Engawa Print on demand Foreign Architects Switzerland Block City As Material Civic City Cahier One:Twelve The New City Reader
Archizines seeking to publish thoughts on varied issues that usually slip out of the conventional architectural magazines' field of view. PERIPHERY OF ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE
Evil People in Modernist Homes in Popular Films
Archizines that choose not only a single topic for each issue, but even a concrete single object or single practice, presenting thoughts from varied contributors on it. SINGLE OBJECT
Achizines that choose to tell an architectural story mainly through images. A GRAPHIC OR PHOTOGRAPHIC STORY
Interdisciplinary zines with a special focus on architecture, seeking to approach it in a current economic context and critically analyze its relationship with the capitalist system. ARCHITECTURE AND CAPITALISM
2012 Year English
English, Spanish, Portugese
* Some of the archizines’ print run was unknown at the moment of research and therefore is not reflected in this timeline
IT IT JP PT ES CH UK UK UK US US US AU US US US US CH IT IT NO PT US TZ UK UK US US US CL PT UK JP
UK UK US US AR BE BR CA CA FI FR DE ID IT
On Criticism as Fun Mechanism in Pain Relief for Designer Bullshit
Presenting at the 2013 AIGA Blunt conference at the Old Dominion University, MichĂ¨le Champagne makes her case for a valuable use of and urgent need for criticism: to expose bullshit. With the rise of PR-talk in the design field, and the pervasiveness of a likedy-like mafia which aims only to praise, Champagne and her magazine, That New Design Smell, aim to kill the sacred cows of design, precisely through exposing their bullshit.
By MichĂ¨le Champagne
The title of this keynote speech is Criticism as Fun Mechanism in Pain Relief for Designer Bullshit, which is a reflection of the work I do as Founder and Creative Director of That New Design Smell, a critical design magazine based on dialogue.
The magazine wrangles mandatory optimism and the likedylike mafia, but at its core lies the argument that we are awash in designer bullshit. It also claims critics lack fun and dynamic platforms on which to challenge bullshit. Not because no platforms existed before, or that no opportunities exist now, but because today’s media, social and financial manifestations are unique. At the center of this manifestation is the idea that designers and their chroniclers have not only violated the tenets of critical thinking, but they have explicitly repudiated them. Some designers say they don’t need criticism, and many so-called ‘critics’ behave like agents of public relations.
There are lots of different ways to talk about this argument, but one I like to start with is questioning the words we use to describe things. What do we mean when we talk about designer bullshit?
I always begin with asking these questions because there is a paradox in design talk: design is often positioned as the most virtuous activity that is least appreciated. Then, when angels cry, a saint emerges to glorify it: design is on a do-good mission, it’s fundamental to our lives, yet its underappreciated com pared to other activities, and at worst, misunderstood as making things pretty. When saints jump in to wrestle the paradox, they often prescribe more and more positive championing.
A prominent Canadian design blog expressed their wish “someone would write critically about design”, but only in so far as it would “raise the profile of design to the public” and “become a star making machine”.
Another example is from a prominent British design critic who remarked “all you can do as a critic… is champion and enthuse about the… projects you care about.”
Questions remain. Is design really virtuous? Is it really misunderstood by the public? Is the remedy more positive championing? Isn’t that PR? And besides, doesn’t mandatory positivity hinder credibility?
From Written Word to Practiced Word
‘Ivory towers’ and ‘paper architecture’ are common put-downs used to question the agency of critical and speculative thought. After the theoretical hangover of a Deleuze et al architectural education, many young critical thinkers turned to practice as a means to put their thoughts into action. We sat down with Markus Miessen, who has spent the past several years researching critical and spatial practice, to see what this means for the field of criticism.
Markus Miessen interviewed by Brendan Cormier and Arjen Oosterman
Arjen Oosterman We started this issue of Volume with a hunch that the role of criticism in architecture has changed. Markus Miessen I agree. The question then is: how
has it changed? When I look among my generation a lot of the criticism seems to have changed from verbal or written criticism, to the attempt to actually practice that criticism. Of course I’m not saying that theory isn’t practice; it is. Instead, I’m referring to an approach where issues that one is criticizing are addressed through a spatial practice. Now, maybe more than before, you see the attempt to deal with criticism through direct, spatial projects – like exhibitions and installations, especially at an institutional level. Brendan Cormier I notice you’re avoiding the term ‘critical practice’. You wouldn’t call this critical practice? MM I’m directing a program at the Städelschule in Frankfurt called Critical Spatial Practice (www.critical spatialpractice.org), and I have to be careful about what I call critical. Part of the problem is that it’s very easy to claim or say that something is critical, but then at the end of the day, what exactly does it mean? On a purely theoretical or argumentative level you can make certain claims, but then one has to transfer that into something that actually holds ground with claims that can be sub stantiated. That’s the role of what people call critical practice, or just practice with a conscience. In terms of the reality of practice, the biggest difference is the moment you want to ‘practice critically’, usually you are unfortunately also exposed to a different kind of economy. Which means the moment you want to ask questions, or the moment that you interrogate certain existing pro tocols, or the moment that you don’t necessarily go with the default models of how things are done, you’re jeopardizing your economic stability, which among my generation is already pretty precarious. So the question is: how can you? If it’s a selfinitiated endeavour you need some kind of external fund ing, or if you’re working with a client then this client must trust you enough to actually challenge some of his or her realities. On an institutional level this is interesting because you really can challenge certain things, but it depends on whether the director is willing to actually risk something. It was very interesting to work for SKOR in the Netherlands for two years, because I had the fantastic opportunity to really re-think, together with Fulya Erdemci and Andrea Phillips, what SKOR could be. Unfortunately the moment that this process was finished, the institution disappeared. AO It’s interesting that you mention this shift from verbal to practiced criticism, and the com plications that come with that. Because in the seventies up to the nineties architecture as practice had outsourced criticism to this different species called critics, freeing its hands for production. That was a model that seemed to function for both parties. But that reality seems to have changed nowadays. Is that what you’re arguing?
MM Yes, this is exactly my point. This kind of out
sourced critic, I wonder today who this is. If we were to look at the traditional role of a critic – someone who comments or reflects on what, bluntly speaking, other people do – and if I leaf through a majority of architec ture magazines, I wouldn’t know any more who these people are. I don’t think I could come up with ten names of traditional critics. I find that this is not only true for
architecture or spatial practice, but it’s the same in literature, in cinema, even in the arts. It’s much more about rather mediocre summaries of what is happening rather than in-depth and informed critique. If you look at exhibition and book reviews, so often they’re nothing else but very factual summaries of what the book or the exhibition is about – no contextualizing within a larger reality of what’s going on. AO Does it have any consequences for how the professions operate? MM The only immediate consequence that I can think of is that basically now each large architecture office has at least one in-house professional press person, that writes all these fantastic press releases that are then copied-and-pasted. It’s the same for literature and other fields and it’s a really worrying tendency. At the same time, magazines are struggling economically and often don’t have the luxury to pay someone a thousand euros to spend a week thinking about a particular show. Quite often, the people who actually write or critique projects and exhibitions – so basically spatial realities – haven’t actually been there, and that is very strange. Spaces are difficult to consider without actually having experi enced it live. BC I’m curious about criticism particularly as this kind of feedback mechanism, how it informs practice. You were mentioning how it’s moved from the written word to the ‘practiced word’, so to speak. The question is: do you think that practiced criticism has an advantage in dialoguing with practiced architecture? MM I think the feedback mechanism is crucial. When one uses critique as some kind of practice, what’s absolutely important is that there’s an exchange with other people about what has been implemented or realized. It’s learn ing from process, and I think whatever kind of critique there is as a project, I don’t think it can be realized through one intervention; it’s a kind of struggle with oneself. In order to practice that way, you also have to have an agenda that supersedes the individual project, and that agenda can then be tested in the long term. Since archi tecture or any kind of spatial project takes such a long time to prepare just to be realized, it can be compared to a PhD. If you think of a PhD as a critical piece of writing, then you can also think about a particular approach to practice as a kind of critical device. If you start a PhD with an abstract, that abstract will change five times in the first six months of that project. It doesn’t mean the beginning was totally wrong, but that it’s being devel oped and adapted according to the kind of findings, research, and feedback you’re mentioning. AO But now you’re describing a process where the feedback is actually feeding into a continuous production process. In general, I think criticism as we knew it was a feedback mechanism after the fact. The product had been produced and then was received; it was being contextualized, it was being understood in many ways. It was made intelligible but it was also made cultural by critique. The prob lem that Volume’s predecessor, Archis, faced is that we were always discussing something that designwise and decision-wise happened five years prior. But there also was this notion that you couldn’t talk about something before it was visible and ‘visitable’. Today we face a very different situation, as you also mentioned, where offices are the pro ducers of our understanding of what they produce,
Photo Neil Donnelly
A page from #platform, an anthology of curated tweets by Mimi Zeiger, Neil Donnelly, and the students at D-Crit, 2012.
Volume 36 115
architecture at a time when economic constraints across the state universities and colleges were slashing programs, including, as Arbona mentions, the San Francisco State University’s urban studies major. What follows then is a series of tweets and additional news stories on the Maltzan proposal that unfolded on Twitter and included postings from @smallspace aka Lydia Lee from The Architect’s Newspaper, @JohnKingSFChron weighing in with a starry-eyed review of the renderings, a comment from Greg Walker on Archinect, and although it didn’t make it into Arbona’s final write up of the exchanges, I also contributed a few tweets that dug up the overall master plan for SF State.4 Meanwhile, Arbona continued to investigate the source of the financing, the background on funder Manny Mashouf, founder of the clothing line Bebe, and reports from the state auditor. The overwhelming abundance of chiming in, research, and dispersal back into social media at each stage of the critique inter rogates the position of the L.A. Times architecture critic, and newspaper critics in general. Kazys Varnelis capped the nearly two-week dialogue with his blog entry from March 6, 2011. Entitled ‘Ivory Towers of Debt’, Varnelis writes, “…when design critics are unable to confront kind of issues that Javier raised in his piece, then we should be asking just what merit the field has in the first place, unless it’s merely cheerleading for the next building boom.”5 This accumulation of posts and tweets represents a collective criticism, with entries dependent on each other for meaning and impact. (Collective criticism should not be confused with collaborative writing, that’s sup ported by software such as Google docs or Medium.com.) Moreover, collective criticism rejects not only the primacy of the critic as architectural arbiter, but also the inherent privileges that come with access and exclu sivity. Rubbing shoulders and chumminess with the key players within architecture dominates current discourse, obscuring the possibility for objective judgment. As such, with collective criticism, buildings are evaluated as cultural products within a greater context, not as formal sweets to savor or spit. Collective criticism opens up the possibility of many criticisms, rather than a singular dominant discourse. It’s true that the overused truism ‘everyone’s a critic’ holds only minor sway when applied to the individual but it gains strength when understood collectively. In this way – with a nod to Bruno Taut and The Crystal Chain Letters and The Charlottesville Tapes – collective critics are both influencers and audience. It’s here that Pierre Bourdieu might caution against this self-affirming, subcultural feedback loop, as he writes, “The almost perfect circularity and revers ibility of the relations of cultural production and con sumption resulting from the objectively closed nature of the field of restricted production enable the develop ment of symbolic production to take on the form of an almost reflexive history.”6 Luckily, social media rescues us from endless navel gazing by allowing for the pos sibility of a more open field of production. In his book Post-Digital Print: The Mutation of Publishing Since 1894, Alessandro Ludovico unpacks the importance of interconnectedness, writing “[T]he particular role of publishers within any cultural network (or even the entire network of human culture) is best fulfilled through free and open connection to other ‘nodes’ within that
network. This is how we can generate meaning, and indeed bring some light, to the global network which we are now all a part of.”7 If there is a symbol that strives to bring meaning to this global network, it’s the hashtag (#). The pound or number sign (named octothorpe or octotherp by Bell Labs in the late 1960s) aggregates content together around a tagged theme. The multi-named symbol rose through history on a series of technological microcrises: a map maker’s shorthand, denoting agricultural fields; a print maker’s invention to solve confusion around the abbrevi ation for pound; and at Bell Labs, engineers who needed a symbol to resolve the mechanical versus electronic input system. Today, the hashtag is digitally ubiquitous on Twitter and Instagram and the symbol holds the distinct power to convene a commons. While #fail and #winning dominate the trend wars on Twitter, the platform still offers possibility for collective critical discourse. Recently, the cheeky and activist #FolkMoMA, served as rallying cry across the internet, bringing together writers and designers in protest of MoMA’s decision to demolish the American Folk Art Museum. The unnamed founders of the Tumblr FolkMoMA, used Twitter (@FolkMoMA) to foment activism. Their call for ideas asked for “draw/sketch/photoshop/collage possibilities of interaction for the American Folk Art Museum and MoMA buildings”8 and the projects were collected on Tumblr. Yet the crux of #FolkMoMA lies with the power of the hashtag, which led The Architect’s Newspaper editor Alan Brake to write the following on May 9: “ Sensing a renewed spirit of engagement & activism around equality, urbanism, architecture, & education. Exciting! #folkmoma #freecooper”9 But an earlier, perhaps more fundamental use of the hashtag, dates back to December 2009, where a conversation tagged #endofarchitecturetexts sparked a flood of tweets around the role of architectural criticism in the future of publishing in a digital age. #endofarchitecturetexts publicly included several par ticipants: @sixsevenfive, @kushpatel, @TommyManuel, @solidk and @loudpaper (myself).10 The tweets in the conversation accumulate to form a critique, growing from commentary to dialogue to criticism of the very tools underpinning the discourse. The extent of #endofarchitecturetext’s influence was captured by @solidk, writing as herself, Kamomi Solidum, in The Page + The Screen: An Annotated Bibliography for 21st Century Readers, a chapbook-like, post-course publication available in print and PDF developed by The Public School New York. She writes, “[The #endofarchitecturetext thread] was the impetus behind the proposals for the Public School New York classes, The Page + the Screen: Siting Text in the Early 21st Century and Beyond, and Texts + Textures: A Writing Workshop. It is also a formative document of the lgnlgn forum. It is important to note that at the tail end of the thread, the discussion turned toward how conversations like these, which are distributed across multiple platforms, will eventually be archived and interpreted.”11 Solidum’s question about how to archive and inter pret collective criticism still remains unresolved. The very nature of the social web gives the impression of fleeting and ad-hoc chatter, even as our web footprints
Losing my Illusions about Opensource Criticism
Web 2.0 promised us a new world of debate, user-generated content, and along with it a new way to discuss architecture. According to Naomi Stead, that promise fell flat, and what we got instead were largely troll armies and banalities. Still, in the dusty internet corner of product reviews, Stead finds new hope for diffuse, user-generated feedback, one that puts the focus squarely on performance â€“ not on the object itself but its effect. A return to an evaluation of function.
By Naomi Stead
There was a time not so long ago when many of us, my self included, thought that a brave new world of archi tectural commentary and criticism was about to open, by virtue of the democratizing capacities of web 2.0. We were full of techno-utopian excitement, convinced that the benefits of this new digital Gutenberg revolution would flow even to our relatively obscure discipline. There would be a flowering of interest and engagement and writing about architecture, we thought; everyone would have a voice. There would be an explosion of blogs and online journals about the built environment, each of them sprouting fresh and intelligent comments from a broad public. Existing review aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes, or commercial platforms like Amazon (with its early adoption of user reviews and favourite lists), as well as service-based review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor, and even the grand old dame of crowd-sourced content, Wikipedia, all seemed to promise something for architec ture. The question was not whether such sites would represent the end of expert critique, but rather how new audiences and new publics might change the way we in the discipline thought and talked about architecture, showing us different ways to be critical. But why is this even important? And what’s the use of architectural criticism anyway? Well the reason I for one have persisted for so long is because it seems to me that architectural criticism creates an educated, appre ciative, discerning and demanding audience for design; it encourages a critical culture of discussion and debate; it raises public standards and expectations, not only of the aesthetics and functionality of designed objects, but of their sustainability, and their upholding (or subordina tion) of the tenets of social justice. It does this by making reasoned judgements and arguments about the value and meaning of a building, by engaging in interpretation and evaluation based on sound knowledge, and supported by evidence. So criticism writes contemporary buildings
The tyranny of the cultural gatekeepers and arbiters of taste would be overthrown, the institutions and authorities would be forced to compete for readers on an open, meritocratic field.
into history, just as it measures them against a historical canon. It illuminates practice through theory, and theory through practice; it sets exemplars for future architects to aspire to, just as it sets out warnings for what future architects should avoid. Criticism explicates and is exe getical; it explains what the architect was attempting to do, evaluates how well that has been achieved, and also whether it was a valid goal in the first place. Criticism assesses whether a building ‘works,’ on various grounds. Finally, criticism creates a market for architecture. Whether or not all of these functions are specifically and directly useful to the architect in their everyday creative practice, they are unquestionably necessary to the culture of architecture, and they are vital in creating an engaged context in which architects can operate. Caught up in the excitement and potential of crowd sourcing architectural criticism, we imagined all of these
roles coming to their true fruition through user-generated, interactive, social media discussions about buildings and places. This online agora would be inclusive: there would be enthusiasts and amateurs, citizen critics and profes sionals, intellectuals and experts, all brought together in a lively conversation that broke open the existing tire some, internal monologues circulating within architecture. The tyranny of the cultural gatekeepers and arbiters of taste would be over-thrown, the institutions and author ities would be forced to compete for readers on an open, meritocratic field. The constituents of buildings, their clients and their occupants, would talk back to their architects – perhaps praising, perhaps remonstrating, perhaps questioning – but certainly reminding them of the ongoing ethical contract between architects and generations of subsequent users. The broken feedback loop would be closed. The crisis in architectural criticism would be solved. The online conversation would be wild and unruly, we thought, it would be unpredictable and enlivening, critical and popular, inclusive and incisive; it would constitute a new critical culture and strengthen architecture’s place in the world. Everyone’s Not a Critic, After All But it seems we were wrong. By and large the blogs didn’t eventuate, the comments didn’t come, or if they did, they were likely to be in the form of a flippant one-liner or a nasty unfounded attack. Even the stand-out exceptions were not universally acclaimed – in fact they were re ceived with panic in at least equal measure to excitement. This was well encapsulated in 2010 when Peter Kelly pub lished an editorial in the print journal Blueprint, in which he condemned the rise of populist blogs such as Geoff Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG, claiming they had little connec tion or commitment to actual buildings or building quality.1 Kelly was writing in defence of traditional, disciplinary architectural critique of the kind that has long appeared in professional journals, written by sanctioned, expert critics and directed at practicing architects. Manaugh, who does not have formal training in architecture, engages with a speculative and sometimes fantastical vision of what architecture could be, which clearly reso nates with a broad audience – people who otherwise might not have engaged with architecture at all. In response to Kelly’s editorial, Manaugh retorted that he had never claimed to write ‘proper’ architectural criticism because his interests lay elsewhere, that there are other (read: more interesting) ways of talking about architecture.2 He noted that “there’s an idea that people like myself are treating architectural criticism almost like a tag cloud or a cluster of topics that span related fields, and we’re losing sight of the fact that architects are creating buildings and someone needs to critique those architects so that they don’t create bad buildings in the future.”3 Arguing that “It’s a perfectly valid point that we need architecture critics”, Manaugh nevertheless argued that this should not come at the expense of the imagi native commentary that can occur in the blogosphere, and that draws new audiences to be interested in archi tecture in the first place.4 Following on explicitly from the exchange between Kelly and Manaugh, early the next year Domus convened a series of discussion forums on ‘the future of architec tural criticism’ which they titled ‘Critical Futures’.5 Here there emerged another dynamic: the tendency to polarize old and new, professional and popular modes of criticism, and to characterize them as belonging to print and online
Excerpts from ‘A Trip to N19’ – From Entschwindet und Vergeht
And underneath the bridge someone had stuck a landscape onto the brick pier. A fine likeness it is too. […]
By Douglas Murphy
And lo! A premonition of what was to come. I’m a big fan of the stepped-section building, of which this is a very tame example. There are some undoubtedly wonderful buildings in London that utilize the method – the Brunswick Centre for example. Allowing agree able daylight into the front of the building, and accommodating all sorts of gymnastics and drama in the overhangs behind, the stepped section is a wonderful method of laying out flats. This is by Robert Bailie from 1963, and betrays a certain Scandinavian influence.
First thing after leaving Gospel Oak tube is that you are confronted by a long terrace in a very Corbusian manner, almost ‘Pessac-ian’. It’s also reminiscent of a smaller version of the ‘Maiden Lane’ estate, and sure enough, a little research shows that it was also the work of Benson & Forsyth, everyone’s favorite Corb-worshipping Scottish intellectual architects. […]
Setting off under the railway bridge over which I had arrived, this metal lady looked rather threatened by my presence.
And at the very top of a hill, some humdrum modernism, I would say 1960 or thereabouts. The views from this one must have been tremendous.
It’s clichéd but nevertheless true about London that one usually begins to experience it primarily through the tube, in which case it is perceived as a series of very small areas perambulated around, and only ever visited atomistically. After a while and you start to take the bus or cycle more, and it begins to link up with itself, becoming more of a territory that is understandable. But after a number of years, and if you are fond of wandering, it starts to become harder and harder to find a territory that is genuinely alien, surprising. So as I walked up the road and passed round the front of this block, I suddenly realized that I was crossing a street I had walked up a number of times. The joy I had been taking in being an ‘explorer’ was suddenly shattered as I recalled walks in sun shine towards Hampstead Heath with friends years before, or bus trips to picnics on Parliament Hill. […]
How very very British this lot are: deferential, grim, and yet familiar – safe even. The lack of ambition is palpable. […]
Oh, and what a shame. It’s time for dilapi dation worship. These terraces are on their way out, currently undergoing an ignominious strip-out and apparently to be demolished properly soon enough. […]
So, I’d like to write about a short jaunt I took the other day, with some pictures attached. This time I went off up to see some Camden ‘council brutalism’, and take in some of the sights around there. The object of my adventure this time was Stoneleigh Terrace, designed by Peter Tábori from 1972 onwards. It was utterly pissing it down, I might add.
And so here I was. Highgate Newtown. The Whittington Estate, Stoneleigh Terrace. N19. We can get an idea here of how the new estate is supposed to work. Matching the scale of a traditional terrace, as well as more or less matching the width of a typical tradi tional flat, yet with full windows and gener ous balconies, this building is not Corbusian; is not CIAM in its approach to the urban. This is perfect Team X brutalism: an interpre tation and elaboration upon a pre-existing typological arrangement.
And as we approach, the absolute treat of the varying levels of access, the walkways, the stairs, the three dimensional movement.
But of course there is always architecture – note here the joyous method of terminating the block. It could have stopped at a full wall, it could have stepped down, but no, it appears to step up and out like some weightless honeycomb. This building was designed by Peter Tábori, about whom I knew nothing until recently, but the following is remarkable: “Peter Tábori was born in Hungary in 1942 and studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic. When he was a student, he asked the local authority for a diploma project and was given the brief for Highgate New Town. After work ing for Ernö Goldfinger and Denys Lasdun, Tábori joined Camden Architects Department – Sydney Cook had been so impressed by Tábori’s student work that he was employed to develop it into the final scheme.” My goodness. I can’t really imagine that happening now, for a million different reasons.
Which, as we get into the estate proper, is shown in the entry sequence. What we have here are three routes into a flat. A double staircase up, a single staircase up, or a stair case down. There is free movement at the bottom level.
One of which is shown here. Apparently the timid blocks on the left are part of the same scheme, albeit a later stage. How pathetic! A thoroughly turned-tide, pointless humility. […]
Note: I wrote this up on the day that the UK government passed their vote on the NHS reform bill, which will effectively pave the way for the continuing destruction of the welfare state. In times as gloomy as these, we ought never to forget the wonderful things that a little bit of social spending can achieve. It’s really not that hard. Entschwindet und Vergeht: http://youyouidiot.blogspot.nl
The estate is arranged across six rows of flats, which are connected by four streets in parallel. Due to the car parking being arranged underneath the estate, all of the paths are pedestrian-only, which along with their patio paving gives them a quality somewhere between that of a street and a garden path.
And so an end to the estate. What I haven’t pictured here are the children that were present while I visited. There were two boys who were playing with those metal scooters, rolling up and down the top street before coasting down the hill towards the bottom. There was a group of about four or five boys, who were running around the entire estate and crossed my path a number of times. Then, as I walked along one of the streets I saw two girls at the door of a flat, the mother inside talking to them, their conver sation apparently about whether this lady’s son/daughter would be able to come out to hang around. It was this that struck me the most – here was precisely the interaction that the Smithsons spent so much energy trying to study and maintain in their work; this was the ‘life of the street’ that they eulogized so, basically meaning a comfortable and safe-feeling space where there are plenty of people who know you, or at least know who you are It’s not that difficult to achieve. […]
Exemplified here by the way that the path meanders around the side of the blocks. […]
Colophon Volume 36
VOLUME Independent quarterly for architecture to go beyond itself editor-in-chief Arjen Oosterman contributing editors Ole Bouman, Rem Koolhaas, Mark Wigley feature editor Jeffrey Inaba VOLUME is a project by ARCHIS + AMO + C-Lab + ... ARCHIS Lilet Breddels, Brendan Cormier, Jeroen Beekmans, Joop de Boer, Anais Massot, Urte Rimsaite, Kai Vöckler, Justine Yan – Archis advisers Thomas Daniell, Joos van den Dool, Christian Ernsten, Edwin Gardner, Bart Goldhoorn, Rory Hyde, Vincent Schipper AMO Reinier de Graaf, James Westcott C-Lab Jeffrey Inaba, Benedict Clouette, Helen-Rose Condon, Jillian Crandall, Phillip Denny, Mana Ikebe, Katie Okamoto, Corinne Quin, Frédéric Schnee, Brandon Wagner. C-Lab advisers Barry Bergdoll, Gary Hattem, Jiang Jun, John S. Johnson, Lewis H. Lapham. Materialized by Irma Boom and Sonja Haller VOLUME’s protagonists are ARCHIS, magazine for Architecture, City and Visual Culture and its predecessors since 1929. Archis – Publishers, Tools, Interventions – is an experimental think tank devoted to the process of real-time spatial and cultural reflexivity. www.archis.org AMO, a research and design studio that applies architectural thinking to disciplines beyond the borders of architecture and urbanism. AMO operates in tandem with its companion company the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. www.oma.eu C-Lab, The Columbia Laboratory for Architectural Broadcasting is an experimental research unit devoted to the development of new forms of communication in architecture, set up as a semi-autonomous think and action tank at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of Columbia University. c-lab.columbia.edu VOLUME is published by Stichting Archis, the Netherlands and printed by Die Keure, Belgium. Editorial office PO Box 14702, 1001 LE Amsterdam, The Netherlands T +31 (0)20 320 3926, F +31 (0)20 320 3927, E email@example.com, W www.archis.org Subscriptions Bruil & Van de Staaij, Postbus 75, 7940 AB Meppel, The Netherlands, T +31 (0)522 261 303, F +31 (0)522 257 827, E volume@bruil. info, W www.bruil.info/volume Subscription rates 4 issues: €75 Netherlands, €91 World, $99 USA, Student subscription rates: €60 Netherlands, €73 World, Prices excl. VAT Cancellations policy Cancellation of subscription to be confirmed in writing one month before the end of the subscription period. Subscriptions not cancelled on time will be automatically extended for one year. Back issues Back issues of VOLUME and forerunner Archis (NL and E) are available through Bruil & van de Staaij Advertising firstname.lastname@example.org, For rates and details see: www.volumeproject.org/advertise/ C-Lab administrative coordination Margel Nusbaumer General distribution Idea Books, Nieuwe Herengracht 11, 1011 RK Amsterdam, The Netherlands, T +31 (0)20 622 6154, F +31 (0)20 620 9299, email@example.com For North American Distribution: Disticor Magazine Distribution Services, 695 Westney Road South, Suite 14 Ajax, Ontario, L1S 6M9, Canada, T +1 905-619-6565, F +1 905-619-2903, W www.disticor.com ISSN 1574-9401, ISBN 9789077966365 Contributors Amelia Borg is a director at SIBLING. She has collaborated with architecture studios and artists in London, Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Melbourne. She has worked as a researcher for Archis/Volume and is currently teaching at RMIT University and Monash University. Michèle Champagne is a designer and writer working in branding and editorial. Her expertise lies in open source dynamics – from crowdsourcing for dialogue in That New Design Smell, to branding for Mediamatic Travel. Justine Clark is an architectural writer, editor and critic. She is an honorary senior fellow at the University of Melbourne, editor of the website Parlour, and former editor of Architecture Australia. Professor Paul Walker is Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne. Justine and Paul are authors of Looking for the Local: Architecture and the New Zealand Modern.
Bernard Colenbrander is an architectural historian who started his career in the 1980s at the Netherlands Architecture Institute. Since 2005 he is professor at the Faculty of the Built Environment, TU Eindhoven. Demilit was founded in 2010 by Bryan Finoki, Nick Sowers, and Javier Arbona. The trio works with various collaborators on specific pro jects, performances, and improvisations, as well as in arts education. Demilit is a collaboration focused on walking, exploring, listening, and experimenting. Rob Dettingmeijer is an Utrecht-based independent researcher, author, and (guest)curator specializing in theory and history of architecture, urban planning, landscape design and visual culture. He is co-founder of the European Architectural History Network (www.eahn.org). Sergio Miguel Figueiredo is an architect, urbanist and Fulbright scholar at UCLA, researching the NAi and the role of architecture museums in the production and consumption of architectural discourse and practice. FranÇoise Fromonot is an architect and professor at ENSA ParisBelleville. She is a co-founding member and contributing editor of criticat. A criticat reader compiling English translations will be published in 2014. Jan van Grunsven is an architect whose work builds on the conceptual art of the 1970s; subjecting the practice of exhibiting to a systematic critical analysis. For many years he was senior lecturer at the Institute of the Arts in Arnhem Owen Hatherley is the author of four books, the most recent being A New Kind of Bleak - Journeys through Urban Britain and an e-book, Across the Plaza. Charles Holland is an architect, writer and teacher. He is a director of the architecture practice FAT (fashionarchitecturetaste.com) and a visiting professor at Yale University. He writes about architecture and design for various magazines as well as for his blog Fantastic Journal. Klaus is a frustrated cartoonist who lives in an old castle in Europe, intermittently uploading his cartoons on Klaustoon’s Blog. In his other life he is also Luis Miguel (Koldo) Lus Arana, a PhD architect and researcher, mainly interested in the intersections between comics, mass media, architecture, and the city. Jimenez Lai is an Assistant Professor at University of Illinois at Chicago and Leader of Bureau Spectacular. Previously, Jimenez Lai has lived and worked in a desert shelter at Taliesin and resided in a shipping container at Atelier Van Lieshout on the piers of Rotterdam. Justin McGuirk is a writer, critic and curator based in London. He is the director of Strelka Press, the publishing arm of the Strelka Institute in Moscow, and the design consultant to Domus. Markus Miessen is an architect, consultant and writer. The initiator of the Participation quadrilogy, his work revolves around questions of critical spatial practice, institution building, and spatial politics. He is currently a professor for Critical Spatial Practice at the Städelschule, Frankfurt, and guest professor at HEAD Geneva as well as USC Los Angeles. Luca Molinari is professor of contemporary history of architecture at the Faculty of Architecture L.Vanvitelli, in Naples. He is also a critic and has curated architecture shows at the Triennale of Milan (2001-2005) and the Italian Pavilion at the 12th Biennale of Architecture in Venice. Timothy Moore is a director at SIBLING. He has worked for architecture studios in Berlin, Amsterdam and Melbourne. His has held the positions of managing editor at Archis/Volume and editor of Architecture Australia. He is currently teaching at RMIT University. Douglas Murphy is architecture correspondent for Icon magazine, is the author of The Architecture of Failure, from Zero Books, and is currently working on a new book for Verso. Steve Parnell is an architect, critic, and lecturer at the University of Nottingham. In 2012 he won the RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis. His exhibition, Architecture Magazines: Playgrounds and Battlegrounds, was exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Colin Ripley is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University in Toronto. He is also a director of RVTR (www.rvtr.com), which operates as a bridge between academic research practices and professional practices in architecture. Fred Scharmen and Michael Stanton teach, write, design and occasionally dabble in things artistic in Baltimore, Maryland. Fred is completing a project on space colonies, past and future, and Michael just finished a book on the American city as the product of paradox. Naomi Stead is an academic and critic based in Brisbane, Australia. She is a senior research fellow at the research center ATCH in the School of Architecture at the University of Queensland. Fabrizia Vecchione is a graduate of the Florence Architecture University and is currently web editor at Domus. Her writing has been published in a variety of printed and digital international magazines, such as Domus, Frame, Mark and Pin-Up. WAI Architecture Think Tank is a workshop for architectural intelligentsia based in Beijing. Founded in Brussels in 2008 by Puerto Rican architect and artist Cruz Garcia, and French architect and artist Nathalie Frankowski, WAI continuously asks What About It? Mimi Zeiger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and critic, covering architecture, art, urbanism, and design. She’s editor of loud paper and a founding member of #lgnlgn.