DISPU TED ARCHI TEC TURES MA Architectural History 2016 – The Bartlett School of Architecture – UCL
MA Architectural History 2016 The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL
This book is published in conjunction with the symposium: Disputed Architectures MA Architectural History Symposium 2016 28 October 2016 The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL ÂŠ2016 The authors. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Published by The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL 140 Hampstead Road, London, NW1 2BX United Kingdom http://bartlett.ac.uk/architecture ISBN 978-0-9954819-3-0 Editing: Hiba Al-Obaydi, Corinna Anderson, Marisa Cortright, Miranda Critchley, Harriet Jennings Design: Felipe Aravena, Hanan Kataw, Mira Kfoury, Christos Kritikos
Table of Contents
Cohort + Tutors
Letter from the Editors
Hiba Al-Obaydi, Intersections, Inter-changeabilities, and Institutional Trajectories: The Commonwealth Institute and the Design Museum, London
Corinna Anderson, GOOD LIFE NOW: Family, leisure, and labour in Cedric Price’s Housing Research, 1966-1973
Felipe Aravena, An Architecture of Technical Assistance: The failed BRECAST project in 1970s Britain and Chile
Serra Askin, ‘Designing for Everybody:’ A study of George Finch’s Cotton Gardens Estate, 1966-1968
William Blain, Representational Ambiguities and the Garden of Exile
Lisa Brausem, Forwards and Upwards: Staircases as a metaphor
Lindsay Bremner, Thinking Architecture with an Indian Ocean Aquapelago
Marisa Cortright, Tracing Securitisation in Brussels: La Gare Centrale
Miranda Critchley, Reinventing the Prison: HMP Holloway, 1968-1978
Joaquin Diez-Canedo Novelo, The Magical Mexican Tour: A critique of the Mexican Pueblos Mágicos tourist campaign
Nikolas Ettel, Concerning Visual Poetry: A playful demand for ‘languagegames’ in today’s digital architecture
Ceren Hamiloglu, Architectural Implications of Turkish Republican Politics in Florya, 1935-1960
Harriet Jennings, Unsanitary and Unsavoury: Housing on Robin Hood Lane
Hanan Kataw, The Generative Architecture Manifesto: Investigating the agency of the architect in generative architecture
Mira Kfoury, La Grande Brasserie du Levant: Beverage industry, drinking sociality, and recent gentrification in Beirut
Christos Kritikos, Athens: Listed buildings in decay and projected déjà vus
Adam Przywara, Rubble of Warsaw, 1939-1949: Histories of architectural remains in the annihilated city
Evangelia Rassa, Concept, content, context: Situating the New Acropolis Museum in the Athenian context
Tom Ravenscroft, The Architecture of the Internet: Discovering the aesthetics of London’s data centres
Peg Rawes, Dissimilar Ratio: Spinoza’s Ethics and housing welfare
Douglas Spencer, Architecture, Neoliberalism, and the Affective Turn
Alessandro Toti, The Problem of the Author: O.M. Ungers and the Veröffentichungen zur Architektur
Fernisia Winnerdy, Comics and Architectural Experience
Cohort + Tutors
2016 GRADUATING COHORT Laila Al Nasseri Hiba Al-Obaydi Corinna Anderson Felipe Aravena Serra Askin William Blain Lisa Brausem Marisa Cortright Miranda Critchley Joaquin Diez-Canedo Novelo Miles Dugan James Dunbar Nikolas Ettel Emma Farrell Simon Gotthard Hazwan Ariff Hakimi Ceren Hamiloglu Harriet Jennings Hanan Kataw Mira Kfoury Christos Kritikos Michael Lee Guilia Lombardo Juan Francisco Perez Adam Przywara Evangelia Rassa Tom Ravenscroft Catherine Slessor Alessandro Toti Fernisia Winnerdy
2015 â€“ 2016 TUTORS Iain Borden Eva Branscome Ben Campkin Mario Carpo Edward Denison Murray Fraser Polly Gould Peter Guillery Jonathan Hill Michal Murawski Jacob Paskins Barbara Penner Peg Rawes Aileen Reid Jane Rendell Harriet Richardson David Roberts Tania Sengupta Michael Short Colin Thom Robin Wilson 7
DR LINDSAY BREMNER is Director of Architectural Research at the University of Westminster. She was formerly the head of architecture departments in Johannesburg (South Africa) and Philadelphia (USA). She is an award-winning architect and writer on Johannesburg, including the book Writing the City into Being: Essays on Johannesburg 1998 – 2008 (2010). After leaving South Africa in 2005, she invented a research project on the Indian Ocean called Folded Ocean. Her current work is being conducted as the Principal Investigator of Monsoon Assemblages, a project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. PEG RAWES is Professor of Architecture and Philosophy and Programme Director of the Masters in Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Recent publications include: Equal by Design (co-authored with Beth Lord, in collaboration with Lone Star Productions, 2016); ‘Humane and inhumane ratios’ in The Architecture Lobby’s Asymmetric Labors (2016); Poetic Biopolitics: Practices of Relation in Architecture and the Arts (co-ed., 2016); Relational Architectural Ecologies (ed., 2013). 8
DOUGLAS SPENCER is the author of The Architecture of Neoliberalism (Bloomsbury, 2016). A regular contributor to Radical Philosophy, he has also written chapters for collections on landscape, architecture, politics and critical theory, such as Architecture Against the Post-Political (Elie Haddad and Nadir Lahiji, eds. Routledge, 2014), Landscape and Agency (Ed Wall and Tim Waterman, eds. Routledge, 2016) and This Thing Called Theory (Teresa Stoppani, Giorgio Ponzo, and George Themistokleous, eds. Routledge, November 2016). He has also published numerous essays in journals such The Journal of Architecture, AD, AA Files, New Geographies, Volume, and Praznine. He teaches at the Graduate School of Design at the Architectural Association and at the University of Westminster, London.
Letter from the Editors
Dear Reader, This publication is a collection of one yearâ€™s work from the students of the MA Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. This book aims to represent the scope of dissertations researched, written, and submitted by the graduating cohort between 2015 and 2016. It is not possible to synthesise the methodological, topical, and geographical perspectives described in the following pages into one category: and it should not be. The title Disputed Architectures celebrates precisely this resistance to unification, presenting heterogeneous and complex narratives that work across different coordinates of contemporary architectural knowledge. The space of dispute is produced within and in-between the arguments and histories gathered here. This publication was compiled in tandem with the Disputed Architectures MA Architectural History Symposium 2016, held on 28 October 2016 at the Bartlett School of Architecture. Several chapters thus correspond to keynotes and papers presented during that event. Alongside our student papers, the texts of the academics we invited to participate situate this book in the broad field of architectural theory and history. The three essays by Lindsay Bremner, Douglas Spencer, and programme director Peg Rawes augment a collection approaching the problem of historical narrative from different scales, functionality, and geographical locations.This collection is rich in methodological and theoretical perspectives. These histories situate themselves on the levels of single households
and global networks. They dwell in public spaces, museums, and mosques, as well as sandy beaches and rubble deserts. They seek to dismantle the complexities of authorship, gender relations, architectural representations, housing technologies, and urban forms of data and terror. Disputed Architectures arises from the contradictions and connections within this network of relations. This publication can be understood as a course archive, a showcase of studentsâ€™ dissertation work. But as we part from each other to pursue our careers and lives within and outside architectural practice and academia, we believe that this book can be something more. What exactly? The attempt to consolidate an intellectual dynamic, to record a yearlong conversation that occurred within and outside the classroom, within and outside our individual areas of expertise and comfort zones. The individual voices gathered here do not reproduce that conversation, but they speak to its energy and expanse. This, hopefully, is what can make our publication meaningful not only for us, but for a broad range of scholars and readers from different fields and different parts of the world. We wish you a pleasant read, Editors Hiba Al-Obaydi Corinna Anderson Felipe Aravena Marisa Cortright Miranda Critchley Harriet Jennings Adam Przywara
Intersections, Inter-changeabilities, and Institutional Trajectories: The Commonwealth Institute and the Design Museum, London Hiba Al-Obaydi
IN NOVEMBER OF THIS YEAR, THE DESIGN Museum in London is scheduled to move into the building that formerly housed the Commonwealth Institute. Following ten years of neglect, the Design Museum’s imminent takeover of the Institute provided an ideal opportunity to assess how much, if any, of the latter’s framework should remain in situ.1 The extent to which the new Design Museum was to incorporate the material legacies inherited from the Commonwealth Institute was deliberated over by both the architect, John Pawson, and the client, the Design Museum. The preservation of the former Commonwealth Institute’s Grade II* listed ‘shell’ was an element that both parties were adamant to retain.2 English Heritage cites its distinctive form as one of its most important features in its 2005 revised statement of significance titled, ‘Current Designations Reflecting the Significance of the Building and its Setting,’ stating that, ‘The structural system used for the Commonwealth Institute roof is internationally unique, while its shape represents the first major British use of the hyperbolic paraboloid favoured by [Felix] Candela, and probably is the largest span covered by such a roof at that date,’3 thus firmly establishing the reason to preserve the roof structure. Due to the sensitive conservationist nature of the project, the document, ‘An Assessment of Significance Prepared by English Heritage’ was included in the Client Brief for the fitting out of the ‘Parabola’ Building for the Design Museum in January 2010. 4 The project evokes Janet Marstine’s notion from her essay The Contingent Nature of the New Museum Ethics
of the ‘guardianship of heritage,’ as one of ‘… three major strands of theory and practice through which museums can assert their moral agency.’5 IN A SENSE, THE NEW DESIGN MUSEUM’S occupation of the hollowed-out shell of the former Institute invites comparison to the practice of taxidermy, where the carcass of the dead animal serves as a reminder of the once-living creature. To some extent, it does not matter what is stuffed inside, as this will only determine how well it is preserved; the contents are a secondary aid to the primary form as a conveyer of significance. With the Commonwealth Institute and its colonial ancestor - the Imperial Institute - laid to rest, the new Design Museum now seeks to occupy the vessel and, in doing so, contributes to the Commonwealth Institute’s enduring continuity and legacy. The choice to preserve the Institute’s structural skeleton, as opposed to commissioning an entirely new Design Museum building, is arguably a testament to the morality of museum ethics and ‘guardianship of heritage.’6 In their preservation of the Commonwealth Institute, the Design Museum asserts its ‘moral agency.’ Rather than denying the tarnished morality of the earlier institution through physical erasure, the new Design Museum chose instead to embrace it as a valid – if problematic – inheritance, the operative idea being to safeguard architectural merit as ‘heritage.’ Consequently, when it came to Pawson’s renovation of the interior, the roof was left entirely intact, while large portions of the structure beneath required new-build [Fig. 1].7 11
Interior view of the retained hyperbolic paraboloid roof French + Tye, Interior view of the retained hyperbolic paraboloid roof, 2015. <http://frenchandtye.com/#/design-museum-_-commonwealth-institute-_-john-pawson-oma/>
The hyperbolic paraboloid roof designed by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners (RMJM) aimed to project an air of ‘atavistic egalitarianism’ back when it housed the Commonwealth Institute.8 It would seem that the ‘tent in the park’ iconography conforms to the new Design Museum’s vision for the future of their establishment.9 The project architect Jan Hobel explains in an interview that, before the Design Museum’s tenancy, ‘… a lot of different projects [tried] to breathe some new life into that building but they all failed because… [the] DNA of the building asks for something of the same or somehow related purpose and somehow the Design Museum fits that very well.’ 10 Hobel further declares: … the roof and the structural design of [the Commonwealth Institute building] is such a force literally, structurally, that it pushed its will through to the new build. So, the structural design of the new build had to conform with what the roof was dictating and therefore, you were almost naturally pushed back into the direction of what was there before. So, it was a DNA which was so strong that it actually pushed itself back into… our design…11
This notion of the ‘DNA’ of the building that Hobel invokes seemingly implies an element of structural determinism which contributes to the interchangeability of the two institutions. Perhaps the fact that the Design Museum can ‘move in’ to the Commonwealth Institute building with relative ease is indicative of the primary function that both share: spaces intended for exhibition. The idea that the earlier design forcefully drove its ‘will’ through signifies that RMJM created a series of spaces ideal for the display of items to such a degree that almost any other programme would seem alien. Interchangeability enables the ‘structural gymnastics’12 of the Commonwealth Institute’s form to continue as an integral part of the new Design Museum’s identity because of the Institute’s capacity for adaptation to housing a similar programmatic function.
3. 4. 5.
10. 11. 12.
Historic England, Commonwealth Institute, 1990. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/ the-list/list-entry/1227441. Gardiner Theobald and the Design Museum, Client Brief for the fitting out of the “Parabola” Building for the Design Museum (London: Gardiner Theobald LLP, 2010), 15. Ibid. Ibid., 14. Janet Marstine, ‘The Contingent Nature of the New Museum Ethics,’ in The Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics, ed. Janet Marstine (New York: Routledge, 2011), 5. Ibid. Jan Hobel (project architect for the new Design Museum, RMJM), in discussion with the author, 5 July 2016. ‘The symbolism of this concept [the hyperbolic paraboloid roof ] clearly pointed to fresh starts, moveable ideologies, even an atavisitic egalitarianism.’ Mark Crinson, ‘Imperial Story-lands: Architecture and display at the Imperial and Commonwealth Institutes,’ Art History 22, no. 1 (1999): 117. doi: 10.1111/1467-8365.00141. The phrase was Stirrat Johnson-Marshall’s. See: Andrew Saint, ‘Commonwealth Institute, Holland Park, R.B. of Kensington and Chelsea,’ (1988), unpublished paper. Hobel, discussion. Ibid. Crinson, ‘Imperial Story-lands,’ 117.
GOOD LIFE NOW:
Family, leisure, and labour in Cedric Price’s Housing Research, 1966-1973 Corinna Anderson CEDRIC PRICE’S ARCHITECTURE IS WELL known for its fantastic scope of ideas and disciplined engineering of execution. His unrealised projects are arguably more influential within architectural discourse than those that were actually built. For example, the Potteries Thinkbelt (1966) responded to the effects of Britain’s transition from a manufacturing-based economy to the service-based and intellectual labour of the nascent ‘information society.’ A mobile university to re-educate unemployed labourers in the deprived Potteries region of the Midlands, it comprised railway car classrooms and portable, adaptable housing that would nestle into the existing architecture of towns along the railway. As they trained to fill urgently required positions as researchers and technicians, Thinkbelt students would be paid a wage. As Price put it, ‘if people are doing a job society wants them to do, they should be paid for it.’1 In the Potteries Thinkbelt, the national economy’s need for new kinds of ‘immaterial’ labourers, educated in the technical skills that Oxford and Cambridge had not yet deigned to teach, is fulfilled by the ‘social service’ Price provides as he repurposes Britain’s existing, neglected manufacturing infrastructure, both mechanical and human. It was hailed, like many Price projects, as a radical approach to architecture’s social role, liberating users by breaking the fixed and constricting forms of traditional buildings. Price’s Housing Research, partially published in supplements in Architectural Design magazine between 1970-1972, applies a similar ruthlessly unsentimental approach to the family home. Claiming ‘THE HOUSE IS NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE AS A PRE-SET ORDERING MECHANISM FOR FAMILY LIFE,’ Price set out to create a house that could satisfy the desires of consumers as successfully as his most beloved consumer 14
object – the car – could.2 He did so as a response to the national housing crisis, addressing the misalignment between housing provision and demand with a flexible, prefabricated housing system that would respond to changes in population, mobility, and the shape of the family unit. Price says that as families increasingly move for employment opportunities and orient their lifestyles around the increased leisure time provided by a shortened working day, ‘the role of a house as a long-term adaptable living-box becomes less important than its 24-hour cycle performance as an economic living-toy… For whether the house as a commodity is bought privately over the shelf (cf cans of soup) or provided as a national service (cf false teeth), in both cases its immediate cyclic performance and not its future condition will form the criteria both of production and selection.’3 Rethinking the traditional lifespan of the home delivered Price’s solution: a short-life house, with lifespan of just 25 years rather than the 60-80 standard for new builds at that time. By reducing the family home to an expendable commodity, Price also prompts questions about the permanence of the social form it houses. In the early 1970s, the family and the division of labour within it were fiercely challenged by feminist movements, notable among them the Italian, British, and American collective ‘Wages for Housework.’ Their titular demand sought to reveal the unrecognised reliance of male productive labour in the factory upon female unpaid reproductive labour in the falsely ‘extracapital’ enclave of the home. The questions raised by this demand also had implications for the definition of what qualifies as ‘work.’ Nicole Cox and Silvia Federici state: [Housewives’] struggle for the wage opens for the waged and the unwaged alike the question of the real length of the working
day. Up to now the working class, male and female, had its working day defined by capital – from punching in to punching out. That defined the time we had belonged to capital and the time we belonged to ourselves. But we have never belonged to ourselves, we have always belonged to capital every moment of our lives, and it is time that we made capital pay for every moment of it. In class terms this is to demand a wage for every moment we live at the service of capital. 4
Price’s short-life house, its functions carefully mapped (in the second Cedric Price Supplement) over the 24 hours of the day, traditionally divided into ‘working time’ and ‘free time,’ reveals the increasing intermixture of productive and ‘unproductive’ labour to which Wages for Housework also calls attention. The form of the short-life house, through its flexibility and determination to leave room functions undifferentiated, allows and encourages productive labour in the home. Price speculates that the TV will channel work and educational information into the house, and insists offices and shops be incorporated into the housing system. These features anticipate new production conditions in which the workplace will not necessarily be fixed in either space or time, co-opting subjectivity to the production of value and subsuming the worker’s personality, motivation, and ‘free time’ into a lifelong working day. The impermanence of the house itself also responds to the needs of the precarious workers of this new information economy, extolling a lifestyle which conceals its many forms of instability in encouraging ‘desire’ for spontaneity. As Price writes blithely, ‘Security and shelter are often cited as the domain of domestic architecture, although a healthy bank balance and hotel credit cards can provide appetizing alternatives.’5 Price was well known for navigating contradictory social circles, entertaining both anarchist collectives and conservative peers. His architecture’s formal blandness was also famous, and a frequent target for attack from critics who disparaged its lack of architectural flair. I argue his formal
and social neutrality is precisely the place to locate the enduring significance of his work, and is the source of its capacity for criticality. Through his sensitive, data-generated ‘servicing’ approach to the existing socio-economic conditions of his time, Price allows a solution to emerge that is not a ‘Price-style house’ but a house that solves the problems posed by the British economy and housing situation of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In so doing, the short-life house reveals how the influences of largescale economic forces intersect with the human scale of the home. For all his celebrated radicality, Price’s writings about the short-life house portray it as a response to individuals’ desires, employing a language of leisure and pleasure as he seeks to enable families’ pursuit of ‘the good life’ through material possessions; the house is just another plaything to acquire. The project is thus arguably no more inherently ‘radical’ than the Potteries Thinkbelt, which sought to better mould workers to the appetites of the national economy.6 But using production and reproduction as categories to parse Price’s design can reveal a different picture than that Price himself frames: the ‘desires’ of the consumerist nuclear family are responding to real constraints placed upon them, exercised within and outside the household, within and outside the structure of the working day. Price’s ‘GOOD LIFE NOW’ can operate as another form of ‘Wages for Housework’ – a demand that raises questions, rather than expecting satisfaction. It poses the question: was it a good life? Will it be soon? 1.
Cedric Price, ‘Potteries Thinkbelt.’ New Society (2 June 1966): 17. 2. Cedric Price, ‘Cedric Price Supplement 2’, Architectural Design 41 (January 1971): 28. 3. Ibid. 4. Nicole Cox and Silvia Federici, Counter-Planning From the Kitchen: Wages for Housework, A Perspective on Capital and the Left (Bristol, UK: Falling Wall Press, 1975), 12. 5. Cedric Price, ‘Architecture as a device,’ 1969, Steel House document folio DR2004:0260, Cedric Price Archives, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. 6. Pier Vittorio Aureli, ‘Labor and Architecture: Revisiting Cedric Price’s Potteries Thinkbelt,’ Log 23 (2011): 99.
An Architecture of Technical Assistance: The failed BRECAST project in 1970s Britain and Chile Felipe Aravena THIS DISSERTATION RECONSTRUCTED THE failed Technical Assistance project between the UK and Chile, involving the adoption of the prefabricated BRECAST Large-Panel System (LPS), in the early 1970s. The product of their collaboration was to be a 200-flat pilot project in the outskirts of Santiago. When the scheme was still in an early stage of design, it was broken up by the coup d’état in Chile in September 1973. The relevance of this chapter in the history of architecture and building for Chile, and the history of the BRECAST building system in general, has been overlooked within architectural literature in both Chile and Britain. This is possibly because of the absence of an object of study, since no buildings were erected in Santiago, or because BRECAST was a prefabricated system intended for application in developing countries, then seen as irrelevant for the mainstream literature. The collaboration between the countries started in September 1972 when the Chilean government hosted VIEXPO, an international housing exhibition whose objective was the exchange of experience, knowledge and technological and industrial innovations in the social housing realm.1 There, the UK presented the recently developed, low-cost prefabricated system, designed by Nares Craig from the Building Research Establishment (BRE). The presentation was an attempt from the Overseas Division of the BRE to position their building industry and research developments within the broader post-colonial market. The development of BRECAST in early 1970s Britain was the confluence point of three trajectories: Nares Craig’s own expertise; decades of European experience in pre-cast concrete; and the environment provided by the BRS/BRE, a public institution that encouraged building research, development and application. The main 16
idea behind the system was to use the financial restrictions and abundance of labour in developing countries as constraints for the design, triggering the adoption of simpler structures assembled from the smallest number of parts, and the minimisation of mechanical equipment. The system envisaged on-site production of the concrete panels using cheap, simple, and lightweight machinery that could be easily dismounted and transported to a new site. This eliminated the need to build factories, enabling cost-efficient production even for small housing projects. The government of the Popular Unity (PU), led by Salvador Allende and following the Chilean Road to Socialism programme, showed great interest in the system. The Chileans saw in BRECAST a tool to fulfil one of the goals of their programme: to remedy the housing deficit during their sixyear term in office, estimated in 1970 to be 600,000 homes. The government officers knew that prefabrication was not a complete answer to Chile’s housing deficit and the underdevelopment of its building industry, and also were aware of the higher costs of system building compared to traditional craft.2 Hence, the motivation behind the PU government’s preference for industrialised housing, rather than economic, was statedriven modernisation. This technological predilection had an undoubtedly political goal since Allende viewed science and technology as both a reflection of Chile’s socialist ideals and an essential part of their realisation.3 Soon both governments were working towards the building of the pilot project. At the start of 1973, the BRE was sure that the first-ever BRECAST scheme would be in Santiago, as one of the many Technical Assistance projects between both governments. The political differences between an openly Marxist government and British
politics were, in this case, smaller than the mutual benefit. The Chilean government needed a tool to fulfil its ambitious housing programme, and meanwhile the British had to rapidly build a BRECAST specific project in order to ensure the system’s viability. The Chilean willingness to adopt these technologies, the existence of a technical bureaucracy, and the long-term friendly relationship between both countries led the project to be sited in Chile. The apparent ‘casual match’ between the PU programme and British development policies in the post-colonial context was, on the contrary, the result of policies sustained over decades. On 11 September 1973, the military forces led by General Pinochet carried out a coup d’état that ended Allende’s government and his life. For weeks, the project was paused. After the British general election in February 1974, leading to a minority Labour government, UK support vanished from most of the Technical Assistance projects with Chile, including the BRECAST initiative. This failed episode of collaboration between the Chilean and British governments reflects the intertwining of institutions, ideologies and politics behind the surface of technological transfers. Hence what might be understood as a technical issue with consequences for the built environment was also undoubtedly a political action, framed by the Cold War scenario. This investigation showed how preponderant ‘assistance’ over the ‘technical’ was in Britain. Assistance policies were determined by objectives such as market expansion, political sympathies and geopolitical influence; construction techniques, then, were the dependent variable in the equation. As an episode occurring within public institutions, the space for individual autonomy was limited, and as such architectural analysis becomes a function of politics and money. The research into the BRECAST episode was carried out mainly through official documentation. As a technological development within public institutions, the process was covered by an array of banal bureaucratic acts, the traces of which can
show the trajectory of the project. However, for the tracking the specific moment of collaboration between Chile and Britain, the collection of documents presented a challenge in itself. Due to the destruction of part of the government archives in the aftermath of the coup d’état of September 1973, the Chilean registers are seriously incomplete. On the British side, an intriguing question is raised from the absence of counterpart documents: within the files of the different public agencies involved in the BRECAST project, there are consistent and notable omissions for the period. For instance, Chile is not mentioned in any of the documents corresponding to the BRECAST system in the BRE archive held in the Public Records Office. Moreover, the files sequence is interrupted between February 1972 and December 1973. For the Foreign and Commonwealth Office records about Chile the omission is similar, with no files between March 1972 and June 1975. Paradoxically, most of the public documents related to this moment are held in a private collection: the Craig family archive. They kept several BRS/BRE documents of the development of BRECAST otherwise missing both in Chile and in the National Archives in Kew. They also kept the self-edited photo album that summarised Nares Craig’s work at the BRS/BRE, a companion of his memoirs published online. 4 As a result, what would have been a research project for the reconstruction through official sources of a governmental project ended up being an ‘unofficial’ history built using some public documents that were removed from official collections. A public servant, such as Craig, limited in his practice by the broader political and ideological discussion, reversed the ‘official’ erasure by keeping the record of his participation within the institution. Using these traces from public institutions in Britain and Chile, including letters, reports, meeting minutes, and internal publications, this dissertation unravels a history of anonymous offices and bureaucrats, instead of one of famous studios and artists.
David Webb, engineer (left), and Nares Craig, architect (right), on the balcony of the BRECAST mock-up building at the BRE, Garston, circa March 1972 Nares Craig’s archive
NOTES 1. ‘Exposición y Encuentro Internacional de la Vivienda,’ AUCA 23 (November 1972), 29. [trans. by the author]. 2. A. D. Beaty, Report of a visit to Chile 23 November – 30 November 1972. BW 91/339. The National Archives, Kew, 8. 3. Eden Medina, ‘Reading History in a Large Concrete Panel,’ in Monolith Controversies, ed. Pedro Alonso et al. (Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2014), 134. 4. Nares Craig, Memoirs of a thirties dissident. http:// narescraig.co.uk/memoirs/. Last modified: 3 February 2012.
‘Designing for Everybody:’ A study of George Finch’s Cotton Gardens Estate, 1966-1968 Serra Askin
POSTWAR COUNCIL HOUSING IN BRITAIN has evolved throughout the years, whilst opinions about it have been divided across history. The current discussion about housing stock, in regard to London’s housing crisis, is heated, with some aspects of council housing being more popular than others. Many scholars have produced material on this widely debated subject. Certain council housing estates and their architects are generally overlooked in this discussion and they do not get recognition in architectural history. This research investigates this occurrence through one example, Cotton Gardens Estate. Cotton Gardens Estate, completed between 1966-1968, is a postwar housing scheme located in Kennington, Lambeth. It comprises of three 22-storey tower blocks, 33 homes as one- and two-storey patio houses called Knight’s Walk, and 37 additional three-storey family houses, with children’s day-care and a doctor’s clinic on the ground level of the tower blocks, and recreational, supporting areas in between. It is one of the most recognised designs of the architect George Finch (19302013). Although generally unheard-of by Londoners, the tower blocks have caught the eyes of many brutalist council housing architecture enthusiasts.1 Cotton Gardens Estate embodies the characteristics of Lambeth housing, thus is an integrated part of Kennington.2 Currently, the tower blocks are safe from any threat. Yet Knight’s Walk was set to be demolished in 2015 by Lambeth Council.3 Through the efforts of the local community4 and Architects for Social Housing,5 the decision was changed in favour of partial demolition and redevelopment. The uncertain process has been draining for the occupants working to save their homes from demolition whilst the
redevelopment process, although inclusive, is exhausting for the current occupants and neighbours of the area, with meetings and consultations occurring regularly. Furthermore, the Twentieth Century Society has recommended the estate be listed to save Knight’s Walk from total demolition and keep the holistic relationship of the estate intact.6 Cotton Gardens Estate has not been as widely recognised as its contemporaries, such as Ernő Goldfinger’s Balfron and Trellick towers, or large scale housing estates like Alton Estate and Alexandra Road Estate. London’s existing housing crisis and the driving political and financial motivations behind regeneration policies generally lead to the demolition of post-war council housing estates, current examples being Robin Hood Gardens and Aylesbury Estate. Without dismissing the negative aspects of these buildings, frequently referred to as ‘sink estates’,7 the residents and architectural and academic groups are fighting these decisions to demolish significant architecture, finding support in related research about their design and the ideals behind them. This research strives to contribute to the discussion. The research focuses on the following questions to build a better picture of the estate and its architect: What is Cotton Gardens Estate’s architectural, material, and political history, its initial and current position in postwar council housing in London and in the borough of Lambeth, and the perception of it by its community? How have George Finch’s architectural and political influences, principles and visions, especially of housing, contributed to Cotton Gardens Estate, at the time of its completion and as a legacy? What is the position of Cotton Gardens Estate within the 19
representation of council housing estates and London, considering George Finch’s intentions, the integrity of the estate, and feedback from its residents? While conducting this research, unearthing original documents such as detailed architectural drawings, or finding sufficient sources proved extremely difficult. With the lack of documents and extensive sources, this research relies on oral history, in addition to archival research, literature review and in-person observation. Filmmaker Tom Cordell’s interview with George Finch has been a wonderful insight to his life and vision. Kate Macintosh, George Finch’s widow and the established architect of Dawson’s Heights and recently renamed Macintosh Court, has kindly opened her house for an informative interview. Two residents of the estate have been generous enough to give tours of their flats and interviews about their experiences. Geraldine Dening, an architect and activist who is part of Architects for Social Housing, and Mick Finch,8 an artist and professor, live in one of the tower blocks. Adam Browne, an architect who lives in Knight’s Walk, has also provided insight. This in-depth research about Cotton Gardens Estate and its architect George Finch intends to establish both their rightful places in architectural history. The estate’s unique qualities distinguish it from its contemporaries. Realised by George Finch’s intelligence, optimism, and skill, Cotton Gardens is an integral part of Lambeth, proving that Finch is an eminent, successful architect. The estate is also harmonious within itself, with communal spaces supporting the relationship between the high- and the low-rise, reinforcing the sense of community. Its exterior is somewhat of a landmark in Lambeth, recognised by passers-by and the keen eyed alike. The interiors are designed to the utmost standards, providing quality homes and enjoyable common areas for everybody. It has an objective of expressing individuality through its design elements, allowing the user to configure their spaces according to user patterns and their personal preferences. 20
The research also demonstrates that the estate is an important case for system-built concrete architecture, concerning the discussion about prefabricated methods. Through exhaustive interviews, the research finds that this estate has a very pleasant impression on its occupants, with Finch’s ideals manifesting through the design and communicating to the users clearly. Specifically, Kate Macintosh’s interview will undoubtedly continue to shed light on the architectural conditions of the era and how that compares to contemporary situations, also informing about George Finch as an architect and a person. Overall, Cotton Gardens Estate is a successful example of postwar council housing. It has not yet found its place in the discourse, and the analysed qualities make it noteworthy enough to be prominent in the representation of council housing, tilting the image towards the positive in the public eye and in an academic context. Additionally, there are many other overlooked estates that, when studied, could turn out to be significant and influential to architectural history. This is only one case study, aiming to substantiate the fact that there is more to council housing and its communities than the superficial and biased representation. Celebrating architecture like Cotton Gardens will hopefully make authorities rethink the demolishing and rebuilding trend, and instead opt to preserve these key examples of architecture. The results of this research will aid the current residents in protecting their homes and communities from current and future threats. It shall also contribute to any discussions and works of collectives regarding postwar council estates that are under threat of demolition, showing that they should be examined and understood within the context of council housing, community relations, and the integrity of the city.
Two of the Cotton Gardens Estate tower blocks viewed from the mezzanine level, 22 July 2016 Author’s photo
NOTES 1. This and George Finch’s other designs have been celebrated in the film Utopia London (2010). 2. This integration points to Cotton Gardens Estate being well-designed for the requirements of Lambeth, and signifies the borough’s characteristics. 3. Lesley Johnson, Equality Impact Assessment Report. Knight’s Walk Cotton Gardens Estate Regeneration Project (London: Lambeth Council, 2015), accessed: 27 May 2016, https://issuu.com/ estateregeneration-lambethcouncil/docs/eia_-_ knight_s_walk_cotton_ gardens_. 4. Anon., ‘Hands Off Knight’s Walk,’ 2015, accessed: 21 June 2016, https://handsoffknightswalk. wordpress.com/.
Architects for Social Housing, ‘Category: Hands off Knight’s Walk,’ 2015, accessed: 21 June 2016, https://architectsforsocialhousing. wordpress.com/category/hands-off-knightswalk/. 6. Henrietta Billings, ‘Cotton Gardens, Lambeth, Listing and Designation Online Application,’ (The Twentieth Century Society, 2015), Application Reference Number: 1427546. 7. See: Alison Ravetz, Council Housing and Culture: The History of a Social Experiment (London: Routledge, 2001), 182-192. 8. No relation to George Finch Lane.
Representational Ambiguities and the Garden of Exile William Blain
TO ADDRESS THE ROLE OF THE ARCHITECT is a polemical task. The architectural field is wide and its diversity does not provide a solid understanding of architecture, but multiple definitions of it. Seeking to situate architectural discourse in a context where architecture is considered an art, this text reflects on the role and relevance of architectural production using the intersection between the artistic possibilities of two objects of representation (buildings and drawings) in Daniel Libeskind’s Garden of Exile at the Jewish Museum Berlin. The work of critic and theorist Robin Evans, in particular his approach to architectural representation in the essay ‘Translations from Drawing to Building,’ is the foundation for this discussion. On the one hand, Evans approaches the possibility of the drawing as a final artefact, where the drawing’s artistic relevance is an end in itself, by addressing comparisons between architectural practice and other artistic disciplines. On the other hand, he introduces its counterpart by explaining the potential of those drawings whose relevance is to serve as a medium to a better end (the building). This binary opposition will be tested using a project whose designer often claims to support both possibilities. The fact that architecture is often considered an art has encouraged innumerable statements regarding its relation to other specific artistic disciplines. For Evans, discussion of architecture in the context of other arts suggested a discontinuity: comparisons between the labour of the architect and the labour of painters and sculptors were not easy to formulate; there was a gap that architects needed to address. Whilst sculptors and painters work mostly with the object of their thought (the painting and the sculpture respectively), architects cannot develop their work while manipulating their 22
object (the building). In contrast with the architect, Evans argued, the final artefact of both painter and sculptor absorbs most of their effort and attention, even if they spend some time on preliminary sketches and models: The sketch and maquette are much closer to painting and sculpture than a drawing is to a building, and the process of development - the formulation - is rarely brought to a conclusion within these preliminary studies. Nearly always the most intense activity is the construction and manipulation of the final artifact, the purpose of preliminary studies being to give sufficient definition for final work to begin, not to provide a complete determination in advance, as in architectural drawing.1
Evans also provides a counterpart for the consideration of the drawing as the final artefact, depicting the binary opposition (drawing/end vs. building/medium) within the role of the architect. He states that the drawing might be overvalued; its relevance rests in working as a medium that leads to a better-finished artefact, the building. Evans argues that using the power of the drawing’s properties to better effect could destabilise the popular belief (promoted by architectural education) that the final artefact of architectural production is the drawing: While on the one hand the drawing might be vastly overvalued, on the other the properties of drawing – its peculiar powers – in relation to its putative subject, the building, are hardly recognised at all. Recognition of the drawing´s power as a medium turns out, unexpectedly, to be recognition of the drawing’s distinctness from and unlikeness to the thing that is represented, rather than its likeness to it.2
An example where the relevance of the architectural production is given to the
The Garden of Exile Authorâ€™s photo
building, rather than the drawing (which only works as a medium rather than a final artefact), is Philibert de l’Orme’s Royal Chapel (1547). Located in Anet, this cupola design was intended to mirror, in the dome, the visual pattern of the floor – an ambitious challenge never seen before, not only due to the complex pattern, but also due to the differences between the flat and spherical surfaces intended to be synchronised in a vertical-perpendicular way. Evans highlights the ambition of the design, which was impossible to represent accurately in preliminary drawings.3 Even though some similarly patterned apse heads were already built in other temples, none of them were as artistic as de l’Orme’s. It was a design whose enchanting quality was only perceived in the building itself. Daniel Libeskind’s early phases in architectural practice evidenced his understanding of the drawing as architecture itself – a final product of the practice. Francesca Serrazanetti writes: ‘it is clear that Libeskind approached architecture through the practice of drawing, as exemplified by the series of work which he himself refuses to call “theoretical” since they are in themselves architecture, as he has pointed out several times in his writings.’4 According to Serrazanetti, rather than being a purely technical representation, Libeskind’s drawings are the site where deep architectural meaning is conveyed. In addition, Libeskind himself has argued that drawings are no less important than buildings: ‘An architectural drawing is as much a prospective unfolding of future possibilities as it is a recovery of a particular history to whose intentions it testifies and whose limits it always challenges. In any case a drawing is more than the shadow of an object, more than a pile of lines, more than a resignation to the inertia of convention.’5 The Garden of Exile is located at the end of one of the three main axes that compose the Jewish Museum of Berlin. It has 49 tilted columns that stand perpendicular to the inclined surface that supports them, from which Russian olives trees flourish during summer. As one of the most 24
attractive spaces of the museum and based on Libeskind’s approach to the relevance of drawings, it is notable that his records do not provide complete or accurate drawings of this space, in contrast with the rest of the building. The reason for this absence is possibly the technical challenge that drawing clear plans and sections of its inclined platform represents, as its surface is not aligned with the longitudinal geometry of the building (complicating general section drawings) and its columns reach different heights. The most complete drawing example of the Garden is the one presented for the competition in 1989, which fails to depict the space clearly. Although Libeskind often claims to give the same relevance to drawings and buildings, his Garden of Exile design fails to do so. The lack of accurate drawings operates in a similar way to the drawings of the Royal Chapel’s cupola, as a locale for subterfuges and evasions that reveal their enchanting quality only in the presence of the building. It is unclear if such evasions were intended by Libeskind. However, it supports the idea of drawing’s relevance as a medium, as the built space embodies overwhelming experiences that evoke the sickness of those who left Berlin during the war. The drawings available are not sufficiently complete to prefigure the space and forecast such emotions, although the design’s capacity to disorientate is so powerful that even with perfect preliminary drawings and a complete supporting narrative, it will always be a surprising experience to walk through the real space.
Robin Evans, Translations from Drawings to Buildings and Other Essays (London: Architectural Association, 1997), 156. 2. Ibid., 154. 3. Ibid., 175. 4. Francesca Serrazanetti and Matteo Schubert, eds., Daniel Libeskind: Inspiration and Process in Architecture (Milan: Moleskine Books, 2015), 6. 5. Daniel Libeskind, End Space: An exhibition at the Architectural Association (London: Architectural Association, 1980), 22.
Forwards and Upwards: Staircases as a metaphor Lisa Brausem
NEARLY 80% OF BUILDINGS IN GERMANY were built in the postwar period and one of the main stylistic features in these buildings are staircases. Large, small, elegant, simple, winding or straight – all kinds of staircases imaginable. They were not only extremely photogenic but also a structural challenge welcomed to represent the modern technology of a new, democratic, Germany. However, staircases represent much more than just the functional need of a building to be connected between different levels. They also serve as a metaphor to represent the rapidly developing postwar Germany. Drawing inspiration from a private archive, known as the Hartzenbusch Archive, this dissertation uses photographs from that time to analyse the metaphorical nature of staircases. The original owner and photographer of the archive, Clemens Hartzenbusch, had a particular interest in horizontal and vertical vistas, especially bridges and staircases. His images of these subjects capture the essence of postwar architecture and also serve as an exemplification for the use of staircases as metaphors. According to Deborah Barnstone in The Transparent State, metaphors are: ‘words and concepts used to describe qualify or stand in for another concept.’1 Metaphors are important, especially in the context of architecture, because they are essential to understanding the ‘ways in which human beings understand or qualify their understanding, of the world.’2 Staircases can thus be used as a metaphor to describe the concept of postwar Germany’s rise from the rubble. The new Germany wanted to distinguish itself from the monumental Nazi architecture and thus postwar architecture was all about ‘glass walls, light construction of steel and reinforced concrete, cheerful
design, buildings free from massiveness, darkness and false decor’ as well as ‘simple, often asymmetrically formed, unadorned volumes with flat roofs and large glass surfaces.’3 The simplified forms, rationality and functionality of the Bauhaus and Neue Sachlichkeit, which had been popular prior to the Nazi regime, were quickly reintroduced with adaptations to permit fast and cheap production of the much-needed buildings. These geometrical surfaces and interiors filled with light and high contrasts offered not only a good choice of subject for photography, but also demonstrated the new identity of Germany’s new democracy. 4 Staircases were an excellent example to showcase advanced building techniques. This becomes visible in particular in the staircases photographed by Clemens and preserved in his archive. Here one can see how they are often a freestanding or hanging structure, with modern bannisters and materials. Stairs thus can be seen to develop an intuitive relationship between their function as a connection between different levels in a house and their formal properties. Even ignoring all of these characteristics, staircases provided good photographic subject matter. Not only did Clemens see this, but photographers as early as Atget also recognised parts of buildings for their architectural quality and specific symbolic significance. The German architect Schwippert argues that ‘Form is not a photographic copy of reality, but beyond (and inside) making archetypes and timeless examples visible.’5 The metaphor of the staircase is thus a materialised form of the postwar search for, and climb towards, a new German identity. The process of rebuilding after the war could also be described as ‘climbing a ladder,’ or moving upwards. The stairs make 25
Staircase Hartzenbusch Archive, Number 3252, 1957
the difference between two levels, downstairs and upstairs, visible to the eye and thus real. Rather than just having linkage as the primary function, the staircase also adopts a symbolic function of connection, and a move upwards. As Mario Botta described: ‘the bridge defines the valleys,’ and as such one could say the stairs define the gap that needs to be climbed.6 Georg Simmel, who likewise uses the bridge to analyse a horizontal connection, suggests similar ideas for staircases as a vertical connection. Would one be aware of the gap
if the staircase were not there to connect
the two different levels? The choice of stairs as a metaphor is not incidental. Günter Behnisch, a German architect involved in the renovation of the Bundeshaus in Bonn wrote in Bauen für die Demokratie that ‘the essence of the “building” lay not in its protective outer shell, that, in former times, represented a house; not primarily the roof or the wall, either. Instead, it is the localities that are prominent, both within and outside the walls – in one place a tree, in another a staircase floating in space.’7
The staircase floating in the space therefore being the essence of the building allows it to function as a metaphor even for the greater context of postwar architecture. Just as staircases are the reason humans can continue to build higher and higher and climb towards the sky, they are also the ideal metaphor to represent Germany’s paradigm shift to a new democratic and modern identity. Thus, the staircase itself serves as a materialisation of the invisible gap between different heights. Germany did essentially climb up the stairs after the war to overcome this gap; it rebuilt its economy with help from the Marshall Plan and the Allied Forces; it recreated its identity through dissemination of new architecture and by redeveloping its cities; and it documented this for future generations. This time of the ‘Stunde Null’ allowed for the creation of a whole new set of ‘metaphors, analogies and stylistic prerogatives’ in architecture – of which staircases are one.8
Deborah Ascher Barnstone, The Transparent State: Architecture and Politics in Postwar Germany (Routledge: London, 2005), 11. 2. Ibid. 3. Hans Schwippert, ‘Glück und Glas’ in Wohn Form (1952): 3. See: Barnstone, The Transparent State, 15, 113 4. Andrew Higgott and Timothy Wray, eds., The Camera Constructs: Photography, Architecture and the Modern City (London: Routledge, 2014), 4. 5. Barnstone, The Transparent State, 19. 6. Joosik Min, ‘Bridge as an Aesthetic Object,’ Journal of the Faculty of Letter, The University of Tokyo, Aesthetics 34 (2009): 33. 7. Barnstone, The Transparent State, 19. 8. Ibid., 29.
Thinking Architecture with an Indian Ocean Aquapelago Lindsay Bremner
SINCE 2005, I HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN AN ongoing study of the Indian Ocean, contributing to a field of scholarship known as Indian Ocean Studies. In doing so, I have undertaken a number of site based investigations that have produced an alternative account of globalisation from that usually told from an architectural or built environment perspective. Instead of bringing global cities and celebrity architects into view,1 by beginning in the ocean, new sites in global circuits, many on the margins of the urban world, have come into focus.2 This has provided not only a privileged vantage point from which to view a changing world order,3 but also fertile ground for repositioning architectural thought and practice. As an extension of this research, I paid two visits to the Maldives in 2015, one with 20 students from Design Studio 18 at the University of Westminster, the other for my own research, when I interviewed architects and engineers in the capital city, Malé, and visited a resort island. I did this to take up a self-imposed charge of what it might mean to think architecture from and with a vulnerable coral archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and with the hunch that this might provide me with tools to critique of the concept of archipelago urbanism as deployed in architecture since the 1970s. In 1977 Oswald Mathias Ungers conducted a summer school for a group of architecture students from Cornell University in West Berlin. At the time the city’s population was in decline after the Berlin Wall had turned it into an enclave in 28
East Germany. Ungers began to think about what it meant to inhabit this shrinking city and proposed the trope of the archipelago to do so. Certain parts of the city with architectural significance, the islands so to speak, were to be reinforced, while the rest, the ocean, was to be ignored, left to decay, to develop in an unregulated manner or to return to forest. Hence the name of his manifesto: ‘Die Stadt in der Stadt, Berlin das Gruner Stadtarchipel,’ translated as ‘The City in the City: Berlin: A Green Archipelago.’4 This hypothesis contained a blueprint for the city as a collection of architecturally significant, value-laden fragments floating in a gridded, valueless (from an architectural perspective) metropolitan sea. Reminiscent of Carl Schmitt’s view of the sea as ‘nothing but waves’5 and of Roland Barthes idea of the sea as a ‘non-signifying field,’6 the metropolis was assigned the status of nothingness, as foil to the something-ness of architecture: ‘through parallel actions of reconstruction and deconstruction, such a city becomes an archipelago of architectural islands floating in a post-architectural landscape of erasure, where what was once city is now a highly charged nothingness.’ 7 This idea was further theorised by Pier Vittorio Aureli in his book The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture,8 in which the author argued that for architecture to engage politically, culturally and socially with the city, it is required to be set apart from the forces of urbanisation as an archipelago of site specific, formal interventions.
From there, architecture’s history, theories, formal logics and compositional rules confront and, in Aureli’s view, stabilise or make sense of the changing morpohological, socio-political conditions around them. ‘Through its act of separation and being separated, architecture reveals at once the essence of the city and the essence of itself as political form: the city as the composition of separate parts.’9 Ignoring for a moment the correlation between this image and the fragmented, militarised nature of the post-modern city,10 what this does for architecture is to set up clear boundaries between what it is and what is not, where it is and where it is not and to reinforce the idea of architecture’s disciplinary autonomy. It seemed, as Robert Smithson remarked, ‘that architects build in an isolated, self-contained, ahistorical way. They never seem to allow for any kind of relationship outside of their grand plan.’ 11 Where architecture is, its history, theories, formal logics and compositional rules are sovereign and endlessly repeated. Everything outside of this is non-architecture, unthinkable, invisible, denied or eradicated. This template has had widespread impact on architectural ideas about urbanism ever since, from Rossi’s The Architecture of the City (1982) to Koolhaas’ Delirious New York (1994) to Allen and McQuade’s Landform Building (2011) and Callejas’ Islands and Atolls (2013), amongst others. These texts and the practices they have so productively given rise to unquestioningly adopt the trope of the archipelago as collection of islands in an otherwise hostile, neutral or invisible sea. One of its more exotic outings was in a recent project to re-envision oil platforms as a new form of urbanism, published as The Petropolis of Tomorrow.12 In this, Casper sums up what is meant by archipelago urbanism: ‘a collection of diverse parts and their situation suspended within a clearly secondary context – constitute the core elements of archipelago urbanism.’ 13 Mason White, in the same publication, while attributing to the sea some agency in determining what is or is not an archipelago,
still describes it as a ‘self-similar surface between differentiated land bodies.’14 It is as if architects are blind to the sea! It was in part to challenge this binary, urban and sea averse logic that my work on the Maldives was undertaken. What if the archipelago was a fluid, mobile, relational, terra-aqueous form? What if architecture, instead of setting itself apart from the urban, thought itself from within the ‘fluid mobility and tactile materiality’15 of the urban relations in which it is configured? In order to undertake this thought experiment, I embarked on a theoretical journey that began with the bipartite typology of islands proposed by Deleuze in his short essay, ‘Desert Islands.’ 16 In this, Deleuze argued that geologically speaking, there are two kinds of islands: continental islands and oceanic islands. The former are fragments of continents, split off from a continental mass by erosion or fracture. The sea intervenes between them and the continental mass of which they were originally a part. The islands of the Aegean Sea, the original archipelago, belong to this type.17 Given this, it is not surprising that, in western thought, relationships between land and sea have been thought of as binary and opposing and the archipelago associated with its terrestrial fragments alone. The Green Archipelago’s formulation of West Berlin as outcrops of architectural singularity pitted against a dividing sea of negative or, at best, neutral urbanisation, follows this model. There is however another way of thinking the archipelago if one starts from Deleuze’s other category, oceanic islands, to which Indian Ocean island formations, including the Maldives, belong. Oceanic islands, as their name suggests, originate in the ocean. They are extra-continental formations, emerging as a consequence of sub-aquatic events, usually volcanic eruptions. They cannot be theorised in relation to continents, for they never were continental. In the case of the Maldives, they do not even stand on a continental shelf, but arise directly from the earth’s mantel, as a consequence of tectonic shifts and rifts. In order to think or understand this kind of 29
archipelago, one has to think from and with the sea. To do so, I turned to the work of cultural geographers Jon Anderson, Kimberley Peters, and Philip Steinberg. Anderson argued that, until recently, much of human geography was terrestrial and paid little attention to the marine world.18 However, the intensification of change brought about by globalisation has altered the notion of the terrestrial landscape from one of stasis to one of emergence. This has created the conditions for thinking from the ocean, not only to gain theoretical insights about human interaction with the oceanic world, but also to ‘offer a different perspective on terra firma when we theorize back to the land.’ 19 Steinberg and Peters go further and propose that thinking with the sea can assist in re-conceptualising understandings of space, place and time.20 ‘In short, we propose a wet ontology not merely to endorse the perspective of a world of flows, connections, liquidities, and becomings, but also to propose a means by which the sea’s material and phenomenological distinctiveness can facilitate the reimagining and re-enlivening of a world ever on the move.’21 With this in mind, I turned to work on the archipelago by island studies scholars. Martin Lewis and Karen Wigen remarked that of all meta-geographic categories, the archipelago is the most under-theorised.22 This charge was taken up by Elaine Stratford et al. in 2011,23 followed by debates in special issues of the journals Shima (2012) and Island Studies Journal (2013), and elsewhere since. What is distinctive about the archipelago, these scholars argue, is that it invites reflection on dynamic inter-relationalities between land and sea, island and continent and island and island that are both binary and topological.24 Archipelagos are ‘fluid cultural processes,’25 models of ‘a world in process.’26 For Philip Hayward however, the idea of the archipelago was too heavily associated with its islands to be useful for regions in which aquatic spaces play a vital constitutive role. He proposed the term aquapelago to describe ‘an assemblage of the marine and land spaces of a group of 30
islands and their adjacent waters’27 and to advance the idea that these environments are generated or performed into being by ‘human (inter)activity.’28 This drew on earlier work of Pacific Ocean scholars, who conceptualised Oceana as ‘a sea of islands with their inhabitants’ rather than as ‘small areas of land sitting atop submerged reefs or seamounts.’29 Aquapelagic assemblages are ‘performed entities,’30 generated by changing climate patterns, trading systems, socio-economic relations, and technologies etc. Hayward later went further to propose that the ‘actants’31 that perform an aquapelago are not only human, but include the animate (biological), inanimate (geological) and energetic forces that animate an aquapelagic environment: ‘The air above the waters and land, the weather that occurs in it, the windblown seeds and species than are born by it and the birds than inhabit the air, sea and land are just as much part of the integrated space of the aquapelago.’32 These ideas of a continuum rather than a binary between land and sea and human and non-human became central to my work on the Maldives. They provided me with the conceptual tools for analysing its terra-aqueous environment and driving my critique of archipelagic urbanism. They suggested that thinking architecture out of the myth of its own autonomy, and into the emergent conditions of the contemporary world might be possible. Architecture is not, to use Aureli’s word, ‘absolute,’33 but continuous with and contingent upon the historical socio-ecological relations in which it is embedded, to which it gives form and with which it struggles. It seems to me that a conception of architecture as a conceptual, spatial and material practice contingent upon forces that it responds to, registers, inscribes and to which it gives form is a far more useful paradigm for the 21st century than the rigid binary fictions of the past. NOTE: This is an extract from an article accepted for publication in GeoHumanities in December 2016.
11. 12. 13.
See Saskia Sassen, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). Peter Newman and Andy Thornley, Planning world cities: Globalization and urban politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sujic, The Endless City (London: Phaidon, 2007). Robert Adam, The Globalization of Modern Architecture: The Impact of Politics, Economics and Social Change on Architecture and Urban Design Since 1990 (London: Routledge, 2014). See Lindsay Bremner, ‘Towards a minor architecture at Lamu, Kenya,’ Social Dynamics 39, no. 3 (2013): 397-413. Lindsay Bremner, ‘Folded Ocean: The spatial transformation of the Indian Ocean world,’ Journal of the Indian Ocean Region 10, no. 1 (2014): 18-45. Lindsay Bremner, ‘Fluid Ontologies in the search for MH370,’ Journal of the Indian Ocean Region 11, no. 1 (2015): 8-29. Isabel Hofmeyr, ‘Universalising the Indian Ocean,’ PMLA 125, no. 3 (2010): 721-729. Oswald Mathias Ungers, ‘Die Stadt in der Stadt. Berlin das Gruner Stadtarchipel,’ in The City in the City: Berlin: A Green Archipelago eds. Florian Hertweck and Sebastien Marot (1977; repr., Zurich: Lars Muller, 2013), 83-130. Carl Schmitt, Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of Jus Publicum Europaeum (New York: Telos Press, 2003), 13. Roland Barthes, Mythologies (New York: Random House, 1993), 112. Rem Koolhaas, ‘Imagining Nothingness,’ in S, M, L, XL, eds. Bruce Mau and Rem Koolhaas (New York: Monacelli Press, 1995), 200. Pier Vittorio Aureli, The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press), 2011. Ibid., back cover. Adam Grydehoj et al., ‘Returning from the Horizon: Introducing Urban Island Studies,’ Urban Island Studies 1, no. 1 (2015): 1-19. Kiel Moe, Insulating Modernism (Basel: Birkhauser Verlag, 2014), 5. Neeraj Bhatia and Mary Casper, eds., The Petropolis of Tomorrow (Barcelona: Actar, 2013). Mary Casper, ‘On land at Sea: Formalizing Public Edges in the Archipelago,’ in The Petropolis of Tomorrow, eds. Neeraj Bhatia and Mary Casper (Barcelona: Actar, 2013), 109. Mason White, ‘Archipelago, from Metaphor to Geography,’ in The Petropolis of Tomorrow, eds. Neeraj Bhatia and Mary Casper (Barcelona: Actar, 2013), 83.
15. Philip Steinberg, ‘Of Other Seas: Metaphors and Materialities in Maritime Regions,’ Atlantic Studies 10, no. 2 (2013): 157. 16. Gilles Deleuze, ‘Desert Islands,’ in Desert Islands and Other Texts, 1953-1974 (Los Angeles, CA and Columbia University: Semiotext(e), 2004). 17. Elaine Stratford et al., ‘Envisioning the Archipelago,’ Island Studies Journal 6, no. 2 (2011): 113-130. Philip Hayward, ‘Aquapelagos and Aquapelagic Assemblages,’ Shima 6, no. 1 (2012): 1-11. See Stratford et al., although Hayward identifies those of the Adriatic Sea as original Architecture of Four Ecologies. London: Allen Lane. 18. See: Jon Anderson ‘Relational places: the surfed wave as assemblage and convergence,’ Environment and Planning D 30, no. 4 (2012): 570-587. 19. Ibid., 248. 20. Steinberg and Peters, ‘Wet ontologies, Fluid spaces: Giving Depth to Volume through Oceanic Thinking,’ Environment and Planning D 33, no. 2 (2015): 247-264. 21. Ibid., 248. 22. Martin Lewis and Karen Wigen, The Myth of Continents (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). 23. Stratford et al., ‘Envisioning the Archipelago.’ 24. Ibid. Elaine Stratford, ‘The Idea of the Archipelago: Contemplating Island Relations,’ Island Studies Journal 8, no. 1 (2013): 3-8. Jonathan Pugh, ‘Island Movements: Thinking with the Archipelago,’ Island Studies Journal 8, no. 1 (2013): 9-24. 25. Stratford et al., ‘Envisioning the Archipelago,’ 122. 26. Gilles Deleuze, ‘Bartleby; or, The Formula,’ in Essays Critical and Clinical (Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press), 86, quoted in Elizabeth McMahon, ‘Reading the Planetary Archipelago of the Torres Strait,’ Island Studies Journal 8, no. 1 (2013): 55-66. 27. Hayward, ‘Aquapelagos and Aquapelagic Assemblages,’ 4. 28. Philip Hayward, ‘The Constitution of Assemblages and the Aquapelagality of Haida Gwaii,’ Shima 6, no. 2 (2012): 2. 29. Epeli Hau’ofa, Eric Waddell, and Vijay Naidu, ‘Our Sea of Islands,’ in A New Oceania: Rediscovering Our Sea of Islands, ed. Epeli Hau’ofa (Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific, 1993), 153. 30. Hayward, ‘Aquapelagos and Aquapelagic Assemblages,’ 6. 31. Bruno Latour, Politics of Nature (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 237. 32. Hayward, ‘The Constitution of Assemblages and the Aquapelagality of Haida Gwaii,’ 2. 33. Aureli, The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture.
Tracing Securitisation in Brussels: La Gare Centrale Marisa Cortright
THE TRADITIONAL METHOD OF EXPRESSING power in city space works by highlighting the visibility of the institutions of power. This is achieved through centrally locating those institutions’ buildings, deploying militarised civil servants through the city, and urban design that accentuates these two actions, à la Haussmanian Paris, in a programme that continually impresses images of the state’s power into the consciousness of its citizens. Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish describes this mode of control in order to explicate the point at which it transformed into another mode, one which pervades many cities today. This new mode is precisely disciplinary power, which ‘is exercised through its vulnerability…it imposes on those whom it subjects a principle of compulsory visibility. Their visibility assures the holds of power that is exercised over them.’1 Brussels is not unique in its various manifestations of disciplinary power, but it is a fascinating example in the current paradigm of terror in Western Europe. Its display of national pride and civic culture during the 21 July fête nationale belge hinged upon a return to the traditional expression of power, a blatant example of the interlocking of these three keys to visibility. The celebration centred around the architectural locus of state power – the Palais de Justice and the Palais de Bruxelles – between which a broad avenue, cleared of traffic, served as the route for a military parade. This excerpt from my dissertation on material forms of securitisation in Brussels ruminates on the return of this pre-disciplinary exercise of power, of which the fête nationale was a momentary, extreme example, and the manner in which it interacts with the forms of disciplinary power still in place. The traditional mode of exerting power 32
reasserts itself in Brussels under the guise of a counter-terrorism état d’urgence that implies finitude. Whatever additional police and military presence a state of emergency incurs is assumed to eventually subside. Presumably the state will announce a return to normalcy, to the normal dictates of disciplinary power. The social and political costs of advances in technological preemptive measures seem fleeting in the short term but gradually erode civil liberties and heighten the baseline level of fear.2 What do those normal dictates look like? – There are five military police and seven regular police plus two ‘Securail’ officers posted outside the Square de la Putterie entrance to Brussels Centrale. They’re diverting train passengers away from the square, where they’ve cornered one guy, searched his backpack, patted him down, and are now questioning him: this is clearly the vagrant hang spot. This is where they’re meant to be contained on days like today. Tourists and local passers-by, myself included, slow their pace to uneasily monitor the altercation. The police let the guy go and he’s returned to his group of friends. There’s nearly one officer per person. The scene is a detainment, and the topographical conditions of the plaza extend it psychologically into a containment. The entrance to the station is set into the bottom of the slope of the Mont des Arts, whose peak is the Place Royale and the Palais de Bruxelles. The Mont des Arts spatially expresses a political hierarchy. The concentration of police – as uniformed servants of the state but also, more fundamentally, a way of organizing things – certainly reflects the état d’urgence but also serves as a reminder, in a more existential manner, that the hierarchy
Installation at the Mont des Arts, directing pedestrians in predictable directions Authorâ€™s photo
has been disrupted, a border transgressed, a castle stormed.3 Fear works to restrict some bodies through the movement or expansion of others.4 There is a filtering of bodies upwards along the Mont des Arts – at the bottom, the police work to contain the least desirable bodies, homeless people and vagrants. Slightly above that, up the hill, a vast expanse of brick pavers which could conceivably hold thousands of bodies – masses, crowds, rioters – is instead broken apart by a ring of pyramidal rays of concrete [Fig 1]. These rays partition the area in the same pseudo-aesthetic manner under the guise of ‘urban design.’ On Savitch’s continuum of surveillance activities from least to most physically obstructive, fortress construction that permanently restricts movement by shielding or blocking people ranks the most extreme.5 At present, tourists awkwardly navigate through a space in which that they have neither reason nor means to stop. They cannot aimlessly wander through, for the flared vectors limit their means of escape. It is explicitly hostile, lacking in detail for passers-by, and laborious to traverse.6 This oversized foot of the ‘mountain’ distinctly recalls the grandiose scale of Haussmannian Paris – a scale that is clearly not meant for living, but for facilitating police intervention, reorganizing the real so as to facilitate future investigations, even constructing a world suited to investigation.7 The space here is intentionally shrunken, converted to a scarcer space [which channels] people in predictable directions.8 This change follows not from a specific problem or incident but from the logic of police power, which exerts itself in the name of that which has not yet been committed but which could be. It is because you could make an illegal use of such and such a freedom that I deprive you of it.9 This transubstantiation of police power into spatial control is at the dark heart of Lefebvre’s concept of the social production of space insofar as ‘spatial control’ is synonymous with ‘counterterrorism.’ The ‘normal’ dictate of surveiller et punir as expressed in prickly, crowd-dispersing urban design is layered with sentient 34
representatives of police power who amplify the messages that the urban design isn’t communicating bluntly enough. It’s not that unruly and violent crowds have previously occupied the space and forced the city to shrink it and install barbs, it’s that the space could conceivably be occupied by such a crowd. No precaution is excessive. There is a danger that in combatting terror, cities engage in a self-negation and become closed societies.10 With the Gare Centrale underfoot, and halfway between the Palais de Bruxelles up the hill and the Grande Place a half kilometre yonder, it does seem as though this open expanse would be the ideal spot for a terrorist attack, what with its concentration of high-value targets – strategic infrastructure, symbolically important institutions, and dense population.11 The fact that the powers that be have already foreclosed upon the space – depriving a freedom which has not yet been abused – shows that the permanent physical modification of space is not part of the état d’urgence but the normal dictate. Urban terrorism is about how terrorists turn the strengths of the city against itself.12
6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage, 1995), 187. H.V. Savitch, Cities in a Time of Terror: Space, Territory, and Local Resilience (London: Routledge, 2007), 143. From this point for Italicised phrases, excepting those in French, are quotations from the cited source. Grégoire Chamayou, ‘Fichte’s Passport: A Philosophy of the Police,’ Theory & Event, Vol. 16 No. 2 (2013): 4. Sara Ahmed, ‘Affective Economies,’ Social Text 79, Vol. 22 No. 2 (2004): 127. Continuum derived and adapted from Oc and Tiesdall, ‘Urban Design Approaches to Safer City Centers.’ Savitch, Cities in a Time of Terror, 126. Ibid., 137. Chamayou, ‘Fichte’s Passport,’ 1. Savitch, Cities in a Time of Terror, 135. Chamayou, ‘Fichte’s Passport,’ 6. Savitch, Cities in a Time of Terror, 13. Ibid., 12. These are amongst Savitch’s urban ‘elements that make modern terrorism so combustible.’ Ibid., 137.
Reinventing the Prison: HMP Holloway, 1968-1978 Miranda Critchley
IN NOVEMBER 2015, GEORGE OSBORNE unveiled a new wave of prison reform in England and Wales. ‘Old Victorian prisons’ in cities – deemed unsuitable for ‘rehabilitating prisoners’ – would be sold; the ‘long term savings’ from these sales would free up ‘over a billion pounds’ to spend on building nine ‘new modern’ institutions.1 In his statement, Osborne mentioned one prison by name: HMP Holloway, on Parkhurst Road in north London. ‘I can tell the House that Holloway Prison – the biggest women’s jail in Western Europe – will close,’ he announced. ‘In the future, women prisoners will serve their sentences in more humane conditions better designed to keep them away from crime.’2 Osborne’s idea wasn’t new. Unlike Islington’s other prison, Pentonville, Holloway isn’t an old Victorian building: it was redeveloped in the 1970s with the intention of designing a better environment for women. The need to provide more humane prisons has been invoked since the 18th century. Osborne’s announcement suggests that the process isn’t often successful in the long term. Most reform organisations welcome the closure of a prison, but there is also fear of the policy ‘merry-go-round’: the same ideas return in cycles and nothing changes.3 Claims for new, progressive regimes and transformative humane environments need to be properly scrutinised. What changes occur? Or does rebuilding just repackage old ideas and structures of power? These questions are not only relevant to penal architecture, but to ideas of progress as they apply to cities more generally. As the extensive literature on housing, urban regeneration and displacement suggests, narratives of redevelopment need
to be closely examined. The rhetoric that endorses change through architecture cannot be left unchallenged. The first Holloway redevelopment was presented as a progressive modernisation of the women’s penal system. In place of an ‘out of date, gaunt and deteriorating ensemble of prison buildings’ there would ‘rise a modern, hospital-type institution’ – a product, supposedly, of ‘forward-looking policies,’ ‘social progress,’ and ‘higher moral standards.’4 The new Holloway would be a prison of which Islington could be proud. It would provide ‘treatment’ for women and design ‘new ways of life’ for both inmates and staff.5 These aims have been interpreted as the result of an idealistic consensus that women prisoners required psychiatric help rather than punishment.6 But the redevelopment was also deeply concerned with architecture. The old prison was labelled inflexible – its design was described as an ‘obstacle to progress’ – but the regime at the old Holloway and the use of the buildings had changed significantly over the course of the 20th century in ways that suggested the architecture was adaptable and could accommodate new policies. By the late 1960s, women wore their own clothes rather than prison uniforms. The hospital wing had been ‘modernised’ in 1964. Cells were knocked together to create a library and inmates painted murals on the walls. The problem with the old Holloway was that it didn’t look like a progressive institution. J. B. Bunning, the City Architect, had designed the original structure, which was completed in 1852. Its radial wings were modelled on Pentonville, but the prison gatehouse was inspired by Warwick Castle. 35
Stone griffins either side of the gate held keys in their claws; the castellated tower was visible from a distance and became a local landmark – postcards were printed of ‘Holloway Castle.’ The meaning of this architecture wasn’t always clear: although it was labelled forbidding or fortress-like, one often-repeated story claimed that the style was intended to placate middle-class neighbours, who opposed the construction of a prison in their leafy suburb. Rather than seeing the demolition of the old prison and the construction of a new, red brick ‘hospital-type institution’ as a moment of late-1960s idealism, I’m more interested in two different dynamics that I think were at work in the redevelopment. The first relates to disorder and control: with its absurd, ‘fairy castle’ appearance, Holloway’s built fabric helped to challenge the legitimacy of penal policy – it seemed ridiculous that women were locked up in such a place. This was particularly problematic in the early 1970s, when radical opponents to prison were becoming more vocal. The first issue of Spare Rib, the feminist magazine, contained an article arguing against the plans for a new prison; their piece was based on report by Radical Alternatives to Prison (RAP), a group that argued for a serious reduction in incarceration. Redeveloping was a means of reasserting control and undermining radical opposition: Holloway would no longer be a visual symbol of the absurdity of the prison system. The second dynamic concerns the role of architecture in determining the meaning of the prison. The redevelopment team wanted the new complex to be secure and to allow for the control of inmates, but these measures were intended to be inconspicuous. If possible, buildings would form the site’s perimeter; where a wall was necessary, it would be a crinkle-crankle one, rather than a straight boundary. The overall aim of these variations in the design was to erode the ‘psychological barrier represented by the prison wall’ – an indication that the impact of the prison was seen to derive from the physical environment – the prison wall 36
– rather than the institution’s function as a site in which the individual was deprived of her liberty. This idea is apparent in other texts: in an address to the Howard League for Penal Reform, the Chief Medical Officer at Holloway stated that the design of the new gate and reception would ‘obviate the psychological hazard of initial impressions of the establishment.’ 7 Again, architecture was the problem: good design could prevent the harmful effects of imprisonment. The demolition of the old Holloway and its replacement with what its architects Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall described as a ‘soft,’ ‘feminine,’ ‘normal’ building suggests that the process elaborated by Foucault in his Collège de France course on the ‘punitive society’ is cyclical, not linear.8 Here, Foucault argues that in 18th-century thought, the prison was considered strange, enigmatic, and flawed. Over the course of the 19th century, this odd creation was made to appear inevitable. The redevelopment of Holloway shows a similar moment in the 1970s, where prison appeared unstable and absurd. Giving Holloway a normal appearance was a means of re-establishing incarceration as an ‘anthropological constant’ and a ‘primary assumption’ at a moment when, in relation to women, its inevitability seemed unclear. If this process reoccurs, as the Holloway redevelopment suggests, then we should watch for moments of instability and the corresponding means by which the acceptability of the prison is re-established. At Holloway, architecture worked to reassert legitimacy: once again, the prison could be a sign of progress, rather than a relic of the past.
The new Holloway: view from Parkhurst Road, 2016 Author’s photo
NOTES 1. George Osborne, ‘Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015,’ 25 November 2015. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/ chancellor-george-osbornes-spending-reviewand-autumn-statement-2015-speech (accessed 18 August 2016). 2. Ibid. 3. Rebecca Roberts and Claire Cain, ‘Holloway: the beginning of a revolution?’ http://www.womeninprison.org.uk/news-andcampaigns.php?s=2015-12-10-wip-soapbox (accessed 30 August 2016). 4. ‘Adjournment Debate, Thursday 14 May 1970: The Proposed Rebuilding of Holloway Prison, Speech notes for the P.U.S.S.,’ LSE Archive, KELLEY/2/2.
D. E. R. Faulkner, ‘The Redevelopment of Holloway Prison,’ The Howard Journal of Penology and Crime Prevention 13:2 (1971): 126. 6. Paul Rock, Reconstructing a Women’s Prison: The Holloway Redevelopment Project, 1968-88 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996), 107. 7. Dr R. I. K. Blyth, ‘New Plans for Treatment in the New Holloway,’ address to the Howard League for Penal Reform, 23.1.1971, LSE Archive, KELLEY/2/2. 8. Michel Foucault, ‘The Punitive Society,’ in Paul Rabinow, ed., Essential Works of Foucault, 19541984, vol. 1, Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: The New York Press, 1997).
The Magical Mexican Tour: A critique of the Mexican Pueblos Mágicos tourist campaign Joaquin Diez-Canedo Novelo
WE ARRIVED AT EL FUERTE, SINALOA, as the sun set on a warm January evening. We had been promised a small and pretty town, a comfortable end to a journey across the Chihuahuan Desert and the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains in northwestern Mexico. ‘It is a Pueblo Mágico,’ we were told, a magic town. El Fuerte is home to some 12,5001 people and is located in the vast plains that separate the Sea of Cortez from the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains. Founded in 1609 as a fort along the Fuerte River by Spanish conquistadores, this small town quickly became a wealthy silver mining outpost of the province of Sinaloa. Yet the colonial days when these lands thrived through trading with the rest of the country are long gone. Today, deprived of both agricultural and industrial jobs, and caught in the violent war the government has waged against the Sinaloa Cartel, the few lucky communities like El Fuerte — which has a significant historical and natural value — have, with massive help from the Federal Government’s Pueblos Mágicos programme, turned to tourism. Through this programme, these 111 small towns — which are places that according to the Secretaría de Turismo2 (SECTUR) have ‘symbolic attributes, legends, history, transcendental facts, everydayness, in short, MAGIC [sic]…’3 — receive large funding to ‘ameliorate’ their urban image and to promote the creation of small enterprises to provide services for the visitors, altering the economic and social relations that the towns possessed. As such, the municipal governments and their populations are put under pressure to become that which the programme intends them to be — towns which have escaped modernity and preserved their traditional ways of life. Yet relying on tourism comes at a price, especially when centred on the display of local 38
‘tradition.’ As Boris Groys says, ‘tourism is a machine designed to transform temporariness into permanence, fleetingness into timelessness, ephemerality into monumentality.’4 Tourism is conservative, he continues, precisely because it implies congealing what is supposed to be everyday life into a monumental image of itself, a sinister representation devoid of time or history. As Helene Balslev and Szilvia Gyimóthy say of Álamos, another Pueblo Mágico a few miles north of El Fuerte, ‘the streets in this area [the historic centre] are entirely clean, the houses are well-kept with lush gardens […] But the rest of Álamos is far less idyllic.’5 El Fuerte, which joined the programme in 2009, is not different, for while the few blocks that make up the centre are well kept and heavily guarded, the rest of the town, small as it is, is just like any other Mexican town: in those back streets there is none of the luxurious mansions and gardens of the old houses; none of the carefully-crafted stone or cobbled streets. Speaking of his Forms Without Life, a 1991 piece that portrays a collection of shells in a glass cabinet mounted to a wall, artist Damien Hirst said, ‘you kill things to look at them.’6 The artwork, which is meant as a critique of the enlightened need to collect and display natural specimens, reveals the contradictions inherent in displaying objects. The idea is simple: the sheer presence of the empty shells behind the glass serves as a reminder that they were once full of life and that, if they are now in a museum case, it is because the will to posses them as objects-on-their-own has estranged them from their original habitats. Instead, they have been placed in an aseptic environment where their only purpose is to be observed for their aesthetic and nostalgic qualities. This process congeals the once-live objects into a space without time – the museum
– turning them into a mere sign, an empty presence which serves as a representation of their former selves. Tourism works like that – with the difference that it acts on the sites themselves, which means that the process of neutralising the background in which they are seen happens not on a controlled ground, as a museum, but in actual space. Pueblos Mágicos is an example of such a framing device, aimed at promoting certain less well-known sights of Mexico through a brand that works as a common ground – that is, a marker that substitutes their particular values for a common denominator, more easily managed by the producers and also more accessible to tourists themselves. To achieve this, the campaign has generated a model of what these towns should look like so that tourists can know what to expect. This model, which is disseminated through different media like the Internet and official campaigns, is what is reproduced through different forms of discourse – like texts and images – in a process that sets a standard for these towns to follow. As such, Pueblos Mágicos serves both as a medium and also as a legitimising agent that asserts the importance of the sights it promotes. The towns need this branding frame because no one of them, taken alone, is considered to offer such a great range of tourist attractions for their visitors. As a result, the Pueblos Mágicos programme serves as their meta-narrative, replacing the need to see something particular in any of them with an empty signifier that can fit any site. As such, a Pueblo Mágico becomes not just a town to visit, but also the reality of the magical origins of the country. Promoted by the government, these towns are turned into an image of themselves, and in so doing they are despacialised and deprived of time. When they are represented in this manner, their geographies, histories, and economies become irrelevant; and are instead substituted by an external discourse that legitimises their existence as material proof that Mexico is a nation of tradition. Through this model, the State is offered an opportunity to express and disseminate a narrative of what it means
to be part of the country – and one that, also, is there to be visited. Come and see the country, it claims, your country. This is also Pueblos Mágicos’s success: it has convinced Mexicans that its provinces are an idealised peaceful rural landscape, one where time does not pass. The promise of the future does not exist in these towns — that belongs to the modern metropolis of progress. Here, time is the homogeneous present of the nation’s past, where every day is the same day over and over again. Yet in a country that has seen increasing political and social instability because of the violence generated by the drug cartels and the governmental efforts to control the situation, having a campaign that discursively appeases this violent backdoor – that is, the Mexican province – is also a strategy to boost morale, and to promote the idea of national unity. The towns’ inhabitants are made to comply with the tourists’ demands of tradition, colours, and timelessness that they have been promised by the campaign; and, as such, the campaign ends up reproducing what Pablo González Casanova calls internal colonialism. Thankfully, here we can forget politics and inequality and crime; and also drug cartels, dropping oil prices, and globalisation. Under the Pueblos Mágicos mantle there is nothing to fear. Come and see your traditions, they say, and live them to believe them. It is just like magic. 1.
2010 Population Census, Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) http://www. microrregiones.gob.mx/zap/datGenerales. aspx?entra=pdzp&ent=25&mun=010 Accessed 31 August 2016. 2. Tourism Ministry. 3. Secretaría de Turismo (SECTUR) promotional web page, published 1 January 2016. http://www. gob.mx/sectur/acciones-y-programas/programapueblos-magicos. Accessed 31 August 2016. 4. Boris Groys, Art Power (Cambridge, MA, London: MIT Press, 2013), 103. 5. Helene Balslev and Szilvia Gyimóthy, ‘Seizing community participation in sustainable development: pueblos Mágicos of Mexico,’ Journal of Cleaner Production 111 (2016): 322. 6. Damien Hirst, Forms Without Life, 1991. Display caption, Tate Britain, 2007. http://www.tate.org.uk/ art/artworks/hirst-forms-without-life-t06657/textsummary Accessed 28 July 2016.
Concerning Visual Poetry: A playful demand for ‘language-games’ in today’s digital architecture Nikolas Ettel Every sign by itself seems dead. What gives it life? - In use it is alive. Is life breathed into it there? - Or is the use its life?1
QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE RELEVANCE of visual poetry to today’s digital architecture have led me to seek a deeper understanding of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s ‘language philosophy.’2 I have chosen to focus on communicative aspects of his philosophy, especially the mode of gesture, to discuss the potential of visual articulation in today’s digital architecture. I introduce his concept of Sprachspiel, or ‘language-game,’ as a contemporary method of representation in computational design language. Following Wittgenstein’s arguments about nonsense in language use – briefly, whether a word has a meaning depending on how it is used – this thesis introduces his concept concerning language-games in communication. In so doing it engages a debate between diverse interpretations of Wittgenstein scholars to re-examine the poetic capacity of today’s architectural production. This allows for an unusual way of interpreting applied architectural rules in digital design and, therefore, understanding different ways of approaching architecture as a medium of visual communication. This interpretation does not mean to exaggerate the similarities of languages or to minimise certain differences in language-games across the media of language and architecture. Moreover, this thesis aims for a particular understanding of language-games not limited to spoken or written language. Here the term ‘language-game’ is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity, or of a life-form.3 Alice Crary’s introduction to ‘The New Wittgenstein’4 argues that philosophy is a fruitful tool for focusing on individual 40
language and rule inventions, and offers an understanding of various representational interactions. The ways in which architects communicate with a calculative language can be understood to articulate a playful engagement with philosophical concepts in architectural applications; Neil Spiller’s ‘Communicating Vessels’5 and Patrik Schumacher’s ‘Parametric Semiology’6 are prime examples. Interpreting these diverse game adaptations allows me to explore their important spatial aspects, following Benjamin Bratton’s suggestion of architecture as a ‘[carrier] of information.’7 This application of a philosophical concept to architectural theory interprets Spiller’s method of spatial articulation as a form of adding a player to his language-game. In broad terms, this additional player represents its ‘imaginative;’8 in other words, the poetic abilities of his developed ‘surrealistic’9 drawing technique elaborate an applied use of ‘fiction as reality.’ 10 This is important because it explains how nonsense fits into Wittgenstein’s work on language-games. Wittgenstein defines nonsense as a necessary part of philosophy for discovering ‘the limits of language,’11 either in the form of ‘elucidatory nonsense,’12 which, according to Crary, highlights the ‘therapeutic’13 as well as José Medina’s ‘polyphonic’14 abilities of language, or in the form of ‘patent nonsense,’15 referring to its application. My own understanding of advanced nonsense is elaborated through Schumacher’s simulation method ‘Parametric Semiology,’ 16 which interprets this approach as a mode of deleting via replacing a player from his language-game. Following Wittgenstein, it is possible to speak to oneself, ‘ask yourself a question and answer it,’17 but my debate refuses the term
Penelope or, the Endless Loom, a project by Amir Djalali and Francesco Marullo for Behemoth Press, describes a data managing machine which can â€˜make and do almost anything,â€™ and thereby questions the limits of artificial intelligence Cut Version of PenelopeTM. A Behemoth Press Project for The Supreme Achievement. Curated by Maria Giudici and Davide Sacconi, created by Amir Djalali. http://www.francescomarullo.com/index.php/projects/penelope/
communication for this form of interaction. Furthermore, the language-game extends my personal understanding of today’s computational architecture to Wittgenstein’s suggested form of gesture while opening up a discussion concerning diverse meanings, rules, and participants’ perspectives in visual form. So I am inclined to distinguish between the essential and the inessential in a game too. The game, one would like to say, has not only rules, but also a point.18 This all amounts to comparisons of different types of language-game interpretations in architecture for a better understanding of diverse engagement with linguistic complexity in visual communication. Following Wittgenstein’s scepticism concerning rule definitions, my debate results in a critical interpretation of overlapping games and their spatial practices elaborated by Medina’s ‘The Meaning of Silence.’ He diagnoses the ‘therapeutic dilemma’19 in games, as this dilemma results from Crary’s ‘interpretation of Wittgenstein’s contextualism’20 and explains the unified ‘perspective of the participant’21 within the game, which denies the possibility of polyphony with an ‘irreducible multiplicity of voices.’22 More generally, language-games offer different ways of interaction and are therefore determined by the personal viewpoint of their participants. Consequently, my language-game interpretation in architectural practice understands architecture itself as a communicational grounded gesture with constructed, changeable relationships. As I say it I do not draw any kind of boundary, but perhaps point with my hand (…) And this is just how one might explain to someone what a game is. One gives examples and intends them to be taken in particular way. (…) Here giving examples is not an indirect means of explaining – in default of a better. (…) The point is that this is how we play the game.23
In conclusion, my interests concerning the relevance of language-games in visual poetry ‘[are], of course, anything but conclusive.’24 ‘In effect, visual poetry embodies an unusual way of understanding meaningful applications and rule-inventions 42
in visual communications, employing Wittgenstein’s language-game as a tool to analyse approaches of contemporary architecture.’25 This is, finally, and more personally, a thesis for my own understanding of ‘architecture that has not forgotten history, poetics or how we are all different. An architecture that rejoices in that difference (…) An architecture that knows where it is and why it is and what it has to offer, but doesn’t deny its difference and ours.’26 And to imagine a language means to imagine a life-form.27
3. 4. 5.
8. 9. 10.
15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. G.E.M. Anscombe (London: Blackwell, 2001), §432. David Stern, Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations; An Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 1. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §23. Alice Crary and Rupert Read, The New Wittgenstein (London: Routledge, 2000), 1. Neil Spiller, ‘The Poetics of the Island of Vessels,’ Architectural Design, Vol. 83, No. 5 (2013): 112-119. Patrik Schumacher, ‘Advancing Social Functionality via Agent-Based Parametric Semiology,’ Architectural Design, Vol. 86, No. 2 (2016): 108-113. Benjamin H. Bratton, ‘Parametricist architecture would be a good idea,’ in The Politics of Parametricism; Digital Technologies in Architecture, eds. Matthew Poole and Manuel Shvartzberg (London: Bloomsbury Academics, 2015), 81. Spiller, Poetics, 114. Ibid., 113. Neil Spiller, ‘Digital Solipsism and the Paradox of the Great “Forgetting”,’ Architectural Design Vol. 80, No. 4 (2010): 134. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §119. James Conant, ‘Elucidation and Nonsense in Frege and Early Wittgenstein,’ in The New Wittgenstein, eds. Alice Crary and Rupert Read, (Routledge: London, 2000), 196-197. Crary and Read, The New Wittgenstein, 1. José Medina, ‘The Meaning of Silence: Wittgenstein Contextualism and Polyphony,’ Inquiry, Vol. 47 (2004), 562. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §464. Schumacher, Advancing Social Functionality, 108-113. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §243. Ibid., 564. Medina, ‘The Meaning of Silence,’ 562. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.
Architectural Implications of Turkish Republican Politics in Florya, 1935-1960 Ceren Hamiloglu THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE TURKISH Republic in 1923 accelerated the country’s move towards westernisation and commenced a systematic attempt towards transformation in every area of social life for its citizens. Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Republic, directed the transformation from a theocratic empire to a modern nation-state. Kemalist reforms1 aimed to transform the agrarian society in Turkey into an industrial one by adopting urbanisation and state capitalism.2 An educated group, i.e. a Republican elite, was constructed to direct, maintain, and participate in the modernisation project. This group of individuals consisted of civil servants who implemented state policies as well as individuals who could get education by the means of the city; thus the group was concerned with the urban by its nature. Their need for new spaces of representation was met with the construction of leisure spaces, public areas, and modern housing in the city. Especially after Henri Prost’s master plan (1936-1950), recreational areas acquired specific importance in Istanbul as hygienic and modern spaces for sexes to mix and move freely, and for the Republican elite to appear in public.3 This notion led to the fetishisation of particular Republicanera spaces such as ballrooms, wide public parks and beaches as ‘modern’ whereas those from the Ottoman period were viewed as underdeveloped and belonging to the imperial past. The main message of the new spaces was the possibility of experiencing the city in a way that did not exist before and was only made possible with the establishment of the Republic. The idea of civilised culture was strongly associated with urbanity and the urban classes in the first decade of the Republic. 4 By contrast to the Republicans, the Democrat Party (DP) elected in 1950 and
in power until 1960 repositioned Istanbul as the economic and cultural centre, adopting populist cultural policies and a liberal economy. The shift in state policies from the Republican (1923-1950) to the DP rule (1950-1960) introduced corresponding shifts in urban spaces, both in how they were used and the roles of the actors using those spaces. In this period, the city became an agent; state policies reshaped the lives of the city inhabitants through their varied intersections with class and gender and it are these intersections that is this study’s focus. The particular object of this study is Florya Beach, a beach almost two kilometres long on the shore of the Marmara Sea and located a 30-minute drive west of Istanbul [Fig. 1]. In this research, Florya is considered as a liminal space, taking on both symbolic and ordinary attributes through its usage. The beach first came to public attention with the Turkish modernist architect Seyfi Arkan’s design for a summer residence in 1935 for Atatürk. After the construction of the summer residence, Atatürk used the house and the beach for bureaucratic meetings and leisure activities until 1938. The correlations between the materiality of the site and state policies proceeded as Florya underwent continuous construction, the most significant projects being the Florya Gazino5 in 1938 designed by Rüknettin Güney, a camping and residence site designed by Sedad Hakkı Eldem completed in 1959, and the housing projects constructed as part of touristic activities and suburbanisation of the area in the mid1950s onwards. The later structures signal a transition in the image of Florya from a healthy westernised leisure centre built under Republican aspirations in the 1930s to a suburb to be travelled by car as tourism and property ownership became the main motivation by the 1950s. 43
Site plan showing existing and proposed buildings by Sedad HakkÄą Eldem, 1956 SALT Archive, www.saltresearch.org
The shift to multi-party elections and the DP’s coming into power in 1950 signifies the re-adoption of pre-Republican values by disrupting the radical secularism of the early Republic. The DP regime demonstrated conservative populist values and promoted private enterprise. However, their cultural policies regarding the nation resembled those of the Republicans, with one difference: the modern western reference for Turkey shifted from Europe to America.6 As a consequence, and in contrast with the Republican self-sustained industrialisation, the transition from traditional to modern was now tackled with consumerism and entrepreneurship.7 Accordingly, suburbs emerged, new wide roads were built, and car ownership pervaded Istanbul. There would not be many spaces where the urban and the rural citizen encountered each other until the 1950s, when improvements in technology and economy mobilised people. The beach would potentially become one of those spaces in the 1950s. However, architecture was used as an agent to spatially segregate these groups, for instance through the spatial organization of the Gazino. By the 1950s, differing from its temporary use in the 1930s and 1940s, there was a domestic element introduced to the beach by Florya Houses, built by the municipality. With the building activities over this period and the introduction of a middle class, inhabiting Florya was no longer designated as an activity particular to the Republican elite. Personal archives steered this dissertation project towards a clearer depiction of what ‘abstract space’ was revealed in the official representation and what ‘real space’ was revealed from personal accounts of the beach. It is not possible to claim a singular identity for Florya as it was produced by social relations that were shaped by changing governmental policies, gender roles, Turkish culture, and the implications of modernity and industrialisation for a nation-state. The aim of this dissertation was to include all of these discourses as part of the identity of Florya and map the shift in their interchange.
These included reforms in clothing, industrialisation, education, legal system, health, and women’s rights. The reforms aimed to maintain secularism from the ruling of the state to the way people appeared in their social lives. 2. Feroz Ahmad, The Making of Modern Turkey (London: Routledge, 2003), 93-107. 3. İpek Yada Akpınar, ‘The Rebuilding of Istanbul after the Plan of Henri Prost, 1937-1960: From Secularisation to Turkish Modernisation, 2003’ (PhD diss., UCL, 2003), 70. 4. Şerif Mardin, Türk Modernleşmesi [Turkish Modernization] (Istanbul: İletişimYayınları, 1991), 232-233. 5. Eng. Café/club occasionally used for entertainment such as concerts, dancing and dining events especially popular in the first decades of the establishment of Turkish Republic. 6. Esra Akcan and Sibel Bozdoğan, Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (London: Reaktion Books, 2012), 105. 7. Ibid., 106.
Unsanitary and Unsavoury: Housing on Robin Hood Lane Harriet Jennings
THE DEGENERATION AND REGENERATION of housing on Robin Hood Lane in Poplar, Tower Hamlets, has long been instigated by health concerns. In March 1879 the East London Observer celebrated the impending demolition of ‘one of the most unhealthy rookeries in Poplar’ which was replaced with James Hartnoll’s Grosvenor Buildings in 1885.1 These in turn fell into unsanitary conditions, recorded as ‘foul’ and overcrowded by sanitary inspectors by 1901.2 Purchased and demolished by the Greater London Council in 1965, they were replaced with Alison and Peter Smithson’s 1972 Robin Hood Gardens public housing estate. The reduction of residents’ exposure to traffic pollution and the provision of a central green envisaged as a ‘stress-free zone’ and the ‘lungs’ of the estate were at the heart of their designs.3 However, despite the vision of a better way of life promised by the Smithsons’ scheme, since its completion Robin Hood Gardens has acquired increasingly negative associations. Indeed, Nikolaus Pevsner described the project as ‘ill-planned to the point of being inhumane.’4 The apparent failure of the Smithsons’ buildings to embody the health ideals of their architectural vision can to a great extent be attributed to the unpopular material properties of the concrete blocks. The blocks embody the Smithsons’ objectives of New Brutalism, which aspired to ‘drag a rough poetry’ out of the ordinary.5 However, Pevsner described the finish of the precast blocks as threatening ‘rough and tough shuttered concrete.’6 Adrian Forty notes such adverse reactions to concrete, observing ‘an element of revulsion seems a permanent, structural feature of the material.’ 7 Forty links this response to concrete’s 46
fluid material properties and changeable liquid/solid state – preventing people from comfortably defining it or its perimeters. In 1966 anthropologist Mary Douglas defined dirt as ‘matter out of place.’8 Douglas wrote that ‘where there is dirt there is a system’ and speculated perceptions of dirt and pollutants arise from ‘a contravention of that order.’9 In light of her analysis that we dislike things that cut across clear categorisation, finding them intolerable for defying the symbolic systems by which we live and which dictate our attitudes to hygiene, the negative reactions to concrete’s fluid properties are understandable. Thus concrete is identifiable with dirt, a view supported by the fact ‘béton,’ French for concrete, derives from the old French ‘betum’ meaning ‘rubble, rubbish, or dirt.’ 10 It is interesting to consider how these formal attributes of concrete can contribute to perceptions of post-war estates, and those who live in them, as dirty, diseased and marginalised. Even Barnabas Calder, author of Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism, recounts that when growing up concrete architecture represented ‘everything which was frightening and other’ – identifying the architecture and its inhabitants as contravening the accepted social order and posing a threat to the normative populace.11 In Geographies of Exclusion, David Sibley proposes that the relegation of defiled members of society who are ‘judged to be deviant, imperfect or marginal’ to defined areas such as council estates is how ‘exclusionary, purified social space’ is created and maintained by the powerful in society.12 Separations are exacerbated by the stigma attached to council residents, as elucidated by Lynsey Hanley who notes that
‘the word “council” has become a pejorative term’ used ‘to ridicule people’s clothing, their hairstyles, their ways of speaking.’13 Such judgements resemble those made by social investigator Charles Booth of the Robin Hood Lane site in 1897 and have inherent class implications as the socioeconomically disadvantaged are less able to conform to bourgeois norms. In his notes Booth described the streets around the Grosvenor Buildings as ‘all evidenced their being of the poorest and roughest.’14 He makes this assertion from the fact that there were many ‘bootless children, unwa-shed steps, no flowers in the front window’ which he attributes to ‘official laziness.’15 Booth’s categorisations seem unfounded and moralistic, as he branded people as ‘rough’ or in a poverty band of ‘semi-criminal’ based on the visual appearance of their built environment.16 This has remarkable resonance with former Prime Minister David Cameron’s 2016 assertion that a certain kind of architecture nurtures a criminal class.17 He proclaimed that the 2011 rioters ‘came overwhelmingly from these post-war estates’ as they encourage ‘social problems to fester and grow unseen,’ and called for social reform to begin with the metaphorical and physical cleansing of the built environment.18 Both Booth and Cameron’s explanations for poverty and social strife are rooted in the visual impression of the built environment and they reveal how powerful perceptions of dwellings as imposing, neglected or dirty are in shaping the popular reputation of an area and its residents. Sibley identifies such judgements as originating from ‘the opposition between purity and defilement.’ 19 Although wary of Douglas’ cross-cultural generalisations, her observations of socio-spatial practices devised from concepts of dirt can be applied to contemporary western societies to explain the ‘boundary consciousness’ explicit in Booth and Cameron’s assessment of the built environment.20 The Robin Hood Lane site makes East London inequalities explicit as the Smithsons’ neglected, New Brutalist, Welfare State estate stands in stark contrast
to the clean, prosperous, neo-liberal architecture of encroaching Canary Wharf. As former resident Abdul Kalam asserted, ‘Canary Wharf dictates East London now… And Robin Hood Gardens is too close to Canary Wharf. It’s like an eyesore.’21 The estate is facing impending demolition and regeneration by Swan Housing association, which it is feared will increase the number of private units and replace council tenancies with insecure ‘affordable’ housing. Therefore not only will the regeneration cleanse the site of the Smithsons’ gritty architecture, but could potentially exile the local working-class community as the site becomes desirable for city workers. As resident Nicholas Ruddock identified, tenants ‘are seen as less valuable, in a sense diseased –’ implied by the dehumanizing term ‘decanted,’ used to describe their removal from the buildings and the area.22 Specific material and social relations reveal how notions of pollution and the abject elicit stigma which prompts phases of architectural and social change on the site. Thus concepts of dirt and pollutants permeate its social and architectural fabric, with manipulation of the built environment historically perceived as a mechanism of socio-economic change. This has had different political motives and embodied varying State attitudes towards the care of the population. Yet the repetitive nature of the cycles of de- and re-generation on the site, explicated by this metaphor of dirt and pollution, reveal that changing the physical form of the built environment has never succeeded as an alternative for deeper socio-economic change.
Canary Wharf looming behind Robin Hood Gardens Author’s photo
NOTES 1. East London Observer, 8 March 1879, 5. 2. Information and Complaint Book, Poplar North Division no. 10, January-October 1901, Tower Hamlets Archive. 3. Alison Smithson and Peter Smithson, Ordinariness and Light (London: Faber and Faber, 1970), 189. 4. Bridget Cherry, Charles O’Brian, and Nikolaus Pevsner, London 5: East (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), 647. 5. Alison Smithson and Peter Smithson, Architectural Design 27 (April 1957): 113. 6. Cherry, O’Brian, and Pevsner, London 5: East, 647. 7. Adrian Forty, Concrete and Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2012), 10. 8. Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger (1966; repr., London and New York: Routledge, 1996), 36. 9. Ibid. 10. Barnabas Calder, Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism (London: William Heinemann, 2016), 27. 11. Ibid., 4.
12. David Sibley, Geographies of Exclusion (New York: Routledge, 2001), xiv, 36. 13. Lynsey Hanley, Estates: An Intimate History (London: Granta Books, 2007), 97. 14. Personal notebook of Charles Booth (London: London School of Economics Charles Booth Archive, 28 May 1897), b 346, 12-13. 15. Ibid., 13. 16. Ibid., 13, 14. 17. David Cameron, ‘Estate regeneration,’ Gov. uk, 10 January 2016. https://www.gov.uk/ government/speeches/estate-regenerationarticle-by-david-cameron. 18. Ibid. 19. Sibley, Geographies of Exclusion, 36. 20. Ibid., 38. 21. Jessie Brennan, Regeneration! (London: Silent Grid, 2015), 66. 22. Ibid., 56.
The Generative Architecture Manifesto: Investigating the agency of the architect in generative architecture Hanan Kataw IN THE DISCOURSE OF GENERATIVE ARCHItecture, the issue of the architect’s agency is rarely addressed directly by the architects who put more emphasis on natural and scientific processes to explain their projects. This is leading to a discipline that hides the real agents and their motives behind what appears to be an objective scientific method. While this discourse does not necessarily deny the subjective aspects of architecture, it certainly marginalises them. This manifesto is not about what architects are saying as much as about what they are not saying. A situated understanding of generative architecture inspired by feminist standpoint theories can be the way to start this manifesto. The problem with associating architecture with the natural sciences presents itself when we overlook architecture’s role in fulfilling human needs that go beyond an optimally performing building or organically shaped house. Architects start playing the role of scientists, looking for a truth hidden in nature. They start disguising their subjectivities behind an apparently objective scientific approach and slowly becoming modest witnesses. The modest witness as described by Donna Haraway1 is ‘the legitimate and authorised ventriloquist for the object world, adding nothing from his mere opinion, from his biasing embodiment. And so he is endowed with the remarkable power to establish the facts. He bears witness: he is objective. His subjectivity is his objectivity.’2 The modest architects design with ‘all the authority, but none of the considerable problems.’3 They are the geniuses that deserve all the applause but none of the blame. After all, they are creating, with no mediating subjectivity, a scientifically optimised architecture. And who can contend with such architecture? The position of the modest witness first appeared with the rise of the scientific revolution; science was assumed to be a
reflection of reality and the scientist an objective conveyor of truth. In the 20th century, the objectivity of the sciences started to be challenged. By 1962, when Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolution was published, the position of the objective scientist had already been shaken. Kuhn challenged the idea of the linear accumulative progress of science. He proposed a revolutionary model of progress where a scientific community continuously shifts from one accepted paradigm to another by going through fundamental changes in the accepted facts and general beliefs. 4 Michel Foucault’s concept of the episteme, presented in The Order of Things, is very related to Kuhn’s concept of the paradigm shift. According to Foucault, biology and other forms of empirical knowledge don’t ‘follow the smooth, continuist schemas of development which are normally accepted.’5 The development of these forms of knowledge follows the changes in the accepted episteme of the time.6 The modesty of Haraway’s witness is ‘the specifically modern, European, masculine, scientific form of the virtue of modesty.’7 However, throughout the last century, many theorists and thinkers have been attacking the self-invisibility of the modest witness. Today it is very hard to claim the position in the same way the educated white male did during the enlightenment, but a new wave of apparent objectivity is invading the intellectual and architectural realm, the digital objectivity. They who speak through the digital machine are the new modest witnesses. They ‘claim the power to see and not be seen, to represent while escaping representation.’8 This position can be used to gain more power, but only by those who have, to begin with, a certain degree of power to choose to be self-invisible. For it is only those who can ‘disappear “modestly”’ that can claim authority and power.9 Those who 49
are invisible not by choice but because they do not fit the standards of the dominant narrative, are ‘simply invisible, removed from the scene of action.’10 Digital modesty is only given to those who play by the rules of the global digital style, who follow the role of the dominant economic systems and the global relations of power. The discourse of generative architecture needs to underline the subjectivity of its processes and to accept a situated approach to architecture, an approach that embodies what Sandra Harding called strong objectivity which ‘requires that the subject of knowledge be placed on the same critical, casual plane as the object of knowledge.’11 Even if this subject is hiding behind a machine, an algorithm, or a system. We need a discourse that acknowledges the architect’s voice, not because the architect is the legitimate authority, but because silent authorities do not disappear, they are just invisible, and an invisible authority cannot be challenged. A situated approach to architecture gives an equal authority to all architects, to all agents and to all voices. I, as a female Arab architect, refuse to be transparent and unmarked. ‘Situated knowledges are always marked knowledges; they are re-markings, reorientatings, of the great maps that globalized the heterogeneous body of the world in the history of masculinist capitalism and colonialism.’ 12 I am marked, rooted, and situated in a specific position capable of seeing only a partial perspective. I have the right to reflect this partiality using generative architecture without being expected to mirror someone else’s approach. I have the right to make my voice clear through my design approach, for others to hear, challenge, and engage with in a multi-sided conversation. ‘The moral is simple: only partial perspective promises objective vision.’ 13 Feminist theory needs not to be dismissed as related to women’s issues alone; feminist standpoint theory, to which the theories of strong objectivity and situated knowledge belong, appeared in the 1970s and 1980s as a theoretical critique of the Knowledge-Power Dynamic.14 What makes 50
feminist standpoint theory appropriate for addressing the architect’s agency in generative architecture is that it does not accept one position and refuse another, yet without drifting into the realm of relativism. According to Haraway, relativism is ‘the perfect mirror twin of totalization in the ideologies of objectivity; both deny the stakes in location, embodiment, and partial perspective; both make it impossible to see well.’ 15 A situated understanding of generative architecture is not about an ‘anything goes’ approach nor is it about ‘one style fits all.’ It is about situated partial perspectives and self-aware subjectivities. A politically and socially driven situated subjective architecture is not necessarily a bad architecture. While different political and social apparatuses have been, on many occasions, a source of limitation in architecture, they can also be used to explore new perspectives and to produce a wider understanding of what architecture is, and what it can be. 1.
2. 3. 4.
6. 7. 8.
9. 10. 11.
12. 13. 14.
Haraway borrows the term ‘modest witness’ from Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle and the Experimentavl Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), as she mentions in Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium. FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse: feminism and technoscience (New York: Routledge, 1997), 23. Haraway, Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium, 24. Ibid. Thomas S. Kuhn and Ian Hacking, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012). Michel Foucault and Colin Gordon, Power/ Knowledge (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980), 111112. Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (London: Routledge, 1989). Haraway, Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium, 24. Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The reinvention of nature (London: Free Association, 1991), 188. Haraway, Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium, 25. Ibid., 29. Sandra Harding, ‘Rethinking Standpoint Epistemology: What Is “Strong Objectivity”,’ in The Feminist Stand Point Theory Reader ed. Sandra Harding (New York: Routledge, 2003), 136. Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, 111. Ibid., 190. Sandra Harding, ‘Introduction: Standpoint Theory as A Site for Political, Philosophical, And Scientific Debates,’ in The Feminist Stand Point Theory Reader ed. Sandra Harding (New York: Routledge, 2003), 1. Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, 191.
La Grande Brasserie du Levant: Beverage industry, drinking sociality, and recent gentrification in Beirut Mira Kfoury
THIS RESEARCH LOOKS AT THE GRANDE Brasserie du Levant [Fig. 1], a beer brewery building in the Mar Mikhail neighbourhood of Beirut that marked Lebanese industrial modernity during the country’s First Republic. The building has been abandoned in recent years and I use the commodity of beer, the brewery building, and the Mar Mikhail neighbourhood to reflect on shifts in Lebanon’s political, social, economic, and cultural landscapes. Specifically, I analyse these shifts in relation to beverage production and drinking sociality in Beirut – a growing city – from the time of the French Mandate, independence, the initiation of the First Republic, the civil war, and the neoliberal policies of the Second Republic. My study raises questions around spaces associated with social drinking, the citizen’s claims to public space, ruination of projects of modernity, associations of the built environment, and gentrification. The current state of the building and the neighbourhood, as well as the future redevelopment project, is of particular interest in understanding relational meanings to architecture and space by different people inhabiting or interacting with the place. The main focus is on the brewery building in relation to broader historical trajectories and understanding it in light of its recent redevelopment, which has transformed the abandoned edifice into a mixed-use building, demolishing most of its fabric. Touching on the urban context I discuss the impulses behind, and the impacts of, such projects. The history of the brewery encapsulates processes of industrialisation and the subsequent shift to consumerism. Through this, I reflect also on the future of architecture in a capitalist society.
Consequently, the ruin of the Grande Brasserie du Levant signals an ‘impending breakdown of meaning,’ 1 engaging questions of modernity and decay, while conveying a temporality depicted by the materiality of the scarred building. In this sense, an abandoned brewery in the midst of a changing neighbourhood raises questions about the relations of people to it and its locality and the shifts in meanings taking place as a thriving working-class industrial zone changes to the ruin it is becoming. The solemn, empty building-shell communicates to the wanderer on the streets the apparent dilapidation of materiality, itself a critique on the modern world and its spatial organisation – its ‘commitment to a progress that throws too many individuals and spaces to trash.’2 Beer makes its way back to the area in the form of a commodity. From a site of production, Mar Mikhail transforms into a space of consumption within the neoliberal economy. But what is still crucial here is the re-claiming of public space that this new form of drinking and socialisation enables, offering much broader access to different social groups/classes than other spaces in the city. On the other hand, this also represents an ‘escapism’ where the huge amounts of alcohol consumed leave the streets of Mar Mikhail full of drunken individuals, threatening the local residents’ claim to their own neighbourhood. Marie Bonte asserts that the act of claiming the streets while consuming cheap large amounts of alcohol offers the dwellers ‘a political life in which they feel dispossessed.’3 Mar Mikhail becomes the symbol of defiance of social norms of drinking in the contested context of a divided and ruined city, but equally a peg in gradual 51
processes of incremental gentrification. Therefore, this duality between Lebanese modernisation, industrialisation, and the rise of this beer industry on one hand, and the postmodernist tendencies in the redevelopment project along with new drinking spaces and consumption patterns on other, presents an interesting shift from industrialisation to deindustrialisation with different aspects of change coinciding in this same space – the streets of Mar Mikhail. The area where alcohol was produced becomes an area of extensive consumption and gentrification, while its beer-production identity is merely housed in the thin surface of its new architecture as a shiny image of a glorious past. This playfulness discussed in the post-war setting of Lebanon is hiding a dangerous battlefield – about to hit the social core of the city, with severe repercussions on the city’s communal structure. The question here, deeply embedded within the brewery project, is related to the future of the city of Beirut and the future of the city as a concept – as a playground for capital and a series of hegemonic relationships. The drinking practices and reclamation of public space, as revolutionary as they might seem, present in themselves the first steps to capitalism’s newest logic of hegemony over the space of the city. Would there be any form of resistance through the occupancy of a space, or should cities be deserted for good? Furthermore, as blatantly visible in the new architectural vision for the brewery, postmodernism’s logic of commodification signals a ‘logical extension of the power of the market over the whole range of cultural production.’4 A sort of a ‘heritage industry,’ as David Harvey calls it, leads to the commercialisation of history and cultural forms.5 In a way the ‘grey’ relationship of this beer brewery between its early productive years and its metamorphosis into this ‘urban squalor’ of jouissance represents the same relationship between ‘modern’ and ‘postmodern’ as evoked in the work of Fredric Jameson. Consequently, as the brewery’s case shows, architecture cannot be perceived as a merely aesthetic contribution, but rather 52
a playground for capitalists’ hegemony over cultural production and the space of the city. In this new age, important structural keys in cities like Beirut are subjected to capital play. Mar Mikhail represents – through its recent street-based and informal re-claiming of public space, lower prices, minimal overhaul of built infrastructure, and attachment to an ‘authentic’ traditional working-class neighbourhood – a resistance to exclusive urban spaces of neoliberal consumption. But equally, this very appropriation also marginalises its local residents and acts as a peg in the circuit of inevitable gentrification and displacement. Finally, in linking alcohol practices in Beirut with the spaces of Mar Mikhail and further with the impending architectural redevelopment of the brewery, relations and shifts between categories such as modern/ postmodern, industrial/post-industrial, local/global, production/consumption, battleground/playground surface in understanding the nature of industrial modernity as well as the logic of Lebanese capitalist integration into the neoliberal world economy. This enquiry highlights neoliberal capital’s tendency to exploit vulnerabilities – for example, that of urban and architectural decay, wherein the re-discovery of ‘heritage’ makes it appear as a revolution but in reality it is further incorporation into the capitalist system. This research also reveals the nexus of these shifts with gentrification and social, economic, and cultural stratifications of the city. In the case of Mar Mikhail, architecture became the main tool to display a new stage of capitalist supremacy over material, cultural, and social life. Echoing Jameson, the new brewery project embodies ‘systemic alienation’ and a ‘dialectical relationship’ between the limits of one architectural project and one attempat regeneration at the base and a whole invasive movement on the level of the superstructure.6 The brewery redevelopment marks architecture yet again as the aestheticised vehicle for neoliberal capitalism, directly complicit with its predatory nature.
View from right to left on the main entrance of the brewery, 2016 Author’s photo
NOTES 1. Julia Hell and Andreas Schönle, eds., Ruins of Modernity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 6. 2. Ibid., 7. 3. Marie Bonte, ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for Tomorrow We Die,’ in Drinking Dilemmas, ed. Thomas Thurnell-Read (New York: Routledge, 2016), 73. 4. David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1990), 62. 5. Ibid. 6. Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991), 301-302.
Athens: Listed buildings in decay and projected déjà vus Christos Kritikos
THE ECONOMIC RECESSION GREECE entered after the global financial crisis of 2007-2009 and the accompanying political/systemic crisis have left their mark on Athens in many forms, both on the urban social fabric and the built environment. One of the effects has been an increased number of listed buildings standing abandoned in an evidently decaying state, mostly due to owners not being able to afford to ‘properly’ preserve their properties, but also because the period of instability has not been considered a suitable time to invest in restoration projects. From a more theoretical point of view, it can be suggested that a new typology of ‘listed buildings in decay’ has emerged in the capital of Greece. Athens has witnessed a socially detached legal system binding numerous buildings to remain in a conceptually incohesive condition until their restoration. These buildings are not in a condition to host activities, cannot be torn down as it is against the law, cannot be restored due to lack of proper funding, and yet are supposed to function as pieces of heritage in the urban fabric. Their actual function is ambiguous to say the least, however, and the lack of social engagement towards changing this condition shows that they have become an accepted part of the Athenian reality. In any case, this new typology of listed buildings has been interacting with society during the past decades and the nature of this interaction could be the object of productive discourse on its own. In The Art of Forgetting Adrian Forty suggests that buildings as mnemonic devices are equally connected to the action of forgetting. Forty presents the ideas of the art historian Alois Riegl, supporting that age value is better displayed and appreciated through letting the forces of nature affect monuments, leading to their inevitable 54
dissolution. Furthermore, in ‘Iconoclasm,’ one of the four themes Forty discusses, the action of remembering is suggested to be actually reinforced by the destruction of the mnemonic device.1 One could argue that previous generations should have let the decaying listed buildings of Athens perish to be remembered, considering that their current state and lack of function is imprinting an incohesive image in Greek citizens’ memories, contrary to Riegl’s suggestions. Indeed, the abandoned ‘listed buildings in decay’ are close to becoming paradoxes in the urban fabric, gradually losing their ability to reflect the values that granted them permanence in the first place. If we decide to uncritically accept the argumentation behind the legal framework, these buildings are just not functioning as they are supposed to. Ironically, there are many cases in which such buildings have been under the ownership of the state or a governmental agency, with the latter failing in practice to abide by rules they are supposed to be imposing. Interestingly, in some of those cases, after years of neglect, the restoration of these buildings was decided, leading to other controversial situations. A typical example is the case of 82 Acharnon Street in Athens, a neoclassical building erected in the late 19th century, listed due to its architectural features. This bourgeois residence was used as the ‘Second Male Gymnasium’ for a few decades until the state abandoned it in 1974. After having remained sealed, empty, and in a decaying state for 16 years, the building was turned into a culturally vibrant squat in 1990, a point of reference for the neighbourhood, hosting concerts, theatre plays, and other social events. Parts of the building were restored by the squatters incorporating the help of architects and civil engineers. A civil engineer later stated that, without
these actions, the building would have definitely collapsed. This suggests that detours around authoritarian practices can be beneficial for the actual preservation of heritage. In 2013 the building was abruptly re-appropriated after police intervention and was to be restored to function as a school again. The restoration has been considered of poor quality, given the fact that only the façades were preserved while the interior was demolished and rebuilt to fit the new use. In addition, there has been a schematisation of the disseminated ‘history’ of the building, to produce a politically and culturally convenient narrative for its exploitation. Somehow, out of more than 100 years, the 40 years this building was used as a high school were the only ones that were not discarded as unworthy of being remembered. The whole process left anyone who had ever been concerned with the building’s future with a lot of questions and a feeling of detachment. This is what I call a ‘projected déjà vu:’ the arbitrary physical and cultural formatting of a building in order to reflect a particular past image. It can easily occur to any building belonging to the typology of abandoned ‘listed buildings in decay,’ exactly because of their ambiguous state in terms of social function. The question is whether a projected déjà vu vitiates the existing connections of a building to its social context, instead of enhancing them. The idea that a building may be the carrier of more than the institutionally officialised memories is supported in Dolores Hayden’s book The Power of Place in which methods of recording situated public history and narratives are displayed: A socially inclusive urban landscape history can become the basis for new approaches to public history and urban preservation. This will be different from, but complementary to, the art-historical approach to architecture that has provided a basis for architectural preservation.2
was re-interpreted socially and produced non-conventional narratives. A collision of two forces claiming the building as a carrier of values and/or memories was inevitable. The neighbourhood residents had interpreted the building in a different way during the years it was neglected by the state. After the generally undesired eviction of the squatters, they demanded that this building was restored to at least host extrovert cultural activities, rather than becoming a high school. In Consuming Architecture Daniel Maudlin and Marcel Vellinga write: So far, however, architecture has been slow to recognise the importance of studying and understanding the social life of buildings and the process of consumption that is closely related to it. […] Like other forms of material culture, architecture is therefore not just culturally produced, it is also culturally consumed.3
I believe that the social life of listed buildings could also be viewed as an ongoing formative process, open to cultural re-interpretations. Especially in cases of abandoned ‘listed buildings in decay,’ which can be viewed as cultural or mnemonic devices in an operational hiatus, society may find leeway to ‘culturally consume’ them, making them the carriers of new significations and even new ‘histories.’ A ‘projected déjà vu’ on a listed building that was abandoned by the state is one of the many blatant manifestations of institutional control over history and its built agents that eventually discourage social engagement in matters of heritage. Perhaps the ambiguous state of many ‘listed buildings in decay’ may provide a chance to reVisit the way heritage is perceived in Athens and Greece, incorporating bottom-up approaches and encouraging social engagement in order for heritage to at least become a social issue again, rather than just an institutionalised tool to control culture.
In the case of 82 Acharnon Street, the situation is much more complex, as a product of the institutionalised preservation system, a building listed for its architectural value, 55
The banner of the 3D rendering from 2016, juxtaposed with the condition the building had been in before 2013; a projected déjà vu, covering up all ‘unofficial’ significations Author’s collage
NOTES 1. Adrian Forty, The Art of Forgetting (Oxford: Berg, 1999), 4. 2. Dolores Hayden, The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995), 12. 3. Daniel Maudlin and Marcel Vellinga, Consuming Architecture: On the Occupation, Appropriation and Interpretation of Buildings (London: Routledge, 2014), 4.
Rubble of Warsaw, 1939-1949: Histories of architectural remains in the annihilated city Adam Przywara As the stratification of ancient Troy enabled archaeologists to explore and learn about the city history, so the construction of Muranów, a new residential area for the working class, built on hills of rubble, will teach us about the creation of a new life on the ruins of old social relations […] — Bohdan Lachert
MY DISSERTATION AIMS TO CONTRIBUTE both to the discourse of rubble and architectural remains, and to the history of the city of Warsaw. A manifold historical narration of the city’s history between 1939-1949 is constructed around the enormous amounts of rubble which covered the whole urban area after the Second World War. On the basis of several case studies, the paper explicitly points out the narrative qualities of post-architectural matter in the local context of Poland’s capital. Various methodological approaches such as oral history, archival research, and visual documentation intertwine to produce a rich and inclusive history of the transitional historical period. The theoretical introduction of the dissertation focuses on the problem of discursive difference between rubble and ruins: ‘Since the late 17th century excavations in Pompeii, academic culture has become obsessed with decay and ruination.’1 The ruin becomes a symbol of fundamental importance for the enlightenment struggle between human will and nature. The heaps of rubble usually formed around these ruins were rejected from serious intellectual considerations. At the same time, a scarcity of historical value and philosophical significance has been imputed to plain and unremarkable heaps of mere rubble. Following this statement, the argument shows how ruination processes became diversified in the modern era. Researchers in the fields of warchitecture2 and anthropology3 became interested in broader understanding of architectural remains.
Rubble, as opposed to ruin, is not a matter of aesthetic contemplation, preservationism, and commodification. Simultaneously it is a crucial matter which has to be worked through by the inhabitants of the cities devastated by the war. Without labour put into the rubble works the life in the post-traumatic landscape cannot be resumed. Treated accordingly, this new category of post-architectural matter becomes a key to the narratives of postwar Warsaw. The rubble history has to begin when rubble is extracted, that is when the city becomes annihilated. Accordingly the first chapter of the paper focuses on the process of Warsaw’s destruction during the Second World War. The whole process transformed 85% of the main part of the city into heaps of rubble. Particularly in the last stage, one can observe a fully rational, designed process, which was by no means grounded in the fight between military forces, but was rather a pure will to devastation. This process was documented by architect, Alfred Mensebach. The argument here focuses on a difference between rubble extraction and ruination. The following paragraphs describe the precise and laborious procedure of city levelling, which was carried out between September 1944 and January 1945. The transformation of the urban dwelling into the rubble desert had both strategical and symbolic reasons. In the procedure strictly supervised by architects the city was rendered uninhabitable. The second part of the narrative around post-architectural matter of Warsaw is based solely on the oral histories recorded with the inhabitants who dwelled in the city after January 1945. What is important to mention here is that in all the interviews the considered notion of rubble is used predominantly. From her first encounter with the landscape of Warsaw in the spring of 1945 Irena Mroziuk recalls: ‘We drove on 57
One of the first rubble mounds created by BOS - stratification visible, 2016 Authorâ€™s photo
a horse chaise through Puławska Street. Houses were totally destroyed, I didn’t see any house which was intact. Marszałkowska street was just a row of hollowed out buildings reaching the height of the first floor.’4 The accounts put together in the chapter reconstruct the process of re-dwelling on the desert of rubble. The subjects raised by the interviews are: 1. Chaotic reconstruction of surviving buildings, 2. Social life and nutrition, 3. Infrastructure, 4. Perspectives on the rubble clearing. The last is a common memory of a whole generation of inhabitants. The rubble works were firstly community-driven actions, which later became appropriated as a politically valuable for a newly establishing communist government of Poland. The oral history accounts present a lively history of the collective of inhabitants which in the first months after the war re-established Warsaw as an urban dwelling and the country’s capital. The third chapter is based on the individual narrative of architect Józef Sigalin, who was one of the first of his profession to come back to the city after the war. In his accounts we can find valuable information about the discussions around rubble which took place in Biuro Odbudowy Stolicy (BOS), the Warsaw Reconstruction Office. In reading the documents from the period 1945 and 1946, one has an impression that rubble clearing and utilisation proceeded quickly and easily. But this is only an appearance given by the documents themselves. Architects were haunted by technological and financial scarcity and the amounts of rubble seemed impossible to clear. Sigalin’s reports show that at the beginning of 1946, BOS still had not moved on from the conceptual phase of work around rubble problem. Architects for a long and dynamic period could not come up with the proper solution for the rubble problem. At this time the non-productive techniques of rubble utilisation are dominant. Their results are visible in Warsaw today — several rubble mounds and hills can be found around a whole urban area and, as the argument suggests, they can be seen as silent monuments
of community labour put into rubble works. The fourth part of the dissertation traces the emergence of the productive techniques of rubble utilisation and narrates a subject of rubble concrete prefabrication. In order to achieve this, the argument is focused on two engineers, Antoni Kobyliński and Bolesław Miszułowicz; one public entity, the Rubble Commission; and two architectural projects, the Building Research Institute (BRI) experimental housing project and the headquarters building of the Ministry of Economy. The Rubble Commission was established in December 1946 as a department of BRI. The first full-scale experiment was conducted in 1947. Funded by the Ministry of Reconstruction, BRI erected five houses each one constructed from different types of rubble-concrete air brick. The Ministry of Economy at the time also strongly supported the idea of rubble prefabrication and this support materialised in the construction of new institution headquarters. A monumental building located in the city centre became a second founding site of experiments on productive rubble utilisation. In the conclusion I underline the importance of rubble in development of new building technologies in postwar communist Poland. The conclusion links the history of rubble utilisation with the political situation of contemporary Warsaw and the city’s historiography: Nowadays, when the history of Warsaw is dominated by martyrology and heroism, and when land has been commodified by capital and stolen from its inhabitants, the history of rubble is one of many which needs to be redeemed for contemporary knowledge as a different narration of the cities past and present. 1.
Julia Hell and Andreas Schönle, eds., Ruins of Modernity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 3. 2. Andrew Herscher, Violence Taking Place (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010), 5. 3. Gastón R. Gordillo, Rubble (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 6. 4. Irena Jadwiga Mroziuk, ‘AHM_1740,’ transcript of an oral history interview conducted by Agata Zalewska, Zapomniani Świadkowie XX Wieku, Audiohistoria, Warszawa, 2010, part 006.
Concept, content, context: Situating the New Acropolis Museum in the Athenian context Evangelia Rassa
IN 2009, THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE New Acropolis Museum (NAM) took place in Athens, provoking diverse responses. People at large seemed pleased with the existence of such an emblematic building in the Attica environment that met European standards. In fact the daily number of visitors to the Museum exceeds 10,000.1 The international press at the time turned their attention to the British Museum for a response, since the erection of the Museum was construed as a political gesture to revive the issue of the return of the Elgin Marbles. However, a noteworthy part of the Greek architectural community and other groups of scholars, hardly content with the political and economic ramifications, were also quite critical of the architectural outcome. This building did not constitute only the actualisation of an architectural achievement, but also an answer to a drawn-out debate that had preceded and designated the whole project as a complex architectural venture pertaining to the design of the museum of the most polysemous and influential architectural monument of western civilization – the Acropolis. The New Acropolis Museum (NAM) was completed after a long period of repeated architectural competitions, cancellations, and controversies. However, controversies and contradictions are implicated throughout both the history of the creation of the Museum and its architectural manifestation. While Bernard Tschumi presents the design of the NAM through the terms of concept-content-context, these terms gradually unravel within the spectrum of politics and social practices. This study explores the NAM anew, considering its place both as a setting, and within the context of 60
what has preceded in the Athenian milieu. Place, here, is twofold, defined both spatially and historically. Situating the NAM in this context helps to reflect on its relation to its surroundings, the broader area which encapsulates both the NAM and the Acropolis as its point of reference. This dissertation is structured in three stages: the background information before Tschumi’s design (where the concept originates), a functional description of the current building (where the content is being housed), and finally the situating of the building in the Athenian context. In each chapter a history comes first and a theory follows to define a distinct theoretical framework. Chantal Mouffe’s pluralistic agonism, Slavoj Žižek’s parallax gap, and Walter Benjamin’s dialectical image create a conceptual apparatus coming out of the historical material in order to reinforce this interpretation and better conceptualise critical parts of this history. The overall structure in sequence and in the two parts of each chapter aim at reflecting the interplay of history and theory. In the first chapter, the chronicle of the museum and the architectural competitions act as an independent section, revealing the procedure and the conditions of the building production, and provide fertile ground for the critical approach of the object. Mouffe’s theory enlightens the reader about the ambience that preceded the arrival of Tschumi’s building in the Athenian milieu and define a gap between people through the lens of pluralistic agonism. This chapter will finally provide the framework in which to situate the object of the NAM. The second chapter presents the architectural outcome of the Bernard Tschumi
The New Acropolis Museum in the Athenian setting Authorâ€™ s photo
Architects team. The architecture of the NAM materializes a political statement and addresses the reunification of the Marbles of the Parthenon, although it is represented as an autonomous object inserted in the Athenian landscape. Not considering itself as a coherent extension of the Acropolis site, it protrudes over the urban horizon echoing praise of an architecture as production that has cut the Gordian knot regarding some of the concerns of the preceding agon.2 Thus an apparent gap – a parallax gap – is drawn between the NAM building and the city. In the final chapter, which situates the NAM in the Athenian context, a contradictory image emerges that bears the same signs of Benjamin’s dialectical image: fragments, shock, and political implications. The dialectical image helps to zoom out from Žižek’s definition of the gap between the inside and outside of the building, and detect the gap in a historical scale between the Museum and its reference point – the Acropolis – revealing its current significance. The notion of gap shifts to a physical gap where Dimitris Pikionis’s landscaping is located, and unravels the spatial appropriation of an architect in modern times in comparison to a postmodern input to the same place/image. In the latter, architecture is seen to be not only a resultant effect of difference but a mechanism for its creation. The NAM seen here as part of the Athenian city gives birth to a dialectical image in which the actual building ‘self-referentially’ seems to confine itself to the inherited or hegemonic aesthetics. Architecture and politics conflict in their mutual attempt to reconstruct the past. On the one hand there is an architecture that complies with the political objectives of the modern city, on the other hand the architectural materialization of such a concept subverts or undermines the established spatial order. This raises a question about the sense of history along with its specific aesthetic corollary. The architecture of the NAM relates to Fredric Jameson’s account of the city, as a superimposed layering of diverse historical pasts. The NAM may be 62
perceived as a subversive element of the Athenian landscape but it also brings into being a new place, a new layer into an existing context. As synthesis of the building and its surroundings, the dialectical image that arises directs the viewer to act as critic and see the history of the place as historical layers – as also prompted by the form of the Museum.
Bernard Tschumi, ‘New Acropolis Museum,’ Domés International Review of Architecture, no. 4 (2011): 116. ‘Agon’ (Classical Greek ἀγών) is an ancient Greek term for a struggle or contest.
The Architecture of the Internet: Discovering the aesthetics of London’s data centres Tom Ravenscroft
THROUGH MY DISSERTATION I EXPLORED the aesthetics of data centres, a disregarded building typology so far overlooked by architectural historians. Data centres, essential to our modern way of life, are the physical embodiment of the Internet age, and more than any other building they represent the age we live in. While most perceive data centres to be located in giant sheds in remote locations, like the Arctic Circle, these buildings are not characteristic of the typology. The Internet does not live in futuristic far-flung buildings; data centres are often hidden within our cities. Driven by a desire not to draw attention to themselves, data centres often inhabit existing buildings, occupying the previous structure’s fabric as ill-fitting clothing. Inhabiting many varied buildings, data centres do not share a common aesthetic. However, the uniform desire to remain unseen, combined with the common technological and security needs of a highly technical building, leads the buildings to share many traits. These traits, or tells, are not only useful for identification, but also combine to form a non-aesthetic, driven from the demand not to have recognisable attributes or conform to a particular style. The Internet does not live where you would expect. My thesis contains the results of a three-month long survey to locate, map, visit, photograph, and classify all of Greater London’s data centres, to provide an accurate representation of the typology. Overall, on my voyage of discovery I identified, visited, and photographed 55 data centres within Greater London. This figure alone dispels some of the myths surrounding their distance. While it is clear that data can travel very fast, and is in
some ways making the world seem smaller and the Internet seem ubiquitous, it is not located at random; it is concentrated in close proximity to London. Travelling on around 100 trains, tubes, and DLRs, and walking more than 200 miles in the process, I located data centres spread across 15 of London’s boroughs, including the furthest north, south, east, and west. The data centres are distributed across London and their locations are now publicly available online. Although data centres are spread across the city, there are some clear concentrations – I identified four distinct groupings. The most notable being the vast number based in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, with 24 out of London’s 55 data centres located in the borough. Despite perceptions of the Internet being ubiquitous, it is clear that the physical manifestations of the Internet are not evenly distributed across the city. Along with mapping all of Greater London’s data centres during my visits I took photographs of all the facilities, which are in my thesis and available to the public online at https://wheretheinternetlives.wordpress.com. At first glance the 55 data centres do not share many common characteristics beyond the same function. The buildings vary greatly in age, structure, scale, height, materials, and style. However, there are some distinctions between the various data centres, the first being the clear division between purpose-built facilities and retrofitted data centres. Out of the 55, only eight were originally designed to be data centres. Meaning that although data centres are some of the most technical buildings in the world, hosting the mechanics of society’s most digitally advanced elements, the vast majority in London are located 63
Reflective glazing is one of the common tells of a data centre Authorâ€™s photo
in pre-existing buildings. These retrofit buildings share numerous traits or tells that identify them as data centre, that are categorised in my thesis. This is a dissertation unlike many others in architectural discourse, in that I had to first discover the presence of the objects before I could begin my research. As these buildings are not accessible in traditional archives, and the Internet is not a reliable source for studying itself, the only way to truly learn about this emerging typology proved to be to actually visit it. Learning about some of the world’s most advanced buildings involved some of the most traditional research methods – physically visiting, observing, and recording. Greater London became my archive – a place where research led to investigation, and clues turned to tells. A growing understanding of this archive led me to decode these deliberately hidden data centres. The survey results make clear that common perceptions of data centres, particularly regarding their location and aesthetics, are largely uncharacteristic. Like humans, data centres occupy cities and are gathered in areas of preference. Those that believe that the Internet would bring about the death of distance, leading to the eventual demise of the city, should consider that distance and location are both still extremely relevant to the physical location of the Internet itself. The Internet exists, and not in far-away technologically advanced sheds, but in largely anonymous converted buildings within the cities we live in. Inhabiting existing buildings allows data centres to remain largely hidden in the city. The thousands of people that pass London’s data centres every day while connected to the power of the Internet – reading emails, sending WhatsApp messages, listening to Spotify or navigating via Google Maps or sat navs – are wholly disconnected from the physicality of the Internet. The data centres wear pre-existing buildings to disguise themselves. However, often these clothes are not a perfect fit, as the requirements of the data centre do not
match those of its original function like for like. This creates an uncanny appearance defined by a desire not to be seen, combined with the common technological and security needs, visible as a series of tells. Read together, these traits form a non-aesthetic that unites the varied buildings of the typology. For architectural historians, the tells and the associated non-aesthetic are useful tools for identifying data centres. The desire not to draw attention to itself sets the data centre apart from the monuments and definitive buildings of previous time periods. While these past era-defining typologies are prominently located on major thoroughfares or central squares shouting for recognition, the Internet age’s key physical manifestation is found on back streets or trading estates on across the city. While churches and temples celebrate religion, museums and libraries celebrate knowledge, palaces celebrate influential individuals and parliaments celebrate democracy, the data centre hides the Internet. The location and appearance of these non-monuments to the Internet suggests that the Internet itself is not as transparent and ubiquitous as it may seem. Up until the digital documentation of this dissertation, we could Google just about anything, except where the Internet lives. Reflecting on what the physical manifestations of the Internet have to say about the Internet itself and the values of our current age is a separate and vast area of research. It would be fertile and valuable ground for further research, and the work provided here will contribute to that.
Dissimilar Ratio: Spinoza’s Ethics and housing welfare Peg Rawes DAILY MEDIA REPORTING IN THE UK PRESS over the past five years has increasingly showed that the UK housing market is failing to meet the population’s housing needs. Historical and current research by leading housing charities, such as Shelter and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, highlights that these issues most critically affect those who have least social and economic autonomy and most in need of social, economic and welfare support.1 However, inequality of access to high quality housing now also affects families and households in the middle class sectors; groups considered to have enjoyed housing security over the past 30 years are now also suffering from severe housing and wellbeing insecurities.2 The project, Equalities of Wellbeing, and its film Equal by Design (2016),3 approaches these questions of equality and inequality from a historical perspective. Turning to the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, philosopher Beth Lord, myself, and film-makers Lone Star Productions, have examined how his writings on inequality have striking resonances with today’s contexts and provide a strong critical tool for analysing housing welfare. Living in the Province of Holland, at a time of rapid urban and economic transformation, and before enlightenment principles of individual equality were more formally defined as universal legal and social rights, Spinoza’s philosophy is notable for defining an ethical society as one in which human rights are dissimilar, rather than equal. Spinoza suggests that our capacity to live happily, individually and consequently, socially, is based upon understanding that our needs are differential. Put another way, in contrast to our post-enlightenment principles of equality that determine society on the basis of legal definitions of autonomous social rights, Spinoza argues that an ethical society is based upon 66
the dissimilar distribution of human powers and needs. Spinoza’s thinking about what constitutes human life runs throughout his writings, but if we take The Ethics (published in 1677), we find that it understands humanity to be made up of dissimilar qualities. Spinoza’s method of explanation is derived partly from using an ancient Greek structure of argument, specifically, the technique that Euclid used to write his theory of geometry (the Elements). As a result, the text is ‘axiomatic’ and Spinoza uses this method to explain human nature in relation to theological, social and physiological perspectives. Yet, while classical geometry is more often seen as a form of mathematics that constructs ideas and objects through principles of similarity (e.g. parallel lines or isosceles triangles), Spinoza deploys the technique for a quite different purpose: to show that dissimilarity is the fundamental principle which organises human nature. Spinoza’s version of geometric reasoning therefore focuses very strongly on the ratios between different human characteristics: for example, as writers such as Antonio Damasio have observed in Looking for Spinoza (2003), one of the most original aspects of Spinoza’s thinking is the attention paid to the differences between the various mental and physical characteristics that compose human nature: for example, the relationship – i.e. the ratio – between the psychological expression of our emotions and our bodily experience of those feelings. What is important to note here is ratio is a concept that, by its nature, highlights the differences between its various parts. Put another way, the principle of ratio constructs fractions. Of course, equal fractions are very much part of our thinking and reasoning about equality (including modern statistics of housing inequality and wellbeing): for example, one ½ clearly presents
Hof van Wouw (1647), a 17th-century almshouse in The Hague, is also examined in Equal by Design Authorâ€™s photo
an equal ratio (i.e. an equality) between two; a ratio of ¼ describes the equality between four, etc. However, we also see that the fundamental idea of a fraction is itself composed of the difference between two separate units/parts. We can therefore say that the idea of ratio is, in itself, composed of dissimilarity between two parts. Hence, if we think about today’s issue of rising housing inequality, ratio draws attention to these differentials, resonating with the currently highly disproportionate distribution and structure of societal resources that contribute to ‘wellbeing:’ for example, inequality research emphasises the extent to which the fractional distribution of resources, such as housing or healthcare, are increasingly dissimilar. In addition, this kind of empirical research places significant methodological value on critical powers of rational thinking for interpreting data about housing, health, and wellbeing. My emphasis of ratio above also highlights the second way in which Spinoza’s philosophy is distinct from the codification of reason and equality into governmental definitions of universal social rights in 18th-century moral philosophy and political thought (although the security of rights for gender, race, class, and minority groups are still not necessarily guaranteed, secure or equally distributed even today). Historically, then, his early-modern ideas highlight the power of reasoning (i.e. the power of ratio) in a manner which does not yet fully accord with the view that rational thought is also always absolute evidence of legal and social equality: i.e. ‘ratio’ or ‘reason’ is not yet fully fixed as a legal idea of equality. Instead, Spinoza’s philosophy highlights the power of ratio as an idea for thinking about the diverse needs of a society because of the dissimilarity between its various constituents (e.g. the different social groups), rather than their similarity. For Spinoza, therefore, we might say that the right to good quality housing – and hence the increased capacity for living well – is inscribed in equality composed of dissimilarity, rather than similarity.
See, for example, Shelter, Little Boxes, fewer homes: setting housing space standards will get more homes built (London: Shelter, April 2013), NatCen and Shelter, ‘People living in bad housing – numbers and health impacts’ (London: Shelter, 2013), or the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Housing and Poverty Blog (http://www.jrf.org.uk/topic/housingand-poverty). Over the past three years, journalists and economists, including the Governor of the Bank of England, have commented on the unsustainability of the UK housing crisis, for example; Mark Carney’s observation that the UK housing sector has ‘deep, deep structural issues’ (Phillip Inman, ‘Mark Carney: rising house prices pose biggest risk to recovery,’ The Guardian, 19 May 2014). Rowan Moore has called it ‘a human disaster’ (Rowan Moore, ‘Britain’s housing crisis is a human disaster. Here are 10 ways to solve it,’ The Observer, 14 March 2015). See www.equalitiesofwellbeing.co.uk and www. equalbydesign.co.uk and Peg Rawes, ‘Housing biopolitics and care,’ in Andrej Radman and Heidi Sohn, eds., The Critical and the Clinical Cartographies (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press: 2016).
Architecture, Neoliberalism, and the Affective Turn Douglas Spencer
CERTAIN ARCHITECTS HAVE ALLIED themselves, of late, with an ongoing turn to affect underway for some time now across a range of fields and disciplines. In the philosopher Brian Massumi’s Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, something of a foundational text for this turn, he writes that: There seems to be a growing feeling within media, literary, and art theory that affect is central to an understanding of our information- and image-based late capitalist culture, in which so-called master narratives are perceived to have foundered. Fredric Jameson notwithstanding, belief has waned for many, but not affect. If anything, our condition is characterized by a surfeit of it.1
Massumi affirms the turn to affect as progressive, not least because it promises to rid us of practices of critical thinking. In assuming a position of distance from the world they critique these fail, he maintains, to be sufficiently productive. The problem with ‘critical thinking,’ writes Massumi, is that ‘it sees itself as uncovering something it claims was hidden or as debunking something it desires to subtract from the world.’2 Rather than subtracting we should be adding. To this end critical thinking is ‘of limited value.’3 ‘The balance,’ he argues, ‘has to shift to affirmative methods’ in order that it be positively productive. 4 ‘[W]hen you are busy critiquing you are less busy augmenting.’5 Architecture’s own affective turn is similarly pitched as progressively and pragmatically attuned to our times. It releases us from the negative project of critique. In bypassing all forms of mediation – linguistic, cognitive, interpretive, critical – we are free to enjoy the pleasures of sensory immersion.
Alejandro Zaera-Polo argues that architectural expression has ceased to operate through its traditionally established modes of articulation. It now functions through formal, geometric, and tectonic means that are uncoded. These have ‘taken over the representational roles that were previously trusted to architectural language and iconographies.’6 This newly expressive capacity of the envelope coincides historically, claims Zaera-Polo, with a post-linguistic orientation within global capitalism. ‘[L] anguage,’ he writes, ‘becomes politically ineffective in the wake of globalization, and the traditional articulations of the building envelope become technically redundant.’ 7 In its progressive movement away from ‘language and signification’8 the envelope operates ‘without getting caught in the negative project of the critical tradition or in the use of architecture as a mere representation of politics.’9 It works, instead, through affect: ‘the primary depository of contemporary architectural expression – is now invested in the production of affects, an uncoded, pre-linguistic form of identity that transcends the propositional logic of political rhetorics.’ 10 Farshid Moussavi, in her The Function of Form, defines the contemporary city as a space where ‘novel subcultures and identities are constantly emerging.’11 Given that that this supposedly new condition is defined by multiplicity and multiculturalism, her argument runs, the use of language, or indeed of any code, is rendered obsolete. One can no longer presume the ‘universal fluency’ of architecture’s ‘audience:’ ‘[a] ttempts to relate built forms and people through an external medium are therefore destined to remain marginal and ineffectual.’12 This scenario, argues Moussavi, demands that architectural form afford the 69
subject unmediated communion with contemporary reality. Like Zaera-Polo, Moussavi identifies changes within capitalism as underwriting the agenda she ascribes to contemporary architecture. Only affective and post-linguistic expression is appropriate in addressing the ‘plurality and mutability’ of product differentiation and mass customization. Investing in differentiation capitalism itself is seen as a progressive force in its opposition to homogenization. It ‘contributes to the production of difference and novelty.’13 Architecture, it follows, should pursue the same path, developing novel forms and thereby ‘contributing to an environment that connects individuals to multitude [sic] of choices.’14 In response to the question of exactly how it is that such novel architectural forms might ‘perform as a multiplicity’ Moussavi also turns to affect. Only an affective architecture is adequate to a post-linguistic, mutable, and pluralistic social reality: Through the agency of spatial affects, in each instance an architectural form performs as a singular multiplicity – as a “function” that connects human beings to their environment as well as each other, albeit in different ways. In order to explore forms as multiplicities, designers need to focus on their affective functions.15
Sylvia Lavin’s Kissing in Architecture presents similar prescriptions for contemporary architecture. Critical distance and linguistic interpretation are denounced as relics of a modernist faith in ‘autonomous intellection.’16 ‘Kissing’ is affirmed because ‘No one can speak when kissing … kissing interrupts how faces and facades communicate, substituting affect and force for representation and meaning.’17 Dispensing with the cold and cognitive logics of modernism, and following the lead of Deleuze towards feeling and sensation, architecture should make its newly pliant surfaces ‘kissable.’ This practice is already exemplified for Lavin in projects by FOA, UNStudio, Preston Scott Cohen, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The ‘kissing architectural surface’ of such architecture, she writes, is affective ‘because it 70
shapes experience through force rather than representation.’ 18 The currency of affect in contemporary architecture appears, then, derived from a recognition of what is supposed to be most objectively progressive about globalised capitalism; its embrace of post-linguistic immediacy, multiplicity, and productivity, and its post-political transcendence of the negative and the critical. Assuming a critical perspective on a turn that supposes such perspectives to be outmoded, however, the currency of affect might be alternatively conceived. Affect might be thought of as a medium of circulation and exchange through which the individual is integrated within neoliberal capitalism as its readily compliant and instrumental subject. The use of affect to such ends, though contemporary, is hardly novel. The exuberant formal aesthetics and novel tectonics of much contemporary architecture have often drawn comparison to those of the baroque. The greater resonance with this epoch, though, lies in what might described as the politics of affect, as considered in Jose Antonio Maravall’s Culture of the Baroque: Analysis of a Historical Structure.19 The ‘culture of the baroque,’ argues Maravall, ‘is an instrument to achieve effects…whose object is to act upon human beings. Human beings are the object of a determinate conception… that is designed to ensure that they behave, among themselves and with respect to the society of which they are a part and the power that controls it, in such a manner that the societies’ capacity for self-preservation is maintained and enhanced.’20 The political, religious economic and urban crises of the 17th century are understood by Maravall to be, fundamentally, crises of authority. In response, absolutist power seeks to secure its authority through the assertion of total dominion over the newly emergent urban masses and the rival class of the bourgeoisie alike. Prototypically critical and collective forms of reasoning, in which the masses sought to challenge and change given social arrangements through protests, uprisings, and the circulation of seditious materials, are met with a response
that is not only military and repressive, but also cultural. There is an ‘entire complex,’ as Maravall puts it, ‘of social, artistic, and ideological expedients that were cultivated specifically to maintain authority psychologically over the wills of those who might, as it was feared, be led to take up an opposing position.’21 The baroque, notes Maravall, ‘placed little trust in strictly intellectual arguments.’22 Its ideological expedients were designed to move the passions, ‘extrarational’ instruments contrived to integrate the subject within its culture: paintings, theatre, sermons, fireworks, fountains, fiestas, and architecture. Where the Renaissance sought out serenity, ‘the baroque set out to stir and impress, directly and immediately, by effectively intervening in the motivation of the passions.’23 The novelties and exuberant forms of the baroque were produced to attract the attention of the individual, as such, to enjoin participation and integration in the marvels of its world. The subject embracing these sensory enjoyments sets aside any intellectual concern with how this world could be otherwise. Elaborating on Maravall’s analysis, we might say that the experience of affect aims at individuation, the monadic division of the masses into pliant subjects of authority. The conditions on which the dominion of absolutist power depend are those of the ‘plasticity or moldability of the human being.’24 Subjects encounter themselves as ‘always in a process of realization.’25 They are compensated for the adaptations demanded of them in the currency of affect, in the formal aestheticisation of change and transformation characteristic of baroque culture. In this way, and through these means, experience is interiorised, rendered passional and psychological as a bulwark against the collective exercise of reason that would call for social change over individual adaptation. It is hardly difficult to discern the resonances between the uses of affect in the baroque and those in what might, paraphrasing Maravall, be called the culture of neoliberalism, including its architects: the doxa of flexibility and its aestheticisation
in the formal novelties of architecture, the enjoinments to invest in oneself, the valorisation of personal experience, the elevation of affect over reason, the affirmations of immediacy, the disavowal of common codes, such as language, through which understandings of the world are mediated and shared. Drawing these parallels already points to the uses of affect as an instrument of power, as opposed to its presentation as somehow simultaneously pragmatic and progressive. But contemporary affirmations of affect ought also to be understood in relation to what is specific to neoliberalism, particularly with reference to its deepseated and longstanding antipathy toward the collective exercise of critical reason, and in terms of its investment in a computational apparatus of calculative logic. Neoliberal thought effectively denies the very possibility of the critically reflective subject. Its chief theorist Friedrich Hayek wrote in his Law, Legislation and Liberty of ‘the fact of the necessary and irremediable ignorance on everyone’s part of most of the particular facts which determine the actions of all the several members of human society.’26 Social development is understood to be governed by ‘natural laws’ rather than conscious design, a matter of evolution rather than planning. Given the scale and complexity of society, writes Hayek, ‘the only possibility of transcending the capacity of individual minds is to rely on those super-personal “self-organizing” forces which create spontaneous order.’27 Disqualified from presuming to grasp or
act upon the totality of the social order – for neoliberal thought all planning always necessarily results in totalitarianism – humans are, then, supposed to submit to the superior organisational capacities of the market, itself now figured as operating according to the natural laws of spontaneous order and self-organisation. Necessarily ignorant, humans must adapt themselves to a spontaneously arising order, rather than seeking to change it. Critical reasoning, individual or collective, is entirely surplus to requirements in neoliberalism. If neoliberalism is possessed
of any rationality then this is, according to its own doxa, immanent to the spontaneous organizational and processual capacities of the market and not invested in the human subject. This purely instrumental and calculative reason is placed beyond access to critical reflection, and this is only reinforced today through the development of and increasing reliance upon the processing powers of big data. In this scenario there appears no role for human perception other than to relinquish any attempt to fathom, grasp or challenge the reality that appears to it, and to enjoy, as compensation, the purely affective pleasures now afforded it. Architectures of affect form part of this compensatory apparatus, rewarding the post-critical, post-political and post-linguistic subject with experience, personalised, interiorised and to be enjoyed as an end in itself.
2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
7. 8. 9. 10. 11.
12. 13. 14 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.
20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26.
Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 2002), 27. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Alejandro Zaera-Polo, ‘Patterns, Fabrics, Prototypes, Tessellations,’ in Architectural Design, Special Issue: Patterns of Architecture 79, no. 6 (November/December 2009): 22. Alejandro Zaera-Polo, ‘Politics of the Envelope,’ Volume 17 (Fall 2008): 88. Ibid., 89. Ibid., 90. Ibid., 89. Farshid Moussavi, The Function of Form (Barcelona and New York: Actar/Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 2009), 7. Ibid., 13 Ibid., 16. Ibid., 18. Ibid., 19-20. Sylvia Lavin, Kissing Architecture (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2011), 4. Ibid., 14. Ibid., 30. Jose Antonio Maravall, Culture of the Baroque: Analysis of a Historical Structure, trans. Terry Cochran (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986). Ibid., 58. Ibid., 46. Ibid., 228. Ibid., 75. Ibid., 169. Ibid. F. A. Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty: A New Statement of the Liberal Principles of Justice and Political Economy (Abingdon, Oxford, and New York: Routledge, 2013), 13. Ibid., 52.
The Problem of the Author: O.M. Ungers and the Veröffentlichungen zur Architektur Alessandro Toti
OSWALD MATHIAS UNGERS IS ONE OF THE most celebrated architects of the second half of the 20th century, whose career, spanning more than six decades, resulted in a vast set of projects and theories. His productivity has allowed a large and varied corpus of historiography to come into being, as scholars have interpreted Ungers under different lenses, highlighting distinct features of his work. My dissertation’s question, however, is not to track the extreme longevity, frequent upheaval and enduring inspiration of that career. Instead, it examines a period when Ungers’ greatest aim was to dismiss steady categorisations and to engage with open and critical research about architecture: the years that he spent in Berlin between 1963 and 1969. In this period, invited to teach in a university for the first time and confronted with a metropolitan environment, Ungers called into question his previously acquired knowledge and started experimenting with the possibilities of architecture. This must not be understood as a series of disconnected attempts, or as the will to realise a doctrinaire theory, but rather as a collective and rational effort to deal with the subjects of the contemporary architectural and urban debate without any prejudice. Although throughout his career Ungers was first and foremost an architect, interested in the spatial and theoretical features of form, in Berlin he brought this interest to topics that apparently have little in common with these concerns. Not only urban, but also socio-economic issues – planning, systems, transportation, prefabrication, and optimisation – became the continuous interlocutors of his aesthetic questions. This did not result in a generic interdisciplinary approach, but in a continuous challenging
of the discipline of architecture, which Ungers forced into a confrontation with the different imaginaries of the 1960s cultural debate. However, despite the fact that this dialectical relationship – very different from the ones he developed previously and successively – was grounded on the absolute realism of its arguments, it did not attempt to find an immediate application or an eternal solution. On the contrary, it was conducted purely as critical research, scaling up dimensions and turning over problems. Ungers himself was not in full control of what was happening: he did not just confront the architectural discipline with issues typically outside its scope, but he also developed this confrontation inside a theoretical frame as uninhibited and unbounded as possible. This approach is perfectly reproduced in all its complexity in the Veröffentlichungen zur Architektur, a set of 27 pamphlets published between 1965 and 1969, collecting materials from seminars, dissertations, conferences, competitions, and research Ungers was involved in during that timeframe. What strikes the contemporary reader is the heterogeneity of arguments presented in the series. Wochenaufgabe, the first issue, challenged the students to design an architecture starting from a series of spatial limitations; some pamphlets gathered contributions from Alison and Peter Smithson and Team 10; some researched examples of 19th-century architecture; some developed ideas about genius loci, urban megastructures and living cells; some reflected on the relation between architecture and urban networks; some investigated the mass-scale housing in a theoretical, historical, abstracted or technological frame; one presented an avant-gardist approach to 73
architectural façades, one collected designs for a secondary school and, finally, one documented the symposium Architekturtheorie in which Ungers attempt to ground this study at TU Berlin. This divergence corresponds to the multitude of individuals who took part in the Veröffentlichung, with different roles and responsibilities: in addition to dozens of architects, there were also artists, historians, sociologists and economists, teaching assistants who organised and led seminars, research assistants who edited issues with a certain continuity, occasional contributors, and many other students and graduates who worked in Ungers’ seminars. In the middle of this crowd, Ungers’ position in the Veröffentlichung – between publisher, project creator, editor in chief, and co-editor – is representative of the ambiguity and the elusiveness of his role in this project. In this convoluted environment, to define who wrote one text, who designed one project or who edited one publication is a secondary problem: what the Veröffentlichung really illuminate is the possibility of rejecting all these superficial questions and interpreting an episode of architectural history without relying on the concept of the author. On 22 February 1969, only few months before Ungers’ Berlin experience ended, Michel Foucault gave a lecture called: ‘What is an Author?’1 In his paper, Foucault noticed that despite the fact that ‘criticism and philosophy took note of the disappearance – or death – of the author some time ago,’2 the ‘author function’ was still a dominating force ‘by which in our culture one limits, excludes, and chooses; in short, by which one impedes the free circulation, the free manipulation, the free composition, decomposition and recomposition of fiction.’3 Following Foucault’s invitation to deprive ‘the subject (or its substitute) of its role as originator’ and to analyse it ‘as a variable and complex function of discourse,’4 my dissertation analyses the Veröffentlichung avoiding the following shortcuts: on one side, neutralising the theoretical contradictions that emerge from the publications under an infallible unity 74
or a disengaged eclecticism; on the other, flattening the relationship between Ungers and his assistants by inflating the ‘great narrative’ of the master or the ‘minor histories’ of his pupils. Instead, my dissertation presents the years between 1963 and 1969 as a successful episode of knowledge production that went beyond any individual, disciplinary or ideological boundary. As a result, not only the concept of authorship, but also the notion of architecture will be revealed as something partial, unstable, and necessarily collective. In this respect, it could be useful to highlight the notion of milieu, as analysed by Georges Canguilhem in his 1947 lecture called The Living and its Milieu.5 Presenting the historical formation of this concept, Canguilhem drew two possible readings: first, the idea of mi-lieu as a continuous and homogenous space that separates organisms and constricts them in their mechanical order; second, a definition of mi-lieu as the active and central element that produces a heterogeneous interaction between alternative realities. In this view, the milieu is the central and ever changing entity that makes life inside it ‘distressful and distressed,’6 forced to a continuous but always insufficient and incomplete adaption. Following this interpretation, rather than understanding Ungers as an architect or as an author, my dissertation will consider Ungers as a milieu: as a figure that, more than creating anything new or remaining neutrally aside, triggered an unhierarchical and unpredictable interconnection of individuals and ideas; as the centre around which the infinite number of tottering dialectics crammed into the Veröffentlichung found a point of encounter, as much precarious as irreplaceable.
Michel Foucault, ‘What is an Author?’ in Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology, ed. James D. Faubion (New York: The New Press, 1998), 205-222. 2. Ibid., 207. 3. Ibid., 221. 4. Ibid. 5. Georges Canguilhem, ‘The Living and its Milieu,’ Grey Room 3 (2001): 7-31. 6. Ibid., 12.
Comics and Architectural Experience Fernisia Winnerdy
FOUR YEARS AFTER ITS PUBLICATION IN 2012, Chris Ware’s Building Stories still receives two contradictory criticisms. One the one hand, critics emphasise the centrality of architecture in the comic, while on the other Ware himself denies the notion and instead posits ‘memory’ as the comic’s central theme.1 Using several theories gathered and constructed from narratology, comics studies, and visual culture, this research intends to elucidate the relationship between comics (as an idea-dissemination medium) and architectural experience (as architectural idea) to extricate and examine this project’s contradictory criticisms. In the pursuit of extending previous research in this area, I argue for comics’ excellence as a technique to disseminate architectural experience. The comic, which won four Eisner Awards in 2013,2 is a story about the life of a female art student and amputee who rents a room in an old apartment in Chicago, with her apartment mates including a young couple and an old landlady. The story is massive, detailed, and both spatially and temporally interconnecting, not only through how its physical parts are scattered in the 14 discrete and differently-formatted comic bundles (which come in a 29.7 X 6.5 X 42.5 cm box), but also through their ambiguity; they intermittently show the characters’ present, future, and past events. Readers are given no clue about the reading order and it is suggested they should wander freely from one piece to another to make sense of the story along the way. This combination of the characters’ stories from different time frames, as the comics’ content, is what Peter R. Sattler calls ‘episodic’ and ‘narrative memories,’ while memory evoked in the reader by the act of reading the two memories through the comic’s form
is called ‘experiential memory.’3 The way Building Stories engages its readers through all three kinds of memory is what makes Ware’s notion about the centrality of memory in this comic apprehensible. Theories in narratology, comics studies, and visual culture can further elaborate the mechanism that allows this centrality of memory in comics and the way architecture takes part in the relation. As a medium, comics are constructed of ‘form’ and ‘content.’4 In the process of comic-making, a cartoonist draws the form and content of the comic from memory. Next, they are read by readers and evoke readers’ own memories. Architecture plays a crucial part in this transference of three kinds of memories in the construction of comics – in the dissertation this is referred to as ‘the layer of grammar’ [Fig. 1]. In narratology, events are understood as units of a story, occurring when a transformation happens to at least one of their constituent elements (actor, time, and location). Here events can never exclude the play of architecture; it is not only that they need architecture (the apartment building) as a background setting, they also sometimes occur when the building becomes the object of change.5 Other than that, the changing representation of architecture in the comic also highlights the idea of the passing of time. Moreover, the apartment building itself is given a human voice to focalise a story.6 Through this perspective, the way architecture defines space, time, and character in this project demonstrates how architecture is central in the creation of events of narrative and episodic memories. In addition, architecture is also represented in the comics as the scheme of the comic page. It makes readers’ experience in reading the comic panels analogical 75
Comicsâ€™ layer of grammar and vocabularies in its relation to memory and architecture Authorâ€™s diagram
with a person’s experience in entering and manoeuvring inside a built architecture. Architecture therefore is central in building readers’ experiential memory as well.7 From this elaboration, it is clear that Building Stories is a project about memory; however, the memory itself is about events that are tightly bound to a set of architectural elements, which makes them architectural experiences. The ways the comic communicates these architectural experiences are also architectural. Not only does the comic show and tell the story, it also allows readers to perform the act of experiencing architecture. In other words, it is plausible to say that Building Stories is an example of a project about the memory of architectural experience. A further examination on architectural representations in Building Stories reveals three interesting facts about the layer of vocabularies in the relation between comics and architecture. First, the shared vocabularies of comics and architecture (which are image and text)8 enable comics to contain architecture without any translation process. Second, the system of architectural representation allows comics to show and tell a message in a systematic way. Thirdly and most importantly, comics’ cartoon nature in the end allows architecture to be represented and exploited without privileging accuracy and precision over the message it seeks to communicate. These findings lead us to the fact that the comic is a potential medium for the exploration of architectural idea dissemination. The prominence of architecture in the construction of memory in comics is an opportunity for the medium to disseminate architectural experience – and other architectural ideas. In addition, the nature of comics also allows architectural representation explorations in disseminating those ideas. This theory and its application to Building Stories seeks to fill the gaps left by preceding research and mitigate the lack of scholarly attention to this particular idea-dissemination medium in architecture.9
Melanie Van Der Hoorn, Bricks & Balloons (Rotterdam: Nai010 publishers, 2012), 57-63. The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are prizes given for creative achievement in American comic books. Band of Thebes, Chris Ware’s Building Stories Wins Four Eisner Awards, 2013 [online], available at: http://bandofthebes.typepad.com/ bandofthebes/2013/07/chris-wares-buildingstories-wins-four-eisner-awards.html [Accessed 17 June 2016]. Peter Sattler, ‘Past Imperfect: “Building Stories” and the Art of Memory,’ in The Comics of Chris Ware, eds. David Ball and Martha Kuhlman (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010), 206. Narratology calls these: ‘narrative text layer’ and ‘fabula and story layer’ while comics studies calls them ‘extra-diegetic aspects’ and ’diegetic aspects.’ Meike Bal, Narratology: introduction to the theory of narrative (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), 6. Pascal Lefevre, ‘The Construction of space in comics,’ in A comics studies reader, eds. Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2009), 157-162. Daniel Worden, ‘On Modernism’s Ruins: The architecture of “Building stories,”’ in The Comics of Chris Ware, eds. David Ball and Martha Kuhlman, (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010), 107, 121. Matt Godbey, ‘Chris Ware’s “Building stories,” gentrification, and the lives of/in houses,’ in The Comics of Chris Ware, eds. David Ball and Martha Kuhlman, (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010), 107, 121. Maria Popova, Building stories: Cartoonist Chris Ware explores the architecture of being human: What the inner life of a brownstone reveals about empathy, gender, and the human condition, 2016 [online] Brainpickings. Available at: https://www.brainpickings. org/2012/11/05/building-stories-chris-ware/ [Accessed 6 August 2016]. Isaac Cates, ‘Comics and the grammar of diagrams,’ in The Comics of Chris Ware, eds. David Ball and Martha Kuhlman, (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010), 90. Benedict Brown, The comic architect: Words and pictures along the line between architecture and comics (M. Arch diss., University of Sheffield, 2007). Scott McCloud, Understanding comics (New York: Harper Perennial, 1992), 9. Anne Marit Lunde et al., Arkitekturstriper = Architecture in comic-strip form (Oslo: Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst, Arkitektur og Design, 2015), 9.
DISPU TED ARCHI TEC TURES MA Architectural History 2016 – The Bartlett School of Architecture – UCL