Architectural History MA 2018 - 2019 The Bartlett School of Architecture University College London
Symposium Organization Filippo Foschi Irma Delmonte Matthew Lloyd Roberts Editors Dean Black Imogen Newton Joe Thompson Matthew Lloyd Roberts Publication Design Claire Jansen Rodrigo Fernández Editorial Illustration Jade Bénéï Symposium Supervisors Freya Wigzell Peg Rawes Guest Speakers Orit Halpern Steven Walker Luke Jones Print Digital print Aldgate Press London E3 4UR Publishers The Bartlett School of Architecture University College London London, WC1H 0QB
CONTENTS 09 Architectural History MA Cohort List 12 Introduction: Marginalia - 16 Of Ghosts and Orphans Adi Bamberger 20 One-Man Band Angelica Manosalva 8
The Comic book Here and its Potential of Representing Aspects of Architecture Ayato Likhitwatanachai
The Map, The Mythology and The Home Beeza Habeeb
Three Single Men Claire Jansen
The Modern Broiler Chicken, The Female Farmhand and The Artificial Mother Dean Black
40 ‘Restoring’ Timescapes at The Villa Empain Deborah Eker 46 On the Political Genealogy of Arata Isozaki’s Tsukuba Center Building Duy Mac 48
Platform Architecture Filippo Foschi
Civic Participation and Art Activism in the Milanese District of Isola Francesca Saia
King’s Cross Fictions Georgios Bousious
60 Public Space Across Decolonisation Giacomo Martinis 64
Fractured ‘Victorian Splendour’ at Hammersmith Bridge Imogen Newton
Self-Building in Venice Irma Delmonte
72 Architecture and Design of Le Marais’ Queer Venues Jade Bénéï 76 Pasts Beyond Memory: Urbanity and John Outram’s Un-Built City Projects James Sims 80
Vernacular Processes: Design Codes for Convoys Wharf Joanne Preston
Addressing Everyday Ghosts of Empire Joe Thompson
88 Ruin, Reuse, Representation Lauren Teague 92 Experiencing, Describing and Criticising English Architecture Matthew Lloyd Roberts 96 Broadmoor Community Study: Towards Architecture, Art, Psychiatry... Coming to Narrative Miriam Stoney
Reframing Byker Phillipa Longson
The House of The Presidents Rodrigo Fernández
108 Precarity: Exploring Warehouse Spaces and Their Diurnal and Nocturnal Uses within the Urban Environmentnt Sophia Edwards 112
Deliveroo as part of a Digital Vernacular Sorcha McGarry Hunt
UnLiving House Te-Chen Lu
120 Building ‘Hyperreal’ Architecture Wasupon Poosanapanya 124
‘Stepping on Stray Sods’: Storying ‘Other Spaces’ Zoya Gul Hasan
2018 / 2019 Cohort
Adi Bamberger Angelica Manosalva Sandoval Ayato Likhitwatanachai Beeza Habeeb Claire Jansen Dean Black Deborah Eker Duy Mac Filippo Foschi Francesca Saia Georgios Bousios Giacomo Martinis Harry Foley Imogen Newton Irma Delmonte Jade Bénéï James Sims Jessica Gray Joanne Preston Joe Thompson Julie Nelson Lauren Teague Maria McLintock Matthew Lloyd Roberts Miriam Stoney Phillipa Longson Rodrigo Fernández Sophia Edwards Sorcha McGarry Hunt Te-Chen Lu Wasupon Poosanapanya Zoya Gul Hasan
Peg Rawes Academic Staff Aileen Reid Anne Hultzsch Barbara Penner Ben Campkin Colin Thom David Roberts Edward Denison Eva Branscome Freya Wigzell Iain Borden Jane Rendell Jonathan Hill Mario Carpo Murray Fraser Polly Gould Robin Wilson Sabina Andron Sarah Butler Stylianos Giamarelos Tania Sengupta Bartlett Staff Jakub Owczarek Laura Cherry Sari Easton Rosie Riordan Thea Heintz
Popularised by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1819, the term marginalia refers to the performative nature of writing and scribbling in the margins of books and manuscripts, an act of contestation and transformation that has been undertaken since antiquity. It defies the mono-directional nature of the page as a broadcast medium and sees a unique exchange, a discussion, a conversation emerge between author and reader. In this sense, the margin presents itself as a site of intersection and interaction, that restructures the conceptual and physical dynamics of the text itself. Such a dialectical process is one of mutability, and allows for and encourages constant rethinking and revision, pushing the printed page beyond the boundaries within which it was initially confined. Presenting itself as a product of the Bartlettâ€™s MA Architectural History programme, this publication compiles a series of excerpts and summaries of the research projects undertaken by this yearâ€™s cohort. These projects emerged from the diverse range of interests and ideas manifest within a group from such varied backgrounds, incubated through the conversations we have had throughout the year. As such these short pieces may mirror many of the concepts developed throughout the course, but, like marginalia itself, they seek to expand outside of the lines set out before us. Though in their publication, our words, once marginalia themselves, have now been synthesised and enclosed within the boundaries of the printed page. Yet this is not restrictive, but an opportunity to review and rethink, for the reader to produce their own marginalia, developing and moving forward this research so that the trajectory of architectural discovery is not halted. In accordance with this wide range of marginal subjects, the cohort has also been interested in developing a wide range of methodologies to apply to this complex and undervalued material. Various tools for recovering and reconstituting submerged subjectivities proliferate throughout the work. Some projects seek to recapture the narratives obscured by occidentalist systems of knowledge production by focussing on the subjects traditionally ignored
by a eurocentric architectural and historical hegemony. The anthropological lens is reclaimed, no longer a tool of condescension, but used to think seriously and critically about the assumptions that underpin our definitions of ‘architecture,’ ‘modernity’ and indeed ‘history.’ Others reclaim subjectivities that for too long have been viewed as being beyond the interest of academic writing, utilising post-humanist perspectives to think about the various normativites, from the anthropocentric to the technological that underpin so much of architectural production. Queer theory is similarly invoked as a tool to think through and think against the normative assumptions of the past and the future. Another ascendant thread of recent historiography that finds voice in these studies is the foregrounding of actual experience in accounts of architectural history, an interest in how historical subjects understood and experienced their built environment differently. This collection of approaches have produced projects that contest and question the historical record, from the margin to the centre. So accept our invitation, read between the lines and beyond them, feel free to scribble any errant thoughts that come to mind in the margins as you go. We hope this humble text might serve as a trigger for new, unconventional and innovative ways of thinking about architectural history.
OF GHOSTS AND ORPHANS Traces of Local Architects in the New City of Jerusalem in Early Modern Era & The Challenges of Architectural Historiography on the Fringe of the Empire
“The Italian Archaeologist Ermete Pierotti, a poet, a historian, an architect and an orphan, wrote in his book ‘Ancient Tombs in North Jerusalem’ that one night, in February 1865, arrived an eastern wind from the desert and covered Jerusalem in a light mixture of salt and sand. Panic spread. Both the city elders and its dead did not remember such an awkward storm.”1
In these short lines, the prominent Israeli author Meir Shalev captures a few essential pieces of the history of Jerusalem in the late-nineteenth century. He conjures up foreign gazes, professions before their modern specialisation, architectures, histories and stories all blended together; orphans, ghosts, and oriental storms that occasionally envelop the city and bury stories that even the city elders no longer know how to tell. This study attempts to touch on and expand these Jerusalem experiences, particularly the hidden histories that so many storms have left behind. It wishes to highlight the difficulty of conducting architectural research in early-modern Jerusalem, a setting in which such storms have left gaps in the historical record, scattering archives and concealed evidence. During this period, the city expanded beyond its historical walls and ‘the architectural image of the city of Jerusalem changed significantly in term of its size, style and content’.2 Nonetheless, this period is under-represented in architectural historiography. One particular gap – the practice of local architects in Jerusalem – is examined in detail and portrayed through two characterisations: ghosts and orphans. Orphans are the existing buildings that serve as a living testimony of the city’s architectural development yet are historiographically detached from their genealogy. Ghosts are
individuals that are assumed to have practiced architecture in Jerusalem during this period, yet their existence is illusory and appears only in traces. The study wishes to explore why local architects disappeared from the historiography of early-modern Jerusalem and what are the reasons for this historical gap? By focussing on the gap of obscure local architects and their outputs, this study is very much situated in the postcolonial context. Unlike other similar attempts, this study examines these hidden histories from an architectural perspective. A critique of the existing narratives and their relation to evidence, archives and authorities is drawn from the poststructural philosophy of Derrida, in particular his 1995 book Archive Fever. Derrida’s text also employs a ghostly metaphor, used in this study to describe the condition of Jerusalem’s local architects and to question the role of imagination in the narration of Jerusalem’s history. The study’s methodologies range between a ‘pragmatic stance to try to perceive phenomena’ and ‘an abstract pleasure of theoretical experimentation’.3 They include a narration of the fragments which were found during a literature review, archival research, site visits, interviews and correspondences with scholars and archivists. The paper opens with the chapter ‘Orphans’, portraying five orphan buildings through the lens of their historical literature, while also defining the term ‘Orphan’ in relation to Jerusalem’s architectural historiography. The chapter ‘Libraries’ attempts to observe how the historical literature of Jerusalem produced the orphan condition. An examination of existing narratives and their respective evidence is supported by an in-depth literature review, followed by a discussion of the relationship between orphans and the local architects that created them. In the chapter ‘Archives’, the challenges of tracing local architects in archives are presented as characteristic of Jerusalem. These challenges, including the barriers of fragmentation, access and language, are explored and augmented with comparative examples from Jerusalem’s literary, artistic and other postcolonial disciplines. The crucial role of these challenges in the story of local architects is analysed through the lens of Derrida’s philosophy regarding the archival production of knowledge. The last chapter, ‘Ghosts’, discusses the implications of the partial evidence of local architects and the
contribution of subjectivity to the historical narration. It proposes correlations between the ghostly condition of local architects, the archival condition of Jerusalem, and its historical role as a source for yearning. The study suggests that local architects were overlooked due to a range of circumstances which include orientalist perceptions, lack or disappearance of evidence, and inaccessibly or unreadability of documents. It indicates that the concepts of local and architects are not absolute, and their multiple definitions also took part in obscuring the practice of local architects. It emphasizes the role of the archival condition, institutional crystallisation and the political map, both historically and contemporarily, in preserving the existing narratives. Therefore, it recommends institutional collaborations, critical attitudes and methods which acknowledge the subjectivity of the architectural historian in future attempts to follow the path of Jerusalem’s local architects. It claims that future research is needed in order to expand the knowledge about this phase in the architectural history of Jerusalem, and to slightly dissolve the ‘light mixture of salt and sand’ to make way for a renewed remembrance of the forgotten stories.4 21
Meir Shalev, Esau (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1991), 387. Free translation from Hebrew. Adina Meir-Meril, ‘The architecture in Jerusalem’, in: I. Bartal and H. Goren (eds), Jerusalem book: in the late Ottoman period 1800-1917 (Jerusalem: Yad Itzhak Ben-Zvi, 2010), 181. Free translation from Hebrew. Vincent Lemire, Jerusalem 1900, trans. Cathrine Tihanyi and Lys Ann Weiss (London and Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017), 6. Shalev, Esau, 387.
ONE-MAN BAND Clough Williams-Ellis’ architectural ensemble at Portmeirion
Portmeirion is a holiday resort situated in northern Wales, created and developed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis (1883–1978) between 1925 and 1976. It presents itself as a site defined by three different narratives, that are alien to broader discussions around architecture and architectural history. It is either a ‘Home for Fallen Buildings’, a ‘touristic destination and beautiful pocket of madness’, or merely the filming location of The Prisoner, a British television series developed within the context of the Cold War and the subsequent boom of the spy genre in the 1960s. Its popularity provided Portmeirion with increased visibility and attention from the public eye. The village’s enigmatic and uncertain geographical identity is re-iterated by the myriad building styles that it presents. All painted in soft pastel colours, these architectural styles range from Artsand-Crafts to Nordic Classicism. As such, many fictional narrations focus on Portmeirion’s physical description, highlighting its eccentricity, remote yet beautiful location, and how its creator – a would-be savior and protector of the countryside – was equally bizarre. That said, its position within British architectural history is quite the contrary. The gaiety of Portmeirion is usually misunderstood as being ‘an extravagant caprice’. Thus, this thesis challenges and examines the relationship between these rival narratives and the historical contexts from which they have emerged. It not only attends to the changing politics and landscapes of the twentieth-century throughout which Portmeirion was developed, but to the specificity of Williams-Ellis’s ideas and projects. Ultimately it demonstrates that as ‘fantastic as the complete fabric is, [Portmeirion] is based very soundly on realities.’1 The outrageous artificiality and individuality of Portmeirion has meant that those within the architectural profession have struggled to take it seriously. The study of this place, then, may seem an ambitious
and arguably absurd project, however, simultaneously presenting itself as architectural and environmental propaganda, Portmeirion’s lessons are ever more pertinent. Indeed, as Williams-Ellis has mentioned numerous times, the design of this village has been driven by a number of serious concerns:
‘I wanted to show that one could develop even a beautiful site without defiling it and indeed, given sufficient sympathy and skill, one might even enhance what nature had provided as your background. Second, I was saddened at finding so many people missing the intense interest and enjoyment to be gained from an appreciation of architecture, landscape, design, the use of colour and perspectives, and indeed of the environmental art generally (…), so I sought to provide an easy, gay, sort of ‘light-opera’ approach to these seeming mysteries, that would not frighten them off but entice them into interest, criticism and finally enjoyment. Finally, having seen so many potentially hopeful projects fail to fulfil their promoter’s hopes and promises through architectural and planning ineptitude – I hoped to suggest that architectural good manners can mean good business.’2 Thus, this thesis argues that Portmeirion disrupts opposing conceptions between humanity and nature, presenting itself as a physical demonstration of their harmonious coexistence. Moreover, it suggests that architecture should be understood as a collaborative practice that, as Christopher Hussey has mentioned, ought to ‘give pleasure to others; vivid pleasure, playful pleasure, romantic pleasure, and comfort.’3 Through a narrative-based mode of ‘creative-writing’, this paper depicts a journey to Portmeirion and reiterates the village’s strong association with fictional tales. A methodological approach that primarily challenges its long-standing disregard within British architectural history. Throughout this journey, several parallels are drawn between Portmeirion’s growth and other British seaside resorts from Thorpeness in Suffolk, to Butlin’s Clacton in Clacton-on-Sea, as well as current static caravan holiday parks dotted across Wales. These creative, experiential, critical and self-reflexive perspectives are thereby mediated by
the alternative reading of Portmeirion that this paper presents. Its eccentric and individualistic character is therefore challenged and replaced with a new interpretation in which the village figures as an exemplar reaction against what was regarded as an unsympathetic, rural leisure development in earlytwentieth-century Britain.4 As a result, this thesis is constructed according to that of a physical and metaphorical journey. It not only reflects upon the way in which both author and reader travel across Britain in order to visit and truly experience this humble village, but its journey through time as well. Indeed, the Portmeirion we encounter at the beginning of our journey – a Disneybefore-Disney holiday resort and home of The Prisoner – is left behind, and what now stands before us is a coastal ‘architectural collection’ that is worthy of further study and investigation.
Christopher Hussey, “Large Ideas for Small Estates. Portmeirian Merioneth,” Country Life, April 5, 1930, 502. 2. Clough Williams-Ellis, Around the World in Ninety Years (Portmeirion: Golden Dragon Books, 1978), 96. 3. Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion: The Place and Its Meaning, 1st edition (London: Faber and Faber, 1963), 37; John Cornforth, “Portmeirion Revisited (1),” Country Life, September 16, 1976, RIBA, 729. 4. Jane Rendell, “Introduction. Architecture-Writing,” in Critical Architecture, ed. Jane Rendell et al., Critiques, v. 1 (London; New York: Routledge, 2007), 88.
THE COMIC BOOK HERE AND ITS POTENTIAL OF REPRESENTING ASPECTS OF ARCHITECTURE Reading Notions of Architecture and Homes Through the Logic of Frames
Comics are a form of narrative that consist of juxtaposed images composed in sequence within the space of the page to narrate stories. This mode of pictorial narration is a medium for communication that can be traced back to ancient Egyptian paintings. Since the late-twentieth century, this method of graphic narrative has been used by architects to communicate their design projects, as in the works of Archigram, Norman Foster, Bjarke Ingels and many others. Its qualities to present architecture in relation to time is compatible with a growing tendency to understand architecture as a process, changing and interacting with users and time. At present, comics has become a form of representation increasingly utilised in the architectural profession, not only to demonstrate design ideas but also as a means of experimenting with the possibility of creating fictional narratives situated in built environments.1 Nevertheless, comics or the â€˜ninth artâ€™ has often been regarded as an outsider compared to other art forms. Studies of relationships between comics and architecture have only become the subject of scholarly interest in the recent decades of the twenty-first century.2 This dissertation investigates the comic book Here by American cartoonist Richard McGuire, published in 2014, and questions its potential to be read and used as a mode of architectural representation capable of presenting aspects of time, spatial occupation, social relations and ideologies of the home and architecture. The book narrates stories that happen in the space of a room in a house, projecting everyday life and the events of many generations of inhabitants. In each doublepage spread, the book depicts the space from the same viewpoint, but different in the time period they represent. Instead of exhibiting specific design concepts, the book portrays ideas of the home that are inherent to ordinary domestic space.
Based on comics theory, this research examines the comics frame as a fundamental structural element in the system of comics. The frame is scrutinised into three spatio-topical parameters: ‘form’, ‘area’ and ‘site’.3 These three parameters help to analyse the uses of frames relating to architectural aspects. Juxtaposing different frames within the page throughout the comic, it shows bodies in relation to the space of the room, and demonstrates aspects of scale, spatial occupation and everyday life reproduced in the interior. In terms of the site, the author does not place panels in the layout of strips or grids in the same manner as general comics, but superimposes them within the page at the location following the content inside the panel. This technique creates the condition called ‘panels-withinpanels’. Networks of interconnections between frames within and across pages, termed as ‘general arthrology’, enable the comic to be read not as an individual image, but a series of interrelated images threaded by iconic and semantic correspondences.4 The comic demonstrates its ability to represent architectural space through spatiotemporal aspects that differ from traditional architectural drawings and other mediums such as paintings and films. The logic of panels-within-panels is then used to analyse the book as a representation of different notions of ‘home’. Writings in sociology, art and media studies, as well as past and contemporary architectural projects are examined alongside the comic, to read the ways different types of frames can affect or represent notions of homes. The first concept derives from observing frames that furnish the room such as the window, mirrors and paintings. The manner with which McGuire presents these objects enables them to represent the idea of the interior as a private individual world, separated from the exterior surroundings, an idea which, according to Walter Benjamin, emerged in the nineteenth century.5 The second notion considers home as a place for socialising and assembling, a concept that can be traced back to the pre-modern house, as suggested by Evans.6 Comics’ frames within the page are interpreted as a device connecting different space-times within the house in the same manner as doors; thus, representing the room as a space that, by the appropriate space-time, provides the conditions for incidental meetings and intimate physical relationships between inhabitants. The last notion interprets comics’ frames as windows that open up towards distant, virtual space, analogous to
the screens of digital technologies. The technique of panels-within-panels is compatible with the logic of ‘spatial montage’ of computer screens.7 Notions of interior-exterior, private-public, as well as modes of social relations, have been disrupted by digital media, blending the limits between physical and virtual in contemporary society.8 Investigating the comic through the logic of frames demonstrates its potential for presenting architecture more dynamically, interacting with humans and time. Moreover, with its narrative form, Here represents notions of home and architecture that have been affected by different kinds of frames, both physical and virtual. The comic, as a mode of representation, demonstrates ideologies and perceptions of humans towards architecture and the world.
3. 4. 5.
Iker Gil, Koldo Lus Arana, and Klaus, eds., MAS Context Issue 20 | Narrative Winter 13, 2013, 18–31. For studies in relationships between comics and architecture, see: Mélanie van der Hoorn, Bricks & Balloons : Architecture in ComicStrip Form (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2012); Luis Miguel Lus Arana, ‘Architecture Between the Panels: Comics, Cartoons and Graphic Narrative in the (New) Neo Avant-Garde,’ Architectural Design 89, no. 4 (2019): 108–13, https://doi.org/10.1002/ad.2464; Catherine Labio, “The Architecture of Comics,” Critical Inquiry 41, no. 2 (2015): 312–43, https://doi.org/10.1086/679078. Thierry Groensteen, The System of Comics, trans. Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen (University Press of Mississippi, 2007), 27–29. Ibid, 144–58. Walter Benjamin, ‘Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century,’ in Seclected Writings Volume 3 1935-1938, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael William Jennings (Cambridge, Mass. ; London: Belknap Press, 1996), 32–49; Charles Rice, The Emergence of the Interior : Architecture, Modernity, Domesticity (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007), 19–29 Robin Evans, ‘Figures, Doors and Passages,’ in Translations from Drawing to Building and Other Essays (London: Architectural Association Press, 1997), 55–92. Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2001), 322. Georges Teyssot, ‘Windows and Screens,’ in A Topology of Everyday Constellations (Cambridge, Mass. ; London: The MIT Press, 2013), 251–284.
THE MAP, THE MYTHOLOGY AND THE HOME Notions of belonging in Kurdish national identity
In the eighty years since the end of the First World War, which saw the break-up of the Middle East and the creation of what is now known as Kurdistan, there has not been an extensive period of time in which the area has not been the scene of armed struggle. The Kurds are the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, and the largest stateless ethnic group in the world, with an estimated population of thirty million.1 This study explores Kurdish identity as legible through its imaginative spatial mythologies and traditional rural vernacular architecture. The question of national identity is examined as the Kurds are a community spatially located in a territory, but ideologically scattered in terms of political delineation.
Historically, Western perception of the region has played a key role in deciding its fate. As O’Shea puts it, ‘Kurdistan is a microcosm of a peripheral zone, within a global peripheral zone,’ referring to its marginal status within the Middle East.2 Maps made by Kurds place themselves at the very core and visible centre of the region they occupy, satisfying the Kurdish ethnocentric view, as opposed to their usual placement at the periphery. By defining Kurdistan not only with the drawing of borders, but in terms of the connection to the landscape, the Kurds present a holistic view of their national identity against the land which they claim. Despite the fact that Kurdistan is not a de facto state, the use of the map in fact utilises an orthodox language deployed by states to establish sovereign territorial imaginations and identity. The physical nature of the terrain is used as a physical boundary, protecting the Kurds, who are long used to this inhospitable environment. Thomas
Sigler defines this dubious nature of a border, ‘the territorial palimpsest’, as the physical landscape operates as a natural border.3 This boundary transcends the standard definition of a border as a line of zero width, as it shows that a border can exist as a transitional frontier. The Mythology
Upon an unstable territory broken by international borders, the Kurds have built a great sense of national identity that is at odds with the lack of a coherent geographical expression. Collective memory, folklore and literature contribute to the national narrative. In particular, such shared consciousness that feeds into the notion of a ‘Kurdish homeland’ draws profoundly on imaginative geographies and material qualities of landscapes. The image of the mountain is compelling for Kurds in the region and the diaspora, even if they have only ever known an urban life, suggesting perhaps that nations are in fact constructed in the imagination before they are built on the ground. Despite an absence of integrity as a ‘real’ political territory, this makes up the type of ‘imagined community’ that Benedict Anderson proposes as the basis of the nation.4 This sense of nation is limited, not by the geographical boundaries of the Kurdish regions, but by their stories and shared myths – a horizontal form of camaraderie which has created a longing for a nation-state to solidify this unity. The Home The concept of visualising the shared or collective memory provides the basis of architecture as a key strategy for a people attempting to build a nation. As recently as 1992, it was recorded that at least half the population were occupying rural areas and were engaged in agriculture.5 Many tribes were traditionally semi-nomadic, as they wintered in their villages, practicing agriculture and animal husbandry, and during the summer months took their flocks to summer pastures. These patterns of movement relate to the physical and climatic features of the local area. The vernacular architecture seen in villages and rural areas, is the ultimate and purest form of cultural expression of the Kurds, as it has remained unchanged for thousands of years and
remains relatively unscathed by the changing political situation of the region. Such architectures display the agile value systems, cultural heritage, and deep knowledge of the environment that is unique to the Kurds – cultural wisdom that is only a thing of memory for the majority of Kurds today. As a native Kurd and part of the diaspora, I have observed that in the minds of Kurds living outside the region, this absence is only a means to an end – that end being to eventually return ‘home’. This is striking notion for a people whose home has been defined by outside forces for the majority of its history. Through using cultural artefacts in their construction of a national identity, the ultimate end goal is the political entity of a nation itself. It is unclear at this stage whether this fantasy will ever become a reality, but the complex and unique predicament of the Kurds warrants a great deal of further analysis.
The Kurdish Project. “Kurdish Diaspora” [online]. Accessed August 21, 2019. https://thekurdishproject.org/kurdistan-map/kurdish-diaspora/ 2. Maria T. O’Shea, Trapped between the map and reality: geography and perceptions of Kurdistan, (New York, Routledge, 2004), 162. 3. T.J. Singler, “Panama as palimpsest: the reformulation of the ‘transit corridor’ in a global economy,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38, 3 (2014): 886. 4. Benedict Anderson, Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism,(London, Verson, 1983), 6. 5. Maria T. O’Shea, Trapped between the map and reality: geography and perceptions of Kurdistan, (New York, Routledge, 2004), 45.
THREE SINGLE MEN The modernist J.W. Schaffer Residence as an intergenerational Queer Space
Centring around the 1962 novel, A Single Man, by British writer Christopher Isherwood, this dissertation explores Tom Ford’s 2009 filmic adaptation, and analyses the display of John Lautner’s 1949 Schaffer Residence, as an intergenerational Queer Space, based on the ‘space’ theory developed by J. Matthew Cottrill. Cottrill argues in his essay ‘Queering Architecture: Possibilities of Space(s)’ that queerness is not existent in the broader field of dominant architectural history and, hence, he sees the necessity in criticising the established heteronormative system and providing a new way of understanding contemporary architecture and communities.1 Defining his method as Queer Space, Cottrill argues that it is difficult to find a definition, but he sees it as ‘spaces that critique the divisions of sexuality, gender, class and race through political, cultural, social, real, ephemeral, geographic and historical contexts.’2 Cottrill supports his theory with Foucault’s idea of Heterotopias, which are a kind of ‘place that lies outside all […] yet is actually localisable.’3 It can change its use over time, with the possibility of disappearance, division, and progression. At the same time, Heterotopias are time-bound, regardless of the changes they might sustain. In conclusion, Cottrill defines a Heterotopia as a Queer Space of ‘possible lives,’ which would unfold the communication and interaction of Heterotopias among each other.4 Additionally, they must be permanent, visible, allow fluidity and a possible life, and development for identities. Those relevant requirements offer Heterotopias a unique characteristic – a proposition of three different layers of visibility: opaqueness, translucency, and transparency. The transparent layer depicts evident, sometimes even stereotypical features of a Queer Space.5 In contrast, the translucent level, which is situated close to
the heart of the Heterotopia, represents the first reality layer, notably of the culture of each space.6 Lastly, the opaque layer is situated at the core of each Queer Space, being depicted as the most private realm.7 To apply J. Matthew Cottrill’s Queer Space theory to the movie, A Single Man, it makes sense to take a further look at Lautner’s Schaffer Residence, the primary filming location. Tom Ford tried to adopt Isherwood’s emphasis on architecture; however, some changes occurred throughout the process and the main character’s residence turned out to be the opposite regarding architectural style, size, and location. Nonetheless, with choosing an architectural masterpiece such as the Schaffer Residence, Ford heightened the awareness toward the importance of the private residence, depicting it as a protected isle. The property itself is situated in a low-density, single-family, residential neighbourhood. Surrounded by mature oak-trees, the v-form floor plan is adapted to the existing landscape, reflecting it in its materiality, colour and shape. The complex is set back from the main street, thoroughly screened by a carport and fence of horizontal redwood planks. Public and private areas are distinguished by a variation of ceiling heights and the use of enclosure. The zoning of public visibility on the street side and private realm behind the fence is allocable with the developed floor plan. With the carport at the front, the house adapts to the importance of vehicles for the American Dream. The private rooms are situated behind the fences, opening up in an area protected from the public gaze. The particular scheme of redwood boards continues throughout the façade, partly leaving space for glass stripes or entire glass walls, which open to the most private areas. From the outside, the house depicts a ‘normal’, albeit quite extravagant, single-family dwelling, fitting into the heteronormative neighbourhood atmosphere typical of 1960s American suburbia. However, the cohesive complex offers freedom and ease, especially relevant for a queer couple in then-contemporary times. The Schaffer Residence works as a closet, providing shelter and a free area of movement and inhabitation without concerns for societal norms. Cottrill’s theory of layering Queer Space can be adapted to three different residential areas: property, façade, and floor plan.Characterisable as the transparent layer are the street in front of the house, the enclosed
street façade, and the garage and kitchen. All three elements offer protection for the inhabitants and, at the same time, a barrier for non-members of the Heterotopia. However, ‘guests’ can be hosted in this specific layer with the intention of not offering a more in-depth insight.8 The translucent layer allows presence, within the consideration of specific rules set by the opaque level. Hence, locations of increasing privacy, including the private lot, the continuously growing transparency of the façade and the living and dining area, characterise this specific level. Regarding the third layer, the opaque level is situated inside the residence itself. The house is the most private and, thus, the essential piece inside this particular Heterotopia. Additionally, the glass façade, covering the western side of the house lies on the same level, as well as the bedroom itself. All three examples display the most private areas of the Queer Space, guarding the freedom and individuality of its inhabitants, offering them a possibility of free thought, movement, life, and intimacy. Cottrill’s theory enabled this dissertation to argue why Tom Ford could have chosen J. W. Schaffer Residence as a primary filming location and shows that Lautner’s masterpiece can be seen as a Queer Space. It is important to mention the intergenerational exchange, which emerged from the research process. Tom Ford, a famous fashion-designer-turned-director, and representative of the 1980s queer era, visually adapts a 1960s queer novel in a 1940s, seemingly heteronormative, dwelling, deftly adjusting the story and its circumstances to his contemporary era.
J. Matthew Cottrill, Queering Architecture: Possibilities of Space(s), (Essay, Miami University, 2006). 2. Ibid, 359. 3. Michel Foucault, ‘Or Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias,’ in Rethinking Architecture: a Reader in Cultural Theory, ed. Neil Leach (London, UK: Routledge, 2001), 350-356. 4. Cottrill, Queering Architecture, 364. 5. i.e. advertising, media representation 6. i.e. cultural customs, political groups, establishments in the commercial business 7. i.e. intimate relationships 8. Additionally, the transparent layer depicts a pretence of heteronormative standards in the American society of the 1960s.
Follow the chicken and find the world. Donna J. Haraway, When Species Meet.1
THE MODERN BROILER CHICKEN, THE FEMALE FARMHAND AND THE ARTIFICIAL MOTHER Architectures of gender-species intersectionality in Ulster, Northern Ireland. (1890-present)
At present, the modern broiler chicken outnumbers all other domesticated species on planet earth, including that of humankind. With 23 billion alive at any one time, the humble fowl now presents itself as humanities contemporary companion species. Banished from the domestic realms of our homes and cities however, today the chicken walks on eggshells between the agricultural and industrial lines of the modern poultry house, that fulfils our insatiable appetite for the birdâ€™s fleshy breasts and thighs. Its bones equally presenting themselves as geological markers that have come to define our time within the Anthropocene.2 Indeed, the rise of our avian companion and the modern poultry industry has significantly restructured agricultural landscapes, foodways and the body of the chicken itself. In advent of Brexit and a myriad of ecological crises however, its proliferation as a standardised commodity and future within the United Kingdom has been made uncertain. Addressing such concerns, this dissertation aims to construct an architectural history of the modern poultry industry in Ulster, Northern Ireland, whose chicken bodies now supply 30% of the British market.3 Going beyond our beloved chicken shops and supermarkets, this paper traces its development through the spatial realms of the Northern Irish farmstead and argues that the rise of this agri-industrial enterprise has been inherently linked to a series of non-standard actors and histories. Histories imbued with notions of women, Northern Ireland and the chicken itself as entities that are often made other. Thus, this research equally attends to the construction of female-avian subjectivities and their subsequent gender-species intersectionality. Their multifaceted identities defying any form of a fixed, unidirectional narrative that the industry presents. In doing so, this research engages with the work of feminist
and posthumanist philosopher Donna J. Haraway. Employing her theories of companion species, contact zones and processes of becoming with, in order to shed light on the industries historical development and structural framework. “If we appreciate the foolishness of human exceptionalism” Haraway explains, “then we know that becoming is always becoming with, in a contact-zone where who is in the world is at stake.”4 In this case, no subject is to be considered an autonomous entity, but one constructed through the “sheer joy of that coming together of different bodies in co-shaping motion”.5 An ever-shifting landscape, that when considered in the context of the modern poultry industry, sees a dance of encounters between women, chickens and architectural technologies that serve as forces in the construction of subjectivity, identity and gender-species relationality.Consequently, this paper equally challenges the anthropocentric nature of architectural history and conventional understandings of architecture as building. Employing a vast assemblage of apparatus, legislation and socio-spatial practices as architectural technologies that see this paper operate at the intersectional boundaries between species, disciplinary fields and institutional bodies. How then have female-avian subjectivities been constructed at the scale of the farmstead, through the historical development of the Northern Irish poultry industry? And to what degree has its architectural assemblages both constituted and disrupted their gender-species intersectionality? Moreover, how might the presentation of these non-standard histories reconceptualise the future of the industry and relations between humans, animals and architecture/technology at large? In the first instance this paper investigates the intersection between Northern Ireland and our female-avian subjectivities, through their primary site of exchange; the egg. For it is through this organic space imbued with sticky matter, that our respective actors are scrambled together in a myriad of material, cultural and ideological assemblages. As the feminised conceptual and material space through which they are rendered other. Thereafter, these processes of othering are investigated according to three key historical periods in the poultry industry’s development. Beginning in late-nineteenth Century Ireland, its first chapter; ‘The Home’, explores the spatial realms of the home and fowl house, where the chicken and egg performed as domestic technologies. Having been displaced and
marginalised by the farmyards masculine disposition, here, the chicken and female farmhand were bound to conceptions of ‘housework’ and the home’s periphery. Their shared positionalities giving rise to their multispecies partnership. In turn, this chapter suggests that through various contact zones, embodied knowledges and processes of becoming with, our female-avian actors were able to re-negotiate their marginalised positionalities. One that saw the chicken gain legal animal status and reproduced the farmwife as a substantial breadwinner. Perhaps victims of their own success, its second instalment; ‘The Artificial Mother’, attends to the diverging trajectories of our female-avian subjectivities and processes of becoming with technology. Alongside British influence and the creation of Northern Ireland, here, the mechanised incubator and refrigerator are reconceptualised as thermally dynamic technologies that reformed their gender-species intersectionality. Their proliferation simultaneously absorbing the chicken within industrialised forms of production, restructuring the farmwife’s domestic duties and introducing our various actors to a vast assemblage of factories, supermarkets and global foodways. Resituating these discussions within 21st century Northern Ireland; ‘Blacksmyth Poultry’, draws upon my own experiences within the industry, and discusses the tensive relations between farmwife, chicken and architectural technologies today. Indeed, the human-animal-machine generates a complex discourse between woman becoming with chicken and vice-versa. Their bodies simultaneously operating at a localised and transnational scale. With every breast and thigh that flows into supermarkets across the globe however, we too become with chicken.
Donna J. Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), 271. “The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare chicken as dawn of humaninfluenced age,” Science, The Guardian, accessed June 24, 2019, https:// www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/29/declare-anthropoceneepoch-experts-urge-geological-congress-human-impact-earth. “Developing an agricultural policy for Northern Ireland,” Parliament.UK, accessed July 28, 2019, https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/ cmselect/cmniaf/939/93909.htm. Haraway, When Species Meet, 244. Ibid.
‘RESTORING’ TIMESCAPES AT THE VILLA EMPAIN Brussels, 1930 – 2019
At the Villa Empain, an Art Deco house designed by Michel Polak1, and built between 1930 and 1934 in a leafy suburb of Brussels, the question of time is a conundrum. Recently returned to its original 1930s condition, with all materials polished and cleaned, removing all traces of ruination, the impression is slightly surreal: old and new merge in the pristine interior. The visitor may ask: what time is this place? The 1930s time is spatialised and materialised at the villa through a series of restoration works conducted by specialists, both local and international, using contemporary as well as original working techniques thereby juxtaposing temporalities. The restored materiality of the house, austere and luxurious in equal measure, comprises of exotic woods, iron, glass, onyx, Escallette and Bois Jourdan marble, Baveno Granite, and required a variety of timescales to achieve its effects: micro–and macro– as well as human and geological scales. Yet for some visitors the villa might seem to encapsulate the idea expressed by Fredric Jameson of a perpetual present which does not make reference to the past. Everything looks brand new! The multilayered ‘timescapes’ of the Villa Empain, a term defined by the sociologist Barbara Adam as a series of experiences or views, perspectives on time, the suffix scape referring in geography to scenery, are here multiple: heterochronic, anachronic, linear and nonlinear, visible and invisible, lost and hidden. This study explores these multi-layered timescapes and the intersection between Art Deco and Belgian colonialism, production processes and social inequality. How have the afterlives of the Villa Empain been redefined following the restoration? Has a new temporality been constructed at the Villa? The ruinous materiality of the 1990s and early 2000s has been erased, out of frame, but archival evidence in the form of photographs, remains, which allows one to establish a
relation between the temporalities, materialities and spatialities of then and now. How has the restored materiality redefined the visitor’s perception of the house and its location both in the present time and in past time? Francis Metzger, the Belgian architect in charge of the restoration, describes working like a detective or archaeologist to establish the original materiality of villa: its textures, colour scheme and spaces partially destroyed by its various occupancies. A timescape perspective will offer a way to explore the context of the villa. As Barbara Adam explains: ‘where other scapes such as landscapes, cityscapes and seascapes mark the spatial features of past and present activities and interactions of organisms and matter, timescapes emphasise their rythmicities, their timings and tempos, their changes and contingencies. A timescape perspective stresses the temporal features of living. Through timescapes, contextual practices become tangible.’2 Intertextuality and geocriticism’s methodology of reading a place through literature will also offer other ways to explore the multiple timescapes as conceived, perceived, and lived by the architect, restorers, and visitors. In chapter one, the study discusses the commission: the architect Michel Polak and the client Louis Empain, situating the villa in terms of its position in architectural history—or more specifically to Art Deco and Classicism. The following three chapters explore its multi-layered temporalities and materialities through the themes of ‘restoring’ architectural timescapes, ‘lost’ timescapes and finally revealing some of the villa’s ‘hidden’ timescapes as illustrated through Katherina Kastner’s evocative documentary film titled The Villa Empain3, of 2019, creating a new and supplementary, ‘after-life’ and archive. Architectural history tends to focus on the object ‘as found’, eclipsing the timescapes, history and narratives of the production, transport and assembly processes of the materials required to construct it. Each material carries narratives and a whole series of traces and networks of interactions between a whole variety of actants, both human and non-human. The timescapes and narratives of the luxurious and exotic materials at the Villa Empain intersect with Belgian colonialism and postcolonialism, capitalism and human rights. As this study suggests, the architectural historian’s tasks could also include documenting these traces of the social relations of production. In doing so, they can produce an alternative history of an object, thereby revealing a whole series of technological, transport and production
conditions: micro-narratives whose paper trail could easily be erased or hard to collect, yet are to be found lying in the hard-drives of the offices of the specialist teams involved in restoration projects. Working like an alternative detective, the architectural historian in this thesis, attempts to retrace those ‘lost’ narratives and the work of the specialists involved in a project.
Michel Polak (19851948) was a Swiss architect, who worked in Montreux and Brussels, 2. Barbara Adam, Timescapes of Modernity, the Environment and Invisible Hazards (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), 11. ‘Timescapes are thus be the embodiment of practised approaches to time’. 3. The Villa Empain, a documentary, produced by Katherina Kastner in 2019, previewed at the Marseilles Film Festival between 9th and 15th July 2019.
ON THE POLITICAL GENEALOGY OF ARATA ISOZAKI’S TSUKUBA CENTER BUILDING A Cosmopolitan Argument
‘The Tsukuba Center’s central plaza is sunken. […] In addition, it implies [a] political metaphor: by eliminating the element that should hint its presence, I created a void at the heart of the place that should have been a stage for the Japanese nation. Whereas during the 1970s I had appeared all the more political by refraining from political discussions, at this point I found myself in a position where connections with politics were forced upon me.’ Arata Isozaki1
This dissertation unpacks the political complexities that underpin Arata Isozaki’s Tsukuba Center Building (1979-1983). While the building was initially commissioned to represent the nation-state of Japan as part of the new town project in Tsukuba, it has been vaunted as an epitome of what is referred to as ‘postmodern’ architecture due to its numerous quotations of Western architecture – most notably an almost identical copy of Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio. The paper starts with the premise that the postmodern designation constitutes an inadequate framework for explaining the Tsukuba Center Building. From there the key argument is developed in a two-tiered manner. First, by drawing on the political philosophy of Jürgen Habermas, the ‘postmodern’ design of the Tsukuba Center Building is reformulated into a cosmopolitan argument.2 This is achieved by making visible the political constructions that underpin the building in which the nationstate becomes representable through foreign references. Furthermore, based on the work of historians Najita and Harootunian it will be argued that the notion of Japanese modernity conceptually entails cosmopolitan
elements which Isozaki explicitly draws on in the design of the Tsukuba Center Building.3 Second, within the liberal model underlying Japan’s transformation from an imperial power to a liberal democracy, the cosmopolitan argument of the Tsukuba Center Building constitutes a critical response to the recurring nationalism in post-war Japan, perhaps most evidently exemplified by Kenzō Tange’s Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (1949-1955). More specifically, a juxtaposition with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park reveals the Tsukuba Center Building as a political genealogy within the framework of liberal political thought in post-war Japan. Contrary to the observation that the resurgence of international modernism reflected the ‘[...] emergence of the universal ideals of humanity and democracy in postwar Japan [and the] efforts of Japanese architects to break with the nation’s imperial past and to re-enter the international architectural community’ the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, albeit skillfully subtle, was a nearly congruent adaptation of the Greater East Asia Memorial Building – one of the key buildings representing the nation-state of Japan and its expansionist policies in Southeast Asia.4 This suggests that Tange’s Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park can be regarded within the tradition of liberal nationalism, i.e. the attempt to combine liberal values while maintaining distinctly nationalist commitments, whereas Isozaki’s cosmopolitanism rarely relies on motifs of traditional Japanese architecture. Applying a grammatical analysis as developed by French pragmatist sociology, most notably in the work of Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot whose notion of ‘political grammar’ exposes the underlying polities of the Tsukuba Center Building and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.5 Their work is embedded in the pragmatics of justification as a social practice under which moral and political structures in the social world are sustained.6 While this paper is primarily concerned with the intellectual history of political thought of post-war Japan, it is particularly interested as to how liberal values unfolded in post-war Japan as part of its complex transformation from an imperialist colonial force to a liberal democracy. By drawing on the framework of liberal political thought in conjunction with the notion of ‘political grammar’ developed by French pragmatist sociology, Isozaki’s model of a cosmopolitan polity of the Tsukuba Center Building is identified as a political genealogy, i.e. a critical response to Tange’s liberal nationalist polity underlying the Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Park. This makes visible how the ‘political grammar’ of both buildings implicate two opposing variants of liberal theory, that is the principles of cosmopolitanism and liberal nationalism. The liberal model of post-war Japan, broadly understood in terms of liberal political thought, provides a useful lens through which the notion of postmodernism with regards to the architecture of Isozaki can be decomposed. Drawing on the Habermasian critique, this paper sought to reconceptualise Isozaki’s Tsukuba Center Building from a chiefly ‘postmodern’ to a politically significant project in post-war Japan. While the notion of postmodernism prevents the readability of the Tsukuba Center Building as a political venture, this paper outlines the liberal model of postwar Japan as a political epistemology through which both buildings can be read as texts in political theory. This allows understanding the juxtaposition between Isozaki and Tange as a political confrontation in which values and valuations of the liberal model of post-war Japan played out. Seeing the design principles of the Tsukuba Center Building as a political genealogy to Tange’s liberal nationalist conceptions of the polity matters, since this highlights how wartime ideologies have prevailed and contested the model of liberal democracy in Japan. 1. 2.
Arata Isozaki, Arata Isozaki - Four Decades of Architecture, ed. Richard Koshalek and David B. Stewart (London: Thames and Hudson, 1998), 114. Jürgen Habermas and Seyla Benhabib, ‘Modernity versus Postmodernity’, New German Critique 22 (1981): 3–14; Jürgen Habermas, ‘Modernity: An Unfinished Project’, in Habermas and the Unfinished Project of Modernity: Critical Essays on The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, ed. Maurizio Passerin D’Entrèves and Seyla Benhabib (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1997), 38–58. Tetsuo Najita and H. D. Harootunian, ‘Japanese Revolt against the West: Political and Cultural Criticism in the Twentieth Century’, in The Cambridge History of Japan, ed. P. Duus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). Hyunjung Cho, ‘Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the Making of Japanese Postwar Architecture’, Journal of Architectural Education 66, no. 1 (2012): 77. Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot, On Justification (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006). Laurent Thévenot, ‘Justifying Critical Differences: Which Concepts of Value Are Sustainable in an Expanded Coordination’, in Culture and
PLATFORM ARCHITECTURE An Anonymous History of Warehouses in Tilbury between 17162015
Platforms are what platforms do. The Stack, Benjamin H. Bratton1
Platform Architecture is a historical inquiry into the evolution of platforms, conducted through a close analysis of warehousing in Tilbury, England, from the 1700s to present day. Due to its widespread use today, the word ‘platform’ may generate forms of misinterpretation. Its etymology, however, helps to capture the essence of Platform Architecture and demystify the ambiguity of such terminology. Derived from the old French plateforme, platte fourme, the term literally means ‘flat form’, and since the mid-sixteenth century has been used in English to designate a ‘raised, level surface’.2 In its lexical development, the term has assumed three different connotations including abstract, physical and political meanings – ‘platform as a plan of action, as a stage for a plot, and as proposed rules of governance.’3 These linguistic nuances provide insight into the theoretical framework through which an architectural history of anonymous buildings can be produced. While they bear no individual right to historical significance, such buildings have now become the hegemonic typology of ‘the architecture of the internet’.4 Indeed, this research aims to show that the contemporary architectonic production of digital platforms - such as the newly built Amazon Fulfilment Centre at Tilbury – are based on historical precedents, that can be traced back to the eighteenth-century. Since its foundation, Tilbury has been a laboratory of technological infrastructure, its claim to such status instigated by the establishment of Tilbury Port in 1886 - the only London Dock that is still operative today. For the purposes of this study, four major historic phases in the development of platform architecture at Tilbury
are identified and presented. The first being the construction of gunpowder depots at Tilbury Fort in 1716. As the first realisation of platform architecture at the site, the gunpowder depot’s raised floor, platte fourme, generated the politicisation and militarisation of the area’s land and water. Processes that were set in motion by the application of geometry that re-shaped the landscape, in order to manage the surface of the river Thames. The second major development was in the founding of the aforementioned Tilbury Port by the East and West India Company in 1866. With the founding of the dockland, the landscape was excavated and erased in order to create a tidal basin where natural forces, like the tide of the river, were neutralised. In turn, twenty-four warehouses were erected around the main dock. The warehouses internal dynamics were dictated by a geometrical landscape of goods that were compiled by the manual labour of dockers, who stacked merchandise according to product categories. In this phase, the definition of platform is delineated and reconceptualised as a spatiotemporal point of accumulation, where different bodies and surfaces meet. The division between land and sea was overcome by the work of dockers, moving saleable goods. The creation of a continuous logistical surface is key to understanding the third phase of spatial and technological development that occurred at Tilbury Port between 1930 and 1960. Indeed, under the direction of the Port of London Authority, the continuous surface was the base for the reorganisation of Tilbury Port by pursuing dual developments. On one hand, it saw the separation and specialisation of different fluxes of goods and on the other, it was transformed by the mechanisation and standardisation of shipping. These processes were actuated by the fusion of architecture and machine in the building’s grain terminal and by the containerisation of the wharf. A universal box was then created and the space flattened -geometrically and aesthetically- to a simple plane, on which containers were piled and moved by cranes. In its concluding section, the dissertation considers the current setting of the digital platform and implementation of the algorithm, at Tilbury’s Amazon Fulfilment Centre (2015). In this depot, all previous phases are condensed and harmonised by the computational logic that fragments the shipping landscape. A vast spatial field is then created and sees goods stored in a seemingly haphazard manner. Inside the warehouse, human employees are unable to navigate the space without digital scanners that perform as
prosthetic limbs. These scanners absorb the human body within the same algorithmic plane that dictates the trajectory of robotic arms and machines. In this instance, time presents itself as the dimension through which organic and inorganic subjects are simultaneously regulated: the time spent picking an item, the time required for its delivery and the time taken to execute repeated forms of movement. Indeed, algorithmic time shapes and forms the architecture of the digital platform, where human workers are spatially dictated by the new chaotic order of the digital assembly line.5 These different warehouses are collected together in order to unpack an anonymous architectural history that traces the evolution of construction materials and technology, the constant flow of matter in a variety of geometric arrangements and the peculiar organisation of interior/exterior spaces.6 This material matrix of buildings, objects and geometrical configurations is thereby woven together by labour and the exchange of organic and inorganic energy, through the realms of the warehouse. Ebbs and flows that generate precise forms of architecture and subjectivity. In this sense, goods, live animals, passengers and workers form part of the logic that defines Platform Architecture and are remoulded by the geometries and roles that it prescribes.
Benjamin H. Bratton, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2015), 41. 2. Robert K. Barnhart, ed. Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Edinburgh: Chambers, 1988), 804. 3. Bratton, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, 43. 4. The physicality of the architecture of the internet has been explored by Tom Ravenscroft. In particular, he analysed the architecture of database and how this infrastructure is occupying vacant buildings within the city of London. See Tom Ravenscroft, “The Architecture of the Internet – Discovering the Aesthetics of London’s Data Centres,” (Architectural History, UCL: The Bartlett School of Architecture, 2016). 5. Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017), 43. 6. Siegfried Giedion, Mechanization Takes Command: A Contribution to Anonymous History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1948), 3.
CIVIC PARTICIPATION AND ART ACTIVISM IN THE MILANESE DISTRICT OF ISOLA Ecological and Creative Approaches to ‘Eco-Gentrification’ 2007 - 2019
The urgency of the current ecological crisis has informed a number of design approaches characterised by a higher degree of environmental awareness. On the other hand, the mark of progressiveness attached to ‘green design’ has also engendered new architectural trends that emphasise sustainability in order to gain market share and general consensus.1 Some argue that a literal, superficial or excessively emphasised presence of ‘nature’ in architecture and cities ‘is better than no nature at all.’ However, can architecture be considered as ecological, regardless of the use it chooses to make of its power to reshape urban space and dwelling? Since its emergence as an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, ecology has been variously defined. If Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess’ ‘Deep Ecology’ is centred on environmental sustainability,2 thinkers such as Gregory Bateson and Felix Guattari emphasised the interrelation between the environment, society and the psyche. Their approach thus provides relevant instruments to urban and architectural discourse, whereby ecological design is understood as an opportunity for change. According to this line of thought, the predominantly western dualism ‘Nature-Culture’ derives from a deeply flawed understanding, one that conceives environmental damage as an external threat to Nature, a problem that further progress and new technologies – Culture – are then expected to solve.3 In architecture, the use of plants as inaccessible and rigidly controlled façade elements may suggest a similar assumption. A consumerist approach to the environment is unconsciously or unquestioningly integrated into architecture, whereby the active taking care of plants is assumed to be inconsequential or not preferable to the passive, visual consuming of the plant-product. If this idea problematises
the aestheticisation of nature from a conceptual point of view, in the context of urban regeneration, such a tendency can become a concrete ecological problem. This is especially evident when ‘green-washed’ buildings come to legitimise a series of mechanisms that radically alter urban space and the lives of city-dwellers by capitalising on desire.4 Conceived in the years preceding the Milan Expo of 2015, the Milanese regeneration project Isola-Porta Nuova (2007-present) has been described as a case of ‘eco-gentrification’.5 In particular, its Vertical Forest was hailed as a new ecological prototype, bringing over 800 trees to a city where parks are a rarity. On the other hand, the key role of its ‘sustainable dystopia’6 in the gentrification and branding of the ‘regenerated’ postindustrial district of Isola, raises questions as to the ecological ethos behind this and the other ‘green’ buildings of Porta Nuova. Isola has a renowned history of political activism and spontaneously arranged forms of social welfare. The image of a small, closed-off village continued to characterise the district’s narratives up until the 1990s, when talks of urban regeneration re-emerged and prompted a new wave of antigentrification resistance.7 In 2013, the local ‘art-activist’ group Isola Art Center published its manifesto, Fight-Specific Isola. The book describes the manoeuvres and dynamics that made the radical transformation of the area possible, but also the practices of ‘urban resilience’ and activism of local artists and inhabitants.8 Scholars and doctoral students have also written about Isola, mainly focussing on its history and development before 2015, when everything ‘was set’ for the Expo. This essay thus returns to the case of gentrification six years after Fight-Specific Isola, in order to investigate how the aspirations and tactics formerly underlying the district’s resistance have evolved so far. The study is based on materials from the archive of the City Council and private archives of local activists and associations. Its primary sources also include semi-structured qualitative interviews, conducted onsite following the principles of low-risk ethics research. The key research questions are: what are the ecological implications of corporate green architecture? What is the relevance of ‘community’ today? And what can spontaneous networks of support achieve? The ubiquity and ‘desirability’ of regenerated districts makes gentrification difficult to challenge, for its critics might be benefiting from it themselves. However,
citizens may choose to retain agency and make a difference, as this paper aims to show. Based on an interdisciplinary method, the research looks to the fields of political ecology and gentrification studies, mainly referring to the work of Felix Guattari, Chantal Mouffe, Loretta Lees and Doina Petrescu. Drawing on some of the theories of Marxist thinkers and semioticians such as Henri Lefebvre and Roland Barthes, the essay seeks to address some of the ‘myths’ behind the architectural and urban transformations of modern Milan and Isola. In this respect, the work of Italian semioticians was also briefly addressed, for the narratives surrounding Isola-Porta Nuova seem to suggest a connection that goes beyond the Creative City, to involve questions of national identity and collective belonging.
Richard Ingersoll, ‘The Ecology Question and Architecture’ in The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory, eds. Greig Crysler, Stephen Cairns, Hilde Heynen (SAGE Publications Ltd, 2012), 573. 2. John Clarck, ‘A Dialogue with Arne Naess on Social Ecology and Deep Ecology’, The Trumpeter, Vol. 26 (Issue 2, 2010): 20-21. 3. Silvia Demozzi, ‘Learning the “Language of Connection”. The Value of Art in the Thinking of Gregory Bateson’, Studi sulla Formazione, (no. 2, 2014): 23-25. 4. Sandra Annunziata, ‘Urbanità e Desiderio’ in Tracce di Quartieri. Il Legame Sociale nella Città che Cambia, ed. Marco Cremaschi (Franco Angeli, Milano, 2008), 66-69. 5. Term applied to Isola by Bert Theis, Mara Ferreri and Alberto Pesavento in ‘A “Green” Isola for the Rich: Arts and Communities against Ecogentrification in Milan, Italy’ in There Goes the Neighbourhood: Redfern and the Politics of Urban Space, (eds.) Zanny Begg, Keg De Souza (Performance Space, 2009), 86-87. 6. Website of Boeri Studio: https://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/ project/sustainable-dystopias/ (accessed 10/05/2019). 7. Giovanni Semi, Gentrification. Tutte le Città come Disneyland? (Il Mulino, Bologna, 2015), 154. 8. Doina Petrescu, Corelia Baibarac, ‘Co-Design and Urban Resilience: Visioning Tools for Commoning Resilience Practices’, CoDesign. International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts (November, 2017), 2-17.
KING’S CROSS FICTION A History of Urban Change through Novels and Films 1845–1988
‘The station of King’s Cross had always suggested Infinity. […] These two great arches, colourless, indifferent, shouldering between them an unlovely clock, were fit portals for some eternal adventure …’1 E. M. Forster, Howards End (1910)
In The Practice of Everyday Life (1980), the French scholar Michel de Certeau refers to stories about places as ‘makeshift things’.2 His description attempts to capture the temporality of stories for the city as products of their time, always susceptible to the historical context that creates them and the ever-changing nature of urban space. For the past twenty years, the area of King’s Cross has seen drastic changes in its urban environment, as a result of a large-scale redevelopment scheme still underway at the time of writing. Considering this redevelopment as one more stage in a continuous process of urban change, this dissertation turns towards the largely unexplored cultural production related to King’s Cross; the ‘makeshift stories’ of its past. More specifically, it reappropriates fiction as a medium through which new light may be shed on its urban history. The growing complexity of large cities like London, increasingly calls for alternative ways of exploring their evolution. In this sense, here, fiction is used as a form of historical evidence, a potentially revealing tool for rereading the much-discussed, complex environment of King’s Cross. Its main strength seems to lie in its ability to capture the underlying atmosphere of a place through time and reconstruct ‘the emotional and intimate aspects of the past’, surprisingly succeeding where strictly historical accounts usually fail.3 Exploring the
relationship of these fictional representations with the actual urban space they attempt to recreate, can potentially outline the ‘emotional portrait’ of this space and inform its historical understanding. From the broad field of cultural production related to fiction, however, this dissertation focuses clearly on two distinct mediums; novels and films. On one hand, these two mediums are considered the most successful in capturing the underlying spatial and emotional characteristics of King’s Cross. As British academic Isobel Armstrong notes, the novel is a medium where ‘psychological, cultural and social manifestations of space’4 emerge. The analysed novels are thereby structured around a combination of fictional narratives with realistic settings, as documents that were conceived contemporaneously by their authors in order to make sense of the urban environment which they themselves inhabited. Similarly, film is described by visual arts scholar Giuliana Bruno as ‘an architectural document of a city that no longer exists’.5 The chosen films are as much ‘city films’ about King’s Cross’ urban space, as they are about the socio-cultural conditions that characterised it at the time of their creation, as experienced and recreated by their directors. On the other hand, the specific selection of novels and films corresponds with two identified periods of significant change in King’s Cross’ history, that consequently dictate the structure of this dissertation in two main chapters. The first focuses on the period between the station’s construction in 1852 and the beginning of the twentieth-century, using the novel as the quintessential fictional medium of that time. Combining references of the area in Charles Dickens’ novels with selected illustrations from the Illustrated London News, it attempts to make sense of King’s Cross’ emergence, subsequently focusing on a specific passage on King’s Cross in E. M. Forster’s novel Howards End (1910) and associating this representation with the railway’s connection to modernity. The second chapter similarly examines the period from 1955 until the late 1980s and employs cinema as its key fictional medium. It initially analyses The Ladykillers (1955) as a comedy film that captures the final years of steam railways in King’s Cross and its fading industrial environment, subsequently exploring two ‘stateof-the-nation’ films, Mona Lisa (1986) and High Hopes (1988) and their portrayals of socio-political decline in the area.
From the close analysis of these representations, an underlying portrait of King’s Cross emerges, based on the complex relationship between the examined fictional accounts and the historical realities they capture. The area can be identified as a point of arrivals and departures, a characterisation attesting to the continuous presence of the railway throughout its history and its inherent nature as a force of change. Far from a mere spatial condition, though, this is an identification of the social and cultural implications that follow in its path, highlighting King’s Cross as a space where the emotional energy of the city has been continuously located. Eventually, the expressive quality of these examined fictional representations seems to lie in the process of imagination involved in their creation. In this regard, the pages and frames of novels and films could be said to generate dramatically-infused portraits of real places and offer a unique potential for their experiential recollection. This process of uncovering the historical context of complex areas like King’s Cross, is thereby validated as a method of analysis which makes use of fiction, in order to explore the hidden realities of changing urban environments and inform their understanding. 61
1. 2. 3.
E. M. Forster, Howards End (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998), 12. ‘Stories about places are makeshift things. They are composed with the world’s debris.’, Michel De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2011), 107. Ann Curthoys, John Docker, ‘The Boundaries of History and Fiction’, in The Sage Handbook of Historical Theory, eds. Nancy Partner and Sarah Foot (London: SAGE Publications Ltd, 2013), 202. Isobel Armstrong, ‘Theories of Space and the Nineteenth-Century Novel’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, Vol. 17 (2013), http://19.bbk.ac.uk (accessed August 12, 2019). Giuliana Bruno, Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in Art, Architecture and Film (New York, NY: Verso Books, 2007), 34.
PUBLIC SPACE ACROSS DECOLONISATION Authoritarian Legacy and Colonial Memory in Tripoli
Italian colonialism has been analysed as a subject of architectural and urban importance only relatively recently and as such remains an underdeveloped genre in postcolonial studies. Previous contributions have highlighted how intercultural colonial phenomena impact upon architectural interpretation; the significance of the overseas built environment for Fascism; and the role of the leading personalities involved. That said, little or no attention has been paid to the consequences of the urban phenomena instated and the production of a postcolonial otherness uphold by the enterprise.1 Following an introductive critique concerning the existing historiography, this dissertation aims to extend the temporal scope of analysis, instating a correlation between the dynamics developed in Italian Libyaâ€™s capital, Tripoli, and their transformation across decolonisation. The study focuses on the main social factors introduced alongside the colonial built environment: namely, an urban politicization constructed through a symbolic coding of the traditional and modern urban elements characterising Tripoliâ€™s public space combined with the events performed herein. Drawing from archival material, this interconnection is examined as the essential factor employed by the colonial bodies against the public. The objects of study are thereby narrowed down to the squares performing as representational foci, and the road systems binding them together, which interlink urban modifications and political motifs that mark public gatherings. Chapter 1, therefore, examines the development of spatial and social modes of production throughout the period of occupation (1911-1943). In part 2, the colonial legacy is framed by Tripoli under Muammar Qadhafi, first outlining the historical context leading to the 1969 Libyan revolution. In doing so, it considers symbolical
elements engaged in the coup heads’ narrative to achieve public consensus2: especially, the significance played by the colonial memory and the symbols of anti-colonial resistance are looked at on account of their capacity to be communicated effectively though urban expedients. The argument then considers the dialectical exchange between the events manifesting narratives of power and the colonial politics of architectural modernism in order to understand the relationship between Tripoli’s public space and mass-politics. Henri Lefebvre’s theories in the production of space3 and Frantz Fanon’s elaborations upon the interconnections between violence and decolonisation4 are used to suggest that the symbolic coding of public space which shielded the construction of hegemony by the political elites operated through restructuring forms of otherness. The process acted at the cognitive level of the subjects engaged in the events through a symbolism communicated and produced in the capital’s public space, the domain where colonial assertions were in fact implanted in the population. At first, this mediated the relationship between colonists and locals, signifying the Italian right to supremacy, and, secondly, it aided the manufacture of a Libyan nationalism targeting the public support that the revolutionary command chased. This vision outlines the characteristics of the colonial public space: namely that of a place that lends itself to the reformulation of narratives of political control due to the interchange between collectiveness and forms of otherness layering its sociohistorical meaning. Finally, the last chapter problematises the city as a contemporary space where the inhabitants are deploying personal forms of urbanity born out of their historical and material circumstance. The attention turns on the spatial dynamics that originated from the Arab Spring demonstrations in February 2011, which rejected authoritarianism in the form of a geography of general dissent.5 These are regarded as effective decolonising processes of public space with regard to subaltern agency. Here, the self-presentation of an emancipatory collective equates to self-representation, performed for example through technological means of representation that set up schemes of inclusiveness. Alongside physical interventions against specific elements of the built environment, these enactments reconstruct the meaning of the urban place in postcolonial Libya. In such vision, this diachronic investigation into the political significance of Tripoli’s public space turns on how it aided broad
processes of objection and questions the future significance of the colonial architectural legacy. In conclusion, this paper highlights how the hybridization of architectural history might help us to understand future reformulations of the modern narratives of power that originated from colonial experiences. In this view, the significance played by a diachronic investigation upon the transformation of public space strengthens the assertion that the colonial enterprises represent foundational moments of the contemporary age. In fact, these should no longer be considered as a re-articulation of cultural power that are un-relatable to the historical present, but instead require further analysis of their legacy. If this is the case, then the significance played by postcolonial architectural history consists in contributing to the collective historical experience, and promoting an ethical exercise against future reformulations of power.
1. This dissertation relies on postcolonial scholarship and terminology. In particular: Gayatri Chakravorty Sprivak, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ in Wedge 7/8 (Winter/Spring 1985), 120-130; ‘Who Claims Alterity?’ in Remaking History, ed. Barbara Kruger and Phil Mariarli (Seattle: Bay Press, 1989), 269-292. 2. I. Omar and Monte Palmer, Political Development and Social Change in Libya (Toronto: Lexington Books, 1980). 3. Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Cambridge: Mass Basil Blackwell, 1991). 4. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (London: Penguin Classics, 2001). 5. Larbi Sadiki, “Unruliness through Space and Time. Reconstructing ‘Peoplehood’ in the Arab Spring”, in Routledge Handbook of the Arab Spring (London: Routledge, 2014), 1-13.
FRACTURED ‘VICTORIAN SPLENDOUR’ AT HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE
This dissertation considers the partial closure of Hammersmith Bridge to motorised vehicles, after a number of ‘hairline microfractures’ were recently discovered in its cast-iron pedestals, the footings which support the structure. The suspension bridge, connecting Hammersmith and Barnes at a bend in the river, was designed by the English civil-engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette. It was constructed in 1887, at the tail-end of the Victorian era. Today, the bridge can no longer support the weight of the daily commute. It has been carrying the A306 and reportedly, over 20,000 motor vehicles a day. Structural tests are now being carried out by a team of specialist engineers, while the bridge remains open to pedestrians and cyclists. My research draws on the work of contemporary theorists Sara Ahmed and Mark Fisher, to historically, socially and politically conceptualise what is currently happening at Hammersmith Bridge. I analyse how dynamics of ‘normativity,’ (Ahmed) and ‘capitalist realism,’ (Fisher) permeate through public discourse, thwarting ‘generative or transformative’1 action. The dissertation is critical of the council’s restoration proposal, to strengthen the bridge and re-open it to all motorised vehicles. I am particularly interested in how Hammersmith Bridge is currently being made present, as an architectural object that is ‘out of order’ and ‘out of line.’ I owe this way of thinking about the object to Ahmed, whose text Queer Phenomenology (2006) acts as an alternative site of encounter. Ahmed claims that bodies are orientated and directed by certain lines. ‘The lines that we follow might also function as forms of “alignment,” or as ways of being in line with others.’2 Although Ahmed is primarily concerned with the human body and ‘the specific question of sexual orientation,’ this dissertation suggests that we could also think
about the architectural object that disrupts and re-orders social relations, by diverging from the path that it has previously been assigned.3 Hammersmith Bridge is currently not in line with the council’s expectations. It is being treated as a ‘deviant’ object, that must be re-directed and re-aligned, so that it disappears from public discourse. Business can then continue, as usual. While I am certainly not claiming that this inanimate architectural object will feel pressure to follow a certain course, I might suggest that the governmental powers that be, attempt to bring the bridge back into line. The bridge is thereby directed and will take the shape of this direction. When the bridge is ‘out of order,’ and ‘out of line,’ it moves into collective discourse. In this moment, structures of power are revealed, that reflect the interests of a dominant political class. There is also an opportunity for the bridge’s radical potential to be discussed. This dissertation claims that the bridge is on a scale at which we can see ‘capitalist realism,’ operating in plain view. Mark Fisher’s ‘capitalist realism’ is an ontological framework for viewing capitalism and its profound impact on politics, economics and public thought. It is ‘the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible to imagine a coherent alternative to it.’4 Hammersmith and Fulham council, who own the bridge, are suggesting that freedom, opportunity and economic growth will be increased by strengthening the bridge so that it supports 20,000 motor vehicles a day. Fisher would claim that it has become impossible to imagine a coherent alternative. But, as we are well aware, planetary and social systems are under immense pressure. The Geological Society named 1945 as the year when the ‘great acceleration’ begun. Since then, there has been an exponential increase in environmental degradation and economic growth. In 2000, it was declared that humanity had driven the world into a new geological epoch. This is often referred to as ‘the Anthropocene-Capitalocene Condition.’5 If the bridge is brought back into line and returned to ‘full working order,’ what long-term environmental impact will this have? Furthermore, should the bridge be strengthened every time it breaks under the ever-increasing pressures applied to it? I suggest that the council’s actions ultimately sustain environmental degradation and prioritise human convenience. The dissertation concludes by conceptualising an alternative
approach. This could have been an opportunity to consider Hammersmith Bridge’s potential for difference. There are a number of viable options that would enable access for local residents, whilst limiting city car culture. The geographer Paul Chatterton states that in order to avert climate breakdown, we will need ‘ambitious coalitions of city actors prepared to move away from traditional ways of working; renegade entrepreneurs, break-away academics, dissident public officials [and] rebellious citizens.’6 Chatterton argues that we must move out of line and make ourselves visible. We must reject conventional approaches to working with the built environment and assertively diverge from the ‘path well-trodden.’7 Alternative lines of enquiry and action will be vital.
1. 2. 3. 4.
Angelica Fitz and Elke Kransy, Critical Care: Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet (Architekturzentrum Wien and The MIT Press, 2019), 20. Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others (Duke University Press, 2006), 15. Ibid, 1. Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is there No Alternative? (0 Books, 2009), 2. Fitz and Krasny, Critical Care: Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet, 22. Paul Chatterton, “The Zero-Carbon City”: This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook (Penguin, 2019), 162-168. Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, 16.
SELF-BUILDING IN VENICE An itinerant critique through the historical sites of Rebiennale
‘I suggest that it is through writing as a critical spatial practice that I, as a critic, understand and produce particular ‘places between’ theory and practice, art and architecture’1
This dissertation highlights how the experience of walking can be a dynamic form of urban criticism, and how the practice of writing can navigate between theory, art, architecture, urban environments and the self. The paper considers how criticism can itself be considered as a spatial practice, and through its writing can communicate theoretical concepts, depict urban landscapes and bond the minds of the author, architect and reader. The focus of the paper is the Rebiennale, an interesting Venetian collective that reuses waste materials of the Biennale in order to regenerate unused buildings in Venice. Since 2008 the collective has created several successful projects that not only help local communities in their own neighbourhood but promote an alternative artistic scene to the Biennale. I approach the critique of my subject in two ways. Firstly, I situate the Rebiennale in the wider academic field of subversive urban activities initiated through the Creative Cities programme, a project created by UNESCO in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities, which recognized creativity as the main factor in their urban development.2 In this network of 72 countries and 180 cities, Venice represents an extraordinary example of an urban environment where the promotion of arts, design, architecture and music is at the basis of the city’s economy. The first part of the dissertation reveals how a Creative City does not engage with different sets of localities, histories,
cultures and social issues. Rather, it is best understood as the latest iteration of a gentrifying, capitalistic discourse around urbanising policy, one that reproduces alternative creative practices as other. Among a wide variety of examples of subversive urban activities such as graffiti, street art and flashmobbing, the Rebiennale provides a contemporary approach to neighbourhood building that uses short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyse long-term change. My second approach employs the act of walking as a form of urban criticism. I explore how the Rebiennale has improved the urbans commons of the city, offering new forms of public space, thanks to light, cheap and sustainable interventions. During the walk, the study asks three key questions: what new narratives do these materials create within the urban context? How do they appear once displaced and reassembled? Moreover, how do people interact and live with these architectural forms? To answer these questions, I describe the journey from my own home to St. Marta’s Public gardens, before moving on to Giudecca - the southern island that shapes the ‘belly’ of Venice- where I visited the ex-fishermen houses. The journey ends at the S.a.l.e Docks near Punta Della Dogana, where historical salt stores of the Venetian Republic form the heart of the island. For each of these Rebiennale projects, I highlight how each of the Biennale’s pavilions have been adapted to regenerate the historical site. This itinerant critique is based on the concept of psychogeography, a discipline explored by the International Situationists (SI) and defined by their founding member, Guy Debord, as ‘the point at which psychology and geography collide’.3 Inspired by ‘The Leaning Tower of Venice’ - a short photo-story of Venice, conducted in the late 50s by British artist Ralph Rumney, whom formed part of the SI- the dissertation combines psychogeography with the field of site-writing, a particular form of criticism theorised by the architectural historian Jane Rendell, that pairs sites of engagement with art. The use of these two methods, allow me to create a critique through spatial and architectural places that is multi-layered with my own emotions, memories, and psychic conditions. Each of the three sites analyses materials, emotions, and the political and conceptual meanings of the Rebiennale’s regeneration. In addition, for each project I consider how the Biennale’s original pavilion was formally imagined by the artist, reviewed by
critics and finally transformed by the Rebiennale in the new location. To conclude, the dissertation shows how the work of criticism is as creative as designing or painting. Indeed, critical practice is a process of analysis and synthesis, of combining eye, mind and heart. Interweaving intellect and language to explore the intentions and responses that the artist presents, through non-verbal means. It is a constructive act, that tries to embrace one art with another. Simply put, it translates the visual, sensory and emotional experiences of architecture into words.
Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture: A Place Between (London: I.B. Tauris, 2006), 193. Oliver Mould, Urban Subversion and the Creative City, (London; New York: Routledge, Taylor &Francis Group 2017), 3. See ‘Définitions’, Internationale Situationniste, no.1, June 1958, pp.1314; translated as ‘Definitions’, in Ken Knabb, Situationist International Anthology (Berkeley, Calif.: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981), 45-6.
ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN OF LE MARAIS’ QUEER VENUES Current Formation of Identities within the LGBT Community and Territorial Strategies in the Parisian Queer Village
Gentrification started when Le Marais - a derelict area since the 18th century - began to be rehabilitated. Legislation on the preservation of architectural heritage (Loi Malraux, 1962) played an important role in the process. Providing financial aid, local investors revitalised the area by renovating properties and developing businesses. Taking advantage of low property prices in central Paris, gay investors pioneered the refurbishment, alongside Jewish and Chinese minorities.1 In 1978, the opening of the area’s first gay bar ‘Le Village’, marked a renewal in gay, French business strategies, the venue operating during daylight hours, without concealing its interior. This cultural shift prompted other gay venues to open within the district, that subsequently and unprecedently attracted an important clientele to the area, in turn prompting the opening of numerous new businesses.2 As a result, property prices in this newly refurbished area began to soar. The following decades in Le Marais were thereby demarcated by the rise of various luxury businesses, their prevalence putting local queer enterprises under increasing economic pressure. Indeed, by 2018, housing prices in Le Marais were the 3rd most expensive in all of Paris.3 In this work, I analyse how relationships between LGBT individuals and the broader community currently shape Le Marais’ built environment. Through an interdisciplinary approach, my work evaluates the role of gay venues and their architectural design features, in conveying cultural and socio-economic changes, forming individual identities through bodily practice. Moreover, this performativity raises the question as to how these venues contribute to LGBT cultural heritage, as their transience starkly contrasts with Le Marais’ historical built environment. Thus, through this work, I describe the evolving materiality of Le Marais’ queer history, with the aim of interrogating
the possibility for its transformation into a durable form of built heritage, one that is both politically and physically supported by local institutions. In order to investigate how socio-economic/cultural changes have influenced the materiality of Le Marais and the formation of queer subjectivity, this work considers the following physical parameters: venue specific architectural features, interior design schemes, branding and inscription within the urban context. These are then read through geographies of sexuality and identity, urban and architectural history, sociology, politics, economics and more importantly, phenomenology.4 Though elements of this narrative hint at effects often attributed to neoliberal capitalism’s entitlement to territorial colonisation, the phenomenological lens links this queer heritage with its economic context and support from local institutions. My work thereby aims to bridge these local academic gaps between disciplines, queer culture studies and the political role of the built environment. Employing Le Marais as a case study that may enrich historical and contemporary understandings of queer villages and their gentrification worldwide.5 A series of personal onsite sketches, which represent a selection of thirty-five queer venues and their façades, perform as visual evidence that allow for the development of this argument, based on the adjoining descriptions of specific venues and their spatial-material history. Moreover, while these sketches reiterate the material discussed in this work, they equally produce a visual and chronological archive of Le Marais’ queer venues. Presented in the final appendix, this compilation echoes the work of UK artists Rosie Hastings and Hannah Quinlan. Their video archive titled “UK Gay Bar Directory”, compiles imagery from over 100 queer venues across the UK.6 Accordingly, the documentary facet of my sketches is particularly important, given the fragmented nature of information around queer venues in general, and their specific historical and physical evolution in France. Initially, this paper highlights the correlation between venue design and status in public space, depending on the activity that each venue hosts. The more sexualised a form of queer socialisation, the more it is systematically concealed from public space. From cafés to cruising sites, a gradual openness characterises venues, operated by various material devices detailed in the work. In the second instance, this paper is concerned with interrogating venues and their ability to perform as vehicles that set local power relations
in motion – between institutions and clients attracted by luxury businesses, as well as wealthier members of the queer community. Venues that concentrate financial power and succeed in satisfying the interests of the population seem to subsist better. The conjunction between these findings illustrates a desexualised gentrification that threatens Le Marais’ queer venues. Finally, by interrogating how queer heritage is transmitted, this paper equally highlights national and international influences on local queer culture and its various themes. In doing so, these observations then form part of a reflexive and speculative exercise. One that aims to understand how institutions could potentially contribute to the inscription of queer culture within the public realm and transmit its heritage through both time and space.
Michael Sibalis, “ Urban Space and Homosexuality: The Example of the Marais, Paris’ Gay Ghetto.” Urban Studies 41, no. 9 (August 2004): 1739-1758. 2. “Joël a ‘inventé’ Le Marais en 1978,” Philippe Baverel, Le Parisien, accessed July 18, 2019, http://www.leparisien.fr/societe/joel-a-invente-lemarais-en-1978-18-04-2001-2002108140.php. 3. “Baromètre national des prix de l’immobilier au 1er Janvier 2019,” Actualite-Immobilier, Meilleurs Agents, accessed August 1 2019, https:// www.meilleursagents.com/actualite-immobilier/2019/01/evolution-priximmobilier-1er-janvier-2019-2/. 4. Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientation, Objects, Others (New York : Duke University Press, 2006); David Bell and Jon Binnie, “Authenticating Queer Space,” Urban Studies 41, no. 9, (August 2004); Aaron Betsky, Queer Space: Architecture and Same-Sex Desire (New York: William Morrow & Company, 1997); Denis Provencher, Queer French (Aldershot : Ashgate Publsihing, 2007). 5. Johan Andersson, “Consuming Visibilty: London’s new spaces of gay nightlife” (PhD diss., University of London, 2008); David Bell, Gill Valentine and Jon Binnie, “All hyped-up and no place to go: Gender, Place and Culture,” A Journal of Feminist Geography 41, no. 1, (1994); Manuel Castells, The city and the Grassroots (California: University of California Press, 1983); Catherine Nash, “ Toronto’s Gay Village (19691982): Plotting the Politics of Gay Identity,” Canadian Geographer 4, no.2 (Spring 2006); Olivier Vallerand, “Homonormative Architecture and Queer Space; The evolution of gay bars and clubs in Montréal” (MA diss., McGill University, Montréal, 2010). 6. “Quinlan and Hastings,” Interviews by Rosanna Mclaughlin, Mousse Magazine, accessed June 10, 2019, http://moussemagazine.it/hannahquinlan-rosie-hastings-rosanna-mclaughlin-2019/.
PASTS BEYOND MEMORY: URBANITY AND JOHN OUTRAM’S UN-BUILT CITY PROJECTS A case study of John Outram’s proposals for Bracken House (1986-87) and Blackfriars Railway (1988-91), Queen Victoria Street, City of London
Writing in the Sunday Times in 1991, architectural critic Hugh Pearman said that ‘people do not exclaim: damn fine piece of Post-Modernism’ when they see a building by architect John Outram, rather ‘[t]heir immediate response is to wave and cheer’.1 Outram spent the majority of the 1980s on the fringes; admired by the public but little recognised by the architectural profession.2 Today he is known for his contribution to British Post-Modernism and his highly symbolic architecture that integrates complex iconography and decoration. Outram’s work has much to do with urbanism and relating architecture to the wider city. That said, he realised very few buildings within an urban context and none in Central London. During this study, I was lucky enough to meet John Outram, and through a number of conversations with him and colleagues such as architectural artist Carl Laubin and property developer Sir Stuart Lipton, my study offers an in-depth account of his two highest profile, un-built projects in the City of London. Through a discussion about the relationship between his work, Capitalism, Classicism and American construction methods, this paper illustrates how complexity in architecture can be used to elevate the city’s cultural response to urbanism by returning the medium to one which addresses the realm of thought. In 1986 Outram entered a competition for the Financial Times to redevelop their immaculate Bracken House; a Grade II* listed Modern Classical building designed by English architect, Sir Albert Richardson, in 1958. Outram believed that ‘it was not the motor car that ‘ruined’ urbanity, but the deliberate urbanistic illiteracy of the twentieth-century’.3 His un-built competition entry represented an ambition to reinvent a new architecture for an era that had grown tired of International Style Modernism, combining the revival of historicist
interest with overtly ambitious modernist principles, elevating ordinary life in the city into a symbolic act. He commissioned Carl Laubin to paint his symbolic proposals, to ‘explicate the iconography of the design in a ‘literal’ manner and show the imaginary landscape of the building as if it were a concrete fact’.4 Outram believed that Classicism could be revived, not merely preserved – he was prepared to destroy Richardson’s work because he valued his ideas more than his building.5 The competition was won by high-tech architect Michael Hopkins, thus, Laubin’s painting is the lasting memory of Outram’s un-built scheme.6 It was described by architectural critic Kenneth Powell in Country Life in 1988 as ‘a perspective that provides some of the most haunting images of late-‘80s architecture.’7 In 1988, Sir Stuart Lipton commissioned Outram to design an airrights building above the railway running north out of Blackfriars Station. Lipton was the most famous property developer of 1980’s Britain, and had just completed Broadgate, a project so successful that Margaret Thatcher used its ‘private-sector’ setting as a backdrop to her 1987 re-election campaign. Lipton had adopted American procurement methods, his strict brief adopted fast track prefabricated architectural components, a methodology discordant with Outram’s cosmological approach to architectural design.8 Outram started from the premise that great cities have always been both physical and imaginative constructs, using ‘curved pilasters that rise up the façade” as an “imprint of the forests that occupied the site in pre-history’.9 Outram and Lipton ended up having a dispute over their approach to the design integrity of the project – Outram believed Lipton’s reasons for insisting on a fast-track procurement method were rooted in avoiding labour strikes and improving access to accelerated finance. The scheme was eventually aborted as a casualty of the 1991 recession in Britain and no building was ever realised on the site. Despite the highly theoretical and symbolic nature of Outram’s architecture, this study illustrates how his proposals were rejected as failures of nerve, judgment, and finance. Paying homage to writer and activist Jane Jacobs, Outram believed that ‘an urban space, which one may conventionalise as a street, is a road to which is added a function of theatrical stage’.10 Treating cities as a total environment that its inhabitants only feel at home in when the city provides them with good dreams, Outram focused on the pedestrian;
walking was ideally performed ‘with one’s head in the clouds’ and ‘one’s feet on the ground’.11 By incorporating decoration and applying a new urban logic to these sites on Queen Victoria Street, Outram provided the means through which the agencies serving the conceptual and mechanical functions of cities come together, while addressing the complexity of the urban context – re-theorising its streets and piazzas, as social realms. The physical and intellectual functions that are the ‘unique achievement of the MediaevalHumanist City and the Modernist counterpart’ that Outram proposed, would render the built environment not merely a Corbusian ‘Machine-á-habiter’ but also a ‘Machine-á-penser,’ as vital and lived attachments of such ‘desensitised, geometrical thought.’12
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Hugh Pearman, “The Architecture of John Outram,” Sunday Times, January 20, 1991, 13. Geraint Franklin and Elain Harwood, Post-Modern Buildings in Britain (London: Batsford, 2017), 185. John Outram, In a conversation with the author on February 3, 2018, London. John Outram, From The Ideal City To The City Of Ideas – British Pavilion, Venice Biennale, September 1991, (Unpublished, in the author’s possession), 33. John Outram, Conservation and Continuity – Bracken House Competition Entry Essay, (Unpublished, in the author’s possession), 1986. Carl Laubin, In a conversation with the author on June 28, 2019, Hitchin. Kenneth Powell, “Popular Classicism,” Country Life, August 18, 1988, 62. Stuart Lipton, Email to author, July 11, 2019. Martin Spring, “Cosmological Cladding: Spec-built Cosmos,” Building Magazine, December 8, 1989, 27. John Outram, “’Urban Workshops,” Building: Brick Supplement, July 26, 1985, 33. Outram, From The Ideal City To The City Of Ideas, 33. Ibid, 35.
VERNACULAR PROCESSES: DESIGN CODES FOR CONVOYS WHARF 2013 - 2019
This paper looks at two sets of design codes for the Convoys Wharf site in Deptford, produced as part of the English planning system between 2013 and 2019. In doing so, it aims to understand how contemporary development in London is being influenced by concepts of the vernacular. In 2014, the then-Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, granted outline planning consent for a masterplan of up to 3500 new homes in Convoys Wharf. Though not yet constructed, the development will dramatically transform the area in order to accommodate a mixture of commercial, retail, institutional and residential uses. In turn, this walled site will become accessible to the public for the first time in living memory, with its new streets connecting Deptford High Street to the river Thames via a series of public spaces, designed to reference the site’s significant maritime history.1 Between September 2018 and March 2019, my role as an urban designer-planner -within the small architecture and urbanism practice AR Urbanism- involved co-authoring a set of neighbourhood design codes for the Convoys Wharf area. These were developed with the Neighbourhood Forum, Deptford Neighbourhood Action (DNA). The resulting document, Design Codes for Better Connections with Convoys Wharf, now forms part of an evidence base that supports the policies in DNA’s Neighbourhood Plan.2 These design codes were developed as a critical response to the outline masterplan and existing design prescriptions detailed in Design Guidelines for Convoys Wharf (April 2013). This initial document was produced by master-planning architects, Farells, on behalf of developer, Convoys Properties Limited.3 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) describes design codes as ‘[a] set of illustrated design requirements that provide
specific, detailed parameters for the physical development of a site or area. The graphic and written components of the code should [thereby] build upon a design vision, such as a masterplan or other design and development framework.’4 In this sense, design codes aim to essentialise existing aesthetic characteristics of everyday places into a set of diagrams and written rules for an area, meaning that their approval by local planning authorities limits the architect’s design freedom. In the context of community participation in planning, design codes can be understood as useful for empowering communities, as they challenge traditional understandings of the architect as ‘all knowing expert’, prescribing architectures that are contextualised within their surroundings. That said, design codes can be problematic, when considered as reductive tools that rely on localised knowledge systems, which must be interpreted and translated by a professional design ‘expert’ in order to be validated. Critical voices from within the field of vernacular architecture studies have shown how attempts to essentialise the formal characteristics of the built environment have actually served to reinforce dominant cultures and assert the architect’s professional superiority.5 Taking these concerns into account, I accept that my own work in co-producing the neighbourhood design codes for Convoys Wharf, is fundamentally problematic. Thus, this paper presents itself as an opportunity to examine my involvement and unique perspective as practitioner/researcher and reflect on my role within an arguably dysfunctional planning system. The paper begins by providing a brief introduction to the different historical, theoretical and practice-based definitions of the vernacular, integrating critical theory from vernacular architecture studies, planning and urban design with DNA interviews and consultations. In doing so, this paper demonstrates how developer-led design codes -that claim to reinforce distinctive characteristics of place by prescribing architectural aesthetics based on traditional, ‘locally’ recognisable forms- result in homogenising architectures, that overlook important aspects of context and marginalise existing members of the community. In contrast, I show how DNA’s approach to design coding adopts a more expansive understanding of the vernacular and articulates new vocabularies within this context. I turn to Susan Garfinkle’s concept of the ‘as
vernacular’, which draws from performance theory and rejects the notion that buildings are artefacts that perform through their signification, reconsidering ‘embodied actions’ of communities that create shared local meanings and contribute to a place’s vernacular character. Moreover, I re-appropriate Garfinkles ‘as vernacular performance-based’ ways of seeing in order to produce an ‘as vernacular’ process-based way of designing. I conclude by advocating for an ‘as vernacular’ process-based method of design coding; one that brings together the expertise of architects and communities, rendering ‘shared’, ‘local’ and ‘everyday’ experiences as practical tools for planning.6
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Farells, Convoys Wharf Design and Access Statement CW02, (London: Convoys Properties Limited, April 2013), 70-207. AR Urbanism and Deptford Neighbourhood Action, Design Codes for Better connections with Convoys Wharf, (London: ARU, March 2019). Farells, Design Guidelines for Convoys Wharf, (London: Convoys Properties Limited, April 2013). MHCLG, National Planning Policy Framework, (London: MHCLG, February 2019), para. 126. Simon Richards, “‘Vernacular’ Accommodations: Wordplay in Contemporary-Traditional Architecture Theory”, Architectural Research Quarterly 16, n. 1 (2012): 37-48. Susan Garfinkel, “‘Recovering Performance for Vernacular Architecture Studies”, Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture 13, n. 2 (Special 25th Anniversary Issue 2006/2007): 106-114.
ADDRESSING EVERYDAY GHOSTS OF EMPIRE Authenticity, nostalgia and the spectre of colonialism in the pub chain J D Wetherspoon
Imperial nostalgia looms large in modern Britain, and for author Afua Hirsch, the legacy of the British Empire has never been properly addressed. Indeed, what Hirsch refers to as ‘ghosts’ of empire continue to inhabit all facets of contemporary British life.1 Tackling these ghosts across cultural institutions such as museums is crucial for the creation of an inclusive society, evidenced in academic and public campaigns. Yet those who attend these institutions are far from representative of the wider British public. Instead, I propose that the sites of J D Wetherspoon pubs are a more typical arena in which the broader population come into contact with the iconographic spectre of the British Empire. Wetherspoons serves two million customers weekly, who, alongside the budget alcohol proffered, consume a historical narrative as dictated by the company. Using a handful of case studies this paper analyses how Wetherspoons manifests the country’s collective nostalgia for empire in its venues. Victoria Station’s outwardly modern, 1993-built Wetherspoon’s sees the company insert a miscellany of anachronistic elements, such as a wood-panelled, marble-topped bar and red brick columns, topped with neoclassical cornicing. Its walls are tiled in white and blue, curiously a common trope of the pub’s exterior. These aesthetic choices contrast with the venue’s modern exterior and point explicitly to the company’s desire to replicate the recognisable environment of the past. This produces a perceived authenticity of experience in its adoption of the heritage design, and forms community through its affirmation of a national style, in response to the alienating effects of globalisation.2 Like a museum, the sites weave a consumable narrative of imperial Britain. This is plainly observed in The Coronation Hall in Surbiton. The venue, built in 1911 and converted into a Wetherspoons in
1997, displays numerous advertisements on its walls, though not for products that the company sells, but hand-picked nostalgic adverts from a time gone by. Two of these adverts stand out. The first, a series of reproductions of John Player cigarette cards from a 1938 series titled ‘Military Uniforms of the British Empire Overseas’. Portraying precise drawings of soldiers from the colonies, these artefacts create a visual link between the venue and empire. This is reiterated by a historic advert for Marston’s beer, which, according to the Marston’s marketing team, was embellished by Wetherspoons with a photograph of pith-helmeted soldiers standing in rows. The display, which declares the beer ‘Particularly Authentic!’, seeks to tie the company to this perceptibly authentic, historical era. The display of photography is common throughout Wetherspoon venues, but its use is particularly striking in The Beehive, Brixton. As Zukin notes, culture in the form of images, ‘symbolizes “who belongs” in specific places.’3 It is telling, then, that while you find a clear photographic narrative on the venue’s walls, which seeks to position the recently opened pub within the locality’s history, there is no reference to the marginalised groups that have shaped this culturally diverse area. Indeed, as a journalist named Habiba recalls, ‘I went to Wetherspoons the other day and just didn’t like it […] I don’t ever see people there that look like me.’4 The company’s denial of minority narratives speaks to a nationwide erasure of marginalised voices from public fora and a perpetuation of the belief that white people are the makers of history – a view that continues to be crucial for justifying colonialism, and which is made all the more potent when enforced under the pretence of celebrating local history. My final case study is The Old Borough in Dublin, recently opened in a former schoolhouse. O’Dwyer calls this expansion into Ireland an extension of founder Tim Martin’s ‘pub empire’.5 Indeed, that the Brexit Martin ardently supports may once again bring violent conflict between Britain and Ireland, seems not to pose a social problem for the company, and the selective histories that are put on display here, can be considered representative of a long history of the British elite’s interest in controlling the narrative of the Irish people. This aggressive expansion abroad is perhaps the company’s most concrete engagement with an embodied nostalgia for empire.
The pub is not a neutral public ground whereby social differences are diminished, but rather a mirror of contemporary life in Britain, with all its deep flaws and inequalities. An understanding of these spaces and the stories they tell is crucial at a time when the country is facing a ‘crisis of English identity’, one that Haseler sees as emerging from the elite’s failure to come to terms with the loss of empire and reduced global status.6 According to Bauman, the contemporary global spread of people, labour and culture since the turn of the century has had a transformative and destabilising effect, eroding the base that local communities once used to anchor their identities.7 This shift ‘is often counteracted by the reaffirmation of a strong group identity’ such as reactionary nationalism.8 The historian Paul Gilroy believes that there is ‘a reluctance to see contemporary British racism as a product of imperial and colonial power’.9 Combined with Stuart Hall’s understanding of nationalist identities as shaped by a poor comprehension of colonial history, it is imperative we address issues of representation within public space.10 If Wetherspoons wishes to provide accommodating spaces for a diverse range of customers and staff as it claims to, it should begin with an assessment of how it displays British histories to its many millions of customers. In doing so, it can perhaps lead the way towards a more positive transformation of the public domain.
Afua Hirsch, Brit(ish), (London: Jonathan Cape), 2018, 270. George Ritzer, The Globalization of Nothing 2, (California: Pine Forge Press, 2007). 3. Sharon Zukin, The Cultures of Cities, Oxford: Blackwell, 1995, 1. 4. Cited in Jumi Akinfenwa. ‘How ‘Black People Hate Pubs’ Became a Stereotype, then a Meme’, in VICE, (1 August 2019). 5. Peter O’Dwyer, ‘Wetherspoon opens tap on its pub estate’, in The Times, (20 November 2018). 6. Stephen Haseler, England Alone: Brexit and the Crisis of English Identity, (London: Forumpress, 2017). 7. Zygmunt Bauman, The individualized society, (Cambridge: Polity, 2001). 8. Stefano Tartaglia, Monica Rossi, ‘The local identity functions in the age of globalization: a study on a local culture’, in Community Psychology in Global Perspective, 1, 1, 2015, pp. 105-121, 106. 9. Paul Gilroy. After Empire: Melancholia or Convivial Culture, (London: Routledge, 2004), 103. 10. Tim Adams, ‘Cultural hallmark: The interview: Stuart Hall’, in The Observer Review, (23 September 2007), 8.
RUIN, REUSE, REPRESENTATION Architectural adaptation and imaging absence
The complex task of adapting existing buildings for new use draws upon more than mere aesthetic revitalisation. It considers a building’s former function and value, and the memories – physical and metaphorical – engrained in its historic fabric. This responsive approach to remodelling – which relies on the ‘soft values’ of architecture – “seeks to activate the full potential of [a building’s] heritage and draws upon the ambitious idea that the heyday of a monument or site may also lay in the future.”1 Thus, the interplay between the ruin and contemporary adaptation proposes an entirely new typology, creating a utopian moment of ‘promise’, which is neither historical nor contemporary; but a compromise between two processes in a dialogue that is never fully resolved and cannot be replicated in a new building. The ruin retains an impression of absence – a recognition of something missing that was once there – and anticipates “the previous, the current and the potential.”2 The visual paradox of witnessing multiple periods of time in parallel – as an embodiment of both memory and promise – is more than can be understood in physical terms. Andreas Hyssen writes:
Hence, the adaptive reuse of existing – ruined – buildings presents an additional paradox in the secondary reading of the present. This can be seen in Sverre Fehn’s Archbishopric Museum in Hamar, Norway,
“In the case of ruins, what is allegedly present and transparent whenever authenticity is claimed is present only as absence. It is the imagined present of a past that can now be grasped only in its decay. Any ruin posits the problem of a double exposure to the past and the present.”3
completed in 1970. The insertion re-interprets the historic narrative of the 19th century Storhamar barn, itself built on top of the 16th century ruins of a Bishop’s manor (Bispegaard) to create a ‘suspended museum’ that appears to hover above the site’s archaeological remains in the form of a concrete walkway. An analysis of the museum proposes an alternative discourse – previously underrepresented in architectural dissemination – of adaptive reuse through the utopian perspectives of Peter Jameson and Slavoj Žižek, as an exploration of ‘no-place’ or liminality. In this sense, the metaphysical transition between old and new suggests the remodelled building as a process of becoming. The proposal of this third kind of place, by virtue of its ambiguity, provokes instability and discomfort and can thus be described as a ‘creative moment’ that goes beyond the physical to the subliminal. In 2009, architectural photographer Hélène Binet was commissioned by Norwegian architecture journal Arkitektur N to capture new images of the Archbishopric Museum. Published as a photo essay, in a special issue of the magazine focusing on the work of Fehn, the 18 images compose a narrative based not on the juxtaposition of old and new architecture but on light, shadow and materiality. Binet’s photographic methodology frames ‘snippets’ or ‘fragments’ of a larger whole, expressing atmosphere through artistry and borrowing conventions from archaeological photography to prioritise the “dark and mysterious”4 values of imaging the past. Her work actively rejects the contrivance of the “conventionalised image”5 and often sits uncomfortably outside of media consumption. This can be seen within the commissioned images of the museum which accentuates the contrast of light and dark in a dramatic semi-consciousness, presenting the subject as if a memory from a dream. Dark, fading edges recall the uncanny and unstable experience of witnessing remodelled space in reality; an ethereal state that is surprisingly well interpreted in Binet’s photographs. If adaptive reuse moves beyond the uncovering of a building’s layers to become about constructing a kind of ‘no-place’ where the liminal transition between times materials are witnessed simultaneously, then one may ask if it is the role of photography to interpret the non-physical “air of uncertainty”6 where the past meets the present to construct a transitional moment that becomes symbolic of itself? Much dissatisfaction with architectural photography is not specific to the discipline of adaptive reuse,
but is recognised as a characteristic of representation in that looking at a two-dimensional surface and imagining its relationship to three-dimensional space requires a separation of knowledge and belief.7 The stabilisation of space through a framed image lacks, by definition, an appreciation of ‘noplace’ and the experiential or emotive impact of architecture in situ – the ‘soft values’ – that are so integral to the comprehension of remodelled buildings. If the known limits of photography are present for all kinds of architecture, then perhaps the representation of adaptive reuse ought to refrain from conventional photographic methodologies and revert focus to the phenomenological. Questioning what we want or can expect from architectural photography leads us to take precedent from Hélène Binet’s uncontrived techniques, as she prioritises neither the historic nor the contemporary, but instead interprets the ethereal qualities of space, thus avoiding the fetishization of the contemporary to the detriment of the historic fabric which influenced it.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Bie Plevoets and Koenraad van Cleempoel, Adaptive Reuse of the Built Heritage: Concepts and Cases of an Emerging Discipline (London: Routledge, 2019), 1. Paul Ring, “Re Use: Archaeology and Storytelling,” Northumbria Working Paper Series: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Built and Virtual Environment 1(2) (2008): 95. Andreas Hyssen, “Authentic Ruins,” in Ruins, ed. Brian Dillon (London: Whitechapel Gallery Ventures Ltd, 2011), 53. Michael Shanks, “Photography and Archaeology,” in The Cultural Life of Images: Visual Representation in Archaeology, ed. Brian Leigh Molyneaux (London: Routledge, 1997), 76. Andrew Higgott and Timothy Wray, “Introduction,” in Camera Constructs: Photography, Architecture and the Modern City, (Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2012), 7. Paul Ring, “The Immanent Interior” (paper presented at the Interior Educators 2nd International Conference 2012, Ravensbourne, March 29–30, 2012). Richard Pare, Photography and Architecture: 1839–1939 (Massachussetts: MIT Press, 1985), 12.
EXPERIENCING, DESCRIBING AND CRITICISING ENGLISH ARCHITECTURE 1660 - 1750
MATTHEW LLOYD ROBERTS
The late 17th and early 18th centuries had a dramatic effect on the English built environment. After the relative urban decline of the Civil War years, towns and cities across the country enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth, overwhelmingly carried out in the restrained Classicism that would come to define Georgian urbanism. This richness and complexity in the development of architectural culture was mirrored in the appearance of texts — from travel diaries, to journalistic criticism — which sought to transform their writers’ experience of architecture into description and criticism. The way that these writers used language to convey architecture is an invaluable tool for understanding how they understood architecture themselves, and how they might have influenced their audiences’ understanding. One way to closely read patterns of description across texts is by focusing on individual words, such as ‘regularity.’ The late 17th century traveler, Celia Fiennes, when she visited Warwick in the late 1690s, found a city rebuilt after a fire. She was struck by the ‘mostly now new buildings, brick and coyn’d with stone, handsome streets and regular buildings.’1 Regularity in terms of urbanism conveyed a consistency and uniformity of materials, but it was also associated with centralised town planning and a rationalised grid of streets. However, ‘regularity’ also applied to architectural composition at the level of form and element. Landscape designer and theorist Batty Langley found Burlington’s house for the Duke of Richmond to be ‘surprisingly loaded with chimneys; which, at first view, seem to be almost as numerous and difficult to be accounted for, as the stones of Stone-henge in Wiltshire. The extravagancy of their number, and irregularity of their situation, has occasioned many to call them a grove of chimnies.’2 Here the irregular connotes naturality, asymmetry and compositional incoherence. This
linguistic flexibility, the multivalent concepts which loomed large in the minds of people writing about architecture but could be variously used to refer to urbanism, element, form, composition represents a structure without which we cannot hope to understand contemporary architectural thinking. The Grub Street Journal, a periodical which satirized journalists, offers an elucidating example of the problems of architectural description in this period. Literary critic and journalist James Ralph published his Critical Review of Public Buildings serially in the Weekly Register in 1733, and then as a collected edition in 1736. It was the subject of acerbic attacks in the Grub Street Journal, primarily by Batty Langley, writing pseudonymously as “Hiram.” However, there were also two other anonymous attacks on Ralph, written under the nome de plumes “Atticus” and “Palladio Grubeano.” These articles attacked Ralph for his misuse of language in architectural description, quoting at length from Ralph’s more idiosyncratic linguistic choices to question his education and his critical credentials. A point of particular hilarity for Atticus comes with Ralph’s suggestion that London’s squares might be better served with eight sides, or as ‘OCTANGULAR SQUARES.’ Atticus pretends an awestruck respect for Ralph’s miraculous geometry, declaring that ’I cannot help congratulating our nation for producing a genius that extend their discoveries to squares with eight angles, and figures which Euclid and L’Hospital never thought of.’3 This emergence of ‘policing’ the correct terminology in the architectural discourse reflects the growth of a formalised and consistent vocabulary, and the fading of the linguistic nuances and evocation that defined early modern architectural description. Lastly, writers used contemporary literary concepts, such as ‘fancy,’ to understand architectural design, but also to think about architectural experience. Daniel Defoe used ‘fancy’ to describe the designs of James Gibbs and John James at the house of the Duke of Chandos, which was ‘finish’d with such a brightness of fancy, goodness of judgment,’4 reflecting fancy as a way of thinking about design, which had to be tempered by rationality. John Vanbrugh’s architectural designs were also viewed as fanciful for their Gothic massing and complex formal inventiveness. When James Ralph came to comment on his ‘Goose-Pie House’ he was vitriolic, claiming that ‘nothing is more corrupt, nor can tend more to the degeneracy of true beauty.’ However, Ralph’s criticism redeems, rather than attacks the design, by imploring the
viewer to use their own fancy in the experience of the architecture: ‘and yet sometimes, by the help of a lively fancy, it has a good effect, and would grace a landscape better than any thing in a more regular and finish’d taste.’5 In describing architecture through this period, there is an evident shift, where critics move from using concepts purely to comment on the architectural object, or the design process, to constructing a certain way of looking at architecture. Therefore, writers increasingly advocated for their readers to change the way they looked at buildings, rather than purely suggesting that architects change their design process.
1. 2. 3.
Celia Fiennes, The Illustrated Journeys of Celia Fiennes, Ed. Christopher Morris (London, 1995), 114-5. Batty Lanley, ‘A Continuation of the Critical Review of the public buildings, &c. examined, by Mr Hiram’ Grub Street Journal, 5 December 1734 (Burney Collection) “Atticus,” ‘Letter to Bavius’ Grub Street Journal, 23 May 1734 (Burney Collection) Daniel Defoe, A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain, Ed. Pat Rogers (Harmondsworth, 1983), 342. James Ralph, A New Critical Review of the Publick Buildings, Statues and Ornaments, In and About London and Westminster, Second Edition, (London: Ackers & Clarke, 1736), 32.
BROADMOOR COMMUNITY STUDY: TOWARDS ARCHITECTURE, ART, PSYCHIATRY... COMING TO NARRATVE
In 1968, despite decisive shifts towards ‘care in the community’ (i.e. away from centralised institutions), the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) decided to rebuild Broadmoor Hospital. Conditions at the psychiatric hospital were notoriously bad, mainly due to overcrowding. At first, the Ministry of Public Building Works – the government building department – was charged with designing Broadmoor, while the architects within the DHSS supplied the brief. By 1974, however, the DHSS architects were not satisfied with the feasibility studies that MPBW produced, based on the existing brief. They proposed an in-depth investigation into the specific requirements of the users of Broadmoor Hospital, claiming that designs based on an inadequate brief risked becoming a ‘straight-jacket to developing attitudes.’1 In 1975, artist Ian Breakwell joined the DHSS architects, through his involvement with the Artist Placement Group (APG). APG was an artist-run organisation that sought ‘placements’ for artists in industry and government departments, with the aim to dematerialise artistic production and seek a new social position for the artist beyond the gallery. Breakwell was critical of notions of insanity, and the DHSS architects were sympathetic to his practice. Working together at Broadmoor, their insistence upon a Community Study showed a commitment to the situated expertise required to design a psychiatric hospital that did more than just institutionalise its subjects; rather, they sought to produce a building with truly therapeutic and rehabilitative potential. Hence, Breakwell interviewed patients on diverse matters, mediating the requirements of the design brief between disparate groups, discursively reconstituting his subjectivity as an expert of relations between architectural authorities and patient-users.
In the report of the Community Study, the DHSS architects shifted emphasis away from security towards treatment, which for psychiatry was transgressive, even by today’s standards. They outlined some architectural and programmatic requirements for a new hospital: flexible design for changing treatments; integrated wards for men and women; smaller community wards; better provision of work and activity spaces. Their suggestions were based on a deeply affective understanding of Broadmoor’s patterns of working, patient care, and how these might adapt in the future. Nevertheless, the Broadmoor Community Study was rejected. On the cover of the report was a poem by Ian Breakwell – referring to Broadmoor as ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ – which was to convince the Rebuilding Committee. Certainly, the open disregard for security unsettled psychiatrists; though maybe their proposals were simply not economical enough. Still, it’s important to note that these subjects were working within the discourse of psychiatry, not breaking it apart, but taking expertise as a means of stretching the limits of what was possible from that position. This is akin to Michel Foucault’s concept of ‘Enlightenment’ after Kant: daring to know, engaging in a collective process of critique with the courage to accomplish transformation within the disciplines that formed them.2 … At the Tate Archives one day, I threw a few search terms into the catalogue’s engines. My interests being nominally architectural, I began with ‘architect’ and, following my own preoccupations, added ‘mental health’. I got one result: ‘DHSS 1st Placement, ‘Broadmoor Community Study’’, Ian Breakwell Collection. I recount this because the arbitrariness of my discovery seems to be part of the history that I wanted to tell. Having perused a few documents, I thought it worth recuperating this case study for an architectural history of psychiatry. Although there were no built outcomes, and barely any paper architecture to speak of, the work done at Broadmoor was interesting for the unique assemblage of disciplinary positions that were involved in the architectural labour of rebuilding a hospital. There were substantial discursive transgressions between the disciplinary positions involved, which often demonstrated a critical attitude towards health institutions and their treatment
of individual subjects. But to claim that the Broadmoor Community Study was architectural-historically significant was to see the narrative implicit in the failure to produce buildings from radical plans, and perhaps through writing about it, continue the discursive work of ‘Enlightenment’ that was begun at Broadmoor. Architectural historical accounts of the planning, designing and building of psychiatric spaces usually portray highly paternalistic, technocratic procedures in which the extent of multivocality spreads only across different ‘expert’ voices invested in the most efficient means of treating the mentally ill. Through Peg Rawes’ feminist theories of poetic biopolitics and relational architectural ecologies, I could see the affirmative potential in these plans to create humane conditions for the mentally ill.3 Also significant was the science-fiction of Ursula Le Guin, with its emphasis on the process of gathering things and holding them together in relation to one another and to ourselves.4 This method aptly describes archival research, especially with fragmentary material that lacks the heroes around which a conventional narrative might pivot. Truly, Le Guin: ‘Still there are seeds to be gathered, and room in the bag of stars.’
Branch E1 Architects Division DHSS, Broadmoor Community Study Report – How It Came About, TGA 20054/4/5/2, FOLDER 2/2, Tate Archives, London. 2. Michel Foucault, ‘What is Enlightenment?’ in Michel Foucault, The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 50. 3. Peg Rawes, ed., Relational Architectural Ecologies: Architecture, Nature and Subjectivity (London ; New York: Routledge, 2013); Peg Rawes, Stephen Loo, and Timothy Mathews, eds., Poetic Biopolitics: Practices of Relation in Architecture and the Arts (London ; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2016). 4. Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’ (1986), in Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places (Grove Press, 1989), 154.
REFRAMING BYKER Exploring an alternate representation of Ralph Erskine’s Byker redevelopment through the work of Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
In 1968 Ralph Erskine and a team of architects began the design of a housing estate in Byker, Newcastle, to replace a neighbourhood of Tyneside flats condemned by the city council as slums. Erskine had taken the project on the proviso that the 17,000-strong community could be involved and guaranteed residency, keeping social ties intact. This approach suited the council’s public relations aims, having recently won the ward with the campaign ‘Byker for Byker People’. Despite seemingly good intentions on both the council and Erskine’s part, roughly 80% of the original population had dispersed by 1982, either by force or out of despondency. Thus, the original purpose of the entire redevelopment was essentially forfeit, along with a significant portion of the community’s social networks and cultural heritage. Nevertheless, Erskine’s scheme continues to be held up within the architectural canon as an important precedent for participatory design. This is reflected in the representation of the project throughout architectural publications. The conservation plan that lead to the estate’s Grade II* listing in 2007 states: ‘it was at the forefront of a sea-change in UK social housing towards more humane architecture than its often brutalist predecessors. Its direct influence can be seen in much housing since, including current schemes’.1 However, representation that goes beyond an idealistic narrative of successful community engagement and participation is scarce, even as debate continues to unfold regarding urban renewal, social housing, participatory design and Byker Estate itself. It seems remarkable then, that the work of Finnish documentary photographer and filmmaker Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen – who moved to Byker in 1969 and spent seven years documenting the community as it faced this architectural and social shift – has not been investigated as a source of alternate representation. Konttinen’s documentation
offers a strikingly fresh perspective, which is posited here as valuable and under-utilised in the context of architectural history. Photography historian Darren Newbury describes Konttinen’s work in Byker as ‘an intimate portrait of an area and community during a period of urban redevelopment. The images invite reflection on the personal and cultural consequences of the changes that are taking place’.2 Samples from two publications within Konttinen’s archive, Byker, and Byker Revisited, are therefore reviewed as a critical counter-point to representations of Byker used within architectural media; addressing themes of intimacy, celebration, duality, independence, inventiveness, hierarchy, grief and loss. Spreads such as ‘Shipley Street wash-house’ depict Byker’s spatial and social configurations as intertwined. They represent the community from a perspective of an outsider who has sought intimacy, dignifying both the built environment and its inhabitants. The viewer’s attention is drawn in and invited to celebrate the nuances of Byker through the juxtaposing of its many dualities: the monotony versus the vitality, the soot and dereliction versus the warmth and generosity, the poverty of circumstances and the richness of connection. This contrasts with the architectural press, which tend to stereotype the community as ‘tight-knit and working class’, present the neighbourhood of old Byker as monotonous and inhumane, and offer a simplified narrative of improvement. Given the repercussions for architectural photography of the Manplan issues, a less anonymous representation of Byker might have worked as a vivid and provocative new voice. ’Two families sunbathing in Carville Road/Mason Street backlane’ represents Konttinen’s positionality of egalitarianism, creativity and independence. Contra to the architectural establishment’s underlying bias towards social engineering, Konttinen utilises the photograph’s inherent authority to establish her representation of the community. Thus establishing their right to actual participation, and showing that inventiveness, ingenuity and freedom were integral features of this community rather than permitted by design. ‘Jimmy gesturing in the street’ brings the depth of what was at stake, and eventually lost, to the foreground. Konttinen’s publications combine text and image in intricate and symbolic ways, presenting a diachronic narrative with multiple voices that heightens yet complicates the viewer’s understanding
of the Byker community’s experience of demolition and upheaval. These pages challenge the viewer to interrogate these events, to become witnesses rather than simply architectural consumers. As John Berger points out, a story is the co-operation between three voices: the subjectivities of the protagonist, the author and the reader.3 Through the events at Byker, through Konttinen’s narration, and through reading this story within an architectural context, a new story is told; one that moves beyond P.R. rhetoric or nostalgia, and becomes politically, socially and architecturally dynamic.
John Pendlebury, Tim Townshend, and Rose Gilroy, ‘Social Housing as Heritage: The Case of Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne’, in Valuing Historic Environments (Heritage, Culture and Identity), eds. Lisanne Gibson & John Pendlebury (London: Routledge, 2009) 191-192. Darren Newbury, ‘Documentary Practices and Working-Class Culture: An Interview with Murray Martin (Amber Films and Side Photographic Gallery)’, Visual Studies 17, no. 2 (2002), 115. John Berger at 19:05mins, in: Mike Lloyd, ‘John Berger and Susan Sontag: To Tell A Story’, Voices (Channel 4, 1983).
THE HOUSE OF THE PRESIDENTS A domestic space as an instrument of control in 1980’s Santiago, Chile
In the early days of January 1984 and in the midst of Chile’s military dictatorship — a regime ideologically influenced by the neoliberal ideas advocated by the so-called ‘Chicago Boys’ and Chile’s economic elite — the opposition journals CAUCE and HOY published on their front covers an image of a large private residence overlooking the Santiago valley. The magazine covers portrayed the two upper levels and the backyard of General Augusto Pinochet’s new private mansion in Lo Curro, a district kept secluded for the mansions of the military and financial class. Through the medium of articles and satirical representations of the house, both journals were aiming to evidence the privileged conditions in which the neoliberal elite was living after 11 years of totalitarian rule. For the first time, the media were interrogating the intimate lives of the ruling class, making public their most private and domestic spaces. These articles sparked such public outcry that the Pinochets decided not to move officially to this house, although they performed their domestic displays within it both in the dictatorship and the later democracy. This thesis hence aims to reconstruct this fragmented account, scattered throughout the pages of these journals and other sources, in order to understand more deeply how domestic spaces were politicised and symbolically transformed within the context of Chile’s neoliberal regime. Pinochet’s house became, for opposition journalists, an ambiguous object, conspicuous and invisible at the same time. Despite its 6,000 sq.m. construction and it 80,000 sq.m. lawn, the house remained throughout its construction a silenced object due to the regime’s rigorous control of the media. Regardless of this media censorship, the opposition journals managed to reveal the various abuses of power that the project embodied. As described in an article for CAUCE, written by Chilean
journalist Mónica González1, the building was not merely intended as the Pinochet’s private residence, but also incorporated a number of other features: a large guest room for international political figures, a reception building with space for 2,000 guests, fully equipped kitchens, extensive cellars, 200 parking bays, a heliport, a pool, a tennis court and a bunker heavily armed in case of a civilian rebellion. Hence the house not only was an ambiguous object due to its ‘invisibility’ but also because of the many desires embodied behind its spatial arrangement that strategically mingled public life with domestic intimacy. ‘The House of the Presidents’ simultaneously performed as a private monument and broadcast medium, that reproduced the Pinochets’ neoliberal values. Through the public display of its most intimate spaces, it functioned as a complex ‘system of representation.’2 One that evidenced the negotiation of multifaceted power relations, political agendas and normative gender roles. Although it was never officially inhabited, ‘The House of the Presidents’ was envisioned as a stage for the domestic and power displays performed by the ruling couple. A remark that resonates with the observations upon domestic spaces by Beatriz Colomina, ‘The house is the stage for the theatre of the family’3 – highlighting that domestic inhabitants perform indistinctly as actors and spectators of the family scene, a drama in this case performed by Augusto Pinochet, Lucía Hiriart (Pinochet’s wife) and their guests. The house became for the ruling couple a site to extend their personalities and political desires architecturally, in which the exercise of decoration fashions and lavish materials played a political role. While Pinochet aimed with the construction of this house to publicise himself as a modern politician instead of a brutal dictator, Lucía Hiriart, exploited the chance that the house provided her to renegotiate the asymmetrical male-female relationship that the dictatorship advocated publicly through its male-soldier and female-volunteer discourse. Paradoxically, Hiriart’s performed agency and Pinochet’s choreographed propaganda, worked as a subtler alienating mechanism towards the masses, that allowed the ruling couple to protect and preserve their economic and political benefits, extending their control threads into later democracy. The latter evidenced in the transformation of Pinochet’s mansion into an elite military club within the early 90’s, that continues to operate today.
The thesis problematises Walter Benjamin’s observations of domesticity within the twentieth century, ‘The twentieth century, with its porosity and transparency, its tendency toward the well-lit and airy, has put an end to dwelling in the old sense.’4 The introduction of modern ‘porosity and transparency’ within the domestic realm disturbed its attributes as a repository that cast its occupants’ desires. Although, contrary to the views of Benjamin, in ‘The House of the Presidents’ the sense of transparency within the domestic shell was not only aimed towards the publicity of a curated private self, but also as a vertical porosity that renegotiated the power and gender relations between the agents encased by this object, observed in the Hiriart’s and Pinochet’s aesthetic disputes. As seen in the discussion upon the ‘The House of the Presidents’, this thesis attempts to make visible this domestic space as a complex instrument of control that embodies in its traces the desires of a ruling elite that subtly transferred its ideology from the public stage to the domestic sphere.
Mónica González, “La Mansión de Lo Curro,” CAUCE 5, no.1 (January 1984): 17-20. 2. Alan Colquhoun, “Typology and Design Method,” Perspecta 12, no.1 (1969): 72. 3. Beatriz Colomina, Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as a Mass Media (Cambridge, Mass and London: MIT Press, 1996), 224. 4. Walter Benjamin, “The Interior, The Trace,” in The Arcades Project, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, Mass and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999), 221.
PRECARITY: EXPLORING WAREHOUSE SPACES AND THEIR DIURNAL AND NOCTURNAL USES WITHIN THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT
This study is motivated by my interest in attending music events, architectural design and a personal curiosity in the spatial, temporal and structural qualities of buildings. The topic is driven by a personal memory - an encounter with a warehouse music event in the suburbs of Hackney Wick and Fish Island (HWFI) in 2017. By utilising the event as a microcosmic encounter and a palimpsest of memory, my research aims to go beyond temporal boundaries and propel wider social, cultural and economic phenomena into discussion. The personal recollection sits apart from other models of ethnography by drawing upon the contingency of usage, through the ephemeral, musical and domestic conditions within the warehouse in discussion as a lens to portray the wider urban surrounding condition. My narrative position is through participant observation and analysis, rather than external researcher, and towards a new spatial typology called Rave/live based on the one-off event. Rave/live derives from the existing live/work typology,1 which inhibits a flexible utilisation of commercial and residential space. My research reiterates how live/work has a dual usage, uncovering its current illegal status in parallel to its use as a marketing strategy. Through my analysis of HWFI, by drawing on Anna Mintonâ€™s writing on the housing crisis, sublet environments are referenced, to posit a permanent state of home that is still temporary. Warehouses represent an architecture that can be used to facilitate a variety of uses and reuses through transgressive agents, noting the space within as a physical and social construct. By situating the warehouse in its historic context, my study traces its use from its most basic form through storage and industrial trade to contemporary adaptive reuses of space, to widen an understanding of it as a complex
building typology. I draw upon why underground raves sit as a less discussed topic in academia, noting the legal circumstances that contribute to this, along with authors such as Graham St John and Sarah Thornton, who write about the value of experiential and participatory narratives in regard to analysing raves. Utlilising Zukin’s analysis of loft living, the initial domestic reuse of post-industrial warehouses represents a form of cosmopolitan urbanism, in its dual usage as both creative and domestic space. Through the analysis of planning regulations and legislations at varying scales, the immediate context of HWFI and its individual developments can be compared to the differentiation between other London councils and through national legislation, which display a series of fluctuating planning environments. By doing so, my research links the social perspectives of involved agents and the precarious uses of warehouses discussed, therefore seeking to respond to restrictions in both nocturnal and diurnal contexts from a very real, emotive, social and economic perspective. This project is an inherently personal one, where I use my emotions, my enchantment and disenchantment to nuance a new understanding of warehouses. This participatory ethnography compares the ephemerality of the event in parallel to the encompassing residencies, which are in flux of temporary and permanent status, linking both domestic and musical uses throughout. The speculative approach of sketching my experience through memory explicitly conveys the domestic and musical spatio-temporality of the warehouse from my perspective, Through constant reflection and literal drawing of the event?? through extracts. This method exhibits the buildings, the people who reside there and their relationship to the immediate and wider surrounding context from the perspective of a participant curious to learn more. Rave/live Building on the live/work typology, my new spatial typology of Rave/live is one that thrives off an interpretation of St John’s identification of a deliberate “disorganisation of space”2, unconcerned with conventional ideals of space
and dwelling. It sits apart from mainstream events, through its nonchalant structure of space as a precarious yet creatively unsustainable “mythical construct.”3 The contrast of my temporal experience of musical enchantment with the warehouse as a residential typology exposes the disenchanting reality of its precarious status under private ownership. By proposing a new Rave/live spatial typology, my research aims to promote precarity in its unstable sense through its semi-legal status but exhibits creativity and flexibility, through its ephemeral usage.
The Live/Work typology evolved also within the context of New York art scene as a process of change from industrial to post-industrial land uses. Chris Hamnett and Drew Whitelegg, “Loft Conversion And Gentrification In London: From Industrial To Postindustrial Land Use.” Environment and Planning A, Vol.39 (2007), 106. Graham St John’s deliberate “disorganisation of space” refers to his own personal experience of raves, recollecting spaces that sit outside the normative and institutive rave circuit, created a spatial abandonment from the norm. Graham St. John, Rave Culture And Religion (London: Routledge, 2009), 71. St. John, Rave, 71.
DELIVEROO AS PART OF A DIGITAL VERNACULAR New Architectural Typology That Is Unbuilding The City
SORCHA McGARRY HUNT
Mario Carpo describes an “unprecedented state of data opulence, where more and more data are expected to be always more easily available at ever decreasing costs”. He continues, “today’s digital avantgarde has taken due notice ... and have started to use Big Data and computation… without the mediation of elegant, streamlined mathematical notations.” As Carpo says, this is the digital avantgarde, it is formal architecture. This paper observes that the same state of data opulence— its easy availability, and now the ability to store it in cloud based warehouses, and use it in real-time — is also being incorporated into vernacular architectural processes. The factories and mills of the Industrial Revolution had a profound and unplanned effect on the formation of today’s cities and their infrastructures. Today, new warehouses surround us in the cloud, negotiating data constantly produced by anyone who is online. This is a gradual process, which once again may be reforming, or perhaps even unbuilding cities and the way we live. Investigating these ideas, this paper asks if an example of a vernacular architectural equivalent to the digital avantgarde, is forming as a byproduct of the commercial objectives of Deliveroo - the online food delivery service. Both employ use of big data to create their form, the principle difference being, in the case of formal architecture, the data is deliberately manipulated by an architect or designer, whereas in the case of Deliveroo the data is organically manipulated, mass collaboratively, by 45,000 daily users. In 2015 Deliveroo reaffirmed their goal as not just to “make restaurant quality food more easily accessible – but to kill home cooking altogether.”1 In 2018 UBS investment bank published the report, “Is the kitchen Dead?” analysing the mega-trend of online food delivery,
stating â€œthat by 2030 most meals now cooked at home will instead be ordered online and delivered from restaurants or central kitchens.â€? With the extinction of the domestic kitchen on the horizon, this paper looks at the central kitchens they may be replaced with. It examines how concept innovators Deliveroo are achieving this - through a system of highly adaptable, high-tech, delivery only kitchen boxes, which simultaneously contain multiple, changeable, restaurants, and their integral connection to a constant stream of real-time cloud-based data. The paper continues by removing the explicitly Deliveroo-centric narrative, and looking at the constituent parts of the new system. It compares each of the generic kitchen boxes to voxels2 - or now boxels3. A boxel is a physical manifestation of a voxel, it exists as a true hybrid because of its equal dependence on both physical and virtual space. Echoing the idea of a voxel, each individual box has little meaning on its own. Its meaning is relational and relative, not innate or stand alone. To date, boxels have been mostly discussed at the scale of building block to building. But, as observed in Deliveroo, it may be that they can also exist as their own discrete modular infrastructures - and at the scale of the building to city. These boxels do not create an iconic monolith or a building located in a finite space, they are not the Shard or the Taj Mahal (unless of course they choose to cluster together). They are perhaps closer to an Archigram city, or a textural building, of distributed bits scattered city wide - their location and their function constantly renegotiated by the cloud. Boxels question the continued assumption that every building/house needs to be self-contained or fully functional, and involve the programming of space into specific function rooms - with the tremendous duplication and wastage this inevitably entails. It may be that the domestic kitchen becoming centralised marks a beginning of a reorganisation of space, according to a new digital logic. Architecture is the original medium of mass communication, but it has always communicated via a broadcast system. From the pyramids to skyscrapers, the messages that buildings communicate have been mono directional. This paper speculates that through the mass manipulation of boxels, the Deliveroo system is initiating a fundamentally new feedback-loop architecture.
Venturi Scott Brown discuss architectureâ€™s ability to use iconography to communicate. Learning from Las Vegas employs the Vegas Strip as a case study to identify two architectural typologies relating to this, the Duck and the Decorated Shed4. This transition of architecture from a broadcast to feedback loop medium implies an evolution of this theory. In the Deliveroo system the decoration has separated from the shed, becoming a boxel and a decorated but separated app. The shed, is quite literally an unbranded box in an industrial estate. The decoration is an app on the screen of a mobile device and the logo on the delivery vehicle. The previous spatial proximity of the decoration and shed, is being replaced by a new connection established through virtual space and a systems-based approach. As before the user interface remains decorative, but now it also functions - collecting data from the user and feeding it right back to a centre. Decoration informing form.
William Shu, Deliveroo - NOAH15 London Youtube video, January 30 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAPRs8IcHBA A voxel can be described as a value in three-dimensional space. In a similar way to a pixel, voxels do not typically have their position explicitly encoded along with their values. Instead, rendering systems infer the position of a voxel based upon its position relative to other voxels. Like a pixel, any meaning would be difficult to derive from just one, it is from many that an image, or a value is composed. Mario Carpo, tutorial with author, 24 July 2019 Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour, Learning From Las Vegas, MIT Press, 1972
UNLIVING HOUSE The Rise and Fall of Lanyu National Housing, from 1966 to the Present Day
The study presents a rarely-known housing scheme at Lanyu (Orchid Island), Taiwan, built by the Government of the Republic of China (ROC) for the indigenous Tao people during the post-war period. It offers a model for merging anthropological perspectives into architectural discourse at the peripheries of canonical modernism. Lanyu National Housing was one of the largest and earliest housing supply for Taiwanese aborigines, however, it has experienced degradation, remodeling and reconstruction in the past half a century. The housing no longer exists as originally built, the architects were anonymous and there is a lack of documentation recording its construction. Therefore, the study utilises internal governmental documents disclosed recently as field, and employs ethnographies as text, endeavouring to reinterpret Lanyu National Housing at two levels: (1) situated within the trend of state-led modernisation under the context of Cold War and, (2) to seek out the key to disjunction and transition of the dwelling circumstances intertwined human-house relationships by the Austronesian peoples to whom the Tao belong as dialectics. The notion of “living house” emphasizes the significance of comprehending the meaning and the role of house within its social contexts. In Tao’s beliefs, the house is deemed a point of contact that is not only relevant to one’s life cycle, tied up with the marriage that maintains the domestic scene, but also consolidates the social group through the persistent construction of houses. Furthermore, through the holding of the inauguration ceremonies as an inter-village exchange system that comprises the sharing of food resources and labour force as well as maintains the individual’s reputation. That is the social role of house among the dynamic relationships against which Lanyu National Housing severely struck; in short, the latter was a demand “being
created” that led to the transition of the dwelling circumstances of the Tao. The history of the Lanyu project evidences the multiplicities of transmission and variation that defined architectural modernity and its interaction with different contexts through the post-colonial period.1 For instance, the housing scheme was built by the ROC, a non-Western regime operating under the premise of decolonisation and anti-communism with modernising intentions, especially for improving the hygienic conditions of the Tao as social welfare. However, this programme was overseen by housing advisors from the United States as a result of the U.S. Aid, who were the actual instigators of the initial plan. Simultaneously, the housing presented its regionalism as a hybrid outcome keeping pace with the housing programmes of the main island, and using local materials as well. After inhabitation, the Tao sought to extend and remodel the housing, attempting to merge it into their indigenous cultural system. However, their traditions also responded and changed to their new architectural context, revealed in their experience in the later reconstruction period, which ultimately catered to tourism by chance. In this case, it is evident that modernist influences ‘underwent adaptation and modification by local agents in the process of translation to local settings, mediating between state motives of cultural assimilation and local movements of cultural resistance’,2 yet still underwent creolisation in substance. Modernities at Lanyu were, from and belonged to the Other after all. As we view the result from the reconstruction stage, the nonintervention of the government and the lack of experience of the Tao in erecting the modern housing, resulted in commodification and arbitrariness of the built environment. As long as the intervention is necessary, is there a way out? The answer might have been revealed in the unrealised part of the proposal by the government in 1975: the architects should serve as director and assistant offering proposals and techniques rather than build on behalf of the Tao while the locals should partake in the construction process, and be allowed to flexibly adapt the housing after their inhabitation. More importantly, the study argues for the need for collaboration between the field of anthropology and architecture, especially for architectural practices and research beyond the European perimeter. Only if the house is built and dwelled constantly by the Tao themselves, in Roxana Waterson’s terms
‘having people living in it’,3 will the “living house” maintain its vitality as living heritage instead of historic monuments. In this way, Tao’s house as a mirror of the prototype of the God house in mythology4 can be inherited, and consequently, the local knowledge will be able to implemented in a sustainable environment. Thus the history of Lanyu National Housing has lessons for architectural practitioners between its rise and fall.
Bhambra, Gurminder K., ‘Multiple Modernities or Global Interconnections: Understanding the Global Post the Colonial’, in N. Karagiannis and P. Wagner (eds.), Beyond Globalization. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007, 70. 2. Melhuish, Clare, ‘Aesthetics of social identity: re-framing and evaluating modernist architecture and planning as cultural heritage in Martinique’, Planning Perspectives, 34:2 (2019), 266. 3. Waterson, Roxana, The Living House: An Anthropology of Architecture in South-East Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990, 136. 4. Tung, Ma-Nu, ‘The Singing of Ceremonial Songs Marking the Completion of a Workshop in Ivalinu Village (III)’, Field Materials, Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica 5 (1991), 115.
BUILDING ‘HYPERREAL’ ARCHITECTURE From the Cathedral of Power to the New Tate Modern
Through a case study of Tate Modern, the former Bankside Power Station, this dissertation investigates ideological change against ‘values,’ from Marx to Baudrillard and from early capitalism to the present. In Das Kapital, Marx defines use-value as utility, qualitatively different according to the characteristics of the product (thing), whereas exchange-value is the quantitative relation; the proportion by which use-value is quantified. Baudrillard re-theorized Marx’s law of values, arguing that use-value is superseded by sign-value. Exchange value then appears at the semiological level of ‘hyperreality.’ In other words, the world is more real than its reality, and the object loses its sovereignty to the subject. In planning Bankside Power Station (1943-1952), the sovereignty of the subject to object is present. The potential use-value of the Bankside area was primarily for its utility value. During its operational period, the power station’s positive use-value was realised its construction and function, but a negative sign-value also emerged through its adverse impact on health and London’s cityscape, until its decommission in 1981. The building was then preserved as part of London’s historical heritage in its transformation into Tate Modern in 2000. The exchangevalue of the capital invested in this construction was driven not only by the use-value, but also the sign-value of the architectural object. Welcoming over 5.2 million people in the first year, the use-value of the building remained consistent in the physical world, although its architecture was also dematerialized into mere images, signs that floated and grew further in digital media. This marks a chief turning point where Tate Modern began to present itself as an ‘immense accumulation of spectacles,’ and movement ‘into representation.’1
‘The seething crowds’ led to the ‘inevitable criticism that the gallery had become a victim of its own success’;2 the masses dominated by the object they themselves created. Most recently, ‘the fiction of the real’ has extended into the new extension, where capital cost and its construction expands upon the sign-value of the Tate Modern brand. Also, due to the exponential growth of Tate Modern in digital space, its use-value is no longer distinct from its sign-value. The new physical spaces have been absorbed back into the grand Tate ‘simulacrum’. The New Tate Modern is therefore like Disneyland where its existence ‘is neither true nor false’; that is, ‘a deterrence machine [has] set up in order to rejuvenate in reverse the fiction of the real’. Its values have been absorbed back into the Tate ‘simulacrum,’ and the physical presence of the building merely reflects its other life in the digital world. To follow Baudrillard, at this point, ‘the territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it; it is the map that precedes the territory -- precession of simulacra.’3 Within the chaos where architecture can re-appear at the semiological level – ‘hyperreality’ – architectural theory can examine the symbolic exchange of buildings. Furthermore, the building’s physical medium fades away alongside the development of its technological medium. In other words, simulating is disappearing. In the light of late capitalism, the question is: how to write architectural history of the future since ‘histories have been written before their events,’ and such events are merely phantasmagoria?
Michigan Press, 1994), 1.
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, ed. Ken Knabb, 1st ed. (Paris: the Bureau of Public Secrets, 2014), par.1, 2. Chris Dercon, Tate Modern Building a Museum for The 21st Century, ed. Nicholas Serota, 1st ed. (London: Tate Publishing, 2016), 32. Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation (Michigan: University of
‘STEPPING ON STRAY SODS’: STORYING ‘OTHER SPACES’ Women’s Worlds in 16th – 18th Century Mughal India
ZOYA GUL HASAN
The multifaceted history of the Mughal Empire (1526 - 1858) is closely intertwined with its architectural legacy. Spaces and buildings from this era in present-day northern India and Pakistan have been widely documented and interpreted through various lenses over the years, building up a collection often labelled as ‘Islamic’ or ‘Mughal’ architecture. What is particularly troubling however, is the extent to which architecture is invariably associated with the names of prominent emperors, resulting in a lack of awareness of, and engagement with, women’s perspectives and architectural contributions. In turn, this has consequences for not only Mughal or architectural history, but also medieval and feminist studies, and begs the question that some scholars have repeatedly asked in varied contexts over the years: Where are the women? The ubiquitous image and concept of a stereotypical ‘feminine’ domain – the Mughal harem – combined with an exceedingly fragmented archive and an apparent absence of women’s personal accounts has relegated them to an imaginary realm of confinement, servitude and languor. Other than reinforcing problematic binarisms such as public/private, male/female and active/passive, this renders their roles in cultural, political, economic and architectural realms largely invisible. The point however, is not to lament these silences and stereotypes, but rather, read them as probes to reconstitute methods of thinking, researching and writing – to partake in, what Adrienne Rich calls “[…] seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction […]”.1 This dissertation attempts to glean ‘other spaces’ that are typologically different from the harem and are associated with Mughal women by virtue of patronage, agency and use. The aim is not to
understand the two as antithetical to each other, but to allow one to read and imagine multiple spatial worlds of Mughal women, thereby expanding the territory granted to them in architectural history. I propose that one way of doing so is to turn one’s gaze to the city – as an archive and spatial field – which contains traces of their architectural patronage and spatial experiences. With Lahore as my site of study, I explore the fragments of three monuments: an inconspicuous mosque (Dai Anga Masjid), the scattered remains of two gardens (Chauburji and Nawankot Monuments) and a solitary tomb (Sarvwala Maqbarah). Considering the sparseness of women’s voices in the archive, these buildings become metaphorical ‘bodies’ or ‘corporeal presences’ of their patrons in the city – bodies that have been ‘othered’ in various ways, but also contain narratives of ‘other’ spaces. All three are non-monumental architectures and are associated with female patrons who do not fall neatly in the category of ‘iconic’ characters. Similarly, their histories rest in a strange, intermediate zone between fiction and ‘fact’, mediated (mostly) through male voices, often in contestation with each other. Furthermore, their visual and textual representations feature within records of hegemonic institutions and agents who successively intervened and appropriated them over the years, such as Sikh conquerors, British officials, colonial building and conservation institutions, or presentday neoliberal development ventures. Lastly, all three are either physically fragmented or merged with the surrounding built fabric, hence effectively rendered invisible or obscure. That said, whilst these spaces are ‘othered’ in historical records, collective public consciousness and the urban fabric, they are also ‘promisory’ spaces that house alternate narratives of feminine subjectivities and agency, unique or peculiar patterns of use, and other voices or stories that spark the imagination. Informed by Edward Soja’s notion of ‘Thirdspace’ which advances a polyvalent reading of space and geography, the dissertation traces the multifarious meanings, representations and faces of these sites, delving into their ‘factual’ histories, as well as symbolic and mythical associations. The implicit aim of the dissertation is to examine the constructed and multivocal nature of history itself, thus using the sites as both subjects and tools. Parallel to this, Brigid McLeer’s idea of “stepping on stray sods”2 refers to three aspects: the researcher’s own experience, the historical objects (sods)
themselves, and the particular approach towards reading and narrating them – that is, by chancing upon stray historical details and harnessing them to dwell on alternate spatial experiences related to each site directly or tangentially. Through such a reading, Mughal women no longer remain invisible and inactive, but feature as active patrons, supervisors of construction sites, travellers, pilgrims and traders on the move. The seemingly inert mosque, gardens and tomb are reconstituted and connected to a wider network of activities and spaces: past and present, factual and mythical, fixed and mobile, material and fluid, collective and solitary, clamorous and silent, in-between and ephemeral, spaces of everyday use and occasional events, planned rituals and chance encounters, containers of bodies as well as spaces embodied. The research is thus a foray into “realandimagined”3 places, a dense, “deep map”4, a “critical thirding-as-Othering”5 of space, or a “heterotopology”6 by way of having stepped on “stray sods.”7
Adrienne Rich, ‘When We Dead Reawaken: Writing as Re-vision’, College English, Vol. 34, no. 1, (Oct 1972), 18. 2. Brigid McLeer, ‘Stray Sods: eight dispositions on ‘the feminine’, space and writing’, in Doina Petrescu (ed.), Altering Practices: Feminist Poetics and Politics of Space (London: Routledge, 2007), 115. In this beguiling eight-part essay, McLeer reflects on a series of stories narrated by her grand-aunt which follow a similar storyline: a man on his way home at night takes a short cut, steps on a ‘stray sod’ and is suddenly transported into a fantastical realm where he sees an alternative reality. These “stray sods”, she proposes, are “[…] unreasonable places; sites of land, of mind and of narrative”. To step on them is to stumble upon another space, a place from which one gains an alternate perspective. 3. Edward W. Soja, Third Space: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Realand-Imagined Places (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), 11. 4. Mike Pearson and Michael Shanks, Theatre/Archaeology (London: Routledge, 2001), 64-66. 5. Edward W. Soja, ‘Thirdspace: expanding the scope of the geographical imagination’, in Alan Read (ed.), Architecturally Speaking: Practices of Art, Architecture and the Everyday (London: Routledge, 2000), 19. 6. Michel Foucault quoted in Neil Leach (ed.), Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory (London and New York: Routledge, 2005), 332. 7. McLeer, ‘Stray Sods: eight dispositions’, in Petrescu (ed.), Altering Practices, 120.
p. 16 © Adi Bamberger – p. 20 © Angelica Manosalva Sandoval – p. 24 © Richard McGuire, reproduced with owner’s permission – p. 28 © ‘Ninara,’ Wikimedia Commons – p. 32 © Claire Jansen – p. 36 © Dean Black – p. 40 © Katharina Kastner, reproduced with owner’s permission – p. 44 © Arata Isozaki & Associates, reproduced with owner’s permission – p. 48 © Filippo Foschi – p. 52 © Francesca Saia – p. 56 © Georgios Bousios – p. 60 © ‘MrPanyGoff,’ Wikimedia Commons – p. 64 © Imogen Newton – p. 68 © Irma Delmonte – p. 72 © Jade Benei – p. 76 © Carl Laubin, reproduced with owner’s permission – p. 80 © Mireille Tchapi, reproduced with owner’s permission – p. 84 © Joe Thompson – p. 88 © Lauren Teague – p. 92 © ‘The South-Sea House in Bishops-gate Street,’ Wikimedia Commons – p. 96 © ‘Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum,’ Wellcome Collection – p. 100 © Jade Bénéï, reproduced with owners permission – p. 104 © CCHC Archive, reproduced with owner’s permission – p. 108 © Sophia Edwards – p. 112 © ‘Mtaylor 848,’ Wikimedia Commons – p. 116 © Te-Chen Lu – p. 120 © Wasupon Poosanapanya – p. 124 © Zoya Gul Hasan
Copyright of the texts: the authors. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the publisher.
MARGINALIA - Adi Bamberger - Angelica Manosalva - Ayato Likhitwatanachai - Beeza Habeeb Claire Jansen - Dean Black - Deborah Eker - Duy Mac - Filippo Foschi - Francesca Saia - Georgios Bousios - Giacomo Martinis - Imogen Newton - Irma Delmonte - Jade Bénéï - James Sims - Joanne Preston - Joe Thompson - Lauren Teague - Matthew Lloyd Roberts - Miriam Stoney - Phillipa Longson - Rodrigo Fernández - Sophia Edwards - Sorcha McGarry Hunt - Te-Chen Lu - Wasupon Poosanapanya - Zoya Hasan
Concerned with 'the marginal', the often ignored and under-studied corners of architecture and history, this book brings together the work o...
Published on Dec 16, 2019
Concerned with 'the marginal', the often ignored and under-studied corners of architecture and history, this book brings together the work o...