Page 1

The Anthology of Architecture and Domesticity do·mes·tic·i·ty (dō’mĕ-stĭs’ĭ-tē) n. pl. do·mes·tic·i·ties 1. The quality or condition of being domestic. 2. Home life or devotion to it. 3. domesticities Household affairs.


Index

index. 4abstract. 6introduction. 10anthology. 12 intro category 1. Capital Domesticity. texts: 14 HEIDEGGER, Martin. Building, dwelling, thinking. 1971 26 VIDLER, Anthony. The Architectural Uncanny. 1992. Homesickness 32 TAUT, Bruno. A programme for architecture. 1919 36 HALBWACHS, Maurice.The Collective Memory. 1950 42 intro category 2. Timed Domesticity texts: 44 COLOMINA, Beatriz. Domesticity at War. 2006 52 VIDLER, Anthony. The Architectural Uncanny. 1992. Nostalgia 56 intro category 3. Blurred Domesticity texts: 58 LYOTARD, Jean-Franรงois. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Domus and the Megalopolis. 1979 66 PATTERSON, Matt. In between Public and Private. 2011 72 KOOLHAAS, Rem. Generic City. 1995 80 LEFEBVRE, Henri. The production of Space. 1991


Abstract

“Nobody is alien to the experience of dwelling. The idea of living is as old as man himself and, since ancient times, it has always had a home, which throughout history has taken on particular characteristics according to social and cultural changes.” (Marc Jané i Mas y Philip Weiss Salas, 2010) “The idea of a home provides the possibility of thinking in the meaning of a territory associated to human existence, where home is in between the man-nature relationship in its epistemological dimension.” (Luis Guillermo Sañudo Vélez, 2012) The objective of this anthology is to understand home as a symbol, as history, as something in between physical and psychological space, or both. And always under the light of —our— culture.

1. Photo. The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan (http://www. dezeen.com/2015/11/23/refugee-camps-cities-of-tomorrow-killian-kleinschmidt-interview-humanitarian-aid-expert/)


Introduction

Architecture and dwelling. Home and living. It is impossible to think one without the other, so that is what has taken this anthology into discover their connections and disconnections. The dwelling has been a concept that has studied by thinkers and postmodern traditional views, so this introduction is going to go through some of them, as a preface for the anthology. Starting with Heidegger, he speaks about dwelling together with construction, he claims that all those built structures that hosts the mankind are acting as “way of living” for those people. Heidegger mentions: “When we live, it seems, only through the building. This, constructing, has to that, dwelling, as a goal. However, not all buildings are dwellings. A bridge and the building of an airport; a stadium and a power station, a station and a highway; the retaining wall of a dam and a craft market are buildings but not dwellings. However, the aforementioned constructions are in the region of our living” 1. It is known that the construction is part of dwelling, as if it would be a tool for the construction of a purpose. Men dwell where they live, where they work, where he/she walks by regularly ... which does not mean that if they need to overnight on that place, does

1 BARJAU, Eustaquio . Confrencias y artículos, Barclona. 1994 Photo right of Cereal Magazine


not dwell there. It only becomes part of their living as can be seen by man as part of its construction and security identity. Heidegger says in his writings that the words referring to dwelling and construction are sometimes synonyms and sometimes as derived from one another, which means ,buan’ live, this means stay, reside; Moreover, the verb ,bauen’ that means building and Heidegger gives a concept of building and building as lifting a building and build as caring, both are included in the concept of living. 2 Moreover, Heidegger speaks of ,dasein’, which means being-in the-world, which is reflected essence, this means that our presence alone gives presence to things. Through our being, we give meaning to objects, spaces or people. But not only meaning, also an image and a reason to know it. 3 Finally, Heidegger says: “Man’s relationship to places, and through places, to spaces, resides in the room. The relationship between man and space is nothing more than a room designed in his being”. 4 Changing the thinker, with a different point of view and making apology of Le Corbusier, Mircea Eliade said, “The room is not an object, but a ,machine’ to reside: the universe that humans built imitating the exemplary creation of the gods. All the constructions and every inauguration of a new dwelling in a way equates to a new beginning, a new idea…” 4 2 THIIS-EVENSEN, Thomas, ALEXANDER, Christopher. Concretizing Heidegger’s Notion of Dwelling. Article inside: Building and Dwelling [Bauen und Wohnen], edited by Eduard Führ. Munich, Germany: Waxmann Verlag GmbH; New York: Waxmann, 2000 3 VENSUS A., George. The Experience of Being as Goal of Human Existence: The Heideggerian Approach. Washintong, 2000 4 LINDÓN,A.;BERTRAND,G.;HIERNAUX, Daniel. Tratado de geografía humana. Anthropos Editorial, Mexico, 2006 5 EDELMAN, Bernard. La maison de Kant. Paris: Payot, 1984, 25-26 6 BACHELARD Gaston. The poetics of Space, tr. by Maria Jolas, Boston: Beacon Press, 1994

Continuing the theme of dwelling and all that entails, we come to another of the thinkers of dwelling with a traditional view, Immanuel Kant, who said, “The house, the home, is the only bastion against the horror of nowhere, night and the dark origins; contains within its walls everything mankind has accumulated patiently for ever and ever; It opposes evasion, loss, absence, and organized its own internal order, sociability and passion. Its freedom is deployed in stable, closed and not in the open or the indefinite. Being at home is the same as recognizing the slow pace of life and the pleasure of motionless meditation”. 5 However, Bachelard establishes the ,room’ as the shell where all the memories live, he says the home is the place where all our life remains throughout life, is the main container of our experiences and our experiences, “in every dwelling, even in a castle, finding


the initial shell is the inescapable task of the phenomenologist”. 6 So Bachelard gives a symbolic meaning to the ,room’. The houses that have shaped our lives are marked, marked with memories, “evoking memories of the house, we add values of sleep; we are never real historians, we are always a little poets, and our emotion might just translate the lost poetry. In these conditions, if we ask what is the most precious benefit of the house, we would say: the house imbibes reverie, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows us to dream in peace” 6. The same condition shelter mentions Bachelard, the house as a shelter of him who occupies the dreamer through active reverie memories that are left. From a postmodern vision, Serfaty-Garzón said “New sensitivities regarding privacy leading architects to rethink the inner planes of the rooms” 7. She thinks of privacy as part of the home, a key part of the living, the house room, this right to a proprietary model for family members. “...A new concern for the organization of domestic space to protect the autonomy of the people in the context of new forms of sociability…” 7, the domestic space. Those are some examples that how the concept of ,architecture and dwelling’ has taken time of thinkers all around the globe and time, which shows us the importance of it. The importance of the relation that has been capital always, but has changed morphology and meaning though time, and has no clear limit, and because of technology now is less clear than ever.

7 SERFATY-GARZON, Perla. Chez soi. Les territoires de l’intimité. Paris, 2003 Photo right of Cereal Magazine


Domesticity

Etimologically domesticity comes from the Latin roots domus the early 15c., from Middle French domestique (14c.) and directly from Latin domesticus “belonging to the household,” from domus “house,” from PIE *dom-o- “house,” from root *dem- “house, household” (cognates: Sanskrit damah “house;” Avestan demana- “house;” Greek domos “house,” despotes “master, lord;” Latin dominus”master of a household;” Old Church Slavonic domu, Russian dom “house;” Lithuanian dimstis “enclosed court, property;” Old Norse topt “homestead”). It represents the usual Indo-European word for “house” (Italian, Spanish casa are from Latin casa “cottage, hut;” Germanic *hus is of obscure origin). The noun meaning “household servant” is 1530s (a sense also found in Old French domestique). Domestics, originally “articles of home manufacture,” is attested from 1620s. Related: Domestically. Domestic violence is attested from 19c. as “revolution and insurrection;” 1977 as “spouse abuse, violence in the home.”

1 Frontispiece of Marc-Antoine Laugier: Essai sur l’architecture 2nd ed. 1755 by Charles Eisen (1720-1778). Allegorical engraving of the Vitruvian primitive hut.


Source


CAPITAL DOMESTICITY No one is alien to home experience. The idea of “dwell� is as old as the same human being, and, since ancient times, we have always had a home. We do not dwell because we have built, but we built and have built because we dwell. Therefore, dwell is more than to live, it is related to those rites conditioned by history and through which, we, as diverse human groups, define and redefine our daily life. The act of dwelling ends up being a non activity that is why it cannot be describe with such simplicity because it is the merge of the act of cultivating, building, preservation and has to fulfill the fourfold which are represented by earth, sky, divinities and humans.

1 KAR-WAI, Wong. In the Mood for Love. 2000 2 WACHOWSKI, Lana; WACHOWSKI, Andy; TYKWER, Tom. Cloud Atlas. 2012


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

Martin Heidegger

26 September 1889-26 May 1976

Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher and a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition, particularly within the fields of exis widely acknowledged to be one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20th century, while remaining one of the most controversial. Famous for his theories on existentialism and phenomenology. His work had a crucial influence on the French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre. He gave the world a phenomenological critique of Kant and wrote widely on Nietzsche and Holderlin. Heidegger work did not just influence the literary world but made a substantial impact on fields such as philosophy, theology, art, architecture, artificial intelligence, cultural anthropology, design, literary theory, social theory, political theory, psychiatry, and psychotherapy. He wrote one of the most important works on philosophy of the 20th century, ‘Sein und Zeit (Being and Time)’. He led a highly controversial life because of his association with the Nazi Party during World War II, an action he neither ever regretted nor apologized for in the public. Heidegger starting saying that the end of all building is it to dwell, but somehow not all buildings are places of dwelling what leads to use the knowledge of the language to find the way to answer the question about What is it to dwell? Even if our environments are constructed with buildings or structures as bridges that cannot be categorized as dwelling places, that somehow is easier to understand, nevertheless what happen when a house is not categorized as dwell because of the way that they are inhabit. His analysis of the concept stated in the use of the word Bauen -german word for building- which in its roots is close to dwell that du time to means to remain or laying in a place.The findings in the etymology of the word Bauen which means also cherish and protect are enclosures two main concepts Building and Dwelling that must been understand separately. Building: means to cultivate not only in the sense of growing but in a way that can be related to cultivate culture. Dwelling: means to raising buildings These two terms fulfill the idea of Inhabit – Gewohnte in German- were the meaning of Dwelling is accomplished. In the common use of the words the original meaning is lost and for-


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

gotten and building doesn’t have the deep sense that the analysis imply. Compiling the concepts exposed in the analysis according to Heidegger language helps us to understand the word Bauen in three ways. 1. Building is really dwelling 2. Dwelling is the manner in which mortals are on the earth 3. Building as dwelling unfolds into the building that cultivates growing things and the building that erects buildings. The act of dwelling ends up being a non activity that is why it cannot be describe with such simplicity because it is the merge of the act of cultivating, building, preservation and has to fulfill the fourfold which are represented by earth, sky, divinities and humans. In the word Bauen lays the meaning to remain and remaining is experience and preserved, acknowledging and keeping secure this 4 actors. Regarding the ones that built –cultivates- end up been dwellers. “We do not dwell because we have built, but we built and have built because we dwell”.

from Poetry, Language, Thought, translated by Albert Hofstadter, Harper Colophon Books, New York, 1971.

Building Dwelling Thinking In what follows we shall try to think about dwelling and building. This thinking about building does not presume to discover architectural ideas, let alone to give rules for building. This venture in thought does not view building as an art or as a technique of construction; rather it traces building back into that domain to which everything that is belongs. We ask: 1. What is to dwell? 2. How does building belong to dwelling? I We attain to dwelling, so it seems, only by means of building. The latter, building, has the former, dwelling, as its goal. Still, not every building is a dwelling. Bridges and hangars, stadiums and power stations are buildings but not dwellings; railway stations and highways, dams and market halls are built, but they are not dwelling places. Even so, these buildings are in the domain of our dwelling. That domain extends over these buildings and yet is not limited to the dwelling place. The truck driver is at home on the highway, but he does not have his shelter there; the working woman is at home in the spinning mill, but does not have her dwelling place there; the chief engineer is at home in the power station, but he does not dwell there. These buildings house man. He inhabits them and yet does not dwell in them, when to dwell means merely that we take shelter in them. In today’s housing shortage even this much is reassuring and to the good; residential buildings do indeed provide shelter; today’s houses may even be well planned, easy to keep, attractively cheap, open to air, light, and sun, but-do the houses in themselves hold any guarantee that dwelling occurs in them? Yet those buildings that are not dwelling places remain in turn determined by dwelling insofar as they serve man’s dwelling. Thus dwelling would in any case be the end that presides over all building. Dwelling and building are related as end and means. However, as long as this is all we have in mind, we take dwelling and building as two separate activities, an idea that has something correct in it. Yet at the same time by the means-end schema we block our view of the essential relations. For building is not merely a means and a way toward dwelling -to


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

build is in itself already to dwell. Who tells us this? Who gives us a standard at all by which we can take the measure of the nature of dwelling and building? It is language that tells us about the nature of a thing, provided that we respect language’s own nature. In the meantime, to be sure, there rages round the earth an unbridled yet clever talking, writing, and broadcasting of spoken words. Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man. Perhaps it is before all else man’s subversion of this relation of dominance that drives his nature into alienation. That we retain a concern for care in speaking is all to the good, but it is of no help to us as long as language still serves us even then only as a means of expression. Among all the appeals that we human beings, on our part, can help to be voiced, language is the highest and everywhere the first. What, then, does Bauen, building, mean? The Old English and High German word for building, buan, means to dwell. This signifies: to remain, to stay in a place. The real meaning of the verb bauen, namely, to dwell, has been lost to us. But a covert trace of it has been preserved in the German word Nachbar, neighbor. The neighbor is in Old English the neahgehur; neah, near, and gebur, dweller. The Nachbar is the Nachgebur, the Nachgebauer, the near-dweller, he who dwells nearby. The verbs buri, büren, beuren, beuron, all signify dwelling, the abode, the place of dwelling. Now to be sure the old word buan not only tells us that bauen, to build, is really to dwell; it also gives us a clue as to how we have to think about the dwelling it signifies. When we speak of dwelling we usually think of an activity that man performs alongside many other activities. We work here and dwell there. We do not merely dwell-that would be virtual inactivity-we practice a profession, we do business, we travel and lodge on the way, now here, now there. Bauen originally means to dwell. Where the word bauen still speaks in its original sense it also says how far the nature of dwelling reaches. That is, bauen, buan. bhu, beo are our word bin in the versions: ich bin, I am, du bist, you are, the imperative form bis, be. What then does ich bin mean? The old word bauen, to which the bin belongs, a nswers: ich bin, du bist mean: I dwell, you dwell. The way in which you are and I am, the manner in which we humans are on the earth, is Buan, dwelling. To be a human being means to be on the earth as a mortal. it means to dwell. The old word bauen, which says that man is insofar as he dwells, this word barren however also means at the same time to cherish and protect, to preserve and care for, specifically to till the soil, to cultivate the vine. Such building only takes care-it tends the growth that ripens into its fruit of its own accord. Building in the sense of preserving and nurturing is not making anything. Shipbuilding and temple-building, on the other hand, do in a certain way make their own works. Here building, in contrast with cultivating, is a constructing. Both modes of building-building as cultivating, Latin colere, cultura, and building as the raising up of edifices, aedificare -are comprised within genuine building, that is, dwelling. Building as dwelling, that is, as being on the earth, however, remains for man’s everyday experience that which is from the outset “habitual”-we inhabit it, as our language says so beautifully: it is the Gewohnte. For this reason it recedes behind the manifold ways in which dwelling is accomplished, the activities of cultivation and construction. These activities later claim the name of bauen, building, and with it the fact of building, exclusively for themselves. The real sense of bauen, namely dwelling, falls into oblivion. At first sight this event looks as though it were no more than a change of meaning of mere terms. In truth, however, something decisive is concealed in it, namely, dwelling is not experienced as man’s being; dwelling is never thought of as the basic character of human being. That language in a way retracts the real meaning of the word bauen, which is dwelling, is evidence of the primal nature of these meanings; for with the essential words of language, their true meaning easily falls into oblivion in favor of foreground meanings. Man has hardly yet pondered the mystery of this process. Language withdraws from man its simple and high speech. But its primal call does not thereby become incapable of speech; it merely falls silent. Man, though, fails to heed this silence. But if we listen to what language says in the word bauen we hear three things: 1. Building is really dwelling


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

2. Dwelling is the manner in which mortals are on the earth. 3. Building as dwelling unfolds into the buildingthat cultivates growing things and the building that erects buildings. If we give thought to this threefold fact, we obtain a clue and note the following: as long as we do not bear in mind that all building is in itself a dwelling, we cannot even adequately ask, let alone properly decide, what the building of buildings might be in its nature. We do not dwell because we have built, but we build and have built because we dwell, that is, because we are dwellers. But in what does the nature of dwelling consist? Let us listen once more to what language says to us. The Old Saxon wuon, the Gothic wunian like the old word bauen, mean to remain, to stay in a place. But the Gothic wunian says more distinctly how this remaining is experienced. Wunian means: to be at peace, to be brought to peace, to remain in peace. The word for peace, Friede, means the free, das Frye, and fry means: preserved from harm and danger, preserved from something, safeguarded. To free really means to spare. The sparing itself consists not only in the fact that we do not harm the one whom we spare. Real sparing is something positive and takes place when we leave something beforehand in its own nature, when we return it specifically to its being, when we “free” it in the real sense of the word into a preserve of peace. To dwell, to be set at peace, means to remain at peace within the free sphere that safeguards each thing in its nature. The fundamental character of dwelling is this sparing and preserving. It pervades dwelling in its whole range. That range reveals itself to us as soon as we reflect that human being consists in dwelling and, indeed, dwelling in the sense of the stay of mortals on the earth. But “on the earth” already means “under the sky.” Both of these also mean “remaining before the divinities” and include a “belonging to men’s being with one another.” By a primal oneness the four-earth and sky, divinities and mortals-belong together in one. Earth is the serving bearer, blossoming and fruiting, spreading out in rock and water, rising up into plant and animal. When we say earth, we are already thinking of the other three along with it, but we give no thought to the simple oneness of the four. The sky is the vaulting path of the sun, the course of the changing, moon, the wandering glitter of the stars, the year’s seasons and their changes, the light and dusk of day, the gloom and glow of night, the clemency and inclemency of the weather, the drifting clouds and blue depth of the ether. When we say sky, we are already thinking of the other three along with it, but we give no thought to the simple oneness of the four. The divinities are the beckoning messengers of the godhead. 0ut of the holy sway of the godhead, the god appears in his presence or withdraws into his concealment. When we speak of the divinities, we are already thinking of the other three along with them, but we give no thought to the simple oneness of the four. The mortals are the human beings. They are called mortals because they can die. To die means to be capable of death as death. Only man dies, and indeed continually, as long as remains on earth, under the sky, before the divinities. When we speak of mortals, we are already thinking of the other three along with them, but we give no thought to the simple oneness of the four. This simple oneness of the four we call the fourfold. Mortals are in the fourfold by dwelling. But the basic character of dwelling is to spare, to preserve. Mortals dwell in the way they preserve the fourfold in its essential being, its presencing. Accordingly, the preserving that dwells is fourfold. Mortals dwell in that they save the earth-taking the word in the old sense still known to Lessing. Saving does not only snatch something from a danger. To save really means to set something free into its own presencing. To save the earth is more than to exploit it or even wear it out. Saving the earth does not master the earth and does not subjugate it, which is merely one step from spoliation. Mortals dwell in that they receive the sky as sky. They leave to the sun and the moon their journey, to the stars their courses, to the seasons their blessing and their inclemency; they do not turn night into day nor day into a harassed unrest. Mortals dwell in that they await the divinities as divinities. In hope they hold up to the divinities what


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

is unhoped for. They wait for intimations of their coming and do not mistake the signs of their absence. They do not make their gods for themselves and do not worship idols. In the very depth of misfortune they wait for the weal that has been withdrawn. Mortals dwell in that they initiate their own nature-their being capable of death as death-into the use and practice of this capacity, so that there may be a good death. To initiate mortals into the nature of death in no way means to make death, as empty Nothing, the goal. Nor does it mean to darken dwelling by blindly staring toward the end. In saving the earth, in receiving the sky, in awaiting the divinities, in initiating mortals, dwelling occurs as the fourfold preservation of the fourfold. To spare and preserve means: to take under our care, to look after the fourfold in its presencing. What we take under our care must be kept safe. But if dwelling preserves the fourfold, where does it keep the fourfold’s nature? How do mortals make their dwelling such a preserving?Mortals would never be capable of it if dwelling were merely a staying on earth under the sky, before the divinities, among mortals. Rather, dwelling itself is always a staying with things. Dwelling, as preserving, keeps the fourfold in that with which mortals stay: in things. Staying with things, however, is not merely something attached to this fourfold preserving as a fifth something. On the contrary: staying with things is the only way in which the fourfold stay within the fourfold is accomplished at any time in simple unity. Dwelling preserves the fourfold by bringing the presencing of the fourfold into things. But things themselves secure the fourfold only when they themselves as things are let be in their presencing. How is this done? In this way, that mortals nurse and nurture the things that grow, and specially construct things that do not grow. Cultivating and construction are building in the narrower sense. Dwelling, insofar as it keeps or secures the fourfold in things, is, as this keeping, a building. With this, we are on our way to the second question. II In what way does building belong to dwelling? The answer to this question will clarify for us what building, understood by way of the nature of dwelling, really is. We limit ourselves to building in the sense of constructing things and inquire: what is a built thing?A bridge may serve as an example for our reflections. The bridge swings over the stream “with case and power. It does not just connect banks that are already there. The banks emerge as banks only as the bridge crosses the stream. The bridge designedly causes them to lie across from each other. One side is set off against the other by the bridge. Nor do the banks stretch along the stream as indifferent border strips of the dry land. With the banks, the bridge brings to the stream the one and the other expanse of the landscape lying behind them. It brings stream and bank and land into each other’s neighborhood. The bridge gathers the earth as landscape around the stream. Thus it guides and attends the stream through the meadows. Resting upright in the stream’s bed, the bridge-piers bear the swing of the arches that leave the stream’s waters to run their course. The waters may wander on quiet and gay, the sky’s floods from storm or thaw may shoot past the piers in torrential waves-the bridge is ready for the sky’s weather and its fickle nature. Even where the bridge covers the stream, it holds its flow up to the sky by taking it for a moment under the vaulted gateway and then setting it free once more. The bridge lets the stream run its course and at the same time grants their way to mortals so that they may come and go from shore to shore. Bridges lead in many ways. The city bridge leads from the precincts of the castle to the cathedral square; the river bridge near the country town brings wagons and horse teams to the surrounding villages. The old stone bridge’s humble brook crossing gives to the harvest wagon its passage from the fields into the village and carries the lumber cart from the field path to the road. The highway bridge is tied into the network of long-distance traffic, paced as calculated for maximum yield. Always and ever differently the bridge escorts the lingering and hastening ways of men to and from, so that they may get to other banks and in the end, as mortals, to the other


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

side. Now in a high arch, now in a low, the bridge vaults over glen and stream-whether mortals keep in mind this vaulting of the bridge’s course or forget that they, always themselves on their way to the last bridge, are actually striving to surmount all that is common and unsound in them in order to bring themselves before the haleness of the divinities. The bridge gathers, as a passage that crosses, before the divinities-whether we explicitly think of, and visibly give thanks for, their presence, as in the figure of the saint of the bridge, or whether that divine presence is obstructed or even pushed wholly aside. The bridge gathers to itself in its own way earth and sky, divinities and mortals. Gathering or assembly, by an ancient word of our language, is called “thing.” The bridge is a thing-and, indeed, it is such as the gathering of the fourfold which we have described. To be sure, people think of the bridge as primarily and really merely a bridge; after that, and occasionally, it might possibly express much else besides; and as such an expression it would then become a symbol, for instance ,t symbol of those things we mentioned before. But the bridge, if it is a true bridge, is never first of all a mere bridge and then afterward a symbol. And just as little is the bridge in the first place exclusively a symbol, in the sense that it expresses something that strictly speaking does not belong to it. If we take the bridge strictly as such, it never appears as an expression. The bridge is a thing and only that. Only? As this thing it gathers the fourfold. Our thinking has of course long been accustomed to understate the nature of the thing. The consequence, in the course of Western thought, has been that the thing is represented as an unknown X to which perceptible properties are attached. From this point of view, everything that already belongs to the gathering nature of this thing does, of course, appear as something that is afterward read into it. Yet the bridge would never be a mere bridge if it were not a thing. To be sure, the bridge is a thing of its own kind; for it gathers the fourfold in such a way that it allows a site for it. But only something that is itself a location can make space for a site. The location is not already there before the bridge is. Before the bridge stands, there are of course many spots along the stream that can be occupied by something. One of them proves to be a location, and does so because of the bridge. Thus the bridge does not first come to a location to stand in it; rather, a location comes into existence only by virtue of the bridge. The bridge is a thing; it gathers the fourfold, but in such a way that it allows a site for the fourfold. By this site are determined the localities and ways by which a space is provided for. Only things that are locations in this manner allow for spaces. What the word for space, Raum, Rum, designates is said by its ancient meaning. Raum means a place cleared or freed for settlement and lodging. A space is something that has been made room for, something that- namely within a boundary, Greek peras. A boundary is not that at which something stops but, as the Greeks recognized, the boundary is that from which something begins its presencing. That is why the concept is that of horismos, that is, the horizon, the boundary. Space is in essence that for which room has been made, that which is let into its bounds. That for which room is made is always granted and hence is joined, that is, gathered, by virtue of a location, that is, by such a thing as the bridge. Accordingly, spaces receive their being from locations and not from “space.” Things which, as locations, allow a site we now in anticipation call buildings. They are so called because they are made by a process of building construction. Of what sort this making-building-must be, however, we find out only after we have first given thought to the nature of those things which of themselves require building as the process by which they are made. These things are locations that allow a site for the fourfold, a site that in each case provides for a space. The relation between location and space lies in the nature of these things qua locations, but so does the relation of the location to the man who lives at that location. Therefore we shall now try to clarify the nature of these things that we call buildings by the following brief consideration.

For one thing, what is the relation between location and space? For another, what


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

is the relation between man and space? The bridge is a location. As such a thing, it allows a space into which earth and heaven, divinities and mortals are admitted. The space allowed by the bridge contains many places variously near or far from the bridge. These places, however, may be treated as mere positions between which there lies a measurable distance; a distance, in Greek stadion, always has room made for it, and indeed by bare positions. The space that is thus made by positions is space of a peculiar sort. As distance or “stadion” it is what the same word, stadion, means in Latin, a spatium, an intervening space or interval. Thus nearness and remoteness between men and things can become mere intervals of intervening space. In a space that is represented purely as spatium, the bridge now appears as a mere something at some position, which can be occupied at any time by something else or replaced by a mere marker. What is more, the mere dimensions of height, breadth, and depth can be abstracted from space as intervals. What is so abstracted we represent as the pure manifold of the three dimensions. Yet the room made by this manifold is also no longer determined by distances; it is no longer a spatium, but now no more than extensio- extension. But from a space as extensio a further abstraction can be made, to analytic-algebraic relations. What these relations make room for is the possibility of the construction of manifolds with an arbitrary number of dimensions. The space provided for in this mathematical manner may be called “space,” the “one” space as such. But in this sense “the” space , “space,” contains no spaces and no places. We never find in it any locations, that is, things of the kind the bridge is. As against that, however, in the spaces provided for by locations there is always space as interval, and in this interval in turn there is space as pure extension. Spatium and extensio afford at any time the possibility of measuring things and what they make room for, according to distances, spans, and directions, and of computing these magnitudes. But the fact that they are universally applicable to everything that has extension can in no case make numerical magnitudes the ground of the nature of space and locations that are measurable with the aid of mathematics. How even modern physics was compelled by the facts themselves to represent the spatial medium of cosmic space as a field-unity determined by body as dynamic center, cannot be discussed here. The spaces through which we go daily are provided for by locations; their nature is grounded in things of the type of buildings. If we pay heed to these relations between locations and spaces, between spaces and space, we get a due to help us in thinking of the relation of man and space. When we speak of man and space, it sounds as though man stood on one side, space on the other. Yet space is not something that faces man. It is neither an external object nor an inner experience. It is not that there are men, and over and above them space; for when I say “a man,” and in saying this word think of a being who exists in a human manner-that is, who dwells-then by the name “man” I already name the stay within the fourfold among things. Even when we relate ourselves to those things


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

that are not in our immediate reach, we are staying with the things themselves. We do not represent distant things merely in our mind-as the textbooks have it-so that only mental representations of distant things run through our minds and heads as substitutes for the things. If all of us now think, from where we are right here, of the old bridge in Heidelberg, this thinking toward that location is not a mere experience inside the persons present here; rather, it belongs to the nature of our thinking of that bridge that in itself thinking gets through, persists through, the distance to that location. From this spot right here, we are there at the bridge-we are by no means at some representational content in our consciousness. From right here we may even be much nearer to that bridge and to what it makes room for than someone who uses it daily as an indifferent river crossing. Spaces, and with them space as such-”space”-are always provided for already within the stay of mortals. Spaces open up by the fact that they are let into the dwelling of man. To say that mortals are is to say that in dwelling they persist through spaces by virtue of their stay among things and locations. And only because mortals pervade, persist through, spaces by their very nature are they able to go through spaces. But in going through spaces we do not give up our standing in them. Rather, we always go through spaces in such a way that we already experience them by staying constantly with near and remote locations and things. When I go toward the door of the lecture hall, I am already there, and I could not go to it at all if I were not such that I am there. I am never here only, as this encapsulated body; rather, I am there, that is, I already pervade the room, and only thus can I go through it. Even when mortals turn “inward,” taking stock of themselves, they do not leave behind their belonging to the fourfold. When, as we say, we come to our senses and reflect on ourselves, we come back to ourselves from things without ever abandoning our stay among things. Indeed, the loss of rapport with things that occurs in states of depression would be wholly impossible if even such a state were not still what it is as a human state: that is, a staying with things. Only if this stay already characterizes human being can the things among which we are also fail to speak to us, fail to concern us any longer. Man’s relation to locations, and through locations to spaces, inheres in bis dwelling. The relationship between man and space is none other than dwelling, strictly thought and spoken. When we think, in the manner just attempted, about the relation between location and space, but also about the relation of man and space, a light falls on the nature of the things that are locations and that we call buildings. The bridge is a thing of this sort. The location allows the simple onefold of earth and sky, of divinities and mortals, to enter into a site by arranging the site into spaces. The location makes room for the fourfold in a double sense. The location admits the fourfold and it installs the fourfold. The two making room in the sense of admitting and in the sense of installing-belong together. As a double space-making, the location


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

is a shelter for the fourfold or, by the same token, a house. Things like such locations shelter or house men’s lives. Things of this sort are housings, though not necessarily dwelling-houses in the narrower sense. The making of such things is building. Its nature consists in this, that it corresponds to the character of these things. They are locations that allow spaces. This is why building, by virtue of constructing locations, is a founding and joining of spaces. Because building produces locations, the joining of the spaces of these locations necessarily brings with it space, as spatium and as extension into the thingly structure of buildings. But building never shapes pure “space” as a single entity. Neither directly nor indirectly. Nevertheless, because it produces things as locations, building is closer to the nature of spaces and to the origin of the nature of “space” than any geometry and mathematics. Building puts up locations that mane space and a site for the fourfold. From the simple oneness in which earth and sky, divinities and mortals belong together, building receives the directive for its erecting of locations. Building takes over from the fourfold the standard for all the traversing and measuring of the spaces that in each case are provided for by the locations that have been founded. The edifices guard the fourfold. They are things that in their own way preserve the fourfold. To preserve the fourfold, to save the earth, to receive the sky, to await the divinities, to escort mortals-this fourfold preserving is the simple nature, the presencing, of dwelling. In this way, then, do genuine buildings give form to dwelling in its presencing and house this presence. Building thus characterized is a distinctive letting-dwell. Whenever it is such in fact, building already has responded to the summons of the fourfold. All planning remains grounded on this responding, and planning in turn opens up to the designer the precincts suitable for his designs. As soon as we try to think of the nature of constructive building in terms of a letting-dwell, we come to know more clearly what that process of making consists in by which building is accomplished. Usually we take production to be an activity whose performance has a result, the finished structure, as its consequence. It is possible to conceive of making in that way; we thereby grasp something that is correct, and yet never touch its nature, which is a producing that brings something forth. For building brings the fourfold hither into a thing, the bridge, and brings forth the thing as a location, out into what is already there, room for which is only now made by this location. The Greek for “to bring forth or to produce” is tikto. The word techne, technique, belongs to the-verb’s root tec. To the Greeks techne means neither art nor handicraft but rather: to make something appear, within what is present, as this or that, in this way or that way. The Greeks conceive of techne, producing, in terms of letting appear. Techne thus conceived has been concealed in the tectonics of architecture since ancient times.


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

Of late it still remains concealed, and more resolutely, in the technology of power machinery. But the nature of the erecting buildings cannot be understood adequately in terms either of architecture or of engineering construction, nor in terms of a mere combination of the two. The erecting of buildings would not be suitably defined even if we were to think of it in the sense of the original Greek techne as solely a letting-appear, which brings something made, as something present, among the things that are already present. The nature of building is letting dwell. Building accomplishes its nature in the raising of locations by the joining of their spaces. Only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build. Let us think for a while of a farmhouse in the Black Forest, which was built some two hundred years ago by the dwelling of peasants. Here the self-sufficiency of the power to let earth and heaven, divinities and mortals enter in simple oneness into things, ordered the house. It placed the farm on the wind-sheltered mountain slope looking south, among the meadows close to the spring. It gave it the wide overhanging shingle roof whose proper slope bears up under the burden of snow, and which, reaching deep down, shields the chambers against the storms of the long winter nights. It did not forget the altar corner behind the community table; it made room in its chamber for the hallowed places of childbed and the “tree of the dead�-for that is what they call a coffin there: the Totenbaum-and in this way it designed for the different generations under one roof the character of their journey through time. A craft which, itself sprung from dwelling, still uses its tools and frames as things, built the farmhouse. Only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build. Our reference to the Black Forest farm in no way means that we should or could go back to building such houses; rather, it illustrates by a dwelling that has been how it was able to build. Dwelling, however, is the basic character of Being in keeping with which mortals exist. Perhaps this attempt to think about dwelling and building will bring out somewhat more clearly that building belongs to dwelling and how it receives its nature from dwelling. Enough will have been gained if dwelling and building have become worthy of questioning and thus have remained worthy of thought. But that thinking itself belongs to dwelling in the same sense as building, although in a different way, may perhaps be attested to by the course of thought here attempted. Building and thinking are, each in its own way, inescapable for dwelling. The two, however, are also insufficient for dwelling so long as each busies itself with its own affairs in separation instead of listening to one another. They are able to listen if both-building and thinking-belong to dwelling, if they remain within their limits and realize that the one as much as the other comes from the workshop of long experience and incessant practice. We are attempting to trace in thought the nature of dwelling. The next step on this path would be the question: what is the state of dwelling in our precarious age? On all sides we hear talk about the housing shortage, and with good reason. Nor is


Building, Dwelling, Thinking

there just talk; there is action too. We try to fill the need by providing houses, by promoting the building of houses, planning the whole architectural enterprise. However hard and bitter, however hampering and threatening the lack of houses remains, the real plight of dwelling does not lie merely in a lack of houses. The real plight of dwelling is indeed older than the world wars with their destruction, older also than the increase of the earth’s population and the condition of the industrial workers. The real dwelling plight lies in this, that mortals ever search anew for the nature of dwelling, that they must ever learn to dwell. What if man’s homelessness consisted in this, that man still does not even think of the real plight of dwelling as the plight? Yet as soon as man gives thought to his homelessness, it is a misery no longer. Rightly considered and kept well in mind, it is the sole summons that calls mortals into their dwelling. But how else can mortals answer this summons than by trying on their part, on their own, to bring dwelling to the fullness of its nature? This they accomplish when they build out of dwelling, and think for the sake of dwelling.


Building, Dwelling, Thinking


The Architectural Uncanny. Homesickness

Anthony Vidler July 4, 1941

Anthony Vidler is dean and professor at the School of Architecture Irwin S. Chanin of the Cooper Union in New York. “Historian and critic of modern and contemporary architecture.” Vidler, one of the deftest and surest critics of the contemporary scene, focus on the work of architects such as Bernard Tschumi, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, Coop Himmelblau, John Hejduk, Elizabeth Diller, and Ricardo Scofidio, as well as theorists of the urban condition to explore aspects of architecture through notions of the uncanny associated with the subject of domesticity. Serving as a professor and chairman of the department of Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles, Vidler published The Architectural Uncanny. and Claude-Nicolas Ledoux: Architecture and Social Reform at the end of the Ancien Regime, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1994. It is in these works that Vidler questions the modern condition in historical and theoretical terms that explore complex relations and associations. The Architectural Uncanny presents an engaging and original series of meditations on issues and figures that are at the heart of the most pressing debates surrounding architecture today. Anthony Vidler interprets contemporary buildings and projects in light of the resurgent interest in the uncanny as a metaphor for a fundamentally “unhomely” modern condition.

Claude-Nicolas Ledoux: Architecture and Social Reform at the end of the Ancien Regime, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1994.

Vidler’s urban uncanny, explored through these architects, faces the complexities of multiplicity and limits. In accepting psychological projects onto urban environments, our own mental positioning is called into question. To accept cities as collective sites is a pragmatic necessity. However, to explore the underlying traces of memory and paranoia in architectural form allows for a further displacement of the individual in the city. To accept not only one memory or anxiety, but also multiple orders and disorders sites the occupant not in a city in relation to themselves, but rather in the dreamworld of the collective.


The Architectural Uncanny. Homesickness

In this chapter, the psique that he dead with is Homesickness, where appears a Walter Pater’s fragment of the ‘The Child in the House’. This fragment is presented as the very essence of remembered homeliness. The remembered attributed of Florian’s childhood house confirm the homely original, the deepest feeling. To analyze that, Pater lends all of the faintness and remoteness to the interpretation of this first Hellenist… Against the ‘color’ of modernity, and the ‘heat and profundity’ of theMiddle Ages, Wincklemann followed the ‘preeminent light’ of the Hellenic, where he sees hope, and this hope is expressed in the elaborate figures of the “Two Curious Houses” that describes precisely. A history that reminds us the soul of dwelling and its importance throughout people. Vidler Antony, The Architectural Uncanny Essays in the modern Unhomely, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 1992.

The Architecture Uncanny Homesickness The perpetual exchange between the homely and the unhornely, the imperceptible sliding of coziness into dread, was, in Hoffmann and De Quincey, a carefully arranged affair, where architecture operated as a mach ine for defining boundaries that in the end were to be overcome. In Melville, the divisions, while still essentially ernbodied in physical spaces and objects, are less clear: between literal conceal­ment and projected fantasy, settled cornfort and lurking dread, the smoke raised an ill-defined wall. We are even left in sorne doubt whether the house and its chirnney are not in fact sorne elaborate syrnbol for the rnind of the narrator, at horne in its unhornel y thoughts. In Walter Pater’s fragrnent “The Child in the House,” however, there is no Jonger any question : rnernory of the house and the house itself have becorne subsurned in the dream. At first the dream of Florian seerns homely enough; it parades as the very essence of remembered homeliness-for, as we are told, “in Florian the sense of horne was singularly intense,” as “the special character of his horne was so essentially hornelike,” a repetition that, like that of the term “behind “ by the narrator in Melville’s story, tends to undermine itself by positive assertiveness. The remembered attributes of Florian’s childhood house , however, confirrn this picture: its trees, garden, walls, doors, hearths, windows, furnishings, even its scent contributing to make it the very type of home, a typicality reinforced by its position in the English Home Counties and their homely landscapes. So secure was this house to the child Florian that even the fog and smoke that occasionally drifted in from the nearby town held no ominous air. It was in every way a “place ‘inclosed’ and ‘sealed.’ ” But of course this house was only a remembered house, and this itself recalled in a dream. Its aspect was clear, but “as sometimes happens in dreams, raised a little above itself,” heightened, half­-spiritual, and merged with the knowledge, later acquired, of its es­sential impermanence. In retrospect, watching the growth of his soul in the house from a distance, Florian would give significance to things that held only a vague portent for him as a child. The dream rapidly became a history of the growth of fear, a tracing of the sources of what, to the child,


The Architectural Uncanny. Homesickness

were uncanny sensations, and remained, with the adult, the permanent springs of unease. Windows were, so to peak, left half-open inadvertently; a “cry in the stair, sounding bitterly through the house,” heralded the news of Florian’s father’s death; a visit to the churchyard provoked questions as to the nature of a final resting place. Finally Florian’s house became haunted: a “certain sort of figure that he hoped not to see,” a shadow of the father, remained each night by his bed and did not entirely leave in the morning. The move from this childhood home simply confirmed this foreknowledge of death, the death of the child of course, but also of security and of homeliness. Returning for an instant to the already abandoned rooms, “lying so pale, denuded and meek,” the “aspect of the place touched him like the face of one dead.” Henceforth the soul would have no rest but in nostalgia, in that malady provoked by all appar­ently secure enclosures, homesickness. The childhood home was transformed into no more than a locus for dreams, for what Pater called “that clinging back towards it” that lasts for a long time and eventually spoils all anticipated pleasure. In Pater’s palely sublime dream, the return of a sense of primary narcissism gave an uncanny aura to the memory of the house, a repetition of something half suppressed in the mind, of the once­intimate relationship between ideas and things. It was at least sigmf­icant for literary history and the establishment of the Proustian mode that Florian’s dream was stimulated not by actually revisiting the site of childhood, nor by hearing a description of it that awakened mem­ories, but by the simple conjuring of the “name of the place.” Hence­forth the uncanny will manifest itself no longer in the prolonged and but in the fragmentary chance occurrence of a word, a phrase that, suspended as it were in ordinary discourse, demands as one of a series of such linguistic fragments of a once-whole past, to be interpreted. The domestic nostalgia of memory was, for Pater, only the prívate locus of a deeply felt nostalgia at the passing of history itself. In the last essay of is collection The Renaissance, Pater evokes the haunting figure of Winckelmann In the nineteenth century, a figure whose discourse of antiquity formed the classical imaginary for Goethe and Hegel as for Pater himself, who had followed the pale traces of Winckelmann’s dreams in his own Marius the Epicurean some eighteen years later. Pater characterizes Winckelmann through a late historicist lens as “of an abstract type of culture, consummate, tranquil, with­drawn already into the region of ideals,” a Winckelmann already neoclassicized by Goethe and canonized by Hegel. The author of the History of Ancient Art and the champion of high Greek culture is lauded for capturing “the charm of the Hellenic spirit,” a melancholic dreamer alien to his own country and to that he adopted. Pater lends all of the faintness and remoteness that the classical has come to have in the last quarter of the nineteenth century to the interpretation of this first Hellenist; he draws a picture of a wandering and unfortu­nate spirit, born out of his rightful place and time, dedicated to the resuscitation of a distant culture. Winckelmann’s own nature, indeed, see ed to Pater “itself like a relic of classical antiquity, laid open by acCident to our alíen, modern atmosphere.” Against the “color” of modernity, and the “heat and profundity” of the Middle Ages, Winck­elmann followed the “preeminent light” of the Hellenic, its transpar ­ency, rationality, and desire for beauty, bathed in “that white light, purged from the angry blood-like stains of action and passion.” Such a bloodless vision of modern Hellenism was at once nostalgic, aware that m the “late afternoon” of the classical world, as Nietzsche had it, an irrevocable distance separated the modern from the an­tique, and at the same time optimistic, teasing out the possibilities of a modern art that might “burn always with this hard, gemlike ftame.” Here the unbearable domestic nostalgia of “A Child in the House” opens to a more generalized nostalgia for the whole of history, now seen as irreconcilably separated from the present and entirely inad­eq ate o confront or express “the modern world, with its confticting claims, Its entangled interests, distracted by so many sorrows, with so many preocupations so bewildering an experience” Pater found the model for this long-drawn-out death of art and culture in Hegel, tracing art’s gradual giving way to “the growing revelation of the mind to itself.” Only poetry, Pater found, could finally “command that width, variety, delicacy of resources, which will enable it to deal with the conditions of modern


The Architectural Uncanny.

Homesickness

life.” In this scheme architecture, the symbolic and founding art, is long lost as a force by which to express the human spirit: The arts may thus be ranged in a series, which corresponds to a series of developments in the human mind itself. Architecture which begins in a practica! need, can only express by vague hint or symbol the spirit or mind of the artist. He closes his sadness over him, or wanders in the perplexed intricacies of things, or projects his purpose from him clean-cut and sincere, or bares himself to the sunlight. But these spiritualities, felt rather than seen, can but lurk about architectural form as volatile effects, to be gathered from it by reflection. These “volatile effects,” unclearly embodied and abstractly expressed, were the result of architecture’s inability fully to grasp the human form for itself. Architecture’s influence on the mind was, in this sense, hardly sensuous. As human form is not the subject with which it deals, architecture is the mode in which the artistic effort centers, when the thoughts of man con­cerning himself are still indistinct, when he is still little preoccupied with those harmonies, storms, victories of the unseen and the intellectual world, which, wrought out into the bodily form, give it an interest and significance communicable to it alone. The question for Pater, caught between nostalgia for the full strength of bodily presence in Hellenic sculpture and his perception of the inevitable transience of all artistic modes, was whether the Hellenic lesson, at least, might be reclaimed in a world where philosophy dominated over art: philosophy alone, he concluded, “serves culture, not by the fancied gift of absolute or transcendental knowledge, but by suggesting questions which help one to detect the passion, and strangeness, and dramatic contrasts of life.” And part of this “strange­ness,” as he demonstrated in Marius the Epicurean, resided in the fact that, despite a philosophy of history that buried the past, that past refused to remain at a proper distance. Pater’s “rush of home-sick­ness” contemplating the death of the antique world was at once a necrophilia and a project: “It has passed away with that distant age, and we may venture to dwell upon it. What sharpness and reality it has is the sharpness and reality of suddenly arrested life.” This division was expressed toward the end of Marius in the elab­orate figures of the “Two Curious Houses,” the one an emblem of the decadence and artifice of the late Roman Empire, the other an intimation of the strength of the new Christian culture. In his almost dreamlike experience of these houses, Marius tested the resources of “his old native susceptibility to the spirit, the special sympathies, of places,” and their mystical significance. The houses, like that of Pa­ter’s childhood, were embodiments of life and thought; their atmo­spheres, as in the mystical beliefs of Swedenborg, so many garments for the soul, “only an expansion of the body; as the body ... is but a process, an expansion, of the soul.” The first dwelling, a setting for the reception of the poet Apuleius in Tusculum, was already a home of latecomers, overshadowed by the haunted ruins of Cicero’s villa, its blandness and daintiness effacing the otherwise sublime and terrifying rusticity of the natural surroundings. As Marius paused to enter, he paused for a moment to glance back towards the heights above; where­upon, the numerous cascades of the precipitous garden of the villa, framed in the doorway of the hall, fell into a harmless picture, in its place among the pictures within, and scarcely more real than they-a landscape-piece, in which the power of water (plunging into what unseen depths!) done to the life, was pleasant, and without its natural terrors. Within, the aristocratic house was home both to the refinements of Greek culture, the vast library a scholar’s paradise, and the roughness of Nero’s Rome, with its “northern,” Parisian entertainments. The second of the houses was by contrast a model of homeliness, a house for “the orderly soul,” inhabited by Saint Cecilia. “The house of Cecilia grouped itself beside that other curious house he had lately visited


The Architectural Uncanny. Homesickness

at Tusculum. And what a contrast was presented by the for­mer, in its suggestions of hopeful industry, of immaculate cleanness, of responsive affection!” Without ostentation, the house was ap­proached by a small doorway beside the Appian Way; quietly exhib­iting the signs of wealth, it also displayed a sense of the past that was far from artificial: “a noble taste-a taste, indeed, chiefly evinced in the selection and juxtaposition of the material it had to deal with, consisting almost exclusively of the remains of older art, here arranged and harmonized, with effects, both as regards color and form, so delicate as to seem realy derivative from some finer intelligence in these matters than lay within the resources of the anient sorld”. A new taste, almost anticipatory of the Renaissance, had composed the fragments of the past so as to imbue it with new expressiveness, a new intellectual spirit. All cheer and peaceful industry, the house was the epitome of the heimlich and opposed to all the superficial attractions of the sublime. But, and Pater makes this clear, this homiliness was established firmly on its ability to encompass and overcome death. The foundations of the house were deeply embedded in the catacombs, the villa’s subterranean double, that provided resting places for the ancestors of the Cecilii. The immediate spatial connection between the adobe of the living and that of the dead sustained the air of authenticity, of “venerable beauty,” that permeated the whole state Marius was comforted by the return of the family to the ancient custom of burial: a sign of “hope” concerning the body that overcame his fear of the funeral pyre. Indeed, the seemed only hope in these tombs, as if “these poignant memorials seemed also to draw him onwards” in an intimation of salvation. The heimlich had finally been reconciled to its apparent opposite in a spatial order that provided rest for both living and dead.


The Architectural Uncanny.

Homesickness


A programme for architecture

Bruno Taut

May 4, 1880-December 24, 1938

Bruno Taut was born in 1880 in Königsberg, Prussia, and died in Ankara, Turkey, in 1938. Bruno Taut was a prolific German architect, urban planner and author active during the Weimar period. In 1910 after training in Berlin, working for Theodor Fischer’s firm in Stuttgart, and establishing his own firm in Berlin, the experienced architect Hermann Muthesius suggested that Taut visit England to learn the garden city philosophy. Muthesius also introduced him to some of the Deutscher Werkbund group of architects, including Walter Gropius. Taut had socialist sympathies, and before World War I this hindered his advancement.

In the early part of the twentieth century Bruno Taut developed an urban concept that used architecture to overcome national and social differences. Taut’s imagined city was an utopian garden city and socialist community that would be crowned by a communal center modeled after the medieval cathedral or temple. His idea of using an individual structure to give definition to and affect the planning of an entire city was championed in his anthology, The City Crown.

The City Crown, image. (Drawing by Bruno Taut.) 1917

In this time, Taut wrote this text. Bruno Taut’s Program for architecture was printed at Christmas 1918 as a leaflet with the approval of the, Arbeitsrat for Kunst’. This Work Council of Art, with its headquarters in Berlin, was founded at the same time and in close connexion with the November Group, in which the revolutionary artist from all over Germany were gathered together after the war. This initiative proclaimed building to be a humanitarias undertaking, a task which Taut summed up in the slogan: “The Earth a good habitation!”. This article will give a short introduction to the work of Bruno Taut in order to place his architectural programs – comprising


A programme for architecture

visionary writings and drawings – in context with his built work. Then Taut’s presumptuous definition of the role and function of architects within society will be discussed, as we can see in this manifesto. At its time, Taut’s anthology was intended to encourage architects to build and at the same time to strive for the ideal rather than the realistic. Though he was never able to build a complete city after his City Crown model, Taut’s thoughts and especially his later-realized housing projects carry the seed for a new society with a better future in them and were highly respected. The movement to which Taut and his peers belonged ignited new ideas. However, only when the shift from spiritual thoughts to more technological concepts, from the initial notion to create the one and ultimate – and lastly static – monument towards an interest in the process and fabrication occurred, did these ideas have a final breakthrough in Functionalism.

Conrads Ulrich, Programs and Manifestoeson 20th-century architecture, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1971.

1918 Bruno Taut: A programme for architecture Art- that is one single thing, when it exists! Today there is no art. The various disrupted tendencies can find their way back to a single unity only under the wings of a new architecture, so that every individual discipline will play its part in building. Then there will be no frontiers between the applied arts and sculpture or painting. Everything will be one thing: architecture. The direct carrier of the spiritual forces, moulder of !he sensibilities of the general public, which today are slumbering and tomorrow will awake, is architecture. Only a complete revolution in the spiritual rea1m will create this architecture. But this revolution, this architecture will not come of them selves. Both must be willed - today’s architects must prepare the way for tomorrow’s buildings. Their work on the future must receive public assistance to make it possible. Therefore: I. Support aod gatberiog together of the ideal forces among architects (a) Support for architectural ideas which, above and beyond the purely formal aspect, strive for the concentration of all the national energies in the symbol of the building belonging to a better future and which demonstrate the cosmic character of architecture, its religious foundations, so-called Utopias. The provision of public funds in the form of grants to radically inclined architects to enable them to carry out such projects. Financial assistance towards the publication of written material, the construction of models and (b) for a well-situated experimental site (e.g. in Berlin: the Tempelhofer Feld), on which arcbitects can erect large-scale models of their ideas. Here, too, new architectural effects, e.g. glass as a building material, shall be tried out, perfected and exhibited to the masses in full-scale temporary construc­tions or individual parts of a building. The layman, the woman, and the child will lead the architect farther than the inhibited specialist. Expenses could be met by melting down public monuments, breaking down triumphal avenues, etc., as well as by the participation of industries connected with the experimental buildings. Workshops with col-


A programme for architecture

onies of craftsmen and artists on the experimental site. (c) Decision on the distribution of financial aid by a council made up half of creative architects, half of radically minded laymen. If agreement cannot be reached, the final decision will be taken by a layman chosen from the councll. II. People’s houses (a) Beginning of large-scale people’s housing estates not inside the towns, but in the open country in connexion with setlements, groups of buildings for theatre and music with lodging houses and the like, culminating in the religious building. Prospect of a prolonged period of construction, hence the beginning should be made according lo a grandiose plan with limited means. (b) Architects to be chosen not by competition but in accordance with I(c). (c) If building is halted it should be given new incentives during the pauses by means of planned extensions and new ideas in aceordance with I(a}-(c). These buildings should be the first attempt at unifying the energies of the people and of artists, the preliminaries for developing a culture. They cannot stand in thc metropolis because the latter, being rotten in itself, will disappear along with the old power. The future lies on the newly developed land, which will feed itself (not ‘on tbe water’). III. Estates (a) Unitary direction in the sense that one architect will establish overall principles according to which he will examine all projects and buildings, without thereby impeding personal freedom. This architect to have the right of veto. (b)As II(b). (e) Formal elements to be reduced radically lo second place after agricultura and practical considerations. No fear of extreme simplicity, but also not of colour. IV. Other buildlings (a) For street dcvelopmenl and, according to circumstances, for wbole urban districts the same thing applies as for III(a) and (b). (b) No distinction between public and private buildings. As long as there are freelance architecls there will be only freelance architects. Until there are State potters there need not be State architects. Public and private buildings may be built by anyone; commissions in line with I(c) or through competitions that are not anonymous, whose participants are invited by a council in accordance with I(c) and awarded prizes; no unpaid designs. Unknown architects will apply for invitation to the council. Anonymity is rendered valueless by the recognizable artistic handwriting of successful architects. No majority decisions by the jury; in the event of no unanimity, each member of the jury is individually responsible for his vote. Best of all a single adjudicator. Final selection possibly by plebiscite. (c) Building officials, such as municipal building advisers and the like, to be concerned only with ihe control of local building, demolition, and financial supervision, with purely technical functions. The intermediate fields, such as town planning, to be under the supervision of an advisory council of architets and gardeners, (d) No tilles and dignities for architects (doctor, profes.sor, councíllor, excellency, etc.) (e) In everything, preference to be givenlo the creative; no control over the architect once he has heen commissioned, (f ) In the event of public contradiction, decision by a council in accordance with I(c) which can be established by an architects’ corporation. (g) Only such architects’ corporations are to have authority in this and other matter and are to be recognized by the State. These corporations are to exercise to the limit the principle of mutual aid, They are to


A programme for architecture

bring their influence to bear on the police responsible for enforcing building regulations. Mutual aid alone makes an association fruitful and active. lt is more import­ant than the number of votes, which means nothing withoul social concord. It excludes inartistic and hence unfair competition. V. The education of architects (a) Corporations in accordance with IV(g) have the decision as to the building, constitution, and supervision of technical schools; teachers to be selected in collaboration wilh the students. Practical work on the building site and in the workshop like an apprentice iu a craft. (b) In the trade schools no artistic, but only technical tuition. Technical primary schools. (c) The artistic education in the offices of practising architects, according to the choice of the young people and the architects themselves. (d) General education according to inclination and previous knowledge in people’s colleges and universities. VI. Architecture and the other arts (a)Designing of exhibitions by architeets in cheerful sbapes; lightweight buildings in busy public squares and parks, on popular lines, almost like a fair. (b)Extensive employment of painters and sculptors on all buildings in order to draw them away from salon art; the arousal of mutual interest between architect and ‘artist’. (e) In accordance with this principle, also introduction of architectural students into the creative ‘new arts’, That architect is alone significant who has a conspectus of the whole domain of art and understands the radical endeavours of painting and sculpture. He alone will help to bring about the unity of the whole, lncreased importance of the architect in public life through his holding important posts and the like will result automatically from the implementation of this programme.


The Collective Memory

Space and the Collective Memory

Maurice Halbwachs

March 11, 1877-March 16, 1945

Maurice Halbwachs born in 1877, Reims, France; philosopher and sociologist. For three years one of his teachers at the Lycée Henri iv in Paris was Henri Bergson, who influenced him greatly. The most important contribution to the field of sociology came in his book La Mémoire collective, 1950 (“The Collective Memory”), in which he advanced the thesis that a society can have a collective memory and that this memory is dependent upon the “cadre” or framework within which a group is situated in a society. Thus, there is not only an individual memory, but also a group memory that exists outside of and lives beyond the individual. Consequently, an individual’s understanding of the past is strongly linked to this group consciousness.

Halbwachs adresses the main concepts that help us build an understanding of objects, our relation with them and our surroundings. Explain how the images of the external world are inseparable from ourself, and the role they take in our lifes and behavior. Here are explain the three dimensions of collective memory: Mental Dimension: related to the collective countless symbols Social Dimension: regarding the social worl and its complexity Material Dimension: Instrument like physical medium to recall the past. Is created by history of events, that become traditions. This mental structure give us a sense of belonging through an image of permanence, provide us familiar references, help an individual to built the idea of “yourself ”, and give us mental stability. This recognition of elements construct aswell our personalities and determin our behaive, that become a language to be interpreted. The value of things and even the meaning of those are given by the society is built with elements beyond the value of the physical object, thanks to this characteristic this meaning is able to change and adapt. Our taste and desires evidenced a choice, this choice is lead not only by our own desires, they are influenced by the


The Collevtive Memory

Space and the Collective Memory

tacit value that society give to the object or action .This value that elements adquiered area given by the society, but in this exchange of significate the memory stays in the object given the reason that physical objects last more than stability of social groups. Strenght of meaning of things in the society comes from traditions, the influence in the imaginarie lays in the material, in the object itself, the relation with the actors don’t change even the actors change. The capacity of recognize familiar objects affects to our mental stability, and contribut to regcognize ourself as part of a group. Place and group is imprinted in the other, and become traces of a social dimension. Architecture play an important role creating this elements of recognition, refers to the architecture paradox between the product of the mind and a life experience. The social framework of memory added to the topography or characteristics of Inert character of physical objects and by the relative stability of social groups and have meaning beyond the ones given .

Halbwachs Maurice, The Collective Memory-Space and the collective memory, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1992.

The Collective Memory Space and The Collective Memory The Group in Its Spatial Framework: The Influence of the Physical Surroundings Auguste Comte remarked that mental equilibrium was, first and foremost, due to the fact that the physical objects of our daily contact change little or not at all, providing us with an image of permanence and stability. They give us a feeling of order and tranquility, like a silent and immobile society unconcerned with our own restlessness and changes of mood. In truth, much mental illness is accompanied by a breakdown of contact between thought and things, as it were, an inability to recognize familiar objects, so that the victim finds himself in a fluid and strange environment totally lacking familiar reference points. So true is it that our habitual images of the external world are inseparable from our self that this breakdown is not limited to the mentally ill. We ourselves may experience a similar period of uncertainty, as if we had left behind our whole personality, when we are obliged to move to novel surroundings and have not yet adapted to them. More is involved than merely the discomfort accompanying a change of motor habits. Why does a person become attached to objects? Why does he wish that they would never change and could always keep him company? Let us leave aside for the moment any considerations of convenience or aesthetics. Our physical surroundings bear our and others’ imprint. Our home - furniture and its arrangement, room decor - recalls family and friends whom we see frequently within this framework. If we live alone, that region of space permanently surrounding us reflects not merely what distinguishes us from everyone else. Our tastes and desires evidenced in the choice and arrangement of these objects are explained in large measure by the bonds attaching us to various groups. All we can say is that things are part of society. However, furniture, ornaments, pictures, utensils, and knick-knacks also “circulate” within the group: they are the topic of evaluations and comparisons, provide insights into new directions of fashion and taste, and recall for us older customs and social distinctions. In an antique shop the various eras and classes of a society come face to face in the scattered


The Collective Memory

Space and the Collective Memory

assortment of household belongings. One naturally wonders who would have owned such an armchair, tapestry, dishes, or other necessities. Simultaneously (it is basically the same thing), one thinks about the world recognizable in all this, as if the style of furniture, the manner of decor and arrangement, were some language to be interpreted. The picture a Balzac provides of a family lodging or the home of a miser, a Dickens gives of the study of a notary public, already suggests the social type or category of the humans who live in that framework. What is involved is no mere harmony and physical congruence between place and person. Rather, each object appropriately placed in the whole recalls a way of life common to many men. To analyze its various facets is like dissecting a thought compounded of the contributions of many groups. Indeed, the forms of surrounding objects certainly possess such a significance. They do stand about us a mute and motionless society. While they do not speak, we nevertheless understand them because they have a meaning easily interpreted. And they are motionless only in appearance, for social preference and habits change; for example, when we grow tired of a piece of furniture or a room, the object itself seems to age. In truth, the impression of immobility does predominate for rather long periods, a fact explained both by the inert character of physical objects and by the relative stability of social groups. It would be an exaggeration to maintain that changes of location and major alterations in the furnishing demarcate stages of family history. However, the permanence and interior appearance of a home impose on the group a comforting image of its own continuity. Years of routine have flowed through a framework so uniform as to make it difficult to distinguish one year after another. We doubt that so much time has passed and that we have changed so much. The group not only transforms the space into which it has been inserted, but also yields and adapts to its physical surroundings. It becomes enclosed within the framework it has built. The group’s image of its external milieu and its stable relationships with this environment becomes paramount in the idea it forms of itself, permeating every element of its consciousness, moderating and governing its evolution. This image of surrounding objects shares their inertia. It is the group, not the isolated individual but the individual as a group member, that is subject in this manner to material nature and shares its fixity. Although one may think otherwise, the reason members of a group remain united, even after scattering and finding nothing in their new physical surroundings to recall the home they have left, is that they think of the old home and its layout. Even after the priests and nuns of Port-Royal were expelled, nothing was really affected so long as the buildings of the abbey stood and those who remembered them had not died. Thus we understand why spatial images play so important a role in the collective memory. The place a group occupies is not like a blackboard, where one may write and erase figures at will. No image of a blackboard can recall what was once written there. The board could not care less what has been written on it before, and new figures may be freely added. But place and group have each received the imprint of the other. Therefore every phase of the group can be translated into spatial terms, and its residence is but the juncture of all these terms. Each aspect, each detail, of this place has a meaning intelligent only to members of the group, for each portion of its space corresponds to various and different aspects of the structure and life of their society, at least of what is most stable in it. Of course, extraordinary events are also fitted within this spatial framework, because they occasion in the group a more intense awareness of its past and present, the bonds attaching it to physical locale gaining greater clarity in the very moment of their destruction. But a truly major event always results in an alteration of the relationship of the group to place. The family as a group may change size owing to death or marriage, or it may change location as it grows richer or poorer or as the father is transferred or changes occupation. From then on, neither the group nor the collective memory remains the same, but neither have the physical surroundings. The Stones of the City The districts within a city and the homes within a district have as fixed a location as any tree, rock, hill,


The Collevtive Building, dwelling, Memory Space and the Collective Memory thinking

or field. Hence the urban group has no impression of change so long as streets and buildings remain the same. Few social formations are at once more stable and better guaranteed permanence. Paris and Rome, for example, have seemingly traversed the centuries without rupturing the continuity of life, despite wars, revolutions, and great crises. The nation may be prone to the most violent upheavals. The citizen goes out, reads the news, and mingles with groups discussing what has happened. The young must hurriedly defend the frontier. The government levies heavy taxes that must be paid. Some inhabitants attack others, and political struggle ensues that reverberates throughout the country. But all these troubles take place in a familiar setting that appears totally unaffected. Might it not be the contrast between the impassive stones and such disturbances that convinces people that, after all, nothing has been lost, for walls and homes remain standing? Rather, the inhabitants pay disproportionate attention to what I have called the material aspect of the city. The great majority may well be more sensitive to a certain street being torn up, or a certain building or home being razed, than to the gravest national, political, or religious events. That is why great upheavals may severely shake society without altering the appearance of the city. Their effects are blunted as they filter down to those people who are closer to the stones than to men - the shoemaker in his shop; the artisan at his bench; the merchant in his store; the people in the market; the walker strolling about the streets, idling at the wharf, or visiting the garden terraces; the children playing on the corner; the old man enjoying the sunny wall or sitting on a stone bench; the beggar squatting by a city landmark. Not only homes and walls persist through the centuries, but also that whole portion of the group in continuous contact with them, its life merged with things. This part of the group is just not interested in what is happening outside its own narrow circle and beyond its immediate horizon. The passivity that the group sees in this portion of itself that remains unconcerned about the passions, hopes, and fears of the outside world reinforces that impression arising from the immobility of things. The same is true for disturbances in smaller groups based on blood, friendship, or love when death, disagreements, or the play of passion and interest intervene. Under the shock of such troubles, we walk the streets and we are surprised to find life going on about us as if nothing had happened. Joyful faces appear at windows, peasants converse at the crossroads, buyers and sellers stand on shop steps, while we, our family, our friends, experience the hurricane of catastrophe. We, and those whom we hold dear, constitute only a few units in this multitude. Doubtless any one of these people I meet, taken aside and put back into his own family or group of friends, would be capable of sympathizing with me as I described to him my troubles and concerns. But people, be they in a crowd or scattered about in mutual avoidance of one another, are caught up in the current of the street and resemble so many material particles, which, packed together or in movement, obey laws of inert nature. Their apparent insensitivity is wrongly condemned by us as something like nature’s indifference, for even as it insults us, it momentarily calms and steadies us. The best way of understanding the influence the physical environment of the city exerts on groups that have slowly adapted to it is to observe certain areas of a modern metropolis: for example, the older districts, or the relatively isolated sections that form little self-enclosed worlds where the inhabitants live very near their work, or even the streets and boulevards in the newer parts of the city peopled primarily by workers, where a great deal of human traffic occurs between lodging and street and neighborhood relationships multiply. But it is in the smaller cities lying outside the mainstream of modern life, or in Oriental cities (where life is still regulated with a tempo such as our cities had one or two centuries ago), that local traditions are most stable. There the urban group really constitutes (as it does elsewhere only in part) a social body with subdivisions and a structure reproducing the physical configuration of the city enclosing it. The differentiation of a city arises from a diversity of functions and customs. Whereas the group evolves, the external appearance of the city changes more slowly. Habits related to a specific physical setting resist the forces tending to change them. This resistance best indicates to what extent the collective memory of these groups is based on spatial images. Cities are indeed transformed in the course of history. Entire districts may be left in ruins following siege, occupation, and sacking by an invading army. Great fires lay waste whole areas. Old homes deteriorate. Streets once inhabited by the rich change appearance as


The Collective Memory

Space and the Collective Memory

they are taken over by the poor. Public works and new roads require much demolition and construction as one plan is superimposed on another. Suburbs growing on the outskirts are annexed. The center of the city shifts. Although older districts, encircled by newer and taller buildings, seem to perpetuate the life of former times, they convey only an image of decay, and were their former inhabitants to return, it is doubtful that they would even recognize them. Were the relationship between streets, homes, and groups inhabiting them wholly accidental and of short duration, then men might tear down their homes, district, and city, only to rebuild another on the same site according to a different set of plans. But even if stones are movable, relationships established between stones and men are not so easily altered. When a group has lived a long time in a place adapted to its habits, its thoughts as well as its movements are in turn ordered by the succession of images from these external objects. Now suppose these houses and streets are demolished or their appearance and layout are altered. The stones and other materials will not object, but the groups will. This resistance, if not in the stones themselves, at least arises out of their long-standing relationships with these groups. Of course, this arrangement was work of an earlier group, and what one group has done may be undone by another. But the design made by the original people was embodied in a material structure. The force of local tradition comes forth from this physical object, which serves as its image. This shows the extent to which a whole aspect of the group imitates the passivity of inert matter. Implacement and Displacement: The Adherence of the Group to Its Location This resistance can emanate only from a group. There is no mistaking this point. Urban changes - the demolition of a home, for example - inevitably affect the habits of a few people, perplexing and troubling them. The blind man gropes for his favorite spot to await passers-by, while the stroller misses the avenue of trees where he went for a breath of fresh air and is saddened by the loss of this picturesque setting. Any inhabitant for whom these old walls, rundown homes, and obscure passageways create a little universe, who has many remembrances fastened to these images now obliterated forever, feels a whole part of himself dying with these things and regrets they could not last at least for his lifetime. Such individual sorrow and malaise is without effect, for it does not affect the collectivity. In contrast, a group does not stop with a mere display of its unhappiness, a momentary burst of indignation and protest. It resists with all the force of its traditions, which have effect. It searches out and partially succeeds in recovering its former equilibrium amid novel circumstances. It endeavors to hold firm or reshape itself in a district or on a street that is no longer ready-made for it but was once its own. For a long time old aristocratic families and long standing urban patriarchs did not willingly abandon the districts where they had resided from time immemorial. Despite their growing isolation, they refused to move into the new neighborhoods of the wealthy, with their broader streets, nearby parks, open spaces, modernistic style, and activity. The poor also resist, often aggressively, their dislocation and, even in submission, leave behind a good deal of themselves. Behind the new facade, and on the outskirts of avenues lined with the recently built homes of the wealthy, the public life of the common people in the past takes shelter in the malls, alleys, and lanes, only to recede gradually - hence those little islands out of the past that we are surprised to find in the midst of fairly modern districts. In totally remodeled districts, contrary to our expectations, we find that houses of entertainment, small theaters, unofficial money-changers and secondhand stores curiously reappear after a time. This is especially true of certain crafts, small businesses, and similar types of activity that are old-fashioned and no longer suited to the modern city. These activities are driven by an impulse acquired in the past and would quickly die if removed from their traditional locations. Certain small businesses are well patronized because, from time immemorial, they have been located at a site that marks them for public attention. There are old hotels, dating from the time of stagecoaches, that continue to be used simply because they are in a memorable location. All these


The Collevtive Memory

Space and the Collective Memory

routines and remnants from the past require some sort of collective automatism for their explanation, an enduring rigidity in the thought of certain relationships of businessman and customer. These groups adapt slowly, and m many circumstances demonstrate an extraordinary capacity not to adapt. They long ago designed their boundaries and defined their reactions in relation to a specific configuration of the physical environment. The walls against which they have built their shops, the material framework enclosing them, and the roofs sheltering them have become integral parts of the group. To lose their location in the pocket of a certain street, or in the shadow of some wall or church, would be to lose the support of the tradition that recommends them and gives them their unique reason for existence. Hence we can understand why the remains of demolished buildings or roads persist for a long time, be it only the traditional name of a street or locale or the signboard of a store.

[...} The Insertion of the Collective Memory into Space Thus, every collective memory unfolds within a spatial framework. Now space is a reality that endures: since our impressions rush by, one after another, and leave nothing behind in the mind, we can understand how we recapture the past only by understanding how it is, in effect, preserved by our physical surroundings. It is to space - the space we occupy, traverse, have continual access to, or can at any time reconstruct in thought and imagination - that we must turn our attention. Our thought must focus on it if this or that category of remembrances is to reappear. While it might be conceded that every group and every kind of collective activity is linked to a specific place, or segment of space, it could be argued that this fact alone is quite insufficient to explain how the image of a place conjures up thoughts about an activity of the group associated with that place. While each mental picture does have a framework, there is no strict and necessary relationship between the two; the framework cannot evoke the picture. Such an objection would be valid if the term “space� referred solely to physical space-that is, the totality of forms and colors as we perceive them about us. But is that how we originally experience space? Is that normally how we perceive the external milieu? It is difficult to know just what space would be like for a genuinely isolated man who had never belonged to any society. Let us speculate as to what conditions are necessary if we are to perceive only the physical and sensory qualities of things. We must divest objects of many relationships that intrude into our thought and correspond to a like number of different viewpoints. That is, we must dissociate ourselves from any group that establishes certain relationships between objects and considers them from given viewpoints. Moreover, we would succeed in doing so only by adopting the attitude of another group, perhaps that of physicists if we claim to focus our attention on certain abstract properties of matter, or that of artists if we concentrate on line and shading of figures and landscapes. Back on the riverbank, at the park entrance, or amid the activity of the street after a visit to an art gallery, we still feel that impulse from the society of painters, as we view things not as they really are but as they appear to one trying only to reproduce an image of them. Actually, nothing is less natural. Of course, remembrances of interest to other groups cannot find a place to be preserved in the space of the scientist or painter, since it is constructed by the very elimination of all other spaces. But this does not prove that these other spaces are less real than those of the scientist or painter.


TIMED DOMESTICITY Together with advances and technological developments, humans have changed the procedural paradigms and performance over the years. The model of society is gradually changing, which in turn has greatly changed the way we live, how we work and how we spend our time at home. The consumer society has evolved into a media culture whose ultimate goal ends up being the continuous recreation of needs that are constructed via computer and met through a new consumer manipulation. The source is valued, the act and / or consumption rate. All this has come to a deep transformation of the concept of housing and city. A transformation that is based on what has to provide us with, what it has to include and aspects to be covered in order to meet current needs. And any of those developments came without crisis or discussions about them. Here some are attached.

1 KUBRICK, Stanley. 2001: A Space Odyssey. 1968 2 LANG, Fritz. Metropolis. 1927


Domesticity at war.

Beatriz Colomina

May 4, 1880-December 24, 1938

Beatriz Colomina is an internationally renowned architectural historian and theorist who has written extensively on questions of architecture and media. She came to Columbia University from Spain in 1982. She then moved on to Princeton University’s School of Architecture in 1988, later to become its director of graduate studies. Colomina has taught at the princeton university school of architecture since 1988, and is the founding director of the program in media and modernity, a graduate program that promotes the interdisciplinary study of forms of culture that came to prominence during the last century and looks at the interplay between culture and technology. Nowadays, she is the founding director of the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University, and has been named a 2003 Old Dominion Faculty Fellow.

After 1945, the American war machine was transformed and redirected into a huge consumer manufacturing and production system, where logistic, pregabrication, propaganda and assemble lines were to do battle in suburbia. As Colomina Descirbes, it was “misssiles into washing machines”. Europe was invaded this time with a barrage of images from “Time”, “Life” and “Better Homaes and Gardens” magazines that induced an almost hypnotic love affair with the American home and lifestyle. This ,wave’ had a significant influence on the direction of contemporary architecture, which is the Beatriz Colomina object of study. Domesticity at war, researh in the work of post-war architects and designers and place this in the context of a popular domestic image making. An array of famous architects all weave in and out of the photographers and text, and are connected by nine specifics case study sections. includes a temporal range that goes from the years of the Second World War to the Cold War, is an analysis of the implications of the war in the space of everyday life, the awakening of an imaginary and corresponding effect on its architectural definitions. Beatriz


Domesticity at war

Colomina writes that “war does not end but evolves, and so does architecture”. In the postwar, cold war years, there emerges a new type of modern architecture that represents a fundamental transformation from only five decades prior. In Domesticity at War, Beatriz Colomina presents domesticity as a new, and very potent weapon in a changed architectural battlefield. The sense of embattled domesticity is the trademark of the immediate postwar years and the focus of this archaeological study.

Colomina Beatriz, Doesticity at War, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1991.

Domesticity at War 16 January 1991. We are, we seem to be, on the edge of war. At the threshold. A line has been drawn. Literally. A deadline. In crossing that line we go to war. We go out­side. We leave the homeland to do battle on the outside. But there are also always lines in the interior, within the apparently safe confines of the house . As we all know but rarely publicize, the house is a scene of conflict. The domestic has always been at war. The battle of the family, the battle of sexuality, the battle for cleanliness, for hygiene . . . and now the ecological battle . With recy­cling, even the waste of the house is subjected to classifica­tion. Domesticated . People are reminded of life during World War II, and not just because that was the last time they had to recycle . “War is no longer identifiable with declared conflict, with battles ,” writes Paul Virilio , “Nonetheless, the old illusion still persists that a state of peace means the absence of open warfare. “ War takes place toda y without fighting. The battlefield is the domestic interior: the war cabinet. A “cabinet,” in English, means, in common use, a “cup­board or case with drawers, shelves, etc., for storing or displaying articles”; a “piece of furniture containing a radio or television set”; and, in the terms of politics , a “group of ministers controlling government policy.” The cabinet is a space. In the first definition, this space is associated with the traditional domestic interior, the house;2 in the second, it houses the media; in the third, it has been displaced into the media itself. While cabinet members derive their title from the space where their meetings take place , that space, that cabinet, exists, above all, in the media waves, it is housed by radio, television, and newspapers. The cohabita­tion of these apparently disparate meanings indicates that the house is a military weapon, a mechanism within a war where the differences between defense and attack have become blurred. An instance of this blurring of limits between war and peace was offered by CBS news on 15 January when the question most insistently put to the multiple “guests” of the program- to the war “experts”- was, What signs should we be looking for in the next two or three days, what signs will indicate to us that we have


Domesticity at war.

really entered war? The media , charged with making visible the war, was at a loss in the moment of identifying what would constitute evi­dence of its advent. The guests, who are, after all, guests in the home of the viewer, were unable to anticipate the image of war. The image, therefore, might arrive in the house before it was recognized. The house is already mobilized. (During the War in the Gulf , in fact , CNN would advertise itself with the line “CNN brings the front line to your living room,” to what we used to call the “front room .” Outside space, then, is collapsed into this line, this front, but because the line is unclear, the war also speaks of the difficulty of establishing the limits of domestic space.) 1964 (two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis). The New York World’s Fair. Its architecture is dismissed at the time (and still toda y) as “too commercial, “ “too vulgar,” lacking “architectural unity,” and, perhaps most symptomatic, “the masters are missing”: “Where are Kahn, Neutra, Mies, Gropius, Yamasaki, Buckminster Fuller, Kiesler... ? asks lnteriors, a professional journal. While the institutions of high culture (if one could consider lnteriors, Progressive Architecture, or Architectural Record as such) lament their inability to comprehend the fair, only a reporter for Holi­day, a popular travel magazine, seems able to provide an adequate response when he writes, “Most of these charges are true; none of them matters ... Too commercial? As I see it, commerce is the point of any fair...It is pre­cisely the chaos of architectural styles that lends to Flush­ing Meadow the nightmare quality any proper World’s Fair should strive for... As for the vulgarity and the triviality I would grieve to see an iota of them blotted or canceled out. “ The accusations of commercialism, vulgarity, disunity, and absence of mastery were not simply a rejection of mass culture. The attack on the kitsch of the fair, the bad taste of its forms of mass culture, constituted an elaborate defense (with antiquated artillery) against a major disrup­tion of the traditional status of architecture. Architectural magazines were defending themselves against a threat to their own foundations. The fair presented to the viewer , in the words of the Holiday reporter, “a world computerized to the teeth, a push­button world” : At the Better Living Center there is a computer to tell you what colors to use in decorating your home. ... At the National Cash Register pavilion a computer feeds out facts to help children with their homework. At the Parker Pen pavilion, a computer will find you a pen pal somewhere in the world...and at the Clairol pavilion, a computer advised my wife what color she should dye her hair: ‘Don’t be a sissy,’ a soft, electronic female voice whis­pered in her ear, ‘go ahead, do it!’ Not only were the computers (descendants of the first com­puter developed to decode enemy messages during World War 11) “concerned” exclusively with domestic issues (displacing into themselves traditional forms of domestic relations in areas as crucial as decoration, homework , companionship, and fashion advice), but moreover, domestic space itself was deeply disturbed. Within the pop­ular kitsch of the 1964 World’s Fair very elaborate propo­sitions were being made about the status of the modern interior (something that architectural magazines could not recognize). One such proposition was the Underground Home, a tra­ditional suburban ranch house buried as protection from the new threat of nuclear fallout.6 It was the project of Jay Swayze, a Texan military instructor turned building con­tractor of luxury houses , who during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 had been commissioned by the Plainview (Texas) City Council to build a demonstration fallout shel­ter to specifications by the Department of Civil Defense . In a promotional book published in 1980, he discussed the project in the following terms: I saw the merit of utilizing the earth as protection against radio­active fallout. As a former military instructor in chemical warfare, I knew that the three ways man could destroy himself were by nuclear fission, nerve gas or germ warfare. Despite President Kennedy ‘s assurance that the threat of war was only temporary, one thing was clear. The nuclear age was upon us, and long­range planning was necessary to protect humanity from possibleill effects. Swayze quickly turned the military project for a shelter into a domestic project for a house:


Domesticity at war

It seemed more logical to make the home and its surroundings a safe harbor where the family would be protected in comfortable, familiar surroundings. . . . Armed with these ideas, 1 moved to the drafting table. . . . Because we cannot live in constant fear of war, storms or uncomfortable temperatures, the ‘better way ‘ must offer protection from such. This equation of war with weather was symptomatic. The “better way”- Swayze’s slogan for the Underground Home -rested on two “obvious advantages”: “constant temperature” and “security from natural or man-made hazards .” The house offered a controlled environment in which one could create one’s own climate by “dialing” temperature and humidity settings: “the breeze of a mountain top, the exhilarating high pressure feeling of a Spring day can be created at will. ... The clamor of traffic, jets, noisy neighbors -all are gone with a turn of a switch and you are free to rest in silence, or experience for the first time the full range of sensations that today’s sensitive stereo systems are able to produce.” As “windows to the outside world seemed impossible” in an underground shelter, Swayze developed a survey “to learn how much value people actually placed upon win­dows.” He concluded that although windows might be of psychological importance, they were, in fact, rarely looked through. Moreover, “with traditional homes we must take what we get for views. After looking outside, 1 decided an artist could do a thousand times better .” In the Under­ground Home traditional windows were superimposed on “dial-a-view” murals . Every room in the house looked out onto a panoramic landscape that could be changed at will. (In the prototype of this house, completed in Colorado before the World’s Fair, the outside views spanned a conti­nent, with San Francisco’s Golden Cate to the west and New York’s skyline to the east.) The time of day or night could also be “dialed” to fit any mood or occasion . A pub­licity brochure noted that rheostats “permit a rising sun effect in the kitchen, while a star-filled night blankets the ‘outdoor’ patio.” That is, simultaneously! The displacement of time and space produced within this house problematizes traditional spatial distinctions such as that between inside and outside. But these distinctions are not simply abandoned here. They are made strange. lnside the “protective shell” a clear division is kept between “inte­rior” and “exterior” areas. The definition of terms at the beginning of Swayze’s book clarifies that “out-of-doors, backyard, front yard, patio, courtyard, garden, swimming pool” are “all areas inside the shell.” “Outer/ outside “is” anything not enclosed in the shell.” By internalizing even the inside/outside distinction, the Underground Home offered, again in the words of the Holiday reporter, “greater security -peace of mind -the ultimate in true privacy!” And the publicity brochure read: “A few feet underground can give man an island unto himself; a place where he controls his own world -a world of total ease and comfort, of security, safety and, above all, privacy.” “Peace” is achieved in this war by environmental control, control over “the exterior”: temperature, noise, air, light, view. The publicity does not insist so much on nuclear danger as on intruders, dangers of the street, insects, impurities of the air. In the 1970s, with the oil crisis, emphasis turned toward energy saving, and in the 1980s, ecological concerns. The description of the battlefield changes. “Ecological catastrophes are only terrifying for civilians,” writes Virilio, “For the military, they are but a simulation of chaos, an opportunity to justify an art of warfare which is all the more autonomous as the political State dies out. “ The traditional domestic ideal of “peace and quiet” can only be produced by engaging the house in combat, as a weapon : counterdomesticity. The sponsor of the Underground Home was General Elec­tric, who also commissioned Walt Disney to produce the Carousel of Progress, a series of theatrical sets that exhib­ited the history of the interior from 1880 to 1964 by trac­ing the transformations of the house through electricity. In the General Electric pavilion a demonstration of thermo­nuclear fusion took place every fifteen minutes. So>that nuclear power, a by-product of military technology, was presented as both a mass spectacle and a transformation of the interior. The transformations of interior/exterior were not isolated moments within the 1964 Fair but its main


Domesticity at war.

theme : IBM offered the lnformation Machine, where “fourteen syn­chronized projectors use nine screens to show you how lucky you are to have a brain, how your brain works, and how a computer does its mechanical best to emulate your cerebration .” The Bell pavilion exhibited the Picture­phone. And the Coca-Cola pavilion promoted the simu­lation of countries: “The visitor experiences not only the sights and sounds of five foreign countries but also their smells and their temperature changes. He goes from a crowded street in Hong Kong (past a fish store whose smell was so overpoweringly authentic that it had to be deodor­ized before opening day), to the Taj Mahal, toa perfumed rain forest in Cambodia, to a bracing ski resort in the Bavarian Alps, to the slowly canting deck of a cruise ship just off Rio de Janeiro. It is an amusing journey.” At the Kodak pavilion the visitor could see, outside, the largest possible color prints and, inside, how the day’s news pic­tures carne in by wire, just as they were being received by newspapers and television stations all over the country. The Kodak pavilion also offered itself as a stage set from which to take pictures of oneself and one’s family in the background of the fair or in such unthinkable places as the moon (there was a “moondeck” on the roof ). At the 1964 Fair Kodak introduced its new “lnstamatic” camera. With it, the camera, this window into the world, which still in the 1939 Fair was contemplated (like the television) with amazement, as a technological object, became an object of mass consumption. Moreover, these objects were no longer seen as discrete. The television was everywhere, part of every space. The camera instamatic was not a technological object of awe, but a cheap piece of plastic: $8 with a built-in flash. And with the mass con­sumption of the camera carne the “privatization” of the view, that is, of the “exterior.” People constructed their own histories in photographs, in snapshots, just as they constructed the “exterior” of their (underground) houses as images of cities. This is consistent with the idea of the city presented by the World’s Fair in the Futurama exhibits. Futurama 1, at the 1939 Fair, could still offer a coherent, unified image of the city -a modernist proposal of steel and glass towers, an object, over which the visitor, a detached, amazed viewer, had no control. But Futurama 2, at the 1964 Fair, could no longer provide a unified urban idea . Instead, it offered a collection of “improbable” places where people would live in the future: on the moon, in the jungle, below ice, under the sea, and in the desert. The visitor to the 1964 Fair could only achieve “unity” through a “frame,” a col­lage of images assembled as s/he moved through the fair. This visitor, unlike that of 1939, was given the illusion of control (control over the images both “inside” the house and “outside” on the fairgrounds). This “frame” became that of the television screen . Virtually every exhibit in the fair involved television. Indeed, the fair itself was read at the time as a big television screen: “The biggest television set in the world,” wrote a reporter, “lt will have everything on the ‘screen’ except the Beverly Hillbillies, the top-rated network show. “ But, in fact, the 1964 Fair never achieved the popular appeal of the 1939 Fair. Television itself was more appeal­ing. The time of the fairs had already passed. (The 1939 Fa ir is now said to ha ve been “the last fair on earth. “) The mechanism of the World’s Fair, the capturing of every­thing, was no longer operating outside, in the traditional public space, on the fairgrounds, but within the domestic interior. The public domain has been displaced indoors. Or as Patricia Phillips has written, Just as the public space has become diminished as a civic site, the home has become, in many senses, a more public, open forum. The public world comes into each home as it never has before through television, radio and personal computer. So that rituals that were once shared conspicuously in a group are now still shared -but in isolation . An example of this ambiguous condition is the annual celebration of the New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Which is the more public event -the throng of people gathering at Forty-second Street to watch a lighted apple drop or the millions of people at home, each watching this con­gregation on TV? One thinks also of the televised spectacles of the 1960s: Kennedy’s assassination, the moon landing,


Domesticity at war

the Vietnam War. In fact, many Americans bought their first television set to “attend” Kennedy’s funeral. 1987. Room in the City, an exhibition organized by Susana Torre in New York. Severa! projects addressed, in the words of the curator, “the self-conscious public charac­ter of private life by envisioning the room as a stage for the priva te performance of public rituals.” In the project for this exhibition by Donna Robertson with Robert McAnulty, this stage is “fully dematerialized, transformed into video screens circling around a single chair for the actor forever turned spectator.” The apartment is divided into two parts by a diagonal wall that slashes through the space. At one end, the wall is punctuated by a dining-room table, the traditional scene of domesticity, and, at the other, it passes through the build­ing’s facade to support a satellite dish and broadcast antenna . On one side, the living area, five video monitors are hooked up to the satellite dish outside the window. These screens show random images of the city, creating an ethereal glow of collaged information. This Aickering light is reAected in a mirror and sent outside through the win­dow, which is partially blocked by the satellite dish. On the other side, the sleeping and bathing area, is another television set, but one not connected to the dish . Here a small opening replaces the original window. The blue light of the television set glows behind this wall. Both windows have been compromised. They are not intended to Jet light in but to Jet light pass out. Yet what kind of light is this? Robertson’s project can be read in terms of what Virilio calls a “new form of visibility”: 1 think we are witnessing a new form of visibility. 1 think that electronic images are replacing the electrification of towns and of the countryside in the late nineteenth and early twentieth cen­tury, in a certain way. Automatic cameras and monitors are replacing street lights and neon lights in towns. When you move around in a modern town you notice that everything is concen­trated into a video monitor which is not merely the video moni­tor of the prefecture of police or of traffic circulation, but the video monitor of supermarkets, the video monitor of interactive blocks of flats in a closed circuit, and so on. And here we are no longer concerned with an image at al! in the representational, artistic, illustrative meaning of the term; it is a question of another light, an electronic lighting, and 1 think that one can no longer conceive of space, whether it’s living space, town space, or even the space of the en tire territory, without this new lighting . This new “lighting” that is produced by a new desire for control displaces traditional forms of enclosure. One of the primary references of Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofi­dio’s Slow House, begun in 1989, is a photograph by Len Jenshel in which a security guard in the desert watches a television set that has been placed in the trunk of his sta­tion wagon. No-man’s-land: Here there is only a car, a surrogate enclosure. Yet, precisely, the guard does not sit in the car, but outside it, looking in. The television occu­ pies the space. It is the only thing comfortably placed. lts light passes out. The blue glow illuminates the man’s face. He is, in fact, bathed in the light of the television. The man finds security in the television. He warms himself up in the light of the electronic fire. But in so doing he is alienated, detached from traditional space. The car windshield and the television screen are both twentieth-century apertures . The picture window is another. But unlike the other two, it is usually understood as unproblematically architectural. The Slow House problematizes this distinction between architecture and systems of communication. The deployment of the wind­shield, in the words of Diller and Scofidio, “the framed transit through vehicular space,” and the television screen, “the framed transit through electronic space,” questions the status of the picture window. The picture window speaks about control and transparency, but, above all, at issue is the commodification of the visual field . The New York Times Real Estate section distin guishes between “ocean front, ocean view, bay view, cove view, water view.” As Diller and Scofidio have noted, this is a complex “real estate nomenclature developed to subtly distinguish value in a market that feeds on the desire for optical possession . “ On the site of this house, the view has a very precisely established market value. An ad in


Domesticity at war.

the New York Times reads : “Spectacular views. Just like Big Sur. With better sunsets. We didn’t want anything less for our beach house .” In their project, Diller and Scofidio juxtapose this view with its electronic representation and explore the gap between these two systems of representa­tion. This is a rereading and transformation of the rearview mirror superimposed onto a car windshield. But here, a front view is juxtaposed onto another front view, that is, juxtaposed onto itself. The Slow House makes problematic the very status of the view: alienation is produced not between one view and another, but within the view itself. The whole house is set up as a spatial transition between the car and the view. The structure of the road is trans­formed upon arrival into that of the garage, so that one does not simply leave the road, the line, for enclosure. lnstead, the windshield is telescoped into the picture win­dow, the zone of transition occupied by the traditional markers of domesticity. The front door confronts a knife edge that splits the passage: one half, remaining leve!, deviates to the left (to the sleeping and bathing areas); the other half, ascending, deviates to the right (to the cooking, eating, and living areas). The living room is the site of a dialectical play between the television and the fireplace. The television set is sus­pended in the space so that its image is superimposed onto that of the window. The image on the television screen comes from a camera mounted on a long pole, a transfor­mation of the traditional chimney. The chimney points upward, the camera pole points forward. One is concerned with getting something out of the house, the other with pulling something in . One removes pollution. The other brings in visual pollution, images that, suspended within the antiperspectival curve of the house, contaminate tradi­tional architectural order. The window is a clearly established frame but this frame has no stable context. It is as free-Aoating as the frame of the television screen. The slight displacement of the hori­zon marks a deeper affinity between the two systems (pic­ture window and television screen). The television is no longer simply outside of architecture or sorne kind of furni­ture within it. The limits of architecture have been dis­turbed . This is an architecture on, in, and after television: the television cabinet. With Michael Webb’s Orive-In House project, which has evolved over the last decade, the car plugs right into the house , even more, it literally turns into a house. The car, that “most luxuriously appointed component of vita domes­tica [which, however] wasteful and sad, sits in the driveway unused for most of the day” is here recycled, separated into parts (the stereo system, the seats, the windows, the television, the cocktail cabinet, the air-conditioning, the telephone). The waste is thus classified, domesticated. Reversing the cycle of consumption , the Orive-In House becomes an ecological alternative, or as Webb puts it, a “try-anything type answer to mitigate the coming disaster homo-not-so-sapiens has cooked up -namely , the atmos­pheric warming .” His is a strategy that further convolutes inside and outside. “When the penultimate Ciad trash bag is full of trash and has been taken out,” Webb writes, “1 remove the ultimate bag from the packet and place inside it .. . the packet. Whenever 1 do this 1 come over feeling all architectural: the contained becomes the container, the container the contained . “ In the Orive-In House the car body, a container of media equipment, a cabinet that pro­vides a cinematic gaze through the windshield accom­panied by stereo sound, is turned inside out and occupied. In the first underground house that Swayze built for his family, in 1962, only the double garage is visible outside and one enters the house between the two garage doors. As Rosemarie Bletter has written, “the garage is the only sign of human habitation that remained. “22 To which we could add the television antenna and the chimney (the house’s exhaust pipe) . A photograph of another underground house built by Swayze shows the television and the fireplace occupying the same wall, very close to each other, the family gathered around them, warming up. But in a house where the temperature is always kept constant , the func­tion of the fireplace is purely visual. Since the chimney removes not only fumes but also “undesirable scents or moisture” as part of the air-conditioning, the breathing sys­tem, it is actually, like the television, a window.


Domesticity at war

The Slow House interiorizes the problematic of the car. The house is about the transition between windshield, garage door, front door, picture window, and television set. Five frames: the windshield and its extensions . The curve of the house produces a car vision, a continuously delayed promise of another view, another angle. When in the liv­ing room the “actual” view is superimposed onto its elec­tronic representation, but at a slightly different angle, a shift in the horizon, it is like traveling without moving. As if the house were sliding in the world, or better, the world sliding through the house. The Slow House is a second, weekend residence, accessi­ble only by car. The Room in the City, by contrast, deals with domesticity in the context of the displacement of the nineteenth-century urban reality of New York by the new media. The TVNCR replaces the outside view, the win­dow; it is also a substitute for travel. To return to Virilio: “The technology of the VCR creates a day, an additional ‘false-day’ [that] comes into being for you alone, just as in the secondary residence whose heating turns on of its own accord when it gets cold ... The new windshield is no longer a car, it is a television screen . There is therefore a much more precise alignment to be made between the deferred day and the deferred residence. “ The Drive-In House, finally, is a suburban house at home in the new landscape of plastified valleys filled with gar­bage, mountains made of discarded car bodies, and rivers running with medica) waste. This “automobile as a house container” is a nomad’s steel-and-plastic tent for a post­nuclear landscape, the latest , most elusive war cabinet.


The Architectural Uncanny. Nostalgia

Anthony Vidler July 4, 1941

Anthony Vidler is dean and professor at the School of Architecture Irwin S. Chanin of the Cooper Union in New York. “Historian and critic of modern and contemporary architecture.” Vidler, one of the deftest and surest critics of the contemporary scene, focus on the work of architects such as Bernard Tschumi, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, Coop Himmelblau, John Hejduk, Elizabeth Diller, and Ricardo Scofidio, as well as theorists of the urban condition to explore aspects of architecture through notions of the uncanny associated with the subject of domesticity. Serving as a professor and chairman of the department of Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles, Vidler published The Architectural Uncanny. and Claude-Nicolas Ledoux: Architecture and Social Reform at the end of the Ancien Regime, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1994. It is in these works that Vidler questions the modern condition in historical and theoretical terms that explore complex relations and associations. The Architectural Uncanny presents an engaging and original series of meditations on issues and figures that are at the heart of the most pressing debates surrounding architecture today. Anthony Vidler interprets contemporary buildings and projects in light of the resurgent interest in the uncanny as a metaphor for a fundamentally “unhomely” modern condition. Vidler’s urban uncanny, explored through these architects, faces the complexities of multiplicity and limits. In accepting psychological projects onto urban environments, our own mental positioning is called into question. To accept cities as collective sites is a pragmatic necessity. However, to explore the underlying traces of memory and paranoia in architectural form allows for a further displacement of the individual in the city. To accept not only one memory or anxiety, but also multiple orders and disorders sites the occupant not in a city in relation to themselves, but rather in the dreamworld of the collective. In this chapter Vidler suggests that the discourse of the uncanny cuts through such stylistic categories as modernism, and postmodernism, and enables a more productive understanding


The Architectural Uncanny. Nostalgia

of modernity and its “geometric and historicalness cube” with its related experiences of estrangement and nostalgia. In its reduced and minimal cubes it dries out, so to speak, the representational excesses of postmodernism, the citational hysteria of nostalgia, and the vain attempts to cover over the inevitable effects of modern technologies, effects that modernists had attempted to face with the invention of abstract aesthetics. In this context, the question of architectural abstraction, whether representation or building, takes on an entirely new significance. In it, what seems to be at risk is the instability provoked between the new formal vocabularies generated by the computer and their easy translation into built form, so as to produce, almost simultaneously, an image as architecture but also architecture as image.

Conrads Ulrich, Programs and Manifestoeson 20th-century architecture, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1971.

The Architectural Uncanny Nostalgia If we eliminate from our hearts and minds all dead concepts in regard to the house, ... we shall arrive at the ‘House-Machine,’ the mass-production house, healthy (and morally so too) and beautiful in the same way that the working tools and instruments that accompany our existence are beautiful. Le Corbusier, Vers une architecture It was in an attempt to free culture from what Henry James called this overburdening “sense of the past” that modernist architects , formed by futurism, attempted to erase its traces from their archi­tecture. This urge to escape history was joined to a therapeutic pro­gram, dedicated to the erasure of nineteenth-century squalor in all its forms, that proposed an alliance between the hygienists and the architects that would be reinforced on every level by design. The destruction of the street, last trace of that “Balzacian mentality” so despised by Le Corbusier, and its replacement by expanses of ver­dure, the zoning of industry away from the centers of habitation, the endless biological analogies applied to functionalist mechanics, were only a few results of this polemical equation between art and health to be celebrated by modernism. At the scale of the house, too, its roof removed and replaced by a garden, its cellars filled in and its first floor open to the park, its horizontal windows and terraces encouraging the ceaseless flow of light and air, modernism proposed to consign the cluttered interiors and insalubrious living conditions of centuries to oblivion. By these means it was thought that disease, individual and social, might be eradicated once and for all, and the inhabitants of the twentieth century rendered fit for the marathon of modern life. And if the doctors were thus served by the Ville Verte and the Maison Domino, then, by implication, so were the psychoanalysts. An open, fresh-air existence would finally address the causes of those pathologies so painstakingly treated on post-Freudian couches, purg­ing society of its totems, taboos, and discontents. If houses were no longer haunted by the weight of tradition and the imbrications of gener tions of family drama, if no cranny was left for the storage of the bnc-a-brac once deposited in clamp cellars and musty attics, then


memory would be released from its unhealthy preoccupations to live in the present. Side by side with the ubiquitous image of the modern bureaucrat as athlete, measuring his strength against a punching bag while contemplating a Léger painting, was the vision of biological functions cleanly subsuming psychological traumas: to picnic on the grass was not to recline on the couch, which, in any case, had been stripped of its layers of oriental rugs to be redesigned according to the curves of the body and sprung like a trampoline. Yet, inevitably, this housecleaning operation produced its own ghosts, the nostalgic shadows of all the “houses” now condemned to history or the demolition site. Once reduced to its bony skeleton, transformed out of recognition into the cellular fabric of the unité and the Siedlung, the house was itself an object of memory, not now of a particular individual for a once-inhabited dwelling but of a collective population for a never-experienced space: the house had become an instrument, that is, of generalized nostalgia. In 1947, two years after the end of the war and with Europe poised for full reconstruction, the philosopher Gastan Bachelard completed a book entitled, significantly enough in the context of this exhausted battlefield, La Terre et les réveries du repos, the second volume in his study of what he called “material imagination.” In this work he was concerned to examine what he called the “countermateriality” to be found in dreams of rest, of intimacy, of interiority, of involution. We will examine images of rest, of refuge, of rootedness .... The house, the stomach, the cave, for example, carry the same overall theme of the return t the mother. In this realm the unconscious commands, the unconscious directs. Oneiric values are more and more stable, more and more regular. They are entirely concerned with nocturnal forces and subterranean powers. Plumbing the depths of a terrestrial unconscious, of la vie souterraine, Bachelard found the topos of the birthplace, la maison natale, to stand at the center of his nostalgic vision: “This house is far away, it is lost, we inhabit it no more; we are, alas, certain of inhabiting it never again. It is, however, more than a memory. It is a house of dreams, our oneiric house.” But such a house of dreams, a mental construct that included all houses yet inhabited and to be inhabited, was not to be found in the present, and certainly not in the present provided by modern life and modern apartments. Bachelard was clear in his rejection of urban contemporaneity: I do not dream in Paris, in this geometric cube, in this cement cell, in this room with iron shutters so hostile to nocturnal subjects. When I dream well, I go yonder, toa house in Champagne, orto a few houses within which the mysteries of happiness are distilled. Bachelard’s resistance to dreaming in his “geometric cube” might of course simply be interpreted as the antiurban stance of a réveur in the long tradition established by Rousseau. But in the aftermath of the war, it might more properly be seen in the context of the anti­modern discourse that, since the early 1930s, had been gaining ground with critics skeptical of “progress” and its supposed benefits. Philosophers on both the right and left of the political spectrum contributed to this sensibility, from Theodor Adorno to Martin Hei­degger, Max Horkheimer to Hans Sedlmayr, which amounted to no less than a concerted attack on the founding premises of modernism, or at least those that seemed to blame for the form of the “modern” house, its “geometric cubes” stacked up or laid out in “cement honeycombs.” Against the prismatic model of the Maison Domino, a modernist primitive hut in the line of many such structural and rationalist types since the Enlightenment, these critics advanced the complaint of uninhabitability. As Adorno wrote in 1944, “dwelling, in the proper sense, is now impossible,” a sentiment that was echoed by Heidegger seven years later in his celebrated “Building Dwelling Thinking.” Adorno despaired of retrieving the house of yesterday in the city of tomorrow, castigating those functional modern habitations, designed from a tabula rasa ... living-cases manufactured by experts for philistines ... devoid of all relation to the occupant: in them even the nostalgia for independent existence, defunct in any case, is sent packing. Reduced to sleeping “clase to the ground like an animal,” modern man would soon be forced into a new


nomadic primitivism, living in the bidonvilles, bungalows, and no doubt the garden huts, caravans, or even cars of the near future. Heidegger was to blame the triumph of technique, Sedlmayr the “loss of center,” but the refrain was sim­ilar. Paul Claudel summed up the feeling in characterizing his Pari­sian apartment as a mere number, “a kind of geometrical place, a conventional hole, between its four walls.” Even a detached house was no longer rooted, “fixed with asphalt on the ground so as not to be dug into the earth.” The house was no longer a home, ran the refrain, a burden that has since emerged as a principal leitmotiv of postmodernism. The ensuing attempt to rebuild the home on more stable founda­tions , according to the specifications of countermodernists and nos­talgic dreamers, complete with its cellar and its attic, its aged walls and comforting fireplace, has, however, inevitably fallen victim to a complaint inseparable from all nostalgic enterprises: that of the triumph of image over substance. In its aspiration to recover the past, postmodernism has generally substituted the signs of its absence, perhaps, in the process, engendering a house more truly haunted than that of modernism, but, for all this, hardly a more comforting or stable entity. Certainly it remains to be seen whether the mere image of “houseness” provides sufficient substitute for what has been lost, or even an effective site for oneiric play. For, like its predecessors, nostalgia for a fixed abode inevitably falls into the paradox of all nostalgia, that consciousness that, despite a yearning for a concrete place and time, the object of desire is neither here nor there, present or absent, now or then. It is, as the philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch put it, caught in the irreversibility of time, and thus fundamentally unsettled


BLURRED DOMETICITY Examples of this category show that are the conditions and characteristics of the subjects belonging to different domestic areas what determine them. This is because space, objects and people are what make the domestic, the tangible manifest of identity. It is through the cultural construction of objects where humans look for a place to reorganize and dominate territory. Process that shapes his personal background and his values. The object ends up being the artifice used as the appropriation of identities. The limits of domesticated world are organized on the basis of our belongings, Nietzsche said that we can only understand a universe that we have created.

1 VON TRIER, Lars. Dogville. 2003 2 COPPOLA, Sofia. Lost in Translation. 2003


Domus and the Megalopolis

Jean-François Lyotard

10 August 1924-21 April 1998

French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, born in 1924, is the author of some key texts in the postmodernism. Lyotard’s work is characterised by a persistent opposition to universals, meta-narratives, and generality. He is fiercely critical of many of the ‘universalist’ claims of the Enlightenment, and several of his works serve to undermine the fundamental principles that generate these broad claims. One of them, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, commissioned by the Quebec government, challenges many of the assumptions of modernism. Here, Lyotard reveals himself as a skeptic for modern cultural thought. Lyotard argues that we have outgrown our needs for grand narratives due to the advancement of techniques and technologies since WWII. More precisely, Lyotard is concerned with the legitimating of knowledge, especially scientific knowledge, and observes famously the crisis of legitimating within the postmodern condition. For Lyotard, after WWII, the principle of the ,Grand Narrative’ (liberalism, Christianity, Communism, etc.) has been called into question, and the world should now be understood in terms of small or local narratives. Knowledge is now legitimated no longer according to any notion of human emancipation or speculative spirit, but solely through performative discourses of economics and technology, which affect the way we understand city and home.

1 Lyotard, Jean-François. Heidegger and ‘the jews’. ed. University of Minnesota Press. 1990

Likewise his critique of ‘Grand Narratives’ and his affirmation of the specificity of genres of discourse should not be taken as an espousal of relativism. Indeed, while earlier on Lyotard had been extremely active politically, much of his later work was taken up with the problems of political agency and ethical imperatives. Moreover, he questions the ethical consequences of Heidegger’s position in his book Heidegger and ‘the jews’.1 This theme of the totalitarianism potentially sanctioned by Heidegger’s philosophy of the soil takes on a specifically architectural dimension in the essay ‘Domus and the Megalopolis’. Here Lyotard exposes the potential violence that underwrites the do-


Domus ans The Megalopolis

mesticated household. In a critique of received attitudes towards the domestic idyll, he reveals the dark side of the domus. Why? Because while, the traditional domus has been presented as a bucolic idyll, where all you do is serve the natural order and place yourself at the service of its urge, has its natural rhythm which contains and controls everything. Having this memories of the domestic hierarchy of the domus likewise has its natural order, with the master and mistress, the dominus and the domina, and the ancilla, the female servant. Yet this image of the bucolic idyll, for Lyotard, remains but an image. Since the time of Virgil, the domus has no longer been possible. “Domesticity,” Lyotard comments, “is over, and probably it never existed, except as a dream of the old child awakening and destroying it on awakening.”2 For the current domus is but a myth, a product of the megalopolis, the nostalgic yearning for what can now only be a mirage.

2 Lyotard, Jean-François. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge 1979, p.201

Domus and the Megalopolis The representation of a facade. Fairly wide, not necessarily high. Lots of windows and doors, yet blind. As it does not look at the visitor, so it does not expect the visitor’s look. What is it turned towards? Not much activity. Let’s suppose that it’s pretty hot outside. The courtyard is surrounded by walls and farm buildings. A large tree of some kind, willow, horse chestnut, lime, a clump of pines. Dovecots, swallows. The child raises its eyes. Say it’s seven o’clock in the evening. Onto the kitchen table arrive in their place the milk, the basket of eggs, the skinned rabbit. Then each of the fruges goes to its destination, the dairy, the cool scullery, the cooking pot, the shelf. The men come home. Glasses of fresh wine. A cross is made in the middle of the large loaf. Supper. Who will get up to serve out? Common time, common sense, common place. That of the domus, that of its representation, mine, here. There are varieties of the common place, cottage, manor. The ostentation of the facades. The commoners move around at a distance from the masters’ residences. In place of pastures and ploughed fields, parks and pleasant gardens offer themselves to the facade. Pleasure and work divide spacetime and are shared out among the bodies. It’s a serious question, a historian’s or sociologist’s question, this division. But basically, extended or not, divided or not in its exploitation, the basis remains domestic. It is the sphere of reference of the estate, a monad. A mode of space, time and body under the regime (of ) nature. A state of mind, of perception, of memory confined to its limits, but where the universe is represented. It is the secret of the façades. Similarly with action. The fruges are obtained by nature and from nature. They produce, destroy and reproduce themselves stubbornly and according to the order of things. According to nature’s care for itself, which is called frugality. Alla domenica, domus gives thanks for what has taken place and had its moment and prays for what will take place and have its moment. The temporal regime of the domus is rhythm or rhyme. Domestic language is rhythmic. There are stories: the generations, the locality, the seasons, wisdom and madness. The story makes beginning and end rhyme, scars over the interruptions. Everyone in the house finds their place and their name here, and the episodes annexed. Their births and deaths are also inscribed, will be inscribed in the circle of things and souls with them. You are dependent on God, on nature. All you do is


Domus and the Megalopolis

serve the will, unknown and well known, of physis, place yourself in the service of its urge, of the phyein which urges living matter to grow, decrease and grow again. This service is called labour. (With the dubious wish sometimes, to profit also, that the estate should profit, from growth? One wonders. Rhythmed wisdom protects itself against pleonexia, the delirium of a growth with no return, a story with no pause for breath.) Ancilla, the female servant. From ambi and colere, ambicilla, she who turns all the way round, the old sense of colere, to cultivate, to surround with care. Culture has two meanings: cult of the gods, but the gods also colunt domum, cultivate the dwelling, they surround it with their care, cultivate it with their circumspection. The female servant protects the mistress, for to serve is to keep. When she gets up to serve at table, it is the nature-god who cultivates the house, is content there, is at home. The domestic space is entwined and intertwined with circumvolutions, with the comings and goings of conversations. Service is given and returned without any contract. Natural duties and rights. I find it hard to believe that this organic life was the ‘primitive form of exchange’, as Mauss put it. It is a community of work. It does not cease to work. It works its works itself. These operate and are distributed spontaneously, out of custom. The child is one of these works, the first, the first-fruit, the offspring. The child will bear fruit. Within the domestic rhythm, it is the moment, the suspension of beginning again, the seed. It is what will have been. It is the surprise, the story starting over again. Speechless, infans, it will babble, speak, tell stories, will have told stories, will have stories told about it, will have had stories told about it. The common work is the domus itself, in other words the community. It is the work of a repeated domestication. Custom domesticates time, including the time of incidents and accidents, and also space, even the border regions. Memory is inscribed not only in narratives, but in gestures, in the body’s mannerisms. And the narratives are like gestures, related to gestures, places, proper names. The stories speak themselves on their own. They are language honouring the house, and the house serving language. The bodies make a pause, and speech takes over from them indoors, in the fields, in the middle of the woods. Such rich hours, even those of the poor. The past repeats itself in work. It is fixed, which is to say it is held back and forgotten, in legends. The domus is the space-time of this reiteration. Exclusion is not essential to the domestic monad. The poor man, the solitary traveller, has a place at the table. Let him give his opinions, show his talent, tell his story. People get up for him, too. Brief silence, an angel is passing. Be careful. What if he were a messenger? Then they will make sure he is remembered, domesticated. Bucolic tableau. Boukolein does not only mean keeping the flock. Keeping humans, too, serving them. Yet the domus has a bucolic air only from outside, from afar, from the city. The city spends centuries, millennia slowly gnawing away at the domus and its community. The political city, imperial or republican, then the city of economic affairs, today the megalopolis spread out over what used to be the countryside. It stifles and reduces res domesticae, turns them over to tourism and vacation. It knows only the residence (domicile). It provides residences for the presidents of families, the domini, it bends them to egalitarian citizenship, to the workforce and to another memory, the public archive, which is written, mechanographically operated, electronic. It does surveys of the estates and disperses their order. It breaks up god-nature, its returns, its times of offering and reward. With another regulation of space-time set in place, it is in relation to this that the bucolic regime is perceived as a melancholic survival. Sad tropics seen from the north. A savouring of the sounds. Come from the near distance, the depths of the stables, cacklings, a silence hollowed out round the call of the owls when Venus shines out at dusk, crackling of the alder branches thrown onto the hearth, clogs on the thresholds, conversation on the hill opposite, wasps round the melon, shouts of encouragement to the autumn oxen, swifts madly chasing each other around the darkening roofs. The sounds are toned to the measure of the bittersweet, the smoky, the tastelessness of the boiled beans, the pungent dung, the ferment of the hot straw. The tones eat each other up. The minor senses were honoured in the physical domus. What I say about it, the domestic community, can be understood only from where I speak, the human world become megalopolis. From after the death of Virgil. From after the end of the houses. (At the end


Domus ans The Megalopolis

of the Buddenbrooks.) Now that we have to gain time and space, gain with and against them, gain or earn our livings. When the regulation of things, humans and capacities happens exclusively between humans, with no nature to serve, according to the principle of a generalized exchange aiming for more…. In the ‘pragmatic’ busyness, which disperses the ancient domestic monads and hands over the care for memory to the anonymity of archives. No one’s memory, without custom, or story or rhythm. A memory controlled by the principle of reason, which despises tradition, where everyone seeks and will find as best s/he can the information needed to make a living, which makes no sense (ne rime à rien). The birth of individualities amid dispersion, as Marx said, of singularities in liberty, according to Nancy. The estate façades still standing, because we conserve them, attest to the old absent ethos. Cracked as they are by radiation and telecommunications. Businesses that they are by means of interfacing. We know all that by heart, sick of it, today. This slow retreat of domestic, neolithic life, we know what does indeed have to be named, from here, the revolution of the spatio-temporal regime of being-together. Not too difficult, doubtless, to show that Heidegger’s Gestell is thought only, in return, through the conservation of an idea of service, which is domestic. Which does not only, to a large extent, lead to the motif of his Dichtung filtered through Hölderlin, but to the Dienst divided into three (the service of thinking, war and work, as in Dumézil) deployed by the Rectorship Address. So we know how much our melancholy for the domus is relative to its loss. Even Greek tragedy, that enigma, must, we know, be decoded by means of the grid of de-domination, de-domestication. The new law, that of the polis and its right. Themis goes beyond the ancestral domestic regulation of the genos. But this historico-sociological account does not acquit us of tragedy. Our distance, our anti-domestic violence, makes discernible another scene in the tableau of the houses. In this scene, the female servant with the heart of gold is impure. The service is suspect, ironic. The common work is haunted by disaster. The respect is feigned, the hospitality despotic, common sense obsessed by the banishing of the mad, its burial within. Something remains untamed in the domination, and capable of interrupting the cycles. The domestic monad is torn, full of stories and scenes, haunted by secrets. Acts of violence stretch it to breaking point, inexplicable injustices, refused offers of affection, lies, seductions accepted and unbearable, petty thefts, lusts. Freud makes us reread, via Sophocles and Shakespeare, the tragedy of the Greek families in this penumbra of madness. The generous purposiveness of the god-nature, dressed up by the philosophers with the name of love, reconciliation, being-together as a whole, everyone in their place, of which the domus is the wise figure, the awaited birth and the beautiful death, all this is cracked by evil. An evil not even committed. An evil before evil, a pain both more ancient and younger than the sufferings experienced. A pain always new. In the lowest depths of the domus, rumour of anti-nature, threat of stasis, of sedition. Father, mother, child, female servant with the heart of gold, niece, old man-servant, shepherd and ploughman, gardener, cook, all the figures of wisdom, the corner of the park under the fig tree, the little passage for whispering, the attic and its chests—everything is matter for obscene crimes. Something in the domus did not want the bucolic. Something does not want this recurrent inscription, and it isn’t me. But as to its place in the domestic hegemony, there the ego does want its share in memory, to make and remake its place in space-time and in the narrative. The son to become the dominus, in his turn. The daughter, the domina. And the man-servant, of course, the master, here or elsewhere. As long as it’s that, in other words the business and busyness of the ego, the ambivalences, hesitations and contradictions, the little ruses and strategies, then domestic nature remains untouched. It pursues its ends through intrigue, it can repair, it will repair. It will inscribe that in its memory, an episode in caution, in conservation. But the rest? What is not resolved in sacrifice, in offering, in being received? The prodigal, the dissipated, the fury? That is not a member of the domestic organism, that is banished into its entrails. Even more than the city, the republic or even the flabby and permissive association of interests and opinions called contemporary society—it is strange that, even more than with any of these states of assembling the diverse, the domus gives the untameable a chance to appear. As though the god-nature which culti-


Domus and the Megalopolis

vates it were doubling himself with an anti-god, an anti-nature, desperate to make the bucolic lie. The violence I am speaking of exceeds ordinary war and economic and social crisis. Conversely, and in spite of their generality, or because of it, crisis and war do not become desperate unless they are infiltrated with the breath and the asphyxia of the domestic. Even if the houses have long been ruined, it is enough to activate the memory of a lost domain and legend (a living common space, the myth of a pure common origin) for the political and economic community to parade and parody itself as a gens, as a domus mocked. So then conflict, crisis change into stasis and seditio, as though they were affecting some domestic habitus that had been thought abandoned. The undominated, the untamed, in earlier times concealed in the domus, is unleashed in the homo politicus and economicus but under the ancient aegis of service, Dienst. It’s necessary, one might say, that shareable matter be densified to the narrow scale of domesticity for anti-matter to deliver its hatred from each body. Homo re-domesticus in power kills in the street shouting ‘You are not one of ours.’ He takes the visitor hostage. He persecutes anything that migrates. He hides it away in his cellars, reduces it to ashes in the furthest ends of his lowlands. It is not war—he devastates. Hybris break apart the domestic modus. And the domestic remodelling will have served to unleash hybris. The ruin of the domus makes possible this fury, which it contained, and which is exercised in its name. But apart from this case, the case of evil, I find it hard to think that in general the emancipation of singularities from out of domestic space-time favours, on its own, freedom of thought. Perhaps thinking’s lot is just to bear witness to the rest, to the untameable, to what is incommensurable with it. But to say witness is to say trace, and to say trace is to say inscription. Retention, dwelling. Now all memory makes a work. So that at the very moment when thought bears witness that the domus has become impossible, and that the façade is indeed blind, it starts appealing to the house and to the work, in which it inscribes this witnessing. And the fact that there are many houses in the megalopolis nowadays does not mean that there are no longer any works, nor any works to be produced. It means that works are destined to be left idle, deprived of façades, effaced by their heaping up. Libraries, museums: their richness is in fact the misery of the great conglomerates of council flats. The domus remains, remains as impossible. My common place. But impossible is not only the opposite of possible, it is a case of it, the zero case. We wake up and we are not happy. No question of remaking a real new house. But no question either of stifling the old childhood which murmurs at our waking. Thinking awakens in the middle of it, from the middle of very old words, loaded with a thousand domesticities. Our servants, our masters. To think, which is to write, means to awaken in them a childhood which these old folk have not yet had. That does not happen without a certain lack of respect, assuredly, but not without respect either. You go on, untameable, but with care. Forced to it. You go on, but the past in words awaits there in front of you. It mocks us. And that does not mean that you advance backwards, like Benjamin’s angel. At any rate, it is only for the last of men, the nihilist, that the disaster of the domus and the rise of the megalopolis to the stars can procure an (evil) delight. Not only for the ingenious one who rushes ahead of what is coming in order to control it, but for his cousin, the well-meaning philosopher, who makes a virtue out of redundancy. It is impossible to think or write without some façade of a house at least rising up, a phantom, to receive and to make a work of our peregrinations. Lost behind our thoughts, the domus is also a mirage in front, the impossible dwelling. Prodigal sons, we engender its patriarchal frugality. Thus things past are remembered ahead. The beginning the awakening, offers itself only at the end as its inscription by the writing of the remembrance, in its working-out. Always to be reread, redone. And the dwelling of the work is built only from this passage from awakening to the inscription of the awakening. And this passage itself does not cease to pass. And there is no roof where, at the end, the awakening will be over, where we will be awake, and the inscription will have ceased to inscribe. There is no domus as the rhyme of time that is so. But nostalgia for the lost domus is what awakens, and our domain nowadays is the inscription of this awakening. So only transit, transfer, translation and difference. It is not the house passing away, like a mobile home or the shepherd’s hut, it is in passing that we dwell. The only kind of thought—but an abject, objective, rejective thought—which is capable of thinking the


Domus ans The Megalopolis

end of the domus, is perhaps the thought suggested by techno-science. The domestic monad was still almost ‘naked’, to use Leibniz’s terms, not a large enough means of memorizing, practising, inscribing. It is decomposed as the big monad forms in its greater complexity, the one that Heidegger, coming from a quite other kind of thinking, from thinking which determined itself quite otherwise, names the Gestell. Much more complete, much more capable of programming, of neutralizing the event and storing it, of mediating what happens, of conserving what has happened. Including, of course, and first of all, the untameable, the uncontrolled domestic remainder. End of tragedy, flexibility, permissiveness. The control is no longer territorialized or historicized. It is computerized. There is a process of complexification, they say, which is initiated and desired by no one, no self, not even that of humanity. A cosmic zone, once called the earth, now a miniscule planet of a small stellar system in a galaxy of pretty moderate size—but a zone where neg-entropy is rife. The domus was too simple, it left too much remainder that it did not succeed in taming. The big techno-scientific monad has no need of our terrestrial bodies, of passions and writings that used to be kept in the domus. What it needs is ‘our’ wonderful brains. When it evacuates the dying solar system, the big monad, which is cosmically competitive, will not take the untameable along with it. Before imploding, like the other celestial bodies, with its sun, little Earth will have bequeathed to the great spatial megalopolitan monad the memory that was momentarily confided to the most intelligent of earthly species. But the only one of any use for the navigation of the monad in the cosmos. So they say. Metaphysics is realized in the physics, broad sense, operating in the techno-science of today. It certainly requires of us another mourning than the kind required by the philosophy of disaster and redundancy. The line taken is not that of the untameable, but of its neglect. To do the (quasi-Leibnizian) physics of the unconscious, we might say. No need for writing, childhood, pain. To think consists in contributing to the amelioration of the big monad. It is that which is obsessively demanded of us. You must think in a communicable way. Make culture. Not think according to the welcome of what comes about, singularly. To pre-vent it, rather. To success is to process.1 Improve performances. It’s a domestication, if you will, but with no domus. A physics with no god-nature. An economy in which everything is taken, nothing received. And so necessarily, an illiteracy. The respect and lack of respect of severe and serene reading of the text, of writing with regard to language, this vast and still unexplored house, the indispensable comings and goings in the maze of its inhabited, always deserted rooms—the big monad doesn’t give a damn about all this. It just goes and builds. Promotion. That’s what it demands of humans. In the name of ‘communicative action’, ‘conversation’ and the relegation of philosophy, in the name of performativity, we are begged to think useful. Useful for the composition of the megalopolis. I’m amazed that this consensualist demand can still nowadays be picked up as though it emanated from the idea of the Enlightenment. Whereas it results from the complexification of material ensembles, say the ingenious. There was still some domus in the metropolis, polis-métèr, city mother, mater and patrimony. The metropolis refers only to a size which exceeds the domestic scale. Filiation and concern for the past are not its forte. It is not a city but an urbs. An urbs become its own orbs. We were hoping for a cosmopolitès, there is no need for a megapolitès. We need ingenious people. As many monads as the enormous megalopolitan memory will allow must be combined. Its electrical circuits contain a power of which humans have no need and no idea stored energy, and potential capacity. With the ancient idea of dynamis, the world was schematized like a nature, and nature like a domus. Domestic events in a unique, sensitive finality. As for the megalopolis, it conceives scenarios of cosmic exile by assembling particles. Baudelaire, Benjamin, Adorno. How to inhabit the megalopolis? By bearing witness to the impossible work, by citing the lost domus. Only the quality of suffering counts as bearing witness. Including, of course, the suffering due to language. We inhabit the megalopolis only to the extent that we declare it uninhabitable. Otherwise, we are just lodged there. In the closure of time paid off (security), await the catastrophe of the instant, wrote Benjamin. In the inevitable transformation of works into cultural commodities, keep up a searing witness to the impossibility of the work, wrote Adorno. To inhabit the uninhabitable is the condition of the ghetto. The ghetto is the impossibility of the domus. Thought is not


Domus and the Megalopolis

in the ghetto. Every work to which prodigal thought resolves itself secretes the wall of its ghetto, serves to neutralize thought. It can only leave its trace upon the brick. Making media graffiti, ultimate prodigality, last homage to the lost frugality. What domesticity regulated—savagery—it demanded. It had to have its off-stage within itself. The stories it tells speak only of that, of the seditio smouldering up at its heart. Solitude is seditio. Love is seditio. All love is criminal. It has no concern for the regulation of services, places, moments. And the solitude of the adolescent in the domus is seditious because in the suspense of its melancholy it bears the whole order of nature and culture. In the secrecy of his bedroom, he inscribes upon nothing, on the intimate surface of his diary, the idea of another house, of the vanity of any house. Like Orwell’s Winston, he inscribes the drama of his incapacity before the law. Like Kafka. And lovers do not even have anything to tell. They are committed to deixis: this, now, yesterday, you. Committed to presence, deprived of representation. But the domus made legends and representations out of these silences and these inscriptions. In place of which the megalopolis displays, commentates on them, and explains them, makes them communicable. It calls melancholy being autistic and love sex. Like the way that it calls fruges agro-alimentry products. Secrets must be put into circuits, writings programmed, tragedies transcribed into bits of information. Protocols of transparency, scenarios of operationality. After all, I’ll take it, your domus, it’s saleable, your nostalgia, your love, let me get on with it. It might come in useful. The secret is capitalized swiftly and efficiently. But that the secret should be a secret of nothing, be uncultivated, senseless, already in the domus, the megalopolis has no idea. Or rather, it has only the idea. Whereas the secret, because it consists only in the timbre of a sensitive, sentimental matter, is inaccessible except to stupor. I wanted to say only this, it seems. Not that the domus is the figure of community that can provide an alternative to the megalopolis. Domesticity is over, and probably it never existed, except as a dream of the old child awakening and destroying it on awakening. Of the child whose awakening displaces it to the future horizon of his thoughts and writing, to a coming which will always have to be deferred. It is thus, not even like some surface of inscription which is there, well and truly there, but like an unknown astral body exercising its attraction on writing and thought from afar; rather, then, like a mirage which sets requirements than like a required condition—it is thus that the domestic world does not cease to operate on our passibility to writing, right up to the disaster of the houses. Thought today makes no appeal cannot appeal, to the memory which is tradition, to bucolic physis to rhyming time, to perfect beauty. In going back to these phantoms, it is sure to get it wrong—what I mean is, it will make a fortune out of the retro distributed by the megalopolis just as well (it might come in useful). Thought cannot want its house. But the house haunts it. The house does not haunt contemporary thought in the way that it once pierced the untameable, forcing it into the tragic mode. The untameable was tragic because it was lodged in the heart of the domus. The domestic schema resisted the violence of a timbre that was none the less irresistible. The tragic cursus stages this incommensurability, between the beautiful ordinance of a rhymed space-time and the amazement procured by the sublime encounter with an unprepared material, the tone of a voice, the nuance of an iris or a petal the fragrance of a smell. A no-saying amid the always already said: stupor. A stupid passion rises in the domestic dough. As though the god were dropping the share he took in the common bake. Were letting the matter of time and space be touched in the raw. All the same, this abandon, this bankruptcy can still be taken up by the domus, it represents them as tragedy. Untameable dominated, sublime held to the rules of the beautiful, outside-the-law redestined. Here is the reason why the megalopolis does not permit writing, inscribing ‘living’ not only pastoral poems, but even tragedies. Having dispersed the domestic schemas. So the untameable is not representable there. Timbre is consigned by the megalopolis to the ghetto. And it’s not the ‘good old’ ghetto tolerated by the domus, itself a somewhat domestic and domesticated ghetto. It is the Warsaw ghetto, administratively committed to Vernichtung, the ‘rear’ of the megalopolitan front. It must be exterminated because it constitutes an empty opacity for the programme of total mobilization in view of transparency.


Domus ans The Megalopolis

Where the untameable finds a way of gripping on, is domestic flesh. Either it devastates it, or else the flesh reduces it, tames and eliminates it. They go together, in their insoluble différend. With Nazism the big monad in the process of forming mimicked the domus. Whence the exceptional tenacity, which arose from the (artificial) reconstitution of flesh. Does that remain a constant temptation, after Nazism? At any rate the untameable has to be controlled, if the big monad is to be competent and competitive. Everything must be possible, without remainder, with a bit of ingenuity. But that’s just it, the domus isn’t ingenious enough, the extermination betrays too much hybris, there has to be a more rational and open way of operating. More operational, less reactively earthly. Secrecy must not surround the destruction of the secret. Communication and culture accomplish this destruction, and much better. Timbre will get analysed, its elements will be put into a memory, it will be reproduced at will, it may come in useful. The important thing is not that the result is a simulacrum: so was tragedy. The important thing is to dominate—not even that, to treat—everything that was rebellious to the domus, as much as possible. As to what’s left, it is condemned to extinction, denied, vernichtet. And I wanted to say this too. Well, we say to ourselves (who, ‘we’?), well, at least in the ghetto we shall go on. As far as it is possible. Thinking, writing, is, in our sense, to bear witness for the secret timbre. That this witnessing should make up an oeuvre and that this oeuvre might be able, in a few cases, at the price of the worst misunderstanding (méprise), of the worst contempt (mépris), to be placed on the circuits of the mediated megalopolis, is inevitable, but what is also inevitable is that the oeuvre promoted in this way be undone again, deconstructed, made redundant (désoeuvrée), deterritorialized, by the work of thinking some more, and by the bewildering encounter with a material (with the help not of god or of the devil, but of chance). Let us at least bear witness, and again, and for no one, to thinking as disaster, nomadism, difference and redundancy. Let’s write our graffiti since we can’t engrave. That seems to be a matter of real gravity. But still I say to myself: even the one who goes on bearing witness, and witness to what is condemned, it’s that she isn’t condemned, and that she survives the extermination of suffering. That she hasn’t suffered enough, as when the suffering of having to inscribe what cannot be inscribed without a remainder is of itself the only grave witnessing. The witness of the wrongs and the suffering engendered by thinking’s différend with what it does not manage to think, this witness, the writer, the megalopolis is quite happy to have him or her, his or her witnessing may come in useful. Attested, suffering and the untameable are as if already destroyed. I mean that in witnessing, one also exterminates. The witness is a traitor.


In Between Public and Private

Emergin spaces in cities

Matt Patterson

1 The Grange Manor and Art Gallery of Ontario after the completed expansion in 2008. 2 Sugar Beach in foreground, Redpath Sugar factory behind, from In Between Public and Private

Matt Patterson, born in Canada Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Toronto.2014 His research focuses on the cultural and cognitive dimensions of the urban environment. his research interested in the meanings we invest in buildings, streets, parks, and other physical features of the city, and how these meanings affect (rather than just reflect) social life. Patterson dissertation research examines the recent “iconic” architectural expansions of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, focusing specifically on the role that civic identity played in both the development of these buildings and their reception in the surrounding community.

Patterson in theis essay addressed the question that if its true that public space is disappering, as a concept, and he introduce a new way of thinking the public space through how people claim the space, in this times and the growing of the suburbs in the periphery of city life create a new public space in malls because those become the only places that real public life can happened in this environments, and on the other hand the squares streets and traditional public spaces are turning in merely commercial spaces. The concept of “liminality” introduced by Sharon Zukin in 1991recalls the blurring of boundaries between public and private, Patterson depict the new ways that inhabitants has develop a public ownership in no. Patterson includes another term consecration that means that we can no longer simply treat some spaces as public and there as private by a pre-existing definition, the term encourage to create a definition by asking how and why places become public and who is involved. He compares in three cases of how citizens own different public spaces and his comparison is related with collective memory and the connection between the object or lets call space and the way


In Between Public and Private

Emergin spaces in cities

people use it and when they claim a space as their own though the meaning that has gain as heritage, beyond the ownership of the land or the architectural object. The case of Grange Park is an example of people making some private property in public space in response of what it means to the community campaign succeeded in reforming the governing plans for the park. In the other two cases are concentrated in the use of former factories or neglected buildings abandoned waterfront factory , the relation that people had with this particular places mainly was that this were former workplace of the inhabitatnts, and the area turn into a democratic landscape intervention. Is clear that the relation that the inhabitants developed with the spaces and the objects itself is more closed to the experience of the space (Mitchell 1995; Lefebvre 1991) became a symbolic and practical ties and boundaries to the spaces.

Patterson Matt, In Between Public and Private, Emergin Spaces in Cities, University of Toronto, presented at emerging realities: Asocial sciences graduate Conference, University of Waterloo, 2011

In Between Public and Private Emerging Spaces in Cities Abstract Is it still possible to talk about public space in an age when the shopping mall and the public square are increasingly hard to differentiate? Urban scholars have frequently argued that we are experiencing an “end” of public space. In this paper, I argue that public spaces are not necessarily disappearing, but that we need to re-think how we define space. Moving away from strict political-economic criteria such as ownership or economic function, I advocate for a new definition of public space based on notions of legitimacy and perceptions of collective ownership. In order to develop these ideas, I discuss three very different sites in Toronto that fall somewhere between public and private: a small downtown park, a suburban strip mall, and a sugar factory. In each case it is evident that the perceptions and actions of people do not necessarily reflect the political-economy of the spaces. Introduction: Liminality and the End of Public Space(?) My presentation today will suggest a new way of thinking about public space – one that does not focus exclusively on who owns the space or what the space is used for, but rather how people make claims to particular spaces that they see as having special public significance. I think this is a particularly relevant issue given the fact that hundreds of people are currently camped out in New York’s privately-owned Zuccotti Park, and are probably also occupying the base of the Exchange Tower in Toronto, and many other privately-owned squares and parks around North America. Before I get into my own perspective, however, it is worth considering the state of public space in North America today. We live in an era in which the shopping mall and the public square are becoming increasingly hard to distinguish. From its very origins, the shopping mall has offered what critics have called an illusion or parody of public space. In suburban landscapes that lack any real centre, and where people are physically isolated from each other, the mall provides one of the only spaces where one is able to be ‘in public’. However,


this experience is one that is heavily regulated and tied to consumerism (Crawford 1992). Meanwhile, spaces we traditionally consider to be public – parks, streets, squares – are also increasingly regulated and tied to consumerism (Hannigan 1998). Public squares and even streets are now often patrolled by private security guards and watched by surveillance cameras (Yesil 2006; Davis 1992). Governance has shifted from truly public authorities to pseudo-public and commercially-oriented bodies such as business improvement associations or public-private partnerships (Madden 2010). Furthermore, advertising and commercial activity is finding its way further into these spaces through the selling of naming rights and “ad-creep”. These trends lead one to question the viability of the traditional distinction between public and private space, and for many urban scholars, have signalled an end to public space as we know it (e.g. Sorkin 1992). Sharon Zukin (1991) has called this blurring of boundaries between public and private space a state of “liminality”. But does liminality really spell the end of public space? It does only if we hold ourselves to traditional definitions that focus solely on issues of ownership (government vs. private ownership), and function (cultural or political vs. commercial or residential space). Today I will try to show you evidence that urban inhabitants do not hold themselves to these definitions and are instead making claims to spaces that are not public in the traditional sense of the term. Understanding public space in the age of liminality, therefore, means examining how people understand space themselves, categorizing it as “ours” rather than “mine”, “yours”, or “theirs”, and imbuing it with special significance relating to collective identity and public life. Furthermore, we need to understand the process by which this categorization is made cognitively, and enacted in practice: a process that we might call the “consecration” of public space. A focus on the consecration process means we can no longer simply treat some spaces as public and others as private by a pre-existing definition. Instead we must ask which spaces become public space, how and why does this occur, and who is involved? To better understand the consecration of public space, I will be discussing three very different spaces in the city of Toronto that have achieved some level of consecration among groups who possess no formal ownership. I tried to choose cases that were as diverse as possible in terms of their ownership and economic function so that the characteristics of the consecration process can be brought into starker relief. The cases I will be discussing are a small urban park, a waterfront sugar factory, and a suburban supermarket. Case 1: The Grange Park (Urban Parkland) Grange Park is a lively, small green space in the heart of downtown Toronto. The park originated as the front yard of a Georgian manor built in 1817 by a member of the infamous Family Compact. In 1910 the final owners donated the manor and its land to be used as an art gallery and public park. The gallery, which eventually became the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), has maintained the park ever since. Over the past century a dense, vibrant neighbourhood has grown up around the park. Residents of the neighbouring Victorian houses and apartment buildings not only consider the park to be public, they also consider it to be a shared front yard for the community. Meanwhile the AGO has been steadily expanding to the point where the original manor, which has survived to this day, is a tiny wing on the gallery’s south side. When local residents learned that the AGO had quietly hired Frank Gehry to design a major expansion for the gallery, they realized that the building could only grow up over the park or out into the park. Because the AGO was reluctant to share any of its plans with the public, residents were free to speculate on how the secret expansion might adversely impact the park. Many worried that the AGO would attempt to redesign the park’s community orientation to make it a tourist destination, replacing the playground equipment and wading pool with sculptures and a café. Driven by these fears the residents undertook a campaign not only to oppose the AGO’s expansion, but also to call attention to the Grange Park’s importance within the neighbourhood. Local artists created works that highlighted the history of the Grange


and its place in the community, and public meetings were held to discuss the importance of the park. The campaign succeeded in changing the political dynamics of both the AGO expansion and the Grange community as a whole. Fearing what an open conflict with the neighbourhood might mean for their reputation and the fate of their expansion process, the AGO changed strategies and helped to establish a public committee that would oversee the park in an open, public way. Along with members of the AGO and city hall, residents and other local groups were given a seat on the committee. Thus, despite exercising no ownership rights, local residents succeeded in reforming the governing structure of the park. While it remains to be seen whether the committee itself will succeed, the fact that local residents are no longer in the dark on what might become of the park, and now in fact have a formalized arena in which to voice their concerns and exert influence, is a significant development. Case 2: The Redpath Sugar Factory (Waterfront Industrial Space) From small urban green space, we move to waterfront factory. In the post-industrial era, most of the waterfront factories and ports that used to characterize cities in central Canada and the north-eastern United States have long been abandoned. In cities like Toronto that have managed to adjust and even thrive under post-industrial conditions, the old industrial landscape is quickly being replaced with spaces that cater to the new economy: tourist and consumer attractions, cultural amenities, and of course, condominiums. Even economically viable industrial operations are often declared blights and encouraged to relocate to the outskirts of town. Therefore it may come as a surprise that a fully functioning sugar factory sits in Toronto’s central waterfront, and even has plans to expand. First built in the 1950’s during Toronto’s industrial heyday, Redpath Sugar is now surrounded awkwardly by new condominiums, a supermarket, and a public beach. What explains Redpath Sugar’s survival in the face of local and global trends that have decimated its former industrial neighbours? Partially, Redpath’s survival can be attributed to the attitudes of an influential group of local politicians, bureaucrats and planners who view the factory as providing a symbolic resource in the planning and redevelopment of Toronto’s waterfront. In their view, the factory represents an important tie to the city’s industrial heritage, and because it is still operational it is perhaps more authentic than the other remaining industrial buildings that have been gutted and repurposed as galleries or condominiums. Furthermore, the factory fulfills a political ideal held by this group of creating mixed-use and diverse neighbourhoods where people live and work in the same place and blue and white collar jobs exist side by side. Being the only remaining factory in the area, Redpath should be seen more as embodying these ideals symbolically rather than making them an economic reality. Driven by these ideals, the government has gone out of its way to accommodate and even protect the continued existence of Redpath. In addition to incorporating the needs of the factory into its urban planning process, the government has taken more symbolic steps like constructing “Sugar Beach”. Named in honour of the factory, this new public beach allows visitors to sit in the sand and watch raw sugar being unloaded by the boatful into the factory. Thus, the government is not only physically accommodating Redpath in the built environment that surrounds the factory, but also encouraging the public at large to appreciate Redpath’s place on the waterfront. Despite these efforts, Redpath’s future on the waterfront is far from certain, especially as new condominiums fill up with wealthier residents whose ideal senses of place may not include industrial factories or blue collar work. The third case represents what is perhaps the most important trend in the consecration of public space today. Though they have often been criticized as being a wasteland of disposable, inauthentic buildings, the post-war suburbs have now been home to multiple generations of residents who have developed intimate connections to these neighbourhoods. In the 1960’s, the conservation movement and activists like Jane Jacobs successfully redefined 19th century architecture from ‘old and outdated’ to ‘heritage’, but it remains to be seen whether a similar movement can or will occur for the mid-20th century shopping malls and bungalows of the suburbs. If such a movement does eventually occur, then the


City of Toronto’s decision to list Parkway Plaza as a heritage property may be seen as an early success. Built in 1958, Parkway Plaza is the kind of small, community mall that has fallen out of favour with property developers who now prefer big box stores or condominiums. In keeping with this trend, the owners of Parkway Plaza have begun taking steps to redevelop the property as high-rise condominiums. Lobbied by heritage and architectural groups, as well as the local city councillor, the city acted early in listing the west wing of the mall as a heritage property, restricting the owner’s ability to modify or demolish it. This move followed a series of high-profile demolitions that occurred in Toronto’s suburbs and that were opposed by heritage and architecture groups. Thus, the listing of this particular property became an opportunity for these groups to set a precedent both within municipal policy and in public consciousness at large, repositioning buildings like Parkway Plaza from disposable pieces of the consumer landscape to local landmarks and part of the Toronto’s historical identity. This particular case of consecration should be seen as representing a very specific attachment to place: that of the architecture or heritage buff who seeks to enshrine the building for its symbolic or aesthetic value. It should be noted, however, that this is not the only way in which people have developed attachments to the small community malls that are now in danger of demolition. Despite no longer being profitable, these malls have become important nodes in the public life of local communities and serve as meeting places for local seniors and other groups (Parlette and Cowen 2010). While saving building’s exterior form, a heritage distinction will not preserve the use-value the malls provide for these more marginal groups. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that consecration rooted in these attachments have been less successful, at least within the context of Toronto (ibid). Discussion and Analysis Based on these three cases, what larger claims can we make about the consecration of public space? As I have mentioned, these cases were chosen because their obvious differences in terms of ownership and economic function help draw attention to the commonalities that underlie the consecration process. What are those commonalities? The first commonality relates to the emergence of a public attachment to place. Sociologists have typically viewed the emergence of values and beliefs in general as a process that starts with explicit, well formulated ideology that eventually shifts toward implicit, tacit common sense (Boin and Christensen 2008; Johnson et al. 2006; Berger and Luckmann 1966). The process of consecration we have seen in these case studies seems to work the opposite way. The public character of these spaces is something that developed over a long period of time and is not based on any explicit ideology, but rather the lived experience of the space (Mitchell 1995; Lefebvre 1991). Each of these spaces started off more or less as inconsequential. Yet, over years of use, members of the local communities developed symbolic and practical ties to the spaces, perhaps even without noticing themselves. The consecration process only becomes explicit when the status of the space is threatened in someway (e.g. the AGO expansion, the demise of the industrial economy, or the threatened redevelopment of Parkway Plaza). Faced with an imminent threat, inhabitants are forced to account explicitly for what they have hitherto only experienced implicitly: that they consider the space to be public, irrespective of actual ownership. A second observed commonality is that the consecration process is centred around a small group of activists or tastemakers who, in the absence of ownership rights, rely heavily on other forms of power, particularly social capital. In some cases these activists may be working hand in hand with the owners against larger threats, such as the case of the sugar factory. In other cases these activists may confront the owners head on, pitting the power of social capital against the power of economic capital. Related to the last point, the central group of activists or tastemakers need to articulate a legitimating account of the space in order to reposition it discursively from a commodity subject to the rules of the market to a public good that requires democratic control and public support. For the Grange, this meant


repositioning it from the backyard of the AGO to the front yard and heart of the local community. For Redpath, the ideals of mixed-use and diverse neighbourhoods were used to justify its protection. And finally, architectural discourse was used to support the protection of the supermarket. Understanding the legitimating discourse is not only important in gauging the success of the consecration process, but also because different types of discourse produce different results. For instance, the architectural discourse supporting Parkway Plaza will protect its exterior form while sacrificing its function as a community meeting space. Finally the outcome of consecration processes is never certain, but depends on the relative power of those behind the movement, any opponents they may encounter, the nature of the “threat” to the space, and the socio-political context. The fact that all three of my cases represent successful attempts at consecration – at least for the moment – is probably attributable to the relative privilege of the groups involved. Conclusion: Making Claims to Public Space Often when we talk about public space, we rely on a loose idealized historical image – perhaps a romanticized vision of Central Park, or the Jardins des Tuileries, or maybe even the ancient Athenian agora. These are spaces that, in our minds, truly embody inclusion, equality, democracy, and provide refuge from an otherwise unequal, unjust world. This perspective is not without its value, particularly when used as a Weberian ideal type. Nonetheless, if this is how we think about public space, then we should not be surprised when we are unable to identify a single space within North America that lives up to this ideal. Rather than declaring an end to public space, I suggest we develop alternative approaches. In this presentation I have sought to outline such an alternative by focusing on how people understand space themselves, relying on their schemata for classifying space and the actions they take to protect space that they recognize as belonging to “we the public”.


The Generic City

Rem Koolhaas

November 17, 1944

1 Citations (Chicago Style), footnotes and additional images go in the margins. The Chicago Manual of Style is typically used for the Social Sciences. 2 Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Known for critical approache to architecture, buildings and writings that embrace the energy of modernity, Koolhaas worked as a journalist before becoming an architect. Changing his focus to architecture, from 1968 to 1972. He studied at the Architectural Association in London Architect, architectural theorist, urbanist and Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Koolhaas is the founding partner of OMA, and of its research-oriented counterpart AMO based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In 2005, he co-founded Volume Magazine together with Mark Wigley and Ole Boumanchildhood house confirm the homely original, the deepest feeling.

Koolhaas refers to the contemporary tendency of spaces, the homogenization of the surrounding and the relation that this changes have with the idea of identity in the society. In the specific case of touristic places like Paris for instance the identity is over played to create what he calls “hyper-Paris� but this special condition is due the strong characteristics of the place itself, which make Paris a static place mostly in the center that should keep all of its features intact, on the other hand there are cities of places that are more free to adjust to modernity and change given its lack of a define identity. Koolhaas explains that The Generic City lays on the spaces in wich the city scape the captivity of the center, it is the city without history, is built with short term buildings that can be disposal because they have no historical value or strong connection with the people. The Generic City in the last few decades is growing fast, due that it does not need context to be built and is easily imported and dominated by business, another characteristic is its lack of public space or belonging and is dominated by infrastructure and public spaces


The Generic City

that are mainly for mobility purposes as highways. The Author refers to Airports as the ultimate architectural expression of neutrality from their formal conception they are easily built in any part of the world without context, only regarding functional aspects. In airports two worlds are sharing space the most hyper-local and hyper-global, due to in airports you can find from the most local products that nowhere else you could find and you have goods that in the city you would not be able to find, but how people can find identity in this spaces?. Regarding form the Generic City is turning vertical, the skycraper is becoming the solution to densification and space. In urban scale it consist in three elements roads, buildings, and nature; and they coexist without a style in easthetic sense, that gives it a divers characterictic, that translate into the social and sociology realm, and he critique that sociology is not able to read the possible richness of this new constuction of city.

Koolhaas Rem, Mau Bruce, S,M,L,XL Monacelli Press, 1995, New York

The Generic City l. Introduction 1.1 Is the contemporary city like the contemporary airport- “all the same”? Is it possible to theorize this convergence? And if so, to what ultimate configu­ration is it aspiring? Convergence is possible only at the price of shedding identity. That is usually seen as aloss. But atthe scale at which it occurs, itmustmean something. What are the disadvantages of identity, and conversely, what are the advantages of blankness? What if this seemingly accidental-and usually regretted-homogenization were an intentional process, a conscious movement away from difference toward similarity? What if we are witnessing a globalliberation movement: “down with character!” What is left after identity is stripped? The Generic? 1.2 To the extent that identity is derived from physical substance, from the historical, from context, from the real, we somehow cannot imagine that anything contemporary- made by us- contributes to it. But the fact that human growth is exponential implies that the past will at sorne point become too “small” to be inhabited and shared by those alive. We ourselves exhaust it. To the extent that history finds its deposit in architecture, present human quantities will inevitably burst and deplete previous substance. Identity conceived as this form of sharing the past is a losing proposition: not only is there- in a stable model of continuous population expan­ sion-proportionally less and less to share, but history also has an invidious half-life­as it is more abused, it becomes less significant- to the point where its diminishing hand­outs become insulting. This thinning is exacerbated by the constantly increasing mass of tourists, an avalanche that, in a perpetua! quest for “character;’ grinds successful identities down to meaningless dust. 1.3 Identity is Iike a mousetrap in which more and more mice have to share the original bait, and which, on closer inspection, may have been empty for centuries. The stronger identity, the more it imprisons, the more it resists expan­sion, interpretation, renewal, contradiction. Identity becomes like a lighthouse- fixed, overdeter-


The Generic City

mined: it can change its position or the pattem it emits only at the cost of de­stabilizing navigation. (París can only become more Parisian- it is already on its way to becoming hyper-Paris, a polished caricature. There are exceptions: London-its only identity a lack of clear identity- is perpetually becoming even less London, more open, less static.) 1.4 Identity centralizes; it insists on an essence, a point. Its tragedy is given in simple geometric terms. As the sphere of influence expands, the area characterized by the center becomes larger and larger, hopelessly diluting both the strength and the authority of the core; inevitably the distance between center and circumference increases to the breaking point. In this perspective, the recent, belated discovery of the periphery as a zone of potential value- a kind of pre-historical condition that might finally be worthy of architectural attention- is only a disguised insistence on the priority of and dependency on the center: without center, no periphery; the interest of the first presumably compen­sates for the emptiness of the latter. Conceptually orphaned, the condition of the periph­ery is made worse by the fact that its mother is still alive, stealing the show, emphasiz­ing its offspring’s inadequacies. The last vibes emanating from the exhausted center preclude the reading of the periphery as a critica! mass. Not only is the center by defin­ ition too small to perform its assigned obligations, it is also no longer the real center but an overblown mirage on its way to implosion; yet its illusory presence denies the rest of the city its legitimacy. (Manhattan denigrates as “bridge-and-tunnel people” those who need infrastructural support to enter the city, and makes them pay for it.) The persistence of the present concentric obsession makes us al! bridge-andtunnel people, second-class citizens in our own civilization, disenfranchised by the dumb coincidence of our collec­tive exile from the center. 1.5 In our concentric programming (author spent part of his youth in Amsterdam, city of ultimate centrality) the insistence on the center as the core of value and meaning, font of all significance, is doubly destructive- not only is the ever­increasing volume of dependencies an ultimately intolerable strain, it also means that the center has to be constantly maintained, i.e., modemized. As “the most important place,” it paradoxically has to be, at the same time, the most old and the most new, the most fixed and the most dynamic; it undergoes the most intense and constant adaptation, which is then compromised and complicated by the fact that it has to be an unacknowledged transformation, invisible to the naked eye. (The city of Zurich has found the most radical, expensive solution in reverting to a kind of reverse archaeology: layer after layer of new modemities-shopping centers, parking, banks, vaults, laboratories-are constructed undemeath the center. The center no longer expands outward or skyward, but inward toward the center of the earth itself.) From the grafting of more or less discreet traffic arteries, bypasses, underground tunnels, the construction of ever more tangentiales, to the routine transformation of housing into offices, warehouses into lofts, abandoned churches into nightclubs, from the serial bankruptcies and subsequent reopenings of specific units in more and more expensive shopping precincts to the relentless conver­sion of utilitarian space into “public” space, pedestrianization, the creation of new parks, planting, bridging, exposing, the systematic restoring of historie mediocrity, all authen­ticity is relentlessly evacuated. 1.6 The Generic City is the city liberated from the captivity of center, from the straitjacket of identity. The Generic City breaks with this destructive cycle of dependency: it is nothing but a reflection of present need and present ability. It is the city without history. It is big enough for everybody. It is easy. It does not need maintenance. If it gets too small it just expands. If it gets old it just self-destructs and renews. It is equally exciting- or unexciting- everywhere. It is “superficial” -like a Hollywood studio lot, it can produce a new identity every Monday morning. 2. Statics 2.1 The Generic City has grown dramatically over the past few decades. Not only has its size increased, its numbers have too. In the early seventies it was inhabited by an aver­age of2.5 million official (and ±500,000 unofficial) residents; now it hovers around the 15 million mark. 2.2 Did the Generic City start


The Generic City

in America? Is it so profoundly unorig­inal that it can only be imported? In any case, the Generic City now also exists in Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa. The definitive move away from the countryside, from agri­culture, to the city is nota move to the city as we knew it: it is a move to the Generic City, the city so pervasive that it has cometo the country. 2.3 Sorne continents, like Asia, aspire to the Generic City; others are ashamed by it. Because it tends toward the tropical­converging around the equator-a large proportion of Generic Cities is Asian-seem­ingly a contradiction in terms: the over-familiar inhabited by the inscrutable. One day it will be absolutely exotic again, this discarded product of Western civilization, through the resemanticization that its very dissemination brings in its wake ... 2.4 Sometimes an old, singular city, like Barcelona, by oversimplifying its identity, turns Generic. It becomes transparent, like a logo. The reverse never happens ... at least not yet. 3. General 3.1 The Generic City is what is left after large sections of urban life crossed over to cyberspace. It is a place of weak and distended sensations, few and far between emotions, discreet and mysterious like a large space lit by a bed lamp. Compared to the classical city, the Generic City is sedated, usually perceived from a sedentary position. Instead of concentration- simultaneous presence- in the Generic City individual “moments” are spaced far apart to create a trance of almost unnoticeable aesthetic experiences: the color variations in the fluorescent lighting of an office building just before sunset, the sub­tleties ofthe slightly different whites of an illuminated sign at night. Like Japanese food, the sensations can be reconstituted and intensified in the mind, or not-they may sim­ply be ignored. (There ‘s a choice.) This pervasive lack ofurgency and insistence acts like a potent drug; it induces a hallucination of the normal. 3.2 In a drastic reversa! of what is supposedly the major characteristic of the city- “business”- the dominant sensation of the Generic City is an eerie calm: the calmer it is, the more it approximates the pure state. The Generic City addresses the “evils” that were ascribed to the traditional city before our love for it became unconditional. The serenity of the Generic City is achieved by the evacuation of the public realm, as in an emergency fire drill. The urban plane now only accommodates necessary movement, fundamentally the car; highways are a superior version of boulevards and plazas, taking more and more space; their design, seemingly aiming for automotive efficiency, is in fact surprisingly sensual, a utilitarian pretense entering the domain of smooth space. What is new about this locomotive public realm is that it cannot be measured in dimensions. The same (let’s say ten-mile) stretch yields a vast number of utterly different experiences: it can last five minutes or forty; it can be shared with almost nobody, or with the entire population; it can yield the absolute pleasure of pure, unadulterated speed- at which point the sensation of the Generic City may even become intense or at least acquire density- or utterly claustrophobic moments of stoppage- at which point the thinness of the Generic City is at its most noticeable. 3.3 The Generic City is fractal, an endless repetition of the same simple structural mod­ule; it is possible to reconstruct it from its smallest entity, a desktop computer, maybe even a diskette. 3.4 Golf courses are all that is left of otherness. 3.5 The Generic City has easy phone numbers, not the resistant ten-figure frontal-lobe crunchers of the traditional city but smoother versions, their middle numbers identical, for instance. 3.6 Its main attraction is its anomie. 4. Airport 4.1 Once manifestations of ultimate neutrality, airports now are among the most singular, characteristic elements of the Generic City, its strongest vehicle of differentiation. They have to be, being all the average person tends to experi­ence of a particular city. Like a drastic perfume demonstration, photomurals, vegetation, local costumes give a first concentrated blast of the local identity (sometimes it is also the last). Far away, comfortable, exotic, polar, regional, Eastern, rustic, new, even “undis­covered”: those are the emotional registers invoked. Thus conceptually charged, airports become emblematic signs imprinted on the global collective unconscious in savage manipulations of their non-aviatic attractors- tax-free shopping,


The Generic City

spectacular spatial qualities, the frequency and reliability of their connections to other airports. In terms of its iconography/performance, the airport is a concentrate of both the hyper-local and hyper-global hyper-global in the sense you can get goods there that are not available even in the city, hyper-local in the sense you can get things there that you get nowhere else. 4.2 The tendency in airport gestalt is toward ever-greater autonomy: sometimes they’re even practically unrelated toa specific Generic City. Becoming bigger and big­ger, equipped with more and more facilities unconnected to travel, they are on the way to replacing the city. The in-transit condition is becoming universal. Together, airports contain populations of millions- plus the largest daily workforce. In the completeness of their facilities, they are like quarters of the Generic City, sometimes even its reason for being (its center?), with the added attraction of being hermetic systems from which there is no escapeexcept to another airport. 4.3 The date/age of the Generic City can be reconstructed from a elose reading of its airport ‘s geometry. Hexagonal plan (in unique cases penta- or heptagonal): sixties. Orthogonal plan and section: seventies. Collage City: eighties. A single curved section, endlessly extruded in a linear plan: probably nineties. (Its structure branching out like an oak tree: Germany.) 4.4 Airports come in two sizes: too big and too small. Yet their size has no influence on their performance. This suggests that the most intriguing aspect of all infrastructures is their essential elasticity. Calculated by the exact for the numbered-passengers per year-they are invaded by the countless and survive, stretched toward ultimate indeterminacy. 5.Population 5.1 The Generic City is seriously multiracial, on average 8% black, 12% white, 27% Hispanic, 37% Chinese/Asian, 6% indeterminate, 10% other. Not only multiracial, also multicultural. That’s why it comes as no surprise to see temples between the slabs, dragons on the main boulevards, Buddhas in the CBD (central business district). 5.2 The Generic City is always founded by people on the move, poised to move on. This explains the insubstan­tiality of their foundations. Like the flakes that are suddenly formed in a clear liquid by joining two chemical substances, eventually to accumulate in an uncertain heap on the bottom, the collision or confluence of two migrations- Cuban emigrés going north and Jewish retirees going south, for instance, both ultimately on their way someplace else­establishes, out ofthe blue, a settlement. A Generic City is born. 6. Urbanism 6.1 The great originality of the Generic City is simply to abandon what doesn ‘t work- what has outlived its use- to break up the blacktop of idealism with the jackhammers of realism and to accept whatever grows in its place. In that sense, the Generic City accommodates both the primordial and the futuristic- in fact, only these two. The Generic City is all that remains of what u sed to be the city. The Generic City is the post -city being prepared on the site ofthe ex-city. 6.2 The Generic City is held together, not by an over-demand­ing public realm-progressively debased in a surprisingly long sequence in which the Roman Forum is to the Greek agora what the shopping mall is to the high street- but by the residual. In the original model of the modems, the residual was merely green, its controlled neatness a moralistic assertion of good intentions, discouraging association, use. In the Generic City, because the crust of its civilization is so thin, and through its immanent tropicality, the vegetal is transformed into Edenic Residue, the main carrier of its identity: a hybrid of politics and landscape. At the same time refuge of the illegal, the uncontrollable, and subject of endless manipulation, it represents a simultaneous triumph of the manicured and the primeval. Its immorallushness compensates for the Generic City’s other poverties. Supremely inorganic, the organic is the Generic City’s strongest myth.


The Generic City

6.3 The street is dead. That discovery has coincided with frantic attempts at its resuscitation. Public art is everywhere- as if two deaths make a life. Pedestrianization­-intended to preserve- merely channels the flow of those doomed to destroy the object oftheir intended reverence with their feet. 6.4 The Generic City is on its way from hori­zontality to verticality. The skyscraper looks as if it will be the final, definitive typology. It has swallowed everything else. It can exist anywhere: in a rice field, or downtown- it makes no difference anymore. The towers no longer stand together; they are spaced so that they don’t interact. Density in isolation is the ideal. 6.5 Housing is nota problem. It has either been completely solved or totally left to chance; in the first case it is legal, in the second “illegal”; in the first case, towers or, usually, slabs (at the most, 15 meters deep), in the second (in perfect complementarity) a crust of improvised hovels. One solu­tion consumes the sky, the other the ground. It is strange that those with the least money inhabit the most expensive commodity- earth’; those who pay, what is free- air. In either case, housing proves to be surprisingly accommodating-not only does the population double every so many years, but also, with the loosening grip of the various religions, the average number of occupants per unit halves-through divorce and other family­ dividing phenomena- with the same frequency that the city ‘s population doubles; as its numbers swell, the Generic City’s density is perpetually on the decrease. 6.6 All Generic Cities issue from the tabula rasa; if there was nothing, now they are there; if there was something, they have replaced it. They must, otherwise they would be historie. 6.7 The Generic Cityscape is usually an amalgam of overly ordered sections- dating from near the beginning of its development, when “the power” was still undiluted-and increas­ingly free arrangements everywhere else. 6.8 The Generic City is the apotheosis of the multiple-choice concept: all boxes crossed, an anthology of all the options. Usually the Generic City has been “planned;’ not in the usual sense of sorne bureaucratic organization controlling its development, but as if various echoes, spores, tropes, seeds fell on the ground randomly as in nature, took hold- exploiting the natural fertility of the terrain­and now form an ensemble: an arbitrary gene pool that sometimes produces amazing results. 6.9 The writing ofthe city may be indecipherable, flawed, but that does not mean that there is no writing; it may simply be that we developed a new illiteracy, a new blind­ness. Patient detection reveals the themes, particles, strands that can be isolated from the seeming murkiness of this Wagnerian ur-soup: notes left on a blackboard by a visiting genius 50 years ago, stenciled UN reports disintegrating in their Manhattan glass silo, discoveries by former colonial thinkers with a keen eye for the climate, unpredictable ricochets of design education gathering strength as a globallaundering process. 6.1O The best definition of the aesthetic of the Generic City is “free style.” How to describe it? Imagine an open space, a clearing in the forest, a leveled city. There are three elements: roads, buildings, and nature; they coexist in flexible relationships, seemingly without reason, in spectacular organizational diversity. Any one of the three may dominate: sorne­times the “road” is lost- to be found meandering on an incomprehensible detour; sorne­times you see no building, only nature; then, equally unpredictably, you are surrounded only by building. In certain frightening spots, all three are simultaneously absent. On these “sites” (actually, what is the opposite of a site? They are like boles bored through the concept of city) public art emerges like the Loch Ness Monster, equal parts figura­tive and abstract, usually self-cleaning. 6.11 Specific cities still seriously debate the mis­takes of architects- for instance, their proposals to create raised pedestrian networks with tentacles leading from one block to the next as a solution to congestion- but the Generic City simply enjoys the benefits of their inventions: decks, bridges, tunnels, motorways- a huge proliferation of the paraphemalia of connection- frequently draped with fems and flowers as if to ward off original sin, creating a vegetal congestion more severe than a fifties science-fiction movie. 6.12 The roads are only for cars. People (pedestrians) are led on rides (as in an amusement park), on “promenades” that lift them off the ground, then subject them to a catalog of exaggerated conditions-


The Generic City

wind, heat, steepness, cold, interior, exterior, smells, fumes- in a sequence that is a grotesque cari­cature of life in the historie city. 6.13 There is horizontality in the Generic City, but it is on the way out.lt consists either ofhistory that is not yet erased or ofTudor-like enclaves that multiply around the center as newly minted emblems of preservation. 6.14 Ironically, though itself new, the Generic City is encircled by a constellation of New Towns: NewTowns are like year-rings. Somehow, New Towns age very quickly, the way a five-year­old child develops wrinkles and arthritis through the disease called progeria. 6.15 The Generic City presents the final death ofplanning. Why? Not because it is not planned­ in fact, huge complementary universes of bureaucrats and developers funnel unimagin­able flows of energy and money into its completion; for the same money, its plains can be fertilized by diamonds, its mud fields paved in gold bricks ...But its most dangerous and most exhilarating discovery is that planning makes no difference whatsoever. Buildings may be placed well (a tower near a metro station) or badly (whole centers miles away from any road). They flourish/perish unpredictably. Networks become over­stretched, age, rot, become obsolescent; populations double, triple, quadruple, suddenly disappear. The surface ofthe city explodes, the economy accelerates, slows down, bursts, collapses. Like ancient mothers that still nourish titanic embryos, whole cities are built on colonial infrastructures of which the oppressors took the blueprints back borne. Nobody knows where, how, since when the sewers run, the exact location of the tele­ phone lines, what the reason was for the position of the center, where monumental axes end. All it proves is that there are infinite hidden margins, colossal reservoirs of slack, a perpetua!, organic process of adjustment, standards, behavior; expectations change with the biological intelligence of the most alert animal. In this apotheosis of multiple choice it will never be possible again to reconstruct cause and effect. They work - that is all. 6.16 The Generic City’s aspiration toward tropicality automatically implies the rejec­ tion of any lingering reference to the city as fortress, as citadel; it is open and accommo­dating like a mangrove forest. 7. Politics 7.1 The Generic City has a (sometimes distant) relationship with a more or less authoritarian regime-local or national. Usually the eronies of the “leader”- whoever that was- decided to develop a piece of “downtown” or the periphery, or evento start a new city in the middle of nowhere, and so triggered the boom that put the city on the map. 7.2 Very often, the regime has evolved to a sur­prising degree of invisibility, as if, through its very permissiveness, the Generic City resists the dictatorial. 8. Sociology 8.1 lt is very surprising that the triumph of the Generic City has not coincided with the triumph of sociology- a discipline whose “field” has been extended by the Generic City beyond its wildest imagination. The Generic City is sociology, happening. Each Generic City is a petri dish- oran infinitely patient black­board on which almost any hypothesis can be “proven” and then erased, never again to reverberate in the minds of its authors or its audience. 8.2 Clearly, there is a proliferation of communities- a sociological zapping- that resists a single overriding interpretation. The Generic City is loosening every structure that made anything coalesce in the past. 8.3 While infinitely patient, the Generic City is also p rsistently resistant to speculation: it proves that sociology may be the worst system to capture sociology in the making. It outwits each established critique. It contributes huge amounts of evidence for and- in even more impressive quantities- against each hypothesis. In A tower blocks lead to sui­cide, in B to happiness ever after. In C they are seen as a


The Generic City

first stepping stone toward eman­cipation (presumably under sorne kind of invisible “duress,” however), in D simply as passé. Constructed in unimaginable numbers in K, they are being exploded in L. Creativity is inexplicably high in E, nonexistent in F. G is a seamless ethnic mosaic, H perpetually at the merey of separatism, if not on the verge of civil war. Model Y will never last because of its tampering with family structure, but Z flourishes- a word no academic would ever apply to any activity in the Generic City- because of it. Religion is eroded in V, surviving in W, transmuted in X. 8.4 Strangely, nobody has thought that cumulatively the endless contradictions ofthese interpretations prove the richness ofthe Generic City; that is the one hypothesis that has been eliminated in advance. 9. Quarters 9.1 There is always a quarter called Lipservice, where a mínimum of the past is preserved: usually it has an old train/tramway or double-decker bus driving through it, ringing omi­nous bells-domesticated versions ofthe Flying Dutchman’s phantom vessel. Its phone booths are either red and transplanted from London, or equipped with small Chinese roofs. Lipservice-also called Afterthought, Waterfront, Too Late, 42nd Street, simply the Village, or even Underground- is an elaborate mythic operation: it celebrates the pastas only the recently conceived can. It is a machine. 9.2 The Generic City hada past, once. In its drive for prominence, large sections of it somehow disappeared, first unlamented-the past apparently was surprisingly unsanitary, even dangerous-then, without warning, relief turned into regret. Certain prophets -long white hair, gray socks, sandals-had always been warning that the past was necessary-a resource. Slowly, the destruction machine grinds toa halt; sorne random hovels on the laundered Euclidean plane are saved, restored to a splendor they never had ... 9.3 In spite of its absence, history is the major preoccupation, even industry, of the Generic City. On the liberated grounds, around the restored hovels, still more hotels are constructed to receive additional tourists in direct proportion to the erasure of the past. Its disappearance has no influence on their numbers, or maybe it is just a last-minute rush. Tourism is now independent of destination ... 9.4 Instead of specific memories, the associations the Generic City mobilizes are general memories, memories of memories: if not all memories at the same time, then at least an abstract, token memory, a déja vu that never ends, generic memory. 9.5 In spite of its modest physical presence (Lipservice is never more than three stories high: homage to/revenge of Jane Jacobs?) it condenses the entire past in a single complex. History retums not as farce here, but as service: costumed merchants (funny hats, bare midriffs, veils) voluntarily enact the conditions (slavery, tyranny, disease, poverty, colony)- that their nation once went to war to abolish. Like a replicating virus, worldwide, the colonial seems the only inexhaustible source ofthe authentic. 9.6 42nd Street: ostensibly the places where the past is preserved, they are actually the places where the past has changed the most, is the most distant-as if seen through the wrong end of a telescopeor even completely eliminated. 9.7 Only the memory of former excess is strong enough to charge the bland. As if they try to warm themselves at the heat of an extinguished volcano, the most popular sites (with tourists, and in the Generic City that includes everyone) are the ones once most intensely associated with sex and misconduct. Innocents invade the former haunts of pimps, prostitutes, hustlers, transvestites, and to a lesser degree, artists. Paradoxically, at the same moment that the information highway is about to deliver pomography by the truckload to their living rooms, it is as if the expe­rience of walking on these warmed-over embers of transgression and sin makes them feel special, alive. In an age that does not generate new aura, the value of established aura skyrockets. ls walking on these ashes themearest they will get to guilt? Existentialism diluted to the intensity of a Perrier?


The Production of Space

Henri Lefebvre

6 June 1901-29 June 1991

Lefebvre began his career in association with the surrealist group, from whom he learned Hegel and a concern with dialectical logic, studied philosophy at the University of Paris (the Sorbonne), graduating in 1920, he joined the PCF in 1928 and became one of the most prominent French Marxist Intellectuals during the second quarter of the 20th century, before joining the French resistance. From 1944 to 1949, he was the director of Radiodiffusion Française, a French radio broadcaster in Toulouse. Among his works was a highly influential, anti-Stalinist, text on dialectics called Dialectical Materialism (1940), ranked as ‘The Father of the Dialectic’. In the 1950s and 60s remark that he is a permanent outsider, yet one of the most influential forces in French left-wing humanism. Although an unorthodox writer who was officially excluded from the Parti Communiste Français long before the work of thinkers such as Lyotard, Althusser or Foucault. By the 1980s he was idolized by American postmodernists and geographers as the pioneer of critiques of the city and the ‘spatial turn’ in theory. Lebvre in the text talk about the space as a tool of thought and action not as a static concept of void versus construction. The social space is a social product, and this space is a “form” imposed upon phenomena upon things and materiality, because it refers to social relations. To understand his contruction of the idea of The Production of Space and the space itself is neccesary to understand the differrent layers of actors that participate on it. Knowledge: is the representation of space, what it is conceived, can be translate as the concet or conception of space inother words Imaginary, this conception is performed by scientist, planners. Material: is the spacial practice, how the space is perceived and experienced, it consist in flows and networks, lays on the activities the exchange thetrade of goods and financial power, is the Practical and is experienced by the ones that produce the space the builders, carpenters, etc. Spatia practice not only produce but reproduce elements, and


The Production of Space

this is what give to the techniques and ways of building this is what brings continuity to the practice. Meaning: is the representation of the space, a system of non-verbal symbols and signs, the lived space, here is reprsented the Symbolic element of space and is experienced by the users. The spaces are lived through associated images that the users recognized as familiar. Each society becomes each way of production of spaces, in this way is easy to talk about the certains ways or tools used for differentsocieties inthe construction of their spaces. Eventhoug the reading of social spaces is not simply due the fact that a number of interpretations are necesary to fully understand the production and reproduction of certain elements. The Symbolic representations are the ones that mantain in cohesion the social relations with the object.

Lebvre Henri, The Production of Space, 1991

The Production of Space XII (Social) space is a (social) product. This proposition might appear to border on the tautologous, and hence on the obvious. There is good reason, however, to examine it carefully, to consider its implications and consequences befare accepting it. Many people will find it hard to endorse the notion that space has taken on, within the present mode of production, within society as it actually is, a sort of reality of its own, a reality clearly distinct from, yet much like, those assumed in the same global process by commodities, money and capital. Many people, finding this claim paradoxical, will want proof. The more so in view of the further claim that the space thus produced also serves as a too! of thought and of action; that in addition to being a means of production it is also a means of control, and hence of domination, of power; yet that, as such, it escapes in part from those who would make use of it. The social and political (state) forces which engendered this space now seek, but fail, to master it completely; the very agency that has forced spatial reality towards a sort of uncontrollable autonomy now strives to run it, into the ground, then shackle and enslave it. Is this space an abstract one? Yes, but it is also ‘real’ in the sense in which concrete abstractions such as commodities and money are real. ls it then concrete? Yes, though not in the sense that an object or product is concr;te. ls it instrumental? Undoubtedly, but, like knowledge, it extends beyond instrumentality. Can it be reduced toa projection- toan ‘objectification’ of knowledge? Yes and no: knowledge objectified in a product is no longer coextensive with knowledge in its theoretical state. If space embodies social relationships, how and why does it do so? And what relationships are they? lt is because of all these questions that a thoroughgoing analysis and a full overall exposition are called for. This must involve the introduction of new ideas - in the first place the idea of a diversity or multiplicity of spaces quite distinct from that multiplicity which results from seg­menting and cross-sectioning space ad infinitum. Such new ideas must then be inserted into the context of what is generally known as ‘history’, which will consequently itself emerge in a new light.


The Production of Space

Social space will be revealed in its particularity to the extent that it ceases to be indistinguishable from mental space (as defined by the philosophers and mathematicians) on the one hand, and physical space (as defined by practico-sensory activity and the perception of ‘nature’) on the other. What 1 shall be seeking to demonstrate is that such a social space is consti uted neither by a collection of things or an aggregate of (sensory) data,..nor. b-Y.<! yoid packed.like .a.pare ! with various éontents, and that it is. irreducible to a ‘form’ imposed upon phenomena, upon things, upon physü:almateriality. If 1 am successful, the social character of space, here posited as a preliminary hypothesis, will be confirmed as we go along. XIII If it is true that (social) space is a (social) product, how is this fact concealed? The answer is: by a double illusion, each side of which refers back to the other, reinforces the other, and hides behind the other. These two aspects are the illusion of transparency on the one hand and the illusion of opacity, or ‘realistic’ illusion, on the other. The illusion of transparency Here space appears as luminous, as intelligible, as giving action free rein. What happens in sp ce lends a miraculous quality to thought, which becomes incarnate by means of a design (in both senses of the word). The design serves as a mediator- itself of great fidelity - between mental activity (invention) and social activity (realization); and it is deployed in space. The illusion of trans­ parency goes hand in hand with a view of space as innocent, as free of traps or secret places. Anything hidden or dissimulated - and hence dangerous - is antagonistic to transparency, under whose reign every­ thing can be taken in by a single glance from that mental eye which illuminates whatever it contemplates. Comprehension is thus supposed, without meeting any insurmountable obstacles, to conduct what is per­ ceived, i.e. its object, from the shadows into the light; it is supposed to effect this displacement of the object either by piercing it with a ray or by converting it, after certain precautions have been taken, from a murky to a luminous state. Hence a rough coincidence is assumed to exist between social space on the one hand and mental space - the (topological) space of thoughts and utterances - on the other. By what path, and by means of what magic, is this thought to come about? The presumption is that an encrypted reality becomes readily decipherable thanks to the intervention first of speech and then of writing. lt is said, and believed, that this decipherment is effected solely through transposition and through the illumination that such a strictly topologi­cal change brings about. What justification is there for thus claiming that within the spatial realm the known and the transparent are one and the same thing? The fact is that this claim is a basic postulate of a diffuse ideology which dates back to classical philosophy. Closely bound up with Western ‘culture’, this ideology stresses speech, and overemphasizes the. written word, to the detriment of a social practice which it is indeed designed to conceal. The fetishism of the spoken word, or ideology of speech, is reinforced by the fetishism and ideology of writing. For sorne, whether explicitly or implicitly, speech achieves a total clarity of communication, flushing out whatever is obscure and either forcing it to reveal itself or destroying it by sheer force of anathema. Others feel that speech alone does not suffice, and that the test and action of the written word, as agent of both malediction and sanctification, must also be brought into play. The act of writing is supposed, beyond its immediate effects, to imply a discipline that facilitates the grasping of the ‘object’ by the writing and speaking ‘subject’. In any event, the spoken and written word are taken for (social) practice; it is assumed that absurdity and obscurity, which are treated as aspects of the same thing, may be dissipated without any corresponding disappearance of the ‘object’. Thus communication brings the non-communicated into the realm of the communitated- the incommunicable having no existence beyond that of an ever-pursued residue. Sucb are tbe assumptions of an ideology wbicb, in positing tbe transparency of space, identifies knowledge, infor­mation and communication. lt was on tbe basis of tbis ideolqgy tbat people believed for quite a time tbat a revolutionary social transform­ation could be brougbt about by means of communication alone. ‘Every­tbing must be said! No time limit on speecb! Everytbing must be


The Production of Space

written! Writing transforms language, tberefore writing transforms society! Writ­ing is a signifying practice!’ Sucb agendas succeed only in conflating revolution and transparency. Tbe illusion of transparency turns out (to revert for a moment to tbe old terminology of tbe pbilosopbers) to be a transcendental illusion: a trap, operating on tbe basis of its own quasi-magical power, but by tbe same token referring back immediately to otber traps - traps wbicb are its alibis, its masks. The realistic illusion Tbis is tbe illusion of natural simplicity - tbe product of a nai’ve attitude long ago rejected by pbilosopbers and tbeorists of language, on various grounds and under various names, but cbiefly because of its appeal to naturalness, to substantiality. According to tbe pbilosopbers of tbe good old idealist scbool, tbe credulity peculiar to common sense leads to tbe mistaken belief tbat ‘tbings’ bave more of an existence tban tbe ‘subject’, bis tbougbt and bis desires. To reject tbis illusion tbus implies an adberence to ‘pure’ tbougbt, to Mind or Desire. Wbicb amounts to abandoning tbe realistic illusion only to fall back into tbe embrace of tbe illusion of transparency. Among linguists, semanticists and semiologists one encounters a pri­mary (and indeed an ultimate) nalvety wbicb asserts tbat language, ratber tban being defined by its form, enjoys a ‘substantial reality’. On tbis view language resembles a ‘bag of words’ from wbicb tbe proper and adequate word for eacb tbing or ‘object’ may be picked. In tbe course of any reading, tbe imaginary and tbe symbolic dimensions, tbe landscape and tbe borizon wbicb•line tbe reader’s patb, are all taken as ‘real’, because tbe true cbaracteristics of tbe text- its signifying form as mucb as its symbolic content - are a blank page to tbe naif in bis unconsciousness. (lt is wortb noting en passant tbat bis illusions provide tbe naif witb pleasures wbicb knowledge is bound to abolisb along witb tbose illusions tbemselves. Science, moreover, tbougb it may replace tbe innocent deligbts of naturalness witb more refined and sÓpbisticated pleasures, can in no wise guarantee tbat tbese will be any more delectable.) The illusion of substantiality, naturalness and spatial opacity nurtures its own mythology. One thinks of the space-oriented artist, at work in a hard or dense reality delivered direct from the domain of Mother Nature. More likely a sculptor than a painter, an architect sooner than a musician or poet, such an artist tends to work with materials that resist or evade his efforts. When space is not being overseen by the geometer, it is liable to take on the physical qualities and properties of the earth. The illusion of transparency has a kinship with philosophical idealism; the realistic illusion is closer to (naturalistic and mechanistic) material­ism. Yet these two illusions do not enter into antagonism with eaeh other after the fashion of philosophical systems, which armour themselves like battleships and seek to destroy one another. On the contrary, each illusion embodies and nourishes the other. The shifting back and forth between the two, and the flickering or oscillatory effect that it produces, are thus just as important as either of the illusions considered in isolation. Symbolisms deriving from nature can obscure the rationallucidity which the West has inherited from its history and from its successful domi­nation of nature. The apparent translucency taken on by obscure histori­cal and political forces in decline (the state, nationalism) can enlist images having their source in the earth or in nature, in paternity or in maternity. The rational is thus naturalized, while nature cloaks itself in nostalgias which supplant rationality. XIV As a programmatic foretaste of the tapies 1 shall be dealing with later, 1 shall now review sorne of the implications and consequences of our initial proposition - namely, that (social) space is a (social) product. The first implication is that (physical) natural space is disappearing. Granted, natural space was - and it remains - the common point of departure: the origin, and the original model, of the social process - perhaps even the basis of all ‘originality’. Granted, too, that natural space has not vanished purely and simply from the scene. It is still the background of the picture; as decor, and more than decor, it persists everywhere, and every natural detail, every natural object is valued even more as it takes on symbolic weight (the most insignificant animal, trees, grass, and so on). As source and as resource, nature obsesses


The Production of Space

us, as do childhood and spontaneity, via the filter of memory. Everyone wants to protect and save nature; nobody wants to stand in the way of an attempt to retrieve its authenticity. Yet at the same time everything conspires to harm it. The fact is that natural space will soon be lost to view. Anyone so inclined may look over their shoulder and see it sinking beJow the horizon behind us. Nature is also becoming lost to thought. For what is nature? How can we form a picture of it as it was before the intervention of humans with their ravaging tools? Even the powerful myth of nature is being transformed into a mere fiction, a negative utopía: nature is now seen as merely the raw material out of which the productive forces of a variety of social systems have forged their particu­lar spaces. True, nature is resistant, and infinite in its depth, but it has been defeated, and now waits only for its ultimate voidance and destruction. XV A second implication is that every society - and hence every mode of production with its subvariants (i.e. all those societies which exemplify the general concept - produces a space, its own space. The city of the ancient world cannot be understood as a collection of people and things in space; nor can it be visualized solely on the basis of a number of texts and treatises on the subject of space, even though sorne of these, as for example Plato’s Critias and Timaeus or Aristotle’s Metaphysics A, may be irreplaceable sources of knowledge. For the ancient city had its own spatial practice: it forged its own - appropriated - space. Whence the need for a study of that space which is able to apprehend it as such, in its genesis and its form, with its own specific time or times (the rhythm of daily life), and its particular centres and polycentrism (agora, temple, stadium, etc.). The Greek city is cited here only as an example - as one step along the way. Schematically speaking, each society offers up its own peculiar space, as it were, as an ‘object’ for analysis and overall theoretical explication. 1 say each society, but it would be more accurate to say each mode of production, along with its specific relations of production; any such mode of production may subsume significant variant forms, and this makes for a number of theoretical difficulties, many of which we shall run into later in the shape of inconsistencies, gaps and blanks in our general picture. How much can we really learn, for instance, confined as we are to Western conceptual tools, about the Asiatic mode of production, its space, its towns, or the relationship it embodies between town and country - a relationship reputedly represented figu­ratively or ideographically by the Chinese characters? More generally, the very notion of social space resists.analysis because of its novelty and because of the real and formal complexity that it connotes. Social space contains- and assigns (more or less) appropriate places to -’(1) the social relations of reproduction, i.e. the bio-physiologi­ cal relations between the sexes and between age groups, along with the specific organization of the family; and (2) the relations of production, the division of labour and its organization in the form of hierarchical social functions. These two sets of relations, production and repro­duction, are inextricably bound up with one another: the division of labour has repercussions upon the family and is of a piece with it; conversely, the organization of the family interferes with the division of labour. Yet social space must discrimina te between the two -not aJways successfully, be it said - in order to ‘localize’ them. To refine this scheme somewhat, it should be pointed out that in precapitalist societies the two interlocking levels of biological repro­duction and socioceconomic production together constituted social reproduction- that is to say, the reproduction of society as it perpetuated itself generation after generation, conflict, feud, strife, crisis and war notwithstanding. That a decisive part is played by space in this continuity is something 1 shall be attempting to demonstrate below. The advent of capitalism, and more particularly ‘modern’ neocapi­talism, has rendered this state of affairs considerably more complex. Here three interrelated levels must be taken into account: (1) biological reproduction (the family); (2) the reproduction of labour power (the working class per se); and (3) the reproduction of the social relations of production - that is, of those relations which are constitutive of


The Production of Space

capitalism and which are increasingly (and increasingly effectively) sought and imposed as such. The role of space in this tripartite ordering of things will need to be examined in its specificity. To make things even more complicated, social space also contains specific representations of this double or triple interaction between the social relations of production and reproduction. Symbolic representation serves to maintain these social relations in a state of coexistence and cohesion. lt displays them while displacing them - and thus concealing them in symbolic fashion with the help of, and onto the backdrop of, nature. Representations of the relations of reproduction are sexual symbols, symbols of male and female, sometimes accompanied, sorne­times not, by symbols of age - of youth and of old age. This is a symbolism which conceals more than it reveals, the more so since the relations of reproduction are divided into frontal, public, overt - and hence coded - relations on the one hand, and, on the other, covert, clandestine and repressed relations which, precisely because tpey are repressed, characterize transgressions related not so much to sex per se as to sexual pleasure, its preconditions and consequences. Thus space may be said to embrace a multitude of intersections, each with its assigned location. As for representations of the relations of production, which subsume power relations, these too occur in space: space contains them in the forro of buildings, monuments and works of art. Such frontal (and hence brutal) expressions of these relations do not completely crowd out their more clandestine or underground aspects; all power must have its accomplices - and its police. A conceptual triad has now emerged from our discussion, a triad to which we shall be returning over and over again. Spatial practice, which embraces production and reproduction, and the particular locations and spatial sets characteristic of each social formation. Spatial practice ensures continuity and sorne degree of cohesion. In terms of social space, and of each member of a given society’s relationship to that space, this cohesion implies a guaranteed leve! of competence and a specific leve! of performance. Representations of space, which are tied to the relations of production and to the ‘order’ which those relations impose, and hence to knowledge, to signs, to codes, and to ‘frontal’ relations. Representational spaces, embodying complex symbolisms, sorne­times coded, sometimes not, linked to the clandestine or under­ground side of social life, as also to art (which may come eventually to be defined less as a code of space than as a code of representational spaces).


Bibliography BACHELARD Gaston. The poetics of Space, tr. by Maria Jolas, Boston: Beacon Press, 1994. BARJAU, Eustaquio . Confrencias y artículos, Barclona. 1994 Cereal Magazine COLOMINA, Beatriz. Domesticity at War. 2006 EDELMAN, Bernard. La maison de Kant. Paris: Payot, 1984. HEIDEGGER, Martin. Building, dwelling, thinking. 1971. KOOLHAAS, Rem. Generic City. 1995 LEFEBVRE, Henri. The production of Space. 1991 LEDOUX, Claude-Nicolas. Architecture and Social Reform at the end of the Ancien Regime, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1994. LINDÓN, A.; BERTRAND, G.; HIERNAUX, Daniel. Tratado de geografía humana. Anthropos Editorial, Mexico, 2006 LYOTARD, Jean-François. Heidegger and ‘the jews’. ed. University of Minnesota Press. 1990 LYOTARD, Jean-François. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge 1979 PATTERSON, Matt. In between Public and Private. 2011 SERFATY-GARZON, Perla. Chez soi. Les territoires de l’intimité. Paris, 2003. TAUT, Bruno. The City Crown, image. 1917 TAUT, Bruno. A programme for architecture. 1919 THIIS-EVENSEN, Thomas, ALEXANDER, Christopher. Concretizing Heidegger’s Notion of Dwelling. Article inside: Building and Dwelling [Bauen und Wohnen], edited by Eduard Führ. Munich, Germany: Waxmann Verlag GmbH; New York: Waxmann, 2000 VENSUS A., George. The Experience of Being as Goal of Human Existence: The Heideggerian Approach. Washintong, 2000 VIDLER, Anthony. The Architectural Uncanny. 1992


Theory of the Built Environment Fco. de Borja Castillo Alberola WS

Universit채t Liechtenstein Isabel Tobar Salas 15

The Anthology of Architecture and Domesticity  

Work produced by Isabel Tovar and Borja Castillo

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you