JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE
I O W A S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y
D AT U M N O . 9
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
Dear reader, DATUM is both a student run journal of architecture and a community of discourse. Given the current state of affairs in the world, the role that inclusivity plays within not only architecture, but also society, is very important in our role as a platform for the voices of students and contributors to our field. Diversity of thought, practice, and background is what makes DATUM a strong journal. DATUM encourages intense discourse and work that is focused around what is prevalent to our world and the field of architecture and design. Each issue, we choose a theme that is responsive to what we feel is occurring within our student body and in the greater world context. The upcoming issue, BOUNDARIES, is one that we find relevant to current architectural discourse. The notion of what defines a particular area or environment is continually being re-constructed in ways that are never certain. In order to better conceptualize and understand what it means to create BOUNDARIES, the upcoming theme aims to provide a platform whereby we can discuss critically and rigorously what it means to define a space, both as politically and socially defined borders.
The geopolitics that are inherent within the discourses on BOUNDARIES are particularly intriguing. From issues that range from the refugee to the housing crisis, what it means to move and migrate between various BOUNDARIES is important. In order to deconstruct the term BOUNDARIES, we hope to open up avenues to different modes of analyzing and curating material that re-examines definitions of security, agency, and territory.
D AT U M N O . 9
This journal presents a body of work from students and outside contributors that holistically advances various stances on what BOUNDARIES mean in contemporary society and architectural discourse. - Christopher Perez and Megan Zeien
Christopher Perez Megan Zeien EDITORIAL BOARD
Grant Bauermeister Nick Raap Andrew Suiter
The publication seeks to manifest and catalogue DATUMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s community of discussion and act as a platform for further inquiry and critique. It is organized around a central theme that DATUM feels has been misrepresented, neglected, or needs further examination in the architectural discourse of the Midwest. DATUM would like to thank Iowa State University Department of Architecture for their continuous support and invigorating enthusiasm for the journal and community. www.datumdiscourse.org
Kane Hassebrock Tomi Seyi Laja Jake Spangler Kellie Walters WEB
Ian Spadin ADVISORS
Ross Exo Adams Firat Erdim FONTS
Avenir Baskerville PUBLISHER
Heuss COVER IMAGE
DATUM is a journal of A/architecture founded and edited by design students at Iowa State University.
D AT U M N O . 9
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
New Aerial Cultures
The Walls Between Closets
Rail Art, Train Hopping, and Barragán
A New River Cartography
Fort Verte - Weaponizing Nature
Emily Eliza Scott
Wide Open Spaces
As A Creative Space
Visibility is a Trap
The Question of Ethics
The Boundaries of Housing in Weimar
The Issue with Last Month’s Issue
Tomi Seyi Laja
Constant and the New Bablyon
The Boundaries of Experience
Reﬂections on Disaster
Visualizing BSP Trees
D AT U M N O . 9
VISUALIZING BSP TREES
I A N S PA D I N
Dividing a space into multiple spaces is a useful way to understand a space as a whole, or to parse the space through a system. This piece looks at a way that Computer Science has tackled this issue. When a computer renders a scene, it must understand what elements of a scene are in front and which are in back. This is called depth sorting. This isn’t too difficult of a problem to solve assuming you have as much time as you need to run calculations, but when rendering in real-time, finding a faster way to do things is always good. Binary Space Partitioning (BSP) was developed as a fast solution to this problem. BSP structures rely on the convexity of spaces. Within an entirely convex space, depth sorting doesn’t need to be performed, as no bounds of the space can appear in front of each other. If a scene is divided entirely into convex spaces, then all that matters is the depth of each convex space. BSP structures achieve this by taking the scene as a whole and dividing it in half across some face of the scene’s geometry. This results in two
spaces, each of which is a child of the original space. This action is then performed again on each concave space, and the action is performed again on its children, and so on. This parent-child relationship is important because it forms a “BSP tree,” a pre-computed data structure that allows the computer to perform depth-sorting, meaning no real calculation is performed. The exact way the computer accomplishes this is outside the scope of this piece. (The illustrations that accompany this piece visualize this idea with a series of nested outlines. Begin with the scene, divide it in half across one plane, and draw an inset outline of the two resulting spaces. Repeat the process until every face in the scene has made a cut, and a BSP tree is drawn.) There are several ways that the same scene can be divided. If a piece of software used the BSP tree to determine what parts of a scene can and cannot “see” each other by drawing lines between the different spaces, you may end up with unexpected connections between spaces. In the computer’s case, this means rendering things that you cannot see. As a result, manually defining where these borders are between areas is essential to properly optimizing a scene. There are some broader points to make for the sake of relevance: Boundaries are not good or bad, but they are essential for the operation of systems within a landscape. The way they are established is crucial for the operation of these systems, and the way these boundaries are established reflect what systems serve to benefit from those boundaries. Boundaries established without care stand to serve no system and are as useful as no boundaries at all.
10 D AT U M N O . 9
N E W A E R I A L C U LT U R E S
“There was a time when explorers spent and risked their lives in search of new geographic discoveries. When we launched Google Earth, we made geographic discovery accessible to anyone with an Internet connection …Using Google Earth and Google Maps is a way to contextualize our surroundings and create a richer view of our place in the world.” - Brian McClendon, credited co-creator of Google Earth Since the invention of Google Earth and the popularization of satellite imagery into media, human perceptions of existing within the earth have drastically changed. Although we still experience landscape and space through the windshields of our still popular cars and through passing of sidewalks and paths on foot, our current existence is presented as an animated circle or arrow on a satellite map guiding us to our destination through our personal digital devices. This top down perception of one’s location in the world presents a new era of geographic visualization. In parallel with globalization in economic markets, Google Earth presents another medium for advancing global connections and a tool for monitoring global geographic changes and extracting data. Satellite imagery is beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, and cultural mediums-like the film Lion from 2016-glorify the tools of Satellite Imagery as all-powerful and emotional. While Google Earth perpetuates ideologies of interconnectivity and awareness of other places and countries, it also is a large part in a new world desires for knowledge and data. The systems which create and generate this tool are never impartial, and questions must be posed relating to how these new perspectives change our relation to the earth.
12 D AT U M N O . 9
Google Earth is actually a re-branding of the program entitled “Earthviewer”, a program put out in 2001 by an IT firm Keyhole with funding linked back to the Central Intelligence Agency through a nonprofit, before being bought by Google and renamed. The original creators imagined the purpose to be to serve people examining properties, so as to provide images and information of surrounding areas and environments for those purchasing new properties. With its incorporation into Google, its new goals involved advertising locations of businesses and commodities along with spatial searches by users
looking for a place to go or buy. On a larger scale, Google Earth has since been used to abet the discovery of information relating to military positioning and hierarchy, extract large environmental data, and has even been used in aiding criminals in learning more about possible locations. Privacy and security are compromised when the whole world can simply zoom into your property or follow along your private street in the new street view mode. Maps throughout history have consistently been contrived upon biases and often reveal these same biases in parallel to politics and associations. After all, someone has to choose what to draw, frame, and divide. It is argued that to map a space is to create and make visible a territory. James Corner writes in Agency of Mapping, â&#x20AC;&#x153;mapping allows for an understanding of terrain as only the surface expression of a complex and dynamic imbroglio of social and natural processes. In visualizing these interreleationships and interactions, mapping itself participates in any future unfoldingsâ&#x20AC;?. The problem with Google Earth is that according to the definitions used by James Corner it is not a map, but a tracing; a set of redundancies, images of existing geography rather than a created understanding of connections and explorations.
Google Earth – simply a visualized geographic interface for the greater trend of changing perceptions - becomes the new basis for human experiences within the earth, the new foundation for how one orients themselves concerning others and in context of the world. Orit Halpern identifies this change with designer Gyorgy Kepes, as she writes in Beautiful Data, calling upon Kepe’s experiences flying over the city of Chicago, gaining a new aerial view of the landscape, “Kepes described a new form of vision, one that was mobile, relative, nomadic, and autonomous… a new armory of sensory devices had produced a ‘new foundation for our material existence’….”. Today we live in a culture of many cultures, we are overexposed with beautiful aerial images from vast, foreign landscapes, and celebrate the geographies that are exclusive to earth. We are perhaps aware of the boundaries created by past and present maps. But underneath lies the transparency of this new out-of-body experience perpetuated by Google and satellite imagery. While this new tool grants us seemingly unending benefits in knowledge and technology, one should remember the dangers in trusting the technological systems of these hyper-real representations of space and perhaps think about how much we let them control and frame our ways of viewing the world.
References 1. Henner, Miska, et al. “Beyond Google Earth.” Places Journal, 1 May 2015, placesjournal.org/article/beyond-google-earth/.
2. Corner, James. “The Agency of Mapping.” Mappings, edited by Denis Cosgrove, Reaktion, 1999, pp. 213-252.
D AT U M N O . 9
3. Walker, Tim. “How Google Earth Changed the World.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 5 Sept. 2012, www.independent. co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/how-google-earth-changed-the -world-8107056.html. 4. Halpern, Ort. Beautiful Data: a History of Vision and Reason since 1945. Duke University Press, 2015.
THE WALLS BETWEEN CLOSETS
In Betsky’s theory of queer space, he elaborates the mechanisms that work in production of creating queer spaces. Those mechanisms are divided categorically into the Closet, the Mirror, and the Orgasm. I feel that this comes from the understanding of development of gay bars predating the AIDS crisis: many gay bars did not start off as gay bars, they started as “straight bars” that gathered notoriety within what Betsky would likely refer to as
the “invisible network” of the gay community. Once it had been established that these bars would host gay clientele a Closet Space was born. Often times the owners of these bars would sell their bars or more infrequently pass ownership to gay clientele, leading to the formation of a Mirror Space; this is the period in which there is time to reflect on the design of the space. The third mechanism is the Orgasm, which I understand as Queer Spaces in their ultimate form, as exhibited by The Palladium on East 14th Street in Manhattan, The Saint in the East Village, or Crossroads in rural Mississippi: a space of catharsis, a space of indulgence, a space of experimentation. Betsky follows his analysis explaining that Queer Space no longer exists as a result of the AIDS Crisis. Betsky’s writing also tends to be interpreted literally and I find that often when people write about his work they overemphasize these mechanisms as literal visual strategy to be applied to architecture (i.e. designing a Mirror Space that uses mirrors to create a sense of reflection relating to what gay people experience in discovering
What space does the closet outside the closet occupy? None. It is Aaron Betsky who theorizes this idea of a Closet Space as the earliest stage of a queer space’s existence, but when it was theorized in Queer Space twenty years ago there is no mention of how his theory interacts with trans women despite “the closet” being integral to our experiences as well. Last year Aaron Betsky presented for DATUM, speaking on queer space again, and despite Queer Space being nearly as old as I am, there was a gap in how a transness interacts with space.
identity and place). While I find that to be useful sometimes, I believe that the approach to Betskyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s writing distances his theory from the historical conditions they were developed in and tends to examine some of his writing uncritically. Despite finding value in Betskyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work, there are numerous issues I take with his analysis. It is readily apparent to myself that Betsky does not know how to navigate trans experience and he has had over twenty years to amend that in his writing. It feels like he is not blind to these experiences but is deliberately dismissive of them. On the tenth page of Queer Space Betsky suggests gay women have not contributed as much to the development of queer space without much hesitancy or examination into why that might be. It is stated as though an obvious facet of history that women did less when much of what has resurfaced about the activism surrounding 70â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gay activism revolves around how much women were involved. I understand that this would be a great undertaking but with all the perspective we have today I find that the analysis and theory in Queer Space needs to be revisited.
I would like to open up the Closet; the first mechanism of a queer space.
D AT U M N O . 9
Part of the reason transness is hard to discuss is because trans identity is a multiplicity, essentialisms about trans experience are hard to claim so,
as many trans women writers have done, I will speak to my own experiences. And as a closeted trans woman analyzing the closet, Betsky has a lot of proximity to those experiences. Initially the closet pertinent to the life of a gay man seems identical to the closet a trans women inhibits. But one of the more difficult aspects of my closet is when I left the closet as a gay man I entered another as a trans woman. Betsky does not theorize to make room for a Double Closet because it did not have place in his imagination at the time he had written about Closet Space because he writes from the experience of a man: a subject who is able to transcend his Closet into pastures unique, distinct, and real. Many men see themselves as having a right to be subject and right to transcendence; a right to be actors and not acted upon; as examined by Simone de Beauvoir. Gay men are not exempt from this and we see the historical products of this. There are instances of gay transcendence and there are actualized gay design sensibilities; there were Orgasm Spaces that Betsky can refer to. However, trans women are permanently exempted from transcendence and the spaces we inhabit are not our own but belong to gay men. A gay man might have designed a bar, might decorate a bar and might own a bar; the trans woman, if allocated any space at all, is relegated to perform on stage: A Harlequin contained
Trans women are relegated to tiny, temporary spaces they take for themselves designed by people who are not trans women, for people who are not trans women. There is not a trans feminist architectural manifesto because there are not trans women clients or clients who are willing to do as much as allocate space to trans women. This is why trans woman are allocated to virtual spaces, take for instance micha cárdenas’s “Becoming Dragon” who lived in 365 hours in Second Life as a virtual dragon avatar as an analogy of medical hormone transition, or the use of virtual spaces as a medium of hormone therapy access and networks of trans kinship. With the development of space, both physical and virtual, there is a growing trans woman spatial sensibility in the making, however there is no means for it to manifest as trans women are treated as objects to be acted upon. I remember distinctively reading that clients overwhelmingly prefer working with male architects compared to women. I think back to this moment and remember considering an unsavory ultimatum: ruin architecture for myself by suspending my transition inevitably, doing emotional
labor at every moment of the day in my place of work; or, I could transition and be placed in a position in which I have to be pristine if I wanted to have clients be comfortable interacting with me. And even if I was unclockable, clients would still prefer men over me. It was considering this that made me opt out of architecture. Now I am in interior design, where these problems are still present but a majority of the students of the department are women and I find comfort in that. While I maintain an interest in imagining a trans feminist architectural sensibility even today it won’t and could not manifest. Double Closet spaces cannot exist as long as trans women are forced into the role of Objects to be acted upon. I want to explore the concept of the Double-Closet as an extension and response to Betsky’s Closet Space to describe the closet you cannot get out of and to get out of it is to walk into another closet. Places that are safe to come out of the closet are not always safe places to come out of the Double-Closet and what few Double-Closet spaces are ephemeral: the dinner party I hosted for exclusively the trans people I knew, the stages of some gay bars and theater performances, and occasional parades and infrequent meetings that occur in particular activist organizations. Betsky imagines the Closet Space as a physical one, however Double-Closet Space is non-
within an ephemeral space for entertainment, a space designed with the bodies inhabiting it, a space where the people within it are frequently disposable.
materialized as the spaces offered to trans people are so infrequent and ephemeral. The physical properties of spaces trans women occupy are inconsistent because trans women are forced into immanence. I can discuss art with other trans women in other creative fields and we can form
analogous artistic sensibilities but as long as the material spaces we occupy are temporary and as long as we have bleak perspectives of employment in the necessary creative fields there will not be a realized transgender architecture philosophy. There is no home for girls like us.
D AT U M N O . 9
F AT S PA C E
public, and presents an obstacle for the efficient expansion of logistics from the city into our private domains. Maintaining the safety of our prized symbols of significanceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;commoditiesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; yet able to function as an efficient mediated edge, the once fundamental spatial mechanism of the interface must transform into fatspace. Fatspace is an architectural typology yet to be fully formalized. Its nascent forms are found in spaces where public and private commodities are exchanged, such as service entrances. These forms have remained accessible only to those who can afford doormen or logistical commercial organizations with big-box stores. Yet, as contemporary home delivery proliferates, fatspaces must be considered for the general population. Early examples, such as Amazonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s orange lockers, afford access to pick up or drop off deliveries, yet are marooned in public space, ensuring the safety of deliveries into the arms of consumers far away from the private realm. As we regard the extent of change that cities are about to
With the increase in door to door deliveries and the resulting enlargement of household storage spaces, the relationship between the private domain and the public realm is set to augment. The concept of the threshold is being consistently degraded by the incursion of all our commodities now bought online. Defined as a place or point of entering, the threshold is the mark at which public and private are delineated. The door, once an efficient controllable interface of the threshold, is now consistently unfastened to allow for the entrance of goods, rendering it inadequate for privacy and redundant without the presence of a human to unfasten it. In addition to the door, other fundamental interfaces such as the elevator, the lobby, the gate, and the sidewalk, are being challenged by the distribution of deliveries to our desired destinations. Last mile delivery has become the last fifty-yard traffic jam, as analog reliant building interfaces struggle to deal with the digital driven entrance of goods. The interface, defined as the place at which independent spatial systems meet, controls the threshold between private and
20 D AT U M N O . 9
undertake, the solution to the formalization of the fatspace is evident, yet its path most indiscernible. The binary relationship between private and public has been much too stringent, and has failed to evolve within the greater complexities of the logistical world. The normative notion of instant liminal thresholds is what has hampered this development. Fatspace breaks apart the world between public and private to establish a formal enlarging of the threshold into a new typological addition to the city. In the case of the multi-storey building, multiple interfaces— the lift, the lobby, and the doorman—expand and broaden the space between the private and public realms, staging entry and exit. Delivery access is controlled not by a single interface, but many, and the threshold itself becomes nebulous until the final boundary. Much like the decentralization of the post-war office space planned around communication distribution rather than corporate hierarchies, a fatspace ought to provide expedited distribution through a multi-accessible nonspace of unseen pandemonium. In this sense, the multi-storied building provides a foundation upon which to operate, yet is not sufficient, especially for single standing residences where such elements are too cumbersome. A new kind of interface, governed by the hierarchy of access and storage, is required. The simplistic binary construction of
the threshold must be removed with an evolution of the interface. F u n d a m e n t a l l y, the architectural interface provides a spatial point of contact between different spatial typologies through mediation of their interaction. Affording the opportunity for spatial typologies of varying selective seclusion or secrecy to coexist in close proximity, mediation provides for specific formal requirements, ensuring a smooth transfer of capital to and from neighboring typologies in an economic market. An interface between such spaces is thus stricken with the contradictory position of providing the smooth flow of capital while maintaining the level of seclusion or secrecy of the respective spaces. In the context of the logistical world and our own homes, by formalizing and fattening these interfaces a fatspace can break open the gap established by the threshold, and provide for the additional accelerated functioning necessary. This logistical interface is then neither private nor public. It is a thickening of the threshold into an in-between space that allows for temporal inconsistencies of the flow between commodity and occupant. A true formalized replica of Michel Foucault’s “heterotopia,” it is the in-between space of the other, filled with life and objects whose temporary existence often clog up public or private spaces. Foucault’s description of “heterotopia”
facilitate its de-cluttering via a space of the unseen. William Mitchell formalized these spaces as the “architectural back.” With the increase in strict time deliverables for commodities, the architectural back is the evolution of the service entrance as defining factor in architectural form; overtaking the occupant entrance. In the logistical city, the fatspace has the ability to take the architectural back and turn it into the “architectural back to front,” establishing logistics as a key medium of both design and language in the visual comprehensibility of the city, and engendering fatspace as the typology that defines the new urban environment. As the embryonic form of this architectural back to front, the Centre Pompidou, by Piano, Rogers, and Franchini, unwrapped itself to accentuate architecture’s often forgotten backside, albeit with a little too much lace. Its visual language, in a historic city such as Paris, was used symbolically by the French government in an attempt to foster a broader accessible culture to society. While discussion arose about its effect on the image of the city itself, it still stands as an ideological response to the political and cultural break of May 68’.
In the logistical city, the site and shape of the cultural break that is about to take place is unknown. Yet, much like the Pompidou, an opportunity
is a metaphor for the fluidity and “in transit” attitude of the fatspace. Foucault’s example of the American motel’s use for illicit sex underlines the gap such a space fills, it is “kept isolated without however being allowed out in the open.” This gap, between public logistics and private domains, affords the utopia of clean households and commercial spaces devoid of clamored commodities, offering the appearance of total control. The world of the typical garage clogged with storage is the forerunner to the fatspace of private residences. Allowing our homes to remain semi-storage free, the garage represents a synthetic extension of the house, facilitating the hoover action of our unnecessary commodity cravings, yet enabling the private domain to remain under its image of holy hygienic sanctuary. The garage, however, falls short of fatspace as it facilitates solely extreme storage without any surety of delivery. On the other hand, a fatspace is proposed to function as a space, for both storage and life, accessible by the public and private realms simultaneously, producing the efficient flow of capital from street level directly into our private domains. This new typology would provide for the preservation of the purity of our sacred privacy while maintaining the security of our delivered possessions outside the dangerously liberated public realm. As a space for the other in our lives, fatspace would
arises to establish spaces representative of their culture. It is without doubt, especially in America, that logistics has impacted society to an extent where the immediacy of the commodity and information has become normalized. The implementation of the fatspace offers an opportunity for the physical characterization of this new paradigm within the city. A recent OECD study in Lisbon found that shared autonomous vehicles could reduce the number of cars needed by 80-90%. In such a logistical city, parking and roads would be defunct or significantly minimized. Unable to be used by the public in any large format, these non-spaces would hold little significance and provide an appealing site for fatspaces, challenging the strict binary of public and private in the very space that establishes it. Through the enlargement of thresholds out into the public
realm and beyond, the space of roads, symbol of the existing logistical city, would provide vital space for the formalization and representation of the next logistical city. The fatspace is thus the next evolution (or devolution) of the dichotomy of the public and private realms. Providing a complete bipartisan fattening of the threshold through a severe augmentation of the interface, the fatspace attempts to finalize the integration of logistics into the city and establish a third form of spatial consideration. While evidently prompt, this piece presents fatspace for the potential it holds. Both a form of a future city and a closer link between logistics and the often-atomized discipline of architecture, the fatspace is itself a division, yet one in which a lasting connection between private and public is produced.
D AT U M N O . 9
Drawing by James Carter.
References 1. Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias,” Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité 5 October, 1984. 2. Brandon Hookway, From Pandemonium, ed,. Sanford Kwinter and Bruce Mau, PA Press 1999, p75. 2. William Mitchell, “Transarchitectures Symposium” (lecture, Gerry Center. Los Angeles. June 6, 1998), quoted in Deborah Richmond, “Divestitures” Log 03 Fall, Anyone Corporation 2004, p70. 3. Pier Vittorio Auerli, “Architecture and Counterrevolution: OMA and the Politics of the Grands Projets” in OASE, Vol 94, 2015, p45.
5. Mason White, “Farm Cloud,” New Geographies #7: Geographies of Information, Eds. Ali Farad and Taren Meshkani, Harvard School of Design 2015, p68. White has taken Marc Augé’s terminology for “non-space,” referring to a number of “spatial types exhibiting an ambivalence towards site specificity.”
4. Urban Mobility System Upgrade: How shared self-driving cars could change city traffic, International Transport Forum 2015, p19.
R A I L A R T, T R A I N H O P P I N G , A N D B A R R A G A N : A N A LY S I S A N D A P P L I C AT I O N O F T H E T E R R A I N VA G U E GRANT BAUERMEISTER
As of 2016, 140,490 miles of freight track cuts through the US, slicing through cities, fields, streams, state borders, forests, or mountains. The train moves through all these spaces stoically, its purpose solely to transport. Human interaction with the railroad, however, is anything but stoic. The trains unique characteristics allow for incredible, regionally democratic exchange when acted upon in expressive and often illegal manners. These acts exclusively occupy a terrain vague, which is an unintentional, unplanned consequence of the planned, productive environment. These spaces have given life to numerous countercultures, varying in scale from the personal to the international. Whereas the terrain vague is, by definition, unplanned, is there a way to capture the essence of these spaces in the built environment? What elements create the appeal of these counter-cultural gaps in the productive societal fabric?
D AT U M N O . 9
The Terrain Vague as Canvas Rail lines have a rich history of information dissemination, dating back to the Russian Civil War of 1918. The warâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s front lines often followed the
underdeveloped rail lines between cities in a constant battle to control means of supply distribution. Bolshevik control was weak outside major metropolitan areas, and in an effort to sway public opinion towards the Communist cause the fledgling movement took to the rails. Agit-trains were boxcars painted in striking Communist red and fitted with a number of propagandizing devices, from movie theaters to print presses. The agit-train concept continued to operate on a limited scale in to the 20â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and was briefly revived during WWII as more of a communication device than a propaganda machine. Railcar art began in the late 19th century as a purely utilitarian endeavor, consisting of general information to be passed on to other railroad workers. These markings were drawn in pencil or chalk and contained destinations, content weights, arrival times, or other useful information for other workers. Train graffiti as seen today had its most visceral roots in the hiphop culture of 1970â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s New York, when subway lines were illicitly turned in to mobile canvases. From there, the phenomena of
Yet, despite the artistic validity, despite the cultural novelty, despite the absurd and inventive shapes, color schemes, and subject matter, somehow these works have become banal. To the average American, train graffiti has become simply another element of the train itself. That these spray-painted compositions are expressions of life, removed by thousands of miles, and supplanted in a wholly alien environment seems to be lost on most. While art museums have recently begun including street art in their exposition repertoire, there has been no meaningful, appropriately scaled celebration of these works in their pure, commissioned form. The artists are trespassers and criminals, after all. This institutionalized attitude stifles a truly democratic, honest, and powerful artistic culture. With an ounce of appreciation these works become visceral cultural exchanges on demand, works presented free of charge to thousands, tens of thousands who perhaps wouldn’t have the opportunity or the ability to visit graffiti hotbeds such as Philadelphia’s West Side
or Chicago’s Ukrainian Village. Past the obvious cultural and entertainment value, graffiti reflects the day-to-day lives of America’s most vulnerable. Issues such as poverty, police brutality, or gentrification are suddenly at the forefront, paraded across dashboards throughout the United States. The Terrain Vague as Environment As the train system became more and more established in the late 1800’s, migrant workers began recognizing the personal transportation potential of these modes of distribution. Sometime around 1870, the term ‘hobo’ rose to prominence. Unlike a ‘bum,’ a ‘hobo’ was actively searching for work, using the rails as a way to explore new territories and economic zones. To facilitate the rise of “hobo culture,” a system of markings began to appear, scrawled hastily on the sides of cars, the walls of railroad facilities, the supports of bridges, or on any railroad-related structure. These markings signified dangers, such as police activity, the presence of thieves, or the general viciousness of guard dogs. They also notified the human cargo of resources along the route, calling out sources of alcohol, free telephones, or doctors who would not charge a fee. Hobo culture today is not nearly as prevalent as it was in its heyday 1929 to 1941.
train graffiti spread to freight trains. This medium shift had profound, yet often overlooked, implications for cultural exchange. These pieces are carefully crafted messages in a bottle, thrown to the sea of commodity distribution, tossed by the tides of switchyards and the markets the cars serve.
During this time, the number of “career” hobos was estimated to exceed 4 million. Today there are 20 to 30, bolstered by around 2,000 part-time riders. Today’s attitude has changed as well. No longer is the primary purpose of riding to find work across the United States. Today, hobo culture is a rejection of bourgeois norms in one of its purest forms. Whereas other practices of wanderlust “radicalism,” such as the Van Life (or rather #vanlife) movement, have been coopted by camping equipment sponsorships or Instagram advertising, train hopping cannot possibly have a market opened for it. Its illegality, held firm by the inherent dangers of train hopping, prevents its neoliberal incorporation. There is still a price to pay in order to stay independent of the artistically corrupting forces of the market…
26 D AT U M N O . 9
And regardless, attempting to marketize such a practice would only end in failure. The allure of train hopping in this day and age is a seductive mixture of free travel crossed with the mystery of the route and destination. A train rider’s path is as unintentional as a leaf in a southern wind. While the conductor, the rail line, and the corporations it serves all know the trains stops and departure times, the rider usually knows, at best, the general direction of the tracks.
While the train is in motion, the idea of boundaries, oftenarbitrary lines drawn by man to manage (or exploit) the flow of capital, can not possibly be recognized by the rider. There are no signs welcoming you to Iowa, California, or North Dakota along the hyper-rural routes the trains cross, no manmade indications that you have crossed from Washington to California, Oklahoma to Texas, from Arizona to Nevada. There is only a steady ocean of forest, scrub vegetation, or desert. The land could not care less where we draw our arbitrary boundaries. The rider is allowed a view of the land in its pure form, uninhibited by the restraints man has imposed. Synthesizing the Terrain Vague It is strange that, for true freedom to be achieved, one must seek out spaces that architects and designers have not planned, or spaces where such a carefully laid plan has gone awry, detaching it from the forces of capital. These spaces captivate our imagination: abandoned grain processing plants, forgotten farmhouses, permanently drained swimming pools, the interior of an empty grain car, or the oddly romanticized space that lays below the railroad bridge. There are numerous Instagram accounts or websites dedicated to “ruin porn,” numerous YouTube accounts who specialize in “urban spelunking,”
The entire railroad counterculture resides in the terrain vague. The hobo lifestyle itself is a terrain vague, living outside the cultures all too ready to be assimilated and converted in to capital. Perhaps, if we are to recapture the danger, the newness, the indefinitiveness of these unplanned spaces in our meticulously planned environment, we must unlearn the tenants of clearly defined open spaces, the heralding of abstract efficiencies in plan, of the data-driven dogma, of faith in architecture’s ability to solve everything itself. Luis Barragán is one of the few architects who openly admitted to taking inspiration from nostalgia. Perhaps it is seen by others as regressive. Barragán embraced its humanizing qualities.
In his personal home in Mexico City, Barragán included a mezzanine inspired by a terrain vague of his childhood: his family’s hayloft. The space was forbidden by his father, which undoubtedly added excitement to the clandestine adventures in to the room above the barn. How does one incorporate the excitement of risk, the thrill of residing outside the law in to thoroughly planned constructs? The mezzanine has two separate access points. The most visible access point is a slender wooden staircase suspended from one of the aggressively textured walls creating the living room space. In true Barragán form, it has no railings, perhaps adding to t h e forbidden-fruit risk of t h e mezzanine. That is, if the staircase had ever been used. It is rumored that in the nearly 7 decades since the home was built, it has not been ascended once. While Barragán occupied his home, the main mezzanine staircase was not a staircase but a bookshelf. Like his childhood hayloft, use of this staircase was forbidden. During our tour, the books had been moved, but our guide was very adamant that we not use the piece regardless. “Besides,” he said, “it may not have even been built to hold the weight of a person.” Perhaps it is not always a purely
or the exploration of abandoned buildings. It does not take an academic understanding of space to appreciate these gaps in the planned aspect of our constructed environment. As a child, my sense of adventure was stoked by the rusting hulk of a Ford Customline-turned-fort, or by the primitive shelter created by massive irrigation pipes we would use as a base camp on our adventures through Northwest Iowan public hunting land. Growing up, we occupied the undersides of highway bridges or the service paths branching from Radio Road, staking out spaces that were ours for the moment.
architectural endeavor, or at least not fully in the physical sense. If architecture is about a human interaction with space, should not the human play a role in this interaction as well, instead of being directed like cattle? To create artificial yet valid terrains vague, built spaces or symbolism of form are not enough. Could the books placed on the staircase as a barrier have been permanent concrete or wood blocks, planned and constructed with the rest of the home? I would argue not. The books have a human element,
a retrofitted, illicit aspect of their being that is a far more valid method of shifting a space from the productive sphere of a building’s space to the exciting sphere of the underground, counter space. To create valid terrains vague, architecture itself can only provide opportunities. It is up to the user, the human, to make these spaces our own, to carve out territories free from the constraints of marketized productivity or abstracted, theoretical efficiency.
References 1. CASA LUIS BARRAGÁN, Fundación De Arquitectura Tapatía Luis Barragán A. C., www.casaluisbarragan.org/eng/en_index.html. 2. Lieberman, Anatoly. “On Hobos, Hautboys, and Other Beaus.” OUPblog, Oxford University, 12 Oct. 2017, blog.oup.com/2008/11/hobo/. Monroe, Rachel. “#Vanlife, the Bohemian Social-Media Movement.” The New Yorker, 24 Apr. 2017. 3. Peter Kenez, The Birth of the Propaganda State: Soviet Methods of Mass Mobilization, 1917-1929. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1985. 28 D AT U M N O . 9
4. Roos, Dave. “Still Riding the Rails: Life as a Modern Hobo.” Still Riding the Rails: Life as a Modern Hobo | HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 11 Feb. 2016, people.howstuffworks.com/still-riding-the-rails-life-modern-hobo.htm. 5. Rubio, Ignasi Solà-Morales. “Terrain Vague.” Versión Española, Andalusia Center for Contemporary Art , atributosurbanos.es/en/terms/terrain-vague/. 07/11/12, Andy Sturdevant |. “Train Graffiti and Its Long, Strange, Thoroughly American Lineage.” MinnPost.com, MinnPost, 7 Nov. 2012,
A N E W R I V E R C A R T O G R A P H Y: RETHINKING THE BOUNDARIES A N D I N C O R P O R AT I O N O F R I V E R S ANDREW SUITER
However, the way in which things are represented on a map has a much greater effect… Dominant developmental patterns form the underlying structure of cartographic composition. In Iowa, this underlying structure was designated by Thomas Jefferson and imposed by the surveyors of the general land office in the nineteenth century. With the original intention of quickly preparing vast quantities of land for settlement, Jefferson’s grid succeeded and was lauded for its ability to efficiently bring agricultural goods to market.
Despite the economic benefits, this pattern of development positioned American settlement starkly at odds with the topographic features of the natural landscape. In a way, the grid that was created became infallible. Rather than adapting to the landscape, the grid cut across it. Where the landscape did not conform, it was made to conform. In Iowa, this grid became the base from which agricultural plots and small towns were partitioned. Nearly all of the Iowan landscape has been worked and reshaped. The once vast prairie has been systematically sectioned into rectilinear fields in keeping with the orthogonal nature of the grid. Finished with the prairie, farmers turned their attention towards Iowa’s sinuous creeks and rivers – the last remaining element to be rationalized by the grid. For the first settlers, the proposition of rationalizing meandering streams was too large an undertaking, but this
The way different map projections shape our perception of space has been thoroughly explored in discussions of cartography and geopolitics. A notable example is the widely used Mercator projection, which makes Africa and Greenland appear to be the same size but in reality Africa is almost 15 times larger. In this case, the map artificially inflates the importance of the northern hemisphere.
would not last. In 1858 Iowa State College was founded with land granted to the state of Iowa by the Morrill Land Grant Act. Hundreds of acres of test fields were used to demonstrate how farmers could shape the land to increase productivity. In the almost 200-year history of American settlement in Iowa, we have shifted from a time when happening upon a river was a momentous occasion offering rest, water, and shade, to a time when we can pass many rivers without even noticing them. In too many places the milieu of the river vanishes. Only to be replaced with a repetitive, rational form of urban development imposed upon the landscape. Within Iowa, a unique set of agricultural forces further constrain small streams. This is especially true at Iowa State, the temple of industrialized agriculture. It was here where the practices of stream channelization were taught to the agricultural engineers who straightened many of Iowaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s small streams. Originally founded as an agricultural college, Iowa State is still the locus of agricultural methodology within Iowa.
30 D AT U M N O . 9
Due to Iowaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s glacial history, much of the state is relatively flat. This causes rivers to lazily meander through the prairie in a way antithetical to the stark orthogonality of the Jeffersonian grid. The process of meandering changes the shape of a river over time due to differences in flow
velocity which occur at bends in a river. In the long-term, this process will cause a river to wander back and forth between the topographical constraints which define the edges of the river valley. Meandering, along with variations in flow volume make rivers exceptionally difficult to represent cartographically. Rivers are constantly in flux, a characteristic which makes them unsuitable subjects for a static representation. In urban settings, where the transportation grid and river systems intersect, the river is rationalized and the will of the grid is imposed. At these locations, the natural banks are excavated and de-vegetated to be replaced with rubble or engineered fill. The road is elevated above the scale of the river, creating an implicit hierarchy which values the integrity of the bridge over the river. The threat of floods and erosion justify the internment of the river at these locations. Successive crossings have the same typology, creating a disjoined river system. In more organic patterns of development, each river crossing is chosen carefully, and the construction of a bridge only occurs where it is needed. In contrast, within the gridded pattern of development, these considerations are not as relevant. The integrity of the grid is more important than the
The riparian forces and d evel o p men ta l p r a c ti c es witnessed in Iowa echo those seen throughout the developed world. These developmental and cartographic issues underscore the need for a revision of river ontology. The extent of the developmental changes along our streams and rivers are due to the blurry cartographic, political, and cultural definitions that govern river lands. This necessitates an ontological shift in how we think of rivers. There is more to a river than the soils which make up its floodplain and the water it conveys. The river system is not confined to the surface flow between the banks of the river, indeed; it includes the low lying lands surrounding the banks. These lands are sometimes referred to as the floodplain, the river valley, or simply the riverlands. It may seem that the river is confined to the area between the banks, but this is not the case. During a flooding event it does not become a new river, it simply expands its boundaries. Flooding gives the river agency to briefly and destructively reclaim its former lands. Rather than showing where a river exists today, cartographers should instead show the area where the river could be. The banks of the current channel
could be shown with dashed lines to signal their fluidity. Cartographic representations shape our perceptions of reality and our choices. In this way, maps have the power to shape reality. Therefore, it should be the aim of any good cartographer or architect partaking in the act of map making to accurately represent the bounds of the river as it is today but also to indicate where it might exist in the future. Topographic contours come close to sending the right message, but like other linear cartographic elements such as roads, municipal boundaries, and property lines these contours often seem quite static. Rivers are containers which hold the primary element of life. The forces of the river continually reinvent itself. The water in the river today is not the water which was there yesterday. Using the forces of erosion, a river adapts to the flow of water, carving out more space where needed and filling in unneeded areas with sediment. The river therefore has a unique form of agency in the design of its own space. In this way, rivers are like architects; we should think of them as colleague entities. Throughout our cities, urban rivers have become refugees within their own domain. Their river-lands have been confiscated and divided. Forced into the narrowest of confining boundaries, rivers have been stripped of all but the minimum utilitarian length. In many cities
rationality of the infrastructure which it necessitates. A bridge is not built for the needs of crossing, but for the sake of the grid.
the riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sole remaining purpose is the efficient transportation of runoff from where we do not want it to where we do not care. Although, because of the difficulties associated with complete elimination, rivers have outlasted many of the other elements of the natural landscape within our cities. Even with scarred banks and neutered floodplains, some ghostly vestige of the river spirit remains, waiting to be resurrected. Once a stream becomes s o en tren ched th ro u g h infrastructure that it cannot be noticed in real life, once it no longer garners cartographic representation, it has been reduced to a ghost entity. However, this is not the fault of the map maker, but of the actors who drafted and approved the funerary blueprints. As
agents of the built environment, our actions are manifested in cartographic representations of the urban structure. Engineers and city officials do not hold the only keys to free our urban rivers. Dismissing this issue as beyond the scope of design is to deny one of our key roles in society. As architects and designers, it is our duty to rethink riparian development. Our built works should show the public what can become of our relationship with rivers. If the spirit of the river is present in our architecture, people will begin to demand it in their infrastructure. Rivers have the potential to once again participate in the built environment. Not merely as an object on display, but as a genuine participant.
D AT U M N O . 9
FORT VERT - WEAPONIZING N AT U R E HANNA RULLMANN
At the location of the former migrant settlement ‘The Jungle’ in Calais, the French government has now made plans for the area to be ‘restored to a nature reserve’ named Fort Vert (Green Fort). Former French minister of Interior Bruno Le Roux, while visiting the site in March 2017, stated the following: “I wanted to be in Calais today with the elected officials and the mayor to see that the dismantling [of ‘The Jungle’] was a successful operation and that it will now continue with an ambitious project to return this territory back to nature. To ensure that it benefits the environment and especially to make sure that there would be no new encampments in Calais.” The dissolution of ‘The Jungle’ is in part made possible by landscape design decisions: in addition to (re)constructing biological circumstances for a number of plants to reappear or to grow more affluently (especially a rare orchid called Liparis Loeselii), several natural elements are being put in place as a means to prevent new settlements. These include sandbanks, digging of large water bodies, ditches around the perimeter and fences around the entire site to prevent all invasion. Not only is nature in this project weaponized with the purpose of fortifying the UK-France border, it also acts as a tool for erasure. All the different elements involved; the plants, the water, the sand, the anti-intrusion measures, aim to construct a narrative in which all compromising heritage is removed.
C O N V E R S A T I O N W I T H E M I LY E L I Z A SCOTT SEPTEMBER 18TH, 2017
DATUM: We are interested in your work involving institutional critique within the actual institutions that you are critiquing. We would assume that academia is probably one of the easier places to carry this sort of thing out, have you found a successful platform anywhere else?
40 D AT U M N O . 9
EMILY SCOTT: One might think that it is easier [to talk about or instigate institutional critique] within academia because the purpose of the institution of academia is to question, analyze and inquire in ways that are not instantly translated into a market commodity. But it is true, it is a different set of requirements than a practicing architect or someone in a different field. So, I actually think some of the best examples of institutional critique are where that kind of institutional reform happens. It depends where we are looking. At least within art, I think a good example is the series of projects focused on the Natural History Museums. I think it is one of the most interesting examples of aesthetic or creative critical practices that is infiltrating not in a hostile way, but a fairly provocative way or adept, supple way. The artists have become
experts in the field to the point where they are peers. The others gain status as a legitimate parallel position infiltrating those spaces. That would be one example of institutional critique that is alive and well today. A lot of these examples that are instigating institutional reform or criticality within institutions seem to be done by people with one foot in academia and another foot out; a relationship with critical theory or a training or familiarity with these previous practices. I know that some of the people in Not An Alternative, group related to Natural History Museums, are very related to history and are aware of examples of institutional critique not only from art history, but also from activism. Often people bridge activism and grassroots advocacy with critical ideas. There is a lot of room for more reform in all types of institutions. This institutional fluency becomes a really important key in activism work. We are in a very different moment in [regards to] what it requires to critique these institutions now than it did forty years ago. There are a lot more things that are invisible now, either because of the digital
D: How have your personal experiences within institutions led to your own projects? ES: A project, and one I actually think of as an institutional critique project, is a group I formed in LA called the “LA Urban Rangers.” I started the group with several friends, and we adopted the costume of the park service ranger and created a new logo. We studied the urban environment against its grain, in a way that thought about these complex human or non-human, cultural and natural entanglements. In 2010 we started a project about Public Access, very much involved with the privatization of space, the public/private space issue, how invisible the rules that regulate space are and how to become more intelligent about reading space. So a lot of our projects were in that vein from 2000 on. We did a project on Malibu beaches called Malibu Public Beaches where we produced a map. We worked with the California coastal commission, like a real organization, so we were sort of one of those performative phantom mimicking entities that with time began collaborating with real organizations. Interestingly, we produced this map based on information that was
available but illegible, some very complicated legal maps of aerial views. These low angle aerial views marking out the easements along the public beaches that actually show you where you can go as part of the public. But if you go to the ground, there are all sorts of what we call defensive architectural strategies like illegal no-parking signs, gates, and all sorts of infrastructures put in place to maintain these beaches as exclusive grounds of the ultra wealthy people who live along Malibu’s coast. So part of the project was finding those access points, making info available, creating a map that was very legible, leading people on what we call safaris down to the beach, doing a whole range of activities that were kind of playing on the Park Service figures. So instead of a bird watching activity, we had a sign watching activity to observe signs that read “get off my property,” et cetera. We had a public easement potluck on an easement in front of someone’s house, and then one of my favorites was called “Trailblazing the Public-Private Boundary” where we marked out the edge of a public easement and then in a line walked and marked it out. That project is very playful and fun, it has a very low-tech participatory, “let’s-goand-have-fun-in-nature” feel. D: So what about your work with the park service? ES: Right. My work that is critical about the Parks Service
world or how finance works, or the ever more privatized nature of things.
is, in my mind, corrective more than anything. I really care about preserving ecosystems. I also care about public space being a place for people to think critically about nature and I think there is more potential for those places to be activated in those ways that are maybe more inclusive or more dynamic, more adequate for the complexities of those places themselves. The Urban Rangers were kind of born out of that. That was kind of a really watershed project for me in the sense that I think that is the project that allowed me to have my work as a grad student feel like it had a public interface. I was also working through ideas in collaborative ways as opposed to isolated ways. Graduate school can be very isolating and so I guess it was also kind of an institutional critique of grad school. D: So if your work does attract capital like it sounds like it could have in that case where you got [your work] on buses, how do you deal with that? Does that sort of erode the integrity of your work at all or are you willing to work within the system to address other more negative parts [caused by] the system? 42 D AT U M N O . 9
ES: Yeah I think that is an excellent question and I think in our case capital was never really an issue, like we never made any money (laughs). It was always free labor that we were providing. Our labor was never compensated financially.
Eventually we started to get invitations from major museums to do projects but it is interesting, I really start to sound like an institutional critique fanatic, but contemporary museums are not very well-equipped to handle either collective or collaboratively produced work, nor to deal with researchbased practices. They are much better organized to deal with objects, so, for instance, we were invited to be part of a show on collectives in LA. We were in LA at a time when there was just a critical mass of incredible cultural work happening. All these collectives, like our own, were sprouting up around the same time so there was a tremendous amount of energy and lots of pop up space. So there was an exhibition about that in MOCA which is kind of the equivalent of the MCA in Chicago or the Walker in Minneapolis but they were like “here’s your budget, we can only cover material production, we can’t cover research.” And I was like “we don’t make any objects! We just like lead hikes and do research!” and they responded, “well, we can’t pay you for that” so that was one of these issues. Then again they said, “we need your personal names and birthdays” and it is like, “yeah that’s not how we function.” There are more and more artists who are figuring out ways to negotiate that and institutions are probably getting better at accommodating that as well.
D: Our topic for this semester is BOUNDARIES, so I guess it would be two weeks ago now that we talked about a podcast by the Funambulist. It was an interview with Daniel Fernandez, who came with Alon last semester as Cooking Sections to do a masterclass. He has these studies and research on air and ground rights, so we looked into these questions and case studies of water. For example how much you can claim the ocean, and establishing those boundaries. He has looked at air rights, ground rights, mining case studies, etc. ES: That is super interesting! Very up my alley, I am very interested in that. There are people starting to do more subsurface, mineral rights. One artist I know is starting to buy up mineral rights, Spanish artist Lara Almarcegui. I think that the issue of going between the surface and subsurface is going to become very important. It already is so important, we just do not think about it enough, it will just become even more important. These kind of vertical geographical practices, I think a lot of the conference yesterday was kind of getting at that, like thinking more vertically, links between subsurface and atmosphere both in terms of economy and environment and their linkages. That is going to be more and
more important. Rania Ghosn made an interesting point at the conference. It was in the first panel where this geographer Kathryn Yusoff, who is this very prominent theorist of what she calls geosocial formations, asked about architectural aesthetics and design. Rania, which I thought was a really smart answer, was talking about the potential of the section just by virtue of its verticality, to kind of be an aesthetic tool for opening up a lot of these ways of thinking about, I had not really thought of this, but it is so obvious, architecture and geology, those are the two disciplines that share this vertical section.
Emily Scott holds a PhD in contemporary art history from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the architecture department at ETH Zürich, where she teaches on subjects ranging from institutional critique to the concept of “post-nature” to emergent geographies of climate change.
Still, the cult of the individual artist genius or individual authorship is pretty strong.
W I D E O P E N S PA C E S : S E L E C T I V E DEVELOPMENT OF THE US-MEXICO BORDER MASSIMO MONFILETTO
44 D AT U M N O . 9
In the beginning days of the Trump era, most rhetoric surrounding the development of the politically charged border region between the US and Mexico is focused almost exclusively on the manifestation of state violence and control in the physical form of the border wall. The wall is both literal and symbolic, a material method by which both nation-states exercise control over their constituents, and a potent display of power. And yet, border-making extends beyond simply the presence of a physical boundary delineating the area between territories; state control exists not only in the material architecture of state lines, but in the selective development of the spaces in between. I posit that the spaces left underdeveloped, relegated to wilderness or dereliction, play just as much of a part in the maintenance of border politics as the construction of a physical wall. It is in the legislation of these wide open spaces that throws the true nature of state violence in relief; the interaction of human life with the nationstate reveals the subjugation of bodies within the lines that borders create.
In her seminal work, Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldua considers the territory on either side of the US-Mexico border the cultural/political property of neither nation completely, but a liminal “third space” instead; a hybrid between the two political entities with its own idiosyncratic history and cultural narrative. According to Anzaldua, “a borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition” (Borderlands, p. 23). If we are to accept this summation of the space between nations, we must accept that the borderland is subject to a set of specific rules and legislations, the site of state manipulation that trades in and regulates the presence of wilderness. These spaces become laboratories for the development of the wilderness, the outskirts, the badlands, areas in which human bodies are excluded and dehumanized, relegated from human to animal. Taking into consideration Giorgio Agamben’s conceptualization of bare/human life and the primacy of state sovereignty, the area conceptualized by the state
It is why this particular subject, the body existing outside the bounds of human life, is of particular interest in the maintenance and development of the borderlands, stripped of humanity and deployed as a symbol of anti-nationalist activity as a method of exciting national anxiety at the presence of “outsiders” or “invaders.” In the context of the Trump era, migrant workers, often characterized as “illegals,” are the primary recipients of this particular brand of dehumanization, branded to incite xenophobic sentiment relying on the exclusion of bodies from state protection.
I argue then, that the underdevelopment of areas within national boundaries serve a twofold purpose; to preserve the health of local flora/fauna and to reinforce the dichotomy between animal/human in political representation. The distinctly troublesome activism of the Sierra Club during the militarization of the US-Mexico border and the first developments of border walls and fences in the late 90s illuminates this dual purpose perfectly. Migrant workers were a source of major anxiety for the Sierra Club at the beginning of the major immigration influx at the turn of the century. The Sierra Club’s original position on the maintenance of environmental borders was one of full support; the presence of migrant bodies passing through protected areas became their main argument for the construction of fences and walls around national parks that had become major crossing routes for workers diverted from civilized areas by increased military presence at borders. Indeed, the Sierra Club championed a very anti-migrant platform for years until research revealed that the presence of physical security measures, such as walls and fences placed strategically around borders, actually harmed flora and fauna worse than the migrant crossings; the Club’s platform shifted immediately to profound disdain for the border politics that hewed a deep rift between artificially defined territories.
as “wilderness” reveals its roots in the control and regulation of bodies. Agamben argues that the state’s assignment of “bare, human life” to human bodies is a method of regulation of the citizens of the nation; those bodies firmly secured within the political protection of citizenship are rewarded with recognition of their human life, and therefore considered entitled to the rights and privileges of nationhood. “Citizenship” then, is equated with “humanity.” Those who exist in liminal states (incomplete transition into citizenship, unlawful occupation of territory, stripped of citizenship through criminalization) are thus placed under special surveillance, labeled as alien and subject to removal and violence by right of their lack of citizenship, which i s s p e c i f i e d i n t h i s c o n t ex t a s humanity.
Such ideological flip-flopping illustrates the assignment of national protection within border politics clearly; activists clamoring for environmental protection make a conscious choice to honor and protect the lives of animals afforded national protection within a designated “wild space” while stripping away the bare life of migrant crossers, criminalizing their movement through these segmented spaces. Migrant workers are given alien status within these wide open spaces, excluded from belonging not only in heavily “civilized” areas, but in those purposefully undeveloped.
46 D AT U M N O . 9
Another, perhaps more heinous example of the construction of the wilderness is the legislation set into place in border states such as Arizona. In the Yuma desert, often the site of environmental protection legislation, so-called “Good Samaritan” laws are put into effect to stem the activity of volunteer rescue teams setting out into the desert to protect migrant crossers from the punishing environments. US Border Patrol reported 322 migrant deaths during crossing in the year 2016, a majority caused by exposure (hypother mia, sunstroke, dehydration). And yet, in spite of the high concentration of bodies recovered from these punishing deserts, the last resort for many migrants reluctant to attempt to breach more heavily populated ports of entry, Arizona state legislation makes heavy attempts to curtail the activism of migrant worker groups attempting to
provide relief for dying migrants. Lisa Mieretto details the controversy that arose over this legislation, particularly surrounding the restriction of water tanks left in the desert to provide sustenance for crossers. According to the article, entitled Human Rights in the Context of Environmental Conservation on the US-Mexico Border, the area known as Cabreza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge generated particular tension as a main avenue for crossers. According to Mieretto, “... current management policy permits the distribution of supplementary water for the protection and recovery of endangered and threatened wildlife. At the same time, refuge policy prohibits humanitarian transport and import of potable drinking water to humans (specifically to undocumented immigrants crossing from Mexico into the United States). Further, it is argued by some conservationists that the trucks and plastic bottles used for human-designated supplementary water challenge traditional ideas about a “leave-no-trace” approach to wilderness.” (Mieretto) This restriction of humanitarian aide reveals a new facet to the dehumanizing agent of environmental borders introduced by the Sierra Club’s activism; state legislation is regularly employed not only to restrict political protection to those with US citizenship,
This detachment from the deaths of migrant crossers is more easily understood by analysis of the ways in which the state disposes of the bodies of migrant workers. Rocio Magana’s Bodies on the Line analyzes the accountability, or lack thereof, of Border Patrol’s body recovery in border states. When discussing the overflow of bodies and the efforts of border patrol to recover as many as possible, Magana states that “some observers have suggested that “unofficial policy was to let them lie where they were found, resting in peace where they fell... since each corpse generates a
file.” (Magana, Bodies on the Line) The overflow of corpses from the rise in border deaths has forced the US to negotiate its position on the treatment of corpses born outside the parameters of bare life. Those with no records of citizenship, those not considered part of the nation, are relegated to anonymity, nameless bodies in the desert. Most families are not given access to their deceased loved ones across borders, and all attempts to recover the bodies must be generated by the mourners themselves. This is perhaps the most telling aspect of border deaths; those who are killed are left abandoned by the state, having never had the state protection afforded by citizenship. Their bodies are not actively recovered because they never possessed bare life to begin with; they are merely bodies, objects to be sorted in the system. These phenomena underscore the true nature of national politics; the architecture of material borders and boundaries are specific and integral pieces to the maintenance of the nation state, but the lack of construction carries just as much potential for violence and control. It is in these spaces in between the walls and fences that we can most clearly the ways in which national politics control and regulate bodies, and analyze the undetectable forces that construct and reconstruct borders.
but to designate the lives of those outside of citizenship as alien, and thus forfeit. One step further; perhaps this restriction reveals not only the conscious dehumanization of those excluded from bare life, but explicit aggression against these bodies. Perhaps the border is not simply left underdeveloped by accident or for the pure purpose of utility, but to increase its lethal elements for the purpose of migrant extermination. Migrant death is too cumbersome of an issue to be considered accidental; in a nation state in which bodies are restricted from humanity and abandoned to death by exposure in underdeveloped territories, I invite my readers to consider that the death toll of migrants in underdeveloped spaces is not unintentional, but an orchestrated effort to eliminate foreign bodies.
D AT U M N O . 9
D AT U M N O . 9
C L I M A V O R E MASTERCLASS To think of Iowa is to think of agriculture. To think of expansive fields of corn, windmills, and soybeans, stretching in lines across valleys and long plains against the horizon. But with these picturesque scenes of Iowaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s landscape exists another reality already seeping into our minds. This reality is one of flooding, a draining aquifer, rural hunger, and changing soil content. These established infrastructures are now existing in the midst of crisis and change, changing the large systems surrounding these places, while also changing the micro-system of a household or restaurant dish of food. We are already experiencing some of the major predicted effects of a changing global climate, including those that directly and indirectly effect our supply of one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most precious commodities: food.
Daniel Fernandez Pascual and Alon Schwabe, known collectively as Cooking Sections, bring to Iowa their extensive and critical expertise in talking about this largescale system involving food. They contextualize the idea of a meal into larger networks of food supply and transport, world financial markets, and geopolitics. To imagine a plate of shrimp in the Midwest is to investigate the line of transport and storage of this one commodity from the Gulf of Mexico.
D AT U M N O . 9
Issues that were explored were the aquifer depletion,
agricultural insurance in a changing climatic environment, nitrate contamination, and livestock systems. The end results were drawings created analyzing configurations of food production and storage, meals invented using ingredients curated around new speculative infrastructures, and a greater discourse on how food is representative of greater spatial and political meaning in the current changing world. As students geographically situated within a landscape of agricultural history and economics, we were asked to contextualize this disposition into something greater â&#x20AC;&#x201C; something invaluable within our respective global practices.
Within a three day workshop in the Spring, Daniel and Alon asked students to participate in this greater discussion of food networks in the changing climate. The Climavore Masterclass asked students to first create an atlas of food infrastructures of our region, to speculate on a proposed hijacking of an existing infrastructure within changing systems of Climate, and design and prepare a dish based on a new system of foods in a landscape altered by future Climate Changes. These exercises model the ways in which human diets become based upon ideologies of adaption in the midst of depletion and disaster.
54 D AT U M N O . 9 drawing by Jasmine Au, Bradley Daniel, Amanda Hoefling, Evan Kay, Alicia Pierce within Masterclass
56 D AT U M N O . 9
“ O u t l a w Te r r i t o r i e s ” Felicity Scott “The Architecture of Neoliberalism” Douglas Spencer “Extrastatecraft” Keller Easterling “The Birth of Biopolitics Lectures at the College de France 1978-1979” Michel Foucault “ C i v i l i z i n g Te r r a i n s ” William Morrish “ Ve r t i c a l ” Stephen Graham
“Violent Borders” Reece Jones “Boundaries” Maya Lin “ B l u r r e d Te r r i t o r i e s ” “ T h e C l e a r- B l u r r y L i n e ” Daniel Fernández Pascual “Beautiful Data” Orit Halpern
P R I V AT I Z AT I O N
S PA C E BORDERS
“Over Time” Jonathan Zawada “The Third Rail” Alec MacGillis
S E G R E G AT E
“In Defense of Housing” David Madden and Peter Marcuse
C L I M AV O R E
“Gendered Violence in Bathrooms, Streets, and Prisons” Sophia Seawell “Architecture as Enforcement and Emancipation” Emily Scott “For Other Architectures” Madeline Gannon
THE FUNAMBULIST I N C A R C E R AT E
“ T h e B e r l i n Wa l l ’s G r e a t Human Experiment” John Tlumacki “Landscape Is Our Sex” David Heymann “Climavore” Cooking Sections ISU Masterclass
D AT U M N O . 9
A S A C R E AT I V E S PA C E
R U C H I PAT E L
Outer space has been a canvas for creative minds for years, from imagining the creation of the Moon to the possible extraterrestrial life on other planets. After recent explorations and projections to the Moon and Mars, people have fantasized of colonizing this planet and Moon. These “blank slates” could be the canvas for creativity which would allow humans to understand celestial bodies and translate technology on an unknown land, but colonizing a foreign land has historical
and pragmatic issues. We have studied how building in a space becomes a symbol of territory and how these conditions often lead to the same borders and conflicts faced on Earth. The wide possibility of inhabiting the Space, leads us to the question of if we should build on extraterrestrial bodies? Living on other planets in space would allow for scientists to be on the land and environment they would be researching. The European Space Agency (ESA) is currently planning on setting up a Moon Village consisting of scientists and miners. If a building can be set up to allow the scientists to live on the moon, they could be closer to the site of study. Literally living in it. The live in artist for the ESA, Jorge Mañes Rubio, proposed a conceptual design for architecture on the Moon. During this project, Peak of Eternal Light, Rubio worked with the ESA and came to the conclusion transporting materials from Earth to the Moon would be inefficient. The solution is a vision space agencies and architecture firms have also mentioned for building on the Moon or Mars. 3D printing;
Borders are all around us, we are surrounded by boundaries from the walls of buildings to the atmospheric pressure around the Earth. As a group we constantly try to improve ourselves and challenge ourselves. In an attempt of exploring Earth we have constantly designed and redesigned the land. We have forced a grid upon the Earth’s layer. Everything we make, we fit within these grids and regulations. These rules have already been placed in practice here, but if we break the image of Earth, we find other spheres of gases and rock orbiting in the unknown dark void surrounding us.
using the vernacular rocks and soil present on the surface to be “printed” into the structure of the dwelling. Using the concept of 3D printing, NASA ran a competition named the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge where the finalizing project used the Ice on Mars to 3D print a double domed structure for protection against radiation. Many times regolith is imagined as the material for building on other planets, such as the Rubio’s Peak of Eternal Light. This project explored the possibility of using “other” materials for buildings. This would allow us to not only translate and improve our 3D printing technology but also learn the structural ability of materials other than those found on Earth.
60 D AT U M N O . 9
These various envisions of architecture on other bodies pushes the knowledge of established technology and sciences and the imaginations of other materials. A group of scientists from Northwestern University, Lin Wan, Roman Wendner and Gianluca Cusatis, pushed the use of Mars’ soil for construction of dwelling on the Red Planet by proposing it as a concrete. Due to the dry environment, mixing the soil with sulfur instead of traditional water would allow brick or concrete like material. The research for sulfur and aggregate to create a building material has been ongoing for years, but Mars could provide an environment fit for advancement of this research. This also shows the creative
ability for other planets or Moon to be the working canvas for ideas that would not be practical on Earth. As Rubio researched the possibilities of the Moon, he mentions how the visionary ideas of Etienne Boullee could be realized on the Moon. Other planets and extraterrestrial bodies could provide the slate that Earth could not be for the ambitious buildings designs. Due to significant difference of atmosphere and materials, these bodies could allow the realization of processes or structures that have been deemed impossible. Although building on the Moon or another planet would grant the advancement of science and technology as well as feed as a tabula rasa for designers, would it be different than the boundaries posed on Earth for long? Even the Earth at one point was without the limitations we now have. Settling on a ground, building and colonizing a space, lays a foundation that determines many of the barriers to creativity. Many could argue the reason for lack of creativity is a lack of space, but having precedents already established could also bar a designer’s abilities. When we set a dwelling in a place, we determine boundaries such as property lines as we have on Earth. When we fabricate a building, we decide regulations other building have to follow, we establish the safety codes. A solution could be to constantly reach back into the “void” for another planet, but is that practical or even ethical?
should we build on other spatial bodies if they will end up in a similar state as the Earth? Will we ever be creatively satisfied if we keep trying to “start over”?
The lands we choose to build on, are not “ours”. If we don’t establish a barrier for ourselves, we could keep building on lands far and wide, repeating the mistakes over and over. So,
VISIBILITY IS A TRAP
These photographs were compiled on October 7th, 2017, at the Historic Iowa State Penitentiary Complex in Fort Madison, Iowa. The Historic State Penitentiary was active from 1839-2015. According to the organized Non-profitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Facebook page: 62 D AT U M N O . 9
â&#x20AC;&#x153;The historic portion of ISP is being phased out of operation and the prisoners will be moved to a new state-of-the-art prison precisely 1.5 miles from the original location. [Our] purpose is to work with local, state and federal agencies, as well as community members and the Department of Corrections, to formulate a sustainable use of these original structures. Its worth historically and educationally, as
well as the potential to generate economic growth within the region, is undeniable. Through partnership with the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the City of Fort Madison and state officials, it is our mission to formulate a decisive plan of action that would result in the preservation and repurposing of this culturally significant institution. Surviving more than 175 years as an intricate component of America’s history.” The cell blocks of the Penitentiary were built according to the Auburn Penitentiary Complex Subtype standard. Architecturally, all cell blocks are massed/stacked together, one on top of another, in the center of the building’s form. These cell blocks face out towards the walls, creating a complete enclosure. The Auburn system instigated forced labor during the day, while prisoners were put into solitary isolation in the evening, with silence continually enforced. This was arguably the first time in the world that specifically solitary cells had been constructed. The entire Auburn Penitentiary Program continued in Iowa until the 1940’s.
D AT U M N O . 9
The Historic Iowa State Penitentiary is currently raising money to complete a Historic Structures Report (HSR) to better understand the history of the buildings, and its feasibility for further integration into the surrounding community. Some cell blocks within the complex have already been added to the National Historic Register of Places. The neoliberal tactic of commodification and sensationalization of incarceration, namely as a consumer product (t-shirts, mugs, videos, building tours), is being used to aid the funding of the HSR. In a sense, retroactively reviving this building brings questions of Incarceration to center stage. In a State of Incarceration, how can one avoid the fetishization of such a complex historical site? If, as Foucault posits, Visibility is a trap, what have we snared ourselves in? Has the concept of torture truly moved from the physical realm to the mental? Is this buildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s existence a for m of Architectural Violence/ Torture in it of itself ?
D AT U M N O . 9
THE QUESTION OF ETHICS
A LY A N N A S U B A Y N O
“I am convinced that imprisonment is a way of pretending to solve the problem of crime. It does nothing for the victims of crime, but perpetuates the idea of retribution, thus maintaining the endless cycle of violence in our culture. It is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions – poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, greed – which are at the root of most punished crime. The crimes of the rich and powerful go mostly unpunished. It must surely be a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that even a small number of those men and women in the hell of the prison system survive it and hold on to their humanity.” -Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times When it comes to developing infrastructure in growing countries, prisons tend to be the least appealing in comparison to projects like hospitals or schools. But this year, it has been found that prison occupancy levels in 79 countries were above 120 percent capacity and at least 51 countries had a problem of severe congestion, with occupancy levels above 150 percent. Specifically, prison overcrowding in East, Central, and West Africa, Central America, and South Asia are the most extreme. Additionally, barbaric treatment and the rising number of vulnerable prisoners are problems that have long been associated with the criminal justice systems. Yet, these issues still continue to exist in many parts of the world today This calls for a solution. One that forces Architecture to define its ethical boundaries. 67
In countries like the Philippines, the overpopulation of prisons is at the surface as one of the country’s most current problems. Home to more than 4,000 inmates, nearly five times more than its capacity, the Quezon City Jail in Manila is a reflection of the disorder behind the criminal justice system of the Philippines. With convicts living shoulder
to shoulder, this space has become one of the most suffocating corners of the Philippines. Many critics believe this congestion to be a result of President Duterteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s war on drugs, a promise in his campaign that won him a vast amount of votes in 2016. Conditions within are overwhelming. Every inch of space is swarming with yellow t-shirted individuals, most of whom spend their endless days sitting and standing in the unforgiving Manila heat. Inside this establishment are units of bunks stacked up to three beds high. Responsible for finding their own corner to rest, the inmates put up towels, worn-out curtains, or even found plywood boards to create some sort of private space for themselves. Because this building was built to house only 800 people, some are forced to sleep on the ground or the stairs. A few inmates have even gone as far as to crawl under these structurally unstable bunks to find a sleeping spot. Built as a series of boundaries, the physical limitations of these jails become neglected. In addition to physical restraints, the sanitary conditions are even more revolting. In an April 2015 Commission on Human Rights report, it is stated that one toilet is used by more than 130 people and these facilities are poorly maintained, causing an atrocious stench. Unhygienic environment means illnesses such as tuberculosis, diarrhea, or skin infections. To make conditions worse, medical services are few and far. Furthermore, inmates are not just confined in the physical sense but also mentally; with little to no room for thinking, many of these individuals become psychologically unstable. The constant overcrowding simply does not allow for the mental simulation that one needs from solitude. Besides physical and mental comfort, inmates are not given the security of knowing the length of their imprisonment. Amongst the lack of space in courtrooms, there is a scarcity in judges and prosecutors to hear cases. So, with only two or three hearings a year, trials for inmates can take numerous years. Many inmates could go home, but posting bail often becomes an option so unreachable as the majority who are imprisoned are of lower class. 68 D AT U M N O . 9
Unfortunately, these conditions exist beyond the realms of the Quezon City Jail. Congestion and corrupt systems are mirrored throughout the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s detention facilities, municipal jails, as well as state penitentiaries. Even so, conditions are far worse in countries such as Haiti, where problems of malnutrition and fatal diseases flourish in jammed quarters. In Venezuela, a gang-controlled hierarchy forces lowclass inmates to pay the more powerful convicts for a place to sleep, and if they want water, they must drink straight from the rusted bathroom
Inmates occupying and inhabiting the steps due to a shortage of beds: AFP/Getty Images.
pipes. In Thailand, a maximum security facility that houses both local and foreign prisoners only serve one meal a day – rice and soup.
Today, designing prisons is a civic cause for architects who have empathy and care about humane design. As students, educators, and professionals, we must take a stance and encourage projects that demand a new perspective and approach for criminal justice reforms. We must start asking what type of design has the ability to reduce mass incarceration. As architects, we must ensure that future prisons no longer yield to humanity’s worst natures – that they are not about spending the least amount of money to create the most barbaric places in the name of punishment – but are, instead, about promoting rehabilitation and peace.
THE BOUNDARIES OF HOUSING IN WEIMAR AND THE RISE OF P R I V AT I Z AT I O N I N N A Z I G E R M A N Y CHRISTOPHER PEREZ
The Weimar Republic (1919 — 1933) was one of the first recorded experiments within Western Europe that attempted to offer mass democracy and various constitutional freedoms to its people following the atrocities of World War One. Through an attempt at showcasing the sense of community that the Weimar Republic championed, the architecture created during this time sought to be both public in nature as well as in built form. However, while the Weimar Republic wanted to provide housing to all, especially those of the working class, their goal was far from achieved and resulted in the subsequent housing crisis and depression that aided in the rise of National Socialism. Once in power, the Nazis seized property from the community, giving rise to both privatization and private property. What started as bold proposals for a new way of organizing ones self through revolutionary housing typologies ultimately aided in the rise of the privatization of Nazi Germany.
D AT U M N O . 9
Centered on the idea of community, the architectural proposals that came about during the Weimar Republic
attempted to exemplify the potential of mass democracy and society through the built environment . A goal of this architecture was to “overcome capitalist society in favour of a communitarian way of organising the modern world”. With proposals ranging from urban gardens to social housing projects to factories, many of the geometries and masses suggested society as the main focal point as it pertains to their manifestations within the built environment and subsequent orientations. This communitarian way of organization can best be seen in many of the social housing projects constructed during the Weimar Republic, given that Section V, Article 153 of the Weimar Constitution stated that all property was to be “guaranteed by the constitution,” and that the use of property “by its owner shall at the same time serve the public good” and article 155 promised housing for every German. The built forms resulting from the early 20th century way of thinking about the community are manifested within the designs of architects such as Hubert Ritter, Bruno Taut, Martin Wagner, and,
Fr o m R i t t e r ’s Ru n d l i n g Leipzig proposal that utilizes a circular form that encourages participation to the horseshoe form of Taut and Wagner’s proposal in Berlin that utilizes public gardens as a gathering point for the community, many of the housing proposals continually attempted to juxtapose built form with an essence of community. This can again be seen in the project by Klein in Bad Dürrenberg which establishes rows of housing, each similar in their material
manifestations, that aesthetically attempt to portray a sense of community through the mass produced rows that all appear identical, thus eliminating any sense of a societal hierarchy. These constructs attempted to provide solutions to the housing crisis through the aforementioned implementation of both Articles 153 and 155 of the Weimar Constitution . However, this goal was never realized and resulted in the furthering of the crisis overall. Through an attempt at standardizing the housing market without any sort of centralized “housing exchange,” the market was structured in an
again, Alexander Klein. The designs of these architects all attempted to focus their forms around the community.
inefficient and â&#x20AC;&#x153;erraticâ&#x20AC;? manner. Moreover, given the public nature of the housing projects that were intended to be realized at a mass-produced scale, private interest was nonexistent due to the lack of profit potential. With this in mind, many of the built housing projects were funded by small municipalities and states as opposed to private builders. However, government funding alone was not enough. While the goals of architects such as Klein and Taut hoped to create a built environment wherein communities could formulate and prosper, large scale investment in this type of typology for housing was never fully realized to its truest potential given the ongoing
housing crisis that occurred throughout the majority of the depression that took place in the 1920s. An alter native to state intervention would have been to allow the housing market to return to its pre-World War 1 status. This would have meant allowing privatization to regain control over the housing market and eliminate the request for universal housing. Ultimately the inflation and capital shortage that came as a result of WW1 rendered the goals of Weimar impossible. The program was such a failure that in 1923 an Enabling Act was passed in the Reichstag that proclaimed the housing crisis as a national state
D AT U M N O . 9
Attracted by the promise to restore the economy and provide solutions to the ever-growing problems caused by the Weimar Republic and modernity, the Nazis were able to build off of the economic disaster of 1929 and the early 1930s in order to gain support for their party. In 1932, the Nazis became the largest party in Germany. One year later Hitler became chancellor and the Third Reich was born. Throughout the Third Reich and Nazi Germany, many industries and formerly publicly funded institutions slowly became privatized. Once in power, the Nazis, through “vigorous pressure,” were able privatize many programs in
o rd er to p rovide housing fo r Germany. The goal of Nazi Germany as it pertains to privatization was to make it seem as if they were taking the Shicksal (fate) of Germany “into their own hands” by providing solutions that were previously unexplored. While many scholars focus on the first instance of privatization occurring in Germany in the 50’s with the sale of state-owned firms, the scale in which the Nazis were able to pave the way for privatization in Germany has had minimal exposure . By using privatization as a political medium to “enhance” the successes of their own party, the Nazis ultimately were able to turn the issues of Weimar into experimentations with privatization. Through failed Weimar initiatives such as social and public housing, the Nazis were easily able to propose privatizing the housing sector. However, the privatization that was implemented throughout the Nazi regime is not only limited to housing. This instant shift from public to private property can also be seen in other aspects of formerly publicly funded programs such as the railroad, banks, and other industries. Between the years 1933 and 1937, many of the previously state-owned banks were slowly turned into private property. Many sectors of industry from the railway to shipping were slowly turned private for either
of emergency, preventing any further investment in public housing from taking place. The few projects that were in such demand due to population growth ended up being solely funded through the means of State-issued loans . Plagued by the issue of economic feasibility, the housing crisis worsened in 1929 after the economic collapse and ensuing depression. Through the means of over-investing, the economy of Weimar Germany tanked, causing an inability to encourage the production of housing projects. Surrounded by the extensive problems of not only housing, but also job creation and food shortages, Weimar’s democratic experiment ended as the rise of National Socialism within Germany began.
fiscal or political gain. The property and debt that once belonged to the states of Weimar ended up in the hands of private enterprise. Ultimately, the Weimar Republic’s democratic experiment was privatized by the Nazis to gain political capital. Throughout the 1930s, the Nazis were able to turn public ownership on its head and privatize a “wide range of [public] sectors” . Much of the privatization that occurred can be seen as counter to the liberal privatization that took place within the post-war economy. According to Hayek in his chapter “Who, Whom?”, the Nazis represented a “totally planned” system which sought to make all economic decisions and place the dominance of “politics over economics” . For the Nazis, “private property was considered a precondition to developing the creativity of members of the German race in the best interest of the people”. The Weimar Republic initiated the first experiment within Germany of mass democracy at the national scale. With this
shift towards democratic rule, an emphasis was put on the role that community plays within daily life. The architecture that was designed and proposed throughout the early 19th Century reflects the promise that Weimar had hoped to realize by providing every German, regardless of class, with housing. However, an increasing level of debt and inflation brought on by WW1 doomed any attempt at government-funded public housing. Conditions only worsened in 1929 when the stock market crashed and Europe was sent into its worst economic depression. The depression and subsequent housing crisis that came with it allowed the National Socialists to seek and gain unprecedented power within the government. What ultimately resulted in the rise of Hitler also culminated in the turn from public property to the first large scale privatization effort implemented by the Nazis. Public property was no longer community focused and open, but rather controlled by private entities.
D AT U M N O . 9
References 1. Bel, GermĂ . Against the mainstream: Nazi privatization in 1930s Germany. The Economic History Review. Vol. 63, No. 1. pp. 34-55. Wiley on behalf of the Economic History Society, 2010. 2. Buchheim, Christoph and Scherner, Jonas. The Role of Private Property in the Nazi Economy: The Case of Industry. The Journal of Economic History. Vol. 66, No. 2. pp. 390-416. Cambridge University Press, 2006.
4. Silverman, Dan. A Pledge Unredeemed: The Housing Crisis in Weimar Germany. Central European History. Vol. 3, No. 1/2. pp. 112-139. Cambridge University Press, 1970. 5. Welter, Volker. The Limits of Community â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Possibilities of Society: On Modern Architecture in Weimar Germany. Oxford Art Journal. Vol. 33, No. 1. Oxford University Press, 2010.
3. Hayek, Friedrich A. The Road to Serfdom. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1944.
THE ISSUE WITH LAST MONTH’S ISSUE JAMES LIEVEN
Every time I come home to visit my parents in Milwaukee, I can always find the latest issue of Milwaukee Magazine sitting atop the stack on the coffee table. For well over a decade, it has been one of our “go-to” sources of local news, reviews of trendy new restaurants, and upcoming events in the area. However, last month’s issue came to my attention while I was in New York for a studio trip. I met up with an old high school friend who had moved to NYC to be with his fashion-designer girlfriend Sarah (also a high school acquaintance). When I asked how they were, I was surprised when he explained that Milwaukee Magazine had made their lives hell.
A photograph in the September 2017 issue from a photo shoot promoting Milwaukee Fashion Week sparked outrage from the community. The image consisted of a model wearing Sarah’s new clothing design in Milwaukee’s Black Cat Mural Alley, a new art destination in the city’s East Side Business Improvement District (ESBID). The district is a community and municipal urban initiative focusing on new vernacular business that improves the lifestyle of the east side of Milwaukee by hosting public events, developing public art projects, and renovating spaces that generate large-scale triangulation from residents and visitors alike. Unbeknownst to Sarah, the Creative Team at Milwaukee Magazine held the photo shoot in front of a mural of an African-American man wearing a prisoner’s outfit. This piece, designed by Adam Stoner, was intended to spark a very serious dialogue about the alarming incarceration rate of African Americans in Milwaukee (which happens to be the highest in the nation). Therefore, it is not difficult to understand the public outrage when a popular media source like Milwaukee Magazine advertises something as relatively frivolous as fashion week using a young, blueeyed Caucasian woman immediately juxtaposed with a powerful piece of community artwork that obviously addresses serious racial issues.
D AT U M N O . 9
To fully understand the gravity of the conflict, one needs to understand social boundaries of the city. Milwaukee happens to be one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States. The problem of segregation has stemmed from a long history of economic disparity between race and societal hierarchies. From neighborhood
to neighborhood, urban fabrics are highly contrasting between low, middle, and high class lifestyles - literally juxtaposed between one another. As a result, the overall culture is made up of highly diversified subcultures that are derived from a blend of economic disposition and historical and/or ancestral lineage. In particular, the disparity between Caucasian cultures and environments and those of African Americans is shockingly large. As someone who grew up in the area, it would not be uncommon to transition between urban â&#x20AC;&#x153;pocketsâ&#x20AC;? with enormous well-crafted homes on large plots of land to densely-spaced, shoddy, low-income housing in the span of a few miles. These spatial configurations are derived not only from economic discrimination or exclusion, but as an ongoing infrastructural consequence of the system. Milwaukee has been rated one of the worst cities in the United States for African Americans because heavily ingrained discrimination in the job market and under performing public schools consolidated in lowincome minority neighborhoods.
After learning more about Sarahâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s situation, I began to analyze it more carefully as an urban dilemma. The cultural and urban conditions that led to the birth of the ESBID were those enacted in tandem through community spontaneity and municipal innovation with the intention of diversifying subcultures in a single contextual scope. In Lefebvrian terms, the image in the magazine provides a near-perfect example of a representation of a representational space that contains an intensely conflicted social dynamic which in fact completely contradicts the very purpose of that representational space. The Black Cat Mural Alley project provides an excellent example of a representational space that was contrived to create awareness for social conflict. The image in question acts as a representation, yet emphasizes a societal logic of disrespect that directly contradicts the positive essence of the space, gleaning upon the societal imbalance of race - one of the very issues that the space was created to combat - then released it to the eye of the public. Although generally received negatively by the art and black communities, effort was made by the magazine to downplay controversy. This means that although the controversy received small amounts of media attention, the publication passed unnoticed by many. The lack of reaction only amplifies the problem: when representations of space define the accepted logic of spaces, the role of the media poses a colossal risk with its ability to spread its logic - even when it is the exact opposite of the intended logic. It dominates social norms as accepted representation. Thus, if social conditions shape spaces, it becomes apparent that the media is a large cog in the creation of spaces and their divisional consequences - sometimes going as far as determining the direction in which the system turns: backwards towards a conflicted and divided urban fabric, or forwards to a collaborative one.
In addition, knowing both the model and the fashion designer personally has allowed me to discern in detail the predicament they find themselves in. It should be noted that the actions of Milwaukee Magazine were completely independent of the intentions of the model and designer, and they were not included in the conversation determining the creative direction of the publication. It was an unpleasant surprise that could potentially endanger their careers and professional credibility.
References 1. Douglas, Gordon Charles Calder. D.I.Y. Urban Design: Inequality, Privilege, and Creative Transgression in the Help-Yourself City. 2014.
D AT U M N O . 9
2. Lefebvre, Henri, and Donald Nicholson-Smith. The Production of Space. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2009. 3. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Privilege Of Creating Image: How Milwaukee Magazine Exposed Its White Imbalance With One Photo.â&#x20AC;? CricketToes, www.crickettoes.com/ blog/2017/09/the-privilege-of-creating-image-how-milwaukee-magazineexposed-its-white-imbalance-with-one-photo.html.
acknowledgement of differences. art, beauty; communal practice and Create these public spaces for creation,
system, the with dance to is architects as duties our Maybe acknowledge. and seduce vancement. cial good and ad e. and use it for so observ e system’s ways and Understand th ny co al b a and below. in sit the average to ry engaging just ination, theo not es for imag e free spac ideas. Creat time tice these the afford but to prac cannot who those of resources, privileges. to participate in the discussion because of capital disadvantages; loss
TOMI SEYI LAJA
C O N S TA N T A N D T H E N E W BABYLON NAOMI NJONJO
Utopias are great in informing us about the condition of societies at given times; about the need for some people to disrupt their everyday life and explore philosophies, theories and spaces that they believe could lead to better forms of living within society. Constant Nieuwenhuysâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; New Babylon, does just that. It informs us. It does not just inform us about the context in which the work was produced and the undergoing post war social changes. Constantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s
80 D AT U M N O . 9
Orient Sector - metal, ink on plexiglas, oil on wood- 17by77.5by60.5 cm (photo: Victor E. Nieuwenhuys)
Gezicht op New Babylonische sectoren ( View of New Babylonian sectors) Watercolor and pensil photomontage/ 135*223 (photo: Victor E. Nieuwenhuys)
work also raises question about our contemporary society and the rapid transition to a highly interconnected world. How did a project which is still relevant nowadays, end up being a source of intellectual entertainment in museums spaces, rather than the built environment we inhabit? The New Babylon project was born in a Europe that had been destroyed by the war and was in need to be rebuilt. States were faced with a housing shortage, a huge increase in traffic and ongoing discussions about automation; all of these being responsible for transforming the dynamics of everyday life at the time. Constant rapidly found himself exploring ways in which Europe could be rebuilt both spatially, and from a political point of view, to address these new dynamisms. He was a firm believer in automation and optimistic about the social benefits that would be gained through it. Constant assumed automation would lead to a society of ‘free’ men, where no one would have to work and all could play and enjoy art. All individuals would be artists and none would be considered a stranger in this ideal welcoming society.
Constant used New Babylon as a canvas for a new understanding of time and space based on this supposed restructuring of modern life. To adapt to the creative nomads he was designing for, Constant’s architecture embodied ideas of continuous transitory spaces. New Babylon was to be a space conceived as a large network in which every individual would be able to create their own structure for play, over, and over again. The do so he designed spaces based on bridges, connections, movable elements, unraveling spaces of blurred boundaries between inside and out. No real space was dedicated to resting if exhausted. New Babylon was envisioned in constant motion.
Ingang van het Labyr ( Entrance of the Labyrinth)/ oil on canvas/ 165.5*175 cm
What can be striking in the visual representation of the project is the horizontality of all the structural elements coming together. This particular characteristic of his design materialized how his architecture was meant to be for the people, without forms of hierarchy or violence between them. It was a manifestation of the horizontal society he believed in. 82 D AT U M N O . 9
As inspiring as the New Babylon is for its scale and theorizing of an adaptive space that allows for freemen and constantly transforming environment, it is important to acknowledge that the concluding work by Constant on the New Babylon carried a bleak and sinister atmosphere. It seems like Constant dedicate a couple of year of the New Babylon to self-criticism and the illustrating of his own disillusions. His final work depicts a tormented physiological condition which eventually tainted the spaces that were meant to host the playfulness of creative
minds. Constant might have been dissatisfied with the final direction his project was leading to or he might have come to the realization that humanity is dark and deadly and a space for hospitality would only emphasis this. Regardless, I believe Constantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work and his analysis of a space with no borders is still relevant today. We are constantly reminded of how interconnected our world has become. When looking at current maps of the different flows of capital, goods or humans, the scale at which it occurs, and the visual traces they leave on the world are a constant reminder of how boundaries are prone to becoming obsolete. Was the downfall, and obscure conclusion of Constantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work a reminder of the Human need for defined spatiality and owning of territories? Would a world without borders necessarily lead to the bleak image that Constant portrays in his concluding paintings? Or should we still attempt to design spaces that accept and allow for changes that will reshape how we understand space and blur the lines that are keeping us from embracing that closer relations have to offer?
Symbolische voorstelling van New Babylon (Symbolic Representation of New Babylon) collage/ 122*133 cm
THE BOUNDARIES OF EXPERIENCE
E M I LY N E A R
Paris in July, 2016. I am walking down the street with my best friend, who is not an architecture student, but rather a musician. I have done my homework and already have a list of things to see in this new city. I semi-guiltily ask if we can go to the Garnier Opera House; I of course have an architectural agenda. She eagerly agrees. The building is exquisite. Excitedly, I admire the ornate exterior, the open interior, the grand staircase. I turn to my friend and find her smiling just as widely as I am. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is where Phantom originated,â&#x20AC;? she tells me, unable to contain her joy.
I did not even know this fact, but it gives me pause. While I am appreciating architecture from a traditional architectural education view, she is appreciating it for completely different reasons. Neither reason is more legitimate than the other, and yet they are entirely different. In that moment, the educational boundaries between us become apparent, but instead of dividing us, our different specialties coexist beautifully. We can both appreciate a space for completely different reasons. She probably could not care less about an impressive structural system for its time, and I cannot say that I would consider myself a musical theater expert. But we both care about the beauty a space possesses and inspires. The actions and historical importance of a building can impact anyone, no matter what they have a passion for. While this story is often just a fun anecdote that I like to share, it makes me think about the way I view my profession. Often I reserve conversation about architecture only for people who have also studied it. While this is essential and certainly educational, it is also important to understand how architecture affects people who have not studied it. Since I am so often surrounded by architects, it is easy for me to forget that people in other professions can have architectural experiences that are just as valid. I now find it important to take a step back every once in a while, and think about how architecture can affect boundaries, even if it is just through different methods of appreciation.
D AT U M N O . 9
Architecture is often defined as the creation of space, but I would extend that definition to the creation of experiences, relationships, and communication. A space that speaks to two people, even for different reasons, can connect those people. An experience is shared,
a conversation is had, and perhaps a relationship is strengthened. Boundaries that once separated people now only serve to celebrate differences. Everyone travels through and experiences designed environments, and therefore, everyone is entitled to an opinion about architecture. These different opinions can be used positively, as recognizing the importance of diverse points of view makes architecture a universal tool to bring people together, keeping individual experiences in mind. Thinking about how one person might appreciate a space differently from another person will lead to better design, less divisive boundaries, and more tolerance. Architecture is a tool to create empathy, not just spaces.
REFLECTIONS ON DISASTER
October 1stâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shooting in Las Vegas marked the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s deadliest shooting we have seen yet, and it is no surprise that the gun control debate is heating up once again. But no matter what side of this argument you are on, it is plain to see that the death toll of shootings are still climbing. Headlines of mass shootings are nearly constant, and the world is placing the blame on stagnated governments, police forces, and politicians. But is this really who we should turn to while facing these problems? Choose any mass attack you please and a recurring theme will stand out: attackers utilize and exploit the built environment to execute their crimes. Subway platforms, bus stations, concert halls, stadiums, arenas, office complexes, nightclubs, pavilions, clock towers, and so the list goes on. In the case of the shooting in Las Vegas, the perpetrator took advantage of the elevation on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel as well as the tightly secured boundaries of the festival grounds below. The closed plan of the concert field actually may have helped to raise the death toll, turning the concert goers into stationary targets for the shooter, halted by series of barricades and fences around the border of the grounds. Recognition of this failure of planning should send a chill down the spine of any architectural or urban planning practitioner, and do the same to the students of these fields. After all, we already stress the importance of egress and escape routes in regard to fire, system failures, and other natural disasters. What makes this threat to human life any different? How could architecture and planning help change this reality? These questions should act as a call to arms for designers to combat this reality of our world.
Can architects, planners, and designers help with these problems we are facing? Can planned attack-egress and circulation routes help to minimize the death toll for future attacks, or is the mere act of entertaining this idea an act of submission to past and future attackers?
D AT U M N O . 9
Either way, the conversation needs to take place. At the very least, architects and planners do not need to submit to the slow and grinding democratic process, and arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t subject to bipartisan congressional debates. So, could they accelerate the problem-solving process in
regards to terrorism? If this is the case, this could help to stop, or at least slow the literal bleeding we face too frequently. Maybe it is our turn to start thinking about design as a counter-terrorism force. Should architects and urban planners treat mass attacks such as the Las Vegas shooting in the same manner as fire and seismic events? Terrorist attacks, after all, have the same potential deadly outcome for occupants as tornadoes and fire, so maybe it is time adjust our design strategies accordingly. It is not like modern architectural responses to new threats is a foreign concept, either. Le Corbusier’s logic towards residential density in his Radiant City plan was, in part, formed in an attempt to protect against new bombing strategies employed by the Nazis in Europe. Later, after the Blitz, the Smithson’s’ Golden Lane proposal for London set its sights on fixing the very disaster that Corbusier was trying to prevent. Looking at these theoretical designs shows us that architects are not scared to tackle difficult problems of disaster. So, it is time for us now to take notes on our predecessor’s dreams. The new generation of architects and designers have no excuse to stand idly by with regards to this issue, and the fact that this reality has not been addressed in current design shows very plainly that this issue is being ignored in the design world in the same manner as it is being ignored by our representative bodies. What’s next? Should we, as designers, take this problem on ourselves? Is this our responsibility? Should we wait patiently as our legislators bicker in Washington and our newscasters scream through our televisions? Of course not. We need to plan and design for the evil in the world, and work far past the point of simple recognition. This may be a dark prompt to approach, and may not be a fun problem to solve, but it is one that needs to be attacked head-on. We like to think the jobs of architects and designers is to enrich and improve the lives of others through structure and space, but it is time to confront the reality about how our spaces are being exploited by terrorists, and to protect against these threats. We have real ability to take action against these attacks, as well as the speed to solve this problem a hell of a lot faster than our governmental bodies. It is time for designers to step up and wage war against this new evil, and change the future for the better. Why else do we design?
D AT U M N O . 9
DATUM is a medium for critical academic discourse through the exchange of bold design and progressive ideas. As a student-run publication, we are grateful to the Iowa State University Department of Architecture for their continual support. We would also like to thank previous donors for providing the funds to get us to where we are today. Donors have no influence on, or involvement with, the work selected for publication.
D AT U M N O . 9
D AT U M N O . 9