SAMIZDAT samizdat, (from Russian sam, “self,” and izdatelstvo, “publishing”), literature secretly written, copied, and circulated in the former Soviet Union and usually critical of practices of the Soviet government. [Encyclopedia Britannica]
INDEX - Jessica King: ARCHITECTURE AS EMPOWERMENT The Global Urbanization of Poverty. Accra. Ghana. 2010
- Eleni Karanikola: NECESCITY A Chronicle for Manhattan’s Edge. New York City. USA. 2010
- Xinyang Chen: USELESS ARCHITECTURE New Yorker’s New Walk to Work. New York City. USA. 2010
- Léopold Lambert: WEAPONIZED ARCHITECTURE The Impossibility of Innocence. Salfit. West Bank 2010
- Nikolaos Patsopoulos: PARALLAXIS The 100th Monkey Effect. New York City. USA. 2010
- Martin Byrne: FERAL GARAGE A Wilderness of Deviant Technologies. New York City. USA. 2010
New York City - May 2011
THE GLOBAL URBANIZATION OF POVERTY: architecture as empowerment by Jessica King
The United Nations estimates that in the next 40 years 1 in 3 people worldwide will live in informal urban environments under substandard conditions.1 In 2008, for the first time in history, more people lived in cities than in rural areas.2 One-third of these urban dwellers, more than 1 billion people, live in slums. People worldwide are fleeing the countryside in hopes for better, more profitable, living situations in the worldâ€™s cities (see fig. 1). But more often than not this massive group of migrants is met with crowded, seemingly hopeless situations in the already densely overpopulated urban space. As architects, and as citizens, this fact should be staggering. It should cause us to pause, and force us to ask questions about the society around us, the spaces that we are designing, and our role as global activists. Space cannot change society by itself but, although it is not the equivalent of revolution, architecture is never apolitical. Architecture always reinforces a set of social relations. What we design has the capability of 1 United Nations Human Settlements Programme. The Challenge of Slums. New York.:Earthscan, 2003. Print.
contributing to or alleviating suffering. Our work will make statements about the policies inherent in a place, and will set up the inhabitants in one way or another to relate to those around them. I believe we have a responsibility with the work that we do, to be a part of the solution and not just add to the problem. The issue of slums or informal settlements is complex, large in scale, and overwhelming. The thought of getting involved in order to make a measure of positive change is almost unfathomable. This is especially true when the causes of such spaces are extensive and at times unknown. The problem and suffering of slums spans the globe and the contribiuting factors to these dehuminizing spaces are abundant. As of right now, the cities of the future arenâ€™t being built by us, the architects, theyâ€™re being constructed by squatters. This disconnect, this them vs us between the formal and the informal is disadvantageous to all parties and to the urban spaces that we all call home. 2 Bendikson, Jonas. The Places We Live, N.d; Web. 20 July 2010.
What is our role as architects? What is architecture capable of adding to this story? Does designed space have the ability to bring more to the table than merely shelter? I think so. I think we have the ability to change circumstances and therefore people’s conditions, behaviors, and outlook using space and structure. I believe we can be empowering. But what does it really mean to empower someone? Empowerment, in its most basic definition, involves assisting people in gaining control over their own lives in a way that allows them greater opportunities for improving their personal and collective circumstances. A major defining characteristic involves developing confidence in one’s own capacities. Empowerment helps people gain access to the tools that allow them to actively engage issues that they define as important. So how can architecture, the process and the product, empower a person? a community? What tools do architects uniquely possess that could be yielded as weapons in the battle for equality for a group of marginalized people that are increasingly becoming the dominant population of the known world? As architects we are educated to synthesize problems, address multiple tensions and to be aware of the implications of aesthetics. These skills can be used to orchestrate situations, programs, and processes
as well as physical structures. By involving communities of people in the organization, planning, educating, and collaboration that is vital to an architectural design becoming a reality, we posess the potential to open the eyes of people to new ways of working, to teach them new skills, to share ideas and build community. These actions definitely have the potential of empowering people and architecture can be a tool that orchestrates that process. The built enviroment is capable of assisting people in becoming more sustainable in their lives and their goals. Architecture posseses the capacity to make one’s work or daily activities for living easier physically, emotionally, and mentally by effectively addressing a number of issues such as scale, ergonomics, and aesthetics. Architecture and the aesthetics of form could encourage new ways of seeing situations and of interacting with the world. The built environment can draw attention to a place or specific condition that could then be used to connect inhabitants physically and metaphorically to people, places, or ideas that they were restricted from before. If the built environment could enable the community and thereby help stabilize someone’s daily routine and relationships, that is a first step towards empowerment. The research that follows begins to investigate the empowering affects architecture could have on relationships and individuals, particularly in informal settlements.
Bagdad Teheran Karachi
Le Cap La Paz
4.0 million 2.5 million 1.5 million 1.0 million 0.6 million
Fig. 1. Map representing the location of the 30 biggest “mega-slums” in the World, according to Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums.
The conditions of slums can vary drastically based on a number of factors, but a commonly accepted idea is that slums are the spatial - physical manifestations of poverty and intra-city inequality. Poverty is the underlying epidemic that produces
and sustains these spaces. Therefore, it’s understandable that the world’s poorest countries house the greatest percentage of the world’s slums. All but 6% of the world’s squatters live in what are refered to as third-world countries. 3
As of 2003, over 32% of the world’s urban population lived in slums. All but 6% of this is in the developing world, but what if it wasn’t?
E-Waste outside of Agbogbloshie Market; Karl Melander; Karl Melander Photography, 2008; Web. 5 Aug. 2010.
Africa is the fastest urbanizing continent in the world with 71% of the urban population residing in slums.4 I have chosen to work in a place specifically known as the Agbologoshie Market, located in Ghanaâ€™s capital city, Accra.
The Agbogbloshie Market area is home to more than 30,000 slum dwellers living in increasingly precarious conditions. Adding to the hardship, Accra finds itself dealing with being one of the leading dump sites of e-waste in the world.
Accra, Ghana Ghana
Accra Agbogbloshie Market
Geographical location of Agbogbloshie Market in Accra, Ghana.
As I began to study the situation in the Agbogbloshie Market and formulate a strategy for addressing the conditions, I came accross a significant amount of research stating that programs involving women inside the slums tend to produce more overall improvement (empowerment) within the community as opposed to programs targeting primarily men. This research along with The United Nations Millenium Development goals aiming to improve gender equality, maternal health, and to fight HIV/Aid led me to the decision that this project would be for the women of the Agbogbloshie Market. I narrowed my focus to be on the female porters, locally called Kayayei. These women, a majority of whom are 16 to 30 years old carry things on their heads for small fees. This job is often a woman’s first introduction into the informal economy when she migrates into the urban area of Accra. The job is tough work but requires no startup capital, literacy, or formal training. While easy to get into, The longterm effects of the work on the health and general life of these women can be extremely negative. Kayayei often come to Accra alone and therefore have no place
to sleep, eat, wash, or gather. They live on the streets and in the open air markets. Their job is their entire reality. Most of the Kayayei are saving money to either pay for training in a more formal line of work such as hairdressing, tailoring, tie-dye or batik, or to buy the necessities required to get married, such as pots, pans, and basic furniture. 5 Being a Kayayei is not a job these women hope to stay in for their entire lives. It’s a transient population with numerous immediate needs. The structures for the Kayayei will be small, deployable architectures with the main goals being that the space will provide a place for these women, to sleep, to form closer relationships with each other and the community around them, and to integrate the space as a social platform and asset within the market. Architects sometimes think of themselves as mighty creators, producing context rather than responding to it. Particularly in informal settlements it is vital to work with existing context in order to continue to build up and improve upon the spaces already developed there. Participation of inhabitants is vital for a succesful project implementation and sustainable system
Kayayei working in the Agbogbloshie Market. credit: Jane Hahn; Jane Hahn Photography. N.d. Web. 1 Aug. 2010. 3 Global Issues. “Inequalities in Cities Around the World.” Global Issues. 2 Jan. 2011 Web 10 Jan. 2011
4 United Nations Habitat: Statement by Mrs. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka. 14 May 2008. Web. 5 Dec. 2010
as well as will play a defining role in the concept’s ability to be empowering. I’m designing the situation, which is a way of developing a social program that culminates with an architectural expression. I want to address the severe lack of health and hygiene the Kayayei are known for as well as attempt to support and encourage their ability to make money in the informal economy. There is a great need for assistance with smallscale enterprises in the construction sector withing the informal settlement. These initatives provide the majority of all new dwellings, therefore, maintaining that their methods of supply are as efficient as possible could have a huge positive impact.6 The poor are currently the largest producers of shelter and builders of cities in the world - and, in many cases, women are taking the lead in devising
survival strategies that are, effectively, the governance structures of the developing world when formal structures have failed them. By designing an efficient system we can help avoid wasting of resources through duplication and competition and promote knowledge exchange within an exisiting framework of construction and coordination. My structures are situated in the marketplace. in order to keep the women where the work is, but space near the market is prime real estate making this siting one of extreme tension. The main way I have chosen to address this particular issue is to develop my structures as raised platfroms. The enclosed space of my architectures will be situated on a second level about 9 feet above grade. They will appear to float above the existing infrastructure of the market.
Initial sketch and models looking at raised plaforms withing the marketspace. 5 Opare, James Adu. “Kayayei”. Journal of Social Development in Africa. 2 July 2003. Web. 5 Sept. 2010.
6 United Nations Human Settlements Programme. The Challenge of Slums. New York.:Earthscan, 2003. Print.
The Ubuntu Shelter “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Ubuntu is a classical African concept. It is an ethic or humanist philosophy that focuses on people’s allegiances and relations with each other.
Windows/vents Folded structural shell
Storage shelf Support net Handrail Tie-down bracket Wooden platform with locker storage Structural support for platform Water collection storage tank Metal strap support for water tank LifeStraw Family water filter Clean water distribution station Wooden flooring platform Leveling bolt 18”x18” metal footing
1 Section 3/8” = 1’-0”
Hatch door for stairway
Individual storage lockers
2 Plan 3/8” = 1’-0”
THE PALESTINIAN ARCHIPELAGO
The parameters I set for myself were that the architecture would be free-standing and deployable. These two charateristics dictate that the structure would need the capacity to be broken down into manageable sized pieces that a few people could carry or wheel onto the site. Designing the shelter as free standing gives the architecture more flexibility in terms of where it can be situated, allows for quicker assembly and set up on site, and means it could be disassembled and moved to another location much easier than if it had a poured or embedded foundation. In addressing the design decisions of the form I divided the effort into two pieces, the design of the legs and pedestal, and the design of the enclosed unit above. I settled on the design of the unit first. I was very interested in making an enclosure out of some kind of fabric. Fabric is lightweight making it cheaper to ship and easier to carry to the site. By folding fabric
I can make the enclosure self structuring and also minimize it’s flat packed size. After a period of experimentation I settled on a folded design that ends up giving me a self structuring dome-like shape with a great deal of texture and opportunity for the play of light on the surface. This form can be made rather easily out of a multitude of materials and also provides a poetic aesthetic. The light and shadow as well as the perception of volume of space on the interior makes for an intimate experience of the place. The typical size of a structure in the slum surrounding the Agbogbloshie Market is approximately 10’x10’ so I wanted to stay relatively close to those proportions for my basic unit. This unit is about a 12’ circumferance when fully deployed. The idea is that 4 to 6 women would call one of these structures home for a predetermined amount of time. In that time they would be a part of a larger community of women, building friendships and accountability within their neighborhoods. But I believe
that empowerment would start long before the kayayei moved into the structure. My goal is to partner with the Ministry of Womenâ€™s and Childrens Affairs as well as local NGOs to not only educate the kayayei women but to also use the architectural structure as a platform to hold small classes, disburse health and hygiene education and materials, and to provide small amounts of clean water to the women inside the market. These initiatives also support additional Millenium Development Goals of the United Nations that deal with the health and safetly of women and children as well as the spread and treatment of the HIV/AIDS virus. The Kayayei women in particular are at high risk for being exposed to the virus due to their instability of living situations and their lack of community within the market. Kayayei operate 90% of their business within the market with other women. 5 My hope is that by educating women in health and hygiene when they first move
into the slum that they will then have the ability to pass that knowledge on to other women within the community both during their time as a kayayei and also as they transition out into other lines of work. The health of women impacts the health of the family and society, and so is critical for national development and empowerment within the slum,. I began to design the lower portion of my architecture in a way that would be minimally invasive in the case that there was existing structures located below my second story enclosure. The idea would be that in an open space the lower level would be used as community interface 100% of the time with the kayayei women using the enclosure above as a private sleeping and community space.Due to the nature of their work most of the kayayei are out in the market working during the day so at that time the enclosed space above could also be used as a place to hold small classes or community meetings.
I chose wood for the material of the legs and structural platform because wood is the main material of the structures located in the market now. Also the cost, weight, and workability makes mobility and maintenance easier with the exisiting conditions and workforce. The legs are designed as simple posts with leveling feet at the bottom. Structurally it is important to have close control over how the legs connect to the base and the amount of weight they can support. The major component of the structure is the wooden base that supports the cloth enclosure. The base is a multifunctional piece acting as roof for the lower portion, floor for the enclosed space, stabilizer for the stair system, and itself holds community and
personal storage spaces for the kayayei. The base platform is 12’ in diameter and approximately 1’-6” deep. The issue of getting people from the lower level to the upper level is one that took some sensitivity. How do you provide a way for the kayayei to get to the second level while also being careful to note the tension that will be caused by placing something new into an area of struggle and addressing the complexities of public vs private space in an informal settlement? How do you navigate that transition without alienating the public or making the kayayei a targeted group? In the end I decided to use a staggered or monk stair, which operates in between a traditional stair and a ladder. A ladder seemed too
3 Global Issues. “Inequalities in Cities Around the World.” Global Issues. 2 Jan. 2011 Web 10 Jan. 2011
4 United Nations Habitat: Statement by Mrs. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka. 14 May 2008. Web. 5 Dec. 2010
extreme and would make it difficult to carry things up to the second level but having a full stair was overbearing and too large. This compromise feels right. The kayayei have to be able bodied in order to do their work so asking them to use a slightly more demanding stair should be manageable. This also allows for more open space on the platform below to be used programatically. The stair will be covered by a simple drop hatch panel above that could be locked down at night to ensure safety for the women sleeping on the second level. Also incorporated into the design of the main platform is a simple water purifying and storage system. The kayayei will be able to collect water, either with the enclosure surface, or by a source not associated with the architecture and deposit it into the storage container. As the water is filtered it is distributed at the lower level to the market community in small amounts.
Iâ€™m hoping that through the process of getting involved with a larger group of peers, being educated on how to better care for their health, guided and encouraged in how to share that information with others, while being given a more secure space to live, and the responsibility to help mantain and sustain that space, the kayayei women will gain some additional self-confidence. They will be shown that they have potential, to collectively work together to improve their situation and circumstances. I believe the architecture, designing it, living in it, navigating the conditions it creates inside, below, and/or outside of it can empower these women. The architecture can act as armature for a host of programatic functions that each contribute to the empowerment of people. I believe the design and aesthetics of the structure can aid those functions and programs to be more efficient and engaging also leading towards empowerment.
Space cannot change society by itself. It’s not the equivalent of revolution. But we have a role, an obligation to get involved where we are capable of making a positive impact. Investment in people’s assets sets into motion a sustainable process of individual and collective empowerment. That is why supporting and empowering the Kayayei, as their first step into the informal city is a good place to invest. By increasing the independence and self-sufficiency of the women, one could decrease the lack of perspective that poverty often creates. We need a renewed view of the architect’s role, as a visionary. We have to design a system of collaboration, a framework of life, that will start to enable us to work as a cohesive group in addressing needs and issues that may be larger than our profession alone can successfully solve. Slum policies should in fact be integrated within broader, people-focused urban poverty reduction policies that address the various dimensions of poverty. This can include employment and incomes, food, health and education, shelter and access to basic urban infrastructure and services. How can the physical environment integrate with social science,
healthcare, and politics in order to bring some real relief and hope to a group of people being pushed to the outskirts and ignored at best, and targeted and abused at worst? We have a role to play in reversing the socio-economic exclusion of slum dwellers. Architecture, the built environment, has the capability of learning from and making sense out of the entropy that often defines the space of slum settlements. Aesthetics and form have specific roles to play in helping people to hope for better, first in the spaces that they dwell, and secondly in their lives as a whole. We should work towards the enhancement of the socio-economic condition that creates these difficult places. It’s an extremely complicated issue, but one I’m proud to dedicate my time and energy to. Join me? ---------“I believe architects can be healers, where the wounds of conflict are treated with respect. But also, I believe that architects need to initiate change, maybe in those places and times where the wounds are covered over, and ignored.” Lebbeus Woods
NECESCITY a Chronicle for Manhattan’s edge by Eleni Karanikola
“Individuals survive only if their community survives, and the community survives by the concerted effort of all its members.” Lebbeus Woods In year 2010 we are facing the fact that almost the 50% of earth population live at an urban environment. Through time we evidence that people are leaving their rural inhabitations and migrate to the cities. Extreme poverty at the “abandoned” rural areas makes people to hope for a better future in cities. This global migration is a proof that we forget something important, vital for ourselves and our cities. It is a proof that until now, megacities cannot sustain themselves. Large cities cannot sustain the millions of their inhabitants. Due to this economic migration more people every day are struggling to survive in the metropolis. More people in necessity are added each day to the poverty line of each city. In New York City that is widely known since the early 20th century. Known as a migration city since its discovery from the Dutch, New York City probably faced one of its biggest challenges when 80 years ago the “Great
Depression” brought most of its population into striving poverty. People were packed to specific neighborhoods where they could find cheap habitation. Old tenement houses in these slums were usually overpopulated making the housing conditions unhealthy and for sure improper for humans to live in. This was the moment when NYC authorities started developing several strategies for reestablishing housing for population with low income. In this city, the above had started as a plan of “cleaning” the unhealthy slums, but at that moment, a lot of projects of social housing started emerging all over United States. It is controversial on its own the fact that there are so many project sites in different neighborhoods within a very wealthy city. It seems that there are specific spots in the city that they have their own communities which usually are segregated or isolated from the rest. Since all these are projects under NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority), they have their rules and their necessities. They are distributed within the city as a different living organism, which sometimes seems to work in a specific layer dif-
ferent from that of the city. All these areas could be called islands in the city. The islands of NYCHA or the islands of public housing in the city can represent the added organism to the existing one. What if these islands could also help each other since they are consisted from the same communities of low income families and diverse ethnicities? The New York City Housing Authority was created in 1935 and since then it has become the biggest housing authority in U.S.A. If NYCHA was a city it would rank 20th in population size in United States. Right now it is the largest landlord in NYC providing affordable housing to almost 5% of the total population of the city. It is a quite significant percentage which should be given more attention from the authorities. “The district, and indeed as many of its internal parts as possible, must serve more than one primary function; preferably more than two. These must insure the presence of people who go outdoors on different schedules and are in the place for different purposes, but who are able to use many facilities in common.” Jane Jacobs In Lower East Side in specific we can see the “erased” area of the previous slums for the construction of the new public housing. The projects actually stretch two miles along the east shore, creating in that way the neighborhood of public housing or a wall separat¬ing the city from the river. These housing projects there seem to be separated from the rest of the tissue of the city. If somebody walks
there, then he or she will see the empty green areas and the vast parking lots without any significant action. Walking there, you can only admire the size of all the brick towers spread all over the East River. This fact might be an interesting point in terms of orientation or identifying your location in the projects. People might feel that everywhere they go looks the same. All the community there has the same “face”, something totally controversial with the rest of the city. Walking after Pitt Street is a totally different experience. From the one site you experience the small scale buildings with the small stores and the apartments. Everything is smaller and easier to reach by eye. People from their apartments can look at the street and the daily life that takes place there. Every day is a different story with different strangers passing by. The experience eastern from Pitt Street unlike the above becomes more impersonal. The massive volumes don’t create this daily stage, and the only activity that someone can see is some people sitting at the benches during the summer because their apartments can be unbearable due to the heat. Furthermore, the separation of the projects is further worsened by the fact that there aren’t the basic services that people use daily. Walking at this region somebody notices only a few groceries and for sure not enough to adequately service the community. Additionally how sure are we that they have all the services within the limits of their income? Finally this segregation is not only in terms of location but it is also in terms of time. The buildings don’t only look
alike but they look the same since their construction. This brick face of the neighborhood is still at the 50s since the rest of the city is changing rapidly. The pictures themselves say a lot about this fact. But more important is that there was not any societal change. And the appearance issue
is just a significant proof that these places were abandoned after its construction. A zoom in a specific site is needed in order to investigate more in depth these issues. Selecting a specific project as a site is more a strategic choice since most of the projects
share the same qualities, problems or necessities. Baruch Houses is the largest project in Manhattan and it is located in Lower East Side. In specific, it is sited next to Williamsburg Bridge and Houston Street. The shoreline is the east barrier but there isn’t any significant relation between the two places and at the other three
sites we can see other public housing projects. This project was designed by Emery Roth & Sons and it was finished by 1959. The scale of the projects is actually enough to affect people’s activities and habits. The small scale environment changed radically during 50s to something that doesn’t remind at all
the past structures. And especially at Lower East Side there was a diverse activity with different people living and selling various products. Now nothing of this life is implied through the large monolithic structures. These structures had totally exchanged the
small neighborhood life with an alley of houses in the sky. Starting from the analysis concerning the building, the first characteristic that was mentioned was the fact that these towers were too rigid as volumes. Elevated apartments were built
for housing a lot of people but with a significant distance of the environment. They are far from their natural or urban environment and basically the relation between the indoor and outdoor space does not exist at all. The main idea was to treat these buildings as if they were built by smaller components rather than one massive solid unit. Instead of having a large scale building we could think that is a vessel of boxes, where each one of these could equal one room.
In that way is easier to think how this tower can gain more open space and start being more flexible. This notion of having cubes instead of a building leads to the idea that all these could actually displace in and out the building in order to have more open space. Using this method we can have the additions installed at each floor of the tower and the voids as well. Depended on residentsâ€™ wishes or needs the whole building can organically re-
spond to that and create a different volume. The building itself could also be examined in terms of how the volume works with its environment. The “tower in the park” as it is right now seems to show the inability of the building to relate with its environment. Beyond the add-ons and the voids that can give a vast variety of conversions, there is the possibility of displacing bigger units, than the cubes, as
the apartments. The apartments as larger components of the tower can offer larger changes to the building. The cubes can contribute to people’s daily life but it is a smaller scale intervention. By displacing these bigger components the building can reveal its inner core to the public. By removing some parts from the ground floor, the adjacent space can be open and the view won’t be blocked. The passerby will be able to
walk through a more transparent development. Secondly if some apartments remove from the lower floors of the tower, the community centers can have more possibilities of having various rooms. Behind the whole concept there is another basic idea concerning the element of time. As stated before, the NYCHA developments in Lower East
Side seem to be exactly the same since their construction date. There wasnâ€™t any change at the buildings or at their facades and wasnâ€™t any societal change as well. Since the rest of the city seems to be developing and changing through time, maybe it is time also to incorporate this factor at the NYCHA projects. The whole area can be developing through a
temporal sequence where inhabitants can propose or suggest what should change. With people intervening, projects can benefit and then we could be able to see the variable of changing at this mute area with the NYCHA projects.
Especially in the 1960’s before and more intensively after the release of the infamous book by Jane Jacobs “The life and death of Great American Cities” in 1961, the public feeling changed against the then aging and imposing housing projects. Not only
they were segregating the communities in their own back yard but also they were creating dangerous environments for the future of their neighborhoods. This resulted in an overall pressure toward the developing of smaller and more distant housing communities that would allow for better living environments than the ones they had previously. We also know now, through our extensive research, that the problem might not be only the design directives that were followed by the built structures but they also contribute quite a lot to it. We are not referring to the clichĂŠ example of the Pruitt Igoe projects that were spectacularly demolished in order to showcase the death of the modern movement, but we are talking about the irreversible situations that are taking place in the outskirts of Paris and London. In short the plan proposes the slow dissolution of the massive housing blocks into smaller, more habitable communities. Although we know that this could also happen much faster and easier by just demolishing the structures, it is a given that this move has always proven catastrophic in the past. Wherever a demolition plan was proposed for a public housing project, especially one situated in a desired piece of real estate, the result has always been that the private sector occupied the area. Also there have been a lot of proposals through the years that have as their basic prerequisite the demolition of the units. In our case we attempted to act otherwise by keeping the notion of immediate demolition out of our proposal.
Instead we centered our proposition to a mediated dissolution of the given structures. This would result in the creation of smaller units, tighter bonds and better living environments not only for the inhabitants but also for the surrounding communities. In order to do so we took a well known example of housing concentration the Ville Radiuse and we reversed the basic ideas that it tried to introduce. So where Le Corbusier was showcasing the idea of concentration, we substituted it for that of expansion. Due to the fact that the towers were actually constructed under Corbâ€™s idea, the reverse engineering of it is not only possible but also ideal. In short, because the projects were meant to be super concentrating over a large extant of land, it is an ideal candidate for us to break them down; because the land that is being provided for this is more than sufficient. Most of the time especially in architecture we neglect this very important aspect of the job, thinking that the design and the final product can stand on their own, but this is not only wrong it is also absurd. Even if we could come up with the perfect solution for a problem, it would always have to rely on how the most affected parts of it would receive it. In our case the most affected parts, are of course, the tenants. That is why we are counting so much on them and we regard their participation as the upmost important factor for indicating between failure and success.
USELESS ARCHITECTURE New Yorkerâ€™s new walk to work by Chen Xinyang
Introduction: the Marvelous Uselessness Useless things are fabulous because they are luscious. However, apparently artificial things are useful, or else people would have no reason to make them. To appreciate uselessness, we need exam our surrounding carefully, to see the sparkling of ineffectiveness in numerous and complicated usefulness. The list of uselessness: Embryonic There are things we have not found the use for such as stars, wild animals, plankton, and dust. Those objects exist around as, near or far away, are left alone in the chaos of uselessness because we havenâ€™t decided how to use them. As a kid I was told to study so I could become a useful person. In other word, there is an idea that before one is educated and adapted, the prime state of human being, an infant is powerless or useless. Similarly, the experimental articles, sketches, and drafts that people produce during the re-
search process are incomparable to their fully developed final version. These first drafts are immature and not fully functioning, so they can be portrayed as useless. Substandard Not all the products have a chance to appear on the shelves of stores because there are standards to renounce those less qualified goods. Blemishes are not desirable, even if they cause no harm to the real function of the products. Those eliminated products have been announced useless regardless their real value. Redundant Things in surplus are those make us comfortable but we have no use for them. Excessive food, extra sites of working supplies, nuclear bomb reserves exist of not because necessity. Though they provide a satisfying feeling psychologically, they are useless in practice. Anything could become obsolete in this way.
Broken If broken means that an object is not functioning anymore, it is appropriately called useless. The duration of things are designed differently; single-use products become trash once used. Packages are even more short-lived. Once they are opened are not worth saving. Huge amount if cabbages are produced everyday excessively. My question is if an object so easy become useless, why do we still pour so many resources into and how can we afford them. Priceless Priceless means that an item can’t be sold for because there isn’t a fixed standard to value it. Things like beauty and happiness are priceless. Work negotiate with this type of abstract topic, is easily ends up with useless. For instance art, we like it, but most of us secretly agree that it less valuable during real crises. Useless is not valueless. Look at all these different faces of uselessness, I realized that the definition of uselessness is not about the natural of an object, but is about whether or not that object can be used. An object could be a trash for one person while be precious to others. The same object, vwithout transforming itself, could be useful at one time but become obsolete at another. But, neither useless nor useful does ma-
The average number of TV sets per household in America is 2.24,1 but it will not prevent people predicted that TV sets marketing for 2010 was $27 billion.2 Why would the average American buy another TV last year when it wouldn’t achieve more tasks than the other two in home? Here neither useless nor useful does mater. We are dominated by our preferences of bigger and newer. Or maybe we simply feel responsible to resample our home as those that are seen on televisions. What matters is what merchandisers tell us to like. So why not have some more useless? Promoting a monotone desire and then feed it is much more efficient than cultivating diversity interests. As Sudjic’s pointed in her study of contemporary material culture that “Capitalism survives by forcing the majority whom it exploits to define their own interests as narrowly as possible.” (10) Apple’s success is fearful. They sold more MP3 than any other brand with four generations of one product line.3 Each generation of products looks similar, though Apple always announced that the new version is revolutionary. I seek for the cure of commercialism’s illness. A bottom line should be set here, that is commercial forces should not touch people’s mind. I am 1 .See “Television & Health.” California State University Northridge. 2. See DuBravac, “The U.S. Television Set Market.” Business Economics. 3. See Masal. “iPod: How Big Can it Get?”. Appleinsder.
in believe that a healthy society should be tolerant to diversity value system, and people have ability to find their real want when choice is various. The cure for consumerism is not abstinence but indulgence. As a responsible designer, I promise people to give them everything I haven’t found in the store. Now it is the moment to announce that it is time for uselessness.
Study Uselessness Architecture Design uselessness is a thoughtful and responsible decision. It is not about creating something that is impossible for people to use. Design architecture with useless qualities is to promote alternative value that had been disregard my mainstream ideology. Look through the catalog of uselessness, one may notices that reason for an item became obsolete is either people don’t know how to use
or people don’t want to use it. Consequently, designed ineffectiveness could achieve by either making an object that is incomprehensible or making it undesirable. Known this, I set about to design useless architecture. Incomprehensible Architecture: In his book the poetics of space, Bachelard collected figure of architecture in poem to revile the connection between space and imagination. As he indicated we daydream with space compositions. Even with out noticing it, we accepted architecture as an object with meaning. For instance, door delivers message of invitation, window suggests exist, and abrupt stair my recall memories about attic. The idea that architecture could support signification access to its functions and could be constructed and read as “ text” has been discussed widely by architects.4 In his easy 4. About the application of the concept of text, see Peter Eisenman’s writing during 1980’s, especially “ miMISes Reading Does Not Mean a Thing.”, “ Misreading Peter Eisenman.”, “ architecture as a Second language: Texts of
about linguistic potential of architecture Silvetti wrote that: “architecture as a specific ideological practice concerned with the production of cultural symbols.” (266) If as he said, meaning of architecture is came from architects intention to apply and produce the “ cultural symbols” coherently with their ideology, a Between.”
method to conceal architecture’s readability is promised: upset the coherency between symbols in architecture. Undesirable Architecture: Design undesirable architecture should be interpreted as design but does not intend to settle desires. Origin of architecture is need
1’- 9’’ 1’- 9’’ 1’- 9’’ 8’- 1’’ 1’- 9’’ 1’- 9’’
Brige 2 Draw Brigde
It need to be drawed down by pedestrians themselves, which requirs more time to go through.
Most entrances of NYNWW is in this type. It could be folded while no one is using, and consume efforts and skills to climb up.
It starts from sidewalk, provides a continuing connection between NYNWW and the city.
it takes over the space above parking lot, see Section 2 for more detail.
pedestrians’ on pass in NYNWW pedestrians’ pass on sidewalk
of shelter. From the shelter they built, our ancestors got idea of privacy, thus started to seek for separate spaces. Building history is like a history of human’s growing wishes. This history not only can be read from books, it roots in the way architects thinking: For most of us, when we set out to design something, we fancy that we can provide what people want. While formalistic still touch some non-practical thought; another dominant idea in architecture— functionalism—is totally desire first. For the reason that what program/ function is institution of desire. Therefore, undesirable architecture should be architecture without
Design Useless Architecture A design project is developed simultaneously with the research of useless atrchitecture. It is part of research. Name of it is New Yorker s’ New Walk to Work. Project’s general agenda: exhibiting uselessness in architecture Operative agenda: 1) Design an extra sidewalk on sidewalk of Manhattan.
Put maze onto the ideal metropolitanâ€™s street network, would not increase its efficiency, but could create redundant uselessness. Choosing upper space of Manhattan street network as the site of this project is in the regard that street is the most public space in the city. Streetsâ€™ open nature limits commercial potential of the project. 2) Introduce simulacra/ compensatory nature onto Manhattan. In Manhattan, nature reality had replaced by densified street blocks. Bringing back what had be depleted is an idle talk about lost rather than an instructive proposal.
Employing natural objects as motifs is to replace people oriented tradition in architecture. Four themes are chosen to characterize the prototype of the raised walk way. They are: rock, fog, earth and plant. Using architecture to display nature is a play of turnning over control. Even had been abstracted to singular element, those object still have uncertainty that hard to be fully defined. ture.
3) Avoid meaning in architec-
Making building less easy to be comprehended is a main concern of this project. To confusing people, designer could either complicate design
phenomenon or simplify their work to abstract level. In this project, I used cutup method did these both. “The method is simple. Here is one way to do it. Take a page. Like this page. Now cut down the middle and cross the middle. You have four sections: 1 2 3 4 . . . one two three four. Now rearrange the sections placing section four with section one and section two with section three. And you have a new page.” (Burroughs, The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin, UbuWeb) In 1920’s Tristan Tzara pulling words out of a hat to make poem,1 since then cut-up as a literature method be introduced and developed over generations. This method could be compared with painter’s collage or filmmaker’s montage. All of them are able to intro1. see Burroughs. “The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin.” UbuWeb. UbuWeb.
1. You get a page Cut it and like this one
3. Now rearrange the sections, for example: placing section four with section one andCut itsection two glue with secand it tion three, and you have new pages. 2. You fold it, and fold it again
4. Reading the new sentences made by piecing the sections together.
duce unpredictable factors into creative work. As suggests by the easy tone of Burroughs’ introduction of this method, cut-up encourages doing more than thinking, “Don’t theorize. Try it” (Burroughs 59). I took cut-up method as a formative operation at the beginning. It is effective to achieve complicity in design. Meanwhile, as its result unpredictable, over-concern bean cut down once use this method. I stop looking for reference from out side and started to work concentrate on arrangement of relationships within the project. Cut-up is an abstractive design method. Futhermore, cut-up could do much more than upset originality, it is a way can keep one working and making a lot of new. As what I did: took a prototype of sidewalk, cutted it into half and half, put them back in different arrangements; i got several new designs; then i tested out cut in different ways, and hydrided different prototypes; I got even more new designs. Cut-up is a method makes possible that design fall into the infinity reflection of itself. Whether good or not, it results a design loses the ability to convey any comprehendible idea but only about itself.
WEAPONIZED ARCHITECTURE the impossibility of innocence by LĂŠopold Lambert
En una lĂnea el mundo se une Con una lĂnea el mundo se divide Dibujare es hermoso y tremendo 1 Eduardo Chillida The Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida expresses through this short poem the tremendous power of drawing and its materialization that I call architecture. One line, indeed, has the capacity of splitting a milieu into two distinct impenetrable environments as the obvious geopolitical examples of border walls around the world remind us. Nevertheless, a resistance to this transcendental gesture can also find its space with the line; within its paradoxal thickness created by the microscopic dark matter of the pencil. The following study is therefore a research into this power on bodies that architecture owns in its essence, and how this same architecture is thus conceived or instrumentalized as a political weapon. It seems important here to observe that giving to architecture the credit of being so powerful does not mean that architects 1 trans: In one line, the world unites With one line, the world divides itself Drawing is beautiful and tremendous Chillida Eduardo. Open-Air Sculptures. Barcelona: Poligrafa, 2003.
could possibly share this same credit. The modernist dream of the omnipotent and thaumaturgic architect is, of course, obsolete and should not be defended without a dose of ridicule. Nor does it encourage a theory of a global conspiracy in which a very small amount of people would organize the world in their favor thanks to predefined architectural solutions. It rather envisions architecture either as the product of systems that establish some set of rules and norms for their materialization or as a marginal will of alternative to those establishments. Some of the apparatuses that architecture composes have been clearly thought through in order to unfold their power over bodies while some others have been ingested by the system they were conceived in. The result is the same. This distinction is important since I ultimately propose to create an architecture that would express the will of an alternative to a systemic production. This research also intends to observe with the same intensity what would appear for Western criteria as the Extreme and the Domestic. On the one hand, the Extreme, like military architecture for example, is convenient for illustrating the thesis in its entire dedication to the power on the
bodies it incarnates. On the other hand, despite sometimes a more developed subtlety in its effects, the Domestic needs to be evoked with as much seriousness since it concerns our very daily lives in the Western World. This study, as I wrote above, comes in an era that follows the disappointment of the absolute enthusiasm of the modernists for the power of architecture. The counter effect of this illusion was for architecture to return to a post-modern humility only surmounted by the pictorial strength of depoliticized famous formalists. The affirmation that architecture is never politically neutral implies that the non-awareness of the political power of architecture is already a political attitude. In this regard, the Situationnists recall the story of an insurgent of the 1871 Paris’ Commune telling a bourgeois who was defending himself from ever having any political opinion: “that is exactly the reason why I kill you” . The denial of politics is not a resistance to an establishment; it is on the contrary the total acceptance of it. In fact, the only way to resist an establishment is not to deny it but rather to “create the hollowness of this [establishment’s] occupation” as the Situationnists continue in the same text, calling this creation a “positive hole”. In a state of continuous resistance, comfort constitutes a weakness. In this regard, we can distinguish two types of non-comfort conditioned by architecture, and using Spinoza’s terminology, we can define them as sad, and joyful. In his Ethics, he makes the distinction between the bad relations our body establishes with other entities which decreases its power, which he calls sad passions, and on the contrary, the harmonious relations our
body manages to develop which increase its power, which he calls joyful passions. Translated into architectural discourse, this philosophy makes the distinction between an architecture that maintains a sadistic violence on our body and another one which would enhance it and make it stronger. In his Cyclonopedia, Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani formulates this problem as such: “Every soldier should be a traceur, a swerving projectile which has a deep sympathy with its physical obstacle.” This materialist manifesto expressed by Negarestani is indeed an ode to the Spinozist relationship between the body and architecture. The latter is usually designed on the assumption of a finite knowledge about the body’s capacities. On the contrary, architecture should set the conditions for the beginning of an answer to Spinoza’s following interrogation: “No one has hitherto laid down the limits to the powers of the body, that is, no one has as yet been taught by experience what the body can accomplish solely by the laws of nature, in so far as she is regarded as extension.” Comfort is, in this regard, a fatalistic satisfaction for the well known capacities of the body and contributes to their reduction through inaction. Resistance can be only operative within the form of action and that is why architecture should provide an fertile environment for this action. The following project attempts to respond in an architectural way to those problems and to provide the conditions of resistance.
After having established the power of architecture as a political weapon, this research can now inform the development of a project which, rather than defusing these characteristics, attempts to inte-
grate them within the scene of the Palestinian struggle. The site is located near the city of Salfit, which faces the delicate neighborhood of the large Israeli settlement Ariel and the presence of the Barrier.
However, the first component of the colonial apparatuses that this project intends to address is the fragmentation of the West Bank into Areas, as explained in the previous part of this book. As a result, the project is built within Area C as a form of disobedience to the colonial Law. The first architectural challenge that is faced responds to the camouflage of its
own construction in order to exist. The construction site is linked by a 250 yard tunnel to another site located in Area A to provide the necessary material and manpower transfer from one area to another unnoticed. The second architectural challenge is the development of the inevitable narrative that describes the projectâ€™s â€œillegalityâ€?
and its potential destruction, which will fundamentally influence the design. This project also attempts to address the issues created by the Israeli occupation by focusing on the two populations in particular that suffer from it. The first population is constituted by the farmers who encounter various problems linked to the occupation. Most of the arable lands of the West Bank are situated within Area C in which Israel maintains absolute power over movement, security, planning and construction. Where there
are lands that have not been expropriated by the Israeli Authorities for the construction of settlements, there is a conflict between Palestinian farmersâ€™ homes and their farmland. It is, indeed, not rare to see a farmer who has to cross the Separation barrier or some fences or road operated by the Israeli army on a daily basis. Israel also exercises control on the West Bankâ€™s aquifers; water usage for irrigation is limited and expensive while the Israeli settlers are able to use this same water in a mostly unlimited way.
The second Palestinian population, on which this project focuses is the Bedouin populations. Indeed, the Bedouins and their flocks are considerably limited in their movements by the various colonial apparatuses enumerated in the previous part of this book. The Bedouin culture has developed a nomadic way of life for cen-
turies and the curtailment of their movement becomes a tremenous violence inflicted on the Bedouin identity. This project is an attempt to express an active resistance to those issues through its program, its practice and its sheer existence. As it focuses on those two populations, it hosts a double program hosted
in a single building which use has to be negotiated between those two different people. The first program is an agricultural platform associated with a storage space and a dwelling that can be compared to the traditional Palestinian Qasr (Arabic for castle.) The Qsar is a small building on arable land that hosts the functions of the farmers. The agricultural production done on site can also participate in the development of a local scale subeconomy, offer job opportunities, and, of course, become additional space to cultivate crops. The second program is a caravansary usable as a shelter for the Bedouins and their flocks for any period of time. It provides a “port” in a network of new “maritime” routes between the “islands” of the Palestinian Archipelago. They can thus affirm and celebrate their freedom of movement in a similar way than the one described by Raja Shehadeh in his book, Palestinian Walks in which he recounts his regular walks in Ramallah’s hills. The elements that constitute the architecture of this project are not innocent. As the Palestinian Authority attempts to trigger important operations of fast building development in the Area A, the question of developing a vernacular and contemporaneous Palestinian architecture seems to have been forgotten. Due to this, the project attempts to observe the traditional paradigms of the two populations considered. As written above, the Qasr embodies the role of the farmers while the tent remains the model of Bedouin architecture. Just as the contrast between those two populations is striking, one being sedentary and the other nomadic, the differences between the two architectural
paradigms are intentionally antagonistic. While the Qasr is built of stones and expresses the stability of the earth, the tent is made of textile and relates more to the sky. The following project celebrates this contrast by creating a continuous dialogue between these two architectural vocabularies. A potential, yet credible scenario in the life of the Qasr implies the Israeli Defense Forces eventually discovering the Palestinian architectural disobedience to its Law and achieving a surface attack at some point. One can thus imagine the I.D.F. applying its usual scheme of destructive achievement, using the unfortunately well known armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in order to destroy the Qasr. As I already pointed out above, the textile layer would obviously present no difficulty to those means of destruction. However the concrete layer, by its geometry and its situation directly above the earth, the slope, by its narrow width towards the underground dwelling, and this same dwelling, by its metallic reinforced columns, can be considered as many obstacles to a proper demolition of the building. In this regard, the I.D.F. is likely to be satisfied enough of the evacuation of the Qasr and its serious deterioration, not to achieve a complete destruction of it. The Qasr’s ruin thus remains in the landscape. Time accelerates then the process of hybridization between the building’s material and the site’s earth, dust, rocks and wild vegetation. The Qasr seems, this way, to become a product of its territory in a strange inversion of claims. Children of Salfit find in it, an unexpected ideal playground, both frightening and attractive. The ruin is visible from the city and
everybody knows it as the building that the Israelis did not succeed to erase. In fact, there is something fearfully obsessive in the systematic absolute anihilation of Palestinian villages emptied by the Nakba of 1948 in a more or less unconscious will of erasing of a People. That is
why, each Palestinian buildingâ€™s ruin is a symbol of the Israeli oppression, but also a physical mark of existence of the Palestinian people. In an asymmetric conflict, this existence has definitely a value of resistance and this Qasr stands as a celebration of this resistance.
Weaponized Architecture does not claim to provide a solution. It instead offers the conditions of a continuous state of resistance towards oppression. One could argue that this architecture can act as a precedent that could be reproduced throughout Area C in the West Bank, and in this way, contribute toward a potential “solution”. It would be correct to suggest that the multiplication of illegal agricultural platforms could develop a significant sub-economy outside Israeli control, similar to the way that Indians organized a counter-economy based on the salt trade while under English colonial rule in 1930. Moreover, this same multiplication of such buildings could effectively create new “maritime routes” between the islands of the Palestinian Archipelago while proposing shelter to resistant nomads.
However, this project finding its essence in the negativity of a disobedient behavior towards the colonial law, it cannot register within the positivity of a “solution”, no matter how influent it becomes in the frame of the struggle. Further, this project renders itself only in the present tense. Most of the debate around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are being deliberately hijacked by the useless invocation of the past as an argument for granting responsibilities to one camp or another. In this case the past provides merely an explanation and most of the time, an excuse not to observe the current situation as it is. Resistance is always conjugated in the present and so is this project.
Nikolaos Patsopoulos ///
PARALLAXIS or the 100th Monkey Effect by Nikolaos Patsopoulos
J.G. Ballard once stated that the uneasy marriage of reason and nightmare which dominated the 20th century gave birth to an increasingly surreal world. Being part of this increasing madness it should be important for us to re consider things that we have taken as a given up until now. With a fragile, almost collapsing economical structure upon us and a mounting social tension, one comes to question what should the position of architecture be today, as a contributing form of science. To cut a (really) long story short, the scenario of this thesis is the deformation and substitution of principles that would follow in the aftermath of a systemic collapse and the subsequent evolving process that would arise. Of course despite the immense questions (a.k.a. opportunities) that would come out of a situation like this, we have constrained ourselves only to a small part of the spatial enigma. According to David Harvey, it is easier for people today to conceive a future on Mars than a future not under Capitalism. So we made it our difficult task not only to imagine a different future but also to position architecture in it. If the creation of the Soviet Union in
the early 20’s was equal in importance and magnitude with the discovery of a new continent, then we can safely assume that the pilgrimages of the era were the newly invented Social Condensers. There were supposed to be the up most important elements in a society that would not structure itself around the market but around its interrelationships. As we know it didn’t take more than a decade to bring all this utopian thinking and acting to a flaming end. But this is the point of our departure. We are imagining a world that could come into peace with the Marxist confrontation of the city versus the countryside. In the process of doing it, we are showcasing the re actualization of Manhattan as a contemporary urban intensification node, and main Capitalist stronghold to something completely different. In order to do so, we are using the same spatial pilgrims the Soviets invented. This time around, they are not the sturdy, uneventful ancestors of their originators but they themselves have evolved. As we argue, the “human condition” is a constantly changing one, and our spatial elements should also be able to follow up. This
feature is a key ingredient of our final outcome as a material totality and as a way of thinking. It is our firm belief that things are a changing. It falls on us to choose the paths to follow, to be influenced and finally to influence. History has taught us, that we cannot change society through spatial formations alone, but we can still try to influence it. On the other hand, our desired outcome is based on the amazing unpredictability of introducing a new perspective into this world. So in plain terms the end goal here is to come up with a set of tools rooted mostly into the spatial realm, although the influences are coming from a vast variety of sciences (psychoanalysis, history, physics, geology etc), and give the opportunity for a new social order to use it and abuse it for its own scopes and purposes. After all “freedom can only exist as a necessity” K. Marx First we must re-discover the meaning of the word autonomy. It’s a Greek word that consists from the words “auto” (own) and “nomia” (law), in essence it signifies the activity that one provides the rules that he will follow. This might seem easy and simple at a first glance but in real life is something more than a utopia. Our world has been ruled with principles of representative democracy. Takis Fotopoulos stated that this is the easy way out for a system that wants not only to control but also completely define its followers. Since we already know this is what we have today and in many
ways it is not working, we wanted to act in a purely subversive way. Fully compliant with the notion of autonomy is the idea of participatory democracy. In many states of mind and political theories this idea has been ruled out either as non realistic or even worse, hostile to the well being of the higher commands. This has its perfectly viable reasons since in our current systemic chain the only ones that actually handle fully the political system are politicians that themselves are manipulated by economic elites for private benefits. So this little circle lets us with the conclusion that the governance is always left to the elements that are powerful enough to control it. Of course there no person in the world that would argue that this is the way things are ran under democracy. Cornelius Castoriadis had stated even from the 70’s that in his opinion even the most advanced and seemingly progressive states in the western world could actually be coined as “liberal oligarchies”. Little, or more correctly, nothing has changed since then, and if something has changed this is not towards the gain of the people but that of the ruling class. Following Castoriadis in his train of thoughts he reveals another very crucial characteristic of the way the 20th century was ran. According to him, there are fragments of democracy in the way the states are governed but this was only rendered possible through the massive social struggles of the populations under rule. Of course these masses were not governed by the official state but in the majority of the
cases were self-ruled. Here is the key point since if, as Castoriadis argues, there have been autonomous cases in the history of social struggles then the idea that whole communities could one day act accordingly is not only superficial but viable and properly plausible. In this point we reach
out to historical examples that have proven this to be true and more specifically the story of the Italian workers movements back in the 70â€™s, when autonomy and self governance were not only words but ideas to die for. Although these movements have been long eradicated and mostly faded, by 0.0.0
tracing today the causes that brought them to life, they can show us the way out. Argentinean factory workers in 2001 took over significant percentages of active production lines that were about to file for bankruptcy and managed not only to keep them operational but with a series of changes they referred directly to the social
needs of their own community abiding the stagnant laws of profit. There are many more examples and as the crisis pushes the economies to their breaking point, we hope that there will be many more to come. The fact of the matter is that the potential not only is there but is alive and kicking. If we were real dreamers, constrained
â€œA system is a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. A system must have an aim. Without the aim, there is no system.â€? Edwards Deminq
by nothing else than our wishes then we could just state that we hope that the populations around the globe would take this economical crisis or the any of the promised next ones and turn the rules of the game in their own favor. For once people could re-
alize were the story ends and reality begins when they hit the streets in order to fight for their own rights against plutocracies that couldnâ€™t care less for their well being. As we write these lines, the riots in Germany, Italy and most of Britain have not quieted
down; the Greek state in on standstill and three more countries (Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt) are getting a feeling of the worst that is to come for the top hierarchies. In the past 4 years there have been more protests around the world for political reasons than in the all of the 1990â€™s together. People more and more are quitting the passive role of the inhabitant and the taxpayer and instead rise to the level of the actively participating civilian. For us these are active times
and as Mao once stated â€œthe country in under chaos, the situation is excellentâ€?, we hold true his notion. Only when things get stirred up can they be allowed to change. The postfordist system has taken things too far for too long, and there has to be no turning back. We hope that the new decade that has begun will be the dawn a new age of social mobility and change, armored, guided and staffed by the same people that today fall victims of this acquiescence. As
the slogan went in the French May of 1968 â€œTrust no one over 30â€?, this was the result of the immobile characteristic that settles in everyone once their life has taken a definitive turn. In the new era maybe the age limit would be even smaller, seeing how quickly things advance today. We are not suggesting that we are right and other people are wrong, but all we are saying is that we have the desire and the need to live in a different society
than the one that surrounds us today. We argue that this change is not only possible but also very likely to happen with or without us. This change will not be an easy thing to accomplish and even if it succeeds into existing it will meet extreme problems in every step of the way. In any case though, we prefer to be dealing with real problems that affect us than the problems that arise when complete strangers define all the liberties that I
can or cannot have and in which extent. We would like to be participants in this society not as mere consumers but as active elements that the system depends on along with the rest of our fellow civilians. We demand to be able to join directly into the decision making processes that define our lives and even more we refuse to leave these decisions people that
have as their only incentive gaining profit. We know that this may as well lead to complete failure. But we are definitely better off failing in a sensible effort than remaining in a situation where failing or succeeding remains equally ridiculous and superficial. In a sarcastic turn of events even as these lines are being written, one of the most
profound birthplaces of the movement of Autonomy back in the 70â€™s the Mirafiori factory in Turin Italy, has just signed its own death wish by having forced the workerâ€™s unions into an agreement that will send the working experience in the firm, decades be-
fore, as if the struggles of the better part of the 20th century never took place. Even the most recent events in Egypt are met with fear and distrust from the ruling classes around the globe. The notion of autonomy is a haunt-
ing characteristic that most of the times people with power elect either to forget or neglect. Leaders try to convince the public that every uprising stands better chances to succeed only if it remains peaceful and attends the preset borderlines, they are no longer wearing the mask of the controller but have exchanged it for that of the negotiator on the one hand and on the other that of the fierce oppressor. The role of the police and the army more often gets mixed by their uniting units and armory. In the 21st century the main enemy for the present state is not coming from the exterior but from within the cities and the habitats that were thought to be safely under control. “There is simply no room left for ‘freedom from the tyranny of government’ since city dwellers depend on it for food, power, water, transportation, protection, and welfare. Your right to live where you want, with companions of your choosing, under laws to which you agree, died in the eighteenth century with Captain Mission. Only a miracle or a disaster could restore it. “ Cities of the Red Night, William Burroughs These things will give rise to our Angelus Novus. As Walter Benjamin suggested “This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling
wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.” As our final contribution to this conclusive chapter we would like to mention the fact that in this turmoil everything would have to be reassessed. In the overall extent of the thesis we continuously argued that architecture is a social science and due to this inherent characteristic will be radically changed not only in terms of the way in which it is being negotiated today but also and more importantly in the way in which it is being conceived, or it will perish as any other socially superficial element that found its way to realization for a while but once it became obsolete was wiped aside in the junkyard of history. We are addressing these issues here not only as architects but more from the standpoint of active civilians. We have come to understand that only by demanding the impossible we can achieve radical changes that affect our lives. In the end … We are not asking for bread, we are demanding the whole goddamn bakery…
FERAL GARAGE a wilderness of deviant technologies by Martin Byrne
Sitting rigidly at the far end of the thick clear plastic conference table – enameled and embossed with desaturated flickering figures, charts, and graphs – nervous little Eli Warring was sweating under the weight of the expectations recently laid upon him. Only six weeks a freshman at the firm, he had yet to witness such a large and encompassing responsibility delegated to someone as unsullied as himself, regardless of the sufficiency of the intellect within. Wiping the moisture from his palms onto his Bergdorf-patterned knees, he tried not to look at the flexing, intelligent walls streaming with data like rivulets of pixilated water – wary that they may register some sense of the fear he was attempting so desperately to hide. The neuroses from which he had suffered since his hermetic childhood came rushing forward into his face, filling his eyes, ears, and nose with blood in sharp triangles of anxiety and heat. He thought vaguely of the cold white playroom of his youth that had been kept ordered and clean – a premeditated training ground for productive development. While the right side of his brain idly recalled the quiet clean uneventful space, the left rationally
processed the instructions, requirements, and directions he was being spoon-fed by the various consultants. The blood slowly receded and he prayed that the disembodied heads on suspended plastic conferencing screens hadn’t noticed his mental deviance from the task at hand. “Now, if you follow these numbers, it seems everything was going as expected,” exasperated, Sofie Powers exhaled roughly. She flicked her empty left hand out towards Eli – fingers gracefully poised like those of a dismissive dancer – sending a small chart skittering through the electronic ether of the table. It came to rest perfectly square in front of him, overlaying the other information he was supposed to be retaining. Sofie Powers was not pleased with the situation at hand and made it more than evident. With her thumb and forefinger she rubbed her forehead, eventually looking up towards Eli with an elongated sigh. He forced a serious grimace and nodded. “We have the collective monitoring data from each separate system relayed to the central processing core. All of the systems report fluctuation within the expected parameters, yet somehow the whole thing still turned into this nightmare,” she continued, dropping her hand-held tablet brusquely onto the desk in a digital
splash of connecting reference points and tabulated flow charts. The frameless plastic hit the table with a hollow sound and sent percentages, probabilities and complex algorithms flitting from screen to screen, alighting across the stern and severe visages of those physically present. The video-conferenced heads in turn became slightly obscured by the intrusion of graphs on their screens – ersatz veils coloring already detached minds. Strong blue and green hues reflected off of sharp cheekbones and well-exercised jaw lines. Eli worried his face reflected the putrid yellow-grey bile that was increasingly gathering in his quivering abdomen. Turning to one of the suspended screens, Sofie asked pointedly, “Bill, when you were last in the labs, did it at all show signs of failure?” She leaned slightly to the left and tapped her finger upon her slight cheekbone, lost in some internal thought process, clearly not listening to the forthcoming response. “No, ma’am. Not in the slightest. I was surveying the progress in Lab 607.A and it seemed under control and regimented as always. Their hourly reports also reflected zero inconsistencies. Everything was perfect.” Bill continued to rattle off the statistics of Lab 607.A’s perfection at length. Eli focused with difficulty and found himself surprisingly eager to wander through the condemned depths of this recently toxic site. It had been a mere month since the new research headquarters had opened at 59th and 5th to an almost ludicrously loud largesse, and it had met this wondrous opening with an equally grand and magnificent collapse. The fanfare had been showered on the triumph of a million brilliant minds that had come together in the harmony of scientific perfection;
its future seemed as promising as the advertising campaigns had promised. This single edifice was to be the shining, shimmering beacon of the instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent world to come. It had been meticulously worked and re-worked, poured over for years by the scientists, analysts, engineers and information architects of the IBM Corporation. Humankind was on the verge of witnessing the bright and glittering daybreak of a terrifyingly intelligent planet. Little did IBM know, its masterpiece was about to fall headlong into the shadow that daybreak inevitably brings.
under the red rock.)
The masterpiece consisted of forty stories of intelligent opaque glass – a crystalline research and development facility so advanced the entirety of its interior was held to the unprecedented clean room laboratory standards. In order to achieve the ideal interior lab environment, each floor had been outfitted with an entry decontamination chamber that served as the transition between the public parking deck and the lab spaces themselves. The building’s immense mechanical service core was isolated from the laboratories within the parking deck to ensure the perfect and unadulterated operation of the rest of the facility. The heart serving – but not influencing – the brain. But the true soul of the building came from its instrumentation – the devices that would count the sheep of the dormant machine. In a glorious symphony of input and output relays generated by an unfathomable amount of sensors, the building was able to read every minute action of each system and
occupant to a degree never previously possible. A faint blue wave swept over instruments, faucets, tensed shoulder blades, and nimble fingers reading and calculating radiated heat, wasted chemicals, and completed tasks. The entirety of this information was registered, parsed, and analyzed in a database so immense it could only be contained in a massive server farm far below the surface â€“ data as the frigid foundation of the future. IBM had intended this facility to be the symbolic head in the quest for complete knowledge in every possible sense, and its digestion of the world into mere data was the lynchpin of it all. No stone left unturned. No shadow left unlit.
Looking of light,
And yet, the utter desolation it had wrought upon itself had been so complete and complex, the EPA had no choice but to immediately render the entire block a Superfund site and delay its demolition until the responsible party had undertaken a full retrospective evaluation. From the brief reports that were successfully uploaded prior to and during failure, advanced analysts were able to witness the internal intelligence of the design operating its absolute highest capacity. It was here, at the height of its success and at the absolute optimum levels of operation, that its inevitable failure made itself known. While the IBM Advanced Research Facility was functioning at its highest possible capacity, it was also unwittingly creating its most perfect disaster. Those exact functions that kept the clean rooms clean, the data feeds efficient, the water pure, were simultaneously creating a serious of environments that should have never
come into being. The loop was closed, the system was as internalized as it could possibly have been. And yet it seemed, from preliminary reports, that those systems there were employed to keep the place alive were exactly the systems that caused its untimely death. How this was at all possible, was still in question. Enter, stage right, the International Business Machine Corporation and its lowly and
voluntary servant, one Eli Warring â€“ who sat chewing his soft nails and bouncing his knobby knees in apprehension of documenting the disaster that lay before him in its manifestly glorious ruin.
Breeding lilacs out of dead land,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor, The southern portion of the massive edifice seemed too heavy for the ground, sinking slightly here and there, crushing itself under its own gargantuan mass.â€Ż Concrete splinters projected
out at angles, some appearing to be downspouts from which streams of water intermittently poured. Over-hanging ledges were saturated in thick heavy vines, dangling in putrid clumps.â€Ż Large fissures gaped from mangled corners, awaiting the arrival of some nesting bird or a drifting piece of debris to lodge itself amongst the crumbling concrete and exposed rebar.â€Ż Small strange metal
trusses grew out of the concrete like the spines of a manic cactus, mostly crusted over at their sharp tips, all leaden in a vilelooking green covering. Several large, vaguely rectangular masses of concrete pulled themselves considerable distances from the southern and eastern facades, not one less than four stories tall. Rusted I-beams pierced the lumpy surface at random, disturbing the brown streams of water that trickled down to splash wildly onto the sidewalk below. The whole place resembled some kind of deranged hanging garden. An overwhelming sense of dread began form like a distant thundercloud in the dark corners of Eliâ€™s mind. At the weed matted overhang that marked the entrance to the parking garage, Eli disappeared slowly into shadow with a prolonged and shaky exhale. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a thin grey wisp of smoke drift lazily past his taught face. He held his breath and inched forwards one slow step at a time. He gulped down a quick breath that made him cringe and he spat heavily onto the ground to rid the sweet unfamiliar taste of rot and unfiltered air from his lungs. His eyes slowly adjusted to the dim blue light emanating from damaged sensors that hung immense in their overgrown frames. The pale blue sensor light mixed unevenly with the hazy moss-colored fumes that wafted about his shoulders, unevenly streaming from large grates in the ground that lay between him and the main entrance of the laboratory. A strange and unexpected sense of longing crept over him to feel the heat and warmth the exhaust might offer.
Under of a
Eli felt a strange pang of excitement, as if he was exploring the tomb of some long lost civilization, secrets and mysteries behind every corner, under every rock, between every crevice. For the first time since he had been assigned his duties, he smiled. By the time he had reached the center of the immensely tall central atrium, his head had tilted all the way back to stare at the dense equipment that was arranged almost haphazardly in the air above his head. “Wow,” he said out loud to the creeping plants and misty ether. Though he had known better, the concrete seemed solid from the exterior – from here, it proved only to be a rather thin shell. The ramping square spiral parking deck wound its way up and around a central core of colossal machines, some whirring, others hanging idly from substantial steel cables. Variously sized pipes and fat wires criss-crossed between machines, down through chases in the concrete and upwards into vapor. Through the haze Eli could also make out a winding catwalk that disappeared behind a mysteriously blank metal surface only to emerge again at the level of the concourse above, where a gate sagged on broken metal hinges. A perverse desire to dash off to explore this bizarre cadre of environments overwhelmed him so strongly that he could not resist darting off through the pathetic undergrowth towards the wide-open ramp of the first concourse. As he trotted up the sloping metal grating that formed the parking deck, he became aware of the weight and sound of his own footsteps for the first time – sharp clangs rang out with every step he took. Never had he sensed the significance of his own presence in a place, nor had the potential of his own body felt so immediate and overwhelming.
Without warning, the salty tinge of human sweat and metallic blood crept into his senses; his childish urge to go exploring vanished instantly. He imagined the decaying corpse of some poor soul that had become trapped within the vines – a maintenance man, perhaps, that had succumbed to the sly and deadly will formed from the life of the weeds and the strength of the machines. The storm cloud of dread grew in his mind as the environment slowly turned on him. No longer did it promise the joy of discovery, rather it held in vicious shadows unknown threats and treacherously sharp edges. The clouds of steam seemed to follow and lick about the corners of his mouth attempting to infiltrate his lungs as he moved through the undergrowth of errant weeds and lurid vines that seemed to beset him from all sides. Diseased spores grew in great uneven, ragged clumps around the sharp angular concrete walls of the parking deck, threatening to get loose and become lodged within his throat. Eli looked frantically about and felt the ramps being choked by a torrent of plant-life that was nearly luminescent in its rancidness. The building was being devoured from within by a flurry of tumor-like growths and foul mechanic byproducts. And here he stood, alone in the middle of it all. I think we are in rats’ alley
Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead, Eli burst through the doors out onto the roof of the tower, scattering the rocks of a neutered Zen garden. The air tore at his lungs as he raced across the gravel-strewn landscape, throwing bits of dirt and tired brown grass in wide arcs as he went. He slammed bodily into the chest high parapet of the roof, the wind leaving his lungs in great gasps. The edge flexed in minute response to his small frame against its fragile and tormented joints, thick chunks of caulk and unintelligible shards of machinery falling away down the once mobile glass faĂ§ade of the building. Leaning his upper body dangerously far over the edge, his eyes traced the outlines of circuitry embedded deep within the crystalline confines of the glass panels. When he had first entered the laboratory, he only felt a mild confusion at its still immaculate interior. None of the vile environments had penetrated the logic of the glass-encrusted tower, and it left Eli with only a vague sense of reality. But as he pressed on, a creeping sensation that
he was being watched began to grow steadily in his mind. He felt a cold breath on his neck as he poked about, always looking over his shoulder at the presence that could not be identified. Nearly imperceptible whirring sounds floated through the abandoned conference rooms and frosty offices. Every floor felt the same â€“ quiet, barren, cold and lifeless. He could not be sure, but the glass dividers that were embedded with two-dimensional circuitry seemed to flex and pulse as he had neared each one. He had reached out to touch one to be sure, only to be greeted with a mild static shock and an incredibly cold surface. After passing through a few floors via the fire stairs, the pulsing seemed to grow more intense and the whirring sounds grew louder, eventually being accompanied by the clicking on of compressors and release valves. Eli could only guess that the building was reading his presence and attempting to factor him into its algorithms. The walls sent out indistinct waves of hostility to such a degree that Eli eventually
became certain it was trying to delete him from the equation. The terror he would come to feel in the labs was far greater than he had felt in the parking garage. Even here on the roof he could feel the oppressive weight of the data streams that informed the movement of the structure, overwhelmed by their potential power over his body. Inside, he knew that if he had taken one wrong step he would be consumed by the flexing corners and crushed into the information stream that whirled through every crevice in streaks of bright blue electricity. While he knew his only refuge was to return into the carcass of the deranged support systems, he was
not sure heâ€™d be able to handle the six-story descent through the emergency stairwell. It had remained as barren and lifeless as the laboratories had, threatening to clean the life from him in an attempt to maintain its perfectly balanced internal atmosphere. He turned and pushed himself from the edge of the parapet and steeled his nerves for the flight through that inhospitable and entirely inhuman expanse. Clenching his jaw, he forced himself to remember that the adjacent structure would provide him a shelter from this onslaught of efficiency.
boxes and hanging, damaged sensor gates. Just as Eli emerged through the large gate of the decontamination chamber onto the upper-most deck of the parking structure, he heard them. The three helicopters whirred noisily overhead, casting sweeps of wind and dust at Eli, pushing him sideways along the width of the decking until he collided wetly with the decaying concrete parapet. Its warmth and crumbling
We who were living are now dying With a little patience
Forcing himself from the floor, Eli ran towards the jammed door of the decontamination chamber that would lead towards the melting solace of the support tower beyond. He could almost smell the sweetness of decaying vines beckoning him through as he pushed through small
grasp comforted him momentarily as he shielded his eyes and attempted to look up. With his left arm stretched across his face, Eli waved frantically with his right, trying to gain the attention of any one of the pilots sent here to douse the structure in a cold chemical death. Focusing on the helicopters above, Eli tottered about the top deck of the parking structure avoiding limp vines and sticky moss where he could manage. He kicked a few pieces over the side and moved towards an external ledge at the periphery of the deck.
Here is no water but only rock “Please…wait,” he mouthed in vain, both hands waving back and forth, like a marooned refugee of a sunken cruiser. The helicopters seemed not to notice him and waltzed with each other in the sky, looping about with the great diseased building at the center of their dance. Eli stopped waving and merely squinted up at the glinting machines that would not heed his call. He tilted his head slightly and stepped backwards until he felt the edge appear beneath his heel. Eli Warring had no choice at this point, the helicopters ignored him, his colleagues could not reach him, and remaining in the building would surely spell his demise. A fleeting notion made Eli shake his head once, quickly and violently. With a furrowed brow, he stared across the parking deck towards the gaping hole in the center from which the life-giving machinery was suspended. Only one of the fans on the closest air handler was still functioning, catching itself every now an again on a loose vine that had crept its way into the path of the twirling blade. He considered for a moment that the growth in the support tower had been so thick
that it reminded him of a jungle canopy, heavy and dripping, but dense. It had blocked the sun’s rays from infiltrating more than a few floors and had clearly shielded the rest of the machinery from the slight rain that had passed while he had been in the laboratory. The deck was wet, but perhaps the interior was still dry. Dead mountain mouth
‘No,’ he thought to himself, ‘this is insane.’ Yet Eli had noticed small patches of undergrowth growing from the ramp that lead down into the cold and dark that housed the server towers. Perhaps out of fear, he had not even considered beginning there when he had arrived. The void that contained the fetid clunking machinery had been so much more enticing, practically pulling him through it in sheer wonder. He thought of the trunk-like vines at the ground floor and considered it for a moment, still aware of the violent tearing sound the helicopters were making as they adjusted their positions to be sure they would cover every visible square inch. But dry sterile thunder without rain ‘No! What I am thinking? I must be insane. I’d never make it…’ Eli berated himself and looked up at the helicopters waving twice more. Nothing. He glanced over his shoulder, causing him to briefly loose his balance. His hands lashed out and grasped a rusted shaft of protruding rebar. Breathing heavily, he watched small pieces of moss alight on the sharp wind that flew up the side of building. He considered he must have been at least two hundred feet off the ground. His body shook involuntarily.
After the agony in stony places With a loud crack, Eli heard the helicopters gearing up to drop their payload. Small bay doors at the bottom of all three great shimmering bellies opened simultaneously. Without
a thought, he found himself running in a dead sprint towards the gaping void not thirty feet in front of him. He made it across the deck in seconds and he leapt up onto the closest air handler, dodging the one operational fan and grasping the supporting column that cleared the top.
Standing fully upright, Eli Warring took a deep breath before heaving himself headlong into the waiting, rotting damp.
A current under Picked his bones whispers. As he rose and
sea in fell
Special Thanks to Jason Vigneri Beane and Elliott Maltby