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CONTENT AND EXPRESSION IN LATE XXTH CENTURY ARCHITECTURAL MONOGRAPHS

CORNELL UNIVERSITY - AAP JULIAN VARAS


ARCH 450

FORMS OF ENCOUNTER CONTENT AND EXPRESSION IN LATE XXTH CENTURY ARCHITECTURAL MONOGRAPHIES Course Instructor: Julián Varas Guests and consultants: Paul Soullelis, Susan Lewis, Lluis Ortega, Joaquim Moreno

While architecture’s declared raison d’être –to influence how we live by altering the built environment- is seemingly fulfilled through its involvement with the processes of material production, its actual efficacy as a tool of cultural change has always depended on its capacity to expand its effects beyond the sphere of its immediate physical surroundings. Although the becoming media of architecture is in fact coextensive with its rationalization –in antiquityinto a discipline that accumulates and transmits knowledge through graphic representations, during the last century its central mechanisms were shaken and transformed beyond recognition. The impact of reproduction technologies on the perception and the production of the artwork were acutely signalled by Walter Benjamin, who pinpointed the crisis of the notion of originality in art as its most significant effect. For the arts and sciences the relentless expansion of storage, retrieval and reproduction technologies has implied thereafter the need to enlarge the scope of their agency. More than ever before, the architects of the modern period were forced to operate beyond the production of built structures, becoming agents of cultural agitation through the dissemination of their work. Based on an interest in the relationships between the forces that articulate architectural organization and those that shape the processes of their spreading and consumption, this research seminar will investigate resonances, parallelisms and (dis)continuities between architectural and graphic space, between a represented object and an object of representation: encounters between forms of content and forms of expression. During the first phase, the course will diagram various aspects from a selection of late 20th century architectural publications. On a further stage, these diagrams will be utilized on the production of an individual piece by each student. While to some extent the course will be instrumental in augmenting participants’ repertoire of the conceptual strategies embedded in the production of printed matter, the seminar will foreground the development of research methodologies in conjunction with a consistent graphic space that simultaneously contains and informs the research process. During the first phase, the research projects will be conducted in teams of two students each. The second stage will involve individual work by each student, who will be expected to submit a digital and a hardcopy version of their work, encompassing both the analysis and the emerging graphic piece. Proficiency with Adobe Illustrator and InDesign is desirable but not mandatory. The course is open to 4th and 5th year architecture students, as well graduate students from MArch I and MArch II programs. Maximum 14 students. Three credits in Visual Representation. Meeting times: Mondays 10:00 – 11:30 / First meeting Monday., August 28th, 10:00 am. Room 120 Rand Hall.


ARCH 450

FORMS OF ENCOUNTER CONTENT AND EXPRESSION IN LATE XXTH CENTURY ARCHITECTURAL MONOGRAPHIES Course Instructor: Julián Varas

OBJECT The thematic scope of the course encompasses a selection of seminal architectural monographies of the last 30 years. These are charcterized not just by their focus on a narrowly defined field of production but by the fact that they were edited by the architects themselves. It is our hope that the investigation of these materials will shed light on the ways in which the editors sought to conceptualize their work.

FRAMEWORK To layout the theoretical basis for the analysis, we will discuss two short texts: Bob Somol’s “The Diagrammatic Basis of Contemporary Architecture”, Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” General course “Guru”: Eduard Tufte. See all of his books + website.

SUGGESTED CASE STUDIES Peter Cook, Archigram (1972) Peter Eisenman, Houses of Cards (1987) Diller & Scofidio, Flesh (1994) UN Studio, Move (1999) MVRDV, Costa Iberica (1999) FOA, Phylogenesis (2003)

SUBMISSION (due December 15th) Piece A: One chapter to be included in a common research report. Focus on research and communication. Presentation standards will be given out. Teams will divide amongst their members the tasks of analysis, reading, scanning, documenting and mapping the chosen publication. Piece B: A Diagram and a model of a small piece, based on a selection of own material. Emphasis on the design of table of contents, and on its relationship with the master pages (number, layout, etc). It is highly recommended that the piece remains within a manageable size / complexity. The model of the piece needs to be finished, even if some of the component materials are left as placeholders.

SUPPORT Technical support will be available from JV as deeemed necessary. This includes software tutorials, writing and diaramming discussions, and printing & production orientation.

OTHER SOURCES Peter Wilbur and Michael Burke, Information Graphics: Innovative Solutions in Contemporary Design (London: Thames and Hudson), 1998. Robert L. Harris, Information Graphics: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference. Visual Tools for Analyzing, Managing and Communicating. (Atlanta: Management Graphics), 1996. Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 1997.

TEAM PROCEDURES Hands on, independent, but coordinated research (emphasis on production, rather than pure reading) While the construction of a body of knowledge requires coordinated output, at the same time the course is a framework to develop students’ own work. The class work will consist of (2x) 20-30 minute presentations by teams, followed by discussion. Powerpoint based on own scans (optional: prints). Please avoid photocopies. Extra tutorials will be offered to teams on dates of mutual convenicence. At least two per team.


Research topics and documentation guide: This is a non exhaustive list of topics that should be investigated & diagrammed. Some graphic standards will be provided, others will be developed by the class. Please, scan all the necessary sample pages from each book (good quality, 300 dpi) and include them in your presentations. PHOTOGRAPH THE BOOKS. Both closed and open, holding them in your hands, and resting on neutral backgrounds, avoid sharp shadows. (Use natural light). A. Format Materiality: Paper, Size, Orientation (horizontal, vertical, square), N. of pages, weight, etc. Cover / Backcover design Table of Contents / Sections / “buildup” (dissection) Master pages Text formatting & Title styles. Margins Captions B. Content (Materials) Property (own / hybrid) Media Text (own) Text (guest) Text / image ratio (s) What types of unusual or unique information is included in the book (i.e.: techincal project information, development timelines, copyrights, project credits, etc.)? C. Context / Influence Year. Who is the publisher? Who is the designer? Who is the editor? Other publications –contemporary- “in dialog with” your own: lines of rupture and lines of continuity (to be represent with a timeline) Later publications and practices that can be said to have been influenced by your object of study. Major cultural & architectonic events addressed directly or indirectly by the publication in question. D. Tone Velocity (define & measure) Continuity / Discontinuity (define & measure) Variation Markers and repetitive elements “Mapped” reading


CORNELL UNIVERSITY College of Architecture, Art & Planning Academic Calendar Fall Semester 2006 Julian Varas

ARCH 450 - FORMS OF ENCOUNTER

AUGUST

Week 1 Wed

23

Thu

24

Fri

25

02:00

Course presentation

Week 2 29

Wed

30

Thu

31

Fri

1

Week 3 Mon

4

Tue

5

Wed

6

Thu

7

Fri

8

10:00

Session 1: Introduction and Organization Course overview - Calendar handout - Team formation - Case studies - Research methodologies - Editorial process Bibliography: Eduard Tufte

PHASE 1

28

Tue

Framework

SEPTEMBER

Mon

10:00

Session 2: Framework The Diagrams of mediation: Dummy Text, or The Diagramatic Basis of Contemporary Architecture, Bob Somol

Week 4 Mon

11

Tue

12

Wed

13

Thu

14

Fri

15

10:00

Session 3: Framework The Diagrams of mediation: The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Walter Benjamin

Week 5 Mon

18

Tue

19

Wed

20

Thu

21

Fri

10:00

Session 4: Team 1 research report

Grids: P. Eisenman - Houses of Cards (1987)

22

Peter Cook: Archigram (1972)

Mon

25

10:00

Tue

26

Wed

27

Thu

28

- material licuefaction

Fri

29

Lecture Joaquim Moreno (tbc)

- material segregation

Week 6

Mon

2

Tue

3

Wed Thu

4 5

Fri

6

Week 8 Mon

9

Tue

10

Wed

11

Thu

12

Fri Sat

13 14

PHASE 2

Week 7 OCTOBER

Week 9 Mon

16 17

Wed

18 19

Fri

Documentation, data collection and diagramming

10:00

Session 5: Team 2 research report Diller & Scofidio: Flesh (1994)

Session 6: Team 3 research report UNStudio: Move (1999) - virtualising practice: topical analisys

FALL BREAK

10:00

Session 7: Team 4 research report MVRDV: Costa Iberica (1999) - reporting research

Lecture Paul Soulellis (tbc)

20

Week 10 Mon

23

Tue

24

Wed

25

Thu

26

Fri

27

10:00

Session 8: Team 5 research report FOA: Phylogenesis (2003) - virtualising practice: populational analisys

NOVEMBER

30 31 1 2 3

Week 12 6 7 8

Thu

9

Fri

10

Week 13 Mon Tue Wed

13 14 15

Thu Fri

16 17

PHASE 3

Mon Tue Wed

Report production and presentation

Week 11 Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri

10:00

Session 9 Teams 1 + 2 : Pin-up

10:00

Session 10 Teams 3 + 4 : Pin-up

10:00

Session 11 Teams 5 + 6 : Pin-up

10:00

Session 12 General Pin-up (with Paul S.)

Week 14 Mon

20

Tue Wed

21 22

Thu Fri

23 24

THANKSGIVING BREAK

Week 15

DECEMBER

Mon Tue Wed

27 28 29

10:00

Thu

30

1st year FINAL REVIEWS

Fri

1

2nd year FINAL REVIEWS

Sat

2

3rd year FINAL REVIEWS

Mon

4

4th/5th year FINAL REVIEWS

Tue

5

March I FINAL REVIEWS

Wed Thu Fri

6 7 8

Thesis REVIEWS

Mon Tue Wed Thu

11 12 13 14

Study period Tutorial meetings by appointment

Fri

15

Reports are due


Forms of Encounter  

Research Seminar, Cornell University 2007

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