culture urbanism architecture landscape photography research
on site on war
$12 display until april 2010
FROM BATTLEFIELD TO CATWALK Presented by the Canadian War Museum in partnership with the Imperial War Museum
The first major exhibition to explore the impact of camouflage on modern warfare and its adoption into popular culture
5 JUNE 2009 3 JANUARY 2010
THE CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM www.warmuseum.ca
from Sternberg Press
Sabine Bitter & Helmut Weber Autogestion, or Henri Lefebvre in New Belgrade
The artist book by Sabine Bitter and Helmut Weber is based on an unpublished text by French philosopher and urbanist Henri Lefebvre which is printed as a facsimile and accompanied by essays from Ljiljana Blagojevic, Zoran Eric, Klaus Ronnberger, and Neil Smith. Co-published with Fillip, Vancouver July 2009, English/French 18 x 25.5 cm, 160 pages, 9 b/w ill., softcover ISBN 978-1-933128-77-1 $27.00 | €19.00
Nikolaus Hirsch, Wolfgang Lorch, Andrea Wandel (Eds.) Gleis 17/Track 17
“Crimes against humanity,” especially genocide, have been excluded from amnesty since the Nuremburg Trials. On a cultural level, oblivion by decree becomes an obligation to remember. This reversal is well-intended, but it opens up critical questions: Can memory be permanently established? Is it possible to maintain it in a monument? September 2009, English/German 17 x 24 cm, 216 pages, 10 color and numerous b/w ill., softcover ISBN 978-1-933128-60-3 $24.95 | €19.00
Markus Miessen (Ed.) The Violence of Participation
Europe, as a political space, is as conflictual as its constitution. It needs to be designed and negotiated. It is longing for an architecture of strategic encounters. Based on the curation of a space at the 2007 Lyon Biennial, London-based architect and writer Markus Miessen has drawn together a group of people to lead conversations around alternative notions of participation, the clash of democratic heterogeneities, and what it means to live in Europe today. December 2007, English 15.4 x 21 cm, 255 pages, 154 color ill., softcover with dustjacket ISBN 978-1-933128-34-4 $29.95 | €24.00
War. It is almost chic: a new car ad shows one model exploding as if it had been shelled, a new model shoots out of the cloud of debris, it is shot, a new model speeds away and explodes as if it has driven over an IED, another model drives out of the storm. What were they thinking? When war becomes merely a metaphor for change, awareness of the extreme cessation of civility that is war recedes. WWI soldiers are gone, Spanish Civil War and WWII volunteers are almost gone. All we have now are the PPCLI, the 22e and our refugees from war with the visceral understanding that war is ignoble, vicious and bloody; that it leaves families blind with grief, it means hundreds of thousands of young lives never continue and for the survivors, they are forever marked. We must never forget this. 10 Course RCAF July 7th 1944. Nicosia, Cyprus Vic Seaton Frank Buck X Alex MacDonald Tut White Bill Wilkes X Don Downing Shearer Eric Von Bock X Less Corney X Jack Fitzpatrick X Monty M Brown Bill Wilson Eric Watts Robert Thomas Neil Moss Vic Treasure Frank Purnell X
on site 22
contents 2 8 12 14 16 20 22 24 25 26 27 30 33 34 37 38 40 41 45 48 50 52 56 57 58 59 60 64 66 68 70 71 Masthead 7 2
Rufina Wu Erica Bright Stanley Britton Kenan Handzic Gerald Forseth Nick Sowers Christine Leu Shawn Michelle Smith Reza Aliabadi smsteele Adam Bobbette + Alexis Bhagat Aisling O’Connor Deryk Houston Markus Meissen S White Taïka Ballargeon Erin Koenig Lejla Odobasic Calvin Chiu Açalya Allmer + Jens Allmer Sara Loureiro Mireya Folch-Serra Vivian Manasc Gaston Soucy Ruth Alejandra Mora Izturriaga Julian Haladyn Tanya Southcott Dick Averns Jafar Tukan Justin Perdue Heidi Shaefer
Canada Council Grant for Literary and Arts Magazines Government of Canada Canadian Heritage program for Postal Assistance to Publications
Beijing Underground: domestic interiors of air raid shelters Water as Agent: restoring communities displaced by war Anticipatory Redress: down and dirty practice Narchitecture and Favelas: a preponderance of informality Mending the War-torn: Viet Nam Military Estates: exact edges Highway of Heroes: 65 overpasses on Highway 401 Basic Gestures: tortured positions War and its Inherent (Un)Certainties warpoet Storage Sites: towards a morphology of US ordnance magazines Deception: in the art of camouflage Ties That Bind: (en)countering war The (Im)Possible Border: where is ‘east’ east from? War Memorial Exhibition: proposal Dark Tourism: spectacle vs barbarism Urbicide: a crime against urbanity Sarajevo: crossing a divide Persistant Crossing: Walls of the Cold War: Berlin souvenirs War Murals: painting the revolution Spaces of Death: Spain’s geography of war and remembrance Cuban Modernism: the benefits of peace and prosperity Unstable Creations: violence begets art Palimpsest: the scars of war The Missing House: insubstantial encounters Japantown: the consequences of internment War + Peace: monument and counter-monument Visions of Jerusalem Unconscious City: Fort York Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: after Kosuth Subscriptions and the Call For Articles, issue 23: Small Things Contributor’s biographical notes Front Cover: Israeli “Security Fence” Ramallah, IDF Access Gate Back Cover: Duff. MFO, Sinai
WA R matters: On Site review 22
housing | hostels by r u f i n a w u
b eij in g un d erg rou n d domestic interiors of air raid shelters
Mao Zedong prepared the nation for nuclear war as Sino-Soviet relations continued to worsen in the 1960s. His instructions for the Chinese people were encapsulated in a nineword slogan: dig deep tunnels, store food, prepare for war (深挖洞，廣積糧，不稱霸 shenwadong, guangjiliang, buchengba). Mao’s words led to the construction of an enormous number of underground air raid shelters. Underground shelters continue to be an integral part of today’s national defence programme. The following is a series of interior photographs of an underground air raid shelter, one of 80 such hostels in a close area, taken in Beijing from 2005-2006.
Water Room Located at the very centre of the complex, the Water Room is where you have the chance to meet and interact with everyone. The Water Room bustles with activities during meal times, when residents come to wash and prepare food, early mornings when people come to perform their morning rituals before heading off to work, and on the weekends when people do their laundry by hand. Over menial tasks like scrubbing dishes or cleaning fruits and vegetables, residents chat casually with their neighbours.
Women’s Washroom There are two toilet stalls and one shower in the Women’s Washroom. The enclosure to the shower consists of a 2x4 board, a swinging toilet partition, and a plastic shopping bag to tie the previous two items together.The shower faucet is locked. The superintendent unlocks it after the ¥1 RMB fee is paid.
On Site review 22: WA R
migr an ts s u balte r n ity i nfo r mal h o u s in g n e gle c t s tate powe r
Room 31 This photo was taken on the first day I moved into Room 31. My bed is the one on the right. My roommate is a mother of two from Shanxi province. She left her children and her husband behind in hope to earn more money for her family in Beijing.
laundry line bed storage cabinet
Room 4 This image shows the basic provisions of an underground hostel: a bed and a small storage cabinet. The superintendent installs additional laundry lines at your request. Room 4 remains empty most of the time. I initially attributed its lack of occupants to the unlucky number four (四, si), the Chinese pronunciation of which is similar to ‘death’ (死, si). I later learned from my neighbours that this room is rented out on an hourly basis. Exhausted workers come stumbling in for an afternoon nap. At times this room functions as an affordable love hotel. Room 4 becomes a VIP room for the superintendent’s family during their visit to Beijing during national holidays.
mouldy walls are covered with newspapers and fabrics
Room 10 Three construction workers from Henan province share this room.They carry almost no luggage, perhaps just one change of clothing. Everything they own is on their bodies, allowing them to be hyper-mobile: they can go anywhere at a moment’s notice. The most valuable item they own is their cellular phones, and the most valuable asset they have to offer is their able bodies. since open-flame cooking is prohibited in basement migrant hostels, residents use electrical hot plates as alternatives.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
TV cable from above plastic basins are multipurpose necessities. They are used for washing, storage, bathing, laundry, keeping fish alive, etc.
Room 1 (above) Room 1 is the closest room to the entrance, making it the only room with cellular phone reception. One of the girls also managed to pull a television line through the ductwork from above. ‘Connected’ rooms like this one are the most sought after.
Room 2 (below) Room 2 is shared between three girls who became very concerned about my well-being after learning I was new to Beijing. They offered to help with my job search, shared information on the cheapest markets for groceries, and listed fun places to tour and advised on how to travel there cheaply – these gestures convey a definite sense of camaraderie amongst the residents of the hostel. due to the lack of space, laundry lines, ducts and bed frames are important devices for maximising storage capacity
On Site review 22: WA R
water damage is common to underground spaces, especially in older buildings door leading to the next room
Corridor 3a (above) Any usable space is filled with beds to maximize occupancy. Corridor 3a, accommodating three men, is an example of such practice. You must walk past the three beds to the doorway at the back to access the next room. Corridor beds are slightly cheaper in rent than others due to their lack of privacy.
Corridor 3b (below) Walking past Corridor 3a leads you to this room. There was a vacant bed at the time this photo was taken, so for the time being, the sole resident of Corridor 3b enjoys having the room to himself. Covering the mouldy walls with old newspaper is common practice in basement hostels. In this case, he covered the ceilings with a special selection of images: sports cars and half-naked women.
special selection of images from newspapers and magazines
bedhold vacancy fan to improve ventilation
WA R matters: On Site review 22
wall hooks are used as ceiling anchors to hang mosquito netting the window of Room 6 remains permanently closed since the area directly above is a garbage collection point
Room 6 (above) A nearby restaurant owner rents Room 6 as accommodations for his employees. The three girls are from the same township in Shanxi province. Waitressing is a demanding job characterised by long shifts and low pay. In fact, migrants are known to take on what are popularly described as â€˜3-Dâ€™ jobs: dirty, demanding, and dangerous. The girls are nonetheless grateful: long work hours mean they are less likely to waste money (they simply have no spare time for anything else), and the provision of housing by their employer also helps them save up as much money as they can to bring back home. Shanxi province, the coal-mining central of China, is one of the poorest regions in the country. With the coal-mining industry as the prime economic driver, Shanxi offers little to young girls. Many of them decide to migrate as a result in search of better opportunities.
Room 12 (below) Mei and two other girls share this room. Mei is one of the longest standing residents in this hostel. She has been living here for almost two years, since completing her undergraduate degree at a Beijing university. She now works as a translator. Mei translates English text in user manuals to Chinese for ten to twelve hours a day. She feels that her current living conditions are undesirable, but she chooses to remain in the hostel because it is affordable, and its location is within walking distance to her office. Mei was in the process of preparing her dinner. She bought five live fish at the nearby morning market and attempted to keep them alive in a basin of water under her bed. Three of the fish committed suicide by jumping out of the water. The ventilation shaft serves as a fridge for food storage during winter months. Dried foods are kept in sealed containers under the bed or on the storage cabinets. Food storage is kept at a minimum to prevent insects.
the ventilation shaft is used as food storage during winter months. To send or receive mobile messages residents put their phones in this space hoping for reception dining table (not in use)
On Site review 22: WA R
only electric cooking appliances are permitted inside the hostel Meiâ€™s bed plastic basins used as fish tanks
plastic wall sheathing (gift wrap) collection of pirated DVDs on top of self-built shelving mirror to create an illusion of a larger space
Room 17 This has been Ling’s home for the past two years. Ling spends most of his time in his room working as a freelance graphic designer. A firm believer in the negative health effects of living below grade, he devised his own method for combating humidity: he wrapped his entire room in plastic gift-wrap. Perhaps because of the lack of distinction between day and night in the basement, Ling has six calendars to help him keep track of the passing of days.
a very popular Chinese actress – Fan Bing Bing
Room 29 Qing is another long-term resident of this hostel. The aroma of his cooking entices many of his neighbours to visit during meal times. He claims to have the best room in the complex, because on a sunny day a small stream of sunlight penetrates into his basement home. Qing manages to arrange for a high-speed internet connection and ensures clutter does not obstruct his morning sun by maintaining a close relationship with his above ground neighbour.
colour copies of US$100 banknotes
Qing’s primary connection to the outside world: his computer, internet connection and web camera dining table for entertaining guests
Political and economic reforms since the late 1970s initiated the formation of a new subaltern class in contemporary Chinese cities known as the floating population. Millions of rural migrants moved to urban centres in pursuit of the Chinese Dream. There is an estimated 4 million migrants actively contributing to the construction of the new capital. Without proper household registration (hukou) status, rural migrants have little to no access to social welfare including subsidised housing. This investigation began with a simple question: where do migrants live in the city? This series of interior photographs documents a unique type of migrant housing in Beijing: migrant hostels retrofitted from underground air raid shelters. Portraits from below reveal furtive portions of Beijing: marginal, banal and hidden stages upon which life unfolds. C Beijing Underground is an excerpt from Rufina Wu’s MArch thesis for the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Rufina Wu currently lives in Vancouver.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
Water as Ag en t restoring communities displaced by war
above: a congested internally displaced persons camp in Northern Uganda below: â€˜Industrial Areaâ€™ (enclosed by a dotted line ) on the map of Gulu is a displaced persons camp, the site for this incremental design strategy proposal
a l l d ra w in gs : er ica br ig ht
The impact of war on cities conjures up images of smouldering city fabric and buildings in ruins. A longerlasting impact is the temporary settlements that emerge to provide shelter for those displaced by the war. Displacement disorients and uproots people, plunging them into chaos without familiar support systems. In Africa last year, ongoing conflict continued to internally displace 11.6 million people.1 Two decades of rebel warfare uprooted almost two million people in northern Uganda. Gulu, its second largest city, more than tripled in size as 100,000 displaced people flooded urban displacement camps. For many of these people, the war has irreversibly severed their relationships to their land and community. Because of this it is estimated that over half the displaced people will remain permanently in the squalid camps, in an unsustainable relationship with their surroundings, placing considerable stress on urban systems and infrastructure. There is a crucial need to integrate these displaced people into the social and economic fabric of the city through permanent settlement.
wate r dis plac e me n t c o mmu n ity s tr u c tu re s u s tain ability
www. willgrahamp hot o grap hy. co m
i n f r a s t r u c t u re gulu, uganda by e r i c a b r i g h t
On Site review 22: WA R
‘Industrial Area’ is a main displacement camp in Gulu. At the height of conflict in 2005, over 25,000 people lived in half a square kilometre.2 A study of this camp reveals inadequate systems and networks — common issues of informal settlements. Few roads exist to link the camp to the city or to facilitate circulation. Family huts are clustered in congested patterns with sanitation issues and little privacy. Water is not available in the camp and people, typically women, spend a daily average of 1.3 hours collecting water from vendors elsewhere in town; time that could be spent doing other household tasks or incomegenerating activities.3 To add to the disparity, vendor water costs as much as ten times the price of water from a piped connection.4 Water is a key source of contention and disparity in urban camps. It has significant social and economic value which the displaced people cannot readily access. Water is, however, present in the form of wetlands. ‘Industrial Area’ camp, not unlike other camps in Gulu, sits on the ridge of a hill. Rainwater drains into adjacent wetlands, depositing sediment and contaminants from the camp. Displaced people cultivate and alter the wetlands illegally, endangering the balance of this key ecosystem. left: site research, from the top: a. road networks: few roads exist on the site to link the camp to the city or to facilitate access or hierarchical circulation. b. buildings: located in an industrial zone, most buildings are mud huts with 6-8 people per hut. c. water infrastructure: infrastructure passes by, but is not available in the camp. d. wetlands: the camp is a catchment area for two wetlands, on the slopes of a low-rising hill. e. agriculture: the displaced people cultivate the wetland illegally as it is the only option for many.
al l d ra w in gs : e r ica br igh t
below: urban metabolism: cycle of wetland inputs and outputs - an overview of the many programs that use the wetland as a resource and link into the constructed water channel. These programs often have harmful by-products that contaminate the wetland ecology and are hazardous for other wetland users.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
all drawings: er ica br ight
Common solutions for permanently settling communities after war often address only housing or above right: incremental design strategy, site infrastructure, but ‘rarely address the social, [ecocomposite nomic or environmental] dimensions’5 A permanent settlement that enables displaced people to above: the basic block. These layers describe the co-exist with delicate wetlands while increasing integrated site system at their social and economic opportunities is desperthe block scale. A (top layer) – water ately needed. collection from roof An incremental design strategy that uses waB: housing clusters around courtyards paved with ter infrastructure as the key social catalyst has the local stone. potential to develop an existing camp into a perC: courtyards are catchment areas for manent settlement, without displacing people yet storing rainwater in again. Water infrastructure can generate imporunderground cisterns. tant spatial relationships that are currently lacking D: agriculture aggregates next to basins for – spaces for social gathering, commerce, producinfiltrating cistern tion and permanent dwelling.(top) The first interoverflow and agriculture run-off. vention in a camp is to bring water infrastructure to the site. The design has two systems: delivering below: typical site section. These systems and potable water, and harvesting and collecting rainnetworks support cowater. dependent programs. This Water delivery infrastructure is a linear system segmented site section depicts conditions in the that uses the main access road as a social spine rainy season when water harvesting infrastructure is along which water distribution nodes, commercial at work. buildings and social institutions aggregate. The water distribution nodes are points of social interaction within the community, places of impromptu gathering and discussion. The water tower along
On Site review 22: WA R
the spine is the signifier of the settlement’s market below, and a source of orientation in the landscape. Water harvesting infrastructure harnesses water by working with the site topography. This system is a neighbourhood water network, a catalyst for organising housing and agriculture at the block scale.(right) Instead of draining rainwater into the wetland, a series of berms and basins linked horizontally, harvest and infiltrate the water periodically.6 The road network therefore also follows the contours of the land instead of the old colonial grid. Agriculture aligns along each berm, run-off is infiltrated in a basin, while stone or block retaining walls keep the berms from eroding. The berm infrastructure is a corridor, a pedestrian pathway, connecting clusters of new permanent housing across each block.(below right) At the centre of each cluster is a stone-lined water collection courtyard. Troughs and cisterns harvest courtyard surface water during the rainy season, storing it for irrigation during the dry season. This system alleviates pressure on the wetlands by providing an alternative water source. Implemented together, these systems and networks support codependent programs.(below) opposite: The berm infrastructure connects housing clusters and water collection courtyards. The basin, a resource with fruit trees and construction materials such as thatch grasses, also supports wildlife.
The key to designing in such socially charged situations is sensitive implementation. This requires both a topdown and bottom-up approach. The government is a significant actor bringing the main water infrastructure to the site first. A new water tower is then a gathering place where displaced people meet to discuss the planning of each unique block. Designers help them determine the placement of water collection courtyards around which families will cluster. Because the design of the new settlement is carried out on the same existing site, the construction of berms, basins, troughs and garden plots is broken down into increments to minimise the impact. (scenario, right) As each block’s framework of water infrastructure is fully realised the displaced people can begin to construct permanent dwellings. There is a crucial need to develop strategies for permanent settlement that restore displaced people’s relationships to land and community. Water infrastructure is well suited to the sensitive process of incremental implementation necessary for repairing severed connections. This design strategy allows for a variation in landscape conditions and scales, therefore possible to employ in other countries and situations. This strategy could be also be adopted for newly displaced people, to create a community as an alternative to the camp. An organising system based on water continues to generate social and economic gains well past the completion of the last phase – which is, in fact, when the project really begins. C
Implementation scenario. This scenario follows one set of families as their cluster of huts transitions into a new settlement
the displacement camp (pre-phase 1)
the establishment of water channels and troughs
housing connected to the berm infrastructure
1 Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. ‘Internal Displacement in Africa’ http://www.internal-displacement. a ll dra w in gs : e r i ca br i g ht
2 The Republic of Uganda Ministry of Health. ‘Health and mortality survey among internally displaced persons in Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts, northern Uganda’. World Health Organisation (July 2005), http://www.who.int/hac/crises/uga/sitreps/ Ugandamortsurvey.pdf: 46
3 Franceys, Richard and Esther Gerlach, editors. Regulating Water and Sanitation for the Poor: Economic Regulation for Public and Private Partnerships. London & Sterling, Virginia: Earthscan, 2008. p74 4 The Republic of Uganda Ministry of Health. ‘Health’ p 26 5 Paul Robson, editor. Communities and Reconstruction in Angola: The Prospects for Reconstruction in Angola from the Community Perspective. Guelph: Development Workshop, 2001. p15 6 Lancaster, Brad and Joe Marshall. Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, 1st edition. Tucson: Rainsource Press, 2006. p24 The Gulu berm and basin infiltration system is adapted from this document which highlights a water harvesting project, the Zvishavane Water Resources Project, in Zimbabwe. Erica Bright, a recent graduate of the University of Waterloo’s MArch program, has spent almost a year in East Africa designing schools and training centres for local communities in need.
housing clustered into blocks
a completed housing cluster with berms, basins, gardens, housing and community
WA R matters: On Site review 22
re c o n s t r u c t i o n | strategic education by s t a n l ey c b r i t t o n
a n t i c ipatory redr ess down and dirty architectural practice
s h e lte r plan n in g ve r n ac u lar pro fe s s io n h in te r lan ds
Architects are often missing in action during tumultuous times. Building local architectural capacity is both an obligation and an opportunity for the profession from afar.
The aftermath of war, as with natural disaster, can be a time of great excitement. Battalions of aide workers hit the beaches. Swarms of parachute relief pallets speckle the sky. Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries pumps adrenalin. The gods of goodness champion grand and glorious interventions. Meanwhile, hinterlands cope alone.
s t a n b r it to n
Burma There is nastiness afoot in the thick vegetation that blankets the rugged highlands of east Burma – fifty years of civil war and a totalitarian government faces off against its ethnic nationalities. The Karen, Mon and Karenni are three. The Thailand frontier is a clutter of refugee camps. For the majority still living on ancestral lands life and livelihoods are stressed; sometimes entire thatch roofed villages must quite literally pull pole and relocate. Meandering cross-border Back Pack Health Worker Teams offer respite. Well-trained and well-educated, they are often called upon to advise on matters of environmental well being such as potable water and safe sanitation, in addition to health. Periodic workshops provide the teams with a forum for continuous learning. Not long ago I was invited to add the basics of village infrastructure and habitation to the workshop curriculum. Useful lessons, I thought, would include locating on high ‘strategic’ ground, ensuring more than one egress route for safety, directing sewage down to crops below, separating combustible buildings, building robustly, bracing buildings against winds, and so on. A well-illustrated pocket size aide-memoire was an envisioned packaway. The absence of cash-in-hand kept me in Canada. In the meantime, I thought more about this project. Perhaps better value would be achieved by mentoring a couple of refugee technicians. Would it not be they who could best workshop the Back Pack Teams in language, culture and shared experience? Unlike costly fly-in expatriates like me, they would always be available to advise. The war drags on.
On Site review 22: WA R
Uganda In the lush savannah of northern Uganda a 20-year insurgency appears to be petering out. The terror of child soldiers of the Lord’s Resistance Army is on the wane. Hundreds of thousands of hesitant Acholi and Langi families are slowly leaving the refuge of internally displaced person camps. ‘Home’ awaits their return. For many second and third generation campers home is a fuzzy notion for which they are unprepared. Does resettlement imply land tenure, governance, income generation, medical services, nutrition, education and shelter? Recently NUeLINK, the Northern Uganda e-Link telecommunication initiative, was shelved when it became evident that the people with technical expertise had long ago sought their future in the safety of the cities. Who, then, would provide informed leadership in the rebuilding of bush communities? This is the problem: absence of local experts in reconstruction and re-building of shelter, infrastructure and community almost automatically means application to the outside world for help. Yet, ubiquitous clusters of round mud-block huts are unlikely to receive architectural, engineering and urbanism benefits, programmed and financed as international aide, unless they are in the more populous locations. In hinterland locations, entrepreneurial incentives may be required. Catalyst projects are a possibility: this is a capacity building lesson from NUeLINK. Ugandan-Canadian Florence Ocen is backing Chicks4Grannies, a new regional egg marketing business. The hope is that healthy chicken coops beget healthy hens and profits. Profits finance better shelter for grandmother-headed families. Profits also contribute to expanding the business, spinning off opportunities for shelter improvements throughout the neighbourhood and beyond. Needed: a little vocational training for a selected few in design and construction techniques. Outcome: a small sustainable design-and-build business.
The clients, the architects and the builders: a child-headed family in a Ugandan Internally Displaced Persons camp. Shelter is but one component of an extensive strategy that includes business, local profits, micro-credit and sustainable construction techniques employing further members of the community.
Nepal In Nepal in April 2006 a republic replaced the monarchy, ending violent civil strife with Maoists. However different provocations followed as ethnic groups pursued democracy in the streets and in the new legislature. Left behind, as always, were the fearfully disadvantaged. In the Himalaya prairie of southeast Nepal, a group of Canadian architects invested a large amount of cash and teamed with the family-strengthening programs of SOS Children’s Villages Nepal. Together, despite a climate of nervous uncertainty, we created a multiple-year revolving fund to micro-finance house loans for replacement and rehabilitated mud-on-bamboo houses, and to help others generate income such they too could one day qualify for houses. It was clearly evident that borrower families needed to access design and construction expertise. But architects, engineers and technologists are not to be found locally – they congregate in urbanised Kathmandu. The Nepal Healthy House Project is a response to this dearth of expertise. Local tradespersons are being workshop-tutored and homeowners are being workshop-educated; a pocket-size house inspector’s checklist has been published; an innovative technologies demonstration house is proposed and an illustrated handbook of design-build best practices will be out in early 2010. In this project, SOS is the social sciences and micro-finance partner, Architects Without Borders Canada is the convener of the workshops, Engineers Without Borders Nepal is the interpreter of indigenous knowledge and I am coordinating from afar. Affordable shelter need not, in so far as micro-finance can succeed, be unattainable. Sustainable designs require imaginative forethought and good craftsmanship. This is a particular challenge given that one is often dependent on locally resourced and recycled materials to be used in ways that can be technically challenging and reliant on semi-skilled trades. SOS and the Canadian architects aim to enable 35 houses a year – sustainable employment that retains and encourages a small cadre of informed builders within their own communities.
The Nepal Loft House exemplifies architecture influenced by architects. Architects are knowledge experts conditioned to see through the eyes of others. Collaborating with local practitioners, they can often adapt new technologies to best practice ideas from the local vernacular. So it is with the suggested rehabilitation of this 28m2 mud plaster-on-bamboo weave house in the Himalaya southeast.
Pierre Muanda, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, observes that in war-ravaged places expectations for our profession run awfully high: ‘architects are builders of new vision and hope’. My mentor, the Honorable William Kelly from the Senate of Canada, adds that as professionals we bear ‘obligations of special competency’ to serve those amongst us who are in greatest need. I have in my mind an image from the 1976 movie Apocalypse Now. Robert Duvall’s character Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore’s helicopter gunships assault an idyllic Viet Nam hamlet. Reeled back-to-front, devastation transforms to Shangri-La. Now, imagine an architect from afar with proto-architects from near-at-hand, backpacking instruments, flip-flopping through mud, radiating joie de vivre and laying guiding hands upon local efforts to build anew and to make better. This is our goal, an architecture in marginal and hinterland areas where human and material resources are eager and unorthodox, influenced by architects in eager and unorthodox ways, drawing on extra-architectural resources such as microcredit, family structure, electronic communications and above all, local knowledge. C
Stanley Britton, FRAIC, is a strategic planning advisor to, and facilitator for, non-profit organisations that seek healthy and sustainable shelter solutions for the disenfranchised overseas. In this regard he is an advocate for architecture influenced by architects. He can be reached at email@example.com
WA R matters: On Site review 22
planning | r i o d e j a n e i ro by ke n a n h a n d z i c
Nar chitectu re a n d favelas
dr u g war s tu rf c o n tro l i nfo r mal o rde r unwr itte n laws sl um u pgr adin g
kenan handz i c
a preponderance of informality
No one could ever claim complete formal control of Rio. This has been true over the centuries and includes autonomous quilombos – escaped-slave communities during times of slavery, unruly 19th century cortiços – tenements, and today’s de facto control in favelas by narcotraffickers and policia mineira or informal militias. Rio’s very organic and unorganised landscape contributes so much to its easygoing and spontaneous character. Even the largest urban tropical forest is geographically smack in the middle of metropolitan Rio. Whether one wanders the concrete jungle that makes up the formal and well-off parts of this city, the favelas or the urban forest, there is a sense that nature and wilderness embrace and engulf this city. It seems too great to succumb to the hand of man. This, and not Oscar Niemeyer’s famous architecture from early on in his career in Rio, nor its endless beaches, made me fall in love with this city.
I did venture into the favelas. What I found was the very definition of ‘community’ that we constantly strive to create here in sprawling suburban Edmonton. They were so full of life, vibrant, neighbourly and intimate. Because the formal municipality wanted nothing to do with the favelas for a large part of their existence, they became convenient bases for the originally ideologically-leftist drug dealers or the parallel power that emerged in the 1970s. I felt like a stranger roaming these areas, a feeling heightened by the local rule and parallel power of the narco gangs.
Similar to Rio itself, Rio’s favelas are organic communities that contain steep hills, complex vistas, innumerable stairs, winding roads and pedestrian paths or, if located on a flat topography, connecting pathways akin to mazes and medieval cities. This organic nature allows for easy control, surveillance and guerilla warfare: Rio’s chaos has a certain order to it. Cariocas or the locals certainly the perfect turf for both small and large drug gangs. Mature faveknow the rules. They survive and thrive by them while visitors look las have little room for expansion due to natural barriers, opposon with curiosity and amazement. ‘Don’t enter favelas gringo!’ was ing drug factions and the environmental protection of the Tijuca repeated over and over with direct evidence of previous horrific Forest. experiences. These segregated areas are often compared to failed When the police and other formal institutions do enter a favela, states and lawless enclaves. A portion of the Red Line Freeway gothey rarely come out without a few bullets in their vehicles — that ing to the airport from the city is known locally as the Gaza Strip. is in the rare occurrence when they enter these areas at all. Despite Many Cariocas spend their entire life living with a view to a favela the arbitrary nature of drug gang control, favela residents apprecibut never venture up its hills. What a shame! but the reverse is also ate it when the police and other drug gangs stay away, minimistrue. Some people in remote areas of the huge Complexo do Alemao ing confrontation and all its negative consequences such as stray favela have not left it in years. They live in a city within a city. When bullets and maimed bystanders. A favela has its own informal I commented to a favela community leader how claustrophobic it protection and rules; low-intensity conflict can be continually felt, must feel for gang members to be trapped in their communities due seen in the media and heard as one walks through the formal city. to fear of being arrested in the formal city, he replied, ‘No, they have There is a sense that the conflict will never end – it has become a everything they could ever need or want in their favelas’. part of Rio’s urban character.
On Site review 22: WA R
kenan handz ic
Several environmental factors have been decisive in making Rioâ€™s favelas ideal grounds for the illicit drug trade. Most favelas are located on steep hills with tight entrances controlled by young men with machine guns. Rooftops high up on the hill provide ideal observation points to watch out for the approach of police. The night watchmen, called falcons, are young boys who use drugs to keep awake and alert in order to patrol their areas. The cutters who prepare the drugs are hidden in secluded streets that are as inaccessible as a labyrinth. The affluent drug customer climbs only a short portion of the hill to the boca or the mouth, where the drug gangs establish an informal selling area. The fact that most middle- and upper-class areas in Rio with large houses behind electrified fences have symbiotic favelas as neighbours ensures a captive market. A Rio slum upgrading initiative, the Favela Bairro program was meant to integrate the favelas into the formal city. Streets were paved, infrastructure provided and many favelas were revitalised with the informal cooperation of drug gangs. Despite a general improvement in living standards, gangs still roam and expand their control even in the upgraded favelas. The fact that a favela road is now paved and more accessible does not stop drug gangs from using barricades, such as turning over an old van to block the entrance of the police. This ongoing lack of security presents a major impediment to the formalisation process started with slum upgrading.
The current trend in Latin American slum upgrading is based on the model implemented by Medellin, Colombia. Aside from improving the overall character of Medellin, there was a focus on providing visible and much needed public infrastructure, such as gondola lines connecting remote communities to the metro system and architecturally striking public institutions such as libraries. Rio is following this strategy with the current regeneration of Complexo do Alemao and other large favelas with the help of state and federal funding. Unlike the challenges of scarce and meagre public places in the North American city, the challenge in Rio is to restore order in these exclusionary areas that constitute islands in the city. Informality, organic geography and favela residents acting as urban designers in constructing their communities have all led to the wonderful vibrancy of the favelas today. It is also high density, powerful unity and neighbourliness and the gradual improvement over decades that have allowed favelas to coexist with and contribute to Rio as a whole. Favelas must be nurtured to improve the formal city. By tackling the unsavoury aspects of the drug trade that make life in a favel untenable, the state will make favelas more accessible, safer and even more vibrant than they are today. Despite this being a form of control and an exertion of state power, the whole society, especially the favela poor, will benefit. C
Kenan Handzic is an urban planner with the City of Edmonton. He graduated from University of Calgaryâ€™s Faculty of Environmental Design with a Masters in Environmental Design (Planning). His univeristy research focused on various aspects of slum upgrading in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
WA R matters: On Site review 22
l a n d s c ap e | re - w r i t i n g v i e t n a m by g e r a l d fo r s e t h
M e n ding the WA R - TO RN
re pair to u r is m memor y de c o lo n is atio n rec o n figu r atio n
Can beauty and peace emerge from the horrors of war experienced in Viet Nam from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century?
Overturned Trucks After Bombings. Several trucks, belonging to communist forces, lay overturned on a rural road, part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, after the US Air Force bombed the road in 1971. Beside the road are many bomb craters. February 18, 1971, Laos
ÂŠ Be tt m a n / CO RBIS
Images of the Vietnam War, black and white, unremittingly violent, have become iconic: the Trang Bang children fleeing after their house had been napalmed, the Saigon Chief of Police shooting a Viet Cong prisoner in the head. Right, is the Ho Chi Minh Trail on February 18, 1971 showing overturned Viet Cong trucks after a US bombing. Such photographs, which flooded the media and living rooms of North America, have remained as our image of Viet Nam. The war lives in our minds, largely unchanged, simply through the shock carried by these images which, had they happened to us, would have obliterated our future. Or would it have? What is the capacity of human beings to keep surviving war and carrying on?
From the end of the Sino-French War in 1887 until 1954 and the battle of Dien Bien Phu, France ruled the vast Indochine franĂ§aise, which included Viet Nam. From 1946 to 1954, Ho Chi Minhâ€™s communist north Viet Nam army fought for and won independence for the region from France. The Geneva Accord of 1954 partitioned Viet Nam, separating the communist north from the southern Republic of Viet Nam until elections could be held to form a government of unification. Because of the fear that the quite popular and still communist Ho Chi Minh would win, the United States began its interventionist support of the south, blocking unification and protecting the abundant and cheap resources that fed the western economy. And so, from 1960-74, parts of this region became the most bombed, shelled, gassed, napalmed, defoliated and devastated area in the history of warfare. Soil and water were polluted by endless military incursions. A generation of Vietnamese lost limbs 16
On Site review 22: WA R
or suffered emotionally. The poorly armed, hapless villagersoldiers were up against a superpower with an endless supply of specialty-trained troops and sophisticated arsenals of weaponry. For a while this asymmetry seemed to doom the cause of north Viet Nam for the hoped re-unification of north and south, but as we know the final results turned out poorly for the American forces and the south Viet Nam government. It was the first war in a distant land beamed via satellite into the homes of the developed world which watched, on 30 April 1975, south Viet Nam officially fall to the North Vietnamese. In 1978 Viet Nam invaded Cambodia defeating the Kmer Rouge, and in 1979 China invaded Viet Nam, leading to the Third Indochina War. Viet Nam is now re-unified under a working balance of communist politics and capitalist economics. There are visual and experiential transformations that have taken both the country and its people from war into peace, from ugliness to beauty.
g e ra ld fo r se t h
Ho Chi Minh Trail at the west border, in Laos The Ho Chi Minh Trail, a honeycomb of gravel paths hidden by the jungle, transported military men and supplies directly from the north to the south. It dates from the 1950â€™s, was used by the Viet Minh against the French and was reinforced in the 1960â€™s. It contained anti-aircraft emplacements, underground barracks and vehicle repair and fuel depots. In 1969, in an attempt to destroy the trail, American B52 bombers made over 900 sorties each day over the trail dropping more bombs than in all of WWII.
Today, visitors to the trail come across simple and elegant bamboo thatch homes forming pleasant villages. Locals offer healthy and tasty foods made with herbs and spices gathered from the jungle. Villagers act as our guides on the rugged trail for unforgettable trekking and elephant-sighting. They have re-cycled thousands of ejected metal fuel tanks from the B52 bombers and converted them into useful, speedy long boats for personal use along the streams and river.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
Presidential Palace in Saigon In 1966 a modern palace for the president replaced the original built in 1868 for the French Governor-General (and destroyed in 1964 in an internal attempt to assassinate president Ngo Dien Diem). The new palace, designed by Ngô Viêt Thu, an honorary AIA member, contained presidential living quarters, government rooms, an extensive underground network of escape tunnels, bomb shelters and the war rooms of the south Viet Nam government.
Today Saigon is called Ho Chi Minh City, and the Presidential Palace it is now the Reunification Palace. Inside are the intact rooms with their original rich finishes and furnishings protected since the day that Saigon fell in 1975. We visit the war rooms showcasing the models and maps of the last troop deployments. On the roof terrace a moribund helicopter rests, an awkward visual memorial to the chaos the week the Americans were evacuated and the south Viet Nam government fell.
Hoa Lo Prison in central Hanoi A chamber of horrors was constructed by the French in 1896 to imprison and terrify Vietnamese dissidents. Built for 450 prisoners, by 1930 it housed more than 2000. The French overlords were merciless; they conducted unimaginable torture on a frequent basis. The north Vietnamese used Hoa Lo from 1964-73 to imprison a group of American POW’s (including the now Senator John McCain) shot down during the poorly planned air raids over Hanoi. It became known around the world as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ largely because international observers proclaimed the prisoners to be treated fairly.
ge ra ld fo r s e t h
Today Hoa Lo Prison has been partially replaced by a sleek, contemporary commercial office tower of the reflective glass genre found in every city of the world since 1990, one of the many symbols of the new capitalism sweeping the country. A remaining quadrant is preserved for the curious as a memorial to man’s inhumanity. It provides glimpses into a torture chamber, small cells, the dining room and recreation courtyard. It exhibits guillotines, torture tools and archival photos illustrating the horrors in this prison up to the 1950’s. A visitor here cannot help but conceive an eternal message of hope, human rights, peace, and the need for mankind to end wars and political incarcerations.
On Site review 22: WA R
gerald for set h
Hai Van Pass, 50 km north of Danang (above) In the fifteenth century this mountain pass at 490m separated Viet Nam from the Kingdom of Champas to the south. For over 500 years it has stood guard, with various fortifications, over both the land and bay of Danang. Around 1890 a French fort was built here and further expanded with concrete bunkers as a military outpost by American forces in the 1960s. Today the pass is a tour-bus rest stop with spectacular views through the mist. The mountainside itself is littered with abandoned military structures forming a kind of surreal sculpture garden to the memory of five hundred years of war and insecurity.
From Devastation to Beauty with Peace It is clear that the Vietnamese have experienced grief through military wars instigated by tyrants. In my visits to former prisons, opulent war rooms and escape tunnels, mountainside bunkers, crude tunnel networks and camouflaged jungle supply trails, I was visually humbled by the structures that permitted terrorism against a population whose only choices were to either became conscripted soldiers or bystander victims. However, Viet Nam has much to celebrate today â€” 1. the government of the day has willingly opened the country to an international audience. The government also seems to have physically disappeared from view; its presence is as an economic manager rather than an authoritative military. 2. the favourable climate for fast growth not only provides agriculture wealth but also conceals or blurs the scars of war. 3. the recent economic growth has not diminished the desire
Cu Chi Tunnels near Saigon More than 250 km of tunnels were dug into the red earth, often several stories deep, permitting the Viet Cong to communicate with each other even with the American forces above and in between. These tunnels allowed frequent surprise attacks into the heart of the Mekong delta and were rarely discovered or destroyed. Today visitors navigate through portions of the tunnel under what are now prosperous farms and small factories on land reclaimed from the defoliated jungle. People arrive out of curiosity to tour the famous tunnels and then hike or bike within a lush natural scenery made surreal by the bombâ€™s gigantic pock-marks.
to preserve the past, including structures that represent the unpleasantness of war. 4. metal war debris is locally recycled. Ironically, the availability of these demonic materials permits a creativity of dramatic objects unique to this country. 5. the Vietnamese have a long-held reputation for hospitality. What we also admire today is a neutrality and forgiveness to past enemies and former dubious allies. It has been reported that many American POWâ€™s have returned to meet the people and roam the stunning country they never really knew. Some say they experience a closure, a healing of scars, because their journey introduces them to the true friendliness and forgiveness of the Vietnamese people. C Gerald Forseth (BArch. Toronto 1970, MAAA, FRAIC) is a Calgary architect, planner, researcher, traveller, teacher, lecturer, writer, photographer and curator. firstname.lastname@example.org
WA R matters: On Site review 22
Military Estates exact edges
I step off the train in a western Tokyo suburb at 8 am. A few minutes’ walk past the mini-marts and four-story apartment blocks brings me to Camp Zama, headquarters of the United States Army in Japan. I approach the pedestrian gate where a Japanese guard stands, automatic shotgun at the ready. I show him my American passport and proceed to a call box, where I phone ahead to my contact, Fukaya-san. He is a Japanese civilian who works for the Army’s Installations Management Division. While I am waiting for my escort, under observation by the guard, I study the base edge. A column of 12-storey apartment buildings springs up from the sprawling city and looms over the base like towers over Central Park. The barbed-wire fences and weathered ‘No Trespassing’ signs hold this piece of land at bay from the city’s appetite. It is astonishing that sixtyfour years after the surrender, Tokyo still has American troops occupying its corners. While the Soviet threat – for four decades the principle justification for continued US occupation – has passed, North Korea, China and a 9/11 repeat are among the perceived threats which perpetuate the US presence in Japan. Whether or not the bases are necessary, I am here to study what impact they have on the surrounding civilian fabric. As cities develop around military bases once laid out far from city limits, the noise complaints, zoning conflicts, and repossession of military land begin to chew away at the operative capabilities of the base. The proper military term for this is ‘urban encroachment,’ something important enough that the RAND Corporation recently produced a study on it entitled The Thin Green Line (2007). Many bases in urban areas have set aside staff to seek out ways to mitigate encroachment. What ensues is a pitched battle between the encroachment team and the denizens of the base edge. Fukaya-san, Camp Zama’s encroachment expert, pulls up in a minivan. We exchange business cards per the Japanese custom, and then after filling out some paperwork at the checkpoint we head off on a tour of the base perimeter. In the van are two more Japanese civilian employees of Camp Zama: Awada-san and Oguro-san. No one explains to me the purpose of their attendance, but I begin to feel like a visiting diplomat. After all, I am a United States citizen and my country has signed a treaty with Japan called a Status of Forces Agreement, permitting the occupation of Japanese territory in exchange for augmenting their defence forces. I am here to observe the spatial negotiations of this treaty as they are manifest at the base edge.
On Site review 22: WA R
r u le s in te rf ac e militar y bas e s encro ac h e me n t fr ac tu re lin e s
ni ck s ow e r s
b o rd e r c o n t ro l militar y bases by n i c k s owe r s
above: Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa below: Sasebo Naval Base, Kyushu
nic k s ow e r s
We pull up to the first site of encroachment, a tree with branches hanging over the fence. Is this a joke? I can see the news headline: ‘US Military Base Overrun by Cherry Blossom Trees’. But if the branches hang over onto the base property, why can the military not just lop them off ? Fukaya-san explains that they must go through a process of asking the Japanese federal government, which then must ask the local municipality who then may or may not demand that the tree-owner prune his tree. This particular tree is a local violation to international treaty space, so Camp Zama’s staff cannot take direct action. I look at the tree not without a bit of reverence. We move on, one by one, to observe each example of encroachment on the base. Clotheslines, scarecrows in the form of plastic bottles spinning in the wind and small gardens outside the fence but on military property are among the sites of treaty violation. We stop to look at a birdfeeder in the form of a halved orange, impaled on the top of the fence. Awada-san tells me that if I want a photo of it, I have to inform Oguro-san. He will take the picture with my camera. Suddenly, I am the film director of a bizarre production, with my military entourage: Fukaya-san the encroachment expert, Awada-san his chain-smoking co-producer, and Ogurosan the camera man, a can of BOSS Black coffee in hand. These seemingly trivial moments of intersection between the military and civilian worlds are, in fact, significant. They are the beginnings, the fraying of edges which eventually lead to tears, rips and rending of the whole. What would happen if we amplified the scarecrows and birdfeeders, the clotheslines and vegetable gardens? The military base would actually be taken over by trees and birds and gardens. Fuchu Communication Station, a nearby base returned to the Japanese Defence Force in the 1990s, is overgrown and fast decaying. If this is the future of bases, then an incipient strategy for the reclamation of military space is in action along the fences. In preparation for such a strategy, I have documented the phenomena of the base edges across a number of installations in Japan: Yokosuka Naval Base and Atsugi Naval Air Facility in Tokyo, and Sasebo Naval Base near Nagasaki. I am also documenting Okinawa, a small island which shoulders an unusual burden of 75% of the bases in Japan: Kadena Air Base, Camp Hansen and Camp Schwab. These tunnels of space are latent opportunities for larger interventions. As a collection of spaces they serve to undermine the integrity of the base edge, eroding it and lending an unfinished, temporary quality to the base. Like Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates1, the territory is difficult and sometimes impossible to occupy. Because the land is negotiated by an international treaty, it is also an impossible space in which to act unless the action is illicit, or until the terms of the treaty become sympathetic to bird-feeders and vegetable gardens. C
1 Fake Estates: In the 1970s, Gordon Matta-Clark bought up unwanted slivers and triangles of land in Queens and documented their edges in rich detail. Many parcels were simply inaccessible, islands of space sealed within a city block. Other fragments were so narrow that nothing could possibly be built there and travel through them was difficult. His close-up photographs of the property edges exposed a world of erosion, plant growth, and concrete fracture. Fake Estates declares that a property edge is more than a line, it is a space to be inhabited. Nick Sowers is a graduate student in architecture at University of California at Berkeley, currently travelling on a John K Branner Fellowship studying military space around the world.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
memorials | afghanistan by c h r i s t i n e l e u
h i g h way of h eroes 65 overpasses on highway 401
m emo r i a l s h ig hw ay s ad hoc c e re mo ni e s c a su a l t i e s
safe and accessible opportunity for the public to pay their respects to the country’s fallen: CFB Trenton is open only to family, military, dignitaries and media; the coroner’s office is also closed to the public. Despite the contentious nature of the Afghanistan War, the public ritual gained momentum and there were calls to officially name the route. The big break was when an online petition was mentioned on morning radio airwaves. The number of signees was a few thousand, but by 10:30am, the number had risen to over 9000. A few days later on August 24 2007, the Highway of Heroes was officially designated by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, in the midst of his successful re-election campaign.
ch r is ti ne l eu
The Highway of Heroes is a stretch of the 401 Highway between Canadian Forces Base Trenton and the coroner’s office at the Centre for Forensic Sciences in downtown Toronto. It was renamed in honour of Canada’s fallen soldiers. Regardless of where a Canadian soldier is stationed, a soldier is repatriated at a ceremony at CFB Trenton, and then transported with a family and military automobile entourage to Toronto for an official autopsy. The current count of fallen soldiers who have travelled this route is over 130. The Highway of Heroes began as a grassroots movement. In an impromptu manner, people began to congregate on the 65 overpasses between Trenton and Toronto which represent the only
On Site review 22: WA R
ambulance workers and the media. There is a surprisingly jovial air as people wait – people chat while holding their Tim Horton’s double-doubles; others rig their Canadian flags to the guardrails. Below, truck drivers honk their horns and drivers and passengers wave the peace sign; people on the overpasses wave in response. That air changes to respectful silence as the flashing lights of the motorcade appear on the horizon. It takes only a few seconds for the police escort, hearse and entourage to pass. Then the overpass community quickly evaporates until the next soldier’s death. C Christine Leu is is an intern architect working and teaching in Toronto. She is fascinated by anything related to highways as a public space, defined by the combination of enormous infrastructure, local landscapes and people.
chr is t in e le u
Each overpass is different due to variables such as landscape, topography, adjacencies, span and the period in which it was built. A few are exclusively for trains, but the vast majority is for motor vehicles. Human occupation was not considered. It is no wonder as overpasses are inhumane places – they are like standing in a blustery wind tunnel and a howling pit stop at the same time. On a typical day, overpasses are used almost exclusively by motor vehicles to traverse the great divide that is the 401 Highway. Around the time the convoy is expected to pass, however, these overpasses are transformed into impromptu mourning grounds. The east-facing guardrails overlooking oncoming westbound traffic are lined with locals: civilians, former military, fire, police,
WA R matters: On Site review 22
re p re s e n t a t i o n | iraq by s h aw n m i c h e l l e s m i t h
b a s i c g estu res tortured positions
Untitled (Abu Ghraib)
Private First Class Lynndie England became the most salient figure in the 2004 US media coverage of the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal. Few can forget the images of the woman holding the leash, or pointing to men’s genitalia and signalling ‘thumbs up’. As the Abu Ghraib photographs circulated globally on the World Wide Web, the infamous ‘hooded man’ became the international icon of the anonymous Arab victim, and England, a white female soldier, became the international icon of the American torturer. In many ways, England became a symbol of the war gone wrong. Many were shocked to discover torture enacted by U.S. soldiers, and many more were shocked to see that torture perpetrated by a young white woman soldier. England became a symbol of the perversion not only of American democratic ideals and military procedures, but also of an ideal of white American femininity. If women soldiers have always unsettled ideals of gender norms, women soldiers as torturers did so doubly. England figured as the negative and inverted image of that other gendered symbol of the war, the heavily scripted hero, Jessica Lynch. Now years after the revelation of torture at Abu Ghraib, the legality of American military procedures continues to be debated. England has served a term in prison, but the orchestrators of the torture policy have not been prosecuted. Today England figures as both torturer and scapegoat, as one of the few punished for a much more pervasive administrative and military strategy. In this triptych I reproduce the now iconic gestures of England, but reduce them to their minimal forms. In doing so I hope to highlight the fundamental disconnect between these familiar, cocky, even seemingly innocuous expressions, and torture. Choosing white silhouettes, I hope to evoke the ways in which England, and the acts of torture she has come to represent, continue to haunt American culture. Ultimately I hope to trouble the disjuncture between ideas about American innocence and righteousness and the illegal provocations the nation has normalised. C
Shawn Michelle Smith is Associate professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. email@example.com
On Site review 22: WA R
abu gh r aib to r tu re ir aq image repre s e n tatio n
terms | war by re z a a l i a b a d i a n d a r a s h n o u r key h a n i
War and its inhe rent ( u n )certain ties
c h o ic e lo gic c o n tr adic tio n s u gge s tio n po s s ibility
ingredients for a discourse
THEOREM [to leave or to stay]: In a room with no windows. You are inside. All the basic survival requirements are available to you. Life-time security too. Nevertheless you have not seen the outside. Out of this confinement possibilities are infinite. You have the option of leaving the confinement due to the un-known reality of the outside or stay inside the ever-predictable room. L S TESTIMONIUM [to be false or to be true]: War is the prediction of tranquility. T F // War resides in motivation. T F // War feeds from comfort. T F // War feeds the societal excitement. T F // Like any mental state, war is behavior. T F // Life is the disposition of war. T F // War manifests itself in your active prevalence. T F // Like love, war is a paradigm always in-place in society; only activated when we declare it. T F // The structure of war resembles that of development. T F // War is the effect of life. T F // War is the cause of life. T F // War motivates peace. T F // War deems to perpetuate freedom. T F // War is the introduction to culture. T F // Architecture is the product of insecurity and insecurity is the most immediate by-product of war. T F // War does not necessitate arms. T F // Violence is war gone wrong. T F // War is displacement of socio-economical permanence. T F // War is not between nations but between values. T F // Values in essence are arrogant and require the disapproval of other values and this subtle disfigurative necessity is what we call war. T F // Media is the chief responsible element in (dis)allowing / (de)activating a war. T F // Media organizes war and gives it definition and conclusion. T F // Media is war. T F // Life concludes with elimination of life. Termination justifies existence. Life justifies war. T F // Fear, violence, death, destruction, poverty, power, intelligence, and distress are all things that condition a war and are at the same time things that a war leaves behind. War is inevitable. T F // We are worried about war and entertained by it. T F // War can initiate from radical beliefs and/or statements of the author. T F // War is to bring into confusion. T F // War is me and you talking at the same time. T F QUOTA [to be agreed or disagreed]: War was my university. Everything has proceeded from there. —Paul Virilio A D // We make war that we may live in peace. —Aristotle A D // Everyone’s a pacifist between wars. It’s like being a vegetarian between meals. —Colman McCarthy A D // In peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons. —Croesus A D // The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations. —David Friedman A D // They have not wanted Peace at all; they have wanted to be spared war – as though the absence of war was the same as peace. —Dorothy Thompson A D // When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? —Eleanor Roosevelt A D // Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous. —George Bernard Shaw A D // I’ve been to war. I’ve raised twins. If I had a choice, I’d rather go to war. —George W Bush A D // War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men. —Georges Clemenceau A D // A nice war is a war where everybody who is heroic is a hero, and everybody more or less is a hero in a nice war. Now this war is not at all a nice war —Gertrude Stein A D // Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. —Isaac Asimov A D // You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. —Jeanette Rankin A D // It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war. —John F. Kennedy A D // Either war is obsolete or men are. —R Buckminster Fuller A D // History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap. —Ronald Reagan A D // A self-respecting nation is ready for anything, including war, except for a renunciation of its option to make war. —Simone Weil A D // Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice. —Spinoza A D // To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. —Theodore Roosevelt A D // The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government. —Thomas Jefferson A D // You can’t say civilization don’t advance -- for in every war, they kill you in a new way. —Will Rogers A D // A conqueror is always a lover of peace. —Karl Von Clausewitz A D CODA [to be filled in]: From absolute _______ comes infinite _______ . From infinite _______ comes partial _______ posed by the difference in power, and that creates finite _______ hence _______ becomes restricted, and to assign infinite _______ to infinite _______ in order to regain absolute _______ , state of war should be activated to reconfigure the set values. This circular drama continues until it reaches the state of infinite _______ and continuous affectability. This in effect defies _______ and calls for an even greater war. This continues to an extend when human understanding of the concepts of war and freedom eventually will collapse. Freedom // possibility // possibility // restriction // accessibility // freedom // accessibility // possibility // freedom // variability // freedom C
Reza Aliabadi, MArch (University of Tehran), post-professional MArch (McGill). atelier rzlbd. covers a range of architecture, research and design. www.rzlbd.com Arash Nourkeyhani studies architectural theory, criticism and philosophy (U of T), redefining architectural and cultural conventions at www.unlearnworkroom.com
WA R matters: On Site review 22
soldiers | afghanistan smsteele
So Beautiful for MCpl. G, 1PPCLI
in f an tr y de ploy me n t war le avin g be in g
For You At The Shura for AK, ( مكيلع مالسلاpeace be upon you)
The Many Men So Beautiful Men marched, they kept equal step. Men marched, they were nurtured together. David Jones, In Parenthesis
I watch you infantryman so gucci in the Suffield dust your body turned by a year of sweat duress, Karl G sleeplessness, like liquid glass blown gaudy in the white-hot war furnace into something steely, fragile, precious. Your bed, the inside of your head nodding into your frag vest, mother LAV humming hot then cold, while Cpl. Zee on sentry blows cigarillo halos at emerald worlds of infra-red, thermals, watching watching arcs right arcs left, ghostly glows coyotes creeping tall prairie grass. You, zenith of man at 26, face sooted green with live-fire, two-tour-old-guy-eyes in young man’s skin, I’ll think of you when you go over again, your pencil, your pen, your sketchpad falling from your sleeping hand; I’ll think of you, the bitching brothers, sleeping upright in the belly of the LAV shoulder-to-shoulder, knee-to-knee crammed, doing time in cell-phone-Bible-land, I’ll think of you, all of you, ‘til the Herc lands and most of you come marching home again.
my pen has drunk from knowledge Rumi
Golden, soldier, Asaleem ‘Alaykum, helmet off, frag vest on, cross-legged you sit on rose petals, Persia’s carpets, beside terps, behind elders, your OC— the outer ring of a stone dropped in a wadi. Cups of steaming mint tea, scooped qabuli. Moons of naan torn and eaten with gun hands. Cigarillos passed, orbit Afghanistan. Speak Pashto softly. Soft knock the circle, your third tour of this broken, beautiful land. 26 year old, MCpl. A man. Full. Though innocent wisdom comes, goes. Like black storks, through drought, boredom, adrenaline, the metal rain, Kohl-eyed angels of burka, the shalwar kameez, watch over you in the desert again. I know.
smsteele is a poet with the Canadian Forces Artist Programme who has spent a year with 1st Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and the 2 Royal 22e Régiment at CFB Edmonton, CFB Shilo, CFB Suffield, CFB Wainwright and is currently in Kandahar with Task Force 3-09. www.warpoet.ca
On Site review 22: WA R
Dover, New Jersey. The aftermath of the Lake Denmark Munitions Storage explosion of July 1926.
typology | magazines by a d a m b o b b e t t e and alexis bhagat
s to rag e sites towards a morphology of US ordnance magazines
mu n itio n s s to r age in s tallatio n s e x plo s io n s c o n tain me n t
‘In general, storage buildings, called magazines, at military installations are a ubiquitous necessity with a mundane function, usually translated into a utilitarian form that lacks excitement to the casual observer.’ —US Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. Army Ammunition and Explosives Storage in the United States, 1775-1945
From a satellite photo, the scale of US ammunition storage cannot but astound even a casual observer. Crystalline clusters of mounds stretch for miles and miles out through desert and prairie from quaint small-towns of Army camps. In order to read the patterns of these concrete abstractions, we sought to identify the types of buildings that comprise them and learn the code of their arrangements.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
BOXES: The most prevalent category of US Army magazines before 1928 were aboveground, rectangular warehouses, with gabled or flat roofs, constructed of stone or brick to reduce the risk of fire. Hollow masonry tile was the preferred material, but woodframe magazines were also built, insulated with corrugated asbestos insulation. Temporary Magazine Number 8, located in the northeast quadrant of Lake Denmark Naval Ammunition Depot, was a typical 150 x 200’ clay tile magazine, overloaded with leftover WWI ordnance. On 10 July 1926 it was struck by lightning at 5:15 pm. At 5:20 pm, it exploded, leaving a crater where the magazine had stood and detonating nearby Magazine Number 9 and Shell House Number 22. The direct effect of these blasts caused the annihilation of all structures within half a mile and damaged buildings up to one and a half miles away. (see previous page) In response to this explosion a board of inquiry was formed which recommended new forms of ordnance storage. BARREL VAULTS: The Igloo magazine was a low, barrel-arch structure constructed of reinforced concrete and covered with earth. The barrel-arch directs the force of an explosion up instead of out, while the berming of the earth dampens an explosion, reducing the possibility of sympathetic detonation. Its other advantages are thermal insulation, camouflage from earth berms and drastic reduction in distance requirements between magazines.The antecedents of the igloo include the barrel-vaulted German munitionshaus as well as earthbermed concrete casemate magazines constructed by the US Navy during WWI. Construction of Igloos began at Yorktown Naval depot, Virginia in 1928. They were 40’ x 10’ high with a capacity of 140,000 pounds of explosives. They were laid out in clusters of seven with 500’ between magazines and 1900’ between clusters. This arrangement can be seen at Hawthorne Naval Ammunition Depot (right), the 20th century paradigm for safe ammunition and explosives storage. BEEHIVES: In preparation for WWII, the Protective Mobilization Program provided for the manufacture of matériel sufficient to supply 1.2 million ground troops. The Army instigated an extensive network of depots that received, stored and issued general military supplies. The Igloo was preferred by the Joint Army-Navy Ammunition Storage board however construction costs became a concern. Modifications to the igloo resulted in Triple-Barrel Vaults and the Corbetta Beehive which altered the form of the igloo. The Beehive has an at-grade floor, an elliptical, dome-shaped, earth-covered magazine with a 6’ steel door. By 1943, over 2000 had been built. The advantage of the Corbetta Beehive was that it equalled the standard magazine in structural strength but required only half the steel, a third of the copper and two-thirds the concrete.
YURTS: With the development of the atomic bomb during WWII and the escalation of the Cold War in the 1950s, the Stradley Magazine was designed for the storage of special weapons. The size and weight of munitions increased, primarily as a result of developments in rocketry such as guided missiles. The new type, called a Yurt, became standard for all Army depots, providing the spatial efficiency of a box with the blast protection of a barrelvault. It was designed with 8x9’ blast-proof steel doors and was easily accessible to modern forklifts.
Adam Bobbette is an artist and designer based in Toronto. He is on the editorial board of Scapegoat: Architecture, Landscape, Political Economy and teaches at the University of Toronto. Alexis Bhagat is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn. He is the co-editor and cocurator of An Atlas of Radical Cartography.
On Site review 22: WA R
WA R matters: On Site review 22
tactics | confusion by a i s l i n g o ’ c a rro l l
D e cep t ion
dis r u ptio n co n c e alme n t mis c o n c e ptio n dis tr ac tio n s u r vival
in the art of camouflage camouflage
First World War: from French, from camoufler ‘to disguise’. –the natural colouring or form of an animal which enables it to blend in with its surroundings –actions or devices intended to disguise or mislead — The New Oxford Dictionary of English, 2001
Concealment and deception in hunting have been necessary for the survival of man since the earliest times. Survival in nature is a struggle in which speed, wit and especially concealment are vital. While many creatures have devices of camouflage and deception inherent in their physical make-up, humans have had to develop these methods of protection. The development of military technology was central to the development of camouflage in military activities. Military camouflage falls into three categories: concealment, screening and misdirection.1 Concealment makes use of natural and artificial means such as colouration, paints or materials, or covering areas with netting to make the objects – for example, factories, airfields or troops – blend into their surroundings. Concealment is only effective with long-range weapons where attacks can be made from such a distance that colouration and shade conceal one’s position and machinery. Screens such as walls, hedgerows or smoke also can be used to hide military activity. It is deception and misdirection that allows the widest range of approaches to camouflage. This method attempts to either mislead or distract the enemy. Rather than making an object disappear, it is made to look like something else. Deception provides the most interesting and surprising look into camouflage.
Sepia officianalis, the king of camouflage. c our t e s y o f To d d S t a ile y, Te n n e sse e Aq u ar iu m
Deception in nature Cuttlefish have the ability to change the colour of their skin within seconds to reflect and blend into their surroundings. This survival mechanism is produced by layers of cells in the skin, chromatophores – small organs containing dense pigment which can be expanded or contracted to show a dot of a particular colour on the skin’s surface. The layer beneath contains iridocytes, which produce a reflective or iridescent quality in the skin.2 Certain species however do more than disappear in their environment; Sepia officinalis uses disruptive patterning to distract and hypnotise both predator and prey. Wrapping around the central region of its back, irregular bands of light and dark colour radiate outward in a flowing zebra-pattern. This mechanism abstracts and confuses the contours of the body, distracting the creature in question long enough for the cuttlefish to either escape or make an attack.3
On Site review 22: WA R
USS West Mahomet, 1918, in razzle dazzle camouflage c o u r te sy o f N aval Hi stor i cal F oundati on, Washi ng ton N avy Yard
Dazzle Painting Similar disruptive patterning was proposed in 1917 by Norman Wilkinson, a naval lieutenant and painter, to protect the British Navy from German submarines. Ships could not be made invisible through regular camouflage because of the constantly changing light and weather conditions at sea, but by painting them with strong patterns their recognisable shapes could be rendered as apparently distinct masses. Dazzle-painting, called Razzle Dazzle in the USA, made it difficult
for a U-boat to determine the exact position or direction of the ship it wished to attack. The patterns were designed for maximum distortion when viewed using a periscope through which distance was normally calculated through a bioptic alignment of surfaces, something totally confounded by the stripes and colours of dazzle painting.4 Although there exists no real statistical evidence to prove dazzle painting did save ships, it was reported that sailors felt safer in them.
above: Normandy Landing decoys that included a dummy parachutist, a pintail bomb, a machine gun simulator and striker mechanism. c o u r t e s y o f t h e Natio n al Ar c h ive s I mage Lib rar y, Kew
below: in the Western Desert deception Operation ‘Bertram’ real unconcealed tanks were mixed with dummies and real tanks disguised as military transport c o u r t e s y o f t h e Natio n al Ar c h ive s I mage Lib rar y, Kew
In the North African campaign, also in WWII, an intensive plan of deception was laid out in order to break through the German lines, cutting their supply routes. Seven weeks were spent preparing for the October 23 launch of an offensive at El Alamein. While the main Allied infantry attack came from the north, a diversionary attack diverted German attention to the south. Once the northern infantry broke through the line, it was planned that armoured troops would follow to cut off supplies. Huge effort was put into concealing the vehicles assembling to the north, and simultaneously constructing enough decoy armour for the south to suggest preparation for a substantial battle. During the final stages of preparation for battle, trucks served as
placeholders along the northern front, and would be furtively replaced by tanks on a night preceding the battle. The tanks themselves were disguised by ‘Sunshades’ – canvas covers giving them the appearance of trucks, so the Germans would not realise a switch had been made. As well as disguising weapons and vehicles, it became necessary to conceal 6000 tons of supplies. This was creatively achieved in a number of ways; petrol tins lined the walls of trenches as if they were masonry reinforcement, and food supplies were arranged in the form
Decoy on D-Day Deception can be used to produce two main effects, firstly to draw an enemy’s attention away from the real attack, and secondly, to distract from the real target and cause the enemy to expend its energy and ammunition on a false target. Both of these results may be produced by strategic use of decoys and dummies. A manifestation of this is the use of false radio transmissions and the planting of false operation directives and plans of battle. In many cases however, the decoy is quite literally constructed of dummy tanks, troops and artillery. Camouflage was integral to the success of the D-Day invasion in WWII. By land and air different tactics were used to deceive the enemy. On the night before D-Day, dummy parachutists were dropped in a large-scale diversion over Normandy to distract from actual airborne landings. These dummies were designed one-third the size of a normal man, with parachutes to scale and weighted with sandbags. Noise mechanisms were attached to them to simulate the sound of weapon fire when the dummies hit the ground. As a small number of real Special Air Service troops were also dropped, it was the breadth of the operation that camouflaged the real from the decoy.5
of trucks and camouflaged with canvas coverings. Meanwhile, similar effort went into bolstering the ruse of a larger offensive gathering to the south. As well as the apparent movement of armoury, the construction of a dummy pipeline to the south was staged. A trench was dug in regular stretches, with dummy pipes laid out alongside it. Each night these pipes would be moved forward to the next stretch, and the trench filled in. Dummy pump stations and filling tanks were constructed to reinforce the scheme.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
Hamburg to Genoa Autobahn, 1937, presented in Die Strasse as an opportunity for automobile tourism
National System of Interstate Highways, Public Roads Administration, Federal Works Agency, 1947
Propaganda After defeat in WWI, General von Seeckt was commissioned to reduce the German army as outlined by the Treaty of Versailles to a size less than the army of France. Defeat was not happily accepted by Germany, and while re-forming the Reichswehr according to the guidelines, von Seeckt also developed a nucleus idea – in theory, a small military nucleus could defeat a larger enemy with well-trained troops, superior mobility and mechanical strength.6 Mobility was addressed in 1930 when Fritz Todt, an engineer, veteran of WWI and close friend of Hitler, published a paper, ‘Proposals and Financial Plans for the Employment of One Million Men’, outlining his idea for a new national highway system. In theory this system was devised as a solution to the country’s unemployment problem, however also provided mobility for the armed forces. After Hitler’s election in 1933 Todt became the administrative director of the Reichsautobahnen and led the building of the Autobahn which was often presented as a facilitator of tourism in Todt’s magazine Die Strasse.7 Todt then went
on to direct the construction of the West Wall fortifications, a 5-mile deep band of thousands of pillboxes, observation posts and anti-tank defences8 which drew the Allies to destroy it, even although it was not actually used in attack until near the end of the war. In 1945 President Eisenhower presented his proposal for a National Highway System – an interstate network linking major cities. It was portrayed as an urban planning tool, reducing urban blight by redistributing population to the suburbs. Although this portrayal diminished the awareness of the network’s military uses, Eisenhower considered the system as a defence highway: ‘the road net must permit quick evacuation of target areas, mobilization of defense forces and maintenance of every essential economic function’.9 With both the Autobahn and the Interestate Highway System, deceptive propaganda successfully camouflaged the military significance of monumental infrastructure projects, portraying road networks as simple vehicles of liberatory convenience.
For the camouflage to successfully aid both offensive and defensive plans, it must be integral to the organisation of the operation. In war, disguise and confusion rely on cunning and inventive deception to considerably help one’s chances where total protection is impossible. However, deception only works when everyone, including civilians, believe the camouflage, not the underlying military narrative. C 1 Hartcup, Guy. Camouflage, A History of Concealment and Deception in War. Vermont: David & Charles Inc, 1979. p 7 2 Norman, Mark and Amanda Reid. A Guide to Squid, Cuttlefish, and Octopuses of Australasia. Victoria: CSIRO Publishing, 2000. pp 12-18 3 Cott, Hugh B. Adaptive Colouration in Animals. London: Methuen & Co, 1957. p 96 4 Hartcup, Guy. p 43 5 Ibid. p 91 6 Mallory, Keith, and Arvid Ottar. The Architecture of War. New York: Pantheon Books, 1973. p 111 7 9 Vahrenkamp, Richard. ‘Tourist Aspects of the German Autobahn Project 1933 to 1939’. Working Papers in the History of Mobility No. 4/2006. University of Kassel, 2006 8 Mallory, Keith. p 109 9 Branyan, Robert L and Lawrence H Larsen. The Eisenhower Administration 1953 - 1961. New York: Random House, 1971. p 545
Aisling O’Carroll is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, currently working in Toronto
On Site review 22: WA R
peace memorials | victoria bc by d e r y k h o u s t o n
T ies th at Bin d
c o n f lic t pe ac e de bate h is to r y bio gr aphy
Ties that Bind was installed at Beacon Hill Park, Victoria BC in the spring of 2009. In such work there is the legacy of a lifetime, in this case, emigration, the death of my young mother, and in the aftermath an awareness of the fragility of life. There is also the present: the ongoing deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan. War, and its inevitable deaths of soldiers and civilians, grandmothers and children, is the negation of so much about living that we take for granted. It is argued that war is a necessary evil even if it is complete hell. The counter to this is that life is precious and must be protected. Life must be held together. C
Deryk Houstonâ€™s work has focussed on peace issues for the past fifteen years, including a series of earthworks, the subject of an NFB documentary, From Baghdad to Peace Country, 2003. www.derykhouston.com
WA R matters: On Site review 22
b o rd e r s | e a s t c o a s t e u ro p e by m a r k u s m i e s s e n
T h e ( Im )p ossib le Bord er where is ‘east’ east from?
In June 2008, during the European Football Championship, Der Spiegel, one of Europe’s largest and most influential weekly magazines reported what they called a ‘sensation’, referring to the result of the football match between Russia and the Netherlands (3 –1), the headline read: ‘the copy wins over the original’. Likewise, Michael Palin’s 2007 TV series New Europe, exploring 20 countries that were once off-limits behind the Iron Curtain, assumes in a Rumsfeldian manner that there is an old one. In 2003, US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld used the term to refer to European countries that did not support the invasion of Iraq, specifically France and Germany. In Germany, the term was voted ‘Word of the Year’, because politicians and commentators responded by often using it in an ironic way: it was frequently used to refer to a perceived position of moral integrity. This, of course, is a difficult position: it presupposes righteousness. Such warped European self-evaluation was only accelerated when, in 2007, a survey of public opinion by Gallup International – a coordination centre for polling activities in Europe – portrayed the EU as the only ‘great power’ in the world whose leadership is widely supported. 34
On Site review 22: WA R
divis io n u n ity g lo balis atio n ide n tity ge o gr aphy
But what does Europe really mean? And what constitutes its eastern edge? Where is the crucial point at which this construct starts to become? Berlin is east of Paris, Istanbul is east of Berlin, and Beijing is east of Istanbul. Someone in China will go eastwards to travel to the United States. East is the direction in which the Earth rotates about its axis, and therefore the general direction from which the sun appears to rise. By convention, an ordinary terrestrial map is oriented so the right side is East –a convention that dates from the Renaissance. Mediaeval maps often placed the Orient (the East at the top, the source of the verb ‘orient’. Karl Schlögel, the Professor of Eastern European History defined Europe as ‘first and foremost a site, a geographically defined space’.1 Schlögel argues that debates about Europe usually begin with someone saying that Europe is not just geography, but primarily a system of values. Those values tend to be universal. In the context of the East-West conflict, he explains Eastern European history as one that is being played out between the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, where the old empires clashed (that of the Tsar, the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy and, fundamentally, the German Empire). Arguably, one of globalisation’s foremost effects is the dissolution of geographical borders. Within the spatial and territorial constraints of the Cold War this was, without doubt, a concern. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, however – a decade, which according to curators Hans Ulrich Obrist and Stephanie Moisdon needs yet to be named – the real borders are economic ones. This, of course, is a very different conversation from most debates that were taking place only two decades ago, when physical borders were the most prominent issue discussed in the context of Eastern Europe. What are the repercussions of the European Union when it comes to decision-making within political systems that until now have been excluded from the Union? The pressure and longing to become part of the club has grown so huge that entire economies are being traded for an entry ticket to the Union. Lithuania, one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, lost their number one export in order to become part of the Schengen zone in 2007. Ignalina nuclear power plant produced Lithuania’s biggest export, electricity. Over the past decade, Lithuania has been negotiating over Ignalina with the EU, which wants it closed. Lingering concern in the EU led to the stipulation that it be closed for EU accession. Under pressure from the EU, the Lithuanians promised to close down Ignalina, regardless of Lithuanian energy and financial experts warning about the closure – as it produces 70 percent of Lithuania’s electrical output. In this context, Lithuanian artists Valdas Ozarinskas and Aida Ceponyte declared that they would show live video footage from the core. This was shown in Copenhagen, but dubbed too controversial and consequently was removed. Today, questions of nationhood are no longer thought through the positions of pure geography. To most, territorial considerations only matter when considering physical movement and/or economic
consequences. While globalisation 3.0 is on the rise, geography seems to have been replaced by individual networks and cultural belonging. Are you considered part of the club or not? Novelist Ingo Niermann sees an expanding Europe as an elitist club that grows through subsidies rather than conquest – a fortress ‘with lots of milk and little honey’.2 This is not an isolated reading, but one that is shared by many countries and individuals around the world, especially those towards the East of Europe. Whether truisms about geography can be confirmed will become evident over the next two decades. With crude oil prices rising daily, the issue of mobility becomes more and more challenged. A resource crisis of such kind might as well lead to a situation of a reversed globalisation: a return of the accelerated and super-growth locale. East Coast Europe, which took place during Spring 2008, is a project, and a publication, about the perceptions of contemporary European identity and its relation to spatial practices and international politics.3 The title East Coast Europe is a word play. Europe is the central topic for investigation, its contemporary culture, expansion, and its status as a continuing social project. East Coast refers to two distinct edges of Europe, both real and imaginary – the geographical East Coast of the United States of America and the political East Coast of the European Union. The two east coasts are related in in the title to trigger debate. The project invited leading figures in culture and politics from the the two coasts – of the United States of America, and of such European Union neighbourhood countries as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine to comment on their perception of Europe today. East Coast Europe dives into the urgent details of a dense network of contemporary experiences of the European Union’s extensive exchange of knowledge, people, and goods with the East Coast of the United States and also with its own eastern border. These two crisp north-south borderlines belie many geographic spatial complexities including such islands as Switzerland and the western Balkans that now reside within the landmass of Europe but outside the European Union. The project set out to investigate the cultural and political confluence between these two northsouth borderlines, one geographic and one political. What is this new transverse region through multiple time zones? What are its challenges and possibilities for social, political and spatial practices? Europe as a political and economic construct has been expanding ever since the Treaty of Rome in 1957. In its current territorial set up, the most eastward point of the EU is near Turtle Bay at the tip of Cyprus. This point might shift soon. By constructing an imagined scenario in which Europe is an island, and therefore has a coast – a clearly defined perimeter with an edge – one might be able to speculate on the political, cultural and economic variables and how those might spatialise in the
future. Engaging in this mind-game, defining criteria as to what constitutes the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ becomes increasingly difficult. East Coast Europe investigates some of the rudimentary questions we are currently encountering: what determines the notion of border? What are the basic features of the European Union experiment as seen from both ‘coasts’? Is Europe being perceived as a unified entity and if so, as a counterweight to the US? How does the changing global landscape affect the realities of Central Europe and its lateral peripheries? What is the most important question for the EU in the mid-term, in terms of expansion? In which direction will further integration drift – culturally, ethically, economically? Asking questions usually assumes that there are answers. Much of the content of East Coast Europe consists of conversations: open questions, verbal ping-pong with cultural practitioners, artists, politicians and former military commanders – individuals from the two distinct east coasts. We do not know the answers to most of those questions, and most politicians do not offer them either. However, without laying claim to cultural practices as a seemingly singular tool of investigation, we believe that critical cultural production can be used as a barometer and a pro-active instrument to investigate what is at stake, what has changed and what we can learn from some of those changes. Rather than generating a toolbox, East Coast Europe produces a set of critical reflections on the relationship between Europe and its own perception vis-à-vis the East coast of the United States. The countries along the line we traced functioned as a mechanism to isolate some of the variables and phenomena we were interested in. If one observes the current economic boom of Eastern Europe, an optimistic mind could easily fall for romantic notions of the Wild West, nostalgic narratives of potentials and possibilities. Yet, reality confirms that almost every success story of ‘the East’ – be it Eastern Europe, the Gulf, India, or China – has been received with heavy scepticism and critique by the West. To my mind, the vast majority of this criticism is not based on reason or actual content, but resentment and fear. While central European economies have come to a grinding halt, the further we move east, the more seems possible. When the mobile phone giant Nokia recently left behind its production site in the city of Bochum – and opened a new factory in the Cluj, Romania – German politicians and media alike were furious. While Romanian politicians accuse central Europe’s welfare luxury of primitive protectionism, the local economy in Romania continues to thrive. It seems that when it comes to media-coverage of any geography east of the ‘welfare-belt’, western journalists tend to ruthlessly pull all registers of phenomenological critique. When the former boxing-champion Vitali Klitschko announced in 2008 that he would run for mayor in the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev, many US journalists made fun of his challenge, although Klitschko is considered the most favourable candidate from the democratic WA R matters: On Site review 22
coalition to run for mayor. As one notices with surprise what has happened to California after the takeover of Conan the Barbarian superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger, many Central European spectators, commentators, and politicians are still wary as to what the East may bring. They tend to prefer the Austrian barbarian to the hordes from Turkey. On Saturday, November 26th, 2005, the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina unveiled a bronze statue of Bruce Lee. The life-sized statue is meant to symbolise solidarity in the ethnically divided city. ‘Building civil society never seemed so weird: here was a life-sized bronze statue of a topless American immigrant paid for by the German government and christened by a Chinese diplomat, erected at the behest of a dysfunctional community of Croats, Serbs, and Muslims’, writes Alexander Zaitchik in Reason.4 Similarly, in the village of Zitiste in Serbia, a bronze and concrete statue of Rocky Balboa was erected in the central square. In Cacak, near Belgrade, plans are under way to build a statue of a former topless British model Samantha Fox. The Serbian artist Milica Tomic calls these statues ‘a dangerous joke in which history is being erased and replaced by Mickey Mouse’. But the lowest common denominator that this new post-war-generation – relentlessly searching for politically correct role models – comes up with lies elsewhere: somewhere between Hollywood, MTV and late night soft-porn advertisement via satellite television – identities beyond locale. Jacques Rancière argues that the West is no longer in a comfortable position to praise the benefits of democracy by contrasting it with the terror of totalitarianism. In fact, what we see today is that some states, such as Dubai, have managed to develop alternative modes of totalitarian rule, benevolent dictatorships in which things seem to develop in a parallel universe. Many countries in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf, entire societies have been peacefully forced through modernity in less than two decades. Coevally, this development performs a double-function: it acts as a mirror facing the ‘West’ with its own accelerated image. This trend fosters hard-edged resentment and suspicion in the west. In The Violence of Participation5, critic Shumon Basar writes, ‘Post-Fukuyama, the alleged teleology of free-market democracy as a world-picture of world peace should only make us laugh, or cry. Democracy as an unimpeachable paradigm is as assiduously questioned today as it is fought over for’. While the West is in a serious crisis of identity, economies such as the Gulf hijack the notion of ‘culture as etiquette’ and make sure that its capital output proliferates with velocity. Similar to the craving for the (western) new prior to the fall of the Wall, Dubai’s major real estate developers have managed to turn western images into highspeed and high-rate commodities. Consequently, the ‘One Legend – One Tower’ project in Dubai (spearheaded by Niki Lauda, Boris Becker and Michael Schumacher) was fully sold out two weeks after the official start of promotion.
On Site review 22: WA R
As outlined in the School of Missing Studies project proposal, East Coast Europe does not attempt to do too many things at once. One could argue that in fact all it does is to stimulate one’s curiosity, accelerating – hopefully – the wish for more and alternative types of knowledge about rapidly occurring change and the cross-fertilising effects of cultural production. In the past, foreign policy consultant Mark Leonard argued that Europe will run the twenty-first century and told us what China thinks6; novelist Ingo Niermann confirmed that China is calling us.7 Every other cover of The Economist has an image of either China or the Middle East visually screaming at us. Is Europe really passé? Is the real ‘coast’ even further? We like to think of Europe as an open question, a rendezvous of question marks as Molly Nesbit and Hans Ulrich Obrist would call it. The fact that Europe needs to determine what it really stands for could also be understood as the reverse of the often-proclaimed trap of Europe. Usually, the moment that an identity crisis is resolved is also the time in which things start to stagnate. It is this stagnation that Europe should be most fearful of, and therefore constantly pursue, transform and reassess an open and ongoing search for a definition-in-the-making of its distinctiveness. C
1 ‘Europe as Archipelago. Markus Miessen and Hans Ulrich Obrist in conversation with Karl Schlögel’ The Violence of Participation. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2007 2 Niermann, Ingo. cover text. The Violence of Participation. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2007 3 Markus Miessen, editor. East Coast Europe. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2008 4 Zaitchik, Alexander. ‘Mostar’s Little Dragon’. Reason. April 2006 5 Miessen, Markus, editor. The Violence of Participation. Berling: Sternberg Press, 2007 6 Leonard, Mark. Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century. London & New York: Fourth Estate, 2005; Mark Leonard. What Does China Think? London: Fourth Estate, 2008 7 Niermann, Ingo. China ruft Dich. Berlin: Rogner & Bernhard, 2008 Any other unacknowledged quotations come from East Coast Europe. This essay is a slightly modified version of the forward to East Coast Europe, very kindly made available for this issue of On Site by Markus Miessen.
Markus Miessen is an architect, spatial consultant and writer migrating between Berlin, London and the Middle East. In 2002, he set up Studio Miessen, a collaborative agency for spatial practice and cultural analysis, and in 2007 was founding partner of the Berlin-based architectural practice nOffice. www.studiomiessen.com
l a n d s c ap e | o n s i t e rev i ew. c a / e x h i b i t i o n s s white
war memorials beyond cenotaphs
me mo r y militar y fe ar s u r vival
On the HMCS Prince Robert: We were off the coast of Africa. It was a still and calm evening. I was on watch and I heard the sound of bagpipes. I mentioned it to the Jimmy who told the Captain, ‘Garney has heard bagpipes’. The engines were stopped and there was total silence. We waited, sitting silently in the water. Shortly after we heard the U-boat passing beneath us. We waited until it was safe to start up again. — Garnet Fay
100 years of the Canadian navy: one pinned into the granite of the Atlantic coast at York Redoubt, one on the Pacific at Beacon Hill. Rocky shoreline interrupted. 1” steel plate sheet 49’ x 20’ bent to a flat arc, 3/4” stainless steel flanges on rocker cradles at the top edge, weighted with Grade 30 chain. The flanges are hit by the wind, the chains clank. But being so heavy, they only work in heavy weather. What are ships but wind, water, steel, silent seas and a vessel of skilled hands? What is a memorial but wind, rain, sun, steel, a view and memories? Mustn’t get in the way of the memories, just allow them to return, triggered by the horizon, the cliff of a hull, metal on metal. C An online exhibition of war memorial proposals can be found at www.onsitereview.ca/exhibitions
Sydney Steel Plant, Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Constructed 1899-1901 by Dominion Iron & steel Company. SYSCO decommissioned the mill in 2000. The Plate Mill was constructed to supply plate steel as part of Allied effort in WWI. The War ended before the mill came into use. It was moth-balled and recommissioned in WWII. It supplied the plate steel for Canadian Navy and Convoy ships.
Now such plate, in corten, would come from Essar Steel Algoma’s 166” Plate Mill in Sault Ste. Marie. The stainless steel would come from Essar Algoma’s No 7 blast furnace. Algoma started in 1901, was acquired by Essar Steel Holdings, a division of Essar Global, Chennai, India, in 2007.
Dominion Chain Grade 30 proof Coil Chain: Carbon Steel 7/8" (.906 diameter, 2.57 length) Dominion Chain Company, originally of Welland, Niagara (above) and Stratford - that industrial belt of Ontario connected to steel production. Now a division of FKI Industries Canada in Oshawa, head office in Fairfield Connecticut, part of FKI Plc, UK.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
histor y | consumption by t a ï k a b a i l l a r g e o n
d ar k tou rism spectacle vs barbarism
For about a decade now, newspapers and travel guides have talked about a growing phenomenon called Dark Tourism which is described as ‘the act of travel and visitation to sites, attractions and exhibitions which has real or recreated death, suffering or the seemingly macabre as a main theme’.1 For some countries and particularly cities that experienced war in the last century, such tourism has become one of the most – if not the most – profitable branch of the local economy. For the purpose of tourism, sites are commonly transformed, redesigned, revamped, in order to be more accessible to the public. Malcolm Foley and John Lennon, who came up with the idea of dark tourism in 2000, talk about a ‘fundamental shift in the way which death, disaster and atrocity are being handed by those who offer associated tourism ‘products’’2 While this shift is promoted by politics, economy and media, it is often criticised, or at least questioned, amongst theorists. What is to be questioned here is not tourism itself, but the conversion of places of traumatic history into spectacles. Some would argue that for most foreigners, going to countries that experienced wars and visiting memorials or remembrance sites seems to put them more directly in contact with a reality they don’t fully comprehend; it informs them. On the other hand, for local communities, the transformations of these places and/ or their reconstruction often pushes a re-evaluation of history, forcing them to consider ethical and aesthetic values of space and building, which is necessary in order to go forward. Nevertheless, several theorists who thought about the importance of rebuilding and redesigning as an effort to embody – or simply remember – history, have mentioned their doubts on the commercialisation of theses places. The main problem is that promoting market-driven representations of history encourages reproduction instead of invention, as it keeps one prisoner of his past instead of turning him to his future; it also creates a slowing down of continuity and prevents the making of a new start. For Françoise Choay, the cult of patrimony ‘is justifiable only for a period of time: the time to take your breath in the present’s run; the time to re-insure a destiny and a reflection. Past this point in time, the mirror of patrimony would forfeit us with false conscience, fiction and repetition’.3 In this sense, even though a memory work is necessary, the ethics of it should be carefully handled.
On Site review 22: WA R
s pe c tac le barbar ity in n ovatio n lawle s s n e s s o ppo r tu n ity
What is to be feared here is that when history becomes a spectacle, the witness becomes a passive spectator. Although the spectacularisation of past events might have some cathartic and educational effects, it also keep the spectator uninvolved: ‘the alienation of the spectator, which reinforces the contemplated objects that result from his own unconscious activity works like this: the more he contemplates, the less he lives’.4 Guy Debord stated that ‘the spectacle is the bad dream of a modern society in chains and ultimately expresses nothing than its wish to sleep’.5 By visiting these places, spaces used and transformed for the purpose of an industry, dark tourists as well as locals might end up avoiding reality – even if unconsciously: we accept a spectacle in order to refuse a reality, to remain still, if not, detached. While reading Foley and Lennon, I was challenged myself: what makes me want to visit post-war cities? Although I recognise that by going to these places I want to see and experience history, I think that perhaps Foley and Lennon have left something out. Dark tourism should also be considered as a more profound search for change, movement and creation in a time of global saturation. We might not visit these cities to see the end but the beginning. We might look for what is hidden beyond the spectacle in order to find something new. We are looking for a place where invention and movement is still possible and the destruction of certain cities and buildings doesn’t only provide new spaces for construction, it forces one to innovate and create. We therefore recognise destroyed sites and post-wars zones as purely inspirational. Global saturation pushes us to search for positive barbarism as Walter Benjamin described it in Poverty and Experience: ‘Barbarism? Yes, indeed. We say this in order to introduce a new positive concept of barbarism. For what does poverty of experience do for the barbarian, it forces him to restart from scratch; to make a new start; to make a little go along way; to begin with a little and build further looking neither left nor right’.6 We, the contemporary dark tourists, are not necessarily voyeurs as we might not ‘[yearn] for new experiences’.7 We want to see and practice the making of a new start; we want to take part in the development of new mindsets.
Belgrade – the wild Thinking of Benjamin’s barbarism in this context also made me think of the countries that experienced wars in this context of global saturation. I then considered the wars that have occurred since the second half of the twentieth century and, referring to my own experience, I thought most particularly of Belgrade. During my few visits in Belgrade, I had a strong impression that everything was possible in the Serbian capital. As most Westerners, I first expected a greyish torn-down city, but then realized that despite its complex politics and critical war-history, the cradle of ex-Yugoslavia is extremely upbeat, lively and dynamic. Although the city was bombed five times during the twentieth century and regardless of the political and economic instability, the city experienced tremendous changes – most of which were lead by the citizens themselves. In fact, Belgrade is for me a very convincing example of what positive barbarism can look like and bring in terms of cities, architecture and urbanism. In 2002, Stealthgroup (a group of architects from Yugoslavia and the Netherlands) published an article in which they referred to Belgrade as a wild city.9 They explained that ‘the paradigm of ‘wildness’ emerged through non-planned and scarcely regulated processes. In the urban domain, these processes feature a remarkable degree of innovation and led to possibilities for redefining institutional participation in the creation of urban space. The project shows a city that acts as an incubator of new urban forms’.10 They portrayed Belgrade as a city that continuously redefines itself, presenting and analysing ‘the uncontrolled urban processes that took place in the city of Belgrade during 1 Stone, Phillip, Dark Tourism Forum, http://www.dark-tourism.org.uk, [June 2009]. 2 Foley, Malcolm & John Lennon, Dark Tourism: The attraction of Death and Disaster. London: Thompson, 2000. p 3 3 ‘Le culte du patrimoine n’est justifiable qu’un temps : temps de reprendre souffle dans la course du présent, temps de réassurer un destin et une réflexion. Passé ce délai, le miroir du patrimoine nous abîmerait dans la fausse conscience, la fiction et la répétition.’ Choay, Françoise, L’Allégorie du patrimoine. Paris: Seuil, 1992. p 189 4 Debord, Guy, The Society of The Spectacle. London: Rebel Press, 2004. p 30 5 Ibid p 10 6 Benjamin, Walter, ‘Experience and Poverty’ in Walter Benjamin. Selected Writings: Part 2, 1931-1934. edited by Michael W. Jenning, Howard Eiland & Gary Smith. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2005. p 732 7 Ibid p 734 8 1914 and 1915 (WW1), 1941 and 1944 (WW2), 1999 (NATO). 9 The StealthGoup: Ana Dzokic, Milica Topalovic, Marc Neelen & Ivan
the 1990s’.11 Since 2002, the Stealthgroup has presented many projects concerning urban development in the Balkans, always with the idea that these wild processes were to be considered by other professionals and foreigners as a powerful and creative new approach to architecture and urbanism. The main idea here is to promulgate a positive balkanisation that is very close to what Benjamin called positive barbarianism. The work of the Stealthgroup shows how the experience of war has permitted new mindsets.12 And this type of projects is – or should be – part of what makes us dark tourists, it should be what pushes us to visit a city that experienced war. We have to stop visiting the past and start visiting the new. We have to accept that war is over and acknowledge what happens afterwards. We live in a society of the spectacle, a saturated world where everything is a reproduction, where life goes faster and faster and where competition, in every domain, forces us to go further all the time without ever fully experiencing renewal. As a result, some of us might suffer from something close to what Walter Benjamin called poverty of experience. When, following the First World War, Benjamin recognised a new poverty, it wasn’t related to the war itself but to the rapid changes that occurred after it. This rapidity never really slowed down since and what Benjamin was presenting a century ago is still present today. What is left for us is ‘to free ourselves from experience [as] we long for a world in which we can make such pure and decided use of our poverty […] that it will lead to something valuable’.13 C
Kucina, ‘The Wild City’ in Hunch. Berlage Institute, 2002. pp 106-127 10 The StealthGoup, http://www.classic.archined.nl/wildcity/, [June, 2009]. 11 The StealthGoup, ‘The Wild City’ in Hunch, Berlage Institute, 2002. p 108 12 We could easily visit such concept through a political point of view, for it could be seen as close to fascism or terrorism. This should certainly be looked at, but for the purpose of this text, it is more in terms of art and raw creation. This is not to make an apology for war but to aknowledge barbarism as Benjamin presents it. 13 Benjamin, Walter, ‘Experience and Poverty’ in Walter Benjamin. Selected Writings: Part 2, 1931-1934. edited by Micheal W. Jenning, Howard Eiland & Gary Smith. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2005. p 734
Taïka Baillargeon worked on the 1990s’ reshaping of Berlin and now explores the urban transformations that take place in ex-Yugoslavia, focusing on the importance of ruins in reconstruction processes.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
urbanism | spatial dismantling by e r i n ko e n i g
On August 25 1992, the National Library in Sarajevo and its contents were destroyed over three days of incendiary grenade attacks launched by Serb forces. The library, a fusion of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian architectural styles, housed over a million books, one hundred thousand manuscripts and centuries of historical records from the Balkans. For days following the attack, residents described a thick cloud of ash that hung above the city as pieces of charred books and manuscripts floated to the ground. ‘It was the most apocalyptic thing I’d ever seen’, said Sarajevan Aida Musanovic. The horror had not been directed toward an army or intended just to annex territory; to borrow Musanovic’s words, it rather ‘sought the cultural eradication of a people and all evidence of that people’s culture and existence’.1 In 2002, the Israeli Defense Force launched Operation Defense Shield, which left 140 multi-family housing blocks completely destroyed – 1,500 significantly damaged – and some 4,000 residents homeless2 in the Jenin refugee camp. The weapon that dominated the operation was not a machine gun, tank or even incendiary bombs – it was rather the D-9 Caterpillar bulldozer. Three years later, Robert Mugabe initiated a large-scale government campaign to forcibly clear slum areas across Zimbabwe. Described as a crackdown on illicit housing and commercial activities, Operation Murambatsvina3 deployed police across Zimbabwe’s urban areas in order to uproot millions of people; among other weapons, the bulldozer played a key offensive role. These examples – and countless others – serve as disturbing illustrations of an emerging phenomenon. Termed urbicide, this process undermines the city and its inhabitants by disrupting urban rituals and spaces. From unrestrained destruction during times of war to chronic urban blight, urbicide can occur in a variety of forms; what remains consistent is the objective of forcing urban inhabitants into the surrender of not only functional but also symbolic urban spaces. It is a process intended to corrode cities by attacking their foundational places – of worship, education, exchange and commerce – and characteristics – density, cosmopolitanism and heterogeneity. As cities bisected by walls architecturally and psychologically, Belfast, Berlin and
On Site review 22: WA R
u rb icid e
a crime against urbanity Jerusalem have a complicated relationship with their urban barriers. Walls are often introduced to inhibit violent clashes amongst the population; however, such responses are urbicidal in that they hinder any possibility for collaborative local democracy. According to Thomas Fraser, Provost of the University of Ulster and Coordinator of the Belfast-Jerusalem Civil Society Partnership4, the closer people are emotionally, culturally and spatially, the more difficult it is to build walls and divide into homogenous communities. Based on the work of the partnership, Fraser makes an obvious yet oft-neglected point in that it becomes more difficult to fight and to hate someone if you are actually able to recognise them. If you literally don’t see the enemy, then it becomes easier to fear them and to hate them. In cities such as São Paolo, Mexico City and Johannesburg, fortified enclaves have emerged as a popular housing option, which illustrates yet another manner of urbicide: these communities change the shape and operation of the cities in which they are built. Social boundaries become increasingly rigid and, as they are complemented by physical structures, residents of all groups have some sense of exclusion and restriction. Truly public spaces are eroded, left to ‘the poor, the homeless and street children, who are left vulnerable to violence and abuse by various control groups, including criminals and the security forces’.5 As the majority of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, cities have become critical to human interaction. Precisely due to this emerging reality, urban spaces have materialised as an influential variable to human and socio-economic security. To be sure, organised settlements have always been targets to some extent, as urban areas are not only strategic for mass destruction but are also frequently associated with wealth and power. However, in a world with 3.5 billion urban dwellers, the impact of violence deliberately aimed at cities has become a grave threat. Not only are the potential consequences much broader but urbicide itself can be perpetrated by a variety of factions, including political authorities, insurgent groups, military forces and citizen groups – depending on the political or economic situation of a given society.
bo u n dar ie s c u ltu re dis c o n tinu ity dis r u ptio n pu blic s pac e
In fact, it can even be initiated by a single individual – just the threat of a suicide bomb interrupts the use of schools, public markets and places of worship by urban inhabitants. In any of its incarnations, urbicide opposes interconnected, resilient cities and seeks to disrupt urban citizen networks. Yet, municipalities have so far been compromised in their ability to respond. Despite the fact that cities over 20 million possess larger populations than 75% of the world’s countries, the bombings in New York, London, Madrid, and Baghdad suggest that large cities remain as vulnerable as ever. Human security must be recognised and addressed by all levels of government, as both State and non-state actors increasingly act out their respective political, religious and ethno-nationalist struggles on an urban stage. Whether cities are targeted by conventional weapons or bulldozers, the intent to damage and destroy both the symbolic and the mundane remains consistent. A growing body of analysis suggests that urban security can be enhanced through cohesive spaces, which counter social and spatial instability. Therefore, the most effective approach for inoculating cities against urbicidal acts is ground-level policy directed toward building social cohesion and ensuring consistent social and spatial entitlements for urban citizens. Without an expanded interest in cities that acknowledges their unique territorial and architectural character and influence, municipalities will remain defenceless in countering urbicide. C 1 Quote taken from Sells, Michael. The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. p 1, 5 2 Steven Graham. ‘Lessons in Urbicide’, New Left Review. No. 19, 2003 p 63 3 This title is in Shona, an African language spoken by nearly 80% of Zimbabweans, and translates to Operation Drive Out Trash in English although the government translated it as Operation Restore Order. 4 Based at the University of Ulster, this initiative was established to address the effects of urban intolerance. It enables cities coming together or moving apart, to learn from each other’s mistakes through examining best practices that have evolved in ‘divided cities’. 5 Landeman, K. and Schönteich, M. ‘Urban Fortresses: Gated Communities as a reaction to crime’. African Security Review. 11(4), 2002 p 8 Erin Koenig currently works with the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, located in Costa Rica.
partition | national librar y by l e j l a o d o b a s i c
s araj evo crossing a divide
The unification of Europe, amalgamating geographical and economic boundaries means each EU country must maintain an autonomous identity while belonging to a larger whole. In the Balkans this process is happening in reverse – to establish and legitimise a distinct cultural and political landscape, the pixilisation and fragmentation of common cultures and languages is taking place. Balkanisation describes the fragmenting of a state into small and often hostile units; it implies a policy of ‘divide and rule’ whereby the strength of a united country is diluted by internal division. While the term came to prominence in the aftermath of the First World War, its resonance has resurfaced in light of recent Balkan politics and the break up of former Yugoslavia. While Yugoslavia has already shattered into six different countries – seven with the recently independent Kosovo – further Balkanisation is occurring within heterogeneous regions such as present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. This country’s once varied pan-Yugoslav combination of Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox has, in the aftermath of the controversial 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, split into two segregated political spheres — Repbublica Sprka and the Federation of Croats and Bosniaks. Bosnia’s now highly consolidated territories have homogenised themselves along ethnic and religious orientations. The political and the religious have fused in the architecture of religious institutions which have become territorial markings and substitutes for national frontiers. It is evident that the ethnic tensions which fueled the war ardently survive to this day. Bosnia’s fragmentation is not only geographic – it is also cultural, economic and political for which all ethnicities are suffering an undeniable loss. To address this fragmentation, a different type of architecture needs to emerge, one that would function as a crucible for new ways of thinking and as a platform for the emergence of a new socio-political form. This new type of architecture must address a common past and must emerge out of a secular public institution that includes all ethnic groups. A national library is the seat of collective memory and a symbol of common identity: this project is an attempt to re-conceptualise the Bosnian National Library.
re c o n c iliatio n bo s n ia par titio n ide n tity u rbic ide
´ The history of the National Library (Vjecnica) is intrinsically linked with that of the history of Bosnia itself. The building was constructed as a city hall in Sarajevo at the foot of the River Miljacka by Austro-Hungarian powers in 1894. This was an assertion of political power in a country that had been part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years. To make a smooth transition between the two colonising powers, the Austrians used an Islamic style of architecture, borrowing from the Moorish Alhambra and neglecting the Bosnian Ottoman style. The new pseudoMoorish building was not well received. It was out of scale with the Ottoman city centre and its entrance turned away from the city ´ and onto the river. Vjecnica’s function as city hall was short-lived, coming to an end in 1914 with the assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand, the consequent onset of WWI and the collapse of Hapsburg power.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
´ Between the two world wars Vjecnica’s function and ownership, like that of Bosnia, remained ambiguous and shifting until the establishment of a socialist government in 1945. Like other cities in the quest of socialist equality, brotherhood and unity, Sarajevo expanded to five times its previous size. In the socialist political ´ context, Vjecnica was an eyesore, a reminder of the oppressive powers of the past – it was important for the socialists to shift its function from a place of foreign oppression to one of the propagation of knowledge; the old city hall therefore became the new National Library. As a library, the building rendered itself much more porous to the city and to its citizens. In fact, during the 50 years of Socialist rule, it became a much-loved symbol of ´ the city, for in its layered history Vjecnica also reflected the layered history of multicultural Sarajevo.
l e jla o d o ba s i c
´ At the beginning of the war between Serbia and Bosnia, Vjecnica was one of the Serb forces’ primary targets: it burned continuously for two days in August of 1992. Only ten percent of the library’s contents were saved. For days after the fire, gray ‘snow’ and charred books fluttered through the entire neighbourhood. The cultural loss still resonates in Bosnian society today. Initially, ´ was deemed after the war ended in 1995, reconstruction of Vjecnica symbolic of the reconstruction of the country itself. Foreign investment and international attention provided initial structural reconstruction. However, increasingly complex religious-based politics began to question the ownership of the National Library. The question of which Bosnia the library was to represent was addressed, but never answered. In the meantime, the library collection sits ‘temporarily’ in a new location, inadequate for a library of its magnitude and symbolic significance.
On Site review 22: WA R
but also the past of Bosnia. The final phase of reconstruction is underway, while the fate of the National Library, once again much like the nation itself, remains uncertain. To address Bosnia in its entirety, both geographically and culturally, I propose a theoretical design for a new National Library. As a political statement the conceptual new National Library sits across the river, expanding the pedestrian zone of ˇ´ ˇ onto the other shore and reflecting the old city center Bascarsija the old library and the unity that it used to represent. Rivers as life forces gave rise to many Bosnian cities. They are also geographical dividers, marking the territorial boundaries between Bosnia and its neighbours, and in times of war, great massacres occurred along their banks. Rivers have the power to offer absolution, whether through perceived holiness or by offering a change to one’s vantage point – a chance to cross over to the other side. A new library must be based on a series of sectional and horizontal relationships that respond to the river, the old library, the existing urban fabric and the surrounding paths linking the library which leans out over the river to the city. The cultural role ´ of the new library, while preserving Vjecnica’s former function and significance, opposes its static monumentality.
le jla od o b as ic
As a result of the war in former Yugoslavia, a great deal of discourse has been generated on ‘urbicide’ -a war strategy of ‘city-killing’- and ‘warchitecture,’ and the relationship between violence, culture, war and architecture. Many have argued that violence against architecture transforms, often fundamentally, the values, meanings and the identity of architecture. Thus the nature of rebuilding becomes a complex question. Rebuilding can be as symbolic as the destruction that necessitates it. Construction can be used to cement a violent sundering of the built environment or to weave the fabric of a former life back together. Doing so creates new touchstones for collective memory. History moves forwards while looking over its shoulder; how much to commemorate and remember, how much needs to be forgiven then forgotten in the interest of peace within and without? On September 18, 2003, the administration of the Sarajevo ´ Canton re-established Vjecnica as a city hall with part of the building allocated to the National Library. This decision was controversial; many Sarajevans associate the function of the building as a library with the city’s identity. UNESCO’s decision to put the building under the Monuments Protection Act is also ´ controversial. To declare Vjecnica a monument is to freeze it in time, denying its reflective role and undermining not only its past
WA R matters: On Site review 22
the spine, the heart and the belly The spine of this building establishes a continuous pedestrian zone at the ground level. Through its progression, the spine’s relationship with the river changes, widening and narrowing to accommodate program and paths along, above and through it. In addition to the support it provides in making all the library’s elements possible, the spine works principally to invite the city in, which in turn leads it to the heart of the library. The centre the building, where all the axes converge and draw the city in, is the heart of the library: the social centre, entrance and gateway to all the other parts. It houses the main reference desk, computer stations, magazines and newspapers, music archives, a children’s collection, a variety of lounge spaces and at the very top, a reading room. The heart’s open central public space with ´ a stepped forecourt mirrors the Vjecnica — the old and the new reading rooms call to each other over the river. The program is arranged in a series of hanging platforms, each bearing a visual ´ relationship to either the stacks, the city, Vjecnica or back onto itself. The heart is the main shared space of the building staging interaction and dialogue. The stacks act as the underbelly of the library, sunk into the ground by the weight of the books they house. Nested in the deepest layer of the stacks is the library’s most valuable asset — the special collection — consoled by the depths of the earth, indifferent to the outside world. The stacks are delineated by a cut in the ground, which allows for light but no view to or from the outside. Burying the books allows a form of mourning and commemorates that which has been lost. The weight of the collections supports, above ground, an open civic space that promotes a new beginning.
Lejla Odobasic has recently received her Masters of Architecture from the University of Waterloo. She is currently part of the adjunct faculty at the U of W School of Architecture Rome campus.
le jla od o ba s i c
Preserving or at least acknowledging the history of Bosnia’s ethnic ´ and religious heterogeneity by affirming what Vjecnica and the city itself contained not so long ago demands a halt to further disintegration on the basis of religion. This project recognizes the impossibility of an ‘answer’ that can reconcile, overcome the losses, or dismiss the suffering of war. It does, however, speak of the possible affirmative role that architecture and knowledge can play through the engagement of collective shared space, in creating the possibility of an overlap. C
On Site review 22: WA R
p e r s isten t crossin g
br idge s c o ld war be r lin me mo r y re u n ific atio n
bridging Berlin’s conflicting desires
cal vi n chi u
re c o n s t r u c t i o n o b e r b a u m b r ü c ke by c a l v i n c h i u
Since 1997, every evening from dusk till 1am, Thorsten Goldberg’s neon light installation Rock-paper-scissors has illuminated the central span of the Oberbaum Bridge over the Spree in Berlin. ‘Two individuals face each other and try to come to a decision which engenders neither argumentation nor violence.’1 The visual message that Goldberg has attached between two steel sections of the partly neo-Gothic and partly contemporary steel structure reminds spectators that Berlin was once a battleground of ideologies. ‘Each aspect of the Oberbaum Bridge’, Goldberg suggests, ‘exemplifies a segment of Berlin’s history’. 2 Fuelled by warfare, regime changes, social movements, foreign impacts and counter cultures, the construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of the Oberbaum Bridge reflect the complex collective memory, cultural identity and political conscience of Berliners ever since it became an urban icon in 1896. On the 9th of November in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. The Oberbaum Bridge, a former Cold War barricade between the districts of Friedrichstain in East Berlin and Kreuzberg in the West, was immediately scheduled for restoration. Any type of design competition to transform the seriously deteriorated bridge into innovative architecture was ruled out. What was looked for was a touch of respect to Berlin’s troubled past, as well as a symbolic and physical reconnection between the divided landscapes. The ruined neo-Gothic towers that had long been
Berlin’s eastern gateway were to be reconstructed with a level of authenticity that would require original materials to be salvaged from the riverbed. Restricted by the conservation of the towers and the existing brick bridge structure, Santiago Calatrava redesigned the bridge’s central bay and its upper railway viaduct. Out of Calatrava’s schemes, a calmer solution was chosen to ‘attain the relatively unified image of a fairly constant arch rhythm’3 that links the two existing halves. Engineering firm Wachendorf, Konig & Partner was responsible for the new concrete road deck for tram, car and pedestrian traffic. The conflicting desires to differentiate the current administration from previous regimes, to reconnect with prewar Germany and to enhance a new identity of unification make the Oberbaum Bridge a political declaration of the new nation, as if a unified Germany could only come with the price of openly remembering its uneasy past. Norman Foster’s glass dome atop Reichstag signifies the transparency of the new regime. Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe commemorates war victims near the imperialist Brandenburg Gate. Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum emerges as an anti-statement of Semitism. Renzo Piano’s Daimler complex, Helmut Jahn’s Sony Center, and other new constructions at Potsdamer Platz attempt to resurrect the long-lost bourgeois life of central Berlin, upon a ghost landscape which had long been converted into a no man’s land. Most of the new construction in the 1990s has been built on existing urban WA R matters: On Site review 22
cal v in chi u
fabric or in former demilitarised zones. There is little ambition for making bold statements in the master-plan. One may speculate that the new government was distancing itself from Hitler and Speer who had imagined the grandeur of the Third Reich’s capital to rival Imperial Rome, and avoiding extra spending in the long-haul unification process. Some architects, however, see in Berlin’s lack of bold architectural statement a revelation of self-uncertainty. Philip Johnson referred to the Germans as ‘timid’ and who ‘have made no great plans’. 4 Aldo Rossi felt that ‘Berlin has lost awareness of its destiny as a capital and in history’. 5 The story of the Oberbaum Bridge may offer a clue to decipher the architectural dilemma of post-Cold War Berlin. In 1742, a wooden drawbridge over the Spree at Berlin’s eastern limit replaced an earlier boom-bridge. The drawbridge was named Oberbaum, meaning ‘tree trunk’, in memory of a heavy tree trunk 46
On Site review 22: WA R
that once guarded the river from night smuggling. In 1896, a pair of neo-Gothic towers resembling the Mitteltor Tower in Prenzlau, along with a 154m double-deck brick structure, were completed as the new Oberbaum Bridge for the Berlin Trades Exhibition. The fusion of medieval towers and a metropolitan railway viaduct revealed the conflicting desires of the newly formed German Empire. Six years later, the u-bahn (subway) made its first ever Spree-crossing on the Oberbaum Bridge, during the decade of the empire’s peak fortunes when Berlin seriously challenged London and New York as the world’s biggest metropolis of the twentieth century. Wars brought everything to an abrupt end. The bridge’s first major blow took place in 1945 when Hitler ordered his troops to blow up the Oberbaum Bridge in an attempt to stop the advancing Red Army. The bridge was temporarily restored after the war, only to be closed off again in 1961 as the
cal vi n chi u
Cold War hardened. The Oberbaum Bridge became a checkpoint at the newly erected Berlin Wall. Political stalemate continued between East and West Germany, and the bridge continued to deteriorate. In 1974, the ruins of the two decaying towers were finally torn down by East Germany. In the 28-year gradual decay, public crossings were completely halted, except for the small numbers of West Berliners who were allowed to make brief visits to the East after paying a toll-fee. In the same period, spontaneous memorials of wooden crosses, flower bouquets and erratic boulders were often set up at the Kreuzberg end to commemorate drowned East Berliners who attempted to swim across the Spree to the West. A dead end to the story it might seem, yet the fortunes of the Oberbaum Bridge and Berlin detoured once again as unbelievable broadcasts on the fall of the Berlin Wall flooded the world news in November of 1989. Berlin was restored as the German capital in 1999, the same year that Germany entered into the Kosovo conflict with the NATO, signifying their first international military involvement since WWII. Ten years of reconstruction put Berlin back on track to becoming a political centre and cultural hub in Europe. New museums, memorials, wartime remnants and reconstructions such as the Oberbaum Bridge have turned Berlin into a living museum of its own complex identities and memories that silently manifest social revelations from the war experience. Perhaps the most vivid of all, both in memory and colour, is the East Side Gallery west of the Oberbaum Bridge. Tagged as a memorial for freedom, the East Side Gallery preserves 1.3km of the Berlin Wall, on which over a hundred murals depicting the story of the Wall were painted, in 1990, by international street artists. For most Berliners, however, getting on with ease on daily business in a unified capital already represents the best reward that they could
hope for. On the Oberbaum Bridge, there is an annual art fair known as the Oberbaum Art Brucke; since 1999 Die Wasserchlacht has attracted crowds from both Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg for water battles, despite the district merge of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg in 2001. Twice in the past six years I have visited Berlin and both times I fell in love with the Oberbaum Bridge. From Calatrava’s central bay, the view to the west reveals a complex skyline consisting of buildings from almost every era, and to the east the tranquil river scenery of metropolitan Berlin fading to its eastern suburbs, with Jonathan Borofsky’s 100 foot tall sculpture Molecule Man on the river. I remember what it was like to walk through the lights and shadows of the colonnade under the railway viaduct in the afternoon, along with the many bikers and dog-walkers, beside the busy traffic of trams and cars, and feeling the frequent vibrations of the u-bahn trains above my head. Nothing, not even memories or tales, can replace the simple pleasure of walking on the Oberbaum. The reconstructed bridge may not live up to the expectations of some architects to unfold the future glories of the German capital, yet in its own right it has successfully drawn a closure to the past epoch and is paving the way to a future with fewer political burdens and plenty of life. C
1 Goldberg, Thorsten. http://www.goldberg-berlin.de 2 Ibid. 3 Cullen, Michael S. and Martin Kieren, Calatrava Berlin: Five Projects. Basel: Birkhauser Verlag, 1994 p34 4 Wise, Michael Z. Capital Dilemma: Germany’s Search for a New Architecture of Democracy. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998. p 156 5 Ibid. p 157 Calvin Chiu graduated from University of Waterloo with an M Arch in 2006. Since then, he has worked in the architectural industry in Toronto and London, UK.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
walls of th e cold war Berlin souvenirs
aaal ya allmer
memorials | portability by a ç a ly a a l l m e r and jens allmer
On a visit to Berlin chances are high that you encounter little colourful pieces of concrete advertised as parts of the Berlin Wall, the manifestation of the iron curtain, being sold as souvenirs. Do you end up buying one of them? – sure you do!
Walls in architecture can be ambivalent: do they keep people in, or out? Unlike the Great Wall of China which kept out the Mongols, or a prison wall which protects outsiders from its contents, the Berlin Wall which separated East from West Berlin displays exactly this ambiguity. Built in 1961 as a response to brain drain from communist East Germany (German Democratic Republic) to capitalist West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) it was obviously meant to retain its inmates. However, propaganda in East Germany declared that the wall was protecting its East Germans from the threatening, all-engulfing, capitalistic ideology on the other side. The Berlin Wall became an icon of the Cold War. No other military installation, from bunkers and missile silos to military airports and any other military construction, ever gained such visibility. Clearly, its roots were in the aftermath of World War II and the subsequent division of Germany into four parts, each governed by one of the Siegermächte. Twenty-eight years after its construction, in 1989, the Berlin Wall was torn down. Thousands of Berliners attacked the wall with any tool they could lay their hands on. Today, on the twentieth anniversary of the demolition of the wall, is a quite different scene: groups of tourists now visit the remaining wall segments, such as the East Side Gallery near Warschauer Straße, or the Mauerpark near Prenzlauer Berg. The physical destruction of the wall was straightforward but removing it from people’s minds proved more difficult. Years after you are still able to hear some West-Germans say: ‘Let’s rebuild the wall but make it higher’. The wall in its raw form as constructed by GDR’s Walter Ulbricht can hardly be called a piece of art but countless graffiti artists enhanced the appearance of the side facing the FDR. Painted peace-related topics and comments on the existence of the wall itself added value to its existence. Without this illegal (as the wall was completely on GDR territory) artwork the Berlin Wall would most likely not be exhibited as widely as it is today. Many pieces of it have been presented to political leaders and museums around the world – the Imperial War Museum in London and the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum in New York, for example, underlining the historic significance of the object-nature of the wall: although either absent or dispersed, it still, fragmentally, exists. 48
On Site review 22: WA R
me mo r y walls par titio n pro pagan da c h an ge
aaa lya allmer
opposite page: your own piece of history on a postcard. below: a section of the wall near Potsdamer Platz: the Trabant, the dove of peace and a call to remember history.
Shortly after the fall of the wall, selling its pieces, especially those with visible traces of graffiti, was very successful – buying a piece of the wall meant taking home a piece of German history. However, these pieces may represent more than a fragment of the wall; they can be considered a collective memory of what happened in Berlin. Through the wall’s elevation to a historical monument partially through its status as an artwork and mostly owing to its demolition, the Berlin Wall has been transformed from a symbol of the Cold War into its complete opposite, a symbol for overcoming differences and an icon representing peace. In the process of opening new construction sites, the authorities could possibly demolish the remaining fragments of the original wall. Soon we may no longer see the object that changed the lives of so many, that separated not only countries and ideologies, but more importantly families and lovers, just by its mere existence. It will become history in the word’s most literal meaning. 1 Scattering its pieces as widely as possible (one per tourist, coming from anywhere in the world), makes it impossible to actually rebuild this wall. As long as sellers do not run out of wall fragments (how they do not is a mystery since large parts were exported and others were used in road construction), such a small piece of painted concrete sitting in your far-away house is not just a souvenir of Berlin but is also part of the dismantling of the Cold War. People who buy pieces of the Berlin wall take an active role in its deconstruction and may as well help in overcoming other, still existing barriers. Long after the complete disappearance of the wall from Berlin, with its memory dissolved in history, little pieces all over the world will collectively remind more people of its former existence than if it had remained on site. We therefore strongly encourage anyone to buy a piece of an amalgamation of history, art and peace. Is the piece you bought genuine? Doesn’t matter. With all the ambiguity and ambivalence of all walls, it is the concept that is important not the actual material. C 1 A Deutsche Welle TV documentary on the Berlin Wall can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwQsTzGkbiY Açalya Allmer studied architecture at the Middle East Technical University and did her PhD in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. At present, she is an Assistant Professor at Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey. Jens Allmer was born and raised in West Germany and had chance to pass the wall twice in the 1980s and several times after its fall. He teaches bioinformatics at the Izmir Institute of Technology.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
urbanism | s t re e t mu r a l s by s a r a l o u i e ro
war mu ra ls painting the revolution
On July 19th, 1979, Nicaraguan revolutionaries overthrew the country’s dictator, Anastasio Somoza. Hopes of a new future filtered through the air. Nicaraguans would have the possibility to construct a social utopia that they had been envisioning for so long. The revolutionary FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) ruled the country for ten years, using the country’s city walls as a communication medium to spread their new values. The streets of major Nicaraguan cities were lined with bright murals concealing the destruction and civil war remnants that lay beneath them. These political murals attracted artists from all over the world. Murals are the art of the people; art is expressed publicly, the visual language employed makes it easily understood by less advantaged members of society. Muralism existed long before the Nicaraguan revolution. It was extremely 50
On Site review 22: WA R
popular in Mexico during the 1930s with artists such as Diego Rivera using this art form for political means, and it gradually made its way south. Because they are so accessible, murals often carry some form of political propaganda – during the Nicaraguan revolution, the FSLN government commissioned over 3,000 murals across Nicaragua. National and international artists included Janet Pavone, Daniel Hopewell and Cecilia Herrero, each mural sharing its own unique relation to the values and history of the new political movement. 1 In the 1980s, US-funded contra rebels fought against the FSLN, setting the stage for a ten year civil war. Most of the contra armies lived in Honduras, creating heavily concentrated war zones in the cities near the border. Estelí, a city 102km from Honduras, was heavily damaged by the war. A shift in power in 1990 caused the
re vo lu c io n c ommu n ic atio n mu r als walls l a tin ame r ic a
removal and destruction of Nicaragua’s murals—most were painted over, torn down, or destroyed by time and weather. Between 1990 and 1996, around 50 of the revolutionary murals in Estelí were painted over by Violetta Chamorro’s liberal government, and then more were lost during Arnoldo Aleman’s tenure between 1996 and 2000 (Moreno). Despite these efforts to cover up the history of the FSLN, a few of these murals have been preserved. One of the best, created in 1984, can be seen in Estelí’s Casa de Cultura. It explains the insurrection of the revolution. The protagonists have angry faces, guns and knives, shining a positive light on civil disobedience. The subjects in the mural are presented in a linear fashion which makes them easier to view while walking. Bullet holes can still be seen on the top of the building, providing concrete evidence of the details of war. Just around the
sara l oui ero
corner, the Galeria de Heroes y Martires has another impressive revolutionary mural, created in 1985. The outer walls of the gallery carry the faces of famous Nicaraguan revolutionaries; the stencil portraits of each hero and martyr create a hologram on the façade of the museum. This mural is well preserved and maintains most of its intensity; the stencilled faces are so impressively flawless that it looks like a screen rather than a mural. The Centro de Salud Leonel Rugama is also an important site, created for long term access to health care. The building’s mural, painted in 1989 by the Boanerges Cerrato artists of Esteli, reflects the gains of the revolution in terms of improved health care. Emerging from the murals of the revolution, the Children’s Muralism Workshops of Estelí were founded in 1989. Now known as FUNARTE, these
workshops still teach children the values of an equal society, while involving them directly in public art making. Since these children have no memory of the revolution or its values, these murals teach them about the accomplishments made by the revolution, yet in a non-political form. In 2001, the artist Julio Moreno started another muralist collective in Estelí, known as the Colectivo de Muralistas. A completely self-sustainable collective, the members work from their office in the Casa de Cultura to preserve and maintain the city’s wall painting traditions. Unlike FUNARTE, the muralist collective is very political, and they are not afraid to show their FSLN pride. Many of their murals sport the faces of Leonel Rugama, Augusto Sandino, Carlos Fonseca and other important Nicaraguan revolutionaries.2 Estelí has over 150 murals created by FUNARTE, the Colectivo de Muralistas,
and international artists who come to Estelí with brushes and buckets of acrylic paint, in search of a fresh, untouched city wall. Before the revolution of 1979, Nicaragua had no murals. Subsequent political events made it possible for artists to express themselves in public. Although few of the 3,000 revolutionary murals remain, the city of Estelí has maintained this cultural tradition. 30 years later, the artistic revolution continues and flourishes in Estelí, covering dull city walls with brilliant colours and empowering imagery. Through the work of dedicated, passionate individuals, muralism lives. C 1 FUNARTE. Historia. 2009. 15 Aug 2009 http:// www.funarte.org 2 Moreno, Julio. Personal interview. 10 Aug 2009 Sara de Jesus Loureiro, recently graduated from the University of Western Ontario, is in Esteli, Nicaragua, working with the Colectivo de Muralistas.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
s pac es of d eath
Spain’s geography of war and remembrance
Seventy years after the defeat of the Spanish Republic in 1939, a public inquiry about the 140,000 who disappeared during General Franco’s time is taking place. Presently, a veritable explosion of blogs and websites contemplate this piece of information, while articles on the subject of the mass graves where some victims of calculated violence were hastily interred appear on a regular basis in newspapers and other media.1 In Spain, the lack of ‘truth commissions’ and trials to judge those responsible for deaths, torture and illegal detentions has resulted in the delayed recognition of events in history. After Franco’s death in 1975, his main civilian and military institutions were not purged; as a consequence, transitional justice did not take place and thousands were eradicated from the country’s awareness. It thus has taken decades to begin to recreate their lives and deaths. During the years of democratic rule initiated with the 1978 Constitution a consensus was established to silence the victims’ memory; events seen as posing a challenge to the status quo were kept out of sight for fear of rousing a split between the descendants of the victors and the defeated. However, the unearthing of graves located in trenches next to country roads and outside cemeteries –one well-known is Federico Garcia Lorca’s —have stirred debate.2 Some argue that the dead should be left where they are while others would like to recollect and give proper burial to the victims of repression. top: a newspaper clipping of a sketched map locating yet another mass grave from the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War. right: unearthing a mass grave. further right: Caidos por Dios y por España (The Fallen - for God and for Spain), an inscription on the Valley of the Fallen.
On Site review 22: WA R
s c ale me mo r y re tr ibu tio n re vis io n c o r re c tio n
But while the defeated for the most part remain in anonymous mass graves, the victors have been memorialised in the Valley of the Fallen, an institutionalised monument-monastery built by political prisoners from 1940 to 1958. In Franco’s declaration, it was meant to perpetuate the memory of the fallen of his ‘glorious Crusade.’ As a result, the divisive aspects of this massive semiotic object would be reified during its construction and in the years that followed by ignoring its dogmatic origins. For the keepers of the status quo it was expedient to silence the forced labour involved in its construction while highlighting the monastery’s religious quality. This inversion of meaning made the monument’s uncritical acceptance possible. The media followed the official line and did not recognise the importance of its role as witness to events in history and the responsibility to record for posterity the totality of the project—including its most dismal aspects.
m ire ya fo lc h-s e r ra
l a n d s c ap e | spanish civil war by m i rey a fo l c h - s e rr a
The Valley of the Fallen Situated in Cuelgamuros, an area of the Madrid sierra, the Valley of the Fallen, is a mismatch of architectural styles that comprise an abbey, a crypt, a social studies centre, a basilica, an esplanade, an arcade, a hospice and a cemetery. The immensity of its dimensions and the amount of materials used in its construction uncover its purpose as a mausoleum for Franco himself, who was interred there in 1975. The crypt, an underground church, is 260 metres in length, while the cross rises 150 metres above the base and 300 metres above the esplanade; in total the area containing the monument covers 1377 hectares.
The Valley’s construction began in 1941 and ended in 1959 but its cost has been difficult to calculate. Nonetheless it was staggering considering that the country’s economy had been ravaged by the civil war and was subsequently isolated from global markets. Although it is the most noticeable of the monuments, others were raised to the dead on the winning side in all of Spain’s towns and villages. Their names were recorded on or at the feet of crosses erected in prominent places and every means was sought to ensure that their memory was periodically honored. But hardly any plaques exist that recall the victims of the Republican side. Furthermore, it was the defeated and their ideological heirs who were obliged to suffer the indignity of building the tomb of the victors. A dialogue that never was Dialogue with the defeated would not take place during Franco’s time (1939-1975). Thus the memory of thousands was relegated to oblivion. At present, a dialogue of sorts has been initiated by the law of historical memory.3 The law, however, is not ample enough to encircle Spain’s geography of war and remembrance. It does not encompass a landscape ‘graphically visible’ in space through the recently found unmarked graves, and ‘historically visible’ in time through the newly told account of people summarily executed. This dual panorama, while linked to new and distinct historical developments, alternately ‘anchor’ and ‘destabilise’ conventional accounts of post-civil war events, and jeopardises the painstakingly built status quo. But the groups and individuals invoking the concept of historical memory—beyond and above the limitations of the state’s law—not only think about the past, they also act on it. By their actions, these groups are beginning to create other forms of collective memory and altering the meaning of both semiotic objects: the unmarked graves and Franco’s monument. below left: A common grave outside the cemetery at Portbou. The white stone shown here marks Walter Benjamin’s probable resting place among outcasts, nonCatholics, anti-fascist guerrillas killed both by the Nazis and Franco’s army, and those executed summarily by the Guardia Civil in the years of political repression. Some individuals still cherish the memory of those interred without a name, as is attested by a little jar with fresh flowers at its side. below: Franco’s pharaonic Nationalist monument, The Valley of the Fallen. It contains a basilica with what appears to be an angel of vengeance (opposite) with sword and malevolent visage, inadvertantly illustrating Franco’s politics of revenge. Inside the basilica, the walls are stained by water and rust, today symbolising the blood of the slave labour that built this monument.
m ire ya fo lch -s e r ra
The reinforcement of Franco’s discourse –while setting aside the voice of those who fought against fascism—is an illustration of how a symbol of oppression can be sanitised. However, the same media that that for decades ignored the prisoners’ plight has recently changed its approach. Tàrio Rubio a former soldier who endured years of forced labour would be allowed to reminisce about being constantly hungry and how few of the 20,000 prisoners who built the compound still remain alive. He could express in an interview that the prisoners never got compensation for the years spent as slave labour, and not even the 1980s elected government recognised the injustice of their incarceration. To him, the injustice has been perpetuated because the ‘fascists’ continue to have pensions, but not those who fought against Franco (Víctor M. Amela, La Vanguardia Digital, 06/11/2007). Although the Vanguardia article shows an effort to recognise aspects of the hitherto silenced past, the republican side is solely memorialised through interviews, articles, and blogs. This ephemeral approach reveals a sharp contrast to the everlasting built environment of a sumptuous, albeit aesthetically debatable, monument.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
Places of memory and oblivion An important dimension in which memory operates is spatial—the visual impact of the Valley, the tangible character of war memorials, churches, mosques, cemeteries and the rediscovered roadside graves. Those in mourning use the above not only for ceremony, but also for a ritual of separation, wherein touching a name point to what has been lost, but also what has not been lost. ‘Internment and putting up a memorial are followed by memory. Commemorating the dead… provides a valuational approach to the temporal and already completed whole of a human being’s outer and inner life’ said Mikhail Bakhtin. Naming names, engraving them, adds an exceptional dimension and significance to spatial representations of the past. Mass Graves in Cataluña
In Spain, forgetting meant the effacing of traces –be these the traces of actual mass graves made invisible by neglect, or the banned names of those imprisoned and executed by the fascist regime. After the implementation of democracy, Spain’s selective commemoration of the dead kept the memory of Franco’s followers in streets, cities, and monuments while failing to remember the defeated anti-fascists; it denied them the basic right of having a completed outer and inner life, and also denied their relatives the right of a place to remember and express grief. Two spaces of death As the exhumation of summarily executed anti-fascist political prisoners is happening, the newly-found place of their demise highlights a contrast between two spaces of death: the nameless graves of those who fought for democracy and the engraved names of those who fought and died for the fascist cause. Excavating the experience of victims counteracts the narrative of monumental history through insightful remembrance. Fragments of the past become visible in the present, and bring an awareness that has the function of translating a past responsibility in a present resolve. This is precisely the work undertaken by the associations for the recovery of memory. Altogether, they have shifted the place and time of forgetfulness in present-day Spain, and have given rise to a different narrative. Their effort to find and recover the names of those lying in anonymous mass graves means that their history can at last be etched in the country’s collective memory. The whole process of facing Spain’s unsavoury past began in October 28, 2000 when some people decided to open the common grave of thirteen Republicans in Priaranza del Bierzo, aided by a team of anthropologists and forensic medics. Two years later, on March 16, 2002, a University of Granada forensic expert took samples from four of the thirteen corpses. The procedure’s expenses were privately paid under the aegis of the ARMH (Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory). On July 2003 another grave was exhumed at Valdedios in Asturias. In it laid the bodies of fourteen nurses and three attendants who worked in what had been a psychiatric hospital. On August 5th 1939, thirteen young women, seven of them teenagers, had been executed outside the walls of the East cemetery of Madrid, accused of belonging to the youth branch of the Socialist party. Their story and remains were recovered only recently. (Fonseca, 2006). In Franco’s Spain women were not spared death by firing squad if they were suspected of having affinities with the Republican parliamentary government (Silva).
On Site review 22: WA R
Probable – maybe there are mass graves in these areas Area of numerous mass graves A mass grave inside cemetery grounds A mass grave outside cemetery walls (in general cemeteries are walled in Catalonia and Spain) Front line on the 23rd of December 1938, the last frontier of the war
above: a map of mass graves in Cataluña, showing probable and actual mass graves, inside and outside cemeteries. The front line shown here was the last frontier of the 1936-1939 Civil War. below: exhumation of a mass grave site at Gurb, near Vic, in Cataluña, completed in the spring of 2008
The anonymous mass graves are scattered all over the Spanish territory.4 In Catalonia, for example, the tombs’ examination and disclosure began only in 2005. Investigated case by case, they are not just anecdotal minutiae; instead the graves reflect a pattern of what Paul Preston calls a policy of systematic extermination of republican and democratic values. The instance of eight non-combatants executed without trial in 1939 in the woods around Suria, an area between Manresa and Montserrat, confirms the nature of the repression. They were not indicted or tried, except for the rebels’ declaration that they had a Marxist and revolutionary affiliation. In spite of the painstaking effort to document this and other cases that would finally allow the descendants to come to terms with the disappearance of their relatives, the regional Government stopped all the initiatives to open more graves in 2005 (Fabrega). In contrast, the Spanish state recently disbursed millions to repatriate corpses of the military contingent sent by Franco to fight alongside Hitler’s troops against the Soviet Union during the Second World War. The German dead on Spanish territory during the two world wars were also interred with honour and their graves inscribed with names and dates.5 Recently, the pressure of ‘memory’ groups and associations compelled the Catalan government to establish a new law as of July 9, 2009 to locate all the disappeared, identify their remains and designate the graves as spaces of memory.6
above: ‘To the memory of the 100,000 Spanish Republicans interned in Argeles camp during the Retreat of February 1939. Their sorrow: to have died in the defence of democracy and the Republic against fascism in Spain between 1936 and 1939 Homme Libre, souviens toi’
The excavation of remembrance It is in the context of the ‘full stop’ law (implemented in 1977 to avert trials of Franco’s regime members) that the present excavation has taken place. The effort is perforce very slow and painstaking, for there are more than 30,000 non-identified corpses still lying in common graves.7 All of them belong to defeated Republicans or to innocent bystanders caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. To date this law has not been abolished even though it contravenes article 14 of the 1978 Constitution, which stipulates the right to equality under the law. This illegal situation has obstructed the efforts to clarify the circumstances surrounding the type of death and the location of the deceased. Many relatives therefore have been unable to find and bury their dead. On the whole, the excavation of remembrance reiterates that the fate of overpowered communities reclaiming a place in history is an indication that although memory is not a self-sufficient ground of identity, ‘… it remains an inescapable part of the process through which we claim or accept the burdens and responsibilities, rights and privileges, of any complex form of human existence. As such, it is an essential part of the moral life’ (Poole, p 156). A moral life entrenched in the geographical, historical, political and ‘architectural’ implications of Spain’s victims of fascism, and their ephemeral memorialisation. C
1 See for example ‘Lorca’s skeleton stirs Spain’s ghosts’ The Globe & Mail, August 14, 2004, p R8 and ‘Lorca’s bones” by Jon Lee Anderson in the New Yorker, June 2, 2009, pp 44-49. 2 Lorca’s assassins were members of Franco’s death squads. The poet was just one of thousands to be summarily, and anonymously, executed. 3 The law was instituted in 2007. 4 Between the years 2000 and 2004, sixty anonymous mass graves around Spain were exhumed. (Fabrega 2005:106). 5 These German tombs are located at the cemetery close to the Yuste monastery in Extremadura (Silva 2006:195). 6 See www.memoriacatalunya.org 7 Some of these graves hold 4,000 dead in Merida, about 1,600 in Oviedo, about 1,000 in Leon, about 1,000 in Madrid and about 3,000 in Badajoz (Silva 2006:191).
references: Bakhtin, Mikhail. Art and Answerability. Early Philosophical Essays. M Holquist and V Liapunov, editors. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990. p 106-7 Fabrega, Albert. Mort a les cunetes. (1939) Barcelona: Angle Editorial, 2005. pp100-1 Fonseca, Carlos. Trece Rosas. Madrid: Temas de Hoy, 2006. Poole, Ross. ‘Memory, history and the claims of the past’ Memory Studies Vol. 1(2), 2008. pp 149–166 Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge. New York, London: WW Norton & Company, 2006 Silva, Emilio. Las fosas de Franco: crónica de un desagravio. Madrid: Temas de Hoy, 2006. p 139 acknowledgments: I wish to express my appreciation to Santiago Macias of the ARMH, and the grandchildren of those lying in mass graves for their tenacious effort to amend the official side of history. Thanks to my sister Silvia, who drove me to Cuelgamuros, and to Stephanie White for her insight into the victims’ ephemeral memorialisation.
Mireya Folch-Serra is Professor Emerita of Geography and Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Ontario, London.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
modernity | h av a n a by v i v i a n m a n a s c
c u ba n mode r nis m the benefits of peace
re vo l u t i o n st a bi l i t y re st or a ti o n n e c e s s i ty tourism
In 1959 Havana was transformed from a playground for the world’s rich and famous, a magnet for all that was good and beautiful – and all that was ugly and corrupt – to a city at the heart of America’s first Socialist Revolution. Cuba’s pre-revolutionary, optimistic architecture – exuberant buildings with flying ramps and folded-plate roofs, concrete thin-shell wide-span arches and glass buildings displaying modern art was often requisitioned for the revolution. The Hilton Hotel, designed in 1958 by Welton Becket and Associates of Los Angeles, opened in Havana in March of 1958, at the time the tallest building in Latin America and a dramatic modernist landmark. In 1959 it was requisitioned for Fidel Castro’s revolutionary headquarters and renamed the Habana Libra. It stands as a monument to what the future was to be and never became. Thinking about the effect of political and social regimes on our cities, as I wandered through Prague and Vienna recently, I was struck once again by the question of whether revolution, or socialism, or war, caused or affected the architecture of a given region. In eastern Europe the modern was banished after the communist revolution, and only social realism was permitted as artistic expression. Modernism in many ways went underground. Both war and revolution causes a shift in values; the image of modernism that we all often associate with CIAM and socialism, actually belongs to a different ideology – a ‘bourgeois’ sensitivity. Modernism belongs, more and more, it seems, to a time of plenty and of optimism. In revolution and war the focus on the modern in many ways vanishes. The value placed on architecture, on design and on the importance of the aesthetic to the well-being of the new modern man/woman is only possible in times of peace. The Cuban Revolution, it seems, put an end to Cuban Modernism – or at least an end to the designs of the world to serve the modern jet-set elite. It was the start of other things – the start of an educated and healthy community across the country and the start of a period of 50 years when almost nothing was built. Even before the Revolution, the grand colonial capital city and harbour of Havana, its 400-year legacy of imposing stone and masonry buildings reflecting a history of trade and piracy, had been neglected for years as business shifted west. While the 1950’s
On Site review 22: WA R
brought a building boom of modern skyscrapers, Old Havana was seen as uninteresting, housing those not lucky enough to be connected to the lucrative world of American-style casinos, gambling, tourists, shows and prostitution. Palaces, churches and colonial mansions crumbled around old squares. Along the sea-sprayed Malecon, fine houses were eaten by the salt air. When the Revolution entered its second phase after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, Cuba lost its market for sugar cane and turned again to tourism. In the last 15 years, tourism has been made a priority, recognising the value of the historic city. Entire blocks of the old City have been restored for cultural, historic and touristic purposes. The historic fabric of the old City has value for the future. Cuba’s modernist buildings, interesting sidewalks and historic squares have not yet been widely recognised for their significance to the architectural history of Cuba. Outside of Miami and perhaps Tel Aviv, Cuba likely has the world’s best remaining collection of 1950’s modern architecture. As the restoration of major colonial buildings progresses through Havana, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba, the next step is to restore the experimental but vulnerable concrete shell structures of the 1950’s when the new and the modern defined Havana in villas, pavilions in parks, hotels, resorts and gas stations. When Americans flew to Havana for fun, there was money, imagination and opportunity to experiment and show off what could be built with new building technology. Between 1950 and 1958, hundreds of modern buildings were built all over Cuba. Architecture celebrated the possible – Coppelita ice cream is sold from a modern concrete pavilion with a large round cafeteria that hovers over a small base – soaring ramps fly you up to enjoy the delights of the treat. Maybe the future is different than we imagined in 1958, but it still seems hopeful. Today’s Havana is a testament to the optimism of the Cuban people, 50 years after the Revolution. C
Vivian Manasc is a partner in Manasc Isaac Architects in Edmonton. In January 2009 she was in Havana for the fiftieth anniversary of the Revolution. More recently, she was in Prague, Vienna and points east.
u n s tab le creation s repression begets art
Sitting in a café in Prague on a placid autumn afternoon I gaze at the art painted on the wall across the street— on a highway in the shape of the infinity symbol a series of alternating bulldozers and tanks symbolises the eternal struggle of construction and destruction that has historically affected this region. In Budapest a few weeks earlier I was looking at the statues around the Millennium Memorial at Heroes’ Square. At the base of the central column are seven imposing sculptures representing the proud Magyar chiefs that founded the Kingdom of Hungary, a nation that since its creation has gone through a series of dramatic changes instigated by different political and religious interests. Nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule were followed by the First World War, a brutal Nazi occupation during the Second World War, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the ensuing vicious communist invasion by the Soviet Union. These are the kinds of events that have sketched the passage of time on Eastern Europe’s regional canvas. In Budapest, as in most places around this region, the scars of history are traced on the urban landscape. The Central Memorial for the 1956 Revolution and War of Independence by the Hungarian creative group I-ypszilon is placed where a statue of Stalin stood before being knocked down by enraged crowds. This memorial is made of multiple rectangular rusted iron pillars that gradually merge into a sharp and solid stainless steel mass symbolising the demonstrators and their unity. As an alternative to the physical presence of art and architecture, Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 transmits the sorrow and tragedy of separation in war. The second movement was based on a message written by a young woman on the walls of a Gestapo cell during the Second World War. It speaks of the despair, not of herself but of her mother who might never see her again. This delicate melodic composition is so heartbreaking and moving that it has the capacity of transmitting to the listener every single emotion of the painful experience without ever being there. In the rural setting of north-eastern Slovakia, cannons alternate with rows of pear trees growing by the side of a road near the border with Poland. This ghostlike, surreal landscape of abandoned tanks and artillery in the vicinity of Dukla Pass serves as an eerie reminder of the path of destruction that took place during the end of the Second World War. Not far from there a beautiful and modest
ar t c re ativity c h an ge powe r c o mmu n ic atio n
burial ground and memorial for Austrian-Nazi troops hides behind a Greek-Catholic Ruthenian church. What is it about human suffering that produces such powerful forms of art? It is the same element that drives a people to react against repressive systems where individual talents need to be suppressed to preserve the established order. Repression of creativity and individualism are a perfect way to inhibit social change, but because it goes against the essence of human nature – against the spirit and the will to move forward and aspire towards better conditions for both personal and collective interests, it inevitably leads to a reaction. The result is the manifestation of those repressed feelings and emotions through diverse and powerful forms of expression. I think of more stable, liberal societies where artistic substance seems unable to find that strength. In a stable and harmonious system, social organisation depends on the preservation of order, but without the violence and intimidation often found in totalitarian systems. If the state is not actively forcing a new ideology onto the population, creativity does not react in the same manner as it does in a dictatorial environment. As I finish my drink, I can’t help but remember The Third Man where Harry Lime, the character played by Orson Welles, asserts ‘Remember what the fella said: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.’1 C
1 The Third Man. London Films Productions - 1949. Directed by Carol Reed, written by Graham Greene, produced by Alexander Korda below left: Equestrian statues of the seven conquering Magyar chiefs, part of the Millenary Monument, designed in 1896 by Albert Schickedanz on Hosek ter (Heroes Square) in Budapest. 1896 was the 1000th anniversary of the conquest of this territory by the Hungarians. below: Central Monument of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence, Budapest 2006, the 50th anniversary of the revolution. The starting point of the design by I-ypszilon was a well-known photo of undergraduates from the Polytechnic University marching arm-in-arm to the sculpture of Jozef Bem on October 23 1956.
ga s t o n so u cy
memorials | e a s t e r n e u ro p e by g a s t o n s o u c y
Gaston Soucy is an architect and urban designer in Toronto.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
c i t y fo r m | damage by r u t h a l e j a n d r a m o r a i z t u rr i a g a
pa l imp sest
tr ac e s bo mbs s t pau ls pre c is io n bo mbs
the scars of war
The Romans used to write on wax-coated tablets, or palimpsests (παλίν (again) + ψαω(scrape), which were written upon, scraped, cleaned and used again. As a result, some palimpsests contain the traces of hundreds of texts written in them. Cities are palimpsests of memories, collecting the records of innumerable lives and events built over time. Like poems where each word carries multiple meanings, cities contain the complex history of events past: victory, invasion, imperialist domination, communist regime, rise of an empire, decadence, evangelisation, bombing The fragility of civilisation is written, scraped and re-written in their walls, monuments, structures, and through this density, meaning is captured. ‘Each particular manifestation on a building is just one moment in a long history of possible forms it might take.’1 Wars, battles, redevelopment and natural disasters, act as voluntary and involuntarily erasers of the palimpsest. Bombs, for example, can flatten entire areas of a particular city or create regular patterns of destruction where only a keen eye can read and recognise the signs, marks and traces left behind. Walking on the streets of London, in a residential neighbourhood, I noticed that once every so often a new house was inserted into the traditional urban pattern of old row houses; this seemed quite natural until I realized that the insertions occurred rhythmically and precisely every ten houses. I started wondering why and discovered, with some discomfort, that these newer houses are scabs, new tissue that had healed over the wounds inflicted by an aerial bombing attack during the Second World War. ‘War levels the cities in much more than the physical sense; it reduces its multilayered complexity of meaning to one-layered tableaux.’2 Beyond the limits of its intricate physical reality, the city fragments become reference points, symbols that define the identity of the place and give it its character but also, and most importantly, create a symbolic link with the inhabitants, the citizens of the place. It is this symbolic connection that evokes a feeling of belonging, of ownership, of understanding that corresponds to our vision of what is real and as such represents the city itself. During the Second World War, Winston Churchill realised that St Paul’s Cathedral, whose silhouette dominated London’s skyline at the time, symbolically represented London itself and through it the spirit and pride of Britain. Surveillance crews were on 24-hour watch to put out any fire that started on or near it, and although severely damaged, St Paul’s Cathedral survived the German bombings. While the whole city was rubble and dust, St. Paul’s dome could be seen from the distance standing in the smoke, and Londoners felt that in spite of all the damage the city was still standing. War is a cultural entity, a universal phenomenon whose form and scope varies but never the less repeats. Destruction has been a constant element in human history as if it was just an unavoidable component of human nature. In 1920 Sigmund Freud described ‘death instinct’ as a compulsion, a ‘compelling aspiration’, a need (concious or unconcious) leading towards death, destruction and forgetfulness. It is the product of the constant human struggle between two opposites, Eros and Thanatos: the former looking for creativity, harmony, sexual connection, self preservation – life; the latter looking for aggression, repetition, disruption, self-destruction – death. He felt that the ‘compulsive repetition’ of certain patterns of human behaviour was, in a way, inevitable. Although the instinctive nature of this concept is questionable, its repetitiveness can be taken for certain as human history can be described by an infinite cycle of destruction and renewal. As human nature balances life and death, inevitably cities will be destroyed and rebuilt, scars and scabs will appear and the question of reconstruction will always be faced by the double necessity of remembering and the struggle to forget; governments will be replaced, boundaries will move, countries will change names but the cities will remain as the true palimpsests of history. C 1 Phelan, Peggy. ‘Building the Life Drive: Architecture as Repetition’. Herzog and De Meuron: Natural History. Philip Ursprung, editor. Baden: Lars Müller Publishers, 1999 2 Woods, Lebbeus. Architecture and War. Pamphlet Architecture 15. Princeton Architectural Press, 1993.
Ruth Alejandra Mora Izturriaga is a Venezuelan architect who came to Canada to do an MArch at University of Toronto. She founded Sumo Project in 2006 as a private multidisciplinary design/ research practice, and currently works for Stantec Architecture Toronto.
On Site review 22: WA R
absent spaces | houses by j u l i a n j a s o n h a l a d y n d r aw i n g s by m i r i a m j o rd a n
t h e missin g h ou se insubstantial encounters
of Grosse Hamburgerstrasse where it is located in the former East Berlin. It is important to note that The Missing House, which was part of the 1990 city-wide project Die Endlichkeit der Freiheit (The Finitude of Freedom) that celebrated the unification of East and West Berlin, had a second component located in the former West Berlin that consisted of cases displaying archival documentation on the missing building. The research into the missing building that was used for this second component – conducted with the help of Christine Büchner and Andreas Fisher, art students who assisted with this project – led to the unexpected discovery that the building’s Jewish ‘tenants had been evicted, displaced, deported, and presumably liquidated’ by the time of the bombing and the people killed were actually ‘German Aryans who had replaced the now-vanished Jewish residents’.2 The complexities that emerged out of Boltanski’s simple project again serve to highlight the manner in which architecture designates and substantiates wartime encounters, whether it be the dislocation and likely extermination of the original Jewish tenants or the death of German occupants: both histories overlap in and through the walls of this now missing house. Similar to the Anne Frank House, Boltanski’s The Missing House addresses the architecture that remains after the violence of the war is over. Yet, whereas the Anne Frank House stands as a monument to that loss – one that serves in a sense as a site of comfort and remembering – The Missing House highlights the impossibility of situating this memorialisation of the missing victims of war, both Jewish and German alike. Boltanski’s project serves to highlight the void of life through the absence of architecture, an act of signification that is a powerful reminder of the absences and gaps left in the aftermath of such major conflicts. From a personal perspective, seeing the nothingness of The Missing House functioned as a visualisation of the gap or lacuna that was ever-present in the stories of the war that my grandfather recounted. And like the tattooed numbers on Cheslaw’s arm, the series of placards bearing the names of people functions as a perpetual reminder of that which was lost with the house. C 1 Hannah Arendt, ‘Social Science Techniques and the Study of Concentration Camps’, Essays in Understanding: 1930 – 1954 Formation, Exile, and Totalitarianism. ed. Jerome Kohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1994) p 240 2 Abigail Solomon-Godeau, ‘Mourning or Melancholia: Christian Boltanski’s ‘Missing House’’ Oxford Art Journal 21.2 (1998) p 3 Julian Jason Haladyn is a Canadian writer and artist living in London, Ontario.
m ir ia m j o rda n
The physical structure of a house or home is an intensely personal demarcation of private space in which one can be separated, even temporarily, from the world outside. The architectural boundaries of the home are often violated in times of war. A notable example is the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, in which even in the most remote attic areas of the building where Anne Frank hid from the occupying Nazis were subjected to the violent politics of World War II. To visit the site now, as Miriam Jordan and I did a number of years ago, is to experience the traces of this violation. In a sense, the historical site of the Anne Frank House bears witness to the irrefutable connection architectural structures have to the effects of war. It is important to note that my view of this interrelationship between architecture and war is influenced by the personal experiences of my grandfather Cheslaw Haladyn, a Holocaust survivor who passed away September 19, 2008. I have vivid memories of hearing his stories about the war, many of which make direct reference to buildings or structures in an attempt to ground the unimaginable horrors experienced. In one incident Cheslaw described the space between the barracks in the concentration camp at Auschwitz as a means of articulating the distance he had to crawl after being beaten for stealing some potato skins. In another he discussed a little German house near the railroad line that the prisoners were building, where he went to borrow a sled in order to help an injured fellow prisoner back to his bed. Given the extreme unreality of the experience, which was in large part created through the confined structure of the camps – what Hannah Arendt has described as ‘laboratories in the experiment of total domination’1 – it is not surprising that architecture served as a type of sign designating and substantiating his experiences in the war. The walls of buildings function to delineate the structures of normalcy that are rationed and regimented during wartime. It is the loss of the intimate space of architecture during times of war that is put on display in Christian Boltanski’s The Missing House. The premise of Boltanski’s project is quite simple: located on the walls of two existing buildings are a series of placards that provide the name, profession, and the periods of occupancy for tenants who lived in the domestic spaces of the now missing structure between the walls. The absent building was destroyed in a bombing by allied forces on February 3, 1945; although the buildings on either side were reconstructed after the war, this particular structure was not. As a result there is a literal gap in the cityscape
re gis tr atio n lo s s appro pr iatio n be r lin dis pe r s al
WA R matters: On Site review 22
j a pa ntown
urbanism | wwii internments v a n c o u ve r by t a ny a s o u t h c o t t
the consequences of internment
in te r n me n t lo s s r ac is m c o mmu n ity u rban de c ay
Once the heart of British Columbia’s Japanese Canadian community and a thriving cultural and economic district, Vancouver’s Japantown is now more commonly recognised among the country’s poorest neighbourhoods, the infamous Downtown Eastside. While the district’s high incidence of poverty, drug use, sex trade and crime stems from a continuous process of urban decay, the disappearance of Little Tokyo as it was also called, references a singular point in history – the Japanese Internment during the Second World War.
Powell streetscape Powell Street was the focus of commercial and social life of Japantown.
On Site review 22: WA R
475 Alexander Street, Japanese Hall, 1928 The only property returned to the Japanese following Internment, the continuation of the Japanese Language School chronicles the history of Japantown.
ta nya s o ut hc ot t
The origins of the neighbourhood date from the late 19th century when Vancouver was no more than a small group of residential buildings servicing the workers of the Hastings Saw Mill on the south shore of Burrard Inlet. Japanese immigrants transformed the area, bringing to it a commercial focus with the introduction of mixed-use buildings with family businesses at street level and boarding houses above. On the eve of WWII, Japanese Canadians were the principal property owners along Powell Street. They had turned Powell into a significant business centre and the cultural and economic focus for the Japanese community. Japantown had become an area of distinct Japanese ethnicity, with a strong sense of identity and pride. After the war and the dissolution of the War Measures Act, few Japanese Canadians were able, or encouraged, to return to Vancouver’s Japantown. Inspired by nostalgia for an earlier time, those who did return found few traces of their past life in the buildings of Powell Street. What remains of Japantown today is valued as the place to remember the forced removal and dispersal of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, their loss of property and community.
…I speak of persons of Japanese origin in Canada. …On several occasions the view has been expressed by residents of British Columbia that the rest of Canada does not appreciate the Japanese problem, and that it has been left as virtually the sole responsibility of their province. …The fact that in 1941, 22,096 of the 23,149 persons of Japanese race in Canada lived in British Columbia undoubtedly made the people of that province particularly aware of the problem, and I can equally say it made the people of other parts of Canada less aware of how great the problem was. … I wish to make clear, however, that the government does recognize that the problem is one to be faced by the whole of Canada as a Canadian problem. … The interests of Canada must be paramount, and its interests will be protected as the first duty of the government. … There is little doubt that, with cooperation on the part of the provinces, it can be made possible to settle the Japanese more or less evenly throughout Canada. They will have to settle in such a way that they must be able to pursue the settled lives to which they are entitled, and that they do not present themselves as an unassimilable bloc or colony which might again give rise to distrust, fear and dislike. It is the fact of concentration that has given rise to the problem. Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King, to the House of Commons August 4, 1944
ta nya s o ut hc ot t
347 Powell Street, 1907 (above) Owned by Sentaro Uchida in 1916 as a general store supporting Japanese trade and commerce. Owned by the Secretary of State following Internment.
518, 522, 526 East Cordova Street, 1908-9 Home to Japanese tenants before WWII, these houses reflect the increased wealth and settlement of Japanese in the area.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
December 7th, 1941
The Imperial Japanese Navy launches a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The United States declares war on Japan.
December 8th, 1941
Canada declares war on Japan. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police immediately impound 1200 Japanese fishing boats and close Japanese language schools and newspapers. The Federal Cabinet passes Order-in-council P.C. 9591 under the War Measures Act requiring all Japanese nationals to register with the Registrar of Enemy Aliens
December 16th, 1941
All persons of Japanese ancestry are required to register with the Registrar of Enemy Aliens regardless of citizenship (Order-in-council P.C. 9760)
January 16th, 1942
The area 100 miles inland from the west coast of Canada is designated a ‘protected area’. All Japanese male nationals between the ages of 18 to 45 are to be relocated from the protected area (Order-in-council P.C. 365)
February 24th, 1942
All persons of Japanese origin are expulsed from the protected area (Order-in- council P.C. 1486). Cars, cameras and radios are confiscated, and a dusk-to-dawn curfew is imposed.
March 4th, 1942
The British Columbia Security Commission is established to implement the complete evacuation of the Japanese from the coast. Most are relocated to internment and detention camps in interior British Columbia and Ontario, and sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba (Order-in-council P.C. 1665) Widespread looting occurs throughout most communities immediately after the Japanese are evacuated from their homes All remaining property and belongings left by the evacuees are entrusted to the Custodian of Alien Properties
Approximately 22,000 Japanese Canadians had been uprooted forcibly from their British Columbian homes and relocated across Canada
January 23rd, 1943
The Custodian of Enemy Alien Property is authorized the right to dispose of Japanese properties and chattels without the owner’s consent (Order-in-council P.C. 469)
February 5th, 1943
The Minister of Labour is awarded control over all movement of the Japanese in Canada including the right to prohibit or prescribe the terms of their residence in any part of Canada (Order-in-council P.C. 946)
August 15th, 1945
Japan surrenders to the Allied Powers after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most internment camps are ordered closed and destroyed Japanese Canadians are encouraged to apply for voluntary repatriation to Japan. The remainder must, under the War Measures Act, remain dispersed across Canada
March 31st, 1949
Restrictions imposed under the War Measures Act are lifted, permitting free movement of Japanese Canadians throughout Canada By this time, 3,964 Japanese Canadians had returned to Japan. Less than 1000 remained in British Columbia
References: ‘Two Reports on Japanese Canadians in World War II’, Department of Labour of Canada. New York: Arno Press, 1978 Sando, Tom. Wild Daisies in the Sand, Life in a Canadian Internment Camp. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 2002 Yesaki, Mitsuo. Sutebustuton: A Japanese Village on the British Columbian Coast. Vancouver: Peninsula Publishing Company, 2003 City of Vancouver. ‘Historical and Cultural Review of Powell Street (Japantown)’. www.vancouver.ca/ www.japanesecanadianhistory.net Tanya Southcott (M Arch, Waterloo) is an intern architect working in Vancouver.
On Site review 22: WA R
365 Powell Street,T. Maikawa Building, 1908 T. Maikawa & Co. General Store made Japanese products available to the local community, attracting increasing crowds of Japanese Canadians to the area. Owned by the Secretary of State following Internment.
306 Jackson Street, 1912. A typical example of a mixed-use building under partial Japanese ownership, accommodating Japanese business at street level. Owned by the Secretary of State following Internment.
t a n ya s ou t hco t t
269 Powell Street, Komura Bros. Building, 1906 259 Powell Street,York Rooms,1912 One of the earliest Japanese developments in the city, and a typical example of mixed â€“use residential accommodation over retail.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
war + p eac e monument and counter-monument
p h o t o g r ap hy | t h e m i dd l e e a s t by d i c k ave r n s
war ar t ve r n ac u lar signs pe ac e ke e pin g a c c i dent al me mo r ials
Journeying to the Middle East in the summer of 2009 as a war artist with Canadian peacekeeping troops, I made my way to the Sinai border country between Israel and Egypt. This whole region is overseen by the Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) and it was to the MFO North Camp –a former Israeli air base about ten miles from Rafah and the Gaza Strip— that I was deployed as part of a photographic and non-fiction writing project. Throughout this part of the world, signs of conflagration are evident. From the public sculptures and museums in Cairo and Tel Aviv, to the roadside memorials and struggling communities in between, the monumental effects of war are hard to miss. Monuments to nation-building are understandable, and perhaps serve to galvanise patriotism; after all, both countries discussed here still have vast conscripted militaries. But they also have a peace treaty. The war on terror may have been a death knell for liberty and traditional peacekeeping (seen as outmoded by some because protagonists need to be visible and inclined to peace) but the landscape of MFO North Camp indicates an ongoing peacekeeping vernacular. In comparing and contrasting registrations of war, ranging from official museums to the signage in an isolated peacekeeping base, the paradigm of peacekeeping is, I propose, the countermonument to war. War monuments are often seen as harbingers of conflict. However, as ammunition is collected under amnesty conditions, peacekeeping becomes more productive than war. This is not to say peacekeeping memorials cannot claim their own monumentality, rather that counter-monuments often operate in a more abstract manner. From the monolith of the Israeli security fence to the particular spatiality of the MFO, there’s a lot to be said for amnesty ammunition. C
from the top: ‘Israeli “security fence”, Ramallah’ ‘October 1973 War Panorama, Cairo’ (SAM2 missile) ‘October 1973 War Panorama, Cairo’ (surrender relief) ‘Roadside memorial sculpture, West Bank’ ‘‘Faith in God,Victory, Martyrdom’ National Military Museum, Cairo’ all photographs by Dick Averns, 2009
On Site review 22: WA R
from the top: ‘Observe, Report,Verify. MFO, North Camp, Sinai’ – the MFO mantra is reflected in Hollywood movie titles at the MFO cinema ‘FPCON (Force Protection Condition), MFO North Camp, Sinai’ ‘FPCON (Force Protection Condition), MFO North Camp, Sinai’ – detail of Level C ‘Amnesty Ammunition Collection Point, MFO North Camp, Sinai’ ‘August 2009 Peace Panorama, MFO North Camp, Sinai’ all photographs by Dick Averns, 2009
Dick Averns’ art and writing investigates the commodification of space. He was selected by the Department of National Defence for the 2008-2009 Canadian Forces Artists Program. He lives in Calgary.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
the actual distribution of Jewish, Muslim and Christian populations in Jerusalem at the times indicated
mixed Moslem and Christian neighbourhood Jewish neighbourhood mixed Moslem and Jewish Arab Christian British Security Zone Green Zone Unplanned Areas our projection of population distribution if the existing planning policy continues to be applied
urbanism | c o - o p e r a t i ve b o rd e r s by j a f a r t u k a n
VISIONS OF JERUSA LEM making a line into a space
The legacy of twenty years of total isolation between Israel and its neighbours and thirty years of occupation, has bred many negative realities. The legacy is a barrier not only of preconceived and highly generalised impressions, but also of irreversible facts on the ground, facts of political, economic and military power as well as an intense and forced settlement program in and around Jerusalem, uniquely for Jews. Looking back, there was a time before 1948 when Jerusalem’s community was quite homogeneous, not in religion, but in culture. Through 300 years of Ottoman occupation, and then under the British mandate, Moslem, Christian and Jewish residents of Jerusalem lived together. Ethnic neighbourhoods were united in commerce and trade. When the strength of the zionist movement in Europe increased and the 1917 Balfour declaration was made, promising the Jews a homeland in Palestine, an influx of European Jews moved into Jerusalem. A few years before 1948, Zionist underground movements intensified their violence and a dark cloud started to loom over Jerusalem. Movement within the city became less and less free until 1948 when the city was divided by a physical wall and a strip of no-man’s land separating Arab East Jerusalem from Jewish West Jerusalem. While East Jerusalem retained its slow, low-rise rate of growth, across the wall and the no man’s land strip, one could see the transformation of West Jerusalem taking place, a dense high-rise rapid growth, totally unlike the old, un-partitioned Jerusalem. In June 1967, the Israeli army took over all of Jerusalem, tearing down the wall and ‘unifying’ the city. The unification was administrative and physical. However, it actually not only kept, but deepened Jerusalem’s ethnic division. 66
On Site review 22: WA R
par titio n s e gre gatio n divis io n is o latio n co n tain me n t
A rapid growth of settlement surrounded the city. As settlements such Gilo and Maale Adomim grew, administrative restrictions were imposed on what had been Arab East Jerusalem, adding to its isolation, ethnic separation and slow suffocation. Movement in and out of the eastern city centre become more restricted for security reasons. Tensions ran high, desperation increased and the uprising of 1987 started. While the events of the uprising led to the Oslo Accord of 1992, the accord has, over five turbulent years, increased the distance between the Jewish community on the one hand, and Moslem and Christian communities on the other. It has also depressed the economic, educational and social conditions of the latter to unprecedented levels. The Oslo Accord, which in the beginning held promise of coexistence and peace, suffered from a series of setbacks and an unprecedented acceleration in the construction and expansion of settlements primarily around Jerusalem and further into the Arab lands in the West Bank of the River Jordan. According to a report by the Ir. Shalem – a non-profit organisation affiliated with Peace Now – Jerusalem shows that ‘of the total area of East Jerusalem prior to expropriation, approximately 7.3% only is available for residential construction and approximately 0.6% for commercial and industrial construction. The remaining areas are zoned for various needs that do not enable private sector exploitation or are unplanned areas. Consequently, less than 8% of the area of East Jerusalem is available to the Moslem and Christian Palestinian sector for any kind of private sector development’.1
proposed population distribution trajectory if the policy we are suggesting is applied
a possible future Jerusalem: a fairly balanced distribution of population in the city
The expropriation and settlement policy in and around east Jerusalem reveals the intention to segregate Moslem and Christian concentration areas from one another within the municipal boundary of Jerusalem, and also to encircle them with a continuous wall of Jewish residential settlements within the limits of greater metropolitan Jerusalem boundaries, separating them from other Moslem and Christian villages and towns further east. Although the physical and administrative division of Jerusalem has been eliminated, a deeper and more complex division has been created. At this moment there are two physically distinct and isolated sectors in the city and if no genuine effort is done to rectify this isolation, there may be, and soon, three such sectors. One of the major causes of the persistence of the problem in Jerusalem is lack of communication, alienation and ignorance of the real other. Enhancing mutual recognition and familiarity is the basis of my proposal. Jerusalem is now layered horizontally and vertically, under the pretext of security. It needs new political and security concepts, not military but multi-dimensional security, based on common interests: economics, water, environment, education and freedom and right of existence for all. THE PROPOSAL The proposal identifies lines of intensity that seem to follow what used to be the actual 1967 wall and no manâ€™s land. Expropriated land separating Jewish settlements from Moslems and Christians would not be allowed to develop as residential areas, but rather as areas for the activities that can bring people together. Usually in multi-ethnic societies, choice of residence is subjective and ethnic groups tend to create segregated residential communities. My proposal will avoid primarily residential
development. Some of the common interests mentioned earlier will determine the nature of the proposed development. To maximise the area of contact between the presently separate communities, this space is striated in a direction that can generate a field of attraction between the two communities, thus sucking into it people from both sides and engaging them in mutually beneficial activities. For example, the combination of commercial activity with a central major transportation node may restore the concentricity of the city in contrast with its present bipolarity. The virtual wall which now separates the Jewish settlements from Moslem and Christian ones needs to be transformed from a line to a space, a space in which the two communities are brought together through economic forces generated by environmentally conscious transportation and commercial nodes, that may include light industry, tourism and entertainment as well as shopping and office areas. Green space and separation of pedestrian and vehicular movement are major design considerations, aiming at developing a program that could generate future possibilities and new economic patterns. The program should aim at constructing spaces of movement, business and consumption that can induce total entrapment in the urban labyrinth. A main transportation node should be introduced in which public transportation system converges and radiates to all parts of Jerusalem. Cities in conflict are better managed by wisdom than by politics. C 1 Ir Shalem. â€˜East Jerusalem - The Current Planning Situation. A Survey of Municipal Plans and Planning Policy. Jerusalem, 1998â€™. Jerusalem Issue of the Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol. VIII, No. 1, 2001 Jafar Tukan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an architect practicing in Jordan, the Middle East and North Africa. Born in Jerusalem, studied architecture at the American University of Beirut, he has won several international awards including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
U n co n sciou s City head in the stars, feet in the clay
o r igin s me mo r y mi l i tar y h is to r y dign ity u rban ity
j usti n perdue
urbanism | fo r t yo r k by j u s t i n p e rd u e
Some months ago I was standing with a colleague on the walls of Fort York in Toronto. It was a blustery day near the end of a long winter and we stood there, collars up and hands stuffed into the pockets of our overcoats, looking down the grassy incline outside the fort, trying to imagine what it must have looked like 200 years ago. This was made quite difficult by the elevated six-lane Gardiner Expressway, a roaring behemoth that soared over our heads, dominating our view of the fort. To make matters worse, the waves of Lake Ontario which, in the nineteenth century lapped at the base of the fort’s earthworks, could not be seen nor heard from our position on the wall, the intervening centuries having pushed the shoreline several hundred metres to the south, now hidden behind behind a zone of high-rise condominium developments. Fort York is surrounded on all sides by things bigger, newer and more powerful – even the Bathurst Streetcar looks down upon the fort as it rattles past. The city presses in on all sides, threatening to spill over and eradicate the last remnants of the tiny garrison that in 1793 was the first step in what eventually became Toronto. It seems that we have done everything but bulldoze the fort under – the question is, why? I happen to quite like Fort York. It is a quiet and simple place in the midst of our energetic city, a calm oasis in the heart of downtown. When I am there I feel the weight of history, and as I walk amongst the low, scattered buildings, for fleeting moments it seems as if I can almost hear the voices of those that lived and served there. Every weathered wall bears the marks of people and events of times past, their stories written, as Italo Calvino said, ‘like the lines upon a hand’. For me, the fort is a significant place, and this is why I find the city’s treatment of it to be so puzzling. Toronto has long aspired to greatness, and we often hear its politicians refer to it as a world class city. It has chased the Olympics several times and in the last decade has collected at least one building from each of the starchitects that have altered the skylines of the world’s major cities. The city craves recognition as a peer with Chicago and New York, and its towering downtown of glass and steel speaks to its colossal ambition. The fort, on the other hand, does not make a strong visual impression. This is partly due to the loss of its lake front, and the low earthwork walls that outline the Fort look neither securely comforting from within, nor intimidating from without. The blockhouses, though they sport rifle-slots, are constructed of timber, and look more like summer camp bunkhouses than strategic fortifications. The fort certainly does not fit our conception of a strong and defensible fortress in the sense of a European castle, or even Kingston’s Fort Henry with its Martello towers and fortified earthworks. Despite its critical role in the War of 1812, in Fort York we find a humble beginning for an ambitious city.
On Site review 22: WA R
The incongruity between Toronto’s aspirations and its true origins is perhaps the root cause for the disrespect that the fort has endured. Toronto could not have come into being without Fort York, and yet, like an embarrassed teenager at the mall, the city that grew up around the fort has tried hard to distance itself from its beginnings. In the process Toronto has visited upon its progenitor every type of humiliation, going to great lengths to marginalise its origin, turning it, in essence, into a traffic island. The neo-Freudian Erik Erikson, one of the originators of Ego psychology, developed a framework of the self with a tripartite structure: ego identity, personal identity and social identity. Ego identity is the sense of personal continuity, it is the I, the self. Personal identity includes both the individual idiosyncrasies that express our differences from others and our own personal view of our ego identity. It is who we imagine ourselves to be. Social or cultural identity is our understanding of the world, and specifically our place within it. For individuals, it is critical that these parts of the self are in harmony if we hope to be happy, functioning individuals. The way that who we truly are lines up with who we imagine ourselves to be is a measure of our selfcongruity. If there is a significant incongruity, it must be rectified, or the health and stability of our identity is at risk. Like individuals, cities have identities, and a city that cannot or will not reconcile itself with its true origins will face similar risks to the health of its identity. Just as for an individual, any significant incongruity must be addressed at some point, and in Toronto’s case, this has resulted in the marginalisation of Fort York. The humble fort, an unwelcome reminder of the city’s true heritage, does not fit Toronto’s self-image,leading to a situation where the fort and its history have been consistently pushed aside, built over, turned away from and forgotten. Fort York represents a simple, colonial, humble origin and is a crucial part of what the city is. Toronto may wish to be Chicago, New York or even London, but it is not. It can, however, be wonderfully and uniquely Toronto. It must come to terms with its true identity, or face the prospect of wiping its history completely from the map and being forever unwhole. C
Justin Perdue is an intern architect, digital artist and sometimes psychological researcher who likes to think that buildings can talk. He currently lives in Toronto.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
naming | armaments by h e i d i s c h a e fe r
h a rd w ar e a r t is ts â€™ b o o ks conflict p ro d u c t i o n d im i nu t i ve s
a nima l v eg e ta b le m in era l after Kosuth
Heidi Schaefer curates a contemporary art gallery, twenty+3 projects, in Manchester. She is part of Contemporary Art Manchester, a formal group of independent art spaces, and divides her time between Manchester and Toronto. www.heidischaefer.net www.20plus3.co.uk
On Site review 22: WA R
Subscribe to On Site review and be assured of receiving each issue. On Site is not always easy to find in bookstores and news stands: for some reason our distributors blanket Indigo/Chapters in Ontario and short everywhere else. One can always order single issues online, however a subscription offers a saving on newsstand prices and sustains On Site in the process. Use the subscription form below, and mail it to us with a cheque, or go to www.onsitereview.ca and do it all through our website. Still at the same low price:
o 1 year / 2 issues (23-24) $20 o 2 years / 4 issues (23-26) $35 o 3 years / 6 issues (23-28) $50
MAIL this form with payment to
Shipping and handling included in Canada. For US rates please add $12/year. International, add $24/year PayPal: www.onsitereview.ca/subscribe Please make cheques out to On Site
1326 11 Avenue SE Calgary Alberta T2G 0Z5
Name Address United Nations Azure ( Hex: #5B92E5) ( RGB: 91, 146, 229) Pantone PM S 279
or, to pay online, go to www.onsitereview.ca/ subscribe
(for subscription problems, updates on future issues and calls for articles)
call for articles: onsite 23 small things We have covered rather large things recently – weather and war. Let us look at small things. What have you worked on, or seen, that is very modest, but very important? little, but beautiful? small of budget, slender of means? slight in scale, intense in impact? What are the implications of micro-urbanism? weak systems? We’ve just lived through the crash and burn of grande capitalisme. What of its associated architecture? Is there an architecture associated with the 100-mile diet? Is it time for a resurgence of appropriate technology? Although people still write 10,000-word essays, it is the 140-character tweet that is read. What does spatial twittering look like? Is sartorialist architecture and urbanism a new vernacular? Give us a lovely detail that shows an economy of means. deadline for proposals: any time up to January 1 2010 send to email@example.com deadline for finished articles: February 15 2010 Texts should be 500-1000 words or less, sent as an .rtf text document. Images must be 300dpi CMYK .jpgs at least 2000px wide. Anything sent not in these formats will sink, sadly, to the bottom of the pile. Copyright clearance must be obtained for any images not your own.
escalera compensada: the gentlest possible slope within a very tight available space. The overall stair trajectory follows a simple L, the treads are actually slightly fan-shaped in plan – the trajectory is less steep at the outside than the inside edge. —Rafael Gómez-Moriana
On Site is not an academic journal, it is an independent magazine read by architects, artists, landscape architects, designers, geographers, students, historians and other interested people. It covers culture, infrastructure, landscape and design. We aim for sophisticated ideas in accessible language. We like construction issues and theory. We like engineering and art. We like drawings and photographs. We like enthusiasm and energy.
WA R matters: On Site review 22
on site review 22: WAR Fall 2009
contributors On Site review is published twice annually (Spring and Fall) by the Association for NonProfit Architectural Fieldwork [Alberta]. This association promotes field work in matters architectural, cultural and spatial. On Site invites theme-based submissions — reviews, commentary, photo-documentation, project descriptions, critical essays. www.onsitereview.ca/callforarticles for any and all inquiries, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 403 266 5827
canada post agreement 40042630 ISSN 1481-8280 PAP 11017 copyright: On Site review and ANPAF[A] All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded or otherwise stored in a retrieval system without the prior consent of the publisher is an infringement of Copyright Law Chapter C-30, RSC1988. news stand price $12 subscriptions per year/two issues: $20 two years/four issues: $35 three years/six issues: $50 in Canada: shipping and handling included. for USA: add $12/year for International: add $24/year back issues: $7.50 subscription forms: PayPal or download from www.onsitereview.ca/subscribe and send with a cheque to On Site 1326 11 Avenue SE Calgary, Alberta T2G 0Z5 editor/publisher: Stephanie White design: Black Dog Running printer: Emerson Clarke Printing, Calgary, Alberta distribution: Magazines Canada 416 504 0274 Ubiquity Distributors, NY 718 875 5491
On Site gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of our volunteers, and the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts Publishing Grants to Arts and Literary Magazines and the Government of Canada through the Publications Assistance Program, Department of Heritage which subsidises a portion of the mailing costs of this magazine. On Site also thanks HOK Canada and the RAIC for their support.
On Site review 22: WA R
Reza Aliabad has an MArch from the University of Tehran and a post-professional MArch from McGill. atelier rzlbd covers a range of architecture, research and design. www.rzlbd.com Açalya Allmer studied architecture at the Middle East Technical University and did her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. At present, Allmer is an Assistant Professor at Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey. Jens Allmer was born and raised in West Germany and had chance to cross the Berlin Wall twice in the 80s and several times after its fall. He is now teaching bioinformatics in Izmir Institute of Technology. Taïka Baillargeon is starting a PhD in Urban Studies at Université du Québec à Montréal. She worked on the 1990s’ reshaping of Berlin and now explores the urban transformations that take place in exYugoslavia, focusing on the importance of ruins in reconstruction processes. Alexis Bhagat is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn. He is the co-editor and co-curator of An Atlas of Radical Cartography. Adam Bobbette is an artist and designer based in Toronto. He is on the editorial board of Scapegoat: Architecture, Landscape, Political Economy, and teaches at the University of Toronto. Erica Bright, a recent graduate of the University of Waterloo’s MArch program, has spent almost a year in East Africa designing schools and training centres for local communities in need. Stanley Britton FRAIC is a strategic planning advisor to, and facilitator for, non-profit organisations that seek healthy and sustainable shelter solutions for the disenfranchised overseas. He advocates for architecture influenced by architects. email@example.com Calvin Chiu graduated from University of Waterloo with an M Arch in 2006. Since then, he has worked in the architectural industry in Toronto and London, UK. Mireya Folch-Serra is Professor Emerita of Geography and Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Ontario, London. Gerald Forseth (BArch. Toronto 1970, MAAA, FRAIC) is a Calgary architect, planner, researcher, traveller, teacher, lecturer, writer, photographer and curator. firstname.lastname@example.org Julian Jason Haladyn is a Canadian writer and artist living in London, Ontario. Kenan Handzic is an urban planner with the City of Edmonton. He graduated with a Masters in Environmental Design (Planning) from University of Calgary. His research focused on various aspects of slum upgrading in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Deryk Houston’s work has focussed on peace issues for the past fifteen years, including a series of earthworks which were the subject of an NFB documentary, From Baghdad to Peace Country, 2003. www. derykhouston.com Erin Koenig’s research focuses largely on the nature, transformations and implications of spatial and social relations in cities. She has served as a consultant with UNESCO’s Human Rights Section in Paris and currently works with the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, located in Costa Rica. Sara de Jesus Loureiro recently graduated with an Honours specialisation in Visual Arts and a minor in English from the University of Western Ontario. She is in Esteli, Nicaragua, working with the Colectivo de Muralistas. Christine Leu, an intern architect working and teaching in Toronto, is fascinated with highways as public spaces, defined by the combination of enormous infrastructure, local landscapes and people. Vivian Manasc is a partner in Manasc Isaac Architects in Edmonton. In January 2009 she was in Havana for the fiftieth anniversary of the Revolution. More recently, she was in Prague, Vienna and points east. Markus Miessen is an architect, spatial consultant and writer migrating between Berlin, London and the Middle East. In 2002, he set up Studio Miessen, a collaborative agency for spatial practice and cultural analysis, and in 2007 was founding partner of the Berlin-based architectural practice nOffice. www. studiomiessen.com Ruth Alejandra Mora Izturriaga (B Arch, M Arch OAA) is a Venezuelan architect who came to Canada to do a Master of Architecture at University of Toronto. She founded Sumo Project in 2006 as a private multidisciplinary design/research practice and currently works for Stantec Architecture Toronto. Arash Nourkeyhani studies architectural theory, criticism and philosophy at the University of Toronto, redefining architectural and cultural conventions at www.unlearnworkroom.com Aisling O’Carroll is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, currently working in Toronto. Lejla Odobasic has recently received her Masters of Architecture from the University of Waterloo. She is currently part of the adjunct faculty at the U of W School of Architecture Rome campus. Justin Perdue is an intern architect, digital artist and sometimes psychological researcher who likes to think that buildings can talk. He currently lives in Toronto. Heidi Schaefer curates twenty+3 projects in Manchester. She is part of Contemporary Art Manchester, a formal group of independent art spaces, and divides her time between Manchester and Toronto. Shawn Michelle Smith is Associate professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. email@example.com Tanya Southcott (M Arch, Waterloo) is an intern architect working in Vancouver. Nick Sowers is completing his Masters thesis in architecture at Berkeley,and as recipient of the John K. Branner traveling fellowship, he is studying military spaces across the globe, focusing on US military bases. S M Steele, a poet with the Canadian Forces Artist Programme, has spent a year with 1st Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry and the 2 Royal 22e Régiment, at CFB Edmonton, CFB Shilo, CFB Suffield and CFB Wainwright and is currently in Kandahar with Task Force 3-09. www.warpoet.ca Jafar Tukan is an architect practicing in Jordan, the Middle East and North Africa. Born in Jerusalem. He studied architecture at the American University of Beirut and has won several international awards including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. firstname.lastname@example.org Stephanie White, the editor of On Site review has, since 1969, studied, practiced, taught, won prizes for and written about architecture, lately shifting focus to architecture’s geography. Rufina Wu is currently living and working in Vancouver BC. Beijing Underground is an excerpt from her thesis for the University of Waterloo MArch program.
Scott Taylor’s action-packed memoir takes us beyond the headlines and to the front lines of the major conflicts that have shaken the world since the end of the Cold War—and that continue to do so today.
n September 2004, the veteran Canadian journalist Scott Taylor was taken hostage in northern Iraq. While awaiting execution by beheading, Taylor reflected on the events that had brought him to a torture chamber in a remote Iraqi village. Taylor’s recounting in Unembedded includes his experiences as a Canadian Forces infantryman, and as a front-line reporter investigating military affairs for the military magazine Esprit de Corps. His quest to see “the other side” has taken him to Africa and the former Yugoslavia, and to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in twenty-one trips before, during and after the U.S.-led invasion. With searing criticism, Taylor exposes the deceit of the politicians and media cheerleaders who are ultimately responsible for waging the senseless wars that cause so much needless suffering for innocent people. A former professional soldier, Scott Taylor has been editor and publisher of Esprit de Corps since 1988. Throughout the mid-1990s, this little independent magazine embarked on a campaign to expose crime and corruption in the upper echelons of the Canadian Forces. In 1996, he co-authored the bestseller Tarnished Brass: Crime and Corruption in the Canadian Military. Since the inception of Esprit de Corps, Taylor has logged over one million air miles as a war correspondent reporting from such global hot spots as the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Croatia, Iraq, Kosovo, Macedonia, Turkey and Yugoslavia. Taylor regularly appears in the Canadian media as a military analyst, and is the recipient of the 1996 Quill Award for outstanding work in the field of Canadian communications. That same year, he also won the Alexander MacKenzie Award for journalistic excellence. A weekly columnist for the Halifax ChronicleHerald, he has also contributed to the Ottawa Citizen, Maclean’s magazine, the Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, Reader’s Digest, and the Global television network as well as several international publications. He also serves as an advisor to the CBC Radio play “Afghanada.” Taylor was named The Executive Committee’s (TEC) 2006 Speaker of the Year.
For more information on Scott Taylor, Esprit de Corps magazine or Unembedded, please visit our website at:
Send me 1 copy of Unembedded for only $44.57* * includes $7.50 S&H to Canadian address and 5% GST
Name ___________________________________________________ code ONSITE 10/2009
Address ________________________________________________ City _________________________ Prov _______ PC ____________
Published in 2009 by Douglas & McIntyre. Available in bookstores.
Make cheque payable to Esprit de Corps and mail to: #204 - 1066 Somerset St. West, Ottawa, ON Canada K1Y 4T3
Check enclosed Visa/MC ____________________________________________ Exp. _______________
canada usa mexico europe uk
$12 $10 $M130 e8 £6
k eep in g p eace
above: Duff. MFO, Sinai Dick Averns, 2009 ‘In our mortal lives, the gods assign a proper time for each thing upon the good earth.’ – Homer. front: Israeli “Security Fence” Ramallah, IDF Access Gate Dick Averns, 2009