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DISASTER MANIFESTO Phillip Powers diploma studio 490 / spring 2012 Matthew Hall / lecturer University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design


THE MANIFESTO Throughout history, cities and civilizations have been destroyed. Yet after the wreckage, there is a pattern of resiliency. Why after being demolished do cities still heal and rebuild? How can structure survive, and not crumble? Can the built suggest a solution to its previous failures? The historical emphasis that the death of a city is a “prerequisite for its glorious rebirth” reveals a dark truth— the initial step of reconstruction is deconstruction (Vale and Campanella). The deconstruction in Baltimore is present—it is a social disaster. The social disaster of Baltimore will be defined as the culmination of all the social problems that have affected the city over its history. These social problems include rampant criminal activity, corrupt policies, increasing poverty, social class division, population decrease, loss of the industry the city was built on amongst countless other issues. Yet even with all these damaging issues, Baltimore’s general population, those who are not suffering, have barely begun to recognize the gravity of this destruction. “They learn only at moments of personal and general ruin—only, that is, when it is too late” (Marx). The natural disaster is immediate in its destruction therefore immediate in its social response. However this sudden reaction is not present after the social disaster, and in order for the city to understand its destruction, they must be profoundly forced into awareness. This calls for drastic and radical design. This is the first stage in the rehabilitation in Baltimore—the radical awareness. The radical is defined as the drastic, the extreme, and the excessive qualities of design. Awareness is the state of being informed and knowledgeable. As previously stated, a radical awareness is the appropriate action for Baltimore since the majority of the city has failed to consciously acknowledge its social condition. The focus of this project is to engage the city of Baltimore through a radical awareness of its social disaster. The radical design begins with shocking form; a form that immediately strikes the observer through many attributes such as scale, materiality, and shape. This initial shock is the first impression towards radical awareness, which can suggest a closer engagement with the design. The second phase towards awareness and a deeper interaction with the social disaster is through a free, unrestricted program. This free space does not lack intelligence or sophistication, for it is an external memorial to the city. The memorial is a pathway through the stages of Baltimore’s disastrous history. This program allows for public interaction with the radical, through its movement through time. The site chosen is the Pennsylvania Rail Line just east of the Penn Station, in the heart of Baltimore. The site is surrounded by a combination of different conditions; Baltimore’s historical cemetery, highway 83, dead end alleys, abandoned housing, parking lots, failing businesses, but also areas of renovation and promise. The site is a physical result of the social disaster in Baltimore. The site represents traumatic space; the space that has been lost, abused, or forgotten as a result of social disaster. This is where architecture must create radical awareness, within the traumatic space. The destruction from any disaster, both social and natural, consequently causes traumatic space. The trauma, which is the damaging events that have created lasting and limiting effects on the development of the city, exists in Baltimore because of the social disaster. This is where architecture must create radical awareness, within the traumatic space. As spatial designers, there is significant opportunity to address the traumatic space that is the result of Baltimore’s disaster. Traumatic space, which can be either very direct or apparently invisible to the surrounding community, demands for an architectural response. Whether it is physical ruins from a natural disaster or the corruption from a social disaster, these spaces must be approached through thoughtful methods. These methods need to be appropriate to its context, and again in Baltimore’s case, because the city has grown inherently comfortable with its own trauma, demands for radical methods in order for awareness. Therefore the radical design, appropriate for Baltimore, must be thoughtful in its process. History provides us with multiple accounts of how traumatic spaces were treated and rebuilt: exact replication (Warsaw); the fast reproduction (San Francisco); the unsuccessful redevelopments (Philadelphia, New Orleans); the successful redevelopments (Chicago, Los Angeles). (Vale and Campanella) and Dealing with traumatic space is understandably difficult and approaching Baltimore is no exception. The agenda is to appropriately design within Baltimore’s traumatic space. This is through designing the memorial.


1.

Remembering the Trauma (the importance of memory, Carlo Scarpa)

The first action is to design for the memory, designing to remember the history of Baltimore’s social disaster. Umberto Eco stated that “Memories are built as a city is built. It could be said that architecture, from its beginnings, has been one of the ways of fixing memories” (Birksted). Although in approaching the sensitive space, we must consider how the built form may attempt to fix the past and not honor it. “Worse than an opportunistic surfing of the present is a traumatic fixing of the past – that is, an architectural fixing of a traumatic view of history” (Crossover: Architecture, Urbanism, and Technology). 2.

Communal Recovery

(recovery on the communal level, MOVE: sites of trauma)

Along with designing for the memory, there must be a strong design strategy to the communal recovery. “The traumatic event might occur at the level of the individual, even if there are many individuals involved, but the outcome… is determined at the communal level” (Dickson). The built forms must involve the community. The survival of a city relies with its sustaining community. A catastrophic event has proven to act as an anthem to those people who are affected. This collective movement is the main component towards rebuilding communities, lifestyles, and improving the human condition. 3.

Transitional Space (the need to change with surroundings, Lebbeus Woods’ “DMZ Terra Nova”)

The final step is to design a transitional space for the traumatic sites. The new forms must be able to avoid failure in the future, that the spaces must be able to transform to the changing times. The architecture of these spaces must provide a solution to its previous failures. According to Lebbeus Woods, “the ideal state of conditions for humans, is not based on a harmonious melding of conflicting conditions, but rather on the free ‘dialogue’, or open interaction between them.” In this same idea, the new designs of Baltimore should always respond to the conditional changes in the city. With every disaster there is damage, whether it is physical or internal, communal or personal. Healing and rehabilitation is not a fast process, however the disaster is the middle of the narrative: the city of the past, the destroyed city, and the city of the future. The city of Baltimore has reached the disaster narrative, however the city’s population is not conscious of it. Through its radical awareness, the city of Baltimore can live again.


Sodom and Gomorrah egypt Jerusalem, Israel

greece Pompeii and Herculaneum Antioch, Byzantine Empire Constantinople Aleppo, Syria Netherlands Europe Shaanxi, china Yangzhou, China london, UK Shamakhi, Azerbaijan India Lisbon, Portugal India Unzen, Japan Warsaw, Poland Washington, DC, USA Sumdawa, Indonesia Chios, Greece India Ireland Atlanta, USA Finland / Sweden Chicago, USA Wisconsin, USA China Bombay, India Krakatoa, Indonesia China Ethiopia / Sudan / Somalia India St. Pierre, Martinique Baltimore, USA St. Petersburg, Russia San Francisco, USA China Haiyuan, China Russia / Ukraine Kanto, Japan china Gansu, China Ussr Vietnam Berlin, Germany Hiroshima, Japan Nagasaki, Japan Dominican Republic Ashgabat, Turkmenistan China Baltimore, USA Huascaran, Peru Chittagong, Bangladesh

1713bc (est) 1650bc (est) 604bc 70 614 1099 430bc 79 526 532 1182 1138 1287 1400s 1556 1645 1666 1667 1737 1755 1769 1792 1794 1945 1814 2001 1815 1822 1839 1846 1864 1866 1871 1871 1876 1882 1883 1887 1888 1896 1902 1904 1905 1906 1907 1920 1921 1923 1931 1932 1932 1943 1945 1945 1945 1946 1948 1958 1968 1970 1970

Fire/Brimstone Plague War War War War plague Volcano Earthquake Social Social Earthquake Flood Plague Earthquake Social Fire Earthquake Cyclone Flood Famine Volcano Social War Fire/War Terrorism Volcano War Cyclone Famine War Famine Fire fire Famine Cyclone Volcano Floods Famine Famine Volcano Fire Social Earthquake Famine Earthquake famine Earthquake floods Earthquake Famine Famine War War War Earthquake Earthquake Famine Riots Avalanche Typhoon


3 buildings rebuilt 1400+ money spent 150,000,000 firefighters 1231 days 1.25 buildings destroyed 1545 acres destroyed 140 years

“We thank you, we appreciate your generosity, sister cities, but we do not ask, and cannot recieve aid, we are able to take care of our own. We proudly take care of our own...” Journal of Proceedings, by Maryland, General Assembly, Senate

8 arrests 5500 77,500,000 days

money spent

“My greatest fear is this polarization of attitudes as an aftermath of violence. Next I fear that we cannot...that our community cannot live in constant fear that any irrational provocation may cause racial war.” Spiro Agnew, Statement at Conference with Civil Rights and Community Leaders, Baltimore 1968


Baltimore, USA Vietnam Iran Bangladesh Banqiao, China Tangshan, China Bhopal, India Ethiopia Beirut, Lebanon Mexico City, Mexico Tolima, Colombia Chernobyl, USSR (Ukraine) Halabja, Iraq Manikganj, Bangladesh Los Angeles, USA Oklahoma City, USA North Korea Vargas, Venezuela Nyala, Sudan New York City, USA Toulouse, France Indonesia New Orleans, USA Nargis, Myanmar Port-au-Prince, Haiti Bangkok, Thailand Japan Slave Lake, Canada

19701971 1972 1974 1975 1976 1984 1984 1984 1985 1985 1986 1988 1989 1992 1995 1996 1999 2000 2001 2001 2004 2005 2008 2010 2010 2011 2011

Industry Flood Blizzard Famine Typhoon Earthquake Industrial Accident Famine War Earthquake Volcano Nuclear Accident Terrorism Tornado Economy Terrorism Famine Flood/Mudslides Drought Terrorism Industrial Accident Tsunami Hurricane Cyclone Earthquake Social Tsunami Fire


1970 101,126 all jobs 28%

manufacturing jobs percent of

1980 manufacturing jobs percent of all

69,516 jobs 16%

1990 manufacturing jobs percent of all

43,408 jobs 10%

2000 27,605 all jobs 7%

manufacturing jobs of


RADICAL AWARENESS Throughout history, cities and civilizations have been destroyed. Yet after the wreckage, there is a pattern of resiliency. Why after being demolished do cities still heal and rebuild? How can structure survive, and not crumble? Can the built suggest a solution to its previous failures? The historical emphasis that the death of a city is a “prerequisite for its glorious rebirth” reveals a dark truth—the initial step of reconstruction is deconstruction (Vale and Campanella). The deconstruction in Baltimore is present—it is a social disaster. The social disaster of Baltimore will be defined as the culmination of all the social problems that have affected the city over its history. These social problems include rampant criminal activity, corrupt policies, increasing poverty, social class division, population decrease, loss of the industry the city was built on amongst countless other issues. Yet even with all these damaging issues, Baltimore’s general population, those who are not suffering, have barely begun to recognize the gravity of this destruction. “They learn only at moments of personal and general ruin—only, that is, when it is too late” (Marx). The natural disaster is immediate in its destruction therefore immediate in its social response. However this sudden reaction is not present after the social disaster, and in order for the city to understand its destruction, they must be profoundly forced into awareness. This calls for drastic and radical design. This is the first stage in the rehabilitation in Baltimore—the radical awareness. The radical is defined as the drastic, the extreme, and the excessive qualities of design. Awareness is the state of being informed and knowledgeable. As previously stated, a radical awareness is the appropriate action for Baltimore since the majority of the city has failed to consciously acknowledge its social condition. The focus of this project is to engage the city of Baltimore through a radical awareness of its social disaster.


JAPANESE TSUNAMI DAMAGE

BALTIMORE SITE CHOSEN IN RED

SITE PLAN


MONUMENT “We erect monuments so that we shall always remember...Monuments commemorate the memorable and embody the myths of beginnings...with monuments we honor ourselves.” reflect

American Studies: An Anthology Janice A. Radway

fire archives

MEMORIAL

riot archives

“we build memorials so that we shall never forget...Memorials ritualize remembrance and mark the reality of ends...the memorial is a special precinct, extruded from life, a segregated enclave to honor the dead.”

industry archives

historical archives

American Studies: An Anthology Janice A. Radway

a

b


ABOVE / TRANSVERSE TOWER SECTION OPPOSITE LEFT / PROGRAM OF TOWER BELOW 1 / ANALYSIS OF BALTIMORE’S HISTORY 1900-2000 BELOW 2 / SITE SECTION AND ELEVATION

e c

d


a / destruction


b / response


c / future


d / death


e / enlightenment


a

b

c

d

e


Disaster Manifesto  

Undergraduate Thesis Study / Baltimore, Maryland / Spring 2012

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