SCOVERING I D E R
IS L A ND
ARCH led DESIG E S N RE
MArchD - P30032
Rediscovering the Island by LIASKOVITI ILEANA NIKI 11032423
‘ This Research-led-Design Project is presented to the School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University in part fulfilment of the regulations for the Master in Architectural Design. ’
‘Statement of Originality This Research-led-Design Project is an original piece of work which is made available for copying with permission of the Head of the School of Architecture.’
1 Exploration on a field study
the science of islands
3 Archaeology ruins of architecture tracing the footprint
landform building and geography
PROLOGUE Le précurseur c’est l’homme de savoir dont on sait seulement bien après lui qui a couru devant. . . . [A precursor is someone of whom we only know after that he came before. . . .] (Canguilhem, 1968, p.22)
or this project I daringly entitle myself as the architect-explorer. The one that rediscovers the present, traces the past, speculates the future. What does “land” mean exactly? How do we experience it and perceive it? What kind of knowledge do we need to understand it? How architecture affect it and be affected by it?What is the archaeology and what the future of the land? In order for me to get an objective view I ought to explore the remote land. The dislocated territories and remote wildernesses that lie far from the metropolis and support the mechanisations of modern living.Through my project I wish to research the fertile area between nature,technology and culture, to rediscover the unreal, forgotten and deserted places, alien terrains and obsolete ecologies. The land lies outside the binary opposition of city and nature. From the point of view of nature, it is dirty, polluted, compromised and consumed. From the city’s point of view, it is rusty, uninteresting, sleepy, backward and provincial. The land logically precedes architecture. Architecture evolves within the field like a historical process within a geological one. Architecture is a possibility within the field but not the only one, not the primary one.
The land is where we live,where we used to live and where we aim to live. Land is the city and the expansion of the city and sprawl and untouched territories and trash and buildings and old villages and some more buildings. In fact, from mountains, deserts, jungles and even large areas of mechanized agriculture/ mining with little human personnel, everything is field: East Java, northern Italy,valley of Mexico, Flanders, greater São Paulo. Land implies process and change, not form. It cannot be designed and controlled as a totality but instead must be projected into the future and allowed to grow over time.
“Some designers in Europe, have been thinking landscapes as infrastructures for development.They are designing the site first. It is like designing the blanket first and then laying out the picnic. The methodology often involves unravelling the geological and cultural history of the site. A set of specific characteristics and times of the site/landscape are identified, respected and heightened in the new development. In this way the architecture can be made more site-specific, more grounded in a place, more cultured and more civic.” (San Rocco, 2011, p.82) 11
PA LA R
SA MA TE
There is a famous story about the Casa Malaparte (fig.1) on the island of Capri: Malaparte recounts how Erwin Rommel visited the remote house in 1942 before the battle of El Alamein. He asked the writer if he had bought his house ready-made or designed it himself. Pointing toward the sea, Malaparte replied that the house had been there, but he had designed the landscape. “Any work of architecture, before it is an object, is a transformation of the landscape.” (Talamona ,1992,p.41)
Bounded by water, discrete islands arguably constitute a natural geographical model for the classic territorial conception of a state. In geology, islands, are peaks of mountains, part of a shifting landscape. Their terrain, with a complex morphology of layers of history , an archaeology, is a topography of generation.
“Geneology is gray, meticulous and patiently documentary. It operates on a field of entangled and confused parchments, on documents that have been scratched over and recopied many times.” (Foucault, 1999,p.369)
fig.1 Casa Malaparte (Uknown)
EXPLORATION on a field study
sea as a solid medium, “a liquid plateau” (Braus I have already mentioned, the title of the del,1997, p.23) to be travelled and crossed. Isarchitect-Explorer gives me the opportunity to lands are stages of longer routes which retain architecturally rediscover the present, mark out physical traces much more than the mainland. the origins and estimate a future scenario of the island. In order to achieve that I had the task to accom- Matvejevic (1998) writes: “The approach to the plish a site visit and carry out a field study of a islands is characterised by various paradoxes. certain place. The study refers to the Mediter- Some highlight a sort of singularity or irregularranean Sea region, where for centuries elevat- ity […] Darwin’s approach is exactly the oppoed levels of human mobility have resulted in a site: when the Beagle dropped the anchor off the principal cultural characteristic. Thanks to its coast of the Galapagos Islands, the author of the privileged geographical position, the Mediterra- Origin of Species began to draw up general laws nean has been home to various migratory flows using the data collected in its particular site.” that differ in terms of origins, destinations and nature. These flows have either arrived and settled or have come and gone, leaving their trace What is emphasised by the islands is their capacon the land behind for future generations to re- ity of being representational. Isolation is considdiscover. Matvejevic (1998,) writes: “Nothing ered a necessary condition to better define comreveals the destiny of the Mediterranean better plex phenomena and the island is considered a than its island. […] These islands are never with- cell, which is analysed in the same way that biout dramatic events of universal importance. ologists analyse cells reconstructing the history History does not ignore them and often finds its of an organism. Likewise through the observaepilogue in them. In other cases, it is here that tion of the isolated territory of the cell, the aim is to define processes and situations that belong history begins.” Islands have always been nodes of contact and to the mainland as well as making it react with exchange within the network of flows of the sys- particular phenomena, i.e the various forms of human mobility. tem of communication which considers the
My selected site is an uninhabited islet of the southeastern Mediterranean, dubbed for this study as “The Island”, a location which came under my attention because of its geologically and archaeologically mobile terrain. My discoveries were fascinating. As a methodological approach, “field work based on participant observation is well established as the defining method of data collection”(McGowan, 2011, p.7). Field work has been an epistemological approach for geology, archaeology and architecture. It is a method I use for my island exploration. From an anthropological view, in The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute: Landscape, Violence and Social Bodies: Ritualized Architecture in a Solomon Islands Society, Thomas (2001, p.545) considers the interplay between the bodily experience of landscape and the formation of sociality. The authors investigate the social experiences of landscape in nineteenth-century Roviana Lagoon in the Solomon Islands. They deal specifically with the ritualised architecture of a fortification on Nusa Roviana Island. Drawing on oral tradition and archaeological and historical data, they argue that the architectural remains reflect a powerful mode of shaping
social experience and notions of personhood in the manipulation of ideology. The Roviana landscape creates a world in which genealogical lines are sedimented to place, and practices of ritual violence and head-hunting are made to appear necessary and natural. Paying attention to both oral and material history allows a greater understanding of the ways in which such social structures are reproduced and adds to the construction of a rich historical anthropology. Bradley (2000, p.35) writes: “Natural places have an archaeology because they acquired a significance in the minds of people in the past. […] one way of recognising the importance of these locations is through the evidence of human activity that is discovered there.” Another interesting research program entitled Desertmed (2010), aimed to investigate the essence of the deserted condition relative to the islands of the Mediterranean. Through research the participants identified approximately 200 islands where the natural development of a social fabric is not viable. At present, human settlement is made impossible for a variety of reasons. An essential aspect of the work of Desertmed is the use of a wide range of media forms in representing the island regions. On the one hand they serve to research the history of particular
islands. On the other, every found image makes a statement about the multi-faceted uses and complex political, economic, and societal conditions of the Mediterranean region. The visualisation of the locations visited plays an important role. Imaging methods are often the only way to access remote regions. The collection encompasses greatly simplified antiquarian images to complex GpS real time maps, which, for example, depict the movement of ships around the Mediterranean.These serve both scientific as well as military purposes.
For the reason that I aim to study the generational layers of the island (land) I adopt a special narrative and writing style. By creating a semi fictional story gives me the opportunity to speculate scenarios or relive the past. The key element of my narrative is that I try to avoid specifying chronology and places as I aim to make vague of what past, present and future is. In creating an situation that makes any attempt at distinguishing between ´fact´, ´falsity´ and ´fiction´ impossible, I focus attention on the illogical yet persistent practice of trying to distinguish, define and categorise the world in relation to emOn quite different circumstances, at the Kuril pirical notions of truth. Islands scientists are trying to figure out the islands inhospitableness. Ben Fitzhugh, Associate Professor of anthropology at the University of Washington, led an international team of anthropologists, archaeologists, geologists, and earth and atmospheric scientists, in a study of past human habitation on the Kuril Islands. They’ve found that despite the often occurring natural disasters, people who left the settlements eventually returned. Professor Fitzhugh (2009) explains: “We want to identify the limits of adaptability, or how much resilience people have. We’re looking at the islands as a yardstick of humans’ capacity to colonize and sustain themselves.”
Island visit My expedition took place from January 17th to January 21st, at the location with the exact coordinates 36°58’N 24°59’E . Because of it being low season and the extreme weather conditions, boat schedules were not regular resulting in my first major island access difficulty. On Tuesday the 17the I took the boat from the mainland to a principal island of the region, close to my selected site. My first goal since I reached the port was to find my vessel to transport to the Island. The weather had suddenly turned windy but this was common for the area. I had sought this strange land with a view to being its discoverer. When I found my sail I had to navigate myself to the Island. During the journey I could feel every motion of the vessel. Refraction of water came in contact with undersea slopes of islands as they interacted with swells coming from opposite directions.
p. 22 clockwise fig.2 Arrival (Authored,2012) fig.3 The Bay (Authored,2012) fig.4 Tent (Authored, 2012) fig.5 Remains (Authored, 2012) 20
“When I was in Spaceland I heard that your sailors have very similar experiences while they traverse your seas and discern island or coast lying on the horizon. The far-off land may have bays, forelands, angles in and out to any number and extent; yet at a distance you see none of these (unless indeed your sun shines bright upon them revealing the projections and retirements by means of light and shade), nothing but a gray unbroken line upon the water”. (Abbott,2002, p.35) When I finally dragged my boat onto the remote shore it was with the last of my strength (fig.2). I threw down my bag and sat on a rock. I needed a shelter. Common sense said I had to find the area least affected by the weather conditions. My wander through this land had started.
p. 23 clockwise fig.6 Artefacts (Authored, 2012) fig.7 Artefacts #2 (Authored, 2012) fig.8 Artefacts #3 (Authored, 2012) fig.9 Rocks (Authored, 2012)
p. 24 fig.10 Campsite (Authored,2012) p.25 fig.11 In situ drawings (Authored,2012)
I made the decision to settle at a natural formed bay at the southwest part, where waves were calmer and the cold northern wind was blocked by a hill range (fig.4,9). I quickly put up my tent as rain started to fall heavily. I withdrew into it for the night. In order to be able to explore the layers of generational terrain of the Island I had to work with methodologies borrowed from two main scientific disciplines, geology and archaeology. On Wednesday the 18th I decided to take an experiential walk around the island. I had already completed the journey from the port/entrance point to the camp site/shelter. But now I had to cover the remaining significant sites, the perimeter, the highest point, the geological quarries and the archaeological ruins. Concurrently, by using basic topographic skills I would map the land. (fig.12) I took a journey to the extents of the island. I have recorded what I have seen in drawings and what I have said in writings (fig.11). I have exported many artefacts (fig.5-8) in order to evidence the substance of this place. Yet my drawings are picture postcards of an ever changing world. The artefacts are fossils of their former selves, once displaced from their original setting. Later on during my time back to the mainland I would start the geological analysis of the specimens in order to retrieve information about the profile of the land. The structurally highest levels, in the south and southwest of the island, comprise several tens of metres of white to yellowish white, fine
grained dolomite marble with thin, folded layers of dark grey, carbonaceous calcite marble. At the ruin site I managed to identify at least two past generations that inhabited the now deserted land.The Island had a narrative of history and I had to closely examine it. My attention had fallen at the architectural ruins that appeared to be subsequent. The anticipation of ruins mark out the present as the condition of the future. One of the narratological effects of imagining the present in a ruined condition is the strong emphasis that this places on ruinsâ€™ relation to the present. How would I retrace these architectural conditions? What if I visualise myself and relive the circumstances where the inhabitants/ inhabitant of the today-ruin existed? â€œProjecting ruins discloses the duration and shape of time and dramatises a conflict between material permanence and material transience. This conflict between continuity and cessation makes the ruin an end that remains, an end that is imperfect, unreliable. The ruin marks that sense of termination that has not quite come to its end. I call this temporal unreliability a narratological effect because imagining the ruins of the future gives a means to envision a story that both locates a possible landscape and relates that landscape to present surroundings.â€? (Viney, 2010) This is not only done in order to imagine what the future might look like but, as we shall see throughout this project, provides an opportunity to re-examine the present.
fig.12 Cartographying the Island (Athored,2012) 26
MY SOLITUDE AND EXPLORATION HAS BEGUN
fig.13 Explorer (Authored, 2012) 28
The ruin seemed to be remains of a prominent, monumental building, with spaces formed by carved out rocky land formed from dolomite marble and white calcite marble layers. It could be characterised as a landform, like an artificial rock or hilltop, even a quarry. The architecture was moving towards the landscape and the landscape was moving towards the architecture. I noticed that the antecedent ruins seemed to be already partially excavated, with specimens withdrawn from their original site and relocated at the subsequent building. In the discipline of archaeology it is common for large parts of the site to be unexcavated. As much as possible, the aim is to preserve archaeological sites (artefacts, features, associations) for future study, when they will have new questions and new research methods. In addition to preserving sites, it is also important to preserve existing collections of artefacts, documents, research records, and reports that have resulted from archaeological surveys and excavations. Through my inspection I came across objects that seemed to have had a naval use. Nautical instruments- a deconstructed sailboat keel- all seemed to be part of the construction (fig.14). This led me to speculate. The user just before his settling must had navigated himself to these coordinates, on a vessel, as a keen sailorman. A sailor and being an islander seem to share similarities. In one of his writings entitled
Fluid Geography Richard Buckminster Fuller (1946) compared the “sailorman’s and the landlubber’s forma mentis. Having been trained himself as a mariner in the U.S Navy, Fuller was inclined to praise the sailor’s dynamic proclivity over the static mentality of the landlubber. The latter perceives the earth’s movements in terms of night and day or seasonal cycles, and refers to cardinal points as if they were places. His perception of space is thus eminently Euclidean, linked to local lines of division between fields, regions and states. The sailor on the other hand is challenged by a much more dynamic environment. To give himself a minimum sense of stability on the fluid surface of the sea under the magnified fury of the elements, he had to develop superior sensitivities, skills and technologies. Being constantly in motion, he has no problem in perceiving the Earth’s rotation. The kind of space he experiences every day is extensively crossed by lines of connection, by vectors whose length is deformed by parameters of time and weather. Sailors make geography and astronomy work in the same context. Chidoni (2011, p112) writes: “ When Colombus sailed west for the first time, he did not adopt previously recognised routes and was thus unable to identify his position in relation to the vessel’s motion, his boat was virtually still, suspended like an island within extraneous and homogenous context that was something like a blank piece of paper […] new unexplored places and distances were reached-places from
which nobody had returned to relate their experiences and distances that made it impossible to rely on previous navigational systems based on mapped elements, such as the visible coastal landscape and the topography of the seabed.” However it is one artefact which discovery brought me closer to identifying the sole user of that building. (fig.13) He was the original Explorer. And he is now the protagonist. There must have been a place for him to collect, exhibit and examine his finds. I have started to notice coincidental common characteristics to our existence on the island.We were both sailors, navigators, geologists, archaeologists. We were both there to rediscover.
Islands are complex physical spaces and have a special place in the disciplines of human sciences. The Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean played a fundamental role in the development of Darwinism. Lengthy periods of in-situ investigation made by Charles Darwin encouraged scientists to believe that they were working in a natural laboratory, uncontaminated by and protected from mankind thanks precisely to their isolation. They saw the island as a laboratory and/or paradise. In fact, Matvejevic (1998) mentioned: “the consideration of islands is characterised by various paradoxes. Some underline a sort of singularity or irregularity. […] Darwin’s approach is exactly the opposite: when the Beagle dropped anchor in front of the Galapagos Islands, the author of The Origin of the Species drew up general rules, beginning with the data collected in this particular space.”
fig.14 Sailing Boat (Authored, 2012) 32
Exploration, Isolation and the Arctic A case study
Antarctic travel in the early 20th century – the so-called ‘Heroic Era’ of exploration of the continent – was marked by an irony. in the world’s most isolated, expansive region, explorers were constantly subject to crowded, confined conditions, cooped up in ships’ holds, huts, tents, and other makeshift structures. Much as like the Explorer of the Island who used drawings and writing to retain his finds and discoveries for the next generation, Heroic-Era explorers marooned on Antarctic islands used the writing and reading of text to deal with the anxieties of extreme isolation and confinement.Two well known examples are the Northern Party of Robert F. Scott’s last expedition, forced to live for over six months in an ice cave on Inexpressible Island in 1912; and members of Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial TransAntarctic (the Endurance) Expedition who lived beneath two upturned boats on Elephant Island for the winter of 1916.
The island settings of these two Heroic-Era expeditions are significant. Heroic-Era explorers tended to see themselves as metaphorically inhabiting island space, whether or not they were literally doing so. As Hay (2006,p.27) notes, this is a standard way in which the concept of ‘island’ is deployed metaphorically: “As a ‘category of the mind’, the island’s first and obvious application is to any segment of a continental landmass characterized by isolation and remoteness”. For example, the men of Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1914) located their main base on the rocky edge of the continent, but their expedition newspaper’s first editorial entitled “Marooned” begins with a comparison between the expedition, the 18th century castaway Alexander Selkirk, and his literary counterpart Robinson Crusoe (McLean, p. 1913). Richard Byrd (1958,p.26), who lived alone in a base on the Ross Ice Shelf in the winter of 1934, makes a similar comparison . But focussing on specific, non-metaphorical Antarctic islands such as Elephant and Inexpressible allows one to highlight unusual physical characteristics which loosely parallel the paradox of simultaneous isolation and over-connectedness experienced by Heroic-Era explorers. Surveying recent work within island studies, Hay (2006,p.22-23) notes that paradigms of “hardedgedness and a consequent insularity” are being replaced by an emphasis on connectedness and the permeability of boundaries.
fig.15 Endurance (Hurley,1915)
Historically, the high southern latitudes were famously deceptive when it came to distinguishing land from water, and island from continent. It was not until the 20th century that Antarctica itself, covered as it is by thick ice, was shown incontrovertibly to be a continent rather than an archipelago. Even now that Antarctica’s status is clear, and its coasts and surrounding islands are carefully mapped, it still throws up questions about the nature of islandness. Antarctica is often imagined as a large blank space. According to Manhire (2004,p.20), it is figured as “a bare canvas, a clean slate, a tabula rasa awaiting inscription and impression”. Perhaps more than anywhere else, Antarctica alerts us to the contingent nature of islands and continents, of connectedness and isolation. The metaphor of the continent-as blank- page might neatly anticipate the territorial conquests of the Heroic Era: and its physical attempts at inscription. The claustrophobic conditions that Antarctic explorers experienced reached their extreme in sledging expeditions, but to some extent they also characterised daily life in expedition bases. Frank Wild (1937,p.14-15), veteran of four Heroic-Era expeditions, writes that despite the impression given by official accounts, “mens tempers must naturally become frayed when herded together in close quarters under the trying conditions of a Polar winter”.
He describes an incident during Scott’s first expedition when a man became mentally unhinged, deliberately hiding in the winter drift in an attempt to launch a surprise attack on another man using a crowbar. Byrd is famous for deliberately isolating himself in Antarctica for a winter, but his account of this experience shows his awareness that one thing worse than being entirely alone in such an extreme milieu is not being entirely alone. Byrd (1958,p.16) writes: “In a polar camp, little things … have the power to drive even disciplined men to the edge of insanity … For there is no escape anywhere.You are hemmed in on every side by your own inadequacies and the crowding measures of your associates” The first case of exploration is that of Scott’s Northern Party, a group of six men led by Victor Campbell (Lambert, 2002,pp.112-150). Scott made his main base at Cape Evans, Ross Island, and originally intended for Campbell’s group to explore territory to the east. An unexpected encounter with Roald Amundsen led the erstwhile ‘Eastern Party’ to change direction, and base themselves north of the main party at Cape Adare in South Victoria Land. After a year of sledging and science, they were picked up at the turn of 1912 by the expedition ship and moved further south to Evans Cove. Here they deported some supplies, and then headed off with their
tents and sledges to explore further territory before being collected again at the end of summer. However, sea ice prevented the ship’s return, and the men were forced to stay put, with minimal food and shelter, on an island 7 miles long and half a mile wide (11.2km by 0.8km), bound on the east by sea or sea ice, depending on the season, and on the west by two continental glaciers. They named the island Inexpressible (Lambert, 2002,p.114). They managed to survive the dark, freezing conditions of winter by building a snow cave and living on seal and penguin meat, until they could make the dangerous journey back to the main hut the following spring. The cave was 3m x 4m in area, with an average height of 168cm. None of the men could have stood up straight in it. The entrance was so low that some of the men had to crawl through. Just inside was a latrine area, where the men, who suffered from chronic diarrhoea, spent much time uncomfortable moments. The walls quickly became stained black by smoke from a blubber stove used for cooking; blubber lamps provided their only light. Famously (or infamously), Campbell observed naval hierarchies by identifying an imaginary line through the cave dividing the three crew members from the two officers and the scientist; the men implicitly agreed that what was spoken on one side could not be heard on the other (Campbell, 1988,p.29).
The men were also, of course, writing; the previous year, living relatively comfortably in a hut at Cape Adare, they had produced their own ‘newspaper’” (another imaginary means of connection to the outside world) but now their primary outlet was their diaries. In these, the men wrote not only reflections on their experience, but also their original poetry and quotations from books that they thought apposite or wanted to remember. One of the most avid diarists was Priestley. During the first year at Cape Adare, he not only made extensive diary entries, he then produced typed copies, editing as he went. These diaries in turn became reading material for the group in the second winter: Priestley would read them aloud along with the Dickens chapter, and the men would become nostalgic about their life in the hut the previous winter (particularly the meals). Johnson and Suedfeld (1996,p.49) note that isolation in polar expeditions “could sometimes be alleviated symbolically, by mail from home”. Without any chance of this kind of connection, the men in the ice cave effectively sent mail to themselves by listening to Priestley’s year-old observations. Later, Priestley incorporated parts of his diaries into his published account of the experience,Antarctic Adventure, and they now sit in the Scott Polar Research Institute, pored over by researchers like myself.
The diaries thus evolved from private reflection, to a source of shared reminiscence, to public record, just as David Copperfield evolved from a source of individual pleasure to a shared narrative which kept the group buoyed from day to day. Similar in many ways to the experiences of Scott’s Northern Party, but far more famous, is the Elephant Island episode of Shackleton’s Endurance expedition. Shackleton intended to cross the Antarctic continent, but his ship became trapped by ice in the Weddell Sea before he could begin this attempt, and for many months remained a little wooden island amid fields of ice. After the ship was spectacularly crushed, the 28 men dragged their supplies,debris and three boats across the sea-ice and occupied likelylooking floes, hoping they would drift closer to land. By the time they spotted Elephant Island, they were living on what Shackleton (2001,p.9) terms a “steadily dwindling” “floating cake of ice”. The island, a mountainous, glacier-covered outcrop off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, 38km by 19km at its widest (Stewart, 1990,1.199), was more stable than the floe but only marginally more hospitable. Shackleton and five others soon left in one of the boats in a desperate bid to reach help at another far-off island, South Georgia. The other 22 men stayed put for the winter, living under the two remaining boats, unsure when or if they would be rescued.
Like Campbell’s men, the Elephant Islanders were also avid writers. Lees (Thomson,2003,pp.250-251) kept a detailed diary, remarking in it that “One might think that there was nothing to write about when one is leading such an inert life as ours, but I find that one does such a lot of thinking that the trouble is to eliminate the purely conjectural matter”. Diaries not only contained reflections and descriptions they also served as a forum for creativity. Hurley used his to record a number of topical verses he composed during his time on the island, including “Our Home on Elephant Isle”. Such poems and songs were significant tension releases for polar expeditioners. Lees observes candidly in his diary that “It is only natural that one should occasionally get a bit fed up with one another, considering our fearful congestion” (Thomson,2003,p.239). Lees was both annoyed and relieved by texts. The community used them to express disapproval of his behaviour, while he used them to express private thoughts and opinions. In the case of his hidden book, Lees retained a means of imaginative escape that was his alone. The experiences of the men marooned on Inexpressible and Elephant Islands highlight the multiple uses and purposes of writing in expeditions. The upkeep of a diary was multi-purpose. At the base level, it was an important practical component of polar exploration, providing a re
cord of events for later reference. Another obvious purpose was to allow the writer to vent his feelings, to express the frustration, depression or despair that couldn’t be spoken aloud.Yet diaries could also be public – Priestley’s is clearly written with an eye to consumption by others, and he eventually used it as a way to sustain his companions’ emotional needs as well as his own. Text acted like ice in Heroic-Era expeditions, at times insulating expedition members from those around them, calving off little imaginative islands on which they could maroon themselves and at other times solidifying the gaps between them.
NISSOLOGY the science of islands
ISLAND SCIENCE “Islands – real islands, real geographical entities – attract affection, loyalty, identification. And what do you get when you take a bounded geographical entity and add an investment of human attachment, loyalty and meaning?You get the phenomenon known as ‘place’. Islands are places – special places, paradigmatic places, topographies of meaning in which the qualities that construct place are dramatically distilled” In both cases – scientific and fictional alike – (Hay, 2006,p. 31). storytelling has been a significant element of how islands, islandness and their importance are conveyed. Islands have been treated as laboratories to test theoretical propositions in continenhe pursuit of nissology, or island studies, tal disciplines. Gillis (2004,p.107) notes that “it calls for a recentering of focus from mainland was not that science was interested in the islands to island, away from the discourse of conquest of for themselves. The appeal of islands lay more in mainlanders, giving voice and platform for the the fact that … they would serve as easily comexpression of island narratives.Yet, exploring is- prehended stand-ins for the whole natural and lands on their own terms, in spite of its predilec- human world”. For example, biogeographical tion for authenticity, is fraught with epistemo- studies on islands played a key role in evolutionlogical and methodological difficulties. I need to ary theory as MacArthur and Wilson (1967,p. investigate this science of islands in order to be 3) mention “An island is certainly an intrinsiable to thoroughly understand how the Explorer cally appealing study object. It is simpler than a made use of it and perceived it. Islands are well continent or an ocean, a visibly discrete object known as settings for research on isolated flora, that can be labelled with a name and its resident fauna and cultures (notably Darwin’s Galapa- populations identified thereby … By their very gos and Mead’s Samoa). They have, in addition multiplicity, and variation in shape, size, degree strongly featured in fiction for many centuries, of isolation, and ecology, islands provide the particularly since Robinson Crusoe’s (DeFoe, necessary replications in natural “experiments” 1719) shipwreck on a remote island. by which evolutionary hypotheses can be tested”
I S L A N D L I T E R AT U R E
An island is a bit of earth that has broken faith with the terrestrial world. This quite naturally gives rise to concern about the reliability and good will of these landforms, which have so clearly turned back on geographical solidarity. “[...] Creeping anxiety along these lines likely accounts in some measure for the prominence of islands in the robust literatures of betrayal, solitude, madness, and despair. One is abandoned on islands (Ariadne, Philoctetes), trapped on them (Odysseus, repeatedly), and subjected thereupon to the whims of lunatics (e.g.the islands of doctors No and Moreau)” (Diaz, 2010,p.90). There is history and development of books about islands in western culture. Islands are prominent in Homer’s Odyssey, and Plato’s Island of Atlantis is perhaps the most famous mythical island of all time. The Greeks were the first to develop the island-book as such, but Roman writers showed much less interest in insular themes. From the importance of islands in the travels of Marco Polo and John of Mandeville, the rise of the Isolario, illustrated with maps, to the emergence of the Robinsonade.
Homer’s Odyssey begins not only in mediis rebus, in the middle of the action, but also in medio oceano, with Odysseus on the isle of Ogygia in the middle of the sea , love-prisoner of the goddess Calypso who lives in a cave while he longs to complete his journey home. Later we learn that Odysseus visited many exotic islands before reaching Calypso’s, including the floating island of Aeolus, King of the winds, who tied the winds in a bag for Odysseus to speed his voyage home. The island of the goddess Circe, who turned his men into pigs and told Odysseus how to reach the Underworld and the island of the Sirens, who sing a song so beautiful that sailors are irresistibly drawn to the shore and are content to die listening to the song, rather than seeking to escape or even bothering to eat. Before returning home Odysseus will visit Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians , who have little contact with the outside world, lead an easy life with lots of changes of clothes and warm baths , and have magic ships which they row faster than a hawk can fly without pilots , for the ships know themselves the course they are to trace, doing so without danger of shipwreck .
The Travels of John Mandeville, also known as The Book of Sir John Mandeville, was composed between 1357 and 1371 and purports to describe Mandeville’s extravagant adventures in Asia. In fact, the author of the book probably never traveled himself and his stories are mostly derived from other travel books. However, the book was one of the most popular of the Middle Ages, and survives in more than 250 manuscripts. The Florentine Cristoforo Buondelmonti (c. 1430) went to Rhodes in 1415 to learn Greek, travel the Greek isles, and purchase ancient Greek manuscripts for patrons back in Florence. A lively and curious man, Buondelmonti explored the ruins on each island he visited to see if they corresponded with descriptions of buildings he had read in classical authors, particularly Ovid, Virgil, Pliny, and Plutarch. He also drew a map of each island. Sometime before 1420, he wrote a Liber insularum archipelagi (Book of the Islands of the Greek Archipelago), dedicated to the powerful Cardinal Jordano Orsini— probably an attempt to advance his career in the church. The work was very popular and survives in more than sixty manuscripts. In his book Buondelmonti gives accounts of seventy-two islands in the Aegean. His approach is straightforward: he names the chief ports and towns of each island, the highest mountains, the best land and springs, and offers some remarks about the island’s history in classical mythology.
Buondelmonti’s great innovations were his concern with the present topography of the islands, and also his inclusion of a map of every island. The presence of maps with the first-hand description of an area was a multimedia revolution; the Liber insularum archipelagi was very popular throughout the 15th century, and defined a new genre: the isolario, or cartographic island book. Henricus Martellus Germanus created the next surviving isolario, which was titled Insularium illustratum; it is known from a few surviving manuscripts and follows Buondelmonti’s model closely. Working in Florence with the map-engraver and publisher Francesco Rosselli, Martellus was probably commissioned to create this isolario because of his talent as a mappainter and his expertise in the new Italian humanist script. Daniel Defoe wrote his novel The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, which he published in 1719, locating a tale to the western Atlantic, an unnamed island near the mouth of the Orinoco river, and greatly extending the protagonist’s stay on the island to 28 years . For Defoe, the challenges of surviving on an island were a milieu for demonstrating the power of a resourceful and educated individual to control his environment and to create from raw materials everything necessary for existence, to conquer the world through human labor and science.
fig.16 Robinson Crusoe (Unknown) 45
Defoe thus created a new genre of island book, the Robinsonade, which is very well suited to modern western individualism, and the genre continues to be practised today.However, according to Mackay (2010,p.438) in “Robinson Crusoe all the essential problems of the philosophical island are brought together.” In his 1946 essay Causes and Reasons of Desert Islands, Gilles Deleuze, looks at the problem of Robinson Crusoe. He says “ Defoe’s narrative fails the profound sense of the reinvention of mythology that characterises the philosophical island.”
Author and artist Charles Avery, who has been documenting his impossibly detailed discoveries of a new island through The Islanders, a fictional travelogue which catalogues a place called ‘The Island’ as encountered by the book’s narrator. His protagonist comes to the island with a view to being its discoverer and craves the glory of discovering something new. The fantasy of the Victorian explorer is already dispelled on page one of Avery’s travelogue. Someone who explores a land that seems, to him, to come directly from the deepest part of himself and to contain the strangest thoughts. But he constantly has to accept that others have been there before him, already mapped, charted, and named these zones of thought. Mackay (2010, p.436) writes: “ To think today is to negotiate an historical constellation of thought-positions; anamnesis become historical. It is the problem, not of how to begin from nothing, but of how to synthesise existing, multiple lines of thought into something new.”
G.K. Chesterton, on 1903 in a piece entitled The Philosophy of Islands, remarks on the very human need to identify things, and sees at the root of this a wish to isolate. It is this desire that he links both what he calls the “perennial poetry of islands” and the “the perennial poetry of ships” (p.358): “A ship like the Argo is valued by the mind because it is an island, because, that is, it carries with it, floating loose on the desolate elements, the resources, and rules and trades, because it has ranks and the whole clinging like a “Geographers say there are two kinds of islands. This few limpets to a lost spar.” is valuable information for the imagination because it confirms what the imagination already knew. Nor is The contemporary island can no longer pander it the only case where science makes mythology more to the desire of isolation, because we know our concrete, and mythology makes science more vivid.” word is complex and interconnected. (Deleuze, 2002, p.9)
fig.17 Island (Avery, 2008) 46
ARCHAEOLOGY ruins of architecture tracing the footprint
It is certainly a worthy question to ask why the Island is such an attractive place to study for the Scientist. It is suggested that the geographical precision of an island is part of what makes it unique and amenable for study, and that the notion of a boundary is key to an island’s existence and identity. From an archaeological perspective, Patrick Kirch (1986,p.2) two decades ago noted that the “essence of islands is discreteness, that is, their bounded and circumscribed nature”. These observations mirror what Colin Renfrew (2004,pp.276-278) noted was part of the attraction of islands to geologists, archaeologists, and people in general – that they tend to “feel” remote, often requiring a journey that involves separation from somewhere else.
he design research exploration began with a simple interest in the idea that nothing is static, that in nature there is an element of constant change, a relentless updating of the present condition. The project seeks to investigate architecture as the most guilty of resisting this inevitable change. Me, the third generation on the Island by drawing on the archaeological and historical data, I argue that the architectural remains reflect a powerful mode of shaping experience and notions of personhood in the manipulation of ideology. How does such an architecture begin to interact with the past, applying its transfor- Regardless, it is clear that there are many differmations and operations to its site, its narratives ent beliefs as to what makes ‘islandness’ a phenomenon worth investigating. and fictions?
One of the major goals of archaeology is to examine how human societies evolved culturally over time. Archaeology as a discipline, in fact, is the only one specialized in providing a deep temporal snapshot of what was happening to humans in the past . As part of my work on the Island, I am interested in how the Scientist developed certain seafaring skills, became susceptible to the effects of (or possibly even encouraged) isolation, interacted across the seascape, and adapted to and transformed newly encountered environments, among many other things. Although some of these issues may not be necessarily exclusive to the Island, the effects of remoteness and isolation, whether discouraging or encouraging interaction, are amplified in importance when one considers that the Scientist had to cross larger seas and oceans using some type of watercraft to reach it and would have been out of contact for long periods of time – weeks, months, or even years. As Irwin (1999,p.252) succinctly stated:
In the Island I came across ruins of different ages.An architectural ruin can be said to be the physical documentation of a transformative process - one that may have played out over centuries or millenia. Because of this the ruin has a particularly strong connection with time and time past - it is proof that the present is not the only instance which exists or has existed - ruins provide physical evidence of origin and lineage, an inheritance of knowledge uncovered and preserved.From English poetry to Palladian drawings, the fascination, sympathy or even nostalgia for ruins pervades architectural history. As seen in Giuseppe Galli Bibiena’s “A Funeral Hall in the Ruins of the Colosseum,” architectural ruins are often expressed as sharing the same tragic ultimatum as the men who created them. What interests me here is the idea that architecture has an inherent mortality which has an intimate connection with our own human experience, that no matter how strong, large or grand a building may be, it will one day inevitably become a ruin - it cannot resist time.
“ … landlubber archaeology has remained largely ignorant about prehistoric seafaring and paid little attention to the ocean as a contextual variable. While field archaeology necessarily takes place on land, except in the case of shipwrecks, some important developments in prehistory took place at sea.”
The research exists to seek out an architecture of transformation, of which the passing of time, the wear and erosion of materials and site, and the change of meaning and program are considered as a continuum. Such an architecture is one that understands its placement, role and responsibility in relation to the past, present and future.
fig.18. ImaginaryView of the Grande Galerie in the Louvre in Ruins (Robert,1796) 50
The research might treat the Island as simply a point of arrival that can be mined for its own existing collection of narratives and transformations, from which the intervention will begin to apply its existence and influence, in a way that attempts to be more than just a footprint or bookmark in time, but instead taps the true nature of the site by becoming synergistic with its context and the passing of time, as opposed to resisting it. It is this dichotomy, between time as inevitable linear decay, and time as a condition to be ordered, controlled, or projected into, that fascinates me about existing in the present. Viney (2010) says “confronting the future in ruins is by no means a formulaic exercise. The interpretative gaps that energise the exigency of this form of waste are motivated by the irresolvable questions they raise.” Particularly in their painterly and cinematic manifestations, the ruins of the future frequently leave out how or when or for what reason these structures have reached their terminal condition. For instance, in the paintings of Hubert Robert (fig.18) and Joseph Gandy (fig.19) we are given no explicit explanation for why the structures they depict have fallen into ruin; their visual impact plays upon the disjuncture felt between the building existent and the future ruin represented.
Manaugh (2005), mentions the term “urban fossil value” in order to describe a situation on Millions of years from now, where in geographical regions “entombed by tectonic disturbances,” entire cities – “the abandoned foundations, subways, roads and pipelines of our ever more extensive urban stratum” – will actually come to form “future trace fossils.” It is often remarked in architectural circles how megalomaniacal Nazi architect Albert Speer came up with his so-called theory of ruin value, in which he proposed a new Romano-Fascist Berlin designed to look good as a ruin in thousands of years. A more recent example of intended ruins are the planned warning signs for the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain (fig.20), which are intended to endure for 10,000 years, and yet still convey an enduring impression on future generations.
fig.19 Bank of England (Gandy, 1830) 52
fig.20 Tunnel-boring machine atYucca Mountain reaches daylight (U.S. Department of Energy) 54
In order to trace the architectural archaeological footprint of the Explorer, I first need to investigate his scientific finds and speculate from the archaeology of the first generation. Lithological comparisons between building stones of a sanctuary on the Island and geological units mapped on this island enabled a distinction to be made between locally derived and possibly imported material.
fig.21 Laboratory of Nissology Plan trace (Authored,2012) 56
RETRACING THE RUINS PLAN
GEOLOGY landform building and geography
“If mere survival, mere continuance, is of interest, then the harder sorts of rocks, such as granite, have to be put at the top of the list as the most successful, have to put at the top of the list as the most successful among macroscopic entities...But the rocks’s way of staying in the game is different from the way of living things.The rock, we may say resists change, it stays put, unchanging. The living thing escapes change either by correcting change or changing itself to meet change or by incorporating change into its own being.” (Bateson, 1995, p.77)
and is in a state of continual self-updating. Charles Lyell (1830, p.147) in his seminal book The Principles of Geology, describes landscapes as “ monuments of ancient mutations in the earth’s crust.” everything is dynamic and temporary, processes flowing one into the other. Lyell writes: “The renovating as well as the destroying causes are unceasingly at work, the repair of land being as constant as its decay and the deepening of the seas keeping pace with formation of shoals.” Architecture lies between the living and the geological. It is slower than the any living creature but faster that the rocks underneath. Resistance and change are both at work in the land: the hardness of the rock and the easy adaptability of living things. 59
Artificial Mountains is the primary form of landform building. The most expression of the idea of shaping a fragment of the landscape into a higher level of order. Like Adolf Loos (1910,p.24) has written “ If we find a mound in the forest, six feet long and three feet wide, formed into a pyramid, shaped by a shovel, we become serious and something in us says, ‘Someone lies buried here.’ This is Architecture.” Sigfried Giedon(1971,pp.2-6) in his late work Architecture and the Phenomena of Transition, maps out the progression from the sculptural presence of the Doric temple in the landscape, to the hollowing out of space made possible by the Roman masonry vault, to the dynamic space-time conceptions of modernism. Contemporary landform projects turn Giedon’s linear narrative around. They function, like the Doric temple or the ziggurat, as “space-emanating objects”. They gather in and orient the space of the landscape around them, not as simple sculptural solids but as complex objects creating new relationships between inside and outside. Much alike is the Laboratory of Nissology. The landscape it confronts is no longer the raw Mediterranean countryside but a hybrid of nature and science.
fig.22 Valley of the Kings (Unknown) 61
Manaugh (2010), mentions: “Viollet-le-Duc’s work on Mont Blanc introduces a new edge to geological discourse in architecture as compared to the painterly outlook of John Ruskin. Now, observations of tectonic forms not only served to see nature intensely but also, and mainly, to identify a structural logic to its complex morphology. A basic principle thus organizes Violletle-Duc’s analysis of the great massif: The apparent chaos of its outline is only an illusion, as “laws have ordered these forms and determined the great crystalline system.” Viollet-le-Duc as an architectural theorist accompanies his descriptions with numerous diagrams and sketches, illustrating the crystalline structure of the rocks, the mode of their disintegration and the effects of drifts and torrents. As much as the Explorer used the island as a research site and a personal laboratory, that is how Viollet-le-Duc considers Mont Blanc. As he says (1877, p.1) : “The traveller who reaches an altitude exceeding 6000 feet above the level, might suppose that the regions he was traversing were soltudes, immobility, and deat perpertually reign. […] in these vast elevated laboratories man is an intruder.” fig.23 Mont Blanc (Viollet-le-Duc,1877) fig.24 Mont Blanc 2 (Viollet-le-Duc,1877) 62
Viollet-le-Duc’s work was a strong influence to Fuller realized a new image of the classical huSpanish architect Vicente Guallart who’s inter- manist concept that buildings and world could est lies on contrasting architecturally new hills be conflated in a single cartographic system. and coastlines based on a logical study of the geometry of rocks Guallart (2009), describes his project Howtomakeamountain: “The limestone of the hill and its rhombic crystals of calcite enabled us to conceive, at multiple scales, a crystalline genesis for the project. A coherent system, from the structure itself to its outer limit, that responds to a single system of crystallization. In this way, the skin, like soil in the hills, directly reflects the internal logic of the mass and its interaction with the environment. In this case, the rhombic system generates a hexagonal geometry that will be the geometric base of the ‘gene’ (a hexagonal micro-topography that can be combined all over its faces) that will initiate the process of constructing the skin. This gene will set in motion the re-generation of the hill.” Viollet-le-Duc not only employed geological concepts and methods, but also practicing as a geographer in documenting natural phenomena. Such efforts that speak of connections between architecture and geography specifically, and architecture and science more deeply, extend well into the 20th century with Buckminster Fuller’s development of the Dymaxion projection of the Earth. fig.25 Dymaxion Map (Fuller,1943) 64
fig.26 Howtomakeamountain (Guallart)
fig.27 Entering the Island-Entering the Laboratory (Authored,2012) 66
fig.28 Geology of the Laboratory (Authored,2012) 68
GEOLOGY OF THE LAB
fig.29 Inside the Island-Inside the Lab (Authored,2012) 70
The island was my subject of research, my own personal scientific laboratory. It is a paradigmatic place of study in which qualities are heightened, their essence distilled, and their meanings sharpened. The primary limited resource of any island is the ground. The fact that they are a circumscribed space is also a characteristic that allows us to define land. They are hot spots of territorial changes, outposts of what will be in the future in the mainland in different times. As fragments they are the product of the erosion of a continent. They are the ruins of what previously contained them. Choosing the island as a physical place to describe, explore, measure, and interpret it was a result of a conviction, a need and an obsession.
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FIGURES fig.1 Uknown, Casa Malaparte , Available at: http://sloosh.tumblr.com/post/19646117311/casamalaparte (Accessed: 22 April 2012) fig.2 Liaskoviti, I.N.(2012), Arrival fig.3 Liaskoviti, I.N.(2012), The Bay fig.4 Liaskoviti, I.N.(2012), Tent fig.5 Liaskoviti, I.N.(2012), Remains fig.6 Liaskoviti, I.N.(2012), Artefacts
fig.7 Liaskoviti, I.N.(2012), Artefacts #2 fig.8 Liaskoviti, I.N.(2012), Artefacts #3 fig.9 Liaskoviti, I.N.(2012), Rocks fig.10 Liaskoviti, I.N.(2012), Campsite fig.11 Liaskoviti, I.N. (2012), In situ drawings fig.12 Liaskoviti, I.N. (2012), Cartographing the Island fig.13 Liaskoviti, I.N. (2012), Explorer fig.14 Liaskoviti, I.N. (2012), Sailing Boat
fig.15 Hurley,(1915) Endurance available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Endurance_Final_ Sinking.jpg (Accessed: 22 April 2012) fig.16 Unknown, Robinson Crusoe available at: http://www.endici.co.uk/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/Sets/IMGP1235.JPG (Accessed: 22 April 2012) fig.17 Avery, C. (2008) Island available at: http://artpulsemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/charles-avery.gif (Accessed: 22 April 2012) fig.18 Robert, H. (1796) Imaginary View of the Grande Galerie in the Louvre in Ruins available at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hubert_Robert_-_Imaginary_View_of_the_Grande_Galerie_in_ the_Louvre_in_Ruins_-_WGA19589.jpg (Accessed: 22 April 2012) fig. 19 Gandy, J. (1830) Bank of England available at: http://thisisrealarchitecture.blogspot. co.uk/2012/02/entropy-designs.html (Accessed: 22 April 2012) fig.20 U.S. Department of Energy, Tunnel-boring machine atYucca Mountain reaches daylight available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bldgblog/4069467214/sizes/o/ (Accessed: 22 April 2012) fig.21 Liaskoviti, I.N (2012) Laboratory of Nissology Plan trace
(Accessed: 22 April 2012)
fig.22 Unknown, Valley of the Kings, available at: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_MY8N2x00TKE/TRE5wcPi7FI/AAAAAAAAOac/_zj-t2-ca80/s1600/scan0078.jpg (Accessed: 22 April 2012) fig.23 Viollet-le-Duc, E. (1877) Mont Blanc available at: http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?num=10&um=1 &hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1173&bih=611&tbs=isz:l&tbm=isch&tbnid =MCjwfuM7dhRUeM:&imgrefurl=http://comm02.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/mont-blanc/&docid=H RAuXfVhnyFYDM&imgurl=http://comm02.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/n5400922_pdf_1_-1dm-224. jpg&w=3221&h=4184&ei=AaufT-uHNIGL8gOD2KyqAQ&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=87&vpy=145&dur=246 1&hovh=256&hovw=197&tx=97&ty=114&sig=106041122370105138202&sqi=2&page=1&tbnh=119&tbn w=90&start=0&ndsp=23&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0,i:70 (Accessed: 22 April 2012) fig.24 Viollet-le-Duc, E. (1877) Mont Blanc 2 available at: http://throughthesandglass.typepad.com/through_ the_sandglass/2010/02/architecture-mont-blanc-and-eventually-sand.html (Accessed: 22 April 2012) 80
fig.25 Fuller,B.R (1943) Dymaxion Map available at: http://socks-studio.com/2011/05/08/dymaxion-map-bymichael-paukner/ (Accessed: 22 April 2012) fig.26 Guallart, V. (2005) Howtomakeamountain default.htm (Accessed: 22 April 2012)
fig.27 Liaskoviti, I.N. (2012) Entering the Island-Entering the Laboratory fig.28 Liaskoviti, I.N. (2012) Geology of the Laboratory fig.29
Liaskoviti, I.N. (2012) Inside the Island-Inside the Lab
Thanking: My family for being always there. My tutor for inspiring me and motivating me. My classmates and friends for sharing ideas and moments.
ISL A ND
LIASKOVITI ILEANA NIKI