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esamtkunstwerk the architecture of immersive unification

“Imagination creates reality.”

-Richard Wagner

I. Introduction A


II. Methodology


52_Small Projects

B 2_Objectives

56_Thesis Project: Site - Program

B 71_Design Method



C 74_Graphic Timeline

4_Research Essay


D 76_Evaluation Criteria


44_Visual Studies


77_Future Research




III. Conclusion


G A 79_Bibliography


78_Results //

// //

Research Question: How can an an architectural environment be designed is so completely immer-

sive in experience that individuals within this environment transcend their flawed worldly existences and are absorbed into a collective, unified vision of a free state of being in order for reconnect with their fellow beings in a harmonious society?

Purpose: A Gesamtkunstwerk seeks to unify any and all individuals that interact with it under a greater

collective vision through a fusion of art and technology. By attuning all elements of the work so that they reinforce and support the others, an environment is created that becomes so immersive to the point where mundane existence ceases and a state of true being is attained. The more complete the Gesamtkunstwerk, in that the mechanics at play block out any outside influences and hide any effort to construct this immersive environment, the more successful this effect to return all to ‘true being’ becomes. The resultant goal is a society where working, living, and art-making have ceased to exist as isolated actions and are fuses into one and the same execution, allowing for a glimpse into ideal human existence and thus, utopia.

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What was accomplished?

What is to be accomplished?

Succesful definition of Gesamtkunstwerk as applied to a variety of sites, societies, and individuals.

Locate a suitable site that enforces this idea of returning to a true human state of being.

Common underlying threads were found amongst all precendent studies in order to discern critical elements that are required of a successful Gesamtkunstwerk.

Specify what this new art-society requires in terms of infrasturcture, habitation, lifestyle assistance, and services.

Derivation of architectural qualities from each existing precedent in order to understand the spatial mechanics of a successful Gesamtkunstwerk.

Utlizie the spatial and architectural elements derived from established Gesamtkunstwerk to construct this environment of total-immersion. B

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The total artwork; it seeks to unify all forms of art into one immersive experience. Each individual element exists to reinforce the others, resulting in the hyper-saturated immersive environment.

The state of overcoming the mundane existence of every day living. This infers an overcoming of worldly complications and enjoying an existence beyond that of the human scope.

Complete envelopment within a specific atmosphere or environment to the point where the outside world is beyond tangibility and all senses are registering this experience simultaneously. I 3


The perfect society in which all needs and worries of the people have been satiated and the only obligation is the free, unfettered existence of its citizens.

The critical appreciation of beauty and taste,more broadly expanded to the philosophical understanding of the relationship between nature, art and culture.

A mix of ‘architecture’ and ‘ecology’. Used to typically describe socially dense superstructures, arcology represents a self-sustaining, architectural self-contained community.

Gesamtkunstwerk: Architecture  of  Immersive  Unification   Gesamtkunstwerk  is  a  term  that  sprang  out  of  mid-­‐1800s  Germany  and  has  come  to  define  many  diverse   incidents  over  the  years.  Originally  used  by  the  German  composer  Richard  Wagner  to  describe  his   synthesis  of  poetry,  dance,  and  music  into  what  he  considers  the  ‘art-­‐work  of  the  future’,  various   manifestations  of  this  concept  have  arisen  over  the  years,  leading  to  constant  reinterpretation  of  what  a   true  Gesamtkunstwerk  actually  is.  Theater,  architecture,  individuals,  and  even  whole  societies  have   fallen  under  some  correct  definition  of  this  ‘total  art-­‐work’,  and  have  all  pursued  a  very  similar  goal.  The   true  purpose  of  a  Gesamtkunstwerk  is  the  blurring  of  art  and  society  in  such  a  way  as  to  generate  an   overwhelming  experience  that  allows  individuals  to  transcend  their  mortal,  physically  human  condition,  


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and become  immersed  in  a  collective,  unified  vision  of  social  harmony.  This  thesis  looks  to  critically   evaluate  subjects  placed  under  the  umbrella  of  Gesamtkunstwerk  in  order  to  discern  the  spatial  and   architectural  aspects  of  what  composes  this  immersive  art-­‐environment.  With  these  spatial  elements   recognized,  a  pure  architectural  Gesamtkunstwerk  can  be  successfully  realized  around  this  core  tenant   of  utopic  social  orchestration.    

The original  Gesamtkunstwerk  was  the  brainchild  of  Richard  Wagner  and  the  venue  for  his  ‘art-­‐

work of  the  future’:  the  Festspielhaus  in  Bayreuth  Germany.  “An  anti-­‐city,  then,  intended  as  a  refuge   from  urban  decay  and  a  means  of  social  restoration.”1  This  legendary  theater  was  constructed  in  1876  to                                                                                                                           1  25,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.     I 5


be the  mecca  for  Wagner’s  attempt  to  salvage  Germany’s  culture  from  ‘art-­‐meisters  and  culture   peddlers.’  Its  placement  not  in  any  urban  centers,  but  very  central  to  back-­‐woods  Bayreuth  was  an   effort  to  underline  the  necessity  of  breaking  individuals  away  from  the  “man-­‐destroying  march  of   culture,”2  and  to  “geographic  centrality  to  be  symbolic  to  the  aspiration  of  the  total  work  of  art.”3   However,  in  direct  violation  of  Wagner’s  rebellious  principles,  “…mechanical  production  is  the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                


11,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.    


25,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.     D

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Gesamtkunstwerk’s inassimilable  element,  it’s  necessary  other,”4  referring  to  the  incredible  amount  of   mechanization  and  technological  work  necessary  to  execute  the  sophisticated  works  to  be  performed  in   the  Festspielhaus.    

                                                                                                                      4  32,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.     I 7



Fig Mechanized  Rhinemaidens  for  Wagner’s  Ring  Cycle  

                                                                                                                       The  Building  Stage:  On  Making  Theater  (1876),  Festspielhaus,  Bayreuth,  Germany,  JPG  


file,­‐content/uploads/2009/09/Rhinemaidens1876-­‐545x307-­‐300x168.jpg (accessed   December  14,  2011).


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But what  is  the  purpose  of  this?  It  is  clear  that  Wagner  was  trying  to  break  away  from  the  obsession  with   mass  production  and  art-­‐culture  atrophy  that  was  occurring  in  metropolitan  centers  all  over  Europe.   “Wagner  would  find  a  site  for  his  festival  theater  that  would  help  the  public  to  rediscover  its  lost,   organic  self,”5  was  the  decision  behind  picking  Germany-­‐central  Bayreuth,  a  location  “Wagner  held   [Bayreuth]  to  be  the  mirror  and  microcosm  of  Germany  at  its  most  essential  and  a  crucible  in  which  the   non-­‐Germanic  would  be  Germanized.”6  Wagner’s  theater  was  a  direct  attempt  at  reconciling  what  he   viewed  to  be  a  tragedy  of  mass-­‐culture  and  national  heritage  and  that  through  construction  of  this   festival-­‐theater-­‐Gesamtkunstwerk  and  the  writing  of  work  to  be  executing  specifically  within  this  venue,                                                                                                                            25,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.    


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he could  create  an  experience  so  immense  that  it  would  blur  the  lines  of  society  and  art  to  the  point   where  no  matter  who  was  a  spectator  in  this  place,  “It  would  bind  together  a  people,  and  also  serve  as  a   common  destination  for  a  larger  Volk,  a  Volk  currently  lost  in  the  hurly-­‐burly  of  industrialized  culture.”7   Richard  Wagner’s  greatest  goal  was  to  free  humanity  from  its  own  vices  through  a  careful  configuration   of  art  and  technology  in  the  hopes  that  the  individual  would  forge  a  connection  not  only  to  himself,  but   also  to  others  in  a  grand,  unified  manner.  This      

What Bayreuth  provided  for  Wagner  is  what  Southern  California  and,  far  more  significantly,  

Florida did  for  Walt  Disney,  but  on  a  larger  scale.  With  Disney  work  already  within  the  circles  of  popular                                                                                                                           7

25,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.    


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media, Steamboat  Willy  for  example,  it  was  only  a  matter  of  time  before  Walt  Disney  was  to  edify  his   visual  empire  in  his  personalized  version  of  the  Festspielhaus.  “…Disney’s  projects,  particularly  in  the   theme  parks,  was  to  create  a  grand  unification  of  all  the  arts,  welded  to  commerce  and  technology.”8   This  goes  parallel  with  the  Wagnerian  ideal  of  ‘Germanic  crucible’  in  that,  except  that  instead  of   everything  tying  back  to  this  pure  ideal  of  Germania,  it  would  relate  all  to  Mickey-­‐mania.  Or  more   specifically,  it  would  relate  to  the  changing  world  events  and  directly  respond  to  them,  finding   unification  within  comfort,  as  “Disneyland  offers,  as  a  recent  exhibition  termed  it,  an  ‘architecture  of  


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116,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.    


reassurance.”9 In  the  same  way  that  Wagner  was  offering  a  salvation  to  the  corrupted  culture  of  the   mid-­‐1800s,  Disney  was  creating  a  vehicle  of  salvation  to  a  post-­‐war  America  that  was  suffering  from  a   decade  of  lost  culture.  “What  Disneyland  offered  was  a  way  of  nationalizing  the  American  masses  while   simultaneously  assuaging  postwar  anxieties  about  the  perils  of  mass  culture.” 10  But  how  could  it   accomplish  this  message  of  comfort  and  optimism  for  the  future?  “[Mickey  is]  a  clean,  happy,  little   fellow  who  loves  life  and  folk…He  is  youth,  the  great  unlicked  and  uncontaminated.”11  Disney  has                                                                                                                           9

116,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.  


121,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.  


118,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.   D

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constructed a  focus  being  that  everyone  can  relate  to,  no  matter  the  social  or  economic  standing.  In  the   way  that  Wagner  envisioned  a  ‘Germanic  crucible’  in  which  all  were  to  be  made  German,  and  thus   existentially  pure,  Disney  envisioned  the  same  sort  of  experience  through  direct  relation  with  Mickey:  a   metaphor  for  childhood  discovery  and  a  ‘true  way  of  being.’  Surrounding  this  comprehensive  anchor  of   puer  aeturnus  (forever  young)  is  a  very  carefully  constructed  environment  of  Disneyland  itself,  only  to   perpetuate  this  suspended  understanding  of  pure  existence.  For  Wagner,  it  was  his  Bayreuth  theater,   but  for  Disney,  it  was  something  else  entirely:  a  spatial,  interactive  environment.  “The  landscape  and   architecture  that  encompass  Disneyland  work  in  much  the  same  fashion  as  at  Bayreuth,  creating  a  vast,  

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complex, multi-­‐sensory  limen  to  mark  the  transition  from  the  ostensibly  real  world  of  the  exterior  to  the   fantasy  world  of  the  performance  space.”12      

                                                                                                                      12  124,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007. D

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Fig. Disneyworld,  an  immersive  fantasy  realm.   13

Fig. Disneyworld,  an  immersive  fantasy  realm.  

                                                                                                                       The  Magic  Kingdom  (2011),  Orlando,  Florida,  JPG  file,­‐­‐content/uploads/2011/03/walt-­‐ disney-­‐world-­‐maps.jpg                                                                        (  accessed                              D    ecember                   14,  2011). 13  The  Magic  Kingdom  (2011),  Orlando,  Florida,  JPG  file,­‐­‐content/uploads/2011/03/walt-­‐


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disney-­‐world-­‐maps.jpg (accessed  December  14,  2011). D

With the  anchor  clearly  identified  as  a  utopian  figure  of  perpetual  youth,  the  venue  is  set  to  immerse  all   who  visit  into  a  fantasy  realm  where  this  utopian  existence  is  possible.  Even  the  custodians  of  this  living   dream  are  no  longer  merely  workers,  but  ‘Imagineers’  that  tend  to  the  perpetual  existence  of  this   manifest  fantasy  and  become  an  additional  layer  between  ‘reality’  and  the  ‘Disney-­‐reality’.     “…thus  an  employee  becomes  a  ‘cast  member’,  a  public  area  ‘onstage,’  a  restricted  area   ‘backstage,’  hiring  for  a  job  is  referred  to  as  ‘casting,’  a  job  interview  an  ‘audition,’  and  a  uniform   a  ‘costume’.  This  theatrical  language  applies  to  all  Disney  employees,  not  just  actors,  leading  to   the  peculiar  experience  of  addressing  electricians  and  executives  equally  as  ‘cast  members.’  The   show,  such  appellations  make  clear,  is  not  just  what  happens  ‘on-­‐stage’,  it  is  what  happens  


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everywhere. The  aim  of  such  rhetoric  is  to  replace  the  simple  worker  with  a  new  composite:  the   worker-­‐actor.”14   With  even  the  workers  and  caretakers  of  this  utopia  becoming  a  critical  part  of  this  lived  fantasy,  the   lived  experience  only  becomes  more  visceral  and  immersive,  and  thus,  successful.    

Between Bayreuth  and  Disneyland,  the  concept  of  site  as  immersive  environment  becomes  

incredibly clear  as  a  critical  element  to  a  successful  Gesamtkunstwerk.  Also,  as  in  both  sites,  technology   and  mechanization  are  used  to  achieve  this  blurring  of  art  and  society,  including  blurring  out  the  use  of   mechanization  so  that  the  ‘magic’  is  buried  within  the  experience  to  the  point  where  even  if  it  is                                                                                                                           14

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127,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.  


perceivable, its  not  registered  as  a  separate  entity.  Also  discussed  is  the  availability  of  a  strong   personality  that  embodies  this  pure  being  of  existence.  For  Disney,  it  was  the  essence  of  youth   embodied  by  Mickey  Mouse,  for  Wagner,  Percival  on  his  quest  for  the  Holy  Grail.  But  it  was  less  of  what   these  beings  were,  and  more  importantly,  what  they  stood  for.  But  what  happens  when  this  idealistic   character  becomes  a  real  entity  and  the  lines  between  art  and  society  are  truly  blurred?  Andy  Warhol   represents  this  sort  of  ‘lived-­‐Gesamtkunstwerk,’  not  only  in  himself  even  as  “Warhol  was,  or  at  least   aimed  to  be,  his  own  multimedia  spectacular,  an  all-­‐consuming  vortex  that  aimed  to  synthesize  all   modes  of  performance,”15  but  in  his  art-­‐lifestyle  in  and  around  his  studio.  The  Factory  provided  a                                                                                                                           15

140,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.   D

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sanctuary for  him  and  his  ‘Superstars’  to  live  freely  in  whatever  way  they  wanted;  usually  this  ended  up   in  assisting  with  Warhol’s  silk  screening  and  filmmaking,  generating  an  assembly-­‐line  atmosphere  of  art-­‐ business  that  tied  into  Warhol’s  personal  life.  Otherwise,  the  atmosphere  in  The  Factory  was  that  of  a   free  for  all,  with  orgies,  rampant  drug  use,  and  activities  usually  seen  as  taboo  by  conventional  social   standards  because,  essentially:  “…Warhol  drew  his  Superstars  from  the  ranks  of  the  socially  and   politically  marginalized:  drag  queens,  flamboyant  performers,  drug  addicts,  beautiful  lost  things,  and   queers  of  all  stripes.”16  This  was  in  fact,  entirely  necessary  for  the  art-­‐lifestyle  to  be  manifest  within  The   Factory,  only  so  far  as  everyone  was  given  the  grace  to  be  the  person  they  wanted  to  be,  not  the  person                                                                                                                           16

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147,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.  

society needed  to  be.  As  an  immersive  atmosphere  that  pulled  everyone  in,  Warhol  embodied  this  in  his   personal  ‘aura’,  which  was  arguably,  the  most  tangible  aspect  of  his  personalized  lived-­‐ Gesamtkunstwerk.  “Some  company  recently  was  interested  in  buying  my  ‘aura’.  They  didn’t  want  my   product.  They  kept  saying  ‘We  want  your  aura.’”17  This  aura  was  what  kept  everyone  in  The  Factory   open  to  live  their  lives  as  individually  and  as  true  to  themselves  as  possible.  In  the  way  that  Warhol  was   willing  to  endorse  anything  as  a  part  of  his  total-­‐business-­‐art-­‐performance,  Warhol  was  equally  willing  to   endorse  the  ‘true’  lifestyles  of  his  ‘Superheroes.’  This  feedback  loop  concluded  to  include  much  of  this   ‘alternative’  lifestyle  into  the  works  that  came  out  of  The  Factory,  in  that  much  of  the  raw  street  culture                                                                                                                          


77,  Warhol,  Andy.  THE  Philosophy  of  Andy  Warhol.  New  York:  Harcourt  Brace  and  Co.,  1975.   D

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content seen  in  Warhol’s  films  was  pulled  directly  from  the  individual  and  shared  lives  of  his   ‘Superheroes.’  However  the  only  way  this  functioned  successfully  is  because  Warhol  and  The  Factory   were  both  vacuums,  in  that  what  occurred  there  was  so  unique  to  the  personalities  and  atmosphere  of   this  immersive  environment  and  any  sort  of  ‘leak’  in  or  out  of  this  sealed  space  was  a  threat  to  the   subliminal  art-­‐society.  “It  should  come  as  no  surprise,  then,  that  Warhol,  like  any  Gesamtkunstwerk,  was   under  a  constant  threat  of  leakage  and  thus  of  contamination…  We  saw  it  first  at  the  Bayreuth   Festspielhaus,  with  its  multiplication  of  blinders  that  hide  all  signs  of  labor  beneath  a  veneer  of  perfect   organicism.”18  Essentially  saying,  the  environment  had  to  be  so  immaculately  constructed  so  that  the                                                                                                                          


I 22


151,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.  

effort and  physical  work  of  maintaining  this  environment  was  either  so  blurred  into  the  basic  habitation   of  the  space  or  was  buried  so  deep  within  the  environment  (Wagner’s  theater  technology  at  Bayreuth)   that  it  would  not  pose  a  threat  to  shattering  this  artistic  micro-­‐society.  In  this,  Warhol’s  aura  set  the   tone  for  the  environment,  which  was  infinitely  perpetuated  by  his  ‘Superheroes’  and  the  work-­‐life  that   they  all  shared  within  The  Factory  and  within  Warhol’s  localized  vision.  A  vision,  perhaps,  of  a  limited   utopic  society  who’s  living,  working,  and  art-­‐making  were  not  isolated  actions,  but  synergetic  aspects   that  drew  energy  and  inspiration  from  each  other.    

Two examples  that  embody  this  ideal  of  a  live-­‐work  utopic  society,  but  within  the  confines  of  

very specific  built  sites  are  the  New  Harmony  community  in  New  Harmony,  Indiana  in  1814,  and  the  


I 23

Oneida Community  in  Oneida,  New  York  in  1848.  What  makes  unique  these  two  examples  is  that  instead   of  a  secular,  spiritually  neutral  environment,  these  societies  were  driven  along  religious  grounds,   controlled  by  a  singular  spiritual  leader,  and  both  centered  on  a  communal  complex  within  which  all   functions  of  the  society  were  carried  out.    

I 24






                                                                                                                      19  fatcontroller5352,  “Oneida  Community  Mansion”  (2008),  Oneida,  New  York,  JPEG  file,  (accesse d  December  13,  2011). 20

F.  Bate,  “New  Harmony  Community”  (1838),  The  Association  of  all  Classes  of  all  Nations,  London. D

I 25

In both  examples  of  an  idealized  (New  Harmony)  and  constructed  (Oneida)  utopic  communities,  living   and  working  was  done  within  a  central  compound,  the  idea  being  that  with  a  society  tightly  woven   together  in  the  live-­‐work  environment  would  be  more  conducive  to  accepting  a  greater  vision  of   purpose.  In  the  Oneida  community,  this  was  presented  as  ‘Perfectionism’,  “a  form  of  Christianity  with   two  basic  values;  self-­‐perfection  and  communalism.  These  ideals  were  translated  into  everyday  life   through  shared  property  and  work.  Noyes'  solution  was  a  society  where  the  interest  of  one  member   became  the  interest  of  all  -­‐  the  enlargement  of  the  family.”21  This  sharing  of  physical  space,  possessions,   and  due  to  instituted  belief  in  ‘Complex  Marriage,  even  spouses  were  a  shared  relationship  amongst  the                                                                                                                            “The Oneida Story,” Oneida, (accessed December 13, 2011).


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bigger body.  This  all  occurred  in  the  Oneida  mansion  that  expanded  over  the  course  of  the  communities   existence  to  contain  the  growing  family  and  to  support  the  multitude  of  functions  that  were  required  for   the  day  to  day  affairs  of  the  community.  The  New  Harmony  project  was  similar  to  this  in  its  community   orientation,  but  had  a  more  specific  end  goal  in  mind  with  its  inception.  “The  Harmonists  combined  the   Swabian  work  ethic  ("Work,  work,  work!  Save,  save,  save!")  with  the  Benedictine  rule  ("Pray  and   work!").  This  resulted  in  an  unheard  of  economic  achievement  that  was  recognized  as  "the  wonder  of   the  west."22  By  orchestrating  the  lifestyle  so  rigidly  within  the  confines  of  the  colony,  the  stated  goals  of                                                                                                                            “Historic  New  Harmony,  Indiana,”  Historic  New  Harmony,  (accessed  


December 13,  2011). D

I 27

the community  become  the  shared  vision  of  everyone  residing  within.  Just  like  the  Oneida  community,   this  togetherness  allowed  not  individual  interpretations  of  a  shared  vision,  but  the  same  interpretation   amongst  everyone,  resulting  in  resounding  economical  and  productive  success.  It  is  key  to  note  that  the   render  of  the  New  Harmony  colony  never  got  built,  but  the  arrangement  of  a  central  cloister  around   four  industrial  facilities  and  speaks  of  a  shared  housing  situation  that  revolved  around  a  work  cycle  –   relating  directly  back  to  the  core  tenets  of  the  Harmonist  agenda.  This  essential  ties  together  a  monastic   life  scheduling,  similar  to  ‘hours’,  to  a  production  facility  that  is  essentially  a  programmatic  fusion  of   high-­‐yield  industry  and  religious  monastery.  Both  communities,  at  their  barest  form,  are  cults  of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

I 28


personality around  a  common  goal  or  ideal,  a  description  easily  pinned  to  Warhol,  and  did  their  best  to   manifest  a  suitable  site  to  host  their  utopian  social  experiments.  While  neither  fully  satisfies  what  a   Gesamtkunstwerk  demands  in  terms  of  artistic  enterprise,  the  blurring  of  this  societies  live-­‐work   situation  and  synthesis  of  lifestyle  elements  towards  a  shared,  individually  transcendent  purpose.    

This grand,  unified  art-­‐society  is  an  incredible  feat  to  accomplish  from  scratch,  and  even  more  

insurmountable when  suddenly  applied  to  a  current  society.  The  closest  attempt  to  successfully   accomplish  this  post-­‐establishment  Gesamtkunstwerk  could  be  found  within  the  years  of  Stalinist   Russia;  in  this,  the  total-­‐art  transcends  a  singular  physical  location  and  becomes  a  pure  social  condition.   The  initial  support  for  this  slow  movement  towards  Stalinist  Totalitarianism  came  from  Nietzsche’s   D

I 29

assumption that,  “If…  the  world  as  it  is  can  only  be  justified  aesthetically,  then  it  is  even  more  true  that   only  such  a  justification  is  possible  for  the  building  of  a  new  world.”23  This  opens  up  this  new  Stalinist   society  to  all  sorts  of  aesthetic  modifications  in  order  to  solidify  this  new  ordered  lifestyle  that  was   demanded  by  the  reformed  Soviet  society.  Along  the  lines  of  aesthetics,  artists  of  the  state  manifested   this  lifestyle  in  visual  and  written  media,  propagating  this  myth  of  Stalinist  superiority.  In  the  same  way   that  Wagner  sought  to  re-­‐connect  society  back  to  its  true  state  of  existence  with  the  mythic  plays,  party   artists  strove  to  create  a  cultural  environment  that  “…liberates  the  inhabitants  of  utopia  from  blind                                                                                                                            4,  Groys,  Boris.  The  Total  Art  of  Stalinism:  Avant-­‐Garde,  Aesthetic  Dictatorship,  and  Beyond.  Princeton,  N.J.:  Princeton  Univ  


Pr, 1992.   I 30


obedience to  the  laws  handed  down  by  unseen  creators  –  Malevich,  Rodchenko,  Khlebnikov,  and  others   –  but  inspires  in  them  love  for  their  creator  and  the  creator  of  their  world:  Stalin.”24     The  work  created  here  was  not  that  of  distance  legend,  but  legend  of  the  immediate  present  and  that  of   Stalinist  idealism.  It  also  disregards  any  sort  of  classical  history  in  that  it  is  irrelevant,  in  literal   recollection,  iconographic  significance,  and  use  of  classic  tales  of  antiquity  “…because  it  is  based  on  the   thesis  that  sacred  history  takes  place  here  among  us,  and  that  the  gods  and  demiurges  –Stalin  and  his   ‘Iron  Guard’  –  constantly  working  their  world-­‐transforming  miracles  in  the  here  and  now  of  the                                                                                                                           24  114,  Groys,  Boris.  The  Total  Art  of  Stalinism:  Avant-­‐Garde,  Aesthetic  Dictatorship,  and  Beyond.  Princeton,  N.J.:  Princeton  Univ   Pr,  1992.  


I 31

everyday.”25 This  manifested  into  slogans,  artwork,  songs,  poems,  stories  and  a  myriad  of  media  that   supported  the  totalitarian  life  of  the  new  Stalinist  society.  In  the  same  way  that  the  Disney  fantasy  was   manifest  in  a  broad  range  of  media,  the  mythic  Stalinist  fantasy  was  perpetuated  similarly.    

                                                                                                                       113,  Groys,  Boris.  The  Total  Art  of  Stalinism:  Avant-­‐Garde,  Aesthetic  Dictatorship,  and  Beyond.  Princeton,  N.J.:  Princeton  Univ  


Pr, 1992.   I 32






                                                                                                                       The  Director  and  his  Nation  (1936),  Northwestern  University,  JPG  file,­‐



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This fulfills  the  criteria  for  the  total-­‐performance  of  the  Gesamtkunstwerk  ideal,  in  that  the  art-­‐work-­‐ lifestyle  was  so  intertwined  However,  a  specific  physical  location  was  unnecessary;  Stalinist   totalitarianism  was  to  be  found  in  all  corners  of  Russian  Soviet  society,  and  only  because  it  had  to  be.    

The last  utopic  example  of  an  ideal  societies  come  as  theoretical  models  of  what  could  be  a  

Gesamtkunstwerk, as  an  alternative,  parasitic  social  construct  that  exists  alongside  current  society  as                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (accessed  December  14,  2011). 27

The  Great  Parent  (1937),  Fox  News  Static  Images,  JPG  file, (accessed  December  14,  2011).

I 34


humanity transitions  from  its  current  urban  condition  to  a  new  environment  conducive  to  a  people   without  obligation.    



                                                                                                                      28  Gezicht  Op  New  Babylonische  Sectoren  (1971),  Collection  of  the  Gemeentemuseum,  Haag,  NL,  JPG   file,http://www.megastructure-­‐  (accessed  December  14,  2011).


I 35

New Babylon  is  a  theoretical  architectural  construct  of  massive  scale  that  is  self-­‐generative  ad  infinitum.   As  long  as  its  inhabitants,  homo  luden  (men  at  play)  are  continually  utilizing  the  space  in  ways  that   require  expansion,  the  space  will  be  subdivided  into  different  programmatic  usages  based  upon  the   needs  of  the  occupants.   “At  first  one  sees,  in  among  the  conglomerates,  isolated  sectors  appear  that  become  poles  of   attraction  for  the  former  to  the  extent  that,  with  the  time  consumed  in  work  diminishing,  the   settlement  becomes  disorganized.  During  this  time,  the  sectors  are  meeting  places,  socio-­‐ cultural  centers  of  a  kind;  then,  as  their  number  is  augmented  and  the  links  that  unite  them   increased,  activity  within  the  sectors  becomes  specialized  and  increasingly  autonomous  in   relation  to  the  residential  areas.”29                                                                                                                          


Nieuwenhuis,  Constant.  “New  Babylon.”  The  Hague,  1974.  

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This details  an  organic  growth  of  this  new  cityscape,  one  that  is  dependent  only  on  the  spontaneous   desires  of  a  new  social  archetype  that  will  inhabit  this  space.  Space  only  exists  as  it  is  needed  by  the   lifestyle  of  these  new  citizens  that,  as  the  name  homo  luden  implies,  is  entirely  made  of  play.  Man  in   New  Babylon  has  no  obligation  to  do  anything  further  than  exist  in  whatever  free  way  he  wants,   interacting  with  others  and  the  space  he  inhabits  in  just  a  free  manner.  Likewise,  the  space  evolves  and   grows  to  ergonomically  fit  the  ad  hoc  demands  of  the  growing  needs  of  this  alternate  humanity  that  no   longer  has  a  need  to  be  anything  more  than  free  spirits.  This  is  only  accomplished  through  some   unknown  technology,  and  with  the  power  of  environmental  manipulation  at  their  hands,  the  homo   ludens  exist  “Without  the  passivity  of  tourists,  but  fully  aware  of  the  power  they  have  to  act  upon  the  


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world, to  transform  it,  to  recreate  it.  They  dispose  of  a  whole  arsenal  of  technical  implements  for  doing   this,  thanks  to  which  they  can  make  the  desired  changes  without  delay.”30  Technology  here  plays  a   critical  role  in  enabling  the  free  environmental  play  for  the  inhabitants  of  New  Babylon,  thus  enabling   free,  unbridled  existence  of  their  pure  beings.  The  unique  aspect  about  New  Babylon  is  that  it  begins  not   as  a  sudden  jump  towards  a  utopian  society,  but  rather  a  slowly  self-­‐building  urban  alternative  to  a   world  that  is  useful  to  humanity  as  long  as  it  is  required  to  function  in  a  specific  way.  Without  the   constraints  of  work  and  existential  obligation,  a  new  urban  archetype  is  required  to  sustain  this  new   homo  luden,  the  Percival  being,  and  essentially,  the  Mickey  Mouse  in  all  of  us.                                                                                                                           30  Nieuwenhuis,  Constant.  “New  Babylon.”  The  Hague,  1974.   I 38


It is  clear  a  Gesamtkunstwerk  can  manifest  itself  in  many  different  forms,  from  the  tangible  

physical site,  to  the  intangible  social  body,  to  the  theoretic  urban  environment,  to  even  the  individual   human  being.  The  architectural  elements  of  these  many  occurrences  aren’t  always  clear,  as  the   realization  isn’t  always  spatial.  Certainly  Warhol’s  Factory  was  a  physical  space,  but  was  only  activated   by  Warhol,  his  Superheroes,  and  his  oh-­‐so-­‐marketable  aura.  But  this  aura  is  what  permeates  any  of   these  individual  examples  and  is  what  composes  the  magic  of  the  Gesamtkunstwerk  phenomenon.  This   aura,  these  environments,  are  to  be  existential  sanctuaries  in  that  they  are  conducive  to  the  individual   freeing  themselves  from  their  current  life-­‐obligations,  and  embracing  their  true,  pure  state  of  being  for   as  long  as  they  are  immersed  within.  Beyond  that,  though,  is  the  other  critical  component  to  the  


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Gesamtkunstwerk is  the  embracing  of  a  collective  ideal  that  is  only  possible  when  all  shackles  of  the   daily  mundane  routine  have  been  removed  from  the  individual  and  the  common  goal  is  introduced   through  this  immersive  environment  as  a  seamless  part  of  this  immersive  environment.  At  Bayreuth,  this   was  the  mythic  Germanic  legend  portrayed  in  theater  and  executed  via  technological  means  in  order  to   convey  this  idea  of  pure  Germany.  In  Disneyworld,  it  was  the  massive,  spatial  movie  set  of  the  theme   part  that  tied  the  total-­‐performance  of  all  Disney  media  to  a  lived-­‐performance  of  the  guests  within  this   fantasy  realm.  Warhol’s  Factory  was  a  place  for  him  to  explode  his  ‘aura’  within  a  space  and  allow  his   Superheroes  existential  freedom  to  be  the  people  they  were,  and  not  the  people  society  expected  them   to  be,  which  resulted  in  an  environment  of  a  total-­‐art  collaborative.  Oneida  and  New  Harmony  show   I 40


that through  communal  living  and  a  lifestyle  of  purpose  oriented  around  a  common  goal,  as  long  as   success  in  that  purported  goal  can  be  had.  Stalinist  realism,  in  all  of  its  complications,  proved  that   through  media  conglomeration  of  bringing  mythic  ideals  and  proportions  out  of  the  past  and  future  into   the  current  reality,  this  immersive  environment  can  be  created  without  walls  and  ceilings,  allowing  the   lines  between  society  and  artwork  to  blur  just  enough  to  generate  this  massively  immersive   environment  on  a  truly  social  scale.  Finally,  from  New  Babylon,  with  these  beings  existing  without  needs,   obligations,  or  constructions  of  any  manner  being  forced  upon  them  will  require  an  entirely  new  sort  of   urban  environment  in  which  to  inhabit  and  utilize  in  their  transcendent  new  lifestyle.  All  of  these   represent  an  orchestration  of  society  towards  a  singular,  collective  ideal  that  is  accomplished  through  a   D

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potent mix  of  art  and  technology.  Ideally,  technology  would  be  used  to  blur  the  lines  between  art  and   society  fully,  so  that  this  transcendent  effect  is  fully  realized,  but  then  again,  “Gesamtkunstwerk  is   impossible.  It  is  a  lantern  image,  a  ghost  in  glass.  Utopia,  thus  nowhere.”31  However,  each  of  these   unique  moments  prove  that  a  Gesamtkunstwerk  isn’t  about  creating  a  utopia  verbatim,  but  rather  laying   the  groundwork  so  that  a  group  of  individuals  are  able  to  forget  about  their  personal  existential   condition  and  tap  into  a  greater  moment  of  shared  vision.  It  is  within  this  flicker  of  human  

                                                                                                                      31  8,  Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.    

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transcendence created  by  the  work  itself,  of  human  acknowledgement  of  a  greater  wholesome  purpose,   that  the  vision  of  utopia  manifests.  


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Initial Collage - Scale: The first investigation into the study of Gesamtkunstwerk led me to a

preliminary understanding of scale, and of imbued meaning across different scales. It was understood that the same concept or idea could be transcriped across multiple mediums at multiple scales, all compounding on each other to amplify the meaning to the point where it was perceivable beyond a ephemeral sensation. The essential question being challenged here was whether or not it was feasible for a concept or idea to be manifest at an infinite scale and if so, how to approach the challenge.

Fig. 1 Using the golden ratio as the primary geometry, layering and proportional scaling led to a visualization of a spiral that, if an infinite zoom function were possible, would continue forever.

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Fig. 2 This ‘flame fractal’ is a visualization of a mathematical function that operates via an algorithm. This inherently scalar system is represented at three levels: the white triangular base, the green function, and the orange derivation.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2




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Final Collage - Metamorphosis: From the initial exploration in imbedded meaning and the idea of communication of a consistent message across an infinite level of scale, the idea of total design became clear. In this sense, each aspect of the design is in direct dialogue to each other piece of the work, resulting in a design that strongly communicates a message. The final collage for this came from a believe that the strongest design is one that clearly stands as a synthesis of all component parts, and the result was a horizontal geometric cascade. (Fig. 3) The initial emergent geometry slowly changes as each member is simultaneously the geometry before it and behind it, as well as containing its own unique character. Looking at the macro-scale, the metamorphic effect exists whether only it is only one, many, or all panels in the composition. The idea being that within the basic unit, the design concept clearly exists and only becomes further amplified with the addition of parts that play off of the initiator.

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Fig. 3a

Fig. 3b


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Experimental Mind Map - Hexagon Set: With the need to organize the diverse collection of

elements that started to fall within the research boundaries of Gesamtkunstwerk, the logical choice was a visual map. However, it seemed inadequate to merely connect ideas in space with other ideas without an understanding that these ideas did not just connect at a binary level, but in an interwoven systematic level. Nothing functions or exists as an independent element outside of a system, and with the understanding of Gesamtkunstwerk as a collection of many elements that share a synchronious goal, the mapping must show it. Thus, the hexagon map emerged as a way of showing multiple levels of interwoven connection between elements in a system, in a similar way that multiple elements acting in harmony manifest as the unifying total-artwork.

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Conclusion: This desire to manifest utopia on earth can only be possible through the aesthetic

understanding of the total art. In the same way that the true Gesamtkunstwerk unifies all artwork under one grand ideal as a means of providing a glimpse into this possible utopia, the architectural Gesamtkunstwerk should unify all aspects of humanity into one equalized society that collectively strives to achieve a level of social harmony unseen in history. This society of complete immersion must be kept within a vaccum, lest the contaminated elements of the flawed outside world leak in and ruin the constructed total . These elements of unification, sealed vaccuum, and complete immersion can only be accomplished through a fusion of art and technology, utilizing each to set the stage and keep the Gesamtkunstwerk ‘engine’ running, lest it fail to maintain the total-art environment.

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Hypothesis: To achieve an architectural Gesamtkunstwerk, the project would have to encompass a

small sub-pocket of contemporary society. Here, they would be cut off from direct access to ‘mass culture’, placing importance on the pilgrimage element not only in physical separation, but also as a psychological cleansing from a contaminated society to a pure one. With this space, cognition of any sort of ‘outside world’ purely in terms of urban and social perameters would be impossible, as the inhabitants would be fully immersed in an environment of ‘total-creation.’ Within this space, each individual would be allowed to practice whatever craft or trade he desired, producing goods, art, or both. The selling of such goods would provide for the shared maintenance of this massive-factory monastery and for the upkeep of the advanced machinery, tooling, and raw materials used by the craftsmen. Living space would be shared and arrayed around the central cloister, where agriculture and crafting facilities are located. Foodstuffs would be of no concern, as all agriculture is automated as to free the citizens of this society from work-play. There would be no restrictions on family dynamics or social restriction, aside from everyone developing into an artisancraftsman. The daily schedule would stay consistent, each day having its own specific ‘hours’, similar to those in a true monastery. Expansion of the colony, to support a growing population, would be achieved through large scale modular system designed in-tandem with the colony’s master plan itself. Here the Gesamtkunstwerk manifests; in a society so tied to that of the ‘real’ world, but through a highly superficial channel of finance and consumer demands. Throught the living of this scheduled work-lifestyle, each of the craftsmen would be lost in their personal art work, transcending any sort of mundane real world in their personal immersive experience. Children raised within the colony would only know sublime craft as their purpose, and their collective purpose to sustain the community. The entire environment and thus, community, reads as ‘pure creation.’ The only idolatry would be that of the craftsman, he who makes with his hands. As that is the only man and demiurge the people eventually come to know, this forge-monastery will provide a self-celebratory ‘arcology’ to those who worship the grand fabricator: man himself.


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Gesamtkunstwerk Timeline: This timeline was constructed as an effort to find specific trends that each precedent shared and to derive the critical common trends necessary for the success of each. This was also instrumental in the mapping of each manifestation in relation to the historical context of its emergence and to begin the process of finally decanting the major spatial and architectural aspects inherent in each.






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What: Founded originally in Weimar, the Bauhaus school was Walter Gropius’ personal academic project. Here would be the learning place for all craftsmen, artisans, and eventually architects, to work and learn together in order to more effectively synthesize all skills and disciplines. The school and administration stressed minimalistic design strategies but also designs that had a strong correlated harmony between the function of an object or building and its design. Where: Weimar > Dessau > Berlin, Germany. Final campus in Dessau. Architectural Significance: While not formally offering architecture classes until 1927, the atmosphere of comprehensive design could not reject emerging architectural implications. Most of the true architectural realizations came during the years when Gropius administrated, and were influenced by the flexible and innovative atmosphere of all-encompassing craft space. The resulting Bauhaus – International style was one of clean lines, structural expression, and honesty of form and materials in order to be as legible to the experience as possible.

What: Local residence built in Chicago by Frank Lloyd Wright that is to have been the greatest example of the Prairie style and is considered uniquely American. In his house, Wright employed an approach of limited Gesamtkunstwerk towards designing everything from the shell of the building down to the furniture and light fittings. Because of how well composed and crafted all components were to the construction of the house, its quality is the measuring stick for all other Prairie style buildings designed after. Where: Chicago, Illinois, United States. Architectural Significance: Wright himself: “It is impossible to think of the building as one thing and the furnishings as another… they are all mere structural details of its character and completeness.” This view towards building design was not one of architectural and product design, but rather of environment orchestration towards a greater artistic ideal or goal. The textiles and lamp fittings would be pleasing, and the house wonderful as independent elements, but only together is their true value realized.


1922AD - 1991AD

What: Richard Wagner’s legendary theater venue that served to fully manifest his ‘total art’ theater. Accompanied by his custom-designed performances that were meant for only his theater, the siting architecture, and technological marvels allowed a very sophisticated performance in which the audience could, regardless of heritage, become Germanized and understand and celebrate the cultural glory of Germany. This was Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk. Where: Bayreuth, Germany. Architectural Significance: With the purpose of creating an environment in which all could celebrate Germanic ancestry together as equals, architecture was important in two critical ways: one was the technical deftness which was applied to the mechanics of the stage functions and incredible attention to experience-generating elements, such as the careful placement of the band pit. The second was the overall siting in Bayreuth, not only geographically central in the nation, but also as a town in which many aspects of German culture were brought together in social synthesis; elements which only further fueled Wagner’s intention.


What: The 2nd of three communities started by German Harmonist George Rapp, New Harmony was supposed to be a self-contained, hyper-industrious settlement for the society. After being sold to utopian thinker Robert Owen and William Maclure, Owen invited many participants to his ‘model community’ that was based off of and would expand upon the industrious fundamentals of Rapp’s society. New Harmony would eventually produce Robert Dale Owen, who is credited with the founding of the Smithsonian Institute. Where: Posey County, Indiana, United States Architectural Significance: Owen envisioned more than just a community, but one that was unified under a greater social purpose; architecture was the vehicle to achieve this. The romantic renderings of the final form of New Harmony was a large, monastic colony, with a central cloister surrounded by joined residences, four large factories joined to this ring, and a meeting structure located in the cloister’s center. Also under the theme of monasticism was the protocol that no one had individual sovereignty or property and while this was theoretically positive, it was one of the major reasons the community eventually failed.


1848AD - 1881AD

What: Religious commune founded by John Humphrey Noyes in the persuit of a perfectionist community, in where there is no sin and everyone is perfect in preparation for Heaven. Major social protocols within the community were Communalism, Complex Marriage, Male Continence, Mutual Criticism, and Ascending Fellowship. Production and industrialization was strong as well, with every unskilled member of the community shifting through every job, so that there was a strong innate sense of ownership for each aspect of the community. Where: Oneida, New York, United States. Architectural Significance: The major compound of the Oneida community was the Mansion Hall. In a monastic manner similar to Owen’s New Harmony, this single building boasting 35 apartments, 9 dorm rooms, 9 guest rooms, museum, meeting, and dining spaces was considered to be the focal point for the small community and kept the social aspect to the community at a very intimate level.


What: A massive baroque church that was begun by Johann Bernhard von Erlach and finished by his son that attempted to synthesize the most significant religious works in the history of Western Architecture. Where: Vienna, Austria. Architectural Significance: With the goal of the church to unify the major western works of The Temple of Solomon, Hagia Sophia, The Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, Dome des Invalides, and St. Pauls Cathedral, the design intent was not only to unify the religious significance of each work, but the total aesthetic and architectural intent in order to amplify the overall experience of the church.

1825AD - 1829AD

1813AD - 1883AD

RICHARD WAGNER What: Dis-enchanted German composer, conductor, theater director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist, and writer known for his ‘music-dramas’. His distaste of mass-produced culture and industrialization originated in a sense that cultural works were being cheapened and traded as commodities and that in artisan-quality, handcrafted synthesis, great works of social and cultural art could be produced. Where: Germany, Munich and Bayreuth specifically. Architectural Significance: Wagner’s decanting of the musical arts into three core ‘sister arts’ of Dance, Tone, and Poetry, and the sublime synthesis of all three to produce a masterpiece is an easy allegory to synthesis of disparate-but-related disciplines in the pursuit of grand architectural success. Through practicing fusion, each element compliments and interweaves with the others to produce a richer, more sophisticated experience.

1716AD - 1737AD

1475AD - 1564AD

ONEIDA COMMUNITY MICHAELANGELO What: Master multi-discplinary artisan who worked in mediums across the spectrum and completed many works for clients such as the Vatican and the Medici family, primarily in sculpture and painting. Where: Italy, Florence and Rome specifically. Architectural Significance: Supported the popular Rennaissance artisan position that there were very little, strict divisions, if any at all, between architecture, interior design, sculpture, painting and even engineering; essentially a cohesive unity between all fabrication arts of the time.

1919AD - 1933AD

CASA VAN DE VELDE What: Private residence designed by Henry Van de Velde, but more accurately described as private residential experience tailored to his family. Set within the Art Nouveau style, the house was spared no detail from Van de Velde’s scrutiny, even expanding beyond the house to designing furniture and even the clothing and dresses for his wife to wear and even further down to the cutlery in the kitchen in order to fully manifest the desired experience that Henry wanted. Where: Uccle, Belgium. Architectural Significance: This attempt by Van de Velde was a unified synthesis of all the arts in order to drive his Art Nouveau residence style. Even down to the flowing dresses he designed for his wife, the style of the overall house carries through all details of the residence. With such a comprehensive view towards the ‘total art’ design of the house, the architectural significance of the project is subordinate to the total aesthetic experience of all synergized designed elements.

What: The social e many cultural aspe munist Party ideol ian society. The co dedication to the u the party sresulted and media orches Stalinist party real Where: Russia Architectural Sign intent of Stalinist R eternity, it was mo and total atmosph With the orchestr paigns tied to a hig state, an attempt sorts where individ to the goals and p words for the good






What: What was initially research into an efficient institutional communications network between laboratories and defense installations became almost an independent society parallel to ours. With now what exists as a worldwide open forum for all people of all nations. Everyone can enter and essentially generate a new identity, or multiple identies, creating an environment of honesty, dishonesty, and generally whatever flies. What is a source of knowledge is also a source of vice and all positives can have just as many negatives. It has connected all of humanity in a single sphere of understanding that is activated and enhanced only by the quantity and quality of those participating. Where: Everywhere and nowhere. Architectural Significance: The Internet is essentially a new plane of existence for humanity. With the limitations of physical and mortal existence established in our reality, The Internet is a place where identity and physical presence does not determine existence, but rather merely add to the turbulent and chaotic waves of a semi-organized reality. Its continual influence by contemporary real society allows it to evolve in tandem with the world at large, but in a way that diverges from it in many ways. Architecture, physical modifications, role playing, and all sorts of avatar-based interaction that are impossible in the real life, can be made physical to some degree on the Internet, and is a close step to humanity transcending our own mortal bodies.

What: A theoretical architectural project that was designed by Constant Nieuwenhuys and considered by many to be the architecture of hyper desire. In this constantly shifting macrospace, miniature moments of habitation and co-habitation are partitioned off by the individuals who are all part of this art-life society. This is so because there are no utilitarian functions that require attention; each member of this society is freed from the mundane protocol of 21st century society and is free to pursue his or her own desires to the fullest. Man can eat, sleep, defecate, and procreate, wherever and whenever he desires. Where: Any given city, floating above on piloti. Architectural Significance: This is a hyper theoretical take on how architecture and society can fuse together to change the nature of what society has become. Assuming a world free of obligation and constraint, architecture takes a completely new form and serves only to house the new society of ‘homo ludens’ whose life is made entirely of play and leisure. Architecture of this society is only conceptual, as we do not have the mindset in which to manifest it, but can only make educated assumptions regarding how this new urbanity would form and reform itself.



What: Paolo Soleri’s personal project to construct an ‘Arcology’, a term used to describe the manifestation of fusion of architecture and ecology. This perpetually growing urban laboratory is home to his attempts to generate alternatives to the urban sprawl and to test any architectural, urban, or social hypothesis within the confines of this architectural desert oasis. Soleri continues this urban research alongside many volunteer participants who arrive on site to simultaneously learn and build Where: 70 miles north, Phoenix, Arizona, United States. Architectural Significance: This quasi-utopia was built as more of a self-expanding art installation than with a final goal in mind. Soleri and the Cosanti foundation are far more concerned with the experimental-test nature of this project than with any tangible end game. The purposefully open-ended nature of the project allows it a freedom to proceed multi-dimensionally and to generate not only answers to questions, but new questions that will require further testing and thus, further construction of the site ad infinitum.

LATE 1980’s AD

What: The second iteration of a Disney theme park, Disneyworld takes many visual and architectural notes from Disneyland, and expounds on the initial premise. By providing a pilgrimage site tied to a vast amount of visual and musical media, beginning with the Mickey Mouse club, Disneyworld assimilates all visitors into a constantly churning social theater in which the real world is blurred with the cartoon world of Walt Disney through architecture, character manifestations from the media realm, and various other details. Where: Orlando, Florida, United States. Architectural Significance: Before the Disneyworld or Disneyland sites were built, the media was already in place, giving strong context to the creation of such a park. Over the years, Walt Disney had pumped out much work in terms of music, television, animation, and artwork and to finally provide a simulated environment for this mélange of media to come together and become real was almost too easy. All constructions within the park, including its isolated nature away from society, is all part of the experience to separate the visitor from the ‘flawed’ world, and into the ‘utopia’ of Disney.

1959AD - 1975AD

What: With the failure of the Weimar republic to address the needs of post-war Germany, Adolf Hitler rose to power and harnessed the collective German nation towards his own end: the Third Reich. This was a comprehensive social reconstruction, reviving many classical architectural and social constructions, as well as providing a strong propaganda art that manifested in television, radio, drama, and visual media that tied the entire society together. Hitler even had an architect on retainer to manifest this neo-classical fascist master plan, not only for a re-envisioned Berlin, but for Germany and the world. Where: Berlin, Germany. Architectural Significance: By rekindling a lost sense of cultural pride, Hitler kicked post-Weimar republic into industrial and cultural overdrive. Television and radio programs were essential to the success of this unifying society, as it brought many aspects of German society together under one common ideal and one greater goal. This aspect of unity could not have arisen from merely one source, and a harmony between media, social control, economic command, military might, and architectural vision was required to produce the dramatic turnaround from the post-war years.



What: While Andy Warhol was a walking Gesamtkunstwerk, his personal studio space was simultaneously a part of Warhol’s character, but was very strong on its own. This is where Warhol and his ‘Superheroes’ (friends and associates from all social spectrums) were all collaborative in Warhol’s artistic greater vision. Between the printing and film making, everyone who spent time in The Factory was given freedom to do whoever or whatever they wanted, and quite often, this simple honest expression of self was the subject of many of Warhol’s contemporary and socially critical works. Where: Manhattan, New York, United States. Architectural Significance: The atmosphere that Warhol carried around was that of acceptance and sanctuary, in that he allowed everyone to be who they wanted. However, by providing a physical location of sanctuary, people could spend their time being the people they wanted and expressing themselves in as honest a way as possible. In this sense, the environment Warhol constructed between himself and The Factory was conducive to this freeform artistic self-expression in which the line between performance art and living was destroyed and in this resultant production, many projects on social commentary were developed naturally.

1970AD -

What: The social experimentation and assimilation of many cultural aspects mixed with a synergy to Communist Party ideology, resulted in Stalinistic totalitarian society. The concerted effort by party officials and dedication to the unified purpose of society to live for the party sresulted in an environment of social control and media orchestration towards the celebration of this Stalinist party realism. Where: Russia Architectural Significance: While the architectural intent of Stalinist Russia was that of monumentality and eternity, it was more the environmental constructions and total atmosphere of what Stalinist realism meant. With the orchestrated propaganda and media campaigns tied to a highly rigid lifestyle prescribed by the state, an attempt was made to create a social utopia of sorts where individuality and independence were second to the goals and progress of society as a whole; in other words for the good of the party.


What: An incredibly social and successful American painter, filmmaker, and master print maker who was highly influential in the visual art movement of pop art. His social circles are wide and many and inspiration and source material were commonly drawn from his associates and social scenes in which he spent time. Eventually, Warhol was to become a promoter for all art forms of hand-made or mass produced work, but would still focus on his avant-garde filmmaking and assembly line method of printmaking. Where: Manhattan, New York, United States. Architectural Significance: Warhol, in a sense, was a manifest Gesamtkunstwerk. It was around him that this aura of pop art and edgy artistic and personal expression drew a group of followers to his side and to his greater work. This was coupled with his atelier-hideout that furthered this personal atmosphere and provided a place for this personal self-expression and for collaborative artistic work that drew directly from this environment that was completely free for experimentation of any kind.

1933AD - 1945AD

1922AD - 1991AD

formally offering archisphere of comprehensive hitectural implications. ions came during the d were influenced by the all-encompassing craft national style was one nd honesty of form and he experience as pos-



1928AD - 1987AD

he Bauhaus school mic project. Here would n, artisans, and eventuther in order to more iplines. The school and design strategies but ated harmony between nd its design. ermany. Final campus in

What: In a world assumed to be devoid of life do to ‘atmoterrorism’, where a war has been fought to the point of atmospheric destruction to rid the enemy of their environment, Peter Sloterdijk’s neo-urban construct of the Foam City is that of a large, amorphous, enclosing mass in which all humans live only because the alternative outside is death. No longer are issues of social status and political achievement required because no institutional constructions are required to administrate this new society. Experiences here are situational, in that they are created merely by the presence of an individual in space and change as the individual’s mood shifts; this becomes compounded as more individuals move into this arena, causing a new ‘situation’. Where: Post-apocalyptic anywhere. Architectural Significance: This theoretical project is a reaction to total environmental destruction. The contemporary view is that we save ourselves and our world in time to successfully proceed as a society, but this assumes that humanity has overextended itself and ruined its own home. This new society can no longer progress forward technologically, and can merely exist and live on. Relieved of any sort of socio-racial obligation to progress the species, the individuals in this society are allowed to exist however they wish. This doesn’t require any architecture aside from the allencompassing super-structure that lies completely self-sustaining through an infinite passage of time and must be able to maintain humanity through these years undefined. This theoretical construction of what humanity needs to survive – but only to survive – poses a complex question about the obligations and demands of society and the architecture it inhabits.



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Des Rich

Loca from to g

Geographic Study - Bayreuth:

To get a sense of how to properly place this new socio-architectural settlement, a study of Wagner’s Festspielhaus was undertaken. In his own ideal, Bayreuth represented everything pure about Germanic culture, and its location far away from the culturally-contaminated urban centers of Berlin or Munich demanded visitors make deliberate pilgimages. Here, the environment was so purely German, in both geographical centrality and cultural immersion, that Wagner’s theater became a crucible that was able to turn the non-German into German and allow collective celebration of Germanic culture. Even in Bayreuth, the theater is surrounded by a small forest, further isolating itself from any possible taint of outside influence.


Site a so

Pilgr was

Even orig


Pilgr audi susp the


Wag desi ‘un-G

Tied with assi


Esse eryo glor


Site Study - Disneyland/world:

Walt Disney’s vision for his themeparks were incredibly parallel to Wagner’s vision for his theater. Instead of a theater, Disney used the metaphor of ‘movie’ to generate what is essentially a massive, spatially experiential film. One master zone is divided up into smaller sub-zones that allow for unfettered exploration in and amongst these different environments. In both Florida and California, Disney made great efforts to contain the internal experience from the outside world, constructing earthen ramps, demanding telephone poles be removed, even asking for air traffic be routed around the site to prevent, as with Bayreuth, mass culture from contaminating this immersive art-environment.






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Initial Site Survey: To place this construction, sites were initially considered based on their strongest

physical attributes. The concept of complete unity led to a belief that sites that embodied the most extreme geographical features were most suitable to host this utopic society. In each of these first three sites, a relationship between three archetypes of water, plain, and mountain exists in some form and became the major criteria what could be a successful site. Isolation, in the notion of trascendent pilgrimage, started emerging in that these sites, in whole or in part, that required a jump away from society in order to get there.

41 Kalanianaole Highway

Honolulu, Hawaii II 56


34201 State Highway

33 Commercial Street


Portland, Maine

41 Kalanianaole Highway


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34201 State Highway

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33 Commercial Street


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Intermediate Site Survey: Along this path of ‘pure’ being and ‘pure’ geographical terrain, the three

initial sites developed into very specific locations based on manifestations of true natural forms. Once again, water, plain, and mountain emerge as three pure archetypal forms of natural terrain, but instead of focusing on locations that attempt to embody all three, new sites were chosen that strongly represent each archetype individually. Also a criteria for site selection, due to the Gesamtkunstwerk’s utopic ideals, was the inherent beauty of each site, as such aesthetic strength would Still present, however, is a concept of tripartite pilgrimage, in that the immersive experience is only available once all three sites have been experienced, linking programmatic and geographic locations through the Gesamtkunstwerk ideal of total-synthesis.

Monti Sibillini The manifestation of absolute mountain.

Konza Tallgrass Prairie The manifestation of absolute plain.

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Maiao Island The manifestation of absolute water. B



VISSO MACERATA_ITALY Represents the ideal image of the slope. Located in central Italy, only nearby to small townships and villages. Requires somewhat of a journey to get to; well stocked land vehicles required.


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KONZA TALLGRASS PRAIRIE MANHATTAN_KANSAS Represents the ideal image of the plain. Located in Kansas at the heart of America’s “Great Plains” region. Not too far off the beaten path, but isolated merely by distance away from civilization. Requires only an off road vehicle to get to.

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TAHITI_FRENCH POLYNESIA Represents the ideal form of the beach. Incredibly isolated from the world due to location in southern-central French Polynesia. Little civilization on the island aside from tiny township and small resot hotel. Requires a combination of plane and boat to get to; holds the greatest pilgrimage potential of all sites.


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Site Conclusion: The most clear thread found amongst all site research and analysis in relationship the Gesamtkunstwerk research was the idea of isolation. The site, regardless of natural terrain or beauty, had to be a place of independence from this outside world. Any close proximity to the flawed society would allow for easy breaching of the mass culture into this pocket of sublime society. Another key revelation is that multiple sites are unecessary and do nothing to enhance the immersive environment the Gesamtkunstwerk must achieve.

Programmatic Introduction: Initially, program was tied directly to the relationship of the three sites and the interaction between them that the individual, and thus society, would assist with the overall environment of the Gesamtkunstwerk. The diagram (Fig.4) represents an organization of programmatic functions around a central site. The marks in the background, also circular in array, respond to a understanding of monastic ‘hours’, in that the life-schedule of the monaster is closely organized so that the whole community operates like clockwork. In the currently proposed forge-monastery, every action would relate back to the act of physical creation and the celebration of mankind in this holy action of fabrication. Thus, the ‘hours’, would respond to either the act of fabrication/ or the celebration of fabrication. II 66


Fig. 4





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Fig. 5a - Embodied character of a monastery.

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Fig. 5b - Embodied character of a factory

Fig. 6 - Fusion of both typologies into a new, monastic factory typology.

Fig. 7 - Abstract image weaving together mass-habitation, fabrication, and outdoor agriculture in a single construct.


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F Fig. 8a - Conceptual diagrammatic program; radial arrangement infers that all action, social and otherwise, is introspective.

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Program A. Monastic Nexus - Refectory (dining common, kitchens) - Grand Assembly Warehouse (storage, gathering) - Fabrication Archives (libraries) B. Monastic Sub-Nexi - Common Space - Communal Habitation Services C. Hard Fabrication Hall - Foundry and Forges

Fig. 8b - Diagram expanded to show how program relates to growth of the conceptual settlement - note the shift of nexus heirarchy.

D. Soft Fabrication Hall -Textiles -Pottery -Glass E. Hi-Tech Fabrication Hall - Optics - Computers - Bio-engineering

F. Habitation Cloister - Single Apartments - Family Apartments - Shared Apartments G. Agricultural Fields - Crops - Livestock

90,000sq ft. 30,000sq ft. 30,000sq ft. 30,000sq ft.

Soft Fabrication Hall (300 fabricators) Textiles and Fabrics Ceramics Laboratories Glassworks

130,000sq ft.

322,930sq ft.

Total Square Footage

100,000sq ft. 30,000sq ft.

15ft. 15ft. 15ft.

Habitation Cloister Total 195,000sq ft. Habitation Cloister (300 fabricators per section) 65,000sq ft. Single Apartments 22,500sq ft. Family Apartments 17,500sq ft. Shared Apartments 25,000sq ft. Agricultural Fields Crops Livestock

15ft. 20ft. 15ft.

30ft. 15ft. 20ft. 90,000sq ft. 30,000sq ft. 30,000sq ft. 30,000sq ft.

Hi-Tech Fabrication Hall (300 fabricators) Optics Assemblies Computers and Electronics Bio-Organic Engineering

50ft. 30ft.

90,000sq ft. 60,000sq ft. 30,000sq ft.

Hard Fabrication Hall (300 fabricators) Heavy Metal Foundry Artisan Forges

15 ft. 20 ft.

30ft. 25 ft.

20ft. 12ft.

Vertical Footage

15 ft. 20 ft. 12 ft.

Square Footage

Monastic Nexus (serving 900) 127,800sq ft. Refectory 33,000sq ft. Dining Commons 27,000sq ft. Kitchens 6,000sq ft. Grand Assembly Warehouse 46,350sq ft. Storage Floors 40,500sq ft. Grand Amphitheater 5,850sq ft. Fabrication Archives (for each hall) 16,150sq ft. x 3 Circulation 4,150sq ft. Stacks 12,000sq ft. Monastic Sub Nexus Total 57,000sq ft. Monastic Sub Nexi (per 300 people) 19,000sq ft. x 3 Common Gathering Spaces 2,000sq ft. x 3 Small Exhibition Venues 2,000sq ft. x 3 Communal Infirmary 15,000sq ft. x 3




Final Site Conclusion: The site for this monastic forge colony must be isolated from mass-society. This will be accomplished via natural means, by citing the settlement on an island, far deep in an uninhabited plain, or in some geographical location that would require a deliberate effort to get there. This not only satisfies the ‘vaccuum’ aspect to a Gesamtkunstwerk’s total-environment, but also re-inforces the need for a ‘cleansing’ pilgrimage. By locating the settlement so far from general human contact, the act of getting there becomes part of the experience; leaving behind the flawed society for a harmonious and utopic fabricator art-work lifestyle.

Final Programmatic Conclusion: If art is man’s way of releasing himself from the struggles and

trials of the mundane, mortal life, then the only way to achieve utopia is through the creation of art. Once a man achieves a level of mastery over craftsmanship in his specific realm and truly loves his craft, it no longer becomes work, but rather attains a level of artistic bliss in which no effort is expended to create his work. At this point, a glimpse of utopia is achieved, as the outside world does not matter and the only significant factor in the craftsman’s life is his artwork. With this as the core tenet of this new fabricator-order, the settlement becomes a haven for all master craftsmen to practice their trade collectively and without the flawed constructions of society at large. Within this environment, craftsmen take part in this massive self-sustaining workshop as one harmoniously unified society.

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Moving Forward: With the typological order of ‘Monastery’ and ‘Factory’ established as the major two

elements being wedded together, it would only make sense to research deeping the true characteristics of the monastic order, including the lifestyle ‘hours’ that structure each day, as well as industrial precedents. These will include not just large-scale establishments, but smaller forges and foundries, in order to truly represent the master-craftsmen and not just a factory that produces objects for general consumption. More importantly will be the research on how a self-sustaining colony can be constructed to function successfully, not just as a social model, but as an architectural and engineering model. Such a construction has relations with the theoretical model of the ‘arcology’, but not necessarily on such a massive scale. It will also deter from the standard model of the society being left behind, requiring a new architectural infrastructure to support it. This will, of course, require my own shift in work flow. As this is a strong effort to break from the conventional social realm, this will also be a break from the conventional architectural realm. Certainly, the pure Gesamtkunstwerk has architectural and spatial qualities, but its true nature transcends all of these tangible elements in order to manifest this immersive topic environment. Part of the road ahead will be further conventional research and architectural investigation, but the other half to that coin is a shift in my own personal methodologies. I am not entirely sure what this entails, as I am not in the position to supercede the flow of the process. All I can do is be prepared to meet unorthodox challenges with unorthodox methodologies. That said, bring it on.


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Mar. 16th - Mar. 3rd

Develop programmatic aspects - accurate sizing of spaces and successful relationships between program and circulation that supports the idea of immersive total-art environment.

Relate program to radial diagrammatic plan in order to generate and develop initial massings of architectural form.

Review March 5th

Review February 13th


Feb. 24th - Mar. 16th

Crystalize proposal and entire conceptual model of Gesamtkunstwerk - to be refined with advisors.

Review January 23rd


Jan. 12th - Feb. 1st

Dec.16th - Jan. 12th


Continue reading source material to clarify subject matter and to finalize site in relationship to conceptual criteria.

Continue detailing and final development in order to move into final production stage. Give enough time for adequate representation methods.

Project Final Review

Finalize massings and major architectural forms. Begin design drawing and fleshing out the critical details required for succesful total-environment.

Apr. 20th - Project Completion

Mar. 3rd - Apr. 20th

Mar. 3rd - Apr. 20th

Relate massings and program to monastic life-schedule (hours) in order to better integrate social functions with programmatic and architectural functions

Review April 30th

Review April 9th

Review March 24th


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Criteria for Evaluation: Preferably, this eventual thesis project will be judged against previous Gesamtkunstwerk in its achievement of specified points derived from my personal research and refined with help of my advisors. From the explorations and studies done personally on all Gesamtkunstwerk precedents, my project should attempt to achieve or satisfy the major common trends that exist within all works examined. While architectural representation will be a large portion of the evaluation criteria, as it always will be, this is a conceptual idea that transcends spatial arrangement and can only be judged when held up against other efforts of mankind fo manifest the Gesamtkunstwerk or utopia. Part of my own project development will be to propose and constantly refine what these major elements and criteria are and will play a synergistic part in the development of my actual project. As I clarify my own project architecturally, the conceptual criteria will be refined alongside it, and the constant attention paid to both will be instrumental in my own understanding of what is required by the project itself. Hopefully, this dialogue that developes between the both the project and the conceptual criteria will only strengthen the my entire theoretical investigation.

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Further Research: Establishing the programmatics of a fabrication monastery, precedent studies whill shift from prior Gesamtkunstwerk to more specific typological precendents that accomplish the goals I have concluded from my research. The exploration of the factory-industrial typology will clarify the specifics of the facilities and infrastructure necessary to the construction of this multi-disciplinary fabricator enclave. Each fabrication hall will have its own characteristics based upon the work completed within it and will contain the necessary architectural and spatial elements required for such work to be completed unhindered. Monastic typologies will be critical in an architectural exploration, but more importantly the life-style organization of the society within the settlement. Monastic orders function on scheduled ‘hours’ and utilize and very specific architectural language in tandem with this schedule. For the collective mentality and immersive environment to fully manifest within this edifice will orchestration of society to a degree. This is not a totalitarian order, but one that does have a specific rhythm to it. Questions will also be raised about how this society functions aside from architecturally and programmatically. Raising children, interaction with the outside world, sustaining the settlement through future years and events, these are all aspects that I have not yet explored and will be unable to completely comprehend until my personal project development is underway. However, these elements will be influential in the comprehensive realization of my project and will be addressed as the process demands it.


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Where does this fit?: The latest conceptual manifestation of what a Gesamtkunstwerk-based society could be is represented by Constant’s New Babylon. New Babylon pushes the concept of the total-art society to the limit by removing all shackles from the citizens and allowing the new homo ludens the freedom to live as existentially free as possible. Also, the architectural construction of the New Babylon urban environment is that it exists directly on top of existing urban infrastructure. In my opinion, the relationship between the two urban enviroments invites the problem of ‘contamination’, that is, the breaching of the flawed outside society into the immersive environment of the new society. As this proposed enviroment is for an entire society in transition, this makes sense from a logistical point of view. However, to relate it to the Gesamtkunstwerk would be difficult for this reason. Also, the relationship New Babylon has with existing mass-culture and commerce still has me left asking questions. Certainly it exists parallel with the built environment, but does it exist parallel with the financial, cultural, and economic environment? It is to my understanding that this enclave-society cannot be separated from conventional society, and can exist only as long as it has the other to live off of. Going even further, I don’t believe this could overtake society and reshape human civilization as a whole, as the minds of all people could never truly be unified in the manner of craft-utopia. Those that can, however, make wonderous things with their hands would very much populate this settlement, make it grow, and sustain it with their unified love of the artisan lifestyle.

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Annotated Bibliography Introduction: This  bibliography  contains  24  sources  regarding  Gestalt  design  theory  and  the  concept  of  Gesamtkunstwerk.  Both  topics   involve  perceived  meaning  in  collections  and  arrangements  of  objects  and  forms.  Gestalt  focuses  on  visual  perception   and  meaning  within  designed  objects  and  spaces,  while  Gesamtkunstwerk  defines  a  framework  within  a  comprehensive   work  of  art  seeks  to  immerse  all  within  an  environment  of  ‘pure  being’.  These  sources  also  delve  into  psychology  and   social  phenomena,  as  these  concepts  are  just  as  visual  as  they  experiential,  and  both  elements  are  utilize  synthesis  to   fuse  multiple  elements  into  a  grand  final  product.     Bibliography:   1.  Dornhof,  Dorothea.  "Das  Gesamtkunstwerk  der  Moderne."  Modernism/Modernity  15,  no.  4  (n.d.):  ProQuest:   ProQuest  Central  (SRU),  EBSCOhost(accessed  September  28,  2011)   2.  Fischer,  Ole  W.  “Atmospheres  –  Architectural  Spaces  between  Critical  Reading  and  Immersive  Presence.”  Field  (2007):   24-­‐41.http://www.field-­‐  (accessed  November  21,  2011).   3.  van  Campen,  Crétien.  “Early  Abstract  Art  and  Experimental  Gestalt  Psychology.”  Leonardo  (1997):  133-­‐36.   4.  Weiss,  Jonathan,  Kath  Williams,  and  Judith  Heerwagen.  “How  to  Design  For  Humans.”  Architecture  93,  no.  4  (April   2004):  39-­‐40.    


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5. Sakula,  Robert.  “Successful  Urban  Developments  Depend  On  Randomness  of  Scale,  Mass  and  Context;  Architect   Robert  Sakula  Argues  That  Meaningful  Projects  Result  from  Rule-­‐Breaking  Rather  Than  Polite  Contextualism.”  Blue  Print   (London,  England)  no.  282  (September  2009):  34.     6.  Feuerstein,  Günther.  “Massstab-­‐Transformationen  =  Transformation  of  Scale.”  Daidalos  no.  39  (June  15  1991):  86-­‐93.     7.  Livingston,  Thomas.  “Time  Ships  and  Gestalt  Architecture  =  Machine  à  Voyager  Dans  Le  Temps  Et  L'architecture   Gestalt.”  Plan  Canada  35,  no.  5  (September  1995):  36-­‐37.     8.  Finger,  Anke,  and  Danielle  Follett,  eds.  The  Aesthetics  of  the  Total  Artwork:  On  Borders  and  Fragments.  Baltimore:  The   Johns  Hopkins  University  Press,  2010.   9.  Vidalis,  Michael  A.  “Gesamtkunstwerk  -­‐  'total  Work  of  Art.”  Architectural  Review,  June  30,  2010.   10.  Goebel,  Rolf  J.  “Gesamtkunstwerk'  Dresden:  Official  Urban  Discourse  and  Durs  Grünbein's  Poetic  Critique.”  The   German  Quarterly  80,  no.  4  (October  1,  2007):  page  nr.   11.  Bryant,  Gabriele.  “Architecture  as  'precursor  of  Redemption'?:  Industrial  Culture  and  the  Idea  of  Gesamtkunstwerk  in   German  Modernism.”  Mac  Journal  4  (1994):  94-­‐107.   12.  Thau,  Carsten,  and  Kjeld  Vindum  Vindum.  “A  World  Unto  Itself:  Jacobsen  and  the  Idea  of  the   zszs   III 80


13. Groys,  Boris.  The  Total  Art  of  Stalinism:  Avant-­‐Garde,  Aesthetic  Dictatorship,  and  Beyond.  Princeton,  N.J.:  Princeton   Univ  Pr,  1992.   In  this  essay,  Boris  Groys  places  the  art  and  culture  generated  by  Stalinist  Totalitarianism  under  the  lens  of   modernism  and  argues  that  it  agrees  with  the  style’s  aim  of  not  merely  depicting  reality,  but  changing  it.  What   the  socialist  party  members  wanted  to  create,  Boris  continues,  was  an  idealistic  society  created  that  blurred   lines  between  life  and  art  in  order  to  transcend  itself.  With  the  party  leaders  regulating  and  attuning  the  lives  of   everyone  in  the  nation  in  order  to  create  a  singular  entity  down  to  the  smallest  scale,  the  ideal  outcome  was   that  of  society  more  just  and  more  economical  than  seen  before.  Boris,  simply  put,  Socialism  was  a  product  of   far-­‐sighted  avant-­‐garde  thinking  and  that  it  was  to  be  the  ‘total  artwork  of  the  masses’.   Groy’s  makes  a  colorful  conjecture  by  assuming  socialist  realism  under  the  guise  of,  what  is  essentially,  a   Gesamtkunstwerk.  This  immediately  draws  an  obvious  connection  to  the  aims  and  goals  of  Nazi  Germany  under   Hitler  and  his  desire  for  a  unified  Germanic  society.  By  neutralizing  the  positive  and  negatives  of  both  flavors  of   totalitarianism,  Boris  would  have  each  society  likened  to  a  unified  cultural  lived  artwork  composed  of  its  citizens   acting  in  existential  synchronization.  While  this  might  not  be  done  so  willingly,  the  desire  to  unify  a  society  and   deconstruct  classical  barriers,  such  as  between  art  and  society,  in  order  to  let  it  grow  and  evolve,  is  certainly  one   of  modernist  aims  and  of  a  manifestation  of  Gesamtkunstwerk.   14.  Nieuwenhuis,  Constant.  “New  Babylon.”  The  Hague,  1974.   B

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New Babylon  is  a  theoretical  architectural  project  that  was  designed  by  Constant  Nieuwenhuys  and  considered   by  many  to  be  the  architecture  of  hyper  desire.  In  this  constantly  shifting  macro-­‐space,  miniature  moments  of   habitation  and  co-­‐habitation  are  partitioned  off  by  the  individuals  who  are  all  part  of  this  art-­‐life  society.  This  is   so  because  there  are  no  utilitarian  functions  that  require  attention;  each  member  of  this  society  is  freed  from   the  mundane  protocol  of  21st  century  society  and  is  free  to  pursue  his  or  her  own  desires  to  the  fullest.  Man  can   eat,  sleep,  defecate,  and  procreate,  wherever  and  whenever  he  desires.     This  is  a  hyper  theoretical  take  on  how  architecture  and  society  can  fuse  together  to  change  the  nature  of  what   society  has  become.  Assuming  a  world  free  of  obligation  and  constraint,  architecture  takes  a  completely  new   form  and  serves  only  to  house  the  new  society  of  ‘homo  ludens’  whose  life  is  made  entirely  of  play  and  leisure.   Architecture  of  this  society  is  only  conceptual,  as  we  do  not  have  the  mindset  in  which  to  manifest  it,  but  can   only  make  educated  assumptions  regarding  how  this  new  urbanity  would  form  and  reform  itself.     15.  Sloterdijk,  Peter.  “Foam  City,”  trans.  Antonio  Petrov,  New  Geographies,  2008.  

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What: In  a  world  assumed  to  be  devoid  of  life  do  to  ‘atmoterrorism’,  where  a  war  has  been  fought  to  the  point   of  atmospheric  destruction  to  rid  the  enemy  of  their  environment,  Peter  Sloterdijk’s  neo-­‐urban  construct  of  the   Foam  City  is  that  of  a  large,  amorphous,  enclosing  mass  in  which  all  humans  live  only  because  the  alternative   outside  is  death.  No  longer  are  issues  of  social  status  and  political  achievement  required  because  no  institutional   constructions  are  required  to  administrate  this  new  society.  Experiences  here  are  situational,  in  that  they  are   A

created merely  by  the  presence  of  an  individual  in  space  and  change  as  the  individual’s  mood  shifts;  this   becomes  compounded  as  more  individuals  move  into  this  arena,  causing  a  new  ‘situation’.   This  theoretical  project  is  a  reaction  to  total  environmental  destruction.  The  contemporary  view  is  that  we  save   our  world  and  ourselves  in  time  to  successfully  proceed  as  a  society,  but  this  assumes  that  humanity  has   overextended  itself  and  ruined  its  own  home.  This  new  society  can  no  longer  progress  forward  technologically,   and  can  merely  exist  and  live  on.  Relieved  of  any  sort  of  socio-­‐racial  obligation  to  progress  the  species,  the   individuals  in  this  society  are  allowed  to  exist  however  they  wish.  This  doesn’t  require  any  architecture  aside   from  the  all-­‐encompassing  super-­‐structure  that  lies  completely  self-­‐sustaining  through  an  infinite  passage  of   time  and  must  be  able  to  maintain  humanity  through  these  years  undefined.  This  theoretical  construction  of   what  humanity  needs  to  survive  –  but  only  to  survive  –  poses  a  complex  question  about  the  obligations  and   demands  of  society  and  the  architecture  it  inhabits.   16.  Michelson,  Annette.  “'Where  Is  Your  Rupture?':  Mass  Culture  and  the  Gesamtkunstwerk.”  October  56  (Spring,  1991):   42-­‐63.   In  this  article,  Annette  Michelson  critically  evaluates  the  contemporary  mass  culture,  as  it  originates  in  middle  of   the  20th  century,  through  the  lense  of  Gesamtkunstwerk.  She  begins  by  quickly  defining  Gesamtkunstwerk  as   understood  by  Wagner  and  extrapolated  through  the  years  of  de  Stijl  and  the  Bauhaus,  and  moves  into   associations  with  film  work  completed  by  Andy  Warhol  in  his  Factory.  These  movies  are  held  under  the  umbrella   B

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of Gesamtkunstwerk’s  hostility  towards  commercial  mass-­‐production  because  in  the  words  of  Warhol  himself,   “we  made  movies  just  to  make  them,”  instead  of  for  any  sort  of  cultural  mass-­‐consumption.     Michelson  proceeds  to  contrast  Warhol’s  work  with  the  art  of  Marcel  Duchamp  and  Lep  Steinberg;  comparing   the  work  of  totality  versus  the  work  of  part  objects.  Duchamp’s  Fountain  and  Steinberg’s  Target  represent  art   that  assumes  “the  human  body  is  not  the  ostensible  subject,”  and  that  each  of  those  objects  are  merely   clippings  of  a  larger  composition.  The  piece  ends  with  comparing  Gesamtkunstwerk  to  the  Carnival  ritual:  all   boundaries  and  limits  are  removed  between  spectator  and  participant,  consideration  towards  all  parties   becomes  equal,  and  the  only  way  to  effectively  experience  the  spectacle  is  to  live  it.   17.  Wagner,  Richard.  The  Art-­‐Work  of  the  Future,  and  Other  Works.  Lincoln:  University  of  Nebraska  Press,  1993.   In  this  revolutionary  piece  of  writing,  Wagner  voices  his  opposition  to  the  trends  that  were  manifesting  in   European  popular  culture  in  the  mid  19th  century.  His  initiation  of  the  concept  Gesamtkunstwerk  was  a  strong   reaction  against  the  hollow  results  of  mass  production  and  design  for  mechanical  creation.  Wagner’s   comparison  of  ‘natural’  to  an  ideal  society  and  ‘mechanical’  to  a  society  blinded  by  visual  and  cultural  vice  is   made  to  demand  a  shift  in  the  goals  of  art  production  in  the  mid  1800’s.   He  also  stresses  a  point  that  those  who  design  for  the  people  must  use  the  people  as  a  resource  with  which  to   collaborate  and  refine  the  work.  His  logic  was  that  only  those  who  could  empathize  and  emulate  those  being   designed  for  would  be  successful,  as  they  would  know  their  audience  entirely.  The  power  of  this  entire  work  is   III 84


Wagner’s focus  on  the  musical  and  theatrical  aspects  of  his  time,  but  the  meanings  are  synonymous  across   multiple  fields  and  disciplines  related  to  art,  music,  and  design.   18.  Wenger,  Robert.  “Visual  Art,  Archaeology  and  Gestalt.”  Leonardo  30,  no.  1  (1997):  35-­‐46.   Wenger  fuses  archeology  and  design  in  this  piece  that  seeks  to  explore  the  relationship  between  a  composition   and  its  individual  parts  in  the  terms  of  a  Gestalt.  Initially,  he  establishes  that  at  the  foundation  level,  the   individual  quality  of  the  component  is  insignificant  to  the  meaning  of  the  composite  of  the  many.  He  goes  on  to   elaborate  that  a  change  or  edit  to  the  state  of  one  in  comparison  to  the  others  changes  the  grand  meaning   entirely  and  the  synergistic  relationship  formed  can  be  easily  explained  as  an  object-­‐context  relationship.   Archeology  relationships  continue  further  by  comparing  excavation  squares  to  conceptual  abstraction  of  ideas;   breaking  down  the  macro  to  an  understandable  micro-­‐scale,  and  also  the  critical  significance  of  context.  Both   Archeology  and  Gestalt  rely  on  strong  ‘figure-­‐ground’  relationships  to  determine  information  and  common   relationships.  It  is  here  that  Wenger  logically  concludes  that  the  ‘figure-­‐ground’  is  the  strongest  Gestalt   association  in  existence  and  calls  upon  Taoist  references  to  strengthen  the  visual  and  theoretical  points  of  his   position.   19.  Einstein,  Carl,  and  Charles  W.  Haxthausen.  “Gestalt  and  Concept  (excerpts).”  October  107  (Winter,  2004):  169-­‐76.   This  treatise,  written  by  Einstein  and  translated  by  Haxthausen,  seeks  to  explain  how  through  cogitation,  the   multiple  layers  that  compose  the  reality  we  perceive  conventionally  can  be  peeled  back  to  reveal  the  bare   B

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critical elements  that  compose  the  relationships  of  signs  and  objects  in  space:  the  gestalt.  By  casting  the  physical   reality  of  our  existence  as  ‘lethal’  and  ‘deadly’  concrete  and  the  time  spent  deeply  reflecting  as  highly  valuable,   the  gestalt  becomes  far  more  manifest  and  tangible  to  the  point  where  it  starts  to  threaten  the  meaning  of   standardized  givens.   Einstein  concludes  that  art,  pure  art,  is  an  attempted  manifestation  of  this  gestalt  imagery,  diagrammatic  and   purely  representational  of  the  real  essence  of  a  thing,  to  the  point  where  it  attempts  to  shatter  suggested  givens   and  causal  standardization  of  the  world.  In  this,  he  finishes,  that  we  may  find  our  freedom  from  the  tyrannical   thought  repression  of  the  ‘concrete’  of  reality  and  let  our  minds  function  to  their  capacity.     20.  Kazmierczak,  Elzbieta  T.  “Design  as  Meaning  Making:  From  Making  Things  to  the  Design  of  Thinking.”  Design   Issues  19,  no.  2  (Spring  2003):  45-­‐59.     This  article  is  Kazmierczak’s  argument  that  design  and  designed  objects  are  essentially  methods  of  interface   between  the  designer  and  audience.  This  assumes  that  the  designer  has  a  larger  intended  meaning  or  message   to  imbed  into  the  design,  and  that  by  creating  compositions,  the  meaning  will  be  conveyed  through  experience   or  perception  of  these  pieces.    These  may  not  be  all  the  same  translations  of  the  meanings,  but  common   undertones  will  be  present  within  all  of  them.  This  common  undertone  being  present  is  entirely  dependent  upon   how  successfully  the  design  is  executed.   III 86


Supporting this  claim  is  the  highlight  of  diagrammatic  modeling  in  order  to  decant  and  reduce  down  meanings   into  form  and  once  harnessed,  channel  this  form  to  clearly  communicate  the  imbedded  meaning.  Diagrammatic   modeling  not  only  makes  this  design  methodology  possible,  it  also  represents  an  approach  to  design  that  is   constantly  cognitive,  pragmatic,  and  inherently  human.  Kazmierczak  writes,  “Building  a  meaning-­‐based  model  of   design  removes  the  fixation  of  produced  things,  and  focuses  attention  on  the  human  cognitive  processes  of   communication.”  The  designer  is  entirely  concerned  with  the  message  and  the  clarity  of  the  vehicle  carrying  it.   Aesthetics,  assumingly,  grow  from  the  resolution  of  that  communication  detail.   21.  Behrens,  Roy  R.  “Art,  Design  and  Gestalt  Theory.”  Leonardo  31,  no.  4  (1998):  299-­‐303.     Roy  Behrens  begins  his  discussion  of  Gestalt  by  detailing  the  beginnings  of  Gestalt  psychology  as  envisioned  by   Max  Wertheimer  and  his  associates,  Kurt  Koffka  and  Wolfgang  Kohler.  They  concluded  through  perception   experiments  and  image  studies  that  a  composite  visualization  is  not  merely  a  sum  of  its  parts,  but  a  product  of   the  energies  generated  by  the  interplay  and  dialogue  between  them.  Of  note  are  the  specific  definitions  of   ‘similarity  grouping,’  ‘proximity  grouping,’  and  ‘good  continuation,’  as  being  the  most  effective  Gestalts  at   activating  our  innate  tendency  to  constellate  visual  elements.     The  article  continues  to  use  figure-­‐ground  drawings,  ‘dazzle’  camouflage,  and  Japanese  Ukiyo-­‐e   as  examples  of  composite  images  that  are  only  successful  due  to  the  assemblage  of  each  individual  part.  The  Tao   Te  Ching  is  even  mentioned  in  support  of  Gestalt  in  that  “even  though  a  wheel  may  be  made  of  30  spokes,  it  is   the  space  between  spokes  that  determines  the  form  of  the  wheel”.  Behren’s  concludes  that  since  the  major   proponents  of  Gestalt  have  died  out,  direct  discussion  about  the  concept  has  quieted  only  in  that  major   viewpoints  have  been  assimilated  into  other  circles  of  discussion,  validating  Wertheimer’s  initial  explorations.   III B


22. Smith,  Matthew.  “The  Total  Work  Of  Art:  From  Bayreuth  to  Cyberspace”.  New  York:  Routledge,  2007.     Smith’s  book  is  a  culmination  of  research  into  compositional  works  of  art  beginning  with  Wagner,  leading  up   through  Disney  and  the  Bauhaus  theater  in  Germany,  and  into  its  contemporary  relevance  via  the  Internet.   Smith  also  relies  upon  aesthetic  research  completed  by  Friedrich  Schiller  and  Theodore  Adorno  to  support  his   personal  findings  and  to  assert  that  Gesamtkunstwerk  plays  a  significant  role  in  the  shaping  of  contemporary   entertaining  and  culture.   The  value  of  this  source  is  the  relationships  it  draws  amongst  historical  precedents  as  well  as  highlighting   overlaps  amongst  the  arts  from  theater  to  architecture.  The  focus  on  Bahaus  and  Nazi  totalitarianism  is   especially  fascinating  as  the  inception  of  Gesamtkunstwerk  is  very  much  intertwined  with  Peter  Behrens,  Walter   Gropius,  and  the  revolutionary  academy  of  artisans.  From  that  point  it  carries  focus  over  the  United  States  up   through  the  mid  20th  century  and  into  the  present.  This  allows  mapping  of  not  only  the  evolution  of  the   conceptual  idea  behind  it,  but  how  it  was  found  to  be  manifesting  over  the  course  of  the  century.   23.  Edwards,  Mary  D.  "The  Chapel  of  S.  Felice  in  Padua  as  "Gesamtkunstwerk"."  Journal  of  the  Society  of  Architectural   Historians  47  (1988):  160-­‐176.   Edwards’  article  discusses  the  comprehensive  conversion  of  the  Basilica  of  S.  Antonio  into  the  Chapel  of  S.  Felice   by  architect  and  sculpture  Andriolo  de’  Santi  under  the  lens  of  Gothic  Gesamtkunstwerk.  During  the   reconstruction  work,  Andriolo  incorporated  many  new  elements  within  the  new  footprint  that  didn’t  merely  sit   III 88


alone, but  were  all  part  of  a  greater  architectural  dialogue  that  occurred  between  these  elements  and  was  even   incorporated  to  play  off  the  original  existing  architecture.   This  article  casts  S.  Felice  chapel  as  a  successful  model  of  what  an  attempted  (and  successful)   Gesamtkunstwerk   looks  like.  Without  Andriolo  realizing  it,  his  personal  hand  in  arranging  all  the  religious  and  architectural   elements  installed  during  the  reconstruction  solidified  his  intended  identity  for  the  renewed  church  –  the   celebration  of  God.  This  is  important  precedence  in  the  study  of  what  details  to  consider  when  attempting   conceptualizing  a  contemporary  space  with  a  Gesamtkunstwerk  in  mind.   24.  Ardalan,  Nader,  and  Laleh  Bakhtiar.  The  Sense  of  Unity:  The  Sufi  Tradition  in  Persian  Architecture.  2nd  ed.  Chicago,   Illinois:  Kazi  Publications,  2000.   The  goal  of  Nader  and  Bakhtiar’s  book  is  to  prove  that  the  Islamic  tradition  of  Sufism  has  at  its  core  level,  a   strong  ideal  of  unity  within  multiplicity.  The  longer  belief  is  that  in  reality  are  many  manifestations  of  a  greater   energy  and  it  exists  within  each  action  taken  by  man,  especially  his  creation  of  art.  This  sense  of  continuity   amongst  disparate  elements  is  tied  into  the  architecture  of  Mosques  and  classical  Persian  architecture.  The   complex  latticework  details  up  through  floor  plans  to  urban  layouts  all  share  similar  elements  of  geometry  and   while  each  are  articulated,  they  are  best  understood  as  part  of  a  system.   With  substantial  amount  of  drawings  and  analytical  media,  Nader  and  Bakhtiar  detail  these  systems  of  unity   across  architectural  and  urban  situations.  Not  only  are  they  discussing  the  dialogue  of  individual  pieces  across  


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space, but  also  the  degree  of  engagement  and  interaction  between  human  and  context  in  regards  to  these   scaled  hierarchies  and  attempts  to  re-­‐envision  man  within  his  intimate  environment.                    

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Jake Fraser Augunas

M. Arch Candidate Thesis Prep. 1+2 Prof. Petrov + Prof. MacNelly Fall 2011



Another Thesis Prospectus  
Another Thesis Prospectus  

M.Arch graduate these prospectus; WIT 2011