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2011.01.24 21:18
what is our current architectural style called
Architecture style is no longer defined by space, rather by time.
"Their house is the epitome of 2002 style."
"Design me something early 1840s. I'm feeling immediate-post-Schinkel lately."
"In the year 2525, when architecture is finally alive..."


2011.01.25 12:25
what is our current architectural style called
The more true question is: What are our current architectural styles called?
There has never been just one style globally active at any given time. There are many diverse styles of architecture active today. Even within just a single year there are diverse styles active. For example,
1927   1930   1942   1956   1959   1964   1972   1983   1993   1996   2001  
and that's just a very thin slice of any yearly cross-section.
I wonder if a worthwhile studio project might be to design a hypothetical '1963' building, for example, which would be a hybrid of a half dozen or so buildings that were actually dsigned or built in 1963.
Perhaps if there is a current Zeitgeist, it's one of individual (consumer) choice.


2011.01.25 16:19
what is our current architectural style called
The groupings simply came about by sorting the digital images I've accumulated over the years into a strict chronological order. More often than not I was surprised by what buildings are closely coeval. Certainly not the way I was used to seeing 'history'.
Is the result of Zeitgeist indeed now best described as collage?


2011.01.31 11:36
READING LIST
[Read 2226 last Autumn. The most satisfying novel I've read in quite some time. The experience somewhat reminded me of reading Joseph and His Brothers in 1982. Bolano's rendition (in part four) of the disintegration of the eastern front at the end of WWII was uncannily similar to how my father described that situation to me as we were driving through (what is now part of) Poland, in May 1990, back to his family farm which was confiscated by Russians sometime early Spring 1945.]
Since last Thursday, I'm reading Pier Vittorio Aureli's forthcoming (probably March 2011) The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture. Quite by chance, if not indeed by accident, I'm in possession of a proof copy released for review December 2010. So far I've read the chapter on Piranesi, "Instauratio Urbis: Piranesi's Campo Marzio versus Nolli's Pianta di Roma" (twice), and the chapter on Boullée, "Architecture as a State of Exception: Étienne-Louis Boullée's Project for a Metropolis". When I first found the book available, I had no idea as to its contents. Needless to say, however, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find a whole chapter devoted (at least in name) to Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius. Alas, Aureli doesn't really say much about the Ichnographia itself, at least nothing that Peter Eisenman hasn't already said. In fact, Aureli has written what amounts to something like an apologia for Eisenman's notion that the Ichnographia must be viewed in opposition to Nolli's plan of Rome and thus represents architecture as autonomous. Strange though, however, that while Eisenman is [re]cited virtually verbatim, there is no direct reference to Eisenman within the text or the notes--although, The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture is part of the Writing Architecture series which is a project of the Anyone Corporation.
[Here's where I will relate pages 54-62 of Eco's The Limits of Interpretation.]
[The Scenograpia shows all that's left of ancient Rome within the Campo Marzio, and the Ichnographia shows us 1000 years of ancient Rome's Campus Martius all at the same time.]
After finishing Instrauratio Urbis a second time this morning, I then got out Bufalini'a map again, and made another discovery--the 'O' of ROMA along the top of Bufalini's map corresponds with Piranesi's placement of the spiraling oval of the Naumachia Domitiani. Piranesi is probably laughing right now.
Regarding Boullée, it is unfortunate that Aureli does not relate Boullée's architecture back to Piranesi's architecture of the Campo Marzio, especially in terms of planning and gigantism.


2011.05.21 10:49
SMALL, BIG, FOG and LEONG LEONG
What we have 'now' (as you've provided evidence to above) is that Mountain Dwellings by BIG and Beekman Tower by FOG and Audi Urban Future by Leong Leong all have a past, a history if you will, that extends back beyond their own existence. Whether wittingly or not, the BIG, FOG and Leong Leong designs all relate (genealogy) back to respective Glen Small designs. (Just as John Stezaker's more recent collage work has a past that relates to some of my collage work from over 25 years ago.)
Conversely, what we also have 'now' (as you've provided evidence to above) is that Turf Town and Copy Cat Skyscrapers and Jungle Theater all have a future beyond their own existence. In this case completely unwittingly, the Glen Small designs all relate (is progeny the converse of genealogy?) forward to respective BIG, FOG and Leong Leong designs. (Just as some of my collage work from over 25 years ago relates forward to John Stezaker's more recent collage work.)
[Coincidentally, the movie I saw last night, The Double Hour, very much plays with the intermingling of a shared past and future, and, in the movie's case at least, the chaos that may well then ensue.]
It is quite common for designs to have a past that extends back beyond their own existence. And, conversely, it is more rare for designs to have a future that extends forward beyond their own existence. I'm not sure how much attention current architectural history pays explicitly to designs that have a future beyond themselves.
What's the best art 20 years from now? OR What's Glen Small designing these days?
[Does seeking precedents... ...finding inspiration play with the intermingling of a shared past and future?]


2011.07.11 12:03
Question about Charles Jencks' Declaration
"Moreover, its Purist style, its clean, salubrious hospital metaphor, was meant to instill, by good example, corresponding virtues in the inhabitants. Good form was to lead to good content, or at least good conduct; the intelligent planning of abstract space was to promote healthy behavior."
It was indeed such naiveté that "died."
I just happened to have reread the first 15 pages of The Language of Post-Modern Architecture (revised enlarged edition, 1977) last week, and was surprised by how much of Jencks' actual argument has been (irresponsibly?) forgotten.
(My argument is that) Since 15 July 1972, architecture has been in an excessively prolonged period of mourning. The 'fancy-dress' was only part of the beginning. I'll be celebrating the anniversary this Friday via reenactment, of course.


2011.07.11 13:01
Question about Charles Jencks' Declaration
Jencks has a vast bibliography, and when you go back and actually read his texts, you find he's a quite good historian. His grasp of an immense amount of material alone is almost enough to garner full respect, but he also processes the material most adroitly. It really isn't as facile as it looks.
As you read The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, always keep in mind the first two paragraphs of the 'Introduction'.
The last sentence of paragraph one: Like its progenitor the [Post-Modern] movement is committed to engaging current issues, to changing the present, but unlike the avant-garde it does away with the notion of continual innovation or incessant revolution.
The last sentence of paragraph two: The buildings most characteristic of Post-Modernism show a marked duality, conscious schizophrenia.
Regarding 'language' (from the fifth to last paragraph of the 'Introduction':) Modern architecture suffered from elitism. Post-Modernism is trying to get over that elitism not by dropping it, but rather by extending the language of architecture in many different ways--into the vernacular, towards tradition and the commercial slang of the street. Hence the double coding, the architecture which speaks to the elite and the man on the street.

2011.07.11 15:19
Question about Charles Jencks' Declaration
It wasn't the Purist aesthetic that died with Pruitt-Igoe, rather the Modernist notion that "good form was to lead to good content, or at least good conduct; the intelligent planning of abstract space was to promote healthy behavior" is what died.
Calling out the implosion of several blocks of the Pruitt-Igoe Housing as an historic event and marker of a paradigm shift was rather astute on Jencks' part. I wonder how many other Modernist projects only 17 years old have succumb to implosion prior to that of Pruitt-Igoe. For sure, many fairly young Modernist projects have been imploded since Pruitt-Igoe, but is Pruitt-Igoe perhaps still the youngest Modernist project to have ever been imploded. And, I wonder, how many housing projects like Pruitt-Igoe have been built since the implosion of Pruitt-Igoe. I'd guess very few if not none in the United States, but perhaps such projects remained (or even still remain) in production in lands under Communist regimes.
I was eye-witness to the world's largest building implosion (the roughly 70 years old Sears Philadelphia Headquarters, 1994). It happened so close to where I lived I walked to see it. What's most striking about a building implosion is the immediate and paradoxical manifestation of absence. Jencks advocated that the ruins of the Pruitt-Igoe implosion should remain as "a great architectural symbol. It should be preserved as a warning." Well, I don't think the ruins were preserved, so all that's left are pictures and absence. I think it's fair to say that the implosion of Pruitt-Igoe left behind a certain absence within Modernist ideology as well


2011.07.11 20:49
Question about Charles Jencks' Declaration
Jencks: "Several slab blocks of this scheme were blown up in 1972 after they were continuously vandalized. The crime rate was higher than other developments, and Oscar Newman attributed this, in his book Defensible Space, to the long corridors, anonymity, and lack of controlled semi-private space. Another factor: it was designed in a purist language at variance with the architectural codes of the inhabitants."


2011.07.12 18:58
Question about Charles Jencks' Declaration
Jencks: "Rather than a deep extended attack on modern architecture, showing how its ills relate very closely to the prevailing philosophies of the modern age, I will attempt a caricature, a polemic. The virtue of this genre (as well as its vise) is its license to cut through the large generalities with a certain abandon and enjoyment, overlooking all the exceptions and subtleties of the argument. Caricature is of course not the whole truth. Daumier's drawings didn't really show what nineteenth-century poverty was about, but rather gave a highly selective view of some truths. Let us then romp through the desolation of modern architecture, and the destruction of our cities, like some Martian tourist out on a earthbound excursion, visiting the archaeological sites with a superior disinterest, bemused by the sad but instructive mistakes of a former architectural civilization. After all, since it is fairly dead, we might as well enjoy picking over the corpse."
Who knew?!?
And they say, history is no mystery. OR When in doubt, blame the butler.


2011.08.23 11:20
Ideas
Personally, I see the notion of "architectural idea" as something distinct from "design concept" or "design methodology" or "design ideology" or even "thesis statement". For example, promenade architecturale is an architectural idea, like Le Corbusier's '5 points' are an architectural idea. Mat or box or blob or a combination of all three are architectural ideas. As per inspiration from team 10 primer, 'building as threshold' is an architectural idea.


2011.10.01 09:35
Did deconstruction turn into blobitecture some time in the 90's?

"freedom from both recognized typology and recognized construction industry standards / techniques."
"...heed Tafuri's warning that "once the 'form is made free', the geometric universe becomes an uncontrollable 'adventure." (see Tafuri's "European Graffiti." Five x Five = Twenty-five, 1976)


2011.10.01-11
Did deconstruction turn into blobitecture some time in the 90's?


2011.10.03 17:20
Did deconstruction turn into blobitecture some time in the 90's?
When I look at the early graphics of Arquitectonica, I'm immediately reminded of Zenghelis and Koolhaas, hence, it appears the real inspiration came from the (new) architecture of Delirious New York, which isn't exactly a book pitching Deconstruction.


2011.10.08 10:44
Did deconstruction turn into blobitecture some time in the 90's?
[M]y contention with you is not whether Deconstructivism has roots in Constructivism, nor whether there was a neo-constructivism school of thought brewing in the early 1970s, rather my contention is with your sloppy historical analysis. And you really cannot discount Koolhaas's role as a leading protagonist of neo-constructivism. Plus, I now would like to know more about Zenghelis's role at the AA, and whether it was he that introduced the Constructivist aesthetic there (and to Koolhaas even).
As to Arquitectonia being second rate (which seems to be your main point), I like their early work exactly because it is derivative, where what is derived is fairly evident and the process of designing derivatively is something to learn from (rather than just denigrate). Plus, they were the first to get 'neo-constructivism' built, and built big.

2011.11.01 09:54
Architect of yesteryears
Plecnik
1894 Accepted into Otto Wagner's teaching studio, but withdrew because lack of formal education made study difficult.
1895 Re-admitted to Wagner's Studio and also worked in Wagner's office part-time.
1899 Works in Wagner's office after return from Italian study visit.
1900 Until 1911 sets up own office in Vienna.
Yes, you could say Plecnik was a turn-of-the-century architect, but most of the work was executed in the 20s, 30s and 40s. His (mature) design work is of a very interesting originality.


2012.05.11 11:51
10 Buildings that Changed America
"When [Bishop] Athanasius sought to overcome resistance from monastic establishments, he chose a more effective strategy than accusing their most respected leaders of demonic possession. Instead he effectively co-opted the most famous of them--Anthony--by writing an admiring biography picturing Anthony as his own greatest supporter. Since Anthony had died, Athanasius had a somewhat free hand, and his biography turned Anthony into a model monk--a model, that is, of what the bishop wanted monks to be. For in his famous Life of Anthony, the sophisticated and fiercely independent teacher known from his letters disappears, and Athanasius replaces him with his own vision of an ideal monk--an illiterate and simple man. So while Anthony's letters show him to be educated in philosophy and theology, Athanasius pictures him as someone who despises educated teachers as arrogant men who are ignorant of God. And although in his letters Anthony never mentions bishops, clergy, or church rules, Athanasius pictures him instead as a humble monk who willingly subordinates himself to the clergy and "the canon of the church." Athanasius also depicts Anthony as one who hates Christian dissidents as much as he did--and who, like the bishop himself, calls them not only heretics but "forerunners of Antichrist." Far from acting as an independent spiritual mentor, Athanasius' Anthony pleads with the bishop to not allow anyone to revere him, especially after his death. As the biography ends, Athanasius pictures Anthony bequeathing all that he has--his sheepskin cloak and his outer garment--to Athanasius and the bishop's trusted ally, Bishop Serapion of Thumis, to show that Anthony regarded them as his spiritual heirs and trusted them to guard his memory."
Elaine Pagels, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, & Politics in the Book of Revelation (2012).
Thus I'd now like to (step back) and address what might just be your real intent, that being to elevate the value of architecture within general culture. My advise to you (specifically as a writer) is to fictionalize this world where you see architectural value elevated. It could be short stories, a novel, or even a series of novels. The point being to create something that "the public" can relate to, consume, and hopefully even be inspired by--essentially putting ideas into people's mind via fiction. Also, forcing yourself to really imagine this world and how it manifests itself might just also deliver solutions to what you see as today's real problems.
Stephen Lauf, in "CONTOURS: The Divisions that Bind Us" (2012.01.19).

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