zeitgeist and architectures
This is the theme Iím going to follow at Quondam throughout 2000, and I believe the theme will serve me well. The theme easily accomodates REMOVE, reenactment architectures, tsPOWa, 19120/19111, and even eBay pics and copyright free texts. In general terms, zeitgeist + architectures incorporates archtiectures of the past, present and future, and here all my ideas regarding the body, the imagination and architetures come firmly into play.
The series will essentially be a continuation of schizophrenia + architectures (except now z+a)...
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a virtual museum of [disinformation] architecture?
John Young wrote:
Imaginary architecture, Escher, Piranesi, Heaven, Hell, visionary, virtual, has always mesmerized, inspired, perhaps terrified, for being beyond what is accompishable.
To be sure most architecture begins as imaginary and then it's all down hill from there as other brutally realistic forces have their way. Until ruins once again induce fantastic possibilities.
I especially admire Steve's fictional conference........
Steve Lauf continues:
Before going INSIDE DENSITY and while INSIDE DENSITY, the back of my mind was occupied with "what could a virtual museum of architecture be that a real museum of architecture could [or would] never be?"
www.quondam.com presently comprises over 80 megabytes of data in the form of texts and images. As 'director' of Quondam, I'm hesitantly contemplating the (online) deletion of all the data in one keystroke. Seems drastic, but dia(meta)bolically desirable(!) -- kind of like pushing that big red button somewhere in Washington D.C., or where ever red buttons are.
Tabula Rasa is too easy, however. I prefer palimpsest, instead--erasure and then overwriting/overrighting. Of course, replacement would be necessary and necessary in quick order (...don't want those rising web stats to suddenly evaporate).
So what can a virtual museum of architecture be that a real museum of architecture can not be?
I'm at the point where the dissemination of disinformation appears the most appealing. I'm imagining a museum of architecture that curates and displays an 'un-real' history of architecture, you know, among OTHER things, all those buildings Le Corbusier designed since 27 August 1965, and likewise the dies sanquinis urbanism of lights-camera-Africa in 2056 AD which is covertly inspired by the OTTO-man architecture of pre-Christ South America, and don't forget the equinoctial architecture along the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Yes, www.quondam.com may well soon be a 'new and improved' virtual museum of [unscientific fiction] architecture, written and delineated in palimpsest (so the faded 'truth' is nonetheless incompletely 'not there').
I'm becoming more and more convinced that a virtual museum of architecture misses its full virtuality unless it 'calendrically incarnates' other zeitgeists + [or minus] architectures.
a virtual museum of [disinformation] architecture
in respose to the notion of a virtual museum of (unscientific fiction) architecture, Rick wrote:
Sounds great Steve; Sounds fun; Sounds like playing "Byzantine -- The Betrayal" with the graphics of "Riven"; or, is it "Riven" using the historical-farcical plot of "Byzantine"? Either way, it would seem to fulfill the virtual appetite of this jogging crazed generation.
Steve gratefully requests and then adds:
Thanks for the encouragement and also for proving some further inspiration. For my sake, and perhaps for some others on the list, could you briefly explain the "Byzantine -- The Betrayal" and "Riven" references. I've not read either, nor do I even know them for sure. Only Riven sounds vaguely familiar. [the following written just prior to posting: believe it or not, at first I did not know Rick was here referencing video games. I've never played a video game in my life, and I honestly thought Rick was making literary references. As it thus stands, I continually feel that the architecture of video games, even the latest, lack substantially in true architectural imagination. Maybe I'm just showing my age, but I think video games would be a lot more fun and architecturally stimulating if they started emulating the architecture of Krypton as protrayed in 1960s Superman comics -- personally I haven't seen such comics since the sixties, but I still remember how the buildings of Krypton mesmerized me as a child. Not that I want Quondam to now become 1960s Krypton, but rather, I want to take the 'new dexterity' manipulation of architectural digital data down a trail not yet blazed.]
In any case, here are some of the 'building plots' and 'character architects' I'm currently mulling around in my head with regard to the "new and improved" Quondam:
the exhibit schizophrenia + architectures will morph into anOTHER exhibit entitled either hypochondria + architectures or kleptomania + architectures (and no that second title does not imply an exhibit on the architectural career of Philip Johnson).
architects featured generally throughout the museum will include: John Phillipsonian and his partner/wife Whitney Davidoff (of Hybridsburg, Texarkana), Eon Krie[ge]r (architect of the war against time), La Corbusienne (the Alpine 'Suzie Chapstik' of exposed skin architectures), St. Helmut (infamous heretic architect martyr of the cutting-edge [sword of] antiquity, lately proclaimed by the Vatican as a dubious 'real' fraud), Lois Ikonotsky (of Upper Reaches, the Caulklands), Franc-Le-Luc-Adroit (global net-setting architect of 'die schlampigen neue Reichen'), Scott Ventura (pet [house] architect, who btw is inseparable from his brown-nosed hound Dee-leash), Jasper Sterling St. James Goldsmyth VI (most recently lauded for his just completed Good-Looking Sachlichkeit Gesamtkunstwerk Museum on post-shell-shocked Helgoland), and (the 'queen' of all narrative architectures), Rita Novel. . . plus many, many more, like Meandra Refrigidhaar (as the architectural critics love to say, "She be syncin'!").
Additionally, Quondam will keep its finger on the pulse of the exponentially and geometrically expanding urban environments of both Older and Newer Infringement Complexopolises.
a virtual museum of [disinformation] architecture
John Young wrote:
One could hardly envisage a better architecture of disinformation than historic preservation. Not only virtual but actual.
John, I agree wholeheartedly with the above and the rest of your post, and since I'm from Philadelphia, I can easily see historic 'preservation' at its best and at its worst, and, unfortunately, taken as a whole (here in Philly), the summation comes close to being a joke (and I use joke here in its most serious sense). Hence, I will again bring up the notion of palimpsest, not only in reference to the new forthcoming Quondam, but to historic preservation as well. Regardless of whether its widely understood as such or not, all architectures manifest many layers of masks, and, like cosmetic surgery, historic preservation is a most extreme form of mask. With palimpsest on the other hand, although there is erasure and then over-writing, traces of the original (text) remain. The notion of layers (of texts), be they new or old, discernible or discrete, genuine or faux, is (for me at least) the 'true' reality. Semper theoretically took architecture back to the weaving of fabric. Perhaps Semper should have said architecture goes back to the weaving of fabrication.
Re: as dense as architecture can get?
Rick, thanks for sending the comparative scale urban plans, and allow me to add some explanatory text for the Speer plan. The large building plan in the top drawing, which is situated above the label 'Speer's Berlin', is an enormous Domed Hall and was more or less to be where the Reichstag still is. The axis then going right from the domed hall goes south, hence the'North-South Axis'. As you mentioned, Speer's Plan (which is for the most part the North-South Axis) is too long to fit on the one page, but the southern half of the axis is at the top of the second image you sent, and is labeled 'Speer's Berlin right half'. It is within this southern half of Speer's plan that we see the proposed Triumphal arch, which spans the centerline of the axis--the arch is actually more of a double arch as the plan indicates. The Grossbelastungskorper was a 'foundation' test for this enormous arch--as the scale comparisons demonstrate, e.g., the arch would have been bigger than two square blocks of historic Turin--and thus I'd say that the Grossbelastungskorper is presently ever so slowly sinking somewhere in the (West) Berlin neighborhood called Kreuzberg.
I'm now reminded of what Kai Voeckler told me when we first met (before our respective presentations), and I immediately asked him what is this "Grossbelastungskorper"??? He told me what I've relayed here at design-l, but he also added this uncanny anecdote: apparently there is historical evidence, in the form of a letter or memo, that Speer and his fellow planners/architects where actually happy about some the early Allied bombing of Berlin because some of the bombing hit neighborhoods along the planned North-South Axis. Because of the bombing then, the bureaucratic task of condemning and demolishing the properties and existing buildings in way of the proposed 'super-axis' was suddenly an un-moot point. I suppose this is yet another example where the Nazis fatally demonstrated the very thin line between extreme efficiency and horrific inanity.
While Kai and I were together as part of the "Thinking Density" group panel, I pointed out that Speer's Berlin, like Piranesi's Campo Marzio, has ancient Roman reenactment written all over it.
as dense as architecture can get?
Rick asks a number of questions re: Speer's plan, plus he raises the issue of proper comparative scale. First, I'll leave the issue of proper scale aside until I find a photocopy of Speer's entire plan (and if anyone has access to Leon Krier's book on Speer, that's where I got the copy of the plan) -- it's there that the comparative scale of Speer's north-south axis can be seen in context relative to Unter den Linden.
Unter den Linden crosses the Speer axis directly in front of the Big Dome's forecourt, that is, just south of the dome's forecourt. The bend in the Spree River then curves around the back of the large dome. Now that I think of it, Spree did not eliminate the Reichstag, but in fact incorporated the (still existing today) Reichstag as the east side of the big dome's forecourt (I'm pretty sure this is what that plan from Krier's book indicates, and you can see a slice of the front of the Reichstag's footprint creating the (upper side of the) forecourt in the image Rick sent). And comparing both Speer's axis and the Unter den Linden plan within the plan comparisons Rick sent, it looks like they ARE the same scale--in the Unter den Linden plan you can see the southern half of the Reichstag's footprint, which is just northwest of Parisier Platz/Brandenberg Gate.
As to wondering about the 'easy' play with scale's relative to Piranesi's Campo Marzio, in part, Rick, you guess correctly. I say in part because when Piranesi delineates the Campus Martius proper, he more often than not uses the correct scale for the buildings that once existed there. Piranesi grossly exaggerates building scale in the Campo Marzio's outer regions, however. Nonetheless, Piranesi is deliberately 'playing' a learning game here, in that the outer regions is where Piranesi's plans and programs lack practially all veracity, hence, the hyperbole of Piranesi's architectural imagination is coded by a hyperbole of architectural scale. In simple terms, the over-sized plans of the Campo Marzio indicate buildings that Piranesi completely 'made-up', where as a high percentage of the smaller building plans indicate buildings that actually once existed and are drawn in their proper scale. (Mind you, the drawn plans of the once existing buildings, even though at a correct scale, are still most often individual plans of Piranesi's invention.)
in case it isn't already obvious, I have something of a fetish for reading the plans of places that don't exist. kind of an inversion of deja-vu all over again. or is it a reenactment of deja-vu all over again?
as dense as architecture can get?
...ber2.jpg show the northern half. Is the circular platz about halfway down about where Potsdamer Platz is?
I think you mean berlin1.jpg, and yes the circular platz is just southwest of Potsdamer Platz.
Mark then asks:
Somewhere amongst the IBA housing projects by Rossi, et.al.? That's interesting. Talk about settling!
Steve further replies:
With piecing different maps together, Speer's triumphal arch would have been southwest of Victoria Park (which contains Schinkel's Kreuzberg Monument) and directly west of Tempelhof airport by about 5 blocks. Looking at a contemporary guide book map, there seems to be a major rail line of some sort running diagonally southwest-northeast across where the triumphal arch was to be. If the Grossbelastungskö'rper is in this area, the proximity of rail lines may explain why the big thing never received much attention. It may well be within those kind of no-man's lands that often skirt rail lines.
I'm not sure if there are any IBA housing projects in that area.
altes (museum) trash
I found a colonade outside the Altes Museum, mostly trashed, a forlorn statue of its creator Karl Friedrich Schinkel standing amidst the rubble. But what was I really seeing? The columns certainly LOOKED like they had suffered bullet and shrapnel hits, but what was I missing?
Steve wondersand suggests:
Mark, I'm not sure that the Altes Museum colonnade can be referred to as presently trashed or 'rubble'; it's been restored for over 20 years. There were, however, murals within all the panels of the colonnade and stairhall, and these were destroyed by WWII bombing, and never (or not yet) restored. If you want to see what Schinkels Schauspielhaus looked like right after the war, go to...
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pretty [scarry] hybrid?
The following is an anecdote relative to the (new) notion of beauty (and aesthetics), etc.:
While still an architecture student, I spent the summer of 1978 working for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) stationed in Perry, Missouri, a very small town (pop. 931) 30 miles west of Hannibal (of Mark Twain fame). It was then that the city of St. Louis (120 miles south) became the 'big city' destination on several weekends. What struck me the most in St. Louis was Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch--not only is it an incredible site from a distance, but even more amazing when perceived while walking around its base, (and I won't elaborate here about the "otherness" of its elevator ride up to the top observation room inside, which I believe I heard is something you can't do anymore).
On what was my third visit to St. Louis, I was with several of the other student architects I lived and worked with--it was their first trip. We were all around the same age and education level, i.e., early twenties and full of youthful over-confidence. I distinctly remember being asked by Mike, "So, what do you think of the arch?" (Mike and I were room mates, and we often 'discussed' architecture). I said, "I think the arch is very pretty." Well, Mike quickly told me that one just DOES NOT use the word 'pretty' when referring to architecture!--(apparently) pretty has such lowly connotations. I briefly argued that I thought 'pretty' was the best word to describe how I saw the arch, largely because I see its 'prettiness' as pretty much undeniable. I was confident I used the right word to describe how I felt about the arch.
Today, just two weeks into the 21st century, I looked up pretty in Webster's Third International Dictionary:
pretty 1 a : marked by or calling for skillful dexterity or artful care and ingenuity, esp. in coping with some difficult or complicated matter.
I am thus (finally) completely convinced I saw the arch for what it is, and then also described how I saw the arch in a most fitting manner.
Now being somewhat older (and hopefully somewhat wiser), if I were today asked what I thought of the arch, I'd say, "The St. Louis Arch is very likely the prettiest architecture-sculpture hybrid I will have ever perceived."