body imagination architecture

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1999.03.10 08:48
epic architectural past
I think the "human story," like the movement of the present, is essentially linear. The first humans were extreme, and the best examples of extreme architecture are the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge. Circa 550BC, humanity began to operate with a highly fertile imagination, and this "age of highest fertility" lasted till circa 770AD, at which time humanity's imagination became [additionally] pregnant. At the first trimester of pregnancy, circa 1500, humanity began to assimilate itself and its place in the universe. By 1700, the metabolic imagination began to work in conjunction with the assimilating imagination.
We are today still primarily a humanity operating in both an assimilating and metabolic fashion, and thus our architecture too is primarily both assimilating ("international") and metabolic (creative/destructive).
Of course, the "human story" continues, and to discern how it will continue, you just have to analyze the sequential slices of the human body starting at the lowest tips of the rib cage and moving upwards.

In his synopsis of Jenck's recent lecture, Stephen Marshall included the phrases:
"life cycles of cities," "cells must die periodically so that other cells--and the organism as a whole -- might live," "cities undergo phase changes."
The word that best describes these notions is metabolic--metabolism is a duality whereby anabolism is creative metabolism and catabolism is destructive metabolism. The "design of" many cities today exhibit metabolic "operations" when both creative and destructive manifestations occur. Metabolism is perhaps the primordial duality, and, like all dualities, is difficult to resolve precisely because of its inherent opposing forces.
The metabolic "operating system" is very prevalent today, and has been growing in prevalence over the last few centuries. For example, it is easy to recognize Berlin as the foremost metabolic city of the 20th century. Before our time, Piranesi, in his Ichnographia Campus Martius, offers a poignant example of "life and death" in the city, and before Piranesi, perhaps Michelangelo's architecture (and some aspects of Mannerism in general) offers an example of metabolic design, albeit slightly a head of its time.

Hugh Pearman in two recent posts wrote:
"Architectural operating systems (as opposed to surface styling) are predominantly Gothic or Classical."
"What I called the 'architectural operating system' as a deliberate computer analogy--might clarify rather than confuse, for me if nobody else."
I suggest a wholly other batch of "architectural operating systems" that derive from the morphology and physiology of our own bodies, the machines that we are instead of the machines that computers are.
Some architectures are extreme.
Some architectures are fertile.
Some architectures are pregnant.
Some architectures are assimilating.
Some architectures are metabolic.
Some architectures are osmotic.
Some architectures are electro-magnetic.
Some architectures are total frequency.
Figuring out what buildings/architects fit in which category(s) may well be the ultimate architectural parlor game. (Hint: Classical is high fertility and Gothic is early pregnancy.)
Hugh also made reference to the notion of architects having "to have his or her 'personal myth' to believe in and guide them." For what its worth, I have "discovered" my own myth, and its called The Timepiece of Humanity or the theory of chronosomatics.

In all honestly, I meant what I said in exactly the way I said it, and the key points are that the word metabolic stands for a creative-destructive duality, and thus the word metabolic is a valid term to use when describing (design) situations that exhibit constructive-destructive attributes. (I did not say that all cities are outright metabolic.) Furthermore, I can well see how the notion of destruction should seem anathema relative to "design," nonetheless, destruction is a major factor of much of today's built environment. If the notion of "metabolic operation" has an affinity with the broader notions of deconstruction, so be it. That's not where I was coming from, however, because I arrived at the metabolic through an analysis of our corporal physiology, which in turn I believe relates directly to the operations of (our) human imaginations. My research involves fairly basic biological science, and if there is any "danger" in my thinking, it is in the notion that the human mind (imagination) works in exactly the same way that the human body (physiology) works. (Maybe, just maybe, the age old separation of mind and body is the greater falsehood.)
I did read Jencks' book (something like two years ago, so there may be a revised edition I haven't read), and he never uses the word metabolic, however I remember passages where he notes the interplay of creative and destructive forces at work within some of the design phenomena (and/or sciences?) he was describing.

I can't help but think that you did not read Re: city making and city breaking because my point about Berlin involves its entire history over the last 100 years, where it would be hard to argue against a pervasive (and mostly unique) creative-destructive pattern that even includes a spliting in two! You seem to be missing the point that Berlin's "growth" (as you put it) throughout the 20th century was/is both creative and destructive. The best way to describe Berlin over the last 100 years is to call it metabolic. Just because one city manifests a metabolic pattern, doesn't mean all cities have to exhibit the same pattern, however, over the next 100 years there may indeed be many more cities that are metabolic--Beirut and Kosovo, and maybe even Kobe, to name a few, already seem to have a head start.
I feel my "argument" is sound, especially if you read all my content. And, for the record, I say that Berlin of the 20th century presents a (or is it the?) prime example of metabolic [growth], that is, creative-destructive urbanism.

1999.03.30 11:51
war design (shameful architecture)
Concentration camps fall mostly under the category of extreme assimilation architecture.
Chronosomatically, our present time within the whole story of humanity is in the midst of that part (of the human body) where a combination of assimilation, purge, metabolism, and (thankfully) pregnancy (embryonic development) are the main operative systems.

zeitgeist architectures
...present zeitgeist architectures within the TPH [Timepiece of Humanity] portion of Quondam.

1999.04.19 03:27
test (poem?) by whomevers
what is first, [DUALITY in EXTREME]
(dichotomy?) -- duality in extreme and dichotomy are not necessarily the same thing, therefore it is prudent not to too quickly confuse the issue but rather concentrate specifically on what duality in extreme means, e.g., concentrate on the notion that two polar (extreme) opposites (must) coexist and thereby generate a synthesis -- this is how architecture "firsted" itself.
what are first principles of architecture..? [the outside has to be different than the inside]
(is there still an outside-inside?) -- certainly there is still an inside and and outside! our perception of the dictinction between the two may be changing (as it probably has been doing since the beginning), but being at a different vantage point doesn't necessarily change the basic reality.
does architecture have any first (universal) principles.. [refrain]
(economy-efficiency-delight to...)
what kind of architecture does.. [the great pyramid is an, if not the, prime example...there's not all that much architecture that is older except perhaps the ever evaporating igloo]
(extreme architecture - international space-station..?) -- you "raise" here the international space-station and at the same time question whether there is still an outside-inside??? come on, let's not waste time disputing the obvious and move on to a clearer, deeper understanding of outside vs. inside in order to create a better architecture.

1999.04.19 07:34
test (poem?) by whomevers
Is there ever a time in architecture when one can be simultaneously inside and outside a SPACE?
Is there ever a time in architecture when one can be simultaneously neither inside or outside a SPACE?

1999.04.19 09:12
test (poem?) by whomevers
My point deals specifically with architecture's first principles, i.e., duality in extreme and its unrelenting distinction between inside and outside. I cite the Great Pyramid as a prime example of architecture as duality in extreme, and you (correctly) cite the International Space Station as also an example of extreme architecture. Just be sure that you likewise acknowledge that the International Space Station is also an example of architecture's unrelenting distinction between inside and outside (and in that sense, even a space suit is exteme architecture).

1999.05.02 11:16
the architectural timepiece - chronosomatics
Brian writes:
reading the intro to Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture, Kate Nesbitt editor, Princeton Architectural Press, c.1996...and came across one theme of the book that sounds like it is related to Lauf-S(teve) Timepiece of Humanity.. [Brian then adds some quotations from the Nesbitt introduction.]
Lauf-S(teve) replies:
With regard to The Timepiece of Humanity (aka the theory of chronosomatics) and the essays on "The Body" in Nesbitt's Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture, I first have to point out that although written by an architect and indeed seminally inspired by some of the words in Chapter Eight of Geoffrey Scott's The Architecture of Humanism - A Study in the History of Taste, chronosomatics is nevertheless fundamentally different in both character and intent from the way the "body" is used within recent architectural theory, and even within feminist theory.
The theory of chronosomatics views/interprets the human body (male and female) as a calendar incarnate, and thereby positions the design of the body as an ultimate self-evident "symbol" or "blueprint" of humanity's full duration. Certainly, no other architecturally inspired theory, past or present, reaches this level of "incorporation", and, moreover, if chronosomatics bears any resemblance to some other theory or concept relating to the human body it is to Hinduism's Hatha Yoga.
Because of chronosomatics' originality and uniqueness, and because The Timepiece of Humanity is still a work in progress, I, as author, feel obligated to protect the theory of chronosomatics from (premature) miscategorization, and thus relating The Timepiece of Humanity directly to (the history/theory of) architecture first requires an understanding of the chronosomatic(ally derived) theory of human imagination.
Although it surfaced within the early days of my research towards developing The Timepiece of Humanity, the notion of various modes of human imagination being directly related to our body's various physiological operations was a completely unexpected by-product. Nonetheless, the concept/theory that our mind imaginatively operates in precisely the same fashion/manner that our body operates functionally, i.e., with fertility, assimilatingly, metabolically, electro-magnetically, osmotically, and finally as pure frequency, is very likely chronosomatics' foremost contribution to human thinking because with it comes a potential resolution of the proverbial body-mind dichotomy.
Since late 1995/early 1996, I have been compiling notes and material for a "book" entitled The Body, the Imagination, and Architecture (BIA). Of course, my writing such a book comes with a real dilemma because I have yet to finish writing The Timepiece of Humanity, upon which the BIA book is based. (The more I utilize html and web publishing however, the more I realize that the "fluidity" and "connectivity" of hypertext may well (creatively) eliminate my writing dilemma, and, furthermore, hypertext may actually enhance the outcome of my message.)
Part of my BIA material comprises a thorough bibliography of recent architectural texts relative to the body. This process of both reading and compiling data was necessary not only to firmly ground chronosomatics, but also to validate and ensure chronosomatics' position of originality and uniqueness. In what adds up to a succession of one uncanny occurrence after another, ideas regarding the body within contemporary architectural texts and the ideas within chronosomatics come very close, so close that there is even sometimes virtual sameness, yet chronosomatics, because it harbors the base notion of the human body being a timepiece-symbol-blueprint of all history, is in each comparative instance alone able to make decisive intermediate conclusions and further projections regarding the (design of the) body and its potential meaning.
I am very familiar with Vidler's text entitled "Architecture Dismembered", and I will gladly discuss what Vidler says, albeit relative to chronosomatics. As to the Agrest text, I'm sure I read it, and the fact that I made no special note of it at the time tells me that it did not relate to my chronosomatic research. Besides, humanity's true corporal center is not the navel, but rather the halfway point of our respective heights where our two legs transcend into a single torso and where male and female transcend into sexual unity.

1999.05.26 08:45
Re: interview 2.2a
Zeitgeist: chronosomatics and architecture.

1999.05.27 08:45
Re: interview 2.1ab
Metabolic architecture employs/reflects a dual creative-destructive process.
A metabolic architect is one who simultaneously creates and destroys while he or she designs.

chronosomatics 1 : an interpretive method that deals with the interrelationship between chronological or historical sequence and consecutive transverse sections of the human body     2 : a metaphorical link between specific points in time with specific points on or in the human body     3 : a theory whereby the morphology and physiology of the human body is seen as representative of the complete continuum of human existence     4 : The Timepiece of Humanity     5 : the calendar incarnate

1999.06.27 19:23
Today, I remembered that the inside-outside coexistence in some architectures also falls under what I consider osmotic architecture--the equal exchange of inside and outside, e.g., the Pantheon, Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum, porch/stair hall of Schinkel's Altes Museum. In light of this, I think the inside/outside distinction of limbo architecture needs some further consideration. I like limbo architecture's notion of becoming, and I also think the notions of restraint and neglect should be added to the definition. Since I see osmotic architecture as the manifestation of something sacred, perhaps limbo architecture is the profane counterpart of osmotic architecture, or maybe (even better) limbo architecture exists within the thin realm between profane and sacred. Osmotic architecture is 'uplifting' whereas limbo architecture is striving?

1999.07.23 09:32
German doors?
Your parenthetical reference to osmotic has not escaped me. Indeed it surprised me, especially since you point out a very interesting example of that inside/outside, permeable space that manifests the osmotic in architecture. I know that I from time to time have posted (vague?) ideas about the osmotic (metabolic, etc.) in architecture, but I didn't think any of it was much considered by others. Seeking out the osmotic in architecture is a rewarding experience. So far, the best gauge I can come up with is to see the Pantheon in Rome and Kahn's Kimbell Art Gallery and Schinkel's stair hall (German doors?) of the Altes Museum as osmotic at the high end, and an open bus stop at the low end. There's lots of in-between stuff out there, and, of course, it would be great if architects began to consciously create osmotic spaces.

1999.11.21 08:15
(third of) Top 10
The Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall
What other built form of the twentieth century had such power, yet, in the end, was also so disposable?
An example of extreme modernism?

Reenactionary architectures
“chronosomatics and the imagination as reenactment”

Zeitgeist + Architectures

Imaginations, Zeitgeists and Architectures

2000.02.03 11:43
an answer to "Now what?"
Hugh Pearman states and asks:
Such being the case, we can conclude that Decon has run out of steam as a manifesto-led movement, and we must look to its successor. Ideas, anyone?
Steve Lauf replies:
Is Decon the only thing to have run out of steam? Has the now pervasive and generally accepted way of looking at and being critical of architecture also run out of steam? For example, does moving from seeing Decon as reactionary to now (maybe) seeing the New Austerity as the latest reaction really convey a sense of meaning beyond the oscillations of fashion and trend? Has each new "critical" building become nothing more than the latest "creation" of the now global fashion show? Likewise, has the element of shock become ingrained within the (elite) architectural profession, the same way shock has become "stock-in-trade" in a good deal of high fashion? [I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the architecture that receives attention and the industry surrounding it being akin to the fashion industry, but I do think there is something wrong about not recognizing the phenomenon as such.]
Here's how I now look critically at architecture (and urban design) both currently and historically:
What architecture is extreme?
What architecture is fertile?
What architecture is pregnant?
What architecture is assimilating?
What architecture is metabolic?
What architecture is osmotic?
What architecture is electromagnetic?
What architecture manifests the highest frequencies?
What I've found so far is that some architectures fall straight into some of the categories above while some architectures are categorical hybrids. Here are some examples:
the Pyramids, Stonehenge, St. Peter's (Vatican), Bilbao(?)--extreme, extreme architectures.
the Pantheon, Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, entry sequence of Schinkel's Altes Museum, Kimbell Art Gallery -- examples of the best osmotic architecture there is.
Classical Greek and Roman Architecture--pure architecture of fertility.
the Hindu Templ --the ultimate transcendence from an architecture of fertility to an architecture of pregnancy, whereas the Gothic Cathedral is an architecture of pregnancy, albeit virginal.
all of 20th century Berlin--the metabolic (create and destroy and create and destroy and ...)
To understand architecture of assimilation, look at the Renaissance, but also look to early 20th century Purism to understand assimilation in the extreme, i.e., purge.
Today's architectures are by and large assimilating and/or metabolic (contextual and/or 'deconstructivist'?).
You're very lucky if you ever see pure examples of electromagnetic or frequency architectures today because they are almost entirely architectures of the far off future.
There are many more examples to offer, but that's all for now.
In general, I see all architectures as reenactionary (as opposed to reactionary).
Architecture reenacts human imagination, and human imagination reenacts the way the human body is and operates. The human body and the design thereof is THE enactment. The human imagination then reenacts corporal morphology and physiology, and architecture then reenacts our reenacting imaginations.



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