reading list

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1999.02.16 12:26
Re: Revolution
Jeroen wrote:
It sounds ridiculous, but some months ago I dreamed of a certain revolution, not like those of the past, which where bloody revolts, but one more quiet.
Steve offers/suggests some search and research:
This past weekend I read the following text from a recent collection of essays entitled Classic Readings in Architecture.
from Geoffrey Broadbent, "Architects and their Symbols" originally in Built Environment (1980):
But often they are people who really care; they have the best of intentions, but they are far too busy, too preoccupied, too set in their ways even to want to engage in that creative dialogue which might cause all parties to change. They are each working within a "paradigm," to use that awful word which Thomas Kuhn coined in 1962 to describe the set of social pressures acting on a particular group. He was writing about scientists, but the principles apply also to architects, planners and psychologists, indeed to every kind of group, and the paradigm is that which forces them to conform to the norms of their group. If a scientist wants to gain and retain the respect of his colleagues, to get his work published in the reputable journals, to get invited to conferences and so on, he simply has to work within that general framework which everyone in his field accepts as "correct" at the time. Kuhn's point is that the "normal" practitioner always works in this way, but there are always a few brave spirits who know that the paradigm is wrong. They think about it, work at it and eventually present alternatives which, better though they may be than the going paradigm, meet, at first, with the greatest hostility, especially from those who have made their reputations within the old paradigm. The "normal" scientist knows what to do and jogs along happily doing it, but then a Newton appears on the scene to challenge the established order of things. At first the majority rejects his views but eventually the opposition dies away, and what seemed new and strange at first becomes the new paradigm. But then an Einstein comes along to show where Newton was wrong, a Heisenberg shows what was wrong with Einstein and so on. And that is how science progresses. The same thing obviously happens in other fields, such as architecture and planning, not to mention psychology, sociology and so on.
Paul Feyerabend goes into greater detail (1978) as to just why and how those who have made their reputations within a particular paradigm are so highly suspicious of those who have set themselves the task of showing its flaws and deficiencies. In his view such challenges come largely from what he calls the "philosophical component" of the field, that is, the researchers and theoreticians who, having pondered deeply on the problems which beset the going paradigm, present those ideas which challenge the status quo. Naturally, the average practitioner finds them threatening, even in the comparatively closed world of science: how much more threatened are the practitioners of architecture and planning, challenged as they are not only by "philosophical components" of their particular fields, but also by the great user-public itself, not to mention their self-appointed and highly vocal spokesmen-the critics and journalists.
The above text provides a concise outline of the cyclic order of intellectual revolution(s), and thus may be also seen as a (preparatory) guideline for future intellectual and/or architectural revolutionaries in that non-acceptance comes before acceptance. Key to the process, however, is the necessity of viable new paradigms that not only offer something new, but also invalidate the existing paradigms, i.e., create and destroy - the metabolic process.
The two books that Broadbent makes reference to are:
Kuhn, T. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962; enlarged edition, 1970.
Feyerabend, P.K. Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge. London: New Life Books, 1978.
I am not yet familiar with either of these books, but I imagine they may be full of ideas that provide a better understanding of how ideas (in our day and age at least) change. Moreover, I personally am interested to see whether either author ever uses the word metabolic. I suspect they do not, however, I confidently wager that the basis of both their themes is indeed the metabolic process.
Could it be that the metabolic process may possibly be the next predominant paradigm for humanity?

Quondam's Bibliothek
The notion of actively cataloguing and even generating books for an online library. A bibliothek directory provides the infrastructure for the existing and proposed projects. /bibliothek will house or at least catalogue all of Quondam's text projects to date.
/bibliothek will also house the digital versions of the copyright free books collected thus far. And the bibliothek offers the opportunity to experiment with the notion of creating many "lighter" books (like Hey Art... and 2=odd).

2002.02.08 16:47
Cuban's fox(y shock?)
Here's a bit of a shock I want to share. I've read How Architecture Got Its Hump over the last Wednesday to Wednesday week, and in chapter 5, the last chapter, I was shocked to read on page 152:
"Are Gehry and Rauschenburg's binoculars in Los Angeles the upturned result of sculpture freed from a toothpaste image of softness? Just what have these installations got to do with architecture's own program?"
I'm thinking, what a shocking mistake, and what a disgrace for both the author, Roger Connah, and the editor at MIT Press. The binoculars are not Rauschenberg's, and I won't even bother to write the name of the binocular's correct artistic father. Isn't such a printed mistake from the most respected architectural editor of books something to be concerned about? Is it actually true that no one really reads these kind of architecture theory category books that for the most part are just words with very few images?
For a moment there, I was just in the mood to write How Architecture Got Its Lacunae, and every line in the book was going to be a big, fat, fucking mistake! Oh, I'm suddenly so overwhelmed.

2002.02.16 14:42
Re: Paper architecture...origin and uses of the term
Peter Eisenman wrote two articles entitled "Cardboard Architecture: House I" and "Cardboard Architecture: House II". Here's what prefaces these articles in the 1975 book Five Architects:
"These two articles by Peter Eisenman "House I" and "House II" were first drafted in November of 1969 and April 1970, respectively. In both cases they were redrafted and necessarily condensed for publication in the first edition of this book."
This does not answer when and by whom the term "paper architecture" originated, but it does provide further historical context.
I can remember the term "cardboard architecture" being used as a derogatory critical term during my years in architecture school (1975-81). I was taught by many former students of Louis Kahn, and my recollection is that it is a term that Kahn frequently used in his design studio at the University of Pennsylvania during the 1960s, referring to student designs that could only be built out of chipboard, the material used to make architecture models. Actually, the vernacular I recall was "chipboard architecture".

2003.02.08 12:16
aesthetics preferences
Paul wrote:
Architects don't generally proceed from philosophical premises, but rather rationalize their aesthetic preferences after the fact.
Steve wonders:
If this is true (and perhaps Paul can verify this himself), then is it because of the way architects are taught?
My own architectural education began in 1970, when, as a freshman in high school, I used to read Fletcher's A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method during free study hall periods. Repeated visits to the decrepit Whitemarsh Hall during the same time added 'hands-on' lessons--Whitemarsh Hall allowed me to better envision the distant Kedleston Hall, my favorite building (plan) back then (as illustrated in Fletcher--English Renaissance rocked, in my opinion). By my senior year in high school (1974) I had read Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. The summer before going to 'architecture school' (1975), I read The Fountainhead and The Architecture of Humanism, thus my aesthetic preferences were pretty well informed before my 'official' architectural education.
In retrospect, I'd say it isn't so much personal good taste that leads to good design(ing), rather it's a knowledge of (the history of) good taste that leads to good design(ing).
Strange, odd, and even funny how now, more than anything, it has, for me at least, all become virtual.

slapdash architectural publications

2003.06.24 19:25
Index Architecture
This book should be in audio format. That way you could listen while sleeping, and after about a week you could start talking like a Columbia grad without spending all that time and money. Now that would be radical!

2004.02.16 11:49
Re: Hedjuk
Boullée, Hejduk and Rossi make a very interesting combination. I never seriously thought of them in tandem before, but just now when I looked up at my bookshelf, the Boullée book is right next to the seven Hejduk books, which are right next to the eight Rossi books--who knew? I've seen two Rossi projects and one Hejduk project, all in Berlin. All three architects are now dead.
death of Rossi
death of Hejduk
Boullée was born 12 February 1728 and died 6 February 1799. Boullee never married.
Piranesi had some influence on Boullée, and Boullée had some influence on Gilly and subsequently Schinkel. Of the architects mentioned so far, all were prolific designers, but only Rossi and Schinkel were prolific in the built sense.
Hejduk's Bye House, now built in Holland at 1.2 the scale of the original design, has long been one of my favorite designs--I constructed a computer model of the project 1990 or 1991. I hadn't heard that it turned out to be 'uninhabitable'.

2004.06.05 08:53
Best book of last year and best book of all time
Mann's Joseph and His Brothers is much better than The Magic Mountain. Liked The Holy Sinner too.
The short stories of Heinrich von Kleist are likewise worthwhile, e.g., Michael Kohlhaas.
Am I the only architect to have read Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover?
Butler's Lives of the Saints is much more entertaining than the mediocre Da Vinci Code.
Anybody read The Geometry of Love?

2005.12.10 16:07
What are you reading?
Bloomingdale's Book of Home Decorating by Barbera d'Arcy. Copyright 1973 First edition.

Husker Du Haus, too   2006.02.24
To show examples of flexible criteria of resemblance, let me quote, not the most radical occult and Hermetic theories, but rather some instances of a very reasonable semiotic technique, the one recommended by the authors of the arts of memory. Those authors were neither Kabbalists nor sorcerers summoning spirits. They simply wanted to build systems for remembering a series of ideas, objects, or names through another series of names, objects, or images of objects. Other authors (Rossi 1960; Yates 1966) have studied and described the complex constructions of loci. that is, of real architectural, sculptural, and pictorial structures that those theorists built in order to provide a systematic plane of expression for the contents to be memorized, signified, and recalled. It is clear, however, that these mnemotechnic apparatuses were something more than a practical devise for remembering notions: it is not by chance or for decorative purposes that the systems of loci frequently assume the form of a Theater of the World or emulate cosmological models. They aim at representing an organic imago mundi, an image of a world which is the result of a divine textual strategy. Thus, to be semiotically efficient, they reproduce the presumed tangle of signatures on which the Universe as a significant Whole is based. As Ramus (1581) has remarked, memory is the shadow of the order (of the dispositio), and order is the syntax of the universe.
But even though an ars memoriae was conceived as a mere practical devise, it had in any case to find recognizable links between a given image and the thing to be evoked. In order to establish such a relationship it was advisable to follow the same criteria that held for the interpretation of cosmic analogies. In this sense these artes tell us something about various socially and culturally established semiotic rules.
Umberto Eco, The Limits of Interpretation, p. 25.



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