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2003.09.01 14:09
Re: Evolutionary theory and architecture
Regarding paradigm, the dictionary definition is that of being a model, which is not exactly the same as a "meme". For example, the shift in antique Roman culture from Paganism to Christianity is a paradigm shift that occurred largely because of the legalizing of Christianity and the outlawing of Paganism. One could say that Christianity spread within the antique world via "meme", which in modern terms would be called evangelism, but the cultural shift from Paganism to Christian is very much based on legal paradigms.
I forgot to mention in my last post the close relation between "meme" and reenactment (and what I have occasionally referred to as reenactionary architecturism). Reenactment as a pure function precedes "meme" in that the function of (human/individual) memory itself is a mental reenactment, thus "memes", more than anything are the spreading of mental reenactments, just like viruses replicate/reenact themselves.
When it come to "style", one could ask "What (if anything) is the style reenacting?" In Meaning In Western Architecture, without specifying reenactment, Norberg-Schulz nonetheless explains the axiality of Egyptian temples as analogous to the axiality of the Nile, etc. Likewise, the cardo and decumanus of Roman town plans represent (reenact) the axis of the Earth and the motion of the sun respectively. One could even ask what (if anything) does symmetry in design reenact? [Does symmetry in design stem largely from the overwhelming symmetrical design of the human body?]
If one takes the design of the human body as a paradigm, can one then say that corporAl symmetry was then reenacted corporEAlly, and thereafter symmetry in design was spread as paradigm via meme?
Is it fair to say that A. is (or appears to be) taking the theory of evolution as a paradigm and via meme applying it to the history of architecture? Or is a theory of evolution already manifest as a paradigm within the history of architecture, and A. is (the first?) detecting it? [Oddly, if A. is successful in his pursuits, the answer to both questions will be yes.]
All of the above regarding reenactment stem from the logical hypothesis that a reenactment can never be as original as that which it reenacts, and that reenactment come with degrees of separation between the reenactment and that which is being reenacted. Thus (I see) paradigm as closer in degrees to something original and meme as closer in degrees to reenactment.
[Here's one of my favorite examples of reenactionary architecturism:] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution originated, but the design of the city itself is very much a reenactment--there are other historical cities named Philadelphia (today's Amman, Jordan, for example), and Holme's survey/plan reenacts a Roman camp town precisely, even to the point where the cardo here today, Broad Street, is the longest straight urban street in the world. After the American Revolution, Philadelphia became the first, albeit interim, capital of the USA, and it's architecture then began to reenact the architecture of ancient Greece, which was used as a paradigm of "democratic" design.
In the beginning of the 20th century, the design of Philadelphia's new Benjamin Franklin Parkway set out to reenact the Champs Elysees of Paris, and there indeed are replicas of the palaces of the Place de la Concorde at Logan Circle, the centerpiece of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The design of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as reenactment becomes even more compounding when it is recognized that its design, as unwittingly manifest today, matches exactly Piranesi's design of an axis of life within the Ichnographia Campus Martius

2003.09.22 12:29
Re: evolution and aesthetics
P. asks: But where is the principle in architecture which is equivalent to that of mathematics? If there had been one - why would we have styles which change throughout history. Where is this constant here? How does it show itself in history?
S. replies: Earth's gravity is for sure a constant [force] that all architecture has to contend with. For example, although styles change, the predominant notion of floors being level doesn't. [How does an arch best resist gravity? Via it being rounded or via it being pointed?]
Another constant [force] that architecture always (has to) deal with is climate, and the fact that climate varies significantly dependent on location may well explain why (for most of its history) architecture (style) varies significantly dependent on location. Odd/funny how a great many of the buildings designed and executed today strive to have a constant climate inside regardless of where the building is outside.
"What climate does the inside of your building reenact?"
"I love how your design pointedly reenacts a resistance to gravity."
Perhaps Disney's greatest achievement is the making of lots of money reenacting reenactments.
"What New Urbanism is doing is great. We should reenact that reenactment here."
"This is my greatest design yet! It reenacts both evolution and aesthetics!"

2003.09.22 12:58
Re: The Evolution of Functionalism
And here I thought 'functionalism' came out of the "bare bones" approach of industrial architecture, along with the many efficiency studies for 'ideal' living situations (as conducted in c. 1900s Germany, for example). Furthermore, machine design (ancestor of contemporary "industrial design") since the industrial revolution worked towards obtaining the most efficient means to perform the desired function.
I always like how purely functional designs (factories and machines) manifest the new (and now omnipresent) superficiality of style.
Pure functionalism ("if it ain't broke, don't fix it") is probably the exact opposite of fashion (planned obsolescence at its most designed).

2003.09.28 13:39
29 September, the end of reenactment season
24 September 1814: the death of J-B-L-G Seroux d'Agincourt.
I have cursorily known of Seroux d'Agincourt since purchasing a bound edition of his 70-odd architectural engravings for $50. at a Philadelphia used book store in 1984, and in 1988 I became more aware of Seroux's work via Anthony Vidler's "The Decline and Fall of Architecture: Style and Epoch in Gibbon and Seroux d'Agincourt" in The Writing of the Walls. Here I found out that the engravings I have are from a much larger work (in French, whose title translates The History of Art Through Its Monuments From Its Decline in the Fourth Century to Its Renewal in the Sixteenth). Seroux makes reference to this work as itself (like) a museum (of architecture, sculpture and art), and several of Seroux's engraved plates were on display during Quondam's first two years online. While Seroux's architecture engravings (in Quondam's collection) are very engaging, they are also frustrating (for me) because each individual drawing is numbered, but no text was included with the engravings (as purchased). About a month ago I found that Seroux's entire work was translated into English in 1843, and that a copy of this edition is within Temple University's Paley Library, albeit in the behind-locked-doors limited circulation collection. It turns out that 'limited circulation' means borrowing privileges for two weeks instead of four week. It took me the better part of a week to electronically transcribe Seroux's text, and it turns out that the engravings present a history of architecture depicted in more or less strict chronological order, thus manifesting (something like) a vast evolutionary chart that diagrams whole buildings, as well as building parts like arches, walls, columns, capitals, and bases, and domes. It didn't take me long to see that Seroux's method would be favorably enhanced via HTML.

2003.11.15 20:57
disposable society
Long before the computer industry and even the car industry manifested planned obsolescence, the world of fashion has long been designing style that only lasts a season.
Funny how Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos in MOVE pronounce that "the architect will be the fashion designer of the future." They might well be right in that more and more architects are designing style that only lasts a season, but is that really what good design should be about?
Who ever thought up the saying (which I as a child saw written on a Philadelphia trash truck) "Your trash is our cash" was probably a better "designer" than anyone ever realized.

2003.12.16 12:03
recent acquisitions of the Working Title Museum
From Ottopia To Bottomopolis more travels within the domain of schizophrenia + architectures
city of once was in the future
where Undesigning Oblivion is always in style
How Much Is That Piranesi Innuendo?
fetching rough-rough stuff

2004.02.16 11:02
Re: of castles, fortifications, etc.
My Architect was not discussed, so I don't know if Sister Caroline saw the movie. What she did was explain why the Motherhouse was commissioned, and how, after repeated redesigns to fit the budget, the project was ultimately abandoned. Sister Caroline was actually more curious about "the paper" Saint Catherine de Ricci and Louis Kahn are to present in "the novel I'm working on." I plan to return to have an extended conversation with Sister Caroline, and perhaps some other Sisters as well. The Dominican Retreat House, just north of Philadelphia, now more or less acts as the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters.
I told her I constructed a computer model of the project on the site, and I asked about the big hillside behind where the Motherhouse was to be. She said that was "daffodil hill" because it was covered entirely with daffodils. The Dominican Sisters sold the site (at Media, southwest of Philadelphia, just north of Delaware) in 1990; it is now developed with suburban housing.
[The Dominican Retreat House (the quondam Elkins Estate) comprises two Trumbauer Houses, Elstowe and Chelten House--one for the father, one for the son. Elstowe (c. 1900) is in the Italian Renaissance style, with a large powerhouse far down the valley, now a home for aged sisters. Chelten House (c. 1898) is in the Elizabethan style, with a separate stable compound and a squash court. The grounds are quite the sight/site; I look forward to going there again in the Spring. Both mansions are used to house religious retreats every weekend. There are some images at .]

2004.04.08 09:49
Re: iconodules
'... The austere, white Protestant church in the seventeenth-century neoclassical style of Christopher Wren (the fount of American church design) is a temple to reason, with no images...
This is 'true' while ignoring America's Spanish mission architecture.
"I see a real problem in your view in that you see diversity as an academic fad as well as something that I am latching on to because I want to see change happen. What I'm doing is trying to come to an understanding of the practice and manifestation of architecture as it exists today, and part of how I'm doing that is to look at trends both recent and older. I am interested in diversity actually because I have over the last few years become very interested in non-Western architectures. Additionally, I have been compiling a strict chronology of architecture on a complete global scale. Without the usual Western categorization of architectural history, it is very enlightening to collectively see exactly what architectures and styles were executed on this planet at any given time. For example, notice what Gothic cathedrals and what Hindu temples were built at the same time, or the temporal relation between Mayan and Romanesque architectures. Even regionally, look at the incredible diversity of architecture built within all of Europe between 1517 and 1636 when viewing on a year by year basis." --excerpt architecthetics 27 January 2001

2004.05.08 15:20
Dis: content
Received Content (the new Koolhaas book) in the mail a couple hours ago. Looked through the whole thing page by page once so far. After doing that I realized that Content inside looks exactly like i-D magazine of 20 years ago. The only difference is that i-D is still better at its delivery of content.
[i-D, the worldwide manual of style, a sort of 'underground' fashion magazine that started coming out of London October 1980, and is today more a mainstream, albeit still 'avant garde' fashion magazine.]
I still have my collection of i-Ds from the mid-1980s, and I'll keep on keeping them (especially since they are still so up to date). I doubt I'll still own Content 20 years from now, however.
[reenactment note 356.38976 -- remember how Koolhaas' delivery of Content essentially reenacts i-D's delivery of content 20 years ago. I wonder if Koolhaas even knows he was following the "manual of style"? I seriously doubt it. Just thought of a new working title: From Euphrates Cat To Copy Cat.]
The "Editor's letter' of Content by Brendan McGetrick suggests that "remaining at home [is] torturous," thus it is obvious the editor here doesn't know that remaining at home is the grand luxury of being virtually famous.



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