The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Stephen Lauf

26 November 248
Birth of Eutropia.

26 November 1778   Thursday
. . . . . .

26 November 1795
Funeral of Jonas Åkerström at 6:30 pm.

26 November 1812   Thursday

Morning cloudy with small rain, wind S but drew to SW very moderate. I went to Mulberry Street meeting, and after it engaged to dine at S.W. Fisher's. Stopped at 4th Street store, paid some other debts of my son. On the way up Chestnut Street called at J.C. Fisher's to see his son's letter from England .. the Lark arrived at New York he accounted for Redwoods missing his passage in his from business with Bainbridge and Company. We had a plain family dinner at S.W. Fisher's, his mother-in-law there, a very agreeable friend Richard Jordan came there between 4 and 5, an agreeable conversation, spent evening at SL's.

26 November 1999   Friday
breakfasts with Winka
A number of the Inside Density participants, including myself, stayed at Brussels' Sun Hotel. As a result, I had the by chance pleasure of twice sharing breakfast with Winka Dubbeldam. Winka was co-chair (with Jan Verheyden) of the "Mapping, Designing, Negotiating Boundaries" session of Inside Density's second day, and we met the morning before her session. I was particularly interested in meeting Winka because without her knowing it our paths had already indirectly crossed. I first saw Winka as a presenter at the University of Pennsylvania's Digital Translations symposium, 1 May 1999; I "virtually participated" with this symposium as well as physically attended the symposium. Winka's presentation at Digital Translations was one of those I liked most--she used Shockwave and did so without a hitch. At that time, I did not yet know if my paper was accepted for Inside Density, nor did I know Winka would also be involved at Inside Density. Between May and November, I've seen the book of Winka's work, and the online presentation of her project within MoMA's Un-Private House exhibit.
Before I presented my paper at Inside Density, I was simply introduced as Stephen Lauf, founder of Quondam, an architect from Philadelphia, and hence when Winka and I met the next morning she straight away asked (with a quizzical look on her face) if I was from the University of Pennsylvania. (Apparently, I was perhaps the only non-academic to present at Inside Density.) I told her I was not from U of P, but that I was the cad system manager at Penn's Graduate School of Fine Arts (GSFA) in the mid-eighties. I then told her I saw her at Digital Translation, thus I also knew that she (at least then) taught at Penn, and I asked if she lives in Philadelphia. Winka teaches at Columbia in the Fall, teaches at Penn in the Spring, and she lives and works in New York. We spoke about the ongoing distinctiveness of Philadelphia architectur(al academia), and Winka generally characterized it as conservative but valuable nonetheless, for example, Philadelphia's uniqueness may go back as far as its once having been the capital of the United States. I asked if there was a discernible difference between the students at Columbia and those at Penn, to which she replied that the students at Columbia are more investigative but not as hard working, where as the students at Penn work harder but are not as investigative--she said the differences thus kind of evened themselves out.
I then offered an opinion, and asked if she would agree. I said it seems that architectural students and recent graduates today feel that the 'older' generation (i.e., over 35 or so) are generally 'clueless' of the theoretical 'stuff' that's presently going on, or with the technological stuff that's now going on. She agreed that my observation had a fair amount of validity, however, we both concurred that there is indeed a measurable gap between young and old created by (computer) technology in design. (Of course, as a forty-something architect myself, I like to think that the younger generation is generally 'clueless' about what the older generation knows.) In any case, we both see a gap between young and old architects that may be something unique to now.

he ain't heavy
One of the most unexpected things for me at Inside Density occurred right in the beginning of the lengthy conversation I had with Mark Wigley during lunch on the second day of the colloquium. I first off told Mark that I was very happy to be at the colloquium, especially since I wasn't going to attend because of my schizophrenic brother at home. That's when Mark told me he had a schizophrenic brother as well. Of all the things that Mark Wigley and I were per chance to have in common, I never imagined that it would be our brothers.
Mark actually told me a lot about his brother, and it came to the point where I had to ask him to stop. They say that sleep deprivation makes one susceptible to crying. I know I hadn't had much sleep during the prior 72 hours, and I also know I almost started to cry while Mark Wigley relayed his schizophrenic stories.

def: a-typological architecture
David L. Cuthbert wrote:
Eisenman's work approaches [a-typological design] - but to copy it is to make the same mistake twice.
Steve Lauf offers:
One of the people I immediately 'clicked' with at the Inside Density colloquium in Brussels, Belgium last week is Bernard Kormoss, who (even though living in Belgium) works for Peter Eisenman and who is currently working on a book entitled Eisenmanual (Monacelli Press and going to press in about 4 months). I believe Bernard is co-authoring the book, and he showed me the current mock-up. The book outlines all of Eisenman's work and thinking, and attempts to emulate hypertext in its layout and conceptual organization.
I would let Bernard know about the 'a-typological' definition, but I hesitate to do so because the definition so far and the term's use in the above example sentence do not coincide. The definition [a-typological architecture: based on Hegel's "back to themselves"--architecture not generated from examples but on the very psychological and physical conditions that are present] implies a positive newness of design based on given conditions alone, whereas the example sentence implies that 'a-typological' design is a mistake to begin with. (Yes David, I know what you are trying to say, but the sentence is exactly the opposite of the definition's intention.)
The main reason Bernard and I instantly 'clicked' (we were part of the same session and my paper was delivered first and his was third) is because he straight away understood how my concept of reenactment fit exactly with the point of his paper, which was that there is now indeed too much copying of Koolhaas and Eisenman by a 'second generation' that does not fully understand the process behind the 'original' designs (and here I'm over-simplifying Bernard's argument, and which I believe is what David's definition and sentence may be trying to convey). Bernard subsequently embraced the notion of 'critical' reenactment as a key to continuance of methodology that does not merely become an insufficient copy.

(eighth of) Top 10
The ATOMIUM in Brussels, Belgium
This monument from 1958 has become the Eiffel Tower of Brussels. The Atomium is the visual representation of the concept of an "atom". It symbolizes an elementary iron crystal with its 9 atoms and magnified 150 billion times. It honored the metal and iron industry and the belief in the atomic power. The architect was André Waterkeyn. It took 18 months to conceive and another 18 months to construct. The monument is coated with aluminum, weighs 2,400 tons and is 102 meters high. Each sphere has a diameter of 18 meters. An elevator takes visitors to the upper sphere where one can enjoy a panoramic view of the Heysel area and (if the weather is good) the city of Brussels. There is also a good buffet-restaurant (Chez Adrienne) in the upper sphere. In the other spheres expositions are organized. They can be visited by means of escalators. In the coming years the monument will undergo cleaning and restoration.
On 26 November 1999 I had dinner in the very top 'atom' of the Atomium with various other participants of Inside Density (Mark Wigley, Winka Dubbeldam, Martine de Maeseneer, Charlotte Geldolf, Bernard Kormoss, Peter Zellner, Olivier Mathieu, Li Mei Tsien, Annemie Depuydt, Eric Van Daele, and Kai Vöckler to name most), and it was indeed a pleasure to spend one of my last meals of this century with a group of architects I've never met before within a reenactment of the iron crystal. And how about the 'scale' of that thing: 1 :: 150,000,000,000

I already mention (in a prior post) that they say sleep deprivation makes one susceptible to acute emotional reaction, and I relayed how such a reaction happened to me when Mark Wigley told me about his schizophrenic brother. Well, the truth is that I had several such reactions my second day in Brussels. The last such occurrence was late Friday night at the Atomium. A large group of the Inside Density participants where done having dinner and finishing their drinks. I went to sit beside Charlotte Gedolf (she and Gaëtan Du Four co-chaired the "Thinking Density" session of which I was a part). To my surprise, she started asking me about Quondam, and she specifically asked me about Anand Bhatt. Charlotte had been reading the exchange of correspondence between Anand and myself within schizophrenia + architectures, and she wanted to know if Anand and I knew each other, if we were friends. It was thus, when I had to honestly tell Charlotte that I actually don't know Anand at all, and only virtually know him, that my emotions almost got the better of me. It just kind of overwhelmed me that a woman architect that I just met the day before was so well aware of a set of correspondences I've had a few months earlier with an Indian architect that I've never even met, and then there was Anand a thousand miles away in India with no idea that he was part of a lively conversation in Brussels, in the Atomium no less.

hello, christian inversion of Rome text?
hello Peter,
In our brief chat after dinner at the Atomium on Friday night, you mentioned a medieval(?) Christian text that inverted the pagan sites of Rome into Christian sites. I know you told me that the book was in paperback, and even that a woman (architect?) taught a course on the subject at Harvard(?), but I in no way can recall the title of this work. Could you respond with the title of the book in question?

26 November 2001
Piranesi's Continual Double Theaters
The subject of double theaters starts with Bernini's play--the Baroque ending for sure--and it is Piranesi that continues this Baroque design technique. Oddly, the double theater aspect of Piranesi's design methodology has yet to be recognized by designers or design theorists or critics.
A short list of Piranesian double theaters:
1. check for possible examples in the Prima Parte.
2. the two states of the Carceri.
3. Wilton-Ely's example of mirrored precedent for one of the Carceri.
4. the overall double--Pagan-Christian--narrative of the Ichnographia Campus Martius, with the Scenographia as the empty stage set.
5. the double directional Triumphal Way.
6. the axes of life and death.
7. the axes of love and war.
8. the Mars - St. Agnes axis.
9. the theatrics of satire--Horti Luciliani.
10. the (literal) double theaters--Marcellus and Balbi.
11. the "circus act".
12. the back versus front of the altar.
13. the two sets of cochinae--is the snail its own double theater in that it self propagates, i.e., fulfills both sex roles itself? does this relate to the intercourse building?
14. the "rise and fall" (of Imperial Rome) as delineated by the two Busti.
15. it seems a case could be made regarding the working together of two mediums--plan delineations in combination with Latin labels.

26 November 2022   Saturday

14:14   JP

14:16   SL
That's my favorite place in City Hall. Thanks for sharing.

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