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1998.10.29 10:08
what's fire?
With regard to architectural theory and lighting, I'm curious as to whether fire is considered natural illumination or artificial illumination.
When I went to architectural school in the late 1970s, natural lighting was the sunlight/daylight that came through windows, and electrical lighting was called artificial lighting. There was never any discussion as to the place of fire as illumination, even though for the greater part of architectural history fire was the only other means of illumination excepting light from the sun.
There is a book entitled A World Lit Only by Fire. It has nothing to do with architecture, and everything to do with the first circumnavigation of our planet (Magellan).

1998.12.20 13:15
Re: city making and city breaking
In response to my statement "During the Cold War, Berlin increasingly becomes a very real duality, a duality much like metabolism itself," M. wrote:
"I'm not sure about that, as the two were almost completely isolated from each other. What little flowed through the membrane of the Berlin Wall was information, not the goods and people and social intercourse that defines real city metabolism. However, that information, finding a recipient at just the right time, was able to start an epedemic of revolution."
My point was simply that there were indeed too Berlins, and yes they were two pretty much completely distinct Berlins, which makes the dual urban phenomenon all the more confounding. It is also interesting to note that the process of "flow through the membrane" (of the Berlin Wall) actually discribes the physiological operation of osmosis instead of metabolism, (I have lots to say about osmotic architecture as well as assimilating and metabolic architecture--and, coincidentally, the sequence of entry into Schinkel's Altes Museum in Berlin is a classic example of osmotic architecture).

1999.02.27 17:24
27 February - the 1st Equiria
The Equria is the annual horse-races held on the 27th of February and the 14th of March in the Campus Martius, in honor of Mars.

1999.05.17 11:17
Quondam Biennale Architecture 2000
Quondam in the Neighborhood of Olney: Less Aesthetics, More Ethnics

1999.06.14 12:21
interview 2.6
When I began constructing 3D CAD models of unbuilt architectural designs in the mid 1980s, I inaugurated a whole new way of studying architecture, specifically the study of built or buildable form through 3-dimensional drawing. In creating the models I was simultaneously enacting an architectural self-education, and since I was specifically constructing buildings that were never built, I was (self) learning lessons that did not even exist in the real world, yet, nonetheless, the lessons were purely about architecture. So besides all the buildings I've looked at and all the books I've read, I've also been influenced by some buildings that do not even exist. At this point, Quondam in all that it offers is probably the best overall reflection of my "architectural" mind, i.e., Quondam discloses a large portion of my architectural dispositions. Quondam is not a complete reflection of my architectural mind/brain, however.

1999.07.28 12:22
according to lao-tzu:
if the shoe fits the foot is forgotten, and if the belt fits the belly is forgotten.
according to sgp:
"I would not include an email list as the type of interface I am describing."
I felt confident that sgp would not include an email list within the type of interface he describes, yet his definition does fit what goes on at design-l. I would assume the constraints of the list are obvious (language-opinions, number of members, general constraints of email), and what we individually impress is likewise obvious (e.g., the nature of this very email relative to the sgp opinion), and, finally, what is posted at design-l tells a lot about the senders, or at least presents the personality the sender wishes the others to perceive.
In many ways, what I'm about to say demonstrates just how good an interface design-l is: you can present your impression, but you cannot control how others interact with your impression. The best we all can do is share our impressions, and it is the shared composite that ultimately realizes the phenomenon.
Judging by sgp's web work, I gather he seeks an interface that invites, and indeed requires user interaction, interaction even to the extent of changing the original medium (or message if there is one). I wonder, however, how free sgp really wants the user to be. If the fact that sgp objects to his definition of interface being applied to an email list is any indication, then are 'interfaces' just another form of control, albeit cleverly masked?
As simple as it is, I personally like the interface/architecture of design-l. There are no 'bells and whistles', and there is rarely eye-candy, but it offers and delivers good interactivity nonetheless.

1999.09.29 18:35
the formula in words
Both the Villa Savoye and the Palais des Congrès are essentially boxes raised on pilotis with a continuous ramp connecting three distinct levels. All three levels in each building and their relationship to the ongoing ascent of the ramp are part of the promenade formula. The lowest level, under the raised box, is symbolically the most mundane, and here Le Corbusier enacts a forest of pilotis within which the perimeter of the building is recessed--significantly, the entry point and the beginning point of ascent (ramp) are nearly synonymous. As one begins moving through the buildings, one is also ascending. The second level, the box, symbolizes the realm of limbo, the in-between, part inside and part outside. For Le Corbusier, this is realm where we live (Savoye) and where we gather (Congrès). Ultimately, the ramp in both buildings raises us to the garden on the roof in the realm of the sky. For Le Corbusier, this is architecture's goal, this is where architecture should deliver us.
What makes this formula even more interesting is that it is evident in other buildings, by architects other than Le Corbusier, and both after and before Le Corbusier's time. First I found the very same formula implemented in Stirling/Wilford's Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, 1977. Just as Le Corbusier elaborates and distorts the formula late in his life within the design of the Palais des Congrès, Stirling too further distorts the promenade route at Cologne. Then, after several years, I found the same promenade architecturale formula within Terragni's Danteum, and here the formula is even more clear, both symbolically and formally--first the forest, then the dark concentrated interior of the Inferno, then the inside-outside realm of Purgatory (limbo), and finally Heaven with its invisible columns and invisible roof. Again, an ongoing passage of ascent leading to an ultimate goal. From here I now see the promenade architecturale formula present in Schinkel's Altes Museum, Berlin, the Pantheon in Rome, and even along the via Triumphalis as delineated by Piranesi within the Ichnographia Campus Martius.

sculpture versus architecture
A quick answer to the series of serious questions raised by Marcus and "Pavilion" is that the notion of hybrid is very much alive in architectural discussions and debates today. Is "Pavilion" clearly a sculpture/architecture hybrid? And if so, are hybrids a 'category' that aesthetics must begin considering?
I'm a hybrid of a very mixed sort. My father was an ethnic German born and raised in Poland; my mother is an ethnic German born and raised in Yugoslavia (the aftermath of WWII eradicated both my parents worlds); my brother was born in Bavaria (the only born German in my family); and I am born and raised in Philadelphia. My German relatives (in Germany) see me as a "typical" American, yet they are at the same time astounded that I'm fluent in Modern German, plus that I am also somewhat fluent in a Danube-Schwabian dialect, a 'language' that as far as Germany today is concerned is dead. Moreover, my German accent (when I speak German) gives Germans pause. From what I gather, Germans find my accent strange yet also familiar. And to complete my hybrid reality, apparently when I speak English, it's with a Philadelphia accent.
There are lots and lots of hybrids out there. Yes, the categorization of the hybrid is not easy, and even most times messy, but please let's not ignore the hybrid by simply not seeing it for what it really is.

2000.01.28 10:24
Sorting out truth
Paul wrote:
Were I asked to nominate the pivotal architectural work of the twentieth century (no one asked, of course) I would suppose it be found at the nexus between the long architectural tradition and revolutionary modern movement in the earlier twentieth century, or else at the nexus with what as followed modernism. Restricting my view to the latter, I would suggest a work probably little known to most of others on the list: the project (unbuilt, alas) for a museum at Santa Barbara, California by Michael Dennis (and partner), which appears in Michael's book, Court and Garden. Without discussing this project further here, I advance it merely to assure others that I do hope to become more specific, offering "for instances" as exemplars of these fundamental issues. Clue: Michael's work was a brilliant confrontation of alternative spatial conceptions, and a highly rational and effective demonstration of how both spatial strategies may be employed together in a single work.
Steve replies:
I looked at Dennis' Art Museum project for Santa Barbara, and, although a nice design, I wouldn't call it pivotal because it is somewhat over the hump of the pivot of its particular time, i.e., the late 1970s - early 1980s. When looking at the Dennis design, I'm immediately reminded of virtually every published entry to the "House for Karl Friedrich Schinkel" competition run by Shinkenchiku and programmed and judged by James Stirling in 1979 (see The Japan Architect February 1980).
I notice that Schinkel is no where mentioned within Dennis' Court and Garden book, but Stirling is included on a few pages. The absence of Schinkel is curious in that the main historical precedent for the proposed Art Museum in Santa Barbara very much seems to be Schinkel's Court Gardener's House and Roman Bath complex (1834-40) on the palace grounds of Sansossi in Potsdam.
When it comes to values and truth (in architecture), I think it best to call "a spade and spade," and not rely on abstract categories which may or may not be of real use. Paul said, "artists commonly think that what they do is not to "express" what they bring to the work, but that they "explore" and "discover" in the process of doing the work what was not predetermined. Isn't this really our own experience as designers? ...this line of inquiry will bring us to Kahn's notion that we are not "inspired," divine "creators" of form, but that forms preexist us, and our function is rather to find them.
This, of course, becomes metaphysics--and I admit to being not only a rationalist and a formalist, but a metaphysician." I don't know how metaphysical it is to see an architectural design from the past and then, as a designer, wish to somehow capture the essence of the former design in a whole new design, but I do know that many designers are very protective of their "inspirations" only because they already know how easy it is to "copy" secretly while at the same time manifesting one's own originality publicly.
Haven't we already seen in our own time just how hypocritical "value" and "truth" are? I am now much more interested in trying to understand the ways and means of hypocrisy than I am interested in trying to understand the hierarchy of "value" and "truth". The presence of hypocrisy appears much more real than the presence of value and truth.



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