working title museum

unarrested architecture

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1998.11.16 10:03
...the space station fits precisely within the realm of extremity architecture. No question the space station is essentially as extreme as architecure can be today.

1999.01.14 13:33
Re: Target
Perhaps Michael Graves should also redesign all mass transit systems so we can all go conscientiously shopping in style. Hail designer bus fumes and a new cologne called "hold your breath".

Jencks/ labelling
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 anethama 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 Jenck's 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.

1999.05.21 16:40
Agonalia postscript
As odd as it sounds, only after sending the initial Agonalia post did two things occur to me:
1. the space created by the plan of the four-way Arch of Janus essentially forms a cross.
2. Only Helena is honored as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, and her feast is celebrated the 18th of August. The Greek Orthodox Church, on the other hand (or is it other face?), honors both Helena and Constantine as saints, and they share a combined feast day, which happens to be today, May 21st

I am very interested in the notion that architectural drawings are readable [and draughtable] as specific texts. I have always enjoyed [and learned from] the reading of drawings. So, if you asked me about the notion of 'draughtsmanship' being the same as delivering architectural narrative, then yes. Presently, the greatest example of architectural draughtsmanship as architectural narrative [for me] is Piranesi's plan of the Campo Marzio. For example, Piranesi infused the theme of inversion into many of the individual building plans composed of repeated inversions of their own component parts.

1999.08.19 08:23
Ichnographiam Ottopia . .
I'm not trying to induce schizophrenia, but I am certainly trying to evoke it. As much as some contemporary [architectural] theories like to banter with the notion of schizophrenia, I tend to think a lot of it is just talk with no real first hand perceptions. That's one of the points I'm attempting to make, and it's a point I'd rather the visitor to Ottopia figure out themselves without my stating it first.
You might try visiting every 25th page or so. The tempo definitely changes, and actually an unexpected narrative evolves. True Ottopia is only achieved through total immersion.

1999.11.07 20:43
Encyclopedia Ichnographica
Thanks all around for your comments and questions regarding the Encyclopedia Ichnographica project, and for your Rowe/Oppositions synopsis, which is an interesting bit of late 20th century architectural (theory/criticism) history I did not know.
You ask if I have plans for the Campo Marzio and the simple answer is yes, I do have plans for my Ichnographia work. My redrawing of the Campo Marzio began as a CAD hobby in 1987--I just got my own cad system at the time and I liked how you could easily mirror copy and rotate pieces of Piranesi's typologies to come up with complete plans; I used to seriously wonder what Piranesi would have done if he had CAD at his finger tips.
It's also interesting that you speculate about a possible "Roma Interruptus (interrumpere)" Since I have so many of the plans already input as CAD data, there is indeed the possibility of a Campo Marzio redux, actually lots and lots of redux redux.
As it stands now, my ongoing investigation and redrawing of the Ichnographia has led to the 'discovery' of a whole new aspect of Piranesi's work that so far no one else has found, namely that the large plan of the Campo Marzio is a readable narrative of Ancient Rome's political and architectural history--but in order to grasp this delineated 'text' one must 'read' in unison the individual plans, the plans in relationship to each other, the plans in relation to where the actual buildings really were, and (this is perhaps the most important) the Latin labels Piranesi gives to each plan. A paper I'm just now completing will be delivered the end of this month at the INSIDE DENSITY colloquium in Brussels, Belgium.
When I read your list of the five types of design, I immediately wondered if the notion of reenactment architectures may engender a sixth category. I know that reenactment is very much related to Mimetics and even Anthropomorphics, but I also see an important distinction between the latter two and the notion of reenactment, in that reenactments are not exactly copies, nor are they reconstructions, rather they are repeated rituals that have a core essence/event that is continual but also slightly changed over time and according to present circumstances. For example, Hadrian's Villa is perhaps the first (virtual) museum of architecture and the first reenactment 'theme park', the reign of Ludwig II of Bavaria was nothing less than a reenactment of previous European absolute monarchies, Disney's Cinderella castle/Magic Kingdom (modeled after Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein Castle) is then a reenactment of a reenactment (deluxe redux redux), Princess Diana's funeral reenacted Ancient Rome's Triumphal Way in every single detail including the massive (global) crowds that watched, and Las Vegas is undoubtedly today's world capital of reenactment architectures, even to the point of synthesizing a new reenactment urbanism. Moreover, now that I think of it, Rowe and Koetter's Collage City in part very much purports reenactment architectures/urbanisms although I believe the word reenactment is never used. Even if reenactment architectures are only a subset of Mimetics, I believe that reenactment architectures will nonetheless become a predominant design methodology throughout the coming millennium. It is then towards the notion of understanding and formulating a theory of reenactment architectures that I plan to further use what Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius teaches me.

2000.01.10 00:26
as dense as architecture can get?
As to wondering about the 'easy' play with scale's relative to Piranesi's Campo Marzio, in part you guess correctly. I say in part because when Piranesi delineates the Campus Martius proper, he more often than not uses the correct scale for the buildings that once existed there. Piranesi grossly exaggerates building scale in the Campo Marzio's outer regions, however. Nonetheless, Piranesi is deliberately 'playing' a learning game here, in that the outer regions is where Piranesi's plans and programs lack practically all veracity, hence, the hyperbole of Piranesi's architectural imagination is coded by a hyperbole of architectural scale. In simple terms, the over-sized plans of the Campo Marzio indicate buildings that Piranesi completely 'made-up', where as a high percentage of the smaller building plans indicate buildings that actually once existed and are drawn at their proper scale. (Mind you, the drawn plans of the once existing buildings, even though at a correct scale, are still often individual plans of Piranesi's invention.)

2000.02.12 14:25
beyond the envelop (sketch)?
John inquires:
Weren't Polshek, Goldberger and Futter adorable on Charlie Rose last night? Such happiness and glee. The envelope sketch! How whitewashy.
Steve replies:
I particularly liked the momentary, almost imperceptible awkwardness that arose when the Natural Sciences' likewise new virtual museum (i.e., all the continually updated scientific data that will be available on the museum's website) was being described by Futter as something much beyond the new Polshek building.
I'm now wondering if all the built environment of our planet is 'progressing' towards becoming a global (virtual) theme park, while cyberspace becomes the place where 'actual' 'real' data takes up residence.

2000.02.18 15:27
Re: [Re:] enactment
Perhaps typology is basically an exercise in the reenactment of architecutral abstractions.
When it come to mythical origins and first ideal forms, it is worthwhile to ask if the mythical origins and the first ideal forms are themselves reenactments. For example, the dance of Shiva reenacts metabolism. Moreover, might not Plato's ideal forms also be reenactments (albeit highly abstracted)? Perhaps Plato's prefect circle 'ideally' reenacts the pupils of our eyes and Plato's perfect triangle 'ideally' reenacts the nose on our face.
Perhaps all abstractions are highly idealized reenactments of reality, rather than reality being a reenactment of highly idealized abstractions.

Re: Place and Space
In 1983, I was still working at my first post-education (architect) office job, and it was after the drafting room manager gave me a small talk about vapor barriers that I said, "So basically the inside has to be different than the outside, but isn't that kind of what architecture has always been about?"
The manager looked at me as if I had somehow totally missed his point. Then I said, "It's ironic, however, that some of the greatest examples of architecture succeed exactly because they managed to bring the outside inside. The Pantheon immediately springs to mind. Then again those old and great pyramids are probably the foremost example of architecture that extremely differentiates the inside from the outside." My co-workers started to laugh, and the manager just said "OK, OK" and went back to his desk. Could it be that the basic rule of architecture is that the inside has to be different than the outside? Moreover, could it then also be that the practice of architecture has evolved into working out designs that continually try to break the basic rule?

2000.03.23 12:30
teaching at its best
The notion of reenactment within architecture is indeed central to architectural aesthetics, especially in our time. With reenactment comes a clearer understanding of authenticity versus inauthenticity. Because of reenactment, what is most often deemed inauthentic, is more correctly an inversion of the authentic, and here Duchamp's urinal redux is a perfect example.
Even though Disney Land/World are enormous commercial/tourist successes, they nonetheless remain aesthetic quandaries, but they really should be understood aesthetically. Again, because of reenactment, I not only see answers to Disneyfication in the architecture of Ludwig II, but I also see in the architecture of Ludwig II the opportunity to study the "architecture of reenactment" at a scale and magnitude (and accessibility) quite uncommon. I want nothing more than to discuss architectural reenactment in a scholarly manner.

journeys out of the body (into hyperspace?)
All of the recent 'scientific' discussion here reminded me of a particular passage I read in Rudolf v. B. Rucker's Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension (Dover, 1977). I bought the book in 1978 just before I went to rural Missouri to work on a HABS (Historic American Building Survey) team for the summer. My work-mates/room-mates in Perry, MO thought I was pretty nutty to be reading this stuff, but I was genuinely interested. Anyway, a passage from the book's annotated bibliography has always stuck in my mind because of its intrigue--Rucker writes:
Robert A. Monroe, Journeys Out of the Body, (Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1973).
So you're tired of just reading about 4-D space and want to go see it for yourself? This book tells you how to get there. Unfortunately, it is also a blueprint for insanity.
Monroe describes a fairly effective method of inducing a state in which one has the feeling of being able to leave one's body, move through walls and so on. Although he never refers to the fourth dimension, the idea of investigating the sort of "astral travel" he describes with an eye to interpreting the observed phenomena in terms of hyperspace is a tempting one.
The technique is basically to "wake up inside your dreams." It is not uncommon for one to have this experience during a daytime nap: that is, that one is awake and aware although one's body is still asleep. If on begins to look for this experience it begins to happen more often, and then astral travel is not far behind.
I worked on this for a few months once, but finally had to give it up as the experiences were so deeply frightening and disturbing. To be fully conscious and aware, and to know that one is in a dream world where anything can happen, to try to wake one's body up and not be able to--aaauugh! Indeed, reading the book, one gets the impression that Monroe finally scared himself into a heart attack.
But forewarned is forearmed, and perhaps some intrepid reader will be able to make something of the old theory that we have souls that move in hyperspace.
I should mention that Rucker's book is a very good, plain English science book that is all about "geomerty, relativity, and the fourth dimension," and not some sort of 'new-age' book.
I have never pursued finding Monroe's book, but there may be some renewed interest now.



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