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1996.06.21
another museum of architecture reference
Another reference to the "virtual museum of architecture" came from reading some in Rossi's The Architecture of the City. I am reading the chapters (headings) in reverse order and in the introduction to the 2nd Italian edition, Rossi makes reference to the Canaletto painting Capriccio.
From Rossi, p. 116: "After I wrote this book and from the concepts I postulated in it, I outlined the hypothesis of the analogous city, in which I attempted to deal with theoretical questions concerning design in architecture. In particular I elaborated a compositional procedure that is based on certain fundamental artifacts in the urban reality around which other artifacts are constituted within the framework of an analogous system. To illustrate this concept I gave the example of Canaletto's fantasy view of Venice, a capriccio in which Palladio's project for the Ponti di Rialto, the Basilica of Vicenza, and the Palazzo Chiericate are set next to each other and described as if the painter were rendering an urban scene he had actually observed. These three Palladian monuments, none of which are actually in Venice (one is a project; the other two are in Vicenza), nevertheless constitute an analogous Venice formed of specific elements associated with the history of both architecture and the city. The geographic transposition of the monuments within the painting constitutes a city that we recognize, even though it is a place of purely architectural reference. This example enables me to demonstrate how a logical-formal operation could be translated into a design method and then into a hypothesis for a theory of architectural design in which the elements were preestablished and formally defined, but where the significance that sprung forth at the end of the operation was the authentic, unforeseen, and original meaning of the work."
Immediately I think of the Strasbourg, Düsseldorf, Hurva composite building that I have created in 3d model form, and I would like to sometime in the future elaborate on how the composite is perhaps an analogous building. Furthermore, Rossi's point provides great fuel for future manipulation of my models and Canaletto's painting in particular provides inspiration and a grounding in terms of a "plan" for the "virtual museum" itself.
Overall, I see the analogous city concept working in tandem with the "virtual museum of architecture" idea, and I am at this point also interested in adding the collage city idea/methodology to the "museum" idea.


1997.05.25
Body, Imagination, and Architecture @ Quondam
...connection to the forthcoming Strasbourg exhibit, Giurgola as pure assimilating metabolist, and Piranesi as the proto assimilating metabolist (although that more Michelangelo). Also a connection to the Stirling/Le Corbusier, and Schinkel essays/ideas, and also Venturi's new theory of an electronic display architecture.
...references to the current metabolic process of the imagination.
...the meaning and symbolism of humanity’s architecture of highest fertility. ...conveying how the Western assimilation of the globe has had a devasting effect on humanity’s most fertile architecture, and how now the only globally ancient architecture to really survive in time and usage are the Greek and Roman models. ...there may yet be a future for a resurrection of the other ancient architectures. ...issue of scale relative to the architecture of highest fertility.
...architecture related to the terms of pregnancy. Are Romanesque and Gothic architecture related to the early months of pregnancy, or is it significant that the Renaissance coincides with pregnancy at three months.
...start thinking about how virtual architecture fits into the imagination--perhaps assimilating / metabolis / osmotic.

1997.10.27 (1997.11.01)
more Campo Marzio notes
I went through the Xerox copy of the Campo Marzio text that Sue Dixon sent me, and I have come up with some further ideas/enlightenment. First of all, I found new significance in the Scenographia because if the ruins that Piranesi calls out in the aerial perspective are actual (i.e., hold veracity), then there is more evidence against the notion of absolute fabrication in terms of the reconstructed plan. The Scenograpia also depicts actual ruins collaged in the foreground and border, and I will further investigate this in terms of possibly providing more evidence toward sound archeology/reconstruction. I'm not sure how I am ultimately going to use this information, but I am certain it will be used somewhere. Perhaps I construct a small feature (web page) explaining/analyzing the plate.
Within the original text there is also a list of existing ruins from the site either in situ or in fragments. Again, this list offers the best possible source for veracity when it comes to establishing which buildings actually once existed vs. which were fabricated by Piranesi himself. I will use this list as part of the information that is presently available for each building. Furthermore, there is a "catalogo" which lists all the literary references available for the buildings that once existed within the Campo Marzio. I think it would be a wonderful project to collect the actual texts pertaining to each building, and then offer the text in conjunction with the plan of the building. This will greatly enhance the illustrated glossary, in fact, the final documents will be more like a Campo Marzio encyclopedia. I am going to start by translating (more like transcribing) the list, and at least apply that data to a web page for each list. The good thing about Piranesi's list is that it also gives me a ready made building list.
In addition to Piranesi's text, I have also done some recent reading from Krautheimer's Rome: Profile of a City, 312-1302. The first chapter in part I is pretty much the only material that relates to my Campo Marzio research, because it gives a fairly clear picture of the role of Constantine within the first Christian building projects of Rome. I am trying to determine the date in time that the Ichnographia represents. Right now the oldest building in the plan is the column of Marcus Aurelius (AD 174). I have to correct that last statement because there are buildings named for Emperor Alexander Severus (222-35). This leads to the question as to why Piranesi decided to omit (dash-in only) the Aureliam Wall. I don't have a definitive answer except to say that Piranesi took Imperial (classical) Rome to what he himself saw (imagined) as its logical conclusion. (I read in Encyclopedia Britannica that Emp. Alex. Sev. may have wanted to include Jesus as one within the Roman pantheon of Gods.) [Subsequent research has shown the tomb of Honorius to be the last building of ancient Rome to be delineated within the Ichnographia Campus Martius.]
In any case, the Campo Marzio represents Rome within the 100 years before the Emp. Constantine and the beginning of Rome's Christianization. I find it interesting that Constantine's architecture is both Christian and (Pagan) civic (Old St. Peter's Basilica vs. the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Janus). I find it particularly interesting that Constantine should erect an Arch to a Pagen god, yet the god Janus could look in both a forward and backward direction, symbolically seeing both the past and the future, which describes exactly the situation that Constantine was in, i.e., between Rome's Pagen past and its Christian future. This is all more relevant information for my inversion theory, and in particular with regard to the Triumphal Way.
Finally, I was surprised to find references in Allen's article to the notion of inversion. I have to wonder if there was some kind of subliminal thing going on in my mind (although it is probably a year since I last read the article). In any case, I will use the reference and then expound greatly upon it because inversion will be one of my main themes.
(11.1.97) I have just discovered that the latest structures within the Ichnographia are the Arch and Porticus of Gratius, Valentinus, and Theodosius, c.390s. This is the only exception to all the buildings in the Ichnographiam being pre-Constantine. I'm not sure if this forces me to abandon the notion of trans-temporal representation, but that would not explain the omission of the Aurelian Wall and Old St. Peter's. I really don't know what to think exactly, except to say that i am not going to shy away from the information.

1998.04.23
the Ichnographia as [reenactment] "theme park"
I have mentally played with the notion of the Ichnographia being used (perhaps for the first time) as a "guide map." Using the Ichnographia as a guide would seem ridiculous to most because the large plan has always been dismissed as a pure fantasy. It can act as a guide, especially if one is aware of the textual background of the plan, meaning the historical texts which describe ancient Rome.
Along these lines, I came up with the idea of looking at the Ichnographia as a ancient Roman theme park--a virtual place where one can vicariously experience the ancient city as well as learn about the history of the city. I am not at all a fan of late 20th century theme parks, but their "virtuality" has not escaped me either. Judging by what is created today in terms of simulacra and mass entertainment, it is as if the Ichnographia is like their uncanny prototype.
The themes Piranesi uses are numerous:
a. the Imperial genealogy of both the Bustum Augustii and the Bustum Hadriani.
b. the forward and backward "ride" of the Triumphal Way.
c. the military themes along the Equirius.
d. the numerous garden designs
e. the nemus Caesaris and the Bustum Hadriani
In a way, the whole typological catalogue is nothing but one variation of a theme after another.
In no way do I want to cheapen my interpretation of the Campo Marzio by relating it to modern theme parks, but the fact remains that there are similarities. Does this mean that Piranesi is yet again (200) years ahead of his time in terms of planning? Does this correlation shed new light on the present relevance of the Ichnographia as a planning paradigm that prophetically explains architecture's state as well as shed light on the future? These are certainly questions that I never expected to be asking myself, yet I have thought about the possible urban design relevance of the Ichnographia for today, but not from the point of view of modern theme parks.
I guess this is just another issue to consider, but it is also a very far reaching one because of the implications toward a possible understanding of the future of architecture.


1998.05.14
What will get Quondam noticed?
I want Quondam to start exhibiting a real edge. Since I have total control (and no one can stop me), it seems to be time to start putting together a museum like nothing that has ever been done before. I have all the skills now, and I have the data; I guess its time for me to just let loose.
I’m not sure what representing the future actually means, yet I do know that I could figure something out if I actually gave it a fair amount of thought. I guess I mean representing an architecture and an architectural attitude for the future, for the next millennium. This (off hand) seems to imply the Timepiece and BIA. Somehow I have to come up with the same kind of program where a provocative message comes through.
I feel this “message” has to have something to do with design, and I think it has to do with metabolic architecture. The thing is though that I really don’t have a full blown idea of a future design philosophy.

1998.07.16
Quondam
...upbeat, future oriented, spontaneous, eclectic and hopefully even more architectural, if not more cyber or virtual. The approach will be freer and almost without any discernible hierarchy.
...continually change the entry page... ...never to be an introduction, but a complete non sequitur from the get-go.
...a site that will confuse them...
...a clean slate again, a totally new Quondam with all the old [content] stored away.
5. ...all the crazy stuff that demonstrates the infinite possibilities that CAD and, to some extent, cyberspace afford.
10. ...take more advantage of the expansive web field.
12. ...continually address the future via the Timepiece and the BIA, ...begin featuring more and more of crazy designs. ...start using Quondam the same as Hey Art... and 2=odd.
...very stimulating and very Piranesian.


1998.11:15 21:03
[architecture opted otherwise]
…new architectural concepts derived from my writing of The Timepiece of Humanity, starting with the word chronosomatics: the interrelationship of time and the human body. From there I will propose the largely unprecedented concepts of:
extremity architecture (the Pyramids, Stonehenge, anything pre 550 BC)
architecture of fertility (the Romans and the Subcontinentals more or less leads the world here)
assimilating architecture (from absorption to purge)
metabolic architecture (which centers on anabolism and catabolism, the creative and destructive operations of metabolism)
osmotic architecture (exchange and equilibrium - outside/inside)
electro-magnetic architecture (i.e., architecture of light)
and ultimately, architecture of all high frequencies (and even I don't know what that is exactly, but it's out there mostly in the far far future)


1998.11.16 10:03
phase1.1?
...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.


1998.12.17
Re: city making and city breaking
It has not escaped my attention that Operation Desert Fox has spurred some discussion here within the design-list that very much resembles the notion of humanity presently working metabolically, i.e., equal doses of creation and destruction. With regard to what I last said here concerning the possible notion of an assimilating architecture, my further elaboration of there presently also being an imaginative operation with a metabolic nature now seems very timely. I thus wish to interject one example of metabolic architecture/urbanism.
Berlin: foremost metabolic city of the 20th century
No doubt the city of Berlin, Germany has undergone unequaled metamorphosis throughout the course of the 20th century.
Berlin reached one of this planet's highest levels of urban density within the first quarter of this century.
In the 1930s, Berlin became capital of the National Socialist's Third Reich, an unprecedented create/destroy political machine, extreme even in its assimilation, the Holocaust purge.
1945, the Battle of Berlin leaves the city all but totally destroyed.
During the Cold War, Berlin increasingly becomes a very real duality, a duality much like metabolism itself.
1989, the Berlin Wall opens, falls, and within a few years the city is again united.
Y2K, Berlin begins the 21st century as a completely new German capital.
The pattern of creation and destruction completely pervades the last 100 years of Berlin's history, but then again it is also the capital of one of the 20th century's foremost metabolic nations.
Berlin and Germany are not alone in their metabolism, however. One only has to look at Japan and its two A-bomb cities, the two Koreas, the once two Vietnams, and there is always Israel and Old Jerusalem.
No one has yet suggested the likelihood of two Iraq's and/or two Baghdads, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if that place somehow became very metabolic as well.


1999.02.10 18:28
Re: SF architectures
It seems to me that the future for design-l is entirely in the hands of the members of design-l, and, for me, that is the true value of this medium, this forum. It is clearly self-evident that the more that is said here, the more important this forum becomes.
I believe that what has not fully sunk in among most that use this list, as well as those that use the web as a communicating medium, is that this really is free (i.e., doesn't cost anything) speech, and, what's more, it's free architectural speech not necessarliy falling on deaf ears. Entities like this list and web pages more than anything threaten the traditional role of editorial and acedemic publishing. Essentially, the (long guarded) priviledge of writing (architectural) criticism, history, etc. is now just as much in the hands of whoever wishes to write. Moreover, in today's world of increased diversity, it is precisely the variety of views that a list like this produces that makes this forum all the more valuable, and in that sense design-l already is a collaborative architectural work.

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 (call no: NA2550 S77 1999 - ISBN 0-07-061415-6).
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 the metabolic process may possibly be the next predominant paradigm for humanity?

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