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First introduction to "architectural models" . . . circa 1960.

1998.04.29
Campo Marzio - new discoveries
...St. Peter's Basilica and Square match exactly the outline of the Porticus Neronianae and the Temple and Area of Mars complex. The piazza of St. Peter's matches the dimensions of the Area Martis, the Temple of Mars fits within the forecourt of St. Peter's, and the nave and transept crossing of the Neronian Porticus falls right in line with the crossing of St. Peter's. ...so exact, and unquestionably deliberate on Piranesi's part. ...firmly locks the analysis of the life and death axes.
The other discovery deals with the horti Luciliani and the horti Lucullani.
Piranesi places the fictitious horti Luciliani where the horti Lucullani ought to be, and places the horti Lucullani at a location further north.
It is the horti Lucullani that Messalena murdered for.
Lucilius is the father of Roman satire. Is there anything satirical in Piranesi's plan of the garden? Perhaps the answer has something to do with a shrine to Minerva being in the center of one of the building complexes--literally "wisdom" (but also "weaving") in the center of a garden of satire. The theater and salons, now make more sense.
satire 1 a : an ancient Roman commentary in verse on some prevailing vise of folly b : a usually topical literay composition holding up human or individual vices, folly, abuses, or shortcomings to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other method sometimes with an intent to bring about c : LAMPOON 2 a : a branch of literature ridiculing vice or folly
censure 1 : a judgement involving condem-nation a : spiritual chastizement by an ecclesiastical agency
wit implies intellectual brilliance and quickness in perception combined with a gift for expressing ideas in an entertaining, often laughter provoking, pointed way, usually connoting the unexpected or apt turn of phrase or idea and often suggesting a certain brittle unfeelingness
satire can apply to any criticism or censure relying on exposure, often by irony and often subtle, of the ridiclous or absurd qualities of something
The notion of Piranesi being satirical himself throughout the Ichnographia is an intriguing idea.
...the various other gardens and buildings that Piranesi places on the same plateau as the horti Lucullani. Some of them, like the horti Narcissi, relate directly to the Messalena story since it is the freedman Narcissus that ultimately kills Messalena. There is also the horti Anteri--Anteros means "an avenger of slighted love," which describes both Messalena and her husband the emperor Claudius, although for different reasons.
...Tafuri could have said so much more about the horti Luciliani.

1999.08.18 17:34
18 August -- the feast of Saint Helena
Saint Helena is without doubt the person I least expected. There was no prior indication that the life of a woman from late antiquity would captivate my mind the way it has. I imagine many of you reading this now seriously wonder why or how Helena could even be relevant at this late point in the twentieth century. The simple answer is that Helena, as a woman, an empress, and even as an architect was instrumental in the first physical manifestations of a major cultural paradigm shift that ultimately encompassed global proportions. Helena's life presents nothing less than the role of a powerful woman during a time of incredibly major and rapid change. Today is definitely full of major and rapid change. Are we to expect the arrival of a powerful woman as well?
No doubt the most intriguing aspects of looking back at Helena's life [and practice as an architect] are the questions and the nature of the questions that surface.
Was Helena secretly a Christian well before Constantine's conversion the night before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge [12 October 312]?
Did the Donatist Controversy play a role in how Helena's "conversion" to Christianity was [incorrectly?] recorded by Eusebius?
Did the city and citizens of Rome experience their first true peace once Helena began to live there in 313? Was it indeed an Empress, and not an Emperor, that ultimate delivered Rome's "eternal" peace? [In the thirty years of Constantine's rule as an emperor, the combined time he actually stayed in Rome amounts to less than one year.]
Is it just coincidence that Helena's Palace in Rome was literally right down the street from the tract of land Constantine bestowed upon the Papacy in order for it to establish the first Papal Palace and Rome's (and the world's) first Christian basilica? [Don't we all wish we could choose our neighbors?]
Did the city of Rome simple become Helena's sole domain? [What person with an innate talent for architecture suddenly finding themselves holding absolute power wouldn't make the city of Rome their domain?]
After a dozen years of busily building churches in Rome, did Helena see as her next mission to start a similar [church] building boom in the Holy Land, that is, once Constantine became ruler of the eastern half of the Empire?
Did Helena's initialize the building of churches [as many legends say she did] in the towns she passed through as she began to travel across the again united Empire?
Was Helena one of the un-named members of Constantine's family that Eusebius mentions being present at the Council of Nicaea (May 325)?
Did Helena go the Holy Land immediately after the Council of Nicaea rather than a year or two later?
After her activities in the Holy Land, activities which legends say included the finding of the True Cross, did Helena travel back to Rome via the northern coast of Africa?
Is it possible that Helena was making her way back to Rome (to be present at Constantine's twentieth jubilee, July 326) when she learned that Constantine ordered the death of Crispus (Constanitne's first son) in May 326?
Did Crispus snap into schizophrenia in 326, and is that the main reason Constanitne had Crispus killed, aside from the fact that Fausta, Constantine's wife but not the mother of Crispus, may have prodded Constantine's action for the advancement of her own children?
Did Helena have a hand in the subsequent murder of Fausta as some ancient historians surmise she did?
After all her enormous religious activities, did Helena suddenly find herself within the greatest test of her faith?
Are the rare double basilicas of Aquileia and particularly Trier, the last early Christian church begun during Helena's life time, uncanny tributes to Crispus' schizophrenic demise?
Is Crispus the reason Helena made her unexpected appearance within Quondam's gallery 1999 schizophrenia + architecture exhibit?
Is the architect of the parish church of St. Helena in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Olney actually Flavia Julia Helena Augusta herself?
If nothing else, Helena has made me aware of a pivotal time in history about which I previously knew virtually nothing. What is most unfortunate, however, is that practically nothing remains of the buildings Helena designed. Practially all of the churches were eventually redone, very likely by men architects who thought they could do better.

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 Campi Martii teaches me.

1999.12.29 16:27
breakfasts with Winka
A number of the INSIDE DENSITY participants, including myself, stayed at Brussels' Sun Hotel. As I 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 (see xxx.htm) 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 work, and the online presentation of her project within MoMA's Un-Private House exhibit. (Just this week I've found Winka's website www.archi-tectonics.com and an interview with Winka at http://web.arch-mag.com
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 student 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 (ie, 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.
At the next morning's breakfast, Winka only had time for coffee while she waited for a taxi. I simply asked her what she's reading these days. She mentioned a work by a Japanese novelist, along with Saskia Sassen's latest book. I told her I was reading Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation, because of its possible bearing on reenactment. I also managed to quickly tell her about my St. Helena work, and how just meeting two Elenis added much to my thesis [legend], to which she replied, "So, you are having lots of fun!"

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