novel architecturale



Ur-Ottopia House     2303
    Maison Dom-ino
    Wall House 2
    Gooding House

Maison Millennium 001   2304
    Maison Dom-ino
    Composition Three
    Palais des Congrès stage set
    Olivetti Headquarters
    Wall House 2

Palace of Ottopia   2305
    Palazzo Massimo
    Wall House 2

Lauf Haus der Kunst   2306
    Altes Museum
    Museum for Nordrhein Westfalen

Schizophrenic Folds   2307
    St. Peter's Square
    Altes Museum
    Palais des Congrès

Infringement Complex   2308
    Capital Park West

House for Otto 3   2309

House for Otto 4   2310
    Wagner House

House for Otto 5   2311

House for Otto 6   2312

House for Otto 7   2313

House for Otto 8   2314

Philadelphia DTM  

Inside the Density of G. B. Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius   3811b

1999.02.06 18:44
Re: notes from a reading of the Timepiece of Humanity
Freud is especially metabolic in his Civilization and its Discontents.

abstract done
...a prime example of the proverbial "two sides to every story."
e2566a e2567a e2568 e2569 e274a e2749c e2909a e2918a e3084 e3102

21st century buildings
I was just thinking tonight how I seem to have the ability to think about (design) what the next big "style" will be well before it actually happens, and along those lines I thought one easy way to figure out what's going to be next is to look at the late work Le Corbusier and then take it a step further. I immediately thought of the Olivetti project and these wild curvy, wiggly office towers, and even then crashing them together. Moreover, the way that Olivetti is on a raised "terrain", I thought of easily creating a "terrain" out of pieces of the Media base model, and then having that raised on pilotis. The imaginative designs on this theme alone are boundless.
I next thought how Quondam could (should?) in 2000(+) exclusively present 21st century buildings, i.e., buildings designed within the first days, weeks, months, year of the 21st century -- of course, these buildings will be entirely my design--"History is largely controlled by those who write it."

an alter-ego for Quondam
...utilizes the same collection and themes as Quondam, but nonetheless affords Quondam a "place" to be much more liberal, uninhibited...

cutting-edge design
...address the recent topological approach to architecture as well. The only ideas I have so far involve a combination of digital terrain and existing models and Corbusian principles. I also have the idea of applying existing perspective details and even composite opaque surfaces to any variety of building model surfaces.
...other new ways to generate weird geometries:
1. use solid rotate, but not using the normal polar axis of rotation -- I suspect that angled axes will create very weird latticed geometrics, and if the rotated line segment is also angled, then the produced variety of shapes is all the more infinite.
2. use solid extrude, but again not using the line of extrusion in a strict polar fashion. Moreover, the original lines being extruded do not have to be on the same flat plane either.
3. begin to exaggeratingly distort my existing models, e.g., spread them out far and wide to create whole new terrains (upon which to place new buildings and/or environments). Of course, playing with (reducing) the z factor will also come into play.
4. extrude and rotate wireframes that are already in 3d -- this may prove to be completely ground-breaking, and even revolutionary.
With these four new ideas alone, I have substantially increased the notion of Quondam's infinite collection as well as substantially increased my capacity to create very formally inventive designs -- models I didn't even think were possible for me to produce before.
I'm already thinking that Quondam begins 2000 with an exhibit entitled "an infinite collection", and all I have to do is display one new collection of forms after another. I'm also thinking that this new breed of model formation and manipulation is how I create Ottopia in 3d.

taking a personal viewpoint
In considering my apparent apathy regarding schizophrenia + architectures, I’m thinking that I should begin taking a more independent, personal viewpoint/perspective to the delivery of content.

school of architecture
...a “project” taking any city besides London and Rome, and figuring out the best possible route for Diana’s funeral procession. The point of the project would be twofold: one, to investigate the given city for its narrative and symbolic content, and, two, while investigating the given city, to then also find the unfulfilled potential of the city, and thus decide how the city could be easily transformed into a more meaningful, albeit subtle urban design.

1999.07.13 22:52
the pleasure of (being lost in translation) architecture
My favorite: The configuration enters another one is connected with the both.

1999.07.27 11:34
interface, Truman Show, etc.
It is now confirmed that the main reason I occasionally write to you is because I then look forward to your response. Nonetheless, I found your response this time somewhat provocative, but mostly disturbing. The cautionary advise to not go crazy, the psychological advise, the worry about too much belief as a trap, the tone down the volume of ego--it took me a while to figure out where all that was coming from. Some I can connect and some I can't. For what it's worth, I take my work seriously as projects, however projects executed to the full extent of homo ludens, as human being (seriously) playing.
I'm trying to think of a simple way to explain my work in order to help you understand where I see myself coming from. What makes this difficult is that there can be no blanket statements to cover what I do because I've developed (through lots of practice) a versatility of dexterity that enables me to easily jump from one way of doing something to another way of doing something (else)--a kind of multi megabyte random access dexterity. I learned how to 'play' this way right after I first learned CAD, essentially I could begin playing because the computer supplemented my dexterity of hand and mind tremendously. So much of what I had to take seriously, like precision drafting, was now being done for me. This left a brand new (large) gap in the area of what things I could do myself. Rather than lament the computer taking away my skill, I consciously decided to celebrate my new freedom, and I did that first by going to the furthest extreme from precision, to the scribble, the slapdash, the accident. That was in the early 1980s, and I'm happy to say that my celebration (through art) then has generated a large and growing legacy as well as a (unique?) work ethic. For example, part of being good at being metabolic is knowing precisely where to break the rules (i.e., within the confines of the rules themselves)--legal loopholes are very metabolic.
I find it intriguing that within the context of my work you focus on belief. To me that means I am then well within the rather narrow territory where belief is indeed the central issue--there are not many people that inhabit that territory freely or easily, mostly because other people will go so far as to kill you if your beliefs are threatening to their beliefs. For some sad reason, beliefs often come with battles.
Of course, I believe in what I do and say/write, and in so doing I have seen many of my former beliefs abandoned. The world I see now is very different from the world I saw more or less the first 35 years of my life, and I'm glad for it. People often say that life is too short, but it is probably more true that most of us are here for what is actually a long time. I am now at the point of creating my life--Truman producing his own Truman Show? Or is Quondam my virtual "Glass House"?

content for Ottopia
I'm now thinking that building collisions and rotate extrudes become a major illustrated theme along with model distortions.
Should Ottopia be the place where unfulfilled dreams are addressed, e.g., the unfulfilled and/or past contents of Quondam?

1999.07.29 14:28
Generally, Bloomer's treatment of Piranesi's Campo Marzio follows that of Tafuri's, but she investigates some of Piranesi's other work with some originality. She is much better at finding symbolism/hidden meaning in Joyce, however, than she is in finding the same in Piranesi. For her, the (s)crypt(s) signifies a labyrinth (one she often seems lost in herself, even though it is a labyrinth of her own making!). For example, she sees the Campo Marzio plan as representing the labyrinth of the underworld, that place where the [Cartesian] grid/cage of rationality does not apply. Her [s]cryptic efforts getting into this underworld are especially worth reading because it is a thorough aggregate of good research mixed (unfortunately?) with the Tafurian and Derridian agendas (see her treatment of the CM's Terentus occulens aram Ditis et Proserpinae). Inadvertently, however, by going 'underneath' the large plan, she puts all her effort into seeking something that is not there. Essentially, she avoids the real plan itself.

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.

architecture in cyberspace?
Can anything other than light travel at the speed of light? Would those electric waves of radiation and those magnetic waves of radiation that compose light be light at any other speed? Doesn't being at the speed of light pretty much make everything else incidental?
How does the speed of brain synapses compare to the speed of light?
As to electromagnetic (radiation) architecture, i.e., architecture of light, the two best examples currently on this planet are the Pantheon in Rome and Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum.
Chronosomatics suggests that the foremost electromagnetic architecture coincides with osmotic architecture--the heart being the body's center of electromagnetism and the lungs, which surround the heart, are the body's largest concentration of osmosis. The heart enters the plane of the present c. 3090. the kidneys are the body's second largest concentration of osmosis, but in the kidneys, osmosis mixes with metabolism.

...the flow/current/wave pattern
...the flow/current/wave pattern of your emitted thoughts carry good highs and lows, provoking aboves and belows, and, this time at least, a co[s]mic ending[?]. continually apply the standards of the real world to the virtual world with what appears to be a non-investigation of those [other] qualities or standards the virtual [so far] evokes wholly on its own. My leaning toward virtual extremism is at the same time a search for some "purism" within the virtual. I don't want the virtual to merely become a reflection of the real, and that is precisely because it seems that we are actually lucky enough to be living at a time when the whole notion of a virtual realm is becoming a viable other realm--a wonderful time when it is truly possible to begin delivering something that is above all NOT more of the same [o. s.].
For what it's worth, what John just said, "Which is why some argue that reason is too slow to be useful any more. Intuition and insight are speedier, but not as fast as illogic and madness." describes perfectly my position regarding design, and even more so art. Moreover, I began to think this way back in 1983, within the first month of my working as a computer-aided architect eight hour a day, five days a week. I never expected it, but I rather quickly saw that cad (and here I must mention that I was using Intergraph, which was phenomenally superb even by most of today's standards) would be incredibly fast if the user/designer too was incredibly fast, however, the speed of the designer coming close to the speed of the computer meant a shift into spontaneous mode, a design mode rarely taught, and indeed most often severely denounced.

Quondam on/off
...yesterday...the notion of an on Quondam and an off Quondam. The on Quondam is the regular Quondam and the off Quondam is where the museum will be experimental and offer an alternative history (of architecture).

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 and an interview with Winka at
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!"

1999.05.21 11:24
May 21st - the Agonalia

Agonalia - a festival in honor of Janus celebrated in Rome on the 9th of January and the 21st of May.

Janus is my favorite Roman god.

Janus - an old Italian deity. He was represented with a face on the front and another on the back of his head. The month of January was sacred to him, as were all other beginnings. The myth makes him a king of Latium or Etruria, where he hospitably received Saturn when expelled by Jupiter from Crete. He had a small temple in the Forum, with two doors opposite to each other, which in time of war stood open and in time of peace were shut; the temple was trice closed on this account. With reference to his temple, the deity was called Janus Geminus or Janus Quirinus.

In its over 800 year history, Rome was at peace only three times?

I like Janus because he can see in front of him and he can see behind him--into the future and into the past? Also, I like to wonder whether Janus was "two faced" or was he schizophrenic?

Within his large plan of the Campo Marzio, Piranesi applies the label "Circus Agonalis sive Alexandri" to the original Circus of Domitian which is today Rome's Piazza Navona. Albeit obscure information, Piranesi was indeed correct in his designation because the emperor Alexander Severus rebuilt the Circus of Domitian and renamed it in honor of Janus. It is fun to imagine all the big goings-on over 1700 years ago today within what is now the Piazza Navona.

Another monument in honor of Janus that still stands in Rome today is the Arch of Janus Quadrifrons, which is in the Forum Boarium. It is one of those unique four-way arches, and, according to Banister Fletcher, is "of poor design." What is most interesting about this arch, however, is that it was constructed under Constantine the Great AFTER he sanctioned Christianity. I believe this signifies two important facts. First, the aristocratic and pagan population of Rome still had tremendous influence and power. Second, whoever designed this arch was extremely clever in that Janus, precisely because of his "two faced" nature, was the perfect god to reflect Constantine's own political position--exactly because of his sanctioning of Christianity, Constantine himself is Rome's ultimate Janus-like emperor. [Personally, I can't help but believe that it was Constantine's mother Helena [or mother-in-law Eutropia] that thought all this poignant symbolism through.] And, in an almost too good to be true sense, the Arch of Janus may well have predicted (looked towards) European architecture's next 1200 years: Banister Fletcher notes "it has a simple cross-vault with embedded brick box-ribs at the groins, affording a further instance of the progressive character of Roman construction techniques: such ribs are possibly the prototypes of Gothic rib vaults." [Fletcher is being a little two faced himself here--first the Arch of Janus is not good design, and then the arch is progressive construction!] Could it really be that the first ribbed cross-vaults ever were built in late antiquity? Do these vaults, built by ancient Rome's first Christian emperor, unwittingly and uncannily prophesies a whole new future era of Western architecture? [And is it possible that Helena, besides being the first master architect of Christianity, is also the world's proto-Gothic architect?]

World Monuments Fund



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