The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Stephen Lauf



29 September 1778     Tuesday

Three maps of the Campus Martius's chronological development, 1762.


29 September 1999
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.


29 September 2001



29 September 2005
Architect: Endangered Species
So reenacting the design aura of some architects is currently cool while reenacting the design aura of some other architects is not currently cool?
I guess whoever said "Those that don't know history wind up repeating it" wasn't an architect.


29 September 2016
How to paint an architect   1983/1985



29 September 2022     Thursday
Read late at night:
"The first step of the way will be to apply the principle of montage to history. To erect large constructions from the tiniest, sharply fashioned materials. Indeed to discover the crystal of the total event in the analysis of the small, discrete moment, thus breaking with vulgar versions of historical materialism. To grasp the construction of history as such. By way of commentary. The refuse of history." --Walter Benjamin
"As a collector of the "refuse of history," he would be the incognito of an author who, in this instance, seeks to abandon the traditional prerogatives of authorship for a more marginal, anonymous and subterranean position from which, ideally, to let the historical materials speak for themselves. The result of this experiment was to amount, quite literally, to a series of chiffons--not so much a collection of fragments, that by now well established genre, as an unclassifiable scrap-book, the ruined "death-mask" of its own "conception" which, like the tower of Babel, was perhaps destined to become its own ruin inasmuch as its ambitions rivalled Mallarmé's dream of a Work to end all works."
Irving Wohlfarth, "The Historian as Chiffonnier" in New German Critique (number 39, Fall 1986), pp. 144-45.




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