[ references]

un jardín de barro en graça
38º42'52"N · 9º07'51"W

mark rakatansky
//tectonic acts of desire and doubt

«Manhattan’s problem is the opposite: it is a mountain range of evidence without manifesto. » [Koolhaas, 1997:9]

Central Park es el primer gran parque del urbanismo norteamericano que introduce un vacío en las ciudades masificadas por el impulso industrial de 1840. Con el Manhattanismo que Koolhaas define al declarar la ciudad como Piedra Rosetta del siglo XX y determinarla como ‘paradigma de la congestión’, se necesita introducir una nueva variable que contrarreste la insalubridad de las ciudades, una válvula que despresurice el núcleo urbano y que tenga suficiente carácter propio como para perdurar en el tiempo. El utilitarismo de la retícula predefinida hace que esta ‘congestión’ -como emblema de la prosperidad industrial- se vea desbordada dejando la potencial envergadura de la ciudad restringida por la noción artificial de que, indiferente a la topografía, la construcción conceptual supera la realidad. «In the single block -the largest possible area that can fall under architectural control- it develops a maximum unit of urbanistic Ego. » [Koolhaas, 1997:20] Al releer la ciudad invirtiendo este marco teórico, la ausencia de 153 bloques, el negativo en la ciudad es lo que aporta a Manhattan su carácter trascendental. Central Park se rebela contra la ciudad con un nuevo lenguaje experimental, presentándose como un nuevo escenario y sentando el precedente de las nuevas realidades urbanas, generando con su operación de sustracción un gradiente tensional con la congestión propia de la urbe. «In democratic America there was nothing to be thought of as comparable with this People’s Garden. » [Beveridge & Rocheleau, 1995:17] « […] the chief end of a large park is an effect on the human organism by an action of what it presents to view, which action, like that of music, is of a kind that goes back of thought, and cannot be fully given the form of words.» [Beveridge & Rocheleau, 1995:35] Acuñando el término ‘arquitecto paisajista’, Frederick Law Olmsted auna sus principios sociales higienistas con el marco compositivo de los jardines ingleses para dar lugar junto con Calvert Vaux en 1858 la operación de Central Park, iniciando así su línea de investigación en los espacios verdes metropolitanos. «Olmsted no lo sabía, pero casi lo sabía: entendió la necesidad mutua, la atracción mutua entre parque y rascacielos en la metrópoli, pero solo de forma abstracta, es decir, ética. No intuyó que esa atracción estaba motivada por un nuevo tipo de belleza y de los conceptos pintoresquistas a los que dio forma sin ser capaz de interpretarlos […]» [Ábalos, 2005:12]
`put together to present a semblance of a whole`. Which is what every cultural artefact (whether a piece of music, an essay, a building, a novel, a film) is –indeed, it’s what all narrative, all identity, all ideology, all and every culture is (as any anthropologist could tell us). Tectonic because of the component, the ‘bits and the pieces’ of our culture. Acts of because the putting ‘together to present’ is a form of cultural performance. Desire and Doubt because it is only a ‘semblance of a whole’ that gets fabricated. This building up, which aims to fabricate the semblance of a complete whole, is what Alain Badiou means when he says that the subject is a configuration that exceeds its situation. Max Frisch “Only the variations reveal the common centre.”

p. 006_ In Benjamin’s writing the weave is never so total that the individual components are no longer evident, nor so unwoven (even at his most Arcades Project fragmentary) that the components remain totally isolated from each other. Transforming the parameters of the bits (whether musical or literary or tectonic components), as well as the parameters of how they are assembled and woven together and apart, is how poignancy is developed in cultural artefacts.

rem koolhaas
//croquis nº53 [1987-1993] // croquis nº 79 [1992-1996]

Zaera, Alejandro:
“Entrevista en dos tiempos”

El Croquis, 53+79, pp. 9-40

p. 014_ «I think therefore that it s very important to make a separation in terms of motivations that are imposed and motivations that are internal. […] The external influence was the whole mythology of “Europe 92”, which seemed –for a short moment—to create an artificial optimism which was translated into a series of extremely ambitious enterprises and also in some way to a rediscovery of the propagandistic potential of architecture. […] The external influence was the whole mythology of “Europe 92”, which seemed –for a short moment—to create an artificial optimism which was translated into a series of extremely ambitious enterprises and also in some way to a rediscovery for the first time in recent history –in 25 years, let’s say— they were not clumsily imposing themselves, but being solicited for their power to articulate certain visions. That has not happened in our field since the first reconstruction after the war. You can explain a lot of the architecture in the 60s, 70s and 80s from the difficulty of architects playing a certain role without anybody else believing in their work. This whole situation started to change in the middle 80s, as a consequence of an unusually ambitious scale of projects being considered. […] what was specific in the European case, particularly in comparison to similar operations in America and Japan, was that the projects were not private, but public. »

p. 015_ «Amidst the rise of post-modernism in the early 80s that was perhaps a courageous attitude, but it became very boring when modernism “triumphed” everywhere in Europe. It was also an uncreative attitude in terms of not exploiting certain influences that could generate “newness”. So, the internal shift was based in criticism of our own work […] »

p. 018_ «It becomes the creation of an artificial condition of an unconsciousness. I believe in uncertainty. In order to be really convinced of something you need a profound dislike for almost everything else, so that it’s crucial in certain projects to explore your phobias in order to reinforce your convictions. »

p. 018_ «This is a very tricky issue, as you can imagine. Here in Holland is considered a complete failure. Critics say the detail of the projects is simply bad, and I say there is no detail. That is the quality of the building. No money, no detail, just pure concept. We work in finding solutions: every traditional is avoided or evaded or transcended in some way. »

p. 019_ «It has to have a roughness and unity in the one hand, but the other hand, areas on inexplicable refinement and mystery. So, in that sense, it is for me as important to create a kind of unconscious, some disturbance in the realization of any process, as to work very precisely on the definition of our building experience. »

p. 019_ «How does the fact that your commissions are 90% outside from Holland and distributed across a broad geography influence your work? What does the ubiquity you are requested from the contemporary process of economic globalization mean for you? : The new internationalization does not necessarily mean that a new international homogeneity is emerging; it means, almost on the contrary that a single architect intervenes, and is influenced y many different cultures –there are weeks that I work in Germany, France and Japan. It means that his work can only be described with a similar system of differentiation. »

Freedom from Structures:

p. 020_ « The first issue that interests me enormously is how in any large structure, the distribution of loads becomes bigger and bigger towards the lower part of the building, so that on the ground you are a literally blocked by a structural and mechanical “inheritance” that comes from “above”. You could propose a metaphor of a high-rise building or any big building, as the systematic reduction of freedom towards where it matters the most, on the ground. »

p. 022_ «But I am also interested in these structures in a more global sense; the materialization of your last projects relates or is resonant with less material processes. Their structure seems to crystalize the “collapse of time and space” that you already explored in Delirious New York. It is consciously engineered, or is it just the result of being involved in a certain mode of production? »

p. 022_ «This seems to me a decisive step after almost twenty years of disregard of “structures” in favour of linguistic experimentation within the architectural culture. You could recall Kahn detaching serving and serviced, public and private; or to Mies and Corbu proposing the building as a christallization of social and productive processes…Is that a return to a “structural” approach? I really think we are now dealing with the same issues again, after the “semantic nightmare”. I really admire their thinking; my only critique is that they were fatally attracted by order and their apparent obligation to deal with it through architecture. […] I would say that projects like La Villete or the City Hall in The Hague were to some extent one-sided dialogues with the Smithsons. Specially about dealing with indeterminancy. I tried to find, to resolve what they –or Team X—always left unresolved, namely how can you combine actual indeterminancy with architectural specifity. »

p. 025_ « For example, I find that one of the most pregnant and provocative elements of the library program in Paris was to re-formulate the idea of a “communal facility”, an “entity” in the midst of a complete collapse of the public realm, –and certainly of its classical appearance. Against the obvious homogenization of electronic media, against the erasure of the necessity of space, against the triumph of fragmentation…
Part of the recent discourse –all the “des’s”—has been a very sophisticated attempt to make the inevitable seem glamorous. I have an increasing feeling now, that going in the opposite direction, contradicting the inevitable, may be convincing at some point, important for architecture.»

p. 026_ «Which is the ration between replication and invention in your work, or to connect to Delirious New York, would you subscribe the possibility for “prospective manifestoes” rather than the methods of the “retroactive manifesto”. That is very interesting, because in the early 80s I though that replication was extremely important, that you should invent only where necessary. But lately, I became much more interested in invention. I have always been interested in shocking or provoking, and the whole idea of “retroactive manifesto” was also a kind of profound statement of economy. You really have no idea about the deep and fundamental hostility against modernity that was then emerging –in the 70s—and becoming an almost physical hostility. So, at that point I felt that the only way in which modernity could even be recuperated was by insisting in a very progressive way about its other side, its popularity, its vulgarity, its hedonism. And that I could only do it through the device of taking something that was already there, that existed and had been successful. It was a strategy completely determined by the context of that time. You could read everything as a kind of dialectic between power and powerlessness. You may also have to be aware of the dialectic between reactions stimulated back or in response to a context and a kind of autonomous course that can, in spite of all these things, find continuity. »

p. 027_ «That is what I mean by a non-representative strategy in your recent work. If Coop (Coop Himmelblau’s entry to Melun-Senart) draw this crash it was suppos edly to represent something, the contemporary culture, whatever, … And I think this is part of a very nostalgic paradigm from which deconstructivism is maybe the last inheritor. I think that your projects relate more to engineering than to representing… Our intention could be synthetized in how to turn all that garbage of the present system into our advantage. A kind of democratic King Midas: try to find the concept through which the worthless turns into something, where even the sublime is not unthinkable. »

Freedom from Models:

p. 028_ «I’ve always been very interested in large scale and its implication; in he artificiality and the fragmentation it produces, and how, in a way, the very bigness turns into an antidote against fragmentation. Each of those entities acquires the pretension and sometimes the reality of a completely enveloping reality, and an absolute autonomy. So the challenges they bring are twofold: first to deal in a critical sense with some assumptions from the world of technology in terms of structure and services that we talked about. The other challenge is cultural in terms of the potential of those buildings as a universe in themselves with all the freedoms and attractions and uniqueness this implies, and to imagine a new way in which those liberated, non-complementary universes might exist. »

p. 028_ «If these buildings are a result of a certain structure or mode of production that determines them to some extent, would you think that they could be considered as emerging typologies or do you think that that the nature itself of the contemporary developments will impede their cristallization as types? Such a question makes me extremely nervous. So, maybe the answer is: yes, absolutely, and we are part of this process of “enforced liquidity”. I don’t know exactly why, but I suffer of a fear of repetition, which makes me very scared about the whole idea of a typology. All I can imagine is to interpret typology in its most primitive terms of big and small and low and high, or in terms of synthetic or nonsynthetic shallow and deep, in terms of the depth of the building… »

p. 029_ «The urban question is a related issue; you have been writing lately about Atlanta, Paris and Tokyo as examples of an arising paradigm of urban structure. How do large-scale buildings, as self-contained bodies, relate to these emerging forms of urbanity? It is a great relief the sense that our whole research is ultimately about, let’s say, finding freedoms. And that is something that I recognize as parallel to what you call late-capitalist structure, a set of processes which seems to be centrifugal and resist concentration and resist connection.»

Freedom from Ideologies

p. 033_ «What is interesting I Japan that is totally capitalist and you feel this in a kind of corporate hegemony, in the absence of explicit social ambitions that the socialist-capitalist hybrids have in Europe. In Japan, there is an enormous “absence” which gives you a sense of disappointment with many things, almost a systematic avoidance of any contents. And that is very exciting: incredible buildings that are about nothing. They have no program, no social ambitions. What is really fascinating about the present moment in Europe, about the hybrids you are talking about is their capitalist society with remnants, and sometimes very intense appearances, of social ambition. I think is really unique; it is very difficult to say if it is real or not. »

Freedom from Orders

p. 033_ «I have a longstanding interest in Surrealism, but more for its analytics powers than for its exploitation of the subconscious or for its aesthetics. When I first wrote about surrealism, it was in the mid-70s when it was considered very vulgar and kind of corny, but in fact, my engagement with it was much less with its visual production, I was most impressed by its “paranoid” methods, which I consider the hybrids you are talking abouone of the genuine inventions of the century, a rational method which does not pretend to be objective, through which analysis becomes identical to creation.»

p. 034_ «So, what I think is still appealing about this method as a way to concretize speculative systems in the present society is as a method of acquiring reality for them, regardless of their truth, as a way to discover other logics. »

p. 035_ «The simulations of chaos by Japanese architects are naïve in comparison to this. My conclusion is that chaos is one of those things that is intrinsically inaccessible to architects. […] The only relationship that architects can have with chaos is by taking their reightfull place in the army of those committed to prevent it, and fail. And it is only in failure, by accident, that chaos happens. »

Zaera, Alejandro (¿): “The Day After”
El Croquis, 53+79, pp. 40-60

p. 051_ «I am resisting the notion that globalisation leads to homogeneity. The same process of modernisation leads everywhere to different results, to new specificities, new uniqueness. Even if you can crape the earth, the slate will not be absolutely clean, because there is previous history, the people who lived there once, who will live there in the future and the new communities will bring new specificities. The irony is that the obsession with history and specificity has become an obstacle in the recognition of these new realities. »

toyo ito
//sendai mediatheque

Ito, Toyo (1995): “Architecture in a simulated city”, El Croquis, 71, pp. 6-16. Taki, Kokji (1995): “A conversation with Toyo Ito”, El Croquis, 71, pp. 16-32.<br

p. 008_ « In a sense, Tokyo is a simulated city, the experience of viewing the images is almost like walking through Kabuchiro Street at night. We are exposed to tremendous video images and showered with sound in both spaces. By looking into the screen of the video game, we are already within the screen. We are intoxicated with the illusion of the light and sound in the space as suggested by the Japanese crown Prince and suspended in the futureless space as implied by Prince Charles. Perhaps we have no future to reach. »

p. 008_ «There exists, however, a distinct difference between the simulation in the room and the reality in Kabuchiro. While the real town is endlessly filled with noises and chaos, the collage of a city displayed in the screen will son be filled with white noises or phased out into the computer-graphic stream. In short, the urban scene will lose its clear configuration and fade into morning mist. All the realistic scenes melted into a state of calm enlightenment which may be called nirvana. If we are able to imagine the future, what other states than the extreme state of technological control can we expect? »

p. 008_ «Even though they are not seen with eyes, our bodies are constantly exposed to the air of technology, respond to them, and synchronize our biological rhythm with them, unconsciously, we may already have a robotized body like android. »

p. 010_ « Visitors could not enter (The Egg of Winds) but could see chairs and tables installed inside through translucent covers with the natural light coming from above. They see a city life packaged within the egg just like an illusion. They were all transient object like mirage without the feeling of texture or existence. They are ephemeral objects which are more of spontaneous phenomena like a rainbow than structures. »

p. 010_ « The Egg of Winds in Brussels is named as Pao; a Dwelling for Tokyo Nomad Women which was the image model of a city house for me. It depicted the image of visualization of the city life, what is common in the two eggs (w. River City Town Gate 21) is that they are containers implying a new life. I wanted to show that the loss of reality in the city life is another side of a coin to the image-like architecture. »

p. 010_ « In any age, a dream of a new life leads to a new space. »

p. 010_ « Then, what is the new life of today?»

p. 012_ « Since the birth of steel and glass, we have long sought after the universal space. However, the universal space which is almost the coordinates of Euclidean geometry dis not quite achieve homogeneity even though it is theoretically homogeneous. The trend toward purely homogeneous neutrality was checked by orientation toward locality or desire for monumentality in the architecture. […] Once architects longed for homogeneous grids because the society then was opaque and turbid. They tried to incorporate transparent and neutral grids into the society which was opaque and heterogeneous as lava. Therefore, even if they had successfully attained homogenization in a universal office space, that was limited within an enclosed territory. »

p. 013_ « Today, our environment is filled with vacant brightness. Just like commodities filling u the shelves of a convenience store, our cities have dried up and become bleak. For the last ten years, cities have been removed of humidity as if they were thrown into a gigantic dryer. Although we are surrounded with a variety of goods, we are living a thoroughly homogeneous atmosphere. Our affluence is supported only by a piece of Saran-wrap film. »

p. 010_ « We have transformed our body so that we could reverse the relationship between reality and unreality by a simple movement of an image. »

p. 014_ « We are challenged to solve two difficult problems when we build architecture in a simulated city. One is how we can create a work of architecture as an entity while goods as entities are losing their significance, and another is how we can build architecture which endures time while local communities are nullified, and the network of communications via media appears and disappears incessantly. »

p. 014_ « For the first problems, we are required to solve the question of how to make fictional or video-image like architecture: for the second problem, we need to learn how to make ephemeral or temporary architecture. […] We should rather build fictional and ephemeral architecture as a permanent entity. »

p. 015_ « We should utilize the power we obtained from these cities in order to create space. We should fully use the effect of the fiction. »

p. 015_ « These manipulations are all simulations. […] Reality today seems to be created beyond such fictionalism. We are now living the border-less world for reality/unreality, and the same is applicable to materials in architecture. Today when the entire society is wrapped in an enormous sheet of film, what we can still do is to beautifully visualize the content of the wrapping rather that to make the content look real. The fate of architecture will now depend in how we find the structure of the fiction. »

p. 017_ « (White U) I felt that architecture should provide a space that was both continuous and also changing at every turn, like a stroll through a landscape garden. Space was something that should never be broken up or partitioned. To produce this space beautifully, I had to shut it off from the outside world. The closing off of space was extremely important, because it enabled me to control the light. It also permitted me to express my image of the space as abstractly as possible. This was the mode I was in at that time. My work thus began from a strictly formalist concept of architecture and then opened outward. But my original attitude was rather extreme. »

p. 017_ « The theme of skin does not emerge in White U, but the idea of using walls to deserve as screens on the interior is already present. White walls created the effect of surfaces entirely without depth, screens upon which an image could be projected. […] In effect I was consciously striving for a space without depth. »

p. 018_ « […] I was focusing upon the completeness and the centripetalness of White U and breaking them down, fragmenting the buildings very composition. »

p. 018_ « To put it more broadly, I began (House of Kasama) to feel that presentations of formalistic architecture which lacked real social context could no longer delver the kind of critical social message that they had in the 1970s. I started to wonder whether there wasn’t some other approach to architecture that could be more vigorously committed to issues of the city, of people’s lifestyles. »

p. 024_ « (temporary construction) Those are my own words. They were meant to imply the antithesis of monumental architecture, that is, the type of building which wants to stand for eternity. The word temporary was supposed to convey this concept. I think this phrase is appropriate for describing an urban space like Tokyo, whose character is shaped by the repeated deconstruction and construction of buildings. »

p. 024_ « […] Places where people communicate with each other are like whirlpools. The oval functions symbolize the area which accommodates this whirlpool. The oval also contrasts with the classical square court configuration formed by the inner walls of a group of buildings. I am creating a new kind of square to express the dissemination of information in dense area. It is the oval, rather than the circle, which embodies this sense of flowing. »

////// Iñaki Ábalos + Juan Herreros

p. 033_ « His significance or singularity is initially, therefore, his professional posture; the way by which this helps us imagine the architect in society and in architecture. It is a posture no longer centred and dominant, but attentive, listening, and tangential. It is not the modern positivist dominator but one of the displaced strategist who awaits his chance as evens and circumstantial fluctuations happen, to permit plural, isolated inventions; whose value is not objectifiable but only pivots around its greater or lesser expediency.

p. 034_ « Between the post-war years and the present, the metaphor of the nomad has been a common recourse for the interpretation of the practices of the post-industrial subject. This nomadic subject, however, has undergone a parallel transformation to the values that define or describe it: while in the 1960’s it was still a cross between the science-fiction robot in Archigram and Rayner Banham’s natural man, the hippy, Toyo Ito’s work is exemplified by the way this subject, previously described in its itinerancy and imprecision, has totally abandoned such technical, vital militancy to devote its interests to a greater recognition of subjectivity itself. »

p. 035_ «The nomad girl does not carry any possessions. She does not need a kitchen, a library or a wardrobe. Her house has been exploded in the city. Her nomadism is now urban, exercised over the most densely populated environment known at present –the city of Tokyo. »

p. 036_ «Between the highly technified home, attached to the individual, included in the most propositive set f ideas of Archigram, and this other one, composed of a set of objects amongst which the subject develops affectively and not functionally, there is a process of anthropological redefinition, implicit to consumer mechanics, which makes up the terrain where some of the currents interests of architecture can be found. Through the Nomad Girl project, its distance and parallelism with Archigram, we have seen how these interests cannot be understood any better in terms of technification, associated with the conquests of industrialized architecture dedicated to greater quality, economy or productivity. Instead, we should ascribe them to the values propitiated by contemporary consumption and hence the mechanisms by which it is spread, particularly advertising as an element of mediation between technical progress and changes in lifestyles. »

p. 038_ [the paris library] «Hence, while Kooolhaas resolves continuity by deforming and manipulating physical matter –the planes of the floor slabs— Ito resolves it in the immaterial, in space, even by making the presence of the slab disappear into the three-dimensional representations or models, while also dissolving the barriers between exterior and interior and between different uses. […] In Koolhaas, differentiation, accumulation and disarticulation are formal construction mechanisms of the project and an identification of its metaphoric significance, while with Ito, the elimination of form, the uniformity and dissolution of specific events are the precise aims of his research into contemporary space. »

////// Iñaki Ábalos + Juan Herreros > the Toyo Ito Method (TIM)

p. 039_ « Instead of the difficult efficiency of posthumanism as a means of activating a theory of design, the reproposition of the subject as activator of the design […] In Ito, however, controverting the subject ceases to have a moralistic order, and becomes a destructive agent of the typological design order, a literary or narrative referent that above all permits the display of differences instead of similarities implicit to typological conception, highlighting the new chain of desires and necessities that the individual constructions require of architecture today. […] For the moderns, the subject or subjects (they were always perceived as a group) became lumped together in the function as the sole criterion of spatial construction. Now individualized, however, they are approached from an unostalgic recovery of the phenomenological method, with a total involvement between object and subject. »

p. 044_ « The aesthetic proximity between the contemporary visions of nature and the virtual space generated by the processes of computerization of the territory.»

p. 046_ «This is how we can understand the extent to which Toyo Ito inverts the moral values traditionally associated with quality and art, confiding in the elimination of all heroic vestiges or architecture, in simplicity of facility as a value. […] Furthermore, it questions the value of originality as a central nucleus of the artistic system. The non-originality of Toyo Ito, the evidence or the use and manipulation of a variety of sources in his work is thus a magnificent datum in a new system of values: a growing indifference, almost Warholian, to the old model of intellectual property extended int al spheres of contemporary material production. »