The beautiful pictures from Tomás Casademunt succeeds to reinforce in an incredible way this feeling.
mercredi 31 mars 2010
The beautiful pictures from Tomás Casademunt succeeds to reinforce in an incredible way this feeling.
mardi 30 mars 2010
lundi 29 mars 2010
(nb there are four other interviews on Complexitys with people coming from very various backgrounds)
Léopold Lambert: In order to answer to this question, it is important to define what we understand by engineering. If I define here engineering as the discipline that tend to rationalize, diagrammatize, optimize space so then, in my vision, architecture has to try to evolve to the opposite side of this discipline.
Of course, architects would always have to do concessions to technocracy, however to resist to it -and probably resist it with its own language, its own symbols- seems to me as a important attitude.
Last week, one of my teachers, Catherine Ingraham, was evoking the hypothesis that English architects might have an important part of their education dedicated to engineering for reasons that were relative to colonization. In fact, she had the intuition that such an association of architecture and engineering had for goal to materialize and organize in an optimal way the English presence in colonized land. To associate this way Norman Foster and the colonial Bombay's organization is certainly a bold thing to do, nevertheless, even if this hypothesis would be proved to be wrong, I remain convinced that when architecture and engineering are too closely associated, it leads to a space of control. Obviously, I speak here of disciplines in their definitions; by no means I would like to praise architects and speak out against engineers. Actually the important word here is the notion of control. I like this word because it is not connoted and can thus develop an interesting ambiguity. It is not about completely refuse control and engineering, at least for some obvious physical issues; what, in my opinion, should be done is to resist a transcendental absolute control whether the latter comes from the architect or the encompassing institutional system.
FC: We are in an era of great changes: how do you imagine the architect of the future?
LL: I am a bit cautious about this attitude that consist in considering the present era as special. I think we have to work to gather all the circumstances that would make it become this way, but I don't feel it is really the case right now. What I see hidden behind this question is the question of the "green" architecture, but once again, I am cautious about his unique thought that acts like a new religious moral that capitalism did not have too much problem to appropriate.
FC: Nowadays, digital technologies multiply our possibilities and our conception tools: in your job what is your relationship with this complexity that seems to characterize the contemporary world?
LL: I just wrote a short paper for Pratt's journal that illustrate how parametric design allows us to physically access to the spatial complexity depicted in Jorge Luis Borges' short stories.
Previously, the labyrinth was described in two dimensions and was thus controlled in a transcendental way by its author. Borges, by introducing chance and infinite as generative elements of a space, invented uncontrollable architecture in which everybody can get lost.
Those literary spaces, we can now generates them with the help of computation. Using scientific terminology, architecture mostly belongs to the world of physics. Computer allows it to enter in the world of mathematics, and thus, as far as Borges is concerned, to investigate notions of randomness and infinite.
To make an architecture dependent on an equation is yet a vertiginous thing and that is why too many architects and students let themselves go towards a tool idolatry, what we could call an ergaleiophilie (ergaleio in greek means the tool). One should thus use this tool for goals that are external of itself.
Francesco Cingolani: Quel est, dans ta vision, le rapport entre l’architecture et l’ingénierie?
Léopold Lambert: Afin de répondre a cette question, il convient de définir ce que l’on entend par ingénierie. Si je définis ici l’ingénierie comme la discipline qui tente à rationaliser, diagrammatiser, optimiser l’espace alors, dans ma vision, l’architecture se doit de tenter d’évoluer a l’opposé de cette discipline.
FC: Nous sommes dans un moment de grands changements: comment imagines-tu la figure de l’architecte dans le futur?
LL: Je me méfie un peu de cette attitude qui consiste à considérer la période présente comme spéciale. Je pense qu’il faut œuvrer à réunir toutes les circonstances pour qu’elle le devienne mais je n’ai pas le sentiment que cela soit le cas en ce moment. Ce que je vois caché derrière cette question est la question de l’architecture « verte » mais là encore, je me méfie de cette pensée unique qui agit comme une nouvelle morale a tendance franchement religieuse que le capitalisme n’a pas eu trop de mal a s’approprier.
LL: Je viens d’écrire un court papier pour le journal de Pratt qui raconte comment le design paramétrique nous permet d’accéder physiquement à la complexité spatiale décrite dans les nouvelles de Jorge Luis Borges.
Auparavant, le labyrinthe était décrit en deux dimensions et était ainsi contrôlé de manière transcendantale par son auteur. Borges, en introduisant le hasard et l’infini comme éléments générateurs d’un espace a inventé des architectures incontrôlables au sein desquelles, chacun peut se perdre.
Ces espaces littéraires nous pouvons désormais les générer à l’aide de la computation. En termes scientifiques, l’architecture appartient plutôt au monde la physique. L’ordinateur lui permet d’entrer dans le monde des mathématiques, et ainsi, en ce qui concerne Borges, d’envisager les notions d’aléatoire et d’infini.
Faire dépendre une architecture d’une équation est cependant quelque chose de vertigineux et c’est aussi pourquoi trop d’architectes ou d’étudiants en architecture se laisse aller à une idolâtrie de l’outil, ce que l’on pourrait appeler une ergaleiophilie (ergaleio en grec désigne l’instrument) aigue ! Il s’agit donc de se servir de cet outil à des fins qui lui sont extérieures.
dimanche 28 mars 2010
samedi 27 mars 2010
More specifically, with respect to conversations and 'debate' around climate change and the environmental crisis, I've become particularly interested in how members of the public can themselves contribute to the evidence gathering process; how people can convince themselves of what's going on, so that they don't have to rely on merely selecting which authority figure (scientist, religious leader, politician) to believe -- they all disagree on major and minor points anyway. I want to find ways to encourage people to learn to question the standards of evidence that are thrust upon them. When authoritative sources cannot be trusted, then citizen-led data acquisition/collection/creation/crafting is the only means of making sense of a situation.(4)
This kind of engagement is vital for us (i.e. humanity) to make sense of our situation, and is essential if any solutions are to be found -- Science (note the capital letter) is not the only arbiter of truth, nor is it the only framework for empirical analysis. We are all -- scientists, non-scientists, artists, non-artists (much as I hate those false-dichotomies - but I think that covers everybody, right?) -- in it together. (5)
The point is that there is no easy solution. We (designers, architects, and other pseudo-experts) have got to stop trying to sell people the idea that there are simple and obvious ways to deal with the kinds of complex systems that govern both our social and environmental lives. These things are *not* simple and obvious. If we say they are, then we imply that people who don't do them are stupid -- which is clearly not the case.
It is often said that it is the task of designers to "make things simple for people" - which I find patronising and counter-productive. If anything it is the task of designers to show how *complex* things are, and to help build tools for dealing with that complexity... *not* just simplifying it (which is the basic function of the perceptual systems we are endowed with, so it's definitely possible!).
This approach has manifested itself in a few recent projects which give clues as to how these vague and abstract notions turn into actual projects (6). As it happens though, most of the projects are not yet published online because we're a little too busy developing them.....
What has this got to do with architecture? Well, like all my previous work it has to do with the way we relate to each other, and the way we relate to the spaces around us - and that for me is exactly what architecture is about.
(1) In the mid-nineties I co-founded an online currency portal called the Global Village Bank, that was meant to operate outside of conventional monetary systems. Unsurprisingly, (uh... due to timing?), it went nowhere.
(4) Part of the reason why I launched http://www.pachube.com/
(5) Many of the thoughts expressed here have clearly been subtly (and unsubtly) influenced by conversations with Natalie Jeremijenko - http://www.environmentalhealthclinic.net/
(6) For example Natural Fuse: http://www.haque.co.uk/naturalfuse.php
jeudi 25 mars 2010
Holey space has different relations to nomadic smooth and State striated space. Cave-dwelling, earth-boring tunnellers are only imperfecty controlled by the State, and often have allied with nomads and with peasants in revolts against centralized authority. Thus the machinic phylum explored in holey space connects with smooth space to form rhizomes, while it is conjugated (blocked) by State striation. The previously positive relation of holey and smooth space has turned around, however, now that States are able to create a smooth space of surveillance and global military interevention. Holey spaces have flourished for the only way to escape the spying eyes of State intelligence is to go underground: 'Do not new smooth spaces, or holey spaces, arise as parries even in relation to the smooth space of a worldwide organization? Virilio invokes the beginnings of subterranean habitation in the "mineral layer", which can take on very diverse values. Such a turnaround has not gone unnoticed; led by the Bush Administration, global States now trumpet the danger of 'rogue regimes' that have taken their weapons-making capabilities underground where they cannot be detected by satellites and spy planes. North Korea in 2003 remains the prime example, but much of the premise upon which the Bush Administration built its case for the 2003 'pre-emptive' assault on Iraq was the supposedly concealed nature of weapons laboratories and storage facilities. The post 9/11 Afghanistan war was also launched against the holey space of the so-called 'Al Qaeda' network, supposedly in possession of innumerable underground hideouts, indeed even elaborate bunkers (though these were discovered to be not nearly as luxurious as their reputations). The bunkers and tunnels of the American establishment are, of course, exempt from any suspicion.
Cyberspace and forest space may also be seen as holey spaces rather than as smooth spaces in that they provide protective cover for 'underground' operations. Guerrilla armies such as the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) use forests to great advantage, and indeed a long line of guerrilla forces in Latin American has used rain forests in this way. The armies of the State cannort array on it as on a battlefield, and the trees must be defoliated before air war can be successful. Cyberspace is filled with gaps and voids, black matter from which hackers (these may of course be in the service of States) launch coordinated attacks on sites and servers. A study of the paranoid tunneling in Cold War suburban backyards to create 'fallout shelters' would yield yet another aspect of the interrelations of smooth, striate, and holey space, as would the innumerable urban legends concerning sewers, subway tunnels, and the like.
mardi 23 mars 2010
If you want to read more about Constant and New Babylon, I recommend the excellent book from Mark Wigley, Constant's New Babylon: the hyper-architecture of desire
Those models pictures are excerpted from two books:
- Libero Andreotti & Xavier Costa. Situationists. Art, politics, urbanism. Actar 1996
- Mark Wigley. Constant's New Babylon: the hyper-architecture of desire. 010. 1998
lundi 22 mars 2010
I am surprised how much the same images are being dwelled on when one writes about Constant's New Babylon. However, it exists a lot of drawings and models (next post) that are rarely shown and I thought it would be interesting to bring them on.
This issue is actually symptomatic of the fact that most amazing projects are being seen in a very narrow vision forgetting their very essence.
New Babylon is a labyrinthine city that host the nomadic behavior of what Constant calls "the homo ludens" (latin name for the playful human). It is the architectural materialization of Gilles Ivain's Formulary for a new Urbanism, Henri Lefebvre's theory of moments and situations' construction and the Situationist' Unitary Urbanism Bureau that was promoting the "derive continue" (continuous drift) as an experience of the city.
The following drawings are extracted from two (great) books:
- Libero Andreotti & Xavier Costa. Situationists. Art, politics, urbanism. Actar 1996
- Mark Wigley & Catherine deZegher. The activist drawings. The MIT Press 2001
samedi 20 mars 2010
Cette besogne terminée, on se met en communication avec les deux barricades latérales, en perçant les gros murs qui séparent les maisons situées sur le front de défense. La même opération s’exécute simultanément, dans les maisons des deux cotés de la rue barricadée jusqu'à son extrémité, puis en retour, a droite et a gauche, le long de la rue parallèle au front de défense, en arrière.
Les ouvertures sont pratiquées au premier et au dernier étage, afin d’avoir deux routes ; le travail se poursuit à la fois dans quatre directions.
Tous les ilots ou patés de maisons appartenant aux rues barricadées doivent être perces dans leur pourtour, de manière que les combattants puissent entrer et sortir par la rue parallèle de derrière, hors de la vue et de la portée de l’ennemi. »
« L’intérieur des ilots consiste généralement en cours et jardins. On pourrait ouvrir des communications à travers ces espaces, séparés d’ordinaire par de faibles murs. La chose sera même indispensable sur les ponts que leur importance ou leur situation spéciale exposent aux attaques les plus sérieuses.
Il sera donc utile d’organiser des compagnies d’ouvriers non-combattants, maçons, charpentiers, etc., pour exécuter les travaux conjointement avec l’infanterie.
Lorsque, sur le front de défense, une maison est plus particulièrement menacée, on démolit l’escalier du rez-de-chaussée, et l’on pratique des ouvertures dans les planchers des diverses chambres du premier étage afin de tirer sur les soldats qui envahiraient le rez-de-chaussée pour y attacher des pétards. L’eau bouillante jouerait aussi un rôle utile dans cette circonstance.
Si l’attaque embrasse une grande étendue de front, on coupe les escaliers et on perce les planchers dans toutes les maisons exposées. En règle générale, lorsque le temps et les autres travaux de défense plus urgents le permettent, il faut détruire l’escalier du rez-de-chaussée dans toutes les maisons de l’ilot sauf une, à l’endroit de la rue le moins exposé. »
Auguste Blanqui. Esquisse de la marche a suivre dans une prise d’armes a Paris. Maintenant il faut des armes. La fabrique 2006
”When the attack has been pushed back, he [the leader] comes back and pushes relentlessly the barricade construction despite interruptions. If needed reinforcement arrives.
This labor done, one put the two lateral barricades in communication by piercing the thick walls that separate houses situated on the defense’s front. The same operation is being executed simultaneously, in the houses on the two sides of the barricaded street until its extremity, then backwards, on the right and on the left, along the parallel street, on the defense’s front and on the back.
Openings have to be practiced on the first [ndt: first floor in Europe is second floor in US] and last floor in order to obtain two ways; work is being achieved in the same way in the four directions.
All the houses’ blocks belonging to the barricaded streets should be pierced in their perimeter, in a way that fighters are able to enter or exit by the backward parallel street, out of sight and out of reach from the enemy.”
”The interior of the blocks generally consists in courtyards and gardens. One could open communications between those spaces, usually separated by weak walls. It should be even compulsory on the bridges whose importance and specific situations expose them to the most serious attacks.
It would be therefore useful to organize companies of non-fighters workers, masons, carpenters, etc. in order to jointly achieve work with the infantry.
When, on the defense’s front, a house is more particularly being threatened, one demolished the ground floor’s staircase and one achieves opening in the various rooms’ floor of the first [second] floor in order to shoot the potential soldiers who would invade the ground floor to apply some bombs. Boiling water can also play an important role in this circumstance.
If the attack embraces an important extent of the front, one cuts the staircases and pierces the floors in all the exposed houses. As a general rule, when the time and the other defense works more urgent allow it, one should destroy the ground floor’ staircase in all the block’s houses except in the one the less exposed. ”
vendredi 19 mars 2010
In 1958, Le Corbusier and Xenakis designed the Philips Pavilion for Brussels' Expo
In 1967, Montreal's Expo hosts various innovative buildings designed by Frei Otto (German Pavilion), Moshe Safdie (Habitat67) and Buckminster Fuller (Biosphere).
In 1970, Kisho Kurokawa designed three buildings for Osaka's Expo as metabolist manifestos.
Today, the French pavilion for Shanghai 2010 is pretty representative of the global quality of architecture (as far as the Expo is concerned but maybe also in general): it is drab, conventional and thinks it talks about sustainability because some plants grow (have been plugged) on it... I talk about the French one, but the others are not so interesting either...Heatherwick's British pavilion might be the only one interesting questioning the notion of archive by hosting a giant seed bank.