vendredi 30 avril 2010

# Latent City by Yaohua Wang

Our friend Yaohua Wang (see his Carbon tower and his interview of Wes Jones, his thesis tutor) from Sci-Arc sent me his thesis project he just presented in a room apparently fully packed !

The production of work is simply amazing and the ingenuity of the project is being proven in every rendering. However, a very important part of what makes his Latent City such an amazing projects is embedded in its narration and in this regard I HIGHLY recommend to take the time of watching the 15 min long movie below that explains very didactically why this city is called latent.
The narration implies the architect Foral (aka Yaohua !) finding an agreement with the State in order to build a new city for almost no money. The agreement has to remain secret because it implies a manipulation of big industrial corporations that will own the land for twenty years, build an industrial city according to Foral's plans and therefore providing an important infrastructure. When the city is built, local economic policies forces industries to relocalize their factories outside the city which is abandoned. The state can thus build a new city on the other using the already built infrastructure that has been designed planning on this scenario to occur.
The latent city is thus a palimpsest city whose transformation has been planned since the beginning.
Anyway, the film is far more vivid than I am, so once again I recommend to watch it. The achievement of both design and political narration are compelling.

Latent City by Yaohua Wang from Foral on Vimeo.

Here is Yaohua's summary of his architectural attitude:

Firstly, for me what is the dream of architecture? And, how could this dream happen?

IN SHORT, my dream is 'against'. Architecture against capital rules. Architecture IS against constraints. Architecture IS against the people who have the real power but are doing things which they know are not good, but still do it because it can bring them more profit. This attitude of 'against' is my dream and the

idea of a city with no dead end is just one tangible instance of this attitude in a very specific social context.

and then how, how can I realize this dream in a condition like this?

How can you be 'against' the knife if you are just the fish on a chopping board ? You must be 'against' it wisely, and that means sometimes you should be a little

slippery. and well prepared.

When you can't force it to happen, you should hide it. Camouflage it, make it appear to serve the demands of irresponsible capital. and as time passES by, architecture stays. Be patient, wait for the

opportunity to reveal the real intention. WAIT FOR THE CHANCE TO disclose the latent dream.

And that is my thesis.

mercredi 28 avril 2010

# The architecture of Jean Renaudie

Architecture is the physical form which envelops human lives in all the complexity of their relations with their environment.
Jean Renaudie, 1968

In my opinion, Jean Renaudie is one of the very best French architects of the last fifty years. His two housing complexes in Ivry sur Seine near Paris (see previous post) and in Givors near Lyon are two very successful examples of architecture becoming urban in an era (50's-60's) that created what is now famous as the French suburbs catastrophe. In fact, those two housing complexes are extremely interesting in the fact that they embody a real urban density, mix several social levels, organize urban life on a multitude of storeys, blur the limits between private and public areas and supply a little piece of garden to every apartment. This architecture is full of episodes, surprizing moments of beauty in an urban artefact/landscape full of hideaways.

In order to know more, I recommend Irenee Scalbert's book: A Right to Difference at AA Publications
The following photographs and plans are excerpted from this book.

# Francois Roche's lecture in the AA

This Thursday, Francois Roche (R&Sie(n)) will be giving a lecture at the Architectural Association entitled Ecosophical Apparatus and Skizoid Machines (using Guattari's terminology). This lecture accentuates the launch of R&Sie(n)'s new book called BIO[re]BO[o}T that gathers the Paris based office's work on machines and schizophrenia in architecture.

lundi 26 avril 2010

# Forms of Constraints by Norman Johnston

picture: Illinois State Penitentiary Stateville 1916

Forms of Constraints: A History of Prison Architecture is a book written by Norman Johnston which investigates the physicality of prisons from middle age to the XXth century. It is very interesting, not only as an understanding of the retaliation institutions prison embodies but also because prisons represents the quintessence of authoritarian societies, one can very easily compare their plans with those of "normal" architecture and find a lot of similarities. Architecture is systematically used as an apparatus of control and the plan almost always expresses this dimension very clearly.

Johnston Norman. FORMS OF CONSTRAINT. A history of prison architecture. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2003

Pentonville Prison London 1844

Moabit Prison Berlin 1844

Prision Modelo Madrid 1877

National Penitentiary Mexico City 1885

Maison de Force Ghent 1839

First Western Penitentiary Pittsburgh 1820

Eastern State Penitentiary Philadelphia 1821

Central Prison St Petersburg 1884

samedi 24 avril 2010

# La Qu... by Marc-Antoine Mathieu

Still following the adventures of Julius Corentin Acquefacques, prisoner of the dreams (see previous article), here is another graphic novel by the extremely talented Marc-Antoine Mathieu. This one is entitled La Qu... and has unfortunately not been translated in English (apparently only Dead Memory has been). This novel is once again extremely Kafkaian, but also borrows a small part of its narration to one of the best (and not so known) short story by James Graham Ballard called Billennium, which depicts an overpopulated world in which each citizen has the right on 3.5 square meters. The first image above also illustrate the influence of Marc-Antoine Mathieu since Lars von Trier's Dogville has been released ten years after La Qu...'s publication in 1993.
An important precision here, I tried not to spoil the novel by including the best frames of it, so you can still be fascinated while reading it for the first time.

vendredi 23 avril 2010

# Afghanistan Wartime Architecture

Afghanistan Wartime Architecture is a (huge) series of pictures taken in Afghanistan by photographers from the U.S. Army since the war started in 2001. Of course, the photographs are extremely self-indulgent and maintain the American propaganda (coming from the Army, nobody was waiting for something else !), but also shows interesting military architectures that have been built or appropriated there. Those instant fortress recalls the Roman Legion's camps that were constructed very quickly and the logistic behind it is interesting to observe. For example the American who originally produce the Bulldozer D7, seem to have bought a certain amount of those back from the Israeli who customized it in order to make their best oppressive weapon against the Palestinian out of it.

Thanks Eleni

jeudi 22 avril 2010

# Dwelling for Tomorrow

Dwelling for Tomorrow by T.Kuzembayev, A.Ivanov & W.Aristov in the amazing book Paper Architecture: New Projects from the Soviet Union.

mercredi 21 avril 2010

# Anti-sites : the art of Survival Group

Here are a some pictures of a project of the very interesting french artists collectiv called Survival Group. This project "Anti-sites" is focused on street and public area details that are created in order to avoid any kind of sitting, resting or sleeping possibilities, they made a photographic inventory of this kinds of hostile public spaces and even build one sample as a manifesto (Esthétique assedic) for the french social welfare .

Here is a text about the project Estetic assedic project:

Having maintained for many years a close relationship with the Social Welfare : monthly correspondence, miscellaneous interviews...and while that time seems gone, members of the Survival Group did not lose their sharpness for analysis of the differents social contexts, marked today by the spectrum of the sinking and precariousness, have not forgotten either, the conscientious sponsorship played by assedic when their activities were only squander, say the critics, grant from the wages which do not so much asking.
In a spirit of loyalty, own to the ethic of survival group that its members -former recipients, new providers- have today, the honor to invite you at the opening of the 1% artistic of the assedic (enumployment structure) of the 20 th district of Paris

More on their website : here

French speaker can also read an article of Cedric Schônwald and Survival Group's text in the french magazine "Art 21,printemps 2010 #26 ".