Malcontenta

Two friends and I won a national student architecture competition last year, the prize a trip to Venice for the biennale in November. We organised to stay at Fusina caravan park run by a guy who spends half the year in Perth. Over dinner one night we asked about the closest Palladian villa to check out on our travels.

‘There’s one in town’ he said.

‘What, in Malcontenta?’

‘Yeah its just near the pizza shop’

more here

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Polemic on Architecture and Landscape Architecture

The Architecture of Thought: A Naturally Pleonastic and
Bathetic Polemic Against Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Data: the gateway to our own realities; performing the substratum of structure and superstructure of consciousness. The latter is perceived as differential, referential and reflexive. Via procreativity, data provides definitions, boundaries, similarities and differences. Understood visually the latter becomes spatial, that is, architectural. The way architecture is: moment to moment design and redesign of the way we live, chose to live and will live. As Churchill said: we shape our dwellings and then our dwellings shape us. Architecture is therefore substantively real. It is prone to erosion and is developed in the mental both internal and external.

The term architecture is not as encompassing as the term ‘space’. Architecture is a subcategory of the synthetic a priori concept of space. The most fervent designers are most attuned to space. They realise that the built project spells disaster at every juncture. Since space exists virtually within consciousness, any built project means one less possibility, one less paradigm of construction. To take space seriously means to be precious about it. Therefore demolition is an architectural manoeuvre.

Sub-architecture is as numb and nonchalant to temporality as the sub-conscious. Is sub-architecture close to the datascape? If so, is datascape synonymous with bodily sense? Schopenhauer’s Will? The thing in itself? We already know through philosophy that these explanations are inadequate. They merely provide precise momentary explanations. The identification and explanation of suffering, (the corollary of need and desire) may provide a glimpse out of it, but only fleetingly. One type of food will always taste better than another type of food, regardless of its nutritional value.

The program or traditional conception of design in architecture can be viewed as the final symptom of the subarchitecture emerging to the fore. Sub-architecture is blind to the single reification. The single solution is mendacious. Sub-architecture ignores single design solutions. This is in contradistinction to the article of architecture that purports the most appropriate answer. The most suitable solution is that which reflects the code or language of our brains, informed by emotion. That solution may be reached by playing fifty-two pickup with site data/information, despite the stroke of the designer genius.

Design must organically reflect the distilled philological pattern in the brain. Distillation equals poetics nodding ominously to wisdom; the servant of simplicity. Simplicity acts as the foreground to collectivity; the archetype. In mathematical terms; the average interpolation of a number set. Simplicity is also the talented governoress leading the charge to greater, more loaded symbols, representations and therefore new metaphors. Simpli[city] is the arch-enemy of the convolution. But abstraction and compli[city] are also enemies of simplicity. These latter concepts work closer together; testing, interrogating and generally acting critical of poetics and wisdom. In this act, they continuously reexamine simplicity and wisdoms’ timelessness. Here design in the traditional sense, (the individual, muse inspired, artistic innovator) has privileged access to timelessness: sub-architecture. Nevertheless in context of ecological sustainability this is becoming rarer and rarer. There simply is too much information for one single consciousness to process.

Transcendental idealism, manifest by Copernican metaphors, leads to and supports the anthropocentric. Anthropocentricity, in its benign state, seeks to incorporate every datum possible via epistemology. When the threshold of anthropocentricity is penetrated, all new data and information falls either to one side or the other; the anthropocentric or the nonanthropocentric. If no new data is discovered, the knowledge slips unnoticed, untraceable into the ‘thing in itself;’ the unreachable inorganic; phenomena’s nemesis: noumena. It is not that this information is valueless. Instead, our systems, driven by imagination, are not yet ready for this newdata.

New concepts, combined with new experience feed the imagination that culminate in fresh concepts. The system: the architecture of consciousness, stands in perennial attention waiting for these concepts. The irony is that if a system is waiting for new information or is designed so that at some point x in the future it can incorporate new data, it cannot be a system. In other words, a system missing a part of itself, is not a system. This is perhaps the failure of epistemology and architecture. It is definitely the end of the ‘holistic.’ The hermeneutic circle highlights the relationships between the whole and its parts; individual parts of text cannot be understood until the whole is read and vice versa. Mereology and architectonics have close ties here. Mereology is clearly incorrect, because, unless trapped in an Orwellian nightmare, 1+1 can never equal more or less than 2.

Scepticism aside, it is possible to conceive our knowledge as all encompassing. If the non-anthropocentric is inexhaustible then its constitution maintains agnostic attributes. The nonanthropocentric is secure when and where the anthropocentric is also secured.

Our phenomenological disposition invests infallible trust in the validity of the data. The more epistemology fails the less range the anthropocentric can stretch. The world is not defined by the definitions of philology. Language is only one part of reality. Botany and taxonomy examine scientific elements of kingdoms that are not, and cannot be purely human. Furthermore, it performs these feats without appeal to the non-anthropocentric. The latter is acknowledged as part of a wider ecology. It is possible to consider the non-anthropocentric as a part of the spheres of taxonomy, a purely human endeavour.

This may seem harmless and even obvious. But the moment where a part of the organic or inorganic nonanthropocentric is labelled, it falls into the anthropocentric and is swallowed up by the all important, omnipotent attributer of value: language. Define or be defined, so the saying goes. I do not know personally, but have heard, that indigenous Australian cultures either consciously refrain from or feel no compulsion to label what Europeans call ‘land’. (Interestingly, as if in an minimalist art experiment, Eskimos have approximately fifty words for snow.) Architectonically, no label means no existence. No existence equals no value. Without value it eludes that human vacuousness, regulated capitalism. First the name, then the value, then the owner. Obstinantly unidentifiable, the non-anthropocentric has no pecuniary value to us. Anthropocentricity requires less empathy. Here I [cynically] suggest the less empathy, the easier its commodification, the faster its future is secured. Ensuring the existence of rare specimens for the enjoyment of future generations must surely mean an anthropocentric disposition. From a non-anthropocentrical point of view, words like erosion and weathering are meaningless. There is only movement and displacement.

The greatest landscape architects in Australian history have been operating for at least two hundred years. Complete with institution and union support they remorselessly pursued their self-defined brief day and night, year round. In fact they invented and redesigned new machinery in order to apply their program with the greatest efficiency. These holders of the torch commanded grandiose respect via the wealth and prosperity they watered down through communities. These landscape architects still work today, around the clock. They are called farmers and miners. Their architecture can be read in the standard topographic, elevation, sectional diagrams. The main apparent difference between these types of architects and our common understanding of architects is that the great ones swap artistic merit for profit. What these architects do to the landscape is carve their design to the point of ridiculousness; until resources are bereft. Why is nobody suing these people for negligence or accountability? Money. As a colleague once uttered: welcome to the real world.

Nevertheless, the scale of their efforts must be commended. Their cross and inter-disciplinary strength knew no bounds. In a way, members of the Eldorado Exploration Expedition were the first post-post-modern designers. They shared a universal understanding; feeding and supplying the world. They came from all walks of life. More importantly and characteristically, they were able to design the way they designed their design. That is, they were in control of their sub-architecture. They were able to transcend all disciplines. They were not concerned with the application and maintenance of labels and associations. That is, they didn’t care about what architects do and don’t do. They had a job to do.

The Riley Complex

‘The Riley Complex’: A Review of Univeristy of Western Australia’s, University House

“Every advantage so magnificent a site offers shall be the property of the community at large.” Sir John Winthrop Hackett, first chancellor of UWA.

 

For some people, completion of the new university house situated on Riley Oval may be considered an overwhelming success. The building’s facilities function the way UWA’s Senate originally intended: “they will be quality facilities, both linked to the club facilities for conferences and seminars, but able to be closed off, to keep academic and club activities separate.” Academic and teaching staff, along with their distinguished guests now possess a luxurious and comfortable place to relax and take stock amidst their busy work load. Here I argue that in the case of ‘the Riley Complex’ Hackett’s visions of unification between landscape and architecture have, over time, become unappreciated. The values behind the design for ‘the Riley Complex’ of “individualism” and “separation” are to the detriment of broader community involvement in UWA. In the words of a colleague, the building is a big ‘fuck off’.

 

Sir John Winthrop Hackett, UWA’s first chancellor argued that construction of a campus advantageous to both research and teaching needed to address and incorporate landscape with architecture. The chosen forty two hectare site for the UWA campus was on the shores of Matilda Bay. A letter written by Hackett addressed to the UWA Senate in 1914 stated that “special attention should be given to the laying out of the land on convenient, wide and spacious lines.” Hackett urged that “no large step should be taken without careful consideration of the needs and opportunities of the position.” He cited the river as the sites greatest asset: “the river front which this beautiful area is favoured can be made one of the rarest attractions offered of any of the universities of Australia.” Over a decade later, Hackett’s visions for the campus were suitably maintained by designer Leslie Wilkinson. Most significantly, Wilkinson understood the value of sustaining a visual and spatial dialogue between the campus and the river.

 

A slight but integral shift in architectural ideology took place in the post-world-war-two era. The post-war period observed a consultancy, rather than a competition based approach to development. An emphasis on courtyard and quadrangle configurations began the dichotomisation of the close relationship between landscape and architecture. In contrast to earlier methodology (a holistic approach to campus design) microcosmic spaces were created. The result was the emergence of separate and distinguishable spaces. These spaces were not defined by change in planting scheme, but by the new buildings themselves. Consequently, as Christopher Vernon (senior lecturer over at Landscape Architecture) concludes, “this approach incrementally obstructed, if not severed, the visual connection between the university and Matilda Bay.” A definitive, but by no means diabolical change in planning meant that one of the central and overarching ideals of the fore founders of the university had been eroded. The ideological tenet that these architects did not abandon was the notion that the university belonged to the community at large. In 2002, the UWA Senate announced the approval of plans and construction of a new university house under the working title ‘the Riley Complex.’

 

Championing a return to tradition, design for ‘the Riley Complex’ was put to competition. The winning entry came from Perth architectural firm Donaldson and Warn. Their website slogan states: “by seeing buildings not as monuments, but as natural sensate extensions of the individual, they [the firm] aim to empower people and enliven their environments.” Donaldson and Warn’s primary concern is clearly aimed toward the empowerment of the individual, not the community. Little surprise then that they won considering that the Senate’s visions for the building was to “keep academic and club activities separate” from the rest of the university and community. Both of these resolutions are at a complete impasse with Hackett’s original visions for the university: “every advantage so magnificent a site offers shall be the property of the community at large.” After one century there are bound to be changes in values and attitudes toward a place such as a university campus. It is whimsical to claim that attitudes and values should not change in the face of pertinent contemporary forces.

 

Nevertheless, any justification for the severance of the first visions for the campus must include and assume confidence in their prophetical values regarding the future. Such counter-utterances tacitly imply flaws in the values and methodology of the past. Therefore the physical manifestation of such a building based on these “individual” and “separate” principles would come to symbolise thinking of the “the community at large” as extraneous and outdated. In effect ‘the Riley Complex’ says ‘fuck you’ to Hackett, ‘fuck off’ to students and ‘suffer in your jocks’ to the community.

 

UWA’s signature building Winthrop Hall does not represent concepts such as “individual” and “separate”. While maintaining an atmosphere of prestige and excellence, Winthrop Hall stands as an icon of unity and invitation within a city bent on sprawl. Pedestrian access from Stirling highway into Whitfield Court involves a descent to the ground level of the Undercroft. Such a descent suggests a certain level of subservience on the universities part to the greater populus. The Undercroft itself was originally designed as a meeting place for students to engage and argue their ideas. Students were encouraged to fill an important place in the heart of the university.

 

‘The Riley Complex’ does not represent these endeavours; it merely nods toward Winthrop Hall via cream tinted brick and orange tile roofing. Supporting the design, Vernon concludes that “Geoff Warn’s design for University House strikes a resonant balance between the arguable anonymity of the more formulaic, context-driven design and, at the other extreme, architecture as fashion statement, if not advertisement.” Firstly, the anonymity is not arguable. Through Hackett’s formerly expressed wishes it certainly seems clear and unambiguous to me the parameters and rationale for a formulaic and context-driven design. It is to ensure that views to the river is for the many, not the few. Secondly, the “advertisement” does little to advance the social standing of the university; Winthrop Hall continues to provide this purpose with success. But if Winthrop Hall is considered outdated to this purpose, what kind of ‘fashion statement’ or ‘advertisement’ does the building represent? Where is UWA headed? In a global milieu where universities are forced to become fiscally self-sufficient, UWA decision makers, it must be assumed, are appealing to students who are also financially self-sufficient. For the moment at least, placements are still reserved for the less wealthy. However this ‘fashion statement’ known as ‘the Riley Complex’ basically says that if you’re not wearing a three piece Armani suit; find another university.

 

The eastern and primary façade of looks more like an army barracks than a meaningful place of conferral. On the main door, wood slats interlock with glass, creating a pill-box like quality. You can imagine erecting an M-60 inside this bad-boy.

 

Pill Box

 

But you have to ask yourself: to what end is an internal program of a building so important that the relationship between the internal and external is altered so as to be to the detriment of the users? The architects were so preoccupied with keeping riff-raff out, and out of view that it is at the expense of the patron’s views to the river.

In conclusion, ‘the Riley Complex’ goes against everything that makes UWA a great campus. It is a large step taken without careful consideration of the needs and opportunities of the position at the expense of the community at large. If you agree with me so far, here are some suggestions: write a letter to the Senate detailing your annoyance. While ‘the Riley Complex’ isn’t going to be pulled down anytime soon, it may prevent any elitist buildings planned in the future. Alternatively, if you’re a student and you have 10 minutes to spare go into the café or ballroom and ask for a meal or coffee. You’ll be asked to leave, but hopefully this will have two effects. You might spoil the meals of the snobs that are eating there and you’ll be forcing the staff to fabricate an illegitimate position of power. If they have any moral fibre this will make them distressed, resulting in poor service. Henceforth the building will start running at a loss on top of its $21 million price tag.

 

More Images:

Riley02

Riley 03

Riley

Riley Complex

Competition for the Park of Reconciliation

The Brief:

The Park of Reconciliation

Gardens of Europe Foundation in Oświęcim

Competition for the Park of Reconciliation, design (2005)

Honourable Mention: James Quinton, with graphic help from Sarah May

Designe a PARK… on the right side of the river Soła, opposite to the area of the former Death Camp Auschwitz – Birkenau in Oświęcim

Designe a SYMBOL… a symbol of memory of those who suffered and were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp.

A symbol of reconciliation of the taking part in the Second World War nations.

A symbol of universal values such as goodness, love, forgiveness


…Design the SYMBOL – the PARK OF RECONCILIATION

Auschwitz 01

Overview of Design, with Camp in the background.

Responce to brief:

Symbolism – The notion that architects/landscape architects can create strong symbols such as justice, love, compassion and reconciliation presumes a considerable amount of faith. This brief asks for such symbolism in the threshold of Auschwitz concentration camp; death and injustice incarnate.

Instead of ignoring the camp, and then constructing the grounds for the creation of positive symbols, this design attempts to deal with the camp directly. Using Plato’s idea of ‘negation of negation’ we may unearth a design that is ideologically positive. The ghost/blueprint of the camp is taken and then traced. The lines of the camp are then extruded. This is the negative space of the camp. The void where the buildings are not. These lines are transformed into the most suitable position; the disused, gravel infested section adjacent to the camp.

 

The lines become rows of living, breathing creepers that grow on wire. Our creepers grow by tentacles signifying the flow on effect of compassion and empathy. Left alone, they will grow horizontally to make ground cover. In autumn and spring the lines turn a brilliant red.

 

Eisenman

Design acknowledges Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Masterplan

Project Masterplan

Ampi

Ampitheatre Perspective

Sapling nursery – in the initial stages of design construction a small nursery (located in or near the camp) will be in operation. Saplings may be local or donated by countries from around Europe. Visitors to Birkenau Museum, people from all around the world, and local school children are encouraged to select their own saplings. The sapling symbolizes fragility and rebirth. From the nursery visitors carry their sapling over the bridge across the River Sola in an act of cleansing. The ground within the site is prepared for planting. Over time the trees mature and take on a life of their own; a metaphor for the triumph of life over death.

Winter

WinterPerspective

Scape – Part 1

 

Some Implications of Scape

By James Quinton

.pdf here: Scape

Our ultimate gratitude to art.— If we had not welcomed the arts and invented this kind of cult of the untrue, then the realization of general untruth and mendaciousness that now comes to us through science—the realization that delusion and error are conditions of human knowledge and sensation—would be utterly unbearable. Honesty would lead to nausea and suicide. But now there is a counterforce against our honesty that helps us to avoid such consequences: art as the good will to appearance. We do not always keep our eyes from rounding off something and, as it were, finishing the poem: and then it is no longer eternal imperfection that we carry across the river of becoming—then we have the sense of carrying a goddess, and feel proud and childlike as we perform this service.1 Nietzsche, The Gay Science.

 

 

 

Architecture, it is said, is the craft of weaving science and art into built masterpieces.2 Â On the artistic side: aesthetics, representation, symbolism and cultural enrichment. Science: functionality, structural integrity, technical innovation and strong building practise. Conceptual appropriation of science and art by architects, (via the social sciences and philosophy) influence and alter the outcomes of architecture.3 Modernism sought rationality through its belief in the infallibility of science. If, through rationality, society could not be improved, belief in the progress and accomplishment of the scientific method further motivated the modernists to keep trying. Post-modernism rejects the call for the improvement of society through science and rationality; claiming it will merely lead to tyranny.4Perhaps prophetically, Nietzsche foreshadowed the post-modernist claim for reticence toward science. Art continues to move us, because it makes no claims against its fictional disposition. In a post-modern, globalised milieu, science, due to its fallible nature, is incorporated into notions of art.

 

Globalisation, a late twentieth century phenomenon, is a term used to denote the mass proliferation of information, commodities and images across borders, regardless of cultural and racial differences.5Employing the mechanics of the free market economy, the movement of global capital is inhibited only by infrastructural technologies that determine the speed of the goods delivery. The movement of people across the planet are also determined by those infrastructures. Sassen attempts to rarefy globalisation in terms of strategic sites: the places (non-virtual/virtual) where process and links materialise.6 Infrastructural technologies, often invisible, network and link everything. “Nothing escapes the panoptic reach of the new information system that oversees the emergent simultaneity of global cause and effect”7 writes Enwezor.

 

Globalisation, in its early conception, polarised observers.8There were those who believed that globalisation would lead to cultural/architectural homogenisation and gentrification. Others argued that globalisation would have positive effects by way of highlighting differences in local knowledge and sensibilities. There appears to be consensus amongst architectural discourse that globalisation has created the latter. Lootsma, quoting Polo, claims that “we witness an artificial regionalisation, an artificially enhanced nature, where the local flavour becomes synthetic.”9 Given its synthetic nature, identity is solidified, not corroded, by the proliferation of goods and services from certain local cultures.

 

The consequences of globalisation on architecture, landscape and infrastructure are the focus of this discussion. It should be clarified that globalisation maintains an internal set of cause and effect whilst also influencing processes outside of its metaphysical, dynamic self. An example of this difference is the baking of bread in Northern Africa for export to Europe and the resultant shut-down of European bakeries. An external consequence of globalisation is the manifestation of urbanization, a cities attempt to modernise, currently most prevalent in
Asia.

 

Urbanization records the dynamic dispersal and centralisation of people to and from urban centres. Urbanism, an alternative term for town planning, attempts to deal with issues of density and movement (through infrastructure) for populations in detailed relation to their territory. Koolhaas’ polemic: Whatever Happened To Urbanism? laments the demise of urbanism, which might have redirected people away from cities that have grown into metropolises, and in some cases megalopolises. Koolhaas argues, urbanism killed itself by belatedly rediscovering the virtues of the classical city as a model for metropolises10; a kind of grand-scale critical regionalism. Modernist architects, with their insistence on progress, could not accept the notion of returning to an older format for contemporary cities. The role of creating cities was left to modern architects to the exclusion of the expertise of urbanism.

 

Having severed off the expertise of urbanism, the modern architect was then found stranded in the wake of post-modernism. Postmodernism had constructed a theoretical basis for dealing with disunity that modernism had created.11 Modernism failed “to transform quantity into quality through abstraction and repetition…all attempts to make a new beginning have only discredited the idea of a new beginning.”12 Utopianism is flawed.13 Only individuals, not entire societies, it seems, can be rational on their own terms. 14 Bigness, simultaneously grafting ‘frozen music’, stifled the traditional notion of the People’s Architecture.15 The Corbusian megastructure supported urbanization whilst simultaneously killing urbanisms efforts. Bigness, whilst ignoring context, is “a kind of all embracing, all enabling technical support that ultimately questioned the status of the individual building.”16 Massive, continuous structures were possible through air-conditioning. The structures are so large they take on a logic and system of their own. The result is evident in Koolhaas’ most scathing polemic: Junkspace:

 

If space-junk is the human debris that litters the universe, Junkspace is the residue mankind leaves on the planet. The built product of modernization is not modern-architecture but Junkspace. Junkspace is what remains after modernization has run its course or, more precisely, what coagulates while modernization is in progress, its fallout. Modernization had a rational program: to share the blessings of science, universally.17

 

We witness the failings of modernization to pre-empt the technological breakthroughs that have enabled globalisation: a process that potentially avoids ‘Junkspace’. With technology, (informational) infrastructures can avoid the process of urbanisation, because people no longer need to work next to one another, shopping can be done over the internet, goods are held in strategically placed storehouses around the world, not in a single location. What are left are these large, empty, continuous buildings. Nevertheless, these large megastructures give rise to a new sensibility in regards to the landscape. Metaphorically speaking, these buildings become landscapes.

Bigness Taken to the extreme by Stuperstudio

 


 

Bigness, taken to the extreme by Superstudio18

 

Footnotes

1 Nietzsche, F,. 1974. The Gay Science, Vintage Books, New York. §107. See also http://www.geocities.com/thenietzschechannel/diefrohl7c.htm

2 Curl, J, S,. 1999. Dictionary of Architecture, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 32.

 

3 Ellin, N,. 1996. Post-Modern Urbanism, Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, Massachusetts, pp. 133-135.

 

4 Bullock, A, and Trombley, S,. eds. 2000. The New FontanaDictionary of Modern Thought, Harper Collins Publishers, London. p. 540

5 Ibib, p. 367

6 Sassen, S,. in Davidson, C, ed. 1996. Anywise, MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, London. p. 128.

7 Enwezor, O,. 2003. What Is OMA Considering Rem Koolhaas and the Office of Metropolitan Architecture, NAi Publishers, Rotterdam. p. 108

8 Lootsma, B,. in Corner, J,. ed. 1999. Recovering Landscape: Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, Princeton Architectural Press, New York. p.268.

9 Ibid, p.269.

10 Koolhaas, R,. and Mau, B,. 1998. SMLXL, Monacelli Press, New York. p. 963

11 Ellin, N,. 1996. Post-Modern Urbanism, Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, Massachusetts. pp. 117.

12 Koolhaas, 1998, 961

13 Inherently on the horizon, utopia remains at a constant distance.

14 Bullock, A, and Trombley, S,. eds. 2000. The New FontanaDictionary of Modern Thought, Harper Collins Publishers, London. p. 540

15 Chuihua Judy Chung,. 2001. HarvardDesignSchool: guide to shopping, Harvard Design School, Cambridge, Mass. p. 408

16 Koolhaas 1998, 504

17 Chuicha, 2001, p. 408

18 Schaik, M.V, and Otakar, Macel,,. (2005) Exit Utopia, Architectural Provocations 1956-76, Prestel Verlag, Muich, London. p.145

Scape – Part 2

Some Implications of Scape – Part 2

By James Quinton  

 

.pdf here: Scape

Where context is superfluous in modernisms rampant expansion, context is everything in post-modernisms vanguard against the mistakes of the past.19 The transgressing critical architect of genius is a thing of the past. Adhesion, collaboration and complicity are the order of contemporary, post-modern architecture. Connection with the operational is the only thing that could save architecture as a profession.20 What is the operational? Under the rubric of “new urbanism” the operational has been identified as function, program, processes, events, and utility. Koolhass’ “new urbanism” identifies the “staging of uncertainty,” the “irrigation of territories with potential,” “discovering unnameable hybrids,” and most importantly, “the manipulation of infrastructure for endless intensifications and diversifications, shortcuts and redistributions – the reinvention of psychological space.”21 Formal considerations take a back-seat, at times never present.

The instrumentality of design, (the reinvented psychological space), manifest by the palimpsest of mapping, is the apotheosis of the representation and stylization of landscape, infrastructure and architecture.22 The reinvented psychological space focuses on the making of landscape instead of the appearance of landscape.23 Furthermore, with the inclusion of ecology, the cohesion of the landscape as a whole is appropriated.24 Ecology, combined with the conceptualisation of architecture and infrastructure symbiotically related to landscape, introduces new paradigms for ways at which we might go about making landscapes. This process has been called the infrastructualisation or landscapification of architecture.25

For example, the classic Parc De Villette where both the first and second prize winners treated the landscape as a fallen down skyscraper. Koolhaas’ entry even went to the extent of measuring the landscape the way you measure the square metres of a building.26 More recently, in the Downsview Park competition all finalists were asked to present a fifteen year phasing program as part of their entry.27 The notion of phasing, particularly as a graphic, asks for interdisciplinary action on the part of designers. Landscape architects must start working with scientists to develop an approximate, yet believable timeline for the growth of trees and migration of animals throughout landscapes. In both instances the emphasis is more cerebral that practical.

Phasing Diagram By Tschumi  Phasing diagram submitted by Tschumi for Downsview Park  

New understandings of landscape, combined with the archaic whirlwind of postmodernism, call for the reflection of communities to be represented in landscapes and vice versa. A landscape, or a ‘place’, is meaningless, or placeless, unless time is taken to apply meaning to it. This relationship, however, is reflexively reflective. If our relationship to the world that we live in and the consequential understanding of the way the landscape might actually be, is governed by our thoughts, then at what point do we stop thinking to allow ourselves to build appropriate ‘place-ful’ shelters to live in? There is no answer to this question. Furthermore, the hyper-speed of globalisation and urbanisation do not allow us to think clearly about this process: it is occurring right now. However there have been a few attempts to describe the paradox.

Koolhaas, in A Great Leap Forward introduced and jokingly copyrighted (a dig at the free market) the term Scape© as:  

 an exploded mountain, a highrise, and a rice field in every direction—nothing between excessive height and the lowness of a continuous agricultural/light-industrial crust, betweenthe sky-scraper and the scraped. Scape©, neither city nor landscape, is the arena for a terminal juxtaposition between architecture and landscape, the apotheosis of the Picturesque©.28   

Scape Scape©29

Scape© relies on the significant notion of Dialectics© “a method to understand and synthesise opposites” which collapses into Merge©:30 “a brutal collapsing of opposites to create new conditions.” What new conditions bring about Scape©? Sassen identifies centralisation and dispersal respectively.31 Wall argues that it is the heterogeneous peripheral/middle landscape.32 For Enwezor, it is the horizontal laboratory.33 In any case, Scape© is caught between the push and pull of the centre and periphery under the sway of globalised economic forces. 18   

Footnotes:

 19 Davidson, 1996, p. 161 20 Davidson, 1996, 161.   

21 Koolhaas, 1998, p. 969    

22 Corner, 1999, p.164. 23 Corner, 1999, p. 164   

24  Lootsma, in Corner, 1999, p. 259 25 Klingmann, A, and Angelil, M, ‘Hybrid Morphologies’, in Daidalos, vol 73, 1999. p. 22.  

26 Koolhaas, 1998, p. 923.

27 Czerniak, J,. 2001. Downsview Park Toronto, Prestel Verlag, Munich, London, New York. p.29.  

Scape – Part 3

Some Implications of Scape – Part 3 

By James Quinton

 

 

.pdf here: Scape

Angelil and Klingmann in Hybrid Morphologies and Moystad in Urban by Implication have gone some way in explaining Scape©. Employing the dialectical powers of Smithson’s site/non-site, Angelil and Klingmann present an argument for the relationship between the cerebral and actual in regards to landscape.34 The site is the real conditions of a place, while the non-site is one’s interpretation of that place.35   Similarly, Moystad argues for a “Field of Architecture [that] is stratified, and its main strata in addition to architecture seem to be formed by infrastructure and landscape.”36 For Moystad “every single point in a field contains all the properties of the field…[and] has no clear boundary.”37 Moystad’s preference is for the dual definition of architecture as a field and as a practise, instead of using the term ‘field of landscape’, or even generic ‘field’. His reasoning for this is that “landscape cannot replace the historical city as the basic level of interaction. The historical city was built, it was man made. Landscape is not. We build architectural objects in landscape.”38  This distinction between architecture and landscape has significant implications for the conclusions of both arguments. Both commentators recognise the machinations of globalisation as a process that blurs the distinctions between city and country.39 Nevertheless Moystad is insistent on an ‘urban landscape’ typology (as opposed to the natural) landscape as a way of describing the blurring process.40 Klingmann and Angelil on the other hand are content with the convergence of architecture, infrastructure and landscape, without employing further overarching concepts.41 The arguments can be shown graphically, firstly Moystad’s argument:     Scape Figure 1 42   Moystad argues, apparently quoting Angelil and Klingmann that “infrastructure to be a substratum both to architecture and landscape as well as being a mediator between them.”43 (Figure 1) This statement is untrue. Angelil and Klingmann do not state as such on page twenty five of their article. In any case, the first image represents the traditional hierarchical conception of a cities structure.   Scape Figure 2 44    Moystad argues: “this semiotic model would suggest architecture as the phenomenon with which we interact, both as users and as designers. Infrastructure would be the physical object underpinning the softer (software) architecture, and (the urban) landscape would be the overall system of reference and the global form of the architectural system, or network.”45  Lastly, Moystad’s argument turns from the graphical to the semiotic:   Planning: – turning into a reactive discipline focused on the management of what exists: urban management. Urbanism/Landscape: – basically concerned with posterior evaluation. It would indeed be an ideology of accepting what exists – and then to analyze it in order to maintain a set of references: to cultivate the interpretant and to produce a constructive critique.

Architecture and Landscape Design: – would be a proactive and cross scalar discipline: reading urbanism, collaborating with planners, real estate developers, users and owners, and acting through scenario building, programming and design of individual projects of architecture, landscape and infrastructure46   The semiotic conclusion rests upon what Moystad calls the Peircean synthesis — a dialectical triad that overcomes the differences of landscape, architecture and infrastructure into the three categories planning, urbanism, architecture. These are the further overarching concepts discussed earlier.  In contradistinction, the Klingmann/Angelil interpretation of Scape©.   Scape Figure 3 47  

Firstly, they cite a link between architecture, landscape and infrastructure. (Figure 3) “The traditional city demarcates a figure against the ground of its surrounding landscape.”48 Here dual definitions of landscape emerge; the landscape upon which parts are constructed and the landscape as a practise of dealing with what occur between architecture and infrastructure.   Scape Figure 4   Secondly, through the Hybrid Morphologies, links between the constituent parts are not eroded, but set free from one another.(Figure 4) “In the contemporary city figure ground distinctions are revoked.” 49   ScapeFigure 5  Inline with Koolhaas’ conception of Merge© (“a brutal collapsing of opposites to create new conditions”) over dialectics, Klingmann/Angelil fragment infrastructure, architecture and landscape in an attempt to aptly represent the contemporary city. “The city as urban landscape increasingly evolves as a dynamic process, questioning the authority of self reliant architectural form…de-centering the notion of the architectural object as a closed entity,” write Klingmann and Angelil.50   The main difference between the Klingmann/Angelil versus the Moystad argument for the implications of Scape© result out of whether or not they recognise and accept the collapse of the dialectical process. Moystad, intent on maintaining the field of architecture as “a consistent and well-established concept”51 accepts and maintains the dialectical triad: thesis, antithesis synthesis. Dialectic – the mode of thought used as provocation of rarefied systems of apparent antimonies. The antimonies maintain their status, whilst simultaneously integrating by subcategories that transcend the boundaries of the conceptual dichotomy. In other words, categories share subcategories that relate to other categories. These subcategories may also require a priori reflexive concepts for their understanding. That is, concepts that is not noticeable in ‘the real world’ but help to explain processes that occur in that space.  The conclusion of which is the recognition of the “city [that] dissolves in this general urban fabric, this fabric, or tissue rather, seems to take on a life of its own, and ‘landscape’ in the sense of cultivated nature seems to offer a conceptual handle on the urban discourse.”52 Recognising the city/urban environment as a tissue or fabric, (as Alex Wall also does53) remains a modernist endeavour.54

Klingmann and Angelil’s hybrid morphologies recognise the inadequacy of the dialectical triad to explain the contemporary city. There are no antimonies. The categories dissolve like soap tablets in a dishwasher. Instead of creating new synthetic concepts in an effort to explain the blurring between country and city, the postmodernist, recognising the forces of globalisation, accept the interior and anterior fragmentation of infrastructure, architecture and landscape: 

  “The city is a system in motion, characterised by fluid conditions…[w]ith the dissolution of categories, an undetermined state is attained, that repudiates—as to the logic of a new spatial conception—firmly secured hierarchies.”55  

The rejection of city as tissue/fabric is supported by Koolhass:   “I find [it] interesting to understand the city no longer as tissue – more as “mere” coexistence, a series of relationships between objects that are almost never articulated in visual or formal ways, no longer “caught” in architectural connections.”56  

The implication of the concept of Scape© are important for the ongoing tensions between the tenets of modernism and post-modernism. Globalisation as the phenomenon of high-speed mass proliferation of information, commodities, images and people across borders leads to urbanisation. The urban environment in turn moves back out toward the country side until the distinction between country and city become blurred. Postmodernism, with acceptance of science as a fiction is more equipped to deal with open, fluid conditions, whereas modernism is “caught” in architectural connections of frozen music. Freed from dialectical battles in a fallacious attempt to capture the perfected science, as Nietzsche argues, “We do not always keep our eyes from rounding off something and, as it were, finishing the poem: and then it is no longer eternal imperfection that we carry across the river of becoming.” Scape© implies the conquest of post-modernism over modernism, not simply as a theoretical manifestation, but also via globalisation, the actualisation that certain forces and processes are beyond the control of science and reason.

 

 

Footnotes:

28 Chuihua, Judy Chung,. [et al.]; 2001 Great Leap Forward, Taschen ; Cambridge, Mass: Harvard
Design School. p.706.

29 Ibid, p. 712. 30 Ibid, p. 707.

31 Sassen, in Davidson, 1996, p. 128.  

32 Wall, in Corner, 1999, p. 234.

33 Enwezor, 2003, p. 111.

34 Klingmann and Angelil, 1999, p. 17. 35 Ibid, p.18  

36 Moystad, O,. 2004. Urban By Implication, http://www.ab.ntnu.no/byggekunst/ansatte/ansattesider/moystad/Urban%20by%20Implication.pdf; accessed most recently 2/11/2006, p. 5  

37 Ibid, p.1 38 Ibid, p.5  

39 Moystad, 2004, p. 1 and Klingmann, 1999, p.18.  

40 Moystad, 2004, p. 10.  

41 Klingmann and Angelil, 1999, p. 20.  

42 Moystad, 2004, p.16  

43 Moystad, 2004, p. 16. 44 Ibid, p.16  

45 Moystad, 2004, p.16 46 Moystad, 2004, pp. 16-17  

47 Klingmann and Angelil, 1999, p. 24 48 Ibid, p.24 49 Ibid, p. 24  

50 Klingmann and Angelil, 1999, p. 24 51 Moystad, 1999, p.10  

52 Moystad, 2004, p. 10.  

53 Wall, in Corner, 1999, ‘Programming the Urban Surface’, p.233  

54 Enwezor, 2003, p. 107. 55 Ibid, p. 24.

  

56 Koolhaas, interviewed by Zaera, A, P,. ‘Finding Freedoms: Conversations with Rem Koolhaas’, in El Croquis, (1992) vol. 53 p. 22.  

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