Have something in common.

The Things Architects Do #9: The Dating Game

There’s a lot of lonely architects out there, beginning and ending their days alone. Nobody knows they exist. They look at their weekly calendars and see complete elevations of windows for lunches unlunched, meetings unmeetinged. They never set their mobile phones to silent.

Many businesses have sprung up to help solve this problem and team up lonely architects with their fantasy clients.

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As with any dating site, the only ones who make any money out of it are those that run them.

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Lonely architects upload photos of how they want to be seen, and hope someone will fancy them. Comments are invited. Typical comments are “Beautiful!” or occasionally, “Ugly!” ArchDaily users have to filter so they can head straight for Houses if that’s their thing or to Public Buildings if they’re into that. If looks aren’t that important, they can head straight to Articles where they might meet someone equally desperate to have those long conversations.

 • • •

There’s many traps for clients in this dating business. Despite wanting their love, some architects are only in it for the short term. Some are only in it for the money.

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For some, it’s all about being in control.

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Equally, there are also traps for architects. Some clients just want to be seen with a piece of architect candy.

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Sometimes both sides simply can’t admit they need each other.

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• • •

Speaking of neediness, this past week, DEZEEN has been harassing me to vote for them so they can win a Webby award. I don’t actually care and can’t help but wonder what their state of mind must be if they feel I ought to.

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In passing, Dezeen’s watches are spin-off merchandise. As with chairs, it’s easy to design dubious value into a watch. Watch mechanisms and designers are cheap, watches have a high design to volume ratio, don’t take much space to store, require little packaging, and postage or delivery costs are low. They’re the ideal internet earner.

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The trouble with websites is that they attract all the wrong sort of people. You never know who’s looking. What architects are really looking for is somebody like themselves. The competition circuit is the speed dating of the architectural world. Your project gets put in front of real people. Possibly even for a minute.

• • •

Currently in my inbox is an invitation to participate in the INSIDE awards. Pass.

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What’s this? BREAKING NEWS!! Reduced-rate early bird rate of US$660 to enter for INSIDE ends this Friday. After that, it’s $698. Better hurry!

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A few days ago was a notification from Architectural Review to make sure to submit my project for their annual house awards.

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Prizes are:

  • The chance to donate £50,000 worth of content
  • The chance to be in an online video
  • The opportunity to have your building analysed in both print and online versions of AR.

• • •

And what’s this now? A quick reminder from WAF before I even get to write about them “Reduced-rate early bird rate of US$660 to enter for INSIDE ends this Friday”.

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This next reads like a scam preying on the needy and vulnerable.

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WAF’s earlybird rate is US$880 went up to US$930 yesterday. Here’s the full price list.

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These are the people who will want to see how sincere you are. Seriously?

• • •

It’s common knowledge that some of internet’s biggest businesses don’t generate any of their own content. And that the search engines and social media sites cream advertising revenue off user-provided content. I don’t see that much difference here. No architectural website needs 70,000,000 page views per month.

It’s obviously not about architects swapping useful information on how to make buildings better as there’s simply not that much new information OF WORTH that the world of architecture can process, let alone apply, every month.

On the planktonic level however, these sites and competitions must function as advertising in the traditional sense with architects emailing each website mention to their entire client base as if it were equivalent to giving signed monographs as indicators of accomplishment or whatever meaning is assigned by senders and receivers respectively. And good luck to them.

• • •

Meanwhile, the pressure to hook up continues without interruption or mercy. New competitions raise new hopes the next one is going to work.

• • •

misfits’ advice for lonely architects

 Happy ending!
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The Constructivists

The Constructivists are poorly understood. Constructivist art is often thought of as Russian Futurism and Constructivist architecture is often thought of as Russian Modernism. There is a kernel of truth in this.

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Mosei Ginzburg – that’s him in front of the middle lady in white – he wrote the manifesto of Constructivist architecture in 1924. He did study architecture in Italy where he met The Futurists. He did generally agree with their stance – apart from their total rejection of history. He did most likely read Le Corbusier’s Vers une Architecture when parts of it were published in L’Esprit Nouveau. He did design the 1926 Gosstrakh Apartments that are said to be the first application in Russia of Corbusier’s Five Points.

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  1. Pilotis
  2. Free plan.
  3. Free facade.
  4. Horizontal windows.
  5. Roof garden.

It might have been better to say “the first application of one of Corbusier’s five points” but I’m sure Russians enjoyed rooftops Before Corbusier.

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What I see are load bearing external walls and in those walls I see windows that are no larger than they need to be. I see those windows have secondary glazing – we are in Moscow. I see a plan with a structural core and minimal circulation that has natural daylight and ventilation. It’s little wonder the Constructivists are poorly understood.

1920-1930 The VKhUTEMAS was the Russian state art and technical school. It was where Constructivist art began. Instructors included

The Bauhaus and the VKhUTEMAS existed over the same period. Their objectives, course content, activities and methods were largely similar. Both eventually closed for much the same reasons, the VKhUTEMAS in 1930 and the Bauhaus in 1933. In its first year, the Bauhaus had 150 students, the VKhUTEMAS 2,000.

A 1927 Vkhutemas chair from Tatlin's studio at the Vkhutemas

A 1927 Vkhutemas chair from Tatlin’s studio at the Vkhutemas

Constructivist art  was “constructed” out of diverse graphic elements, text and shapes. It rejected the idea of autonomous art in favour of art for social purposes.

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In practice it was a tool and in spirit a metaphor for building a new society. It was only a matter of time before it translated into the construction of buildings. Vladimir Tatlin’s 1919-1920 Monument to the Third International was powerfully symbolic of the aspirations but was, alas, unbuildable. Over the years it has existed as models at varying scales but most recently as this artificially distressed CGI.

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1922 Alexander and Victor Vesnin (The Vesnin brothers) are credited with turning Constructivist art into Constructivist Architecture emphasising functionality and modern construction techniques.

It was Alexander’s knowledge of engineering and construction management that made it possible. HE MADE IT WORK! The first the public saw of Constructivist Architecture was the Vesnins’ 1923 entry for the Palace of Labour competition.

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1922-1925 were good years for the Vesnin brothers in terms of winning competitions.

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1925 Alexander Vesnin and Mosei Ginzburg founded of the OSA Group (Organisation of Contemporary Architects).

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The group’s journal was SA (Sovremmennaia Arkhitektura or Contemporary Architecture). Here’s three issues. 1 2 3  Magazines like this were how architectural thought travelled back then.

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Le Corbusier’s Vers une Architecture had been published in 1923, although some people had already read some of its chapters in L’Esprit Nouveau. Mosei Ginzburg was almost certainly one of those people.

Style and Epoch

Ginzburg’s 1924 book Style and Epoch is said to have similarities to Le Corbusier’s Vers une architecture despite it being the manifesto of Constructivist Architecture and its concerns for technology, engineering and socialist social engineering. One curious difference is that the English version of Vers une Architecture was out within three years. It took sixty for the first English translation of Style and Epoch to appear. When it did in 1984, Kenneth Frampton wrote the foreword.

Frampton quotes the translator as saying the differences between the two books are as revealing as their similarities. Both books are concerned with the aesthetic potential of machines, but whereas Le Corbusier chooses the luxury liner, Ginzburg chooses the “perform-well-or-die” battleship and submarine. Where Le Corbusier chooses the luxury automobile, Ginzburg chooses the locomotive. Le Corbusier and Ginzburg both look at the same thing and see something different. These are more than just differences of interest.

These are some of the first signs of the Style vs. Performance split architecture has never recovered from. In hindsight we can see that, in 1924, Le Corbusier was focussing on the rich and a socially ornamental architecture and Ginzburg was focussing on the ordinary people and a socially useful architecture. The biggest difference in the two approaches to architecture is that Ginzburg’s idea of constructivist architecture as not being a style but a method of building buildings.

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Constructivism was the opposite of L’Ésprit Nouveau and, incidentally, the opposite of Deconstructionism. Constructivism was about constructing buildings. Deconstructionism was about creating a false narrative for how a building shape came about.

Mosei Ginzburg is best known for his 1929 Narkomfin Building in Moscow. It’s been under maintained for the past 30 years. Occupying prime real estate between properties owned by the US embassy hasn’t helped.

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Here’s it’s counterpart, the 1930 Doma Oblsoviet building we first met in Getting Some Rays.

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It’s in a city where, for three months of the year the average maximum day temperature is above freezing and the average minimum night temperature below freezing. Cyclic freezing and thawing can make water split rock.

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Doma Oblsoviet is looking pretty good for 85.

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1924–1930 was a great time to be an architect. Right or wrong, people had opinions, believed in things. There were Ginzburg and the Vesnins on the Constructivist front with the OSA group.

Nikolai Ladovsky led a rival group called ASNOVA (Union of Rationalist Architects). They were rivals because they thought things like this.

  • Architecture is an art of handling space. Space is used by all kinds of art, but only architecture enables us to read the fabric of space correctly.[5] Architects’ material is space, not stone. Sculptural shape in architecture is subordinate to space. Graphic arts are subordinate to both space and sculptural shape.[6]
  • Structural engineering belongs to architecture inasmuch as structure defines space. Engineers are here to obtain maximum output from minimal material inputs. Their approach has nothing common with art; it may satisfy the architect only by accident.[5] … Exterior facade should not barely reflect the inner contents, but have a value of its own.[7]

Ladovsky believed the architect must first conceive of a spatial composition as volumes and only when that has been done, transfer the formed composition to paper. His objective was to develop new methods and means of artistic expression. This doesn’t sound very rational. This photograph of Ladovsky is titled Students perform the task on the subject “Space”. It doesn’t look to me like the students are getting it.

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Студенты выполняют задание по дисциплине «Пространство»

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P. Smolenskaia’s 1928 diploma project (from Nikolai Ladovsky’s VKhUTEMAS studio)

Between these two schools of thought is a functional formalism best represented by Golosov who leaned towards ASNOVA rationalism

as did Melnikov,

and El Lissitsky, who leaned towards OSA Constructivism.

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El Lissitsky’s Wolkenbugel – a student favourite

Another rival group was VOPRA led by Arkady Mordvinov.

VOPRA were against the technology, engineering and socialist social engineering and anything else the Constructivists stood for and, at the same time, against the abstract formalism ASNOVA promoted. They wanted a conservative monumentalism constructed from modern materials. VOPRA was used by the state against free-minded modernist architects and to consolidate the profession under tight state control. It worked. All three groups were forced to disband in April 1932 to form an All-Union Association of Architects. The winning entry for the Palace of the Soviets competition showed which way the wind was blowing in 1932.

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Gelfreikh, Iofan and Shchuko

It’s interesting to see how the Vesnins’ entry was a gigantic Villa Savoye whilst Corbusier’s has contrivedly expressive structure. They clearly didn’t speak each other’s language. It didn’t matter. The 1934 competition for the Ministry of Heavy Industry showed how the future was going to be.

• • •  85 years later  • • •

High-tech has a large and largely unacknowledged debt to Constructivism.

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Keno Tange’s office also has some explaining to do.

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Zaha Hadid’s early work drew strongly from the Suprematist – the apolitical – strand of VKhUTEMAS art, Malevich’s architektons in particular.

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Shorn of political content, Constructivist means could be used to Deconstructionist ends.

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None of this is a surprise. It is all part of the same historical plundering that occurs in music and fashion as high-turnover consumerism meets short-term memories.  What’s more interesting is that historical memory of The Constructivists changes along the mood of the era. For many decades, the Constructivists weren’t mentioned at all. An historian or a lecturer could segue quickly from Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1923 Imperial Hotel to LC’s 1927 Villa Savoye to MvdR’s 1929 Barcelona Pavilion and skip The Constructivists entirely. Any link between 1920’s art and architecture in Europe could be described using either this pair of images, too close together in time

or this pair, too far apart. Five years was a long time in the 1920s.

A slightly more expansive history book would use either an Image of the Vesnin brothers’ 1924 proposal for the Leningradskaya Pravda newspaper offices or Konstantin Melnikov’s 1925 Paris pavilion to summarise Constructivist architecture in a single distancing graphic.

Later, contemporary photographs of Ilya Melnikov’s shapey 1927 Rusakov Workers Club came to be used, making Constructivism a little more real on the internet.

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These days we like our Constructivism served up as Ivan Leonidov. His graphics allow us to admire the visuals from a comfortable distance like we did with San’Elia, and then walk away.

For all its annoying flaws, William J.R. Curtis’ Modern Architecture Since 1900 is probably the best overview of 20th century architecture in English we have. Curtis devotes his entire chapter 12 to “Architecture and Revolution in Russia” – and then proceeds to tell us about Le Corbusier in Russia (in yellow). On p210 is a description of LC’s 1927 Centrosoyus project. Curtis describes its double-glazed façade as if it were a new thing for the world instead of just being a new thing for Le Corbusier. This is one of those annoying flaws I was referring to.

On page 214, the Palace of the Soviets competition gives Curtis the opportunity to tell us

“[LC’s] entry must ranked as one of his masterpieces. The two auditoriums were arranged o the same axis and were direct sculptural expressions of the acoustically optimised forms of the interior profiles.”

If true, that would place LC in the ASNOVA camp with its use of performance criteria to generate expressive form. Expressive form seems to be what Curtis likes, as he ends his bit on LC with,

“Once again Le Corbusier demonstrated his ability to probe the underlying meaning of a social programme and to translate this into aesthetic forms.”

Sandwiched between the yellow bits is the following praise for Ivan Leonidov. Please read the bit in green. I can’t bear to type it. It’s not about Leonidov at all. It’s about Curtis.

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Leonidov was a star pupil at the VKhUTEMAS and his 1927 Lenin Institute of Librarianship was his diploma project. This is the only instance I know of where a student project has been incorporated into somebody’s history of architecture. Why would this be? I expect it’s because this project gives Curtis the opportunity to describe it in terms of the sculptural qualities, symbolism and expression he’s so keen to find and feed as insights to the contemporary consumers of architectural imagery whom, for their part, are all too keen to consume it. Instead of his history being an antidote to the current state of architecture, it’s clearly suffering from the same sickness.

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• • •

Vast thanks to Victor, misfits’ man-in-Russia, for suggesting this post and contributing to its content in many ways, but also for pointing out various factual and naming errors, as well as mis-spellings and the occasional grammatical error.
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Cherry Blossom Season

And so, as Japan’s 2015 cherry blossom viewing (花見) season draws to a close , it’s time to reflect upon what these flowers have come to mean to us. 

A cherry blossom is the flower of any of several trees of genus Prunus, particularly the Japanese Cherry, Prunus serrulata, which is called sakura after the Japanese (桜; さくら). Currently it is widely distributed, especially in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere such as: Europe, West Siberia, China, Japan, United States, etc. (ref.)

Cherry blossoms are getting to be widely distributed in the virtual world as well. Here’s four renders of W57th Street, courtesy of BIG/Glessner Group. “Yikes – they’ve got the joint surrounded!” 1297114794-w57-image-by-big-10-1000x625 img_glessnerA_06-2 cherry West-57th-Street-by-BIG-ARCHISCENE-net-06 Glessner and BIG have history. Here’s their 2009 VIL School With Cherry Blossom.

That same cherry tree went on to have further adventures in America . seeing double

London also has its fair share of cherry trees, most recently those associated with Rafael Viñoly’s 20 Fenchurch Street death-ray generator. bbc-car-2

It’s risky enough on the ground but radioactive cherry blossoms in the Sky Garden up top are a sinister infra-pink.

Eternal spring beats grim realities. We know we’re being cheated, but more on this later. maxresdefault

Here’s some cherry blossoms from a virtual Italy. No vertical forest is complete without a cherry blossom farm.

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Render for Bosco Verticale

Just as a side-note, before and during cherry blossom viewing season, Japanese people often make polite conversation about the stage of cherry blossoming they most prefer viewing. It’s taken as an succinct indicator of character type whether one prefers 1) the fresh beauty of barely blossoming and full of promise, 2) the splendrous beauty of promises fulfilled, or 3) the fading memory of promises fulfilled. There’s added kudos for appreciating those sexually charged moments between 1) and 2) or the varying degrees of inevitable pathos between 2 and 3), and yet more kudos for articulating the appreciation of some tertiary stage even more fleeting. But Japanese will be Japanese, aestheticising everything. For us in cherry blossom render land, it’s always full-on.

But cherry blossoms in Arizona – really? This next image has the contrivedly balanced colour palette of a Chinese poster. It may not be accidental.

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This one’s from homedesigning.com.

You’ll remember this turgid scene from The Third And The Seventh. Or maybe not. roman2

Sensing demand, CGI specialists share their triumphs and notes on how to best render cherry blossom trees. This is Tech Plaza Changsha (claimed to be) “for Austrian architectural company COOP HIMMELB(L)AU in 2013″.

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Here’s one from Snøhetta for, it seems, a new kitchen for a French laundry in California.

Snøhetta and friends MIR are responsible for this next. It has a dreamy, surreal whimsy.

Not unlike a Chagall. But overall less gloomy. And with more pink.

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Heatherwick (“Best of Class”) Studio isn’t beyond adding the odd cherry blossom which seems to be the eleventh of Bombay Gin’s famous botanicals!

It seems unfair to call this next building a “roadside café” but that’s what inhabitat did. These images are unique in that the cherry blossom trees are real. Imagine that!Mirrors-Cherry-Blossom-Cafe-Bandesign-Japan-2

* * *

On the zero–to-ten scale of EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG IN THE WORLD it’s not that important but have you noticed ArchDaily doesn’t make any distinction between photographs and visualisations?. It’s all “photographs” to them. This is not right. The architectural marketplace has been slow to adapt to online selling but is now beginning to fully embrace it like anyone else with product to shift, hoping to convert likes into sales. In ignoring the distinction between reality and image, ArchDaily are going with the flow. In blurring that distinction, they’re really just lowering standards of content and therefore facilitating the flow of imagery from producers to consumers and, in the grand scheme of things, maintaining their advertising revenue.

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I don’t know how this advance of the cherry blossom trees is going to end but I have a bad feeling. Like Macbeth and the forest.

In one last attempt to work out what this all means, I avoid the haiku poets’ poet, Bashō, and instead consult poet-for-the-people, Issa Kobayashi (1763-1828). He wrote about 20,000 haiku. Which is quite a lot. Even though none is very long.

And what did I learn? Inconclusive conclusions, but there is a trend. In haiku, cherry blossoms often indicate an ethereal beauty or the transitory nature of existence. Or both. Or something else.

末世末代でもさくらさくら哉 (masse matsudai demo sakura sakura kana)

the world is corrupt, approaching the end of days … but cherry blossoms!

[ how easily we are distracted from what desperately needs putting right ]

米袋空しくなれど桜哉 (kome-bukuro munashiku naredo sakura kana)

I know my rice sack is empty but just look at those cherry blossoms!

[ people stupidly prefer pleasure to nourishment ]

大かたは泥にひつつく桜哉 (ôkata wa doro ni hittsuku sakura kana)

most of them end up trodden over in the mud … those cherry blossoms

[ we choose to not see the bigger picture ]

神風や魔所も和らぐ山ざくら (kamikaze ya madoko mo yawaragu yama-zakura)

their divine wind makes an evil place less evil mountain cherry blossoms

[ renders of shit buildings look better with a few cherry trees ]

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It’s Not Rocket Science #12: Getting Some Rays

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Socrates disapproved of that new craze for writing things down. He thought people who used reed pens and papyrus to write things down no longer made any effort to remember.

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Despite Socrates’ misgivings, Plato did manage to remember a thing or two in The Republic.

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Xenophon was another furtive note-taker. He recalls Socrates describing the perfect house.

  1. oriented towards the south to take in the sun,
  2. an overhang to block the summer but allow it in winter, and
  3. a sloping roof to protect from prevailing cold winds from the north.

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“It is pleasant to have one’s house cool in summer and warm in winter, is it not?” and this proposition also having obtained assent, “Now, supposing a house to have a southern aspect, sunshine during winter will steal in under the verandah, but in summer, when the sun traverses a path right over our heads, the roof will afford an agreeable shade, will it not? If, then, such an arrangement is desirable, the southern side of a house should be built higher to catch the rays of the winter sun, and the northern side lower to prevent the cold winds finding ingress; in a word, it is reasonable to suppose that the pleasantest and most beautiful dwelling place will be one in which the owner can at all seasons of the year find the pleasantest retreat, and stow away his goods with the greatest security.”

Thanks to Alex in Copenhagen for sending me that quote and prompting this post on receiving sufficient daylight. Thanks also to Dennis Holloway for the above image plus additional insights as he’s already written the brief history of solar design I thought I was going to. He notes that when Socrates was making the above statements circa 400BC, there was a shortage of firewood in Greece. It seems a human trait to talk about saving energy only when there looks like being less of it around.

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The firewood shortage can’t have ended because Greek houses came to be oriented with their courtyards to the south. As did courtyards in many other times and places.

We may think a sunny courtyard a pleasant place for lunch al fresco but, back then, a sunny courtyard would function better as a place for drying foodstuffs and preserve them as an early form of food security. For shelter however, a courtyard on the south side means less obstruction to low-angle sunlight hitting the windows and walls of the living spaces. The invention of courtyards was a good idea that made things better.

In early 20th century Europe, things weren’t getting better. The commodity with the largest shortage was space. The housing density was so high courtyards became light wells only without much light. (These next few images are from Karel Teige’s The Minimum Dwelling.)

Here’s a new building in Madrid 1930. It has one staircase and one elevator for 1,500 people. Five out of six apartments have no windows other than across those 3m gaps. Spatially, what’s happened is that the floor of the corridors has been partially removed to create lightwells. Grim.

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This next building was also built in 1930. It tries to get the light right, as well as space. This was a constant theme of certain architects in Europe and Russia.

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And not just there, in LA there was Richard Neutra’s Lovell House completed in 1927 just prior to the practical completion of Le Corbusier’s sunlight providing machine in Poissy.  Misfits’ man-on-the-spot in Brussels, Karel Teige, reports on the goings-on at the Third CIAM Conference with the them of “Low-, medium- or high-rise dwellings”.

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(Modernism had barely begun and Walter Gropius was shifting its emphasis away from its core goals of the quantitative provision of space and light and towards his version of “social and psychological” fulfilment. This makes Gropius the first Post Modernist.)

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Richard Neutra moved to America in 1923. Neutral was a man who saw the bigger picture and did not become a refugee like Gropius, a collaborator like Le Corbusier or,  like Mies van der Rohe, both.

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In 1920, three years after joining what was to become the Nazi party, Hitler organised its biggest ever meeting of 2,000 people. Hitler Youth was a reality in 1922, the SS in 1923. Time to leave.

I do like Teige’s summary of the 3rd CIAM and can’t help noticing how true it still is.

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Despite the jostling at the 1930 CIAM, daylight moved higher up the architectural agenda and some architects worked to ensure people had a certain amount of light where they lived. It didn’t take long for them to arrive at building solutions that provided people with sufficient light and space.

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Gropius did do some work on the heights and spacings of buildings but only to make a case for the higher buildings we wanted to design. The consistent sun altitude of 30° meant all his alternatives were equal in terms of sunlight.

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More useful was the work Hannes Meyer did for a trade school in Bernau, near Berlin. This is starting to look familiar.

Meyer Sunlight

In another post I’ve mentioned this next image which seems to be the calculations to go with a  diagram such as the one above. I don’t know of anyone else who was concerned about things like this in 1926, before CIAM and the official architectural agenda.

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Here’s another light-inspired design from the 1920s. This is one of Mosei Ginzburg’s designs for communal housing. It features multiple staircases that function as inclined light wells. Here’s the principle.

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Here’s how it worked.

These inclined light wells direct sunlight to places that would otherwise not receive any. Moreover, the cascading staircases connect everybody to the communal floors in a way that makes everyone feel directly connected all the time. These staircases are doing two important things that elevators can’t. Compared to the earlier Spanish example that partially subtracts  floors yet gives back nothing, this building makes the communal rooms additionally function as corridors and the stairs additionally function as lightwells. This is a good example of a nutritious building that does the shelter thing well. Intelligence was applied to produce new benefits from simple and uncomplicated technologies.

This new recognition of the importance of sunlight in buildings was responsible for regulations to ensure minimum quantities of sunlight depending on the type of building. The goal was to achieve a minimum quantitative standard using a minimum of resources and it was generally successful in the eastern European countries and Russia. Let’s go to Yekaterinburg where, in midwinter, it’s daylight for seven hours 9 til 4.

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Misfits’ man-in-Yekaterinburg, Victor, supplied me with the following information on the Sanytarnye Pravila i Normy (Sanitary Regulations and Norms) issued by the Russian Health Ministry. Here’s some extracts relating to sunlight in apartments. (СанПиН 2.2.1_2.1.1.1076-01)

SanPiN 2.2.1/2.1.1.1076 The following have to be met by at least one room in the apartment.

  • north of 58° N – at least 2.5 hours a day between 22nd of April and 22nd of August
  • 58°N – 48°N – at least 2 hours a day between 22nd of March and 22nd of September
  • south of 48°N – at least 1.5 hours a day between 22nd of February and 22nd of October.

SanPiN 3.1 Insolation requirements must be met by at least 1 room of 1 to 3-room apartments, and at least 2 rooms of 4 or more-room apartments.

SanPiN 3.3 Interrupted insolation is acceptable but if the span of any period of interruption is over 1 hour, the summary insolation must be increased by 0.5 hours.

I like how balconies and overhangs are factored in.

Here’s an article highlighting the current state of those Russian San-Pin regulations. The gist is that such strict control over the quantity of sunlight is no longer needed for the purpose of preventing tuberculosis. The author asks, “Why is it that only one of the rooms should have sunlight, and then only in summer?”  The author notes that quantity of sunlight is no longer a health issue but an issue of quality that does not need to be enforced by health regulations. Even in googletranslish the meaning is clear.

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Insolation has long ceased to be sanitary requirements, becoming a qualitative characteristic property. A qualitative characteristics should not be regulated SanPin and technical regulations, it is not a security setting. In fact, the degree of illumination apartments only affects its price – if it is dark, it is a reason to ask for a big discount on the sale. And normalized insolation in buildings under construction does not make sense: if the developer wants to make due to the higher density, it will inevitably lose in the price of real estate. So it’s just a matter of agreement the seller and buyer, the issue price and quality, there is still a question of honesty of the seller and buyer awareness of what he buys.

This is true, but housing undersupply also tends to make landlords adopt a “take it or leave it” approach, giving potential residents little or no power to negotiate lower prices. Undersupply also results in extreme buildings such as the Spanish example or Kowloon’s walled city (mentioned on ArchDaily in 2013) that was only demolished in 1994. Greg Girard‘s site has some excellent photographs of what architects now know as slum porn.

The market approach however, is generally what we have. The reason why ratings systems such as LEED include standards for building daylighting is to change the way buildings are built yes but also to increase the value of buildings.

  1. It’s not about the people because the standards relating to daylight provision can be satisfied just as easily by making the rooms smaller.
  2. And it’s not about the planet because those standards can be satisfied equally well by expensive means or inexpensive means.

Expensive vanity buildings built for no great purpose seem to regularly achieve LEED Platinum. At first it seems ironic that a building should become more “green” the more money that’s thrown at them but, if the objective of building rating systems is to increase building value, then a high rating accurately indicates a high-value building. It all depends on one’s definition of value.

There’s no incentive to use inexpensive materials and resources or simple and readily available technologies. The danger here is that people might lose the incentive to provide quantitative light through inexpensive means. Why make the effort if the system is against you? Instead, they might choose to satisfy requirements using whatever means are most cost-efficient, despite their cost. People might even stop trying to achieve the quantitative supply of light and instead work towards achieving “qualitative” supply of light because it adds more value. If that happens, we will be heading for another dark age.

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a non-compliant habitable room

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Architectural Myths #17: The Free Plan

Like me, you probably first heard about the free plan in connection with this sketch by the man his mother knew as Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris. Domino House V2 Or maybe it was this 1929 house with a basement. villa savoye basement Let’s take a closer look at that famous plan, free to wriggle around inside its cage. t0108nw9yr6oe7ah POINT #1: Freedom has little meaning when the cage is so accommodating.   The ground floor plan has a 5 x 5 column grid but only 18 out of 25 locations have columns. 15 of those columns are exposed one on the periphery, 2 are embedded on the periphery and 1 is next to the chauffeur’s bed. This last one is the only visible internal on-grid column. There is a total of 32 (> 25) structural supports. Downstairs, the periphery of the grid has 16 on-grid columns but within it are 14 off-grid columns and only 5 on-grid. Why do universities make students produce things like this? It’s so wrong. P1040847 In the garage, the missing column and the offset column make it possible for the Savoye’s to park a second and a third car. The Savoye family was the first to own a car in the area, and LC included features in the design of the house to accommodate the automobile. Did someone say bourgeoise? b9e33-groundfloorplan As an marketing/cashflow thing, it makes good sense for an architect to contrive a plan and a structure to show the nouveau riche how to spend their money. corbu POINT #2: The free plan is free to to be determined by other things.   b9e33-groundfloorplan The entire upper floor of the house has become a porte cochére and thus a very expensive way to shelter an entrance. Nevertheless, curving the hallway wall does make life easier for the chauffeur. The curve of that hallway wall is famously determined by the turning circle of a 1927 Citroën – that’ll be the B14 then. I couldn’t verify this. What we do know is the following. citrohan

Le Corbusier chose the name Citrohan when he was searching for a sponsor to realize this project, and he tried with Citroen. At first it seemed like Citroen was pleased about it, but in the end nothing came out of it.  At the time cars were still considered quite a novelty, which is why Le Corbusier was searching for a car manufacturer since his houses were conceived to be ‘smart’ as cars, and because he had a general thought about cities that involved cars as some kind of ‘saviours’.

The naming is driven by sponsorship as much as admiration. These days we’d call it a “marketing tie-up with a synergy of brand values”. By 1925, LC had got it right and a certain Gabriel Viosin sponsored LC’s Plan Voisin at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art. 410x480_2049_1703

One early champion of Voisin autos was Gabriel [Voisin]’s friend, the French architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris (more commonly known as “Le Corbusier“). In fact, so enamored was Jeanneret-Gris with Voisin’s advanced engineering and rationalist design philosophy that not only did he own a series of Voisin automobiles, but his seminal Villa Savoie was designed around the turning radius of his Voisin sedan; the first house designed with a carport. Jeanneret-Gris also designed the door handles and other trim pieces for his friend Voisin. 

We don’t know if the Savoye’s owned a 1927 Citroën – or a Voisin for that matter. But if we assume a kernel of truth in the turning circle story, parking was not straight forward. PARKING This next photo shows a 6-cylinder C11 Voisin sedan. If you follow this link you’ll learn why this is a Voisin and not a Citroën. It may even that of LC himself. The photo’s staged as the driver’s not making much of an effort to turn. Or maybe he’s just trying to avoid that cheeky column in the driveway? Either way, vaumm-le-corbusier-mies-van-der-rohe-jirafa-voisin-oma-kolhaas-00

A Voisin was the auto of choice when one wanted to show off not only ones means for being able to afford such an expensive vehicle, but also to demonstrate ones intellect, sophistication and individuality. 

CONCLUSION: The hallway wall curve may or may not be determined by the turning circle of some automobile but the basic configuration of the plan is an attempt to fuse automobile and house into a total upmarket consumer package. POINT #3: The plan doesn’t know what to do with its new freedom. The plan is quite human. Once freed, the first thing it does is tell the structure where to go. savoye4 vstable Observe, in the above two photographs, how the structural grid has been compromised to bridge over the front door that simply must be placed symmetrically? This newly contrived arrangement becomes the grid for the columns supporting the axial ramp. I’m sure much academic airtime has been spent explaining how this bridge “bridges” between exterior space and interior space but my point is that, here, it’s the plan that’s now pushing the structure around. Suddenly now the plan is free, it’s the structure that’s oppressed. Horizontally, this 5:3:2:3:5 grid works better the full length of the house, apart from upstairs in the living room that has to be seen to be precisely three structural bays. The column forcibly displaced from in front of the entrance now reappears in the living room at the far left of this photo, embedded in the wall. savsal02l This column – the closest one on the right – is supported by the beam bridging the columns moved out of the way to make way for the entrance and ramp downstairs. Now you know what to look for, you can see this contrivance in this photo. 0133 Messy. LC’s genius was clearly not planning or structure. POINT #4:  The only thing the plan does with its new freedom is represent it.  b9e33-groundfloorplan Again, this is a human trait, but not one of our better ones. Those two columns remain in the driveway to show us how independent the plan is. [The turning circle story is disingenuous – you don’t pull back a wall to leave a column in the way. It’s like those movies that are “based on a true story”.] The position of the wall is as much a result of the position of the column as it ever was. It’s like a messy divorce where both parties pretend for the sake of the other to be doing just fine without them. columns Let’s go inside!  See that column next to the double bed? It would make for a better plan and probably structure if the new column grid that accommodates the entrance and ramp continued for this one last bay. Let’s go upstairs and see if this proposed improvement would have made much difference. savoye-corbusier-1928-31 Nope. The downstairs column would appear one bay closer to the master bed where Mme may appreciate it more than the chauffeur. inter 7 The most likely reason this column is where it is on both floors is that it’s visible from the outside. It’s effectively external. See? 04_0004112_0 As long as the driver keeps his curtains open, the grid is evident. villa_savoye Notwithstanding, the master bedroom and bathroom are where the representation of freedom is most apparent. Walls could just as easily have accommodated the columns rather than ornamentally skirting around them. True, the columns do make a nice niche for the bed – not that that helped Mme sleep any better.

The column closest to the bathroom appears downstairs at the foot of the bed of the head maid. This too is messy. I doubt LC spent much time thinking about the architectural experiences of servants. The design phase of VS was lengthy – the Savoyes were in no hurry. My best guess is LC couldn’t be bothered to properly resolve the downstairs rooms. Maybe fees were drying up. Maybe LC submitted a fee proposal to fix it and Monsieur Pierre said “Don’t bother – just leave it as it is.” These things happen.

POINT #3: Too much freedom is not a good thing. This house just never stops giving! In this next photo, the boiler flue is next to what must have been the warmest radiator in the house. In the same way as the walls broke free from the tyranny of structure, the flue broke free from the tyranny of walls. In the middle of the photo is a soil vent pipe (SVP a.k.a. DWP) that has also broken free from the tyranny of walls. However, it can’t escape being linked to the two toilets directly above it. Let’s hope it never does.

18Savoye-IntStairs-2 POINT #4: Freedom without the freedom to move is not freedom.   Back in the chauffeur’s room, I noticed for the first time that bed tucked behind the double bed. [Who’s it for? A sixth staff member? A child? An elderly parent?] Rene Burri‘s 1959 photo shows the chauffeur’s room partitioned.

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Former chauffeur’s room on the ground floor. 1959. © Rene Burri/Magnum Photos

This next photo showing the same windows has some boxing/partition not apparent from the outside. Untitled Also, there now seems to be a door connecting the chauffeur’s room and laundry room. This door isn’t original but nobody cares because it helps shift tourists through the place faster and so keeps the Corbusier industry alive. villa_savoye POINT #5: The plan is never that free.  Moving away and on from VS, this next plan is derived from the structural, constructional and social dictates of its time. bear wood plan And so is this next plan next plan, but in a different time. philip-johnson-glass-house-floor-plan-hd-wallpaper-pictures-top-home-apartments-photo-modern-glass-house-plans Socially, this house is equivalent to the reception wing to the right of the Victorian mansion above. It’s purely for show. The bathroom is still positioned in the traditional place close to the entrance, its door pointing discreetly away from the living and dining areas, yet convenient to where the bed is. Everything in this room is locked into compositional balance, the centre of which is the living area, the centre of which is the on-axis coffee table, the centre of which is the ashtray. 67859281 POINT #6: Freedom is what you make it.  Unfortunately, one man’s freedom is another man’s tyranny. Given a choice, a Japanese person would prefer to have their reception room at the end of some multi-cornered corridor leading “deep into” the house as a sign of respect. An Arab would prefer the reception room as close as possible to the front door or, ideally, separately accessible from the outside. Given a choice, many Russians would prefer a separate kitchen to a separate bedroom, posle but a separate bedroom is also good. Where rooms go is a matter of cultural preference as much as anything else, and that preference is subject to change. This next image is of what, in the UK, is known as a “through-lounge”. 55541_HOP1000431_IMG_01_0000 The room at the front of the house used to be called just that – the “front room” – and it was the reception room, the parlour. Pressure on space and the decline of visiting as a way to spend one’s weekends meant these underused spaces came to be joined to the more “lived-in” parts of the house. This usually has the opposite effect of “hollowing out” the house as activity shifts to the (old) front and (new) rear where it’s most pleasant to be. The “through-lounge+kitchen extension” is a typical first job for many architects and, as such, they’re generally overcooked. This is not a bad thing for the architects. Pawson_House_1994_01 In the 1980s, the plan became less a matter of cultural preference and more a matter of personal preference with the real-estate phenomenon of lofts. The idea was that you would buy some disused industrial warehouse space and live in it largely as you found it. 001065 Thirty years on, even without there being any walls, the selection and arrangement of furniture can once more determine a plan at least as rigid as determined as one created by structural walls.

The loft “phenomenon” also led to the phenomenon of shell apartments that purchasers were expected to “fit out” however they wished. Some were more shell than others.

This led to completely arbitrary plans being inserted into whatever volume of self-supporting space one could afford.

Maintaining the “feel” of a loft while providing the features of modern apartment plans is an architectural genre in itself. What it comes down to is an ordinary apartment having little or no corridor space, and a large living area with an exposed column or two.

The plan can be anything. It doesn’t matter. It has become as inconsequential as the partitions in an office tower. With a few communal catering and spa facilities in the core, what we see below might well be the apartment building of the future. low-plan POINT #7: Freedom is an illusion.  In this post I wrote of an approach to freer planning that I noticed in the plan of one of Kazuo Shinohara’s houses. uehara upperuehara free plan See how the wall dividing the house vertically is not aligned with the window openings as implied by the plan? See how that wall makes a path with added headroom around that angled column? These are things the plan has freedom to do, and it uses that freedom to do them.  This isn’t a representation of freedom. It is adapting to circumstances. The structure is doing what structure does – creating an enclosure – albeit rather uncompromisingly so. The plan exists only to make that enclosure liveable. The plan is not the generator. It deals with any given situation as best it can. The Existentialist perspective is that the freedom to make choices and to take responsibility for them is the only freedom there is. The plan is condemned to be free. 

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Inflationary Tendencies

Despite the internet having its wicked way with it bMZskuM wallpaper-7393991

this piece of Sufi wisdom is a reminder to be cautious and humble when times are good and, at the same time, a reminder that bad situations also have an ending. It’s not as lame as the English speaker’s “light at the end of the tunnel” or as preposterous as “every cloud has a silver lining”. It’s just a statement of fact. The good stuff doesn’t last forever and neither does the bad.

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The Medium of Architecture is the next-to-last chapter in The Autopoiesis of Architecture Vol. I. In a way I’m relieved as there’s little danger of anything substantial being said at this stage but, also wary lest the author think that, having numbed his readers into a state of acquiescent torpor, he can go on to say whatever he wants. If this book is an edifice then it’s dry stone wall construction. Thoughts are piled one on top of each other. Taking the place of mortar is the author’s conviction that everything’s arranged properly.

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But “The Medium of Architecture”? I did want to know where this one would go.

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I suspected the first meaning but couldn’t figure out what. Yet I couldn’t rule out the third meaning for the author does have a history of telling us he’s channeling the spirit of architecture. But no.

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The medium of architecture turns out to be drawings. The chapter then rolls on with a description of how their production has changed over the years. Like a whodunit that doesn’t make you wonder who did it, you know the conclusion is going to be the blessing that is Parametricism’s parametric parameters. The potted history is brief as the author struggles to invent a progressive complexity for parametric digital models to be its culmination. The Renaissance gave us perspective. The Baroque produced complex projective geometries. Me, I think that perspective projections are more complex than the axonometric allegedly beloved by Modernists. The only ones I could think of were this

Herbert Bayer, Design for a Cinema, 1924-1925
and this (which doesn’t much strengthen the author’s case),

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before remembering this.

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However, if we’re going to bring art examples into play, there’s this Chinese axonometric from the pre-Modern, pre-Alberti 11th century when architecture didn’t exist, let alone the medium to draw it.

In this chapter we learn a lot about drawings that we had quite happy lives not knowing. It is true that a system of drawing constrains design thinking and this is not such a bad thing. The author confesses that Parametricism too has its “tropes” such as populating surfaces with parametric elements but could it be possible that this may not be a trope but the dissemination of techniques that may be of use? Busy beavering away at being avant garde, the author would be blind to such a possibility. As paths to happy futures go, I’m still unconvinced that avant garde screwing around is any better than sticking with something good and making it better. All this talk of paper and projections is necessary as it won’t do to cut oneself off from a history you want to be seen to be leading. “Drawings are dead! Long live the drawing!” Except it’s not a drawing anymore. “Drawing” and “digital model” are used interchangeably and I don’t have a problem with that. It still implies that the social function of architecture is to deliver buildings. What I do have a problem with starts on page 325 when the author borrows Luhmann’s distinction between media of communication and media of dissemination. A digital model is a medium of communication because it is what architects use to design and to communicate between themselves about that design. A medium of dissemination however, is any medium (e.g. the mass media) that is used to disseminate the results of the architectural communications. It’s on page 330 where it starts to get ugly.

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In Smoke & Mirrors I noted how image is being promoted over substance – and even truth – and how any social function of architecture is being replaced by an architecture we construct in our minds from some fancy renders and supporting copy. There’s another concept from this chapter that I need to explain before putting the two together. It concerns the medium of architecture and where it fits in.

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The first and, for the author, the only one of any importance is the first, the architect’s project and the medium (formerly, the drawing) that the architect uses to talk to himself about the design. The third is the drawings and structural analysis models that the engineers need to make it stand up. The fourth is the drawings that can be understood buy the contractors who have to build the thing. It is the second – the client’s project – that I want to concentrate on. Illustrating the design to clients, potential users, or any other non-specialized interested parties is also something that requires specialised drawings that can be outsourced since they are of no concern to the architect who, you will remember, is busy conducting avant garde research. We’ve come across this attitude before in earlier chapters but that’s not the issue now. If illustrating the design to clients is not of any interest to the architects, then WHY ARE THEIR PROJECTS ALWAYS IN OUR FACES?

In Smoke & Mirrors, I was only concerned with images but animated visualisations accelerate this now-chronic dsyfunctionalism. For the moment it’s ironic but there’s probably some sinister reason why the more realistic the animation the more fantasy there is in what they depict. Animations aren’t walk-throughs – they’re fly-throughs and fly-overs and, in that sense, they’re actually better than experiencing the real thing.

At 0:35 You will see the building shimmer in sunlight incident at an altitude and azimuth impossible in the UAE.

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Four seconds later at 0:39 you will see the sun set in the east. (What planet are these people on?) This slightly cheesy animation within a animation has the effect of making the visualization look real. Just as tablet computers opened up the market for computing to people who couldn’t type, in 2013 with its Yes Is More comic book, BIG opened up the market for the disssemination of architectural imagery to the functionally illiterate.

ZHA/MIR have moved it on with this architectural cartoon and opened up the market for the dissemination of architectural imagery to the totally illiterate and, perhaps of more value to a global enterprise, the differently-languaged. The cartoon is the perfect global medium of architecture with which to establish a fan base. ZHA/MIR are very good at what they do. Hell\handcarts\going

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If MIR take such liberties with the sun, then I seriously doubt the fidelity of the 0:50~ sequence involving a full moon to the north east of a starry sky. Much moon watching goes on in the Middle East. There are sites like this one giving the complete moonrise, moonset and moon phase data for Dubai, 15km away. It’ll do. It tells us a full moon never rises further north than ENE (70°). In this next rendering, we’re looking north.

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Etcetera. The ending flourish around 2:48 is a sandstorm from the east which, although not impossible, is unheard of.

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Sand from Iraq is blown down The Gulf by those famous northerly winds, arriving across the water to the west rather than across the desert to the east.

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Nevertheless, in this closing sequence, it’s good to see a hint of the industrial area adjacently south. But why was this new animation necessary? We knew all we needed to know. I sense a PR push. I get the feeling the Bee’ah Waste Centre Headquarters in Sharjah is going to be promoted like the Heydar Aliyev Culture Centre was. We won’t be allowed to forget it like we did, say, this.

Here’s another of MIR’s videos for ZHA. It’s on Vimeo.

ZahaHadid Cambodia Animation Final HQ

You can see how these videos are being used for storytelling, putting thoughts in our heads – and becoming more engaging as they do. SNAP OUT OF IT!!! We have to go to the website of the client, The Sleuk Rith Institute, to learn that “The site is located in the grounds of the Boeung Trabek High School in Phnom Penh, south of the city centre.” Here’s the Boeung Trabek High School.

Boeung Trabek High School

The author needs to re-read what he wrote on p329 regarding inflationary tendencies.

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I think ZHA and their Nordic render guys have crossed that line. Trust is lost. The medium is being abused and too many related parties are tuning a blind eye because of vested interests.

• • •

Here’s one last vid. It’s of the car elevators for the Porsche Tower in Miami. You can skip to the end as it does drag on a bit.

Other videos of this project exist as fly-throughs and such but all of them somewhere have an announcement like this.

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In other words, what you have just seen is not a guarantee that it is what you are going to get. Property developers are more principled than architects in that respect. Decades ago, before “renders” and “visualizations” became the norm, proposed buildings were illustrated by something called an “artist’s impressions”. They were noted as that and meant nothing more than that.

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Everyone understood the sky would never be as blue or the trees as green, and that real pedestrians and traffic would never populate the scene so picturesquely. We understood these to be ideal, if misleading, depictions. I’m not sure that distance is being maintained with this new batch of factually and ethically murky visualizations. When people start to comment on visualisations as if they were actual buildings then the video is no longer a medium of architecture but has become its actual content! This could all lead to some “keep it real!” backlash but, for now, it doesn’t bode well for the future if virtual experiences of an idea of architecture are more real than the buildings themselves. We need to ask ourselves three things.

  1. In what sense are they more real?
  2. Who’s making it that way?
  3. Why?

My best guess and answer to all three is that we, the consumers of architectural imagery, are the real end user. Furthermore, if this process exploits any available means to accelerate it, then it’s because someone has found a way to make some serious money from doing so. (This is not rocket science.)

Me, I can’t wait for my own personal holodeckThe experience of buildings can’t get any more virtual than it is now. Once I have my own holodeck and an internet of other content providers competing for my holocredits, architects are going to have to seriously lift their game. If animated pseudo-realities are where the hallowed soul of architecture is headed, architects are going to have to compete with gaming worlds that offer some real pleasure back in return.

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Humanity, for Architects

When Pasadena Heights was published in 新建築 in March 1975, the announcement included a statement from its architect, Kiyonori Kikutake.

Now, try to imagine any contemporary architect A) announcing a project six months after its completion and B) that announcement containing

  1. SELF-CRITICAL ANALYSIS of the strengths and weaknesses of the project,
  2. an APOLOGY for publishing a building before they thought it ready, and
  3. an ADMISSION OF RESPONSIBILITY for what they thought were its current failings and what its future ones might be. 

Each of these is a no-go zone for our current bunch who work the all-seeing, all-knowing, infallible god thing. Were impoverished. We’ve lost something important. The point of this post is to remind us of that loss, and reflect upon what counts as project announcements these days, the purpose of those announcements, and perhaps wonder why contemporary announcements highlight the architect’s genius in designing the building rather than the building itself or how well it works. (This is one of the signs of a dysfunctional architecture.) But please read on. This is not about me. This is a piece of history you’re probably never going to read anything like again.  

• • •

遠い都市住宅への道: The Long Road to Urban Housing
菊竹清訓: Kiyonori Kikutake

都市住居のひとつの「かた」としてスタディしてきた段状住居の建築が、三島市の丘陵地に完成した。しかし正確にいえばまだ一部未完成である。この建築があまりに未完成であることに私は若干不満である。たとえば、One of the housing typologies we have been working on is terraced housing and we recently completed a project in the hills surrounding Mishima. However, and to be precise, it is only partially complete and I am unhappy that this is the case. For example:

(1)南面テラス通路の手摺には緑の生垣がからまるはずであるが、半年を経ても1ヵ所も実現していない。The balustrades of the south terrace paths should by now be entangled with creepers but even after six months there is not one place where this is happening.

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(2)ピロティ通路の階段脇のキャンバスは、1ヵ所もとりつけられていない。子供にとって危険があるというのにこの工事は故意に遅らせられている。Canvas was supposed to have been attached to the sides of the piloti passage stairs but again there is not one place where it has been. The attachment is said to have been delayed because of a perceived danger for children.

(3)ピロティ通路の土手にはアイビーを植え込むことになっているが、赤土のまま放置されている。(この実験が1月からようやくはじまった。)The banks of the piloti passage that were to have been planted with ivy are still bare earth. (Test planting finally began in January.)20120108_2317672

(4)最下階のコミュニティ・ホールは、サッシュも入れられぬまま野放しになっており、共同の洗濯室や、子供図書室・遊戯室はつくられていない。The Community Hall on the lowest floor is a shell with neither windows nor doors. There is no laundry room, children’s library or playroom.

(5)中央玄関前には大きな藤棚が設けられることになっているが、着手されていない。 A large wisteria over the central entrance has not yet been planted.

(6)一部凹部には野外ステージを設けることになっているが、簡単な工事なのに、これも着工が延期されている。A hollow in the hills was to have been made into an outdoor amphitheatre but work on it has yet to start even though it is a simple thing to construct.

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(7)各戸の住宅の庭も、いつまでもコソクリートのままで、土を入れて庭づくりをする家はなく、どこもまだ植木1本入れられていない。建築がメタボリズムに従うかぎり、生活のプロセスに沿って、つねにつくられ、変えられ続けて行くものであり、完成の機会は永久にこないというべきかもしれないThe gardens of the individual units seem destined to remain concrete. Not one householder has attempted to make anything of their space. There are no plants. If architecture is a metabolism, then it should be made with and change in line with the processes of living, even if there never comes a state where it can be said to be complete.

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とはいえ、以上の部分は生活環境として必要最小限の部分ではないかと思う。こういう未完成の状態で発表すること自体、相当変則的だと考えたい。住宅は極めて実質的なものであって、無駄な装飾や仕上げはいっさい省かれている。それで私はいいと思っている。それだけにわずかの未完成さが全体の人間的環境化に強い反作用を与えてしまいかねない。これではコソクリート・ジャングルである。That said, all of the above are part of the minimum necessary for an environment in which to live. It is not right to publish a building in this state. The housing itself is extremely pragmatic and has no wasteful decoration or finishes. This I believe is good and insufficient to damn the environment as a whole. For now though, it is a concrete jungle.

croc

加えて入居時期になって急に庶民の住宅取得のほとんど唯一の方法であった住宅ローンが廃止されるということになり、クラブに波瀾がおこり、入居予定者の一部が追放されるような結果になってしまった。(ただしセカンドハウスとして取得された方がたも一部にある。)住宅にたいするこのような施策の急変は、少なくとも住宅建築の計画的推進を著しく阻害することは間違いない。産業と異なり、住宅こそ長期計画によって経済的変動にあまり左右されず徐々に推進されるべきものではないかと考える。To make matters worse, the [government-sonsored] housing loans that many were depending upon to enter the development, were abolished. This led to a number of intended residents not being able to purchase (although, to be said, some had intended to purchase as a second home). Sudden policy decisions such as this do not help promote residential construction that, unlike industrial construction, needs to be gradually encouraged through long-term planning and insulated from economic fluctuations. 

それだけに、こういう状態で発表しなければならないことに心が痛む。できることなら発表を遅らせたい。そんなことをいって6ヵ月たってしまった。しかし6ヵ月たってもあまり変化はない。恐らくもっと長い時間がかかるのであろう。住人が決まり、それぞれの生活リズムが定着し、コミュニティ生活がにじみ出るまでには、1/4世紀ぐらいは必要とするかもしれないと思う。その意味では中間報告として一応発表せざるを得ないと思う。しかしこうしてみると今までどうして完成するとすぐ発表できたのか、建築は完成するとすぐ発表できるようなものであったのか、そういう疑問がおこってくる。With all this happening, it pained me to have to announce this project in this state. I wanted to delay publication for as long as possible but was only able to do so for six months. However, even after six months not much has changed. It will take longer – maybe a quarter of a century before people here have established the rhythm of their lives and interact with the community. In that sense, this announcement is no more than an interim report. I question why projects need to be published the moment they are completed. I wonder if architecture is something that actually lends itself to being published immediately upon completion. 

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本当はそこに人間が入って、生活がはじまって、生き生きと活動している状態で、はじめて建築のもつ人間環境への貢献を記録でき、それを報告するということで発表の意味も生まれ得たはずではなかったか。人間生活を抽象し、捨象して、空間だけのアブストラクトを発表しようとするのは、人間を疎外する建築の表明であり、人間を拒否する建築の自己証明ではないかと思う。でなくても、人気のない舞台のようなもので、人間の登場しない建築にはスケール感が湧かないし、白じらしい建築として興味が湧かないのは当然である。建築の発表には、できるだけ人物を入れ、自然に使われている状態が報告されるべきものなのであろう。Is not the true meaning of announcing a project to document the contribution of architecture to the human environment once people have moved in and have established and are actively living their lives? To announce only the abstraction of space is to make a statement about an architecture devoid of human life. It is a self-denial of what makes architecture human. It is a stage without actors. An architecture without people permits no sense of human scale. We shouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t appear as an architectural background to anything. Buildings should be announced only when people are using them as intended. 

ひるがえって、果たしてこのコミュニティが、住環境としてひとつの成果をつくり出せるようになるには、どのぐらいの年月がいるのであろうか。私にはまったく予想もつかないことである。The question is how many years does it take to make a residential environment into a community? I have no idea. Here are some of my thoughts on the difficulties facing the making of communities.

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(1)日本ではコミュニティがもともと成立していないし、民主的土壌がまだ十分でないという意見もある。もっと積極的に、地縁的コミュニティの存在理由は、今日無くなってしまったというような意見さえある。そういうなかで共有空間をひとつの手がかりとしてコミュニティ環境をつくろうとする考えは、あるいは無謀な試みであるかもしれない。実りのない実験であるかもしれないと思う。しかし既存都市のなかに残る調査に見られたコミュニティの根を私は信じたい。少なくとも次の世代にはそこから芽がふいてくることを信じたい。There are some who say idea of the community is not a Japanese one and notions of equality have not firmly taken hold. More positive are those who say that territorial communities are no longer needed in this day and age. Given such a situation, the attempt to create a community environment as a means of sharing space might itself be reckless, an experiment without a result. Nevertheless, I want to believe in the roots of communities I have seen in our surveys of existing cities. At the very least I want to believe that some seeds from there can be blown to future generations.

2)また、この集合住宅が都市内ではなく、東京から約100km、新幹線を利用して現地まで1時間という位置に建てられたことから、自然環境にはまことに恵まれているが、都市との関係で、どのような使われかたがされるのか今ひとつつかみ切れないものがある。ある人はここに住んで東京に通勤するという。それも可能であろう。Moreover, this collective housing is not in the city but about 100km from Tokyo – or about one hour by Shinkansen. With its beautiful natural environment and its connection to the city, we still do not have any feel for how it is going to end up being used. It is possible for people to live here and commute to Tokyo. 

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(3)120戸という集合住宅の戸数規模の妥当性の問題がある。これで果たしてどれはどの共有施設を負担でき、共有をどのくらい拡大して行けるか、これがコミュニティとして、わが国にあって適切な規模となり得るであろうか、そうした問題がある。現在、最下陰にコミュニティホールが仕上げをしないまま、スペースが確保されている。There could be an issue with 120 units as a viable number for the scale of collective housing.  How much shared facilities does one need as a community? Do we as as Japanese have any specific issues with community space? Currently, with the community hall still unfinished, there is a surfeit of space.

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(4)集合住宅では、つねに問題になるところであるが、同一種類の均質な住宅を連続させたことについて評価が分かれよう。住宅の規模や形式に、もっと変化があってもよかったのではないかという点である。庭の大きさ、左・右の配置、上下のステップバックや、地形に沿った通路の変化によって、住宅が一定のタイプを採用している割には変化が大きいように見える。Collective housing is always problematic but opinions have been divided on having the same type of dwelling repeated. It may have been better to have had more variation in the size and type of dwellings. The sizes of the gardens, the left and right plans, the stepping back up and down, and the paths following the contours of the land all contrive to give the appearance of a degree of variation despite the use of a single plan.

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(5) 地形に沿わせる方法として、ここでは水平連続体で等高線に一致させ、長さ約200m、幅約50m、高さ約20mの構造物が傾斜角度22°で建てられているが、これは移動土量を極めて少なく押えることに有効であった。しかし、果たしてコスト的な有利性と、生活にとってある程度必要な複雑性・多様性が若干おろそかになったのではない。The building adjusts to the topography by its 50m wide continuous horizontal configuration following the contours for approximately 200m. The structure has a height of approximately 20 metres and follows the slope at an angle of 22°. This was very effective in reducing the amount of soil that had to be removed. However, these cost advantages were not achieved to the neglect of a certain degree of diversity and complexity necessary for living. 

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(6)段状住宅として断面でズレていること、各住宅が庭で独立し区画されているため、外壁・天井・床などの表面積が、一般独立住宅と同じくらい大きく、容積と表面積の比は高くなっている。そのため通風・日照・遮音やプライバシーに有利であっても、熱的には外気に影響をうけやすい形になっていると考えられる。そういう住宅の居住性がどうか、今後の測定結果の解析にまたなければならない、その外  The offset sections of these stepped houses and the fact that all houses have an independent garden mean that the surface area of external walls, roofs and floors is almost the same as detached houses. The ratio of surface area to volume is high. This has advantages for cross-ventilation, sunlight, sound insulation and privacy but the internal temperature is easily influenced by external conditions. We must analyze the results of future measurements to judge their effect upon the liveability. Separate from all this, 

(7)管理上の問題として、各住宅に自由に出入りできる南面と北側ピロティ通路のふたつが接しているので、利用に便であると同時に盗難などにたいしては、警備に新しい方法を組み込むことが必要となるであろう。There may be a management problem with the houses being freely accessible from both the paths on the south and the pilotis passages on the north. This is undoubtedly convenient for the occupants but fresh thinking regarding security may be necessary.

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等々、以上のような都市住宅には、それぞれ独特の問題が山積みしており、これらをどう今後調査し、修正し、補足しながら、生活と空間との調整をはかって行くか。またそれでこそ、そこに新しい人間環境が生まれる可能性を大きく秘めているともいえるのであるが、これらを克服して、よく都市住宅の確立に貢献できるかどうか、ひとつの提案の波紋を見守りたい。Etcetera. Urban housing such as the above has specific problems piled one on top of another. How to survey these, adjust these, supplement these in the future is something that has to be coordinated with living and space. Inside all of this is the possibility that a new human environment can be created. I want to watch how the ripples of this proposal can contribute to better city housing. 

• • •

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There weren’t any.

If the community did flourish to become the community Kikutake envisaged, there wasn’t much evidence left of it in 2002. Somewhere, misjudgments were made and some of those may have been mistakes of architectural judgment. Some may simply have become so. Kikutake’s 1975 comment about the surface area and the implication that the houses did not hold heat has a hint of hindsight since, by 1975, the 1973 oil shock must have done a lot to de-aestheticize the very wide comfort zone the Japanese traditionally had with respect to temperature. These are circumstances and Kikutake probably did make decisions that affected how his project coped with circumstances at the time unknown.

I’m just posting this
piece of history to show
Mr. Kikutake was aware of that
and said so

as a matter of principle.

88_5_w370Kiyonori Kikutake!

I was unmoved by your
Sky House,
your Floating Cities
or your Aquapolis, but

  • For writing a press release with sincerity, self-reflection and integrity.
  • For believing architectural media announcements should state the truth and, moreover, convey information of actual worth.
  • For asking questions nobody cares to ask anymore and for reasons no-one can remember.
  • For respecting, and respecting the intelligence of your target audience.
  • For, finally and most importantly,

SHOWING YOUR CONCERN FOR HUMANITY
BY SHOWING YOURSELF TO BE HUMAN
AND FALLIBLE LIKE THE REST OF US,

misfits salutes you!

Architecture Misfit #16.