Saturday, July 9, 2016


As we work, we periodically reorganize and re-write our recent history in a discontinuous manner.
Against a conditioned naturalization of the common sense of the "field" or the contemporary business climate, we work to secure a cultural and disciplinary inheritance from previous generations, to establish a point of departure for our own practice and projections. Following Gregotti we assert a little remembered truism that architecture (as opposed to mere building) creates a critical tension, or dialogue, between the project and a naturalized common sense of pre-existing reality. The reason for architecture is not to support innovation (this is business/ marketing jargon with little sense), but to transform reality. A desire for a transformation, to make space for some activity or inhabitation, or to support some agenda, is coordinated into an architectural project which orchestrates technical and aesthetic resources to support this intervention. Modern discipline was based on a troubled and continually renegotiated alliance between cultural practice and technical execution. This discipline sought to support a social agenda and to prevent the dissolution of the design practices into a mere service industry.

Contemporaneous with the corrosive Thatcherization of international culture, the aesthetics of critical modernity were subjected to a sustained assault under the rubric of postmodernism. Without question 'post-modernity' represented, not a break with modernity, but an acceleration of the dissolution of the solid modernity of the first part of the twentieth century into an increasingly liquid modernity. Unable to grasp the logic of the financialization and de-democratization of the West, Architecture grasped at the psuedo-sophistication of university English departments. Architecture is inherently instrumental, and by fetishizing the representative, or merely descriptive, post-modern practices increasingly cornered themselves in a decorative role. Venturi, Jencks and the various populists signaled a mass realignment that severely damaged subsequent generations of the profession and much of our built landscape (in my own city, think of Harrah's Casino, The Convention Center, and the Aquarium of the Americas). Major capital has been wasted on massive urban and architectural projects that seriously degrade and privatize our civic environments, contributing in a physical way to the sense of creeping powerlessness that characterizes the collective hangover we all are experiencing in the aftermath of the Neoliberal party of the preceeding decades.

Source Practices:

Aldo Van Eyck
Assemblage of spaces/ Architecture of social institutions

Oscar Niemeyer
Pleasure, Ethics, Rigor

Lina Bo Bardi
Ethics, Politics, Aesthetics

Gio Ponti
Interiors, Furniture, Casework

Jean Prouve
Sublimation of Technical Objects, technical craft

Vittorio Gregotti
Critical Response to Territorial Expansion, Critical Modernism, Conservation

Carlo Scarpa
Craft/ Assemblage/ Joints

Andrea Branzi
against architecture as medium and towards design of population of urban objects in the continuous 'interior' of post-fordist cities - fashion, elasticity, 'weak design' (after Giacomo Vattimo's Weak Though) - also Florence school

Italian Left in Florence responds ironically to emerging hybrid of fordist + post-fordist spatial logic

“If design is merely an inducement to consume, then we must reject design; if architecture is merely the codifying of the bourgeois models of ownership and society, then we must reject architecture; if architecture and town planning is merely the formalization of present unjust social divisions, then we must reject town planning and its cities – until all design activities are aimed towards meeting primary needs. Until then design must disappear. We can live without architecture.” (Adolfo Natalini, Superstudio, AA London 1971

Ludwig Von Hilberseimer
Urban Theory, Urban History

Aldo Rossi
Urban Theory

Contemporary Practices:

Dogma (Pier Vittorio Aureli + Martino Tattara)
Urban Theory, Projective Design, Theory of the City, Archipelago vs Sea

OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen