WORLDS APART « LEBBEUS WOODS – Lebbeus Woods argues for the need of the next generation of architect's to take up the cause against the strict orders of design of past generations. He feels that fragmentation, chaos, randomness and complex systems of order can lead architect's to new ways of designing and opening up a new way of living for the inhabitants. Though I agree with him in principal, I can't help but question the results of the projects that currently use those concepts in their designs. As is pointed out in the comments to the essay, too often the designs are only frozen representations of chaos or complexity that claim to embody ideas of freedom and new ways of living when in fact by their very complexity, they require strict controls to finance, construct, and manage, which in the end leaves impotent the very concepts they are attempting to embody. Such concepts can not be a purely formal expression but must be lived through the very act of construction.
RATP Bus Center in Thiais / ECDM | Arch Daily – The RATP Bus Center in Thiais, Frnace by ECDM Architects is a deceptively simple building. Covered in precast concrete panels with the "non slip" domes common to pedestrian paving, the building feels like it is drawn from the surrounding pavement of the bus control center. Its careful choice of materiality is both contextual and abstract, giving the building a very clear sense of self while remaining largely mute on its architectural intentions. From the concrete facade, gaps are cut out of the mass of the building; gaps which are filled with color tinted glass. These slick and shiny cuts relieve the buildings domineering rectangular from and soften the hard pavement like facade without becoming overly expressive and taking away from the clarity of the building's form. The RATP Bus Center is a clear example of architecture that draws from its context but isn't subservient to it.
MANUEL DELANDA: Opportunities and Risks « LEBBEUS WOODS – Manuel De Landa takes on perception from a materialist point of view. De Landa views perception as the ability of an animal to assess and take advantage of opportunities and risks in its environment. He defines this ability as the capacity of an animal to affect and be affected by its environment. Though he never explicitly addresses it, in many ways this theory of capacity is an extension of Merleau-Ponty's ideas on perception but without the transcendental baggage. Like Merleau-Ponty, De Landa's theory posits that our embeddedness in the world is our perception, but De Landa takes it a step farther by extending the idea beyond its purely human roots and into the specifics of how all animals can affect their environment. The most interesting consequence of this idea is that it extends to acts of construction as a construction becomes an extension of the animal's body.
James Howard Kunstler dissects suburbia | Video on TED.com – James Howard Kunstler discusses the failures of suburban public spaces with polemics and humor. His very serious critique of the faults of contemporary architectural design are stinging in their validity but his advocacy of New Urbanism caries with it the same nostalgic problems as post-modern historicism. When will there by a theory of urbanism and architecture that will address our very real human environmental needs without falling back on pure humanism and architectural languages of the past. There are very real lessons in the past, but there are still innovations to discover in the future; I call for an architecture of the ordinary that can draw from both. A new vernacular that doesn't use the crutch of language or style but also doesn't leap into the sky with untestable ideas and concepts that more than often fail to address the needs of our daily lives.
Building on Canvas: Sarah McKenzie and the New American Landscape | Arch Daily – An interview with Sarah McKenzie, who is a painter that has taken to painting images of the modern landscape, specifically buildings. She started painting aerial perspectives of suburban subdivisions but has since moved on to buildings under construction. Her painters are an interesting twist on abstraction and still life. Their rich, creamy colors confront the viewer with banal images of everyday environments made fresh and potent again. The painters challenge the viewer to think about the very real impact such environments as a subdivision or a wood framed house under construction have on our daily lives; yet the paintings hold judgment, leaving the viewer to make up their own minds as to the implications.
It is difficult to come to a conclusion on the Ningbo Historic Mueseum as it seems to defy any kind of clear reading, but whatever the building is, it is definitely intriguing.
The Villanueva’s Public Library is an excellent example of architecture working for its community, becoming something more without the need for expressive forms that lack anything beyond their singular expressive concept.
That said, some of my own most productive research was largely incomprehensible to others.