Tag Archives: Architecture


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.

Comments on RATP Bus Center in Thiais / ECDM | Arch Daily

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.

Comments on MANUEL DELANDA: Opportunities and Risks « LEBBEUS WOODS

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.

Comments on James Howard Kunstler dissects suburbia | Video on TED.com

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.

Comments on Building on Canvas: Sarah McKenzie and the New American Landscape | Arch Daily

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.

Comments on Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio-Arch Daily

Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio-Arch Daily – The Ningbo Historic Museum is a strange combination of local Chinese construction methods and contemporary formal logic. Made of board formed concrete, stone masonry and clay tiles mixed into patches, the walls of the building splay and tilt as they rise form the ground. Like a material collage, the building challenges one’s understanding of design as the hands of the workers can clearly be seen in the patches of material. Windows are sprinkled throughout the walls with little apparent logic. The interior courtyards are floored with gray wood decking from which the walls seeming to float above. The interiors are more refined and have a feel of many contemporary buildings while not giving up on a distinctly crafted feel.

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.

Comments on Villanueva’s Public Library / Meza + Piñol + Ramírez + Torres | Arch Daily

Villanueva’s Public Library / Meza + Piñol + Ramírez + Torres | Arch Daily – Villanueva’s Public Library is a study in spatial layering and materiality. The simple rectangular form of the main building is clad in stone gabions while the public loggia like space in front is clad with crisscrossing wood pallets which shade but still let diffuse light into the building. The two story structures houses a library as well a community theater and with its large loggia in the front, the building opens itself to the community.

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.


SEEING SPACE « LEBBEUS WOODS – Lebbeus Woods presents a series of drawings by Sotirios Kotoulas whose research explores making visible the spaces of the electromagnetic spectrum. While his drawings are fascinating in their angular complexity, they lack a direction forward beyond their own creation and internal logic. The drawings feel too much like a subjective rationalizing into formal ideas based on a metaphorical understanding of the logic of electromagnetic waves. Perhaps it is just a missing explanation of the rules for the internal logic of the drawings but I fail to see anything other than a series of beautiful drawings. If that was the desired intention, I would congratulate Sotirios Kotoulas but the drawings are billed as research and in this case I find them lacking. Research should point to new methods, ideas and actions, not just create another piece of art full of affectations and percepts.

That said, some of my own most productive research was largely incomprehensible to others.

An Ethics of Complexity for Architecture

How does one make decisions and judgments within the practice of architecture?  There are no answers to this question, only problems.  How one formulates the problem, that is constructs the problem of architecture, effects the nature of the possible solutions, the performance of the designed and constructed buildings.  Problems are as much a construction of architectural practice as the actual built building is.  As Kojin Karatani describes in his book Architecture as Metaphor, there is a tendency in western philosophy to architecturalize itself.  He goes on to say that this “will to architecture” is not limited to philosophy but is latent in much of western thought, from science to the humanities.1 The will to architecture is the act of to constructing thought.  It is an act of making.  For any conception of architecture must include an idea of making or construction. Continue reading An Ethics of Complexity for Architecture

Fields and Intensities

System fields, intense fields and virtual fields are three interlocked concepts of the field. In his essay From Object to Field, Stan Allen primarily discusses the concept of a system field. I am using this term to describe a large group of objects that relate to each other in a systematic way and might produce emergent behaviors. An example of such a field is an ant colony as discussed by Steven Johnson in his book Emergence. In fact, a field is really just a set of relationships between objects. It can be hierarchal, unlike what Steve Allen implies, but does tend to be more of an intertwined mesh of objects, homogeneous or heterogeneous. Still a set of relationships between objects is hardly a clear way to describe a field. To be a field those relationships must be specified in a more exact manner. In fact, those relationships can not be a static “pattern” but are behavioral. The key to understanding a field is that each object inputs its behaviors, or its capacities and potentials to affect and be affected, into relation with other capacities and potentials. In a systems field the capacities are extensive properties of the objects. Examples of extensive properties are length, mass and energy. Continue reading Fields and Intensities