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Uchihanashi/Uchippanashi Dec. 30th, 2007 @ 10:55 pm
Here’s a Q+A with a Japanese architect from Néojaponisme on concrete uchihanashi/uchippanashi, or as we know it, Tadao Ando exposed cast concrete. The piece goes over its origins in Japan, what those signature circle relieves are, its current trend/bastardization as wallpaper, and if, you click the links, you can even find out how its done!

Guest House Dec. 29th, 2007 @ 09:21 pm

Okay, so the SketchUp-esque screenshot of a twisting space station got me interested, and the fact it was a screenshot of Japanese-designed point-and-click “escape the room” puzzle game suckered me in, but all I got was a frustrating and unfulfilling experience. Got some time to kill? Try it yourself: http://terminalhouse.com/guesthouse_en.html

Referring links:

http://kotaku.com/338877/holiday-weekend-timewaster-guest-house
http://sexyvideogameland.blogspot.com/2007/12/point-and-kickass-guesthouse.html


Soft Babylon, New Babylon Reloaded: Homo Ludens Ludens: Knowing through Gaming (Part 1) Dec. 27th, 2007 @ 11:01 pm

Architecture today encounters a parallax, provided by video games, in the development of new typologies of space – spaces that are merging and emerging from the confluence of the physical and the virtual in the form of the digital. To render this argument quite plainly, the qualification of ‘the product of the genius of the designer in creating a place of experience, of participation and even of contemplation – a medium for humans to encounter and engage in’ can apply to ‘video games or architecture’.The image “http://www.artfacts.net/exhibpics/15904.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Video games are, categorically, digital spaces of play – spaces, defined through the act of playing, and have become integral to our contemporaneity, not only embodying, but also defining and changing our cultural, spatial, temporal, and experiential way of perception and expression. On the Internet, video games integrate social communities and cultivate human networks, which then can extend back into “real” life. These ludic spaces can be 2D or 3D representations, complex social constructs, or novel concepts linking physical spaces. Our idea of video games and architecture begin to intertwine and interweave, blurring the distinction between where each begins and ends. The merged idea of gaming and architecture isn’t new, mind you; not video-gaming specifically, but this earlier example of ludic architecture: Constant NieuwenhuysNew Babylon.

Before getting into New Babylon, ordered around this understanding of ‘video games’ is an argument for the differentiation in degree between ‘gaming’ and ‘playing’ [1]: ‘gaming’ is a structured activity performed according to a set of rules or laws. Oppositely, ‘playing’ is fantasy-driven and less limited by fixed rules, although the definition of rules can be an integral part of playing.[2]

In that sense, Constant NieuwenhuysNew Babylon is the ultimate pervasive game that’s more along the definition of ‘playing’ than ‘gaming’ (or a sandbox game, “a genre or mode of some video games for open-ended, nonlinear play”), a game broader than the traditional environment of a screen, a game-space that you cannot disconnect from and is constantly coinciding with the space that you live in (see eXistenZ). It’s a proposal for a future society, “a society of total automation in which the need to work is replaced with a nomadic life of creative play, in which traditional architecture has disintegrated along with the social institutions that it propped up”.

New Babylon’s model is the playground, the place of child’s play, where traditionally, you leave as an adult to work, loosing freedom to do as you want – to run free. It’s imagined as a place where you never work, where you can perpetually be a child. Such state of affairs would not stem from Marxist revolution, but from a technological revolution, liberating its occupants from any burdens to do whatever comes into their minds.[3] But a playground is a bound space of total control, and in Constant’s project, “you never get out of the playground” (à la: The Matrix).

Today, New Babylon looks almost as a prophetic spatial prototype for the video game virtual worlds [4] of the Internet.[5] Each in its sense is a model of a liberated, collective creation and interaction within an apparent incomplete open-source system. Homo Ludens – Man the Player [6] – becomes a collective designer of nomad space, “wander(ing) through the sectors of New Babylon seeking new experiences, as yet unknown ambiences (…) fully aware of the power they have to act upon the world, to transform it, recreate it”; virtual worlds take things even further, as will be later elaborated (Marcos Novak’s Soft Babylon, Next Babylon).

However, Constant reverses his opinion on his own project, that if you build New Babylon – that is, you give everyone a playground for their desires – it would become a terribly-bloody atopia. The last four years Constant spent on the project were dedicated to depicting images of how horrible it would be like living in New Babylon. [7] Constant’s conclusion on the project is not unlike William Gibson’s “bleak and ironic” vision of the digital future that is not naïvely cheerful (with computer games as its foundation) in Neuromancer – a vision which, ironically, is opposite that of the generation of cyberspace theorists and technologists that he inadvertently inspired – who fail to see Gibson’s irony. [8]

This is not to dismiss the potential behind ‘virtual space’ of video games or New Babylon, but to critically examine and compare these systems to see where overlaps lay and lack. For instance, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) retain descriptions that coincide with the ludic city’s ability to produce universal and anonymous subjects. However the multiplicity of determinants is restricted to the existing infrastructure, which is already geared at commodification and end-consumer subjectivity. The machinations of late-capitalism, the consumption of commodity, either ‘real’ (the actual video game) or ‘virtual’ (downloads, advertisements), are the very means of the mainstream video game industry’s current existence. What subsists is a homogenized closed system of space, tailored as the theatrical stage for popular culture, which reused, unauthentic experiences serve as spectacles for the use of turning the individual player and the gaming community into passive consumers [9], where users are regulated pre-packaged content predetermined by those of the few, rich, and powerful (game corporations, advertisers) – a total one-eighty from the manifesto from which New Babylon was envisaged.

So, the earlier question of defining ‘video gaming’ arises again when challenged against Keller Easterling’s Enduring Innocence, where she defines architecture as “the medium of an open platform storing both structure and content. [10] The information it stores, as both data and persuasion, is literally a product, property, or currency.” Architecture is equated to a ‘spatial product’, a classification that can as easily describe an operating system, a webpage, a building, a video game, or a virtual world.

Leaving the answer at Easterling’s Marxist critique of architecture and video games, though, is inadequate; contrastably, Deleuze and Guattari went against the Marxist-capitalist theory that desires come from a sense of lack, and that the only way to meet those desires is to consume (as echoed by the Situationists [11]). Instead, Deleuze and Guattari claim that desire is a productive and creative force. [12] It is easy to conclude that productive/creative forces exist in the making and engaging of architecture as building. Seeing passed the fact that most video games are consumer products for purchase, socio-cultural creative forces exist in video games as well – not only in making (including user-created content), but in playing video games: an entire generation has grown up immersed with playing video games – they do not read the instruction manual for a video game, they just begin playing. Through abduction, gamers build a dynamic mental model of the game through gathering empirical evidence through playing – learning and, possibly, mastering the game. It’s the gamers’ mindset, not much unlike the New Babylonian’s: a different way of learning and knowing than the previous linear cultural standard of consuming knowledge, such as through reading the instructions; a way of knowing the world as a place – rather of consumption – but that of creation. [13]

[1] …without delving into possible tangential analysis of “gamer” culture or ‘game theory’.

[2] Vuillemin, Ronald. “Game Physics” in Space Time Play: Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism: The Next Level (Berlin: Birkhäuser, 2007), 62

[3] Nieuwenhuis, Constant. “New Babylon” in exhibition catalogue (The Hague: Haags Gemeentemuseum, 1974)

[4]From here on out, ‘virtual’, ‘virtual world’, ‘synthetic world’ and such the like are in reference to such video games as Second Life, but the author welcomes any Deleuzian overlaps, implications, or terminological confusions; the specifics of the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’ that can span from Bergson to Baudrillard, of defining what is ‘real’, its insistent identification with the ‘actual’, and its coupling with the ‘virtual’ and its counterpart, the ‘possible’ are beside the point.

[5] Feireiss, Lukas. “New Babylon Reloaded” in Space Time Play, 219

[6] Huizinga, Johann. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1938)

[7] Wigley, Mark. New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 1998)

[8] Aarseth, Espen. “Neuromancer” in Space Time Play, 143

[9] Debord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: Zone 1995)

[10] Easterling, Keller. Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades (MIT Press, 2005), 1-3

[11] Novak, Marcos. “Next Babylon, Soft Babylon”, in AD (vol. 68, 1998), 26

[12] Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987)

[13] Wright, Will. “Dream Machines”, Wired (vol. 14 no 4, 2006), 111


The Limits of Authorship in Architecture Nov. 11th, 2007 @ 10:31 pm
Ideas of authorship in architecture have been kicked around for a while now, with debates circling mostly the concept of symbolic figureheads in architecture firms: For how long should scholars, students, architecture critics, and journalists be expected to go to Renzo Piano or to Jean Nouvel for every building design that comes out of their studios?

Those architects, as well as Hadid, Meier, and Koolhaas, are still heavily involved in designing and prototyping but neither have been the lead designer on their signature “franchise” for over a decade. From where I sit as student, Koolhaas’ position in the architecture community on consumerism, cosmopolitism, etc. would not be dated, but if I had taken a different standpoint and addressed issues of, say, building, should the founder still be the go-to guy for perspectives on the firm?

Some weeks earlier I was exchanging emails with a friend who worked at SHoP this summer and he talked about how collaborative the process is; just got me thinking, how the idea of the lead designer we grew up with is increasingly irrelevant. You still need a central repository to bring all these ideas together, but design is messy... yet the idea of the “Starchitect” persists even as the discipline becomes less dependent on original breakthrough designs and more dependent on a consistent collection of talent. So, what to do? Should buildings now come with a concatenated rolling name credits for their design/build teams?

Case-in-point, here is a photo plus an analysis of OMA ex-pat Joshua Prince-Ramus and Erez Ella’s REX studio from archidose:


Image by Jason Schmidt

“The two leaders are prominently located in the foreground of a New York loft with the 30-odd employees dispersed behind them and some foam models. Perhaps the more senior ones are closest to the camera and the young ones at the back, meaning if the latter leave the firm they don’t have to keep reshooting this photo as they’re faces are too small to be distinguished. This raises the paradox of these sorts of photos: their role in illustrating the important role individuals play in the production of architecture, a role that can be seen cynically as interchangeable with any qualified person.”

This analysis begins to question implicitly the role of the intern versus the starchitect. Are the visions of the figurehead only endowed in virtue of the intern? Or is the building project and the internship only viable/possible through the demiurgic nature of the celebrity architect? Between project meetings and lecture circuits, how much credit should go to the principal when the building is all said and done (think: Holl’s watercolor sketches)? Where does one draw the line of where the architect can just ride on his/his firm’s built reputation and no longer really design? Should that even ever be the case?

 


Portugal Now: Country Positions in Architecture and Urbanism Nov. 2nd, 2007 @ 11:00 pm
Portugal Now: Country Positions in Architecture and Urbanism is the third in a series of conferences and exhibitions organized by the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University. The series explores some of the most intriguing currents in contemporary architecture, landscape architecture, art, and urbanism in different parts of the globe. Portugal Now will examine examples of emerging contemporary Portuguese architectural practices and how they contend with global political, economic, and social realities.”

Official Site
AAP’s Brief: Double conference features Portuguese architecture of the now
Participating exhibitors that have websites:
GB Arquitectos
João Luís Carrilho da Graça
Cannata & Fernandes
menos é mais
Camilo Rebelo
CVDB arquitectos
Embaixada
moov
a.s* - atelier de santos

Bernardo Rodrigues
S'A arquitectos
Nuno Brandão Costa
Augmented Architectures
ReD

 

Other entries
» (Un)holy Alliance: Architecture and Video Games?

This hasn’t been the first time I’ve been wary about architects’ involvement in video games or “Architecture” in video games, but it seems again in the technology news media, questions about the validity of “games as art” have come up, as well as some mainstream video games prominently displaying “Architecture” in their virtual worlds. What is going on with this? Are video games trying to authenticate themselves as ‘Art’ by inserting “architecture” along with other examples or extensions of existing artistic mediums, such as movies and music? Why, indeed, are so many architects snapping up ‘land’ in Second Life, the virtual online world with almost eight million residents? What is this relationship, if any, between video games and architecture?

This question arises for me in my reading of Keller Easterling’s Enduring Innocence, where the author defines architecture as “the medium of an open platform storing both structure and content. The information it stores, as both data and persuasion, is literally a product, property, or currency.” In the book, she basically equalizes architecture as a ‘spatial product’, a classification that can as easily describe an operating system, a webpage, or a building. A video game or a virtual world, such as Second Life, could also fall under this categorization.

But, just as Michael Benedikt asks in “Physics for Phantoms”, “how important is it that Pacman could disappear on the left of the screen and reappear on the right, or disappear on the bottom to reappear at the top, instantaneously, without it troubling us that the actual corners of Pacman's world-surface cannot be joined in any physically realizable topology whatsoever?”, why is this relation with virtual worlds and architecture relevant?

Or on the nature of virtual environments as comes up in Steve Rose’s The Guardian Unlimited article on architects and Second Life, “Buy! Buy! Buy!”:

“There’s an office, where Bartlett holds real-time business meetings, a home theatre where she can watch movies with friends, outdoor areas for cocktail parties, even a dining room - yes, you can mimic eating in SL. But why would you want to eat? The more I explore, the more I find myself asking similar questions. Why put stairs in a house when you can fly? Why put a roof on it when it never rains? Why mimic a Barcelona chair when you never need to sit down? Why build a house at all?”

The significance of the relationship stems from the separation of the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’, for as believable or perverse the simulacrum is, there is always that differentiation; if it’s not for real, you can turn it off and walk away. The thing is, now, there is a fuzziness introduced between this boundary. Linden dollars, the currency of Second Life, can now actually be exchanged for US dollars. There is even a character in SL whose virtual dealings make her a millionaire in real life. Virtual gaming clans are extensions of real-life friendships and vice-versa. Video games are not solely about entertainment anymore, or even creating ‘art’ for art’s sake: they have become the components of the manifestation of an extended “virtual reality”, which until recently, only have been known to us through the telephone, e-mail, chat rooms, VoIP, or message boards. As summarized by Benedikt, “the question as a whole is “critical” because as today’s cyberspaces… coalesce with today’s arcade- and museum-grade virtual worlds, logics will emerge that are informed by the reality coded into our bodies: the topo-logic, that is, of four million years of natural evolution as well as the mytho-logic of one hundred thousand years of human cultural evolution, layered upon the topo-logic and constrained by it.”

These virtual spaces maybe, in fact, the prototypical precursors of such virtual realms as depicted in modern-day fantasy tales as read in Gibson’s novels or as seen in movies like Tron and The Matrix or anime like Ghost in the Shell or Serial Experiment Lain. And the ‘architecture’ in these spaces…maybe that’s why certain people want to archive the architecture of these early iterations of extended reality/virtual worlds: this stuff might be important!

But in that belies the problem: why are architects building ‘architecture’ in what itself can be ‘Architecture’? Why mimic a Barcelona chair when you never need to sit down, or build a virtual house at all? “When you have all the possibilities in the world, you choose to represent something so close to suburbia”: when architects are presented a medium that lets architects do anything, why re-present the Farnsworth House?

Even when disregarding a variety of aspects of the ‘real’ such as “gravity” or “gender”, the ‘virtual’ is bound by laws and principle via the very limits of the code and the computer’s computation. However, even within such bounds, certain matters may come up, such as those of social or political consequence, which normally remain unquestioned in “meatspace”:

“In both of (Kafka and Borges), the Law is carried in the architecture and the architecture is virtual: capable of a liquidity of scale, of a dream logic not far from reality but far enough to settle upon its own faults an air of normalcy. (…) Consider: what is “property” when whole tracts for new settlement can be fabricated algorithmically and buried in the eye of a firefly? What is “liberty” when constraint upon movement and access to people’s consciousness is governed by neither architecture nor nature, i.e. by neither gates nor walls nor the fading effects of time and distance, but by private law: permissions, encryptions, and inabilities appearing to us as inexplicable lacunae in the data, as silences, circular logics, puzzles, and endless loops?”

Are these virtual worlds and their “architectures” challenging our conceptions of reality, or they “a consciousness-degrading torrent of choiceless choice, kitsch, and commercialism”? What are we to make out of the mish-mash of Neo-Whatever’s or such faithful recreations as Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Second Life or Wright’s Fallingwater (Kaufmann) Residence in Half Life 2? Or professionally, is ‘virtual architecture’ no more than a useful tool “to showcase a build [sic] to anyone around the world and have them interact with it on a virtual level”? Or to authenticate or sell a fantasy experience in the ‘real’, à la Herzog and de Meuron’s Beijing National Stadium in Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games?

These questions become precursors to further questions, as in why “a Dutch library chain called DOK, which “...is on a mission to become the world’s most modern library” would want to make games a part of the public knowledge-base in a similar way to, say, books”.

Or why Mario Gerosa, editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest Italy, would want to preserve a EverQuest 3D castle as one would a Piranesi etching or a Sant’Elia sketch.

Or if Jenova Chen’s then-MFA thesis, now-PS3 game, flOw is a participatory art installation and/or simply a video game.

Are we really at the cusp of something truly artistically, architecturally, and/or gaming-ly exciting, or are we still years away from any kind of game or ‘virtual’ space that may resemble Ebert’s definition “High Art”, or even “Architecture”?

---

These are, to me, only minor issues to what my main concern is really and what may really be just a digression:

The way designers are designing, whether through software like Maya or 3DStudio Max, or the way gamers or ‘users’ are playing or experiencing “virtual space”: it’s nothing more than a finite collection of possible inputs of the user and the consequential graphical outputs displayed on the screen. That means every available preloaded tool (Line, Circle, Loft, Create Cube, Texturize Cone… ready-made geometric operations) defines the unconscious computation of the “virtual space”, preventing an exploration of the inherent space of the parameters or of the program itself in the design process… even Second Life groups Seifert Surface or LOL Architects’ fractals, a-platonic geometries, and “giant green rings populated by pink flamingoes and fields of wavy purple topiary, staircases leading up into the sky”… or Hernan Diaz Alonso’s blobitecture… this isn’t pushing anything.

It is design, repackaged and crafted in a traditional way, and a waste of the possibilities inherent to the use of computers in architectural or game design, regardless of the program being used.

(This directly stems from a larger problem; that of the program designs of programs that design architecture/video game. If you really want create a new level of whatever, start from there)

Ultimately, what has become of games and architecture alike within the ‘virtual’ realm is a search for the latest (p)re-packaged “new” with the newest techniques and technologies, producing architecture and games for the sake of “newness”: in my opinion, this is a misguided use of the potential provided by these techniques and technologies which within this realm can honestly be used for so much more.

Sources:

Keller Easterling’s Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades, p. 2-3 (MIT Press, 2005)

Michael L. Benedikt’s “Physics for Phantoms”

rogerebert.com: Games vs. Art: Ebert vs. Barker

BusinessWeek: Second Life's First Millionaire

MoCo Loco: Kaufmann Residence in Half Life 2

Level Up : N'Gai Croal Vs. Roger Ebert Vs. Clive Barker on Whether Videogames Can Be (High) Art. Round 1--Fight!

Kotaku: Architecture in Second Life

Guardian Unlimited: Steve Rose’s “Buy! Buy! Buy!”

The Escapist: Jared Newman’s Dewey Decimals and Dance Dance Revolution

GameSetWatch: The State Of Video Games In Libraries

DOK - de wereld te leen

played in Italy: The Convention is back!

GameSetWatch: Game Architecture Preservationist Mario Gerosa

Second Life

Flow in Games: A Jenova Chen MFA Thesis

flOw

Seoul Metropolitan Government: Online Gaming: Korea's National Pastime?

Kotaku: Unholy Alliance: Mario and Sonic Trailer

Hernan Diaz Alonso - http://www.xefirotarch.com/

Related Links:

The Weekly Geek: Top Five List: Top Five Games As Art

Next Generation: Games and Metaphor


» Amsterdam; MVRDV, Borneo Sporenburg, in the Land of the Box

Amsterdam was particularly nice, with occasional showers, but otherwise sunny. Our compulsory tour of the local museums was of first order, hitting the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, by Gerrit Rietveld, which held the various periods of Van Gogh, and the special exhibition wing, by Kisho Kurakawa, which was holding pieces by Max Beckmann.

We stumbled upon our preferred choice of hostel on accident, without any research or looking really: just by chance. We also had Indonesian food that day, a specialty by order of the East Indies being a previous colony of the Netherlands.

We also found the city’s architecture centre, predictably named ARCAM Amsterdam Centre for Architecture, which sells maps and guide books featuring architecture of the city, as well as the usual wares of an architecture student, but also housed models of firm and student works and books. The building itself was pretty cool, designed by René van Zuuk.

The highlight of our stay at Amsterdam was our rental of bicycles. Amsterdam, besides being a crazy city of old row houses and canals, is famous for its bicycle infrastructure, having more bike paths than roads. Bike riders trump right-of-way over automotive and pedestrian traffic. And how nicely the paths are all laid out in brick, even out in the countryside; or even the intricate system of traffic lights for bikes, cars, and people alike is quite astounding. By switching off foot travel to bike really felt like taking part in the embedded semantics of the city. Our new-found mode of transportation managed us to traverse the old city now in ten minutes, making exploring much easier.

On bike, we rode along the waterfront, where all of the haute architecture is popping up (such as Borneo Sporenburg). There we visited the Muziekgebouw, by 3xNielsen Architects, a huge hyper-functionalist building, with large spaces and a huge cantilever. Inside was an exhibition, where a grain of rice equaled one person, and had massive and little amounts of rice piled to make critical comments of the social and cultural situations in the Netherlands, Europe, and the world. Not far off from the Muziekgebouw was Silodam, the famous multi-typology mass of housing by MVRDV, all clad with its different materials for different unit types, as well as a huge public deck over the water to stare up from upon the building and its people in the windows.

Besides seeing tons of notable architecture that I don’t particularly know, of what we saw included Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s Nemo Museum, de Architeckten Cie’s the Whale, and Nicholas Grimshaw and Partner’s Ijburg Bridges. The most exciting discovery found through riding (though we know where they relatively were) were the Borneo Sporenburg development and housing (and the Python Bridge, which connects Sporenburg to Borneo Island). I asked some native Amsterdamians what they thought of it: the Architecture Centre curator thought it was over-hyped by the media, and was not that interesting. The late-20’s hostel desk-guy thought it was interesting because of the contrast between the old way of life and the new. Borneo Sporenburg was master-planned by West 8; it’s particularly different because it was privately developed, a contradiction for Amsterdam, which is entirely developed through public urban initiatives. It was a reclaimed shipping dock site, on islands off the coast.

“Almost sixty architects were involved in the developing of the main urban program. The master plan demanded a 30%-50% void in each of the individual homes. The architects were challenged to develop a typology in which a small patio served for day light penetration and personal outdoor space… This regulation created a series of new building typologies that suited the high density and back-to-back structuring of the houses.”

The housing projects are little ‘paradises’ for young families with children filling the public grassy grounds. As expected, it’s all friendly-looking, with playful multi-colored and -materialized façades and forms. It very much felt like an insular complex away from the burgeon of the city, where to safely and caringly raise children, but it felt all-so middle- and high-class… I don’t know who lives here, economy-wise, but it felt like an escape for those who can afford it. What especially conveyed the feeling was the custom-designed row houses in another part of the islands, each a careful play on the traditional Dutch box, however suited for their millionaire owners. Those of noteworthy interest by the mainstream architectural books, such as Phaidon’s Architecture Atlas of the World were the ones designed by Enric Miralles and MVRDV. Without question, they were all so varied and interesting, and worked well as a whole complex.

On the contrary opinion, our hostel desk-guy had interesting things to say about Amsterdam: in the city, predominantly, in the old city, people are not living in the city, but living in a concept of the city. Amsterdamians, he says, are always living out what it means to live in Amsterdam, so they are never themselves until they retire to their row houses. His main problem was this space of the row house, that it is so small, so confining. He said he was sick of the box: interestingly, he was an architecture student for a while; he wanted to change this city of boxes from within, but the box was all they ever taught there. The legacy of Koolhaas and the hyper-functionalism of the box remain, and he quit in three weeks for art school. Ironically, all they teach in Dutch art school now is the concept of the box, such as “the beauty and simplicity of the white box”, and now he’s quitting that, and leaving for art school in Paris to escape this city of the box. He’s summation and dismissal was very terse:

“All you see here is the three meter by three meter space, with one view in and one view out, all stuck between two other boxes; you might get to have another three-by-three space underneath, but ultimately, you need a desk, a bathroom, and a kitchen. You have these massive windows looking out from both ends. You have no space for privacy, you have no space for anything. You can go insane living here.”

Upon further riding outside the city we saw more custom housing being built; just the day before, I saw one in a recent architecture publication, and, there it is, almost simultaneously published along with its completion. The whole neighborhood was sprouting up, all in different stages of construction, like watching A+U magazine-fodder in the making. This city is quite design-bent, skewed for immediate appreciation for art, graphic design, and architecture. It can be really exciting, but from seeing the reactions of the locals to their surroundings, all this design can also be quite numbing, almost to the point of desensitization.

The bicycle also afforded me a solo excursion out to MVRDV’s WoZoCo, all out in the western outskirts of the city, where tourists don’t dare to go (not that it’s not safe, just not touristy). We also took a free public ferry to one of the not-bridge-connected islands, and rode arounf there. Of what we skipped was Rem Koolhaas and OMA’s Byzantium, which, accordingly to what the architecture centre woman said, was boring. The apparent gauged reaction to Koolhaas here in Amsterdam is that they seem to not like him. We also skipped the red-light district, and the drug-addict strained parks. What we finished our time in Amsterdam with was a visit to the Rijksmuseum, featuring paintings by Vemeer and Rembrant (also included works by Jan Lievens, Jan Jansz van de Velde, Willem van Aelst, Willem Claesz Heda, and Pieter Claesz).


» Berlin; Libeskind's Jewish Museum
My brother and I will be in Berlin for the week, checking out the sites that I learned in European History in high school, then sites that I learned in Architectural History in college. On our first day exploring, we managed to visit Museum Island and the Reichstag, while the following day, we visited the Jewish Museum and the Brandenburg Gate. Libeskind's museum was smaller than it seemed in photograph's, however, the various zig-zags, and penetrating lines read through, just as in the drawings. Very much, the building translates the drawing's concepts, with violent breaks, angled passages, and long hallways. The voids were as I expected them to be: tall, cold, and dark, with the few penetrations to the outside, beaming in rays of light. The sound produced inside these spaces reflect the intended gravity, an echoed amplified sound from footsteps or clanging of metal inside the spaces. The details of doors and handrails were expectedly well done, as was any workmanship. The outside facade, the striated incisions of slit windows, the building plan... everything was well-thought-out and integrated. We visited the Garden on Exile on Friday, due to bad weather. The intended dizziness was there, caused from the slanted ground and stelae. This was most of all packed with symbolism, 49 stelae (7x7, 7 days in week, one holy... or year '48, the creation of Israel, + 1 for Berlin... it's all open for interpretation), olive bushes, etc. It's a good contrast to Eisenman's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, an abstraction without any symbolic significance.
» Europe...
I’m going to New York City tomorrow with my brother, and then on the 10th, it’s backpacking off to Germany, Spain, France, and wherever else our whims and the winds take us. I’ll be looking out for the latest art and architecture, plus absorbing the culture and cuisine. I’ll try to update the blog on LiveJournal, and upload pictures, depending on Internet café availability and time; but really… who reads this thing?
» Linkage

Blogs:
Archidose
Core77
Underwire

Architecture:
Architecture In Formation
biothing
Iwamoto Scott Architecture
LEVEL Architecture 
Michael Sorkin Studio
studioMDA

Ushida Findlay Architects

Comics:
Intern Architects in Hell

Video Game News:

Joystiq


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