Author Archives: Madeleine Kessler

Updated Site Plan

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The Spectacle of Destruction

Through its relentless growth The Red City became divided by that which once unified it. For generations The Rigs constant churning had symbolised prosperity, but now it also embodied Destruction. Some understood the brutal demolition as a test of faith, crucial to The City’s survival, whilst others feared the destruction. The Hole that had once brought people together now bred intolerence. It was as though The City was being crushed by its own Ego.

As The Hole began to consume the same City that it created, it brought chaos to the grid it once organised. The Spectacle became immersed in a spiral of Destruction, both physically and culturally scaring an area far beyond The Hole’s periphery. The violence that created The City was now slaughtering it. How could The City survive The Spectacle of Destruction?

 

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The Red Lake (Battle of The Ending)

Trying to strike a balance between dystopia and hope…

When the grinding stops, the emptiness that once empowered The Hole engulfed The City.  The constant churning of development was replaced with a blank serenity. Through its loss of brutality The Red City threatened to blend into obscurity.

In the end, The Red City’s cultural and historical centre was flooded for its survival. All life became orientated around The drowned Rig. The Rig lay submerged, its rust poisoning The Lake Red. Through The Red Lake the void remained a violent interruption of The City grid. A disruption that its organisation had come to depend upon. Far from stealing the identity of The City, The Hole, through violence, still organised it.

The broken Rig lay as a grating reminder of everything The Red City stood for: that though The Spectacle, through Form and Event, is the catalyst for evolution, it is the element of risk in every decision that is made that drives it.

 

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Drowned Spires

Lake Resia: Quite an eerie sight – The 14th century spire (presumably once the heart of the village) and its surrounding village were flooded in the 1950s for HEP. In winter the lake freezes and can reach the spire by foot.

And another one from Ranten, Austria:

Also reminds me of Miyajima Gate in Japan, which can only be reached when the tide is out. But I don’t think The Hole is big enough to become tidal. Potentially The Rig could become a bridge across, but I think the ending needs to be more disruptive than that.

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The Red City

Is it possible to avoid The Spectacle of Destruction?

Also two pancakes that I never uploaded. I am having a re-think as to use these to show

1. The change of noise from that of constant churning to huge crowd

2. The violence involved in the physical and mental evolution of the city

3. The window cleaner (potential to become main protagonist?)

At the moment the protagonist is The City (from one extreme (me) to the other!), which feels too removed from the scale of the citizen. Perhaps the story needs to be instead told through a combination of the window cleaner and The Hole to contrast the scales of the two, which together make up the city – a battle of scales! Also need to re-work the conclusion to explore the battle result further – will have something for tomorrow!

 

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Updated Site Plan + Night View

 

 

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Dinosaur Quarry

Just came across this article (click here)

They found the remains of “a perfectly three-dimensionally preserved, uncrushed, armoured dinosaur” in a mine in Alberta. Unfortunately the excavator smashed half of the fossils but they are now digging out the rest of it.

I no longer think this is the future for The Hole, but quite an amazing story all the same!

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The Spectacle Destroys

Up until now I’ve been putting most of the emphasis on The Hole as something that both creates and destroys the city form. In fact by becoming a permanent form it also both creates and destroys the city’s cultural identity as it becomes an obstacle within the city. This theme of creation and destruction also goes back to my argument with The Ego, which I am trying to bring back in. I am working on a night view and a pancake (will upload later – its zoomed in to street scale in the car) to show how the spectacle, by becoming a permanent form, creates a problematic void within the city.

 

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Thames Town, China

When you just copy form…

Gower Street:

?!:

Red Telephone box meets bamboo scaffolding:

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The Spectacle Creates

The images show how the spectacle completely transforms the city. The above is actually just 2 pancakes – so when I present the audience will just sit on top of the hole, transforming the pancake.

I am also completely restructuring my argument (farewell 4 minute presentation of re-con). Here is the new introduction:

1. Project Statement

This Project argues for the necessity of the spectacle in the cultural and physical evolution of our cities.

2. The City

The city is not just a physical entity. Each of our global centres embodies social and cultural differences making them unique. The city is never stagnant. It physically grows or declines, culturally maturing or fading. Time is marked in the city through spectacles that force it to evolve.

3. The Spectacle

The Spectacle is not static, but nor is it continuous. It exists only as a moment in time. It may be spontaneous or planned. It may occur just once, or it may be repeated. The spectacle transforms a space without changing it physically. The only requirement for a spectacle to occur is that there must be an audience. From the daily changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, to the annual fights in Battle-Hole City, to the particular (as in the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square), The Spectacle has informed and continues to inform urban centres world-over.

 

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Also unable to upload images

But I am working on a pancake that will bring together parts of my argument by using smaller stages (Zaha lecturing; Re-con theatre; Boxing Match; Me Presenting) that crowds are gathering around. A bit like Glastonbury or Burning Man. Essentially it looks at how in each scenario it is the event transforming the space, and that these events are not necessarily restricted to being played out in spaces for which they have been specifically designed.

Kind of like this

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The Spectacle

The main question that arose in the jury is what is under threat in my narrative. Where as before I was arguing The Architect is under threat by their Ego, I am now considering whether it is in fact The City that is under threat by not embracing The Spectacle.

(i) In the case of Battle-Hole City, both the city and the spectacle are under threat. But the Battle is not so much Hole vs. City, rather Death vs. Survival, as The City and The Spectacle in fact on the same side. Where as they were once thought of as opposing forces, we begin to realise that The Spectacle and The City are in fact on the same side. Though the spectacle physically destroys, it is crucial in allowing the city to develop.

(ii) In the case of Yamasaki, we (the audience) become engrossed by the spectacle of destruction. By neglecting to publish or recognise the destructive force that building can play in the city, the architect unintentionally kills the city.

(iii) In the case of my mini-pancakes we deconstruct the spectacle within the wider context of the city to understand the relationship between the two on a smaller scale within the architecture school. The stage could have been set up anywhere and the event taken place anywhere in the school, it is the characters (Zaha; Me; Yamasaki; Xia) and arrangement of people that make the event rather than the physical object.

(iv) Link between the Yamasaki Stage; The Hole; and The Present situation as we see that the event is not made by a physical object, but by the spectacle. The boxing match/Yamasaki/presentation could have taken place anywhere, but it is the characters involved that make it.

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Window Cleaner

 

The image shows the window cleaner zoomed out into the city outskirts where construction is ongoing (using sandstone aggregate excavated from The Hole). I think I may have to either re-evaluate my population estimate or set this scenario in the future, and use it as an image that my argument takes us back to.

Also the image looks blurry as the scanner seems to auto-focus on the foreground, so its quite interesting to compare the original to the scanned version.

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Battle Posters

To help illustrate transition from City of Captive Architect into Battle-Hole City.

Introduction Poster:

City of Captive Architect Poster:

Alternative views within and of the City (/staging):

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Boxing

I saw my first live boxing event, it was very exciting for 2 reasons:

1. Championship fight

2. It was in Wembley Arena (previously known as Empire Pool) – the same arena as the floating boxing ring I posted months back!

Sadly the swimming pool has since been filled in and half of the arena was curtained off, but exciting all the same. My photos aren’t great, but they illustrate some of my analysis:

– It was disruptive to even have a cameraman stand in the way, let along a huge column (glad TS solved that problem)

– 3 min round and 1 min break for boxer translates to audience as 3 min cheering 1 min chat.

– Media is everywhere! Two cameramen stand at the corners of the ring. Photographers line the ring and commentators at the back (underneath the spotlights). Even in the breaks when the boxers talked to their trainer or medic they would be filmed and a microphone would appear.

 

– very dark and lots of spotlights shooting around in the breaks

– At the beginning and end of the match the ring filled with people (trainers, family etc.). – somehow the more people that stood in the ring the smaller the boxers seemed to become.

– Boxers entrance all about bigging up the Ego through music and props such as masks and headbands which were removed once they arrived on stage.

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Drawing Board

Updated drawing board flat stages from the drawing board (-spot the difference!)

 

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Battle Posters

Battle posters to prompt the discussion to focus on my relationship with the project and my Ego/World. They lead to my potential abandonment of the hole.

Concluding statement: In The Metropolis of Ego the theatre of reality is always at odds with its staging and constructs.  Similarly, we as architects continue to fight opposing forces in order to realise spectacles of our imagination egged on by our Egos. Our Ego is essential in design, but in using it to our advantage we must strike a fine balance between the physical stage and conceptual staging of our environment.

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The Hole

Empty sandstone hole vs. Full hole (containing just over 1.5 million people – yes, I counted)

The newer part of the city uses quarried rock from the hole so is red. The excavating truss divides the crowd according to which side they support.

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Fights

Guess who…

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On Holiday in Ego

…be back soon

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Defining Ego

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Roman Sandstone Amphitheatre, Petra

(I was excited)

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City Map

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Sandstone Profile

(Bound)

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The Whole Truth

 

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Burning Man Festival

Lots of similarities in terms of establishing an event from something informal to formal and also the creation and disappearance of a city that leaves no trace… Also the importance of time.

 

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Quite a crowd…

Saw this photo of the pope leading prayers from his apartments at the Vatican and thought it was quite fitting as I look at zooming out from the hole and framing it somehow…

city within a city etc. the architect addressing the audience? Things to consider once TS is out of the way!

Also a slightly crazy one from North Koreans welcoming Kim Jong-un at the defence ministry:

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How many people can jump in 1m2?

Four (- Ananth is in there somewhere)

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TS

Completing all the unfinished pages. Details on their way soon…

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Site Plan

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Process Diagram

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T of C and Storyboard

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Boxing

This weekend I went boxing:

Training:

Chess-boxing:

Jumping photo:

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Timeline WIP

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Spot the Hole

Looking at how city size relates to hole diameter.

If Phoenix, Arizona (pop. 1,469,471) had a ring it would be 800m in diameter – spot the hole:

 

And here is Las Vegas with a ring (harder to spot). With a population of just under 600,000 the hole would “only” be 500m across. Of course it would be a lot bigger were it to also cater for the estimated 40 million visitors per year.

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The Ring (WIP)

Constant excavation at ring edge. Bridge like trusses provide access and framework for all services to attach to.

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Revised Storyboard and TofC

Revised Storyboard and Table of Contents

I am developing the excavating machine to integrate it into the roof. I think this will be the key to creating a clear space for the ring and will allow to dig wider rather than deeper. The excavation process both creates (the roof) and destroys (the landscape). At the moment I am looking at supporting the excavating machine on a huge roof truss, which expands to increase the area that the excavating machine can reach…

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Craters in the desert

Some scanning on google earth shows a vast area of the Nevada desert, about 100km NW of Las Vegas, dotted with craters. These are scars from the Nevada Test Site, established for the testing of nuclear devices in 1951.

The Sedan Crater, measuring 390m x 100m (less than half the diameter of the hole I am creating), has even been listed on the National Register of Historic Places – over 10,000 people visit it each year. It can supposedly be seen from earth with unaided eye. The craters also have similar features to the topography of the moon so American astronauts train here before missions.

I won’t be using nuclear explosions to create my hole, but it does give a good indicator to how the sand holds once excavated, and perhaps my somewhat romanticised idea of the strata and rock needs a bit of a rethink (different kinds of polishing?)

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Site Plan Pancake

At times of no fight the ring is empty. Excavation continues. Roads leading to the ring also lead from the ring, taking excess material to the citys outskirts (at first by truck and then conveyer as the ring becomes more established and excavation continuous). The boxing ring is located on top of excavator, the arm of which provides the only route to the boxing ring. When there is a fight the city empties and the ring fills. Excavation stops (?)

At the moment I envisage the excavation arm to be like a huge vertical spinning lathe, maybe needs to span whole way across, though I quite like if it stops at the boxing ring.

 

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The winner builds the city whilst the loser digs a hole!

Mounds of earth from inside the hole are disposed of on the outskirts of the city. Over time these mounds of excavated sand and rock begin to enclose the city. Plots of land become increasingly valuable within the mound limits, leading to more fights and the rings expansion. Eventually the hole begins to engulf the same city it created – all that is left is a bizarre landscape – a massive hole surrounded by its contents.

I will make mini flat-stages to illustrate, but for now this quick diagram should make things clearer:

Plans – need a lot of tidying up, but exploring different concepts in relation to how the hole is excavated:

Option 1 (click link for pdf) – Radial Plan, digging in phases over time as the ring expands. I am not convinced by this option as I think the phasing and constantly changing slope angle makes the solution quite “messy”.

However, it does allow for the roads that lead to the boxing ring to become inhabited by shops and services once they are inside the rings perimeter, creating a city within a city. Pavements and streets inform main access ways within the ring, so that the city informs the ring and vice versa.

So, moving on to Option 2, which works a bit like a massive drill:

Option 2 (click link for pdf) – Concentric plan. I think this solution holds a lot more potential as it is more cohesive with the argument.

Use a huge drill-type machine that slowly moves continuously to excavate the hole. In plan the machine is relatively slender (just the width of the road, potentially providing the only way to directly cross the ring), but in section it is chunky (the same size as the hole it is creating). Boxing ring located on top of the machine so that it is raised above the crowd. I think this could be a really exciting problem/solution to develop. Questions include:

– how to continually expand this machine

– how to design it so that it is engraving the seats and topography as it goes

– its potential to create beautiful coloured rings in the rock from above, almost polishing it through excavation.

Now the roads can only lead to the outskirts of the ring, but if the ring is acting as a black hole consuming everything in its way it makes perfect sense for the roads to be wiped out by this machine as it expands, so that in the end all the roads in Ego are sucked into the perimeter of the ring

How will this continually excavating machine not kill people? Perhaps:

– Moves extremely slowly so in the few hours that a fight happens its movement is negligible

– Lifts up at times of fight, raising the boxing ring

– Or is it somehow powered by the city so that it can only move when the city is functioning, and when the city stops (at times of fight) it also stops?

The excavated ground could also potentially be blown from the machine to form the mound of land that begins to encircle the city (needs a bit more thought).

Possibly the most futile digging machine in existence – it continually runs in a circle digging a hole that eventually consumes the city!

For now I will keep exploring other digging solutions too, particularly from the mining industry (such as controlled dynamiting). The excavating solution I choose is going to be crucial to developing the ring, but I think it would be good to make a decision by Friday.

(Super-wordy post, impressed by anyone who read this far!)

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Game of Life

Watch Here

Something that came up in my TS tutorial today. Its pretty amazing how an organisation based on 4 simple rules can both create incredible patterns, which then destroy themselves by overcrowding (eg. 3:03).

I think that the Metropolis should be just as spectacular (if not more) in its destruction as construction – perhaps once the 1km diameter is reached the city and the roof collapse in on the ring, spectacularly destroying both the city and the ring, so that neither the ring nor the city can exist without the other.

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The Ring Site Plan (Wip)

Version 1: Roads get wider as the ring grows

Version 2: Roads stay same width

(jpeg makes look grey but lines are black)

Roads are built to lead to the growing perimeter of the ring. Eventually all roads in Ego lead to the ring, which begins to consume the same city it created.

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TS Storyboard + Updated Statement

Also updated my statement a while back to edit out the municipalities. I think this will allow me to focus more on the ring as it develops:

The Metropolis of Ego is the physical manifestation of the Architects Ego, which acts to consciously create and subconsciously destroy the City. Its citizens live, work and play in towers created by the designers imagination. Monuments to the Ego are perfected through drawing, constructed in Reality, and consigned to rubble by disaster. As each building is completed it becomes detatched from the architects control and open to a wealth of outside influences. The life and death of each block is unpredictable, recorded through models, literature, photography and film. Over time this documentation is interpreted, misinterpreted and reinterpreted, fusing into a web of legends that render the Metropolis immortal.

Each building in the city is devoted to the idea that architects can improve the world through design. In order to motivate themselves to design, the Architect must hold an absolute belief in their ability to physically create their utopian vision. The Architect publishes prosperous projects, consciously ignoring to publicise those that have failed. In their desire to strive towards perfection, the designer is held captive by their Ego. Though the Ego is necessary in order to provide self-reassurance in design, if the architect is not careful, it may become dangerously inflated and lose sight of reality. The Architect subsequently both creates and destroys the city through building.

In the Metropolis of Ego everything is manipulated by the designers Ego. Citizens live in a narative of carefully controlled perspectives that translate abstract ideas into a concrete reality.  Undesirable truths are deliberately disregarded, concealed by a seductive facade of purposefully selected representations assumed to illustrate Reality.

The future of the city is determined in The Ring of Confrontation where conflicting ambitions, interests and desires  come to a head. Utopian ideals are contested as Egos fight to become champion of the citizens for whom they are designing the city.

According to legend, The Ring began as a battle between two Egos. One proposed to build the city’s tallest building and the other its tallest opponent. They resolved to settle the dispute in a fight, drumming up support as they walked to a field on the edge of the city. Equality was found in the ring and eventually one stood victorious.

The ring grew with the city, its existence dependent on disagreement. Eventually all roads in Ego ed to the ring. Each new building was seen as an opportunity to fight for perfection and the metropolis developed as a catalogue of battles won in the ring. The citys history was written within the ring, its narrative is determined by the winner of each fight.

When a fight was staged, the Ring would swell to envelop neighbouring parts of the city, allowing it to accomodate the entire population of the metropolis. But eventually the ring grew so large that it began to consume the city it created. Neither the ring nor the city could grow independent of one another, yet they could no longer both exist.


 

…right, back to TS!

 

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Bizarre structures in the desert in China discovered on Google Maps

Metropolis of Ego to appear next?

More here

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Roof

The stadium grows to be unintentionally destructive whilst creating a space. I think this can be translated into the TS by focusing on either the excavation of the continually expanding stadium; or the roof that continually expands.

The ring only exists when there is a fight/conflict. At all other times it is just a hole in the city. When a fight is staged the rest of the city empties to become eerily spooky and dead:

 

Perhaps the fabric in the roof somehow commemorates battles that were previous fought; so that with each battle that is won the roof expands (or maybe this is too literal). Utopian designs literally exist in the stadium at times of conflict when the roof is deployed. I’ve started this collage, showing a fight underneath a roof of utopian plans that obscure the real view of the towering city that collides with the stadium above:


Some inspiration from Montreal:


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The Road to Ego

 

Ok its actually the Road to Mecca, but the images are incredible – and this is how I envisage the roads in Ego to look on a fight day!

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Stadium Precedents

AMA Tokyo Olympics Stadium Proposal – view into the hole!

Rooftop Stadium at Hiko Mizuno College, Tokyo – different construction types meeting

Tokyo cityscape – infrastructure, stadia, buildings people all collide together to make the city

Wrigley Field, Chicago – example of a stadium in the centre of a city. From the stadium get views of the skyscrapers etc. towering above

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And in the beginning…

…the ring was born!

According to legend, The Ring of Confrontation began as a battle between two Egos. Both proposed the citys tallest building, but planners were divided on which design to build. After years of indecision the Egos became frustrated and resolved to settle the dispute in a fight. They walked to a field on the edge of the city, drumming up support on their way. Eventually one stood victorious.

 

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Mecca

Pretty amazing images of the crowd:

1941 flood:

According to this article:

The 600m clock-tower we see in the top image “rising like Big Ben on steroids” is the largest in the world, and also has the biggest clock-face in the world. The building it sits above has the largest floor area in the world, housing luxurious hotels, appartments and a “five-story slab of shopping malls”. It stands where an Ottoman fortress once stood, which was demolished (along with the hill it stood on) in 2002 to much international condemnation.

The desperation to be as close to the Kaaba has led to buildings surrounding the mosque being built higher and higher. Mecca has the most expensive real estate in the world (1 square foot of the Grand Mosque sells for up to $18,000).

 

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Jury Feedback

- Project in danger of becoming too self-referential. Need to position the Ego in a more subjective way. Analyse what constitutes Ego.

– Niemeyers Brasilia as an example where the crowd is always dwarfed. (Interestingly I also watched the Graham Shane lecture which included an interesting analysis of Brasilia – the most lively spaces are the informal shanty towns on the outskirts, originally formed by the construction workers that were employed to build the city. Interesting that the construction of vast domineering blocks and spaces at the centre of the city created the opposite at the outskirts.)

– Is it the battle ground or the conditions of the battle that I go on to explore? The link to the Ego is lost with the urban form I have suggested. The hole does not correspond to the ego-istic city or design levelled by the collective I am talking about. Would be more true to the ego-istic personalities and cartoons I have created to explore the conditions of the battle rather than the place (narrative becomes the site).

– New York creates architects with big Ego. The conflict between the different architects working on Ground Zero at the moment, all battling to have the key monument in place of the Twin Towers.

– Shift perspectives. (This also goes back to viewing the city through characters such as in The Wire). Window cleaner view, caretakers view etc.

– Unresolved conditions of the city often caused by signature architecture. At the same time if we remove the ego mechanism from architecture and just follow building codes and regulations the city becomes depressing. The rules make the city boring. Architecture has to battle the rules.

– Other personality traits or architects. Why do we care so much about our buildings? The building as a physical manifestation of our creative ability and a lasting legacy long after we are gone. Architectural projects become an extension of the self.

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Image of The Architect

Louis Hellman cartoon looking at how the architect is seen by different characters in society. And a quick test of how my own could work (Image of The Captive City / Re-con)

And another interesting link here “Pitch Battle”, where Rogers, Hadid, Koolhaas and Foster “battle” it out to secure a high-profile tower development in New York.

“It is not hard to see why Foster so often triumphs…the client is wooed into feeling that they are paying for a building in which every feature has been drafted by hallowed hand of Norm himself – a spell that he casts by brandishing a felt-tip pen.”

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The Ring of Confrontation

Conflicting ambitions, interests and desires come to a head in the third municipality, The Ring of Confrontation. All battles about the metropolis are fought inside the ring. Egos compete, exposed, to become champion of the citizens for whom the architect has designed the city. The Ring is in constant flux. Its existance dependent on disagreement. The population of this municipality surges when there is a dispute to be resolved, and recedes once a winner is declared. The citys history is written within the ring, its narrative determined by the winner of each fight.

According to legend, The Ring of Confrontation began as a battle between two Egos. Both aspired to build the tallest building in the world. But planners were divided as to which project should be built. After years of indecision the Egos became frustrated. Their proposals were fast being made redundant by taller buildings elsewhere. The two Egos resolved to settle the dispute in a fight. They walked to a field on the edge of the city, drumming up support on their way. Equality was founded in the ring. Eventually one stood victorious.

A few years later there was a protest about a tower wchich was deemed for demolition. The demonstration grew so large that the city came to a standstill. Neither side willing to compromise, it was proposed that a fight be staged.

Grievance from the protest had been so severe that city officials proposed another match to determine how all future conflicts about the city be resolved. All decisions that affected the city were now to take place in the ring.

As the city grew into a metropolis, each new building was seen as an opportunity to manifest utopian ideals. But Egos held differing views as to how perfection should be achieved. Fights became more frequent leading to the rings expansion.

One day a debate took place in the ring about the future of the city grid. The audience became disengaged and left. The absence of a crowd hurt the competitors Egos so that they could no longer fight. Without the citizens no decisions about the city could be made. Construction in the metropolis ground to a halt.

A week later jargon was banned from the ring. The citizens returned. Building resumed.

Not wanting construction to falter again, The Ring of Confrontation was decreed an official municipality of Ego, essential for the citys survival.

Today the metropolis is a catalogue of fights that were won within the ring. All roads in Ego lead to the ring. At times of agreement the municipality stands empty, merely a through route for traffic. But when a fight is staged, the Ring swells to envelop neighbouring parts of the city, allowing it to accommodate the entire population of the metropolis. It allows conflicts inevitable in the construction of a city to be fairly resolved. Without The Ring of Confrontation, the metropolis would suffocate under the weight of indecision.

 

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Helicopter View

Here is a collage I have started that gives a view of The Ring. Unfinished and conceptual, but helping me develop ideas, so…

Idea is that helicopter searchlights provide the stage lighting. Citizens are aware that a match is about to take place as helicopters take to the sky with their lights guiding them to the stadium…Some questions I am asking myself:

– The strata of people represent the entire city. How are they divided; how do they enter? How are they notified of the match

– What happens to the ring when it is not in use (and there is no confrontation in the city – a brief utopia) – maybe fills with water and becomes a lake? lies abandoned filled with old posters etc. that act as a reminder of what has helped make the city?

– how does the edge of the city meet the ring? – We see the confrontation between Municipality of Realm of Manipulated Reality and Ring of Confrontation (at the moment I am thinking of basing my TS on this confrontation)

– could the ring perhaps extend into the city using temporary scaffold? People realise when a fight is starting as scaffold starts to be erected?

– when there is a fight the whole city outside the ring becomes dead. Reverse is true when there isn’t a fight.

So I am thinking for Tuesday I could make a series of these views that explore different characters in the city (caretakers view; street-vendor view; referee view etc.). Or work on a massive plan (helicopter view?), possibly divided into 4 quarters – (when the stadium is full; stadium filling up; stadium empty; stadium emptying)…hmmm

 

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The Metropolis of Ego (Project Statement)

The Metropolis of Ego is the physical manifestation of the Architects Ego, which acts to consciously create and subconsciously destroy the City. Its citizens live, work and play in towers created by the designers imagination. Monuments to the Ego are perfected through drawing, constructed in Reality, and consigned to rubble by disaster. As each building is completed it becomes detatched from the architects control and open to a wealth of outside influences. The life and death of each block is unpredictable, recorded through models, literature, photography and film. Over time this documentation is interpreted, misinterpreted and reinterpreted, fusing into a web of legends that render the Metropolis immortal.

The Metropolis of Ego is divided into three municipalities. Each one contributes to the citys success and its demise.

 

1. The City of The Captived Architect

The oldest municipality is the City of the Captived Architect. This self-reflective part of the city is devoted to the idea that Architects can improve the world through design. In order to motivate themselves to design the Architect must hold an absolute belief in their ability to physically create a utopian vision. To promote their success the Architect publishes prosperous projects, consciously ignoring to publicise those that have failed. There is subsequently an internal battle of the Ego.  Though the Ego is necessary in order to provide self-reassurance in design, if the architect is not careful their Ego may become dangerously inflated to lose sight of reality.

 

2. The Realm of Manipulated Reality

Surrounding the old city is The Realm of Manipulated Reality, a municipality in which nothing is as it seems. Here citizens live in towers that frame invented panoramas across the entire Metropolis. Fact is intertwined with fiction. The boundary between Real and Unreal obscured. The realm is informed by a narative of carefully controlled perspectives that communicate abstract ideas into a concrete reality.  Undesirable truths are deliberately disregarded, concealed by a seductive facade of purposefully selected representations assumed to illustrate Reality.


3. The Ring of Confrontation

Conflicting ambitions, interests and desires come to a head in the third municipality, The Ring of Confrontation, where all battles in the metropolis are fought. Inside the ring Egos compete, exposed, to become champion of the citizens for whom the architect has designed the city. The Ring’s existance is dependent on disagreement. Its population fluctuates, surging when there is a dispute to be resolved, and emptying once a winner is declared. To accomodate the entire population of the metropolis the Ring swells into neighbouring parts of the city whenever there is an issue to be solved. Tonight we watch the “fight to end all fights”: Ego the Creator vs. Ego the Destroyer. The survival of The Metropolis will be determined by the winner.

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Commemorating the fight

 

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Table of Contents

Updated Table of Contents (I don’t know why there is a strange spacing thing going on when I paste it into the blog):

1. Metropolis of Ego

1.1 Project Statement

-The Metropolis of Ego is the physical manifestation of the Architects Ego, which acts to consciously create and subconsciously destroy the City.

1.2 Presentation Text

 

2. Precedent Studies Showing the Manifestation of the Architects Ego

2.1 Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang

– The “hotel of doom” shows the imposition of the architects ego on the city.

2.2 Roma Interotta

– The study to redraw Nolli’s map of Rome shows a diverse set of entries each showcasing the designers Ego.

 

3. City of The Captive Architect

3.1 Pruitt-Igoe

– The social housing scheme is widely regarded to have led to the death of the Modern movement.

3.2 From Utopian Vision to Dystopian Reality

–  An examination of the failed ideology within Pruitt-Igoe.

3.2. Re-Con

– The internal battle of the Architects Ego, which is necessary in order to create the city, but also acts to destroy the city.

 

4. Realm of Manipulated Reality

4.1 Unintended views of the Metropolis

–  An exploration of the views the designer never planned for us to see.

 

5 The Ring of Confrontation

5.1 Confrontation in the Metropolis

–  There is conflict and tension everywhere in the city.

5. 2 The Ring

–  A space where battles are fought and arguments are won or lost.

5.3 Battles

– An examination of previous battles in the city (Ego fights the Ego), and the trail of   destruction these have left

5.4 The Fight to End all Fights

– Tonight we watch Imagination vs. Reality. The survival of The Metropolis will be written by the winner.

 

 

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Stage of Confrontation

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Argument (wip)

I’ve started a Table of Contents to help structure my argument:

Table of Contents – Metropolis of Ego

1. City of The Captive Architect

– Re-con

2. City of Manipulated Reality

– Flat-stages showing different view of the Re-con

– What is Real and what is Unreal?

3. City of Confrontation

– Flat stages showing confrontation between Real and Unreal (Yamasaki becomes Xia)

– Boxing

4. City of The Alter-Ego

– Mexican wrestlers fighting for the people vs. The architect fighting for the people

– The mask/alter-ego – Corb vs. El Santo

– Training (conscious choice of career and pseudonym)

—————

At the moment Chapter 1 is still the same text from my Re-con. I’ve made a start on Chapter 2…

Chapter 2: City of Manipulated Reality

The City of Manipulated Reality is dedicated to the drawings and models that we as architects develop in order to best communicate our design. We present our ideas in a format that best displays our design integrity to the client. But by doing so we neglect to consider other conditions and views that become Reality once the project is built.

Our story follows on from The City of The Captive Architect, where at an undefined moment in time we sat curiously watching Yamasaki at his drawing board. On deconstruction of the stage-set it is revealed that our Japanese-American Captive Architect Yamasaki is in fact palayed by an architecture student originally from China. His costume and lines were choreographed purely to strengthen the argument.

Like Yamasaki and his monograph, the stage has been arranged specifically to exhibit the protagonists argument. The stage-set is designed to be viewed straight on, in elevation. In elevation our imagined section of Yamasaki’s plinth is extremely powerful. But if the audience rotate their seats and view the performance from the side, or in section, then the argument fails. The powerful image of “Reality” in the mind is in fact just a void space. Furthermore in place of the drawing board, the gridded city and Yamasaki’s propaganda are just thin sheets of paper and card, obliterating the argument. In section The Captive City ceases to exist.

If we manipulate our view once more to view the stage in plan it becomes immediately clear that the audience sit on the plinth. The ruined plinths and waste paper bin become the argument as the positive propaganda and drawing board are once again distorted into thin sheets of card.  In a sense the script plays backwards.

The directors control on the audience’s view is not dissimilar to the architects manipulation of the client who through a period of time must understand and believe they are in another reality in order to understand the project. Presentation drawings and models are carefully controlled to show the client exactly what the architect wants them to see. We must have self-belief in order for a client to believe in us and so we passionately proliferate the myth of architect as creator and ignore the idea of architect as destroyer. In the publics eye the architect only ever draws plans for construction not deconstruction/demolition. In order to convince the client the architect must hold an absolute belief in his design and in a way the presentation drawings are as much for the architect as the client. In creating these drawings the architect dangerously seduces themselves, and in their absolute belief of their utopian ideals neglect to consider reality.

Pruitt-Igoe was beautifully manipulated at the beginning, clearly demonstrated by the two articles in Architectural Forum. Published 20 years apart the earlier article is undeniably convinced by Yamasaki’s plans, scaled model and renderings, “streets in the sky” looking out over a “River of Trees”. What these constrained images failed to relate are the vast expanses and failure of organisation by the authorities, picked up on in the later article, which only came to light on construction of the towers, contributing to the projects catastrophic failure.

If we analyse the contruct of the stage further we see the Rhino model never intended to be seen, and drawn in order to create the stage-set. A 3D computer model which will at some point inevitably be physically printed in 2D in order to understand and build the stage-set. A Rhino model that has been drawn on the computer that sits on the students drawing board. On the drawing board are also endless flat-stages being used to manipulate the very argument we are discussing now. The forms in which I have deconstructed my own presentation which gave us views that we were never supposed to have of the re-con. The flat-stage blurs theory, drawing, concept are reality to obscure our view of the original Re-Con.

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The Alter-Ego

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Floating Ring

Floating boxing ring installed at the Empire Pool at Wembley for the 1948 London Olympics.

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Construction/Deconstruction 2

Workmen at White City Stadium (London) erecting the platform for a boxing match.

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Construction/Deconstruction

Construction/Deconstruction of the stage

 

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Manipulating Scale

The stage has no scale until the actor arrives. Much like each of the plinths in Yamasaki’s gridded city. Ever wondered what Yamasaki’s gridded city would have looked like if each of the plinths had been drawn to the same scale?

Perhaps this plan can be used somehow to inform the plan of the stage…

 

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The Edge of the Stage

Where does the stage begin and end?

This version of the flat-stage shows Xia (who played Yamasaki) helping me carry parts of the stage back to the studio after the re-con jury. It was the same evning that Zaha Hadid was giving her lecture.

Physically the limits of the stage are questioned as the drawing overlaps the defined plinth/stage-size.

The collage is another backstage view, this time exploring the deconstruction of the stage. In a sense, backstage is “reality”, and the stage-set a kind of facade that manipulates reality. The audience sit in their seats with controlled views of this imagined reality that for a period of time becomes more “real” than the physical theatre. Once the performance ends actors and audience assume their original identity, and the stage-set is deconstructed into physical pieces that feed back into reality. “Backstage” is huge – it is everything that is real and contributing to make something unreal – its physical limits are becoming impossible to define!

– I hope this makes some kind of sense!

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Flat Screenshot

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Context of The Ego

I am looking for a way to explore the relationship between the Ego and Ruin in a wider context. So I am working on a series of flat-stages which each represent a plinth/stage. Some will be based in fiction and others in fact. All relate to the Ego in a way that propagates the myth of The Architect. The stages/plinths will then be organised onto a larger flat-stage on which pieces fallen from the plinths collide creating Reality. In this way the Ego both creates and destroys.

Sketch of idea:

Stage 1: Idolisation of The Ego

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The Paper Cinema

In thinking about how to develop the flat-stage I was reminded of The Paper Cinema’s production of The Odyssey. In a modern interpretation of the traditional shadow puppet theatre, the audience sit behind the puppeteers who use a live camera-feed to film different arrangements of paper and card to tell the story. It is most successful as a live performance as, though you are essentially watching the projected live film feed, seeing the manipulation of the paper and card characters and the crude lighting effects (for example a desk lamp is switched on and off a few times to create a lightening storm) is all part of the experience. As “backstage” has physically moved in front of the screen the traditional hierarchy of the theatre stage becomes ambiguous. Quite hard to explain, but they have a trailer for the performance on the link here

 

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Backstage Views

The Re-Con stage was designed to be viewed straight-on. Like Yamasaki with his monograph, it was arranged in a specific way to exhibit the argument. Similarly presentation drawings and models are often controlled to show the client exactly what the architect wants them to see. Here are a selection of images exploring the stage from views that the audience were never meant to see:

1. The Short-Section

In the short-section everything that can be seen front-on is obscured, obliterating the argument. A series of void spaces come to light. When viewed straight on the void is representing everything that the drawing board is obscuring (“Reality”). The image of this in the imagination is extremely powerful, making it quite surreal that in our immediate reality it is just a void space.

2. Plan View (the anti-yamasaki view)

The ruined plinths take centre stage. Yamasaki would not have liked us to see this one!

3. Window Cleaner View

Looking into the plinth it becomes immediately clear that we are on the plinth – in a sense the script plays backwards. The ruined buildings are not visible, but the disengagement between architecture and public (or Reality) is evident.

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Myth of the Starchitect

Frank Gehry guest stars in The Simpsons here

The New York Observer later wrote an article about the “appearance that still haunts him today” (here)

He accuses the episode of propagating the myth that his buildings, such as his Disney Hall in LA, are designed by crumpling a piece of paper.

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Sneak Preview

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In Progress

Plinths very much still in progress, but in the wise words of Georges “tonights the night” – going to focus on the line drawing this evening!

 

Argument:

The City of the Captive Architect is devoted to the idea that we as architects can improve the world through design. The conflict within is that in order to believe this idea we become self-absorbed professionals losing site of reality.

Our story begins in Minoru Yamasaki’s office. Our young Japanese-American Architect shields himself from reality by engrossing himself in an endless drawing of the gridded-City. Each plot begins under extreme controlled conditions with a standardised plinth raising the building into an abstracted context away from unwelcomed truths. It is a space where philosophies and theories thrive through drawing.

To his left Yamasaki’s cherished Monograph encapsulates an idealised body of work glorified through a series of carefully selected models, photographs and essays. The Architect’s ego is articulated from the beginning as Yamasaki’s opening sentance readsArchitecture is a fascinating and unique profession that, in its ideal, combines function and beauty to create an atmosphere in which man can live, work and enjoy.” Supporting this statement is a hoarde of memorobilia taped to the drawing board, self-propoganda nourishing the Ego and framing the unfinished plinths that are still pure from the corruption of reality. Glorification through a series of awards, news articles and postcards, encourage our young architect to keep designing.

At the top of the gridded city newly drawn pristine plinths sit in limbo, waiting for their eventual fate. The reality of drawing and building differ greatly. Romanticised conditions fail and complex realities penetrate the plots, destroying theories, ideologies, social structures, and the eventually physical object. Fallen from the drawing board the older corrupted plinths lie out of view from the Architect, willfully forgotten by his ego.

The Ruin feasts on a paradox of utopian innocence and self-absorbed ego nurtured by the sterile world drawn by the architect. In a blind optimism the Architect’s hand continues to mark construction lines for the plinths that will create the ruins of the future.

Pruitt-Igoe, arguably Yamasaki’s most revolutionary project, sits awkwardly isolated on its broken plinth, dismissed by the architect. The monotnous high-rise housing scheme, which is today the epitomy of Social Ruin, failed due to a combination of flawed design and governence, leaving a trail of destruction in place of “progress”. Its demolition, immortalised through film and photography, provided precedent for high-rise estates over the world, instrumental in portraying what Charles Jencks called “The death of the Modern Movement”. Erased from the monograph, but not from history, it is curious that Yamasaki should obliterate one of his most famous and influential projects from his book, indicating denial of the ruin. But the ghost haunts the Ego as he writes “Those buildings not included…have of course been of benefit, acting as forceful reminders that we must do more carefully thought-out work on succeeding commissions.”

Towering over the Social Ruin is what has become Yamasaki’s most famous project – a building now engrained in minds world over, indistinguishable from its destruction – The World Trade Centre. The embodiment of Political Ruin.

Even though buildings are drawn on isolated plots in Reality the plinths do not exist independent of one another. The aeroplanes that flew into The Twin Towers departed from Logan Airport in Boston, where Yamasaki designed the now defunct Terminal A.

The sterile grid that has been intercepted by reality begins to showcase a chaotic array of different ruin-types.

Physical ruin through lack of maintenance, such as at the McGreggor Memorial Centre; to accidental ruin, for example The Military Records Centre in St Louis which burnt to the ground in an arson attack as no sprinkler system had been installed by request of the client; to ruin by natural disaster like the tornado that ripped through St Louis Airport; to urban-ruin, shown by the eventual demolition of The Quo Vadis Centre in Detroit, which lay abandoned due to the mass depopularisation of the city. The stories behind each of the ruined plots which Yamasaki tried so hard to distract us from become more captivating than the meticulous line drawings that the architect laboured over so intensely.

Finally we see the ruin of Yamasaki’s office, the space in which “the most significant architect of cataclysmic ruins of the late twentieth – and early twenty-first centuries” were designed. The drawing spills onto the floor, his office plinth trampled and ripped. Surrounding the drawing-board are unpaid bills, negative images and press recording the plinths downfall. We join Yamasaki on The Architects plinth. Blinded by the Catch 22 of Architect and ruin, we too fell victim to the drawing board, obscuring our view beyond.

 

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It (finally) arrived!

‘Minoru (“bearing fruit”) Yamasaki (roughly, “mountain ledge with a great view”) does not look like a man who would brew up a storm…’

 

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Model of a model

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Pampering the Ego

 

The text is taken from a genuine AIA certificate. Talk about a self-absorbed profession!

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Guess the facade…

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Yamasaki in Detroit

The Quo Vadis Entertainment Center, designed by Yamasaki, opened in 1966 in Westland, Michigan (26km West of downtown Detroit), when the population of the city was booming. It was immediately popular as one of the first cinemas to offer a cocktail lounge. But people began to leave the city at the turn of the 21st century, leading to a dramatic loss of business, and the movie theatre was forced to close in 2002. It remained abandoned until it was demolished last year, and now all that is left is a vacant lot.

The movie-theatre in better days

Demolition in 2011

The Site Today

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Losers and Winners

The film about a German factory being taken apart by Chinese workers who then rebuild the it in China is called “Losers and Winners”. The trailer can be seen here.

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Framing the Plinths

Some thoughts:

Yamasaki sits on his own white marble plinth (he clad a lot of his buildings in white marble). He is immersed in his drawing board which obscures his view of Pruitt-Igoe. There is no longer a plinth in the drawing dedicated to The Architect as we are on The Architect’s plinth. There are 2 different sized plinths in the drawing, one square, and one half-square width so that square and rectangular plans may both fit. The grid survives, but is slightly more chaotic. In the bin is the bad press from Pruitt-Igoe. Projects which have been destroyed to be located nearer the bottom, where they are forgotten about and trampled on on the floor. Newer projects, or projects that have so far survived to be located at the top.

The Architect’s plinth is this time suspended in space, with items such as his monograph, degree certificates, AIA Award, and money (his airport in Saudi Arabia has been featured on their currency) floating past.

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Plinth Tests

Plinth tests:

Pruitt-Igoe:

McGregor Memorial Community Conference Centre:

Draft Text:

The City of the Captive Architect is devoted to the absolute belief held by the architect that a vision of utopia can be achieved through good design, and the subsequent inflicion of ruin in the City. In the capital Igoe design theories, socialist ideals, science, art, and forms of madness compete under apparantly ideal conditions to invent, destroy and restore the world of phenomenal Reality. The architect board has his own plot, shielded by books and projects yet to be corrupted. On each plot stands an identical base, built from heavily polished stone. To facilitate and provoke speculative activity, these bases – ideological laboratories – are  at first equiped to suspend unwelcome laws, undeniable truths, creating nonexistaent physical conditions penetrated once the building exists. From these solid blocks of white marble, each philosphy has the right to expand indefinately toward heaven. Some of these blocks present theorems of complete certainty and serenity; others display soft structures of tentative conjectures and hypnotic suggestions. The changes in this ideological skyline are rapid and continuous as reality prevails: we are engrossed by a rich spectacle of ethical joy, moral fever or intellectual masturbation destroyed. The collapse of a towers can mean two things: a physical or social failure, the physical ruin of a vision; or a visual Eureka, a speculative ejaculation:

A theory that works.

A mania that sticks.

A lie that has become truth.

A dream from which there is no waking up.

At these moments the purpose of the Captive Architect, suspended at his drawing board in his office at the centre of the City, becomes apparent: all these Institutes together form an enormous incubator of the ruin; they are breeding on the Architect.

Through our feverish thinking in the Towers, the Architect gains weight. New buildings continue to rise. In spite of the most humiliating setbacks, the ageless desire to build utopia survives.

 

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And there’s more…

Yamasaki’s Airport terminal in St Louis (designed 1951-56) was hit by an EF4 Tornado in April last year, blowing out half of the buildings windows and causing widespread damage.

News Report

CCTV Footage

Passenger Footage

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Another Yamasaki Destroyed

Gilda Williams gave Yamasaki “the dubious title of the most significant architect of cataclysmic ruins of the late twentieth – and early twenty-first centuries” – referring specifically to Pruitt-Igoe and The World Trade Centre. Here’s another one to add to the list:

The six story military records centre designed by Yamasaki between 1951-56 without a sprinkler system. The Department of Defence had insisted that water would do more damage to the 38 million files the building housed than fire. The building burned to the ground in 1973 and all of the files, which dated back to 1885, destroyed.

 

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Pruitt-Igoe Archives

Masses of material stacked in boxes at Washington University in St Louis

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Population Change in St Louis

Map shows St Louis city centre emptying in the years before Mayor Darst proposed high-density housing in 1949.

 

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Milk Float

Milk Float in Park Hill (streets in the sky)

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Demolition in The Wire

For anyone else who hadn’t seen The Wire (I’m now hooked!), the clip here shows clear similarities to Pruitt-Igoe’s fate.

Set only a few years ago in Baltimore, the series shows that problems of modernist idealism were not limited to a specific location or time. In the clip characters who lived in Franklin Terrace discuss what the demolition of the towers mean to them – a sentimental loss of his home vs. the functional and economical shift of the drugs trade. The mayors words on diligent reform (which no doubt echoes the opening speech from when the towers first went up) are implied to be empty as the lever he presses is fake, used as a signal to the construction workers in charge of the real detonator.

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