City of Voids (in progress… still writing this)

Seeds of change

Just been listening to this lecture by Richard Sennett *click*. Summary: A closed system is the equivalent of Poundbury, a master planned part of a city that ends up homogenous due to the rules set up in the master plan. It’s an attractive formula for users, it has a strong identity. I see the same in the design of Lampugnani  – closed systems, as RS presents them are what I prefer to call programmed conditions. The dryness of these master planned communities is the result of what I previously called the ‘aggression’ that comes with something executing a task it is programmed to do. According to RS a closed system is also tightly fit for purpose – the example is the pod car station in Masdar city  – which would need to be demolished if the design of the pod car was to change. In that, a closed system is brittle.

The proposal for interventions that can be seen as working towards a city which works as an open system is one where architecture has flexibility to adapt. This can be a direct physical adaptation or it can work on an urban scale, where architecture stimulates the possibility of change. The intervention is a sort-of planting of a seed, which can grow with a natural force, yet be entirely influenced by its environment. The idea is delicately put and it is worth watching the lecture if you’re interested, my paraphrasing would not be sufficient.

To me, it is interesting because it is similar to an idea I had just before christmas, when I saw the entire year’s project culminating in the development of a ‘product’ – that I named the ‘citizen orb’. The ‘object’ was to be the project proposal [concept] that an architect creates and that would include with it a plan for integrating financial, social and urban systems [urbanism]. An architectural proposal that has an ‘aura’ of influence around it, something that could benefit the city in a holistic way, reflecting on ideas of the architect’s role as a ‘good citizen’ [influence of labour].

Seeing this as a ‘product’ is important. In the same way that a ‘master plan’ programmes an urban environment into a ‘closed system’ – something inflexible, inaccessible and ultimately brittle – the current status quo of the framework of labour in relation to cities attributes the system with the same qualities. The urban designer creates parameters that make the work of the architect inflexible in relation to the city. The fact that the urban planner exists and the fact that they will apply their talent [their labour] to city making, will never cease. They, just as any of the other members of the ‘labour force’ of city making are part of a global system (generated by society) that – for the moment – is set in place.

Do products operate on a meta level in the context of the systems of labour and relationships?

talent – products – knowledge – currency  – natural resources – inventions – innovations – a currency of exchange within the system – it is a part, yet not part of the framework of the system

If they do, I can claim that a product will nourish the system of city making rather then augment it. I think RS concept augments it.

A ‘seed’ is primarily a product

And so, in the context of this – what is the slab? Perhaps a product by itself…

Liberating the ground plane is a radical move – nowhere in the city is precious ground space annulled like this. The undercroft of the HSBC building, was purposefully destined to become programmed public space. The programme of the undercroft of the Corbusier apartment block is implied to have social the niemeyer


its equivalent to a coordinate digital space. digital [anthropocentric interface design] spiritual [ideological] or raw terrestrial [against ecological sovereignty] or [existential]?

in the digital case – testimony is the ‘invisible layer’ above the ground plane that is responsible for the exchange, interaction between the city, the earth, society, life.

In effect a proposal project by an architect, that

Looking back on a version of the White Book from the time, I love my writing in it. I want to compose all of it into a coherent essay as soon as I get the chance – probably this weekend.

Synapse or product that can be applied, integrated.

What suits the horizontal city better?

He makes a distinction between closed systems and open systems in cities. Closed cities are seen as not adaptable to change.


Landscape or Rhythm

Perhaps both in relation to Rajasthan

Perhaps its all about the voids – the strata in the Rajasthan carvings tend to come into one – unite around circular points – when they are all mutually focused around one point, they are working simultaneously towards it. That mutual point in turn is the ideological – theological ideal – the unknown – the unattainable – the void. In the same way the hierarchical strata of society and the vision for the world only function simultaneously when focused around a single point, buildings in plan on the ground plane

What are the miraculous manifestations of the voids in this case – evidence of the effective function of the voids? The master plan? The status quo of the city plan? In the case of basel the voids can take on varying ‘spiritual’ meaning – from the passion for art during Art basel, to faith, to landscape appreciation – preservation of the image of the Swiss ideal.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 19.59.54 Horizontal Worlds Rajasthan Horizontal Worlds Rajasthan2

Look at space filling curves as something that does not have edge conditions. This would integrate with the border between France and Switzerland. To move through the space, one would need to pass through the border – cut through the line. Since the line is functional, one would need to participate in the programme of the border and thus the city to move through space. Shops with two street facades, arcades, archways, backdoors, secret doors all to be used to get through the continuous line of buildings. The path of urban enrichment. Journeys towards miraculous phenomena of the void. Yet the space filling curve is a master plan or a phenomena of territoriality?

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