Author Archives: Sasha Alexander Zhukov



Some new collages to illustrate points at the start of the presentation.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 19.58.27 Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 19.58.11 Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 19.57.18 Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 19.57.10New slab system is that all the plans of terrain, streets, demolished land, ground massing, slab light and slab structure are merged into one ‘pixelated’ plane – the slab. Each ‘pixel’ is a combo-sandwich of all the ‘plan layers’. There are four types of ‘sandwich': (-) Void, (-) Street void (programmed street), (+) Capsular public space, (+) fully contained buildings. Two positives and two negatives as discussed before. The four types, I’m drawing at the moment…

Block types Capture

Above: four types of sandwich diagram. Void Sandwich.

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Voids (updated)

Considering a few perspectives on representing the voids and its cultural value in the modern context. A building that opens up onto the street from one side and the darkness of the void on the other. A window into darkness:


Props for voids? A turell sky opening into the dark void?

“Since Mallarmé, scriptural experience has deployed itself in the relation between the act of moving forward and the death-dealing soil on which its wandering leaves its track. In this respect, the writer is also a dying man who is trying to speak. But in the death that his footsteps inscribe on a black (and not blank) page, he knows and he can express the desire that expects from the other the marvellous and ephemeral excess of surviving through an attention that it alters.”

These thoughts are difficult, elusive, hard to parse. Yet I suspect they are vital if we want to think of what it means to write today – to write, that is, in the shadow of omnipresent and omniscient data that makes a mockery of any notion that the writer might have something to inform us, and of a technologically underwritten capitalism that both writes and reads itself. We could quite easily dismiss these thoughts as French bollocks, brush them aside and pen great tales of authenticity and individual affirmation, even as the sands in which we’d need to bury our heads in order to do so are being blown away. Alternatively, we could explore, with trepidation and with melancholy joy, this ultra-paradoxical and zombie-like condition, this non-life-restoring resurrection that, if De Certeau is correct, is writing’s true and only lot, its afterlife. What would this afterlife look like? What forms might these melancholy-joyful explorations take? It is impossible to prescribe these – nor would I want to. I just hope they happen: let a thousand zombies bloom.

From an article by Paul McCarthy: link

Moulding clay into a vessel, we find the utility in its hollowness; cutting doors and windows for a house, we find the utility in its empty space. There for the being of things is profitable, the non being of things is serviceable.

 Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Notes to self: remember the need for voids in the office daily routine. The space in-between buildings and objects as political. Politics as the relationship between people rather then something that concerns people themselves (Arendt). The void as something that is created with the application of an active void-making agent as in the work of Rachel Garrard. Rajasthan temples and the whole of northern Indian aesthetic representational culture – built on the event of ritual – and thus movement. Movement represented in painting like nowhere else – not the symbolic notion of movement – not movement as a prop to tell the story of the painting – but represented actually – capturing the spray of particles of dye in festivities – the movement IS the event – IS the key representational element of the painting. Events and phenomena are prioritised over objects. Indian mythology is not based on coded messages and symbology, but on phenomena. The Enlightenment as a movement that in defining itself as science tries to find a scientific base for itself in antiquity through an archaeological methodology. Analogical models. Claude Levi-Strauss systems of equivalence to establish a universal systems of ethnographic analysis to be used anywhere in the world. Literature as the romanticisation of the profession and romanticisation of cultures as a driving force for the research of the ethnographer. What their work (output/writing) standing against is the driving force of the practice (action on the ground/research gathering). This distinction between ‘the field’ and ‘the workplace’ no longer exists. The ‘work’ has become a separate self-referential field, as ‘practice’ is no longer possible or needed. [The profession has become a closed system – equivalent to the modern corporation – it has become corporate. If professions are become increasingly self-referential – the ‘gravely earth’ the professional walks on is the digital terrain. Could the raw terrain of the under slab be analogous to the digital terrain of the slab itself?]

Notes for work: seeing the space of public vs private as architectural vs urban space and proposing a purely architectural space with negative and positive volumes, that is fully manipulatable as an architectural project. Public movement – defined by the urban space previously – is not dependent on either of the two architectural domains (the negative and the positive) and is free to move between the two. A layer of raw terrain (rather then the definition of terrain as something that contains urban and architectural massing) is superimposed with a layer of public movement, superimposed with an architectural layer. Ideologically layered relationship, rather then an ideologically delineated one. The slab is only proposed as an actual physical/architectural being so as to put into existence the two conditions of positive and negative architecture.

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Playing around with some collages:

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By the way this was my intro speech:


Urban planning has faded as a practice that structures space. The city is far more vividly delineated by sociological and phenomenal conditions. If this is the case what could a phenomenal architecture be? 

The notions of public and private space –  are a divide that is the result of a societal construct, which is a sociological phenomenon.

The modern condition is increasingly leading to a systematisation and a privatisation of public space. The two realms/definitions are leading to delineation, the creation of aggressive boundaries and a redaction of civic space.

If it isn’t to be ‘system’ and ‘programme’, I propose the alternatives as ‘phenomena’ and ‘objects’. ‘Phenomenal Architecture’ is an architecture that is perhaps never built (only envisioned) and a phenomenon that is tested/developed through technical/architectural considerations.

It is an architecture that FORMS an urban phenomenon, rather then being a resultant of it.

The notion of a PHENOMENAL ARCHITECTURE is in this project shown to be able to be used to create spaces that are at least partly un-programmed, yet multi-functional.


Then I went through 5 “conditions” that the slab creates that could work with or without it, but needed the slab (as a ‘phenomenal architecture’) to be developed:

Capsular public spaces

The void

The Hilbert curve Christianopolis

Programmed streets

Vertical artefact

I’ll make collages for each ‘condition’.

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Magazine WIP

Some WIP spreads. I will add more screenshots later… Would be cool to have it printed for the ‘photoshoot’.

“For spring/summer 2015 SLABS Quarterly looks at a phrama corp slab in Basel, Switzerland.”

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Which one would you pick up?

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Sidewalk City – still writing this WIP

The aim this week has been to see the project in terms of that crucial argument of a divide between the ‘public’ and ‘private’ realm.

I‘ve been considering what an overview of the project can be in terms of this core argument.  I wanted to look at how cities are made to see where the divide between public and private is initiated. I looked at the work of Ricky Burdett and the Projective Cities MPhil. As it turns out, its not through the practice of ‘city making’, but through more general cultural and ideological developments. In the Slab project these varying cultural trends are embodied in a number of architectural typologies. The architectural relationship between these typologies then defines new ways for these embodied cultural trends to combine, interact and generate new outputs – new significance for the city.

The architectural typologies are: 1) The elevated space of production 2) The vertical political space (the Zhukov tower) 3) The environmentally programmed streets 4) Voids 5) Interior capsular spaces 6) Designed borders. They are an embodiment of the following parameters: cultural, social, political, historical, economic. Under the slab the elements can combine to create either an open (in the case of the market) or a series of closed systems (everywhere else).

I’m reading that the practice of urban design works by delivering the concept/theory of a city model through the practice of architecture. Architecture is defined into typologies, that then have a conceptual possibility. The combination of these typologies – or architectures at a diagrammatic level – are what makes up the ‘urban plan’ which is seen as something theoretical. Architecture is seen as ‘practice’ and the socio-political and cultural context is seen as ‘theory’.

If this is the case, I would argue that in terms of process, ‘practice’ is [procreative] labour – whereas ‘theory’ is derived from an analysis of socio-political and cultural trends – it’s formative.

In terms of the application of this concept, it is actually architecture that is fluid, and theory that is formative.


As I’m reading, cities are a mix of the cultural, social, political, historical and economic.  The slab idea derives several architectural, project specific typologies. 1) The elevated space of production 2) The vertical political space (the Zhukov tower) 3) The environmentally programmed streets 4) Voids 5) Interior capsular spaces 6) Designed borders

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The Hilbert curve Christianopolis


Johannes Valentinus Andreae proposed his vision for a Utopian Christian city to be Christianopolis.

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Concentric square rings of the city centre around the chapel. From the centre follow the ring of the college, two residential rings and the ring of industry. Each is in a way a step in a hierarchy towards higher spiritual meaning – the hierarchy of priorities for a society based around faith. The way that hierarchies work in general is that each step is made up of an independent member, fulfilling their role. Yet in this hierarchy each step cannot exist without any one of the others, they all make up a single whole – the single whole of life. The divisions are necessary for the unity. The borders are necessary to transfer value from one component of the city to the other and contribute to its unity.

Each of the concentric rings are fully self sustainable in their function. All that is needed during the work day is accommodated in the ‘industry ring’. All that is needed for study is accommodated in the college ring and the accommodation rings provide everything for domestic life. This integration of categorised services means that the streets between the rings are only there to support the idea of the territory of the city, without serving any function in themselves.

So what could a city that is at once divided and yet united – a city that embraces its borders – yet is not based around a religious ideology – look like?

I like the idea of city functions based around a continuos line. For this I looked at space filling curves and in particular the Hilbert curve.

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It works as a single line that fills a shape – a square – and makes spaces within that square by folding/turning. To make the implications of this in a city context as clear as possible I like to think of it as an extended border between France and Switzerland at the Novartis site. By moving between the cavernous spaces, one would be crossing the line – in effect crossing the border between France and Switzerland back and forth – yet never really entering either country, since they would stay within the confines of the square [the boundary of the space that the line fills].

At the moment I am making a collage of what a ‘Hilbert curve city’ might look like. Just as in Christianopolis, buildings with a certain function follow a line. Yet since this is a city that is not centred around an ideology, the lines are not concentric, but continuous. To make the streets work, they need to periodically cut across this continuous line of buildings. At these points a citizen travelling along a street has to come to terms with whatever building programme cuts their path. If its a supermarket they travel though it to the back exit, it could be an arcade, a shopping mall, perhaps a shop or a cafe. The citizen is enriched by and enriches the built programme of the city as they travel along the street. These crossing points are somewhere in-between the exterior and the interior, just as the spaces I highlighted to be the ‘interiorised public spaces’ of modern cities.

At the moment the collage looks like this and is to be updated throughout the evening:

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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.

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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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Moments like these around the slab coming up and the photos are part of the revised storyline:

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Finally managed to make a terrain model of the site:



– Tidying up the single core slab tower to get it ready for some experiments with the core and light.

– And to continue developing the design of the public under-space

SlabTower Capture1

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Not sure why… Maybe land to building ratio? The anti slab ) The demolished space is not necessarily opened up for public space, corporations can take over. I guess the key to the slab condition is not the allocation of space to either the corporate or the civic, but rather the two existing symbiotically – in what I’m calling an ‘exposed’ state, they are exposed to each other. This tower is the ultra insular version of the corporation:

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Note the detailing of torn up foundations :)

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TS spreads

I have a list of 15 spreads to do before I can move in to design the ‘core’ Shukhov towers – at the advice of a TS tutor these can be distributing light down into public space and circulating natural ventilation all in one

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Hyperbolic structures under wind load

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Walkability within the slab is a major issue to consider and affects the entire structure. My multi functional public space underneath is also highly focused on pedestrians. This kind of relationship is the essence of how the corporate space begins to correlate to the public space underneath. Traffic under the slab should be reduced to 20mph which greatly increases multipurpose use of the streets by public. This can be done with limiting the distance a driver can see up the road to 40m, making them drive more carefully. This starts to define the planning under the slab. Research stuff:

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I got some super great research from Jan Gehl titled ‘Close encounters with buildings’ its all about the interaction between public and facades. They derive many great typologies. I think maybe these are best used in the design of the hyperbolic towers? One point is street scape variety needs vertical elements at the ground and I certainly have this with the columns, so making them a real urban design element is good. The scale from which the facade is viewed diagram is great and will relate to the slab openings and towers.

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I want to highlight that the design of the exterior environment is just as important as the design of the interior environment, especially with my slab proposal. The design of the exterior concerns the design of how people interact with each other and the built, how they move past and through the built. This goes together with all the climatic considerations. This summary table from Gehl sums it up:

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In terms of climate in the slab the horizontality means that most things can be handled with natural ventilation and lighting. Natural ventilation will come up in small ventilation towers around the office, ideally around columns , so they can connect up the column to the electricals in the ceiling (will draw this). So I will need an ecotect wind study of how wind flows around the slab, at some point it will be too weak for natural ventilation. Interesting is the lift that it may generate on the slab. It is flat, so it should not be great, but if out was I would need to place taller buildings or trees around the perimeter at ground level under the slab, to filter the wind force. Will draw that I don’t need this. In terms of natural lighting I imagined the idea of ‘natural light chandeliers’ (since I have a 2-3m thick ceiling, not so easy to do skylights even if they are large) and found a percedent plus the whole system, with calcs.

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If the ceiling reaches 3m thickness (because of need to accommodate lift machine rooms and lots of extractors and outlets in the ‘laboratory’ part of the office, the main problem will be dispersing light from the cut-out holes in the slab, horizontally. So the main design of the ‘natural light chandelier’ or ‘sun chandelier’ should be horizontal light dispersal. Along these lines I though that if I have a church :) going through one of these holes, its dome can be reflective and disperse light horizontally into the public street-scape, different take on the church of light (I have a sketch).

In terms of the 7 TS spreads, I will have them for tomorrow.

P.S. This is interesting, a list of terms that define all the current major ideas/theory on public space (from Centre for Public Space Research, Denmark):

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late post

apologies just writing the post :(((((

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Leaving this collage like this for the moment…. Will add a better image for the bottom later, should be my design for a civic space anyway. I saw TS Tutor David yesterday, who was one of the engineers for SANAA Rolex, he said that my construction is pretty simple. I would need some supports for lateral movements of the slab, which would be my ‘cores’ I want to make these like Shusev towers for the moment with lift going through the centre. I need at least four and will have more because of circulation. Columns for 15m lifted slab he mentioned would be 1.1m wide steel tube. I wanted crosses, he mentioned they can merge into a tube and bulge slightly in their middle. Brings up ideas from my ‘column’ experiments before, so maybe they could become ‘totem’ pole Egyptian style columns. Im doing TS drawings now.

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Oh and also: during my intro to the project David mentioned that the Catholic church was the first global corporation and there are numerous examples where the very first structure they would construct would be a wall, then the chapel. They then had holes in the wall for interaction with the public and later rooms as part of the wall which were the only spaces that the public was allowed to freely visit (perhaps for confessions). But the point was that the very first idea was to divide public from the church. Also mentioned the ha-ha but he put it in an interesting way – the ha-ha is only noticed from one direction so if your grounds have a boundary with farmland, the boundary is not seen from the house outwards, making it seem as if you’re part of/own the landscape. From the farmland side, the boundary is very clear – do not approach.

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I have realised how good the Sanaa Rolex is as a precedent. The Spaces under the curving slab have reasonable lighting and it doesn’t require the whole slab to be transparent horizontally. Lifted to 25 meters and given the right distribution of the light well, there should be enough light reaching the ground. Distributing the light wells is something that is down to the site and accommodating programme underneath the slab. So I’ve been looking at options for the site around Basel. Criteria are: – available data that would be able to feed into environmental TS – preferably a slope to give variety to the slab topography – active public programme underneath. I’ve moved away from the historic centre towards a new development area called Dreispitz, where the public programme could be something I design.

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The historical centre context looks like this:

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It’s perfect architecturally for the slab – great city location and orientation – and in terms of the topography, sloping towards Art Basel expo centre, but the street level condition I don’t think would show the division between private and public as vividly as the idea of the slab proposes. Dreispitz (below) is developing an art university, residential, etc…

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My longer term plan is to maybe by the end of term to run through the slab as a proper architectural proposal and then use it to re-conceptualise the relationships between public and private it shows are feasible.

There’s a project from last year from AA of a floating slab thats a good reference, I’m looking at the TS proposal for it on Thursday. Careful site choice would mean no need for all glass slab, so a less radical environmental appraisal, hopefully. I could only see Federico on March 4, so that’s for the best.


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Blog catch up

Old work I never posted, in case Manolis is looking at the blog…

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If all the buildings in the Novartis campus were arranged in a single storey slab, this would be its size

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Thursday Work

Mapping the whole Novartis in single storey onto Basel. Found out it has 10000 employees, so will estimate the weight of them :) The other weight thing is furniture – so will estimate weights from Vitra website and general plans from the campus. The furniture is like a light filter for the public space under the glass office slab, so I can do some light filter experiments – the office furnishing can become part of the city planning strategy :)

Below is an elevation of all the office buildings on the campus. The single storey plan could cover most of Basel!

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Cat keeps telling me to storyboard all this process for TS/White book, but I’m just downloading a huge map of the whole of Switzerland for the overlay… I should totally storyboard…


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New work WIP (TS Notes in previous post)

Proliferation of horizontal planning and verticality in Basel, the boundary horror!

Click for Tageswoche

in English:

Click for Google translate

Areas of least porosity and increased suppression of public space:

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“Borders always have the twofold function of separation and of serving as an interface. Over the last decades, the accelerating processes of globalization, the strengthening of regional integration, and the consolidation of supranational bodies have led to profound changes in the traditional functions of borders. In the same time, there has been a resurgence of cities and city- regions as new forms of economic and political organizations that are the changing relationships between borders and cities in a North American and European context.”

Nice quote from this randomness (#DawnOfVerticalPlanning):

EU: Basel: Three Borders – One Metropolitan Area pdf

Areas of industrial or knowledge production, centres of current public space redaction:


Areas of trans-border development -> future epicentres of Vertical Planning:



Some info on Basel (provided by a business-civic group – a ‘platform for cooperation):

“In addition to Metro Basel, other organisations such as the Trinational Eurodistrict Basel (TEB), Regio Basiliensis and Infobest Palmarain are making an important contribution towards breaking down boundaries and improving the quality of life within the greater Basel region.”

The boundaries are ‘breached’ through a system of business-civic cooperation with a layer of ‘technical and political engagement’ on top. That ‘dangerous’ technical system optimisation that I mentioned in a comment on Felix’s post. The ‘system’ in my proposal can be the boundary-reconfiguring architectural proposal [rather then a business-civic organisation] and the ‘technical and political engagement’ can act through the idea of ‘vertical planning’ – thus working to spread the influence of cooperation rather then be working to technically optimise the system of cooperation.

*just came across this info and came up with this line of thinking, it could be worth something

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TS Tutorial Notes

Had two TS tutorials today with Federico & Javier, the notes:

From Javier:

– Get out exactly what it is that you want to say – your viewpoint – in the project

– Then your perspective on the boundary or relationship between exterior and interior can be laid out in a simple but fluent language

– Think of what you want to put in and what to leave out. The language of the unfinished can be very powerful – the work of Igor Mitoraj (below).

– The omissions likely make the language more fluent. Think of the music of Oscar Petersen – leaving the last note of the melody out, having a controlled relationship with the audience

– The moves can be very simple – gently elevating a walkway  to the appropriate viewpoint as in the case of Peine del Viento (below) or Luis Barragan’s painting of the courtyard with pots and planting into an intriguing image that in turn transform the building threshold into a framing.

– Given the current configuration of the ‘horizontal city’ the threshold into the office sphere will still exist and this can be carefully curated – the effect either side of the threshold reflects upon the threshold. Entering a humid church environment or the sunny freedom of the outside. Think of the use of thresholds that may reflect on the thresholds themselves and the perspective the change of environments gives

– Reference of a medieval church with offset arches, that goes against symmetry to hint that only god is a perfect being

– For next friday – lay out what it is you want to do – do some of it, present what you want to do next – so the comments relate effectively to your next steps

From Frederico:

– The technical requirements of the huge glass span can be used to create the required atmosphere

– The duality of the image the corporation projects of itself vs the public reality (underneath this huge corporate slab) – can simultaneously be curated by the technical curation of the environment inside the glass office and underneath. The curation of that environment through the single technical concern with the ‘glass slab’ then acts to bridge the two environments

– Interestingly he saw the collage from yesterday as split in two, showing an adapted public environment and an adapted office environment (as below)

So the thing to do is work out a clear idea of my project intention, which the ‘how you get to the slab’ sheets we discussed in the tutorial yesterday, will define – I feel. So moving on to doing those now. Hope to post them later tonight.

casa barragan by architect luis barragan. tacubaya, mexico 13 mitorajScreen Shot 2015-02-11 at 19.51.39

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I’m looking to make my boundary/border a solid architectural proposal, as suggested in the last tutorial. I’ve gone through Hannah Arendt, Richard Sennett, Jonathan Till, which left me at the conceptual stage of the divide between private and public. I’ll finish up some sketches as extra material to relate these concepts to my idea of the artefact boundary. I have two leads towards relating the concept of the boundary in a more evidential way to the city. One is the notion of POPOS – Privately Owned Public Open Space. Self-explanatory, but it is a concept developed from dense cities making legislation that private land owners must provide much needed public space in the most critical locations. This doesn’t exactly work out this way and some of these spaces remain relatively empty – think of Lincoln’s Inn Fields. I’ve found some sets of data for London, San Francisco and Toronto and am looking into a way of developing them into a modern Nolli map (with my boundaries). There are only 68 such spaces in San Francisco however so I’m looking into a way of more accurately expanding the concept beyond ‘official defined’ POPOS. The other thing I came across is the work of Jan Gehl. I tried to call them today to ask for some data, but could not get through. They have a live webcast tonight, so perhaps tomorrow I will be more informed to call again. I think they must have interesting data and mappings of people coming into contact with ‘corporate’ and ‘private’ boundaries.

That’s the new work, I’ve done a ‘proper’ project outline too and some other stuff. Going to prepare sheets for the tutorial and post these here hopefully a bit later….

Click here for London data set

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I am collecting precedents to act as genomes for the design of the ‘artefact’ boundary. The boundary is broken up into two parts – an element that bridges the two environments and an element that can act as a cultural component in the city. So far I have done research on both the ‘component’ and ‘bridging’ parts and now going through to turn them into diagrams. Progress so far: (will update throughout the day….)

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Facades are made to performance not to materiality. No single material can perform to single specifications and so it becomes a composite. What if one of the components was the relationship to the city, the other the identity to the corporation.


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I’m using columns as boundary between corporation and the city, the columns can become really thin and almost merge into a fence and then skin.

Has anybody seen anything cool on columns? Any refs with reflections of columns or optical illusions or anything cool at all…

Doing a few renders like this and will Photoshop Basel into background:


I tried to do these arrangements to see if any cool sight-lines can come out of them – like seemingly random arrangements of columns aligning into a fence, working on it, not quite super cool so far..

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These are some refs, any inspired ideas welcome!

5-colonnade-in-an-egyptian-temple-michele-burgess 20120215-Edfu ancient_egypt_27 banteay-samre-plan-680 Lepsius-Projekt_tw_1-2-108 Plan_Baphuon Temples egypt_temple2 600px-Greek_temples.svg

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Identity Surface


Novartis campus architects on the skin – identity done, no need for the design?

Comments welcome…

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Colonnades & Temples

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Just got this idea a bit late and just starting drawing it – seems exciting. The corporation can remain in the Cella, with the columns making up the interaction with the city – they are kind of ‘columns’ amongst the people of the world as the crowd gathers in the colonnade to pray, they are not allowed to go inside to see the deity statue. I will play with the scale of the columns – apparently Egyptian ones were supposed to be big and imposing – they show a lot of info through hieroglyphics, making a statement about deity and writing history. Iranian were about the space between columns – allowing for freedom in the earthly world – in a structure of faith. The smaller scale columns and spaces can from one perspective turn into a fence. Maybe even smaller and they can be a skin like surface. I’m reading Rober Smythson was the first in the UK to design a facade based on symmertry – with the windows just being symmetrical rather then relating to the rooms inside – I will play with symmetry somehow… Bigger columns can be rooms, maybe where you can access or contribute to the knowledge of the corporation [will think of something smarter through the drawing]. Maybe I could finally include my favourite thing in the world – the Bolivian ring-ditch – in a smart way into the project.

The colonnade maybe relates like this:   via the Arcades Project by Benjamin to the idea of a cocoon of commerce – but at arms length – Benjamin & Sloterdijk are too close and I want to move away from both – but its a possible line of thought & continuity.

Also a sketch where ‘the open plan’ relates to architecture that is ‘in the horizontal plan only’ The columned open space with the floor and ceiling representing identity. I love the idea in the ‘urbanism MA keynote lecture’ on the school website – that the highest tech innovators favour a suburban ‘anti-social’ environment. Sketch that too.

Obviously above, I’m drawing the corporate HQ as the temple and the corporate image is religion.

Also – Project that Djordje showed totally ripped Sloterdijk so that’s why I’m not drawing orbs or stadiums :)

Oh one more thing – I’look up some smart interactive materials – and that will allow me to draw some cocoon like things like Sabrina posted in comments on my previous post.

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I’m rendering some images so cant post them at the moment, BUT I can talk about TS:

I’ve been reading this text, sent to me by Natasha by Alejandro Zaera Polo (Foreign Office Architects) [If you are interested, skip to page 12/87 for ‘Spherical Surfaces’].

Crazy – the guy read the same people that I did, googled the same stuff and formed pretty much the same opinions  and ‘thesis’ that I’ve been pushing for! Perhaps evidence that I’m letting what I read influence my ‘world views’ too much (

He defines the historic importance of the building envelope in relation to socio-political concerns. In summary:

In classicism the envelope was symbolic – social codes embedded and encoded in the façades of country villas, representing the building allegorically and locating the building within a hierarchy of socio-political meaning.

In the modern period, the façade was cleaned of any reference to stylistic convention and merged with the interior in a symbiotic way – the new found idea of the transparent façade worked on a technical and aesthetic level, as well as inviting social understandings of ‘openness’ and a democratic society.

Corbusier’s brise-soleils for the first time acted to [in Sloterdijk’s terms] immunise the interior from the biological effects of the outside – the sun. [The ‘globes’ guy I’ve been reading – Peter Sloterdijk – speaks of buildings in general as constructed immune systems – immunising the inhabitants from the effects of the outside world]

Globalisation neutralised the language of façades and increased the demands for ‘insulation’ and ‘immunisation’ – as seen in Novartis.

The age of individualism and spectacle brought about the concept of ‘faciality’ in façades [relating to my concept of ‘testimony’ in a post below]. As I understand it faciality works as a complete identity for the building. The façade is not in a technically symbiotic relationship with the inside, but rather in an immunising relationship with the outside. The same an individual’s face is – the identity holds dear what is inside. Two buildings ‘face to face’ are two independent individuals. This relates to Sloterdijk’s idea of ‘foam’ – what he derives from the apartment building – to him an apartment building is foam – the inhabitants are individually secluded but communally linked.

My TS was meant to focus on the development of the façade. The intro up until now has been:

‘The super-surface is the expanding boundary of the corporation. The corporation is in this project seen as an insular institution, which grows internally with an expanding outer facade, shell. In relation to the Spheres trilogy, this relates to the way the world was seen in antiquity – the idea of the sphirra – the all encompassing whole, where god was the centre and at the same time every point within the sphere. The outer shell was somewhere out in the cosmos defined by the furthest reach of the divine power. In the Modern Age, the world is seen as having no such shell and the cosmos is infinite. Cities that developed in insular ways, growing powerful cultures have also been challenged by globalization as every notion developed has found reasonable counter notions in other world cultures. The ethnological ‘tumours’ have burst. However in my view, corporations still remain insular, building knowledge and their own notions of the sphirra. The surface will have to technically deal with security, identity and should allow the corporation to play an active part in the city. PR and knowledge gathering and knowledge dissemination. giving a face to the company in the way that the modern artist gives face to their system of production – like the notion of testimony – testimony of the skin. Through the notion of security it would allow for open access to the corporate campus. It would allow employees to be citizens – meaning have scope beyond their task. Make products beyond their function.’


The text has reaffirmed my interest in façades, however I do not fully agree with the outlook from Alejandro, that it necessarily has to be technical to relate to architecture, rather then ‘being a simple representation of politics’. It seems to slightly go against his own statement that I fully embrace – that the best way for architecture to engage with the modern world is through the market. He poses an interesting notion that the materiality of the façade is linked to the market through its materiality – as he says – on a molecular level [links nicely to my molecule-to-campus scale pink series]. I want to explore this in the TS, will research tonight and speak about it in the 3 TS tutorials I have lined up tomorrow :) However I would also like to focus on the identity represented by the skin – the ‘facialised’ skin – as an architectural project – the implications of identity in the skin as an architectural project – rather then calling the technical resolution of it the architectural project, as Alejandro seems to imply. I would look into the engagement of the architecture with the markets and the city through this identity [primarily, rather then its materiality].

I’ll post some TS research here in the night time. In the mean time, check out the Novartis buildings without furniture – just skin!

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“Because of their Marxist heritage, critical theorists succumb to the realistic temptation of interpreting the light as appearance and the heavy as essence.”

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Writing text

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Just shaping my thoughts into an architectural language before drawing, which will come later tonight.

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The way that my thinking throughout the year works is that I get a simple interest in the beginning and then, perhaps subconsciously, start editing everything I see in research towards that concept. This means that perhaps quite complex ideas just culminate in the same vain concept I had at the start of the year. Last year a study of mobilising the economies of Central Asia culminated in the same vain obsession with high-tech food balls. This year I’ve gotten a ‘vision’ of the human body, organs, statement art and advertising. I’m sensing that I’m editing everything I see towards that. It’s a good tool for a whirlwind take on whatever concepts I come across, but I don’t want to end up with a 3d CT scan of my body as the final result at the end of the year. Would be useful to have a conversation about my way of working and thinking.

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The Century of The System

Commentary to follow…

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Perhaps it would be useful to introduce Latour’s notion of the social to this idea of the orb – this body/system/organ – a ‘concept’ with inflows and outflows. The social is at once a gathering [rather then an accumulation or a ‘thing’ -see scanned page] (i.e. the content/constituent of the orb) and at the same time the all encompassing medium of the system/of the orb. It highlight the peculiar nature of this concept of the orb as being at the same time something that is induced into being amongst a medium, rather then existing as a constructed entity/product.

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Just had this idea: slicing the orb/dissecting it as if it was an organ to reveal floor plans [of offices] would be nice.

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The idea of the sphere or the orb relates to the idea of the body (the ‘whole’). Although at some points in the posts I will be arguing for it to be seen as an organ [both however fit into the notion of a system]. The sphere I have drawn previously is that of a corporation. Current corporations, especially those in the health industry are not simply fully globalised, but also highly integrated (deeply rooted). Each research centre location, each production site, each corporate office is deeply rooted into the local social, political and economic condition [all be it not their architecture in relation to the city as my analogy of a ‘placebo’ alludes to?]. Although head quartered in, say Switzerland, the multi-nodal (poly-central?) nature of the intelligence set-up through which they operate, implies that they are transnational.


“In the period between the end of the Cold War in 1989 and the events of September 11, 2001, human rights became the dominant moral narrative by which world politics was organised. Inspired by the momentous political and cultural transformations taking place at the time, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the spread of global communications technologies, promoters of human-rights discourse optimistically predicted that a transnational public sphere dedicated to democratic values would emerge. (We now know, of course, that such predictions were wrong, as early post-Cold War hopes gave way to the harsh realities of contemporary globalisation.)

In order to help create the transnational public sphere they envisioned, international human-rights activists deployed a number of strategies, among them the production and circulation of testimonies by victims of rights abuses. A testimony is a first-person narrative in which an individual’s account of bodily suffering at the hands of oppressive governments or other agents comes to stand for the oppression of a group. Rooted in the Christian notions of witnessing and of the body as vehicle of suffering, testimony is a deeply persuasive cultural form that animates and moves Western sensibilities. Although testimony has long played an important part in rights advocacy (dating back to abolitionism), its use grew in the 1990s, when testimonies proliferated in multiple genres and arenas, from written texts to film and video documentaries to live performances and face-to-face encounters at activist meetings, NGO forums, and governmental hearings.‘ online testimony, in activists’ attempts to construct a transnational public.” 

From: ‘Human Rights, Testimony and Transnational Publicity’ by Meg McLagan

The Orb/The Sphere becomes Testimony as a vehicle for a transnational public?

“To render something public once meant submitting it to the critical judgment of others; in recent years, publicity has gained new meanings – making something public is the result of a “bewildering array of spatial and technical mediations.” As Arvind Rajagopal notes: “the effect of the means and modes of reproduction, whether analog or digital, electronic or mechanical [biological? :) ], and the space of an event, whether in a shopping mall, a crowd, [or] a city square [a body? :) ], or, for that matter, in a broadcast image or a Web site, all shape the experience of publicity in significant and different ways. The kinds of visibility a public event has are not secondary to its being public; rather, they condition the forms of publicity mobilised.”


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Marketing Architecture

A quote:

“It used to be that all a company needed to build a strong identity was a good logo and recognisable colours. But the advent of the so-called Experience Economy in the late nineties turned brand awareness on its head. Suddenly we saw that even the slightest interaction between customer and company represents a chance to convey a message about who that company is. It didn’t take marketing mavens and CEOs long to realise that a perfect place to inscribe that message in capital letters is in the design of the company’s own offices, where employees and guests alike can wander the halls of a veritable temple of the corporate image.

Putting identity into spatial form is a complex task. Certain projects featured here, such as zipherspacework’s colourful design for Panama, and Shubin + Donaldson’s offices for Ground Zero, entailed the articulation of brand- new images for fledgling companies with big ideas and little more. Where successful, these new offices are often the most tangible incarnations of what makes these new brands tick.

Working with established images, on the other hand, is of a different nature altogether. When dealing with big names, architects and designers can find themselves performing a delicate balancing act between reflecting the status quo and attempting to influence it with bold new gestures. Jump Studios’ offices for Nike in London and Solid Arquitectura’s work for McCann-Erickson in Madrid are both projects that took two highly established brands and pushed them forward, exploring new ways of putting a face on a corporate space. And in Paris, Pierre Sartoux and Augustin Rosenstiehl showed Ogilvy, the identity pros, a few new tricks in the use of logo and colour. In the extreme, design can be a matter of revolution rather than evolution. Witness the new headquarters of the Socialist Party in Brussels, a Lhoas & Lhoas design that starred in a party-wide programme aimed at casting off the past and beginning afresh, proving that offices not only reflect images, but can also become part of a force that alters identity.”

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Office: Bios & Production

In these series, I am trying to find some typologies of office architecture in relation to the furniture. These categories are very preliminary and if someone sees better groupings, please suggest. In this group the function of the work is clearly separated from the ‘bios’ of the building and of the workers, fulfilled by the structure of the building instead.

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Office: Integrative

In these series, I am trying to find some typologies of office architecture in relation to the furniture. These categories are very preliminary and if someone sees better groupings, please suggest. In this group the different functions of the work environment fulfilled by furniture are somehow integrated into/with the shell.

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Office: ‘Open’ Plan

In these series, I am trying to find some typologies of office architecture in relation to the furniture. These categories are very preliminary and if someone sees better groupings, please suggest. In this group the different functions of the work environment fulfilled by furniture are separate from the enclosure of the building.

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THIS RELATES TO THE ORB – Treat the boundary of the system in the diagram as the boundary of the orb.

I want to keep this post to be updated on the idea of a System.

Closed System:


Open System:



The internal components are said to be Interdependent. What if the system was ruled by Interconnection, Interrelationship? Diagrams to follow…

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In the Library…

I’m in the library looking for inputs to support my line of thinking so far this year and a smarter approach to the work at the plane of the drawing. It would be useful to make tomorrow’s conversation about the logic of the White Book and TS. I’ll sum up my thoughts in a few posts later tonight. This is an interesting look at the notion of spheres in cultural and political thought. I need a few references on corporate architecture.


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The Orbs

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The Orb Capture 11

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Got up to here on the orb, moving on to TS and white book now, will continue the orb tonight.

The Orb Capture 9 The Orb Capture 10

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My Factory

So my factory is either a ‘factory of factories’ or a factory of ‘pr architectures’. Probably factory of factories.

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Constructing the Orb

spaces of work

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spaces of education

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Mixing the two

The Orb Capture 3 The Orb Capture 4

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Renaissance and the corporation

THIS POST SHOULD PRECEDE ‘THE ORB’ POST (not sure how to move the posts around on the timeline, but this thought development is more primitive then ‘Architectural Diversity in the Workplace’)

Using this blog space for developing this idea:

The Renaissance seems to me to share many of the insular qualities of the corporation. It is self-referential, intra-networked, very aggressive and its relationship to the outside world at the time is through a certain notion of a facade.  The idea of the ‘rebirth’ made me consider that the supernova had similar qualities :) and perhaps these ‘aggressively insular’ events could be traced down to the modern corporation. An analogy would be a tumour – something that is seen as a negative by the body, but yet can keep expanding given its aggressive internal processes. It exists in relation to the body behind a ballooning facade. There are many places where the line of thinking seems to fall down, but I want to keep going with it for a while by continually editing this blog post.

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Architectural Diversity in the Workplace


This I feel is the thesis:

In many of the high end, highly professional spaces furnished by Vitra and Hermann Miller, architecture is nothing but a high quality shell. Seems a shame that we haven’t moved on since the early twentieth century and the open plan work space? Perhaps it is simply the case that the shell-like open space is the genetic architecture of the factory and these days more spaces then ever before are operating under factory conditions. The knowledge factory is a broad term, a hospital (something that Herman Miller have a heavy focus on) is in many respects a smart shell, it has become factory-like, rather then a series of spaces for healing. The factory-zation equals the spread of the open plan, of the shell like architecture. Thinking of the mosque – huge open plan spaces – never mind the cannons of their design – the base idea is that the prophesies of Mohammed are spread through the spoken word rather then written down in the equivalent of the bible – they started life as also spaces of knowledge exchange and the production of ideology. The only vast open plan modern spaces that come to mind, seeming not to be factories are any modern buildings in the Middle East. Here they are need for environmental control, as vast interior public spaces. ‘Smart’ shells acting as the controlling threshold between the external and internal environment. Spaces of community manufacture/socialist identity in Brazil. It would be good to challenge or else radically push this idea of open plan shell-like architecture as the genome of manufacture. [a pragmatic thought: leaving it to the furnishings to keep up with the developments of the corporation seems a shame (perhaps this is where the placebo like architecture can find its civic grounding)] The Placebo Architecture Orb is a good start to conceptualised the relationship between architecture and the corporation. It focuses on the PR effect of architecture on the corporation (for the moment bypassing the physical qualities of ‘open place’ and ‘smart shell’). This PR effect of the shell could perhaps start challenging the internal goings on of the company and start becoming effective beyond the simple shell. After this investigation I can induce the ‘open plan’ and ‘smart shell’ as physical attributes in the light of the previous findings.

Edited: The TS would probably thus be about the smart shell.

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The Orb

Working on a drawing for placebo architecture that is removed from direct civic responsibility, it is the name and shelter only. Relating to the corporation only. As long as it puts across the name of the architect, is a shelter, it can be any shape. So I’m drawing it as a floating orb full of furniture above the city. With ‘corporation’ feeding into it, it begins to look like an organ. Organ/Organisation?




The Orb Capture


Just thinking yes probably my factory is using architecture for pr/advertising, factory of pr/advertising architectures – BUT with the link to cells/body organs it could touch on the topic of ‘biocommerce’ ‘bioadvertising’ ‘biopr’ (biopolitical take on advertisng)

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Hacking into induced products through scale

I wanted to formalise the concept of the pill and the architecture in Novartis being ‘induced events’ rather then products into a drawing. This is the concept I want to take further into development. I can not come up with an effective way to represent the impact of the architecture onto the corporation, and the ambiguous nature of the pill as something that has an effect on a malady. I can draw these in representation, but not in a way that becomes an architectural drawing/productive for me. I was looking at the inverse of ‘amorphous’ and found that one of its antonyms is ‘organic‘ in a physiological context. The idea of the organ is very appropriate. Previously I considered the pill (and by analogy the architecture) as ‘events’. The physical shape typology (meaning: shape, not including size) of the pill is its shell, it is formalised not by the disease it is treating, the ingredients it consists of or the country it is marketed in but rather simply because it has to be swallowed. In the same way, the architecture/building is a shelter from the elements. The intervention of the knowledge factory (Novartis or the Architect) makes a pill into a medical treatment and a building into architecture. The ‘architectures’ in the Novartis campus have the architect’s DNA, their identity.

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Clavulanic Acid to Pixel






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Cellular Pyramid of Health

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More pyramids coming up…

VIDEOS (click):








The white blood cell video “phagocytosis” highlights that the processes within the body working towards health can be fast and extremely aggressive (watch closely), perhaps due to the precise programming of the functions into the cells. Elements within the pyramid should perhaps work in a similar way.

The heart cells grown from mouse stem cells are shown to be beating/contracting – on a molecular level, just as the heart does.

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Tutorial 14th November

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…text is just coming, along with the weekend’s work, apologies for delay

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Re-con Jury Book

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Ive been editing the book, and writing down the main points of the thesis proposal.

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Book update

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I have gathered references of hospitals, spas, devices and suits. Art themed around pharmaceuticals and health can be the thing that drives the book to become productive, giving different perspectives on treatment. Perhaps the book can actually be a charity auction catalogue, I will think about the implications of turning the pictures in the book into objects for sale and perhaps what relation the art market can have in the storyline.

Another thing is the feature of online auction catalogues to ‘see the artwork in a room’. In most websites, this is a ‘generic’ gallery space. I would like to perhaps place the ‘artworks’ around the Novartis campus.

I grouped the information that I found, making up chapters of the book. I am now in the process of looking at the 10 categories of drugs that Novartis produces, causes of the disease they treat and how they treat them, to structure the book according to the 10 categories. Looking into treatments led to coming across many stories of people in the midst of treatment for a disease, suddenly not being able to find the exact drug to cure a particular side effect or development in their illness.

A story from the Guardian noted a shift in psychiatric care away from drugs (given that the side effects of many are far too disturbing and the cost of developing drugs that target the problem in a more isolated manner would be too expensive), towards researching brain networks and treatment with electrical impulses. The pharmaceutical approach and the ‘electrode’ (‘brain network’) are two structural approaches to cure. The patient ultimately comes up against both the structural approach to cure and the financial viability of developing particular drugs, if they develop an unpredicted side effect, or their illness takes an unpredicted turn, or the politics of pharmaceutical distribution networks mean that the appropriate drugs are either not available, overpriced or simply not prescribed (as in the case of tuberculosis medicine in Russia). Distribution networks are just as key (to cure) as scientific development or the financial sustainability of production. Novartis invest and innovates pharmaceuticals for the ‘western’ world and makes a good profit on their sale. They use some of the profits to develop drugs that work for diseases present in the ‘developing world’. These diseases are generally very different from those in the ‘developed’ world. Markets in-between the two ‘worlds’ – such as Russia – end up on the loosing side, needing the types of drugs used in the ‘developed’ world, but either not being able to afford them, or (as in the case of Russia) doing business in those countries is very difficult. And so there is a three way symbiotic relationship between the pharmaceutical companies, governments (especially since, given the size of Novartis, the only global type of entity that can influence them are governments) and patients. Taking the case of Novartis, I have an idea for a diagrammatic representation of the relationship. Perhaps rearranging that diagram to act from the perspective of Novartis, the Government and the Patient could be productive.

Another thing could be to make some 3d models of furniture look like electron micrograph scans of molecules. Will try that if I have time tonight.

I am thinking that the ‘smarter’ the book gets, the more time it takes and perhaps it would be good to shift to some ‘first hand’ production, like drawings. So to cut the book at whatever stage it is and assign less importance to it. What drawing would taken on greater importance is the issue…

P.S. the research was broad, so I still need to arrange the book tonight.

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Book under construction


Structuring the book….

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Scanning WIP

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Most of the day having been take up b PP, I’m catching up on library time to scan as many ‘healing’ architectural environments as possible. There are many direct relationships to the human body through the modernism movement and product design. Hospital … Continue reading

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Did this. Mapping the whole of novartis is pointless and they have hundreds of offices across 50+ countries. Looking to make some booklets for tomorrow in the contrasting page format to look at surface image: Furniture vs drugs, Ghery vs housing (?)…. perhaps a step towards developing the ‘skin’ idea.

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I’m mapping Novartis’s global reach. Experimented with satellite images from USGS, but didn’t work out. Ideally would like to be inspired by the work of Lewis Baltz and work with some overlays. Also putting in hot dog stands into the Basel campus.

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I am looking deeper into Novartis to find deeper rooted ‘identity’ links to its campus. Image above shows Novartis campus in the bottom right. The campus proposes to go against ‘heterotopia to the urbanity of Novartis Ville’. Taking a critical look at that in relation to university, technology and corporate campuses across the world. Other new Novartis campuses seem to be based on the concepts developed in Basel. A lot of the terminology for those is borrowed from Vitra. The then CEO of Novartis was a fan of Rolf Fehlbaum (CEO of Vitra) and got the idea for making the collection of architectural ‘marvels’ in the Basel campus from him ‘to add symbolic capital to the company’s profile’. Perhaps the argument for identity can be found in the modern ideology behind collecting art. A quote from Novartis campus brochure: “Healthcare is a dynamically changing industry driven by knowledge and innovation; in this challenging environment, we must adapt the way we work and encourage collaboration to fulfil our mission of caring and curing.

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I started deconstructing their corporate strategy and basic quotes such as the one above to understand their attitude towards innovation. One of the latest corporate moves is a divestment of a number of the branches of their business. This a strategic tactic becoming more prominent today given current market conditions. It means that companies analyse all the branches of their business and sell off (‘divest’) the most ‘hopeless’ parts of their companies. In Novartis’ case this involves the ‘animal welfare’ branch. The money received from the sale can then be invested into the most profitable parts of the company. In Novartis’ case this means consumer pharmaceuticals. I am seeing whether my theory holds up that this implies that developments in healthcare mean a wider variety of drugs are needed… implying the development of a more diverse (and hopefully ‘healthier’) approach to human healthcare…

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James Irvinebarber osgerby

If the Campus is to be a neighbourhood of Basel (as originally proposed), what principles (if any) of knowledge sharing constitute a city?

Woking environment vs company structure:

Deconstructing the Citizen Office concept to read the organisation of the working environment on the campus – which via the Citizen Office concept links to global ‘megatrends’ in economics and work culture.

Mapping the global structure of Novartis. Noting the influences on production for each of the ‘nodes’ in its branching structure.

Contemplating the link between the global structure of Novartis and the human body via the notion of ‘time’ (image below).


Researching the timeline of economic development and the work environment in pharmaceutical/science-based companies from the beginning of the 21st century. Knowledge production vs accessibility to knowledge from 2008 onwards. The Novartis “Campus of Knowledge” is designed around the idea of the internal sharing of knowledge – the idea of production through sharing. How does this relate to global trends of knowledge sharing?

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The Bata house: functional or functionalist?


This image from “Bata: Myslenky, Ciny Zivot A Prace” by A.Cekota from the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies at UCL shows a strong sense of ‘functional elegance’ in the design of a typical residential house for the workers at the Bata factory in Zlin – a language very familiar to the modernist movement of the era. Tomas Bata is said to have been unfamiliar with the architectural avant-garde at the time. Yet the resourceful use of materials and the idea of visually relating these buildings to those of the factory, meant that they made a strong impact on the then current debates in master-planning and aesthetics.

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