Archive for September, 2009

Villa Savoye Space Study

Villa Savoye space


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Place and Dwelling

Heidegger – Building Dwelling Thinking
Heidegger’s paper delves into what dwelling and building mean. He ties them together in terms of his concept of the ‘fourfold’ (earth, sky, mortals, divinity). Dwelling is more than a building that we reside in. There is a deeper connection and meaning intrinsic to its essence. Dwelling safeguards mortals, while they help to safeguard and unfold the fourfold. in this process, dwelling sets free the fourfold and allows it to become one within dwelling. This oneness of the fourfold is only possible because of the mortal being.
Buildings exist in the domain of dwelling. They form locales which gather together the fourfold. Locales then, by their nature become things, things in turn can come together to allow a site. Only something that is a locale can provide a site. These sites are buildings existing in a specific place and time and thus able to be abstracted and exist outside of the physical. These locales allow for space. Mortals are able to move through this space by their essence of thought, they can be in any number of locales simultaneously, therefore, because I know of the locale of the door I can move through the door.

The Phenomenon of Place
Norberg-Schultz takes us through his interpretation of Heidegger and others. Place is a complex entity, comprised of space and character. Space is comprised of the inside and the outside. Space is used to orient man, to delineate through building. However, place requires more than space. Character is needed as well to make a place. Character is the meaning the non-quantitative aspects of a place. We associate the character of a place to its spaces, both inside and outside, allowing us to relate to the peculiarities of the gathering at these specific locations. These spatial and character parts come together to help define the spirit of the place. To dwell we have to come to terms with this spirit of place. Boundaries help to define the structure of space in terms of its three dimensional existence. The character of these places is the atmosphere, the sensory conglomeration that brings a particular place and time together, the part of place that triggers memories and recollection of experiences. Thus bringing together dwelling and place, we find that to dwell means to gather our everyday life and our experience into a physical space that is defined in terms of its character and allows for us to feel peace and protection. Dwelling is therefore the concrete gathering of these things.

These articles reflect the old adage that home is where the heart is, that is to say that dwelling is more than simple structure or spatial delineation. There is a psychological phenomena that is inextricably linked to our concept of true dwelling. To understand dwelling we must see that there is a larger coming together of environment of outside and inside via openings or gathering.

Narrative, Event and the Production of Space

Situationist Space
The Naked City was envisioned as a reaction to the typical ordered and governed conception of urban space. The plan followed and mapped the derive through the social space of the city as opposed to the capitalist ascribed space that had been seen to usurp and overcome the traditional social space. This space the derive travels trough is a social construct and does not have set values of length and distance. This is seen as a new way of perceiving space from the eyes of the derive, seeing space while being dissociated, similar to the flaneur, but without social class or gender privileges. It attempts to recapture the myth of public space in its historical richness and purity.

The Production of Space
The Bauhaus defined a global conceptualization of space that involved the production of space. They sought to bring together forms and structures to master global space. They realized an object in space could be moved around and therefore all aspects could be considered simultaneously through temporal sequence. Through this realization a new consciousness of space evolved wherein a space could be explored by reducing an object to its planes. Facades disappeared (except in fascist design) and global space became a void waiting to be filled. The principles and theories of the Bauhaus came to be utilized to produce state architecture. Still the dichotomy of inside and outside space prevails. Also prevalent is the visual dominance of space, it must be visualized to be understood.
Reading architecture ties into language and meaning. Architecture in its structure and forms can be broken down into the texture of the architecture and thus the meaning behind that texture. Reading of architecture can only be done after it is produced, otherwise it cannot be read as it needs to be lived. Form can be used to make architecture more readable to direct the user and provide a narrative. Often the most readable products are the most deceptive. The impression of weightlessness in architecture is much sought after, due to the dominance of the visual and readable. Thinning the structure to blur the line of inside and outside space Abstract space is about geometry, optics, or visualization, and phallic representation. Geometry reduces the 3d space into two dimensional qualities. Visualization reduces the object into an image, reflecting or refuting meaning. Phallic representation is the inserting of male (political, ideological) power, dominance and violence on nature and the people. What space seems to be is not what it necessarily is, “space is illusory, and the secret of the illusion lies in the transparency”.

Discipline and the Militarization of Space

Means of Correct Training + Panopticism
Discipline is the key to exercising power over people. It is achieved through observation, normalized judgement, and examination. Observation involves everyone surveilling everyone else, making sure that they follow the rules of conduct. Everything is scrutinized and checked against the norms. Normalization of judgement records these individual differences and catalogs what is normal and therefore conforming and what is abnormal and non-conforming. It allows for a determination of levels and aptitudes. Examination combines observation and normalized judgement to determine where individuals fit int he hierarchy of things. How severe their punishment for non-conforming will be and it tracks and catalogs behaviors to create an individual history specific to each that can be used to keep people in check and force them into compliance. This panoptic system, where we are constantly observed and therefore comply to avoid discipline, guides the capitalist system of production and space. It aims to make us docile and more efficient and useful to the state. In terms of architecture it has become a mechanism with with to see and discipline the people.

Total Accident
It is the Total Accident that drives politics and warfare. They exist because of the accident and are perpetuated by new accidents. the accident starts the process of annihilation.

Endocolonization and the State as Destiny
Virilio takes us into the dark side of the state. Military driven economies. It is not the act of war but in the preparation for war that militaries take over, in doing so they stagnate civilian evolution, leading to a state run by military oversight and constant fear of reciprocity. The constant status of preparation for global war leads to execution of policing civil unrest with military might, as a show of state power. These military states are constantly posturing to outdo each other. If political leaders start to sway from this objective they are removed by military pressure. As the military grows civilian society stagnates. As the military takes over order, the capacity of societies to self regulate is taken over by multi-nationals. We live for the instant as time becomes intensive. Pure war drives itself and makes mankind obsolete as it strives to produce more and more preparations and technologies for war.

These reading certainly look at the dark side of society. I do agree that disciple pervades our society, yet whether it is good or bad depends on the situation. Having societal norms that are regulated via disciple can help to hedge off anarchy and chaos within the societal system, conversely this discipline system also ensures the self perpetuation of the power structure.
In terms of Total accident and pure war, I think that these concepts can be seen in today’s world, although there has been a slight stabilizing shift with the fall of the cold war and the rise of terrorist states and groups (although, it depends on what side you are on as to who exactly is a terrorist). The power of the hegemonic states is weakening, leading to more wars and the stretching of resources (military), perhaps leading to the ultimate annihilation via a different route, but the end remains.

Deleuzian Space

1440: The Smooth and The Striated
Striated space and smooth space are interconnected, they are constantly turning into one another. Striation, on a basic level, incorporates parallels intersecting perpendicularly, one set fixed and the other variable, as the intersections become more regular and tighter, the closer it gets to becoming smooth space, which is seen as homogeneous (even if not, as smooth space has a fundamental heterogeneity).
Smooth space is identified with the haptic whereas striated space is identified with the optic. Smooth is the local which frames the global or striated. The two concepts flux between each other and are redefined continually. The passages and combinations of striated and smooth space are the interesting areas. Forces continually striate the space while it develops its own forces to smooth the space. Again there is a constant flux.

This seems to be quite a complex idea. I can see that one space flows into the other and that that other flows back into the original, it is a circular transition as it were, directed by external and internal forces and events. Perhaps reading the related reading would help to clarify some of Deleuze’s points.

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Space and Time

Space and Power:
Architecture is concerned with space. Until recently, space has existed only inside of buildings, we now conceptualize inside and outside space.
Space is infinite, extending beyond and bounded by invisible structure or geometry. Architecture attempts to fill in and reinforce these lines. This ordering of space helps to reinforce and strengthen the relationship to the space. Space can flow, cause comfort, or uneasiness through its interplay with infinity. Modern architecture, according to the author, lacks a secure connection to the infinity of space, instead focusing on form, function, structure and materials. However, modern architecture has realized the use of light in defining and emphasizing space, this in turn has meant that modern architecture uses large amoutns of power.. Psychology and power can shape our space.
Towards a plastic architecture:
Architecture needs to start with a fresh outlook, not drawing on the past. Elements, economy, and function are key components.
architecture is formless yet defined in rectangular surfaces with no individuality. Architecture is open, functional and extends outward from the structure. Asymmetry is preferred over the symmetry and repitition that plagues historical precedents.
While I may have missed a few pages of the last reading the main ideas were still there, elemental architecture is about functionality and economy. To fulfill these needs, rectangular open plans are employed.
Space offers many opportunities and should be considered carefully in design. Elemental ideas can be incorporated as they lend themselves to a sense of purity within the structure, begin true to the materials and methods. I do not, however, believe that it is the only method of design that can allow space to permeate a structure.

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Article: D. Orr, “Architecture, Ecological Design, and Human Ecology”

Basic synopsis:
Architecture has consequences. We try to foresee these consequences, or to even bring them about. For all of the intended consequences of architecture there is also those consequences that are unintended. These unintended consequences are unforeseen and can often be quite detrimental. One area where we often only see the consequences well after the fact is ecology. In our relentless pursuit of technological progression we have raped our resources and destroyed our ecology, we have started to realize this, yet we continue in our pursuits, hoping that technology will save us from ourselves, likely this course of action will be our downfall. The main issue of the technological course of action is that it separates man from nature, assuming that man can manage or control his/her environment. The article postulates that current design is not able to cope with this schism and is therefore doomed to fail from the beginning, hence why we have the negative effects arising out of our lifestyles. Furthermore, our reliance on technology is leading us toward a loss of what makes us human, our connection to nature.
A change must occur, but what can we do and is there enough time to do it?
The answer, according to the article, is an “Ecological Design Revolution”. This revolution would seek to bring us back to nature through a deeper more consistent understanding of our connection to nature and our impact on nature. Our self-imposed separation from nature has led to our current predicament, it is time to break free and embrace ecological design. We must live with a smaller ecological footprint, designing and living in a net zero world (or as close as possible). We must learn from nature on how to work with nature, not from repeating past mistakes. Nature has survived without us for millennia, it can teach us many things if we simply stop to look at what is happening and learn to apply it in our lives and designs. This harmonization balances and encompasses more than built form, all inputs and outputs need to be considered without compromising, while simultaneously incorporating fairness and human dignity.

Similar in premise to systems theory, the article certainly elicits some very important points. Ecological design, would be beneficial, however, as the author does point out, the almighty dollar has precedence in our society, this is something that will be most challenging in the progression toward ecological responsibility. Technology certainly is relied upon to a great extent, is this eroding our humanity? Maybe, or maybe it can be incorporated within a natural world as well, I don’t believe it is one or the other. There must be a balance of technology and nature to allow us to work with nature while being efficient.

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