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never giving up never surrendering

Retrospective of the Viennese group currently (hosted by WORK Gallery, near Kings Cross) inflatables capsules for two, parasitic structures, breathing devices, utopian ideas, helmets and pneumatic prostheses. It’s critique of architecture and architecture as critique.

Inner World / Innen Welt: The Projects of Haus-Rucker-Co., 1967-1992, shows archival drawings and collages, photographs, models and original ephemera spanning Haus-Rucker-Co.’s 25-year collaboration. The show marks the 20-year anniversary of Haus-Rucker-Co.’s dissolution. Haus-Rucker-Co. was founded in 1967 by Laurids Ortner, Günther Zamp Kelp and Klaus Pinter, later joined by Manfred Ortner. Already working together as Ortner & Ortner on major building commissions from the mid-1980s, Manfred and Laurids Ortner went on to develop an extensive portfolio of built projects, propelling the preoccupations of Haus-Rucker-Co. into a new realm.

Haus-Rucker-Co.’s designs for inflatable structures, prosthetic devices and interventions into public spaces were also blueprints for social change and an experiential theory of architecture. Situating itself in the transitional ground between architecture, design and action art, the group was unique in its distinctive emphasis on the perceptual realm.

Their pneumatic projects aimed to counteract apathy and passive acceptance of one’s environment by distorting the experience of public and private spaces, evoking a “feeling of foreignness”. Immersive environments, bubble and capsule forms, and mind-expanding structures for private contemplation or forging personal connections all delineate not only specific physical zones but also psychological spaces. Haus- Rucker-Co. also took a playful approach to architectural materials and strategies. Plastics—mutable, flexible, inexpensive, and with seemingly infinite potential—provided not only the material for many of their projects but also served as a model for the era’s futurist vision of a democratic and mobile lifestyle.

Inner World / Innen Welt presents a comprehensive selection of archival drawings and collages, photographs, models and ephemera spanning Haus-Rucker-Co.’s 25-year collaboration. Some of the projects on display were realised in public spaces; others remain virtual—and often fantastic—solutions for social, political or environmental concerns. Exhibited projects include Oase Nr. 7, a bubble-like personal oasis which protruded from the façade of the Museum Fridericianums during the 1972 Documenta; Gelbes Herz, a psychedelically-patterned “communications space-capsule for two people”; Rahmenbau, a giant framing mechanism contrasting urban sprawl with the natural landscape; and Cover, a temporary white inflatable casing erected over Mies van der Rohe’s 1921 Lange House in a gesture of architectural dialogue.

Inner World / Innen Welt marks the 20-year anniversary of Haus-Rucker-Co.’s dissolution with a celebration of the broad scope and conceptual density of this extraordinary group’s output. Haus-Rucker-Co. was founded in 1967 by Laurids Ortner, Günther Zamp Kelp and Klaus Pinter, later joined by Manfred Ortner. The group has exhibited internationally, including participation in Documenta 5 and 6, and was the subject of a major exhibition at Kunsthalle Wien in 1992, the year of the collective’s dissolution. Already working together as Ortner & Ortner on major building commissions from the mid-1980s, Manfred and Laurids Ortner went on to develop an extensive portfolio of built projects, propelling the preoccupations of Haus-Rucker-Co. into a new realm.

Oase Nr. 7, a personal oasis with a diameter of 8 metres protruded from the façade of the Museum Fridericianums during the 1972 Documenta.

The Mind Expander allowed two people to isolate themselves from their environment and enter in spiritual communion with each other.”The Mind Expanding Programme aimed to explore the inner world, and to improve the psychological capacity of those who took part in the individual elements, as well as those who witnessed them in some way.”

Nike was an installation for the Forum Metall Linz exhibition. The photographic replica of the headless Victory of Samothrace was projected upwards from the rood of the University of the Arts. The works sparked a debate about the work itself and the state of contemporary art. After 27 months of controversy, it was discreetly removed under the cover of the night.

The Inclined Plane was an element of temporary architecture that visually separated Vienna into two halves. The half towards the inner city was bordered by the black surface of the plane, the other half, facing away from the city, by the plane’s other, white surface.


flaneur’s flanerie: the art of getting lost

flanerie: the art if getting lost

The notion of flâneur – employed since the late 19th century to designate poets and intellectuals that critically observed people’s behavior while strolling among the crowd, and codified in the Walter Benjamin’s influential work on the Passages of Paris – is once again of central interest (in sociology, philosophy, architecture, literature, and cinema) as a tool for identifying a specific mode of travel and exploration of places, a particular type of reflective relationship with people and spaces.

Anthony Giddens, Zygmunt Bauman, Mike Featherstone, Keith Tester, Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift are only some of the contemporary thinkers who, from startlingly different vantage points, have addressed the topic of flâneurs…..to define the main characteristics of the flâneur/flâneuse (as artists or writers vagabonding and describing the urban life) in the past as well in the contemporary societies and to investigate his/her potential role …….

Today, the post-modern crisis of scientific rationality, ideology and metanarratives makes stories increasingly important in order to properly interpret society, reinforcing the links between sociology and the narrative approach…..flânerie for interpreting the urban life in the metropolitan area …..
(apologies to Nuvolati, Giampaolo
Dept. of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milan Bicocca Italy)

le flaneur

out of the bold….


via bdonline.co.uk

Andrew Melville Hall, design(ed) by James Sterling which had aged and weathered well with overgrown moss and lichen, had has survived 40 years of age after it was completed in year 1968. A bold move by Sterling to use prefabricated concrete at that time, quoting what Simon Henley of Buschow Henley Architects said,
“It deals with things I find interesting such as the culture of the institution. It’s not a pretty building, but it is heroic and dramatic.”

James Stirling and Louis Kahn was (were) Simon Henley’s mentor(s), not face to face, but through their work. He studies their plans and visits their buildings. Revisiting Andrew Melville Hall has a great influence on him, especially the psychological/communal aspect of buildings, what he like to call the anthropological — the rituals and behaviours of communal living. Like other buildings, Andrew Melville Hall have (has) had technical flaws too. It leaked and a secondary glazing have has been done to make the promenade more comfortable. But considering the time it was built,maybe it was more acceptable to just be cold or to spend more money on heating.

‘It’s a bold example of prefabricated concrete. Assembly was an industrialised process, with a crane on wheels dropping the precast wall panels into place. There are a lot of interfaces — corners, sills, small sections of flat roofs, parapets, flashings and overhangs, and lots of open joints in precast panels — so it had plenty of possible places to fail.

The jointing of the panels doesn’t just occur anywhere but where it should — in on a corner. As a result, the panels and their jointing made sense of the plan and sculptural form. And the ribbing is a way of covering imperfections in the precast panels so that the concrete has grain, like timber.

On one level, it’s very idealistic. Stirling recognised the possibility of the landscape by positioning the building right on the escarpment between the coastal plain and the plateau, then created a great mid-level promenade. He took the topology and accentuated it from four storeys to eight, and accentuated the sense of landscape.

You’re really aware of belonging to this great congregation of people. Everyone shares a view inward, of each other, and outward, to the sea. It’s about the lonely relationship with the landscape and the social one with friends — written right into the plan of the building. It deals very well with the notion of society — everyone congregates at the apex of the building and at the promenades out into the two wings.

Its visual qualities are as much about looking from it as looking at it. It’s like an optical instrument — everywhere you sit, it’s like putting on a pair of binoculars with the views. The relationship between inside and outside space has a huge impact on the experience of being in a building, and you can see that here — you can’t help but be engaged by the view.

People say it has associations with ships. Personally, I think it’s more like a monastery — both live an isolated and a communal life.
One of its biggest questions is the isolation. It doesn’t belong to the city, but to the place, the topography. It has a primordial connection with the landscape. You could interpret this removal from the town as a physical manifestation of the legitimate removal of students from the rest of society.

What’s really interesting is how it touches the ground. The battered, moss-covered base is more reminiscent of motorway engineering. I also like to think it is reminiscent of the bases of rusticated renaissance palazzos. It’s very heavy on the ground, with the strong horizontal lines and the diagonal lines in the concrete all playing against the topography.’

-Simon Henley interviewed by Pamela Buxton, bd online.

alighiero boetti….art of subbing: from idea to implementation – 17 years on

self-portrait – Alighiero Boetti

alighiero boetti. game plan: www.museoreinasofia.es/archivo/videos/2011/alighiero-boetti_en.html

hollow reminders





Doors was an enormous 10-story public art installation made from 1,000 reused doors by South Korean artist Choi Jeong-Hwa.  Choi became a public installation artist because he was unable to draw or paint, so instead he spends much of his time walking around the city discovering interesting trash and discarded objects and photographing them.

straight outa da box

outa da square

three players can be accommodated without compromising any of the original rules

chess slice anyone?

city: interruption 1.

Post-it City phenomena emphasise the reality of the urban territory as the place where distinctive uses and situations legitimately overlap, in opposition to the growing pressures to homogenise public space. In contrast to the ideals of the city as a place of consensus and consumption, temporary occupations of space reaffirm use value, reveal different needs and lacks that affect given collectives, and even promote creativity and the subjective imagination.

From another standpoint, the temporary activities that contaminate public space with numerous para-architectural artefacts enable reflection on urban experience to redirect its attention towards the minuscule, thus correcting the arrogance of traditional architecture.

Post-it city: The Other European Public Spaces 

Giovanni La Varra

The landscape of public life in the European city is changing. The public space of contemporary Europe has its own icons: it is ample, sharply defined, with raw, precious, sparkling materials, fashioned in diverse ways, with a sophisticated composition of green spaces and trees, “hard” and “soft” spaces. The successful articulation of this genre is found in the great, hyper-defined open spaces of the new European plazas, where distinctive first-class businesses move in.

Alongside such spaces are other “public space” that punctuate the urban territory. In the city center or on the edges, at the heart of the nineteenth-century tissue or in the great external zones, they compose an infinite catalogue of informal spaces, with innumerable articulations: street vendors, veritable bars on wheels that bring together young people and prostitutes, policemen and bums, at night in Milan, specially equipped vans serving as discotheques in the streets of London suburbs, the vacant lots of Berlin described by Wenders, improvised raves bringing together thousands of party-goers together in the industrial wastelands of small and mid-sized cities in the heart of Europe, scattered, spontaneous shops on the streets and squares of Belgrade during the embargo, literally occupying the urban public space whose meaning and value they transfigure.

These dynamics carry out a temporary rewriting of the urban space they fill – traditional but also provisional spaces, which are mobilized as a function of events, of the evolution of the city, of the specific individual or group initiatives, constituting a fragile and fragmentary network which filters into the tightly woven structures of urban public space. Post-It City is a functional apparatus of the contemporary city. It is particularly involved with the dynamics of public life, with the behavior of individuals, their modes of encounter, of gathering, of bonding, of recognition, and of distinction, which all leave the traditional paths behind. Equally and more radically, Post-It City is a form of resistance against virtual modes of encounter and the normalization of “public behavior” in the contemporary city – where as Ed Soja reminds us, “even if you don’t want to, you have to respect the role assigned to you.”

The Post-It metaphor actually concerns a rather narrow spectrum of urban phenomena. But traditional public space, as its representational use value changes, is obliged to take the complexity and heterogeneity of the cultural and social mutations conveyed by these phenomena into account. New collective spaces are joining the network of public places that connote the historical city, and the network of public places that punctuate the density of the contemporary city, which is characterized by a planned diffusion, an extension of relations, an attachment to communication networks. This new reality shifts the traditional dynamics of public life into new conditions. What emerges from these temporary spaces is above all non-codification. Unlike the simulated public spaces whose mechanisms of “controlled reaction” offer inhabitants, tourists and suburbanites very specific chances to meet and exchange, the Post-It spaces have no predominant codification: they are vacant lots, residual spaces around the communications systems, kinds of dikes around urbanized zones-spaces the planner’s gaze has left untouched. Their residual character, their indifference to the traditional network, their tangential position to the major flows leaves them at the fringes: on the fringes of the complex stratification of images produced by architecture and urbanism, on the fringes of the tradition of these disciplines, whose projects are closed, limited in time, precisely shaped according to contingent needs.

The second characteristic of the Post-It phenomena is that they are temporary. They unfold in a particular time-span with the presence of temporary participants. During the day, for example, it is quite impossible to recognize any sign of the night-time uses of a shopping-center parking lot. The Post-It spaces occupy a short slice of time in the sequence of a city-dweller’s day. In almost every case, it is a narrow interval of space and time that slips in between a series of hypercodified environments. Inserted between the family framework of the home and the mega-interior of the discotheque or multiplex, the teenager’s night-time meeting-place is a typical example. It is an individual reappropriation of the modes and times of collective exchange, freeing them from the particular rules of the family framework and from the invasive, normalizing rules of the “architecture of entertainment,” to rediscover individualized and intimate interpersonal relations.

Intensification is the third characteristic of Post-It City – the intensification of anonymous, unsuspected spaces and places, “no-man’s lands” which are astonishingly available for collective practices. But it is also an intensification of the signifiers fixed in the materiality of the space. Intimate, emotional places for sharing the practices of encounter, which allow themselves neither to be modeled or obstructed. Or personal and collective activities, desires, projections, which occupy spaces without any ambition to lay foundations, to root their presence, and without promoting any antagonism over the use of the space. The “unpolitical” nature of such collective practices cannot be measured by absolute demands or perspectives of radical transformation. In this respect what predominates is above all the disarming effect of Post-It City. Architectural reflection has a hard time translating the nature of these phenomena into its own terms, in order to incorporate them into a project. But Post-It City, if we broaden the meaning of the expression, definitely is the bearer of a distinct and singular project. With Post-It City we want to make an un-predetermined, temporary use of a space which is open like a public space, and subject to perpetual resignification.

Post-It City is like a thread or an invisible watermark that runs through the contemporary city. Invisible at first, the phenomena of Post-It City are not ostensible, even if their nature greatly depends on the dimensions of the territory. It is often a matter of “exposed” places where it is possible to see the city, the landscape, and the territory crossed by the flows of mobility. These places are characterized by what Stefano Boeri has called a “territorial intimacy,” which continually brings their residual nature, their marginality into a state of tension. Post-It City is also an implicit critique of the strategies and instruments that preside over the practices of architectural and urban design. The critique is “implicit” because it does not give rise to specific demands. Occupying a space which belongs to no one, doing so temporarily but repeatedly, giving it another meaning inside a small group without modifying its spatial and material nature, is not an attitude which prefigures any particular demand: for example the demand for “inhabitable space,” or any other environmental condition, or nay new services.

Post-It City rediscovers the dimension of “do it yourself,” as Colin Ward says, a dimension which is above all creative and abounds in its own proposals and reflection. This “do it yourself” denounces the hidden, spasmodic will to impose a practice of collective space, it is foreign to the preordained and preconstituted models of habitat.

But Post-It City is obviously not an anarchic phenomenon. On the contrary, it is progressive and exploratory in its adaptation to a new framework. It is an innovative form of sociality that takes place in specific places and develops partial, temporary, fleeting emotions. There is only the slightest of links between its places of aggregation and their appearances. And these links cannot be interpreted in a single way. Sometimes a tie is made between totally marginal places, constructed by superimposition, intermittence, and gradual accumulations of objects without reciprocal relations, these places can be used for encounters and exchanges of a particular “population.” A vacant lot, a strip along the edges of transportation infrastructures, a void that opens up temporarily in a zone of dense construction: chance will define it, by the sum total of stratifications (or subtractions) which, in the course of time, have produced an uncertain, undefinable result, at least in the technical terminology that habitually characterizes the city.

But at the other extreme, Post-It City also extends to places whose formal definition is completely univocal and strongly determined: this is the case of the shopping center-parking lots evoked above, which at night or on holidays become gathering points. The proximity of the major road infrastructures makes them a possible interval, a stopover on a car trip. You suddenly leave the flow, but remain in direct visual communication with it. The automobile becomes a complementary element of this temporary occupation: it marks off a space and signals a momentary presence.

Post-It City seems to stress the extremes of what formally characterizes the city today. It is above all under the conditions of maximum uncertainty and ultimate reduction that it is easiest to reveal the depth of the phenomenon. In this constellation of spaces, which continually “light up” and “go dark,” the public life of the European city seems to find the energy of regeneration.

Post-It City is one of the case studies of the USE Project. USE – Uncertain States of Europe by Stefano Boeri



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