Archive for April, 2011


Marrakesh. From ‘Domestic Architecture of the Arab Region’.






From 'Domestic Architecture of the Arab Region"

Digital manipulation. Commissioned artwork.

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Architecture Depends by Jeremy Till Book cover

On April 08, 2011 I attended Till’s  provocative  lecture on his new book ‘Architecture Depends’. Here is a review from The Architects’ Journal (UK).

Here are some quotes from that day, from my notes, which i hope to be as faithful as possible:

The book was initially titled ‘Architecture and Contingencies’. The publisher made me change it to ‘Architecture Depends’. There are problems changing the title of a book once it is finished- and structured around a different title.

This book is a polemic. Architects detach themselves.  This detachment starts here in academia. Architecture students go in as humans and come back as architects.

Architects are separate from life. Autonomy in architecture is detachment.We witness the treatment of buildings as though they are detached objects, displayed in the media as something apart. This detachment is a dissolution.

All we got is Vitruvius: commodity, firmness, delight. Recycled through the ages!

Of all the impossible task that modernity sets for itself, order stands out. How does modernity achieve order? By exterminating ambivalence. Modernity is behind the Holocaust.

Corbu didn’t invent modernity. He was a symptom of it.

Modernity cannot get rid of contingency.

Contingency is getting rid of the idea that things may turn out differently. In architecture contingency is inevitable.

Architects would be banished by Plato.

Contingency makes us have to make choices.

Abstract vs. situated knowledge.

“All architecture is waste in transit.” Peter Guthrie

Le Courbusier tried to banish domestic inhabitation.

Parametric people are as conservative as the New Urbanists, the latter caught in an aggressive past, the former in a progressive future .

Modernity: concerned with purity, the color white…modernity is this gleaning table with this aesthetic of getting rid of dirt.

‘You don’t know how wonderful dirt is.’ James Joyce’s last words, from Gideon’s biography.

Architects ‘make space’…negative space…what does that even mean?

‘Social space is a social product’. Henri Lefebvre

The production of space is not the agency of architecture alone!

Sustainability=sustain the status quo. This word has become meaningless.

Elvis Costello and Lo-Fi architecture: I heard Elvis Costello once in an interview saying that when you record in the studio you get caught up in a certain kind of environment. He would ask to have the record played back on a cheap transistor radio, because that’s how the music is going to be experienced by most people. The same with architecture. We have to have in mind low-fi, transistor radio architecture as we stay in front of the computer, believing what we see. The more it looks real the less real it is.

Architecture cannot be about aesthetic alone: it deals with the social and ethical. It has to be alert to the context.

I don’t like to use pictures in my presentations because, as soon as I provide pictures, the argument becomes about aesthetic.

Professions set themselves apart by setting up problems they are the only ones able to solve. Professors do the same.

‘Architecture and Agency’ will be my next book.

Sensemaking vs. problemsolving.

In architecture we have created phony ethics, we have associated ethics with aesthetics, morality with beauty…God is in the detail, etc.

Doing good by doing beautiful buildings?

Professional codes of conducts are an example of phony ethics: these are not ethical guidelines, they are principles for relating to the client.

You can’t be ethical by doing beautiful buildings! You have to assume an ethical stance, a responsibility for the other. If we start thinking that every line on a piece of paper is an act of social responsibility, then every line assumes significance.

I am against ‘Anyone is Anyone’ conferences.

From the paper ‘Lost Judgement’ from the 2003 EEAA Prize by Jeremy Till – and referred to during the talk:

The Other for architects is the one or ones who will be part of the social space our buildings help construct. In this way we can be the architects Unger would wish us to be, “enabling people as individuals and as groups to express themselves by changing their situations. …(the architect) lives out his transformative vocation by assisting someone else’s.”

An ethical person is a person who gathers discordant opinions and makes the best decision. Hope is with given given circumstances. Stop investing in objects.

The next project I will do will be on scarcity. Scarcity is much more interesting to me.

Architects sold out the profession to the agency of Capitalism. In building Dubai they forgot it was going to be built by slave labor. If all you offer is commodity you have got nothing to offer. Spatial intelligence will get us away from the cul-de-sac we got ourselves into. We should be gathering contingencies and make the best possible solutions.

I like to think of architects as angels with dirty faces.







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Here is another summary of the last two lectures I attended at UC Berkeley.

I’m posting this with some delay: I took a brief respite from blogging but have accumulated lots of new art and poetry to share.

Some housekeeping is on hand (adding links, tags categories etc..), but that is for another day.

1.  CED (College of Environmental Design) Lecture Series:
Donna Erickson: Connecting Urban Open Space: Implementing Metropolitan Greenways in North American Cities

Ink on Paper. April 7, 2011.


Quote from the lecture:

Forgotten is the fact that defined space, visionary space- not open space-makes the pulse race and the place pulse.

Jane Holtz-Kay


2. Institute of Urban and Regional Development (IURD) Seminar Series: Infilling California: Tools and Strategies for Infill Development

Seminar I: Policies and Programs for Sustainable Urban Futures

  •  Joe DiStefano, Principal, Calthorpe Associates, an urban design, planning and architecture firm based in Berkeley
  • Bill Anderson, Director of the City of San Diego’s Planning & Community Investment Department
  • Megan Gibb, Manager of Portland Metro’s Transit-Oriented Development Program

Moderator: Robert Cervero, Director, IURD, and Professor of City and Regional Planning UC Berkeley

During the last, San Diego came up several times!

On Friday, April 08 I also had the pleasure of sitting in on Jeremy Till’s presentation of his book “Architecture Depends”. This was a provocative lecture to say the least, presented in a very unusual format. I will share some thoughts  from it next.

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Red Built Cargo 17" case + Incase Mac 17" Silver and blue case

Baggalini bag. 

Baggalini Black.

Baggalini Red.

This Baggalini bag is not on their catalog, but i think this checkered version would make a good addition.


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In order:
1. Golden Crochet Light , Personal Editions, Marcel Wanders, 2007.

2. Nastro bench by Gio Tirotto.

3. Wing modular system and indoor/outdoor dividers by Michael Koenig.

Click the image to be taken to the designer’s website.

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The Coffee Shop. Amina Alkandari. Ink and Watercolor. April 3, 2011.


From: Gridskipper- Maps and News for Urban Travelers


Ritual Coffee Roasters

1026 Valencia St San Francisco, CA 94110

 A San Francisco refuge for coffee-drinking hipsters,

Ritual Coffee Roasters has very little to take issue with

 – strong cups of coffee (brewing their own brand as well as …

 those of others), free wi-fi. and late-night cups of coffee.

 Wind your way through the maze of laptops and curl your hands

 around a great cup of coffee while working on that novel of yours. [link]



Double Cappuccino. Ink and watercolor. April 3, 2011.



Our table|our things. Ink and watercolor. April 3, 2011.



Factory of ideas. Amina Alkandari. Ink on paper. April 3, 2011.




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Reading Flaubert@Cafe' Flore. Ink and marker. San Francisco, March 2011.

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Book: Eros e Thanatos; sketch, ink on paper. April 2, 2011

History of Coffee


Ethiopian sheperds

discovered coffee

when they realized

their goats

began to dance.


Michelle Ramadan




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