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Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’

The summer is near and it’s time to come back…

Here a quick watercolor from two weeks ago – a day trip with my Graduate students in the Architectural and Urban History Class.

We visited the Getty Villa- a replica of a Roman House in Santa Monica, California ( replica done with some poetic and unpoetic licenses…), contained in the Silvetti Machado contemporary expansion, a poem in stone that sets the Villa in an imagined archeological dig, with strata of travertine marble and concrete to pay homage to Roma.

Architecture is poetry in stone

The days since my last post have been filled with school activities, gratitude, beauty, poetry, reading, and finally.. some sun after the May Gray and June Gloom burned off. Oh, and I’m finally getting my place to where I want to be ( thankyou Marie Kondo).

Things are ( finally ) falling into place. It’s funny but I used to produce more art– and share more poetry — when my life was more chaotic, and centeredness has meant more introspection and less output. Now I’m much more deliberate and mindful of what/when to share…

I still have to steal these moments for art ( the demands of the modern living condition!) but I realize that there will always be more work to do, and let us all stop glorifying being busy.

Art helps us being in the Now- and that is all we have…I want to do less and be more. Thank you for reading, single reader.

Do you meditate? I have been for few months…and have added short gratitude prayers, reading and alignment to start the morning right. They say if you conquer the morning you conquer the day- and if you conquer the day you conquer your life.

Some days are better than others- and this weekend I will be going to my first spiritual retreat.

It has been one good, long day.

I trust all will be shared in time.

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A Thousand Churches (Your Eyes). Graphite, Watercolor, India Ink. August 12, 2017.


Dear Single Reader,

You might have thought I had disappeared, and would be the third person in a week to ask me what happened to my sketchbloom…but I’m back for the summer.

An international conference in Hong Kong , research writing /presentations and academia have absorbed me until the end of June…not to mention that thing called life, and heart, and two moves in two months ( apartment renovation). It has been CRAZY. 

I just got back from two amazing weeks in Puebla, Mexico where I was part of ArtFest17 and went to teach at UVM (Universidad de la Valle México) a workshop called Myth of the City.  

Here you can see all the work done with my students and read about Puebla, the “Second” city – the first being of course, Mexico ( Ciudad de). It was an incredible experience, after having co-taught the course in Santa Fe, New México in 2013 and 2014. One could say I went from New Mexico to “Old” México with this.

In Puebla i was surrounded by “my people”, migente, artists, intellectuals..the bohemians and the romantics, and got back my creative juices!  Now, a new beginning…

I have lots of travel photography and new poetry to share so stick around 🙂 

Thank you for reading me and not forgetting about me ❤️ your support means everything to me, as art is and always be my first love- and the true love of my life. 

I am on an art-recovery program but I don’t know what to do about those pesky writing deadlines…#thestruggle. Life is so full, and exciting new design opportunities –like being a juror for Orchids and Onions in San Diego and a Pecha Kucha presentation on Storage Cities — keep presenting themselves. It’s accelerated, beautiful life…yet art needs the half-time of dreams.

Well, wish me good luck, there are some posts in the pipelines so I will see you soon and… work in progress as usual! 

I do hope you are having a glorious summer.

Below are some photos from lovely, lovely Puebla… two of my students’ models and the City that is home of so many incredible riches. A true treasure of humanity/ patrimonio de la humanidad. 

PS: I have been posting on Instagram but have to confess I always feeel guilty if I don’t post drawings/sketches/watercolor/collages… after all it is called Sketchbloom not Photobloom ( but you can follow me [@sketchbloom] there and it would make me so happy😊.) 




Puebla, Estado de Puebla, México:

What a magical city: Baroque churches where Tllaloc and Quetzacoatl are venerated, the fusion called Barroco Indígena ( San Francisco de Acatepec and Santa María de Tonantzintla – Barragán’s favorite church), Aztec temples and cities, 400 year old stone buildings, the tallest church towers in Mexico and the greatest covered stepped pyramid in the world ( Teocalli de Cholula)…finally the oldest public library of the Americas. Puebla is where the battle celebrated during Cinco de Mayo took place and where the Mexican Revolution started. Wow. 

Take a look…




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San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. Graphite on paper. 24"X30". August 2015.

A commissioned work in progress.
One more plen air session and lineweight application and this baby is traveling to Costa Rica.
[Gracias por la Pura Vida]
I was asked to draw something that, to me, was intrinsically San Diego.
I love this building, and Balboa Park.
This is my neighborhood, my California home.

The buildings in Balboa park were chimeras, they were not supposed to last. They were stuccoed renditions, built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition.
It was San Diego dreaming of a past it did not possess, recreating its version of Spain, a classical city of porticoes, fountains and piazzas. Balboa Park represents both a stage and utopia.

My mind knows i am looking at façade architecture, in some cases as authentic as a movie set. It also knows none of the hundreds of plants and trees in the park are native. Yet, i am seduced.  I indulge in a state ‘suspension of disbelief’, as Wordsworth  asked of his reader.
This is my Romantic ruin.

Balboa Park today enchants as a beautiful urban park, the cultural heart of San Diego with more than twenty museums, gardens, landscaped vistas and hikes through the natural canyons (and, always, street artists).

When I see the blue-tiled dome and its storied tower, emerge like a hazy dream across a bridge that translates in elegant modern forms a Roman aqueduct, i escape.

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Balboa Park, the 'Crown Jewel of San Diego'.

No. This photo was not ‘shopped. The sky really looks like this all year-round here.
And you should see the sunsets.
Don’t hate. We pay for this in other ways.

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Lapis Azules

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My next painting 🙂

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Home....

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Lei’ que San Juan, Cadiz y La Habana son la misma ciudad, pero en otros lugares

I read that San Juan, Cadiz, and Havana are all the same city, just in different places.
V.

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The sacrificial lamb- an old leather jacket already repaired twice.

The sacrificial lamb- an old leather jacket already repaired twice.

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With my pattern and leather in the Materials Lab, to trace images in Illustrator and experiment with the laser cutting process. “The object feels good if the process feels good.”

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The laser etched leather swatches. Fire drawings…scars…tattoos and cattle branding.

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Preparing for night surgical cutting, tailoring and riveting. And documenting. The whole project came about in three days (Friday to Sunday), but was months in the making (and in the thinking, and in the promising).

 

 

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The prototypes are done!

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Laying out this graphic board illustrating the process took longer than I would like to admit. In the end, it was a process of elimination…which is the secret to design, really.

 

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Exhibit time. Board layout #2 with Illustrator patterns :).

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Project fini. Ready-to-wear, custom-made temporary leather tattoos....by yours truly.

Project fini. Ready-to-wear, custom-made temporary leather tattoos….by yours truly.

 

 

Idea #13: Temporary Leather Tattoos

Experiments with recycled leather, tattoo patterns and the laser cutter in our Materials Lab for the Action/Reaction Faculty show, where students react to faculty work.

I chose to explore these tribal tattoo patterns I drew long ago and finally turn them into ‘temporary’ leather tattoos – since an actual tribal armband tattoo is out of the question (#italianmother).

In the process, I learned how to make leather-on-leather tattoos, used the laser cutter for the first time, hand-cut till my hands were sore, learned how to put rivets, and was taught about vector lines and patterns in lllustrator by my wonderful, patient students.
Thanks to student feedback/critique (which was extremely positive about the artifacts :)) the board could use one more ‘pass’ as far as fonts and background, but I wanted to post this now, as the show is coming to a close.

While researching case studies, I was astonished by the amount of cool accessories, arm bands and earrings made with recycled bike tires and inner tubes.

Etsy, here I come.

 

Here are some photos from the Action|Reaction opening, by Donn Angel Perez, the curator of the show (and author of the beautiful paintings shown), along with student Chuck Wilson

For the opening- in keeping with the recycled/sustainable theme, and to save time 😉 – I projected my board.

 

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littlescreenshot <<<and this, this little guy on my desktop just makes me happy.

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You have to keep breaking your heart
until it opens.
Rumi

Without the use of a camera Portland-based artist Jim Kazanjian sifts through a library of some 25,000 images from which he carefully selects the perfect elements to digitally assemble mysterious buildings born from the mind of an architect gone mad. While the architectural and organic pieces seem wildly random and out of place, Kazanjian brings just enough cohesion to each structure to suggest a fictional purpose or story that begs to be told.
Reblogged from here.

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Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

I am posting the first of a series of samples of student work from the exhibit  History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis Through Visual Notes. Moving chronologically, today we start with the Beginnings of Architecture.  This body work was completed for the Graduate History of Architecture sequence, comprising of three courses, which i taught during the 2011-2012 school year.

I will also post some photos from the Exhibit.

These visual notes are by Jackie McDowell.

Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

And here is the  paper abstract summarizing the project objectives and research purpose.  The full paper will be presented and published next Spring. 

History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis Through Visual Notes

Miti Aiello, Full-Time Faculty

NewSchool of Architecture and Design, San Diego, California

The need to update and make relevant the study of History of Architecture in an evolving profession and academic environment has never been more urgent: our discipline demands not only an expanded scope (mandatory inclusion of global or ‘non-western’ traditions and architecture of the vernacular), but new methods of delivery and course projects that are interdisciplinary, that bridge the divide between studio courses and history and that educate the young practitioner in reading history utilizing the same
methods learned in design practice.

Spiro Kostof, the legendary UC Berkeley architectural historian, advocated giving students “something tangible to carry away to the drafting table”.

It is possible to adopt an educational methodology that questions monumental architecture of the past and the traditional, vernacular “architecture without architects” in the same way as students approach a design problem in studio. Hans Morgenthaler’s “Chronology versus System: Unleashing the Creative Potential of Architectural History” – which served as this paper’s catalyst- denounced the inadequacy of relying on the chronological organization of history and suggested designing the History course as a series of design problems or buildings/events, illustrated through architectural drawings (the language of our profession) and not photos. History of Architecture instructors are encouraged to “occupy themselves simultaneously with the study of the past, with critique, and with invention”.

The argument for learning history through drawing, in this case in the form of student-generated visual notes based on textbook reading is related to the ‘invention’ mentioned above and supported by Morgenthaler: “This approach derives from the understanding that a drawing is capable of communicating information about buildings impossible through other means. In addition, as a subjective record, drawings could become part of the history of ideas, as opposed to photographs, which are only evidence. Moreover, drawings express the “belief in architectural precedent and typology which gave relevance to history.” Rachael McCann in her “Exploding the History Survey” also introduced ‘graphic summary pages’ as active inquiry in her course at Mississippi State University, breaking down her large lecture course in smaller sections which would investigate a question brought forth by a particular building, through visual analysis. It is clear that History of Architecture lecturers are seeking novel, more critical models to articulate the course, and better narrate “a story of architecture”.

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‘Habana is very much like a rose,’ said Fico Fellove in the movie The Lost City,

‘it has petals and it has thorns…so it depends on how you grab it.

But in the end it always grabs you.’


“One of the most beautiful cities in the world. You see it with your heart.”

Enrique Nunez Del Valle, Paladar Owner

Habana’s real essence is so difficult to pin down. Plenty of writers have had a try, though; Cuban intellectual Alejo Carpentier nicknamed Habana the ‘city of columns,’ Federico Llorca declared that he had spent the best days of his life there and Graham Greene concluded that Habana was a city where ‘anything was possible.’

ARCHITECTURE

Habana is, without doubt, one of the most attractive and architecturally diverse cities in the world. Shaped by a colorful colonial history  and embellished by myriad foreign influences from as far afield as Italy and Morocco, the Cuban capital gracefully combines Mudéjar, baroque, neoclassical, art nouveau, art deco and modernist architectural styles into a visually striking whole.

But it’s not all sweeping vistas and tree-lined boulevards. Habana doesn’t have the architectural uniformity of Paris or the instant knock-out appeal of Rome. Indeed, two decades of economic austerity has meant many of the city’s finest buildings have been left to festering an advanced state of dilapidation. Furthermore, attempting to classify Habana’s houses,palaces, churches and forts as a single architectural entity is extremely difficult.

Cuban building – rather like its music – is unusually diverse. Blending Spanish colonial with French belle epoque, and Italian Renaissance with Gaudi-esque art nouveau, the over-riding picture is often one of eclecticism run wild.

Brendan Sainsbury


















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Click to see my architectural shoots over at ArchistDesign | Studio. All projects by Architectural Concepts in San Diego, CA.


Apparently this is my year. The year of the Water Dragon.
I am happy to say, I am finally completing my architecture website.

This other digital studio has been on the back burner for about a year , but it looks like 2012 is the antithesis of  procrastination.

A year that quickens…like a strong sun that vanquishes the fog.

I have added some photography work for my friend and mentor Margit Whitlock at Architectural Concepts. Photographing these well-executed design projects was a joy.

Still few portfolio items to add to the site (and three new projects on the boards!)
Will keep posting updates as they happen, and hope to finish in few weeks.


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Crocheting Cathedrals. Il Duomo with parasitic architecture (stage for New Year's festivities). Ink and watercolor on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Aperol and Spritz. Most of the older ladies in my neighborhood are incredibly fashionable, decked in the latest trend winter coat. Here's two enjoying a mildly alcoholic aperitivo at 11 AM. Ink on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Santa Maria Presso San Satiro. The obligatory pilgrimage to the second Bramante's church. Last year I drew Santa Maria Delle Grazie, which is near to my place. I am always amazed by the playfulness and modernity of the oculi (round windows) on the Northern Romanesque facade. I found out that the space in front of the church is called 'Largo Jorge Luis Borges'. Can it get better than this?
Ink on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Window of the Pio Albergo Trivulzio. In an act of Flanerie, I got lost trying to reach the Roseto, and found these whimsical, almost Gaudi-like windows on a palazzo I had not seen since my childhood, painted in the typical warm 'Milanese Yellow' (think saffron rice and add a patina of melancholy, smog and time). Ink on hand.book paper. January 1, 2012.

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Today I want to stray from the visual and go back to words (even though visual work is piling up by the scanner, waiting to be shared.)

The visual permeates every aspect of a designer/artist life…it is the expected outcome: something that all can see. Here in sketchbloom I share works and progress/process in form of JPEG images, pixels on the screen. Even my words are translated as pixels and a visual experience as I type. To truly appreciate words one needs to go back to audio, in a dark room, eyes closed, and listen to the sound…absorb its meaning. Listen to the words, embrace their message, intensity. In the visual world we hear people’s voices translated into impersonal pixels (emails, texts and, for those who partake, chats). The visual has become an acid which burns the eyes, making it challenging to sit still with a (pictureless) theory book, so dependent on visual candy have we become. The world of ideas, that I am so incredibly fortunate to inhabit as a profession, is threatened by the constant stimula and incessant buzzing of the digital revolution, which rides on the visual. The digital revolution that was supposed to connect us all (and it does, superficially) but in reality has made us feel alone in a different, emptier way. The comfort that one gets from the words of an author, from a book with paper and weight, is to me the comfort of flamenco guitar music on an analog cassette tape. Billie Holliday on a scratchy record, as opposed to the robotic voice of online text.

So today I just want to turn off and just listen- going back to dear words, words that imagine Bruce Mau reading to me, and to you.

  • Allow events to change you.
    You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
  • Forget about good.
    Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
  • Process is more important than outcome.
    When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
  • Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
    Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
  • Go deep.
    The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
  • Capture accidents.
    The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.
  • Study.
    A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.
  • Drift.
    Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.
  • Begin anywhere.
    John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.
  • Everyone is a leader.
    Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
  • Harvest ideas.
    Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
  • Keep moving.
    The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
  • Slow down.
    Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
  • Don’t be cool.
    Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
  • Ask stupid questions.
    Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.
  • Collaborate.
    The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.
  • ____________________.
    Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
  • Stay up late.
    Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
  • Work the metaphor.
    Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
  • Be careful to take risks.
    Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
  • Repeat yourself.
    If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.
  • Make your own tools.
    Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
  • Stand on someone’s shoulders.
    You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
  • Avoid software.
    The problem with software is that everyone has it.
  • Don’t clean your desk.
    You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
  • Don’t enter awards competitions.
    Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
  • Read only left-hand pages.
    Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”
  • Make new words.
    Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
  • Think with your mind.
    Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.
  • Organization = Liberty.
    Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’
  • Don’t borrow money.
    Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
  • Listen carefully.
    Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
  • Take field trips.
    The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.
  • Make mistakes faster.
    This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
  • Imitate.
    Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.
  • Scat.
    When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.
  • Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
  • Explore the other edge.
    Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.
  • Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
    Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.
  • Avoid fields.
    Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.
  • Laugh.
    People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.
  • Remember.
    Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.
  • Power to the people.
    Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

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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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The Flâneur: A Radical-Chic Icon

The Flâneur. Ink on trace paper. February 26, 2011

The Flâneur and his turtle in the streets of Paris. Digital collage. February 26, 2011. Background photo from San Francisco’s artist David Blumin. Click for his website.



Then I heard the phrase ‘Walk with a turtle’ on NPR, during an interview with Council of Dads’ author Bruce Feiler–and had an epiphany: I, too, had been a flâneuse in my early years. When I was 9 years old I used to tie a red ribbon to the shell of my turtle Stefania/Stefano (we are still not sure) and take her for ‘walks’ around my building and in the field of olive trees nearby. This cannot just be explained by mere coincidence or a sense of equanimity (i would take my giant schnautzer Zorro for walks- or rather, he would take me- and treated Stefania/Stefano to the same). By walking the city (ok , in my case the field of olive trees) at the pace of a tortoise, we are bound to pay attention to life around us, to read the city–not just skim it from the wheel of our car or glancing up from smartphones while we traverse sidewalks. Having a turtle as a guide nudges us to stop rushing. I am reminded of the buddhist monk in the documentary ‘Baraka’, slowly pacing the street with small steps , at the sound of a bell–in the midst of a hyperactive Japanese metropolis. The realization of possible multi-layered readings on the figure of the flaneur prompted a small research.

Historical evidence of The Flâneur? Or just man waiting for his wife? Undated image from: storify.com/virtualdavis/flaneur

The  Flâneur

The term comes from ‘flâner’, which means to stroll in French. From this verb Baudelaire coined the word  flâneur, a person who walks the city in order to experience it.  The flâneur is driven  by an  insatiable  hunger  for  passion; he  seeks  the  streets and  the  city  life  for they  provide  inspiration  and  cure him of the malaise and loneliness  of  being human. He practices mindfulness, or conscious dilly-dallying. In US they would call him a ‘loiterer’, surely shoo him away…or perhaps fine or even jail him (I always tell my students there is no such thing as the word ‘loitering’ in Italian….what else would we do in Piazzas!?). My friend Bruce and I were discussing the flâneur few days ago and he reminded me of  the symbology of the turtle and this quote from Rumi:

The soul needs as much time to wander as the feet.

Rumi

 

Baudelaire writes of the flâneur:

 The  crowd  is  his  element,  as  the  air  is  that  of  birds  and  water  of  fishes.

 His  passion  and passionate  spectator,  it  is  an  immense  joy  to  set  up  house  in  the  heart  of  the  multitude, amid  the  ebb  and  flow  of  movement,  in  the  midst  of  the  fugitive  and  the  infinite.

To  be away  from  home  and  yet  to  feel  oneself  everywhere  at  home;  to  see  the  world,  to  be  at the  centre  of  the  world,  and  yet  to  remain  hidden  from  the  world

impartial  natures which  the  tongue  can  but  clumsily  define.  The  spectator  is  a  prince  who  everywhere  rejoices  in  his  incognito.  The  lover  of  life  makes  the  whole  world  his  family,  just  like  the lover  of  the  fair  sex  who  builds  up  his  family  from  all  the  beautiful  women  that  he  has ever  found,  or  that  are  or  are  not  -­‐  to  be  found;  or  the  lover  of  pictures  who  lives  in  a magical  society  of  dreams  painted  on  canvas.

 

A Process of Navigating Erudition

From Wikipedia: Flâneur is not limited to someone committing the physical act of peripatetic stroll in the Baudelairian sense, but can also include a “complete philosophical way of living and thinking”, and a process of navigating erudition as described by Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s essay on “Why I Walk” in the second edition of The Black Swan (2010).  A Sunday Time review called The Black Swan  one of the twelve most influential books since WWII.

Benjamin  in his Arcades further describes the flâneur utilizes the city,  which becomes an  extension of  his residence:

The   street   becomes   a   dwelling   for   the   flâneur;   he   is   as   much   at   home   among   the facades  of  houses  as  a  citizen  is  in  his  four  walls.  To  him  the  shiny,  enameled  signs  of businesses  are  at  least  as  good  a  wall  ornament  as  an  oil  painting  is  to  the  bourgeois  in his  salon.  The  walls  are  the  desk  against  which  he  presses  his  notebooks;  news-­‐stands are  his  libraries  and  the  terraces  of  cafés  are  the  balconies  from  which  he  looks  down on  his  household  after  his  work  is  done.


Some of the questions I have been thinking about are : Can the flâneur be a flâneuse? Must he or she always haunt the city aloof and alone, or is ‘Flâneurie’ an activity that can be enjoyed in small groups, maybe of separate actors, each with his or her own turtle?

The flâneur is enjoying immense popularity on the Internet and blogosphere, among the hipster and (pseudo)intellectual crowd.  He is radical chic, a gentleman stroller whose eccentricity is afforded to him by indipendent wealth. He is a man of leisure who can make a statement about the bondage of work and busyiness: he is above it and does not need it.
On the other side of the coin, we might re-evaluate the ‘homeless’ people, the figure of the clochard (sounds better in French doesn’t it) as flâneurs without means, but with the same intellect and intent.  They also make the city their living room and library.

In “American Flaneur: The Cosmic Physiognomy of Edgar Allan Poe“, James V. Werner describes how ‘ highly self-aware, and to a certain degree flamboyant and theatrical, dandies of the mid-nineteenth century created scenes through outrageous acts like walking turtles on leashes down the streets of Paris. Such acts exemplify a flâneur’s active participation in and fascination with street life while displaying a critical attitude towards the uniformity, speed, and anonymity of modern life in the city.’

Hmm…Sounds like The Situationists.

A new interpretation of the activities of the flâneur appear in the writings of Guy Debord, the dérive also being a protest against the processes of consumption and capitalism:

One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.

–Guy Debord

While the flaneurs practiced ‘aimless wandering’, the Situationists devised processes to purposefully get lost.

There is no English equivalent for the French word flâneur. Cassell’s dictionary defines flâneur as a stroller, saunterer, drifter but none of these terms seems quite accurate. There is no English equivalent for the term, just as there is no Anglo-Saxon counterpart of that essentially Gallic individual, the deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency, who, being French and therefore frugal, wastes nothinincluding his time which he spends with the leisurely discrimination of a gourmet, savoring the multiple flavors of his city.

Cornelia Otis Skinner.

Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals, 1962

Watching is the chosen pleasure of flâneur. He is an ‘urban stalker’, as Susan Sontag defines him in her 1977 essay On Photography.  Modern flâneurs, let’s arm ourselves with cameras or a moleskine . Let’s pretend we are all ‘The Sartorialist’ and many, many other envoys on particular missions. Would you enjoy the streets of your city if you thought you were spying on someone, an urban detective, privy to secrets no-one else can know? What would the intelligence gathered from today? What stories could you tell(or draw)? What stories would the city reveal to you. There is so much life out there. And buildings are lessons.

Let the urban voyeurism begin.
Here are some useful links:

And, finally, my very own books for Parisian flanerie.

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John Hejduk. Sketch from Lake Baikal, part of the Vladivostok oeuvre

John Hejduk. Sketch from Lake Baikal, part of the Vladivostok oeuvre

John Hejduk. Sketch from Lake Baikal, part of the Vladivostok oeuvre

John Hejduk has been called one of the most influential architects and educators of our time..
He was also a poet, an artist and the Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of the uber-prestigious Cooper Union in New York.

I am reviewing couple of his books, Vladivostok and The Mask of Medusa and thought I would share some of the ear-cornered pages.  Like Marco Polo, John Hedjuk’s travels start from Venice. Some of you may know my mother is from the Venice region, Treviso to be precise, and it was endearing to find the Serenissima in this book, a fascinating fusion of East and West, and even Milano, my birthplace. From the foreword:

 

The journey I have been on for the past ten years followed an eastern route starting at Venice, then moving north to Berlin through Prague, then northeast to Riga, from Riga Eastward to Lake Baikal and then on to Vladivostok. This has been, and is, a long journey.

Bodies of water mark the trek. Venice of the Adriatic, the lagoons, the Venetian canals, the river Vitava of Prague with its echoes of Rilke and Kafka, the waterways of Berlin, the Gulf of Riga, Lake Baikal, and the Sea of japan in Valdivostok. The elements giving off their particular atmospheres, and sounds, impregnate my soul with the spirit of place, place actual…place imagined.

The works from this journey are named and form trilogies.

In Venice;

The Cemetery of Ashes of Thought                                                                                                                                  

The Silent Wtnesses and

The 13 Watchtowers of Cannaregio

In Berlin;

Berlin Masque

Victims, and Berlin Night

In Russia;

Riga,

Lake Baikal, and

Vladivostok

[  ]

I state the above to indicate the nature of a practice.

[ ]

I have established a repertoire of objects/subjects, and this troupe accompanies me from city to city, from place to place, to cities I have been to and to cities I have not visited.  The cast presents itself to a city and its inhabitants. Some of the objects are buit and remain in the city; some are built for a time, then are dismantled and disappear;some are built, dismantled and move on to another city where they are reconstructed.

I believe that this method/practice is a new way of approaching the architecture of a city and of giving proper respect to a city’s inhabitants.

It confronts a pathology head-on

John Hejduk, 1989 

Hejduk’s work is provocative, political, polyedric. Read Errand, Detour, and the Wilderness Urbanism of John Hejduk, part of  Paroles d’Architects, an excellent collection of writings on architecture.

Also Sorkin on the Mask of Medusa, in Exquisite Corpse: Writing on Buildings.

Reading this book, at the nexus between literature and architecture reminds me of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. One of the future anterior projects: to illustrate Calvino’s cities. But it’s been done.

Cultural Minister

The Minister of Culture reads the works of Hawthorne, Flaubert and Hardy.What impresses him is the extraordinary love of women by these authors. Somehow the three writers are related through the strenght of Zanobia,Madame Bovary, and Batsheba. The Minister of Culture is aware of their seductions. He imagines, fabricates, and sews the dresses they had worn. He folds each garment and places it in an oblong box and waits for sundown. He precisely selects his victim, follows her, commits his crime, redresses herin the dress from the box, and places the body at the edge of the water. At Dawn he reads from the appropriate passages in a trembling voice.

 

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Norman Foster interviewed by Charlie Rose.

Charlie Rose interviews Norman Foster. Click to watch.

Architecture as a spiritual experience, architecture as a [moving] container for art in Foster’s Sperone Westwater Art Gallery in the Bowery, NYC, architecture concerned with light and genius loci. It is beautiful to watch Foster’s hands accompany his  slow, eloquent, deliberate answers–there is poetry there.  The documentary ‘ How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?” is introduced, named after a question posed by Buckminster Fuller, whom Foster collaborated with from 1968 until Fuller’s death, in 1983.

I have to thank my friend Lamees for sharing this. What a gift.

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Made on Illustrator and Mac

My second board for the faculty display wall. I now have a list of new art to add to my portfolio tabs, as this was a great opportunity to curate my artwork.

It feels great to be done (for now). Happy Halloween!

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Steel frame poetry. Click for more info ore read below.

Choi+Shine, a Massachusetts-based design studio has recently received the Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture Award for their creative concept Land of Giants™, transforming the generic steel-framed electricity pylons across the Icelandic landscape into unique, individual humanised forms.

Read the World Architecture News article here.

In contrast to the poetry of the unbuilt, and whenever I see vision in design and architecture, there are the missed opportunities of the city around me. In my History of Architecture class I like to tell students that Architecture is built politics. By this I mean that the architecture of the civilizations we study, even the built environment around us, is the embodiment of a people’s values, belief system, socio-economic conditions (or agendas). Architecture can literally be considered ‘the body politik’.
During a recent conversation with a colleague the meaning of absence came up, that is, the absence of benches or piazzas in downtown San Diego. America’s Finest City enjoys the perfect temperate weather, is gifted with a beautiful natural setting, and yet its downtown does not invite enjoyment, people watching, outside of commercial establishment. This is a city that is, peculiarly, not urban at all, but fragmented, servile to cars, at times alienating. In the heart of its historical quarter, the Gaslamp, the city does not yield; no place to sit and pause to take it in.

There could be such place: Horton Plaza.

Downtown San Diego. Horton Plaza is in the 'Core'. Balboa Park is visible on the upper right corner. from onlinesandiegohomes.com

Horton Plaza/Fountain Side is a potential piazza whose use is twarthed by the deliberate use of ‘discomfort’ tactics: rough landscaping and the absence of benches, or seating at human-being level. I see tourists crouching down on curb edges everytime I walk by. There is a plan by the CCDC to ‘reenvision” the public park to make it more attractive‘.

Horton Plaza, facing the U.S Grant Hotel. San Diego, 1910. Fountain and plaza design by Irving Gill, who proposed four tiled walks (the city approved two, not tiled). Notice the cordoned-off lawn, and the absence of benches, even back then. sandiegodailyphoto.blogspot.com

Horton Plaza before 2008, with fountain still operable. It is flanked by a mall by the same name ( I love when malls appropriate the names of public space they displace, names such as 'Plaza', 'Avenues', 'Boulevard' etc.). Tall, unattractive plantings and no benches make the use of this piazza impossible. From http://sdhs1960.org/photos/yesterdaytoday.html. Adding ugliness to infamy, the fountain has remained fenced and inoperable for two years with no immediate plans for restoration. From signonsandiego.com

Horton Plaza/’Farmer Market’ Side is an open space eager to be a piazza, yet at the stage of ‘Piazza. Interrupted’. Why? The absence of seating, appropriate lighting, or a focal point in this location (a fountain? a modern sculpture?) renders this an open space to be traversed as quickly as possible, day or night, where spontaneous gathering is not encouraged (except for the commercially-viable weekly Farmers’ Market half-days or the inescapable ritual of the holiday ice-rink).

Horton Square, between the Horton Plaza Mall and the NBC building in Downtown San Diego. From shindohd@ flickr.com.

But Horton Square has potential, at least it’ s not a permanently-in-shade, unusable ‘public space’ such as those found among high-rises in financial districts nation-wide. You know what I’m talking about.

Wells Fargo 'Plaza', Financial district, San Diego. from frwl @ flickr.com.

Upon reading ‘ Why Public Spaces Fail’, it seems like San Diego has used this article as a blueprint to eschew its public responsibility and alienate the public sphere.
Of course anytime public space is brought up, the issue of the homeless is dragged out like a decaying corpse from the cellar, to once more make an appereance in trite arguments. The refrain goes ‘ We cannot have any public space in San Diego because of the homeless’. Meaning, if you build it, they (the homeless) will come. And we can’t have that. It’s as if the city, to paraphrase Ani di Franco’s words, instead of curing the disease, is bent on suppressing any evidence of the symptoms.
Of course we have the public, but touristy, Seaport Village and our cultural, manicured, Balboa Park. Both are not integrated with the urban fabric of downtown San Diego, that is they are destinations, not generators (can I say incubators?) of urban moments within the streets/flow of the city.
Balboa Parkis a wonderful (or maybe just pretty, depends on the days and my mood) public space, also designed by Irvin Gill,  and yet it is a place apart, an idyllic, bucolic, museum-filled oasis . I have not tried to go there at night, but I suspect that, in addition to dangerous, the park closes at night (like most American parks, something that doesn’t happen for public spaces in Europe). There are no night activities encouraged in Balboa, except for going to eat at The Prado restaurant, which stops serving food around ten. This could also says something about San Diego early bird ethic, and limited vision when it comes to cultural events. Balboa Park could be made an integral part of Downtown by better, more frequent transportation and by its transformation into a cultural hub, with stores and museums open at night. There are already good news: the main plaza of the park, originally designed as a public space and made in recent decades into an ugly valet parking lot is to be restored to its original use (!!). San Diego will finally have a true piazza (hopefully with seating opportunities) and I for one plan to go there sketching as often as possible.

The lack of piazzas or urban public spaces is not of course a San Diego phenomenon, or a Southern Californian one, but a North-American one. Why criminalize the act of spontaneous gathering, why call it ‘loitering’? We do not have this word in the Italian language, not with the negative connotation. What else but healthy loitering and thinking is done in piazzas in Italy? We can speculate, get political, be conspiracy theorists. We could talk about the privatization of public space. We could wax poetic about missing piazzas and the public consciousness of European cities.

Or we could-maybe- all agree on the beauty of (un)built poetry.

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Toolenburg- Zuid. Steven Holl

All images are from a research project completed by my student, Mariam Thomas, on Architects as Artists and their rendering/design techniques.

The relationship between architecture and art, and the study of practitioners who are also artists (with the mindframe of artists), whose design process transcends design practices and pragmatism to include enlightment, discoveries and art- wonderings is of immense interest to me. Not only because I come from Italy , where the greatest architects of ‘our’ Rinascimento where first and foremost artists, but because I believe Architecture (with the capital A) is meant to embody Art and , in the best cases, become visual poetry (or frozen music). The relationship between the word and the built, i.e, literature and architecture, and architects/artists who are poets and writers…all these are dynamics that not only fascinate me, but give me hope and recharge me. I would love to one day explore these themes through one of more courses.

It’s fantastic to see the relationship between Steven Holl’s initial sketches and watercolors and his buildings, which preserve intact the spirit of their inception. I saw one of his works on the water in Amsterdam: it was similar to an e. e cummings poem, minimal and undeniable.

The line is so thin between his grayscale watercolors (an obsession of mine lately) and his white-grey walls. Holl’s book ‘Written on Water’ is one of my favorite books in our library, I steal it often.

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful. I need to complete some collages soon, semi-architectural, archigram-style.

I have only been collecting ‘collage material’ for eight years. I hold on to fragments that could one day be part of a piece, it is time to justify these attachments.

I can hear the words in my future memoir:

At the end of the aughts, beginning of the twenties, there was no work. We were all doing collages….they were beautiful. We had time to think, sometimes not, but we still had books, and paper, and ink.

 

Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum(1992-1998). Steven Holl

Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum(1992-1998). Steven Holl.

Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture (2002-2009). Steven Holl.

Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture (2002-2009). Steven Holl.

Knut Hamsen Museum (1994-2009). Steven Holl.

Knut Hamsen Museum (1994-2009). Steven Holl.

Knut Hamsen Museum (1994-2009). Steven Holl.

Chapel of St. Ignatius (1994-1997). Steven Holl

Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999-2002). Steven Holl.

Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CAD drawing. (1999-2002). Steven Holl.

Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999-2002). Steven Holl.

Toolenburg- Zuid. Steven Holl

Toolenburg- Zuid. Steven Holl

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The measure of a good book is its ability to haunt us. I have been delinquent; the past few days’ in-between moments, usually dedicated to art and this blog, stolen away by a classic charmer of a book, Jane Eyre.

Yet I have been thinking, almost pining, for another book –and the time and the place of its reading. This particular story begun for me on a train to Nice, on my way to Provence, during a fall where everything changed.
A  book, unlike anything read online, is forever tied to its place of discovery and unfolding. This alone speaks to the mindfulness of reading books.

The images, feelings before words, that keep coming back to me like a calling are from an exquisite, excruciating novel by Marguerite Dumas (of ‘The Lover’ fame- if you have not read the book or watched the movie, you are in for a ride) called, simply, Blue Eyes, Black Hair. In Italian though, it does sound better, more poetic, and less like a description of a convicted felon: Occhi blu, Capelli Neri.

The story, and premise of the book are meant to be forgotten, but not the feeling, the soul state (stato d’anima). The book is filled by silent presences and vocal absences; the words, the dialogues take place in the mind of the two main characters, but alas, they are never uttered.

Occhi Blu, Capelli Neri is about longing, isolation, deprivation and a love/passion/dependence that is meant to be measured out and sipped slowly (the italian word I am thinking of is centellinare); each moment, each degree of ‘closeness’, each kindness, must be begged for. The object of this liason is the breaking down of any vestige of pride till all is left is naked, raw need.

At least this is my interpretation of the book: while I do not remember all the particulars, I see ‘shots’ of the book as if, in reading it, I was already seeing the movie. If this ever became a film, it would be one of those French movies where the waiting replaces the action, where the climax is anticlimatic but intense. It would be a difficult, anxious, art house  movie that would no doubt not work for the majority of the moviegoing audience in this country (hard to eat popcorn to this, Eddie Izzard docet). But it would be a poignant, bittersweet movie that would leave a beautiful lingering sadness. Well, beautiful if you happen to believe that there is something arresting about sadness.

I read this review of the book, and have translated some sentences from the original Italian. I found the words used to describe the book intoxicating. Is it possible to get drunk on prose?

I enjoyed the nod to Dumas’ architectural awareness, I enjoyed finding in this essay a communion of feeling for the book, which became for me a shared human experience. It is surprisingly comforting to discover that I am not alone in the feelings elicited by this strange novel, and that there are people walking about, being haunted by the same imagery, poetry, longing.

 I owe this post to St Loup, a literary inspiration. Thank you, flâneur . And to these word I accompany some grayscale objects from my life, some recent watercolors (wanting chiaroscuro).

Here are some excerpts from the excellent review of Occhi Blu, Capelli Neri {Blue Eyes, Black Hair} by millenovecentosettantatre on ciao.it.

..Libro d’arte. Espressione vera di capacità e sensibilità, oscillanti tra le tre stoffe di prima. Una pièce, più che un romanzo

Arthouse book. True expression of ability and sensitivity, fluctuating between the swaths of fabric aforementioned. A pièce , rather than a novel.

Una concentrazione di parole fluide e belle, strutturate con la parola del narratore ad interferire e le intenzioni espresse a chiarire, spiegare, provocare.

A concentration of words, beautiful and fluid, structured with the narrator’s voice to interfere, and expressed intentions to clarify, explain, provoke.

Finta sceneggiatura di qualcosa, tra teatro e recitazione astratta e pensata con personaggi predefiniti, semplici nelle iconografie, fortissimi, tremendi, assurdamente complessi nelle logiche individuali.

Fake scenography of a something, between theatre or abstract acting with predefined characters in mind, simple in their iconographies, powerful, tremendous, absurdly complex in their individual logic.

L’amore è il Nuovo Romanzo francese, di cui l’autrice è figlia legittima. Quella struttura che in Alain Robbe-Grillet vede il fautore della nuova comunicazione scritta, che passa negli oggetti, nelle fantasie degli oggetti, nelle descrizioni paranoiche e reiterate, nell’immobilità e arriva al marchio finale, provato anche dal lettore alla chiusura del libro.

Love is the New French Novel, and the author is its legitimate daughter. That structure which, in Alain Robbe-Grillet witnesses the proponent of the new written communication, which traverses objects, fantasies of objects, paranoid, reiterated descriptions, stillness, and reaches the final stage, the selfsame felt by the reader at the closing of the book.

E’ l’amore mio per esso e per quel senso di configurazione deciso che prescinde dalla trama del racconto per lasciare un’orma, un’impronta, come se il libro fosse un album di foto personali, che non si riapre più ma che impolvera nel diritto di essere stato e avere dato.

It is the love I have for [this book] and for that impression of deliberate configuration which transcends the plot of the novel and leaves a footprint, a fingerprint, as if the book was an album of personal photos, which is meant to be open no more, yet gets covered in dust with the right of having been, and having given.

Località di mare. Non è nuova l’Autrice a parlarne. Spazia dall’Indocina alla cittadina francese dal mare freddo e bianco, tra architetture nate apposta per essere fuori stagione e spiagge testimoni di passeggiate silenti.

Seaside resort. Nothing new to the author. She ranges from Indochine to the French town endowed by a white,cold sea, to architectures born to be out-of-season, and beaches witness of silent walks.

Pareti, finestre, pensieri, silenzi, pensieri mentre l’altro o l’altra dorme. Nuovo romanzo puro. Silenzi. Dovrebbe essere pieno di pagine bianche, un libro come questo. Ne rimango sempre tramortito. Sempre.

Walls, windows, thoughts,silences, thoughts while the other (woman or man) sleeps. A New pure Novel. Silences. A book like this should be full of blank pages. I always end up stunned. Always.

Le pagine scorrono mentre montano le storie. Il distacco iniziale si fonde in una miscela densa che prende corpo e dona il sapore della trama, senza in realtà che ci sia mai stata.

The pages run as the stories mount. The initial detachment coalesce into a thick mixture which takes form and lends the  flavour of a plot, without a plot actually ever having been there.

Grande la Duras, in questo. Il romanzo corre via e sembra accompagnato da una musica di piano, leggero, struggente, assolutamente non enfatico o retorico. Neanche Chopin, forse Mahler per quel che ne so io.

Duras is great in this work. The novel spirits away and seems to be accompanied by the notes of a  piano, light, poignant, absolutely not emphatic or rethorical. Not even Chopin; for all I know it could be Mahler.

Sembra accompagnato da balli senza senso, modello maliarda, tra effluvi e movimenti di veli di seta, come nella descrizione della ragazza, spesso si legge. Un tourbillon di dorsi di mano e lacrime e sonni precari, tra “ieri ero lì” e “ieri era lì…” e così via con ogni coniugazione e meditazione possibile. Senza dolcezza sprecata, assolutamente.

[The novel] seems accompanied by senseless dances, as if by sorceress, betwixt efflusion and movements of silk veils, as we often read in the descriptions made by the girl. A tourbillon of backs of hands and tears and precarious sleeps, between “yesterday I was there” and “yesterday [he/she was there] and so on with every variant of conjugation and meditation possible. No wasted sweetness, whatsoever.

Un giorno di nubi diventato libro, con la stagione presumibilmente in decadenza e la noia che abbraccia e bacia le ore, una per una, come fossero tutte figlie sue, conosciute per quel che possono dare e odiate per quel che danno.

A cloudy day which becomes book, with the high season presumably decaying and boredom embracing and kissing the hours, each by each, as if they were all her own daughters, known by what they can give and hated for what they do give.

Il romanzo è complesso, intollerante di distrazioni o scivolate inerti. È un libro per persone sveglie e zitte, leste di emozioni nel torpore di un dolore qualunque.

The novel is complex, intolerant of distractions or inert slides. It is a book for those alert and quiet, quick of emotions in the torpor of any given sorrow.

È un cortometraggio breve di vita e di proibito di essa, girato e concepito dentro i privilegi tipici delle realtà durasiane, senza ipocrisie.

It is a short-lived, forbidding short, filmed and conceived within typical privileges of Durasian realities, without hypocrisies.

Un attacco ai piani alti dell’esistenza, condensati nelle bramosità e nelle ovvietà più inconfessabili. Condito ad arte dentro le attenzioni meravigliosamente femminili che l’Autrice dispone con senso teatrale, quasi da architetto d’interni oserei dire, che dispongono negli occhi blu a pelle chiara e capelli scuri, il fenotipo perfetto per la rappresentazione così disagiata di sentimenti forti e originalità estreme.

[It is] an attack to the lofty spheres of existence, condensed in the most inconfessable longing and obviousness. Artfully seasoned with wonderfully feminine attentions arranged by the author with theatrical sensibility, almost as an architect of interiors I dare say, which display in the blue eyes with fair skin and dark hair, the perfect phenotype for a most uneasy portrayal of strong feelings and extreme originality.

La passione, unico motore in un contesto straordinario dipinto d’arte, come è il libro, frutto di enorme talento. Se ne prova distacco e attrazione insieme. Antipatia per il fulgore di quei caratteri somatici così caldi e freddi insieme, tanto da far innamorare o incazzare senza  vie di compromesso. Il titolo ne enfatizza l’antitetica possibilità contenuta.

Passion, sole engine within an expertly painted, extraordinary context is, as the book, fruit of enourmous talent. One feels detachment and attraction at the same time. Antipathy for the blinding light of those somatic traits together so hot and cold, such as could make one fall in love or in a fit of rage without any way of compromising.
The title [of the book] underscores the antiethical possibility contained therein.

Niente di scomodo. Niente di decisamente scostante. Le pieghe scomode sono nell’essenza stessa semmai. Nella cerchia ristretta degli identificanti possibili: personaggi a parte, il mondo durasiano è fastidiosamente elitario a volte. Di quell’élite da sturbo, ideologica e strutturata nei salotti, di cui mi lamento ovunque. Una selva di cose belle per persone belle che ad una lettura profonda si immaginano poi neanche così belle. Alla francese più che altro.

Nothing uncomfortable here. Nothing decidedly unsettled. The uncomfortable folds are, if anything, the very essence of the story. Within the narrow circle of the possible identifiers: aside from the characters, the Durasian world is bothersome in its elitarianism at times. That self-numbing elite, ideological and designed around parlours, which I complain about everywhere. A moltitude of beautiful things for beautiful people who, upon further analysis, we imagine, are not even that beautiful. In French fashion, more than anything.

Il libro avanza, si srotola e finisce. Passando per la Duras, va letto assolutamente. Non passandoci, si può anche regalare e basta.
Un libro da donna non più giovane ma lontana comunque da tutte le donne possibili.

The book advances, unravels, then comes to an end. A must read, if your literary wanderings traverse Duras. In case they don’t, this book can be given as a gift. A book suited for a woman no longer young, yet invariably far from all possible women.’



The intricacies of the human heart, the complex workings of our minds are the true subject of Occhi Blu, Capelli Neri.

Catharsis: intense hatred must invariably stem from intense love; they are but two sides of the selfsame coin. I am humbled.

‘Never worry
About things
That you are unable
To change
Change your own way
Of looking at truth.’

Sri Chinmoy

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Ink (Pilot Pen) on paper. 2008

Felt Tip Pen and Sharpie on paper. 2008

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Platonic Solid Exercise. Graphite on Paper. 2007

Happy September. Post coming late today, but it is a new month and I hope this, my birthday month (yay) will be better than the last- and all summer for that matter.  Lots of challenges and growth but…they don’t call them growing pains for nothing.

In my classes today we shared links on artists, visual notes, wonderful quotes, and great books.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  Things are getting really exciting and we are all growing by leaps and bounds. Good stuff and a great feeling of accomplishment at the end of this intense summer quarter. 

Few unrelated topics that I have been mulling over lately:

1.  Working out shadows in axonometric settings, like solving algebraic equations, helps to solve ourselves and gives us mathematical certainties (certainties that cannot be so cleanly and clearly found in real life).  I always heard math is not an opinion, and I am appreciating its impartiality, its justice even. I know now its compassion.

Still, a solution is relative to the light angle  we construct a priori, a philosophical question if there ever was one.

Shadows, like math, are either ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ relative to the established angle of light;  no room for fuzzyness, approximation, guessing. How refreshing. How pure the solution.  These (platonic) objects exists in an utopian airtight chamber or world, and the light is absolute, the light of truth.

The ‘real’ world (and ‘real’ shadows), like all matters of architecture and design and their ‘solutions’, are much more subtle, nuanced, grayscale— as opposed to black and white.
And so even truth is relative in our confounded orb.

2.  I am thinking of ways to design the freehand drawing classes to transcend drawing as transposing what we ‘see’ and help it become a design tool (depicting what may be, or possible scenarios).

It is a challenge, because the basic drawing techniques still need to be mastered, but the course could be imbued with and define a research path, becoming not only a stronger vehicle for learning, but generating material for publication. Exciting stuff, now it’s just a matter of  tightening up my interest areas and plan for action.

The Freehand Drawing and Rendering and Delineation classes will meet again next summer, and I have held some meetings to design its contents(more on this on coming posts) . Some words buzzing in my head are collages/assemblages, words, poetry, architecture, grayscale abstracts, visual notes/sketchnotes, inventories, data gathering quests, urban scavenging, pattern and in-formation.

3.   The more I grow as a passive designer- passive because I have been in an observing, absorbing mode for a while now…just storing information until the right moment comes- the more drawings i do, I am realizing that the challenges of design are not additive ones, but subtractive.

Learning what to remove, what to take away, leaving just the essential, is the challenge. Architecture is a matter of reduction, not addition.    Let me try to explain myself better. During our architectural education and pedestrian work experiences we are taught to include so many details, turn in complete drawings, complete construction documents sets etc. All of this is techniciams’ stuff. It is the drafter’s realm, or the CAD operator’s realm. It is not the Architect’s or designer’s province, which should aspire to loftier expressions. Design is abstraction of thought and ideas. It is reducing your concept to your most pure expression, cutting away all the fat and the unnecessary. Even the best art, I am finding, is painfully created by reducing your concept, feelings, ideas, to the most clear image, the prime number, the denominator. Significant work is created through ruthlessly leaving out all unnecessary data, information. Including too much is just self-indulgence; the disciplined designer pursues truth as she or he defines it and does not or cannot have time for self-indulgence. The purity of the idea is what one needs to be faithful to, everything else is interference by bureaucrats, technicians, pencil pushers.

Am I sounding like Howard Roark? WellI am in the process of defining a design philosophy and given the person that I am, this definition comes first in words , which will guide the action.  As my dear friend Lamees said, one is not to do without being first.  Be first–then do– then have…it all happens spontaneously.

Part of being an architect is accepting an elitist role, necessary not to set apart one from the rest of humanity, but to preserve the purity of the design idea, its drive and execution. Part of being an architect and an artist is learning to let go of many things once thought necessary and just rendering our work in the most pure, direct, potent way.

Finally, a quote that is driving my days, these days:


“What we think or what we know or what

we believe is, in the end, of little

consequence. 


The only consequence is what we do.”

 

John Ruskin

 

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Loose Rendering. Ink, watercolor, prismacolor pencils. August 2010.



Lately, I’ve favored the watercolor and pencil technique, but want to get back to working with markers.

I found these two great tutorials on marker renderings from my blog friend and Urban Sketcher extraordinaire Suzanne Cabrera at An [Open] Sketchbook: can’t wait to share them with my students!

{ Tutorial 1: Furniture/Fabric }

{ Tutorial 2: Interior Rendering }

As usual, the wonderful Color Drawing book by Doyle will provide a lifetime’s worth of lessons.


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Marker Test @ Queen Califia's Magical Garden

Initial Sketch. Felt tip on heavy bond (sketchbook) paper.

Felt Tip on Marker (Rag) Paper.

Applying Watercolor 1.

Applying Watercolor 2.

End of ession at site. 20 Minutes. Wanted to have a loose base of color.

Adding Pencils (Albrecht Durer- Made in Germany), texture, few days after.

Do you remember Niki St. Phalle’s ‘Queen Califia’s Magical Garden’?

Well, I went back with my students for some loose watercolor and pencil renderings.

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A rare Renée Magritte. La Poitrine. 1961

Renée Magritte. Irene.

Renée Magritte. Le tombeur des lutteurs. 1960

Renee Magritte. Eulogy of the Dialectic.

Renée Magritte. Personal Values. 1952

In my search, I stumbled upon Myriam Mahiques, who shares some thoughts on Magritte, and Immateriality in Painting and Architecture.

Instances of Surrealist Architecture and Urban Design:

Click on the images for more details and to see source.

"39GeorgeV" is an urban surrealism manifesto. It sheltered the renovation of an Hausmannian building in Paris, during year 2007. It's a life-size photographic work based on the original building, printed on canvas, enhanced with bas-relief.

The Manifesto of the 39GeorgeV project.

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels. Installation of the new Magritte Museum 2008/09

From the exhibition:Painting the Glass House: Artists Revisit Modern Architecture.The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum,Ridgefield, CT.

“]“]

Frankfurt's Bockenheimer Warte Subway Station. From '10 Of The World’s Most Impressive Subway Stations'

Iphone painting by Steve John.

Son Of Mac. Magritte-inspired Apple Macbook art vinyl decal.

Magritte-ispired art vinyl decal for Apple Macbook.

Book : Surrealism and Architecture edited by Thomas Mical



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After some meetings today I stopped by the library, Futo coffee in hand, and indulged in my favorite Architecture periodicals: Domus, Architectural Review and Harvard Design Magazine. An article on Surrealist Houses launched an expansive search on the Architecture of René Magritte; will share some of the findings here.

I've had Magritte (and collages) on my mind. Digital Manipulation on a photograph by Vijay Raghavendiran.

I am also thinking about watercolor these days: in both Freehand Drawing and Rendering and Delineation classes we are working with loose techniques. Here are some images that stopped me in my track during my quest.

Winter in Florence-La Pioggia- Watercolor and Ink. Professor George S. Loli, Dept. of Architecture, University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Starry Night over the Rhone. Vincent Van Gogh. 1888.

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Something eye-opening occurred at my school yesterday.

I attended the exhibit for SoCal -Ex : Exploratory Design Workshop, completed by Professor Hector Perez and his students.

Here are the specific of the Workshop:

6 Explorers

Andrea Benavides/Alfredo Melly/Henry Palomino/Charles Santamaria/Nancy Tariga

25 Days

July 12-August 5

10 Field Trips

San Diego/La Jolla/Del Mar/San Juan Capistrano/Los Angeles/Santa Monica/Culver City/Venice/Pasadena/Palm Springs

9 Progressive Practices

Daly Genik Architects/Eric Owen Moss/Estudio Teddy Cruz/Gehry Technologies/Luce Et Studio/Michael Maltzan Architecture/Morphosis/Sebastian Mariscal Studio/Smith and Others

15 Extraordinary Residences

Charles and Ray Eames/Craig Ellwood/Christine & Russell Forester/Albert Frey/Frank Gehry/Greene and Greene/Coop Himmelblau/Alberto Kalach/Ed Killingsworth/Sebastian Mariscal/Kathy McCormick & Ted Smith/Richard NeutraRudolph Schindler/Don Wexler

I spoke with Professor Perez and he told me that the analysis of the case study residences and projects were concentrated on the ‘crown’, ‘body’ and ‘feet’ of the aedifices.

Through collages, reminiscent of Superstudio and Archigram, the field trips become a venue for envisioning alternative architectural and urban scenarios (Design Workshops). I hope you’ll enjoy these images just as much as I did; each collage read like a miniature work of art, and the juxtaposition of architectural drawings and bold hand-drawn colors created fantastic, detailed, abstract constructs.  What a wonderful way to illustrate architectural drawings, and bring to life photographs.  The collages, done by hand, using cutouts, colored pencils and paint had a physical presence, a texture that a purely digital (photoshopped) images invariably lack.

I am inspired to create some more collages of my own and…can’t wait for the book 😉

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Explaining (imperfectly) the joy of sketching/vignette and perspective making to a student. Graphite on paper June 11, 2010

Drawing is thinking. Hand-eye coordination is essential not only to accurately render what you see, but to bring forth and execute what you see in your mind’s eye, i.e designing. I read once that we should use the word ‘draw’ as in ‘drawing information’, as from a well. To draw a building  or space is to understand it, to make it our own –to impress it on our brain’s matrix.  Photography, while wonderful and an art form in itself, leaves the lessons of buildings on the camera’s hard drive, not on ours.

Not to mention the warmth and ‘tactability’ , as my friend Luisa says, of a sketch or a vignette, the volumes it adds to a presentation, the process it unveils. Revit has the capability to render photorealistic imagery, with incredible texture and lighting. But it is in the process that a project is appreciated in all its nuances, that poetry can happen, that the design and the architect eye, mind and hand can be sipped, like fine, expensive wine. Without process architecture becomes a shot of cheap wiskey, vulgar.  Design, like diamonds, has no mercy… “They will show up the wearer if they can,” says one character in The Sandcastle, an early novel by the famous British author, Iris Murdoch. (I borrowed this bit on diamonds here).

Drawing is analysis. It is a deliberate act of  interpretation, and abstraction (as in capturing the essential).  In the book ‘Compositions in Architecture’, Dan Hanlon says:

‘I have found that since the act of drawing requires a high degree of graphic editing, each drawing emphasizes a particular quality of composition. Therefore, the information in each drawing is highly selective. This is what I mean by a work of interpretation.’

A drawing can be tuned to reveal and emphasize certain characteristics, and not others. It is a process of selection, of sharpening the way our brain takes notes of details. It is never alienating, never mindless, never automatic (unless as automatic art/ flow of consciousness), never repetitive, never listless as drawing on a computer can be.

In the introduction of book Non-places: Introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity, Marc Augé mentions the many devices that, by keeping us ‘connected’ at all times, alienate and separate us from the place we physically occupy. Drawing keeps us grounded (in the here and now?), and is an exercise in fully experiencing our surroundings, of mindfulness.

And after the alarming The Shallows: This is Your Brain Online , on the ability to train our brain (and affect its physical make-up) by our daily habits, anything that can help with the collective scattered focus we are ‘learning’ from too much technology should be a worthwhile endeavor.

So yes, the Zen of Drawing, or drawing as meditation (architectural therapy not just art?). Like yoga, unplugging and plugging in at the same time. By drawing we fully inhabit this place, this body, as architect and artists.

My blogfriend Suzanne Cabrera at [An] Open Sketchbook turned me onto Michael Nobbs, a Blogger/Artist into time management,who advocates drawing everyday. Here is his free, fun and inspiring e-book.
I already started drawing loved objects before I ‘release’ them.

Here are the books mentioned:

And here, the first part on the importance of drawing.

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Apart. Photograph, Lumix Panasonic Camera. June 4, 2010

Soundtrack of  ‘Apart’

The center cannot hold. Photograph, Panasonic Lumix camera. June 4, 2010.

Soundtrack of  ‘The Center cannot hold’

Spooning (one. is broken). Photograph, Panasonic Lumix camera. June 4, 2010

Soundtrack of ‘Spooning (one. is broken)’

Gordon Matta Clark (son of an artist, trained as an architect in Cornell) Splitting 32, 1975 Five gelatin silver prints, cut and collaged 40 3/4 x 30 3/4 (103.5 x 78.1) framed Collection of Jane Crawford and Bob Fiore Courtesy the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark and David Zwirner, New York

Gordon Matta-Clark Conical Intersect (detail) 1975 27-29, rue Beaubourg, Paris courtesy of David Zwirner, NY and the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark

More on Gordon Matta-Clark

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Dr. Gregory House. Watercolor on Paper. June 3, 2010

I am a huge fan of House, MD, not only because the writing is refreshing and clever  (Cuddy:  I have a case! House: Beer? )and the ‘hero’ is an anti-herowith serious flaws but a rugged, sarcastic way of caring — I love the show because there is a link between House and Sherlock Holmes – and you all know how much I love the British sleuth (no, not the recent ‘action’ movie…eek).  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fashioned the character of Sherlock after his mentor, an eminent surgeon in Britain: with House, MD (whose name reminds us of Ho(l)mes)  we come full circle.

As I watched the Season Finale last night (go Huddy :)) I caught a bit of the making of the stage of the collapsed building. MMM…models! You can never get away from architecture.

PS. If you have never seen House in your life ignore the writing and enjoy the painting of the strange man above.

The Set Design in House’s Season Finale

Image via official website of House, MD. Is that a model??

Image via official website of House, MD. Yes, that's a crane. It would be fun to recreate movie or show sets in studio.

Image via official website of House, MD. Building the set.

Image via official website of House, MD. The final disaster scene.

If you like this sort of thing, here is a fantastic book, or three, on the relationshio between architecture and TV and movie set design.

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Diagrams from Graphic Thinking for Architects and Designers by Paul Laseau


The image above aptly illustrates the process behind diagramming, which is one of summarizing and and rendering a concept more abstract, more immediately communicable. Abstract in this sense is intended as ‘ reduced to the essential’.  Diagrams are, according to Joe Nicholson:

1. a simple drawing showing the basic shape, lay-out, or workings of something

2. a chart or graph that illustrates something such as a statistical trend

3. a line drawing that presents mathematical information

A leap of faith here, and some poetic license, can bring you from the diagrams above to these sketches, inspired by yoga poses.

The link? The day after my landscape /yoga explorations, Joe showed the above slide on a presentation. Serendipity.

Ink on Paper, digital manipulation. May 2010

At-one-ness. Ink on paper, digital manipulation. May 2010


Using CAD as human landscape generator. May 18, 2010


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Last week I was reeling from hearing a contractor repeatedly referring to Architecture projects as ‘products’ (can you please stop talking about Architecture as a manufacturing industry? thankyou) and from seeing this noble profession hijacked by what one student referred to as ‘technicians‘.

Vitruvius, Le Corbu, are your tired bones  spinning in your graves? They will soon design a software that, given site parameters and local codes will design the building by itself (look ma, no architect!). If they are not about to launch it already. As my friend Andrew Duncan said, we are looking at a software company deciding the future of architecture projects in this country, in form of who owns the -increasingly more sophisticated- computer models/simulations of buildings. And thus the nail in the coffin, the relevance of our profession is eroded, while we just sit and watch, and clap at the latest computer wizardry. What is it called when people clap at their impending demise?

I am so tired of seeing the creativity of our young architects being sapped by the grueling process it takes to be a ‘licensed architect’ here in U.S. And yes, it is just here and Canada, because everywhere else in the world you are an architect after having proven worthy of an architecture degree and after a standard, brief, state exam. So we/you are all architects in my eyes.

So as I was saying, I was a bit demoralized.  But then, during our Le Corbusier’s seminars, my students put these quotes up (underlining is mine):

I repeat: a work of art must have its own special character.

Clear statement, the giving of a living unity to the work, the giving it a fundamental attitude and a character: all this is a pure creation of the mind.

This is everywhere allowed in the case of painting and music; but archtiecture is lowered to the level of its utilitarian purposes: boudoirs, W.C’s, radiators, ferro-concrete, vaults or pointed arches, etc., etc.

This is construction, this is not architecture.

Architecture only exists when there is a poetic emotion.

Art is poetry: the emotion of the senses, the joy of the mind as it measures and appreciates, the recognition of an axial principle which touches the depth of our being.  Art is this pure creation of the spirit which shows us, at certain heights, the summit of the creation to which man is capable of attaining.

And man is conscious of great happiness when he feels that he is creating.


Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture. English Ed. 1931

Is it a coincidence that Le Corbusier uses the term Art and Architecture interchangeably?

Construction is for an architect what grammar is for a thinker; the architect should not vegetate there, Le Corb reminds us.

The desired effect is not a mass of grammatical rules, but prose,  or even better, poetry, which not only uses grammar, but trascends it.

Now look around you and tell me how many pedestrian masses of periods and exclamation points surround you, and where does poetry happen (does it at all)?

In class we talked about art being the product of the heart, and architecture the product of the mind.  I knew then these young men and women believe in Architecture, with the capital ‘A’ – not to be confused with building- and everything that it stands for, everything that our ‘architectural heroes’ tell us through the echoes of time, and whispher with their art, their sketches and drawings, their buildings, their irreverent portraits (just as Keating’s poets in Dead Poets Society).

More importantly, these students believe in themselves. Everything then went right in my world.

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Happy Tuesday. Throughout my four years of teaching Tuesday has always been my ‘work at home’ day, the one costant in the changing tides of quarters, classes and schedules. Today I thought I’d start a special Tuesday section, when I have more time to start new projects. So here is the first artuesday: this is the view I wake up everyday to, small happy townhomes in earth colors. I always wanted to do a watercolor of these homes on the edge of urbanity and nature (they sit on a canyon in uptown San Diego). Yup, I live near a canyon, yet in the city, more on this later. So here is my progress, I started with some guiding lines and this is as far as I got today. The watercolor will be a simple wash.
[click to enlarge. Unfortunately, soft graphite drawings are infamous for not scanning well]

Starting the drawing with tree shadows, to warm up the hand. From stationary point on the ground, the proportions are lightly drawn.

Vertical guiding lines.

Vertical and horizontal guidinglines of doors and windows-

Drawing and leaning on car, then sitting on the curb or grass in front of each house in my neighborhood was fun, and different cause I *never* hang out near my house. I even met a neighbor who was an artist! Doing art outdoors can tell you so much about where you live, and I am so glad no paranoid people called neighborhood watch on me (:P)

I used a Derwent Sketching for roughing in the proportions, the (only) tree and the tree shadows. You can see my new Faber Castell mechanical pencil, bought in Kuwait. What a dream drawing tool, see how ergonomic it is? (ok I will stop showing off now).

Derwent Sketching 2B, Faber Castell Grip Matic 0.5, Staedler eraser, Kneading eraser (to tone down lines).

A thing of beauty. The eraser part twists to reveal the eraser stick.

Sometimes I see my students sketching from photos, and it breaks my heart: there is nothing like the training of the hand to succeed as a designer and architect. I like to tell them to use the verb ‘draw’ as in ‘drawing information’.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SKETCHING

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a dinosaur.  I love Sketchup, as a 3D modeler use 3D Max, have done my fair share of CAD and Revit and  Photoshop is my religion, but, as this article says, if you don’t know how to draw and sketch, and quickly convey your ideas through hand-eye coordination, your role as an architect will be very limited. Thank you to Andrew Duncan for sending me this.

Should rulers be outlawed when sketching? I believe in training your hand to be a plumb weight, creating straight yet ‘human’ lines.

Ah, the ‘Tyranny of the Straight Line’!

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