Posts Tagged ‘Gaston Bachelard’

I always used to say to my students ‘Architecture is constructed politics’, but lately, after (re) reading Le Corb’s Vers Une Architecture, I have been known to spur on my students with my rallying whispher of  ‘Architecture is built poetry’.  As in Le Corbusier’s assertion that the plan is an expression of the spirit, as in architecture with the capital A, as in not mere construction (ok. I think by now you know my very own windmills, which I am  battling, no need to get riled up again – except to dream of a tee which says Technicians, maybe someone over at Archinect is listening)

Tees Designs. March 08, 2010. The 'tyranny of the straight line'.

In my quest to find a link between poetry and architecture, I came across some gems, and wanted to pass on my finds. As I mentioned, I have been reading Gaston’s Bachelard ‘Poetics of Space’, and there seems to be a certain zeitgeist focused on poetry and its relationship to created (architectural) space.

William Stout, the reknown historical bookstore in San Francisco dedicated to Architecture, recently published Poems for Architects: An Anthology, by Jill Stoner.

From William Stout Publishers:

This unusual anthology of twentieth century poetry is arranged into sections of poems that address issues of domesticity, urbanism, formal concepts and form itself. Each section is introduced with a provocative essay by Stoner, an associate Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley (where else?), that develops the argument for the relevance of poetry to architecture today. Twenty-nine varied authors such as Mark Strand, Wallace Stevens, Eavan Boland, Adrienne Rich and Rita Dove, help to illustrate the point.

This is definitely on my wishlist…maybe they desk copies for faculty available ?

Make buildings that are poems.

Antoni Gaudi

I also came across this gem of a book: Le Corbusier: The Artist The Writer, by Lucien Herve (1970).

As the story goes, Le Corb was an artist in the morning, an architect in the afternoon and, at night, he would write poetry.

I have also been pointed towards John Hejduk,  an accomplished architect (his are the Wall House projects), artist, Dean and Faculty of the School of Architecture at Cooper Union (<3), author and poet.  His is  Such Places as Memory: Poems 1953-1996, 1998.

John Hedjuk said:

” I believe in the social contract therefore I teach. I believe that the University is one of the last places that protects and preserves freedom, therefore teaching is also a socio/political act, among other things. I believe in books and the written word, therefore I fabricate works with the hope that they will be recorded in books. I am pragmatic and believe in keeping records. I believe to record is to bear witness. The book I wrote, Victims is to bear witness and to remember. I believe in the density of the sparse. I believe in place and the spirit of place.”

Speaking of writing, I am going to my first ever writers’ workshop and will report back 🙂


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The exterior of Glashaus in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego, home of a growing number of art+design hubs.

Some of you, as I write this, are partaking of the festivities (and revelries) at Glashaus in Barrio Logan , San Diego for the Moustache Masquerade – Anniversary Party . Last week, Jamie Huffman of Surface Furniture was so kind to let me roam around the studio with my camera, arrange his tools and wooden cars and play with rusty, coppery dust.

I have in mind to try rust watercolors in a future session, and to film the vents turning intermittently with the haphazard breeze, a’ la American Beauty.  There was so much to see at Glashaus, the Beauty of things made, the poetry of craft.

I am reading Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space, of which John Stilgoe writes in his foreword:

The Poetics of Space is a prism through which all worlds from literary creation to housework to aesthetics to carpentry take on enhanced–and enchanted– significances.Every reader of it will never again see ordinary spaces in ordinary ways. Instead the reader will see with the soul or the eye, the glint of Gaston Bachelard.

Indeed, whatever spirituality we can imbue dwellings with starts with the choosing, crafting, and careful shaping of materials.

The resin vapors and the tools reminded me of my father’s and my uncle’s boat and motor repair/workshop in Calabria, Southern Italy, a place that I can only now appreciate in memory–as a kid I saw it as a bit random, a bit dangerous, a bit of a world foreign to me, perhaps unknowable as a little girl, a place of working men, wood shavings, tools and grease. I was drawn to the dogs that were kept there, the boats, big and small, that were stored under the sheds. My favorite parts was the orchard of fig trees in the back, the grape vines, the fields beyond the property wall.

Visiting Jamie’s studio reminded me of  ‘the work of honest men’ and the Wabi Sabi principles of the aesthetics of rugged things. Running my hands on rough surfaces brought me closer to the material aspect of architecture, delighting in details, something that was definitely a learned trait for me.

Thank you so much for having me over, and Happy Anniversary to everyone at Glashaus.

The working space of Surface Furniture Studio and Make in the Glashaus.

Wooden cars designed and crafted by Jamie Huffman, a statement on mass production and commonplace of outsourced manufacturing products.

Surface Furniture Teardrop Travel Trailer


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