An Inter-Institutional Platform
for PhDs, PostDocs and ECRs in
Architectural History and Theory,

Landscape and the City



FALL 2022 PROGRAM
Sessions take place on Tuesdays, 4-6 PM CET
(if not indicated otherwise in the program)

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‘DOCTALKS x MoMA’ PROGRAM

4 October, 4-6 PM CET, 10-12 AM EST 
Rami Kanafani and Eyup Ozkan

25 October, 4-6 PM CET, 10-12 AM EST 
Clemens Finkelstein and Lydia Xynogala

1 November, 3-5 PM CET*, 10-12 AM EST
Maggie Freeman and Sam Grinsell
*please note the different CET time for this session;
on that week, there are only 5 hours time difference between EST and CET.


22 November, 4-6 PM CET, 10-12 AM EST
Manuel Saga and Matilde Igual Capdevila

30 November, 3-5 PM CET, 9-11 AM EST

Aleksandr Bierig and Zeynep Ece Sahin Korkan

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4 October 2022
‘DocTalks x MoMA’


The Green Line’s Organisms:
Human-Plant Relations in War-Torn Beirut


RAMI KANAFANI
UPenn Architecture

Respondent: Bárbara Maçães Costa, EPFL

The Green Line, Beirut, 1982
Steve McCurry, from the personal collection of Gabriel Daher


In 1975, with the start of the Lebanese civil war in Beirut, human social life migrated from the surface of the city to the underground where basements became the safest places to be. At the same time, vegetal life migrated from the underground – or a few inches below ground – to the surface. A linear stretch of greenery (The Green Line) surfaced along the line of demarcation that separated the two fighting sides of the city, revealing the structural dependence of spontaneous vegetal growth on human conflict and war. This paper develops an analytic framework to consider the imbrication of human identity with vegetal life by discussing the ruderal ecology (anthropologist Bettina Stoetzer’s term, based on post-WWII urban ecologists working in Berlin) in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. It is among this paper’s convictions that any discussion of non-human subjectivity, i.e. any posthumanist framework, has to reflect back onto humanity’s struggles with violence and exclusion that render human subjectivity historically and socially constructed rather than natural or essential. By considering human-plant relationships during war conditions in Beirut, this paper presents a way of writing urban/architectural history that is staunchly posthumanist yet mindful of the ethical implications of uncritically moving beyond the human to discuss other assemblages of plants, animals, or objects. Considering human and vegetal identities as deeply entangled during this episode of war and conflict in Beirut, this paper begins to describe the ways in which politics and social inequalities among a human population intersect with vegetal life and ruderal ecologies.

***

Informal vs Formal:
Rodosto Farm Colony
and Les Constructions Murondins


EYUP OZKAN
Istanbul Technical University

Respondent: Elis Mendoza Mejia, Princeton University

Folding Chronologies: Rodosto Farm Colony and Murondins juxtaposed. Source: McLeod, Mary. 2018. “‘To Make Something with Nothing’: Le Corbusier’s Proposal for Refugee Housing—Les Constructions ‘Murondins.’” Journal of Architecture 23 (3): 421–47.  Near East Foundation. 2016. “Home, Hearth, and Family: Near East Relief’s Rodosto Farm Colony.” October 14, 2016. https://neareastmuseum.com/2016/10/14/rodosto-farm-colony/.
Edited by the presenter.


This study primarily elaborates one particular form of cultivation, namely the Rodosto Farm Colony in Tekirdağ (Raidestos/Rodosto), as a short-lived exercise of resettling for the survivors of the Armenian Genocide. In 1921, Near East Relief (NER) procured 6,000 acres of land from the Greek Government to assist the increasing number of Armenian refugees from Constantinople and Anatolia. Shortly, the land turned into a farming colony, including housing units built collectively with mud bricks and wooden studs. According to NER, the farm grew into two self-supporting villages consisting of cottages, woodshops, bakeries, and a school, accommodating a total population of five thousand. However, with the Population Exchange between Turkey and Greece in early 1923, the colony again faced deterritorialization. Two decades later, in 1940, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret offered an architectural project, “Les Constructions Murondins,” to accommodate those who became homeless due to their migration to southern France from German-occupied northern France and Belgium. Unlike Corbusier’s previous work on “the mass-production houses” built with industrialized and standardized materials, proposed after the first war early in the 1920s, these units were conceived as the in-situ constructed houses with local materials, including rammed earth blocks, tree trunks, and tar paper to be collected from the surroundings. The practicability of Les Murondins would allow their collective construction by prospective inhabitants and local carpenters. Hence the paper compares and contrasts these two projects in terms of their social, tectonic, and operational parallels to reveal the changing nature of informality tensed by the intricate relations of design authorship, tectonics, and practicality.



10 October 2022 (Monday!)

*Please note the exceptional time:
18:00-20:00 CET / 12:00-14:00 EDT


Session Host:
Dasha Kuletskaya, RWTH Aachen University
Session Respondent:
Léa-Catherine Szacka,The University of Manchester

Designing for Amusement:
Critical Interpretations and Intentions
of Humour in Clore Gallery
and Tv-Am Studios, London


KATERINA ZACHAROPOULOU
UCL Bartlett


Abrams, Janet. "Camden Town Clowns'." Building Design (Archive : 1969-2014) no. 624 (Mar 25, 1983)

In 1983, Jonathan Glancey wrote an article on the TV-am Building, by Terry Farrel & Partners, in The Architectural Review. A few years later, in 1987, John Summerson reviewed Clore Gallery, the extension to Tate Britain by Stirling, Wilford & Associates, in the same journal. Both authors, writing in the year of each building’s completion in London, connected the works to postmodernism and attributed humour to them as a positive architectural quality. Glancey’s and Summerson’s reviews allow a detailed look into the experience of architectural humour, which often makes an appearance in the discourse on postmodernism, but is rarely analysed in relation to concrete examples. However, the context and the way in which the authors chose to present their ideas reveal that humour cannot be understood merely as a quality inherent to buildings, but rather as a product of the relationship between buildings and their discourse. Both reviews presented humour as an essential English quality, which was particularly present in 18th and 19th century architecture in England and was brought back with TV-am and Clore Gallery. At the same time, Glancey and Summerson connected humour to the mastery of the individual architect, endorsing a conflation between humour as a quality in a built work and as an architect’s personality trait, which was present in other instances of the building’s media coverage at the time.

This presentation is a dialogue between two of the case study buildings which my on-going PhD thesis investigates. Currently titled “Designing for amusement: Expressions and Repressions of Humour in Postmodern Architectural Culture”, the thesis explores a suspicion against humour in Western architectural thinking and the rudimentary acceptance the term gained in the discourse concerning postmodernism in the British context. The presentation will address, through the case studies, two of the dissertation's main research questions: “how have critics perceived architectural humour” and “why did an interest in humour emerge in this particular moment”?  

***

Humor in the White City:
From Architectural Intent to the Urban Condition in the Kalisher School of Art
in Tel Aviv-Yafo


ELAD HORN
Technion - Israel Institute of Technology


Kisselov-Kaye Architects, The Kalisher School of Art, 1996
(Photo credit: Kisselov-Kaye Architects)


Can a building be funny? This paper examines the use of humor as an architectural instrument for promoting urban change in the light of aesthetic and social theories of humor. Although the use of humor in architecture has often been associated with the brief but glorious postmodern period, when architecture was defiant, ironic, and amusing, its significance and meaning in architectural production in local contexts remain unexplored. Moreover, assessing Israeli architecture through the concept of humor contradicts the rationale of modernism as the local ethos praised functionality and disregarded redundancy and ‘lack of seriousness’. During the first half of the 1990s, Israeli architecture underwent a turning point, as a young, rebellious generation of architects introduced imported postmodernism mainly in Israel's economic and cultural center of Tel Aviv-Yafo. In conjunction with this stylistic transformation, the country swiftly transitioned into neoliberalism following a severe economic crisis in the mid-1980s that dominated the construction industry and nearly halted public building investments. The Kalisher School of Art was commissioned by a private donor in the early 1990s and designed by a young architecture firm that has already demonstrated an attentive approach to local urban fabrics and their inhabitants. The school complex is located next to Tel Aviv’s city market, an industrial zone that was considered derelict and abandoned though relatively quickly succeeded in its urban transformative mission since the project’s completion in 1997. Using the planning and administrative history of the complex, this paper unveils the humorous toolkit used in the making of architecture and suggests that humor can translate beyond the limits of the building to promote urban and social change. It further proposes that the transition from an architectural scale to a social one parallels Henri Bergson's conceptualization of humor as a sophisticated solution to a unique social human problem.



18 October 2022

Session Title:
Overlapping Ideological Structures through Space and Time


Tabula Rasa: The City as Laboratory
The Ideological Neutralisation of the ‘City’ in Western 20th Century Architectural Discourse


SERENA DAMBROSIO
UC Chile

Respondent: Laurence Heindryckx, Ghent University


Left, Model of the Grande Axe project, 1991, ©OMA Archive.
Right, Model of the Plan Voisin Le Corbusier, 1922.

This dissertation reconstructs the role of the expression tabula rasa in Western architectural discourse about the city during the twentieth century. Specifically, the research focuses on this idea's material and conceptual translations into a set of ideological neutralisation tools in the context of urban transformations. The expression tabula rasa, better known in Western philosophical discourse as a metaphor for the malleability of the human mind, emerges in the architectural debates at the end of the twenty century to describe different operations that put into practice the overlap of modern rationality on existing reality such as: the material demolition and destruction of entire partsof cities; a non-linear understanding of historical time and references; the use of disruptive representation techniques. The thesis argues that the tabula rasa is the most powerful and, at the same time, problematic legacy of modern architectural discourse in the urban realm since it unveils the interconnection between the modern ideas of progress and novelty and the implicit installation of a culture of erasure. In this way, the city becomes a laboratory, an available space for testing new economic, political and social experiments. At the same time, the installation of these ideas implies a series of negative externalities, which are still little discussed in the architectural debate, such as the overproduction of building waste, overexploitation of resources, and social injustices resulting from dispossession and forced evictions. This dissertation explores the idea of tabula rasa through the investigation of some of the design and intellectual works of three canonical figures of 20th century architectural and urban theory and directly involved in its dissemination: Le Corbusier, Kenneth Frampton and Rem Koolhaas, specifically their early writings and interconnected ideas about the city and
urbanism.

***

The Spanish Colonisation of Andean Time:
Urban Life in Andean Cities
during Early Colonial Times


DANIELA BUSTAMANTE
UC Chile

Respondent: Manuel Saga Sanchez Garcia, Dumbarton Oaks


Santiago 1615. The oldest known image of Santiago shows how architecture is constituted as a system of signs. Derived from the mestizo urban imaginary of the indigenous chronicler Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala, he represented an idealised version of the city as a mediaeval tale of chivalry and conquest, framed by an assorted array of both european and andean architectures. Source: Royal Library of Denmark.

This project investigates how models of spatial representation and reproduction of astronomical time served as instruments for colonial projects in the Andean region of America during the XVI century. In particular, this research studies the formative stages of the city of Santiago, Chile, first as an administrative centre built during the Inka conquest of the Andean territories, re-founded later by Spanish conquistadors as a Hispanic colonial city. Cities like Santiago share a common two-fold colonisation process, where urban space represents the ontological dispute between the Andean and Hispanic worlds. Despite a historical antagonism, Inkas and Spaniards largely coincide in the strategies deployed during their corresponding colonising campaigns, where the foundation of administrative centres was instrumental for the organisation and synchronisation of the empires, due to the introduction of systems of spatio-temporal order. Largely linked to religion, space and time became intertwined in social and productive cycles, implementing astronomical calendars that were represented by means of architecture and spaces built into the urban fabric. The christianisation of local calendars and the opportunistic occupation and resignification of sacred spaces, helped to inadvertently preserve some indigneous features. The hierarchical role reserved for spaces of religious worship, symbolically integrated into day-to-day life, meant that cities worked as devices to set and reproduce certain individual and collective ritual performances that facilitated implanting the culture of the coloniser, while reformulating that of the colonised. Here, the Spanish conquest meant not only a radica break in the trajectories of indigenous lives, but also a complete redraw of most systems of knowledge, directly impacting the cultural significance of both existential and historical time. The proposed study will examine the effect of colonisation on the experience of everyday urban life during early colonial times.



25 October 2022
‘DocTalks x MoMA’

Environmental Control:
Seismicity as Design Technique
in Wilhelmine Germany


CLEMENS FINKELSTEIN
Princeton University

Respondent: Alfredo Thiermann, EPFL

Earthquake Observatory Göttingen, unknown photographer, c. 1902. Courtesy Deutsche Geophysikalische Gesellschaft / DGG Archive.

Few architectural typologies entangle the natural and the built environment as closely as technoscientific research facilities whose integral functionality depends on their architectonic capacity to isolate, measure, record, and analyze the wide bandwidth frequencies of planetary vibrations. Nations such as Italy or Japan were at the forefront of earthquake research in the nineteenth century. Their frequently trembling surroundings posed an omnipresent danger to the built environment and its dwellers, demanding active research and earthquake resistant construction. This paper examines the regional particularities of the German “earthquake observatory” (Erdbebenwarte), which emerged in the wake of Prussian astronomer-cum-geophysicist Ernst von Rebeur-Paschwitz’s proof of teleseismic events in 1889—earthquakes whose seismicity can be registered halfway around the globe. The critical inquiry ranges from an early “earthquake house” (Erdbebenhaus), designed by the geophysicist Oskar Hecker in 1896 for the Royal Observatories for Astrophysics, Meteorology, and Geodesy near Potsdam, to the Imperial Main Station for Earthquake Research in Strasbourg. Completed in 1900, the observatory was “the first of its kind in Germany, indeed the first of its kind anywhere in the world,” proclaimed the geophysicist Georg Gerland. He collaborated on the design with imperial building inspector Alfred Jaehnike to conceive of seismic architectures that could bolster Germany’s newly awakened aspirations to expand its authority over the Earth by means of geoscience rather than geopolitics. Geophysicists, this paper argues, assumed unique roles as architectural producers that based their design principles on the totalizing concept of “seismicity”— the “mysterious endogenous telluric movements that embrace at the same time all the forces and, horizontally and radially, all parts of the Earth.” Conceiving the Earth architecturally as a world-building [Weltgebäude], collaborative efforts of geophysicists and architects devised buildings that could harness the vibratory pulse of the planet as an epistemic tool to deduce its interior structure.

***

Geopathologies:
Tectonic Faults and Bath Buildings
in 20th Century Greece


LYDIA XYNOGALA
ETH/gta


Respondent: Fabrizio Ballabio, Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio


Thermai Sylla Spring, Aidipsos. postcard. date unknown.

From the late nineteenth to mid twentieth century a number of state-run bath-buildings were constructed in thermal spring sites around Greece. Ancient myths, folk wisdom and results from treatments led to a scientific analysis of the water, mud and soil in these sites. These efforts led to the building of a network of healing spaces across the Greek mainland and islands. This paper focuses on the work of a protagonist of this movement: Eugenios Fokas, was the personal docto and son in law of the Prime Minister and later dictator of Greece Ioannis Metaxas. In the years before the advent of World War II, as Professor of the newly established Chair for Hydrology and Clinical Metereology in the Athens University for Medicine, he advocated for the healing powers of sites across Greece. His research and lectures drew from a mix of Hippocrateian wisdom and the new northern European science of bioclimatology. In the post war-era he became a long-term advisor for the Ministry of Tourism (EOT), the organization responsible for constructing and managing thermal bath facilities in Greece. Through select examples of his writings, buildings he advised on, and geomorphologies of sites, this paper questions the role of politics, “nature” and the built environment in the construction of a culture of care across the Greek landscape.



1 November 2022
‘DocTalks x MoMA’


*Please note the exceptional time:
10:00-12:00 EST / 15:00-17:00 CET

A Thirsty Empire:
Architecture and Hydro-Control
between the British and the Bedouin
in the Middle East (1921-1946)


MAGGIE FREEMAN
MIT

Respondent: Nitin Bathla, ETH Zurich


Members of the Huwaytat Bedouin tribe watering camels at a well in Jordan’s southern desert, photographed 1937 by John Glubb, CO 831/46/9, The National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom.

One of imperial Britain’s main responsibilities during the period of British Mandatory rule in Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq was the project of “civilizing” the Mandate territories’ desert regions. Perceived as wild and underdeveloped, and populated by nomadic pastoralist Bedouin tribes who resisted imperial authority, the deserts of the Middle East represented a threat to imperial rule and economic and security interests. Mandate Britain set out to solve this “problem” through a program of architectural and infrastructural surveillance and control, utilizing networks of forts, police stations, and prisons to establish an imperial presence in the desert zones. A key means by which Bedouin populations were subdued was through the restriction of access to water resources. As one British administrator articulated this strategy and its effectiveness: “The desert of course depends on wells, most of the year, so we built a fort on every well, with eight or ten men in it. The result was the tribes couldn't get water unless they came in under the control of the forts. And that in turn established complete control of the tribes.”

This paper examines imperial Britain’s strategy for control of water, and of colonial subjects by extension, through architecture. However, rather than framing this strategy solely as a top-down mechanism of imperial control, I also highlight precedents in which Bedouin tribal leaders similarly used militarized forts to establish rights of access to water. I compare how the British and the Bedouin used architecture as a mechanism of control over water, and how control of water in turn denoted territorial and social control. This paper thus suggests a new category of buildings in the desert regions of the Middle East, namely those commissioned by both British and Bedouin patrons for purposes of “hydro-control.”


***


The North Sea, Water Agency
and the Making of Coastal Space,
1800-1950


SAM GRINSELL
UCL Bartlett


Respondent: André Tavares,
Faculty of Architecture, University of Porto


Unbuilt plan for Antwerp dock expansion, 1890. The Felix Archive, Antwerp, MA-HB#54.

How do environments make architectural space? Rather than there being an interplay between built and natural environments, is there a way of telling architectural histories that can resituate human habitations within the multiple webs of relation in which human culture is inevitably entangled? What might such a history look like?
Empirically, this presentation explores these questions through an examination of the North Sea coastlines of England, Flanders and the Netherlands in the modern era. This region has often been a research focus for the medieval and early modern periods, but is generally divided into national specialisms for later centuries (Liszka and Walker, 2001; Pye, 2017). Connections across the North Sea, however, did not necessarily cease as other networks expanded. While Europe was utterly changed by Atlantic crossings and global colonial connections, this did not end the importance of smaller regions and seas. This analysis focuses on the ports of Antwerp, London and Rotterdam as key sites in the making of the coastal zone through the entanglement of local and global histories.
Theoretically, it seeks to bring the developing field of environmental architectural history into conversation with traditions of indigenous, feminist and anti/postcolonial thought that historians have not insufficiently engaged with. Architectural scholars have brought the environment into their histories through studies of (among other things): energy (Barber, 2020; Calder and Bremner, 2021); materiality (Hutton, 2019); ecological relations (Da Cunha, 2018; Rawes, 2013) and infrastructure (Chattopadhyay, 2012; Christensen, 2017). This paper follows water bodies, especially the North Sea, as actors in architectural making, approaching water as a material that connects us all while also always overflowing comfortable definitions and clear delineations (Chen, MacLeod and Neimanis, 2013; Neimanis, 2017).
This paper aims to open-up discussions of how we can think about built histories beyond false binaries between the natural and artificial.



8 November 2022

Inhabited Utopias
‘El Barri Gaudí’


MARIA RÍUS RUIZ
MIT

Respondent: TBA


El Barri Gaudí, Reus, Spain. Photo-collage by Taller de Arquitectura, 1968.

Social interaction is critical for mental and physical health. In an increasingly digitally connected world, how could architecture support communal life in our cities? My Ph.D. research entitled ‘‘Inhabited utopias’’ explores El Barri Gaudí, one of the collective housing prototypes that emerged worldwide during the 1960s from the counter-cultural movements that longed for social equity. In opposition to the widespread linear and repetitive housing blocs that built fragmented, scattered, and individualistic cities, the Neighborhood was conceived as a spatial village within the city. Rather than a finished construction, it was thought of as an organic system, a combination in space of private cells organized around a wide range of common spaces. The Neighborhood aimed to build a more inclusive, diverse, and connected city. This dissertation analyses el Barri Gaudí, through three essential moments: utopia, materialization, and inhabitation. My research gathers original and unpublished material from archives and a series of interviews I conducted with the interdisciplinary design team -Taller de Arquitectura- directed by Ricardo Bofill. In addition, extensive fieldwork based on direct observation and data collection is conducted to understand how the Neighborhood is currently inhabited. This methodology allows us to contrast its ideal conception to its final use.
Many of the challenges faced by El Barri Gaudí are still present today, such as immigration, social equity, inclusive design, and the need for affordable housing. After being revisited to address essential issues of our current societies-new relationship realities, climate crisis, post-anthropocene point of view- the Neighborhood has the potential to give us relevant information for the conception of future co-housing designs, typologies and regulations. This research aims to understand what we can learn from this experience to build on a higher sense of community in cities.

***

Situating the Definition
of the “Modern Architect” in Arabic Writing:
The Case of Sayyid Karim


SHAIKHAH ALSAHLI
UPenn Architecture

Respondent: TBA

In the opening article of the first issue of Majallat al- ‘Imarah, the first architectural magazine in Arabic published in 1939, Sayyid Karim (1911-2005) titles this article “What is Architecture?” Karim described the architecture of Egypt at that period to be suffering a “chaos” (fawḍa). Karim was not the only Arab architect who emphasized a form of disruption. In his article, Karim highlighted the end of the phase in which architecture is understood as art and the beginning of another phase in which architecture is science. In his manifesto, Karim celebrated the era of science and technology. He stated, “modern architecture is art ... a scientific art” (al- ‘Imarah al-ḥadītha fan ... fan ‘ilmī).1 Karim situated architecture between art and science. This split between architecture, art, science, and technology did not emerge until the nineteenth century. A history reader notices that this type of question did not become critical until after the industrial revolution and after science took a leading role in many aspects, including the practice of building. These changes made the architecture discipline a challenge to define itself. In this presentation, I focus on the definition of the practice of building (architecture) between art and science in Arabic writing. I examine Karim’s article and situate it in a historical trajectory of architecture’s definition. I start with writings from the ninth to the seventeenth century to highlight two main points. First, the premodern practice of building was imbedded under mathematics as a practical geometry (handasa ‘amaliya). Second, theory and practice appeared side by side; it was common to discuss the ‘ilm (science/knowledge) of geometry and the ṣinā’a (art/craft) of carpentry, mason, and smith.

1Majallat Al-ʻimārah., 1939, vol 01, Issue 01, 14.


15 November 2022

Economies of Scale:
Housing Crises and the Architecture
of Large-Scale Responses


JESSE HONSA
KU Leuven

Respondent: Chelsea Spencer, MIT





“Economies of Scale” is a term that is tacitly understood within the architectural discipline and implies that the cost of a dwelling varies with the scale of its production. “Economising” in this sense does not reduce standards but does more with less by redefining the size of some productive unit: the building, the project, the site, or the actors involved. At the same time, rescaling also necessitates some form of innovation, a reordering of parts. Scale is therefore a driver of change to the built environment. However, architectural discourse and practice in the last decades have been influenced by a folk-political paradigm that favours immediacy, tending to shy away from the large-scale, long-term, and complex. This ongoing PhD project investigates the influence of scale in mass housing, through historic case studies in London in the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. It considers three types of actors that scaled up to respond to housing crises: The Peabody Trust, a philanthropic developer and financier; John Laing & Son, a contractor and speculative housebuilder; and the Architect’s Department of the London County Council (LCC), a municipal architecture bureau. Large sums of financing and a perpetual legal structure allowed Peabody to accumulate and remove land and housing from the speculative market, while introducing new formats of urban and domestic space. Centralised managerial structures served Laing in their reassessment of construction labour efficiency, reordering the building site with the introduction of concrete systems. And the LCC’s long-term planning objectives, combined with its organisation of in-house specialists, architects and planners, engendered a highly creative environment where iterative work produced innovation. This talk will give an overview of the PhD project by introducing the concept of scalar economy and showing some of the most crucial findings from each of the three case studies.

***

Two Faces of Rational Technologies
From the View of Vendor Lock-in


JIN MOTOHASHI
CCA + Waseda University Tokyo


Respondent: Mario Rinke, University of Antwerp

Einsteinhaus Caputh, Konrad Wachsmann, 1928. Source: Holz Bau, 2022 ©️ Hiroko Tominaga


In the fall of 2018, I got an opportunity to look around the timber structural architecture in the early modern period of Germany, around 1910-1940, with Japanese architects. We looked around these in Dortmund, Wuppertal, and other suburbs that modern architectural history rarely has not covered. We published a book as a result, Holz Bau, in 2019 with Katsuya Fukushima, Hiroko Tominaga, and Rejiro Sawaki. This book will be re-published this September by TOTO Publishing.
This timber structure is also called emerging wood structure, 新興木構造 in Japanese. Simply put, this structure is a technique using short and small pieces of wood joined together and creating an arch for a wide space instead of using an iron structure, for example, an exhibition space, gym, hanger for the airforce, etc. This technique was first studied in Germany in the 1910s and introduced to Japan through the architectural media. And this technique in Japan constructed some buildings in practice, and some still exist.

In this book, I wrote a theory about architectural technology; the distribution of new logical technology might have a contradictional relationship with the freedom of design. Since I studied the 1970s in the Japanese architectural scene, I have had this awareness. Therefore, I wrote this essay to deal with these two ages. I analyzed the inconvenience of the distribution of the new technology from the view of vendor lock-in dealt with in economics. In my opinion, there are two modes of technology in architecture. One is the technology that is created and used only for one-time architecture. The other one is the technology to promote to design of the architecture as applicable to many architectures. This technology was created as a prototype and tried to get a similar technology for that architecture implemented in society.

Particularly in the latter mode, it is essential to note that when superior technology is implemented too widely in society, vendor lock-in kicks the freedom of design off. Architecture is an activity that takes place within the market. The invention of rational technology can create a monopoly market. It means that this market is losing freedom for design. In this presentation, I will present my thinking around these problems, refer to the keyword below, the wood construction technology investigated by Friedrich Zollinger and the design of Hugo Heering in Germany in the 1920s, the corrugated construction technology studied by Kenji Kawai and the "Genan" the works of Osamu Ishiyama. Referring to these keywords, I want to think together about the trip in the architect's technical approach.



22 November 2022
‘DocTalks x MoMA’


Can We Speak of Andalusian Coloniality?
Spatial Measures for Social Control, Land Distribution, and Cultural Extraction after the Conquest of Nasrid Granada (1492-1609)



MANUEL SAGA SANCHEZ GARCIA
Dumbarton Oaks

Respondent: Juan Luis Bourke, University of Maryland


1570 copy of the 1539 foundational plan of Mancha Real, new town settled in the Andalusian frontier according to similar instructions and regulations of Spanish colonial cities in America. Archivo de la Real Chancillería de Granada. MPD nº 21// Caja 1 - Pergamino 8.

The early stage of the Spanish American conquest in the sixteenth century is often presented as a period of continuity and evolution of the rising Habsburg imperial system applied in America. According to this approach, certain colonial traits were directly exported from the Mediterranean context -like the traditional patio houses- while others would be developed and refined in America -such as the urban Spanish grid- with little to no echo in Europe. However, in the early years when the limits between Europe and America were highly fluid, when the Indies were still mapped as an extension of Asia and western Andalusia was a struggling morisco province, the category of colony was not so clear. Before Spain had any fixed center and not even the first stone of El Escorial was placed, the distinction between here and there was yet to be stablished. The absence of the encomienda regime and precious metals to be extracted may leave regions such as eastern Andalusia out of the category of colony as it is understood today but, still, it may be possible to speak of Andalusian coloniality.

This presentation looks at a series of architectural and urban transformations in the province of Granada, the last Muslim province in the Iberian Peninsula, during those fluid decades immediately after its conquest in 1492. We will delve into its connection with the colonial image of imperial power, the social control through new public spaces and institutional architectures, the imposition of modern military infrastructure connected to the Caribbean, the modification of the Alhambra palaces and, finally, the occupation and distribution of land through urban planning methods that mirrors their American siblings. We will look at archival documents that show in-between stages such as the construction site of Granada’s cathedral besides the still undemolished remains of the old mosque; images that defy how colonial geopolitical hierarchies are usually depicted and inspire new ideas for decolonial epistemology.

***

From Land to Rubble to Soil.
Thinking with the Urban Unfinished


MATILDE IGUAL CAPDEVILA
Akademie der bildendenden Künste in Vienna

Respondent: Christina Shivers, Harvard GSD

A field in Sociópolis, La Torre (València, Spain) in winter 2022.
Film photograph taken by the presenter.
In 2003, thirteen international architecture offices –including Toyo Ito, MVRDV, FOA and Greg Lynn, among others– presented their vision for Sociópolis, a Project for a City of the Future. Sociópolis was a 350.000 m2 social housing urban development planned in the outskirts of Valencia (Spain), on protected agricultural land. The project promised a sustainable urban design in which nature and architecture would merge seamlessly in a rurban environment, according to Vicente Guallart, Sociópolis initiator.
In 2007, as construction works began on site, the bulldozers removed the fertile layer of soil. Some time later, the 2008 financial crisis brought the development to a halt.
In 2022, Sociópolis remains partially unfinished and offers a landscape of vacant lots and isolated high rise buildings. Weekend urban farmers, as well as a small group of professional producers, are now working a land that is made out of rubble. They take care of the soil, slowly reviving the ground.
Sociópolis is a tale of architecture and nature, of the urban and the rural and ultimately of a site of tensions, of failure and, perhaps, of potential. My dissertation focuses on this single study case to research the urban unfinished, drawing from a wide range of fields, each chapter analyses the project and its failure from a different angle.
This presentation takes the form of a walk focused on the histories of its ground, introducing the architecture project as disturbance (Tsing, 2015), analyzing the current agricultural work on site as caring for the soil (Tronto, 2017; Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017) and exploring the makings of hands-on urbanism (Krasny, 2012).



30 November 2022
‘DocTalks x MoMA’

9–11 AM EST, 3–5 PM CET

“In England, where fuel is plenty,
and its waste universal”
Household Comfort and
Thermal Abundance
in the Nineteenth Century


ALEKSANDR BIERIG
Harvard GSD

Respondent: Matthew Wells, The University of Manchester



"The Miseries of Human Life: Getting Up Early in a Cold Gloomy Morning...Before an Empty Grate," Thomas Rowlandson, 1807. Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, 59.533.1987

There are few more indelible themes in the history of architecture than what Reyner Banham memorably named the “well-tempered environment.” Banham’s 1969 book was an earnest (if also wry) narration of the technologized interior—the equipment of heat, light, air, and water that had supposedly brought the architectural environment under control. This history was, as he himself admitted, more interested in ends rather than means, with the final provision of comfort rather than the systems of power that provided the critical external supports to interior environments. But where had such expectations come from, to begin with?

This presentation will outline an alternate genealogy of the well-tempered environment by returning to a moment before Banham’s history, when the distribution of comfort was more uneven and far less certain. Its focus is on a particular object of both technological and architectural interest: the household fireplace. Specifically, it will consider the work of early nineteenth-century engineer and writer Robert Stuart Meikleham, who composed the first English-language histories of fireplace technology in 1825 and 1845. Though Meikleham wanted to tell a story of what he called “the progress of personal and fireside comfort”—a kind of early draft of the “well-tempered environment,” chronicling the inventions of “ingenious men” like himself, Count Rumford, and Benjamin Franklin—a close reading of his work reveals a more conflicted story. Indeed, what his books reveal is not a history of technology, but rather a history of fuel; of how the comforts of the nineteenth-century British household were supported not by technical mastery, but by their anomalous use of coal. At the time, there was no shortage of resourceful cultural responses to the problem of conserving fuel—from Russian and Dutch “closed stoves” to the underfloor heating of the Chinese Kang, among many other examples discussed in Meikleham’s histories. By contrast, the fuel folkways of the English were exemplified in the national attachment to the “open hearth”—a roaring pile of coals that sent roughly ninety percent of its heat up the chimney—whose persistence could only be explained through their access to the surplus energy of fossil fuels.

This paper asks, in other words, what it would mean to tell the history of household comfort not as a one of technological control, but rather—as Meikleham and others saw it, at the time—as a story of thermal profligacy and, ultimately, failure. What would it mean for the history of architecture to retell the story of the “well-tempered environment” not from the standpoint of improving gadgets and devices, but instead from the perspective of fuel?


***

Healing Landscapes:
Women, Ecology and Healthcare
in the Late Ottoman Empire


ZEYNEP ECE SAHIN KORKAN
TU Munich

Respondent: Damla Göre, ETH Zurich



Pediatric patients and nurses during the breaktime at the garden between the pavilions of Hamidiye Etfal Hospital Yıldız Albums of Abdulhamid II, Istanbul University

This study examines the pavilion-style hospitals of late Ottoman Istanbul, which stood at the intersection of body politics, ecological paradigms, and the healthcare culture of the time. The 19th century witnessed numerous advancements in medical science such as the discovery of X-rays, the development of preventive healthcare, and the concept of public health, which laid the foundations for modern medicine. These developments were closely followed by the Ottoman Empire since the late Ottoman mindset was marked by the idea of modernity. In line with the great pursuit of bringing the Empire to the level of modern civilizations, fundamental improvements were made. Together with the reforms in administration, military, and education, healthcare has also been modernized. This modernization was not limited to the medical equipment or the processes of diagnosis and treatment. The spaces of medical care were also reshaped and took on a different architectural character. Hospita layouts that could provide better isolation to prevent contamination, especially the “pavilion system” which consisted of small and independent buildings arranged in a large garden at a certain distance from each other, became prevalent. Pavilion-style was adopted as the most viable plan solution for healthcare institutions in Central Europe as well as in the Ottoman Empire. This research focuses on the two major pavilion-style hospital projects realized in Istanbul under the rule of Abdülhamid II. These are Hamidiye Etfal Hospital, which was the first children’s hospital of the Empire and the new Haseki Women’s Hospital. Far from the conventional understanding, the layouts of these hospitals embraced fresh air, green areas and were surrounded by agricultural fields. It was a balanced scheme of architecture and landscaping that valued outdoor spaces as much as the enclosed ones. From a wider perspective, it was the first phase of the Antropocene and the time when the first institutional implementations of Ottoman administrators’ changing perception of nature were seen. In this context, nature began to be understood more as a commodity and a scientific object, and this thought was reacted to and challenged by Ottoman subjects in a variety of ways. On the other hand, the implementation of the pavilion-style coincided with the process of Ottoman women becoming visible in the public spaces of modern society as working and producing individuals. It was during this time that the first wave of women entered the medical profession as nurses, midwives, and caregivers in the Empire. Either as patients or employees, women were the prominent users and occupants of these new healthcare spaces that reflected the modernization of medical science as well as the transforming socio-ecological parameters and body politics on women and children.



6 December 2022

From Pedagogical Revolution
to Revolutionary Pedagogy:
The Politics of Architectural Pedagogy
from the 1963 White Revolution
to the 1979 Revolution in Iran


ALI JAVID
University of Western Australia

Respondent: TBA



During the Cold War, the Middle East witnessed socio-political reforms or revolutions with different goals and slogans: from the USA-sponsored economic-social reforms of the Point Four Plan, the objective of which was the modernization and development of the societies of the Middle Eastern countries within the Western orbit of influence, to the emergence of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist revolutions with the slogans of independence and Islamism. These radical changes coincided with the emergence of new architectural universities and modern pedagogy, which, along with the goals of reform or revolution, acted as agents of change in society. This thesis focuses on the interaction of revolutions and architecture pedagogy in two contemporary revolutions in Iran, The White Revolution (1963) and The Islamic Revolution (1979). It interrogates the design studio as a backbone of architecture pedagogy, an institutionalized pedagogical framework that forms a socio-political assemblage, in order to identify and translate the spatial network of connections between politics and pedagogy. Accordingly, design studios, consisting of agents such as professors, students, curriculum, design brief, models, drawings, books, magazines, exhibitions, and communities, are politically shaped and transformed by the architecture pedagogy. Indeed, the design studio is a network of actors which is a systematic agenda between pedagogy and politics, and which is changed and developed based on the socio-political aims. This thesis charts a transformation of the structure and content of the architecture pedagogy as it adapts to the socio-political agendas of each revolution, The White Revolution (1963) and The Islamic Revolution (1979). The trajectory of the transformation of the architecture pedagogy started in 1963 when a new system of architecture education, Italian pedagogy, was brought to Iran according to the agenda of development and modernization of the country and decolonized the curriculum from the previous Beaux-Arts-derived pedagogical system; it continued up to the Cultural Revolution (1980-1984) when the new Islamist regime decided to “detoxify” the curriculum from its Western influence and Islamicize it as a utopia of the Future-Past.

***

Yona Friedman and Eda Schaur’s
Self-Help Manuals for India
Architecture and Sustainability
in the Context of “Development Aid”


 FREDERIKE LAUSCH
TU Darmstadt


Respondent: Jesse Lockard, University of Chicago


Friedman, Yona and Eda Schaur, CCSK. 2003. Environment and Self-Reliance. New Delhi: Vigyan Prasser.

This postdoctoral research project in architectural history aims to examine the role of architecture in “development aid” and the mutual learning processes between the Global North and South in terms of ecological sustainability, focusing on self-help manuals that were circulated globally, predominantly in the 1970s and 1980s. These manuals which assembled and presented planning, building and survival knowledge in the form of comic strips were produced by the Communication Centre of Scientific Knowledge for Self-Reliance (CCSK). The CCSK, founded in Paris in 1983 by Hungarian-French architect Yona Friedman and Slovenian-born Austrian architect Eda Schaur, was funded by the United Nations University and collaborated with the International Council of Scientific Unions. The manuals were made available for reproduction by individuals or organizations and were distributed with a particular focus on India. The CCSK manuals designed for then-called “developing countries” are compared with Friedman’s manuals and books aimed at individuals in the Global North. Thereby the study addresses questions regarding the conceptualization of the relationship between experts and users and transfers of knowledge. Its underlying proposition is that the CCSK manuals can tell us more about the Global North than the Global South, with the predominant theme being the ecological crisis. The CCSK manuals seem to present a romanticized picture of the mode of survival of slum dwellers in “developing countries” and render it into a model of an alternative lifestyle for the Global North, one that was purportedly better able to adapt to a future life of resource scarcity. This project thus aims to explore how sustainable architectural practices have emerged in the engagement with “developing countries” and so-called “simple technology.”



13 December 2022

The Origins of Architecture,
Nature and Myth:
A Fraught Relationship?


CHRISTIANE MATT
University of York

Respondent: Cara Rachele, ETH Zurich

Marc-Antoine Laugier, Frontispiece to the Essai sur l’Architecture, engraving by Jean-Jacques Aliamet after a drawing by Charles-Joseph-Dominique Eisen, 1755, Cornell University Rare Book and Manuscript Collections, Ithaca (image supplied electronically by ArtStor).

Since its beginnings, constructions of architecture’s origins have played a crucial role for the discursive formation of architectural theory as a discipline and a system of thought. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has led numerous architects, architectural theorists, and writers to explore notions of architecture’s origins in their work. One of architecture’s most prominent origin myths, which has been retrospectively canonised as the only one of its kind to survive from classical antiquity, was delivered by the Roman military engineer and architect Vitruvius in his treatise De Architectura (c. 30-15 B.C.). Vitruvius’s founding myth constructs the invention of architecture as a result of the ‘community of man’, which emerged in the wake of a kind of ‘civilising catastrophe’, represented by a raging forest fire. My paper offers a critical re-examination of architecture’s founding myths by taking Vitruvius’s myth as a starting point for my inquiry. I draw on Roland Barthes’ and Massimo Cacciari’s work on mythologies in order to interrogate the ways in which architecture’s origins have been imagined and rendered through the framework of mythical speech. Doing this allows me to explore the complexities and idiosyncrasies inherent in constructions of the origins of architecture, especially those relating to representations of nature and the ‘natural.’ My paper gives particular attention to notions of complexity and multiplicity, and the ways in which these have often been systematically glossed over or excised from discussions of the origins of architecture. I explore the complex relationships between architecture and nature in order to dislodge the theoretical hegemony of canonical representations of the origins of architecture, such as the ones articulated by Vitruvius and Leon Battista Alberti. With this paper, I hope to shed new light on the ways in which notions of the origins of architecture have been deployed to guarantee and uphold certain assumptions about architecture as a discipline.

***

Istanbul in the 1740s:
Architecture and Transculturation


ALPER METIN

Sapienza University of Rome


Respondent: Gül Kale, Carleton University


Nuruosmaniye Mosque (1748-1755) seen from the North. From Descrizione Topografica dello Stato Presente di Costantinopoli by Cosimo Comidas de Carbognano (Kozmas Gomidas Kömürciyan), 1794.

With the advent of the so-called Ottoman Baroque, Istanbul witnessed a unique and rapid process of renewal of its architectural idiom which completely changed the silhouette of imperial capital. Hitherto, this unprecedented phenomenon of transculturation has been insistingly interpretated as the outcome of the longstanding Franco-Ottoman relations. However, most aspects of the architectural production of the period such as the new decorative vocabulary, unique planimetric experimentations, typological inventions, etc. demonstrate a more direct relationship with the Italian cultural sphere rather than what has been pointed out till now. To complete the picture offered by the previous scholarship, this dissertation aimed to explore the genesis of the Ottoman Baroque with a brand-new attention to its ties with Italy especially at the very initial stage. The methodological approach which was adopted also differed from the previously established patterns. On one hand, the main typological novelties were questioned with particular emphasis on significant case studies pointing out at specific Western European models. On the other hand, an in-depth analysis of the single elements composing the column order (such as capitals, shafts, bases, pedestals, and entablatures) interrogated the limits and the nature of the new architectural repertoire with the objective of retracing its possible origins. The presentation at DocTalks will try to give a panorama on this peculiar field of Architectural History and Cross-cultural Studies with a quick overview of the dissertation.






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