Large-scale urban violence is a tumultuous, messy, and distressing affair. The materials and patterns of everyday life are disrupted. Amongst death and disarray, however, it would be easy to overlook some of the important spatial operations that take place in urban conflict. This paper examines the construction of street barricades in Paris between 1795 and 1871 as a transformation of the city. This transformation is described as an instance of what Rancière calls the 'redistribution of the sensible'.
According to Ranciere's argument the materials and spaces of the city do not simply bear the imprint of politics. The city is not a neutral surface which is inflected politically by means of certain loaded marks. Instead, the very perception of there being a city - what a city is, how it is assembled, who inhabits it - is the result of "a distribution of spaces, times, and forms of activity." [The Politics of Aesthetics, 12]
The subject of Haussmann's Paris was the middle-class individual. The sensible structures of the city priveleged those who shopped in the arcades, visited l'Opéra and had leisure to stroll the boulevards.The existence of mobs or crowds was an affront to this priveleged individuality. The collective is unthinkable in Haussmann’s city. The sensible elements of Paris, including the materials of the city, are distributed to assign places to individuals.
The ephemeral architecture of the barricades effects a redistribution of of the sensible, a material politics that is not merely the mirror of an abstract politics which happens elsewhere.
This paper springs from Joseph Rykwert's observation, in On Adam's House in Paradise (1981), of a conceptual correlation between Marc-Antoine Laugier and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It discerns, in the condition of joints in Laugier's Essay on Architecture (1753) and social bonds in Rousseau's Social Contract (1762), an un- derlying structural logic: what I will call an implicit theory of assemblage. From this initial reference point in the mid-eighteenth century, the paper moves to consider theories of crowds in the late nineteenth century as implicit theories of assemblage, and ultimately advocates the work of Gabriel Tarde as a basis for explicitation of these underlying theories.
Authorship and authority, originality and influence are genealogical concerns, arising in the relationship between a maker and his or her precursors. Influence is traditionally understood as the extent to which one's work is attributable to another. There is a common critical mode in which influence is employed as a mechanism to establish inter-generational debt. This paper is written against this type of economic analysis. Instead, it presents a criticism which describes genealogy as actively antagonistic, rather than as a process of passive inheritance. Two theorists who discuss the anxiety of being a latecomer are presented: Harold Bloom, who writes of the poetry as constituted in the struggle of a latecomer with his or her significant precursors; and Sir Thomas Browne, who describes the anxiety of inhabiting a degenerating world. Both theorists describe the need for the latecomer to clear a space (literal or figurative) in which to work. Two architectural relationships are offered as examples of this anxiety, and this need to clear space. The relationship between Adolf Loos and K. F. Schinkel is shown to be not quite how Loos describes it; and the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Augustus are shown to contend for authority in the construction of their respective mausolea.
An 1851 Punch cartoon depicted competition at the London World Exhibition as a race between riders representing different countries, who – in contrast to pious hopes that intercultural encounters at the exhibition would further mutual understanding and world peace – waste no time on taking notice of each other but scramble furiously towards the finishing line. Sigfried Giedion optimistically believed that being at the exhibition was like traveling “around the world, for all nations have come here; enemies are coexisting in peace.”
In 2006, the Tropical Islands Resort at Brand, Germany, similarly brings diverse cultures and realms into the interior of a huge dome that was meant to house the production of CargoLifters, sophisticated airships that could have opened markets for Germany around the world. The high-tech project failed. Years later, the dome is filled with late colonial fantasies … announced metaphorically at Tropical Islands as a “Eine-Welt-Dorf” – a one-world-village. While employees inside, after some behavioural training by management, are indeed obliging, friendly and helpful, their fellow citizens outside frequently attack strangers. Hopes can be thwarted, rapacious intentions dressed up as beneficial.
Which forms of knowledge, within such a context, are just a “supplementary ornament” – and which could be an “immanent given”. For whom? Is Tropical Islands Resort’s branding and public relations a form of aesthetising politics? When is disagreement possible?
This issue of Interstices: Journal of Architecture and Related Arts provides another occasion to explore small and narrow spaces between apparently solid and secure structures; to pause and to expand openings for thought and practice inarchitecture and related arts. Interstices (pl. ĭn-tûr’stĭ-sēz’, -sĭz) insert themselves, as man-made, articulated, and unobstructed spaces, into the elements of their surrounding structures. Despite their difference, they remain part of the fabric,as a crevice or crack is a structural part of the overall form of a wall or a rock, or an interval or rupture part of a network’s fl ow of forces...
Dispersed and difficult to control, impulses are also historically contingent. This paper explores connections between the efficiently circulating sewers of suburban developments and the exhibition of a ‘dunny’ at the 2004 Sydney Biennale. While not immediately obvious, aspects of the "civilising process" (Elias) demonstrate an increasing distance between human bodies and their excrements. This moulding of affects is necessary for both sewers and art work to function. Though re-examining the process of civilisation, as it played out during colonisation in Europe and in Aotearoa – New Zealand and Australia, imperial reticulations become visible that prepare the conditions under which Daniel Malone’s Biennale exhibit, A Long Drop to Nationhood, can be effective and suburban constellations hygienic.
(Begins) The search for a mode of architecture particular to New Zealand has been much prized for as long as architects have been building there, but it enjoyed a dramatic and popular resurgence in the wake of David Mitchell and Gillian Chaplin’s 1984 book, The Elegant Shed. The nationalist genealogy – from “humble bach” to the experiments of Group Construction, Group Architects and their offspring, to contemporary modernist-revival celebrations – became well-rehearsed at all levels of New Zealand’s architectural culture and was, at least until recently, firmly embedded in Auckland’s two schools of architecture, and in Wellington’s since the end of the 1990s. (...)
In the Paris Commune of 1871, collectives, collective action, and shared spaces were imagined through metaphors of mounding and scattering. This article explores the material imagination that underlies these metaphors and several improvised urban constructions through which they manifested. In particular, it refers to a mound of sticks and manure built to cushion the fall of the monumental Vendôme Column, heaps of meaningless consumer goods, impromptu barricades piled up in the streets, stellar matter imagined by Auguste Blanqui, conjugations of terms in poems by Arthur Rimbaud, and ultimately the piled bodies of the Communards themselves. This shared preoccupation, I suggest, enabled collective improvisation and the “articulation work” of cobbling together a new public world (Star and Strauss, 1999: 10).
This paper comments on a drawing protocol entitled the “Monolith Drawing”, with which an architectural figure is extracted out of a single volume, synchronising analogue thinking with computational development, to enter history through our capacity to long for the experience of something that is absent. The Lacanian interpretation assumes there cannot be absence in an objective world, for absence can only exist through symbolic or representative means. It is through the representational means of the Monolith Drawing that we enable ourselves, as architects, to design presence where there is none.
This research explores and (re)deploys the notion of ex uno lapide in contemporary architectural production. Such creative practice recovers a tradition linking geology with architectonic drawing and operates in conceptual space through means of contained sets of formal operations to generate a particular kind of architecture.
The Monolith Drawing is here explained in relation to the design of a museum extension to house a tapestry cycle by Peter Paul Rubens, adjacent to St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta. These tapestries represent the idea of transubstantiation. In response, the museum’s design acts as a closed vessel, a monumental reliquary, enabling a closed and controlled environment to ensure the conservation of the artwork. The reliquary is interpreted as a container of meaning, directing a reciprocal gaze towards the idea of meaningful absence. The Monolith Drawing installs two important principles. The idea of the mirror-construct, in which an object is depicted using parallel lines to project its mirror image and allow twofold vision, outwards (res extensa) and inwards (res cogitans); and the idea of ex uno lapide – a strategy where architecture is carved out of solid mass. This carving is guided by allowing the depicted object and its mirror image to intersect. Its transcriptions allow for a drawing with history; a tracing of its own tracing.
I propose to set up a dialogue between absence and silence; in particular, between my own interpretations of absence through layered images, and silence as it features in the musical works by Tōru Takemitsu. My layered images seek to re-present experiences of absence, as they appear to the senses in the built environment, responding to its capacity to evoke multiple, uncertain and distant presences that seem to be away from our grasp. In Takemitsu’s multi-layered and unstructured pieces, silence plays a key role in bringing about “ma” – a meaningful spatio-temporal gap or in-between condition with metaphysic connotations, of great significance in Japanese culture. Following a hint by composer Philip Dawson, and largely driven by intuition, I explore the –albeit distant– resonances of my visual work in the acclaimed Japanese composer’s music. In this way, I expand the interpretative possibilities of absence and layering in representing the vanishing atmospheres of Venice, an example of fragile existence and aggregated formation.
American architect and educator Peter Eisenman treats architecture as a form of text which can be read through the absent/present traces of a design process. Though the trace has been much developed in existing scholarship, Eisenman’s Guardiola House (1988) has been overlooked in terms of its analysis and interpretation. This paper proposes that the Guardiola House is a critical shift in Eisenman’s work, since for the first time the trace, through imprinting, is developed into a condition of interstitiality, which not only expresses the merging of geometries, but provides a new way of blurring concepts and space. The Guardiola House reflects Eisenman’s shift from the rule-bound transformations framed in structuralism to the complex, interpretive, and unpredictable ‘events’ of poststructuralism. This paper asks: what significance, in terms of theory, culture, and programme, does this notion of the interstitial have for Eisenman’s work, as well as for the practice of architectural design?
The following piece is a bricolage of both absence and presence, borne of the observation of such phenomena within a 1953 exhibition, held at the ICA, London, called Parallel of Life and Art. There were no captions. Only an accompanying catalogue detailing the titles and sources of each image. It is through both this catalogue and the photographs taken of the exhibition that it was discovered that one of the images was not always present. What seems significant is that this absent-present image was an aerial view of a crater. This paper, thus, deconstructs and re-textualises the spatial phenomena associated with the word crater, tracing the understandings and associations of these at once both forcibly evident and evasive marks, joining the dots and navigating between spatial and textual fields. This piece is an opening; an opening outward toward the peripheral, the marginal, and from the crater image to the craterous landscape of post-World War II London, in which the Parallel of Life and Art exhibition took place. It is a series of productive readings about the site of the exhibition, yet, it is also a tracing through etymological origins and mythological tales whose beginnings, like the exhibition itself, exist only as allusive references. It is a tracing that enables a glimpse into the space between: between cleared and constructed, and between absent and present.
"Restless Containers: Thinking Interior Space” draws on German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk's "Innenraum denken" (Thinking Interior Space), a section in the first volume of his Spheres trilogy (1998, 1999, 2004), to explicate what amounts to a complex field of containment and infinite overlappings of existential spheres. I read this useful, if Euro-centric, perspective against the place-relations and collective enfoldings integral to Māori and Pacific cultures – a mobilisation of interiority that in many ways eludes Sloterdijk’s depiction of