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•jeptember 15, 



thresholds 32 



Z. Pamela Karimi 

Assistant Editor 

Sadia Shirazi 

Graphic Designer 

Pantea Karimi 

Advisory Board 

Mark Jarzombek. Chair 

Stanford Anderson 

Dennis Adams 

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Leo Marx 

Mary McLeod 

Ikem Okoye 

Vikram Prakash 

Kazys Varnelis 

Cherie Wendelken 

Gwendolyn Wright 

J. Meejin Yoon 


James Ackerman 

Imran Ahmed 

Mark and Elaine Beck 

Tom Beischer 

Robert F. Drum 

Gail Fenske 

Liminsl Projects Inc. 

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Robert Alexander Gonzales 

Jorge Otero-Pailos 

Annie Pedret 

Vikram Prakash 

Joseph M. Diry 

Richard Skendzel 

*Cover image and theme photographs by Pantea Karimi 
Net Huts, Hastings. England. 2004. 

Editorial Policy 

Thresholds is published biannually 

in spring and fall by the Department 

of Architecture at Massachusetts 

Institute of Technology. 

Opinions in Thresholds are those of 

the authors alone and do not necessarily 

represent the views of the editors. 

No part of Thresholds may be 

photocopied or distributed without 

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Thresholds is funded primarily by the 

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I would like to thank Pantea Karimi. Shadi 
Kashefi. Frank Forrest. Talia Dorsey. Sadia 
Shirazi, Deborah Kully, Matthew Benjamin 
Matteson. Robert Irwin. Lauren Kroiz, Mechtild 
Widrich, Razan Francis, Lucia Allais, Anne 
Deveau, Eyiem Basaldi, Jack Valleli. Rebecca 
Chamberlain, Minerva Tirado. Jose Luis Ar- 
guello. Melissa Bachman, Elizabeth Pierre, 
Hamid Karimi as well as Professors Mark 
Jarzombek. Stanford Anderson, Arindam Dutta. 
Afsaneh Najmabadi. and Nasser Rabbat for 
their continued and tireless help and support. 

"This issue is dedicated to Adele and Kamran 


04 Z. Pamela Karimi 


Mark Jarzombek 06 

From Corridor (Spanish) to Corridor (English); or. What's in Your Corridor? 

Naomi Davidson 12 

Accessible to all Muslims and to the Parisian Public 

Z. Pamela Karimi and Frank Forrest 18 

Picturing the "Exhausted Globe" 

William C. Brumfield 26 

America as Emblem of Modernity in Russian Architecture, 1870-1917 

Michael W. Meister 33 

Access and Axes of Indian Temples 

Neri Oxman and Mitchell Joachim 36 


Null Lab 40 

The Bobco Metals Company 

Ole W. Fischer 42 

The Nietzsche-Archive in Weimar 

Sarah Menin 47 

Accessing the Essence of Architecture 

Talinn Grigor 53 

Ladies Last! Perverse Spaces in a Time of Orthodoxy 

Nicole Vlado 57 

(Re)collection: Surfaces, Bodies, and the Dispersed Home 

Mark Rawlinson 62 

Charles Sheeler; Musing on Primitiveness 

Jennifer Ferng 66 

Designing Conclusions for a Cold War Humanity 

Sara Stevens 71 

The Small Box Format of the Retail Pharmacy Chains 

Douglas and Mitchell Joachim 76 

Human-Powered River Gymnasiums for New York 

Garyfallia Katsavounidou 78 

Unfamiliar (Hi)stories: The "Egnatia" Project in Thessaloniki 

Elliot Felix 81 

The Subway Libraries 

Nigel Parry 90 

British Graffiti Artist, Banksy, Hacks the Wall 

Tijana Vujosevic 94 
Para-thesis Symposium: Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation 

98 Contributors 

lUl Illustration Credits 

102 Call for Submissions 



Z. Pamela Karimi 

All progress and development in life depends on access, 
whether it is the ability to inhabit certain spaces, 
having essential resources available, or having access 
to important information and ideas. Access can be self- 
perpetuating, with each opened door offering a vista of 
even greater possibilities and opportunities. But many 
doors are at risk of again being closed, and the thresholds 
that some have crossed are denied to others. As technology 
and globalization draws the world's cultures and societies 
ever closer, the challenges of access granted and access 
denied confront us today like never before. 

Recently, the world's largest archive of Nazi Germany, 
containing important information about victims of the 
Holocaust, was finally opened to historians. Meanwhile, 
hundreds of Europe's Afghani immigrants went on hunger 
strike to protest deportation, as their countrymen back 
home still smuggle themselves out of war and destitution 
into more stable and prosperous countries. As MIT began 
to unveil an online project, allowing educators, students, 
and self-learners around the globe to access the school's 
course materials, the Iranian government denied its 
citizens access to the BBC's Persian language Internet 
site. Doors being opened. Doors being closed. 

Restricted access to certain geographical areas as well 
as architectural and virtual spaces can be found in all 

cultures throughout history, transcending belief systems 
and nationality. But the post-9/11 world has taken such 
phenomena to a new level, denying access to many people 
around the globe with the justification of improving 
security. In this context, the question of accessibility 
becomes even more topical and omnipresent. Today's new 
laws and regulations regarding accessibility have shaped 
my desire to address this topic from various viewpoints. 

Even commonplace means of access that we take for 
granted have involved stories behind them. As contributor 
Mark Jarzombek reveals, the history of the corridor 
incorporated numerous cultural formations that served 
various purposes before becoming a typical feature of 
modern office buildings, residential housing, and schools. 
A different perspective is offered by Michael W. Meister, 
who elaborates on the topic of Early Hindu temples, 
showing the multiple ways in which the "access and axes" 
in these buildings both embodied the divine and defined 
people's access to sacred zones, thus working as "machines 
for social order." By looking at the Mosquee and Institut 
Musulman de Paris, Naomi Davidson analyzes the ways 
in which a single architectural space in early-twentieth- 
century Paris simultaneously promoted and discouraged 
access to Islamic tradition and faith. 

These authors raise a broader question; What criteria 
determine access? At times it is based on economic, 
psychological, physical, geographical or political factors; 
other times it is decided by nationality, religion or ethnic 
background. For centuries. Jewish communities in Europe 
and the Middle East were not granted easy access to 
many places outside of their neighborhoods. Nigel Parry 
highlights a similar phenomenon relevant to our time. 
He describes the work of the foremost British graffiti 
artist, Banksy, who covers the concrete barrier along the 
West Bank with ironic murals that are pregnant with 
deep meanings regarding the concept of accessibility. 
Such barriers to access are inseparable from issues of 
history, memory, nostalgia, nationality, politics, and 
power. Garyfallia Katsavounidou's article considers these 
ideas as she tells the story of millions of people displaced 
in the last century during the compulsory exchange of 
populations between Greece and Turkey. The story is 
told through the Egnatia installation project, which could 
be described as a "laboratory of memory" that hopes "to 
leave traces of collective memories now forgotten and 
obliterated." The project attempts to preserve the past 

for future generations, recalling the words of historian 
Pierre Nora: "Modern memory is, above all, archival: 
it relies entirely on the materiality of the trace, the 
immediacy of the word, the visibility of the image."' In 
this sense, Nicole Vlado presents a more personal method 
of (re)collecting and accessing memory as she makes casts 
of her own body parts in various postures and positions. 

Restricted access is not just limited to certain buildings 
and geographical areas. Similar limitations extend 
also into the academic realm. The histories of art and 
architecture rely partially on archival evidence. In Archive 
Fever: A Freudian Impression (1995), Derrida reminds 
us how turning Freud's house in Vienna into a museum 
allowed the secretive to become public. Ole Fisher's 
article explores the ways in which the accessibility of such 
sources affect our perceptions of past scholarly work as 
he explores the difficulty of access to Nietzsche's archive 
both at the time of his illness and throughout the years 
following his death. William Brumfield, on the other hand, 
depicts the ease of exchange of architectural knowledge 
between Russia and the United States between 1870 
and 1917, discussing how "no other form of endeavor in 
Russia expressed this relation to America as clearly as 
architecture, with its emphasis on both the pragmatic and 
the cultural." 

exceptional architectural proposals for New York City. 
Other articles deal with the concept of access in a more 
abstract sense, and yet all contributors insist on greater 
opportunity for accessing information, and reaching 
better solutions for architectural design. Thus while each 
author brings his or her own unique perspective, this 
issue can be considered a collective project, addressing a 
common area of concern that presents not only historical 
topics but also indirectly speaks to the mood of our post- 
9/11 world. In so doing, this issue of Thresholds hopes to 
generate discussion over the new challenges we face in 
this world. It is clear that access to ideas, concepts, and 
social networks that inspire creativity in artistic and 
architectural endeavors is important, but a far greater 
concern is ensuing that people throughout the world have 
access to basic human rights. The doors must be opened. 


1, Pierre Nora. "Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire.' 
Representations 26 (Spring 1989): 13. 

Throughout history, it has been possible to gain access to 
a restricted place through masquerade and transvestite 
disguise. Mikhail Bakhtin describes how the medieval 
carnival brought a leveling of performer and spectator, 
where boundaries were eliminated and the distances 
between people were suspended. Over the centuries, 
homosocial spaces gained ground in many Islamic societies 
due to the inaccessibility of the harem to most men, and 
to the forbidden nature of public spaces to most women. 
Talinn Grigor demonstrates how gender-segregated buses 
in today's Tehran both reflect and overcome such past 
limitations. On a different note, photographs of Robert 
ParkeHarrison and his wife Shana depict "exaggerated" 
accessibility to the earth's natural resources, raising 
questions of when and where we should voluntarily limit 
ourselves. Sarah Stevens addresses a similar issue by 
looking at a recent history of mass marketing attempts to 
provide American consumers with over-saturated access 
to retail pharmacy shopping. And Elliot Felix and Douglas 
and Mitchell Joachim suggest a more humane approach 
to our hyper-consumerist and rat race life through their 


rvit^i.. .<::•:>;•■ 

Figure 1. Felice Delia Greca, 
manuscript treatise of 1644, 
house and garden plan, unbuilt 

ef a;ui..L-i 

t*3.,,.mSii. ,mm...f:Ssf 

JI ,■■ ■ Jl 

/w«— «<b.« 

Figure 2. Castle Howard, York, commissioned 1698 
John Vanbrugh 

r=t-i XI- 1 

Figure 3. Burlington House. 
Picadilly. London, 1665-8. 
James Gibbs and Colen 

Mark Jarzombek 

From Corridor (Spanish) to Corridor 
(Englisli); or, What's in Your Corridor? 

Corridors these days are so ubiquitous that one can hardly 
imagine that they actually have "a history." But up until 
the 1850s, corridors were a rarity even in large public 
buildings, and insofar as they were even mentioned in 
the literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth 
centuries, they were inevitably described as dark and 
lonely places, sometimes even haunted. Marquis de Sade 
imagined them filled with trap doors; Charlotte Bronte 
visualized them as places for restless soul-searching; 
George Byron made them into convenient props for the 
Romantic soul. "But glimmering through the dusky 
corridor," he wrote in 1814 in Corsair, "Another [lamp] 
chequers o'er the shadow'd floor." ' But by 1877, when 
Henry James wrote The American, the corridor had come 
of age in the world of business and government. 

He passed his arm into that of his companion 
and the two walked for some time up and 
down one of the less frequented corridors. 
Newman's imagination began to glow with the 
idea of converting his bright, impracticable 
friend into a first-class man of business.^ 

The cause of this turn-around will be the subject of the 
next paper. Here, I will only have space to discuss the pre- 

history, so to speak, of the corridor. I should add that I 
mean very specifically the word corridor, and not just any 
long passageway. Nomen est omen. 

The purpose of this exercise is to add a layer of 
thought — modest perhaps, but not insignificant — to our 
understanding of the formation of modern spaces. I would 
like to suggest that the corridor's history engages various 
cultural formations before becoming the typical feature 
of the modern office and school; it had to jump across 
national boundaries (from Spain to England) and across 
the domains of various building typologies (from defensive 
military architecture to domestic architecture to civic 
architecture), migrations that do not easily anticipate the 
word's eventual position in architectural vocabulary as 
one of the last significant neologisms, becoming, in fact, 
a flash point in debates about modern epistemological 
conceptions. In today's world, where corridors have been 
often criticized for their association with the bureaucratic 
mind-set, it might come as a surprise that the corridor, 
at its most fundamental historical level, is a legacy of the 
Spanish Empire and is thus connected with a particular 
type of modernism, the origins of which have nothing to 
do with bureaucracy, but with a mid-seventeenth century 
image of a well-oiled imperial world. 

Figure 4. Luton Hoo. Bedfordshire. 1772. Robert Adam 


Figure 5. The Government House. Pondicherry India. 
1752. Dumont 

The "Coridoor" and its Origins 

A corridor, initially, was not a space but a person, one 
who, as its Latin root suggests, could "run fast": that at 
least was its primary definition in the famous 
Tesoro de la Lengua Casteltana o Espanola of 1611, the 
first dictionary of the Spanish language. The dictionary 
lists several other meanings. A corridor could be a scout 
sent behind enemy lines to probe their defenses; he 
could be an intergovernmental messenger, and even a 
negotiator, arranging, in particular, mercantile deals and 
marriages.' In the sixteenth century, corridore were still 
in use by the Spanish government criss-crossing Europe 
with money, messages and confidential reports. The word's 
secondary meanings have to do with protected spaces 
on fortifications that allow for rapid communication or 
deployment of troops. This was the usage of the 
Italian version of the word, corridoio (a "running place"), 
which, as far as I can determine, never referred to a 
person. An early documentable example of the word can 
be found in Giovanni Villani's treatise on the history of 
Florence, the Cronica Universale (1324), where the author 
refers to a corridoio on the city walls of Florence.'' One of 
the most famous corridoio of all time was erected in that 
city in 1565 by the Medici to connect the Pallazo Pitti 

with the Uffizi, running not around the city, but right into 
its center.^ 

This etymological history reminds us that up until the 
seventeenth century, in architecture proper, there were 
no corridors; a palazzo was entered by means of an andito 
(from the word andare "to go"), which might have given 
way to a camminata '' (a "walking place") or a passaggio, 
which, if it was running along a courtyard might have 
been called, from the fifteenth century onward, a portico. 
Neither Palladio nor Serlio ever used the word corridor. 
They rarely even had hallways in their designs given that 
villas were usually composed of tightly interlocked rooms 
bound within pilastered skins. 

One of the first documentable uses of the word in 
architecture that I have been able to trace is in a plan for 
a house designed in 1644 by Felice Delia Greca in which 
the building's entrata is connected with the giardino in the 
rear by means of a "coritore." (the spelling no doubt reflecs 
the Italian's unfamiliarity with the term).' This coritore 
was not particularly grand and could easily have been 
mistaken for an andito, but it was precisely not an andito; 
nor was it a corridoio, for it had no military purpose. 
In emphasizing the equivalency between a "running 

man" and a "running space," it was a status symbol, 
meant to imply that its owner was being kept abreast of 
world events by fleet-footed messengers. And so, in an 
almost magical moment of transliteration, from walking 
to running, and from local politics to world politics, 
a new element in the semantics of prestige was born, 
emphasizing not the dignified pace of old along an andito, 
but a pace that was purposeful and targeted — a pace, one 
has to add, that was of a modern dimension. For if there is 
anything that clearly marks the transition to modernity, 
it is the need for speed: and for the rulers of the Spanish 
Empire, who had to bring together information from 
Austria, Holland and the far-reaching colonies, speed was 
a necessity. Couriers were known to cover up to 185km per 
day, meaning that the Spanish commanders frequently got 
their information long before their opponents did.* The 
imprint of Spanish courier system is still with us in the 
word "taxi," which derives from the name Tassi, the family 
who were put in charge of facilitating the flow of Spain's 
European dispatches. 

Anglicanizing the Corridor 

The shift between an Italian andito and an Italianized- 
Spanish coritore might have been too subtle or perhaps 
even too regional to have changed architecture in any 
significant way if the term had not been adopted by 
the English, who used it not for just any building, but 
for one of the most prestigious palaces of the time, the 
huge Castle Howard, commissioned in 1698 for Charles 
Howard, third Earl of Carlisle. The building, designed 
by John Vanbrugh, has a central body that consists on 
its piano nobile of a great square hall with the principal 
apartment, also square, directly behind it. One stretch 
of space, labeled corridoor, cuts across the front of the 
great hall and curves around toward the side wings. A 
second corridoor runs along one side of the entire stretch 
of the apartment wing. One could, of course, argue that 
long thin buildings by necessity required corridors, but 
this is easily disproved if one looks at the ground plan 
of Petworth House, built more or less at the same time 
as Castle Howard; despite its vast frontage, it had no 
corridors, apart from the usual cramped passageways in 
the servant's quarters. One could also compare Castle 
Howard with Burlington House (1665-8) by James Gibbs, 
which was, of course, modeled on Palladian villas where 
there were no corridors (Fig. 1 & 2). 

So why do corridoors suddenly appear in this building? It 
could be explained by the fact that many in Vanbrugh's 
generation, had a fascination for things Spanish. On a 
culinary front, the dish "Spanish olio, " a mixture of meat 

and vegetables, had become all the rage in London, as 
had the English translation of Don Quixote.' Vanbrugh 
even wrote a play set in Spain, The False Friend (1709). 
One also has to take into consideration that in the late 
seventeenth century military terminology had begun to 
spread in common language."' Palaces were even laid out 
with fake fortifications, and the corridor, "a foreign word 
of Italian or Spanish extraction," as Ephraim Chambers 
defined it somewhat loosely in his Cyclopaedia, (ca. 
1630-1140), was still a pre-eminently military term." 
Vanbrugh was certainly knowledgeable about military 
architecture as he had once thought of embarking on a 
military career. But the corridors of Castle Howard have 
to be understood within a larger perspective. Charles 
Howard, a strong supporter of the Whigs, was a prominent 
figure in the politics of the age, a minister for William III, 
member of the Privy Council and also, briefly. Lord of the 
Treasury. William III (1650-1702), a Dutch aristocrat, 
ruled England together with Mary II, and allied himself 
with the Spanish against the French who had invaded 
Holland in 1672. Once installed as King of England, he 
maintained close relations with Spain, signing the Treaty 
of Madrid in 1670 and the Treaty of Windsor in 1680 
and another in 1685, all aimed to rid the Caribbean of 
French buccaneers. The treaties also formally launched 
the English Caribbean expansion, with Britain taking 
formal control of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and 
thus establishing a strong foothold in the lucrative sugar 

The warm relations between England and Spain paid off 
in the War of the Grand Alliance against France with a 
victory for England and Spain. The war came to an end in 
1697, one year before the commissioning of Castle Howard, 
which means that the building served purposefully and 
ostentatiously as a proclamation of England's arrival on 
the world stage. Ih that respect, it was the predecessor 
to the more famous Blenheim Castle, also designed by 
Vanbrugh though with the help of William Hawksmoor. 
which, as mandated by Parliament, celebrated England's 
victory over the French in a battle at Blenheim. Germany. 
That building too had corridoors running away from 
the huge main hall. It is not an accident that in Colen 
Campbell's 1715 Vitruvius Britannicus Blenheim Castle 
and Castle Howard were the only two buildings among 
the dozens featured in the book that had corridors. The 
word was novel enough, however, that Vanbrugh, in a 
letter to the Duchess of Marlborough, felt the need to 
explain it: "The word Corridor, Madam, is foreign, and 
signifies in plain English, no more than a Passage, it is 
now however generally used as an English Word."'- The 
condescending casualness of the explanation should not 
belie the implications of this innovation. The corridoors of 



Figure 6. Design for a Grande Maison. unexecuted, ca. 1780. Claude Nicholas Ledoux 

\l .■ 


Figure 7. King Edward's School. Birmingham. 1838. 
Charles Barry 

Castle Howard with their purposeful overlapping of the 
military and the political, demonstrated, in the language 
of architecture, England's imperialist intentions and 
its usurpation of the technology associated with its new 
status as a colonial empire, namely speed. 

It was left to Robert Adam in a house now known as 
Luton Hoo (1772) in Bedfordshire to tame the corridor 
and coordinate it with the ideals of Italian planning (Fig. 
3). Because the house was designed for the noted Tory, 
John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713 -1792), the corridor 
was clearly meant to reflect the impression of majesty the 
Tories, by then in control of English politics, wanted to see 
expressed in their architecture. Stuart, on the accession 
of George III in 1760, was the king's Privy Counselor 
and for a while even Prime Minister (1762-3), famous for 
having arranged the marriage between George III and 
the German Princess Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg- 
Strelitz. In 1763, John Stuart negotiated the peace treaty 
between England and France that ended the Seven Years 
War. Though the treaty was not popular in England where 
many thought that Stuart, a Scotsman, had been too 
soft on the French, history has born out the fact that the 
treaty, whatever its weaknesses, had established England 
as the world's chief colonial empire. 

Luton Hoo, which served as Stuart's retirement estate. 
was clearly meant to commemorate his international 
career. A wide corridor cleaves the house into two and 
terminates in grand staircases at both ends." Matching 
oval spaces to the right and left of the central Salon 
serve as transitions between the corridor and the 

bedroom suites. The integration of the staircases with the 
placement of bathrooms, "powdering rooms," and service 
stairs in the shape of a flat U are also innovative. The very 
public and the very private have been extracted from the 
plan, so to speak, to be placed within their own circulatory 
core. The rooms in the house were not viewed as spaces 
of transit to other rooms, as was usual, but relatively 
tranquil entities, dialectically distinct from the bustling 
activities of the circulatory system. In fact, one could see 
the "served spaces" as having been freed from the clutter 
of the "service spaces" so that the served spaces, at the 
periphery, could better take command of the views, the 
landscape and gardens, as designed by the most famous 
landscape designer of the day. Capability Brown." 

John Stuart was considered one of England's leading bota- 
nists, and his extensive library with some thirty thousand 
volumes — one of the most complete scientific libraries 
in Europe — dominates the entire right-hand flank of the 
design. Perhaps one can see in this an early example of 
the shift of the corridor from a political space to an episte- 
mological one.'' I would thus venture to suggest that the 
building was designed as an anthropomorphic entity, with 
the Great Hall, the heart; the Salon, the head: the Portico, 
the eye; the two enclosed courtyards, the lungs; and the 
corridor, stairs and bathrooms, the circulatory system. 
The military interpretation is, however, also still possible, 
for the plan, unusual even for Adam, has unmistakable 
similarities to the Government House, in Pondicherry 
India, completed in 1752 (Fig. 4). which had a series of 
rooms accessed from the rear by a continuous corridor,'* 
except that at Luton Hoo, speed had been separated — 
more so than at Castle Howard — from program, this being, 
very truly, the prototype of the modern corridor. The corri- 
dor, in other words, did not bring one into the depth of the 
building, but to a threshold, both real and conceptual — a 
within in the within. 

In France, in the meantime, the word corridor also began 
to make its way into the architectural vocabulary, but one 
rarely sees the word anywhere on a plan other than in 
the servant's quarters, as can be seen in the design for a 
grande maison of Claude Nicholas Ledoux. for example, 
from about 1780 (Fig. 5). It would have been anathema 
to culture of the French elite to have had a corridor in a 
bedroom suite where the spatial alignment of rooms was 
less important than the degree of intimacy which was 
modulated by a series of ante-chambers and where privacy 
of bodily functions was often a non-issue, the king himself 
often receiving diplomats while dressing.'' Furthermore, 
the Palladian imperative to work without internal circula- 
tion — carried forth in mid-seventeenth century designs 
like that for the Barberini Palace (161628-38)— remained 


a tradition in France until well into the nineteenth centu- 
ry. As a consequence, the corridor as a significant element 
in design remained rare in France. Beaux-Arts architects 
would inevitably use what we today might call courtyard- 
corridors, but which they consistently called galleries, 
colonnades, or colonnades convert, with their allusions to 
historical precedent. 

The Darkening of the Corridor 

Despite the innovations of Castle Howard and Luton 
Hoo, the corridor was in truth a relative rarity even in 
England and especially during the Georgian and Regency 
eras, when architects remained strongly committed to 
the Palladian ideal. ^" William Kent's Holkam Hall (1734) 
is just one example, even though the plan struggles to 
maintain cohesion in its arrangement of rooms. By the 
turn of the nineteenth century, the corridor had certainly 
lost its mystique and came to be equated not with the 
world of international power-brokerage, but with remote 
passageways in castles and the nocturnal wanderings of 
old men in creaky mansions. Rarely used in architecture, 
corridor was drifting toward extinction, its functionality 
now its primary definition.''' Robert Kerr, author of The 
Gentleman's House (1864), for example, positioned the 
corridor lower in status to the French-derived gallerie 
because of its "utilitarian character."^'' 

The corridor's negative associations hindered its progress 
into respectability even in a time when civic architecture 
was developing rapidly. Well into the 1820s, courthouses, 
one must remember, did not have corridors of any 
significance. Lawyers and clients were expected to meet 
in nearby inns or coffeehouses. Corridors could be found 
on the lower floor to connect offices, but this was driven 
by a need for the rationalization of space rather than 
by civic purpose. Even grand buildings, such as Schloss 
Wilhelmshohe by Christoph Heinrich Jussow (1792), the 
US Capitol (1793) or the Massachusetts State House in 
Boston (completed 1798) had no corridors insofar as their 
prototypes were for the most part French (Fig. 6). Even 
the King Edward's School (1938), designed by Charles 
Barry, better known as the architect of the English 
Parliament building, had no corridors (Fig. 7). With this 
in mind, the redemption of corridic space in the mid- 
nineteenth century is actually quite remarkable, but that 
is another story, which will be subject of a subsequent 

* The second part of this essay "Le Corbusier and the Post-Corndic 
Alternative" will be published in Thresholds 33 


1. George Byron. Corsair (London: Printed by Thomas Davidson for John Murray. 
1814), sec. xix. 

2. Henry James, The American (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1907), chap, 

3. Tesoro de la Lengua Castellana o Espanola (1611), ed. Martin de Riquer (Barceloa: 
S.A. Horta, 1943). 363. 

4. Giovanni Villani. Cronica Universale, 227. Villani (1275-1348) was a historian of 
Florence and a Florentine government functionary who authored this twelve-volume 
history of the city, "ma aggiunsevi per ammenda gli arconcelli al corridoio di sopra." I 
would like to thank David Friedman for this citation. It is possible that the corridoio 
originated with the crusaders, who. often fighting against great odds needed to move 
soldiers rapidly about the fortifications. 

5. The French king Francis I had an underground corridor built between his palace 
and the residence of the aged Leonardo da Vinci 

6. See for example. Canto XXXIV of Dante's Inferno, in which he writes, "Non era 
camminata di palagio la Veravam. ma natural burella ch'avea mal suolo e di lume 
diaagio [It was not any palace corridor, there where we were, but dungeon natural, 
with floor uneven and unease of light]." 

7. For an image of the plan see David R. Coffin, Gardens and Gardening in Papal 
Rome (Princeton: Princeton University press. 1981). 161. 

8. http://www. history .acuk/reviews/paper/macpherson.html; Internet; accessed 6 
April 2005, 

9. Edna Healey. The Queen's House. A Social History of Buckingham Palace (New 
York: Caroll & Graf, 1997). 10. 

10. Christopher Ridgway and Robert Williams. Sir John Vanbrugh and Landscape 
Architecture in Baroque England. 1690-1 730 (Gloucestershire: Sutton. 2000). 55. 

1 1 . "Corridor, in Fortification, A Road or Way along the Edge of the Ditch, 
withoutside; encompassing the whole fortification. See Ditch. The Corridor is 
ordinarily about 20 yards broad. The word comes from the Italian Cohdore, or the 
Spanish Coridor. Corridor is also used in Architecture for a Gallery, or long Isle, 
around a Building, leading to several Chambers at a distance from each other." See 
further. Ephraim Chambers. Cyclopaedia (Dublin. Printed by John Chambers, 1787); 
available from http://digicoll. library wiscedu/cgi-bin/HistSciTech/HistSciTech- 
idx?id=HistSciTech,Cyclopaedia01; Internet, 

12. Charles Saumarez Smith. The Building of Castle Howard (London: Faber and 
Faber. 1990). 54. 

13. In the 1830s the building was transformed by Robert Smirke. 

14. I want to thank ray colleague Arindam Dutta for pointing out the importance of 
this particular aspect of the design. 

15 Another precedent, evoking the still very distant uses of the corridor in the 
twentieth century, was the Gloucester Infirmary (1761) where we see the emergent 
institutional culture adopt the manner of the grand house, radically simplified 
and modified, of course. Here the corridor links the two wards; the central hall has 
become the chapel with the operating room above it on the first floor. It was designed, 
so it has been argued by Luke Singleton. The design was made around 1756, Patients 
were admitted in 1761. See further, http://www.british-history-ac,uk/report.asp?comp 
id=42309;Internet; accessed 1 April 2005, 

16, Pondicherry on the west coast of India was a French colony, but seized by the 
British three times during the eighteenth century. My argument, however, is not 
based on a possible cultural transmission; it is purely based on formal grounds. 

17, Another comparison can be made with the Palazzo Corsini (begun in 1736) in 
Rome, which has galleries connecting important spaces and serving to define the 
structure's over-all geometry. Though here too there is a corridor, it is little more 
than a service-ally, squeezed into the fabric of the building. 

18, Walpole in Strawberry Hill constructed what today would be called a corridor, 
but he called it a passage, 

19 Today we say that panoptic prisons have corridors. But Jeremy Bentham called 
them galleries. They were, however, no doubt corndor-hke. One must also remember 
that they were not circulation spaces, but optical spaces and free of circulation. 
20. Robert Kerr. The Gentleman s House (New York. NY Johnson Reprint Corp., 
1972). 169. 


Naomi Davidson^ 

"Accessible to all Muslims and to the 

Parisian Public": 

The Mosquee de Paris and French 
Islam in the Capital 

Figure 1. Institut Musulman de Paris 

The minaret of the Mosquee de Paris and Institut 
Musulman rises above its green-tiled roof into the sky of 
Paris' fifth arrondissement, in the heart of the Latin 
Quarter. Across the street from the Jardin des Plantes' 
museum campus, its cafe maure and hammam (public 
bath) have long been touted as exotic attractions to 
generations of tourists making their way through the 
French capital. The Mosquee, whose construction was 
completed in 1926, was the metropole's first modern 
mosque, built with the financial support of the government 
after the recent passage of the law of 1905, which 
separated Church and State. A series of complex 
negotiations between the metropolitan administration, the 
colonial governments of North Africa, Parisian officials, 
and Muslim elites ultimately gave form to the institution 
which to this day serves as the main representative of 
Islam in France to the French state.- The Mosquee and its 
Institut Musulman embodied its founders' vision of islam 

frartfais, or a "traditional" Moroccan-inflected Islam 
inscribed firmly within a French republican and laic, or 
secular, model. It was through the medium of this 
republican Islam, at once French and other, that the 
metropolitan and colonial states administered the Paris 
region's North African immigrant population during the 
early decades of the 20th century. The use of Islam as a 
tool to mediate the relationship between the state and 
maghrebin immigrations signaled the administrations' 
belief in Muslims' inability to actually be laic subjects, and 
their simultaneous inclusion and exclusion in the French 

In this essay, I will argue that the architectural and 
aesthetic plans for the Mosquee and Institut Musulman 
were essential to the creation and diffusion of islam 
fran<;ais. The placement of the complex with its "Muslim 
architectural character" in the heart of Paris' intellectual 


neighborhood signaled visually the tension between its 
role as a secular, cultural, and religious institution. 
During the period in question, the working class Muslim 
population of Paris was relatively small and transient, and 
the Mosquee was imagined by its creators as a space 
destined for North African and Middle Eastern Muslim 
elites touring the capital, and non-Muslim French tourists 
interested in Islam. French Islam, or islam franfais, was 
enshrined in a space that was inaccessible to the capital's 
Muslim population because of its geographic location, 
decor, and religious practices. The Mosquee thus served 
as a physical manifestation of the paradoxical inclusion/ 
exclusion which the "secular" vision of islam franfais 
offered Muslims living in France. 

On the eve of the First World War, France's position as 
a political power in the Muslim world was challenged by 
England's imperial interests in the Middle East. In order 
to maintain its position as the world's premier "Muslim 
power," the French administration on both sides of the 
Mediterranean had to articulate a politique musulmane 
which would allow it to maintain its hold on its empire.^ 
The carnage of the First World War and the deaths of 
Muslim colonial soldiers provided the catalyst to re-launch 
the campaign to build a mosque for the French capital, 
which had been afloat since 1895. ■" The idea of a mosque 
as a war memorial and gesture of gratitude was widely 
acclaimed across the political spectrum as a powerful 
propaganda tool, but plans to build a religious site with 
state funds on metropolitan soil posed the problem of a 
conflict with the law of 1905.' Senator Edouard Herriot, 
one of the institution's strongest proponents, explained 
during the parliamentary debates on the question that 
"there [was] no contradiction" in the state's decision to 
finance the institution, for what the French and colonial 
administrations were funding was an Institut Musulman 
which would allow for the study of Muslim civilization, 
law, history, and Arabic grammar. In other words, the 
state was funding a secular site. Yet at the same time. 
Herriot declared that state was also within its rights 
to fund a religious edifice since in the colonies "we very 
legitimately give churches to Catholics, temples to 
Protestants and synagogues to Jews."" Morocco's Resident 
General Lyautey. who opposed the plan to build the 
complex, saw the pairing of the Mosquee and Institut as a 
"cunning" maneuver by metropolitan politicians to avoid 
controversy over funding a religious site,' 

I argue that the play between the "secular" and "religious" 
sites was not merely political slight of hand, but an 
integral part of the process of defining islam franqais. 
This vision of Islam was defined implicitly in discussions 

of where the complex housing the Mosquee and Institut 
should be built and how it should be decorated. It 
was this physical site which served as the grounds for 
negotiating what French Islam would look like. The 
French supporters of the Mosquee believed firmly that 
Islam was a religion which invaded all aspects of daily life 
in both the public and private spheres, and that Muslim 
rituals needed to be performed in a particular kind of 
space. Their choice to use a mosque to embody their 
conception of Islam was thus a logical one, though in fact 
Muslim ritual does not require a sacralized space, nor 
does Muslim religious belief accord the visual the same 
importance it had in this French imagining.' Yet of course 
the Mosquee was not merely a religious site, it was a 
monument to France's power in the Muslim world, and as 
such, was a "repositor[y] of meaning" used to make visible 
France's relationship with its Muslim subjects on a daily 

The islam franfais embodied by the Institut Musulman 
was a system of thought particular to "rejuvenated" 
Moroccan Islam, whose "isolation" for centuries brought it 
"closer to the purest [Muslim] belief but whose encounter 
with "modern life" and "progress" through the French 
presence was bringing this archaic Islam into modernity.'" 
This new Islam had much in common with French 
republicanism, or, as President Doumergue explained 
at the site's inauguration, "the Muslim savants. ..have 
exalted the respect of individual dignity and human 
liberty. They have called for. ..the reign of.. .fraternity and 
equal justice. Democracy has no fundaments other than 
these."" Paris' municipal council's decision to donate 
the land formerly used by the Hopital de la Pitie for the 
complex's construction seemed "curiously predestined" 
to scholar Emile Dermengham. who noted that Muslim 
ambassadors frequented the neighborhood during the 
epoch of Louis XVI.'- The location of the Institut in the 
fifth arrondissement gave credence to the assertion that 
the Islam celebrated in the site was compatible with 
French civilization. As the Prefet de la Seine exclaimed 
at the site's inauguration, "are we not right next to the 
Pantheon? Do not the works of the Persian Saadi and the 
Arab Averroes appear on the shelves of the library" next 
to the French classics?'' Thus the Institut, which was 
always discursively situated in the university district but 
never described as an actual physical site, made clear that 
Islam frangais was compatible with French values without 
necessitating the abandonment of Muslim intellectual 

It was the Mosquee, rather than the Institut, which did 
the work of being bound to "Muslim" ritual as filtered 
through French perceptions of Moroccan practices and 


aesthetics. When its proponents discussed the Mosquee's 
creation, they did not situate it in Paris' intellectual 
center; that was the space occupied by the Institut. The 
Mosquee was not discursively situated in any particular 
neighborhood. It was essential that the site be easily 
accessible to visitors to the capital, but its precise 
geographical location was far less emphasized than its 
design. Its aesthetic character was of primary importance 
because the Mosquee embodied an Islam which had "a 
hold on its faithful," requiring them to perform particular 
rituals in a given setting, since daily life and religious 
practices were inextricably linked for Muslims.'^ The 
Mosquee"s architects" referenced Morocco, whose Muslim 
aesthetics were much appreciated in France, in their 
designs so as to assure its appeal to Muslim and non- 
Muslim visitors. 

Nowhere is the tension between the Latin Quarter Institut 
Musulman and the Moroccan-modeled Mosquee more vis- 
ible than in a drawing distributed with a commemorative 
brochure for the site's inauguration (Fig. 1). In the 
drawing, the Mosquee's complex occupies a virtually 
empty space. It could be anywhere in Paris, or anywhere 
in the world. The legends at the bottom right and left 
corners of the drawing engender further confusion, for 
the French text identifies the site as the "Paris Muslim 
Institute" while the Arabic caption refers to "the Paris 
Mosque and Muslim Institute." In the illustration there 
is nothing to signal an institute designed to creating links 
between French and Muslim civilization: what is signaled, 
not least by the way the eye is drawn first to the mina- 
ret towering over the complex, is a Muslim religious site 
which seems out of place in 1920s Paris. 

This was exactly the aim of the site's architects, who 
were active proponents of the "new architecture " being 
developed in Morocco, "a collaboration between French 
science and intelligence with indigenous craftsmanship 
and tradition.""' The Muslim elite association charged 
with the Mosquee's construction voted to give the building 
"an African architectural character," specifically that 
of Fez's mosque-medarsa Abou-Inan.'" This decision 
was praised by metropolitan architectural critics, who 
considered that "Muslim constructions, unlike ours, 
have not evolved and must, on the contrary, remain 
traditional."" Lyautey's Service des Beaux Arts instituted 
campaigns to preserve entire districts, virtually freezing 
medinas in time, though Gwendolyn Wright has argued 
that this was not incompatible with its orientation 
"towards charming streetscapes that would appeal to 
French residents and tourists."" 

The architects' textual description, which accompanied 

their drawing of the site (Fig. 2) of their project highlights 
all the elements which the popular press would echo as 
reasons to visit the Mosquee de Paris. 

The site, its architects promised, would "be of the purest 
Arab style in composition, construction, and furnishing, 
while keeping in mind modern comfort and the special 
dispensations the Parisian climate requires."-" The com- 
plex included a restaurant, "accessible to all Muslims and 
to the Parisian public, where only Arab cuisine prepared 
with the greatest care will be served," as well as a 
hammam whose management would be "confided to a 
proven Muslim specialist." The elements associated with 
religious ritual as described in this document include the 
minaret, whose description is somewhat cursory when 
compared with other aspects of the building. The 
Ablutions Room, "installed according to ritual, and 
destined for the purification of the body before prayer," led 
to the patio which preceded the Prayer Room, which was 
properly oriented towards Mecca. Small changing rooms 
on either side allowed "Muslims dressed in European 
clothes to change into ritual clothing for prayer."-' The 
section of the Mosquee reserved for prayer would be lit 
discreetly "so as to preserve mystery and meditation." The 
promise of "mystery" held out by the Mosquee was enthu- 
siastically received by the press on both sides of the Medi- 
terranean. One newspaper urged its readers to visit the 
site, arguing that "it will provide a change for Parisians 
from the cardboard boxes with which one pretends to con- 
vey, in expositions, the mysterious charm of the intimacy 
of African houses."^- L'lUustration recommended a trip to 
the Mosquee to those who wanted to re-experience the food 
and color they had so enjoyed on trips to the Maghreb.^' 
From the beginning, the Mosquee's founders planned to 
charge admission to the site from non-Muslim visitors, 
making it clear that they were fully conscious of its tourist 

The Mosquee complex, so celebrated by politicians 
and the transnational Muslim elite, not to mention 
indigenophile Parisians, played a minor role, if at all, 
in the lives of average Muslims living in the capital. 
Nevertheless, national and municipal officials used the 
islam frangais of the Mosquee as the primary tool to 
mediate their relationship to the North African immigrant 
working class. These people, primarily single men, were 
simultaneously identified by their nationality and by 
their presumed "Muslim-ness," whether they would have 
chosen to identify themselves as such or not. If they did in 
fact engage in Muslim practices, which took place outside 
of the confines of the Mosquee, these observances were 
dismissed as "pagan." The small North African population 
of Paris during this period was saturated with a religion 

rn.liliil Mimiln, 

Figure 2. Architects' blueprints for the Mosquee 


which they would not necessarily have identified as theirs, 
and which thus precluded their ability to ever become 
laic subjects since their nationality and religion were 
inextricably linked. 

The Mosquee was inaccessible to most of the city's Muslim 
residents for reasons having to do with its location, the 
schedules for prayers and holiday observances, and not 
least the site's well-heeled "clientele." The guests of honor 
for landmark occasions as well as for the annual cycle of 
holidays were Muslim dignitaries passing through Paris 
and representatives of the metropolitan and colonial 
administrations. Si Kaddour, the site's director, admitted 
that workers' factory schedules made it nearly impossible 
for them to travel from the northern and western suburbs 
where they worked to the center of Paris to celebrate 
the holidays or to come to Friday noon prayers, yet 
imams from the Mosquee rarely if ever ventured out to 
those neighborhoods. As an official sent from Morocco 
to investigate the activities of Moroccan emigrants 
explained, the Mosquee "is far from their neighborhoods. 
It is expensive for their budgets. The hammam. the cafe 
and the restaurant attached to the Mosquee are luxurious 
spaces destined for Parisians or for foreigners looking 
for exotic thrills and in which the shabby clothes and 
workers' helmets would be a sorry sight."-* North African 
nationalist groups in Paris condemned the institution 
primarily as a piece of colonial propaganda and an 
"insult to Islam," but also because it was built in part 
with donations from workers, who were excluded from 
it.-" Yet the significant absence of Paris' North African 
workers from the celebrations of islam franfais was also 
a conscious choice and not merely the result of the site's 
inaccessibility. Although French observers qualified 
their practices as a "very particular Islam, with its sheen 
of paganism,"-' emigrants had a well-established and 
highly organized network of sites for social and religious 
gatherings. These meetings took place in private homes or 
in cafes or restaurants, in which people prayed together, 
or featured visits from religious leaders who traveled from 
North Africa on tours of the metropole. On these occasions, 
people would "eat couscous, drink mint tea, listen raptly 
to stories. ..hear musicians, singers and dancers..." and 
raise money for mutual aid projects.-'* Much as the 
Mosquee remained inaccessible, whether by choice or not, 
for Muslim workers, their Muslim practices remained 
inaccessible to the proponents o{ islam franfais. 

laicite though rooted in "traditional" Moroccan Islam, 
The Institut Musulman celebrated the similarities 
between French and Muslim civilizations, while the 
Mosquee's Moroccan-inspired aesthetics guaranteed the 
"authenticity" of the religious practices to be enacted 
there. Yet the belief that Muslim practice was intrinsically 
physical and invaded all aspects of daily life, confounding 
the public and private spheres, also made clear that the 
proponents of islam frangais did not actually believe 
it was possible for Muslims to actually access the laic 
sphere. This simultaneous move to rhetorically include but 
practically exclude Paris' colonial North African working 
class from French republicanism was enacted physically 
in the site of the Mosquee de Paris. The institution and 
its modern Islam were as inaccessible to them as was the 
luxurious museum-like site in the heart of the capital. 

In conclusion, the complex originally conceived as a fairly 
straightforward political move in response to external 
threats quickly became something much more complicated. 
The Mosquee de Paris and Institut Musulman came to 
embody a secular Islam, islam frangais, compatible with 



1. This article is drawn from the first chapter of my dissertation, entitled " Un 
espoir en devenir: The Mosquee de Pans and the Creation of French Islams." at the 
University of Chicago's history department. 

2. The Mosquee's director, or recteur. serves as the President of the Conseil fran^ais 
du culte musulman. the Muslim association that acts as an intermediary between 
Mushms in France and the French state, 

3- For a discussion of this issue, see Henry Laurens, "La politique musulmane de 
la France" in Orientates II: La Illeme Republique et I'lslam (Pans: CNRS Editions. 
2004). See also Pascal Le Pautremat. La Pohtique Musulmane de la France an XXe 
siecle (Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, 2003) 

4. Paul Bourdane, one of the Mosquee's strongest proponets, provides a summary 
of the site's history in "L'Institut Musulman et la Mosquee de Paris," Extrait de La 
Revue Indigene (October-November 1919), 

5. The most often-cited article of the law of 1905 is its second, which states that 
"the Republic does not recognize, salary, or subsidize any religion. " The law did not 
restrict religious practice or the construction of religious edifices, but it did change 
the way these practices and sites were funded. The situation of the Mosquee as a 
Muslim site was further complicated because of the way the law was applied in 
Algeria, A regime of "temporary" exceptions meant that Muslim religious affairs 
continued to be financed by the colonial administration For a complete discussion 
of the application of the law in Algeria, see Raberh Achi. "La separation des Eglises 
et de I'Etat a I'epreuve de la situation coloniale. Les usages de la derogation dans 
I'administration du culte musulman en Algerie (1905-1959)," Politix 17. no, 66 
(September 2004): 81-106. 

6. Herriot's complete arguments can be found in the Journal Officiel of July 1. 1920. 

7. Letter from Lyautey to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, 24 May 1922. AMAE 
Afrique 1918-1940/Affaires musuImanes/11. 

8. As Oleg Grabar has argued, "traditional Islamic culture ... identified itself 
through means other than the visual." See his "Symbols and Signs in Islamic 
Architecture." m Architecture and Community Building m the Islamic World Today, 
ed. Renata Holod (Millerton, NY: Aperture, 1983). See also Barbara Daly Metcalfs 
introduction to her edited volume. Making Muslim Space in North America and 
Europe (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1996), 

9. I borrow this phrase from Daniel Sherman's discussion of French memorial 
monuments after WWL See his The Construction of Memory in Inlerwar France 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1999). 216. 

10. Rene Weiss. Reception a ('Hotel de Ville de Sa Majeste Moulay Youssef. Sultan 
du Maroc: Inauguration de I'lnstitut Musulman et de la Mosquee (Paris: Imprimerie 
Nationale. 1927). 2. 

1 1 . Doumergue's speech is cited in Weiss. 36. It also celebrates the friendship 
between "the Muslim elite and the French elite," Non-elite Muslims in North Africa 
were solicited for donations to aid in the construction of this site, but as this citation 
suggests, the Mosquee was not intended for their use. 

12. Emile Dermengham, "Musulmans de Pans," La Grande Revue 799 (December 
1934): 15-21, 

13. Weiss. 45. 

14. These sentiments were expressed by many of the Mosquee's proponents. This 
particular citation comes from a letter sent by Lyautey's deputy to the Minister 
of Foreign Alfairs, 7 January 1916 AN Fonds Lyautey 475AP/95/Lettres au 
departement 1916. See also Commissariat General a I'lnformation et a la 
Propagande. "Projet de loi relatif a I'edification a Paris d'un Institut Musulman" n.d. 
AMAE Afrique 1918-1940/Affaires musulmanes/11 

15. Although the original plans for the site were drawn up by Maurice Tranchant 
de Lunel, the former Directeur du Service des Beaux-Arts under Lyautey's 
administration, The architects who would eventually take charge of the complex's 
construction were Maurice Mantout, Robert Fournez. and Charles Heubes. Mantout 
and Fournez had also both been employed as architects in the Moroccan Service des 

16. Henri Descamps, L'architecture moderne au Maroc (Paris: Librairie de la 
Construction moderne, 1931), 1. 

17. Letter from the Mosquee's first director. Si Kaddour ben Ghabrit, 6 October 
1920. AMAE Afrique 1918-1940/Affaires musulmanes/11. 

18. Antony Goissaud, "L'Institut Musulman et la Mosquee de Paris." La Construction 
moderne 3 (2 November 1924): 50-55. 

19. Gwendolyn Wright. The Politics of Design in French Colonial Urbanism (Chicago: 

University of Chicago Press. 1991). 134. 

20 This citation, and those which follow, are taken from "Note descriptive de la 

Mosquee et de ses dependances dressee par M. MANTOUT, Architecte de la Societe 

des Habous des Lieux Saints de I'lslam." n.d. AMAE Afrique 1918-1940/Affaires 


21. Although worshippers must remove their shoes before entering the Prayer Room, 
no ritual dress is required. 

22. Le Petit Journal 25 February 1922. 

23. "Un decor d'Orient sous le Ciel de Paris." L'lllustration 26 (November 1926): 582. 

24. One of the Mosquee's architects, fresh from his success, would in fact go on 
to construct the Moroccan pavilion of the 1931 Colonial Exposition in Paris. The 
mosaics used to decorate the Mosquee itself were in fact taken from an earlier 
Colonial Exposition in Marseille, see the correspondence of the Mosquee's director 
from March 1923 in AMAE Afrique/ Affaires musulmanes/12. 

25 Rapport du Lt-Colonel Justinard sur les travailleurs marocains dans la banlieue 
parisienne. 26 November 1930. AMAE K Afrique/Questions generates 1818-1940/ 
Emploi de la main d'oeuvre indigene dans la Metropole 1929-1931. 

26. Messali Hadj, the leader of the Etoile Nor d -Africa ine. expressed this particular 
critique Cited in Pascal Blanchard et al.. Le Paris arabe (Paris: La Decouverte. 
2003). 132. 

27. Letter from the Prefet de la Seine to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. 13 October 
1926, AMAE K Afrique/Questions generates 1918-1940/Emploi de la main d'oeuvre 
indigene dans la Metropole. 1926-1928, 

28. Note au Sujet de tournees de Ziaras faites par des Chefs indigenes en France 
pendant I'annee 1938 par Lt. Huot. 10 October 1938. AMAE K Afrique/Questions 
generates 1918-1940/Emploi de la main d'oeuvre indigene dans ta Metropole, 1926- 


The Architect's Brother 

(The Architect's Brother series. 1993-1994) 

Z.Pamela Karimi and Frank Forrest 

Picturing the "Exiiausted Giobe":^ 

An Interview with Robert and Shana 

Q. Many of your photographs show man's desire to gain 
"access" to something beyond him through technological 
inventions and scientific activities. You often depict a 
devastated land in which man has perhaps gone too far in 
seeking this access. How can human beings reconcile this 
striving for "progress" with the negative consequences that 
often result, environmental degradation being just one? 

A. This is a central question for us. In society's constant 
quest for the carefree life, we often disregard the 
consequences of technology on our social interactions, and 
on the environment. The issue of the boundaries of 
technology and the negative effects it can have on society 
and the environment are barely considered, if at all. So 
who but the individual determines the limits of 
technology? In our work we deal with the best and worst 
humans have to offer. The works represent our fascination 

with these issues by visually representing our ability to 
create, and our ability to destroy. Throughout our work, 
new technological functions are given to discarded 
contraptions of contemporary culture. And through our 
creations and actions we try to explore this very question 
and contradiction we all face: with convenience and 
innovation there is a price to be paid. Is there a way to 
survive and create technologies that could not harm or 
deplete resources yet still serve our needs? Is there 
technology that can actually reverse the damage that we 
have already caused? These are intriguing questions we 
want to explore. We use the stage of an archetypal 
landscape, the barren, lifeless field, to act out these 

Q. "Earth is too crowded for Utopia" is the title of a recent 
story on the BBC, suggesting that the global population is 
greater than the earth can sustain. Considering this, we 
would like to know the reason why only one person 
occupies the vast, dreamlike environment in almost all of 


Oppenheimer's Garden (Earth Elegies series. 1999-2000) 

your photos. Is it time to "take things into one's own 
hands" or is something else implied? 

A. Our work offers more questions than answers. Indeed, 
each individual can make a difference. By focusing on one 
person, the viewer is often better able to identify with the 
actions of the protagonist. But having said that, we have 
used other people in our images. Currently, this is on our 
minds even more. Over the years we have built a body of 
work that is interconnected, while dealing with various 
concepts. One thread ties the work together and that is the 
constant protagonist. The ability to work with one person 
enables us to focus on specific tasks, actions, and rituals in 
the work. Being physically part of one's work creates a 
strong connection to the content. We conceive of the 
images, but also act them out. This performative element 
roots the work in a physical and personal connection. 
Focusing each image on one specific person is similar to 
the idea, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" 
Through this single character we are experiencing an 

intimate and focused perspective that we hope many 
people can relate to personally. Metaphorically, he is 
represented alone, seeking ways to reconnect to a lost 
language of the earth. He tries to interpret his relationship 
to these lifeless and barren surroundings. He is always in 
search of and exploring ingenious and futile acts that are 
based more in poetics and hope than in scientific fact. He 
represents our constant search for fulfillment and hope for 
a better place, or represents the reckless and damaging 
tendencies of humanity. 

Q. Journalist Christopher Millis once described the figure 
in your photos as "Charlie Chaplin meets the Sierra 
Club."- Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times expresses the 
fear that people are not controlling their technology, but 
technology is controlling them. Fritz Lang's Metropolis 
also reflects such an anxiety. Given our own "modern 
times," this issue is still relevant, and yet most of your 
photos often give the sense of the individual controlling 
everything. Is this a Utopian vision? 


A. The character in our work is not necessary controlling 
all of his technologies, but is approaching it on the brink of 
hope and failure. In the images the moment of duality is 
actually our goal. The idea that this moment or act could 
end in failure or success truly represents our lives. 
Constantly, we are faced with failure, yet guided by the 
hope of success. Found throughout our work is the sense of 
moments balancing on the brink of falling or flying, 
healing or harming, mending or destroying. If ever there is 
a sense in our work that he is represented as controlling 
everything, it is balanced by the fact that this control will 
only end in failure, or futility. We understand that as we 
create we are constantly faced with this revealing notion, 
with failure comes success and we truly work out of failure 
and error, but to represent only failure in our vision would 
be unbalanced. Utopian visions are often doomed by a lack 
of understanding that perfection can never be attained. 
Within failure is success. The key is to understand this 
and use it. It is a force in nature and also a force revealed 
even in our search for technological perfection. 

Q. Whether dealing with DaVinci's wings or 
Oppenheimer's bombs, the approach in your work remains 
humorous. The strength of Cloud Cleaner lies in multiple 
meanings: ridiculous and purposeful, silly and serious. In 
most of your photographs a solitary man in a wrinkled suit 
and white shirt tries to save the natural world that is in a 
state of decay. In fact, behind the naive surface of most of 
your works there is a serious message — a feeling of hope 
for repairing our damaged planet. Can you elaborate on 
this feature of your work? 

A. We do attempt to layer meanings in our work. We do 
this to allow for multiple entrances into the work. We are 
drawn to the work of Anselm Kiefer, Louise Bourgeois, 
Joseph Beuys, and Robert Wilson, because of this very 
quality of layering meanings. We explore possibilities for 
repairing the earth, but equally important we delve into 
the psychology of individuals, their relationship to others 
(isolation), to technology and to nature. We enjoy the 
notion of the absurd often found in black comedy films like 
Brazil. Films by Jacques Tati offer interesting solutions 
for dealing with the complexities of our political and 
technological world. We are also drawn to the writing of 
Samuel Beckett. Existential nightmares actually become 
precariously balanced with humor. For us it is part of our 
own sensibilities as artists. We are always faced with 
failure and the ridiculous as we create our often-idiotic 
performances before the camera. We work in an impulsive 
manner, yet we are guided by a strong desire to 
communicate something about the human condition and 
our lives. This often does come out as humorous, and 
serious and thoughtful and deliberate and idiosyncratic. 

Exchange (Earth Elegies series, 1999-2000) 

Q. Mending the Earth and Suspension are so startling 
because they represent impossible tasks. They show at 
once comically surreal schemes as well as serious anguish 
and exhaustion from trying to turn a dream into reality. 
These pictures seem to say, if human beings could easily 
suspend the movement of a cloud or patch up a damaged 
land, or even turn themselves into machine for producing 
clouds (as shown in Cloudburst from the "Industrial Land" 
series), we would have had a radically different life on 
Earth. The machine in Cloudburst is not just a tool; it 
signifies a lifestyle. Can you expand on this? 

A. Our images develop out of a process of both imagination 
and research, but in the end the images exist as 
metaphoric and dreamlike possibilities that are obviously 
not possible. Our images rely on the combination of the 
imaginative world confronting true and important issues 
facing our world today. The point of our work is not to 
offer realistic solutions for a better world, but rather to 
offer viewers possibilities. These images become a state of 
consciousness.., to see alternative, imaginative realities 
and to consider the power of the imagination and poetry. 

Q. In the 1970s the artist Gordon Matta-Clark bought 
what were described as "inaccessible" houses at incredibly 


cheap prices and cut them up for artistic installations. In 
doing so, Matta-Clark "designate [d] spaces that would not 
be seen and certainly not [be] occupied."' One major 
intention of Matta-Clark was to question our perceptions 
of property value that are often influenced by the norms of 
"laissez faire" real estate developers. Your works, on the 
other hand, portray unreal environments in states of 
decay and devoid of real estate value, which you often 
strive to rescue. In an attempt to bring life to a dead piece 
of land or a lifeless plant — as shown in Bloodline and 
Exchange — you seem to donate your own blood (or maybe 
this photo signifies a symbiotic relationship between man 
and earth in which each depends on the other for its 
existence). Perhaps you and Matta-Clark share the same 
sensibility about things we waste, damage, and consider 

A. Bloodline and Witnessland are seminal pieces within 
our work. It is due to the symbolic expression of self- 
sacrifice, of giving one's lifeblood back to the earth, that 
these images were made. We certainly resurrect various 
objects and even aspects of the earth. Like those from 
Gordon Matta-Clark and the artists of the Arte Provera' 
movement to Duchamp, we collaborate with obsolete 
objects for use and meaning in our tales about the human 
condition. Our work places importance on the earth, not 
with relationship to its real estate value, but rather as the 
life force. The interactions between the protagonist, his 
objects, and the earth represent the possibilities of human 
ingenuity to find a new, less abusive relationship to 
nature. The images show a reconnection and reverence for 
the relationship between humans and nature. 

Q. Many of your photos seem to frame artificial 
environments created in your studio and are outcomes of 
putting together bits and pieces of items and images you 
collect. Despite their inherent artificial quality, your 
photos illustrate genuine natural sites that just don't 
happen to exist. The vigor of your works lies in the 
multiple meanings they bear upon; natural and man- 
made, archaic and hi-tech. As W.S. Merwin has put it 
elsewhere, "you will wonder to what extent it should be 
described as natural, to what extent man-made."* 

Mending the Earth (Earth Elegies series, 1999-2000) 

Suspension (Earth Elegies series, 1999-2000) 


Bloodline (Witnessland series, 1995-1996) 


da Vinci's Wing (Industrial Land series, 1997) 


A. Actually, almost all of our images are made in real 
landscapes. The props are built and transported to 
landscapes. Sometimes real landscapes are merged with 
old photographs of other landscapes. In that way. yes, we 
do merge the artificial with the real. Today, within our 
digitally altered visual world, this is also a relevant issue. 
In graduate school we were fascinated by the writing of 
Jean Baudrillard. His observations of American culture 
articulated what we see as a world and culture that exists 
within a constant artificial reality. Also, at that time in 
the early 90's, while living in the desert of the 
Southwestern U.S., we were influenced by observing how 
the landscape and nature were being altered and 
manipulated for development and industry. We were not 
interested in creating heavily technological realities nor 
futuristic scenes, but rather simple basic artifices. 
Elements of those early influences have continued 
throughout our work. Our whole human existence is 
artificial due to the way we choose to manipulate nature 
and its resources for survival and. more significantly, for 

Q. Given that a major theme of our journal is architecture, 
how was it that you chose "The Architect's Brother" as the 
title of your exhibit last year at the DeCordova Museum? 
This title also refers to a specific photograph. Since the 
majority of your photos lack what we would call the built 
environment (i.e.. buildings), why this title to encompass 
the entire exhibit? 

A. Architects, while creative, work with logic and 
structure, designing spaces that require highly technical 
manipulations/uses of materials, within limitations at 
times, to create environments. The protagonist in the 
images often works in ways contrary to how an architect 
works. He creates from waste, idiosyncratic, illogical 
solutions/attempts that are based on impulsive or spiritual 
reactions. He's the non-linear, idiosyncratic architect. We 
utilize titles to refer to new meanings and associations 
that further the image. As artists we have the freedom to 
not be specific and even disorient the reading of our work. 
We have received some interesting associations concerning 
the title of the exhibition. Some associations have been 
curious while other readings of this title have been beyond 
even our own intentions. Once the work and the titles of 
our pieces leave the studio we intentionally relinquish 
control as to how an audience interprets the work. This is 
the thrill and fear of exhibiting your work, but without 
this connection with an audience our work is incomplete. 

Q. Compared to other media, what "access" does the 
medium of photography offer you to express your ideas? 

A. Of course, the photograph is merely the end of a process 
that includes theatre, puppetry, sculpture, installation, 
performance, and painting. Photography allows us to 
make "believable" images. Clearly they are not truthful 
images — most photographs are not truthful — but rather 
they are subjective. We use photography to combine many 
different mediums and creative approaches into a visual 
piece. Through that selective frame we can create another 
world and reality, where the mechanics behind achieving 
the illusions are not seen. Photography offers us the 
ability to distort reality by exploiting the powerful notion 
that " if it exists in a photograph, then it must have 
happened." To draw or paint the scene would create a 
different experience for our images. This characteristic of 
a photograph becomes interesting when considering how 
digital technology is impacting our sense of reality in a 
photographic image. The majority of our work is not 
digital, thus making the sense of the real even more 
mysterious and startling for the viewer. Even as we 
explore the digital in current work, we still maintain a 
strong sense of the real, by relying less on digital 
manipulation and more on illusion created before the 
camera. To exceed this sense of the real could create an 
overly altered reality and — for our artistic vision — would 
alter the content of our images. 

Cloud Cleaner (Earth Elegies series. 1999-2000) 


Cloudburst (Promisedland series, 1998) 


1. "Exhausted Globe" is the title of ParkeHarrisons' photographic series from 1997. 

2. Christopher Millis, "Lighter than Air: Robert ParkeHarrison's Lofty Earth 
Mission" [article online]: available from httpY/ 
art/documents; Internet; accessed October 7. 2004. 

3. Gordon MattaClarck cited in Pamela Lee, Objects to be Destroyed: The Work of 
Gordon Ma/(a-Clark (Cambridge: MIT Press. 2000). 103. 

4. This Italian movement used worthless materials to produce art. 

5. W.S. Merwin. "Unchoping a Tree," in Robert ParkeHarrison: The Architect's 
Brother (Santa Fe: Twin Palms Publishers. 2000), n.p. 


William C. Brumfield 

America as Emblem of Modernity in 
Russian Architecture, 1870-1917 

In a long digression on architecture in one of the 1873 
issues of his Diary of a Writer. Fedor Dostoevskii made 
the following sardonic comment on contemporary 
Petersburg: "And here, at last, is the architecture of 
the modern, enormous hotel-efficiency, Americanism, 
hundreds of rooms, an enormous industrial enterprise: 
right away you see that we too have got railways and 
have suddenly discovered that we ourselves are efficient 
people."' Here, as in so many other areas, the great writer 
noted the salient features of an issue that would be much 
pursued by specialists and professionals, for the terms 
"enormous" and "efficient" define just the qualities that 
Russian observers valued in American architecture. When 
it came to European architecture of the same period, 
Russians showed an awareness of nuance and style, and 
they mentioned the "right" names from the perspective 
of architectural history. Yet, in the case of America. 
Russian journals made an isolated reference to Henry 
Hobson Richardson or Daniel Burnham and John Root but 
otherwise exhibited an indifference to the specifics of a 
developing American architectural idiom. What they saw 
was enormous, colossal, incredible, and efficient. 

The Russian architectural press, which conveyed 
these accounts of American architecture to its Russian 
audience, was essentially a product of the second half 
of the nineteenth century; its development was directly 
related to the professionalization of Russian architects. 
The beginnings of cohesion in the profession date from 
the 1860s, when architects in both St. Petersburg and 
Moscow realized the need to create an association that 
would rise above narrow, commercial interests to address 
problems confronting architects as a group. To be sure, 
commercialism provided the major financial impetus for 
a professional organization, as the economic forces of 
nascent capitalism led to the replacement of the older 
patronage system of architectural commission with a 
more competitive, contractual approach to the business 
of building. But in order to promote the interests of 
professional development and to regulate the practice of 
architecture, a form of organization that transcended the 
individual architect or architectural firm was essential. 

The Great Reforms of the 1860s facilitated the economic 
progress necessary for the expansion of architecture 
beyond the commissions of the state, the court, and 

a few wealthy property owners, and they also created the 
legal conditions for the foundation of private associations. 
Although certain Petersburg architects had begun to 
explore the prospect of founding a professional group 
as early as 1862, the first formal organization was the 
Moscow Architectural Society, chartered in October 
1867.- From the outset this organization disseminated 
new technical information and served as a center for the 
establishment of standards in building materials and 
practices. In addition to its advisory function in technical 
matters, the society initiated a series of open architectural 
competitions as early as 1868, thus establishing a 
precedent to be followed in the awarding of major 
building contracts during the latter half of the century. 
An ambitious attempt by the society to sponsor a general 
conference of architects in 1873 failed for bureaucratic 
reasons, and it was not until 1892 that the First Congress 
of Russian Architects took place. ^ 

In the meantime, architects in the capital obtained 
imperial approval to found the Petersburg Society of 
AiThitects, chartered in October 1870, whose functions 
paralleled those of the Moscow Architectural Society. At 
the beginning of 1872, the Petersburg group published 
the first issue of the journal Zodchii (Architect), which 
appeared monthly, and later weekly, up until 1917. 
For forty-five years this authoritative publication not 
only served as a record of the architectural profession 
in Russia, but also provided a conduit for information 
on technical innovations in Western Europe and the 
United States. It would be difficult to overestimate the 
importance oi Zodchii in supporting professional solidarity 
among architects and establishing a platform from which 
to advance ideas regarding architecture's "mission" in the 
creation of a new urban environment.'' 

There were other architectural publications in Russia, 
and a few of them made occasional reference to America: 
but Zodchii remained the major source for information 
on architecture and civil engineering. The general areas 
of interest covered in the journal's reports on America 
included: city planning, construction technology, 
architectural education, building materials and standards, 
and the related topic of disasters, particularly fires. Many 
of the items were taken from American and European 
architectural journals, as well as from general Russian 


publications such as Birzhevye vedomosti (Stock Exchange 
News), which had obvious reasons of its own to be 
interested in the progress and economic development 
represented by new American construction. In addition, 
Zodchii frequently published lectures given at the 
Petersburg Society of Architects by members who had 
traveled to the United States, and thus provided firsthand 
observations of the New World. 

From the first year of publication, and every year 
thereafter. Zodchii included news items on the American 
architectural scene, such as a short comment in 1872 
on the new building for the New York City post office.^ 
The construction of buildings for public institutions in 
America's booming cities gained the frequent attention 
of Zodchii, whose editors understood that there was a 
corresponding need for such buildings to serve Russian 
society in the period following the Great Reforms. In 1873, 
for example, there were reports on communal housing for 
women working in New York's factories;'^ readers of such 
articles might have been reminded of the housing crisis 
affecting workers in Russia's large cities. The rapidity of 
American building methods elicited expressions of wonder 
that are repeated with ritualistic emphasis throughout the 
1872-1917 period. An early burst of enthusiasm appeared 
in an 1873 article — which drew extensively from American 
publications — on the reconstruction of Chicago after the 
Great Fire of 1871. The effusive praise reveals much about 
Russian architectural taste during this period, as well as 
its fascination with technological innovation: 

All of them [Chicago's new "building-palaces"] 
are built in the latest American style, which 
represents a mixture of classical, Romanesque, 
gothic, and Renaissance styles; here one can see 
the widespread use of iron structural 
components, luxurious entryways even for 
private houses, balconies on all floors, 
magnificent roofs and domes encircled with 
beautiful balustrades. Many of these buildings 
exceed in luxury and refinement the best 
buildings of the European capitals and are 
decorated with statues and colonnades. It is hard 
to understand how this could have been created 
in something like a year and a half Such 
unusual speed is partially explained by the use 
of great quantities of iron, including entire 
facades consisting of a row of iron columns 
connected by iron beams, and also by wooden 
construction work (such as at the Palmer Hotel) 
carried out at night by artificial lighting, and 
with machines lifting pre-fabricated elements to 
a height of four stories.' 

The article's final sentence, echoing similar opinions from 
Birzhevye vedomosti, proclaimed that the new Chicago 
reflects, "The results of moral and material activity such 
as we have seen nowhere else in the history of the cultural 
development of mankind."' 

Indeed, there seems to have been no limit to Russian 
credulity in the face of American technological ingenuity, 
as is evident from an item on the "Beach pneumatic 
tube," intended to carry passengers around the city at a 
"remarkable speed" far exceeding that of railroads.' There 
was in fact an experimental pneumatic subway opened 
in 1870 under Broadway Avenue in Manhattan, but its 
speed and potential for development seem to have been 
considerably less than remarkable. Pneumatic systems 
were, however, used for transporting mail in New York by 
the turn of the century. 

Throughout the 1870s, Zodchii published a wide variety 
of articles on developments in American architecture and 
technology. The subjects ranged from Edison's "Electric 
telegraph" to engineering topics such as plans for a 
canal in Nicaragua, bridges in Philadelphia and New 
York, and American methods for producing ice — a topic 
of interest even to Russians because the rapid growth 
of cities required more reliable methods of cold storage 
for perishable foodstuffs.'" A direct correlation between 
Russian and American interests appeared in a favorable 
review of the Russo-American Rubber Company pavilion 
at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, in 
which Russians recorded American comments on Russian 
art." Yet attention remained primarily on American 
builders, whose accomplishments made St. Petersburg's 
building boom seem modest. 

In general, contributors to Zodchii showed little interest 
in exploring the principles underlying the new American 
architecture, but there were occasional comments that 
showed the Russians' perceptions of what the American 
experience meant for the development of architecture. 
In an article about the journal American Architect and 
Building News — a frequent source of information for 
Zodchii — the reviewer not only provided a detailed 
description of the American publication, but also 
commented on what he saw as the pervasive influence 
of the nineteenth-century French theoretician Etienne 
Viollet-le-Duc, whose writings played a major role 
in discussions on the nature of Russian architecture 
during this period. Particularly noted is Viollet-le-Duc's 
mfluence on American "practicality" and on American 
architects' return to medieval architecture as a source of 
guidance, not in a literal or historicist sense, but for a new 
understanding of structural support systems in building.'* 


Technology and Architecture at the End of 
the Nineteenth Century 

It can be argued that Russian architects were receptive 
to favorable reports on the American republic by virtue 
of their obvious professional interests in economic growth 
and technical progress. Although architecture had its 
social and ideological uses in Russian society, Russian 
architects could praise American buildings and technology 
without implying political views of either monarchic or 
radical tint. Indeed, expressions of wonder continued 
unabated from Zodchii's correspondents. An 1879 report 
on Leadville, a mining town in Colorado, noted that it 
"sprang up as if by magic" in this "land of wonders." 
Surely such references would have suggested visions of the 
rapid exploitation of the rich unsettled regions of Siberia 
and other parts of Russia. A report on the development of 
the telephone in America stated: "One can indeed call 
America the land of application of scientific theories to 
practice and to life. While we engage in debates over the 
practicality and future of the telephone, city telephone 
networks are being created in America."" 

America was frequently referred to as the standard for 
comparison in construction and technology, as can be seen, 
for example, in an article on the efficiency of American 
housing construction: "Our masons, carpenters, and other 
craftsmen — would be amazed at the speed and daring of 
the Americans." This highly favorable account took notice 
of cooperation between New York's housing contractors 
and municipal authorities in the laying of utility lines 
and the subsequent paving of streets and sidewalks. Also 
noted was the reliance on prefabricated, standardized 
components — for example, window frames and doors — in 
the design of urban homes. '^ efficiencies that would later 
become a central part of Soviet housing construction, 
but on an altogether different scale. Another news item 
described the opening of New York's Metropolitan Opera 
House, with the usual hyperbole "enormous." 

Beginning in 1882, most of the brief technical news 
items on American architecture appeared in Nedelia 
stroitelia (Builder's Week), the newly established weekly 
supplement to Zodchii. Nedelia stroitelia contained 
excerpts from the journal Scientific American, as well as 
reports from American publications on new buildings, 
technical innovations, and occasional disasters. Theater 
fires were noted with particular frequency. In 1885. 
Nedelia stroitelia paraphrased an article from the 
popular journal Niva on the recent completion of the 
Washington Monument. Referring to the monument as 
"colossal," Nedelia stroitelia took a very critical view of "an 
unattractive and crude structure" and said "the monument 
is striking by the lack of all taste."'" The tone of this 

report cannot, it seems, be attributed to anti-American 
sentiment, but rather to the monument's sharp break 
with contemporary tastes regarding heavily ornamented 
memorials — for example, London's Albert Memorial, 
completed in 1872 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and the 
early 1880s entries in the competition for the design of the 
Church of the Resurrection of the Savior on the Blood in 
St. Petersburg. 

Most of the reports on America in Zodchii and Nedelia 
stroitelia dealt with commercial architecture in cities, 
from Boston and Philadelphia to New Orleans and 
San Francisco. The centers of attention, however, were 
Chicago and New York, which represented the most 
concentrated expression of the American ethos. In the 
mid-1880s. Nedelia stroitelia reported on projects for 
the building of a New York City subway, techniques of 
elevator construction, the number of houses and firemen 
in the city, water systems, sanitation, the city's telephone 
network, and the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Land 
prices in New York were "fabulous." but the operative 
word was "colossal" — as in a "colossal new bridge" between 
New York and New Jersey, or the "colossal building" for 
the newspaper New York World, which was twenty-six 
stories, constructed from iron, steel, and brick." Although 
the reporter had difficulty in describing a building of such 
unprecedented scale, the Russians had finally discovered 
the skyscraper; during the next decade, reports on this 
American form would appear regularly in the Russian 
architectural press. 

Appropriately, the first detailed descriptions of the 
skyscraper appeared in articles on Chicago, where 
preparations for the 1893 Columbian Exposition 
stimulated an interest in the city unparalleled since the 
Great Fire of 1871. The exposition was the subject of 
extensive reports; such as an analysis of the planning 
and construction of the site, with statistics from the 
German publication Deutsche Bauzeitung. The account 
mentioned the firm Holabird and Roche, a rare occasion in 
which the Russian press identified American architects." 
Among other news items on the exposition was an ecstatic 
report on the project to construct an all-electric house, 
described as a glimpse into the future." A general review 
of construction in Chicago noted that for six years a new 
type of structure, based on a skeletal steel frame on a 
reinforced concrete foundation, had been developed; but 
the reports were tentative and made no mention of specific 

In 1893. the crescendo of attention surrounding the 
Chicago exposition reached a peak. The first issues of 
Nedelia stroitelia contained lead articles describing the 


pavilions and the frenetic, last-minute preparations 
in the area between Jackson and Washington parks. 
In addition to reciting the fair's greatest architectural 
achievements and its surpassing dimensions, the unsigned 
correspondent acknowledged the guiding presence of 
Messrs. John Root — whose death in 1891 was noted — and 
Daniel Burnham, who served as chief of construction for 
the exposition.-" After 1893, there appears to have been 
no further notice of these two pioneers of the Chicago 
School in the Russian press. 

Some observers looked beyond the extravaganza of the 
exposition to the more solid achievements of the Chicago 
School. One compact but informative report noted that 
"giant buildings here bear the strange name 'Sky 
Scrapers'" and contended that Chicago was particularly 
"rich in these buildings," despite a growing reluctance to 
insure them.-' The nineteen-story Auditorium Hotel, more 
commonly known as the Auditorium (1886-90), was 
described as an example of the speed of construction 
possible with the new technology. The description included 
an abundance of statistics concerning the building's cost, 
its height, its weight, the number of bricks needed for 
construction, and the length of its water and gas pipes. 
Yet there is no mention of the style of this spectacular 
building, nor of the architect, Louis Sullivan. For Russian 
architectural critics, "style" was to be found in Europe; 
America was the land of statistics and technology. 

American Pragmatism and the New Urban 

However significant the role played by the French school 
in American design, Russian observers were more 
interested in the practical results of American technical 
developments. In 1895, Viktor Evald — the editor of 
Zodchii and one of the most frequent commentators on 
American civil engineering — provided an account of 
skyscraper construction in New York and Chicago, with 
particular attention to methods of foundation support for 
the steel frames. Impressed by the size and technology of 
such large structures, Evald took a dim view of their 
aesthetic qualities and predicted that they would create 
an urban environment in which "some of the main streets 
will be enclosed between two rows of tall, gloomy cubes, 
with small, separate windows in which the sun never 
peers. Such streets will resemble narrow canals or 
streams, flowing at the base of deep ravines."^^ This poetic 
image was followed by the observation that American 
skyscrapers were intended for use between eight and five, 
after which time the central areas of American cities 

became depopulated. 

Subsequently, Evald wrote a book entitled Structural 
Characteristics of Buildings in North America, and in 1899 
he continued his analysis of the American skyscraper with 
an extensive report on a fire at the sixteen-story Home 
Life Insurance Company building on Broadway Avenue, 
constructed in 1893. His observations regarding the still- 
far-from-ideal methods of fire prevention in tall buildings 
were based, in large part, on data from the German 
publication Thonindustrie-Zeitung, which represented the 
producers of fire-retardant ceramic shields. 

By the beginning of the century, reports on skyscrapers 
and fires in American cities appeared in roughly equal 
measure. In 1903, Zodchii published a technical review of 
recent progress in the area of skyscraper construction, 
with special attention to new methods of insulating the 
steel frame from the effects of intense heat (many of these 
advances were introduced after the Pittsburgh fire of 
1897). Drawing upon books by Joseph Freitag and William 
Birkmire — prominent American civil engineers 
specializing in the design of skyscrapers — the writer 
attributed the extraordinary increase in tall buildings in 
America to three basic developments: the cheap and 
efficient production of high-quality rolled steel; the 
production of new types of fire-resistant coating for steel 
frames; and the introduction of rapid elevators. ^^ 

Fire had, of course, been an enemy of Russian cities from 
time immemorial, yet there was a specific interest in the 
spectacular effects of fire on the new American urban 
environment, even though the lessons to be learned from 
these conflagrations had limited applications in Russia. 
The 1904 issues of Zodchii contained several items on this 
subject, among which was a report on the devastating 
Iroquois Theater fire, in which some four hundred died, 
and a survey of measures for fire safety in other major 
Chicago theaters, including the Auditorium.-^ A 
subsequent article described methods of fire prevention 
developed by the firm Adler and Sullivan.^* The 
culmination of this inflammatory obsession appeared in 
the journal's extensive coverage of the great Baltimore fire 
of February 1904. Based on reports in the New York 
Herald. Zodchii provided a general description of the 
disaster and its effect on the city in the first article.-'* The 
second article took a more technical approach, examining 
the conditions of large structures after the fire. The 
conclusion, bolstered by information from the German 
publication Stahl und Eisen. discussed the remarkable 

progress in protecting steel frames from fire damage." 





\i ' 

Figure 1. Northern Insurance Company building, Moscow. 1909-1911. Ivan Rerberg. Marian 
Peretiatkovich, Viacheslav Oltarzhevski (Brumfield M59-32) 

Visions of the Sl<yscraper 

For most of its final decade of publication, Zodchii 
reported with regularity on new developments concerning 
American skyscrapers. Articles appeared on the Singer 
Building in 1906, on the Metropolitan Life Building in 
1907, and on buildings by Francis Kimball in 1908. There 
were also reports on the completion of other major 
structures, such as New York's Penn Station and the New 
York Public Library. A brief notice in 1908 commented on 
the "gigantomania" of Ernest Flagg, probably the most 
active builder of skyscrapers in New York: "[Flagg] dreams 
of constructing a building as high as one thousand feet.... 
Even the Yankees have had second thoughts about this. 
There are reasonable people thinking of raising the 
question of a law to set limits on the flights of artists 
beyond the clouds."^* Yet after 1908, for no clear reason, 
the number of articles on America underwent a sharp, if 
temporary, decline. In 1909, the only item on America 
dealt with air pollution in Chicago; in 1910, there was a 
single report on a new bridge in Philadelphia; and in 1911, 
R. Bernhard reviewed R. Vogel's book Das amerikanische 
Haus, reflecting a growing curiosity about the American 
design of the detached house and its suitability as a model 
for suburban development around Moscow. 

The reappearance of articles on American architecture and 
technology in Zodchii was due, in large measure, to the 
Sixth International Congress on Materials Testing, held at 
New York's Engineering Societies Building in 1912. Given 
the standards of the time, it is noteworthy that the 
journal's correspondent was a woman, Maria Koroleva, 
about whom regrettably little is known. Her dispatches 
provide detailed and highly technical accounts of the 
proceedings, as well as an analysis of the construction of 
New York's Woolworth Building by Cass Gilbert.-' To 
Russian observers, the Woolworth Building represented 
an extreme example of the American mania for the office 
tower — a mania that went beyond the limits of economic 
feasibility, according to the writer of an article on the 
building, who also noted that its primary function was to 
serve as a trademark for the Woolworth firms.'" In a 
series of postcards entitled "Moscow in the Future," dating 
from 1913. visionaries in Russia were producing fanciful 
sketches of a "new Moscow," which bore a distinct 
resemblance to midtown Manhattan."" Indeed, the first 
tentative steps in this direction had already been taken 
with the completion of Ivan Rerberg's modest tower for the 
Northern Insurance Company in central Moscow in 1911.'- 

The increasingly specific technical descriptions of the 
engineering involved in the construction of skyscrapers 

and their skeletal steel frames indicate that Russian 
builders were prepared to undertake such projects. 
World War I and subsequent events, however, postponed 
the large-scale application of this technology until the late 
1940s. The most significant statement of this convergence 
between American and Russian goals in civil engineering 
appeared in Nikolai Lakhtin's two-part survey of the 
latest techniques for the use of steel and reinforced 
concrete in New York's skyscrapers.'^ For Lakhtin 
Russia's economic future clearly pointed toward the 
American model in urban architecture: 

Industry, trade, and technology are developing, 
prices for land parcels are growing, telephones 
and other communications cannot always satisfy 
demand; in short, circumstances analogous to 
those in America are gradually arising in our 
urban centers. These circumstances make it 
necessary to construct tall buildings, which must 
be erected on a steel frame. '^ 

With this imperative in mind, Lakhtin analyzed the tall 
building from foundation to wind braces and made 
detailed drawings of key points in the steel column and 
girder structure. The same message, regarding the 
convergence of Russian and American architectural 
conditions, was propagated at the Fifth Congress of 
Russian Architects in 1913 by Lakhtin and Edmond 
Perrimond, both of whom had recently attended 
conferences in America and returned to Russia convinced 
of the relevance of the new American architecture.'" 

With the onset of war, visions of growth, progress, and 
technical development receded, and with them the 
possibilities of an American-style construction boom in 
Russia. These visions were undoubtedly unrealistic or 
premature; Lakhtin once went so far as to compare the 
subsoil of St. Petersburg with that of New York to assess 
whether it could support tall buildings. During the war 
years, references to America dwindled, with the exception 
of a series of detailed articles written in 1916 by Roman 
Beker on small community library buildings in America. 
Beker presented a highly favorable view of these 
structures because of their design, and also because they 
seemed to express the democratic belief in education for 
the people.'" In 1917, America's entry into the war on the 
side of the Entente produced renewed interest in the 
United States; but at the end of 1917, Zodchii ceased 
publication. In a wholly unintended irony, the last article 
published in the journal bore the title "American 
Engineers and the War."" 


American Architecture as Cultural Model 


An element of fantasy reigns over many Russian 
perceptions of American architecture, even those 
expressed in the pages of sohd professional journals — not 
to mention the more imaginative, if less reliable, passages 
from literary works such as Maksim Gorkii's City of 
the Yellow Devil (1906). This air of unreality must be 
attributed in part to the different levels of development 
between Russia and America at the time, and to the great 
distance separating the two countries. Yet for all of these 
limitations, there is evidence to suggest that the extensive 
Russian reporting on American architecture established 
a receptivity to technology that would continue — and 
in some respects increase — after the revolution, despite 
barriers to exchanges of information.^* 

Beyond the specific function of America as a model in 
civil engineering and architectural design, there is the 
broader issue of cultural perception, which Zodchii was 
uniquely qualified to convey. Although technical concerns 
are of obvious importance to members of the architectural 
profession, architecture as an art and as a building 
technology also participates in the social and cultural 
values of the environment that it shapes. In this respect, 
Russian reports and articles on American architecture 
reveal a continual measuring. America is seen as the 
ultimate standard, regardless of Russia's more immediate 
relation to Europe. Paradoxically, this taking of measure 
reflects, on a deeper level, a type of nationalism that seeks 
a model commensurate with its own aspirations. Only 
America, with its continental sweep and boundless energy, 
provided a comparable scale for the challenges confronting 
Russian builders. 

No other form of endeavor in Russia expressed this 
relation to America as clearly as architecture, with 
its emphasis on both the pragmatic and the cultural. 
Whatever suspicions Russian thinkers such as Dostoevskii 
might harbor toward American culture, the material 
from Zodchii suggests that the two countries have often 
perceived in each other a set of values and characteristics 
that are tacitly admired and accepted as one's own. Hence 
the willingness of Russian observers to repeat the terms 
of American boosterism — "colossal." "enormous." and 
"fast" — even while offering skeptical comments. These are 
the terras that have appealed to the Russians' own sense 
of destiny — terms that, despite immeasurable social and 
cultural differences, indicate in the broadest sense the 
presence of shared ideals. 

1. Fedor M. Dostoevskji. Polnoe sobranie sochinenti v tridtsati tomakh (Leningrad: 
Nauka. 1980), 21:106. 

2. For a history of the foundation of the Moscow Architectural Society, see lu. S. 
Laralov, ed. 100 let obshcheslvennykh arkhitekturnykh organizalsii V SSSR, 1S67- 
1967 (Moscow: Soiuz arkhitektorov. 1967), 6-11. 

3. laralov. ed.. 100 let. 12. 

4. The complicated publishing history of Zodchii and its supplement Nedelia 
stroitelia is presented in laralov, ed. 100 let, 103-4. 

5- Zodchii. 1872. no. 3: 46, 

6, Ihid., 1873. no. 9: 110. based on material taken from Birzhevye vedomosti. 

7, Ibid,, 1873. no, 9: 107-8, 

8, Ibid. 

9, Ibid,. 1873, no. 7-8: 94. 

10, See Zodchii. 1876, no. 7:85, based on material from .4rmenian Architect and 
Building News. 

11, Ibid., no. 11-12: 120. 

12, Ibid., 1877, no. 3: 29-30. 

13, Ibid,. 1880, no, 3-4: 33, 

14, Ibid,, no, 6: 49-50, 

15, Nedelia stroitelia, 1885. no, 15: 3, 

16, Ibid., 1891, no. 3-4: 20. 

17, Ibid,, no, 39-40: 385-86, 

18, Ibid,, no. 26: 288. 

19, Ibid., 1892. no. 46: 313. 

20, Ibid., 1893. no, 1: 2-3, and no, 3:10-11, 

21, Ibid,, no, 14:62, 

22, Ibid,, 1895. no, 29:155; the article is entitled "Sky Cities." 

23, Ibid., 1903, no. 51: 605-8, 

24 Ibid,, 1904, no, 8: 86-89. and no. 11:137-38. with material from Deutsche 

25, Ibid., no. 17: 207-8. 

26, Ibid,, no, 26: 303, 

27, Ibid,, no, 39: 431-35, with numerous photographs of tall buildings standing 
among the ruins, 

28, Ibid-, 1908. no, 40: 375, 

29, Ibid., 1912. no, 46: 455-59: no, 47: 467-70: and no, 48: 479-81, 

30, Ibid., 1912. no, 52: 522, 

31, See E, I, Kirichenko, Moskva: Pamiatniki arkhitektuty lS30-19I0-kh godov 
(Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1977), 95-99, 

32, The tower has survived very well in contemporary Moscow, See photograph 
in William Craft Brurafield, The Origins of Modernism in Russian Architecture 
(Berkeley: University of California Press. 1991). 284. 

33, Zodchii, 1913. no, 18: 203-11, and no. 19: 215-21, 

34, Ibid,, no. 18:204, ■ 

35, Compare to Koroleva's report on papers read at the technology section of the 
Fifth Congress, Zodchii. 1914, no, 3: 27, 

36 Ibid., 1916, no. 46: 412-16, and the three subsequent issues, with floor plans, 
photographs, and a bibliography, 

37, Ibid.. 1917, no, 47-52: 226-29. 

38, Extensive reports based on personal observations of American architecture 
began appearing again in the Russian architectural press in the 1980s, For example, 
Stroitel'naia gazeta published an interview with a faculty member at the Leningrad 
Engineering and Construction Institute, who had visited American construction 
sites in 1985 and gave a positive account of what he saw. Even the terms used are 
reminiscent of those in Zodchii. "Bystree — znachit pribylnei" {Faster means more 
profitable), Stroitel'naia gazeta. March 3 1987: 3, 


Figure 1. Eh/iih. 1111,1, .\l.,li,in 
Shaivite cave, sanctum with 
lingam, ca. 540 A.D. 

Michael W. Meister 

Access and Axes of Indian Temples 

Figure 3. Elephanta. image of 
Shiva Mahadeva 

At the beginning, before the creation of the world, sex, and 
death, the Creator Prajapati formed Rudra-Brahma as a 
pillar to separate sky and water and to start time. This 
pillar, called Skambha ("the frame of creation"), instead 
retreated to the bottom of the cosmic ocean, and waited for 
procreation to begin by other means. "By how much did 
Skambha enter the existent? How much of him lies along 
that which will exist?" asks the sacred Hindu text Atharva 
Veda (AV X.7.9).' First built more than a millennium 
after the Atharva Veda was compiled, an early Indian 
stone temple echoes Skambha's condensed crouching form. 

The cubical block of the sanctum in the famed sixth- 
century A.D. Shaiva cave on Elephanta island near 
Mumbai lies compressed between the floor and ceiling 
of a mountain excavation (Fig. 1). Its four cardinal 
doorways are protected by giant guardian figures. This 
cella can be approached from two directions: on axis 
from an eastern court along the central aisle of a pillared 
hall, or indirectly, from the north, along an axis facing 
an immense bust of the "Great Lord" Mahadeva Shiva, 
incarnate with cardinal faces (Fig. 3). This Shiva image 
rests within the mountain, as if looking into the cave's 
excavation from beyond a southern entry-portico- (Fig. 2). 

Access to early temples was at first limited to the deity 
and its cult functionaries. Temple 17, built at Sanchi (an 
early first-century Buddhist site) ca. 425 A.D., has often 
been called the earliest surviving stone Hindu temple. 

intended to shelter an icon of a deity (Fig. 4). It consists 
of a small masonry cube with an inner sanctum and four- 
pillared portico, suitable for the approach of only one 
person at a time. Such a temple was a point of power, 
seen as a "crossing" (tirtha), a mechanism for seducing 
the divine into the created world, and a tool for the 
transformation of the worshiper. 

This manifestation of the divine was gradually marked 
on temple walls by axes in the ground plan that project 
sacred interior spaces onto offsets of the exterior walls, 
providing facets where sculptures of varying aspects of the 
divinity and creation could be placed and viewed 
(Figs. 5 & 6). In some temples in the seventh century, 
however, these cardinal projections show shuttered doors 
rather than images, emphasizing the secure nature of 
the shrine and limiting visual access of the deity to those 
whose function was to administer to it in the 
sanctum (Figs. 7 & 8). 

Image-worship increasingly replaced rites of sacrifice 
by the seventh and eighth centuries, and temple rituals 
began to focus more on the role of an audience of devotees 
and the experience of worship. The cosmological plan 
of the temple expanded, but access to the shrine and 
sanctum remained limited and controlled. These temples 
were "monuments of manifestation"^ in Stella Kramrisch's 
words— cosmic mountains, but also markers of creation, 
palaces of the gods, and machines for social order 


Figure 4. Sanchi, Madhya 
Pradesh, temple 17, ca. 425 


Figure 5. Projection of sacred space onto walls of the temple: Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, 
Parasurameshvara temple, ca. 600 (left); Mahua. MP, Shiva temple no. 1. ca. 650-75 

Figure 6. Bhubaneshwar. 
Parasurameshvara temple, 
south view 

Figure 9. Masrur, Himachal Pradesh. Shaivite temple, 
ca. 725-75. section 

Figure 8. Sirpur. Lakshmana temple, 
view from southwest 

temple, wall with blind shutters, ca. 600-25 


Figure 10. Masrur. ground plan 

# ^-ii% 


Figure 11. Expansion of temple plans: North 
and South India 


IW»9a) Vnlnjcw. I Tv> ca<*«y 

Figure 12. Vishnupiir. Bengal. Eastern India in the 17th century 

Figure 13. Osian, Rajasthan, Sachiyamata hiil. temple 
complex, 8th — 20th century 

(Figs. 9 & 10). Temple Hinduism gradually took on 
political and social roles that transformed the temple, 
expanding its plan along a path of human approach, 
an "axis of access." As architecture and changing usage 
evolved over many centuries, open halls were added to 
walled halls, additional pavilions were built, enclosing 
fences became compounds, and compounds grew to cities. 
In South India, seasonal festivals and rites evolved that 
brought the deity out into the city and countryside, giving 
access to populations not allowed entry to the sanctum 
(Fig. 11). 

As I have noted elsewhere, "The Hindu temple must also 
act as access and approach for aspirants and worshipers. 
This role changes the temple from a centralized, 
bilaterally symmetrical structure (reflecting the nature of 
the cosmogonic process) to one with a defined longitudinal 
axis. On that axis the worshipers approach their personal 
divinity within the sanctum; but also on that axis the 
aspirants increasingly can place themselves, in halls built 
for that purpose, as if under the umbrella of the sacrificer, 
positioning themselves for ascent."' 

Two alignments, however, coexist. One is centralized, 
symmetrical, and expresses a cosmic order in which the 
deity dwells. The other is linear, signifying the approach 
of humans in this world. In seventeenth-century Bengal, a 
new type of temple was created, built in brick, for rituals 
"hidden" from Islamic hegemony. These temples retain 
an east-west axis for priests to enter the sanctum and 
attend to the god. But they also have a north-south axis 
to provide visual access to an assembly of devotees who 
sing and dance in the temple's court, "emphasizing the 
participation of the community" (Fig. 12).'' These temples 
take on the form of a village compound. Such dual axes 
for esoteric and popular rituals had already been augured 
at Elephanta (Fig. 3), yet here communities of worshipers 
commanded access that in previous centuries had often 
been limited or denied. 

The remarkable thing is that the once-closed machine 
of the temple has, over time, taken on the flexibility to 
adapt to radically changing social circumstances, giving 
access to a variety and multitude of communities (Fig. 13). 
Even as the Creator Prajapati's Skambha cowered in the 
primordial waters long ago, the potential for creation of 
the sexually charged, multivalent, multicultural universes 
served by Hindu temples had become its ordering force. ^ 

Early Hinduism focused on rites of sacrifice. Temples 
to shelter images of deities were built in early medieval 
India as instruments of priestly cults. To patronize cult 
communities became a means to extend kingship. Yet 
through such community patronage, temples gradually 
became public institutions.' Today communities have 
taken the place of kings, and temples function in fresh 
ways, with a renewal of multiple pivots of access. 


1. Atharva-veda Samhita, trans. William Dwight Whitney, rev. and ed. Charles 
Rockwell Lanman, Harvard Oriental Series, vol 7-8 (Cambridge: Harvard 
University, 1905). 

2. Stella Kramrisch, The Presenee of S'iva (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 
1981). 443-68. 

3. Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1946), 

4. Michael W. Meister. "Temple: Hindu Temples." in The Encyclopedia of Religion, 
ed, Mircea Eliade (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company) vol. 14, 372: "The 
whole intention of the Vedic Tradition and of the sacrifice is to define the Way by 
which the aspirant ... can ascend [the three] worlds,' wrote Ananda Coomaraswamy, 
'Earth, Air, and Sky ,.. compose the vertical Axis of the Universe.... [These are] the 
Way by which the Devas first strode up and down these worlds ... and the Way for 
the .Sacrificer now to do likewise,'" 

.5, Pika Ghosh. Temple to Love, Architecture and Devotion in Seventeenth-Century 
Bengal (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2005). 138. 

6, Michael W, Meister. "Sweetmeats or Corpses'? Community, Conversion, and 
Sacred Places," in Open Boundaries, Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian 
History, ed, John E, Cort (Albany: State University of New York, 1998), 111-38, 

7, Arjun Appadurai, "Kings. Sects and Temples in South India. 1350-1700 A,D.," in 
South Indian Temples, ed. Burton Stein (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1978). 


Soft pod skin and muscle 

A project by OJ Studio: Neri Oxman and Mitchell Joachiim 

PeristalCity: A Circulatory Habitat Cluster 
for Manhattan 

New York City's first skyscraper, or what might be 
considered as such, was built in 1902 (Flatiron building). 
Since then, skyscrapers have come to define the city's 
distinctive skyline. Despite their captivating image, 
skyscrapers in New York City (as well as in other 
cities throughout the world) have not yet overcome the 
limitations of their most basic function: the vertical 
navigation of their inhabitants. 

The elevators in these buildings have long constrained 
compositional forms. More significantly, these elevators 
limit the arrangement of social practices with regards 
to both labor and leisure. But elevators stifle more than 
just our movement by virtue of their rectangular rigid 
planes and fleeting cars. Temporally speaking, the vast 
space of the elevator shaft is almost always vacant, 
and thus useless. But suppose we embraced a different 

interpretation of that inactive and sequestered domain 
which much of this central shaft represents. It would 
demand a vital shift, or at least a conceptual reworking, 
towards an active utilization of such a space. This 
possibility is precisely what our design explores. 

By substituting a dynamic spatial application for the 
traditional organization of a skyscraper's core, we 
dissolve the dichotomy between circulation and static 
habitable environments. We have eliminated typological 
stacking where limited social practices are allocated 
to different floors. Instead, we propose a spatial layout 
that establishes heterogeneous movements, and not 
just assorted practices, as the criteria for a dynamic 
assemblage. The following set of statements will explain 
how this is envisioned: 


.; f 

Front view of" sky surface and urban cluster 


Concept: Circulation = Space 

An inhabitable pocket is contained within a flexible 
element. It is a module that flows in a vertical trajectory, 
responding to other neighboring units, and with the 
surrounding members. Their positioning is determined 
and managed by a responsive signaling system. 

Technology: Fluidic Muscle Tectonics 

Peristalsis is derived from the ancient Greek peristaltikos. 
which means contraction. Today the word is often used 
in medicine, referring to the rippling motion of muscles in 
tubular organs, which are characterized by the alternate 
contraction as well as relaxation of the muscles that 
propel the contents onward. Although its use in medicine 
predominated, this phenomenon became a point of 
departure for the technology that enables this form of 
spatial and social dynamics. 

Fluidic muscle technology provides much flexibility of 
use when designing with pneumatic structures (these are 
mostly inflatable structural forms stabilized wholly or 
mainly by pressure differences of gases or liquids). This 
is a soft, pliable, sealed, and non- mechanical innovation, 
which encapsulates the volume of the structure with 
textile-reinforced hoses executing a peristaltic action. 
Thus, the spatial modules are able to create an articulated 
motion that is symbiotically connected to an urban 
armature, a large frame that stabilizes those "peristaltic 
sacks" in place. 

Social Construct: 

Urban Cluster/Mixed Use 

Here, at West Side railyards, we imagine a metropolitan 
assemblage that registers mobility and freedom. As a 
vibrant set of mixed and multi-use programs, it operates 
both in section and plan, allowing for dynamic vertical 
reallocation and planar expansion of the space. On the 
ground plane a multistory plinth fits the cluster into the 
metabolism of the cityscape. The assemblage acts as an 
elevated setting for cultural and multimode uses (e.g. 
auditoriums, esplanades, piers, and parking). 

Environment: Sky-Surface 
as Community Realm 

The sky-surface is the eventual destination for the 
transportable unit occupants, with pleasurable retreats 

and striking vistas overlooking the Hudson. At this 
juncture the collective body of the cluster is granted the 
capability to gather democratically. 

Perspective: Urban Window 

The peristaltic-fabric is designed as a sequential 
organization around an "urban window" condition — a 
visual gateway to both city and waterfront allowing a 
selection of interchanging viewing angles and heights. 
This temporal effect re-reads the city constantly, 
promoting a quality of transparency in the context of 
urban mass. A micro cosmos is born which inter-relates 
habitation to light, air, space, and views across scales of 
individual units, clusters and cities. 

If there is one feature that characterizes the Modernist 
project in the twentieth century and represents its 
aspirations, it is the skyscraper. This project has 
attempted to reconsider and critically revisit this well- 
celebrated typology in the context of the ever-growing city 
of the twenty-first century. It aims to develop the notion of 
vertical mobility as an approach to the changing needs of 
both the individual and the collective. 

As the sole signifier of vertical rigidity, both programmatic 
and performative, elevator and core have been 
dematerialized through the invention of PeristalCity. 

Inside the pods 


imertlllUAl ipAce [conttdOirtg <or« 

«ncnul fluicK rriuMle f'btn 
mtniul fluiAc mwKir Fibcn 

mipitui xirvtty pod 

Internal muscles and skin section 

inicrvllitwl HU<r l<onitd<IMg COW 

Multistory plinth at West Side railyards 

Pod model 

Plan of pods 
and solar chart 

A circulatory habitat cluster for Manhattan 


Bobco Metal Headquarters. Display section 

Administrative tunnel 

A Project by the Null Lab 

The Bobco Metals Company 

In December 2004, 500 leading art critics voted Marcel 
Duchamp's "Fountain," an autographed urinal, one of the 
five most influential works of modern art in the world; 
it trumped Pablo Picasso's paintings "Les Demoiselles 
d'Avignon" and "Guernica." "Fountain" is an extreme 
exercise in "found art," the undisguised use of objects that 
are not normally considered art.' These works usually 
have a mundane utilitarian function, yet they derive their 
significance from the designation placed upon them by the 
artist. Creation of an architectural space in traditional 
terras represents an intentional activity — in this sense, 
sites are inhabited by being "found." 

We here at Null Lab have been influenced by this concept, 
and its application can be seen in our work with Bobco 
Metals, a self-described "metals supermarket." 
The project unfolded as we explored the fabric of South 
Central Los Angeles on foot. Situated along the Alameda 
corridor, a narrow concrete intestine that digests metal 
cars and trains and discharges them at the Long Beach 
Port, Bobco Metals is no Arcadia. The harsh, even 
ferocious urban vibe bestowed a kind of dramatic merit 
on a landscape covered by deteriorated concrete and 
littered with graffiti, razor wire and the occasional bullet 
hole. Everywhere, objects were chaotically separated in 
accordance with some hidden logic. This pedestrian-free 
zone sits on the border of South Central Los Angeles, 

where gang wars have been fought for thirty odd years. 
The Bobco Metals Project came to represent a protest 
against standard modes of production, as well as a 
statement that nothing is new, only found. The remix of 
steel and hardware represents the structure of a "desire 
machine" — a machine that abandons interpretation 
because no analytical thought and no memory pushes 
itself between the space and your sensory system. In this 
project, we de-gravitated the metallic particles and the 
forms themselves, then shaped a "crystalline narration" in 
response to the strange and disturbed nature of its milieu. 
Gilles Deleuze has pointed out that in such a narration, 
the sensory-motor schemata collapses: 

[Hjaving lost its sensory-motor connections, 
concrete space ceases to be organized 
according to tensions and resolution of tension, 
according to goals, obstacles, means or even 
detours... there is the overlapping 
of perspectives which does not allow 
the grasping of a given object because there are 
no dimensions in relation to which the 
unique set would be ordered. - 

In the Bobco Metals project, layered manifolds and 
planes present a viable complexity in the order of 
established architectural tectonics. One of the most 
significant achievements of such a system is the 
abolition of the relationship between polar modes: the 
room and the hallway, the inside and the outside, etc. 


Administrative tunnel and display windows 

Layers continuously produce unpredictable effects by 
multiplying themselves and creating interfaces for new 
currents. In the Bobco Metals project, layered manifolds 
and planes present a viable complexity in the order of 
established architectural tectonics. One of the most 
significant achievements of such a system is the abolition 
of the relationship between polar modes: the room and 
the hallway, the inside and the outside, etc. Layers 
continuously produce unpredictable effects by multiplying 
themselves and creating interfaces for new currents. 
Recent pattern recognition technology has provided 
us with physical (quantitative) mappings of affective 
and expressionist (qualitative) values. If in this sense, 
there is a geometry associated with fear or lust, it is our 
ambition to trace them for the geometries of architecture. 
Similarly, on a movie set. dramatic tension is extracted 
from actors not only through direction and rehearsals, 
but also by placing the actor in the context of intensified 
lights, aimed cameras, towering scaffolds and artificial 
walls. Such post-functional and artificial space could serve 
the same purpose of dramatization when placed against 
the mundane interactions of everyday life. Our process 
of design begins with the inner works, with causes and 
effects that are natural and generative, yet extreme. 


1, http://; Internet: accessed 1 December 2004. 

2. Gilles Deleuze. Cinema 2: The Time-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert 
Galeta (London: Athlone Press. 1989). 128-129. 

Exterior view of Bobco Metal headquarters 

Cross-section showing the positioning of the panels 

Axonometric drawing of Bobco Metal headquarters 


■^ -• ^ 


^-^ }V?^V 1' ^ 

,»»*^tPsi y 



O/e W. Fischer 

Figure 1. Above left. Villa Silberblick. 1898 (before van de Velde's 
alterations); right. Villa Silberblick/Nietzsche-Archive. 1904 
(after van de Velde's alterations) 

Nietzsche-Archive in Weimar: A Retroactive 
Studiolo^ of Henry van de Velde 

In early January, 1889, the German philosopher Friedrich 
Nietzsche (1844-1900). a professor of philology in early 
retirement, sent several obscure letters to friends and 
colleagues from Torino signed "Dionysos," "Nietzsche 
Caesar." or "the Crucified."- His alarmed friend Franz 
Overbeck arrived in Torino from Basel on January 8th 
and found Nietzsche already losing control of his senses. 
Overbeck decided to take Nietzsche back with him to 
Basel's asylum — the first station in an eleven-and-a-half- 
year twilight of madness. 

After Nietzsche's breakdown, his manuscripts, letters 
and parts of his library remained in Torino, as well as 
in other locations from his unstable life: in Italian cities 
and alpine villages, with friends in Basel and family in 
Naumburg. With the ebbing of hope for Nietzsche's mental 
recovery, the question arose of what to do with his literary 
remains, especially since the last months of his rational 
life were extraordinarily productive. Nietzsche's mother 
was overwhelmed with caring for him and as a pastor's 
widow she was repelled by the radical writings of her son. 
but she conceded to allow Franz Overbeck and Heinrich 
Koselitz (Nietzsche's former student and secretary 
respectively), to function as literary executors. In 1893, 
Nietzsche's younger sister Elisabeth Fdrster returned 
from a failed anti-Semitic colony experiment in Paraguay, 
where she had lost her husband, wealth, and mission, and 
immediately took over as the representative of Nietzsche's 

interests and seized his literary remains.' She gathered 
together his manuscripts, struggled with Nietzsche's 
publisher for the proof sheets with his annotations, asked 
all correspondence partners for a return or copy of his 
letters, and collected his library and private papers. 

In 1894 Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche (the name she used 
from then on), was able to open the "Nietzsche-Archiv" 
on the first floor of her mother's house in the small city of 
Naumburg. The sick philosopher himself lived upstairs. 
Soon her literary circles, afternoon teas, piano soirees 
and other social activities interfered with looking after 
her brother, and Elisabeth chose to move to Weimar, to 
participate in the social life of the Grand Duke's court 
and to profit from the glorious cultural shine of Friedrich 
Schiller and Johann Wolfgang Goethe — the emblems of 
German literature and poetry. In the spring of 1896, a 
grant from Meta von Sails, a writer friend of Nietzsche, 
provided Elisabeth with a villa in the hills overlooking 
Weimar, because the death of their mother had made it 
necessary to re-unify the archive and care for the mad 
philosopher-brother under the same roof. Nietzsche 
himself was transported at night in a special train cabin 
from Naumburg to Weimar. 

In the meantime Elisabeth had twice started an edition 
of Nietzsche's works. Although she was in charge of the 
copyrights of the published works and had managed to 


collect almost all of the literary remains, she disassociated 
herself several times from the editors she had engaged: 
first she fired Kdselitz, who had been working as an editor 
since 1893. Then she hired and fired Fritz Kogel, Rudolf 
Steiner — the later founder of Anthroposophy — as well as 
Ernst and August Honeffer within a few years. Finally, 
in 1898 Koselitz, the only one able to read Nietzsche's 
cryptic handwriting, came back and helped her to start the 
editing project of the 20-volume, "Complete Works," which 
was not finished before 1913.' This work, together with 
a pocketbook edition, a selection of Nietzsche's writings 
and an edition of the collected letters were a big success. 
Translated soon into French, English, and many other 
languages these volumes were the basis of "Nietzsche" as 
the cultural phenomenon that we are still infected with 

However, the Nietzsche-Archive remained a private 
institution, or more precisely, a one-woman-property, 
which brought unfortunate side effects to the publishing 
policy. With the unscrupulous help of her editors, 
Elisabeth held back Nietzsche's finished, but unpublished 
autobiographical work Ecce Homo.'' revised several of his 
letters, and compiled his so-called masterpiece. Will to 
Power. In addition, she vindicated her own image of her 
brother with a series of biographies." This met criticism 
from the beginning by Nietzsche's former friends such 
as Overbeck as well as former editors and employees 
of Elisabeth. Nevertheless, Elisabeth enjoyed great 
confidence from almost all public intellectuals of her time. 
She was still induced by her brother, as she showed the 
"fallen eagle," the most important "piece" in her collection, 
to "special guests" of the archive. Following the example 
of Cosima Wagner as high priestess of the Wagner cult in 
Bayreuth, Elisabeth cultivated her role of devoted sister, 
wise woman, and hostess of a cultural circle in Weimar. 
With the help of the patron Count Harry Kessler the 
archive soon turned into a center for avant-gardes. 

Elisabeth understood the importance of art and media 
in modern society (as well as the new laws on copyright) 
and monopolized the production of Nietzsche portraits, 
sculptures and photographs by various artists. In fact, 
she made use of photographs of her brother from the 
time before his breakdown and only preferred paintings, 
etchings, and sculptures of the sick philosopher. Finally, 
with the help of Kessler, she succeeded in finding the 
appropriate artists Hans Olde and Max Klinger, who 
were able to handle the delicate problem of representing 
Nietzsche whose character hovered between intimate 
martyr and heroic prophet. Elisabeth handed out 
pieces and fragments of Nietzsche's writings to several 
of the new art and literature magazines, which were 

emerging around the turn of the century in Berlin, 
Vienna, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Munich, and Leipzig. 
These publications helped to connect the philosophy 
of Nietzsche with new aesthetic movements and thus 
raised the demand for Nietzsche's works. The increase in 
income through donations and royalties made it possible 
for Elisabeth not only to pay for transcribing, correcting, 
and editing Nietzsche's works, but also to enjoy living in 
bourgeois comfort. Already in 1898 she started to make 
alterations to the villa "Silberblick" (gleam of silver). 
The building belonged de facto to Meta von Sails and 
Elizabeth's actions led to a break-up of this friendship. 
But after the death of Nietzsche in August 1900, it became 
obvious that she was in need of a new attraction for the 
archive: an interior design by the style reformer van de 

The Flemish painter, autodidactic designer, and 
architect Henry van de Velde was recognized as an 
early enthusiastic follower of the "philosopher with the 
hammer." After his break-through as a precursor of art 
nouveau at the exhibition of Dresden in 1896, van de 
Velde's star began to shine in Germany and within the 
same circles that were interested in Nietzsche's "New 
Man." In spring 1901, he gave a lecture series about the 
theoretical foundation of the "New Style" in the well- 
known salon of Cornelia Richter in Berlin, and Kessler 
introduced him at one of his soirees to Elisabeth. She in 
turn invited van de Velde and Kessler on a pelerinage to 
Nietzsche's tomb on 25 August 1901, the first anniversary 
of his death. In 1901, after he had left behind the idea of 
a new guild society with the bankruptcy of his arts-and- 
crafts workshops in Berlin and Brussels, van de Velde 
became immediately interested in the idea of reforming 
the applied arts production in the grand duchy of Weimar. 
Elisabeth, on the other hand, wanted to re-animate the 
idea of a cultural Weimar movement. After the "golden 
age" of the poets Schiller and Goethe, followed by the 
"silver age" of the composer and virtuoso Franz Liszt, she 
thought of a "New Weimar" of literature, arts, architecture 
and life reform with the help of van de Velde under 
the banner of Nietzsche's philosophy. To reinforce her 
diplomatic maneuvers for his appointment at court, in 
fall of 1901, she hired van de Velde to modify the archival 
villa Silberblick. Changes in the design of the archive 
could reinforce Elisabeth's autonomy, who had also taken 
over the ownership of the archival villa that same year. 
Van de Velde, who as early as 1890s had seen Nietzsche's 
philosophy as a fundamental critique for bourgeois culture 
and artistic production, and who had sensed his "mission" 
in a renewal of the applied arts, now saw the chance to 
combine his interests in aesthetic reform and new style 
with an homage to "his" philosopher. 


Furthermore, the design of the Nietzsche-Archive became 
an exemplary case study of van de Velde's concept of 
"ornamental transcription," or, programmatic art in the 
sense of late Romantic music theory. Van de Velde was 
aware of this model of conceptual reference to external 
thoughts of philosophy or literature as formulated by 
Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt. He applied those 
ideas to architecture, furnishing and book design. 
Programmatic art was meant to disarm the latent distrust 
put forward by idealistic philosophy against music (and 
architecture) in the aesthetics of Kant, Hegel or Schelling, 
who preferred philosophy and poetry. They disregarded 
music (and architecture) as meaningless entertainment 
or emotional expression, and therefore as inferior 
arts. According to Wagner, music is able to refer to an 
external philosophic "program" by the title of the work, 
an explanatory theoretical text of the composer (where 
the name "program" is taken from), and a significant 
way of structuring the abstract material into themes 
or the so-called leitmotifs. Wagner goes on to explain 
that Beethoven consciously transgressed the canonic 
symphonic form with the vocal finale of his Symphony no. 
9 in order to transcend and express highest emotion: the 
celebration of joy of a liberated mankind. This moment 
was in Wagners eyes the rebirth of the Gesamtkunstwerh 
(synthesis of arts) of ancient Greek tragedy. Van de Velde 
adopted this idea of synthesis of arts interpenetrating 
all aspects of life. But even more relevant for van de 
Velde's aesthetic thought was the rejection of mimicry and 
imitation in the concept of programmatic art, providing 
an abstract object with philosophic meaning beyond the 
application of symbolic ornament or classical tectonic 
language. Nietzsche, who had reflected on Wagner and the 
metaphysics of music in his early writings, proposed yet 
another important motive of non-figural representation: 
he suggested an identity of internal and external worlds, a 
characteristic of the post-Christian thinker with his built 
environment, which reformulates the pre-Socratic idea 
ot physis as an organic unity of spirit and matter or what 
Nietzsche called the "architecture for the perceptive."* 

At the Nietzsche-Archive van de Velde operated 
with a series of manipulations that can be read as 
"programmatic": he improved the unsatisfactory entrance 
of the house by adding a street-facing portico to the simple 
cubic building (Fig. 1). To mark its status as a public 
institution, he labeled it with the inscription "Nietzsche- 
Archiv" carved in stone in broad roman letters. This 
gesture did not correspond to the status of a private villa, 
but had to be understood in the context of programmatic 
art as "title" of this work. For building the new fagade 
van de Velde continued to use the brick and stucco 
of the existing structure, but rather than resembling 

Figure .3. Above. Nietzsche-Archive by Henry van de Velde. view from 

the Entrance (East). The stele by Max Klinger can be seen in the back; 

below view from the West (Weimar, 1992) 

Figure 4. Niefz 

, The picture was taken in early 1980s, 
shortly before renovations 


the original's Neo-Renaissance wall and opening, the 
new street fagade is a compositional play of surfaces 
and proportions. This anthropomorphic positioning of 
openings can be directly connected to Nietzsche's idea of 
physiognomic expression, as in the "architecture for the 
perceptive." The excessive height of the dark oak entrance 
door serves as part of this geometric frame, but for the 
approaching guest it offers another enigma: instead of a 
door handle there is a set of sculptural brazen handholds 
with labyrinth ornamentation (Fig. 2). This might reflect 
on the unclear status of the house as both shrine and villa, 
literary archive and last domicile of the philosopher, but 
at the same time it structured the proportion of power 
of inside and outside: the arriving guest had to request 
access. In addition, van de Velde noted in an earlier 
version of his memoirs, in the chapter "The Nietzsche- 
Archive and the New Weimar" that he intended to give 
the archive an appearance "more solemn and monumental 
like a Schatzkammcr [treasure chamber)"' — the leitmotif 
of this work. 

Once inside, there is a dark entrance hall. A crystalline 
lamp'" over the doorway illuminates cloakrooms 
containing a series of brass coat hooks, which work 
as joints between the capitalist chaos outside and the 
synthesis of art inside, constructing a new society of 
"Nietzscheans." A few steps to the right, a double door 
opens to the "treasure" of the archive: the library with 
"His" books and manuscripts. 

This oblong room, a merging of two smaller rooms, has 
a rather low ceiling for its size. Since van de Velde could 
not easily change the height within an existing house, 
he chose a repetitive vertical structure as "organic ribs" 
to arrange the walls and virtually elevate and carry the 
white plafond. These planks hold the shelves for books, 
but integrate openings — with movable window grilles to 
prohibit unwanted visitors — as well as other furniture, 
even a chamber piano. The color palette of this room 
ranges from natural red beech to fraise-colored plush 
and intensive red curtains, heightened by white stucco 
and brass details. The only contrast is the grayish-blue 
carpet — the room as a whole invoked the atmosphere of 
the alpenglow" of Nietzsche's Zarathustra. Van de Velde 
put another "title" reference inside his work, this time in 
the form of the initial of the philosopher's name: a brass 
N in a circle is embedded in the wall above the tiled stove. 
Nietzsche himself, apart from his books on the shelves and 
his manuscripts in the cupboards, is "present" in a life-size 
marble stele (or vertical sculptural object) by Max Klinger. 
The only object in the room that is not designed by van de 
Velde, is this stele, which rests on a platform against a 

surface of colored glass illuminated by evening light. 
(Fig. 3) 

But why did van de Velde deliberately blur the status of 
the main room between private salon and sacred temple, 
literary archive and intimate library? The answer might 
be found in the program of the "New Weimar" and its 
direct rivalry with the cult of Goethe, manifest in the 
conversion of Goethe's house in Weimar to a national 
museum in 1885 as well as the new Goethe-Schiller- 
Archives, built in 1896. The Nietzsche-Archive had to 
undergo comparison with the palazzo of the thinker, poet 
and minister (three characteristics of Goethe) with its 
exquisite classical interiors and artwork. Goethe 
had brought back the idea of the humanist studiolo from 
his Italian Journey (1786-87) and remodeled his house 
into a personal microcosm: the succession of salons, 
dining hall, study chamber, scientific collection, garden 
and library were read as an ideal portrait of the educated 
bourgeois. Van de Velde's strategy of staging a mood 
of authenticity, a plausible yet retroactive studiolo for 
the dead philosopher, was extraordinary successful. For 
Nietzsche, who had never consciously understood 
that he had vegetated four years in Weimar, van de Velde 
created a physiologic resemblance of architecture and 
philosophy and constructed an organic atmosphere 
for "the perceptive" with a synthetic work of art in his new 
style. The interiors of the Nietzsche-Archive (and van de 
Velde's book illustrations) soon became synonymous with 
"Nietzsche design." providing evidence of the modernity 
and superiority of "his" philosopher. 

Figure 2. Villa Silberblick/Nietzsche-Archive, Portico. 1904 



After WWII, the Nietzsche-Archive was closed down 
because of its association with the Nazi regime. The 
incriminating contact became manifest in a neoclassicist 
"Nietzsche memorial hall" next to the Nietzsche-Archive 
from 1938. also remained unfinished. Nietzsche's 
manuscripts and books, together with Elisabeth's literary 
remains, were confiscated by the East German authorities 
and transferred to the socialist predecessor of the 
Weimar Classics Foundation or Nationale Forschungs- 
und Gedenkstdtte (der Deutschen Klassik) Weimar. Since 
Georg Lukas had denounced Nietzsche's philosophy as 
proto-fascism, ^- there was almost no opportunity for 
serious research on archival stocks of Nietzsche in East 
Germany. The Nietzsche-Archive building was "hidden" 
by the new owners. ^^ the inscription destroyed, the villa 
modified and reused as a seminar building and guesthouse 
of the socialist "National Research and Memorial Place in 
Weimar."^^ (Fig. 4) 

In the 1960s, the Italian philosopher Giorgio Colli and 
the Italian philologist Mazzino Montinari started their 
project of a new critical edition of Nietzsche's works. 
An ideological re-evaluation of art nouveau and early 
modernism in the 1960s and 70s opened the dialogue for 
a renovation of the archive building as well as its interior, 
which was begun in 1984, five years before the fall of the 
Berlin Wall, and remained unfinished until 1991 in the re- 
united Germany. 

Today the Nietzsche-Archive is a museum of the national 
Weimar Classics Foundation. It is open to the public, 
but the manuscripts are stored in the Goethe-Schiller- 
Archives. Friedrich Nietzsche's as well as his sister's 
books belong to the Anna Amalia Library of the same 
Weimar Classics Foundation in Weimar and are only 
accessible for institutional research. Ironically, the private 
archive of the philosopher's sister was after all united with 
its national rival and Nietzsche's original writings became 
even part of the world's cultural heritage.'^ but not in the 
sense imagined: the Nietzsche-Archive is an archive with 
empty shelves 


1. The term is Italian and refers to Renaissance artist and humanist studios, like the 
studiolo of Frederico da Montefeltre (Urbino). the studiolo of Isabella d'Este (Mantua) 
or that of Francesco I de Medici (Palazzo Vecchio. Florence). See further. Wolfgang 
Liebenwein, Studiolo. Die Entstehung eines Raumtyps und seine Entwicklung bis urn 
1600 (Berlin: Gebr. Mann. 1977). 

2. Friedrich Nietzsche, Sdmtliche Briefe. Kritische Studienausgabe in 8 Bdnden. 
eds., Giorgi Colli and Mazzino Montinari (Berlin & New York; Walther de Gruyter, 
2003) 567-.579. 

3. For a detailed biography see. H. F. Peters, Zarathustra's Sister: The ease 
of Elisabeth and Friedrich Nietzsche (New York: Crown. 1977); Carol Diethe. 
Nietzsche's Sister and The will to Power. A Biography of Elisabeth Forster- Nietzsche 
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 2003). 

4. Friedrich Nietzsche, Nietzsche's Werke, Grofioktav-Ausgabe (Leipzig: Naumann. 
1899-1909; Kroner, 1909). An index of the previous 19 volumes of works and 
fragments was published in 1926, For the first English edition see Friedrich 
Nietzsche. The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, ed.. Oscar Levy (Edinburgh & 
London: T. N. Foulis, 1909). 

5. In 2002, the Weimarer Nietzsche-Bibliographie counted over 22.000 publications 
with reference to Nietzsche 

6. Nietzsche finished Ecce Homo in 1888. however; due to several "offensive 
paragraphs" as well as Nietzsche's explicit criticism of his sister and mother, the 
manuscript remained unpublished until 1908. 

7. Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche. Das Leben Friedrich Nietzsche's. 2. Bdnde (Leipzig: 
Naumann. 1895-1904)i Derjunge Nietzsche (Leipzig: Kroner, 1912): idem. Der 
einsame Nietzsche (Leipzig: Kroner, 1914); idem. Wagner und Nietzsche zur Zeit 
ihrer Freundschaft (Munchen: Muller. 1915): idem. Friedrich Nietzsche und die 
Frauen seiner Zeit (Munchen: C H. Beck. 1935). The inaccuracy of the edition of 
the Nietzsche-Archive was obvious and no better edition existed until 1967 when 
Friedrich Nietzsche Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe was published by Giorgi Colli 
and Mazzino Montinari, The final transcription and edition of the handwritten 
fragments has remained unfinished up until today — 106 years after Nietzsche's 

8. "Architecture for the perceptive: There is and probably will be a need to perceive 
what our great cities lack above all: still, wide extensive places for reflection; places 
with tall, spacious, lengthy colonnades for inclement or unduly sunny weather 
where no traffic noise or street cries can penetrate, and where a finer sensibility 
would forbid even a priest from praying aloud: buildings and locations that express 
as a whole the sublimity of bethinking and of stepping aside. The time is past when 
the Church possessed the monopoly of reflection; when the vita contemplativa 
primarily had to be a vita religiosa; and yet that is the idea expressed in everything 
the Church has built, I do not know how we could ever content ourselves with its 
buildings, even stripped of their ecclesiastical function; they speak far too emotive 
and too constrained a language, as the houses of God and as the showplaces of 
intercourse with another world, for us as godless people to think our thoughts in 
them. We want to have ourselves translated into stones and plants; we want to 
have ourselves to stroll in. when we take a turn in those porticoes and gardens." 
Friedrich Nietzsche, Die frohliche Wissenschaft. book 4. § 280. m Friedrich Nietzsche: 
Sdmtliche Werke Kritische Studienausgabe [KSAJ in 15 Bdnden. Band 3, eds. Giorgi 
Colli and Mazzino Montinari (Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter. 1988), 524-525. 
9 Henry van de Velde, "Grand Manuscrit Autobiographique" tmemoirs] FS X 1-2, 
414. Archives Henry van de Velde. Bibliotheque Royal, Brussels. The quote, "solennel 
et monumental d'une 'Schatzkammer'," appears in Henry van de Velde. Recit de ma 
vie II. eds. Anne van Loo and Fabrice van de Kerckhove (Brussels: Versa. 1992). 155. 

10. The analysis of cr\'stal as a metaphoric motive in Nietzsche's Zarathustra as well 
as its effects on expressionist architects such as Paul Scheerbart and Bruno Taut is 
beyond the scope of this essay. 

11. A reddish glow seen near sunset or sunrise on the summits of mountains. This 
reddish glow has been read as reference to the mountain setting, the Parsi worship 
of the sun and the blood metaphors in Nietzsche's Zarathustra. All three: the 
metaphor of sun/light/fire, the metaphor of the clear and crisp mountain atmosphere, 
and the metaphor of blood can be found in Nietzsche's Zarathustra and were reflected 
by van de Velde in his Nietzsche-Archive works. 

12. Georg Lukacs. Der deutsche Faschtsmus und Nietzsche (Paris: C.A.L.P.O. 1945); 
idem, Die Zerstorung der Vernunft (Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag. 1954). 

13. The name "Nietzsche-Archiv" was erased from the city plans as well as from 
street signs, and people were instructed to use the new name. Some elder locals told 
me that visitors asking for the Nietzsche-Archive had to be reported to the police. 

14. Affected by this alteration was the second floor of the Nietzsche -Archive with the 
"private" chambers of Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche and the death room of Friedrich 
Nietzsche, which were destroyed at that time. These rooms were not touched by van 
de Velde's restoration of 1902-03; some of the furniture remained in the possession 
of the repository of Goethe National Museum in Weimar. 

15. Since 2001. the Goethe-Schiller-Archives have been part of UNESCO's "Memory 
of the World" program. 


Figure 1. Row-houses for workers housing with 
"practically worthless" balconies, Sunila. 1936 

Figure 2. Link houses that stepped 
up the hill in section, Sunila 

Sarah Menin 

Accessing the Essence of Architecture: "In-between" Nature 
and IVIodernity in Aalto's Engineers Housing in Sunila 

There is a stream of awareness just below the 

level of day-to-day self-consciousness that 

monitors the field of spatial relationships 

around us. ...For it is not only for 

an insight into our mysterious moments of 

elation that we look to it but also as 

the catalyst for those responses of alienation and 

exasperation provoked by the buildings that, as 

we vaguely say, "do not work. "' 

In his essay "The Natural Imagination," Colin St John 
Wilson describes the architectural experience as an 
ineffable yet "inescapable" natural condition of life. In this 
he grasps at an energy that often goes unrecognized. To 
speak of architecture at this depth is perhaps to speak of 
an essence that both feeds and is fed by the human life 
that inhabits it. 

Aldo van Eyck articulated a process of re-establishing 
a connection between the need for shelter and the full 
nature of that need. Making this connection was crucial, 
he argued, "for each man and all men, since they no longer 
do it for themselves."- If a building does not address these 
instincts it may subtly, even imperceptibly, alienate us 
from the same deep realms of being. At this threshold 

much architecture has stumbled, failing to interpret 
and enact appropriate solutions to the fundamental (but 
ineffable) problem of facilitating access to this inter and 
intra-personal psycho-social realm. Our experiential 
response to such architectural failure is, as Wilson 
suggests, "alienation and exasperation."^ It is emotional 
stress. Wilson continues: 

All our awareness is grounded in forms of 
spatial experience and that spatial experience 
is not pure but charged with emotional 
stress from our "first-born affinities." 
There is a domain of experience, born 
before the use of words, yet structured like 
a language replete with its own expectations, 
memory and powers of communication: 
a domain that is indeed the primary source 
of the one language that is truly universal 
and to which we have given the name 
of "body language."' 

Wilson rightly suggests, "it is intrinsically these 
sensations [of body language] that are the primary vehicle 
for architectural experience."* 


After the Russian Revolution, a newly independent 
Finland strove to modernize by looking westward — out 
of reach of the Russian Bear (be it Red or White).' When 
Finns rushed to replace wooden dwellings with modern 
concrete row houses, the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto 
feared that the new architecture would create a sense 
of alienation. Although by no means encouraging a 
return to the backwoods. Aalto felt that the indigenous 
buildings could better satisfy the human need for shelter. 
In their haste to avoid Red dictatorship, the Finns would 
encounter another, subtler sort of dictatorship, later 
described by Aalto as "the slavery of human beings to 
technical futilities that in themselves do not contain one 
piece of real humanity."' Here Aalto was referring to the 
limited rationalism of Modernity. 

In the 1930s. Finnish architecture, like Finnish society, 
stood poised between the wilderness backwoods and 
the rationale of industrial European Modernity. Alvar 
Aalto sought to forge both a physical and a phenomenal 
relationship between these two in an extended commission 
from the Ahlstrbm Company to design a series of housing 
projects for employees of a vast pulp factory in Sunila. 
These projects, largely designed between 1935-37 with 
some additional housing blocks in the mid- 1940s and 
early 1950s, ranged from minimal housing for workers to 
more generous dwellings for engineers and managers.* 
In Karl Fleig's synopsis of Aalto's oeuvre we see the 
progression through these commissions, highlighting 
the growth of Aalto's preoccupation with threshold and 
transition details. ' The content of such architectural 
detailing was Aalto's concern, too. for the alienating 
effects of modern life on the well-being of uonio piccolo — 
little man as he affectionately called his users.'" Aalto 
judged that many modern buildings did not enrich the 
psycho-physical life, but all too often created further 
schisms between humans and the environment, between 
people, and more importantly within the person. This 
was due, Aalto believed, to the buildings' rigidity and 
inflexibility." If architecture had the task "to aid in the 
solution of wide-ranging humanistic, socio-economic, and 
psychological problems," he argued, it "must be allowed 
as much internal and formal flexibility as possible. "'- 
Humans, he felt, were forced into architecture that ill- 
fitted their needs — architecture that was not rational 
"from the human point of view."" I would suggest that 
this preoccupation spoke, too, of Aalto's own deep schisms 
within, and the importance of the rejuvenating contact 
with nature to comfort and heal." Aalto wanted to offer in 
his architecture that which he knew to be essential within 
himself, and between himself and the world. 

In Sunila, Aalto's concern for the process of entering, 
and for the richness of being "in-between" inside and 
outside, gradually came to the fore.'° His first workers 
housing in Sunila had no balconies, and appeared at first 
glance to be scantily garbed in the stripped Modernism 
of Gropius' Siemensstadt Housing, but he argued that 
"every family had no difficulty in gaining direct access 
to the landscape." '* Aalto's second scheme contained, 
by his own admission, "practically worthless" token 
balconies (Fig. 1), like the ones his friend Gropius had 
offered students at the Bauhaus." This important failure 
pushed Aalto to make access to nature not just a desire, 
but an essential aspect of his housing design. He began 
to explore the intrinsic relation between architecture and 
landscape, advancing ideas of "the trinity of the human 
being, the room, and the garden" and its out-working in 
"outside rooms" that he had put forward ten years before.'* 
He became determined to offer "access to the landscape" 
from all dwellings, believing that sudden alienation from 
nature, which had occurred because of Finland's "ever- 
increasing mechanization," was responsible for many 
social ills. Yet Aalto knew, too. that "also our own actions 
estrange us from nature." " In his third housing scheme 
in Sunila, Aalto created link houses that stepped up the 
hill in section (Fig. 2), providing more extensive balconies, 
a typology he used again in Kauttua.-" 

After these "workers" housing schemes, Aalto had the 
opportunity to further explore the relationship between 
architecture and landscape in the more generous 
specification allowed in the housing for engineers. 
Here, on a flatter piece of woodland ground, he flexed 
the plan instead of the section, allowing it to open up 
to the south and the sun like a flower. Unlike the very 
rational rectilinearity of the earlier housing schemes, 
the plan flexes (Fig. 3) in what he later called "elastic" or 
"flexible standardisation," accommodating views of the 
natural environment and the need of the users for more 
privacy and individuality. By the 1930s such a conscious 
accommodation of both natural and human circumstances 
had become a central tenet of Aalto's design process, and 
was not unlike Haring's Leistungsform or content-derived 

The access to these "engineer's" row houses is of particular 
interest. Trees grow against the whitewashed facade, 
while an "in-between" space or architectural "moment" 
creates a transition between two places and two states of 
mind (Fig.4). Here the "moment" both divides and unites 
the tree and whitewashed facade, easing one to and fro: 
forward into the white Modernity and backward, into the 
folkloric realm of Tapio. the forest god (Fig. 5). 


Figure 3. Both images sh 
Sunila, Aalto, 1938 

With the vernacular accent of his mother tongue. Aalto 
enunciates this gesture of welcome into Modernity, this 
easing between nature and culture. He uses wood, whose 
Latin root {materia) is closely related to the word mater, 
meaning mother and maternal love.-' This is a playful 
reminder of the essence of the argument, the preverbal, 
physical reality of primal embrace from which our body- 
space language grows. Aalto believed that wood was 
"psychologically very valuable."-- perhaps due to its rich 
"kinship with man and living nature." and the "pleasant 
sensation" of its tactile quality. Thereafter, Aalto accessed 
the potential of Modernism with wood. 

The smooth round-wood does not alienate the body, Aalto 
argued. It does not conduct heat away from the hand, as 
metal does.-' The wood thus provides a tectonic transition. 
From forest the visitor passes through a trellised gateway 
that marks the territorial entrance to the cold white 
fagade of the north wall (Fig. 3). Yet against the hard 
facade the gateway appears vulnerable, a palimpsest of 
the Finnish tradition and mysticism of forest lore thrust 
up against whitewashed rationalism.-'' It is also a gesture 
of subliminal encouragement to dwell, more fully, in the 
new architecture, reassuring us that the old relationship 
with nature can be maintained, or made anew. It marks 
an acknowledgement of something archetypal. Aalto thus 
manifests a transition because the Finns "no longer did it 
for themselves," as Van Eyck put it. They no longer dwelt, 
eye to hand to mouth, in the forest,^* no longer marked 
the subtle boundaries of their shelter or settlements, 
and thus were losing conscious sight of the psycho-social 

reality that is inherent in the physical realm. 

The round-wood trellis is a psycho-spatial episode, 
functioning, in Aalto's terms, "to tie the threads of a living 
present with those of a living past."-" Yet crucially, Aalto 
wrote that such manoeuvres were a "point of departure,"-' 
existing in order to "meet today's needs."-" The clear 
tectonic connections between these trellises and the 
vernacular Finnish enclosures do not suggest that Aalto 
sought to re-create ethnological specimens. Rather, they 
form a caveat to Functionalism, reminding us that limited 
Functionalism and the "intoxication with Modernism"--' 
failed to address some realities of human life. Rationalism, 
he felt, "often suffers from a lack of humanity," and 
needed to be "expanded." Such "in-between" episodes 
at Sunila were Aalto's way of addressing the "human 
question." I suggest that, in both the form of wooden 
entrance detail and the particular tectonic manifestation, 
Aalto sought to draw the users deeper into themselves, a 
"moderating pause" in which to acclimatize, '" at the same 
time rooting Modernism in both the cultural past and the 
environmental present. In this architectural pause he was 
reaching for what was missing in much of Finland's new, 
urban architecture as it raced, full-tilt, into that "rootless, 
airborne internationalism."" 

Skeptical about the promises of the Modern epoch. 
Aalto's work constantly questioned the status quo of 
the Modern dictatorship, as he saw it, believing it could 
be transformed "into its apparent opposite, to love with 
critical sensibility.""- Here Aalto nails his colors to the 


Figure o. Vernacular enclosure, Lieksa Folk Museum. Finland 

mast, and his wooden poles to the whitewashed fagade of 
Modernist architecture. In doing so, he offered "little man" 
a way in to the alienating modern epoch. He established a 
crucial rubric for accessing and simultaneously subverting 
Modernity. This is important to the current argument, 
since by even suggesting the need for a transition between 
inside and outside Aalto was searching deep in the very 
nature of architecture as shelter, and was intuitively 
speaking at the psychological as well as the physical 
level. Here we return to the mother tongue — the physical 
language of space and embrace. 

various forms (both positive and negative) into our human 
futures. Aalto suggested, "One way to produce a more 
humane built environment is to expand our definition of 
rationalism." In "Rationalism and Man" (1935) he went 
on to speculate that the most important area of demand 
that an architect must address is "invisible to the eye: this 
area perhaps conceals the demands that are closest to the 
human individual and thus elude definition." Therein, he 
concluded lie, "the purely human questions."'* It was this 
architectural essence or "energy" that Wilson explores in 
the opening quotation, above. 

In this way, I suggest, Aalto's entrance to his Sunila 
engineer's housing offered the users the early opportunity 
to dwell more fully in his housing, to access the benefits 
of Modern living by carrying with them the rooting 
relationship of nature without and nature within. 
This is not as far-fetched an idea as it might seem. If 
architecture invites and does not repel or alienate, those 
who use it may do so in a more relaxed way. In "The 
Natural Imagination" Wilson suggests that architecture 
can accommodate, and even embody something of the 
emotional drama of human life. He relates the deepest 
root of this idea to the work of the psychoanalyst Melanie 
Klein.'' Like his friend, art theorist Adrian Stokes,-" 
Wilson utilizes Klein's theories of the development of the 
infant psyche, and most importantly her identification 
of the two polar "positions" or modes of experience. 
Envelopment and Exposure, and the delicate and fecund 
place between these. This psycho-spatial grammar, 
rooted in the first holding environment, is extrapolated in 

Aalto thought that the age-old feel for materials was 
severed in early Modernism. Therefore it is no accident 
that the "in-between" episode in Sunila is made from 
wood. To Aalto it mattered deeply that metal conducted 
heat away from the hand and wood did not.'" For this 
reason Aalto used wood on occasions when he wanted to 
extend an invitation to the deepest realms of architecture. 
But he chose wood, too, for its association with nature 
and therefore the capacity to rehearse, in the heart of 
the building, the relationship with the forest. Within 
his buildings, and in-between them and their immediate 
environment, he invited the user to keep relating to 
the natural environment. Aalto's writing reinforces 
his architectural argument that we deny our inner- 
life at a great cost, " and indeed, for Aalto personally 
nature played a crucial regenerative role in his own 
Ufe-long struggle with deep psychological disturbance.'* 
Aalto's work offers the users a way in to their "hidden" 
experience — what Suzanne K. Langer called the realm of 



YJ'"'\^:i'llHt^^'^'^ <ni>'**^'"''.9f y*^'^'XMTmKr'BnsKKWU*VMriP<:Ay>:vwiemM>9*.*t Pif>Jii'^ iiiri.'itf ■ 

Figure 4. Wooden "inbetween" episode. Engineer's housing, Sunila, Aalto 1939 

"threads of unrecorded reality"'^: threads connecting the 
living present with the Uving past, both personally and 
culturally. As I suggest elsewhere, Aalto was able to shore 
up his own vulnerable self by weaving such disparate and 
often broken threads into his creative work.^^ At its best, 
architecture subtly invites us to be more fully human, 
and aspires to remind us of our relation to the "other," 
be it another person, or some natural phenomenon. 
The architectural moments Aalto creates, such as 
the threshold in Sunila's Engineer s Housing, seek to 
encompass the whole human condition— "his comedy and 
tragedy both."^^ 

* Thanks are due to Rurik Wasastjerna of the ProSunila organisation 
which campaigns for the restoration and upkeep of Aalto's complex in 
Sunila. Finland, and Sandy Wilson for his inspiration and friendship. 


1. Colin St John Wilson. "The Natural Imagination." Architectural Reflections 
(Manchester: Manchester University Press. 2000), 18. 

2. The quote is derived from a 1962 untitled paper by Aldo Van Eyck. reprinted in 
Team 10 Primer, ed. Alison Smithson (Cambridge: MIT Press. 1968). 43. 

3. Wilson. 16-17. 

4. Ibid. 

5. Ibid.. 12. 

6. Having always been downtrodden beneath the kingdoms of Russia and Sweden, 
and being in no mind to allow Russians to over run her again, the rapid expansion of 
her fledgling economy was a bulwark against further, Soviet, dictatorship 

7. Alvar Aalto, 'The Architectural Struggle." 1957, reprinted in Aliar Aalto: 
Skelches. ed. Goran Schildt. trans. Stuart Wrede (Cambridge; MIT Press. cl978). 145. 

8. The plan for the whole area was conceived at the start, although the housing 
projects proceeded in series. Aalto wrote, "Only the south slopes of the hills are for 
dwellings, the valleys are traffic ways and gardens. On the north slopes the pine 
forest shall remain undisturbed." Aluar Aalto. ed. Karl Fleig (Zurich: Verlag fur 
Architektur Artemis. 1990). 96, 

9. Aalto. "Art and Technology." 1955. reprinted in Schildt. 128, 
10- Ibid., 129. 

11. Aalto. "Rationalism and Man," Ibid.. 50. 

12. Aalto, "The Influence of Construction and Materials on Modern Architecture." 
1938. Ibid., 61. 

13. "Rationalism and Man," Ibid., 50. 

14. Sarah Menin and Flora Samuel. Nature and Space: Aallo and Le Corbusier 
(London: Routledge. 2003). 

15. This interest in inside/outside had been a concern for Aalto during his early 
neo-classical style of design as is demonstrated in his famous Pompeian sketch of the 
aedicular atrium moment in the Villa for his brother. 

16. Aalto cited in Fleig. 96, Fleig's synopsis of Aalto's work was compiled in 
collaboration with Aalto. who had a hand in writing up the project descriptions, 

17. Sarah Menin. "The Meandering Wave from Sunila to Marseille." PTAH I 
(Helsinki: The Alvar Aalto Academy. 2003): 42-51. 

18. Aalto had illustrated his argument with both Pompeian villas and Le Corbusier's 
Esprit Nouveau Pavilion, Alvar Aalto, "From Doorstep to Living Room" reprinted in 
Alvar Aalto in His Own Words, ed, Goran Schildt (New York: Rizzoli, 1997). 49-55. 

Herein Aalto wrote of "the trinity of human being, room and garden," 50. 

19. Aalto, "Between Humanism and Materialism," Schildt (1978). 131. This idea 
grew into a new housing typology; three floors of accommodation stepped into a hill, 
with direct access at the rear to nature. After achieving this in Sunila he repeated it. 
most successfully in the Kauttua Workers Housing scheme. 

20. Ibid. 

21. Macfarlane, J. Dictionary of Latin and English Languages (London: Eyre and 
Spottiswoode. n.d), 

22. Aalto. "Wood as a Building Material." 1956. reprinted in Schildt (1978). 142. 

23. Aalto, "Rationalism and Man, "1935. reprinted in Schildt (1997). 91. 

24. Aalto. "Experimental House." Schildt (1978). 116. 

25. J. Pallasmaa. "Eye. Hand, Head and Heart: Conceptual Knowledge and Tacit 
Embodied Wisdom in Architecture," in The Four Faces of Architecture, eds. L.Villner 
and A. Abarkan (Stockholm: RIT. 2005), 61-72. 

26. Aalto used these words to describe Gunnar Asplund's architectural legacy in 
"E.G.Asplund in Memorium," Schildt (1978). 66. 

27. Aalto. "The Dwelhng as a Problem." Schildt (1978). 31. 

28. Aalto. "Between Humanism and Materialism." Schildt (1978). 131, 

29. Aalto. "Rationahsm and Man." Schildt (1978). 47. 

30. Wilson, "The Natural Imagination." 16, 

31. Aalto. "Art and Technology," 1955. reprinted in Schildt (1978), 129. 

32. Aalto. "Centenary Speech," Schildt (1978). 163, 

33. 'Wilson. 'The Natural Imagination". See also Sarah Menin and Stephen Kite. An 
Architecture of Invitation: Colin St John Wilson. Ashgate. 2005, 

34. Adrian Stokes. Three Essays: The Luxury and Necessity of Paintings (London; 
Tavistock, 1961). 

35. Aalto, "Rationahsm and Man,"1935. Schildt (1997). 91. 
36- Ibid,. 90-1. 

37. Menin. "Aalto and the Tutelary Goddesses." in Andrew Ballantyne. ed.. 
Architectures: Modernism and After (New York: Blackwell, 2003). 57-87. 

38. Menin and Samuel, Nature and Space. 

39. Susanne Katherina Knauth Langer, Philosophy m a New Key: A Study in the 
Symbolism of Reason. Rite and Art (Cambridge. MA" Harvard. cl993). 281. 

40. Menin, "Aalto and the Tutelary Goddesses"; idem. 'The Profound Logos: Creative 
Parallels in the Lives and Work of Aalto and Sibelius." Journal of Architecture. 
Spring 2003: 131-148. 

■II, Aalto. "Instead of an Article. "1958. reprinted in Schildt 11978). 161. 


Talinn Grigor 

Ladies Last! Perverse Spaces 
in a Time of Orthodoxy 

My research had taken me to Tehran on more than one 
occasion. In my effort to access archives, people, and 
institutions — each with its own politics of openness, 
sociability, and gender — I soon realized that the most 
intense site of social narrative was positioned en route 
to these places: in the public bus. In a vast system of 
transportation that caters to a megalopolis of some fifteen 
million inhabitants, the politics of the Iranian public bus 
oscillates between extremes of compromise and stiffness, 
generosity and selfishness, and above all, severe orthodoxy 
and subtle pornography. This mobile and transient space 
allows various enactments of transgression, excess, and 
access. While by its very definition and function, the 
bus is open and accessible to every Iranian and non- 
Iranian alike, it seems to maintain some kind of political 
autonomy by the virtue of its mobility and temporary 
nature. Thus, for millions of people daily, the bus creates a 
space that is inaccessible and uncontrollable by officials; it 
disables the policing and enforcement of the harsh edicts 
of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). As a result, this 
transitional site often encourages sexual transgression by 
some of the younger members of Tehran's population. 

Public transportation in general and the bus service 
in particular remain top priorities on the agenda 

of Iranian state welfare. Arguably, Tehran "works" 
because the government has done an exceptional job of 
maintaining public transportation, despite a long list 
of other social and urban concerns. Serving the entire 
metropolis, Tehran's bus system is operated by the 
Sherkate Otobusrani Vahed (United Bus Company), which 
was created by Mohammad Reza Shah after the 1953 
countercoup d'etat. It unified various small private and 
public buses into one single transport system — hence 
vahed — owned by the state and managed by the Tehran 
Municipality. These units move the vast majority of 
the urban population. To remain true to the rhetoric of 
"the downtrodden" (mo'stazafin) of the 1977-79 Iranian 
Revolution, post-revolutionary governments have insisted 
on making these services affordable for everyone.' Every 
month, well-designed vouchers of ten toman, equivalent 
to 1.5 US cents, are printed and sold (see image). Each 
ride costs two vouchers, making the service the cheapest 
possible means of transport in the country. For those who 
cannot afford to pay, the service is free by an unspoken 
agreement.- The subsidization of public transportation, 
along with bread, sugar, kerosene and natural gas, is 
a part of a much larger post-revolutionary commitment to 
social welfare programs. It also aims to prevent another 
urban revolution. "In order to alleviate the increasing 


problems of urban transport and associated air pollution, " 
reported the UN in 1995, "the Municipality of Tehran 
has initiated a number of efforts, namely a trolley bus 
system, the implementation of separate bus lanes to 
increase efficiency, trucking restrictions, multi-story 
parking structures, the opening of the metro system, and 
an electronic traffic control system."' These efforts are 
attempts to control the urban chaos and alleviate the 
problems of one of the largest cities in the world. 

For the most part, individual buses are clean, orderly, 
well organized, and efficiently regulated. The internal 
floor plan is quite simple; eight rows of two double-seats 
constitute the area reserved for male passengers, with six 
rows of similar seats in the back for female passengers. 
A central open zone for standing passengers, flanked 
by the middle double-door, divides these two spaces. 
Unlike buses in most places in the world, however, the 
middle opening has an intensely loaded meaning in Iran. 
This zone is divided by a bar that cuts the bus in half, 
creating two separate entrances to the men's and women's 
sections, respectively. Strangely enough, the bus is also an 
iconoclastic space. In a country where the state legitimizes 
itself based on a popular revolution, and unlike most of 
its other public sites, in the bus there are no commercial 
advertisements, no state propaganda, no "no smoking" 
signs, nor even the "please observe the hejab (Islamic 
veil)" signs so popular on the entrance doors of most 
stores and restaurants. The iconoclastic, segregated, and 
seemingly chaotic but well-functioning bus is a signifier of 
the society that it serves. 

Ambivalence of Social Welfare 

The bar separates the space of women, at the back 
of the bus, and that of men, in the front of the bus. A 
simple, inch-thick horizontal pole cuts the interior space 
in two, but it functions as an impenetrable wall that 
negates the male gaze and confines it to the front of the 
bus — at least theoretically. In practice, the two sides of 
this bar accumulate all kinds of sexual tension. In my 
observations, from the women's section, the male bus- 
driver seemed to be the only person who was gender- 
neutral: the eunuch of the Oriental seraglio. He had 
free access to the space, either collecting the tickets or 
repairing a part of the bus. His presence was neither 
threatening nor comforting. While the bus-driver existed 
in a gender-neutral bubble, this was not so for the rest of 

One afternoon during the 5 p.m. rush hour, as I was being 
pushed and shoved in the women's section at the back of 

the bus, I began to watch two young men, perhaps in their 
late teens or early twenties. They were gazing from their 
side of the bar at three young women of the same age, 
seated in the second row behind the bar. This was strange, 
since ordinarily most men turned their back to the 
women's section and faced the front of the bus. In contrast, 
these two boys were directly facing the rear of the bus. As 
I watched each side of the bar and concluded that these 
rather good-looking girls either did not see the piercing 
male gaze or chose not to see it. one of them shouted. 
"Don't look, you stupid!" One of the boys immediately 
shied away, while the other began cursing the girls, based 
on the logic that "watching is not a crime." This spoke 
directly to a range of perceptions about laws and their 
violation, about masculine civil liberties and feminine lack 
of legal rights. While men seemed to remain completely 
indifferent to the commotion, female voices got louder and 
more numerous. A young woman behind me said. "If they 
had any religious dignity (mo'inen). they would be turning 
their backs to us." Another, "She is right; he has been 
staring at them since Tajrish." south of central Tehran. 

A casually veiled woman, who appeared to be in her mid- 
sixties and of somewhat unexpected courage, screamed. 
"Let him watch, let him watch," adding without any 
hesitation, "tamasha majani-ye: spectacle is free." Some 
laughed, others scorned. But she did not stop. "Let them 
watch; these boys are hungry (gorosneh)." Letting her veil 
fall on her shoulders, she rhetorically asked, "Don't you 
know that these kids have been brought up on women's 
laps?" This comment contained an undeniable Oedipal 
reference, the real meaning of which was lost on me as 
well as on most of the passengers. As the bus approached 
the terminal, she ended up shouting at the top of her 
lungs as she walked off the bus, "Javid shah, javid shah: 
Long Live the King, Long Live the King." These words had 
almost certainly not been uttered in the Iranian public 
space since 1977. 

Two things became clear to me. On the one hand. 1 
realized that for the boys to show sexual interest on 
the bus rendered the secretive thoroughly public, hence 
perhaps more gratifying. Around the sexualized bar, 
these boys seemed to have no qualms about accessing the 
bodies of those around them — physical and fantasy alike. 
I explained this at the time by the fact that they may not 
have access to the sexualized female body, except in the 
public domain and only through a gaze of longing, which 
itself is sustained by the presence of young women, who 
(have to) wear the veil. Not being a mo'men was a mode of 
domination through the gluttony of the heterosexual male 
gaze. On the other hand. I realized that the three girls — 
and most women in the IRI — had mastered the 


cult of evasion, of dismissal, of endlessly pretending not 
to see the masculine gaze. In effect, to evade and dismiss 
that gaze has become a form of feminist insolence and 
boldness for the law clearly privileges the masculine 
prerogative to gaze. The obligatory veil, and the many 
ingenious ways that it is re-appropriated, provide young 
women their constitutional right not only to be in public, 
but also to defy that gaze. The presence of the serai-veiled 
seductive body of the moderate woman in public is her 
feminist speech, while loyalty to the Islamic dress code is 
a feminist act of the thoroughly veiled adherer to the IRI. 
Both pursue the same political agenda — feminism — under 
different guises, in this case literally. For these teenagers, 
male and female alike, the gender barriers (bars, walls, 
partitions, labeled entrances, and opaque windows) all 
serve to mediate social interaction. The social domain in 
the IRI is a public space of inaccessibility, more often than 
not delineated by architecture rather than the law. 

Praxis of Political Defiance 

The childish quarrels of young men gazing at young 
women or old women making Freudian pronouncements 
were never mere acts of anti-sociability. Rather, they 
were silent political discourses on power and domination. 
The (non)conformity on/of the bus, while highly nuanced, 
penetrated much deeper. Here, the space of the sexual 
had mutated into the space of the political. Or rather, in 
the IRI, the space of the political was once more revealed 
as a priori sexual, gendered. Therefore, the bus provided 
a rather large, clean, and safe window not only into the 
urban mess of the city outside, but also into the inner 
social fabric of that city. From the height of my position 
inside the bus, I observed the urban and social chaos as 
a spectator: cars that drive either too fast or too slow, 
too close or not close enough; men that stand too close, 
women not close enough. Sometimes, conditioned by the 
overpopulation of the city, two worlds meet on the bus. 

During my daily rides from Haft-e Tir Square in central 
Tehran to Valiasr, as the bus moved northward, the 
cityscape changed considerably. This, I know, was the 
legacy of the Pahlavi urbanism of the 1960s and 70s.^ 
The towers stood taller and were better designed. The 
landscape turned greener and denser; the air cleaner and 
brighter. Midway through the ride, the type of passenger 
changed too: veils got smaller, thinner and more colorful; 
Islamic overcoats (rupiish) got shorter, tighter, and 
more transparent. Cell phones started to ring and the 
spoken language to anglicize. The tags of handbags and 
schoolbags altered from "Sakht-e Iran" (Iran's Production) 

to "Made in US."' The public behavior of these two groups 
differed too. A woman of the north, who opposed the 
regime, defied its rules by bringing her ten-year-old son to 
the back of the bus. Along with the barely covering veil, 
the tight overcoat and the heavy make-up, this was her 
daily and enduring protest. Meanwhile, a woman of the 
south, who adhered to the IRI, sent her five-year-old son 
to the men's section to stand there on his own. 

The perception of what the bus represents for different 
socioeconomic groups in Iranian society was polarized 
along the lines of politics, culture, and aesthetics. Most of 
those who were once accused of cultural "Westoxication" 
and political rightism abhor the very idea of riding a bus — 
precisely because, for them, it is dangerously gendered 
and is perceived as a site of perversion. The economically 
challenged, moderate, or pro-IRI population, regard it 
as the redeemer of their livelihood.'* The former group, 
blinded by its hatred of the regime, is unable to appreciate 
the Republic's effort to accommodate the fast-growing 
population of Tehran, while the latter is unable to imagine 
a life of individual commodity and excessive consumption 
without it. In these minor signifiers of deference — gazes, 
veils, overcoats, handbags and cell-phones — there was far 
more in the meaning of the everyday that met the eye. 
These minor, but pervasive signifying practices, were 
intentional political acts. 

As I sat there, week after week, I came to perceive my bus 
ride as a microcosm of a far more complex and convoluted 
Iranian society. The bus experience was diverse, 
charitable, seemingly chaotic but highly orderly, always 
negotiable, and above all divisive; it was simultaneously 
accessible to every citizen, yet delineated by acute gender 
and spatial politics. All these thoughts were endorsed on 
my final ride when a motorcyclist approached the waiting 
bus at the station and stopped under the central window. 
Looking up, he exposed himself. After realizing that the 
women in the first row did not notice him, he covered 
himself and left. Seven minutes later, he returned to the 
same spot for a second round. The two women, who finally 
detected him, were shocked. In the women's section, 
the 4,5-minute ride that followed turned into a buzz of 
female murmurs, gossip, and trepidation. That evening, 
I recognized that the bus was in fact a crucial site of 
compromise, insolence, and affirmation for the majority of 
those who rode it; while for bored teenagers, it was a site 
of perversion, where everything and anything went as long 
as they could get away with it. In effect, in the Gramscian 
tradition, alternatives were embedded in the dominant — 
in this case, both the hegemony of the IRI as well as that 
of the unrelenting teenage gaze. 


This last incident not only corroborated my impressions 
about the bus as a site of sexo-pohtical transgression, 
but also convinced me that neither the bar nor the veils 
seem to fulfill their intended functions, except perhaps 
to create a semblance of order and obedience. In fact, 
both render the very act of transgression more desirable. 
What is more, the bus's tectonics — strictly segregated 
but openly accessible — renders these lapses doubly 
alluring and overtly perverse. For some Iranian young 
men. perversion has become a mode of authority; for their 
female counterparts, aversion is both a genre of resistance 
and a paradigm of defiance. In Iran, this is distinct by 
the fact that while women are given free access to the 
public domain and are protected by some laws to do so, 
they are simultaneously subordinate and inferior to men 
by a different set of laws. This renders the position of a 
woman in the public space particularly vicarious. Outside 
the IRI's norms of sexuality and sociability, both are 
political critiques of hegemonic culture. Therefore, the 
bar around which gender segregation is reinforced, has 
become the place were edges meet, opposites touch, gazes 
actualize, and illicit tensions oscillate. This is where the 
most anxious but invisible social contact occurs. It also 
remains the ultimate embodiment of the public space and 
its {dis)functionality in the Islamic Republic of Iran. At 
this threshold, in this transient liminal space, between the 
outside and the inside, all hell has broken loose. 

Ontario, which have become one of the more powerful forces behind the Diasporic 
anti-IRI movement. 

6. The Pahlavi dynasty— especially Mohammad Reza Shah — was accused of 
"Westoxication" or "indiscriminate borrowing from the West" by well-known 
ideologues like Jalal al-Ahmad and Ali Shariati in the 1960s. Jalal al-Ahmad's 
pamphlet, entitled Gharbzadegi, also translated as "The Plague of the West," 
advocated a return to Islamic roots and was widely circulated in Iran. See E. 
Abrahamian. Iran Between Two Revolutions (New Jersey: Princeton University 
Press, 1982). 425- Historically, the more westernized secular segment of Tehran has 
occupied the northern neighborhoods, while the central and southern areas have 
been inhabited by the less privileged, religious population. 


1. Urban historians have argued that the Iranian Revolution of 1977-79 was a result 
of an urban crisis as much as a sociopolitical struggle for power; and that the stage 
for this crisis was the capital city. Tehran. See Bernard Hourcade, "Teheran 1978- 
1989: la crise dans I'Etat, la capitale de la ville." Espaces et Societes 64. no, 64 (1991): 

2. A one-minute ride in the collective taxi costs seventy-five toman, while a closed- 
door taxi (dar bast) two thousand toman. Those who cannot afford to do not hand 
over their tickets while they are being collected. The conductor takes note, but as an 
act of charity, he moves to the next person without a word or a gesture. This occurred 
consistently during my daily rides. Nor do passengers object to such exceptions. 
There exists, it seemed, an unwritten "you can. you pay. you can't, you don't" policy 
that everyone feels is fair, 

3. "Tehran. Iran." The Challenge of Urbanization: The World's Largest Cities (United 
Nations Publications: April 199.5). 

4. The demarcation of the north-south axis was initiated under the Qajars in the 
19th century, but was promoted by the Pahlavis as both an urban and a social axis 
of promotion. 

5. These apeak to another kind of accessibility— a global, Diasporic one. The owners 
of Western-designed handbags swing — culturally and physically — between the 
Iranian society of the IRI and the growing Iranian communities of California and 



Figure 10. "Shoulder rest" for facade 
(embedded within surface) 

Figure 7. "Shoulder rest" for facade 
(attached to surface) 

Nicole Vlado 

(Re)collection: Surfaces, Bodies, 
and the Dispersed Home 

In search of a personal architecture that is not located 
within the domestic interior, (re)collection describes a 
method for occupying and marking familiar spaces within 
the city. 


The city's surfaces contain attributes of the home. In 
neighborhoods such as Manhattan's East and West Villag- 
es, home is often found on stoops and sidewalks in passing 
moments. The scale of streets and buildings in these parts 
of the city, the preservation and degradation of its surfac- 
es, and the continuous density of bodies/objects/architec- 
ture provide a unique backdrop for this project. These (his- 
torically) dense neighborhoods provide a map of small, 
tenement-lined streets, evidence of the flux of bodies into/ 

out of the city. With limited interior space, one can imag- 
ine the physical saturation of bodies and objects from in- 
side these small apartments out towards the street. It is 
outside where private space is claimed. This claiming of 
the city's surfaces is a continued and repeated pattern of 
city dwellers. Through this act of release from the interior, 
home is dispersed throughout the city. It is upon the city's 
surfaces that this dispersion is read. 

The (re)collective practices referred to throughout this 
work are techniques for the observation of physical 
memories with relation to the city. These practices 
attempt to shift the act of remembering away from the 
traditional photograph to a new spatial and tactile 
construct of memory. As physical objects, spatial memories 
are not only recalled, they are collectible. They act as 
remnants of past occupations. 


Figure 1. Evidence of occupation on 
the city's surfaces 

Figure 2. Devices for Remember 
Figure 3. "Pillow" for stoop 

As the body seeks to create comfort within the city, it 
engages the surfaces of the city and attempts to transform 
them into spaces of the home. The city's inhabitants seek 
refuge along the surfaces of the city, leaning and resting 
their bodies on its exterior architecture. Through the 
continued use of these surfaces: stoops, sidewalks, facades, 
their infrastructure and decoration become the sites/ 
containers of domestic occupation. Surfaces within the city 
display evidence of prior use. At times, something quite 
tangible is left behind: an empty bottle, cigarette butts; at 
other times, this evidence is nearly invisible and lies 
mainly within the memory of the occupant — within their 
(re)collection of those places. Although the occupation of 
these surfaces is temporary, the body begins to leave its 
impression' throughout the city. While appearing quite 
durable, these concrete, stone, and metal surfaces undergo 
transformations through constant use: cracks in the 
sidewalk, peeling paint, rust, dried chewing gum, stains, 
the smoothing of stone steps; each expresses a pattern of 
surface habitation. (Fig. 1) 

In place of the study of maps or architectural plans, this 
investigation is based on the exploration of surfaces. 

Techniques, borrowed from casting and printmaking. 
provide methods for mapping the textures of the surfaces 
of both the city and its inhabitant. In search of the 
evidence of the dispersed home, (re)collective practices are 
employed. They record the interactions made between the 
surfaces of body and city, making permanent the fleeting 
domestic exchange between a city dweller and her 
surrounding urban landscape. 

(Re)collection and Remembering 

(Re)collections replace the photographic snapshot as 
devices for remembering. By mapping the dispersed home, 
casts were produced to construct the space between the 
body and the city. To produce these casts, poses of 
domestic comfort (sitting, leaning, reclining) were 
performed in relation to a surface (the stoop, facade, and 
sidewalk). These casts were produced in the studio, of 
plaster which took shape in the negative space between 
the posed body and the recalled surface. Various poses and 
sites were cast, producing a range of objects. The intention 
of each cast was to create an architectural object that 


Figure 4. "Arm rest" for window ledge 

Figure 5. "Pillow" for stoop 

Figure 6. "Arm rest" for window ledge 

captured the domestic habitation of exterior space. 

Once produced, the objects contain attributes of both the 
site and the body. By containing information of both the 
city and the body, the casts can have an independent 
relation to either surface. If the casts remain with the 
body they can be worn, repositioning the body into a 
specific posture related to a domestic activity. It is in this 
role that the casts function as devices of physical memory 
(Fig. 4). The casts are keepsake objects or mementos 
produced for one body/one pose/one site. They represent 
architecture for the individual, worn for the assurance of 
the comfort of home by allowing for a continued relation to 
a domestically-occupied site in the city. 

When returned to their sites, these casts transcend their 
innocence as personal memory devices, posing as 
territorial markings of public space while mimicking 
existing urban infrastructure and street furniture. 
Attached to the surfaces of the city, the casts resemble the 
existing decorations of the site's architecture. They extend 
the architectural surfaces of the city, making it more 
inviting to the human form. The exposed surface of the 

cast relates to the body, allowing the city's surfaces to 
behave as objects of furniture by cushioning the body. 
Growing off existing buildings and sidewalks, the casts 
serve a function specific to the pose that created them. 
Therefore, these objects take on the role of "arm-rest," 
"shoulder-rest," and "pillow" once they have been re-sited 
within the city. (Figs. 3-11) 

Impressions, Markings and Territory 

While the casts began as memory devices for use apart 
from the sites that produced them, when placed back into 
the city they transformed into types of street furniture. A 
term used to describe public amenities such as benches 
and lampposts, "street furniture" in this context includes 
objects inspired by the domestic interior moved into the 
realm of the public. Located along the public surfaces of 
the city, the casts challenge the accepted codes of behavior 
, in these spaces while placing the personal within the 
space of the collective. 

Urban designs often consider the occupant of public space 
as part of a collective identity rather than as a corporeal 



I I I I I 

I ; ■ ; i; i ; I 


Figure 8 & 9. "Shoulder rest" for facade (attached to surface) 

individual. These casts are the product of a persistent 
insertion of my own body into pubhc space. Using my body 
as the subject of the work, the casts record my relation to 
the city, and when located within the city, they invite my 
return. In my absence, the casts are decorative extensions 
of various facades, stoops, and sidewalks. 

The casts made from my body recall the sensuality of 
human form, but they are not as recognizable as 
functional objects; they do not suggest a method of how, 
when, or why they are to be used. With no signage 
accompanying them, and no reference for understanding 
them in the city, the isolated casts are anomalous, foreign 

Through their location in the public realm, they may be 
tested for use by bodies other than my own. They invite 
investigation rather than reject it, allowing for 
programmatic ambiguity. Still, the design of the casts is 
intended for my return to them, constructing a ritual 
between my body and the city. 
The placement of these casts into the city represents a 

desire to personalize a place other than that of the 
domestic interior. They identify a comfortable positioning 
of my body outside of the "home." The body of the woman 
is historically bound to the domestic interior, and it is 
inside the home where she engages in physical encounters 
with furniture and materials sensitive to the human form. 
The casts extend this intimate relation between body and 
furniture into public space. In contrast to the hard 
surfaces of the city's streets, which represent the space of 
the male (flaneur), the casts provide a sensual 
reconstruction of the city through their reference to the 
female body.- 

Both comfort and security are achieved through the 
location of the familiar cast forms. The articulated fagade 
in combination with the cast provides an opportunity for 
the female body to become part of the surface of the city. 
Collapsing the distinction between the "organism and its 
surroundings," the urban dweller enacts a form of mimicry 
while occupying the facade's surface. ' The female body 
becomes part of the surface reading of the city. Rather 
than being foreign to the city, she is embedded within. 





/ \ 

1 I 1 

I ' I ' r~ 

I ' 1-1 1 

1 1 1 

' I 1 


I I 1 1 

I 1 1 1 




Figure 11. "Shoulder rest" for facade (embedded within surface) 

Combining the desire for collecting the domestic 
habitation of city with a need to claim individual space for 
the (female) body, this project concludes its research 
through customized representations of a body situated in 
the corners, cracks, and surface decorations of the city. As 
an architectural speculation, this work invites questions 
surrounding the individual within the city, while 
challenging existing practices of ownership and disrupting 
codes of behavior. Recognizing such challenges, this work 
positions itself as an exploration for the author, claiming 
space for itself within the discourse of architecture just as 
it suggests the claiming of public space within the city. 


I In his book Oblivion. Marc Auge describes remembrance as "impression." 
Extending this concept to describe (re)collection, we can imagine it as the 
manipulation of a medium, as the transfer of physical information from object to 
surface. Thus, we can view the analogy of casting as a method that (re)collects 
information and practices it in various forms to gather proof of the dispersed home. 
Methods of {re)collection further express the physical attributes of the surface, both 
of the body and the city. Casting and printmaking techniques register specific 
textures of each surface. 

2, Guiliana Bruno discusses the location of the female body inside the home in 
relation to the male body outside: "Confined in the private, made to feel at home in 
the home, woman's sexual field is restricted while her field of motion is sexuatized. A 
male loiterer is a flaneur; a female is a 'streetwalker."' See Guiliana Bruno, "Bodily 
Architectures" Assemfc/age 19 (December 1992): 108. 

3. Roger Caillois, "Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia," trans. John Shlepley, 
October 31, no. 17 (winter 1984): 58-74. 


Figure 1. Charles Sheeler (1883-1965). Doylcstown House: Stairway 
C.1917, gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard. image: 245 x .169 
(9 5/8 X 6 5/8); sheet: 253 x .196 (9 15/16 x 7 11/16). National Gallery 
of Art, Washington, New Century Fund 

Figure 2. Charles Sheeler, Doylestown House: Stairway with 
Chair, 1917, gelatin silver print on paper. National Gallery 
of Art. Washington, Gift of the Brown Foundation. Inc., 
Houston, 1998.19.1. 

Mark Rawlinson 

Charles Sheeler: Musing on Primitiveness 

Alfred Stieglitz condescendingly referred to the interior 
arrangement of Charles Sheeler's Doylestown house as his 
"Pennsylvania Hut aesthetitque."' In The Poetics of Space, 
Gaston Bachelard makes a similar claim: "'[a] dreamer of 
refuges," he says, "dreams of a hut, a nest, or of nooks and 
corners into which he would like to hide away like an 
animal in its hole."- For Walter Benjamin, "[t]he original 
form of all dwelling is existence not in the house but in the 
shell. The shell bears the impression of its occupant."^ 
Unable to return to the shell, we make of the house a 
refuge, a space in which to burrow, where each room 
wears the traces of occupancy. As a man who once referred 
to himself as "the hermit of Doylestown," for all the world 
Sheeler seems in tune with Benjamin and Bachelard.' 

The dreamer of refuges lives, according to Bachelard, "in a 
region that is beyond human images" and it is through the 
medium of the image — in this instance, the photograph — 
that Sheeler "dreams."^ It is poetry and not the image 

which is Bachelard's privileged mode of representation, 
but I will argue throughout this essay that Sheeler's 
images of the Doylestown house, besides their obvious 
engagement with a photo-cubist aesthetic, reflect another 
of Bachelard's claims, namely that "we must start musing 
on primitiveness."^ To muse on primitiveness is to access 
the very beginnings of our "becoming," it is to trace most 
poignantly the relationship between the individual and 
the home. Contrary to Stieglitz's disdain of Sheeler's 
primitive retreat, it is precisely the inclusion of the 
primitive in these images, which marks them out for 
attention. And whilst these works explicitly reveal the 
primitive function of the hut, they generate a region 
"beyond human images" in the dialectical interplay 
between the realism of photography and the abstraction of 
formal experimentation. 

In each of Sheeler's Doylestown photographs, entry and 
exit, the flow between boundaries and over thresholds, is 


restricted; access to those spaces beyond the frame (or 
plane) of the image is barred, limited to the point of self- 
imprisonment. In the end. however, I want to argue that 
Sheeler's series of Doylestown photographs — repeated 
images of darkened windows, silhouetted stoves, shady 
stairwells and half-open doorways — allow us to access 
something fundamental, something ancient. These rooms 
are monadic, literally windowless because the windows 
are no longer transparent, where the truth of the monad 
lies in its self-containment. Taken from Leibniz, the notion 
of the monad recurs in the work of both Benjamin and 
Theodor Adorno. For Adorno, "[t]he interpretation of an 
artwork as an immanent, crystallised process at a 
standstill approximates the concept of the monad;" the 
importance of this is that the "monadological constitution 
of artworks in themselves points beyond itself."' These 
images of restrained access, of barred thresholds, are 
themselves thresholds which allow access to the world in 

Between 1910 and 1926 Charles Sheeler rented the 
Doylestown House, a colonial cottage in Bucks County, 
Pennsylvania, built by Jonathan Worthington in 1768. 
The house, shared with fellow artist, Morton Schamberg 
until his death during the influenza epidemic in 1917, was 
a place to escape to, a retreat where both men could 
produce art. The house was isolated and the isolation of 
the place was felt doubly because of the distance of Bucks 
County from the developing art scene in Manhattan, but 
also because of the attitude of those in the local area 
toward modern art. According to Sheeler. "Modern art 
was considered there on the same status as an illegitimate 
child born into the first families, something to live down 
rather than providing opportunity to introduce new 
blood."* The hostility Sheeler obviously felt towards his 
growing modernist influences did not discourage him from 
exploring them explicitly in relation to the house itself, a 
risky venture one might presume. 

As Karen Lucie notes, the choice of subject is not the usual 
fodder for the determined modern artist because Sheeler 
could quite easily have been accused of nostalgia and of 
betraying his avant-gardist principles. And yet Sheeler's 
Doylestown images avoid both with some skill. For Lucie 
this is because "Sheeler aimed to synthesize past and 
present in a new way;" a formula that he was to repeat 
over and again throughout his career.' This neat equation 
should not foreclose the analysis of the Doylestown 
images. According to Theodore Stebbins, Sheeler saw in 
these photographs "something personal," but evades the 
issue of what this might have been in favour of questions 
and not answers, provisional or not.'" I would like to ask 
the question again: Sheeler saw in these photographs 

"something personal," but what might that be? 

In Doylestown House: Stairwell (c.l917) (Fig. 1) we see the 
twisting risers of the staircase caught between a 
whitewashed wall and the edge of the frame of the door, 
both brightly lit. The lighting catches the underside of the 
rising stairway; the stairwell illuminated enough to allow 
us to distinguish the space beneath and the pattern of the 
stairs themselves. But two vertical stripes of murky 
darkness frame these thin interjections of light, pressing 
in on the scene. On one level, the photograph abandons 
content in favour of formal composition, a photo-cubist 
rendering of the space in terms of geometric line and tonal 
pattern. On another, one literally can identify a doorway, 
a stairwell, and the underside of the stairs rising up and 
into an unseen space above. In Doylestown House: 
Stairway with Chair (c.l917) (Fig. 2), a similar 
arrangement of forms presents itself to us: strong 
verticals, this time in white, frame a black/grey oblong 
which contains the stairs coiling diagonally to the right, 
continuing upwards into darkness. The door at the bottom 
of the stairs is open, extending out toward the viewer, 
concealing a window to the left. Next to the window, 
nearest the viewer is a small mirror, which is countered 
bottom right by a slither of a chair and its shadow. The 
door is open, so one can ascend the stairs but the darkness 
is forbidding: the window and mirror are redundant, as is, 
because of the little we see of it, the chair. 

Together this reordering of the visible and the imagined 
space exposes Bachelard's dreamer of nooks and crannies 
to a degree of critique. What lurks in those dark spaces 
under stairs, or behind the door? What has happened to 
the world beyond the windowpane? 'For whatever reason, 
Bachelard does not find anything sinister in nooks and 
crannies, only adventure, anticipation, discovery. The 
home is seen as the source of happy memories; it exists as 
a place that returns to us in dreams as we sleep or in 
daydreams when our minds wander. But, as Rachel 
Bowlby argues, there is something troubling about 
Bachelard's untroubled home." For Bowlby, Bachelard's 
view of the home is overly optimistic, reminding us of 
Freud's notion of the unheimlich. The fact that the house 
can also be the opposite of the home: a place of darkness, 
fear and hostility. Freud's nightmarish vision of the 
familiar made unfamiliar is all about fear, peril, and the 
loss of the sense of security in the place where it matters 
most, the place where one must always feel at home: in 
one's own home. 

Bachelard's eulogy on nooks and crannies and Freud's 
willingness to find horror in them, however, does not fully 
account for the feeling Sheeler's photographs generate. 


One can argue that the Doylestown house is not a homely 
place at all, there is nothing subtle about the place, hard 
whitewashed walls, harshly lighted with excessive bright 
spots and deep, deep shadows, all add up to an 
uncomfortable place to be. One cannot help but note the 
staged-ness of each image. These photographs are full of 
dark spaces, looming silhouettes; there are thresholds that 
cannot be crossed, stairs that cannot be climbed and 
windows that cannot be seen through. The interior thus 
becomes site of containment, a claustrophobic space with 
harsh, unpredictable lighting and deep, dark shadowy 
area which one dare not venture into. 

Lucie argues with justification that these images are a 
series, or with Adorno in mind, a constellation. As such, 
one can piece together the house, as it were. In spite of 
the house's residual closedness. the viewer begins to 
recognise latches, doorways, fireplaces, windows and other 
objects, which act as visual clues and in turn form a 
mental map of the space. But what a flattened space it 
remains even with this acquired knowledge. The 
fragmentary forms of the individual images themselves, 
though, make for an unstable constellation. Rare are the 
images which offer more than a doorway or a corner for us 
to peer into, the most Sheeler gives us is Doylestown 
House: Interior with Stove (c.1932) (Fig. 3).'- Here is a 
wider perspective on a room with a door to the right — 
which is cropped — the white beads of the window bright 
against the blackened window panes, to the left another 
closed door, and in the middle a glowering silhouette of 
the stove, light bursting from its belly through an open 
door. But this image is hardly panoramic. 

Interior with Stove is illuminating for a number of 
reasons. As part of a series or constellation. Interior with 
Stove appears like a sun. providing light and the forcefield. 
which binds the constellation together. The importance of 
Interior with Stove is underscored by its reappearance in 
Sheeler's self-portrait. The Artist Looks at Nature (1943). 
Here Sheeler sits at an easel working on a re-rendering of 
Interior with Stove, perhaps in conte crayon, but the artist 
is not in the studio, he is working au plein air and the 
scene before him a montage of an older home, Ridgefield, 
Connecticut and the Boulder Dam." The "something 
personal" is again invoked and I want to suggest here that 
it is the work of light in this image that makes it such an 
important image. It seems possible to imagine that in the 
other photographs in the constellation, the light source is 
not a strategically placed photographic lamp but the light 
from this stove emanating through the house. Granted 
the light in the stove is a lamp and not a fire but Sheeler's 
imagery seeks to make the analogy. 

Sheeler says "Light is the great designer" and in these 
photographs light works to outline or abstract form, it is 
used to both illuminate surface texture and to obliterate 
texture also." Constance Rourke writes: 

With Sheeler light becomes a palpable medium 
through which form is apprehended to the full, 
through variations in its quality, through 
contrasting shadow, through modulations of tone 
within shadow.... A full perception of the use of 
shadow in his art may lead to an understanding 
of its most fundamental qualities, bringing the 
spectator back finally to the constant use of light 
itself as a dimensional force. '^ 

I would argue that in the case of the Doylestown 
photographs and subsequent related images. Rourke is 
only half right. Locked as we are in the monadic house, 
imprisoned amongst its nooks and crannies, pushed into 
its corners, thresholds barred and our sense of space 
impeded, we see only the interior. Light blackens the 
windows, denying them their transparency, making this 
house a windowless place: from inside we cannot see 
outside. What we forget in this confusion is that we can be 
seen from outside of the house, from the other side of the 
blackened glass. 

Figure 3 Charles Sheeler, Interior uith Store. 1932. 

Conte crayon on wove paper. National (lallery of 

Art. Washington. Gift (Partial and Promised) of 

Aaron I. Fleischman, 2000.181.1 


This is the illuminated hut in which Bachelard finds 
poetry. Referring to Henri Bachelin's novel, Le Serviteur. 
Bachelard claims; 

[The author] finds the root of the hut dream in 
the house itself. He has only to give a few 
touches to the spectacle of the family-sitting 
room, only to listen to the stove roaring in the 
evening stillness, while an icy wind blows 
against the house, to know that at the house's 
centre, in the circle of light shed by the lamp, he 
is living in the round house, the primitive hut, of 
prehistoric man."* 

As a threshold the viewer can imagine looking into the 
Doylestown House from outside, rather than from inside 
out, and by doing so gain access to this pre-history, 
present and future time. The blackened windows and non- 
reflective mirrors, the closed or half-open doors, the lack of 
furniture, all evoke an uncomfortable sense of a place and 
yet from the other side of the window this place and space 
become timeless, evocative, and dream-like. The 
Doylestown House is a burrow, a place to hide, a bolthole, 
a place we search out for in the darkest dreams, a 
miniature world that lies beyond the unhomely. 

Bachelard makes much of the image of the lamp in the 
window as a vigilant and safeguarding eye of the house, 
and in turn relates an anecdote about Rilke. One dark 
night, Rilke and his friends were about to cross a field 
when they saw "the lighted casement of a distant hut, the 
hut that stands quite alone on the horizon before one 
comes to fields and marshlands." They felt like "isolated 
individuals seeing night for the first time."'' For the dark 
background of our lives is assumed as inevitable until a 
flash of insightful light is seen. As Bachelard puts it: 

One might even say that light emanating from a 
lone watcher, who is also a determined watcher, 
attains to the power of hypnosis. We are 
hypnotized by solitude, hypnotized by the gaze of 
the solitary house; and the tie that binds us to it 
is so strong that we begin to dream of nothing 
but a solitary house in the night.'* 

This is what Bachelard's means when he says "we must 
start musing on primitiveness."" The Doylestown House 
was a retreat from the world. The isolation of the place is 
evident in every photograph of every room. To picture the 
landscape in which the house sits would make this no 
more obvious but to imagine the lighted house as a beacon 
in the darkened landscape or as a place into which we can 
peer and watch unseen provides an altogether different 
perspective. The house as a monad is; 

An object blasted free of time for the purposes of 
analysis — it is concentrated time, pre-history, 
the present, and post-history are crushed 
together there... It is an important moment of the 
past that can explain the present and the 
possibilities of the future. An image of a greater 
totality — the experience of an historical era — can 
be found there. It is a threshold.™ 


1. Alfred Stieglitz quoted in Wanda Corn. The Great American Thing: Modern Art 
and Natwnal Identity, 1915.1935 (California: University of California Press), 299. 

2. Gaston Bachelard, 77ie Poetics of Space (Boston: Beacon Press. 1986). 30. 

3- Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (London: Harvard University Press, 1999). 

4, Sheeler quoted in Karen Lucie, Charles Sheeler in Doylestown: American 
Modernism and the Pennsylvania Tradition (Allentown: Allentown Art Museum, 
1997), 19. 

5, Bachelard. 30. 

6, Emphasis as in the original text. Ibid,. 33, 

7, Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 
1997). 180, 

8, Sheeler quoted in Constance Rourke. Charles Sheeler: Artist in the American 
Tradition (New York: Harcourt, Brace. 1938), 59, 

9, Lucie, 26. 

10, Theodore Stebbins, Charles Sheeler: The Photographs (Boston: Museum of Fine 
Arts, 1987). 9. 

11, See Rachel Bowlby, "Domestication" in Feminism Beside Itself, eds, Diane Elam 
and Robyn Wiegman (New York: Routledge, 1995). 76. 7, 

12, Deliberately reproduced here is Sheeler's conte crayon drawing of the 
photograph, which appears in The Artist Looks at Nature (1943) — a drawing, which is 
a copy of the photograph of the same name and is reproduced here to impress the 
importance of the series, or constellation, in Sheeler's practice, 

13, See Lucie, 110. Carol Troyen and Erica Hirshler, Sheeler: Paintings and 
Drawings (Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, 1987), 183.5, 

14- Sheeler quoted in Rourke. 109, 

15, Ibid, 

16- Bachelard. 31. 

17, Rilke quoted in Bachelard, 35-6, 

18- Bachelard, 36- 

19- Emphasis as in the original text. Ibid,. 33 

20. Esther Leslie, "Walter Benjamin's /Ircatics' Project" [article online]; available 
from Http://www,militantesthetix,; Internet; accessed 28 
February 2006. 


Figure 1. Buckniinster Fuller and students in the 
classroom during the World Game workshop at the 
New York School of Painting and Sculpture. 1969 

Figure 2. Photograph of starving Bangladesh people from 
Gabel's Ho-ping: Food for Everyone 

Jennifer Ferng 

Designing Conclusions for a Cold War Humanity 

Buckrainster Fuller described architecture as 
"comprehensive anticipatory design science," while Cedric 
Price referred to his own creative approach as "continuous 
anticipatory design."' Architecture, in both cases, was 
redefined as a combination of disciplines, including 
physics, engineering, and statistics, which together 
could produce solutions to universal problems such as 
population overcrowding, hunger, and weapons of mass 
destruction. Known as the eccentric designer of the 1967 
Exposition Dome for Montreal and the Dymaxion map. 
Fuller was an architect and physicist whose work bridged 
between architecture and the sciences. He often delivered 
lengthy lectures that encompassed diverse academic and 
popular topics, developed tensegrity structures using 
minimal amounts of material, and corresponded with 
forward-thinking individuals such as Price, C.A. Dioxiadis, 
and Marshall McLuhan. 

This essay will situate the "world systems" of Fuller 
and Fuller's student Medard Gabel into the lineage of 
simulations within the history of technology,- It touches 
upon three historical periods: the Rand Corporation's 
simulation models of the Cold War during the mid-1950s, 
architectural propositions of the 1960s, and the beginning 
of sustainable development in the 1970s. In conceiving 
these examples of architecture as hybrid simulations, my 
aim is to specifically demonstrate how Cold War influences 
were translated and interpreted in Fuller's World Game. 
In turn. Fuller's student Medard Gabel employed the 
same practices of the World Game for his own project later 

entitled the World Game Laboratory, which concentrated 
on strategies for sustainable development. Gabel's rhetoric 
and visual media masked the objectivity of "science" with 
the veneer of a moral obligation to responsibly assess 
the Earth's diminishing resources. While Gabel seemed 
openly critical of war-inducing technologies, his visual 
and numeric techniques in the World Game Laboratory 
ironically drew upon and reinforced this same Cold War 
legacy of game-based scenarios and interdisciplinary 
research, initially interpreted by his mentor Buckminster 

Cold War Games 

The persona of the architect used charisma, 
unconventional taste, and vivid imagination to bring an 
idea into existence, both in the public realm and in the 
private mind of the designer. The architect who played 
scientist was allowed conscientious yet unconventional 
applications of Cold War trends, which would be 
artistically employed to manipulate public perception of 
what constituted sustainable development. Fuller and 
Price developed themselves as prodigal experts who knew 
what was best for the world and were willing to teach 
anyone how to manage it. Part empirical fact and part 
subjective behavioralism, architecture was configured as 
a visual practice that would translate global data into 
an aestheticized model of political commentary. What 
commenced as an initial political means for military 


research remained a politicized vehicle for architectural 
expression. These highly personalized interpretations of 
"science" became a legitimate foundation for furthering 
subjective suggestions of moral activism that went far 
beyond the traditional realm of architectural design. 

From the early 1950s, global strategies inspired by 

systems theory were aimed at enlisting the everyday 
individual to actively participate in the planet's future. 
While models of operations research developed by Jay 
Forrester and the military technologies used in urban 
planning as examined by Jennifer Light are useful points 
of comparison, I am more interested in the distinctions 
between simulations and scenarios.' For example, 
Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi has noted that the war games 
of the Rand Corporation were a combination of "synthetic 
history" and "laboratory experiment" used to generate 
operational data. She wrote, "In the absence of empirical 
sources, the phenomena taking place in the course of 
play, as well as game outcomes, acquired the aura of well- 
founded fact."^ Simulations were often referred to as "task 
environments" and were played in large-size conference 

Role-playing was also used to provoke political 
inventiveness and to prioritize research for policy decision 
makers. In the Social Science Division of the Rand 
Corporation, four political games, organized by Herbert 
Goldhammer, were played between 1955 and 1956. The 
fourth game occupied twenty participants for three weeks 
in April 1956 and would be the most elaborate war game 
of the decade. In the final round of the fourth game, the 
United States team was encouraged to exercise all possible 
options while other teams were constrained to make 
moves based on the current doctrines of their respective 
governments. Most of the multiple trials were too 
exhausting for the parties involved, and game scenarios as 
a whole were often too comprehensive and time-consuming 
to be effective as strategic tools. 

Organizational theory was incorporated into man- machine 
simulations, where an organization was likened to an 
organism, measured by its responsibilities and by how 
successfully its internal behavior accounted for success 
and failure. While the controversial uncertainty of 
scientific realism plagued the verification of simulations, 
there were certainly concrete differences for researchers 
between mathematical games and operational exercises. 
Scenarios presented whole world pictures that were 
inherently attached to cultural and historical situations. 
They could not be quantified or rationalized but could also 
depict several streams of interactions simultaneously. 
For Fuller, the World Game would never achieve a level 

of realistic application, but its gaming framework served 
as compound iterations of role-playing and man-machine 
simulations. Human actors identified themselves as 
agents of change, and the technologies employed in 
wartime would be alternatively used to ensure peace and 
suitable resources for the preservation of humanity. While 
the World Game was certainly an organized reaction to 
the counterculture phenomena of the 1960s, its methods 
of scenario-making utilized many different techniques 
in order to multiply solutions for an idealized balance 
between man and his environment. 

In disseminating their views through university 
workshops, public lectures, and appearances before 
government committees, these two generations of 
architects sought to remodel Cold War research in a softer 
light, projecting a positive future based on real numbers. 
Large-scale technological systems such as the World Game 
put forth questionable claims of fair "equilibrium" that 
perpetually attempted to juggle the interests of politicians, 
design professionals, educators, and the general public. 
James Webb, administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968, 
forewarned of the dangers of trying to achieve a perfect 
equilibrium for society as a whole. He said, "...if dynamic 
equilibrium is achieved for the whole mass at any one 
time, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. ..These 
methods must include... the intellectual response time of 
humans, the inertia of human systems, and the interaction 
of human endeavors with their supporting physical and 
social environment."^ Fuller's World Game thus privileged 
individual decisions in the delicate balancing act between 
natural resources and human needs. 

The dynamic language of Fuller, Price, and Dioxiadis 
advocated for a unified world where the ecology of the 
earth and Cold War science would integrate comfortably 
in utopic harmony. For example, in Price's Atom: New 
Town from 1967, funded in part by a federal atomic 
research facility and executed as a studio workshop at 
Rice University in Houston, Texas, a large nuclear reactor 
was centered in a satellite city thirty miles southwest of 
Chicago. The town was conceived as a social experiment to 
examine the impact of new educational models on urban 
planning. Various education centers such as the Home 
Study Station could be loaded into an existing house and 
customized to persons of different age groups to provide a 
source of continuous learning. Unlike Fuller, Price viewed 
nuclear power as a useful source of energy to design a 
better educational model for the condition of the city. 


World Game 

The use of scientific research in architecture was meant to 
provide a foundation of legitimate research and to provoke 
the American pubhc into action. In conflating statistics 
and scientific methodologies with architectural invention. 
Fuller, as well as Gabel. modeled his version of Earth as 
a flexible "closed world" where numbers represented real 
resources that could be easily manipulated into feasible 
solutions but where participant feedback could essentially 
change any outcome of the simulation." Fuller and Gabel 
both believed that large-scale social action would only 
result from the cumulative actions of individuals. An 
individual's rational attainment of "expected utility" could 
help restore the earth back to its natural equilibrium. 

Originally conceived by Fuller in 1927. the World Game 
was an unusual hybrid between a simulation and a 
scenario. In reaction to the 1798 Malthusian doctrine 
of limited resources. Fuller created drawn diagrams, 
statistical graphs, charts, and physical models to solve the 
world's hunger and energy demands. Known as Fuller's 
triad of "a single world, a single house, a single family," 
man represented not only himself as an individual but 
also as the universal agent of Spaceship Earth, who 
would either deliver redemption or annihilation to his 
environment.' One of the many goals of the World 
Game was to involve as many people as possible in the 
research, design, and development of strategies for 
solving worldwide problems in the most peaceful and 
effective manner. Based on Ludwig von Bertalanffy's 
systems theory from molecular biology and Fuller's own 
sense of regenerative structural and service systems. 
Fuller conceptualized the philosophy behind the World 
Game as being "objective." For each version of the World 
Game, a pre-scenario began with examining the amount 
of energj' and resources needed by one human being. 
Guided by the principle of the basic unit of one individual, 
the participants would calculate the "hare maximum" 
for subsistence levels. For example, for working men, 
approximately 3,500 calories a day were needed to survive, 
for women, 3,300 calories a day were considered necessary. 
Once this basis was established. Fuller and his students 
began experimenting with plausible methods of procuring 
energy sources in various scenarios. Scenarios, for Fuller, 
were perceived as stages of development that would 
possibly lead to better results or better efficiency. 

The fundamental logic underlying the first stage of the 
World Game assumed that electrical energy was necessary 
to transport, store food, and dispose of waste. A universal 
electrical grid was placed across the entire globe, and 
then participants worked together to figure out how this 

grid would affect world resources. By keeping efficiency 
and technological competence at present levels. Fuller 
wanted to demonstrate that the first stage would be 
plausible using only existing technologies. The final stage 
analyzed processes on how to increase food production 
as the ultimate goal (Fig. 3). The first group of players to 
bring humanity closer to success in the shortest amount 
of time possible won the game. The World Game could be 
played in different timed rounds, always with perpetual 
equilibrium in mind for continuing generations of all 
nations. While teaching at Southern Illinois University, 
Fuller designed an unbuilt gaming facility for the solution 
of world problems, published in the February 1967 issue of 
Architectural Record, which would possess a live display 
surface capable of showing a comprehensive inventory of 
the planet's resources. 

The prolific results of many workshops, classes, and 
research seminars were collected under the heading of 
the World Resources Inventory. The first phase of the 
project manifested itself as the World Design Decade 
1965-1975 series, which included global statistics, maps, 
directions on how to play the World Game, as well as 
congressional documents and popular source articles. 
Fuller proposed a unique type of interdisciplinary 
pedagogy that ambiguously connected three components 
- graduate students, large-scale government organizations 
and universities, and "design science" as a humanist 
philosophy to alter the external environment. From the 
special collections at the Loeb Library in the Harvard 
Graduate School of Design, the World Game Report, a 
brochure published in 1969 during a simulation workshop 
at the New York Studio School of Painting and Sculpture, 
depicted images of eager graduate students and other 
intelligent amateurs among which included artists, 
housewives, and a bread baker (Figs. 4 & 1). Against the 
backdrop of the Vietnam War and the shrinking assets of 
Big Science, Fuller himself never stated explicit political 
goals for the World Game. Any industrial method of mass 
production and standardization was allowed to generate 
as many solutions as possible. World leaders and nations 
were able to devise any type of conclusion they wanted as 
long as they avoided the accumulation of mass weapons 
and the destructive outcome of war. Fuller himself 
admitted that the finalized version of the World Game 
would never be played until the simulations themselves 
could be calculated on a computer. 

World Game Laboratory 

Medard Gabel and his World Game Laboratory practice 
in the raid- 1970s took over where Fuller's work had 


Figure 3- Hand-drawn maps measuring calorie intake and disease from 
the World Game workshop at the New York School of Painting and 
Sculpture. 1969 

Figure 4. Buckminster Fuller and students in the classroom during 
the World Game workshop at the New York School of Painting and 
Sculpture, 1969 

ended. Gabel emphasized a humanitarian message of 
moral activism, while reinterpreting Rand Corporation 
simulation models whose original purposes lay in 
planning Cold War political scenarios. As a former Fuller 
student who participated in the 1969 New York Studio 
School workshop, Gabel was interested in utilizing his 
mentor's designs to expose the general public to issues 
of sustainable development. As the current CEO of 
BigPictureSmallWorld, Gabel had worked with Fuller 
over twelve years, was the former executive director 
of the World Game Institute, and had authored six 
books on global problems and strategies. He has been a 
consultant on global policy issues for the United Nations 
Environmental Program and the U.S. Departments of 
Agriculture and Energy and to large corporations, such 
as General Motors, IBM, and Novartis. During the 1970s, 
simulations were still viewed as valuable educational 
tools. In an article from The Elementary School Journal 
from April 1973, Harvard McLean also pressed for 
the use of simulation games such as "Make Your Own 
World" to help children understand man's relationship 
to the environment. He stringently forewarned of "blithe 
optimists" or "prophets of doom" who would develop 
attitudes that would work at counter purposes to effective 
environmental education." 

Despite these misgivings, Gabel still applied the same 
techniques that Fuller had developed to global food 
problems in order to illustrate how everyone on earth 
could be fed. As he sermonized in Ho-ping: Food for 
Everyone from 1979, "Without food you die. ...Food for 
life should be a birthright, not an earned right. Billions 

of humans should not have to work their lives away 
for food and suffer the consequences if they are not 
successful"' (Fig. 2). His manifesto against world famine 
was strikingly thorough in its use of research. The same 
visual aesthetic remained true for his earlier work Energy, 
Earth, and Everyone, first published in 1975. For instance, 
copies of Fuller's Dymaxion maps illustrated various 
distributions of products from wheat, rice, bananas, 
tobacco, to food priority areas and agricultural tractors. 
In using the Dymaxion map and scenario chart as his 
primary templates, Gabel also modeled the long-term 
effects of animal husbandry, hydroponics, and fishing in 
the most general terms. He projected trends such as whey 
products as protein supplements and new preservation 
methods for milk, beginning in 1980 until 2010. 

Most of this unrealized research culminated in the design 
of Gabel's Global Food Service, a non-profit, non-political 
world food organization that would buy surplus grain 
from world reserves, assist local self-sufficiency programs, 
and fund money for research into unconventional food 
sources. What distinguished Fuller's World Game from 
Gabel's World Game Laboratory was their strikingly 
different use of rhetoric and visual media. While Fuller 
aligned his writing with the visual and social merits of 
using combined scientific strategies, Gabel exploited the 
advantages of visual research to promote moral activism. 
He proclaimed, "There is no energy shortage. There is 
no energy crisis. There is a crisis of ignorance."'" Gabel 
tried to position the more optimistic scenario-making of 
the World Game Laboratory against the war games of the 
generals and admirals who. with their "counter-counter 


Figure 5. Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear 
Facilities in the United States. 1977-78 from 
Gabel's Energy. Earth, and Everyone 

moves" want the other side to lose in these "hot and cold 
war situations" '^ (Fig. 5). However, the World Game 
Laboratory never introduced a new mode of representing 
global statistics. It retained the original framework of 
the World Game, yet de-emphasized science's potential 
to enhance the influence of the architectural project. 
Fuller's original call to convert "weaponry into livingry" 
transformed from an open exercise in free thought into a 
guilt-ridden moral lesson for Gabel. 

Energy. Earth. Everyone. 4.3 x 10 to the 9th power of 

capable individuals could be possibly drafted as experts 
on how to make the world work.'- They no longer needed 
to be guided by a visionary but now only needed a kit of 
parts to manage the world. Founded in 1972, the World 
Game Institute, an UN-affiliated NGO led by Fuller's 
daughter Allegra, Howard Brown, and Medard Gabel, 
has continued this legacy of world simulations. For the 
World Game Institute spinoff called Global Simulation 
Workshop created by Brown's private company O.S. 
Earth, the cost of today's planetary salvation is a mere 
$3,500. a comprehensive fee that includes a multi-media 
presentation, travel, shipping, hotel, equipment, and 
a three-hour workshop " Participating schools and 
organizations in states such as Connecticut. New Jersey, 
and Rhode Island receive regional discounts. Planning 
the Earth no longer required the able bodies of willing 

believers or the polemical language of Utopia. It could now 
be designed with cash, check, or credit card. 


1. The term "comprehensive anticipatory design science" stems from Fuller's World 
Resource Inventory or World Science Design Decade series, which consists of six 
documents including "The Design Initiative" (1964) and "The Ecological Context" 
(1967). Fuller liked to divide the world into basic physical design principles that 
reaffirmed the systematic logic found in nature and condensed profound meaning 
into simply described concepts. 

2. This essay is adapted from a longer research paper written for a class entitled 
"Cold War Science" taught by David Kaiser in the History, Anthropology, and 
Science. Technology, and Society program at MIT- I would like to especially thank 
Professor Kaiser for his generous comments and suggestions during the course of 
this ongoing project. In 2005. this paper was presented at MIT's Science. Technology, 
and Society graduate student workshop as well as the annual conference of the 
Society for the History of Technology that took place in Minneapolis. Special thanks 
to Deborah Fitzgerald, Susan Silbey. Etienne Benson. Sara Wylie. and those who 
offered useful remarks and revisions. 

3. For additional information on models of operations research, see Jay Forrester. 
Urban Dynamics (Cambridge: MIT Press. 1969). idem. World Dynamics (Cambridge: 
Wright-Allen Press. Inc . 1971)- On how military technologies were translated into 
the civilian sphere, see Jennifer Light, From Welfare to Warfare: Defense Intellectuals 
and Urban Problems in Cold War America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University 
Press. 2003). 

4. Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi. "Simulating the Unthinkable: Gaming Future War in 
the 1950s and 1960s" in Social Studies of Science. 30, no.2 (April 2000): 163-223, 
201- For her more recent work, see The Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive 
Science of Thermonuclear War (Cambridge: Harvard University. 2005). For one of 
the first historical studies which utilized the Rand Corporation archives, see David 
Hounshell. 'The Cold War. RAND, and the Generation of Knowledge, 1946-1962" 
Historical Studies of the Physical and Biological Sciences 27. no. 2 (1997): 237-267. 

5. James Webb, Space Age Management: The Large Scale Approach (New York: 
McGraw-Hill Book Company. 1969): 110. For other examples of systems theory 
applied to urban planning, see the brochure by administrator Volta Torrey, Science 
and the City (Washington DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

6. I use "closed world" in the spirit of its original context from Paul N. Edwards' 
77ie Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America 
(Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996). As Edwards defines it. closed world discourse 
describes "the language, technologies, and practices that together supported the 
visions of centrally-controlled, automated global power at the heart of American Cold 
War politics." Ibid., 7. More specifically, a closed world is a "radically bounded scene 
of conflict, an inescapably self-referential space where every thought, word, and 
action is ultimately directed back toward a central struggle." Ibid., 12. 

7. Mark Wigley, "Planetary Homeboy" in "Forget Fuller: Everything You Always 
Wanted to Know About Fuller But Were Afraid to Ask." AiVyMagarm.' 17(1997): 16. 

8. Harvard W. McLean. The Elementary School Journal 73. no. 7 (April 1973): 374- 
80, 376. Other simulation games for third to sixth grade school children include 
Ecopolis. Land use. No Time to Waste. Pollution: Negotiating a Clean Environment. 
Black Gold, and Science Bingo. 

9. Medard Gabel, Ho-ping: Food For Everyone (New York: Anchor Press. 1979), 4. 

10. Ibid. 

11. Ibid. 9. 

12. For Gabel. this is the total number of known conscious energy measuring 
and manipulating entities in the universe. See further, idem, Energy, Earth, and 
Everyone, foreword by R. Buckminster Fuller and afterword by Stewart Brand 
(Garden City: Anchor Press. 1980). 

13. For information on the Global Simulation Workshop see http://www,osearth, 
com; Internet. Refer also to Rick Poynor's "Desktop Diplomacy" Metropolis (December 
2000): 54-56. Poynor discusses Net World Game, an online version created for ten 
players and also released by the World Game Institute. 


Sara Stevens 

The Small Box Format of the Retail Pharmacy Chains 

Convenience is the management goal of today's retail 
pharmacy chains. The expansion strategy that retail 
pharmacies employ — more stores, more frequent, more 
visible — illustrates their prioritization of time over all 
else. The consumer's perception of speed and ease of retail 
pharmacy shopping is of utmost importance, and thus, 
these companies' real estate departments greedily increase 
the frequency of their stores along commercial corridors. 
Today's national retail pharmacy chains are operating 
under new rules, especially in the area of real estate 
planning. A few simple guidelines begin to define a new 
building format: a freestanding building, a large site at a 
busy intersection, near other retail, and surrounded by 
plenty of parking. Seeming to borrow cues from big box 
stores, the "small box" format employed in the retail 
pharmacy industry is a spatial product which grew out of 
a specific set of market conditions. This article will explore 
the appearance of the physical and contextual 
characteristics, how they reflect other organizational 
policies and tendencies, and how they are a reaction to a 
changing political climate. The discussion of the 
architectural products against the changing market 
landscape will aim to present a unique analysis of this 
contemporary retail condition, adding to a larger 
discussion of the consequences of expansive urban growth. 

The average store size for a major chain grew by 79 
percent from 1985 to 2004.' In recent years retail 
pharmacies have entered a growth spurt in the form of an 
expanded building program that insists on stand-alone 
stores. To put the newness of this growth in perspective, 
consider Walgreens: despite being the oldest major 
company in this market, Walgreens boasts that fully half 
of their stores today are less than five years old.- These 
changes raise important questions. What forces drive 
these companies to insist on the model of the large, 
freestanding store? What industry practices affect urban, 
labor, and environmental conditions, both generally and 
specifically as a result of this building type? 

The struggle of the retail pharmacy industry becomes 
clear against the context of new competitors, which 
entered their market sector in the early eighties. 
Previously, supermarkets and discount stores did not 
contain pharmacies within their bounds, but this began to 
change. By 1994, supermarkets and discount stores 
accounted for 20 percent of prescription sales, taking a 
huge market share away from pharmacy chains.'' Up to 
this point, the industry's success relied on its "monopoly" 
of prescription drugs, with convenience items comfortably 
padding sales figures. 

The hardware of the industry, its stores and building sites, 
has changed dramatically in the recent past. Twenty years 
ago, a new pharmacy would rent a modest space in a 
shopping center, likely near a supermarket, or within a 
shopping mall, and share parking with other businesses. 

The rapid takeover of prescription sales by the 
supermarkets and discounters instigated panic in the 
retail pharmacy chains. Companies initially reacted to 
this threat by increasing their focus on front-end sales 
(non-prescription sales) to diversify and make their 


organizations less reliant on prescription sales, which 
were too vulnerable to health care regulations. This fear 
of reform caused the increase in square footage for general 
front-end merchandise that began the drastic increase in 
store size. But over time, as prescription sales continued 
to increase despite the loss to these new entries to the 
field, a new focus returned to the forefront: perception 
of convenience. Growth markets were in outlying 
metropolitan areas, which had few independently-owned 
pharmacies, so the main competition was from large 
stores — discounters and supermarkets. By being more 
visible (closer to the street) and smaller (fast in-and- 
out) than these competitors, and therefore cornering the 
market on the quick trip, they could compete better. So, 
while retaining the flexibility of a large space for front-end 
merchandise and at the same time being smaller and more 
accessible than the big box, the new "small box" typology 
quickly became the norm for retail pharmacy companies 
and by the early nineties was the accepted industry 

The componentry was simple: new buildings sited close 
to a corner with a generous single or double row of 
parking between store and street. Visibility from the 
road and access by car were necessary. In order to be 
recognizable from a distance, these new formats could not 
be similarly sized to a fast food restaurant, a gas station, 
or a convenience store, but needed to appear as their own 
genre, despite similar site requirements. Differentiation 
between breeds was important, but not between brands. 
Massing achieved this best, simultaneously increasing 
shelf space for front-end merchandise. Increasing 
building height gave the store added street presence and 
simplified building design and construction. After some 
adjusting, the 11,000-14,500 square foot size became a 
nationwide industry standard. Site planning improved 
visibility and accessibility — closer to the street, with 
ample parking surrounding the building and multiple curb 
cut entrances increased the appearance of accessibility. 
Presenting an appearance of easy access was increasingly 
important to retail pharmacy companies. More curb cuts 
and automobile entrances, more parking spots — these 
design decisions contribute to an image that promotes 
convenience in shopping. 

Legally, this format also provided autonomy from an 
independent building owner and from dependence on 
other tenants' success. Attached to a shopping center, 
pharmacy sales would plummet when an anchor store 
closed. CVS's vice president of real estate describes it this 
way: "No more do we have Mr. Landlord coming to us to 
say, "I'm building a Shaw's supermarket and I have eight 
thousand square feet. Do you want to be beside it? Our 

biggest decision then was looking at the demographics 
and the incomes, ... and then making a decision as to 
what color we wanted to paint the back of the store."'" 
By developing stores themselves, as part of the push to 
build freestanding stores, these retail pharmacies have 
increased their control over their physical space and 

Depending on the company, ownership and lease 
structures changed too. Leases have been shrinking in 
term length from a typical 30-year lease to 20-year leases 
within the traditional leasing format. Walgreens, the most 
well-capitalized company, always owns their new stores, 
hiring a developer for a turnkey operation. The developer 
is paid a fee based on a percentage of the project cost. 
CVS, younger and less-capitalized, has been migrating to 
a creative new arrangement." Now, rather than follow the 
turnkey standard, CVS buys the site, then works with a 
pre-selected developer that it has picked for that region. 
These developers sign on to do groups of stores rather than 
individual stores in an area and are given a set fee, not a 
percentage. CVS then sells bundles of stores to investor 
groups, leveraging the success of the company behind this 
small group of stores. The sale of stores is done in a sale- 
leaseback arrangement with the investors, where CVS has 
control of the terms and lease, and opens up more capital 
for further building projects. This arrangement gives CVS 
more control over the developer and less liability with each 
specific building. CVS also claims the arrangement has 
lowered operating costs by $4-5/square foot per project. 
This increased autonomy, especially in investing groups 
of stores, pulls the stores deeper into the national market 
and makes them less dependent on local conditions.' The 
new development strategies of these companies reflects 
a policy change in size, location strategy and tightness of 
variability. Not only has the architectural model changed, 
but the management style and corporate operation itself 
has transformed. 

Despite these new, large stores, the greatest sales 
growth is still in prescriptions. The companies attribute 
the growth of prescription sales to an aging population, 
increased life expectancy, and better (and more) 
prescription drugs. Baby boomers require an ever- 
expanding battery of drugs, and drug companies and 
pharmacies are happy to provide. The cycle has created a 
positive feedback loop — more drugs are produced because 
more drugs are needed, more drugs are taken because 
more drugs are available. Most major chains reported a 
small sales drop in their front-end merchandise in the 
last two to three years, while prescription sales have 
continually increased." This slight tipping of the scales 
indicates that they are no longer trying to fill the space 



left by the convenience stores, but further supports the 
idea that their fate is tied to the health care industry, 
and therefore, to politics.' The result is that they are 
operating in a different, more political way. Where these 
companies did not have strong lobbies twenty years ago, 
they now are quite politically active. 

A further retreat from the emphasis on front-end sales can 
be seen in the increased implementation of drive-through 
pharmacy windows. By the mid-nineties, it was a standard 
feature for all major companies' new stores. Prescription 
sales almost tripled in America just between 1991 and 
1999, and this spending on prescriptions is where these 
companies reap profits.'" Front-end sales are not about to 
be forsaken, as they still represent a large portion of sales 
and square footage, but for today, front-end merchandise 
seems to be in a holding pattern as the prescription end 
grows rapidly. Adding drive-through windows changed site 
layouts, requiring more space and more entrances from 
the street, without reducing parking requirements. 

Site selection in this industry is seemingly quite easy, as 
the bare minimum of requirements for this autonomous 
format are not difficult to acquire. A priority has been to 
relocate old stores into freestanding locations, but little 
concern is given to proximity to other pharmacies. A new 
location built only a few blocks away from a competitor 
might catch a different pattern of traffic and therefore 
interfere only slightly in attracting customers. Walgreens' 
single-minded focus on convenience is best described by 
their new buildings and at-the-ready stock. The retail 
pharmacy prefers to be evenly distributed, in their words, 
to densify the market with an even dispersion." 

The latest adjustment to the store design of the retail 
pharmacy is aimed to counteract the growing business in 
mail order pharmacies, and involves the visibility of the 
pharmacist at the counter. Companies are attempting to 
give the pharmacist more visibility to consumers, while 
keeping them at the far corner of the store, by lowering 
the counter, adding signage and waiting areas, and 
visually "clearing a path."'- The drive-through strategy 
provides a level of privacy to compete with the mail orders, 
while the inside arrangement of the pharmacist's position 
tries to strengthen the personal connection that the mail 
orders lack. As an industry in danger, retail pharmacy 
companies strive to improve their business to thwart mail 
order, supermarket and big box competition. By improving 
distribution systems and procedures, their business can 
be more responsive and efficient. Information systems 
and technology improvements offer the same benefits. 
Walgreens and Rite Aid, among others, are also trying to 
improve and increase the use of technology by investing 

in it now, with the future hope of decreasing the required 
labor costs. Hampered in the past by slow distribution 
networks, retail pharmacies require quick access to new 
stock in order to remain at the top of the convenience scale 
to consumers. 

The retail pharmacy industry in America has recently 
transformed itself as the issue of healthcare and 
prescription drugs has continued to be a hot topic in 
politics and the media. No longer renting out space from 
larger commercial developments, these companies prefer 
an autonomous situation that refiects other organizational 
policies and tendencies. Their immense store size is 
trivialized by their reliance on prescription drugs for 
the growing bulk of their profits. Now facing greater 
threats, the retail pharmacy industry, through its building 
program and involvement in benefit management, 
strategizes to stabilize its tenuous position. 

The small box is multiplying across the landscape, using 
the same network organization of the big box but with a 
smaller footprint and at a higher frequency. This familiar 
spatial product exists in a changed political situation — a 
more fearful, more defensive, more striated society — and 
grew directly out of such conditions. Industry insecurity 
led to a push for front-end sales, which led to larger 
stores. As the profit projections lean away from front-end 
sales, the industry continues to build large stores, holding 
onto the extra shelf space should the trend return to an 
emphasis on front-end sales. The super-sized pharmacy is 
the result of this profit-predicting game, providing a safety 
net against market volatilities. The even larger sites that 
these stores sit on result from fierce competition with 
larger stores, discounters and supermarkets, by giving the 
retail pharmacies greater street presence and visibility 
from the road. By grossly exceeding parking needs these 
stores can better compete by always seeming accessible. 
Even at the busiest hours, empty parking spots signal to 
potential customers that a quick stop is still possible. A 
tall fagade and a busy street corner serve double duty as 
signage and marketing tool — clean, new, big, and easy. 
Behind this, legalese protects company interests and 
provides maximum flexibility for these self-developed 
buildings through contracts and leasing deals. Finally, the 
advanced, precise nature of this system is best seen in the 
new locations which retail pharmacies are willing to build 
in. Now commonplace in small towns and poorer inner city 
neighborhoods, the stores are entering new territories but 
not without calculated understanding of the risks; their 
site requirements and market area studies are so precise 
and defined as to all but eliminate major risk. 

Looking to the small box to understand its political and 


economic position and to search for how those factors 
might have influenced its physical attributes brings us to 
a clearer understanding of the larger systems which retail 
is embedded in. Such a study can highlight opportunities 
within such schemes and reveal abuses, adjacencies, 
and resistances, which explain design decisions as well 
as social conditions. The typology of the small box bears 
the load of market forces, political treaties, consumer 
science, and technological innovation — each providing the 
opportunistic thinker with a diverse set of possibilities for 


1. In 1985. the average store size was seven thousand square feet. By 2004, that 
had grown to twelve thousand square feet. See further. "Controls. Same-Store Gains 
Boost CVS Profits." Drug Store News U. no. 9 (1989): 167; "Turn Around Leaves 
Bite Aid Confident of 'Bright Future." Cham Drug Beuiew 26, no. 8 (2004): 130; 
Walgreens Corporation. "Walgreens Financial and Other Numbers." Rite Aid, Annual 
Report 2004. 2004. 66; available from 
factl.jhtml; Internet; accessed 17 December 2004. 

2. Ibid. ; James Frederick, "Strategy Reflects a Confident Course," Drug Store Neivs 
25, no. 4 (2003): 52-54. 

3. "Wall Street Eyes Drug Chains as They Face Structural Changes." Chain Drug 
Review 16, no. 9(1994): 34. 

4. To the author's knowledge, the term "small box" is not used elsewhere. 

5. Jennifer Kulpa, "Cultivating a Strategic Store Development Process." Drug Store 
New3 16(1999): 63. 

6. In 1997, 25% of projects were structured this way. By 1999. 52% used this system. 
Ibid., 64. 

7. Ibid,. 63-65. Rob Eder. "Controlled Growth Heart of Development's Master Plan," 
Drug Store News 12, no, 16 (1999), 50-52. 

8. "Longs Pharmacy Sales Roll Ahead, Front-End Lagging," Ibid., 24, no. 13 (2002): 8. 

9. This was called out as a trend in the late eighties as front-end sales sharply 
increased, concurrent to an increase in store size. "Convenience Drives Chains' 
Grocery Sales." Drug Store News 12. no. 1 (1989): 12, See also Diane West. "Survey 
Says Rx Spending Slowing Down," Drug Store News 24. no. 8 (2002):!, 

10. In 1991, retail prescription sales were at $42,7 billion; in 1999 the sales reached 
$111.3 billion. Andrew Sullivan, "The Way We Live Now," The New York Times 
Magazine 29 (October 2000): 21. 

1 1 . Walgreens Corporation, "Walgreens Financial and Other Numbers," 

12. James Frederick. "New Concepts Encourage Interaction with Pharmacists." Drug 
Store News 26, no, 10 (2004): 80. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association 
(PMCA). "Consumers Relying on Mail-Service Pharmacies Report Overwhelming 
Satisfaction, New Survey Research Finds," 18 November 2004; available from http://; Internet; accessed 12 November 2004. 


Douglas and Mitchell Joachim 

Human-Powered River 
Gymnasiums for New York 

Locomotion is perhaps the most primal of all human 
functions, and the motion-starved environment we live in 
can be considered the antithesis of our being. An urbanite 
exercising at a traditional gym often performs controlled, 
repetitive, single plane movements using industrial fitness 
equipment. All of this energy is summarily dissipated 
and ultimately exhausted for the sake of an individual's 
well being. Why should gym members be forced to stare 
restlessly at a mirror, television, or static streetscape 
when their entire bodies are active? We envision the gym 
as a machine of human propulsion that purifies water and 
transports less-motivated citizens to their destinations. 
This new fitness center would take form as a series of soft, 
floating, micro-islands revolving on a fifteen-minute river 
loop with an exquisite, ever-changing panoramic view. 

The River Gym will fulfill one of the major contemporary 
fitness goals of "functional training" by exploiting the 
inherent disequilibrium of floatation devices. Our design 
encapsulates a new typology for the contemporary urban 
gym. It challenges our innate proprioceptive and multi- 
planar locomotive abilities while concurrently altering the 

We have developed a way to harness the vast human 
expenditure of caloric energy. The River Gym channels 
this self-produced energy to supply New York City with 
needed supplemental transport and amenities. Our design 
leaves the realm of the standard "glass box" and thus 
becomes a useful multi-planar kinetic space. Each River 
Gym vessel varies in size and critical mass population. 
Therefore, some vessels will need only a few members to 
boost the craft on its predetermined, computer-navigated 
loop. Other larger floating units would require a higher 
sustaining population of club members, and would only be 
used during peak hours. 

These River Gyms would travel through the Hudson and 
East Rivers at a leisurely pace. Along the edges of each 
river body, modest docking facilities such as a reception 
desk, lockers, and health food kiosks would serve 
members, who could easily access their River Gym vessels 
to travel to and from multiple points throughout the city. 
The gym can also ease the transportation burdens on 
various ferry lines and carry volunteering commuters in 
tow. The benefit of extra passengers increases the vessels' 

Map showing various fitness loops and water routs 

mass and amplifies the intensity of the exercise. Finally, 
fitted with onboard purification devices, the gym would 
help mitigate water pollution. 

The notion of transforming unused human mechanical 
energy into a useful kinetic gymnasium is unique. The 
gym provides multiple benefits: increased transportation, 
water purification, caloric energy expenditure, and 
superior, changing views. Our design thus redefines the 
urban gym in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly 
manner. This is the kind of munificent vision for which the 
great city of New York is renowned. 



Energy is derived from human motion and is converted to usable electric energy stored in onboard batteries 

Soft floating micro-island gyms on waterway patlib 


Figure 1. Arrival of refugees from Asia Minor in Salonica, following the 
Lausanne treaty 

Figure 2. Photograph from the workshop Osservatorio Nomade 
organized in Saoul Modiano, Old People's Home of the Jewish 
Community of Thessaloniki. As part of the "Egnatia" project, 
stones like this one, upon which the participants left their 
own traces, have been dispersed along the route of Via Egnatia. 
The stones originated from Salento — the starting point 
of Egnatia road across the Adriatic Sea 

Garyfallia Katsavounidou 

Unfamiliar (Hi)stories: The ''Egnatia" Project in Thessaloniki 

"Via Egnatia," or the Egnatia Way, connected Rome 
to Constantinople and was one of the most important 
roads of antiquity. Built by the Romans in the 2nd and 
3rd centuries AD, the road started in Durach, on the 
shores of Albania, across the point where Via Appia (the 
Appian Way) met the Adriatic Sea in Southern Italy. 
From Durach, the Egnatia Way traversed the lands of 
Albania, Macedonia (passing through the major port- 
city of Salonica), and Thrace. Finally, after 739 miles. 
Via Egnatia ended in Constantinople. It was on these 
ancient paths that millions of people — Greeks, Turks, 
Jews, Albanians, Armenians, Kurds, Rom. and many other 
ethnic groups — were displaced during the last century, 
mainly during the compulsory exchange of populations 
between Greece and Turkey,' but also unofficially and 
in smaller numbers (Fig. 1). As the locus of memories of 
migration, but also of displaced memories, this famous 
road inspired the "Egnatia" project, which was funded by 
the European Union and launched in October 2004. The 
cross-categorical project, which could be described as a 
laboratory of memory along Via Egnatia, aims to "collect 
stories of people who have been displaced along the 
Egnatia way, to leave traces of collective memories now 
forgotten and obliterated,"^ but also to listen and interact 

with contemporary immigrants who travel on the same 

The methodology of the "Egnatia" project is based on 
an experiential approach. According to art historian 
Flaminia Gennari, the researcher acts as a catalyst in the 
pursued transfer of memory, "not only because memory 
is ephemeral and sentimental, but also because the one 
who listens always adds something of himself."' Such 
an approach has its origins in the artistic group Stalker, 
which has been working in Rome since 1995. combining 
interventions and research on the territory. Members 
of Stalker have formed a new collective subject called 
Osservatorio Nomade ("Nomad Observatory"), with the 
participation of visual artists, theoreticians, architects, 
and historians. As the main agent of the "Egnatia" project, 
Osservatorio Nomade has been collaborating with the 
groups Architecture Autogeree (hased in Paris) and 
Oxymoron (based in Athens), organizing workshops in five 
cities (Rome, Berlin. Paris, Athens, and Thessaloniki). The 
participation of artists and scientists from various ethnic 
backgrounds is quintessential to the project: the "Egnatia" 
project is above all "a common ground where to encounter 
and share values and cultural experiences."'' 


In February 2005, Osservatorio Nomade organized 
a workshop with the telling title "Ghostbustering in 
Thessaloniki." With the exception of local (Greek) 
participants, most members of the group, including visual 
artists and architects from Italy, France, and Spain were 
making their first visit to Thessaloniki. As art critic 
Francesca Recchia writes, "'the complex dynamics of 
persistence and absence were clear and tangible right from 
the first contacts and walks. The city seems to be without 
a past; it experiences the visible traces of its centuries- 
old history with the indifference of a chance encounter."^ 
During the five days of the workshop, the members of 
Osservatorio Nomade worked in small, flexible teams, 
exploring the city instinctively and non-hierarchically. 
The participants combined field research with improvised 
public performances that related to the particular place 
and time (Fig. 2). These experimental actions aimed to 
engage the locals, create new intercultural collective 
memories, or, in other cases, expose traces of the past in 
city areas where history seems to have been obliterated — 
as in the case of the campus of Aristotelian University, 
occupying the grounds of the Jewish cemetery. On the 
final night of the workshop, all participants created 
another public performance as they toured the city by 
bus. Revisiting the places encountered during the walks, 
they organized video projections of the groups' actions 
and performances at the places where these performances 
took place, thus engaging public attention and sharing the 
feelings and experiences these places invoked. 

After the workshop in Thessaloniki. the members of 
Osservatorio Nomade realized that the city was central 
to the general premise of the "Egnatia" project. By 
accessing stories and memories from an unfamiliar past, 
the "Egnatia" project creates the possibility for a unifying 
culture. The idea of ethnic difference is a cornerstone in 
each country's respective history, despite the fact that 
the areas now separated by national borders were for 
centuries a cultural entity encompassing many peoples, 
languages, and religions. In Salonica, itself traversed by 
the Egnatia Way, Christians, Spanish Jews, and Muslims 
coexisted for five centuries in peace and compassion. Until 
the beginning of the last century, Salonica represented a 
real "Utopian" multicultural hub. It existed as a paradigm 
for the "Egnatia" project's goal for the future: an inclusive, 
transnational culture. 

Thus, the city became the subject matter for a project on 
the theme of "migration," in the context of the exhibition 
"M city/European Cityscapes "". organized in Graz 
(Austria) in October 2005. The installation presented by 
Osservatorio Nomade, entitled "The un-familiar city," was 
quite different from most of the projects on view at the 

show, which took place in the famous Kunsthaus of the 
Austrian city (designed by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier). 
Fully conscious of the hyper-domination of imagery as 
means of representation, the artists chose not to show any 
visual representation of the city of Thessaloniki. Instead, 
the installation consists of 21 double-faced slabs of Salento 
stone (called "chianca" in the local Southern Italian 
dialect), suspended from wires from the ceiling (Fig. 3). 
The first stone has the name "Thessaloniki" on one side 
(the ancient name of the city, which was reattributed 
to it in 1912 when it became part of the Greek state), 
and on the other side it bears the different versions of 
its name, as used by the various peoples that shared its 
space: Selanik, Salonika, Salonica, Salonique, Salonicco, 
Saloniki, Solun, Saruna. The rest of the stones make 
reference to twenty areas/ buildings/personages of the city 
with double identity. For example, the stone dedicated 
to the area of the Hirsch Ghetto (last stop in the city for 
48.000 Salonican Jews before their transfer to the Nazi 
camps) makes reference to the fact that nowadays the 
history of the area has been forgotten — the neighborhood 
is known as the city's Chinatown. Another stone is 
dedicated to the district of Galini: there, in the middle 
of a residential suburb, stands a Russian church that 
replicates a church in Novorosijsk, the Russian city-port 
and origin of many recent immigrants to Thessaloniki. In 
order to make the story behind each double-faced stone 
available to the viewer, the installation also consists of 
21 printed postcards with brief explanatory texts (Fig. 4). 
"Each stone is both a story and a device, indispensable to 
deeply understand the contemporary face of Thessaloniki 
where erasures, reinterpretations and "emergencies" 
coexist in an unprecedented way."' 

Undoubtedly, few cities have changed so dramatically in 
such a short period of time. After 1912 and its annexation 
to Greece, Salonica became Thessaloniki, and along with 
its new (old) name, came a systematic rewriting of its 
past — a common practice in all national states of the 
region. The Hellenization of the city, hastened by the 
Muslim exodus in 1923 and the Holocaust in 1943, was 
complete by the end of World War II. At the same time, 
Thessaloniki underwent an economic and cultural decline. 
The thriving cosmopolitan port became within a few 
decades a ghost of its old self, a provincial Greek town. 
Until very recently, the official history of the city treated 
its Ottoman period as a "sad parenthesis"; the Spanish 
Jewish presence, so dominant in the city for five centuries, 
was extremely understated.' Nonetheless, since the early 
1990s, mass migration from the Balkans and former 
Soviet countries has been changing the city, making it 
once again a metropolis of strangers.^ In a reversal of the 
dominant ideology in the historiography of the city, the 


Figure 3. View of the installation "The Un-faniUiar City" 
in Kunsthaus, Graz 

Figure 4. The cards that accompany the rotating stones 

"sad parenthesis" of introversion, which opened in 1912 
with the city's annexation by Greece, finally seems to be 


1. The exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey was decided in 
the treaty of Lausanne in 1923. following Greece's defeat during an expedition 
in Asia Minor. In a historically unprecedented move, the leaders of the 

two countries agreed upon a compulsory exchange of minority populations 
between the two countries. All Muslim inhabitants in Greek territory had to 
evacuate their homes and go to Turkey, and all Christian Orthodox residents 
of Turkey, to find refuge in Greece. An enormous number of people were 
affected: more than two million people on both sides of the Aegean had to 
migrate within a few months up to 800 miles away: in this terrible journey, 
more than 300,000 people died. This obligatory displacement of millions of 
people was the watershed event that dissolved societies of mixed identities 
and intercultural exchange. 

2. Egnatia News 1 (September-December 2004): 1; available from http://www.; Internet. 

3. Flaminia Gennari, "L'imprevedibilita di azione e pensiero", in Voyages 
Croisees. ed. Gabi Scardi (Milano: 5 Continents. 2005), 54-59. 

4. Egnatia News, ibid. 

5. Francesca Recchia and Lorenzo Romito. "Towards 'Thessaloniki: The Un- 
familiar City; A Work in Progress." in M city / European Cityscapes, eds. 
Marco de Michelis and Peter Pakesch (Graz: Kunsthaus. 2005), 109. 

6. Curated by Marco de Michelis (dean of the faculty of arts and design 
at Universita lUAV di Venezia). Katrin Boucher and Peter Pakesch, 
the exhibition presented works by artists who dealt with the current 
transformations in Europe's urban centers. The exhibition was organized in 
six thematic fields: "Earthscapes", "'Eurosprawl", "Shopping". "Migration", "No 
Vision?" and "Mapping". See further,; Internet. 

7. Excerpt from the text accompanying the installation "The Unfamiliar City" 
in M city exhibition. See also Osservatorio Nomade (Fyllio Katsavounidou. 
Mihalis Kyriazis, Laure'nt Malone, Francesca Recchia, Lorenzo Romito), 'The 
Un-familiar City", in ibid., 268-271, 

8. An astonishing 96 percent of the community was annihilated in the camps 
of Auschwitz and Birkenau. See further, Garyfallia Katsavounidou, "Invisible 
Parentheses; Mapping (out) the city and its histories" (SMArchS thesis, 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2000), 

9. Foreign immigrants, mainly from Albania and the former Soviet countries 
(most notably Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia), constitute an 
estimated 10 percent of the city's population of 1.000.000. A quintessential 
difference of this contemporary cohabitation from its historical precedent, 
however, is the fact that it takes place within the sociopolitical conditions of a 
national state and not in a multinational empire. 


Elliot Felix 

The Subway Libraries 

Subway library (view of interior of subway car, 
retrofitted with bock storage.) 

Do we need an avant-garde architect? Well, perhaps. We 
need avant-garde users. You need social networks. You 
need to design processes, not just the thing. So rather 
than barricading the space with forms that express 
"displacement" and "movement" and "openness" while 
in fact often disrupting the possibility of movement and 
change — they are substitutes, replacements for actual 
changes in society and in human minds and lives — the 
architect could create certain conditions or instruments, 
points, elements that can inspire people to make good use 
of them toward a change in their lives.' 

Cities are places of density, potential, and movement. 
In them, "[t]he crowd sets the pace. The individual must 
hurry with it or be pushed aside" ^ as pace surmounts 
place.' However, it is not that simple. We define ourselves 
both by acceding to and seceding from the crowd. And 
so in urban environments, though their character and 
extent may change, one thing is constant: the struggle 
between anonymity and community' as each of us seeks 
to find a personal balance of associations and interactions. 
Everyone in the city negotiates between self and other — 
each of us is in some way, a stranger. 

Cities are full of strangers.^ They are places of negotiated 

access where people may be both near and remote, 
nomadic and fixed, objective and distanced, involved and 
intimate.'' Whether regarding what we read, with whom 
we associate, or where we go, this access always has two 
dimensions: rights and abilities. The two are inextricably 
linked: they are simultaneously implied, immaterial, 
explicit, and physical. The barriers to our rights and 
abilities may be geographical, cultural, or financial, 
and when institutions grant access to many rather than 
consolidating it in a few, we call them democratizing. Such 
institutions then empower through distribution rather 
than repress through concentration. 

Subways democratize mobility. They embody access 
and opportunity.' Since anyone can affordably travel 
anywhere within the city, this access provides the 
potential for interaction, growth, and increased quality 
of life. It also fundamentally changes the way we view 
each other, our environment, and ourselves. On a subway 
map, each stop is a point, a point around which activity, 
people, and memory pivot. From underground, we actively 
construct the city in our minds, piecing together a mapped 
network from points or nodes whose connections we 
interpret and infer. We are passive observers when the 
conditions are clear — at a plaza's center or at water's 


edge — but in the subway we move the way we think and 
vice versa. 

Subways exist as exaggerated zones of cities, hyper- 
urban environments marked by artificiahty, movement, 
and disorientation. Within such places, boundaries of 
personal space collapse, an anxiety of standing still sets 
in, conversation diminishes, and seating patterns tend 
to minimize visual confrontation" — the facing of "the 
other." And so the subway is a space of strangers. It 
epitomizes the personal navigation between anonymity 
and community. As underground environments, subway 
spaces are also prophetic, foreshadowing what is to come 
above the ground. Just as Lewis Mumford used mines 
to examine cities and their future,' subway spaces 
offer glimpses of emerging environments, interactions, 
and sensibilities. And while ascendancy and light have 
long symbolized knowledge and understanding, the 
underground now serves as an equally powerful metaphor 
in which learning and inquiry are inseparably tied to 
going underground, to digging and uncovering." 

The public library democratizes knowledge just as 
the subway democratizes mobility. The former grants 
intellectual access: the latter grants physical access. Both 
entail similar cultures and customs: cards, turnstiles, 
and regulated public spaces. In fact, there is a pervasive 
culture of reading on the subway that bridges racial, 
geographic, class, and age divisions. Like airplanes, 
subway cars are our contemporary reading rooms. 
Further, reading has always been a form of travel itself, 
and the library its most championed vehicle. These 
alignments suggest that combining subway and library 
would be symbiotic, a coupling whose physical and 
cultural positioning beget a new kind of institution. 

As an institution, the "subway library," has the 
potential both to bring information to users and users 
to information. It can also extend the historical opening 
of the library, which is marked by innovations such as 
Antonio Panizzi's catalog for the British Library, which 
was designed in the 1830s for public use as well as 
for the librarian." Since then, libraries have become 
increasingly open and user-centered. Today, this opening 
calls for responding to and reinforcing cultural trends 
in the democratization of content production. Through 
such activities as blogging, podcasting, wikis, and open- 
source software development (to name a few), more and 
more people are creating their own content and products'^ 
as part of a participatory culture. The effects of these 
trends are startling, producing what can only be called 
revolutions in accepted ways of thinking and making. 

Libraries respond to physical contexts as well, and so 

Print on Demand (POD) 

A subway turnstile or a 
security/access device 

A library turnstile or a 
security/access device 

in order to envision how and where such an institution 
might function within the New York City subway, it is 
necessary to understand the character and history of that 
infrastructure. One of the oldest systems in existence, 
the New York City subway opened in 1904.'^ It has three 
defining characteristics: innovative local and express 
track routing, a combination of somewhat antiquated 
tunnels with relatively modern cars, and lastly, an 
idiosyncratic nature, the result of its construction by three 
different organizations, each with differing specifications, 
standards, and interests. Growing out of the urgent need 
to deal with congestion and population densities yet 
unequalled in any city," the subway began as the result 
of innovative public and private partnerships, namely the 
Interborough Rapid Transit Corporation (IRT), and the 
Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Company (BMT).''' Over 
time, other lines were added by these two entities, and 
later, what are known as the Independent (IND) lines 
were built by the city itself. This history, and the variety 
of geological, topographical, and political conditions in 
New York, resulted in a system that is an amalgamation 
of difference: repetitive, irregular, and indigenous all at 

Within the New York City subway, there are platform 
spaces that have been abandoned, left unused within 
currently operating stations despite millions of passers- 
by.'^ These vestigial spaces (which occur in twelve 
locations throughout New York City) are the result of 
changes in routing and car technology, population shifts, 
and rider behavior. Each location varies in character 
and accessibility. Some spaces are merely beyond a set 
of active tracks, open for all to see and accessible but for 
a chain or a gate, while others are sealed off like time 
capsules behind the ubiquitous white-tiled walls of the 

their island platform counterparts were deemed worthy of 
extension. Second, the center island platform of the IND 
Columbus Circle A/C Station was used until 1981 as a 
supplementary exit for express trains at rush hour when 
both sides of subway cars would open, but it has since 
been unoccupied, plainly visible and eerily identical to 
adjacent platforms but for lack of passengers and benches. 
Third, the eastern (Northbound) island platform of the 
BMT Canal Street J/M/Z Station was closed in 2004 with 
the cancellation of express service to North Brooklyn, 
rendering this platform unnecessary yet still illuminated 
and visible through openings in the platforms' demising 
wall." Taken together, these three stations are sites of 
potential to be realized in subway libraries. 

In responding to both physical and cultural contexts, the 
design of the subway library as an institution adopts an 
open, distributed paradigm which grants users increased 
agency and access. To open the library and do so within 
a subway environment that is mapped, connected, and 
constructed in the mind of each rider, the subway libraries 
are designed using a nodal understanding of program. 
That is to say, functions are distributed in a loose but 
precise manner akin to stones within a Zen Garden like 
Ryoan-Ji, so that readers are left to forge connections 
through use rather than according to an imposed 
sequence or hierarchy. These "nodes" include entrances 
and exits, physical book storage, digital book download 
and upload stations, auditoria for readings and lectures, 
projection rooms, writers' residency spaces, and garden 
spaces which bring planted form and natural light below 
grade. Common to all these activities is the idea that the 
library has value as a place; even if users can access the 
same information at home, there is value in coming to 
the library to be part of a learning environment and to 
interact with other patrons. 

These unused spaces are ripe with potential. They exist 
within, yet outside of the system, in much the same 
way that reading serves as an escape for subway riders, 
rendering them mentally elsewhere while still in a car 
or on a platform. Thus they are ideal sites for subway 
libraries, libraries that couple physical and intellectual 
access. Though these institutions might be sited at any 
such platform space, three sites in particular provide the 
opportunity not only to illustrate the system's differences 
in platform configuration and station typology, but also 
to recall its tripartite history by hearkening back to an 
earlier era when the New York subway fused physical 
and social mobility. First, the side platforms at the IRT 
Brooklyn Bridge 4/5/6 Station have lain fallow since 
around 1910 when they were sealed off when the trains 
(and therefore platforms) doubled in length, and only 

The program most central to this open paradigm is 
the library's print-on-demand (POD) collection. With 
significant advances in printing technology, and since the 
average book only sells about 2000 copies in its lifetime,'* 
more and more publishers are beginning to print their 
titles on-demand, eliminating storage and organizational 
costs in the process. The subway library uses this 
technology so that any book can be available and accessed 
by users as needed. Because the subway library reinforces 
the democratization of content production, the on-demand 
catalog also enables users to add titles to the catalog and 
have them printed in the same manner as any other. 
These titles, anything from an elder's memoir to a teen's 


Subway library entrances and gardens 



Neurons and nodes, which inspired the "nodal" organization of the project 











Sites: Abandoned pi . . ( ■ i ii iiig subway stations. Left. Brooklyn Bridge, local side plat form t. 

(abandoned circa IBHJj, Ccnti^r. Canal Street, east island platform (abandoned 2004); right. 
Columbus Circle. Center island platform (abandoned 1981) 




I I '•' I 

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Readership/ridership study: subway car seating chart showing which 
riders are reading and which media they are reading 







LOCATION -M»^L...>,™OREO *;;™w 

«N5«0« \ I / LOCATION 


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00 BDfiooaK* raaaaua Hx « c c ^ j > .. ■ (. j - 

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Readership/ridership study: color-coded subway car 

seating chart showing which riders are reading and 

which media they are reading 


/ \ 



Diagram of the open library as an institution 



l \ UJI... I llJJIlLI UIJ 


— I 

System design studies (these diagrams depict other systems that 
involved electronically mediated exchange of physical objects and 
information. These systems served as precedents for designing the 
library as a system, particularly its circulation) 



Subway cars as reading rooms (these depict the 4 cars that are 
served by the 3 stations in question. Their names — as designated by 
the NYC MTA— are, from top to bottom: R142, R62, R38, R68) 


A Japanese Zen garden called Ryoan-Ji near Kyoto. The 
"loose but precise" arrangement of the stones inspired the 
nodal project organization 

Node Study; A conceptual model, which studies "nodes" as a 
condition in an abstract sense 

fiction, would then be visually announced/registered at all 
the locations in the city, and made available for 
downloading and/or printing. 

Once in place, the library's circulation system tracks users 
rather than books: instead of loaning a book for a limited 
time, it is given to the reader indefinitely. A combination 
of limits and incentives are utilized in order to maintain a 
two-way flow of media. One such mechanism would be the 
requirement to bring back a certain number of books in 
order to print additional books, and these could be any 
POD books — those found on the subway, loans from a 
friend, or from a previous visit. Though this circulation 
system is a paradigm shift which claims new territory for 
the library, it does not replace the bookstore, since users 
can only print so often and each title can only be printed 
so many times." This technology and circulation system 
produce not only a new kind of library, but a new kind of 
book-" whose content is valued over its form, one less 
precious as an artifact and thus more appropriate to a 
subway environment. In the process, perhaps a new kind 
of reader is created as well. Just as Panizzi's catalog 
sought to create a more independent and knowledgeable 
reader,-' the subway library and its on-demand collection 
could create empowered users who author titles and 
interact with others through shared use, authorship, social 
bookmarking, and commentary. 

The space of the subway library acts as the diagram of the 
institution itself. The linear space of the platform is 
envisioned as the space between walls which function as 

reinvented "stacks." Rather than static containers 
designed solely to house books, these stacks pair a glass 
wall toward the subway with a wood wall facing the 
library to house each of the library's numerous programs 
in between. Sometimes pairs are only wide enough for 
books and acoustic absorption, while at other times they 
bulge to accommodate an entire room or a sky-lit planter. 
Along their length, the variable thickness and character of 
these stack walls is established by responding to nodes of 
program which are inserted according to a spatial catalog 
that loosely organizes access and activity. As these stack 
walls systematically change opacity, configuration, angle, 
and size, they create not only channels for movement but 
also places for pausing, gathering, and interaction. 

The tectonics of the wall system consists of vertical wood 
members that respond to the 5' module of the subway and 
serve as mullions behind the glass facing the trains. A 
second set of verticals is in-filled with horizontal wood 
slats facing the library. The angle and position of these 
slats vary according to whether the wall needs to be a 
visual screen, an enclosure for a sunken garden, or an 
opaque wall creating an interstitial room. Throughout, 
wood — the most "unsubway" of materials — is used for 
physical and psychological warmth, for acoustic 
absorption, and to further the notion of reading as escape. 

Subway stations are designed as prototypes according to 
various specifications derived from cars, clearances, 
turning radii, and human scale. Such designs are then 


Library Stacks. Image of traditional library stacks, 
stacks whose reinvention functions as the basis for the 
subway library demising walls which are in-filled with 
nodes of program 

installed in the various locations along each line and 
adapted to them — pushed and pulled, skewed and curved, 
sunken or elevated according to the idiosyncrasies of the 
site and other requirements. Accordingly, the subway 
library is designed as a prototype to be instantiated within 
the city, producing variations on a theme. Each library 
has whatever collection its readers determine, rather than 
stipulating that Columbus Circle be the "history library" 
and Brooklyn Bridge be the "science library" (leaving the 
history of science to be found who knows where). -- As a 
series of related, sited prototypes, the subway libraries 
function as seed projects that critique whole systems 
at specific points to offer clues about how to effect the 
physical and intellectual renovation of both subway and 

The subway libraries use the latent potential of vestigial 
spaces in the New York subway in order to capitalize on 
the resonance created through the coupling of physical and 
intellectual access. Because access itself is not enough, 
these spaces are also positioned to promote interaction 
by reinforcing trends toward the democratization of 
production, whether it involves novels, ringtones,-' or 
software. And so. just as the true innovation of eBay was 
to get strangers to trust each other online,-"" the social 

innovation of the subway libraries is to help instigate a 
democratized and participatory culture that is enabled 
through access — access to technology, to information, and. 
most importantly, to others. Instead of a "What iPod are 
you?" ^^ scenario, people can then be defined more by what 
they are thinking and making rather than what they are 
consuming. A culture with an expanded pool of creators 
and a loose framework for their interaction helps to build 
our cities of difference, at once anonymous and communal. 

* This content was originally presented as my Master's of Architecture 
Thesis {MIT Feb. 2006) with advisor Meejin Yoon and readers Mark 
Jarzombek, John Ochsendorf. 


1. Krzysztof Wodiczko. "Disruptive Agency: A Conversation with Krzysztof 
Wodiczko" interview by Ginger Nolan. Thresholds 29: Inversions (Winter 2005): 83. 
Parentheses removed, emphasis unchanged, 

2. Howard Woolston. "The Urban Habit of Mind," American Journal of Sociology. 17 
(March 1912): 602. 

3. Julie Meyer. "The Stranger and the City." American Journal of Sociology 56 
(March 1951); 476-483. 

4. Georg Simmel, 'The Metropolis and Urban Life," in Classic Essays on the Culture 
of Cities, ed. Richard Sennett (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. 1969). 47, 

5, Jane Jacobs writes: "Great cities are not like towns only larger. They are not like 
suburbs only denser. They differ from towns and suburbs in basic ways, and one 

of these ways is that cities are, by definition, full of strangers. To any one person, 
strangers are by far more common in big cities than acquaintances. More common 
not just in places of public assembly, but more common at man's own doorstep. Even 
residents who live near each other are strangers, and must be, because of the sheer 
number of people in small geographical compass." Jane Jacobs. 77ie Death and Life of 
Great American Cities (New York: Vintage Books. 1961), 30. 

6, Georg Simmel, "The Stranger" in The Sociology of Georg Simmel. trans. Kurt 
Wolff (New York: Free Press, 1950). 402-405. 

7, This observation grew out of discussions within a design studio on the Boston 
Subway at Harvard Graduate School of Design. The conclusion is thus a collective 
one of the studio rather than my own. 

8. These aspects come from extensive personal observations done prior to this 
project, during which I also developed a series of reading and seating charts to survey 
subway readership. The seating aspect has also been studied by Oliver Lutz in bis 
"Agonistic Subway" project; available from http://web,mit,edu/olutz/www/subway. 
htm, Internet In this survey people are reported to be more prone to sit across from 
each other when two seats were color-coded in a certain way. thus confirming some of 
my anecdotal observations. 

9, Rosalind Williams. Notes on the Underground: an Essay on Technology, Society, 
and the Imagination (Cambridge. MA: MIT Press, 2002). 4-17. 

10, Ibid, 

1 1- Matthew Bartles, Library: An Unquiet History (New York: Norton. 2003). 130. 

12. This phenomenon is also visible in the research on Democratizing Innovation 
by Eric von Hippel as well as in the online mass-customization of products ranging 
from sneakers (Nike) to bouses (KB Homes). For the former, see Eric von Hippel 
Democratizing Innovation (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005). 

13. The New York subway was opened four years after the Paris metro, seven years 
after that of Boston, and forty-one years after the London metro. See further, Brian 
J- Cudaby. Under the Sidewalks of New York: The Story of the Greatest Subway 
System in the World (New York: Fordam University Press, 1995). 11; Paris RAT? 
(regie autonome des transports parisiens). "Histoire:" available from bttp;//metro.ratp. 
fr/; Internet. 


A diagram, which shows basic nodal organization 
of "reinvented stacks" along linear 
space of platform 


Subway library spatial catalog. The image shows 
programmatic organization of the library 

Library access and circulation diagram. 
(This image shows the different ways in 
which the prototypical subway library 
becomes accessible and how it relates to 
the adjacent, active platform 



Diagram of stack tectonics, which shows the 

different conditions of the reinvented stack walls 

that are variable according to program or use 

Upload Station. Left to right; auditorium for readings and lectures; projection 
room; interior of elevated writers' residency space in subway library; printing 
station and sunken garden 


Left to right: Media wall (viewed from adjacent, active platform); interior 
of media wall at entry; media wall (at mezzanine level of Columbus Circle) 

Aerial View of Columbus Circle 

Columbus Circle: Plan at Platform Level 

Columbus Circle: Plan at Grade 

14. The crowding was the result of intense immigration to the city. 1.3 million 
immigrants flowed through Ellis Island in 1907, This would render New York's 
Lower East Side the most densely-settled area on record anywhere, with an 
estimated 9000 people per acre. See further, Lorraine Diehl. Subways: The Tracks 
that Built New York (New York: Clarkson Potter, 2004), 61; Brian J. Cudahy. Under 
the Sidewalks of New York: The Story of the Greatest Subway System in the World. 
(New York: Fordam UP. 1995), 3. 

15. Originally the BRT or Brooklyn Rapid Transit Corporation. Brooklyn having 
begun service to rival that of Manhattan's almost immediately — and quite fittingly, 
since Brooklyn at that time was the nation's second most populous city. 

16 NYC Transit reports ridership on an average weekday of 4.5million New York 
City Transit. "Subway Facts."available from http://www,mta.mfo/nyct/facts/ffsubway. 
htm; Internet, 

17. Joseph Brennan "Abandoned Stations" [article online]; available from http://; Internet. These abandoned stations include 
Brooklyn Bridge. Canal Street, and Columbus Circle. 

18. Morris Rosenthal. "Print-on-demand Book Publishing: Self- Publishing and 
Printing Book" [article online] (2006); available from 
paper html; Internet. 

19. This system would be implemented once the libraries were open for a short 
period of time In this way. enough books had been printed and thus in circulation. 
Though the limits and incentives alone could control the public-domain titles and 
could simply be adjusted in response to an observed net inward or outward flow of 
books, copyrighted titles would be licensed much the way e-books are now. A certain 
number could be printed within a given period of time— just as now a library might 
only have copies of a title available as a .pdf file (with DRM software), a POD title 
might be limited to a certain number of prints per month. 

20. This also raises the possibility that users could assemble their own "readers" 
of a sort. Readers may prmt out the first chapter of five books they want to read 
simultaneously and then return two months later for the second chapters, and so on. 

21. Matthew Parties. Library: An Unquiet History (New York: Norton. 2003), 132. 

22. For an extended discussion of how classifications can just as easily obscure as 
clarify, see Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Starr. Sorting things Out: Classification and 
Its Consequences (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000). 

23. An interesting example of this is the recent Ringtone Competition at MIT: 
students were invited to use free software called HyperScore (developed at the MIT 
Media Lab), to compose their own tones rather than have them dictated by the 
phone's manufacturer. 

24- Michelle Conlin, "The eBay Way." Businessweek 29 (November 2004). This 
article is also available online: Idem, "Special Report: Philanthropy" [online article]: 
available from 
html; Internet. 

25, Text from an Ipod advertisement in Apple Store Another instance of the "you are 
what you buy" phenomenon was noted by Darrel Rhea of Cheskin in a Businessweek 
Podcast in which Rhea notes that Starbucks successfully offered "not only coffee 
but community — the chance to see and be seen." and that within such environments 
people are able to choose products that "say who you really are." See further, "Making 
Meaning" [online article] (January 9 2006); available from http://www.bu8ines8week. 
com/innovate/index.html;; Internet. 


Banksy"s graffiti art on Israel's West Bank wall 

Nigel Parry 

British Graffiti Artist, Banksy, Hacks tlie Wail 

In the Summer of 2005, celebrated British graffiti artist, 
Banksy, traveled to put his mark on Israel's wall in the 
West Bank, described on his website as "the ultimate 
activity holiday destination for graffiti writers." 

"How illegal is it to vandalize a wall," asked Banksy in the 
website introduction to his summer 2005 project, "if the 
wall itself has been deemed unlawful by the International 
Court of Justice? The Israeli government is building a 
wall. ..[which] stands three times the height of the Berlin 
wall and will eventually run for over 700km — the distance 
from London to Zurich." ' 

In Banksy's work, location is a major component of the 
resulting metaphor. Whether he's hanging a fake rock 
pictogram of early man pushing a shopping cart in the 
British Museum, or installing an amalgam of the Statue 
of Liberty and Statue of Justice clad as a prostitute at 
the site of his last arrest in London, the environment and 
location are usually key parts of the message. 

The Holocaust Lipstick motif in Banksy's art, inspired by 
the diaries of Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin, 
DSO, has also appeared on the streets of the UK and aptly 
distills the deliberate incongruity of his large body of 
public work. Gonin's diary entry about the liberation of 
the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 unwraps 

the concept: 

/( was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though 
it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of 
lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, 
we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other 
things and I don 't know who asked for lipstick. I wish so 
much that I could discover who did it: it was the action of 
genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing 
did more for these internees than the lipstick.... At last 
someone had done something to make them individuals 
again, they were someone, no longer merely the number 
tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in 
their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back 
their humanity. - 

Gonin's diary entry captures an absurdity in which a 
seemingly gratuitous commodity nonetheless "gives 
back humanity." In his work, Bansky uses similar 
juxtapositions to highlight the relentless, and therefore 
chaotic and distracting, pace of modern society. 

Familiar images — the Queen, smiling children, 
policemen — are given a dark twist, designed to wake 
observers up from the nine-to-five rat race. The rat 
race is a common Banksy theme, typically delivered by 
talking rats — a rat race that literally streams, mirror-like, 


through Banksy's borderless gallery of streets to challenge 
us to reassess the structures and symbols that form the 
backdrops to our lives. 

Much of the art Banksy produced on Israel's West Bank 
barrier visually subverts and draws attention to its nature 
as a barrier — preventing Palestinians from access to Israel 
and, increasingly each other, as it snakes deep into the 
West Bank and blocks movement to neighboring towns 
and agricultural land — by incorporating images of escape: 
a girl being carried away by a bunch of balloons, a little 
boy painting a rope ladder. 

Other pieces invoke a virtual reality that underlines 
the negation of humanity that the barrier represents — 
children in areas cut off from any access to the sea playing 
with sand buckets and shovels on piles of rubble that look 
like sand, below a painted break in the wall that reveals a 
tropical beach landscape. 

Banksy's website offers two snippets of conversations with 
an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian who happened upon 
him while he was in the process of creating the series of 
nine pieces on the wall, in Bethlehem, Abu Dis, and 

Soldier: What the fuck are you doing? 

Me: You'll have to wait till it's finished 

Soldier (to colleagues): Safety's off 

Banksy reclaims public spaces as places for public 
imagination and enlightenment, breaking through 
propagandistic barriers to thought and awareness, as is 
reflected in the very terminology for Israel's West Bank 
barrier, officially described as a "separation fence" or 
"security fence." His summer project on Israel's wall 
stands out as one of the most pertinent and visible artistic 
and political commentaries in recent memory. 

Perhaps the clearest answer to people of this world who 
wish to whitewash all that is ugly rather than challenge 
its basic nature, comes from another conversation Banksy 
reported having with an old Palestinian man: 

Old man: You paint the wall, you make it look beautiful. 

Me: Thanks 

Old man: We don't want it to be beautiful, we hate this 
wall, go home. 


1. http;//www. banksy. html; Internet; accessed 
23 May 2006, 

2. http://www banksy html; Internet; accessed 23 May 2006. 

Thi- Hiilociu.-st Lipstick Motif 

Banksy's graffiti art on Israel's West Bank wall 



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Tijana Vujosevic 

Para-thesis Symposium: Columbia 
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning 
and Preservation, February 4th, 2006 

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february 4th, 2006 

Is contemporary architecture a parasitic digital enterprise, 
no longer with a body of knowledge to claim its own? 
Will the coming wave of imaging and communication 
technologies wash off subjective bias and the antiquated 
myths of genius and originality that taint architectural 
expertise? Can we deliver architectural pedagogy from the 
realm of thesis-oriented curricula and singular authorship, 
so that architects, entwined in rhizomatic networks, 
inhabit the luminous pastures of collective existence 
promised by the advent of the digital age? 

Yes, yes, yes, say the organizers of the Para-thesis 
Symposium, who, on February 4th this year, assembled 
a think-tank of leading pedagogues from both shores of 
the Atlantic to brainstorm publicly about architecture's 

Faithful to the original ecclesiastic meaning of 
"parathesis," the colloquium was performed as a 
prayer over a dying body — that of old architecture, now 
commended for an afterlife in the realm of collective 
digital mirth. The lure of "collective research," and the 
promise of "open source network systems" to transcend 
traditional academia, was elaborated in two sessions. 
The first delineated the tortuous trajectories of the old 
pedagogical era and the second examined the triumphant 
afterlife of architecture endowed by para-scientific 
objectivity and aided by digital prostheses. 

The problem was. the thesis did not really pass away. The 

lofty goals set for the congregation in Wood Auditorium 
proved difficult to attain. The most radical emissaries 
of architecture's past and its future, Mark Jarzombek of 
MIT and Jeffrey Inabe of T-Lab, refused to merge their 
realms, thus thoroughly compromising the agenda of the 

Professor Jarzombek, the terrestrial mastermind of "dn-ty 
non-applicable knowledge," called for widening the gap 
between the architectural school and the office on one 
hand, while voicing a protest against the intrusion of 
accreditation boards on the other. The school's relative 
autonomy serves its institutional agenda, which is to 
reflect and articulate the polyphonic body politic, now 
poorly represented in the profession, with only 0.4 percent 
African-American women in architecture, for example. 
Jarzombek was not convinced that the disciplinary 
identity crisis could be solved by liberating architecture 
from its institutions of political power and social 
continuity. He was not convinced that replacing the school 
with collectivized apprenticeship in digital labs solves 
problems of access and architecture's civic role. 

Inabe, the celestial genie of architectural hyper- 
extensions, diagrammatic propaganda, and megalomaniac 
projection, also remained skeptical. In fear that 
institutional rigor would compromise his lesser, but freer 
domain of projective investigation, he insisted that the 
minor genre of paranoid criticality thrives in the extra- 
academic arena of urban speculation. Introducing his 


"Moses Project," a campaign for altering the course of 
Charles River in order to gain more land for Harvard, 
he insisted that outlandish speculation is part of 
architecture's political discourse and should be indulged 
as such. 

The first session of the symposium was, apart from 
Jarzombek's address, marked by ambivalence towards the 
possible merger of business and academia, and the fusion 
of individual practitioners into incorporated multitudes. 
Mark Wigley, who closed the session, engaged the 
essential irrationality of architecture as the element that 
might impede progress towards digital collectivization. 
Reminding the assembly of the enormous conspicuous 
expenditure of money, wisdom, and energy that the 
discipline entails, he claimed that the aesthetic core of 
architecture has always thwarted architecture's status as 
a rational professional enterprise. 

According to Brendan Moran, the fast-speaking historian 
of collective research in academia, this core has also 
prevented the complete integration of architecture into 
the American research university. Instead, architecture 
engaged in parasitic exploitation of neighboring 
disciplines, most prominently sociology and spatial 
planning, and was sentenced to this role because of its 
irrelevance for policymaking and its semi-artistic status. 

The keynote speaker, Denise Scott Brown, was among the 
pedagogues who most ardently exploited architecture's 
neighboring research disciplines. Nevertheless, she still 
defined architecture as an elusive visual expertise. The 
process of studio education, according to Scott Brown, 
produces architects, and also sociable and responsible 
citizens, but it is questionable whether this can be done 
by applying collective pedagogy only. Using numerous 
diagrams of group and pedagogical dynamics, she depicted 
how she alternated individual and collective instruction 
in order to produce a generation of environmentally aware 
architects, in the famous 1968 Learning From Las Vegas 

Using the metaphor of a banquet to describe the 
profession and its codices, Sarah Whiting was also 
ambivalent about the collectivization, and described the 
profession as a coexistence of not one, but many discursive 
collectivities, which present the individual with complex 
choices of affiliation, individual contribution, collective 

Yet, the dining architect in Whiting's metaphor is a 
member of a consuming pack. At the end of the day. 

however, collective consumption entails the production 
of new knowledge, and, according to Scott Brown's 
projection, of self-conscious citizens. The second session 
of the conference was dedicated to main trajectories in 
current production. 

The most ambitious of the speakers proposing or 
promoting a current trajectory was Keller Easterling, 
who delivered a speech entitled "President of the United 
States." According to Keller, the citizens produced in 
architecture schools would not shy from openly claiming 
both disciplinary autonomy and political power. They 
would dare to take on complex political and cultural 
problems as part of the large field of environmental 
fabrication. They would be capable of making or becoming 
the President. 

But what kinds of civic congregations, if judged by the 
results flaunted in the second session of the conference, 
does "current research" entail and produce? In reality, 
the "open source network systems" approach divided the 
discipline into competing camps, which, if judged by the 
reactions in the audience, frequently failed to delineate 
a more glamorous collective future for architecture's 

Roemer van Toorn of the Berlage Institute was the only 
teacher of the future to adopt a political agenda for his 
architecture. Defining architecture's role as entirely 
polemical, and his Ph.D. program as an enterprise of 
"writing in opposition to others," Toorn further militarized 
his agenda by designing studios such as that in which 
the students parachute into Tirana and help the Mayor 
"put a rein on wild capitalism." In Toorn's program 
for radically interventionist architecture, the field of 
collective intervention is located not into celestial spheres, 
but rather in the poorer countries, and the author 
displayed the only context in which an agonistic vision 
of architecture can be executed — that of global imperial 

Whereas Berlage's emergency squads were envisioned 
as inspired self-organized groups of travellers, Bret 
Steele from the Architectural Association (AA) proposed 
to engineer collective formations of students out of 
"those strange creatures" that enter the school. Proud of 
"outlawing" the scholarly thesis at the newly collectivized 
AA in London, Steele pointed out that his institution 
replaced "the world of singularity and identity" with a 
model based on corporate mergers. New architectural 
corporations are collectivities inspired by Microsoft, 
"pure structures" without products, and Steele a 


pedagogue inspired by Bill Gates. But how does he judge 
responsibility and quality? He proposes grading according 
to the worst student in a group. This scenario, according 
to him, regulates collective self-management, and, one 
might add, replaces subjective authorship with an entirely 
punitive model of authority, which curiously resembles 
legal regulation of architectural production in the West. 

Building on the corporate model, Sylvia Lavin of UCLS 
pointed, after Rosalind Krauss, that the notion of 
originality is a modernist myth, and the inverse of mass 
reproduction. Lavin proposed eliminating the written 
thesis in a "closed group of a few experimental schools," 
eliminating tenure for easier management, enabling 
"intellectual," rather than "socioeconomic" mechanisms 
of affirmative action. The new boutique practice would 
reinvent originality as "novelty," fickle, decorative, 
entertaining, and exemplified by a "pet rock" in a box. 
Ultimately, collective research would be subsumed in the 
elitist and amusing post-critical enterprise of dressing the 
stale in the fresh. 

If the Para-thesis Symposium did not manage to produce 
new clothes, and has left the emperor as naked as ever, 
it is no shame. "The poorest discipline," as Scott Brown 
dubbed the regal art, is still in this world. It can demand 
autonomy from the research university, as Easterling 
suggested, autonomy from Arnold Schwarzenegger, as 
Lavin wanted, autonomy from the professional world, 
as desired by Jarzombek, or absolute autonomy, as 
dreamed by Inabe. The challenge is to think of previously 
unimaginable potentials for creative and heterogeneous 
subjectivities, and to exploit the fact that architecture 
cannot seek autonomy from the politics of building, or 
from critical consciousness of its complex history. 


A Message from Dean 
Adele Naude Santos 

In Memory of the Associate Head of MIT's Rotch Library: 
Merrill Smith (1942-2006) 

Merrill Wadsworth Smith first joined MIT in 1978 as the Head of 
the Rotch Visual Collections. From 1983 to 1985 she was also the 
Videodisc Project Director for the Aga Khan Program for Islamic 
Architecture — one of the very earliest efforts to use digital technology 
for image management and delivery. In 1988 Merrill was promoted to 
the position of Associate Head of Rotch Library. Merrill was also active 
professionally beyond MIT, most notably in the Art Libraries Society of 
North America. 

Besides the loss to the School of Architecture at MIT, Merrill's absence 
will be felt across the Institute. She could make things happen and, in 
that capacity, her dedication and professionalism greatly supported 
the work and studies of our community. Members of MIT's School of 
Architecture will always remember her optimism, strength of character, 
and sense of humor. 



William C. Brumfield is a Professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University, where he also 
lectures at the School of Architecture. He has received Fellowships and grants from: the John Simon 
Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). the National 
Humanities Center, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies (at the Woodrow Wilson 
Center), the American Council of Teachers of Russian, the National Council for Eurasian and East 
European Research, the International Research and Exchanges Board, the Kress Foundation, the 
Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. He is the recipient of the 
1997 Faculty Research Award from the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Tulane University. 
In April 2002 Brumfield was elected to the State Russian Academy of Architecture. Recently NEH 
awarded him a major grant, via the University of Washington, for the electronic archiving of the 
Brumfield photographic collection. Professor Brumfield was a fellow at the National Humanities 
Center in 1992-93 and a Guggenheim Fellow in 2000-01. He is the author and photographer of nu- 
merous books on Russian architecture including: The Origins of Modernism m Russian Architecture, 
Lost Russia: Photographing the Ruins of Russian Architecture: and A History of Russian Architecture, 
which the New Yorh times Booh Review included in its "notable books of the year 1993." Brumfield's 
photographs of Russian architecture, which have been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums 
around the world, are part of the collection of the Photographic Archives at the National Gallery of 
Art. Washington, D.C. A collection is also held in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library 
of Congress and displayed at the following LC site: 
mfdcphot.html. Recently he was elected to the Russian Academy of Arts and will be inducted into the 
academy as an honorary (non-Russian) member. 

Naomi Davidson is a graduate student in the Department of History at the University of 
Chicago. Her dissertation, which she is currently completing, is entitled "f/n espdr en devenir: The 
Mosquee de Paris and the Creation of French Islams." Her research has been made possible by the 
generous support of the Georges Lurcy Charitable Trust, the German Marshall Fund, and the Social 
Science Research Council. 

Elliot Felix is a recent graduate of the MIT's M. Arch program where he pursued interdisciplin- 
ary design through architecture, industrial design, structural research, and conceptual art projects. 
His thesis, entitled "The Subway Libraries," served as the basis for the preceding article. Prior to 
MIT. he worked extensively at Rafael Vifioly Architects and completed his undergraduate studies at 
the University of Virginia. 

Ole W. Fischer studied architecture at the Bauhaus University Weimar and ETH Zurich and 
graduated in 2001. In 2002 he founded an office for architecture and urban design in Zurich. In the 
same year he started teaching theory of architecture at the Institute of Theory and History of Archi- 
tecture (gta) of the ETH Zurich. In his dissertation thesis he is tracing the intentional transcription 
of philosophic thought into architecture and design in the work of Henry van de Velde dedicated to 
Friedrich Nietzsche. In 2005 he was chosen as fellow researcher at the GSD Harvard. He is founder 
and curator of the discussion platform MittelBau in Zurich, and he has published on the current is- 
sues of architecture in Archplus. Werk. Bauen und Wohnen. Trans and JSAH. Upcoming publications 
include an essay on immersive spaces in Projective Landscape. 010 Publishers Rotterdam, and an edi- 
torial introduction on disciplinarity in Precisions: architecture between arts and sciences, Birkhaeuser 
Publishers. Basel. 


Jennifer Ferng is a third year Ph.D. student in the History. Theory and Criticism of Archi- 
tecture and Art program at MIT. She received a B. Arch from Rice University and a M.Arch, from 
Princeton University and has taught architectural history and design in New York. 

F'^ank Forrest is a freelance writer and teacher who has taught at Boston University and lived 
and wrrked in Central Europe and the Central Pacific. 

Talinn Grigor received her Ph.D. from MIT in 2005 and will become an Assistant Professor of 
non-western architecture at the Art History Department of Florida State University, starting in fall 
2006. Entitled "Cultivat(ing) Modernities: the Society for National Heritage. Political Propaganda, 
and Public Architecture in Twentieth-Century Iran." her dissertation is in the process of revision for 
publication. Her works on modern Iranian architecture have appeared in Third Text, Future Anterior, 
Thresholds, ARRIS, and the Journal of Iranian Studies. Her forthcoming article in the Art Bulletin 
deals with her next project on the turn-of-the-century European art-historiography and its connec- 
tions to the late 19th- and early 20th-century eclecticism of Qajar architecture, 

Mark JarZOmbek is the director of the program in History. Theory, and Criticism of Archi- 
tecture and Art at MIT's Department of Architecture. He has worked on a range of historical topics 
from the Renaissance to the modern period and his textbook entitled Global History of Architecture. 
co-authored with Vikram Prakash and Frances Ching, will be published soon. 

Mitchell Joachim is a Ph. D. candidate at the Department of Architecture's Computation 
Group at MIT. His dissertation is entitled: "Ecotransology: Integrated Designs for Urban Mobility." 
Prior to MIT, he completed two master's degrees from Harvard University (MAUD) and Columbia 
University (M.Arch). Currently he is a researcher at the Media Lab Smart Cities Group, collaborat- 
ing with his advisor William J. Mitchell on the General Motors/ Frank 0. Gehry Concept Car. In par- 
allel with Gehry Partners in Los Angles, he actively worked as an architect on the Brooklyn Atlantic 
Yards Project. During his time in Cambridge, he has been a Moshe Safdie and Associates research 
fellow, award winner and a Martin Family Society Fellow for Sustainability. He has also worked 
as an architect at Pei. Cobb, Freed and Partners, and the Michael Sorkin Studio in New York City. 
Mitchell has served as visiting faculty in sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 
His work is published in "How Harvard would remake Atlanta," (Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2001), 
Michael Sorkin Studio: Wiggle (Monacelli Press, 1998), and "The Guru of Impossible Engineering Cre- 
ates a Car," (Popular Science. 2004). His winning design of living structures — Fab Tree Hab — with 
Habitat for Humanity and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art has been honored with a 
nomination for the INDEX Award and exhibited internationally. 

Douglas Joachim is a Personal Trainer, and Lecturer. He is certified with the National Acad- 
emy of Sports Medicine: CPT; PES; IFS, American Council of Exercise: CPT. and American Academy 
of Health Fitness Professionals: MES. He earned a B.S. with an emphasis in Exercise Science & 
Creative Studies. Doug has ten years of experience as a PT in functional anatomy, injury prevention, 
core training, and motivation. 

Garyfallia KatsavOUnidou is an architect, practicing in Thessaloniki. Greece. She 
received her SMArchS degree in Architecture and Urbanism from MIT in 2000. Her book Invisible 
Parentheses: 27 cities in Thessaloniki, based on her MIT thesis, was published in Greek in 2004, with 
a grant from the Onassis Foundation. Since 2005, she has been collaborating with the Rome-based 
group Osservatorio Nomade. 

Michael W. Meister holds the W. Norman Brown Professorship of South Asian Studies at the 
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in the History of Art Department. His publications include: 
Making Things in South Asia: The Role of Artist and Craftsman. Encyclopedia of Indian Temple Ar- 
chitecture, Discourses on Shiua. Coomaraswamy: Essays in Early Indian Architecture, and Ethnogra- 
phy and Personhood: Notes From the Field. 

Sarah Menin has taught architecture at the University of Newcastle for many years. Her doctor- 
al research examined parallels between the work of Alvar Aalto and Jean Sibelius, and her research 
since has examined the interrelationship between architecture and the mind. Dr. Menin is an author- 
'ty of the life and work of Aalto, and her books include: Nature and Space: Aalto and Le Corbusier (co- 
written with Flora Samuel); Constructing Place: Mind and Matter: and An Architecture of Invitation: 
Colin St John Wilson (co-written with Stephen Kite). She continues to practice architectural design. 


Null Lab was launched by Arshia and his partners Reza Bagherzadeh and Afshin Rais Rohani (no 
longer part of the firm) in 2002. Null Lab is an architectural design, research, and implementation 
firm, currently involved in designs ranging from residential and commercial, multi-unit loft develop- 
ment, "smart home" design and integration, to production design for film and theater. Their projects 
include: the 1 5th Street Lofts, 99 artist-in-residence units; the Mateo Lofts, an adaptive reuse project; 
the Santa Fe Lofts, 36 artist-in-residence units, also adaptive reuse, that are under construction; the 
"Voxel" A new (soon to be landmark) on the sunset strip in West Hollywood, which was initiated to 
coincide with the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of the city, and several residential projects in 
Los Angeles. In late 2004, Null Lab Won AIA's Interiors Award Honor (highest category) for the Bobco 
Metals Headquarters design in Los Angeles. 

Neri Oxman is a Design-Technology Research Consultant for KPF Kohn Pedersen Fox Associ- 
ates (NY & London) and is currently working towards her Ph.D. in Design and Computation at MIT. 
Neri studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (with distinction), the 
Technion Israel Institute of Technology (with honors), and the Hebrew University Medical School. She 
has practiced Architecture with Ram Karmi. OCEAN NORTH and Kohn Pederson Fox. Recent exhibi- 
tions of OCEAN NORTH, in which Neri was a participant, include the Venice Architectural Biennale 
(2002, 2004) and the Beijing Biennale (2004). Neri has taught design and computation workshops at 
the Emergent Technologies and Design Master's Program at the AA, the IT-Master's Program at the 
Oslo School of Architecture, as well as at Rice and Columbia Universities. She has collaborated with 
Bentley Systems and the Smart Geometry Group and has given numerous workshops on Generative 
Components and other parametric software packages at various institutions including TU Delft. TU 
Vienna. Cambridge U.K. MIT and Columbia University. Her work has been published in journals, 
magazines and books including AD, Icon. AA Files, Building Design (BD Magazine), Demonstrating 
Digital Architecture (Birkhauser Publishers) and Archiprix International 2005 (010 Publishers). In 
2005. she was the recipient of the FEIDAD Design Merit Award, Archiprix Award, and the America- 
Israel Cultural Foundation Award of Excellence. 

Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison's collaboration has evolved organically over the 
past fifteen years. In 2000 the ParkeHarrisons began to publicly acknowledge Shana's involvement in 
the creation of the art. Their exhibition. The Architect's Brother, began at the George Eastman House 
in 2002. It has continued to travel to venues throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Their 
work is in collections throughout the U.S. including The Whitney Museum of American Art. The Los 
Angeles County Museum. The Hallmark Collection at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, The San 
Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 
and The Decordova Museum. 

Nigel Parry lived and worked in the West Bank and at Birzeit University from 1994-1998. Today 
he lives in New York City, offering public relations services, and web and print design through his 

Mark Rawlinson teaches Art History at the University of Nottingham, UK. He has previously 
published work on Charles Sheeler and is soon to publish a monograph entitled, Charles Sheeler, 
Early American Modernism and the Paradox of Precisianism, with IB Tauris. His next research project 
will explore the constructions of place/non-place in the work of 20th American photographers' such as 
Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld and William Eggleston. 

Sara Stevens is a first year Ph.D. student in Architecture at Princeton. She is a graduate of 
the Masters of Environmental Design Program at the Yale School of Architecture, and holds a B. Arch 
from Rice University. Her work focuses on the contemporary built environment, particularly expan- 
sive urban growth and the business and economic history of large companies that shape development. 
Her Masters' thesis, "Systems of Retail: The Bigger Box," includes a set of box-like building formats 
that she investigates for their historical context and impending effect on urban form — retail pharma- 
cies, the self-storage industry, home improvement stores, and megaplex movie theaters. 

Nicole Vlado has an M. Arch from MIT. She lives and works in New York City where she contin- 
ues to explore the theme of surface habitation through art and architecture. 

Tijana Vujosevic is a second year Ph.D. student in the History, Theory and Criticism of 
Architecture and Art Program at MIT. She received her M.Arch From Yale University and studied 
architecture at Belgrade University. 


William C. Brumfield 

Figure 1: Photograph by author. 1975. D Brumfiuld Collection (M59-32). 
Naomi Davidson 

Photographs reprinted from Institut Musulman de Paris, a brochure distributed 
by the Institut. C' Institut Musulman et la Mosquee de Paris. 

Elliot Felix 

Photograph of Ryoan-Ji by Sam Gerstein. © 

Photograph of Library Turnstile University of Liverpool. 


Photograph of print on demand by Digital Graphix. Cihttp://www.dgxpod com/ 
equipment/index. html 

Aerial view of Columbus Circle by David Pirmann, N\'Cs 

All other images by author. 

Jennifer Ferng 

Figure 1 & 3 & 4: Reprinted from World Game Report- Summary of a Project 
led by R- Buckminster Fuller. Edwin Schlossberg. and Daniel Gildesgame, 
edited by Mary Deren and Medard Gabel Photographs by Daniel Gildesgame 
and Herbert Matter. C' New York: The New York Studio School of Painting and 
Sculpture in association with Good News, 1969. Courtesy of Edwin Schlossberg 
and the Frances Loeb Library, Harvard University Graduate School of Design. 

Figure 2: Reprinted from Ho-ping: Food for Everyone. <Ci New York Anchor 
Press, 1980: 24. Courtesy of Medard Gabel. 

Figure 5: Reprinted from Energy, Earth, and Everyone. New York: Anchor 
Press. 1980: 92, Courtesy of Medard Gabel. 

Ole W. Fischer 

All images courtesy of the Weimar Classic Foundation. 

Mark Jarzonibek 

Figure 1: & The National Museum. Stockholm- 
Figure 2: C. Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus, Vol. I, 1725. Plate 64. © New 
York : B Blom. 1967-72. 

Figure 3: Ibid.. 31. © New York: B. Blom. 1967-72, 

Figure 4: Robert Adam's Works in Architecture. Vol, I. 1775. C> New York: 
Dover Publications. 1980. 

Figure 5: Architectural drawing in depot fortifications des colonies, Pondi- 
chery. Ci Biblioteque de la section outre-mer des Archives Nationale, Paris. 

Figure 6: Claude Nicholas Ledoux's Architecture. Volume I, €< Paris: Lenoir. 
1847, plate 169, 

Figure 7; Malcome Seaborne's The Enghah School: Its Architecture and Orga- 
nization. C' Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1971. p, 176, 

Neri Oxman, Douglas and Mitchell Joachim 

All images by authors. 

Garyfallia Katsavounidou 

Figure 1: ©The National Geographic Magazine, November 1925. 

Figure 2 & 3: Photographs reprinted by permission from Lorenzo Romito. the 
coordinator of Osservatorio Nomade, 

Figure 4; Photograph by author. 

Illustration Credits 

Michael W. Meister 

Figures 1 & 3 & 4-8 & 13: Photographs by author, 

Figure 2: Based on J, Fergusson and J, Burgess's Cave Temples of India. © 
Delhi, Oriental Books, 1880. 

Figures 9 & 10: Reconstruction by author. 

Figure 11: fO Osian. author; '0 Khajuraho. after D. Desai, The Religious 
Imagery of Khajuraho. Bombay. 1996, fig, 15; C' Ranakpur. after P, Brown. 
Indian Architecture: Buddhist & Hindu Period. 3rd ed., Bombay. 1959, pi. 123; 
© Chidambaram, after Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture: C' Madurai. 
after W. Francis, Madras District Gazeteers: Madura. 1906. 

Figure 12: Photograph courtesy of P, Ghosh. 

Sarah Menin 

'C' Sarah Meiiin, 

Null Lab 

Page 40: Photo on top left: Tara Wujcik and Barbra Runic Photo on top right: 


Page 41: Photos on top: Fotoworks-Benny Chan. Hand Diagrams: Reza Bagher- 
zadeh. Text by Arshia 

Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison 

All photographs courtesy of Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, 
Nigel Parry 

iC'j www, 

Mark Rawlinson 

AH images courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. 
Sara Stevens 

All oblique facades courtesy of Rosewood Portfolio. 
All low-level aerials courtesy of Koman Properties Inc. 
Axonometrir drawing by author, 

Nicole Vlado 

All photographs and drawings by author. 
Tijana Vujosevic 

© Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. 


Future Anterior 



Essential reading for anyone interested in historic 
prcscr\'ation and its role in current debates. Future 
Anterior approaches historic prcser\'alion from 
interdisciplinary positions of crucial inquiry. A 
comparatively recent field of professional study, 
historic preservation often escapes direct academic 
challenges of its motives, goals, forms of practice, 
and results. Future Anterior asks these difficult 
questions from philosophical, aesthetic, historic- 
graphical, theoretical, and practical perspectives. 
As the first and only referccd journal of its kind in 
American academia, future /(nferior engages the 
reader in new ways of reflecting and taking on the 
built past not as a constraint but as a provocation 
to intervene creatively in contemporary culture. 

A Journal of Historic Preservation History, Theory and Criticism 
Graduate School of Archileclure. Planning, and Preservation 
Columbia University 

Founder and Director; Jorge Otero-Paitos 

Editorial Board: Barry Bergdoll, Paul Spencer Byard. Jean-Louis 

Cohen. Andrew S Doll<ar1. Mark Jarzombek. Helene Lipstadt, 

Fernando Manas. Daniel B. Monk. Joan Ockman, Marc Treib, 

Gwendolyn Wnght 

Managed and produced by Columbia University Historic 

Preservation students 

To subscribe or contact; 

Write Future Anterior 

Journal of Historic Preservation 


400 Avery Hall 

Columbia University 

New York, NY 10027 


Visit www arch Columbia edu/futureanterior 

Individuals: $24 in US, $34 international 
Institutions: $60 in US, $70 international 



R2l, Revista de Arquitectura, is published year!' 
by the School of Architecture of the Universi" 
f Navarra. R21 is a forum for results of the aca- 
smic debate regarding the diverse dimensions 
of architecture and the city considering both as 
cultural realities of unarguable importance and 
impact, and as objects of careful attention, study 
and investigation. 

Ra aims:%D specifically assemblage the intellec- 
tual pro^fcpn of Theory and History, Urban 
Planning anoTArchitectural Design Departments, 
although it is initially open to articles and colla- 
borations from independ^ professionals and 
other academic institutions. R3. also reeks to 
feed the perception of architecture as a cultural 
discipline in the extensive sense of the word. 

Articles are published in Spanish and English 
after a journal selection process conducted by 
the International Editorial Board. 

Jorge Tarrago Mingo 
Coordinador li^i 
ETS de Arqiiitecuiiii. 
Universidad dc Navarr.i 
31080 Pamplona. Sp.i I II 


Subset iprio^» 


:jZQubJb/ tiden.htm ^m 


thresholds 33 


call for subniLssioDS 

Ihresholds. ihc bi-annual critical journal orarcliiiccturc. art. and media cullurc of MIT's department of 
archileciure. in\ ites submissions for issue 33 form(alism). 

submissions due: 31 august 2006 

Archilcclural debate no longer waffles onK between the blob and the box but is also caught today between 
debates regarding form and formlessness. Formalism is to art and architecture what the 80's is to recent 
fashion. It periodically threatens lo make a comeback under (he guise of not being its old self, ultimately 
peeking from underneath some singular design. From the form of cities, with the now normative megaeity 
and the emergence of other novel urban typologies, lo architecture's technological revolution, with the use 
of algorithms to generate form or the application of aeronautical software in its design, formal paradigms, 
boundaries, and processes are being reconsidered and reconfigured. .Ml of these reorganizations of space, 
capital, material, and time beg for a critical analysis of form(alism). its definitions, realization, and 
deconstniction. as well as processes of form making, from within the object and without. 

thresholds 33 asks what new concerns about fomi(alism) have emerged in an-architectural fields today. 
How can we evaluate iheorctical issues of form and content/ form and autonomy' form and ornamenL' tonn 
and formlessness? What/how is the formal relationship with the subject challenged, enriched, or elided? 
What projects' methodologies demonstrate emergent processes or redefine formal limits/boundaries? 
Where are the anti-formalists today? Where can wc place foriTi(alism) within cultural practice and aesthetic 
discourse today? 

thrcshulds .33 invites contributions from a wide range of disciplines, including an. architecture, 
anthropology, animation, video, urbanism. history, theory and cross-pollinations. Submissions need not be 
limited to scholarly work and may include comedic and spoof submissions, thresholds 33 will include a 
web component for time-based media. 

(hrcsholds aucmpls lo publish only original material. Materials should be p<^slmarkeil by 3 1 August 20O6. 

IKXT; \1anu5cripl.s lor kt iev\ sliould he no more Ihan :.5I)0 words, lesl musl he I'onnalled in accordance \\ iUl The Chieasio Manual 
of Slylc. Spelling shtnild Tollow American con\enlion and quotations musl be truislated into Tnglish. AH submissions musl be 
submilled electronically, via e-mail or disk, and accompanied b> hard copies ol'lest and images, text should be saved as Microsoft 
Vt'oril or RTT I'onnat. while :uiy aceoinpanyinj: images should he sent as Tll'l' files with a n.-5olutioii of at least 30O dpi at 8" .x 1" print 
si«. I'igures should be numbered cle-iily in the text. Image captions and credits must be included u iih submissions, it is the 
rcspiinsihllily of the author to securv pcmiissions for itnaue use and pay any reproduction fees, A brief author bio must accompany tlie 

MEDIA: Media submissions below 8MB can be submitted via e-mail to: udia^miLcdu and by disk Submissions above 8MB mus 
he sent on disk and'or posted on a server for download. Most common tile formats will be accepted. ITiresholds reserves the right lo 
request reformatting of worts for final publication. It is Ihc responsibililv of the author lo secure permissions for proprietary media use 
and pay any reproduction fees. A brief aulhor bio accompany tiie wort;. 

submissions due: 31 August 2006 

Please send all submissions to thresh@> 
TEXT/IMAGE submissions: threshC* 
MEDIA submissions (below 8MB|: sadiae>> 

ANALOG : Sadia Shirazi, Editor 


MIT Department of Architecture 
Room? 337 
77 Massachusetts Ave. 
Cambrid9e,MA02l39 USA 


Submission Policy 

Thresholds attempts to print only original material. Manuscripts for 
review should be no more than 4000 words. Text must be formatted in 
accordance with The Chicago Manual of Style. Spelling should follow 
American convention and quotations must be translated into English. 
All submissions must be submitted electronically, on a CD or disk, ac- 
companied by hard copies of text and images. Text should be saved as 
Microsoft Word or RTF format, while any accompanying images should 
be sent as TIFF files with a resolution of at least 600 dpi at 8" by 9" 
^ _. print size. Figures should be numbered clearly in the text. Image cap- 

!?— y U <' C, tions and credits must be included with submissions. It is the respon- 

sibility of the author to secure permissions for image use and pay any 
reproduction fees. A brief author bio must accompany the text. 


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William C. Brumfield 

Naomi Da\adson 

Elliot FelLx 

Jennifer Ferng 

Ole W. Fischer 

Frank Forrest 

Talinn Grigor 

Mark Jarzombek 

Douglas Joachim 

Mitchell Joachim 

Gar>'faUia Katsavounidou 

Michael W. Meister 

Sarah Menin 

Null Lab 

Neri Oxman 

Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison 

Nigel Parry 

Mark Rawlinson 

Sara Stevens 

Nicole Viado 

Tijana Vujosevic 

^*^K *,\jL a 

Z. Pamela Karimi, Editor 
Sadia Shirazi. Assistant Editor