Sin Centre 1961-1963

Last year I did my research dissertation on Archigram and their use of montage to represent the vitality of the street and human experience. With the exception of Simon Sadler's Architecture without Architecture, the theoretical validity of Archigram’s work has long been dismissed by prolific critical theorists such as Denise Scott Brown and Reyner Banham as “short on theory, long on draughtsmanship". I looked at establishing a new theoretical framework and integrity for the group following investigation into their extensive use of montage by identifying characteristics associated with the historical avant-garde and the integrity that distinguishes Archigram’s social, political and psychological position, particularly through the writings of Peter Burger in his seminal book Theory of the Avant-Garde.
Like action hero's I would have to say that my two favorite members are David Greene for his theoretical position towards architecture and Michael Webb for his revolutionary thinking and amazing technical presentation. Sin Centre is one such project by Michael Webb, the technical and theoretical resolution is truly a representation of his talent. The full text on this project can be found here along with a staggering number of other projects by the group.

The Salk Institute

Found these today, etchings I made in first year. It was my first attempt at doing this and the technique is in no way sophisticated but it could be an interesting way to present my final project...

Forgotten Urban Squalor of The Ward

I just read an interesting article on the forgotten urban squalor of The Ward, the worst slum in Toronto Canada. When the population nearly doubled in the decade of the 1920's due to an influx of Jewish immigrants by the First World War. They lived side-by-side with Italians, Poles, Macedonians, Lithuanians, Chinese, and those from countless other countries. What followed was the growing public concern over crime, poverty, and drug abuse. It would be easy to imagine faceless immigrants as social threats, defined by their strange accents and mannerisms rather than their individual and personalising characteristics. While the majority of the Ward's population was hard-working and undeserving of the added stigmas of vice and criminality, that element certainly existed there. The neighbourhood was rife with bootlegger dive bars, gambling dens, and brothels. Centre Avenue was the city's most notorious red-light district, where prostitutes openly solicited from their doorstep while young boys earned their pay keeping watch for the police. Police targeted lower classes at least partly out of concern that their poverty and urban squalor would contaminate respectable society. Police reports, according to sociologists Helen Boritch and John Hagan, characterised the foreigners who ran the Ward's illegal gambling houses as "vicious criminals" and "racketeers."
What cant be denied here was a type of human resilience and determination that thrived in the narrow lanes densely packed with ramshackle cottages, dingy storefronts, and street-corner preachers hassling the locals to convert. Homes were a far cry from the architect-designed houses of the city's newest subdivisions and within the underbelly of life there was a particular human geography of place. By the 1950s demolition of The Ward to allow the commercial district's office towers, hotels, and, more recently, condos to stretch northwards all but erased the streetscape and memory of the under-valued immigrants. 

Modern architecture and the coagulation of money has all but destroyed any notion of a complex social order. The forgotten memories, dreams and hopes of the less fortunate find an uncomfortable repose in the foundations of the modern monuments that rise in their place. In this situation I cant help but think a piece of the city dies rather than develops or flourishes. There is a beautiful nostalgia in the memories of the old and perhaps none more beautiful than Brodsky and Utkins Columbrium Habitabile. Their proposal becomes a refuge for the little old houses, their inhabitants and their memories in a large modern city. After all, each is suffused with the soul of its architect, builders, inhabitants and even the passerby who happens to cast an absent-minded glance its way.

There are so many interesting and amazing stories to be discovered here and for similar reasons its why I find the political situation in Australia more and more frustrating in regards to the treatment of refugees escaping unrest in their own countries. The treatment of these people when they reach australia is nothing short of barbaric and inhumane. It is sad to think our government is bowing to public opinion driven by commercial media. Australia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world and one of the richest and we have the nerve to consider our country "full". We are an educated nation of morons, racists and xenophobes. Imagine the journey the refugees have taken to reach our shores, imagine their stories, their culture, history and skilled trades they could bring to our country. The potential to evolve and develop in this situations in incredible however our system seems to stifle the greatest possibilities we are given.

Street Section

Influenced by Piranesi's etching of Roman drainage works, the emerging French urban planning tradition, and the reconstruction work following the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal, Pierre Patte developed an image for the first section of a street that articulated new ways of managing rain and wastewater. His image is considered one of the first cross-sections to include both the neighbouring buildings that define the street and the interconnected works of engineering that link interiors to the urban underground. In this latter role, Patte's drawing is also the first to articulate the fluid discharges of the city that arise within water and sewerage networks. Not only is wastewater conveyed from the building's interior to the sewer, but Patte considered the wat that water running off a building's roof and onto the street might also be sent into the underground sewer.

Subnature : Architecture's Other Environments
Gissen, David

Alts and Ads

Its been a busy few weeks, at uni, work and on site. I have even strapped the nail bag on for a few days and been helping on site, its good to get away from the computer! These photos were taken recently, I think there has been a decent amount of progress from the last lot. There is maybe 1-2 months until completion, the clients will be happy indeed.

so busy!!!

a quick feast for the eyes from a project by Ben Sweeting who is working towards a PhD by design, supervised by Neil Spiller and Ranulph Glanville (who recently visited our school ). Ben's research preoccupations include ethics, cybernetics and architectural design. The following is text associated with the project;

My particular research interest is in the ethical dilemma of designing for others when there is no 'right' solution.  In designing architecture we can't possibly avoid interfering with other people's lives as architecture itself forms part of the framework in which people live; that is, intervening in people's lives is rather the point.  Thus in architecture we can seldom maintain the isolation implied by an ethics of personal responsibility which is, I argue (following von Foerster and Sartre amongst others), the appropriate response to the undecidability of our situation.  Indeed architecture is a good example of the more general difficulty of acting in ways that impact on others.

According to Von Foerster, there are questions that are in principle decidable and those that are in principle undecidable.  Decidable questions are 'already decided by the choice of the framework in which they are asked' and are therefore undecidable, whereas 'only those questions which are in principle undecidable, we can decide'.1 The consequence of undecidability is the necessity of choice, i.e. design.  Architecture is undecidable because the purpose of a piece of architecture is intrinsically linked to the set of human purposes it supports and these human purposes are themselves undecidable: any analysis of architecture will therefore always have an unresolvable gap at its centre which can only be met by design.  Indeed it is always the undecidable parts of architectural dilemmas where design takes place.

My theoretical work focuses on three areas of theory that are linked by the theme of purpose: cybernetics, existentialism and teleological ethics.  My design projects explore the questions of purpose and contingency which become explicit as soon as architecture is considered over time, proposing different ways of relating the use of architecture to the architecture itself.