Issue 1, November 2001

Style and Vigour
Contemporary problems of Arab architectural aesthetics>

In the Arab region one can see with the naked eye the key intellectual problem for formation of a dynamic professional community, authoritative in the world architecture. This is an interpretation of Arab architectural heritage in the system of means and methods of architecture on the boundary of the XXI-st century - in creative paradigms of conceptualism, contextualism, "environmental approach", "critical regionalism". In professional conscience there has formed a dramatic gap between a high level of theoretical assimilation of principles of traditional Arab architecture and real inclusion of the heritage into architectural-urbanistic practice.
Revival of national originality of Arab architecture lies not in the plane of selection of traditional prototypes or stylistic modes. Competitiveness of the modern Arab architecture will be determined by the development of modern and dynamic creative activity in the countries of the region.
The main ways providing the system fullness of the modern architectural activity are - division of Arab and European architectural traditions in public consciousness; the development of professional corporations and the system of interaction with a customer, authorities and community; improving of professional communications and creative exchanges; transformation of the national architectural school.


Kharkov at the Frontier of XIX - XX Centuries: Noncritical Regionalism.
Architectural School without Vernakular.

In 1805 the Emperor's University was opened in Kharkov - the second one in Russia. At the end of 1870-ies the railway line from Moscow to Crimea and Caucasia passed through Kharkov, thus connecting the economical and political center of Russia with the South. This was followed by the impetuous socio-economic growth of the town.
Kharkov architects of the end of XIX - the beginning of XX, in most cases got education in educational institutions of Moscow and Petersbourg; some of them had worked on probation abroad, mostly in Germany. The visitant masters worked also in the newly opened Kharkov Technological Institute and Art School. In the city, based in the second half of the XVII century at the boundary of the "Wild field", a tolerant attitude towards the newly-come ideas was formed.
From the moment of creation of its own educational base Kharkov got the weight of the most important architectural center. In 198-1934, when Kharkov was the capital of Ukraine, the architects, brought up by Kharkov educational institutions, became bearers of ideological-artistic pluralism.


Architecture as Theatre or Theatre of "Classical" Architecture by Ricardo Bofill

Architecture and dramatic art, as two spheres of creativity, exist independently and irrespectively from each other. In article is undertaking the attempt to investigate how the theatrical and architectural ideas interact, penetrate from one area into another, mutually complement and develop each other. There are no precise borders and distinctions in rising their sense. Creativity of Bofill and his studio "Talier de Architecture" it confirms. The work of the foreman builds on a principle polyphonic music, on the attraction and collision different logics, frequently ancient alongside with modern. On the example of French living complexes by R. Bofill we see, that Post-Modernism in it's aspiration to develop it's art language addresses to idea of dialogue with the historical past, which was born long before, and uses for this the means of stage producing and dramatic art.

  Issue 2, February 2000

The Spatial Data-Management System of the Architecture Machine Group

The Spatial Data-Management System was developed from 1976-1978 in MIT's Architecture Machine Group and has been viewed as one of the first spatial data management systems. This system is based on the concept of an interface between user and computer which allows different media forms such as text, graphic, photography and film to be inputted and outputted - communicating with the human senses. The system seeks to establish a clear and functional extension of the computer. One of the central ideas of this system is the visualisation of information in the form of graphical and image representations, a concept which eventually replaces the alpha-numeric command systems of the first generation of computers in the 70's. Furthermore, the Spatial Data-Management System represents a spatial, topological ordering paradigm which can be used for the organisation and access of archived information. Cognitive psychological studies of the 60's in which the natural spatial orientation of human memory and traditional mnemonics gain new attention, served as inspiration for the Architecture Machine Group.


(Stuttgart/ Karlsruhe)
Landschaft als Element des Urbanen
  Issue 1, May 1999

Architectural Structures of Memory

This essay outlines the theoretical premises and the methodology of my research aimed at integrating photography and computer graphics in architecture. I developed what I call photographic mapping to represent how a building creates the sequences of interrelated experiences that structure our perception of this building's symbolic reality. In this essay, I will use two particular images as the backdrop for the discussion of their compositions and the ideas embodied in them.
Though I am going to focus here on the part of my research that deals with the new digital modes of depicting existing architecture, this essay needs to be seen as an integral part of my current project concerning the history and theory of representation in architecture, based on the assumption that digital technologies should be explored in the broader context of architectural significatory practices.


Theory and Methodology of an Open System. How to Look at Philip Johnson's Architectural Work: A Learning Process for a General Renewing/ Constructing of a Methodology and Theory of Contemporary Architectural Criticism

The following text shows that Sokal's and Bricmont's Fashionalble Nonsense (Picador 1998) is of value in reference to contemporary architectural criticism too, where nowadays someone finds a kind of discussion comparable to a tropic jungle. The example of architectural criticism dealing with the work of the american architect phj shows this fact very clearly. There would be a good medicin herfore: a theoretical and methodological framework to be established especially for architectural criticism as a starting point to have a valuable professional discussion in this area. The following text offers a suggestion for an establishing of such a framework taking the architectural work of Philip Johnson as a showing example.

  Issue 2, June 1998
Janhsen- Vukicevic

Gottfried Böhm's Pilgrimage Church in Neviges

Gottfried Böhm projected his pilgrimage church in Neviges (consecrated 1968) starting from the buildings he found in the small city. For example he repeated the inclination of the roofs of the surrounding houses with parallel lines in the roof of the church. The outer shape of the church then determinates ist inner space. The church building orders binds ans crystallizes the assemblation of houses that was grown accidentally with repetations of this kind.
The text discusses problems, of liturgy, of "kontextbezogenes Bauen", of picturesque, of perspective, of expressionism and abstract art. So it elucidates the experience that is possible with this building - with this special relationship between house of God und houses of men - as a model of the relationship between God and man.


Mega Malls on Their Way!
Democracy as Burden or Chance?

Shopping Malls, increasingly in combination with Amusement Parks, are not only a North American phenomenon anymore, but recently became part of the everyday life in Germany as well.
In intellectual and professional discussions, of course, these phenomenons at the peripheries of our cities are heavily critized. Yet they increasingly influence the public and urban life and become the new city centres in private ownership. The inner city, traditionally connected with political, social and cultural public space, is trying to fight back and survive.
Analyzing the so far biggest Mega Mall, the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, it will be discussed, whether the longing for vital inner cities today eventually must be considered obsolete and outdated, or rather truely progressive.


Talking Shopping Center

Most Americans assume that their nation's glut of suburban shopping centers results from "what consumers want". In fact, a considerable amount of construction came as the result of tax breaks offered by the United States government beginning in 1954 and peaking in the early 1980s. That construction has had profound effects on the quality of life for all Americans.


Ames (Iowa)
Reframing the Ruins:
Pruitt-Igoe, Structural Racism, and African American Rhetoric as a Space for Cultural Critique

Charles Jencks dates the death of high-modernism to the moment in July 1972 when the first three buildings of St. Louis's infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing complex were dynamited. Pruitt-Igoe's failure is since then noted and remembered as an architectural failure - a design flaw, wrought upon the unsophisticated poor by well-meaning intellectuals. What issues are not discussed in this myth are issues of race - the over 10.000 residents of Pruitt- Igoe were 98% African American - and issues of poverty - these residents wetre the poorest of the poor. Though Pruitt-Igoe was a physical structure, in this paper it acts as a metaphor for structural racism - a structure that deepened pre-existing chasms standing between African-Americans and cultural identity, political power and education/economic opportunity because its premises and 'encoded' messages were inscribed with the unquestioned assumptions of structural racism. I will examine Pruitt-Igoe not as a symbol of the failure of modernism, but as a possibility for re-reading and writing urban texts in ways that can provide a critique of structural racism and the ways in which architectural systems (like other social systems) can reinforce it.

Linde- Laursen

A Historical Anthropological Illumination of an Ethnicized Space

In this paper, I discuss relations between place and access to identity formation. I do so from research carried out in Solvang, California (called "The Danish Capital of America"). In 1911, the founders of Solvang deliberately tried to insert Danish social institutions into an American context. While Danish language and institutions after the Second World War faded, public space was completely re-organized. Today, Solvang is a tourist town, which center consists of presumed architectural signifiers of Denmark. I discuss how social relations form space in Solvang and how space form social relations for three groups: white town-dwellers, visitors from the region, and local "Mexicans". In particular, I discuss the last group. While a growing local population of "Mexicans" working on the backstage is crucial to the local tourist economy, it is, at the same time, excluded twofold from local place. "Mexicans" are not allowed any representation in the dominating narrative about the town's history, nor do they possess any visibility in public space.

  Issue 1, May 1998

From Leningrad to St. Petersburg.
30 Years of City Development.

This article mainly deals with the reconstruction of the historically valuable city ensemble of St. Petersburg and its important buildings as well as with the construction of modern architecture.
A short historical introduction concerning this famous city's problems of city development will be given followed by an outline of its recent struggles. The main focus will be on St. Petersburg's natural geographic and social political challenges with their inherent problems.


The Myth of the Centre

A retrospective on 200 years of Modernism, documented by the example of one of its capital cities: Berlin. Modern times start off with the Enlightenment toward the end of the eighteenth century, meaning a radical rupture with the past. In a conservative view it stands for "a gigantic inner catastrophe" (Hans Sedlmayr). This provokes numerous countermovements. The modern trend toward permanent change is opposed by holding on to conventinal values. The dissolving of genuine traditions is answered by artificial reconstructions. The real loss of the centre, of a binding measure, is countered by its invention: the legend, the myth of the centre. This essay analyzes and documents Modernism torn by inner and outer conflicts by a number of examples, not least by the ups and downs of the unusual german capital city. Will Berlin find its way out of the dead-end of the modern "either-or" into a new humane, urban dimension of the "and", of openness and synthesis?

(Text available in German)


The Creative Metropolis
Services, Symbols and Spaces

Creative services (i.e. graphic design, advertising, interior design) are a specific subsegment of producer services. They operate at the center of the symbolic economy and take on the role of cultural mediators and tastemakers for trends, lifestyles, and identities of the new middle class. Thus, creative services play a crucial role in the construction and transmission of messages about the meaning of consumption. The geography of creative services is clearly linked to metropolitan areas and herein concentrated in inner city locations. This paper looks at the relationship between the cultural/economic production of images and signs, and the urban imaginary of the image-producers. The meaning of an inner city location for creative service firms is often constructed around the myth of the inner city as a cradle of creativity. Based on in-depth interviews in Vancouver I would like to discuss how the focus on images, signs, and creativity at the workplace intermingles with the production of a distinct urban imaginary: the "creative metropolis".


Eileen Gray or Unconstrained Living

Eileen Gray is one of the few women representatives of classical Modernism. Above all she caused a sensation with her extravagant furniture and interior designs. Despite apparant affinities to "new spirit" furniture and fittings, originality characterizes her designs. What makes Gray's concepts for living different from those of her avant-garde colleagues? What was the role of the user of her spaces?
Gray's interior designs neither follow the traditional pattern of merging furniture and space into a homogeneous, integral whole, nor can they be categorized amongst the standardized, out-of-context furnishings. Rather, through a combination of original prototypes and built-in furniture specially coordinated with the space and the architecture, she succeeded in creating unique designs which were both appropriated to their task and situation and aimed at ensuring the user's independence and privacy.

  Issue 2, November 1997

From Modernity to Postmodernity
A Genealogic Approach to 20th Century Architecture

This article is based on a talk, given in October 1997 at the State University for Architecture and Civil Engineering in St. Petersburg. The focus is on the development of architecture during the 20th century with the primarily aim to explain the terms of Modernity and Postmodernity. Postmodernity is described as a relational term, being related to Modernity, although defining itself by demarcation. Thus there exist many references between Modernity and Postmodernity, which lead to a critical discussion based on a genealogic view.

(Text available in Russian)

Pavel I.

Pulsating Architectural Environment - Philosophy and Form

We can discover the presence of pulsating components - objects and associations of objects, that are changeing their functional and spatial parameters (e.g. according to the season, etc.) - in the architectural environment of different historical ages. Such kind of changes are reversible: pulsating objects are returning cyclically to the initial state after a range of phases of transformation. It compels us to elaborate adequate means (medias) of their formal expression - a scenario of mutable composition, that signifies an expansion of our conception of the language of architecture.
As the successors of the Renaissance tradition we consider (according to the expression of L.-B. Alberti) that "beauty is a strict and balanced harmony of all the parts - that kind when neither addition nor reduction or changes can be made without deterioration of the whole thing". However dynamic architectural objects are expressive, too. Historical architectural environment appears incomplete and false without them: modern, poor and one-dimensioned.
What is harmonical in the changeable universe of dynamic architecture? What is the mode of connection and coexistence of "stable" and "pulsating" architectural forms and objects? Some of these answers stay in the field of traditional language of architectural composition, some demand new forms and words for expression and understanding.

(Text available in Russian)


Thinking against Tradition

From 20th Century thought emerged the central ideology in all modernist architectural schools. Thought was taken in its scientized (e.g. naturalistic, experimental and engineering orientated) forms. Thus, just the Soviet innovators - Dokuchayev with Ladovsky, as well as Ginzburg, - were inclined to go up to the Pillars of Hercules, subordinating all creative processes to science-like methods and driving back the odd corners of creative intuition and professional tradition, with all their art experience and cultural symbols.
The methodological consequences of this were basic anti-traditionalism on the one hand, bordering upon a complete exemption of history of art and architecture from educational programs, and an open quest on the other hand, for the first time appreciated as the main regulation for learning and pedagogical work. This quest was not limited by anything except the procedure of the "correct," i.e. scientific-engineering method.

(Text available in Russian)

Thomas Y.

Geopolitics of Hibernation
Urbanism and the Situationistic Internationale.
  Issue 1, May 1997

Building Programming

This contribution can be seen as an offer to put forward discussions with my fellow colleagues in the field of architecture. Having suffered myself from certain buildings and from carrying out reconstructions on my own house, I consider myself one of the ideal naive users of architectural space.

  Issue 1, October 1996

Autonomy and Public in Fine Arts

The artist of modernity has freed himself from tradition, which expresses itself in the picture of the world. Visual representation serves no longer as representative goals, but reaches autonomous significance. Thus the artist of modernity has become increasingly isolated. The artist of the 1980s though turns once more to the traditions.

Text available in Russian)


On Pragmatics of Dwelling

This essay follows the thesis, that the reality of dwelling is captured in concepts of language, that refer to actual social situations. Since the wall no longer exists, people experience changes in their lives from the familiar to the unfamiliar. This can be revealed in the use of familiar words in an unfamiliar manner. This unfamiliar use also indicates changes in the organization of life, in the sense that social routine relationships are being replaced by non-routine relationships.

(Text available in German)