Vol. 3, No. 1,
May 1998

Architectonics and Aesthetics of Artificial Worlds



Architektonika in Erewhon:
On the Conjunction of Architectural and Urban Metaphors

Contrary to the repeatedly declared end of architecture a discussion is being led, in connection with the electronic media and, here in particular, with the world wide web, which is based on architectural and urban metaphors. If this discussion is deepened, two concepts emerge clearly from the resulting flood of conceptions. These relate to the spatial, architectural structure of the user interface: The, entirely historical, concepts of >ideal city< and >knowledge city<. In relation to the world wide web, the ideal city embodies the utopia of an online-community based on direct democracy. The availability of the gathered knowledge is bound to the knowledge city. In this way, the orderly spatial accomodation of knowledge aids not only the ordering and arrangement of the substance of knowledge but also facilitates access to the knowledge. As a generalization, it could be said that the spatial formation of the user interface provides both orientational and navigational aid which, at the same time, acts as a foil for the saving and retrieval of visualized data. Accordingly, the "architectonic of cyber-space" receives a specific functional instruction which, in view of the unreflecting bond with social and aesthetic utopias, nevertheless appears ambivalent and is to be critically investigated.

de la Torre


The City in our Head

In the last decades, cities changed drastically and the possibilities of communication increased. Telephone, television, cars and other systems of transport and communication which advanced and influenced the dispersion and design of the postindustrial city through their individual use - today, they seem to be the main actors of a almost forgotten epoch. These systems of communication have had comprehensive effects on fundamental changes of social processes, spatial relationships and the meaning of distance.
Television is sending us images of "inmaterial cities" (Boyer 1997); the cities and their architecture are reduced by iconographic representations, a view out of the helicopter over the skyscrapers, a gondola under the Vecchio-Bridge and this kind of stereotype images reduce the perception of the inhabitant and develop manipulated mentalities. Another important aspect today is, that the city in the age of the "data-highway", the computer-added systems give less "radius of action" for spatial perception in the "real space", because this new world of cyberspace is also perceived as "living space" by the "user".



 Atopias - The Challenge of Imagineering

Urban places are aesthetic spaces. They have atmosphere, preserve memories of the past and just in this way open the future for the present. With urban places we cultivate emotional relationships. The old European city for example possesses qualities of a place. For a culture, that merely favours feasibility, functionality, acceleration and universality, it is however too stubborn, too slow, too sensible and too narrow. So if possible it is changed into a kind of efficient working city-machine. As for the rest the urban development occurs outside creating an endless city-country-continuum.
People already notice the lack of urban atmosphere in our cities. A demand for places develops, that results in a market of places and an accessory place-industry. This industry is specialized in reproducing physically urban situations from all over the world. Thus artificial cities were created in exopolis, spaces that fake the qualities of urban places. I call them atopias. Atopias are faked places without any reference to the existing environment and region. They are non-places which clothe themselves in the garments of place. From Disneyworld in Florida to Little - Amsterdam near Tokyo up to the new CentrO-Promenade in Oberhausen/Germany people can admire the harbingers of this new world of citytainment.


(Columbus / Ohio)

A Temporary Building in Wall Street:
Architecture and Representation in a Digital Age

Digital technologies have changed our traditional making and understanding of architectural space. Our modern cities have become transformed by the electronic apparatus, as town centers and gateways cease to carry the typical meaning with which we associate them. An exploration of these issues lies within a proposal for a temporary building in Wall Street, a project which investigates the effects of modern technologies upon the form and boundaries of the traditional city. Wall Street, the location of the original fortification wall of New Amsterdam (New York), is now the center of electronic exchange. This modern day "center" represents the paradox of our modern cities: A physical place may be defined by an abstraction of virtual meetings. A Temporary Building in Wall Street engages the space of mediation between the virtual and the real.
In the project for Wall Street, traditional architectural concepts and paradigms are revisited: Historical notions of place, boundary, and permanence are redefined and reconsidered for a digital age.
The virtual construction of a cultural information exchange in Wall Street explores contemporary methods of making and visualizing architecture as potential vehicles to influence meaning and form i.



On Aesthetics of Virtual Spaces in Architecture

Increasing vituality of architectural spaces, created by layerings of technical media or by medial transformations into virtual realities of "cyber space", is leading to appearent paradox constellations of space:
Instead of constructive materiality medial capacity is dominating; "hardware" is losing importance compared to "software"; traditional "beauty" becomes replaced by "digital appearance".
It should be questioned, how virtual architectonic spaces can be designed, what ideas and needs can be expressed in such spacial forms and what image of the world can be taken out of this.



The Original and the Truth
Contradiction between the Artificial and the Real World in Architectonic Representation

The article is based on a survey which was carried out among the visitors of the INFO BOX on the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. This INFO BOX is organized and financed by the investors and others who are involved in the construction of the recent develpements of downtown Berlin. Inside the INFO BOX, the near future of the Potsdamer Platz is displayed with state of the art presentation technology. Main questions of the survey were: To what extent is this INFO BOX concept about informing, entertaining or mind monopolizing?

Sander W.


Figure, Shape: Artificial World

The issue asserts the contraposition of artificial world to true reality from the principle of force-impression (investigation) which generates the opposition of sensus and imagination or Gestalt and figure. Platon's Kratylos contains the notional source of image and Gestalt, and it is proved that the lawfulness Platon has combined with an image reappears within the transcendental schematism of Kant. Being conscience, human nature possesses a universal function of sensuality able to produce and represent objects of the world - being itself nature or geometrical figures - irrespective of notion. The necessary conclusion upon the rule of force-impression which has to be maintained independently of the other rule of imagination and which has to suspend its a priori claim, permits the other conclusion upon the difference - contraposition - of reality to cybernetical. This exists in anticipative negation to a world which is expressing itself as unruptured principle of force-impression and as principle.

Further interesting links about this subject:

Bauhaus-University Weimar 

The essays are open to discussion for 6 months. Remarks, comments or criticism by readers can be added to each essay. The authors then may rewrite their essays during these 6 months of interaction with readers. After this period the articles will be frozen but still available in the net.

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if the editorial staff is informed.

Issue 1/96:Architecture in the Realm between Art and Everyday life
Issue 1/97: Modernity of Architecture. A Critical Recognition
Issue 2/97: Architecture - Language