Museums stage public encounters between visitors, objects and stories. This is not limited to a tour through the exhibition spaces, it starts already with monumental or ‘tresholdless’ entrances.
OASE 111 highlights historical and contemporary mechanisms and motifs of such staging. This shifts the focus in the discussion about museum architecture, long centered around (iconic) exteriors and (good) exhibition spaces. Current museological developments concern the whole configuration between city – or landscape – and gallery. Storage depots become visible or open to visitors, revising the boundaries between front and backstage. Streamed events find a stage in a fixed auditorium, a forgotten corner, or on a temporary platform.
essays in this issue of OASE speculate on the importance of the
architectonic staging of museum visits and activities, as institutions
rethink their roles within an accelerating event culture. The scenes of
the museum are not examined on the typological level of the museum
building, but in a walk along meaningful places.
Editors of this issue: Aslı Çiçek, Jantje Engels, Maarten Liefooghe
For a long time, the theme of soil –
as matter, not as territory – has been the quasi exclusive subject of
agriculture, geography and soil science. Only in the last few decades,
due to a rapidly growing awareness of climate change, has soil
increasingly come into focus in urban design, in particular as a matter
that can also provide ecosystem services in urban environments.
The editors of OASE 110 believe that soils, although degraded and fragmented, call to be looked upon with a new gaze. They should be rearticulated in a new project aimed at the construction of a shared, productive and inhabited nature, containing different elements of urbanity and offering – at the same time – a more resilient and sustainable environment for all.
Inspired by Bernardo Secchi’s 1986 text ‘Progetto di Suolo’, this issue of OASE makes a critical analysis of how soil – as an intermediary package that connects surface and subsurface – can further connect to the practices of urbanism and urban design, and how it can guide those practices in exploring new agendas.
Editors of this issue: David Peleman, Paola Vigan, Martina Barcelloni Corte, Elsbeth Ronner
Authors: Eduardo Abrantes, Alexandra Arenes, Tulay Atak, Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin, Isabella Baranyk, Michele Bee, Cristina Bianchetti, Pascal Boivin, Livia Cahn, Pu Hsien Chan, Gilles Clement, Martina Barcelloni Corte, Michiel Dehaene, Romeo Dipura, Rosetta Elkin, Teresa Gali-Izar, Urtzi Grau, Claire Guenat, Atabile Gwagwa, Luke Harris, Ilmar Hurkxkens, Thierry Kandjee, Louisa King, Paul Landauer, Linda Lapiņa, Joanna Lombard, JulianMeier, Germain Meulemans, Stefano Munarin, Ruth Oldham, David Peleman, Chiara Pradel, Sara Protasoni, Elsbeth Ronner, Kristine Samson, Isabel Recubenis Sanchis, Michael Stas, Anais Tondeur, Maria Chiara Tosi, Susanne Trumpf, Cara Turett, Ivan Valin, Hans Vandermaelen, Carmen Van Maercke, Antoine Vialle, Paola Vigano, Paola Vigano, Bonnie-Kate Walker, Kevin Westerveld
The history of architecture is often read in terms of periods that each
have their own zeitgeist and movements that each have their own
architectural language. What happens if we depart from this zeitgeist
concept and use a cyclical history model instead? In the 1970s and
1980s, this question was usually considered from the seemingly mutually
exclusive points of view of the modern, the anti-modern and the
postmodern positions. The lines dividing these positions were also
directly linked to certain formal-aesthetic choices, even in terms of
the care of existing buildings and the preservation of monuments, in
which the boundary between new and old is arbitrary by definition.
Over the past two decades, contemporary European architecture developed a different frame of reference, one in which the horizon is no longer provided by the architecture of the modern movement. Historical typological principles, compositional approaches and material logic are also experienced as modern and they provide the starting point for the design.
OASE 109 traces how, against the background of this broadening frame of reference, a different understanding of modernity emerged.
Editors of this issue: Tom Avermaete, Christoph Grafe, Véronique Patteeuw, Hans Teerds
Critical Regionalism Revisited
More than 35 years ago architectural historian Kenneth Frampton propelled the concept of ‘Critical Regionalism’ in his well-known article ‘Towards a Critical Regionalism’ (1983). The article was a response to a generic and global (post)modernism. From the date of publishing until today architectural discourses witnessed references to this concept crtitical regionalism, particularly evoked by a growing concern about the local scale in a world of global powers. In the forthcoming issue of the architectural journal OASE a number of architects and architectural theorists revisited the concept, questioning its genealogy, reception over the years, and sustainability in current and future architectural and urban assignments. On Thursday May 16th 2019, the issue will be presented at the Hochparterre Bookshop in Zürich center with responses by architectural historians Stanislas von Moos and Irina Davidovici. Entrance is free and everyone is welcome, so join us on May 16th at Hochparterre!
Contributors: BC Architects, Irina Davidovici, Job Floris, Kenneth Frampton, Charles Holland, Wonne Ickx, Esin Komez, Andrew Leach and Nicole Sully, Lilith Ronner van Hooijdonk, Carmen Popescu, Stylianos Giamarelos, Marine Urbain, Maarten Vanden Driessche, Marjoleine van Eig.
OASE 105 Practices of Drawing
Bart Decroos, Véronique Patteeuw, Asli Cicek, Jantje Engels (eds.)
Following the over-saturation of rendered images in the early 2000s, in recent years we have seen a resurgence in both analogue and digital representations of architecture, often mixing different media. From Hopperian tableaus to colourful line drawings, these images play an important role in developing the identity of an architecture office, where these drawings assume a life of their own in publications, exhibitions and on social media. As such, the architectural drawing becomes an increasingly autonomous project, which is validated parallel to the design project. In contrast, this issue of OASE aims to deepen the current interest in drawings by situating the architectural drawing back at the heart of the design process. By examining the drawing as a mental space of thought for the designer on the one hand, and by grasping the drawing in its relation to the built reality on the other. The drawing techniques and instruments as well as the materiality of the media used offer keys to examine the fundamental role of drawings for architectural production.
In this perspective, the drawing can be seen to act within design processes on various levels. (1) On a material level, the historical development of instruments and media used for making drawings, have continuously redefined the organisation of the architectural workplace, both in its spatial and technological conditions as well as in its social relations. (2) On a disciplinary level, the different types of drawings and techniques of projection rely on codified conventions, which can be seen to affect the architectural imagination and the subsequent spatial and material qualities of the resulting architectural construction. (3) And on a design level, the drawing functions as a space of autonomy for architectural production beyond the limitations and demands posed by the different parties involved in the design process.
This issue of OASE is interested in the architectural drawing as a practice embedded in processes of design, influencing and shaping architectural production. It will specifically focus on the relation between two-dimensional drawing techniques (plan, section, elevation, axonometric drawing, perspective), their respective tools and media (pencil, pen, etching, collage, painting, CAD; paper, sketchbook, tracing paper, screen) and the organisation and results of the design and construction process. As such, we are interested in two types of contributions that focus on the drawing itself:
(1) Paper contributions: we invite authors to contribute to this issue with a theoretical or historical paper departing from a single (or a set of) drawing(s). This proposal should include an image and an abstract of 300 words.
(2) Visual contributions: we invite practitioners to send
in a specific (series of) drawing(s) taken from their own practice. This
proposal should include the drawing itself and a caption of maximum 300 words describing
its relevance to the theme of the issue.
Proposals for contributions should be submitted to email@example.com by 15 May 2019 and must also include a proposed title, the contributor’s name, professional affiliation (if applicable), e-mail address and a short bio of maximum 100 words. Proposals for contributions can be submitted in Dutch or English.
OASE #102 will be presented during the event Jokerweek in Ghent (Belgium), on 3 April from 18:00 – 18:30 hrs in indoor-wielerpiste ’t Kuipke in the Citadelpark in Ghent (walking distance from train station Gent St-Pieters).
Entrance is free and everyone is welcome, so join us on 3 April in Ghent!
Architectural training seems to be more difficult to organize than ever before. After May 1968, education was radically democratized, or at least that was the intention. However, the 1999 Bologna Declaration radically changed the structure of architecture schools as well. Is there any tradition left to hand down to students? What skills do they need before they can enter the job market? And how about the kind of knowledge that may not be practical, but is nevertheless necessary to fully understand the culture and history of architecture? Is the architect a critical intellectual or rather a successful entrepreneur?
This issue of OASE examines European schools and teachers from the 1960s to the present day. Do educational institutes emphasize a particular architecture? What is the relationship between design and history? What is the impact of famous architects who teach? The issue concludes with three interviews about the architecture schools of today and about the challenges for the future.
Buy your copy at nai010 or NAi Booksellers.
Yet there are collective goods which are indivisible and
must be produced, or at least decided upon, by those who benefit from them, and
indeed by their collectivity: social solidarity, distributive justice and the
general rights and duties that constitute citizenship. I call these political
and would maintain that not only do they need to be made attractive by other
means than product diversification, but that allowing them to be judged by the
same standards as modern commodities must ultimately result in a situation in
which they are critically undersupplied.
More specifically, I am arguing that citizenship is by its very essence less comfortable than customership, and if measured by the same criteria must inevitably lose out.
— Wolfgang Streeck, ‘Citizens as Customers’, 2012.
Metabolism is a powerful metaphor when it is understood in the original sense of the German word Stoffwechsel, as the conversion of matter from one form to another. The metabolism therefore depends on the circulation of substances between the different points that make this Stoffwechsel possible. In the history of metabolism, and the recent revaluation of the concept within urban design and architecture, particular attention has been paid to mapping and controlling the substance flows that were severely disrupted by industrialization from the nineteenth century onwards. Much less attention has been paid to the contextualization of the places where this metabolism took place. However, these places have been the subject of substantial transformations since the beginning of the twentieth century. Some existing collective arrangements such as the washing place, the bathhouse or the well were dismantled and then redistributed between the house and the network. The urban utility systems were increasingly disappearing underground and the citizens were provided with appliances that made the metabolism in the house possible. The major transformation processes of water purification, water extraction, energy generation, composting, incineration, etcetera were given a place in a logistical landscape outside the city.
This meant that the big metabolic processes not only became invisible to the public, but in a certain sense they were also politically ‘neutralized’, because they could no longer be used to organize a difference in the public domain. Public washing places, communal bread ovens, public baths, urban gasworks and power stations, common land of farmers, drinking water fountains on squares, the urban slaughterhouse, and so forth were once publicly managed places of metabolism, which had to help keep the urban household of a community in order. At the same time they also facilitated another form of urban accumulation because these places added an additional layer of meaning to the urban landscape: there were specific agreements and codes of conduct that regulated and enabled the shared use of these places in an urban environment.
contemporary transformation of the urban metabolism in function of climate and
sustainability objectives subsequently generated a new rearrangement and
rescaling of the places of metabolism in the city. This development leads both
to further dematerialisation and to new commons and public places of exchange.
The climate city is strained between the smartphone that facilitates the
hyperindividualisation of urban services and the new infrastructure of water
squares, heat hubs and local associations for food production that show the
political-ecological interdependence of citizens and reintegrate them into
This issue of OASE wants to look at the metabolism from the historical shifts outlined above. If architecture and urban planning can contribute anything to the debate on metabolism, it is not simply by making the ‘metabolic machine’ more efficient, by designing it better and by optimising its embedding in the environment. What forms the core of this OASE issue, is how architecture and urban design can contribute to a politico-ecologically relevant project of metabolism, which — as Streeck indicates in the above quote — assumes ‘citizenship’ rather than ‘customership’. This means that we are looking for projects that do not just follow a metabolic logic, but rather for descriptions of projects (from the present or the past) that help create the conditions under which the metabolic perspective can once again generate an urban perspective of ‘citizenship’.
Papers for this OASE issue can take theory, history or design projects as a starting point, from the nineteenth century until today. The contributions should correspond to at least one of the descriptions below:
A) Papers that trace what the impact of economies of scale was/is (as the dominant logic within the economy) on the metabolism and the changing presence of that metabolism in the cityscape.
b) Papers that historically document how the shifting demarcation line between public and private has/had an impact on the conception of the points of Stoffwechsel. We are interested in how technological and social developments influence(d) the conception of metabolism and the shift between public and private.
c) Papers that put metabolism as Stoffwechsel – and not just as a flow or circulation – back at the centre of contemporary urban projects and thereby create the possibility for new forms of citizenship and the development of an urban project.
Proposals for contributions should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by 7 January 2019 and must include a proposed title, an abstract (maximum 300 words), as well as the contributor’s name, professional affiliation (if applicable), email address and a short bio (maximum 150 words). Proposals for contributions (and texts) can be submitted in Dutch or in English.
24.05.2018 @ 11h30
If the medium is the message, what is the question?
Belgian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Giardini, Venice
26.05.2018 @ 18h00
OASE#100 and Accattone#5 with Armin Linke
b-r-u-n-o, Calle Lunga S. Barnaba, 2729, 30123 Venice
08.06.2018 @ 18h00
A conversation with Karel Martens
San Serriffe, Sint Annenstraat 30, 1012 HE Amsterdam
28.06.2018 @ 19h00
Karel Martens and the project of OASE
Collectief kunstencentrum 019, Dok-Noord 5L, 9000 Gent
Contributors: Karel Martens, Aagje Martens, Bart Decroos, Véronique Patteeuw, Marius Schwarz, Ayham Ghraowi, Mathew Kneebone, Joris Kritis, Louis Lüthi, Carlo Menon, Laura Pappa, Anton Stuckardt and many more.
Everyone is welcome at these events!
If you have any questions, please e-mail us at email@example.com.
We invite you to read the Calls for Abstracts for OASE #102 and OASE #103.
Although often overlooked, the architecture museum has arguably become one of the most significant instruments in architecture’s disciplinary apparatus. By collecting archives, producing exhibitions, funding publications, organizing lectures and discussions, and even commissioning work, architecture museums have furthered discourse and practice since their inception in the early nineteenth-century. Unlike other museums, architecture museums are not content in merely shaping the context for the appreciation of their subject but aim to equally intervene in its development, both as a discipline and as a profession.
OASE 99 considers the changing societal, cultural, economic, and museographical context in order to reflect on the current and future agency of these institutions. A discussion which was approached both through historical and contemporary perspectives to establish a working understanding of architecture museums as crucial nodes in architecture’s cultural and societal apparatus.
The public presentation of OASE 99 extends the issue’s ambitions through a panel discussion with some of its authors, providing particular insights into different institutions as well as to the three levels that organize the journals’ contributions: the specific (“micro”), the broad (“macro”), and the abstract (“meta”). The conversation will not only uncover present issues but also address future challenges.
17h00: Welcome address by Sergio M. Figueiredo and Hüsnü Yegenoglu
17h15: position statements by speakers (Omer Kanipak, Triin Ojari, Sofie de Caigny, Mirko Zardini)
18h15: discussion panel moderated by Bernard Colenbrander
19h00: questions and answers
19h30: closing drinks
Mirko Zardini is an architect, author, curator, and has been the Director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture since 2005. His research engages with contemporary architecture by questioning and re-examining assumptions on which architects operate today. It’s All Happening so Fast, his most recent exhibition and publication, is a reflection on the often conflicting ideas about human relationships to environment. Zardini was editor for Casabella (1983 to 1988) and Lotus International (1988 to 1999), and he has taught design and theory at architecture schools including Harvard University, Princeton University, and the Swiss Federal Polytechnic University in Zurich (ETH) and in Lausanne (EPFL).
Sofie de Caigny is the new director of the Flemish Architecture Institute and has been the coordinator of the Center Flemish Architectural Archives of the Flemish Architecture Institute and Secretary General of ICAM - International Confederation of Architectural Museums. She holds a PhD from KU Leuven on Housing culture in Flanders during the interwar period (2007) and has given several lectures and workshops on architectural history and architectural archives. In 2016 she curated the exhibition MAATWERK MASSARBEIT. Custom Made Architecture from Flanders and the Netherlands at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt.
Triin Ojari is an Estonian art historian whose research subjects have included the 20th century modern architecture, the housing and urban planning of the Soviet period, contemporary architecture and architectural criticism. 2001-2013 acted as editor-in chief of the Estonian architectural review MAJA. Since 2014 director of the Museum of Estonian Architecture. Author of the book 21st Century House: New Estonian Residential Architecture (Tallinn, 2007) and Positions. Articles on Architecture 1992–2011 (Tallinn, 2012).
Ömer Kanipak received his architecture degree from Istanbul Technical University in 1994, and his Master’s degree from MIT School of Architecture, History Theory and Criticism department in 1998. He founded Arkitera Architecture Center in 2000 together with his partners and worked as the co-director of the center until 2011. He was a visiting professor of architecture in various universities in Istanbul until 2017. Kanipak is an architectural photographer and a communications consultant both in Istanbul and in London. He frequently writes on national and international publications, takes role as members of juries or consultants of national and international architectural awards.
Bernard Colenbrander, is professor of Architecture History and Theory at Eindhoven University of Technology. In the 1980s and 1990s, he worked at the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI),in the final years as chief curator. His publications include Stijl. Norm en handschrift in de Nederlandse architectuur (1993), Referentie: OMA. De sublieme start van een architectengeneratie (1995), De Verstrooide Stad (1999, PhD dissertation), Frans van Gool. Leven en werk (2005), Limes Atlas (2005, with MUST) and De Kroon. Een Europese wolkenkrabber (2012, with Christian Rapp). He recently published Nederlandse Kunst in de Wereld (2015, with Ton Bevers, Johan Heilbron and Nico Wilterdink) and David Chipperfield. The Embedded Nomad (2016, with Christian Rapp).
First publication dedicated completely to OASE’s graphic design.
Historical perspectives on the crucial role of graphic design in the architectural field.
Indepth interview with Karel Martens.
The influential Dutch graphic designer Karel Martens [has] spent nearly 60 years developing a practice that reflects his persistent inquisitiveness.’ – New York Times
The 100th issue of OASE takes the journal’s long-standing collaboration with its graphic designer Karel Martens as a starting point to explore the relationship between architecture journals and graphic design. In doing so, it challenges the conventional idea that architecture journals are mere carriers of information, showing instead how these journals play a defining role in the message they convey.
Adhering to Marshall McLuhan’s famous maxim ‘the medium is the message’, it considers the graphic space of the journal, its materiality, its production, and the physical experience of reading
Within this context, the 100th issue of OASE zooms in on the relationship between architecture journals and graphic design, starting with a historical overview before considering the specific history of OASE and the practice of its own graphic designer. The aim is to provide an insight into the close and mutually enriching relationship between the graphic design of an architecture journal and the production of architectural knowledge.
OASE #100 is planned to appear in May.
Contributions by: Ayham Ghraowi, Mathew Kneebone, Lieven Lahaye, Louis Lüthi, Carlo Menon Laura Pappa, Véronique Patteeuw, Marius Schwarz, Linda Van Deursen. Bart Decroos, Véronique Patteeuw, Marius Schwarz
Faculty of Architecture
Campus Sint-Lucas Ghent
9000 Gent, Belgium
Program 19 October 2017:
7:50 p.m. > Lectures (in English) by:
- Maarten Overdijk (Utrecht School of the Arts, author OASE #98)
- Bas Smets (Bureau Bas Smets, author OASE #98)
9 p.m. > Drinks
The launch is organized by OASE and the research group Urban Projects, Collective Spaces & Local Identities, Department of Architecture, KULeuven.
The entrance is free, everyone is welcome. But please register for the event via this Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/presentatie-oase-98-launch-oase-98-tickets-38221823503
Press release by P!
P! is thrilled to present the first North American solo exhibition of renowned Dutch graphic designer Karel Martens. Having played a crucial role within the gallery’s program, Martens now premieres a body of work – including his signature letterpress monoprints, an interactive video installation, a modular wall-covering system, and a kinetic clock sculpture – that extend his nearly 60 year experimentation with color, overprinting, patterning, and time.
Martens’ work emerges from a set of seemingly disparate concerns. An interest in precision and process accompanies sheer aesthetic intuition and the beauty of chance; his focus on the permanence of printing exists side-by-side with a fascination for clocks and the ephemeral passing of moments. In all of this, Martens aspires to something that may seem unfashionable today: to create timeless, abstract works, expressions of his continuous exploration and formal invention.
Building upon Martens’ early kinetic work of the 1960s, a new clock sculpture – composed of three multi-colored disks that rotate according to hours, minutes, and seconds – transforms the flow of time into a phenomena of form and color. In contrast, a grid of letterpress monoprints from the past year displays Martens’ intimate engagement with paper and ink. Overprinted with as many as ten layers on found administrative cards, these unique prints produce surprising and complex visual effects.
Presented at P! in a wall-scale installation, Martens’ conceptual wallpaper system stems from his investigations into printing technology and permutational systems. Offset-printed A4 sheets featuring stripes of varying thickness, rendered in different colors, function as analog pixels in a do-it-yourself graphic kit. The show’s final work is an interactive video application that translates the camera’s vision into a custom pattern language. Viewers control the scale and density of the pattern, reflecting Martens’ interest in the open-ended and ongoing process of image-making.
Karel Martens: Recent Work
11 September – 30 October 2016
Opening reception: Sunday, 11 September, 6 – 8pm
of OASE brings together an interest
in the perception and design of urban landscapes with a particular
methodological view. In urban planning and landscape practices developed in
recent decades, notions such as ‘sense of place’ and site-specificity have been
reintroduced as leading concepts, especially in redevelopment of ‘post-productive’
landscapes: former industrial areas, brownfields, harbours, mining sites, etcetera.
Here, the landscape was transformed and manipulated rigorously in favour of
industrial production processes, and often planned from a bird’s-eye
perspective, according to tabula rasa methods or zoning plans projected directly
from the drawing table onto the territory. In redesigning and making accessible
such spaces, this abstracting perspective made way for an approach taking into
account the experience on the terrain, rooting the identity of a site in a retracing
of former uses. Therefore, in much of these reconversion projects (for example
in Emscher Park), design approaches are called in that claim to ‘read’ the
different layers and meanings of a site, understood as the locus of different stories,
which can be revealed, reconstructed and altered. Today, a new type of
redevelopment is high on the agenda: that of suburban areas around or between
cities. Built mainly in the post-Second World War period, these urban
landscapes are subject to far-reaching demographic changes and development
pressure, especially because most city centres and the above-mentioned
post-productive landscapes are becoming fully developed. However, suburban
areas often seem to lack the site-specificity and the history of inner cities
and brownfields. An important challenge is how to enhance the legibility of an
urban landscape that has been planned in a seemingly chaotic way, from tabula
rasa planning to a piecemeal infill, juxtaposing layers and – often
contradictory – meanings? If suburbia is to become city, what is its ‘sense of
place’? And what is the story that holds it together?
This issue of OASE investigates narrative approaches of analysis and design of both post-productive and suburban landscapes. How are narrative means (textual as well as visual) used as a way to (re)construct stories of landscapes, to reveal site-specific identities, to investigate experiential qualities, to place the subject back in the centre of the analysis and design project? How does narrativity foster the experience of temporality and history in the experience of landscape? A fertile ground for such explorations, in which the ‘reading’ of the urban landscape became subject of urban investigation, can be found in the critical responses to the abstracting perspective of modern architecture and urban planning, for instance by the British Townscape movement, and in the interest in the subject’s experience of the urban landscape in the work of American designers and researchers such as Kevin Lynch, Lawrence Halprin, Edmund Bacon, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. In the course of the 1960s and 1970s, their field of interest shifted from the inner city to suburbia and highway landscapes, which were in full development at the time. They used a wide range of media that can be described as ‘narrative’: ‘serial views’, interviews, mental mapping and they experimented with the juxta- and superposition of photographic images, sketches, text and maps. However, this interest in experiential and narrative aspects of urban landscapes has its precedents in older site-specific and experience-oriented approaches (for example Camillo Sitte’s attempt to link the modern city to the specificity of the site and the pedestrian experience), as well as in landscape architecture (for example the picturesque garden, specifically designed from a routing as a narrative structure).
This issue of OASE aims to explore the legacy of these historical approaches, and seeks appropriations of such methods to address today’s questions of urban landscapes. We are looking for two types of contributions. First, we invite contributions of/on (landscape) architects and urban planners using a narrative approach in analysis and design today. Which techniques are used, and how are they brought into practice? Second, we invite theoretical and/or historical reflections, taking the exploration of the experiential and narrative aspects of urban landscape in history as a starting point for a critical reflection. Who constructs the narrative, how and why? How does the narrative relate to power relations? Can narrativity provide a way of conceiving of subject-object, reader-writer as active relationships instead of as opposites?
The aim of this issue of OASE is to understand the historical foundations of the concept of narrativity in reading and designing the (urban) landscape, and to uncover the relevance of narrativity for today’s practice.
Please send your abstract of max. 500 words before July 15, 2016 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notification of results: 25 July 2016
Papers: max. 3000 words
Deadline: 15 September 2016
Release of the issue: May 2017
This issue of OASE is situated within a tradition that gives a central role to questions of use and appropriation in architectural reflection. The general attention to use and appropriation is part and parcel of a layered critique of architecture. The critique of a vulgar take on functionalism in favour of an open interpretation of the relationship between form and use (Rossi). The critique of commodification by placing the focus on use value rather than exchange value (Lefebvre). The critique of the hegemony of design (and the designer) in favour of design practices centred around use and usership (Jacobs, Gehl).
This issue of OASE will focus on the marked revival of forms of architecture that explicitly address questions of use and appropriation in the development of a sociocritical architecture. How can designers incorporate experience and use into their design process and architecture projects? Is this self-obvious or a point of contention? To what extent are designers ready to engage in processes of use and appropriation?
Between the belief in the autonomy of architecture on the one hand, and heteronomic, user-centred forms of design on the other, lies a broad spectrum of practices that radically question the traditional separation between design and use. In this issue, the opposition of design and use, of autonomy and heteronomy, is not addressed as a matter to be resolved, but rather as a productive force field for architectural production, as a dialectic to be spatially articulated and from which architecture and the city may derive meaning. In short, OASE #96 wishes to explore architectural projects that put great stock in the poetics of use and appropriation in the production of architectural meaning.
Call for Papers
We invite contributions of maximum 1500 words discussing critical architectural or urbanist design practices that mobilise use and appropriation as poetic material. These practices will be combined to produce both case-specific insights and shared ideas and arguments. In this way, we hope to move beyond the polemical theoretical discussions that have dominated this subject in the past. We ask authors to explicitly address the position adopted by themselves or other designers in the creation and articulation of possibilities of use. The papers must present a specific project or design practice that sheds light on the conceptual framework, the underlying motivations and the specific context in which this practice was developed.
The central question in this issue of OASE is how design can proactively engage with future users and possibilities of use. This involves much more than the legitimation of design choices and is not limited to discussions on user participation or user-centred design. We are, for example, interested in the various ways in which possibilities of use are conditioned by changes in the public or private character of a space, its accessibility, its visibility, etcetera. We are equally interested in projects that carve out conditions outside of the public-private dichotomy and create new collective worlds, new commons, counter spaces of the urban regularity. We would like to include practices that move beyond the classical role play of client, architect, user, and situate design in a broader ecology of actors and users. We are looking for practices that display a keen awareness of the possible positive or negative impact of architectural or urban intervention and incorporate that reflection in the design. Strategies that work for the protection of the city as use value against the effects of land speculation, for instance, belong in this category. We are looking projects that conceive of use as a learning process and explore together with users the changing meaning of architecture. There is room for places concerned with reuse, reappropriation and the recycling of building elements and materials. We are interested in projects that work with traces of use (cf. usure), that conceive of use as patina rather than wear and tear. In the relationship between architecture and furnishing, and between furniture and its use we may also find clues for an architecture of appropriation. We look for contributions discussing questions of multiple use and appropriation, of different temporalities of use, time windows and rhythms, temporary and permanent.
Deadline for full papers: 20 August 2015
be written in English or in Dutch.
You may contact the editors to discuss possible contributions.
The selection of papers will be made in function of the quality of the papers and the diversity of practices.
Léa-Catherine Szacka [LCS]: In 1980, OMA was invited to be one of the 20 exhibitors in the Strada Novissima at the Venice Biennale, entitled The Presence of the Past. Last year, in the catalogue of the 14th Biennale, you referred to that exhibition, saying that it felt like the end of architecture ‘as we know it’, and pointing out to the beginning of the Reagan era in 1981 and to the advent of neoliberalism. The Strada Novissima was a marketplace, the perfect performative space of consumption. How did you perceive this pivotal ‘postmodern’ moment?
Rem Koolhaas [RK]: I think the year 1980 marked the introduction of postmodernism at an enormous scale in Europe. I have always thought that postmodernism was the style par excellence of market economy. There was a strange discrepancy: probably the thinkers involved in the exhibition had the impression that they were working on a highly intellectual enterprise, with a lot of historical sophistication and dimension. But actually, I, at the time, perceived the exhibition as the first manifestation of the free market. The Strada Novissima showed what architecture, ruled by the market economy, would imply.
figure 1: Strada Novissima, Venice Architecture Bienniale 1980 (© Paolo Portoghesi).
LCS: It was not the inception of postmodernism, it was merely its diffusion to a larger public.
RK: It was the Europeanization of postmodernism. I lived in New York in the 1970s, so I was there when American postmodernism was born and when the arguments for it were being developed. I had an intimate overview of all the authors and how they interacted. I was alert to what postmodernism implied and I was horrified when I realized that it had reached Europe. That is probably why I tried to show a strong opposition to it. Taking part in the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale was the occasion to make my opposition manifest.
LCS: As stated in the catalogue you were asked to design a facade: ‘your dwelling or a personal museum, a space for the exhibition and “sale” of your own ideas’. In other words: a billboard or a self-portrait. You went for a very simple design: a semi-translucent canvas, exposing the Arsenale. Lifted in the bottom left corner, the fabric was pierced by a red pole holding a neon sign saying OMA (or AMO). Your facade was not a copy of a facade from another project. It was a project in itself. How did it come about?
RK: Stefano made the drawings. We always had difficulties designing facades so this project was confronting us with our incompetence in a way. We had to do a kind of anti-facade or a non-facade.
Stefano de Martino [SdM]: The piece of canvas was a temporary screen – the only concession to an exterior presence was the OMA neon sign. We did not play the formalist game, proving that architecture can be very little, that you can concentrate on content.
figure 2: Strada Novissima, OMA/Rem Koolhaas, drawing by Stefano de Martino (© OMA).
LCS: Rem, in 2011 you said, in an interview with Charles Jencks in Architectural Design: ‘we were uncomfortable with the notion of the street’.
RK: I hated the idea of having to do a facade, even more a facade to represent oneself. So there were essentially a number of things that we wanted to avoid.
SdM: Yes, and the Biennale confirmed that we were on the right track. To know that we were in a minority was exhilarating. We upset a lot of people. Everyone else fell into a camp: the morphologists who couldn’t help considering cities as pieces of cheese that you cut up in blocks, and those who could only think of the ‘wow factor’ of their inventions… We were trying to see what was essential, before you need bricks. When you have a system of relations, then you have architecture.
LCS: Your facade, like all the others, was built by the set designers of Cinecittà. In what way did this imposed collaboration between architecture and cinema change the outcome? Could we speak of a fictional element in the facade?
RK: Our facade was fundamentally different. It was not even made by the Cinecittà technicians. But I think that the role of Cinecittà in the exhibition was tremendously interesting in the sense that it represented an early announcement of how unsubstantial architecture had become. Delirious New York was also about that: showing that architecture was no longer a substance but an illusion.
SdM: We were never into facadism. Maybe now that it’s all about facades, you don’t hear this word anymore, but at the time it was an insult. We saw the Strada Novissima as a kind of postmodern Potemkin village. Knowing the people invited, we could very well imagine what would happen. We knew it would be a horrendous pastiche. Our project moved in another direction: it was ephemeral, non-referential, and it produced its own logic, defining a situation instead.
LCS: Behind the facade you presented two projects concerned with preservation: one dealing with a medieval fortress, the extension of the Dutch parliament in The Hague (1978); and the renovation of the panopticon prison in Arnhem (1980). These projects resonated with the gesture of the wall: they were about opening the wall, creating a breach. How and why were these projects shown?
RK: We didn’t have a lot of work, and these were the two things that we were working on. By coincidence they both addressed the conversion of historical compound. The approach did not fit with the exhibition mentality. It was a convenient demonstration of how history could be approached in a different way. It was only when I started working on Cronocaos that I realized how consistently that has been a theme of our work. To some extent, I am a child of that mentality, but it took a different expression.
SdM: Next to the large charcoal, the watercolour drawings and the tiny models in plexi cases was Rem’s text ‘Our New Sobriety’, with the assertion that ‘the plan is of primary importance’. I remember quite some people were puzzled: ‘What is he saying? Ma che…?!’. But that was the real message. Rem wrote the text in ten minutes flat, in London. This manifesto was published in the catalogue for OMA’s first retrospective at the AA, in 1981.
RK: The text, together with our non-facade, was a way of asserting difference.
figure 3: Strada Novissima, OMA/Rem Koolhaas (© Charles Jencks).
LCS: You elaborated the project for the Strada Novissima parallel to the study for Boompjes Rotterdam (1980) and for housing projects in Berlin: Kochstrasse/Friedrichstrasse (1980) and Lützowstrasse (for IBA 1984).
RK: For Boompjes we were invited after the Biennale. It was the moment of separation between Elia Zenghelis and myself. The Dutch parliament project was still a collaboration, while the prison one was already just us. The separation was never about issues, it was just that it became difficult to work on the emergence of an architecture office, as a team. I don’t think that the Biennale influenced these projects, nor the other way around, but it could be that the Biennale made Boompjes possible, that it helped us to get the commission. A lot of things were coming together: in 1978 I published Delirious New York, then we almost won the competition for the Dutch parliament, and then there was the Biennale.
SdM: The Koch/Friedrichstrasse project was an alternative to the idea of the city current at the time – the street, making facades, rebuilding blocks… It took as a model the courtyard house, which has a boundary but no facade, and a void at its core, the inversion of a block. Next to the Berlin Wall, on a site with little substance left, this seems almost contextual…
LCS: What about the relation between the Strada and later OMA-projects?
SdM: The polemic was more relevant than the project itself. With the proposals for the Exposition Universelle in Paris, right after the competition for Parc de la Villette in 1982, we elaborated an immaterial, ephemeral architecture to get away from representation, especially in relation to the national pavilions. Architecture as national representation becomes very exhibitionist: it’s all about facades. In our proposal, the plan organises the activities on the two sites, focusing on the systemic aspects of the program, creating conditions for specific interpretations. It was abstract, but we had no trouble – and a lot of fun – to translate that into scenarios through collages.
LCS: The project for the Strada Novissima is not mentioned in official chronologies: not in S,M,L,XL, neither on the OMA website. Do you consider it as an architectural project or more as a discursive endeavour, a text, transformed into ephemeral architecture?
RK: I think that project was important because it was the first time we were recognized as part of an official group. It is an oversight rather than a deliberate repression. It has to do with the fact that, at the time, the office was a fiction. Stefano de Martino and I were working at my home. It was like a pre-office.
figure 4: Strada Novissima, OMA/Rem Koolhaas (© Charles Jencks).LCS: If we do read your facade as postmodern, should we consider it as a sign (Venturi), a historic fragment (Rossi), or a communication device (Jencks)?
RK: Of course, we wanted to appeal to the street. We made the neon sign to find a blatant and perhaps American way of appealing – a sort of Venturian sign. The funny thing was that Venturi, at the time, was very much criticized, even in America. In New York the scene was dominated by Peter Eisenman and Robert Stern, and the two of them agreed that Venturi should be ‘out’.
LCS: Out of what?
RK: Out of everything he could be kept out of: out of books, out of architecture, out of history… They were united in hatred and contempt for Venturi. I was close to Eisenman, but I was also close to Venturi. I have always told Eisenman that one of the weaknesses of his intellectual position was his polemical blindness. Nevertheless, part of my reading of the 1980 Biennale was that Stern won.
LCS: The exhibition was hijacked and became perceived as historicist?
RK: Whether it was historicist or not, I don’t really care, but Stern won simply as an influence. And with that it became a commercial proposition, representing the kind of postmodernism that became the style of choice for developers. That was very visible and I think Europeans were so naive that they couldn’t see that.
LCS: Portoghesi, when embarking on the daunting task of organizing the Biennale, asked Charles Jencks but also Robert Stern, Christian Norberg-Schulz, Vincent Scully and Kenneth Frampton to be part of the organization committee – Frampton soon quit because he didn’t agree with the curatorial and theoretical positions. Who do you think was responsible for your presence?
RK: I think it was Jencks. I didn’t know Portoghesi. At the Biennale I shook his hand, but barely talked to him. Now, in retrospect, I think he is a very interesting architect. But with Jencks and Frampton, I was in an extremely unstable situation. I was a friend of Jencks since 1968, when I met him at the AA. Of course, I totally disagreed with Jencks’ positions and I still do, but we remained good friends. A little later, in the 1970s, I became friends with Frampton. In the 1970s, I agreed with his position. When I was writing Delirious New York he became more and more negative about my work. He thought it was terrible to write about Dalí. At the beginning of the 1970s Frampton had a good sense of me; at the end of the decade, he had a bad one.
figure 5: Strada Novissima, Venice Architecture Biennale 1980 (© Paolo Portoghesi).
LCS: Another ‘official group’ came eight years later, when you took part in the Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition at MoMA.RK: In the Strada Novissima the majority of people was supporting and endorsing the message of the exhibition. They thought they could assert a particular thing. But no one wanted to be a Deconstructivist. In this way, 1980 was the last time a kind of coherence emerged between architects; in 1988, this had become impossible.
LCS: The Strada Novissima was the end of an agreement between architects?
RK: Exactly. If anyone was responsible for the Deconstructivist exhibition, it was Johnson. He really felt the need to reassert his power and to declare an agenda. He was convinced of being the true curator of the 20th century.
LCS: If Johnson’s move was political, so could have been Portoghesi’s. He was very close to Bettino Craxi who was head of the PSI in 1980 and Prime Minister from 1983 to 1987. Did you sense a political agenda in 1980? Was the exhibition linked to the political climate, to the tension of the anni di piombo?
RK: I missed that completely, partly because I had been living in America until 1979. It’s only in the last twenty years that I got a better understanding of Italian politics. Maybe it was asserting the possibility of a more cheerful Italy, but that would not have occurred to me at the time.
LCS: What happened after? It is difficult to assess or measure the ‘impact’ of an exhibition but it’s interesting to question the leap from the street of papier maché to the postmodern architecture of the 1980s. Some see the IBA, the Internationale Bauaustellung in Berlin, as a transposition of the Strada in the city.
RK: There is definitely a connection. It’s difficult: at a certain moment something is in the air…
SdM: The IBA owed a lot to the Strada. In 1979, it had been taken over by Josef Paul Kleihues and Vittorio Lampugnani, who propounded the idea of critical reconstruction to fill up a city that was losing inhabitants in droves. They operated with the idea of completing streets where there were no streets left, something like Woody Allen cloning the Leader from his nose in Sleeper… And of course the cadavre exquis that typified the Strada Novissima showed that you could produce diversity within a strict scheme.
LCS: Was it important to be part of that vibe at the beginning of the eighties?
RK: I love being part of a group, but when the moment is there I find it terribly uncomfortable. I probably experienced a mixture of anxiety and fun.
LCS: You said at one point you were not so different from the others in the Strada Novissima.
RK: No, I wasn’t that much different. That is the whole point of Delirious New York: exaggerate the differences. You have no idea how controversial the idea was at the time to work on New York. Everyone thought it was a serious mistake and an irrelevant subject. And that is why I was always interested in Venturi and Scott Brown. Because I realized that they were extremely smart and creative in the way they looked at things. I wanted to be part of that.
LCS: So, in retrospect, you were postmodern?
I don’t know. I think everyone is. One exhibition I was happy to be part of was
Les Immatériaux at the Centre
Pompidou in 1985. I really felt at home, much more than at the Biennale, and much
more than in the Deconstructivist
Architecture exhibition. In Les Immatériaux,
I showed the Boompjes project – it is, by the way, very similar to the Rotterdam
building we recently (and finally) realized. I felt close to that exhibition
because it was not connected to an architectural movement: it proposed a kind
of thinking through a condition. I have always felt closer to Lyotard and
Latour or to other French intellectuals than to any one in America or England. It
was exhilarating! It was Pompidou at its best and its most profound. It had
nothing to do with matter or substance – it was concerned with thought.
Call for Abstracts OASE #115 about “Interferences: Migrating Practices in Europe”, written by Justin Agyin, Kornelia Dimitrova,
Christoph Grafe and Bernard Colenbrander. Deadline is June 19, 2022. Read the full text of the OASE #115 Call for Abstracts in the PDF.
Museums stage public encounters between visitors, objects and
stories. This is not limited to a tour through the exhibition spaces, it
starts already with monumental or ‘tresholdless’ entrances.
This issue of OASE makes a critical analysis of how soil connects to
urban planning and urban design, and how it can adjust those practices
in exploring new agendas.
Read all about the presentation in the pdf file.