“From the criticism of ideology it is necessary to pass on to the analysis of the techniques of programing and of the ways in which these techniques actually affect the vital relationships of production.”
It’s difficult to find new architecture magazines that balance architecture criticism with projects, interviews and interesting graphic work in the same issue. Abitare is one of these magazines and with its #506 issue is demonstrating that it is possible.
Starting with the Experts’ comments, this time in response to Stefano Boeri’s Manifesto The eye of the needle of local space [Manifesto for a new idea of Localism], architects such as Emre Arolat, Odile Decq, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Srdjan Novanovic Weiss among others go deeper into Boeri’s ideas and give us a critic overview on planetary architecture and the role of the local and global into the realm of architecture. And as Gary Chang said, “Globalization and Locality might not necessarily be two opposite poles that come into conflict with each other in a world of growing complexity.”
Pedro Gadanho’s essay “On curating architecture as critical practice” is a deep and intense reading that has the task of revive architecture criticism. Gadanho talks about the Internet, the published architectural production, writing and curating, making some interesting references between his ideas and Walter Benjamin’s “producer” or Manfredo Tafuri’s “operative criticism”. He adds, about the role of the architect in all this context:
“Maybe now architects have to offer other skills, other roles, other contributions. Maybe it is now unsatisfying to see architects as only architects.”
And he explains how curating architecture has been, for him, a process of understanding and criticizing architecture culture, while at the same time, it helps to maximize architecture’s audience outside its own field.
Going on with this vision about the architect’s new role in the current times, Geoff Manaugh author oh the BLDG BLOG has been invited to write a “Corso di Blog” that will be developed in five lessons. The first one, on this issue, is about blogging history. With a clever, concise [and some times critical] article, Geoff explains how the “blogging practices” are not so different from other forms of writing. He defines blogging as “putting words and/or images online, on a regular basis, using a web dedicated to their publication. What those words and images might be –and who will someday read them– is another thing entirely.” And using this definition as start point to go on with the history of blogging, he drives us through heretical manuscripts reproduced by hand distributed via underground channels in the Middle Age to the samizdat copies of politically subversive short fiction in Soviet Russia as examples of blogging without the Internet.
“If architecture and design blogging is simply he latest iteration of the Clip/Stamp/Fold mentality already identifie by Beatriz Colomina and her students at Princeton University, then we would do well to look much further back, beyond Archigram and the Futurist Manifesto, to people like William Blake and –why not– Martin Luther.”
If we’re open enough to understand the whole idea and history behind the concept of “blogging”, we will really understand it in its broadest sense.
The interview by Manuel Orazi with Denise Scott Brown called “Building Arguments” is a wonderful text that starts (of course) with questions about Learning from Las Vegas, which Scott Brown uses as a leit-motif to talk about her African training, Nazism, apartheid and sexism in architecture. She pointed about Learning from Las Vegas:
In the 1960s many architects had difficulty distinguishing between objects of study and thoughts about those objects. To our critics, studying Las Vegas meant you were an apologist for gambling! And older architects, especially in the UK, had organised their lives around a moral ideology [...] There’s a small corner of Paradise reserved to those who believe in morality in the arts and I hope I belong there…”
And as we do like to read magazines from back to front and vice-versa, we want to finish quoting Sanford Kwinter on the editorial text, where he says:
“We need to face the fact that there may not even be architects in thirty years. Why? Because the material of the world is now generated largely through administrative apparatuses (or what are more benignly referred to as “organizations”). A few architects long ago anticipated the shift of their role from builders, as traditionally conceived, to organizers of social relations.”
And, as an example of all the theoretical articles included in the magazine, the selected projects also vary from large scale ones as Steven Holl’s Vanke Center to small projects as the ones built by a77 using design as social tool.
The complete contents of Abitare 506 can be found here.
And don’t miss the forthcoming issues to follow Geoff Manaugh’s Corso di Blog.