The Nothing: Optimistic Architecture Meets Pragmatic Returns

Woodbury University, Fall 2010.
Burbank Campus 7500 Glenoaks Blvd. Burbank, CA 91510

Instructor/Section: John Southern/F1
Course Schedule: Fridays 9AM-12PM. Room: SB202


Course description:

In the 1984 film The Never Ending Story, child protagonist Bastian is forced to reconcile between his emergent adolescent rationalization of the adult world around him and his innocent curiosity about the mythical world of Fantasia. He discovers Fantasia after inquiring about a strange book in a used bookshop, and is quickly lost in the story within its pages. When reality and fiction collide and Bastian finds himself being written into the book itself, he learns that Fantasia is threatened by a formless entity known as The Nothing. As Bastian’s doubts about Fantasia begin to obscure his initial sense of wonder, he finds that The Nothing is slowly consuming the Fantasia and its inhabitants, thereby suggesting that when idealistic optimism is replaced by pragmatic reasoning, or in this case, Bastian’s doubt of the imaginary itself, then despair and hopelessness are all that remain. Bastian chooses to embrace the fantastical, and at times, absurd experiences in The Never Ending Story, thus suspending his connection to the adult world of pragmatism, and eventually allowing him to use his fictitious triumph against The Nothing in Fantasia to conquer his own adolescent problems back in the real world.

For our purposes, the metaphor of The Never Ending Story symbolizes Architecture’s struggle in its attempts in stabilizing the rift between ideology and practice upon the continually shifting ground that lies between the leftover utopian idealism of the 60’s and the rational pragmatism espoused by the avante garde during the last ten years of Post-Criticality.

Upon closer examination, one is able to recognize that while neither extreme has managed to successfully reconcile the disputes that arise between theory and practice, together they represent an interesting series of juxtapositions, arguments, and intellectual fronts, which together can be cultivated into a formidable arsenal from which to develop one’s own conception of “practice” and “project”. We will also explore methods of digital production and material affect, as well as discuss how emergent themes in technology have impacted both modes of practice, as well as how architects view the contemporary city.

By the end of the term you will have developed your own personal balance between the fields of architectural optimism and professional pragmatism, thus allowing you to propose a project that will advantageously position you to avoid being consumed by The Nothing.

AR448: Professional-Practice II

The Nothing: Optimistic Architecture Meets Pragmatic Returns

Week 01 (08.27): Group Meeting/Lottery/Section Assignments/First Class Meeting

Introductory Reading:

Saunders, William H. “Hasty Habits of Mind.” The Architects Newspaper [New York, NY] 24 May 2010. p. 23.
Laurent-Paul Robert & Dr. Vesna Petresin Robert, “Distructing Utopias”, Architectures of the Near Future, Helen Castle, ed. (London, U.K. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 2009), pp.42-48.

Week 02 (09.03): The Problem of The Nothing

Reinhold Martin, “Toward a Utopian Realism,” in Harvard Design Magazine Spring/Summer 2005 edition, (Cambridge, MA, 2005), pp.1-5.
Stan Allen, “Practice Vs. Project”, in Practice: Architecture, Technique, and Representation, (New York, NY. Routledge, 2009), pp. 11-21.
Robert Somol & Sarah Whiting, “Notes around the Doppler Effect and other Moods of Modernism” in Perspecta 33: Mining Autonomy, Michael Osman, Adam Ruedig, Matthew Seidel, Lisa Tilney, eds. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002), pp. 72-77.
Hans Ibelings, “A Supermodern Perspective” & “Supermoderism in the 21st Century, in Supermodernism: Architecture in the Age of Globalization. (Rotterdam, NL. NAI Publishers, 2002), pp.128-156.

Case Studies:

Kazuyo Sejima & Associates: Gifu Housing. Motosu, Japan,1998.
Toyo Ito: Sendai Mediatheque. Sendai, Japan, 2001.
Diller+Scofidio: Blur Building, 2002.
Rem Koolhaas/OMA: LACMA Campus. Los Angeles, CA. 2002. (Competition)
Future Systems: Selfridges. Birmingham, UK. 2003.

Week 03 (09.10): Fallen Fruit: Rotten Ends and Fertile Beginnings in Post-War Modernism

Anne Predet, “CIAM Team 10: Discussing the Charter of Habitat”, in Team 10: In Search of a Utopia of the Present, Max Risselada, ed. (Rotterdam, NL. NAi Publishers, 2006), pp. 20-21.
Anne Predet, “CIAM Team 10: Scales of Association”, in Team 10: In Search of a Utopia of the Present, Max Risselada, ed. (Rotterdam, NL. NAi Publishers, 2006), pp. 52-53.
Anne Predet, “CIAM ’59: The End of CIAM”, in Team 10: In Search of a Utopia of the Present, Max Risselada, ed. (Rotterdam, NL. NAi Publishers, 2006), pp. 61-63.

Case Studies:

CIAM: CIAM Grids (various). 1948-1957.
Allison and Peter Smithson: House of the Future, Ideal Home Exhibition. London, UK. 1956.
Allison and Peter Smithson: Berlin Hauptstadt. Berlin, Germany, 1975.
Allison and Peter Smithson: Appliance Houses. 1956-1958.
Allison and Peter Smithson: Robin Hood Gardens. London, UK. 1972.
Allison and Peter Smithson: The Economist Building. London, UK. 1964.

Week 04 (09.17): In-Class Pin-Up / Assignment 1: Situations, Locales, and Conditions

Week 05 (09.24): Some Salvos From the Sixties

Lara Schrijver, “Technology in Architecture: The Ghost in the Machine”, Radical Games: Popping the Bubble of 1960’s Architecture, (Rotterdam, NL. NAI Publishers, 2009), pp. 95-145.
Sander Woertman, “The Distant Winking of a Star, or the Horror of the Real” in Exit Utopia: Archtiectural Proocations 1956-76, Martin Van Schaik and Otakar Macel eds. (New York, NY. Prestel, 2005), pp.146-155.
Peter Lang and William Menking, “The Continuous Monument: An Architectural Model for Total Urbanization”, in Superstudio: Life Without Objects, (Milan, IT. Skira, 2003), pp. 122-163.

Case Studies:

Peter Cook, Ron Herron, Denis Crompton, Warren Chalk, David Greene, and Michael Webb, “Archigram” (New York, NY. Princeton Architectural Press, 1999.), pp.8-19, 24-29, 36-43, 46-59, 78-81, 86-115, 120-123, & 134-137.
Archizoom Associati “No Stop City” in Exit Utopia: Archtiectural Provocations 1956-76, Martin Van Schaik and Otakar Macel eds. (New York, NY. Prestel, 2005), pp.157-176.
Andrea Branzi, “No Stop City: Archizoom Associates, 1969-1972” in Exit Utopia: Archtiectural Provocations 1956-76, Martin Van Schaik and Otakar Macel eds. (New York, NY. Prestel, 2005), pp.177-182.
Super Studio, “The Continuous Monument: An Architectural Model for Total Urbanization” in Exit Utopia: Archtiectural Proocations 1956-76, Martin Van Schaik and Otakar Macel eds. (New York, NY. Prestel, 2005), pp.125-145.

Week 06 (10.01): Urban Matters from Past and Present

Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter, “Collage City” in Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory, 1965-1995. Kate Nesbit, ed. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), pp. 268-293.
Mark Wigley, “Lost In Space”, The Critical Landscape, Arie Graafland and Jasper de Haan, eds.,
(Rotterdam, NL. NAI Publishers, 1996), pp. 30-57.
Rem Koolhaas, “The Generic City”, and “Whatever Happened to Urbanism,” In SMLXL (New York: Monacelli Press,1995), pp. 959-971; & 1248-1264.
James Corner, “Not Unlike Itself: Landscape Strategy Now”, in The New Architectural Pragmatism, William S. Saunders, ed. (Minneapolis, MN, University of Minnesota Press, 2007), pp.89-93.

Case Studies:

Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown: Learning From Las Vegas, 1972.
John Portman & Associates: Bonaventure Hotel. Los Angeles, CA. 1976.
Lebbeus Woods: Underground Berlin/Aerial Paris/Berlin Free Zone/Zagreb Free Zone (1985-97).
Rem Koolhass/OMA: Euralille Master Plan. Lille, France, 1994.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Field Operations: The High Line. New York, NY. 2009.
Smout Allen: The Retreating Village/The Geo-Fluidic Landscape (2001-2007).

Week 07 (10.08): All-Section Pin-Up / Assignment 2: Typology, Taxonomy, and Event (MIDTERM)

Week 08 (10.15): Programming: Selected strategies from the not so distant past

Bernard Tschumi, “Introduction and Illustrated Index” in The Manhattan Transcripts (London: Academy Group LTD, 1981.), pp. 7-12 & XVII-XXIX.
Bernard Tschumi, “Spaces and Events” in Architecture and Disjunction, (Cambridge, MA., 1994), pp.139-150.
Rem Koolhaas, “Parc de la Villette”, in Rem Koolhaas: OMA (New York, NY. Princeton Architectural Press, 1991), pp.86-95.
Rem Koolhaas, “National Library of France” in Rem Koolhaas: OMA (New York, NY. Princeton Architectural Press, 1991), pp.132-139.
Rem Koolhaas, “ZKM: Center for Art and Media Technology” in Rem Koolhaas: OMA (New York, NY. Princeton Architectural Press, 1991), pp.140-150.
*Additional suggested reading:
Ana Miljacki, Amanda Reeser Lawrence, & Ashley Schafer, “2 Architects, 10 Questions on Program: Rem Koolhaas + Bernard Tschmui” in Praxis 8: Re:Programming, Amanda Reeser Lawrence & Ashley Schafer, eds. (Cambridge, MA, 2006), pp. 6-15.

Case Studies:

Bernard Tschumi: The Manhattan Transcripts. New York, NY.1981. (Publication)
Bernard Tschumi: Parc de la Villette. Paris, France,1991.
Bernard Tschumi: Le Fresnoy. Tourcoing, France, 1997.
Rem Koolhaas/OMA: National Library of France. Paris, Fr. 1989. (Competition)
Rem Koolhaas/OMA: Park de la Villette, 1991. (Competition)
Rem Koolhaas/OMA: Center for Art and Media Technology (ZKM). Karlsruhe, Germany. 1992. (Competition)

Week 09 (10.22): Pimp My Ride: Material Solutions for Abstraction and Delight
Greg Lynn “The Folded, the Pliant, and the Supple,” Michele Lachowsky and Joel Benzakin Eds. (Paris: Bibliotheque Royale de Belgique, 1998), pp. 109-133.
Sylvia Lavin, “Kissing Architecture: Super Disciplinarity and Confounding Mediums”, Log 17, Fall 2009, Cynthia Davidson, Mark Foster Gage, and Florencia Pita, eds. (New York, NY. Anyone Corp., 2009), pp.9-16.
Jesse Reiser, “Ornament and its Other”, in 306090: Decoration, Vol. 10. Emily Abruzzo, & Jonathan D. Solomon, eds. (New York, NY: 306090 Inc, 2006), pp.132-143.
Lisa Iwamoto, “Sectioning”, “Tessellating”, “Folding”, “Contouring”, & “Forming”, Digital Fabrications, (New York, NY., Princeton Architectural Press, 2009), pp.17-138.
Urban Operations, Slopscraper: Sustainable Production in the Age of Flux, (Los Angeles, CA. Urbanops.org, 2010).

Case Studies:

Herzog & de Meuron: Basel Switching Station. Basel, CH. 1994.
Marcelyn Gow, David Erdman, and Chris Perry (SERVO): Lattice Archipelogics. 2004.
Erwin Hauer and Enrique Rosado: Design 306. 2005.
Foster + Partners: Smithsonian Institution. Washington, D.C. 2007.
Atelier Manfredini: Cherry Blossom Collection. 2007.
Lewis.Tsurmaki.Lewis: Fluff Bakery, Tides Restaurant, Dash Dogs. New York, NY. 2008.
R&Sie: Dusty Relief/B-mu. Bangkok, Thailand, 2008.
Herzog & de Meuron: CaixaFroum-Madrid. Madrid, Spain. 2009.
Urban Operations: Slopscraper, 2009-2010.
SANAA: Derik Lam Showroom. New York, NY. 2010.

Week 10 (10.29): In-Class Pin-Up / Assignment 3: Affect, Performance, and Structure

Week 11 (11.05): Diagramming, Datascaping, Urban Negotiation, and Game Theory

Stan Allen, “Notations + Diagrams: Mapping the Intangible”, in Practice: Architecture, Technique, and Representation, (New York, NY. Routledge, 2009), pp. 41-69.
Peter Eisenman, “An Original Scene of Writing”, The Diagrams of Architecture, Mark Garcia, ed. (Chichester, UK. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 2010), pp. 92-103.
Roger Sherman, “If, Then: Shaping Change as a Strategic Basis for Design”, in 306090: Autonomous Urbanism, Alexander F. Briseno, Emily Abruzzo, and Jonathan D. Solomon, eds.
(New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008), pp.103-115.
Neil Spiller, “Spatial Notation and the Magical Operations of Collage in the Post-Digital Age”,
The Diagrams of Architecture, Mark Garcia, ed. (Chichester, UK. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 2010), pp. 178-185.

Case Studies:

Peter Eisenman: Houses I-VI (1970-1980)
MVRDV: WoZoCo Housing. Amsterdam, NL. 1997.
One Architecture: Six Under a Tennis Court,1997.
Stan Allen: Barcelona Manual, 2001.
MVRDV: FARMAX/Pig City/Sky Car City, 2008.

Week 12 (11.12): Digital Utopias / Cyber Realities / Network Culture

William Gibson, Neuromancer, (New York, NY, Ace Books, 1984), pp. 43-69.
Willam Gibson, Spook Country, (New York, NY, Berkley Books, 2007), pp.68-76 & 80-89.
Sherry Turkle, “E-Futures& E-Personae” in Designing for a Digital World, Neil Leach, ed. (New York, NY, Academy Press, 2002), pp. 31-37.
Antoine Picon, Toward a City of Events: Digital Media and Urbanity, in New Geographies, Neyran Turan, ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard GSD, 2009), pp. 1-12.
Kazys Varnelis and Anne Friedberg, “Place: The Networking of Public Space” in Networked Publics, Kazys Varnelis, ed. (Cambridge, MA, 2008), pp.15-42.
Kazys Varnelis, Ether: An Architecture of Self-Imagination in 306090, Issue 6: Shifting Infrastructures, Alexander F. Briseno, Emily Abruzzo, and Jonathan D. Solomon, eds. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004), pp.18-27.

Case Studies:

Asymtote: Virtual Stock Exchange. New York, NY. 1998.
AUDC: One Wilshire. Los Angeles, CA. 2002.
Nic Clear/Ben Marzys: London After the Rain. Bartlett School of Architecture, 2007.
Benjamin Aranda & Chris Lasch: The Brooklyn Pigeon Project. Brooklyn, NY. 2008.
Terada Design Architects: N Building. Tokyo, Japan, 2009.

Week 13 (11.19): All-Section Pin-Up/ Assignment 4: Project Manual DRAFT

Week 14 (11.26): Project Development (Thanksgiving Holiday, NO CLASS)

Week 15 (12.03): Studio Finals (Meeting by Appointment)

Week 16 (12.11): Final Reviews 12.11.09 (Location TBA)

Archive Material Due: 12.11.2010 (CD+Manual)