Archive for March, 2005

part 2: Volume Press conference, New York, Columbia University

part 1: Volume Press conference, New York, Columbia University

The Architecture of Power, part 2

Volume editorial
#6 - 2005

The previous issue of this magazine examined how “Power is in the Details”. This issue we widen the perspective and focus on buildings and building schemes.
Meanwhile people keep asking us questions…
Frequentty asked A few examples of the questions we receive Why has this magazine become unreadable, with either
too much or too little text? Why does this magazine change so often? Why isn’t this magazine about true architecture anymore? Why is this magazine not updating me with the necessary information? Why isn’t this magazine not available in my local bookstore? Why is this magazine only in English?
Answer Because this magazine deals with power, and power is changing architecture as we know it, as well as its media and distribution channels.
Rarely asked questions Why do you always connect architecture to larger social and cultural issues? Why do you print subjective photography that goes beyond the objective registration of facts? Why are your texts always so suggestive and discursive? Why do you carry on with this if the professionals have started to hate you? Why do you believe in humor as a means to understand the world? Why do creatives from Iran or Mexico subscribe to your magazine while you lose subscriptions in your home markets? Why do you progressively use Internet to pursue your research?
Answer Because we deal with power, and power can only be addressed and challenged by transgressing set scripts.
Very very rarely asked questions You have been propagating to go beyond architecture for a full year now: to do almost nothing; to start broadcasting rather than building architecture; to socialize and share; to address power directly. But are we soon going to see some practical results of that propaganda? Can architecture become a true cultural force capable of breaking through the status quo? Are architects responsible for the enslavement of their discipline? Should an architect be asked to play any other role in society than that of designer? Is this magazine an advocate of this belief? Will
your magazine ever be viable if you attempt to change your subject matter all the time? Is this magazine sold at undescript newsstands at train stations in the German hinterland? Can we get a group discount? Can I put this magazine in my final testament?
Answer Certainly!

Doing nothing is almost all right

Volume editorial
#2 - 2005

Few things are as driven by maximalism as architecture. The craft stands out for its almost boundless urge to prove itself.
Success depends on the fullness of the portfolio, on the size of the projects, on prestigious clients, on a deluge of publicity, and, last but not least, on narcissistic, compulsive and histrionic personalities for whom enough is never enough. Unbridled ambition is the hallmark of the famous architecture firms and schools, where ‘going home’ is considered tantamount to giving up. For anyone hoping to escape the drudgery of just meeting the client’s programmatic demands, sleeping under the desk is perfectly normal. If you want to become a thinking, creative architect, not only must you be capable of doing anything, you also have to do it. Work, work, work: that’s the motto.

But architecture is maximalist not only in this quantitative sense. It also has a penchant for maximalist designs - not lots, but huge. Perhaps the world’s two most discussed architecture projects of the moment are Daniel Libeskind’s design for Ground Zero and Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Monument in Berlin. Both these projects revolve around filling a traumatic absence, both physically and morally. They both involve building in a place touched by evil, and in both cases the solution is a gesture of maximal dimensions: the biggest monument and the tallest tower in the world. Proposals also existed for both these sites which aimed at the exact opposite. They were small, subtle suggestions that did not aim so much to negate the emptiness as to mark it. These designs have remained practically unknown, even among architects, and of course they did not stand a chance of ever being built.

There are few practitioners of merely marking an idea. What counts is positing a maximal universe. It must be completely worked out, leaving neither questions open nor the least gap unfilled. Architecture is fond of the complete makeover, of retouching reality rather than adding a subtle touch. Architecture always wants to strategize, even if tactics are obviously a better option.

‘Architecture must go beyond itself’ was the motto of Volume’s first issue. We illustrated some new areas of application for architectural intelligence, beyond building. In Amsterdam that issue was literally launched by Wubbo Ockels, Holland’s pride of space, the first Dutch astronaut, who travelled on the Challenger space shuttle in 1985. He said afterwards that Going Into Orbit]is a great enterprise and an incredible experience, but that to appreciate and comprehend the ultimate freedom and infinity of space requires at least a point of reference somewhere. Math, medicine, literature, visual arts, satellite technology… these areas also present a choice between doing a huge amount or a very tiny amount. There, too, we see the differences between the will to power, the will to understanding, the will to beauty, the will to serve society and even the will to destruction. Doing things is a question of degrees. That is what this issue is about: an analysis of the architectural Will and how to decide on the right dose.


Volume editorial (collective)
#1 - 2005

cover Volume #1

A New VOLUME for Architecture One issue ago this magazine appeared under another name. But it already announced a new project: VOLUME. A title as an object, as energy, and as a container full of reflexive content, representing the expansion of architectural territories and the new mandate for design.
It is becoming irrevocably clear that architecture today has a growing potential to be more than shelter, enclosure, occupation, and spatial accommodation. Beyond all that, there is a growing awareness of a potential that may ultimately challenge the very character of architecture as we know it. For some this means anxiety and perhaps despair about a profession in distress. Others face this challenge with full confidence and intellectual curiosity about the implications for architectural intelligence. Let’s resume what was said: Architecture has reached three of its most respected limits:

-its definition as the art of making buildings

-its discourse through scripted printed media and static exhibitions

-its training as a matter of master and apprentice

The pushing of these limits challenges the mandate and self -conception of architecture. Architecture needs new modes of operation, converging the creation, the mediation, and the appreciation of space.

That’s why we launch VOLUME, a global idea platform to voice architecture, anyway, anywhere, anytime. An instrument of cultural invention, and re-invention. It will be dedicated to experimentation and the production of new forms of architectural discourse.

4 + 5 = Editorial

We named the protagonists in this project:

1) ARCHIS- pushing beyond the magazine an independent and experimental think tank devoted to the process of real-time cultural reflexivity through timely and provocative special issues, ARCHIS is evolving from a bimonthly bilingual magazine monitoring and extending the latest trends to a multi-media platform.


2) AMO - pushing beyond the office a research and design studio that applies architectural thinking to disciplines beyond the borders of architecture and urbanism - including sociology, technology, and politics. -AMO operates in tandem with its companion company the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, an internationally renowned firm, based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


3) C-lab - pushing beyond the school an experimental research unit devoted to the development of new forms of communication in architecture,- the Columbia Laboratory for Architectural Broadcasting -has been set up as a semi-autonomous think and action tank at GSAPP. CLAB maintains a portfolio of creative partnerships to broaden the range and increase the intensity of architectural discourse, acting as a kind of training camp and energy source for incubating new channels for debate about architecture.

A promise for future collaborations. We have also already listed in a non-hierarchical order some imaginable modalities for this project: magazine; objects; space; event; debate; webcast; consultancy; talk show; travel; and other surprises.

And here is VOLUME#1, a first tour d’horizon of the new possibilities of architecture beyond itself. It might give you some directions. But it is also an invitation to see yourself differently. You may think of yourself as a customer of this magazine, having purchased an information product. You are correct, because we need your faith to make sure this intellectual endeavor lasts. But hopefully you want to see yourself as something else as well. Perhaps you may be interested in becoming a member of a global intelligence community to help us find the places, the moments, and the reasons for architecture to surface, to intervene, to make a difference. For architectural opportunities to sound, to resonate, to echo. If it is true that architecture can shift its focus from a reactive mindset, waiting for sites, clients, and budgets to decide to get together in an architectural brief, towards a proactive, pre-emptive attitude to speak up and step forward and propose architecture before it has been considered an option, then we need you to substantiate the claim.

Therefore, let us know your ideas. Get yourself a stake in this ARCHIS + AMO + C-lab + _ _ _ project and make yourself known through pointed and decisive argument. We are grateful if you want to support this project, we will be delighted if you could share it with us.