Chair, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
As issue No. 0, we hope, has clearly exemplified, this inaugural issue of the TPJ similarly wants to reflect the highly diverse landscape of research in architecture, while remaining faithful to our mission to publish innovative, methodologically strong and impactful scholarship. Periodic themed issues – the one on “Design for Social Impact,” No. 2/2016, will soon start to be posted on-line – will address emerging topics and challenges faced in our field, but open issues such as this one will continue to offer a scholarly platform for a variety of lines of inquiry.
In the Theory section, for example, Elena Manferdini elaborates on her visual research on building facades choosing the miesian grid as a testing ground, while offering in turn intriguing leads for further research into the democratic ethos of the grid (as a “side-effect,” I would argue, of the unfolding of the Modern Project). We only hope to see more investigation on the subject, especially if woven through Manferdini’s beautiful visual research. From a more philosophical standpoint, we host two contributions (one, by Paul Holmquist, on Hannah Arendt’s thought, and another one, by Pasquale De Paola, on the legacy of the Italian Tendenza) on the question of architecture’s “critical call.,”1 on which we will continue to reflect in future issues. Arendt’s ethical questions, as carefully unpacked by Holmquist, and the Tendenza as a planned critique to the involution of late-Modern architecture, extensively discussed by De Paola, offer enlightening contributions on the on-going important question of how can architecture maintain and redefine its mission to be a critical voice within culture and society. This renewed interest in Rossi's legacy is actually quite fitting, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the "Analogous City": a complex and "thick" line of inquiry brilliantly collapsed in a drawing/collage that so powerfully continues to resonate with us today.
A clear example of one of several ways in which to pursue architecture’s critical call is conrad-bercah's provocative delineation of a possible strategy to re-imagine, taking Berlin as a “pre-text,” what he calls the “redundant city.” Still within the realm of urban studies (which will continue to find ample room within the TPJ ), but more through the lenses of architecture and infrastructure, Andrea Degli Angeli develops a fascinating vision of a new role for one of China’s most famous historic territorial artifact: the Grand Canal
At the other extreme of urbanism, up to the scale of urban furniture, but still aiming at re-imaging the public realm, Heather Woofter and Sung Ho Kim of Axi:Ome reflect on one of their projects for Saint Louis (Art Walk), realized to date only partially through some fragments. And yet, it is precisely this “strategy of fragments,” alluding though to a larger idea of the city, that makes Axi:Ome’s project so interesting and critically positioned. Here the words by Aldo Rossi (whose thought is coincidentally revisited by De Paola in his article) come back to mind: “To what, then, could I have aspired in my craft? Certainly to small things, having seen that the possibility of great ones was historically precluded.2
As notably elaborated by Aldo Rossi, residential typology has always been one of the most critical realms of experimentation at the intersection of architecture and the city. Housing is in fact the topic of Romina Marvaldi’s and Elisabetta Pani’s discussion of select contemporary residential interventions in Europe, where the input and feedback from the inhabitants have been the lens through which analyze both design and post-occupancy evaluation processes.
Participatory design and planning is also at the center of Brunella Angeli’s thoughful report on the LSE-Cities Urban Age conference held at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale this past July. The rich critical conversations that unfolded at that event on global issues pertaining the future of our cities will certainly continue in the years to come, also sustained by critical moments of reflection and discussion such as the UN conference “Habitat III” in Quito (Ecuador), currently underway at the time of this writing.
The next issue of the TPJ, themed on “Design for Social Impact,” will also contribute to this important conversation, in which our field is (and should be) engaged more than ever.
See the conversation initiated at the paper session “Critical Call,” 104th ACSA Annual Meeting in Seattle WA, March 17-19, 2016, co-chairs Robert Corser and Sharon Haar: http://www.acsa-arch.org/programs-events/conferences/annual-meeting/104th-annual-meeting.
Aldo Rossi, A Scientific Autobiography, transl. Lawrence Venuti, with a postscript by Vincent Scully, Cambridge MA (USA): The MIT Press, 1981, opening quote (unnumbered page).