Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
We received and we gladly publish this conversation among distinguished theorists and scholars on an important topic, also aligned with the cross-disciplinary mission of our journal. [MS]
ABSTRACT - The article offers a multi-author conversation charting the future of architecture in light of the apparent tension between Baukultur, which combines the culture of building and the building of this culture, and the rapid changes brought about by digital technology, embracing cybernetics and artificial intelligence. The article builds on a discussion of Baukultur to debate in what sense buildings are “machines for living in,” then examines neuromorphic architecture wherein cybernetic mechanisms help buildings sense the needs of their occupants. It closes with an example of a building complex, Kampung Admiralty, that combines cybernetic opportunities with a pioneering approach to building “community and biophilia” into our cities. This article interleaves an abridged version of Michael Arbib’s (2019) article “Baukultur in a Cybernetic Age,” 1 with extensive comments by the co-authors.
This article presents a project vision whose aim is to underline the necessity to completely change the current world narrative and start a new one, fully compatible with the protection of the planet and all its inhabitants. The authors started from the meaning of “device” and its role in this new narrative: a new salvific “ark,” an ecological living machine able to restore the balance between the forms of anthropization and the planet. The New Arks replace the current crystallized devices, unable to efficiently answer to the needed shift, in order to preserve the human systems, attacked by new social, ecological, and health diseases. In this vision, within the New Arks human beings regain the “lost paradise” through changes such as the implementation of green areas and biodiversity, less housing density, eco-friendly mobility, energy supply and technologies, and sustainable agricultural production. The outcome of this vision suggests the birth of a “Neoland,” a transformed world system in which the union between the natural accident and the anthropic genesis leads to the start of a new ethical and ecological narrative.
Modern and Site Specific:
The Architecture of Gino Valle 1945-2003
By Pierre-Alain Croset and Luka Skansi
London: Lund Humphries, 2018
250 × 190 mm
100 b/w and 150 color illustrations
£50.00 GBP (hardcover)
Race and Modern Architecture.
A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present
By Irene Cheng, Charles L. Davis II, and Mabel O. Wilson, eds Pittsburgh PA, USA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020
7 x 10 in. [17,8 x 25,4 cm]
96 b&w illustrations
ISBN: 978-082 296 6593
Building Character. The Racial Politics of Modern Architectural Style
By Charles L. Davis II
Pittsburg PA, USA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019
7 x 10 in. [17,8 x 25,4 cm]
89 b&w illustrations, 12 color plates
A range of often overlooked ways of engaging with architecture and design have historically offered women from around the world with the means of making a living and of advancing the careers of other women, as well as of encouraging the acceptance of artistic experimentation. These include journalism, retailing, and philanthropy. For instance, Ethel Power edited the influential American shelter magazine House Beautiful from 1923-34. Estrid Ericson founded and ran the Stockholm design shop Svensk Tenn for over half a century; she also designed many of its characteristic products. Gira Sarabhai was instrumental in the establishment of the Calico Museum and then the National Academy of Design, both located in her native Ahmedabad, India, and contributed to the design of the building in which the latter is housed. Writing such achievements back into the history of architecture and design helps provide the foundation for a more inclusive approach to those professions today.
The new office building of the A.T.E. Group – a cutting-edge engineering group based in the outskirts of Ahmedabad (India) along the Delhi-Ahmedabad highway – works as an extension to its adjacent existing factory. Diversifying from the ordinary existing factory shed scenery, the building uses technological innovation and landscape as key elements to serve both as an aesthetic surface and a performative office space. Through multiple layers of natural cooling techniques embedded in and wrapping around occupied spaces, the corporate office works in partnership with the seasonal and climatic flows. Indoor and outdoor spaces flow into each other as well as both the existing factory and the new office complex are fluidly embedded within the surrounding landscape. With low carbon footprint and minimal use of active energy, the building creates comfortable environmental conditions while countering the local conditions of extreme heat, dryness, and variations in temperature through the day and year.
In the nineties, it was widely assumed that, because of the internet and widespread connectivity, the importance of physical space would be greatly reduced. Many prophecies at the time dealt with the “death” of distance, of cities and of offices, among others. While such predictions have not materialized so far, technology is nonetheless having an effect on how we use physical space. In particular, office spaces are undergoing a profound transformation. In this article, we review a recent project from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Senseable City Lab, which used the analysis of digital data to better understand the use of office space and scientific collaboration on the MIT campus. We then show how some of these preliminary findings can be used in the design of the co-working space at the Agnelli Foundation in Turin, Italy - and how digital data can then provide real-time monitoring of built spaces.
To mark the hundredth anniversary of the New York City’s zoning code, we propose the next dimension of zoning, a four-dimensional hypercube that “un-crams” Manhattan’s second- and third-dimensional congestion into a fourth-dimensional model of sharing (space). By projecting the grid’s coordinates into a large hypercube - the fourth dimension in mathematics -, we developed a typology that falls between the scale of a city block and a building. A city in a city. Located at the water-edge of the East River, this becomes a new terminal building, a domestic/commercial hybrid that takes the notion of sharing to a new level. This waterfront site gives not only access to the new Second Avenue Subway, but also to the new water ferry and the airport water taxi. Sharing economy - this four-dimensional framework - will re-activate Manhattan’s forgotten East Side. Sixty percent of the Hypercube is a public and shared program (park, pool, terraces), while 40% percent is occupied with mixed-use space. Inhabitants are encouraged to share domestic appliances and tools, creating a new social network. This new social economy distributes the allowable 10 Floor Area Ratio (FAR) into the Hypercube, and with elevated parks it creates a new way of shared city living.