An essay written for a special Arakawa/Gins issue of Inflexions, asking whether the two designers’ radical plans to force us to reform our bodily perceptions could ever escape the status of bracketed museum curiosities. If a radical new design were to become our daily environment, could it maintain its radical force or would it get normalized as we become habituated?
Architecture: New Places for New Peoples
Arakawa and Gins have been fomenting revolution for a long time. In the last twenty years, their attention has turned more and more towards architecture and urban planning as a way of reforming our bodily existence. Their proposals enter daily life rather than staying in the isolated sphere of the museum or gallery. These constructions are to be lived in, not contemplated. Will daily life then blunt or sharpen Arakawa and Gins’s power to educate and revise our “architectural bodies”?
What would it take to design a real place online where real learning would happen?
Real events happen in real places in virtual spaces. This may seem a strange claim, if placesare supposed to be in physical space, reachable by some combination of movements start-ing from where you are now sitting. I am claiming, though, that while places need to be within a perceptible space, that space does not have to be physical. Virtual spaces can be-come inhabited places.
What kind of cosmopolitan identity is possible in a world of assertive particular identities? This paper explores universalism by means of a contrast with the failed aspirations of modernist architects to create a style that was valid everywhere, above history. It argues that the real shared identity in all persons and places is the temporal process of negotiating particular history amid the spacing and reflection that makes any identity possible.
Karsten Harries had asked people to respond to the ideas in his book The Ethical Function of Architecture. I discuss several locations in the US and Brazil, with pictures, and evaluate strategies for building in ways that confirm an identity, but in a world where all are challenged by other identities and rival centers.
A collection of short dialogues with the spirits of place (genius loci) in Japan and America, probing what is happening to the classic ideal of a rooted hierarchical centered place and offering a new vision of linked and mobile places.
Our sprawling poly-centric cityscape demands a change from traditional hierarchically centralized models of urban patterns of living.
A centerless sprawl of development replaces the older opposition of cities to small country towns. In some places the sprawl pulls itself together into Edge Cities; in others it just spreads. Its economic, social, and political difficulties are well known, and while sprawl was encouraged by particular incentives and subsidies in the U. S., it has become an international condition in other regulatory and transit regimes.
Architects seek the genius loci, the spirit of the place. But places change, always. Is there a way to build in tune with the spirit of change? We need to give up single visions that are supposed to embrace social and place totalities. We live in overlapping nets rather than single places.