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The paper proposes to address the space of the book as a site for both architectural practice and theoretical investigation
At the end of the sixteenth century Jean Jacques Boissard published in Frankfurt on the Main a multi-volume book, in Latin, titled Romanae urbis topographia et antiquitates (1597-1602), which describes and depicts all the antiquities of Rome that could be of interest to a foreigner at the time. The book contains several hundred engravings of marble statues, amphitheatres, obelisks and tombstones, of which many were reused in subsequent editions such as the German translation, titled Topographia urbis Romae (1681) or ‘Topography of Rome’. Topographia rearranges material gleaned from the first tomes in a single volume according to what could be seen and observed in the space of four days time by a Wandersmann walking through the city. But does Topographia also make it possible for a reader to experience such a journey in the book, independently from any reference to an existing city? I argue in this article that Boissard effectively reworked or rebuilt, statue-by-statue as it were, the cityscape of Rome in the space of the book, thereby producing what I call a ‘bookscape’. Reading Topographia today means animating the scene of this displacement (from cityscape to bookscape) in view of the realisation of a fantasy – the fantasy of an eternal city, composed of fragments dispersed in time as well as in space. The object of this dispersion can be known as the Rome-scape.
Paper presented at the Who Owns Our Cities? symposium held at Arts University Bournemouth, 4 March 2015
This paper looks back at the long and sometimes difficult process of doing a ‘PhD’. It asks how certain ‘moments’ in the building of a doctoral thesis – moments of conception, of discovery, of despair, of truth, of revelation and of jouissance – inform the building of a thesis. By revisiting these moments, the paper traces the genesis of the author’s thesis on Architecture and Alchemy and explores the metaphor of construction encountered in the work of cultural theorist Walter Benjamin.
Drawing on some of the historical sources of the thesis, in particular the emblem books of seventeenth-century alchemist Michael Maier (1568-1622), the paper argues that the above-named ‘moments’ in a PhD constitute an ensemble of impassioned investment, which can be known as the PhD-pathos. This paper, then, can be read as no more, or less, than a pathological guide to the PhD, where architecture and alchemy come into play as polar opposites in the process of construction and change that thesis-building is.
Within the last two decades, the use of the term laboratory or ‘lab’, as it is often abbreviated to, has become widespread in both the profession and in education. ‘Spacelab’, ‘Arch LAB’, ‘Laboratory of Architecture’ – these are but some of the names given to architectural practices today. Also, no self-respecting academic institution today lacks a ‘research laboratory’ or ‘lab’ of some kind, often set up in parallel to the conventional studio, but sometimes also as a substitute for it. In a more recent development, the laboratory has also been adopted as a place for exploring architectural themes through writing, as exemplified by the ‘Writing Labs’ set up at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. This development that has seen the laboratory become the very paradigm of conceptualizations of practice and research in architecture revolves, I argue, around a renewed interest in the notion of experiment and the spaces of experimentation. The question I want to raise in this article concerns the role of the laboratory as a metaphor in constructing spaces for writerly experimentation. For, outside the domain of science, how can a laboratory be understood as anything other than a (mere) metaphor?
Recently, the studio has been revisited as a highly connected, transdisciplinary, mobile sites. They have been reconsidered as laboratories—the product of intricate networks of human/non-human relations—or as environments marked out by atmospheres of affective intensity. As such, a studio’s coherence is emotionally, as much as physically, constituted.
The studio is also, for many artists, a temporary arrangement whose sense of integrity is always in question. In those practices which involve the shared use of spaces, collaborative practices or location-based work, the matter and materials of artistic practices are put away; temporarily stored in physical or digital form in whilst the site of production is turned over to other activities. This paper argues that whilst the immediacy of studio activities might be constituted as an event rather than a fixed environment, its coherence as a studio is shaped by ‘structures of feeling’. Drawing on writers such as Ben Anderson, and on personal accounts of packing and unpacking studio materials for related art projects, I address how temporally dispersed activities taking place in different spaces may emerge as collective affects that condition the way that the studio’s emotional coherence is felt.
A chapter that considers the material geographies of temporary studio spaces.