Responding to Koolhaas’s brief on “absorbing modernity” has proved to be beyond what an installation could communicate, which makes Latvia’s contribution refreshing with its attempt to unearth while making a statement on the dearth of research on Latvian modernism, at the same time questioning the premise of the brief itself - in particular its quest for a dominant type of “modernity”.

Responding to Koolhaas’s brief on “absorbing modernity” has proved to be beyond what an installation could communicate, which makes Latvia’s contribution refreshing with its attempt to unearth while making a statement on the dearth of research on Latvian modernism, at the same time questioning the premise of the brief itself - in particular its quest for a dominant type of “modernity”.

Japan (almost) did it again with a “storehouse” of materials which commissioner Kayoko Ota claimed to be rewriting pre-1970s Modernism, with on-site reproduction of blueprints to-go. But I guess no such thing as consecutive Golden Lion, even if this is much more provocative than Korea’s “Crow’s Eye View”. 

Japan (almost) did it again with a “storehouse” of materials which commissioner Kayoko Ota claimed to be rewriting pre-1970s Modernism, with on-site reproduction of blueprints to-go. But I guess no such thing as consecutive Golden Lion, even if this is much more provocative than Korea’s “Crow’s Eye View”. 

Blown away by Giardini Central Pavilion’s super tightly curated, intensely-researched and expansive typological display of building components. Here’s the service layer above a modern day ceiling underneath the 1909 Sala Chini dome to set the tone upon entering “Elements”, in the “ceiling” room. 

Blown away by Giardini Central Pavilion’s super tightly curated, intensely-researched and expansive typological display of building components. Here’s the service layer above a modern day ceiling underneath the 1909 Sala Chini dome to set the tone upon entering “Elements”, in the “ceiling” room. 

Italian pavilion’s investigation of evolving values and goals through changing structures demonstrates most rigour in archival research, exhibition design and artifactual presentation - that’s closest to meeting the Biennale’s Fundamentals+Absorbing Modernity concept. 

Italian pavilion’s investigation of evolving values and goals through changing structures demonstrates most rigour in archival research, exhibition design and artifactual presentation - that’s closest to meeting the Biennale’s Fundamentals+Absorbing Modernity concept. 

Finally, a witness to the expansive (and as exhilarating as it had been written and photographed since 1985) double-height 20th floor of Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank Headquarters - where triangular suspension structures meet aluminium-clad steel masts. Until Hong Kong has its version of Open House, I will owe much to random meetings in such a building.

Finally, a witness to the expansive (and as exhilarating as it had been written and photographed since 1985) double-height 20th floor of Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank Headquarters - where triangular suspension structures meet aluminium-clad steel masts. Until Hong Kong has its version of Open House, I will owe much to random meetings in such a building.

It’s heartening that one of Yung Ho Chang’s unbuilt works had recently been realized. Though it remains an issue how projects with such experimental bent could only manifest under the aegis of art-architecture biennales. Even if it is, perhaps having it built, and now highly circulated as an image, and an idea, online allowed Chang to disseminate his past fertile imaginings that resulted from a critique of architecture’s trope of horizontal transparency.It is even more fascinating to discover that the design based on a competition submission entitled “Vertical Transparency - An Urban Glass House 2001” for the Shinkenchiku International Housing Competition had originated from a series of watercolor and charcoal drawings of domestic scenarios depicting strong figure-furniture-space relationship. They seem to suggest the control dwellers could have over their perception and use of a space characterized by the intimacy of completely walled interiors with visual continuity across floors that affords a view of both basement and sky. Having these earlier conceptual drawings alongside the sections and plans would have told a better story. 

It’s heartening that one of Yung Ho Chang’s unbuilt works had recently been realized. Though it remains an issue how projects with such experimental bent could only manifest under the aegis of art-architecture biennales. Even if it is, perhaps having it built, and now highly circulated as an image, and an idea, online allowed Chang to disseminate his past fertile imaginings that resulted from a critique of architecture’s trope of horizontal transparency.

It is even more fascinating to discover that the design based on a competition submission entitled “Vertical Transparency - An Urban Glass House 2001” for the Shinkenchiku International Housing Competition had originated from a series of watercolor and charcoal drawings of domestic scenarios depicting strong figure-furniture-space relationship. They seem to suggest the control dwellers could have over their perception and use of a space characterized by the intimacy of completely walled interiors with visual continuity across floors that affords a view of both basement and sky. Having these earlier conceptual drawings alongside the sections and plans would have told a better story. 

A rather overdue review of an exhibition that is sure to have a lasting impact. The Getty’s “Overdrive: LA Constructs the Future 1940-1990" has provided a research and curatorial methodological model for a critical and more diverse and inclusive approach to studying, collecting and displaying architecture and urbanism, that bridged the “high” and “low”, art and infrastructure, the local and global. 
Above: Electrical Transmission Towers by Will Connell, ca. 1935. Gelatin silver print. 50.8 x 40.6 cm Stephen White, Collection II © Will Connell  Image courtesy of The Getty Research Institute

A rather overdue review of an exhibition that is sure to have a lasting impact. The Getty’s “Overdrive: LA Constructs the Future 1940-1990" has provided a research and curatorial methodological model for a critical and more diverse and inclusive approach to studying, collecting and displaying architecture and urbanism, that bridged the “high” and “low”, art and infrastructure, the local and global. 

Above: Electrical Transmission Towers by Will Connell, ca. 1935. Gelatin silver print. 50.8 x 40.6 cm Stephen White, Collection II © Will Connell  Image courtesy of The Getty Research Institute

"…we’re very interested in the idea that there are patterns and activities that should also be part of our functionalism…here is a beach…look hard at how each of these groups are so evenly spaced as if even if you add 25 more people, the evenness would be the same but the spacing will get closer…there’s their own little cluster…that’s a pattern of behavior people take up not because they’re told to…look at the shadows…they are all trying to get the sun…others try to face the ocean. All those determinants make that pattern. That’s something that interests me tremendously in urbanism that I take right into the design of a lab building, or even cities and campuses," says Denise Scott Brown while presenting the above image from her collection of photographs at a lecture entitled "Mayhew’s Architecture" at the Harvard GSD (22 Oct 2013). Revisiting observations which formed the seeds behind the influential and canonical is always a needed and worthy effort. 

"…we’re very interested in the idea that there are patterns and activities that should also be part of our functionalism…here is a beach…look hard at how each of these groups are so evenly spaced as if even if you add 25 more people, the evenness would be the same but the spacing will get closer…there’s their own little cluster…that’s a pattern of behavior people take up not because they’re told to…look at the shadows…they are all trying to get the sun…others try to face the ocean. All those determinants make that pattern. That’s something that interests me tremendously in urbanism that I take right into the design of a lab building, or even cities and campuses," says Denise Scott Brown while presenting the above image from her collection of photographs at a lecture entitled "Mayhew’s Architecture" at the Harvard GSD (22 Oct 2013). Revisiting observations which formed the seeds behind the influential and canonical is always a needed and worthy effort. 

Simply-illustrated poster by Michael Beirut and Jessica Svendsen of Pentagram for the symposium "Exhibiting Architecture: A Paradox" couldn’t be more apt in expressing architecture as, and on, display. 

Simply-illustrated poster by Michael Beirut and Jessica Svendsen of Pentagram for the symposium "Exhibiting Architecture: A Paradox" couldn’t be more apt in expressing architecture as, and on, display. 

Excerpts, and surprising words of wisdom, from Wang Shu in an extensive interview (in Chinese) following his nomination as one of The 2013 Time 100: on the necessity of architect-as-cultural-warrior; unwavering focus in developing one’s craft; battle of the Thought; and the need to embrace while being prepared for the uncertain practice of “amateur” architecture. '在今天这样一个社会现实里,当一名职业建筑师,光为人服务是不够的,建筑师想要真的对社会有所贡献,必须要变成一个文化战士,要有战斗的姿态。’'很多人觉得自己天分不够,我觉得只是大家的兴趣太多了。如果在自己喜欢做的事情上,锲而不舍地、足够专注地坚持下去,假以时日,你在这个领域里一定就是天才了。把有限的力量变成一束激光,就有穿透力了。''我相信思想的力量,读书是为了锤炼自己的思想。这个时代的问题都是新问题,碰到这些问题,思想没有力量是不行的。''我做的事情就是面对一个不确定的未来,做好自己的准备,这就是我始终能保持相对平静状态的原因。'

Excerpts, and surprising words of wisdom, from Wang Shu in an extensive interview (in Chinese) following his nomination as one of The 2013 Time 100: on the necessity of architect-as-cultural-warrior; unwavering focus in developing one’s craft; battle of the Thought; and the need to embrace while being prepared for the uncertain practice of “amateur” architecture. 

'在今天这样一个社会现实里,当一名职业建筑师,光为人服务是不够的,建筑师想要真的对社会有所贡献,必须要变成一个文化战士,要有战斗的姿态。’

'很多人觉得自己天分不够,我觉得只是大家的兴趣太多了。如果在自己喜欢做的事情上,锲而不舍地、足够专注地坚持下去,假以时日,你在这个领域里一定就是天才了。把有限的力量变成一束激光,就有穿透力了。'

'我相信思想的力量,读书是为了锤炼自己的思想。这个时代的问题都是新问题,碰到这些问题,思想没有力量是不行的。'

'我做的事情就是面对一个不确定的未来,做好自己的准备,这就是我始终能保持相对平静状态的原因。'

Google’s rather tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the new China on PRC’s founding day, in the form of well-dressed modern day proletarian family paying homage to the flag as they would to their shopping bags.

Google’s rather tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the new China on PRC’s founding day, in the form of well-dressed modern day proletarian family paying homage to the flag as they would to their shopping bags.

World’s biggest open-air laundry service in Mumbai may not be the most hygienic way of getting the laundry of the city’s (unmarried) professional migrant workers done. Still, a fascinating systematic mess in the spirit of “jugaad urbanism”. Info and photo courtesy of Davinia Gregory. 

World’s biggest open-air laundry service in Mumbai may not be the most hygienic way of getting the laundry of the city’s (unmarried) professional migrant workers done. Still, a fascinating systematic mess in the spirit of “jugaad urbanism”. Info and photo courtesy of Davinia Gregory

'Tange and team had firmly intended Expo ‘70 to be an “experimental model of an urban infrastructure for information society” as well as an “exposition for personal experience and audience participation”, in which the personal and human experiences would remain with visitors as recurring images long after they have visited. The residential capsules about future living by Kurokawa, Awazu’s parade of interactive “cosmo capsules”, and the Metabolists' Wall of Capsules — a rare collaborative work by the Metabolists to capture the realism of architectural multiplication and transformation — were all examples of providing image–able spatial experiences. The “cybernetic environment”, as described by Isozaki, of the Festival Plaza — a single space with mechanisms that use water, movement, sound and light as elements controlled by artificial intelligence, also showed how Expo ‘70 was a culmination of the cross–disciplinary efforts of the intermedia collective. These ideas of architecture as media were first proposed by exhibition participants of “From Space to Environment” in the form of a report entitled “Report on Research and Investigation into General Performance Mechanisms that Use Water, Sound, Light, etc., in Exterior Spaces, Centering on the Festival Plaza of the Japan Exposition”. 

What had resulted from Metabolism and the Environment Society’s project demonstrated how cross–disciplinary collaboration was far from a bland mix, but marked by a negotiation of heterogeneous content that could produce something new, as opposed to mere multiplications, through the regeneration of each discipline. The value of Expo ‘70 was thus beyond its complicity with commerce, but about the combinatorial creativity that it had produced — an indirect result of the “mixing chamber” in Tange’s home ten years before.’- Excerpt from a recent article: "CrissCross: A Glimpse of the Graphic Designer’s Cross-disciplinary Collaborations in 1960s Tokyo" (The Design Society Journal Issue No. 7, p. 70-83, Sept 2013). My exploration of patterns in the motivation, mechanism and effects of graphic designer Awazu Kiyoshi's work across art, film, and architecture in 1960s Tokyo, was in response to the issue's theme surrounding “context”. From left: Cover of Metabolism 1960 designed by Awazu: The Proposals for New Urbanism; Izumo Shrine Steel Gate (1963) designed by Awazu; installation collaboratively produced by Awazu and the Metabolists at Expo ‘70.

'Tange and team had firmly intended Expo ‘70 to be an “experimental model of an urban infrastructure for information society” as well as an “exposition for personal experience and audience participation”, in which the personal and human experiences would remain with visitors as recurring images long after they have visited. The residential capsules about future living by Kurokawa, Awazu’s parade of interactive “cosmo capsules”, and the Metabolists' Wall of Capsules — a rare collaborative work by the Metabolists to capture the realism of architectural multiplication and transformation — were all examples of providing image–able spatial experiences. The “cybernetic environment”, as described by Isozaki, of the Festival Plaza — a single space with mechanisms that use water, movement, sound and light as elements controlled by artificial intelligence, also showed how Expo ‘70 was a culmination of the cross–disciplinary efforts of the intermedia collective. These ideas of architecture as media were first proposed by exhibition participants of “From Space to Environment” in the form of a report entitled “Report on Research and Investigation into General Performance Mechanisms that Use Water, Sound, Light, etc., in Exterior Spaces, Centering on the Festival Plaza of the Japan Exposition”. 


What had resulted from Metabolism and the Environment Society’s project demonstrated how cross–disciplinary collaboration was far from a bland mix, but marked by a negotiation of heterogeneous content that could produce something new, as opposed to mere multiplications, through the regeneration of each discipline. The value of Expo ‘70 was thus beyond its complicity with commerce, but about the combinatorial creativity that it had produced — an indirect result of the “mixing chamber” in Tange’s home ten years before.’

- Excerpt from a recent article: "CrissCross: A Glimpse of the Graphic Designer’s Cross-disciplinary Collaborations in 1960s Tokyo" (The Design Society Journal Issue No. 7, p. 70-83, Sept 2013). My exploration of patterns in the motivation, mechanism and effects of graphic designer Awazu Kiyoshi's work across art, film, and architecture in 1960s Tokyo, was in response to the issue's theme surrounding “context”.

From left: Cover of Metabolism 1960 designed by Awazu: The Proposals for New Urbanism; Izumo Shrine Steel Gate (1963) designed by Awazu; installation collaboratively produced by Awazu and the Metabolists at Expo ‘70.

Amazed at the Silk Pavilion - 26 polygonal panels of silk threads laid down by CNC machine - by Neri Oxman’s Mediated Matter Research Lab at MIT exploring biologically inspired design fabrication tools to enhance relation between the natural and man-made. A feat to install. 

Amazed at the Silk Pavilion - 26 polygonal panels of silk threads laid down by CNC machine - by Neri Oxman’s Mediated Matter Research Lab at MIT exploring biologically inspired design fabrication tools to enhance relation between the natural and man-made. A feat to install. 

A quote from Gordon Matta-Clark right at the staff entrance of the CCA - an apt reminder of the perpetually incomplete, sometimes incomprehensible or contradicting, yet necessary, way of acquiring and producing knowledge by any cultural institution. 

A quote from Gordon Matta-Clark right at the staff entrance of the CCA - an apt reminder of the perpetually incomplete, sometimes incomprehensible or contradicting, yet necessary, way of acquiring and producing knowledge by any cultural institution.