April 29, 2011
bars sphinx
Secured Window (source)
Hotel Sphinx Project, Zoe and Elia Zhengelis, 1975-6 (source)


‘Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light’.


—Le Corbusier, Towards an Architecture



There are two principle means of experiencing architecture. The first is through the senses, the result of light waves, sounds waves and our human weight bouncing around a controlled and curated environment. The creation of architecture of the senses occurs at a molecular level, with atoms organized and clustered to macroscopic artistic effect. The second means of experiencing architecture is through storytelling. Greek mythologies, Biblical tales, Hollywood movies, blogs such as the one you are currently reading, but also the mundane chit chat of our everyday lives create a parallel cerebral version of real and imagined places. While architects developed the term ‘Paper Architecture’ to describe unrealized architectural designs, most of what I will term as ‘Narrative Architecture’ exists only to advance a story. While the architecture itself is insignificant in such instances, it provides the important backdrop or context for the action. These two means of experience are not exclusive, and as Molecular Architecture… more


The old cliché goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. But how are those words organized? Do they stand alone offering distinct points of reference or are they arranged into sentences? Are those sentences related to one another to tell the same story or do they cluster together to tell multiple unrelated stories? Do these tales originate in the mind of the viewer or are they passed down from a different author?


It is also important to consider the role that time plays in the association between picture and story. For architects, who are often producers of both images and narratives, it is difficult to pinpoint which of the two emerges when. Sometimes the image may merely serve as a tool to illustrate an already solidified agenda. On other occasions, a visualization is produced through intuition and any accompanying story is post-rationalized. Another scenario exists where the narrative is written and then the image is created, or vice versa. What is produced initially is then adjusted to better fit what is produced later. The final scenario is one where narrative and image may be tweaked in tandem, with back and forth adjustments being made as required.


In general, the relationship between picture and story is a loose one.


E. Sean Bailey



Erandi de Silva


1 comment » | Editorial


April 4, 2011
rocksteady lights
The Rock Steady Crew (source)
Rotterdam from OMA’s Rooftop, Photo by James Leng, 2008


While the break of films and teevee is a dance born of the streets, performed in the streets on scraps of discarded cardboard, as a B-Boy in training, for the last three years (on and off admittedly), I have not once danced outside. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to break into dance on the sidewalk of a sunny afternoon, Rock Steady Crew blaring from the bass-heavy sound system of a nearby dollar store. I just doubt that I could handle the physical pain. Break and the urban environment, while a good aesthetic match—boomboxes, sneakers, graffiti—are a pretty rotten mix logistically. Most break moves require sustained and calculated contact between hands and floor, and soft human flesh is obviously no match for hard gritty, and often frozen, concrete, even after supple skin has transformed into a thick layer of rough calluses. Band-aid solutions such a duct tape and gloves are a distraction, and only marginally longer-lasting when dragged against the sharp, pebbly surface of pavement. Cardboard boxes, while providing a smooth surface, are a poor substitute for a sturdy gymnasium floor, which is where much breaking now occurs, in high schools and community centers scattered across New York City. While traditionally one of the four pillars of Hip-Hop, a culture of the streets, now that break has migrated indoors, perhaps it shares more in common with… more


In some offices, employees take breaks like clockwork. Fifteen minutes at 10:00 a.m., one hour for lunch at 12:00 p.m. sharp and another fifteen minutes at 2:30 p.m. In other offices, where employees work around the clock, flaunting international labor laws, breaks may be contrastingly very brief; they may last for as long as it takes to run outside and inhale an entire cigarette in one single breath or they may be meandering casual affairs. These extended recesses may involve a trip to the gym, or to a nearby cafe to take in a World Cup game and a few drinks, for upwards of two hours. In such instances, these intervals mesh with an employee’s private time creating an endless hybrid state that hovers between an individual’s professional and personal lives. Other such interludes, associated with this genre, may include dinner at a restaurant or a trip home for a nap. These two differing break scenarios demonstrate the opposing ends of architecture’s office cultures; consist versus erratic. Of course, it is important to note that numerous variations exist in between these extremes.


Employee break patterns may reflect the workings of an office and provide insight into where their priorities lie, but whether or not these habits are related to the critical value of an office’s work remains elusive.


E. Sean Bailey



Erandi de Silva


1 comment » | Editorial


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