1. My article entitled “The Images of Postmodernism as Symbolic Capital: L’Esprit du Temps or Un Projet Inachevé?” was selected for publication in Wolkenkuckucksheim | Cloud-Cuckoo-Land | Воздушный замок no 41, 2020.
The Images of Postmodernism as Symbolic Capital: L’Esprit du Temps or Un Projet Inachevé?
The article examines the impact of the exhibitions “La Presenza del passato”, curated by Paolo Portoghesi for the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 1980, and “Architectures en France: Modernité, post-modernité”, curated by Chantal Béret and held at the Centre Pompidou and the Institut français d’architecture in Paris in 1981 on two exhibitions centred on the concept of modernity and held in Paris in 1982: “La Modernité ou l’esprit du temps”, curated by Jean Nouvel, Patrice Goulet and François Barré and organised in the framework of the architectural section of the XIIe Biennale of Paris, and “La Modernité, un projet inachevé”, curated by Paul Chemetov and Jean-Claude Garcias and held at the École des beaux-arts in Paris. Through a comparison of these two exhibitions, it presents the divergences and affinities between the attitudes of Nouvel and Chemetov regarding the commoditization and aestheticization of the image and their perception of the architectural signs. It departs from the controversy between Jürgen Habermas’s approach, in “La Modernité, un projet inachevé”, where he claims that modernity is an unfinished project, and Jean François Lyotard’s approach, in La condition postmoderne, where he considers modernity as an outdated project, in order to interpret the conflict between the aforementioned exhibitions. The debate between Habermas and Lyotard is related to the crisis of the idea that the architectural language must symbolize and embody the essence of the time, the Zeitgeist. This debate between Habermas and Lyotard is related to the question about the end or the continuation of modernity. According to Habermas, the project for the emancipation of modernity should not be abandoned. Habermas’ critiques of postmodernity are associated with his disapproval of Lyotard’s stance towards aesthetic modernity. Habermas criticised Lyotard for abandoning the idea that modernity can still bring about changes in the lived world and everyday life.
The debate that the aforementioned exhibitions represent is linked to the emergence of two trends in relation to the reinvention of modernity. Following Pierre Bourdieu’s approach, we could claim that the tension between the ways in which each of these exhibitions treats the role of the image within architectural design and the role of architecture for the construction of a vision regarding progress is the expression of two divergent positions in social space. The tension between the approaches of the two exhibitions is related to how their curators interpret Team Ten’s approach. Jean Nouvel claims that being “Modern today is not holding the torch of the modern movement, Team Ten or ‘ordinary ugliness’”, while Paul Chemetov is positive towards the ideas of Team Ten and the intention of its members to understand habitat as a place for social interaction. The article compares the approaches of the Atelier d’urbanisme et d’architecture (AUA) and Team 10, interpreting their differences as part of a generational conflict through the elaboration of concepts first developed by Pierre Bourdieu and Karl Mannheim. It also explains why the discourse of Team 10 is less critical vis-à-vis the generation of modernism than that of the AUA. The article examines whether the break with the founding myths of modernity is rather a generational rupture than a conceptual one, questioning whether the demystification of modernism is a generational or a conceptual stance.
2. My article “Urban Design as Commoning: Remembering the History of Participation” was published in the NSL Newsletter
Under the headers of ‘collaboration’, ‘participatory design’ and ‘co-production’ participation is nowadays at the centre of the debate on urban design. Architects and urban designers are developing new concepts, tools and roles to comply with these new participatory modi operandi. However, it seems that it is sometimes forgotten that the issue of participation has a longstanding history. At the Chair of the History and Theory of Urban Design (D-ARCH, gta) we explore this tradition of experiments with participatory processes in the practice of urban design.
Investigating the projects of ILAUD (International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design) in Italy, the ARAU (Atelier de recherche et d’action urbaines) in Belgium, and the SAAL (Service for Local Mobile Support) in Portugal, we find that participation in urban design practice can take many forms, from collective processes of design, to collaborative construction and common management. Understanding the critical differences between these different approaches can help us to refine our theories and tools of urban design. The participatory concern in the urban design process has not only a long history in practice but also in urban design education. Various experimental initiatives with participation emerged in the domain of architectural pedagogy in the late sixties, often starting from student initiatives. Good examples, examined in From Harlem to New Haven: The Emergence of the Advocacy Planning Movement in the late 1960s, are The Architects’ Resistance (TAR), a group formed in 1968 by architecture students from Columbia GSAPP, MIT Department of Architecture, and Yale School of Architecture describing itself as «a communications network, a research group, and an action group … concerned about the social responsibility of architects and the framework within which architecture is practiced», as well as the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS). Many of these groups emerged within the context of the struggles for civil rights and thus made a plea to have non-hegemonic or ‘other’ voices heard in the urban design process. These initiatives explored how new concepts, roles and tools for participation could become part of the education of the architect and urban designer.
Learning from the Past
The contemporary interest in methods of ‘collaboration’, ‘participatory design’ and ‘co-production’, can learn from the long history of participation about how urban urban design can forge a critical relationship with civic engagement and social responsibility. Instead of repeating the concepts, roles and tools that were tested some decades ago, we hope that contemporary urban designers engage more intensively with the historical examples and use them as a base for new critical approaches. Most importantly, historical experiments like The Architects’ Resistance (TAR) and National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) remind us that the issue of participation in not only a question of urban design practice, but also – and maybe most urgently – requires experiments and changes in urban design education.
3. Paper entitled “Constantinos Doxiadis’ Concept of ‘Ecumenopolis’ vis-à-vis Eurafrica: Revisiting the Masterplan for Festac Town and the Role of Transport Infrastructure”
Festac ’77, also known as the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture was a major international festival held in Lagos, Nigeria, from 15 January 1977 to 12 February 1977. This paper focuses on Doxiadis Associates’ masterplan for Festac Town, a federal housing estate located along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway in Lagos State, Nigeria, paying special attention to the infrastructure along the Lagos-Badagry Highway (fig. 1). This project, which exemplifies the late modernist concerns for urban development in the Global South and should be understood within the context of modernisation that followed Nigeria’s independence, concerned the design of a town aiming at hosting the visitors of the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture in Lagos in 1977 (fig. 2). It was assigned in 1974 by the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Doxiadis Associates and was conceptualized as “a model residential community with all the necessary functions and facilities to serve a permanent population” after the end of the aforementioned festival. This masterplan was based on the theory of ekistics developed by Greek city planner Constantinos A. Doxiadis, and included the construction of significant infrastructure installations. The scope of the paper is twofold: to investigate the connections between Doxiadis’s understanding of the role of infrastructure in this project and his conception of ‘Ecumenopolis’, and to relate Doxiadis’s vision for ‘Ecumenopolis’ to the idea of Eurafrica, referring to the political project that emerged in the 1920s based on the idea that Europe’s future survival was bound up with Europe’s successful merger with Africa. Doxiadis’s concept of ‘Ecumenopolis’ departed from the hypothesis that the urbanization, the growth of population, and the development of means of transport and human networks would lead to a fusion of the urban areas and megalopolises forming a single continuous planetwide city (fig. 3).
Doxiadis’s “Towards Ecumenopolis” (1961), a confidential report that focused on how to devise a “different approach” to the City of the Future, treated infrastructure as a skeleton of a body covering the entire globe and resulting from the balance between settlements, production and nature. In his second report on ‘Ecumenopolis’, Doxiadis claimed that Africa was the largest and most suitable area to welcome inbound capitals and investments. The Africa Transport Plan was intended to provide the basic layout of his ‘Ecumenopolis’. The paper examines a set of maps displaying settlements, routes, airways and human corridors that Doxiadis Associates produced to explore the potentials of the concept of ‘Ecumenopolis’, relating the latter to Eurafrica. One can read in the issue of May 1977 of Ebony: “For 29 days, black people from everywhere – from Africa, Europe, African-America, South America, Canada, and the islands of the seas – testified to the haunting presence of blackness in the world”. My objective is to examine closely the cultural-historic complexity of the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, the so-called FESTAC ’77, during which thousands of artists, writers, musicians, activists and scholars from Africa and the Black diaspora assembled in Lagos. As Denis Ekpo remarks, in “Culture and Modernity Since FESTAC 77”, in 1977, thanks to FESTAC, “Lagos had become the Mecca of African collective cultural and artistic self-retrieval and self-accreditation”. The methodological approach on which the paper is based draws upon theoretical tools aims to go beyond “progress” or “influence”, while the historiographical method on which the paper intends to challenge the schism between globalisation and regionalism.
4. My article entitled “Condominium Housing in Addis Ababa: Urban Commons as a Bridge between the Spatial and the Social” has been selected to get published in in the special edition of Global Discourse on Precarious housing, health and well-being.
Condominium Housing in Addis Ababa: Urban Commons as a Bridge between the Spatial and the Social
A point of departure of this paper is the hypothesis that the quotidian practices of communities and their socio-economic and cultural characteristics are interconnected with the spatial attributes of co-housing practices. The paper focuses on the examination of the collaboration of the Ethiopian government collaborated with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) that intended to address the issues related to the mass housing program in Addis Ababa. Special attention is paid to the so-called “UN-Habitat”, a Human Settlements programme of the United Nations established in 1978 aiming to enhance the urban future. In 2005, the City Administration of Addis Ababa initiated a large-scale housing development project in order to address urban poverty and improve the living conditions of low and middle-income residents. To grasp the specificity of the Ethiopian context, one should bear in mind that in 2014 only 20.7% of Ethiopian residents lived in urban settlements as a report of the United Nations published that same year informs us.
Departing from the fact that from 2006 to 2016 the area of condominium housing has increased to occupy 11% of the area of the city of Addis Ababa (fig. 1), the paper examines the tensions between universal aspirations and local realities in the case of Ethiopia’s most ambitions mass housing scheme, which is ‘Addis Ababa Grand Housing Program’ (AAGHP) and was launched in 2004. This program was integrated in the ‘Integrated Housing Development Program’ (IHDP) in 2006. The particularity of the urban redevelopment of Addis Ababa lies in the fact that, in contrast with the majority of the “new city” approaches, it incorporated and permitted the construction of low-income housing thanks to the IHDP, which contributed significantly to the acceleration of the production of social housing in Ethiopia. My objective is to shed light on the common codes and conventions characterising the production of condominium housing in Addis Ababa, on the one hand, and to render explicit how the fact that space-as-commons functions a set of social relations which potentially challenges the very foundations of ownership becomes evident in the case of urban redevelopment of Addis Ababa, on the other hand.
5. My book chapter “Alison and Peter Smithson and their Travels to Greece: The Search for an Open-ended Morphology” has been selected to get published in the book Viaggi e Viste. Mediterraneo e modernità, ed. Stamatina Kousidi (Firenze: Altralinea edizioni/Momenti di architettura moderna)
Alison and Peter Smithson and their Travels to Greece: The Search for an Open-ended Morphology
The chapter examines to what extent Alison and Peter Smithson’s approach to architecture and urban design were influenced by their travels to Greece. The aforementioned architects admired the social spontaneity of the traditional Greek villages and the fortification walls and believed that in them one can find a response against the rigidness to the functionalist doctrine that many architects of the early CIAM generation supported. During the last CIAM congress in Otterlo in the Netherlands in 1959, Peter Smithson introduced his presentation with slides of his journeys to Greek coastal villages. He was especially interested in the relationship between the aggregation of Greek villages and the social and cultural patterns of quotidian life of their inhabitants. The chapter examines how the concept of “cluster city” in the work and thought of Alison and Peter Smithson is related to the impact that their encounter with the forms of the Greek villages had on their design approaches. Special attention is paid to analysing how the continuity between streets and houses characterising the traditional Greek villages is related to the main ideas behind the “Urban Reidentification” grid presented during the ninth CIAM.
Departing from Peter Smithson’s remark that “[o]ne of the observations [they] […] made in Greece was whether, in the formulation of the defensive walls, there was any relationship between the wall geometry and the street geometry”, the chapter presents how the study of their writings on Greece, as well as of their photographs and sketches made during their stays in Greece exemplifies that they were interested in simultaneously exploring the relation between architecture and territory and the capacities of morphology. Particular emphasis is placed on the analysis of two articles by Peter Smithson: “Space and Greek Architecture”, published in The Listener in October 1958, and “Theories Concerning the Layout of Classical Greek Buildings”, published in Architectural Association journal in February 1959. Alison and Peter Smithson’s thought and practice are characterised by the intention to investigate the following three fields simultaneously: firstly, the relationship between architecture and territory; secondly, morphology and its “open-endedness”; and, thirdly, the relationship between the social and the spatial dimension of architecture and urban design.
Keywords: travel to Greece, Alison and Peter Smithson, cluster, fortification walls, ancient monuments, human association, open-ended patterns, aggregation, morphology
6. My article entitled “Προκλήσεις αναδιάρθρωσης της διδασκαλίας της ιστορίας και της θεωρίας της αρχιτεκτονικής” was published in Archetype on 9 March 2020.
Προκλήσεις αναδιάρθρωσης της διδασκαλίας της ιστορίας και της θεωρίας της αρχιτεκτονικής
To παρόν άρθρο εστιάζει στην παρουσίαση των κατευθύνσεων από το 1968 μέχρι σήμερα, όσον αφορά τη διερώτηση σχετικά με την προτιμότερη μέθοδο διδασκαλίας της ιστορίας και της θεωρίας της αρχιτεκτονικής σε διαφορετικά θεσμικά και γεωγραφικά πλαίσια. Παράλληλα, επιχειρείται η παρουσίαση των δυνατοτήτων που προσφέρουν οι διαφορετικές μέθοδοι διδασκαλίας και οι διακριτές δομές οργάνωσης που ο εκάστοτε ιστορικός ή διδάσκων της ιστορίας ή θεωρίας τη αρχιτεκτονικής υιοθετεί, ανάλογα με τις ερευνητικές και εκπαιδευτικές του προτεραιότητες. Στόχος του είναι η ανάδειξη των δυνατοτήτων αναδιάρθρωσης των μεθόδων διδασκαλίας της ιστορίας και θεωρίας της αρχιτεκτονικής στο σύγχρονο πλαίσιο. Το άρθρο εστιάζει στην παρουσίαση των κατευθύνσεων από το 1968 μέχρι σήμερα σχετικά με τις μεθόδους διδασκαλίας και συγγραφής της ιστορίας και της θεωρίας της αρχιτεκτονικής, σε διαφορετικά θεσμικά και γεωγραφικά πλαίσια. Ανάλογα με τα κριτήρια που υιοθετούνται από τον εκάστοτε ιστορικό, οι πιο συνήθεις κατηγοριοποιήσεις αναπτύσσονται σύμφωνα με τις εξής δομές: «τεχνοτροπία και περίοδος», «βιογραφία», «γεωγραφία και πολιτισμός», «τυπολογία», «τεχνική» και «θέμα και αναλογία».
7. My article entitled “Το όραμα ανοικοδόμησης του Κωνσταντίνου Α. Δοξιάδη και του Adriano Olivetti: μεταξύ συγκεντρωτικής και μη συγκεντρωτικής πολιτικής” was published in Archetype on 3 February 2020.
8. I am very happy and honoured that my article “Revisiting László Moholy-Nagy and Alvar Aalto’s Connections: Creative Process as Broadening of Individual’s Freedom” has been accepted for publication in the special issue of Tahiti Journal “Bauhaus vs. Nordic Design and Architecture”.
Revisiting László Moholy-Nagy and Alvar Aalto’s Connections: Creative Process as Broadening of Individual’s Freedom
László Moholy-Nagy, who resigned from his teaching position at the Bauhaus, where he had served as the director of the Vorkurs and head of the metal workshop in Weimar (1923-1925) and Dessau (1925-1928), believed that individual experience is the very source of knowledge. In 1937, he moved to Chicago and was appointed Director of the “The New Bauhaus: American School of Design”. This article, taking as its starting point the fact that Moholy-Nagy’s Material zur Architektur (1929) had been an important source of inspiration for Aalto, examines the impact of Moholy-Nagy’s approach on Aal-to’s thought. It pays special attention to how Moholy-Nagy’s tripartite analysis of how material gains or becomes form – Struktur (structure), Textur (texture) and Faktura (making) – influenced Aalto’s conception of furniture and his use of the curvilinear line. The two men met during the Congrès Internationale de l’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) in 1929. Later, in summer 1931, Moholy-Nagy and his companion Ellen Frank visited Aino and Alvar Aalto in Turku in Finland (fig. 1). During this visit, Moholy-Nagy offered Aalto as a present a copy of Von Material zur Architektur (1929), where he refers to Rudolf Carnap’s understanding of “experiential” space. During that same trip, Moholy-Nagy and Frank visited Lapland, where the former took photographs of the Sámi people. These photos had an important effect on Aalto’s thought.
The main objective of the article is to analyse how Moholy-Nagy’s conception of “experiential” space and his appraisal of the individual experience are related to Aalto’s understanding of the so-called “flexible standardization”. Aalto refers to the concept of “flexible standardization” in a brochure entitled Post-War Reconstruction: Rehousing Research in Finland, published through the Finnish Consulate in New York for American distribution in 1940. The interest of this concept lies in the fact that it “allowed architecture to absorb various contingencies from site conditions to programmatic needs”. Aalto believed that “[…] architecture – the real kind – only exists where the little man is at the center”. The article examines how Aalto’s conviction that architecture’s task is to support “broadening humane, socio-economic, and psychological decisions” is related to Moholy-Nagy’s belief that a new individuality is a prerequisite condition for a new society.
9. I am very delighted that my proposal for an article entitled “Gottfried Semper’s Perplexity Before the Crystal Palace: Stoffwechsel as Osmosis between Decorative Objects and Architecture” has been selected by the committee of the journal FACES. My article will be published in the forthcoming 77th issue of FACES! https://www.facesmagazine.ch/numeros/
Gottfried Semper’s Perplexity Before the Crystal Palace: Stoffwechsel as Osmosis between Decorative Objects and Architecture
This paper examines how Gottfried Semper’s approach triggered the shift from an understanding of ornament as artefact to an experimental model. In parallel, it reveals the implications of such a reorienta- tion of the concept of ornament for both design and architecture. Pivotal for this shift was Semper’s “On the Formal Principles of Adornment and its Meaning as a Symbol in Art” (1856), which marks, firstly, a relocation of the quest for demonstration to theorisation, and, secondly, an intensification of the interaction between graphic illustration and abstract speculation. What is argued here is that Semper’s cosmological inquiries on ornamentation enacted a comprehension of ornaments as non-autonomous objects, upgrading them into reflective devices.
Semper was in exile in London between 1850 and 1855, after his escape from Dresden on 9 May 1849 when Prussian and Saxon troops defeated the revolt in which he had participated in support of democratic rights and the unity of the German state. The presentation will focus on Semper’s comments on the 1851 Great London Exhibition, and especially on his critical remarks regarding Sir Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace whose design for the Great Exhibition had been accepted in the summer of 1850. Some months later, in February 1851, Semper drafted a school programme including lessons for engineers and architects. In March of the same year, Edwin Chadwick invited Semper, on behalf of Paxton, to become an assistant of the latter while working on the Crystal Palace. Semper rejected this offer, presenting as an excuse his involvement in the establishment of a school for architects in London, which, as he stated, had garnered publicity in the German and Swiss newspapers. Despite the fact that Semper interpreted the Great London Exhibition as a “world phenomenon” representing contemporary cultural conditions, he described the sentiments that a walk through it provoked as a “Babylonian confusion”, claiming that the perplexity it induced prevented an intelligible perception of the exhibited objects, making the impression they instigated non-compatible with his aspiration for a “practical heuristics” system.
My objective is to examine whether the questions that arose in Semper’s mind when experiencing the Crystal Palace pushed him to question the understanding of architecture that he had previously developed in The Four Elements of Architecture , which was published shortly before his arrival in London, according to a distinction into four elements: the hearth, the roof, the enclosure and the mound. Additionally, I will investigate the extent to which his encounter with the Crystal Palace played a role in his use of the concept of stoffwechsel, which Semper introduced from biology in order to describe the material transformation of artistic forms. The elaboration of this notion allowed Semper to argue for replacing the conception of ornament as artefact by its understanding as architectural element. In other words, it is through this concept that Semper defended his integration of the decorative object into the history of architecture. These questions will be discussed in relation to an analysis of why Practical Art in Metal and Hard Materials (1852) was pivotal for the re-invention of decorative objects’ meaning.
10. My paper entitled “From Harlem to New Haven: The Emergence of the Advocacy Planning Movement in the late 1960s” was published in the proceedings of the international conference of the Jaap Bakema centre “Architecture and Democracy 1965-1989: Urban Renewal, Populism and the Welfare State” (Convener: Dirk van den Heuvel (Jaap Bakema Study Centre). Advisory Board: Tom Avermaete (ETH Zü-rich), Hetty Berens (HNI), Guus Beumer (HNI), Maristella Casciato (Getty Research Institute), Dick van Gameren (TU Delft), Carola Hein (TU Delft), Laurent Stalder (ETH Zürich))
This paper examines the advocacy planning movement and the socio-political climate of civil rights around 1968, focusing on two case studies that are closely connected to the critique of urban renewal in the United States: firstly, the founding of the Architect’s Renewal Committee in Harlem (ARCH), the first organization solely devoted to advocacy planning in the United States, and secondly, the establishment of the City Planning Forum at Yale School of Art and Architecture, an independent governing body which consisted of all full-time faculty members and students and – in dialogue with the civil rights movement – had as its main purpose to bring greater diversity to the department. Special attention is paid to the approaches of advocacy planner C. Richard Hatch and advocacy-inclined city-planner Christopher Tunnard, Chairman of the Department of City Planning of Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture between 1966 and 1969. The advocacy planning approaches considered urban renewal to be incompatible with any kind of socially effective approach to urban planning. The ARCH was concerned with changing the architect’s role and replacing the idea of city building with that of city living. Max Bond, its executive director, believed that “architect[s] should be […] representative[s] of the poor people, responding to their wishes, rather than […] advocate[s] of the white middle class imposing its compartmentalizing values and gridiron street plan upon Black and Spanish-speaking people who have quite other social ideals”. This concern about involving neighbourhoods in the planning of their own housing became a central issue in the Department of City Planning at Yale School of Art and Architecture after the appointment of Tunnard as Chairman in 1966. Tunnard, who, since 1954, had established City Planning at Yale, largely criticised the involvement of Yale University in urban renewal projects in New Haven. In 1969, a group of students from the Department of City Planning of Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture, who marshalled a critique against the university’s role in the top-down urban renewal strategies, founded a new governance committee named City Planning Forum, which soon joined the Black Workshop, an activist group formed by ten African American design students in late 1968.
My aim is to shed light on the emergence of the advocacy planning movement around 1968 and its aspiration to respond to the fulfilment of needs related to the welfare of society as a whole and the responsibility to provide equal housing opportunities and equal access to public amenities regardless of race, religion, or national origin. ARCH and City Planning Forum’s aspiration to democratize urban planning should be understood within the context of the struggle over civil rights for African Americans in the United States in the 1960s. A paradox underlying their efforts is the fact that, despite their intention to broaden opportunities in participation, they were based on policies that maintained the centrality of federal aid and the prominence of professional expertise. The paper examines to what extent their strategies were aligned with the ambition of President Johnson’s Great Society to renew citizens’ role without undermining existing institutions. Special attention is paid to the tension between the intention of advocacy planning approaches to bring equality into the planning process and the risk of being co-opted by a local bureaucracy or a more powerful interest group.
11. My essay entitled “Music as a Reservoir of Thought’s Materialisation: Between Metastaseis and Modulor?” will be published in the edited volume Aberrant Nuptials: Deleuze and Artistic Research 2, edited by Paulo de Assis and Paolo Giudici. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2019.
12. Marianna Charitonidou, “An Action towards Humanization: Doorn Manifesto in a Transnational Perspective,” in Nuno Correia, Maria Helena Maia, Rute Figueiredo, eds., Revisiting the Post-CIAM Generation: Debates, Proposals and Intellectual Framework. Porto: IHA/FCSH-UNL, CEAA/ESAP-CESAP, 2019, 68-86.
You can download my paper entitled “An action towards Humanization. Doorn manifesto in a transnational perspective” here:
In 1957, Ernesto Nathan Rogers, in “Continuità o Crisi?”, published in Casabella Continuità, considered history as a process, highlighting that history can be understood as being either in a condition of continuity or in a condition of crisis “accordingly as one wishes to emphasize either permanence or emergency”. A year earlier, Le Corbusier in a diagram he sent to the tenth CIAM at Dubrovnik, he called attention to a turning point within the circle of the CIAM, maintaining that after 1956 its dominant approach had been characterised by a reorientation of the interest towards what he called “action towards humanisation”. The paper examines whether this humanising process is part of a crisis or an evolution, on the one hand, and compares the directions that were taken regarding architecture’s humanisation project within a transnational network, on the other hand. An important instance regarding this reorientation of architecture’s epistemology was the First International Conference on Proportion in the Arts at the IX Triennale di Milano in 1951, where Le Corbusier presented his Modulor and Sigfried Giedion, Matila Ghyka, Pier Luigi Nervi, Andreas Speiser and Bruno Zevi intervened among others. The debates that took place during this conference epitomise the attraction of architecture’s dominant discourse to humanisation ideals.
In a different context, the Doorn manifesto (1954), signed by the architects Peter Smithson, John Voelcker, Jaap Bakema, Aldo van Eyck and Daniel van Ginkel and the economist Hans Hovens-Greve and embraced by the younger generation, is interpreted as a climax of this generalised tendency to “humanise” architectural discourse and to overcome the rejection of the rigidness of the modernist ideals. This paper presents how the debates regarding the Doorn manifesto evolved in the pages of the following journals: The Architectural Review, Architectural Design, Casabella Continuità, Arquitectura, L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui and Forum. An aspect that is closely investigated is that of which epistemological tools coming from other disciplines – philosophy, sociology, anthropology and so on – are more dominant in each of these architectural journals. The fact that each of these journals is closely connected to a specific national context – U.K., Italy, Portugal, France and Holland respectively – offers the opportunity to discern to what disciplines architecture was attracted within these different contexts during its effort to “humanise” its discourse and conceptual tools.
13. 14 January 2018 Publication of “The Architectural Drawing as a Mechanism for Investigating the Epistemological Changes of Architecture” (“Το αρχιτεκτονικό σχέδιο ως μηχανισμός διερεύνησης των επιστημολογικών μεταλλαγών της αρχιτεκτονικής”) in Archetype
14. 30 November 2018 Publication of “Some thoughts on the lecture cycle of Andreas Giacumacatos ‘Traveling in 6 Cities: Six Lectures on Architecture’” (“Κάποιες σκέψεις με αφορμή τον κύκλο διαλέξεων του Ανδρέα Γιακουμακάτου ‘Ταξίδι σε 6 πόλεις: Έξι διαλέξεις για την αρχιτεκτονική”) in Archetype
15. Forthcoming Publication of my article “Architecture’s Addressees: Drawing as Investigating Device,” in villardjournal no 2, Università Iuav di Venezia, Selected according to double peer review process.
The article examines how the concept of the addressee of architecture is transformed, demonstrating how the mutations of the dominant ways of representation in architecture are linked to the evolution of the significance of the city’s inhabitants. It presents how the reorientations regarding the dominant modes of representation depend on the transformations of the way architects conceive the notion of citizenship. Through the diagnosis of the epistemological debates corresponding to four successive generations – the modernists starting from the 1920s, the post-war era focusing on neorealist architecture and the Team 10, the paradigm of autonomy and the reduction of architecture to its syntactics and to its visuality in the 1970s and the reinvention of the notion of the user and the architectural program through the event in the post-autonomy era – it identifies and analyses the mutations concerning the modes of representation that are at the heart of architectural practice and education in each generation under consideration. It traces the shift from Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe’s fascination with perspective to the Smithson’s Cluster City diagrams and Shadrach Woods’ “stem” and “web” to Peter Eisenman’s search for logical structures architectural components’ formal relationship and his attraction to axonometric representation to Bernard Tschumi’s concern with uncovering the potentialities hidden in the architectural program.
16. Publication of my article “The Immediacy of Urban Reality in Postwar Italy: Between Neorealism and Tendenza’s Instrumentalization of Ugliness,” in Architecture and Ugliness. Anti-Aesthetics in Postmodern Architecture, edited by Thomas Mical and Wouter van Acker, London and New York: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2020.
Ugliness was used as a productive category in post-war Italian architecture. This chapter unfolds the debate among protagonists of Tendenza (Ernesto Nathan Rogers and Aldo Rossi) and neorealist architecture (Ludovico Quaroni and Mario Ridolfi) about the notion of ugliness in Italian cities after the Second World War, aesthetic views informed by the post-war urban reality. Rogers, Rossi, Ridolfi and Quaroni believed that post-war (sub)urbanization contributed to the ‘uglification’ of cities. An analysis of the design of the Torre Velasca project (1950–8) by Ludovico Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti and Ernesto Nathan Rogers (BBPR), and the development of the Tiburtino district (1949–54) by Ludovico Quaroni and Mario Ridolfi, in collaboration with certain young Roman architects, such as Carlo Aymonino, reveals how the anti-aesthetic and anti-elitist stance of Tendenza and neorealist architects was applied. The essay thus sheds light on the shared intention of Tendenza and neorealist architects to reformulate the ways in which we judge architecture. They theorized and built new models for urban expansion, and with these models established new criteria for evaluating urban aesthetics that took into consideration the struggle for social reconstruction characteristic of post-war Italian cities. The emergence of such new models by which to evaluate the aesthetics of a city is interpreted as a symptom of the debate regarding the reconstruction of the city’s identity after 1945.
The paradoxical effect of both estrangement and familiarization at Torre Velasca creates a tension between ‘continuità’ and ‘preesistenze ambientali’ that Rogers espoused in Tendenza architecture. Paci’s view of the relation- ship between past and present helps us to see how both could exist at the same time: ‘It is while questioning the past (but not by becoming the past) that I understand the present and the interest of the present for its own transformation.’ Similarly, what is at stake in Rossi’s concept of analogy is a process of defamiliarization, which intensifies the semantic ambiguity Quaroni explored in his response to complexity of the modern city. The transformation of the status of the architect and his architecture has the potential to bring about the ‘città meravigliosa’, a term from his La torre di Babele, where he insists on the capacity of the ancient city to express what he called ‘qualità diffusa’. Quaroni’s quest for a diffuse or widespread quality is founded on his intention to conceive ‘new forms of developed fabric’, like his Tiburtino district, that responded ‘to current housing needs, and to the requirements of ready-made and quantitative multiplication’. In replacing beautiful/ugly with vital/non-vital, Quaroni demonstrates that the concepts of ‘città meravigliosa’ and ‘qualità diffusa’ cannot be understood without untying their existential load, which, as in Rogers’ and Rossi’s cases, moralizes ugliness. This appropriation of estrangement and defamiliarization and their existential implications justifies neorealism’s and Tendenza’s aestheticization of the ugliness of post-war Italian cities.
17. Publication of my article “Le récit autobiographique d’Aldo Rossi : introspection ou rétrospection ?,” in L’Homme & la société
Le récit autobiographique d’Aldo Rossi : introspection ou rétrospection ?
Cet article se propose explorer le cas de l’« architecte-historien », terme par lequel je désigne un architecte prenant lui-même en charge son histoire. Ainsi, quelle est la signification, pour un architecte, d’une telle prise en charge de l’interprétation de son œuvre ? Aldo Rossi, en 1981, publie A Scientific Autobiography, livre qui constitue une enquête sur les sources de sa propre création. Mon intention dans cet article est de déchiffrer et de comprendre la position de la notion d’introspection dans la réflexion d’Aldo Rossi. Un des objectifs de ma contribution est de montrer quelle est la signification de cette introspection pour le domaine de l’architecture. Dans l’épigraphe de son autobiographie, Rossi pose la question suivante : « Dès lors, à quoi ai-je pu aspirer dans mon métier ? » (Rossi, 1988 [1981a] : 5). Cette interrogation montre sa volonté de mettre en question ou au moins d’examiner son apport à la connaissance et à la pratique architecturales. La réponse qu’il propose à sa propre question est la suivante : « [C]ertes à peu de choses, vu que la possibilité de réaliser de grandes choses est historiquement forclose. » (Rossi, 1988 [1981a] : 5). Quel était le contexte dans lequel Aldo Rossi a mis en récit son architecture ? Qu’implique le récit autobiographique, du moment que l’auteur est lui-même architecte ?
18. “Aldo Rossi’s Transatlantic Cross-fertilisation: American ‘Urban Facts’ and Reinvention of Design Methods,” in ALDO ROSSI. Perspectives from the World International Conference, forthcoming publication of proceedings
Marianna Charitonidou, “Aldo Rossi’s Transatlantic Cross-fertilization: American ‘Urban Facts’ and Reinvention of Design Methods”, in Marco Bovati et al, eds., Aldo Rossi, Perspectives from the World. Theory, Teaching, Design & Legacy. Padova: Il Poligrafo, Biblioteca di Architettura series, 2020, p. 166-173.
19. September 2018 “Between Urban Renewal and Nuova Dimensione: The 68 Effects vis-à-vis the Real,” in Histories of Postwar Architecture, no. 2 (2018): 1- 25.
20. December 2017 “Revisiting the Debate around Autonomy in Architecture. A Genealogy,” in Critic|all, Vol. 2. Book of Findings, edited by Silvia Colmenares. Madrid: DPA Prints. Architectural Design Department, ETSAM-UPM, 2017.
21. December 2017 “Archives of Architecture Museums: The Effects of Digitisation/ Archieven van architectuurmusea: de effecten van digitalisering,” Journal for Architecture OASE 99 (2017), TheArchitecture Museum Effect/ De effecten van architectuurmusea, p. 77–81.
22. July 2017 “Artefactual Value and Virtual Archives: The Digital Curator vis-à-vis the Plurality of Entry Points”, Journal de l’Université d’été de la Bibliothèque Kandinsky, 4, July 2017. ISSN: 2427-4119
23. December 2016 “Réinventer la posture historique: les débats théoriques à propos de la comparaison et des transferts,” in Espaces et Sociétés, 2016/4 (n° 167) ISBN: 9782749253541, ISSN: 0014-0481
DOI : 10.3917/esp.167.0137.
Reinventing the Historical Posture: Theoretical Debates on Comparison and Transfers
This article presents a debate on historical comparison by reexamining the links between historical comparison and other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. The questions guiding this debate are the following: What does comparison mean in history, beyond a simple debate on the comparability of sources? How can historical comparisons transcend national frames of reference? How do historians situate themselves in relation to other disciplines on the comparison of cultural transfers? How can one characterize the content of these debates? My intent in this article is to better outline the distinctions between a comparative approach, cross-cultural history, comparative history, the study of transfers, and a transnational approach to historical comparison. Thus, by revisiting these concepts and their origins, and by reexamining the relationship between these concepts and methods, my aim is to, on the one hand, present the internal debates on “definitions” and, on the other hand, to address programmatic perspectives of different historiographical postures.
Cet article présente les débats sur la comparaison en histoire. Il s’agit de revisiter les liens de la comparaison en histoire avec d’autres disciplines des sciences humaines et sociales. Les questions qui guident la présentation des débats théoriques sont les suivantes : Que signifie comparer en histoire, au-delà des débats sur la comparabilité des sources ? Comment la comparaison en histoire pourrait-elle désigner les transferts au-delà des cadres nationaux ? Comment les historiens se situent-ils par rapport aux autres disciplines à l’égard de la comparaison et des transferts culturels ? Quel est le contenu de leurs débats ? L’intention de retracer les distinctions entre la démarche comparée, l’histoire croisée, l’histoire connectée, l’étude des transferts et la démarche transnationale en histoire conduit le récit de cet article. En réexaminant les notions et leurs origines, et les relations entre les notions et les méthodes on vise, d’une part, à présenter les débats internes sur les « définitions » et, d’autre part, aborder les perspectives programmatiques des différentes postures historiographiques.
Reinventar la postura histórica: los debates teóricos sobre la comparación y las transferencias
Este artículo presenta el debate sobre la comparación en historia. Se trata de revisar sus relaciones con otras disciplinas de las humanidades y de las ciencias sociales. Las preguntas que guían la presentación de los debates teóricos son las siguientes: ¿Qué significa comparar en historia, más allá de los debates sobre la comparabilidad de las fuentes? ¿Cómo la comparación en historia podría designar las transferencias más allá de los marcos nacionales? ¿Cómo se sitúan los historiadores con respecto a otras disciplinas en cuanto a la comparación y a las transferencias culturales? ¿Cuál es el contenido de sus debates? Este artículo tiene la intención de discutir las diferencias entre el método comparado, la historia transcultural, la historia conectada, el estudio de las transferencias y el enfoque transnacional en Historia. Reexaminando los conceptos y sus orígenes, y las relaciones entre los conceptos y los métodos, se pretende, por un lado, presentar los debates internos sobre las “definiciones” y, por otro, abordar las perspectivas programáticas desde diferentes posturas historiográficas.
Plan de l’article:
- Origines des notions et construction des « comparables »
- Les démarches comparatives en histoire et en sociologie
- Les méthodes de l’histoire croisée
- Les méthodes de l’histoire connectée
- Les méthodes des études sur les transferts culturels
- Les méthodes de l’histoire transnationale
- Pour conclure : comment réconcilier le décentrement et la contextualisation des méthodes historiques ?
24. November 2016 “From Semiology to Deconstruction: Metaphysics and Subject”, in Research in Architecture, edited by Giorgos Parmenidis, Athens National Technical University of Athens, p. 374-399.
25. September 2016 Publication of my article “From the Search for a Helleno-centric Modernity to a Multiplicity of the Present: ‘Greekness’ in Architecture or Architecture in Greece?” in Greek architecture in the 20th and 21st century, edited by Andreas Giacumacatos (Athens: Gutenberg) ISBN 978-960-01-1794-3
26. June 2016 Publication of my article “The Debate between Contextualism and Autonomy in Architecture: a Genealogy” in the proceedings of the II International Conference on Architectural Design & Criticism critic|all at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. ISBN: 978-84-608-9062-1.
27. June 2016 “Towards a Narrative of Connected Geographies: Display of Architecture and Transnational History” in the Proceedings of the fourth European Architectural History International Meeting, Dublin Castle, 2-4th June 2016. ISBN 978-1-5262-0376-2
In order to shed light on the ways in which the adoption of a historiographical point of view regarding the construction of national identity can be depicted through the conception of architecture exhibitions we could compare the following two exhibitions: World War II and the American Dream: How Wartime Building Changed a Nation National, which took place at the Building Museum in 1994, and Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War, which took place at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in 2011 and was transferred to the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris and to the MAXXI in Rome in 2014. The first exhibition included in its material a range of building projects undertaken during the wartime; its main aspiration was to show how they contributed to technical innovations and social changes concerning postwar architectural production. The catalog that accompanied this exhibition addressed the chronology and architectural, technological, social, military and planning legacy of wartime. The exhibition aimed to show how the materials of wartime building and the visual language of their representation influenced architecture. The focus of the exhibition was centered on the nation, since, as the poster at its entrance reflected, its purpose was to present “how a wartime building change a nation”. By contrast, the second exhibition, which treated wartime technological products as components of the puzzle of the interactions of different national contexts, escaped the danger of celebrating economic productivity, political organization, and social consensus within the constrains of a national perspective. This was made possible through the inventive narrative zig-zags of its sequence, which was based on cross-sections that shed light on the policies undertaken in parallel by the belligerents jumping from one significant place to another, from Los Angeles to London and from Auschwitz to Moscow. In this case, the use of archival material coming from different institutions in different national contexts as well as their historical interpretation played a key role. Its main purpose was to make visible and comprehensible to the spectator that every fragment of the history narrated can take on different meanings if the interpreter adopts a different point of view. The curator based the research and its display on archival material coming from different institutions in order to make explicit the deformations that can take place because of the change of the perspective from which the events are diagnosed. The historical archival research preceding the exhibition was based on material coming from different institutions. Its narrative instead of producing consistencies it aimed to reveal disruptions. My presentation aims to show how architecture exhibitions are able to reveal different sets of cultural meanings through the strategies according to which the artefacts, that constitute their material, are articulated and through the tactics according to which the sequence of their narrative is conceived, functioning as a vehicle of transnational historiographical research.
28. December 2015 “Revisiting the encounters of the social concern with the utopian aspirations: is a crisis of utopia and utopian thinking under way?,” in Critic|all, Vol. 1. Book of Findings, edited by Silvia Colmenares. Madrid: DPA Prints. Architectural Design Department, ETSAM-UPM, 2015. ISBN: 978-84-944265-2-0
29. November 2015 Publication of my essay “L’AUA entre le Team 10 et le postmodernisme” in the catalogue of the exhibition entitled “Une architecture de l’engagement : l’AUA 1960-1985” at the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris, curated by Jean-Louis Cohen and Vanessa Grossman (Editions La Découverte et Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine) ISBN: 978-2-37368-006-5
L’AUA entre le Team 10 et le postmodernisme
La démarche de l’AUA pourrait sembler répondre à l’appel de Roger Caillois à « une poétisation de la civilisation urbaine » et à « une adhésion réellement profonde de la sensibilité à la ville moderne ». L’aspiration à un changement du mode de production du bâtiment était partagée par ses membres et les a conduits à mettre en cause l’hégémonie de la fonction et à rechercher un lien entre engagement intellectuel et engagement pratique. Cette mise en question du fonctionnalisme moderne ne pouvait que s’élargir à l’urbain. Jacques Allégret rappelle dans son entretien avec Jean-Louis Violeau que la démarche de l’équipe pluridisciplinaire se développait autour de la réflexion sur la « production du cadre bâti », qui avait remplacé celle sur les modes d’« urbanisation », tout en mettant l’accent sur le fait qu’il avait lui-même « toujours été intéressé par une ‹ théorie de la pratique › plutôt que par une « théorie de l’architecture » Allégret affirmait aussi en 1974 qu’« il ne peut y avoir de politique démocratique de l’urbanisme sans transformation dans la production du cadre bâti3 ». Cet investissement des enjeux sociaux et économiques par les fondateurs de l’AUA s’accompagne aussi d’une occupation des terrains sur lesquels la culture architecturale se transforme, notamment au début des années 1980, lorsque l’émergence du discours postmoderne semble saper les fondements mêmes de la doctrine de l’Atelier.
L’effet de souffle provoqué par l’exposition La Presenza del passato, conçue par Paolo Portoghesi pour la Biennale d’architecture de Venise de 1980, atteignit Paris l’année suivante, avec l’exposition Architectures en France. Modernité, postmodernité, présentée au Centre Pompidou et à l’Institut français d’architecture. L’exposition de Venise elle-même fut présentée peu après dans le cadre du Festival d’automne sous le titre Présence de l’histoire, l’après modernisme. En 1982, le débat devait rebondir avec l’exposition de Jean Nouvel, Patrice Goulet et François Barré, La Modernité ou l’esprit du temps (qui s’est tenue dans le cadre de la XIIe Biennale de Paris, section architecture) et celle de Paul Chemetov et Jean-Claude Garcias, La Modernité, un projet inachevé. L’interprétation des divergences et des affinités entre les attitudes de Nouvel et de Chemetov quant à la question de la banalisation de la marchandise et à celle de l’esthétisation de l’image révèle alors comment chacun d’entre eux perçoit le statut du signe dans l’architecture.
30. December 2014 “Historiography of Architecture in Greece between XX and XXI Century: Architecture and Arts between “Greekness” and Globalization” in Art History journal ISSN: 2241 – 7338
31. June 2014 “Revisiting the Encounters of the Social Concerns with the Utopian Aspirations: Is a Crisis of Utopia and Utopian Thinking Under Way?,” proceedings of the I International Conference on Architectural Design & Criticism critic|all (Madrid 12-14 June 2014) ISBN: 978-84-697-0424-0
32. May 2014 “Historiography of the Interwar Period as a Reflection of the Ideological Constructions,” proceedings of the “1st Colloquium of History of Architecture in Greece” on the historiography of architecture in Greece in the 20th and 21st century “Art and architecture: between local and globalisation”, organised by the School of Fine Arts in Athens
33. May 2013 “Scripting Cultures, Parametric Urbanism and Adaptive Ecologies,” in the Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Intelligent Environments Intelligent Cities // Intelligent Users (16-19 July 2013, Athens, Greece). ISBN: 978-1-61499-285-1 (print) | 978-1-61499-286-8 (online)
34. December 2010 Publication of the Greek translation of Le Corbusier’s “Le poème de lʼangle droit” (1953) in the book Vers L.C. Contre: 16 + 9 positions for the actuality of Le Corbusier (Athens Futura, 2010) in collaboration with Lois Papadopoulos. ISBN: 978-960-9489-06-5