Showing posts with label architecture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label architecture. Show all posts

Nov 16, 2018


Thinking Outside the Box:
 Walter Benjamin’s Critique of ‘Dwelling’


This post takes off from reflections on two notebook entries in Walter Benjamin’s long, uncompleted research into the space and culture of 19th-century Paris, The Arcades Project or Passagenwerk, notes that he dedicated to the problem of dwelling (Wohnen).   I’ll come back to these soon. But first a few preliminaries to set up the broader context for where I’ll be heading, which is Benjamin’s rich meditations and criticism about “interiors,” which embraces in his writings a complex set of topics and interconnections between them, including modern cities and their reconfigurations of inside and outsides through enclosures and the use of glass in architecture, the culture of the bourgeois household of the 19th century and of Benjamin’s own childhood, and the psychological interiority so intensively elaborated by modern culture from lyric poetry, stream-of-consciousness narrative, and modern art to psychoanalysis and new-age spirituality.
Dwelling was a problem that had long occupied Benjamin, not least because of its immediacy in his own uncertain, transient life as an expatriate and exiled writer, a life which he conducted largely out of cheap hotels, rented apartments, and borrowed rooms of friends in cities throughout Europe, until his suicide in 1940. As a passage from his 1928 book of aphoristic writings, One-Way Street, indicates–

–Benjamin connected the contemporary forms of dwelling with the increasing economic, political, and social compulsions that weighed on the individual’s freedom of residence and movement. Alluding to the economic and political crises of the early Weimar Republic after World War I, Benjamin writes:
“Any human movement, whether it springs from an intellectual or even a natural impulse, is impeded in its unfolding by the boundless resistance of the outside world. A shortage of houses and the rising cost of travel are in the process of annihilating the elementary symbol of European freedom, which existed in certain forms even in the Middle Ages: freedom of domicile. And if medieval coercion bound men to natural associations, they are now chained together in unnatural community. Few things will further the ominous spread of the cult of rambling as much as the strangulation of the freedom of residence, and never has freedom of movement stood in greater disproportion to the abundance of means of travel.”
As we know, the problem of dwelling has played an enormous role in the discourse of modern architecture and urbanism, but also in philosophy, where Martin Heidegger offered extensive treatment in late essays and lectures such as “Building Dwelling Thinking” and “Poetically Man Dwells. . .” and especially in his idiosyncratic writings on the poetry of Friedrich Hölderlin, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Georg Trakl. In these various writings, Heidegger suggested that dwelling—meaning the various historically differentiated forms in which human being’s inhabit the earth–and Being, the origination and passing away of all that is in time, stand in a complex, intertwined relationship to one another that should itself become the occasion for thinking. In turn, he argues, the human practice of building for habitation is not merely a matter of bodily shelter and survival, but rather a primordial component of the way we feel, speak, think, and occupy our finite historical worlds. At the conclusion of “Building Dwelling Thinking,” like Benjamin he too evokes a crisis-situation in dwelling, which, however, Heidegger sees as not having really been given sufficiently radical questioning and thought:
“What is the state of dwelling in our precarious age? On all sides we hear talk about the housing shortage, and with good reason. … However hard and bitter, however hampering and threatening the lack of houses remains, the proper plight of dwelling does not lie merely in a lack of houses. The proper plight of dwelling is indeed older than the world wars with their destruction, older also than the increase of the earth’s populartion and the condition of the industrial workers. The proper plight of dwelling lies in this, that mortals ever search anew for the essence of dwelling, that they must ever learn to dwell. What if man’s homelessness consisted in this, that man still does not even think of the proper plight of dwelling as the plight? Yet as soon as man gives thought to his homelessness, it is a misery no longer. Rightly considered and kept well in mind, it is the sole summons that calls mortals into their dwelling.”
Here, Heidegger suggests that the plight of dwelling is not just a modern problem, but rather that human being’s habitation of the earth is that of never being “at home,” never being fully at peace and at one with the earth, but that of being always in strife with and uncanny to itself, out of place. Thrown into the spaces of the earth, human beings make places by building, which means that their placement, their dwelling, their habitation can never be taken for granted. Looked at in this light, Heidegger suggests that human beings always dwell historically, that is, in time-bound, poetically made, and linguistically and architecturally disclosed relations to the earth that can never be definitively settled, which hence are always subject to crisis, destruction, change, and renewal. The contemporary situation of the destruction and rebuilding of large cities, housing shortages, and mass displacement and influx to the city from the countryside are, perhaps, particularly dramatic and dangerous manifestations of this historicity of dwelling. But the greatest danger, he suggests, may be to fail to recognize in this historicity the most important spur to thought, the most important clue to what the contemporary crisis of dwelling means, and hence the only hope to find our way to historical renewal. Such thinking about the plight of dwelling, Heidegger suggests, would have to encounter even the most devastating phenomena of the present day as part of humankind’s long, defining confrontation with our lack of a fixed abode on earth and our need to pay constant heed to dwelling’s question and offer new historical, cultural, and architectonic answers to it.
Similar in this regard to Heidegger, Benjamin saw his own crisis-ridden time between the two world wars in relation to fundamental changes in the nature of dwelling, which also meant dramatic changes in the ways that modern people gave shape to dwelling by building, reflected on their habitation of spaces such as metropolitan cities, and interacted in new ways within modern built environments. Although of course Walter Benjamin, having died in 1940, would know nothing of the later Heidegger and was in many respect, most obviously politically, antithetical to Heidegger, I would suggest that in his focus on the question of dwelling and the various historical forms and forces that structure it, Benjamin too shared this holistic conception of the architectural realm. Perhaps even more strongly than for Heidegger, for Benjamin dwelling was a richly determined form of thinking and experiencing—and, moreover, a form of thinking and feeling in which the philosophical question of the “subject,” the individual subject of “lived experience” that was so much the focus of late 19th-century neo-Kantian thought, hermeneutics, and modern psychology, was profoundly implicated. At the heart of the issue of dwelling for Benjamin was the problematic status of its association with the “interior,” with “interiority”—whether that inner space implied the privacy of the bourgeois household or the inner depths and memorial folds of the bourgeois self. Indeed, what was at issue most forcefully for Benjamin was the dramatically altered relations between the psychic and architectonic manifestations of interiority that were being experienced as rifts and crises across the array of cultural, political, and personal life in his day.
Benjamin’s conjunction of a changing metropolitan space with new modes of psychic experience, mediated and expressed through various sorts of modern social behaviors and cultural artifacts, has a genealogical precursor in the writings of Georg Simmel and later, under the influence of Simmel, the early Georg Lukács. The most explicit development of this reading of Simmel can be found in the Italian philosopher `Massimo Cacciari’s consideration of late 19th– and early 20th-century German social thought, in his book Metropolis, where he discusses Simmel’s essayistically deploying the city itself as the real solution to long-standing Kantian and neo-Kantian antinomies of thought. Cacciari writes:
“In Simmel, the city is called upon to concretize Kantian teleological judgment. Here, the themes and key problems of neo-Kantian philosophy all reappear.”
And he goes on to argue:
“As long as the value of the city is simply the synthesis of form and function in the original apperception of its totality, the temporal dimension will remain absent. . . . Time, as well, [however], must be reconciled. And for time, there must be a form. Not for Kantian time. . .But for the time of Erleben [lived inner experience], the time of the actual products of history. And the form of this time must be the city.”
Putting this in somewhat more vernacular terms, the city comes to stand as a set of experiential forms—shapes of time, dynamized spaces—that give literally concrete dimension to the articulations of the inner-subjective and outer-objective realms. This is true both for the actually-existing capitalist city, in which reification (Lukács) or “objective culture” (Simmel) predominate both outer and inner experience, or for the utopian-future city virtually latent in its bricks, streets, hoardings, and walls. In this sense, too, we can understand the continuity of the products of artistic modernism with the broader domain of urban modernity, insofar as both involve the invention and / or reappropriation of cultural forms to project new modes of experience, new ways of configuring the spatial and temporal schema of modern experiential “worlds.” As Jon Goodbun has written:
“For Simmel. . . the metropolis provided the particular conditions in which the ‘space’ of concrete experience (super-individual ‘society’) and the ‘space’ of inner experience (individual subject) are translated (almost in the mathematical sense, that is to say, ‘mapped’) onto each other. And this is one of the senses in which we can begin to understand the object of this other modernist genealogy: as a store of transformation matrices between inner and concrete experience.”
In his own writings, Benjamin, in fact, makes explicit reference to Heidegger in an early note to the Passagenwerk, in which he writes: “[It is] of vital interest to recognize, at a particular point of development, currents of thought at the crossroads—namely, the new view on the historical world at the point where a decision is forthcoming as to its reactionary or revolutionary application. In this sense, one and the same phenomenon is at work in the Surrealists and in Heidegger.” Both the Surrealist exploration of Paris as a kind of exteriorized space of dreams, forbidden connections, and unacknowledged desires, he suggests, and Heidegger’s angst-ridden existential individual Dasein suffering the inauthentic chatter of das Man, are important diagnostic symptoms of the present-day crisis of dwelling, despite their manifest differences of idiom, intention, and political ideology. Another passage from One-Way Street, entitled “Minister of the Interior,” punningly plays off several connotations of “interior” to suggest more what Benjamin means: that there is a single crisis of dwelling, a disturbance in and drastic reconfiguration of previously stable relations between public and private life, conducted in exterior and interior spaces, that are susceptible to polarized political interpretations and uses. The full passage of “Minister of the Interior” reads:
The more antagonistic a person is toward the traditional order, the more inexorably he will subject his private life to the norms that he wishes to elevate as legislators of a future society. It is as if these laws, nowhere yet realized, place him under obligation to enact them in advance, at least in the confines of his own existence. In contrast, the man who knows himself to be in accord with the most ancient heritage of his class or nation will sometimes bring his private life into ostentatious contrast to the maxims that he unrelentingly asserts in public, secretly approving his own behavior, without the slightest qualms, as the most conclusive proof of the unshakeable authority of the principles he puts on display. Thus are distinguished the types of the anarcho-socialist and the conservative politician.”
Although there is an element of satire of the conservative politician’s hypocrisy as he publically espouses values that he then blatantly ignores in his private life, Benjamin’s point here is not primarily a moral criticism. It is rather that the questions of inside and outside spaces, private and public orders, have taken on increasingly consequential social and political dimensions, thus elevating them to a historically decisive importance in the coming general crisis (recall that this was written in the early 1920s and published in 1929, amidst the rise of Nazism and the economic collapse of 1929).
Now, at last, I return to Benjamin’s Passagenwerk notes on dwelling, where he explicitly addresses this term and concept. These two entries on dwelling appear in Notebook I [“The Interior, the Trace”] where, associating dwelling with the interior and domestic space, Benjamin adopts a resolutely critical note towards this theme. The first reads:
“The difficulty in reflecting on dwelling: on the one hand, there is something  age-old—perhaps eternal—to be recognized here, the image of that abode of the human being in the maternal womb; on the other hand, this motif of primal history notwithstanding, we must understand dwelling in its most extreme form as a condition of nineteenth-century existence. The original form of dwelling is existence not in the house but in the shell. The shell bears the impression of its occupant. In the most extreme instance, the dwelling becomes a shell. The nineteenth century, like no other century, was addicted to dwelling. It conceived the residence as a receptacle for the person, and it encased him with all his appurtances so deeply in the dwelling’s interior that one might be reminded of the inside of a compass case. . . . The twentieth century, with its porosity and transparency, its tendency toward the well-lit and airy, has put an end to dwelling in the old sense. Set off against the doll house in the residence of the master builder Solness are the “homes for human beings.” Jugendstil unsettled the world of the shell in a radical way. Today this world has disappeared entirely, and dwelling has diminished: for the living, through hotel rooms; for the dead, through crematoriums.”

The second, shorter note follows up the thought of the shell, while offering a grammatical observation that invites being contrasted to Martin Heidegger’s etymologizing approach:
“‘To dwell’ as a transitive verb—as in the notion of ‘indwelt spaces’; herewith an indication of the frenetic topicality concealed in habitual behavior. It has to do with fashioning a shell for ourselves.”
As such, these notes appear in relative isolation: Benjamin did not take up the theme of dwelling as directly in the rest of the Arcades Project, although clearly dwelling is indirectly at issue in the numerous notes on interiors, the house, and figures such as the collector and the flâneur. Yet these two specific notes remain significant for several reasons.
First, the theme of dwelling appears with a much more positive accent in one of Benjamin’s key sources of information and theoretical concepts about architecture: the historian Siegfried Giedion’s book Bauen in Frankreich (Building in France), which Benjamin admired and noted extensively. Giedion was a fervent follower of the architect Corbusier, functioning as the chief propagandist for the modernist architectural movement in Corbusier’s mold. Although Corbusier’s work embraces a vast range of projects, Giedion especially celebrates Corbusier’s modernization of the house in his innovative family villas of the 1920s.

Giedion had written of 19th-century architecture as a kind of psychic structure, in which the technological and industrial character of materials like iron and glass were being repressed into a subconscious dreamlike interior existence:
“Architecture, which has certainly abused the name of art in many ways, has for a century led us in a circle from one failure to another. Aside from a certain haut-goût charm the artistic drapery of the past century has become musty. What remains unfaded of the architecture is those rare instances when construction breaks through. Construction based entirely on provisional purposes, service, and change is the only part of the building that shows an unerringly consistent development. Construction in the nineteenth century plays the role of the subconscious.   Outwardly, construction still boasts the old pathos; underneath, concealed behind facades, the basis of our present existence is taking shape.
It was especially in industrial buildings such as train stations, depots, gasometers, silos, and so on that the new architectural “construction” openly showed its face in the 19th-century; it was most effectively repressed in the nostalgic, decorative, velvet-lined, and thing-stuffed spaces of the bourgeois house. Corbusier, Giedion thought, had brought the industrial age to the house at last. Thus one might indeed argue that dwelling, reinvented in a modernist mode, is the positive, utopian telos of Giedion’s whole account of modern architecture. As he writes in the introduction of Building in France: “The task of this generation is: to translate into a HOUSING FORM what the nineteenth century could say only in abstract and, for us, internally homogeneous constructions.” And returning to this point in his conclusion, he asserts: “our age has one primary demand: the creation of a humane and unconfined human dwelling that meets minimum standards.” It is, he suggests, only when the technological materials and practices evolved earlier in industrial contexts like train stations and factories begin to transform the foundations of human dwelling that architecture may be truly completed / overcome in modern urbanism.
Benjamin, in contrast, does not, like Giedion, embrace modern architecture for its utopian potential to solve the problem of dwelling by reinventing it under modernistic, technological forms. Rather, for him, modernist architecture is to be celebrated precisely for its negative, nihilistic aspect towards dwelling and its anticipation of new life forms beyond dwelling. Modern architecture, in his view, is not a means to restructure dwelling, harmonizing it with technology and urban collectivism, but definitively to abolish the already residual existence of dwelling in the twentieth century. Although it is true that Benjamin’s work as a whole may exhibit a more ambivalent attitude to the question of dwelling than I am describing here with reference to the Arcades Project, I believe the basic direction he adumbrates is the liquidation of dwelling, an active project of necessary destruction. I thus have to disagree respectively with Hilde Heyden’s otherwise excellent account of Benjamin, when she concludes: “The most striking feature in all this is Benjamin’s strategic attempt to understand modernity and dwelling as things that are not in opposition to each other.” I will return to this point in my concluding discussion.

Secondly, Benjamin’s notes reveal that he occupies an extreme position in a wide spectrum of positions among German sociologists, philosophers, cultural critics, and literary-artistic intellectuals from Nietzsche and Tönnies to Weber and Simmel to Spengler and Heidegger about the problem of dwelling. Alongside this catalogue of German thinkers, the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen also merits special mention for his interrogation of the bourgeois household as a space of modern tragedy in plays such as A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler, Little Eyolf, and The Master Builder. For Ibsen’s late play The Master Builder (1892), from which Benjamin cites the modernist leitmotif phrase “homes for human beings,” represents one of the profoundest literary echoes of the problem of dwelling at this time. For example, Ibsen clearly articulates the connection between building and renunciation that would become so essential for the functionalist aesthetic of modern architecture. In Act Two, the master builder Solness tells Hilde: “To be able to build homes for other people, I have had to renounce. . . for ever renounce. . . any hope of having a home of my own. I mean a home with children. Or even with a father and mother.” In passages like this, Benjamin detected Ibsen’s nostalgic lament about the social “homelessness” of the builder (notably, Solness rejects the title “architect” in favor the Heideggerian “builder”) who, because of the profession’s embrace of technological means and a competitive ethos, increasingly has had to subordinate his personal “art” to the utilitarian, impersonal function of providing “homes for human beings.”

For these cultural intellectuals, the concept of dwelling became the intersecting point of reflections on such various issues as the problem of community, the nature of metropolitan experience, the relation to tradition, the question of technology and technical knowledge, and even, as Nietzsche’s and Ibsen’s examples suggest, the death of God and the potential nihilism of the individual will. Especially insofar as dwelling was seen by these intellectuals as threatened or obsolete in the modern metropolis, it became the focus of various melancholic diagnoses of decline, nostalgic wishes for return, and utopian desires to reinvent dwelling in the womb of technology and metropolitan life.   Architectural modernism and the avant-garde were touched by each of these attitudes, often in contradictory and incoherent amalgams. In contrast to his predecessors, Benjamin—like Emmanuel Levinas and in fact even the late Heidegger, in Francesco Dal Co’s view—accepts the irreversible dissolution of the sphere of dwelling as a given and even desirable outcome of metropolitan development. He thus implicitly renders equally obsolete cultural discourses that mourn dwelling’s loss, those that yearn for its retrieval from the ruins of history, and those that strive for its utopian reinvention in the coming age.

Finally, Benjamin’s references to “addiction,” “habit,” and “shell” suggest that his notes on dwelling and interiority should be connected to the more central problematic of the affective and cognitive dimensions of urban “shock” experience. Drawing upon the metaphorics of Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Benjamin implied that the interiorized shell of dwelling—the dream house of the collective—was first and foremost a sheath of rigid, deadened matter to defend a vulnerable interior subjectivity against the shock of urban experience. The breaching and disintegration of this shell—which Benjamin believed was happening under the pressures of modern technology and collective life—is traumatic, and new forms of experience will not be mastered without various regressions, conservative retrenchments, and false reconciliations in the face of the danger of awakening from the protective dream. If the final, tragic fall of Master Builder Solness in Ibsen’s play represents at once the culmination of the dream of dwelling and a catastrophic awakening from it in the moment of death, the task that Benjamin sets for future constructors is yet more daunting.   Neither to reinvent the sacral roots of dwelling with sublime chuch-like houses (the fatal project of Ibsen’s Solness) nor construct utopian “castles in the air” (as the young Hilde Wangel wants Solness to do), but rather to survive and master the interminable fall into secularized space. (In a strange anticipation of Ibsen’s fiction, the arcade architect Giuseppe Mengoni, designer of Milan’s famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, whose allegorical features were intended as a secular counterpoint to the cathedral in the adjoining piazza, fell to his death from the triumphal arch shortly before the opening ceremonies in 1876.) In this sobering air outside dwelling, which surrounds the destruction-construction sites of the metropolis, architecture must seek the authentic spur to radical creation.

 


June 15, 2014 · by tyrus63 
 Tyrus Miller
We are the bees of the invisible. (Rilke)

Jan 16, 2018

Entre les divers procédés situationnistes, la dérive se définit comme une technique du passage hâtif à travers des ambiances variées. Le concept de dérive est indissolublement lié à la reconnaissance d’effets de nature psychogéographique, et à l’affirmation d’un comportement ludique-constructif, ce qui l’oppose en tous points aux notions classiques de voyage et de promenade.
Une ou plusieurs personnes se livrant à la dérive renoncent, pour une durée plus ou moins longue, aux raisons de se déplacer et d’agir qu’elles se connaissent généralement, aux relations, aux travaux et aux loisirs qui leur sont propres, pour se laisser aller aux sollicitations du terrain et des rencontres qui y correspondent. La part de l’aléatoire est ici moins déterminante qu’on ne croit : du point de vue de la dérive, il existe un relief psychogéographique des villes, avec des courants constants, des points fixes, et des tourbillons qui rendent l’accès ou la sortie de certaines zones fort malaisés.
Mais la dérive, dans son unité, comprend à la fois ce laisser-aller et sa contradiction nécessaire : la domination des variations psychogéographiques par la connaissance et le calcul de leurs possibilités. Sous ce dernier aspect, les données mises en évidence par l’écologie, et si borné que soit à priori l’espace social dont cette science se propose l’étude, ne laissent pas de soutenir utilement la pensée psychogéographique.
L’analyse écologique du caractère absolu ou relatif des coupures du tissu urbain, du rôle des microclimats, des unités élémentaires entièrement distinctes des quartiers administratifs, et surtout de l’action dominante des centres d’attraction, doit être utilisée et complétée par la méthode psychogéographique. Le terrain passionnel objectif où se meut la dérive doit être défini en même temps selon son propre déterminisme et selon ses rapports avec la morphologie sociale. Chombart de Lauwe dans son étude sur "Paris et l’agglomération parisienne" (Bibliothèque de sociologie contemporaine, PUF, 1952) note qu’ "un quartier urbain n’est pas déterminé seulement par les facteurs géographiques et économiques mais par la représentation que ses habitants et ceux des autres quartiers en ont " ; et présente dans le même ouvrage - pour montrer "l’étroitesse du Paris réel dans lequel vit chaque individu géographiquement un cadre dont le rayon est extrêmement petit " - le tracé de tous les parcours effectués en une année par une étudiante du XVIe arrondissement : ces parcours dessinent un triangle de dimension réduite, sans échappées, dont les trois sommets sont l’Ecole des Sciences Politiques, le domicile de la jeune fille et celui de son professeur de piano.
Il n’est pas douteux que de tels schémas, exemples d’une poésie moderne susceptible d’entraîner de vives réactions affectives - dans ce cas l’indignation qu’il soit possible de vivre de la sorte - , ou même la théorie, avancée par Burgess à propos de Chicago, de la répartition des activités sociales en zones concentriques définies, ne doivent servir aux progrès de la dérive.
Le hasard joue dans la dérive un rôle d’autant plus important que l’observation psychogéographique est encore peu assurée. Mais l’action du hasard est naturellement conservatrice et tend, dans un nouveau cadre, à tout ramener à l’alternance d’un nombre limité de variantes et à l’habitude. Le progrès n’étant jamais que la rupture d’un des champs où s’exerce le hasard, par la création de nouvelles conditions plus favorables à nos desseins, on peut dire que les hasards de la dérive sont foncièrement différents de ceux de la promenade, mais que les premières attirances psychogéographiques découvertes risquent de fixer le sujet ou le groupe dérivant autour de nouveaux axes habituels, où tout les ramène constamment.
Une insuffisante défiance à l’égard du hasard, et de son emploi idéologique toujours réactionnaire, condamnait à un échec morne la célèbre déambulation sans but tentée en 1923 par quatre surréalistes à partir d’une ville tirée au sort : l’errance en rase campagne est évidemment déprimante, et les interventions du hasard y sont plus pauvres que jamais. Mais l’irréflexion est poussée bien plus loin dans Médium (mai 1954), par un certain Pierre Vendryes qui croit pouvoir rapprocher de cette anecdote - parce que tout cela participait d’une même libération antidéterministe - quelques expériences probabilistes, par exemple sur la répartition aléatoire de têtards de grenouille dans un cristallisoir circulaire, dont il donne le fin mot en précisant : "il faut, bien entendu, qu’une telle foule ne subisse de l’extérieur aucune influence directrice ". Dans ces conditions, la palme revient effectivement aux têtards qui ont cet avantage d’être "aussi dénués que possible d’intelligence, de sociabilité et de sexualité ", et, par conséquent, "vraiment indépendants les uns des autres ".
Aux antipodes de ces aberrations, le caractère principalement urbain de la dérive, au contact des centres de possibilités et de significations que sont les grandes villes transformées par l’industrie, répondrait plutôt à la phrase de Marx : "Les hommes ne peuvent rien voir autour d’eux qui ne soit leur visage, tout parle d’eux-mêmes. Leur paysage même est animé."
On peut dériver seul, mais tout indique que la répartition numérique la plus fructueuse consiste en plusieurs petits groupes de deux ou trois personnes parvenues à une même prise de conscience, le recoupement des impressions de ces différents groupes devant permettre d’aboutir à des conclusions objectives. Il est souhaitable que la composition de ces groupes change d’une dérive à l’autre. Au-dessus de quatre ou de cinq participants, le caractère propre à la dérive décroît rapidement, et en tout cas il est impossible de dépasser la dizaine sans que la dérive ne se fragmente en plusieurs dérives menées simultanément. La pratique de ce dernier mouvement est d’ailleurs d’un grand intérêt, mais les difficultés qu’il entraîne n’ont pas permis jusqu’à présent de l’organiser avec l’ampleur désirable.
La durée moyenne d’une dérive est la journée, considérée comme l’intervalle de temps compris entre deux périodes de sommeil. Les points de départ et d’arrivée, dans le temps, par rapport à la journée solaire, sont indifférents, mais il faut noter cependant que les dernières heures de la nuit sont généralement impropres à la dérive.
Cette durée moyenne de la dérive n’a qu’une valeur statistique. D’abord, elle se présente assez rarement dans toute sa pureté, les intéressés évitant difficilement, au début ou à la fin de cette journée, d’en distraire une ou deux heures pour les employer à des occupations banales ; en fin de journée, la fatigue contribue beaucoup à cet abandon. Mais surtout la dérive se déroule souvent en quelques heures délibérément fixées, ou même fortuitement pendant d’assez brefs instants, ou au contraire pendant plusieurs jours sans interruption. Malgré les arrêts imposés par la nécessité de dormir, certaines dérives d’une intensité suffisante se sont prolongées trois ou quatre jours, voire même d’avantage. Il est vrai que dans le cas d’une succession de dérives pendant une assez longue période, il est presque impossible de déterminer avec quelque précision le moment où l’état d’esprit propre à une dérive donnée fait place à un autre. Une succession de dérives a été poursuivie sans interruption notable jusqu’aux environs de deux mois, ce qui ne va pas sans amener de nouvelles conditions objectives de comportement qui entraînent la disparition de bon nombre des anciennes.
L’influence sur la dérive des variations du climat, quoique réelle, n’est déterminante que dans le cas de pluies prolongées qui l’interdisent presque absolument. Mais les orages ou les autres espèces de précipitations y sont plutôt propices.
Le champ spatial de la dérive est plus ou moins précis ou vague selon que cette activité vise plutôt à l’étude d’un terrain ou à des résultats affectifs déroutants. Il ne faut pas négliger le fait que ces deux aspects de la dérive présentent de multiples interférences et qu’il est impossible d’en isoler un à l’état pur. Mais enfin l’usage des taxis, par exemple, peut fournir une ligne de partage assez claire : si dans le cours d’une dérive on prend un taxi, soit pour une destination précise, soit pour se déplacer de vingt minutes vers l’ouest, c’est que l’on s’attache surtout au dépaysement personnel. Si l’on tient à l’exploration directe d’un terrain, on met en avant la recherche d’un urbanisme psychogéographique.
Dans tous les cas le champ spatial est d’abord fonction des bases de départ constituées, pour les sujets isolés, par leurs domiciles, et pour les groupes, par les points de réunion choisis. L’étendue maximum de ce champ spatial ne dépasse pas l’ensemble d’une grande ville et de ses banlieues. Son étendue minimum peut être bornée à une petite unité d’ambiance : un seul quartier, ou même un seul îlot s’il vaut la peine ( à l’extrême limite la dérive statique d’une journée sans sortir de la gare Lazare).
L’exploration d’un champ spatial fixé suppose donc l’établissement de bases, et le calcul des directions de pénétration. C’est ici qu’intervient l’étude des cartes, tant courantes qu’écologiques ou psycho-géographiques, la rectification et l’amélioration de ces cartes. Est-il besoin de dire que le goût du quartier lui-même inconnu, jamais parcouru n’intervient aucunement ? Outre son insignifiance, cet aspect du problème est tout à fait subjectif, et ne subsiste pas longtemps. Ce critère n’a jamais été employé, si ce n’est occasionnellement, quand il s’agit de trouver les issues psychogéographiques d’une zone en s’écartant systématiquement de tous les points coutumiers. On peut alors s’égarer dans des quartiers déjà fort parcourus.
La part de l’exploration au contraire est minime, par rapport à celle d’un comportement déroutant, dans le "rendez-vous possible". Le sujet est prié de se rendre seul à une heure qui est précisée dans un endroit qu’on lui fixe. Il est affranchi des pénibles obligations du rendez-vous ordinaire, puisqu’il n’a personne à attendre. Cependant ce "rendez-vous possible" l’ayant mené à l’improviste en un lieu qu’il peut connaître ou ignorer, il en observe les alentours. On a pu en même temps donner au même endroit un "autre rendez-vous possible" à quelqu’un dont il ne peut prévoir l’identité. Il peut même ne l’avoir jamais vu, ce qui incite à lier conversation avec divers passants. Il peut ne rencontrer personne, ou même rencontrer par hasard celui qui a fixé le "rendez-vous possible". De toute façon, et surtout si le lieu et l’heure ont été bien choisis, l’emploi du temps du sujet y prendra une tournure imprévue. Il peut même demander par téléphone un autre "rendez-vous possible" à quelqu’un qui ignore où le premier l’a conduit. On voit les ressources presque infinies de ce passe-temps.
Ainsi, quelques plaisanteries d’un goût dit douteux, que j’ai toujours vivement appréciées dans mon entourage, comme par exemple s’introduire nuitamment dans les étages des maisons en démolition, parcourir sans arrêt Paris en auto-stop pendant une grève des transports, sous le prétexte d’aggraver la confusion en se faisant conduire n’importe où, errer dans ceux des souterrains des catacombes qui sont interdits au public, relèveraient d’un sentiment plus général qui ne serait autre que le sentiment de la dérive.
Les enseignements de la dérive permettent d’établir les premiers relevés des articulations psychogéographiques d’une cité moderne. Au-delà de la reconnaissance d’unités d’ambiances, de leurs composantes principales et de leur localisation spatiale, on perçoit les axes principaux de passage, leurs sorties et leurs défenses. On en vient à l’hypothèse centrale de l’existence de plaques tournantes psychogéographiques. On mesure les distances qui séparent effectivement deux régions d’une ville, et qui sont sans commune mesure avec ce qu’une vision approximative d’un plan pouvait faire croire. On peut dresser à l’aide de vieilles cartes, de vues photographiques aériennes et de dérives expérimentales une cartographie influentielle qui manquait jusqu’à présent, et dont l’incertitude actuelle, inévitable avant qu’un immense travail ne soit accompli, n’est pas pire que celle des premiers portulans, à cette différence près qu’il ne s’agit plus de délimiter précisément des continents durables, mais de changer l’architecture et l’urbanisme. Les différentes unités d’atmosphère et d’habitation, aujourd’hui, ne sont pas exactement tranchées, mais entourées de marges frontières plus ou moins étendues. Le changement le plus général que la dérive conduit à proposer, c’est la diminution constante de ces marges frontières, jusqu’à leur suppression complète.
Dans l’architecture même, le goût de la dérive porte à préconiser toutes sortes de nouvelles formes du labyrinthe, que les possibilités modernes de construction favorisent. Ainsi la presse signalait en mars 1955 la construction à New York d’un immeuble où l’on peut voir les premiers signes d’une occasion de dérive à l’intérieur d’un appartement : " Les logements de la maison hélicoïdale auront la forme d’une tranche de gâteau. Ils pourront être agrandis ou diminués à volonté par le déplacement de cloisons mobiles. La gradation par demi-étage évite de limiter le nombre de pièces, le locataire pouvant demander à utiliser la tranche suivante en surplomb ou en contrebas. Ce système permet de transformer en six heures trois appartements de quatre pièces en un appartement de douze pièces ou plus."
Le sentiment de la dérive se rattache naturellement à une façon plus générale de prendre la vie, qu’il serait pourtant maladroit d’en déduire mécaniquement. Je ne m’étendrai ni sur les précurseurs de la dérive, que l’on peut reconnaître justement, ou détourner abusivement, dans la littérature du passé, ni sur les aspects passionnels particuliers que cette dérive entraîne. Les difficultés de la dérive sont celles de la liberté. Tout porte à croire que l’avenir précipitera le changement irréversible du comportement et du décor de la société actuelle. Un jour, on construira des villes pour dériver. On peut utiliser, avec des retouches relativement légères, certaines zones qui existent déjà. On peut utiliser certaines personnes qui existent déjà.
Guy-Ernest Debord

Publié dans Les Lèvres nues n° 9, décembre 1956 et Internationale Situationniste n° 2, décembre 1958.
&

Dec 4, 2016



Formulaire pour un urbanisme nouveau
 


Sire, je suis de l’autre pays.

 
NOUS NOUS ENNUYONS dans la ville, il n’y a plus de temple du soleil. Entre les jambes des passantes les dadaïstes auraient voulu trouver une clef à molette, et les surréalistes une coupe de cristal, c’est perdu. Nous savons lire sur les visages toutes les promesses, dernier état de la morphologie. La poésie des affiches a duré vingt ans. Nous nous ennuyons dans la ville, il faut se fatiguer salement pour découvrir encore des mystères sur les pancartes de la voie publique, dernier état de l’humour et de la poésie :

Bain-Douches des Patriarches
Machines à trancher les viandes
Zoo Notre-Dame
Pharmacie des Sports
Alimentation des Martyrs
Béton translucide
Scierie Main-d’or
Centre de récupération fonctionnelle
Ambulance Sainte-Anne
Cinquième avenue café
Rue des Volontaires Prolongée
Pension de famille dans le jardin
Hôtel des Étrangers
Rue Sauvage


Et la piscine de la rue des Fillettes. Et le commissariat de police de la rue du Rendez-vous. La clinique médico-chirurgicale et le bureau de placement gratuit du quai des Orfèvres. Les fleurs artificielles de la rue du Soleil. L’hôtel des Caves du Château, le bar de l’Océan et le café du Va et Vient. L’hôtel de l’Époque.

Et l’étrange statue du Docteur Philippe Pinel, bienfaiteur des aliénés, dans les derniers soirs de l’été. Explorer Paris.

Et toi oubliée, tes souvenirs ravagés par toutes les consternations de la mappemonde, échouée au Caves Rouges de Pali-Kao, sans musique et sans géographie, ne partant plus pour l’hacienda où les racines pensent à l’enfant et où le vin s’achève en fables de calendrier. Maintenant c’est joué. L’hacienda, tu ne la verras pas. Elle n’existe pas.

Il faut construire l’hacienda.

  
*
 
Toutes les villes sont géologiques et l’on ne peut faire trois pas sans rencontrer des fantômes, armés de tout le prestige de leurs légendes. Nous évoluons dans un paysage fermé dont les points de repère nous tirent sans cesse vers le passé. Certains angles mouvants, certaines perspectives fuyantes nous permettent d’entrevoir d’originales conceptions de l’espace, mais cette vision demeure fragmentaire. Il faut la chercher sur les lieux magiques des contes du folklore et des écrits surréalistes : châteaux, murs interminables, petits bars oubliés, caverne du mammouth, glace des casinos.

Ces images périmées conservent un petit pouvoir de catalyse, mais il est presque impossible de les employer dans un urbanisme symbolique sans les rajeunir, en les chargeant d’un sens nouveau. Notre mental hanté par de vieilles images-clefs est resté très en arrière des machines perfectionnées. Les diverses tentatives pour intégrer la science moderne dans de nouveaux mythes demeurent insuffisantes. Depuis, l’abstrait a envahi tous les arts, en particulier l’architecture d’aujourd’hui. Le fait plastique à l’état pur, sans anecdote mais inanimé, repose l’œil et le refroidit. Ailleurs se retrouvent d’autres beautés fragmentaires, et de plus en plus lointaine la terre des synthèses promises. Chacun hésite entre le passé vivant dans l’affectif et l’avenir mort dès à présent.

Nous ne prolongerons pas les civilisations mécaniques et l’architecture froide qui mènent à fin de course aux loisirs ennuyés.

Nous nous proposons d’inventer de nouveaux décors mouvants. (…)

L’obscurité recule devant l’éclairage et les saisons devant les salles climatisées : la nuit et l’été perdent leurs charmes, et l’aube disparaît. L’homme des villes pense s’éloigner de la réalité cosmique et ne rêve pas plus pour cela. La raison en est évidente : le rêve a son point de départ dans la réalité et se réalise en elle.

Le dernier état de la technique permet le contact permanent entre l’individu et la réalité cosmique, tout en supprimant ses désagréments. Le plafond de verre laisse voir les étoiles et la pluie. La maison mobile tourne avec le soleil. Ses murs à coulisses permettent à la végétation d’envahir la vie. Montée sur glissières, elle peut s’avancer le matin jusqu’à la mer, pour rentrer le soir dans la forêt.

L’architecture est le plus simple moyen d’articuler le temps et l’espace, de moduler la réalité, de faire rêver. Il ne s’agit pas seulement d’articulation et de modulation plastiques, expression d’une beauté passagère. Mais d’une modulation influentielle, qui s’inscrit dans la courbe éternelle des désirs humains et des progrès dans la réalisation de ces désirs.

L’architecture de demain sera donc un moyen de modifier les conceptions actuelles du temps et de l’espace. Elle sera un moyen de connaissance et un moyen d’agir.

Le complexe architectural sera modifiable. Son aspect changera en partie ou totalement suivant la volonté de ses habitants. (…)

Les collectivités passées offraient aux masses une vérité absolue et des exemples mythiques indiscutables. L’entrée de la notion de relativité dans l’esprit moderne permet de soupçonner le côté EXPÉRIMENTAL de la prochaine civilisation, encore que le mot ne me satisfasse pas. Disons plus souple, plus « amusé ». Sur les bases de cette civilisation mobile, l’architecture sera — au moins à ses débuts — un moyen d’expérimenter les mille façons de modifier la vie, en vue d’une synthèse qui ne peut être que légendaire.

Une maladie mentale a envahi la planète : la banalisation. Chacun est hypnotisé par la production et le confort — tout-à-l’égoût, ascenseur, salle de bains, machine à laver.

Cet état de fait qui a pris naissance dans une protestation contre la misère dépasse son but lointain — libération de l’homme des soucis matériels — pour devenir une image obsédante dans l’immédiat. Entre l’amour et le vide-ordure automatique la jeunesse de tous les pays a fait son choix et préfère le vide-ordure. Un revirement complet de l’esprit est devenu indispensable, par la mise en lumière de désirs oubliés et la création de désirs entièrement nouveaux. Et par une propagande intensive en faveur de ces désirs.

Nous avons déjà signalé le besoin de construire des situations comme un des désirs de base sur lesquels serait fondée la prochaine civilisation. Ce besoin de création absolue a toujours été étroitement mêlé au besoin de jouer avec l’architecture, le temps et l’espace. (…)

Un des plus remarquables précurseurs de l’architecture restera Chirico. Il s’est attaqué aux problèmes des absences et des présences à travers le temps et l’espace.

On sait qu’un objet, non remarqué consciemment lors d’une première visite, provoque par son absence au cours des visites suivanes, une impression indéfinissable : par un redressement dans le temps, l’absence de l’objet se fait présence sensible. Mieux : bien que restant généralement indéfinie, la qualité de l’impression varie pourtant suivant la nature de l’objet enlevé et l’importance que le visiteur lui accorde, pouvant aller de la joie sereine à l’épouvante (peu nous importe que dans ce cas précis le véhicule de l’état d’âme soit la mémoire. Je n’ai choisi cet exemple que pour sa commodité).

Dans la peinture de Chirico (période des Arcades) un espace vide crée un temps bien rempli. Il est aisé de se représenter l’avenir que nous réserverons à de pareils architectes, et quelles seront leurs influences sur les foules. Nous ne pouvons aujourd’hui que mépriser un siècle qui relègue de pareilles maquettes dans de prétendus musées.

Cette vision nouvelle du temps et de l’espace qui sera la base théorique des constructions à venir, n’est pas au point et ne le sera jamais entièrement avant d’expérimenter les comportements dans des villes réservées à cet effet, où seraient réunis systématiquement, outre les établissements indispensables à un minimum de confort et de sécurité, des bâtiments chargés d’un grand pouvoir évocateur et influentiel, des édifices symboliques figurant les désirs, les forces, les événements passés, présents et à venir. Un élargissement rationnel des anciens systèmes religieux, des vieux contes et surtout de la psychanalyse au bénéfice de l’architecture se fait plus urgent chaque jour, à mesure que disparaissent les raisons de se passionner.

En quelque sorte chacun habitera sa « cathédrale » personnelle. Il y aura des pièces qui feront rêver mieux que des drogues, et des maisons où l’on ne pourra qu’aimer. D’autres attireront invinciblement les voyageurs…

On peut comparer ce projet aux jardins chinois et japonais en trompe-l’œil — à la différence que ces jardins ne sont pas faits pour y vivre entièrement — ou au labyrinthe ridicule du Jardin des Plantes à l’entrée duquel on peut lire, comble de la bêtise, Ariane en chômage : Les jeux sont interdits dans le labyrinthe.

Cette ville pourrait être envisagée sous la forme d’une réunion arbitraire de châteaux, grottes, lacs, etc… Ce serait le stade baroque de l’urbanisme considéré comme un moyen de connaissance. Mais déjà cette phase théorique est dépassée. Nous savons que l’on peut construire un immeuble moderne dans lequel on ne reconnaîtrait en rien un château médiéval, mais qui garderait et multiplierait le pouvoir poétique du Château (par la conservation d’un strict minimum de lignes, la transposition de certaines autres, l’emplacement des ouvertures, la situation topographique, etc.).

Les quartiers de cette ville pourraient correspondre aux divers sentiments catalogués que l’on rencontre par hasard dans la vie courante.

Quartier Bizarre — Quartier Heureux, plus particulièrement réservé à l’habitation — Quartier Noble et Tragique (pour les enfants sages) — Quartier Historique (musées, écoles) — Quartier Utile (hôpital, magasins d’outillage) — Quartier Sinistre, etc… Et un Astrolaire qui grouperait les espèces végétales selon les relations qu’elles attestent avec le rythme stellaire, jardin planétaire comparable à celui que l’astronome Thomas se propose de faire établir à Vienne au lieu dit Laaer Berg. Indispensable pour donner aux habitants une conscience du cosmique. Peut-être aussi un Quartier de la Mort, non pour y mourir mais pour y vivre en paix, et ici je pense au Mexique et à un principe de cruauté dans l’innocence qui me devient chaque jour plus cher.

Le Quartier Sinistre, par exemple, remplacerait avantageusement ces trous, bouches des enfers, que bien des peuples possédaient jadis dans leur capitale : ils symbolisaient les puissances maléfiques de la vie. Le Quartier Sinistre n’aurait nul besoin de recéler des dangers réels, tels que pièges, oubliettes, ou mines. Il serait d’approche compliquée, affreusement décoré (sifflets stridents, cloches d’alarmes, sirènes périodiques à cadence irrégulière, sculptures monstrueuses, mobiles mécaniques à moteurs, dits Auto-Mobiles) et peu éclairé la nuit, autant que violemment éclairé le jour par un emploi abusif du phénomène de réverbération. Au centre, la « Place du Mobile Épouvantable ». La saturation du marché par un produit provoque la baisse de ce produit : l’enfant et l’adulte apprendraient par l’exploration du quartier sinistre à ne plus craindre les manifestations angoissantes de la vie, mais à s’en amuser.

L’activité principale des habitants sera la DÉRIVE CONTINUE. Le changement de paysage d’heure en heure sera responsable du dépaysement complet. (…)

Plus tard, lors de l’inévitable usure des gestes, cette dérive quittera en partie le domaine du vécu pour celui de la représentation. (…)

L’objection économique ne résiste pas au premier coup d’œil. On sait que plus un lieu est réservé à la liberté de jeu, plus il influe sur le comportement et plus sa force d’attraction est grande. Le prestige immense de Monaco, de Las Vegas, en est la preuve. Et Reno, caricature de l’union libre. Pourtant il ne s’agit que de simples jeux d’argent. Cette première ville expérimentale vivrait largement sur un tourisme toléré et contrôlé. Les prochaines activités et productions d’avant-garde s’y concentreraient d’elles-mêmes. En quelques années elle deviendrait la capitale intellectuelle du monde, et serait partout reconnue comme telle.

GILLES IVAIN
 

L’Internationale lettriste avait adopté en octobre 1953 ce rapport de Gilles Ivain sur l’urbanisme, qui constitua un élément décisif de la nouvelle orientation prise alors par l’avant-garde expérimentale. Le présent texte a été établi à partir de deux états successifs du manuscrit, comportant de légères différences de formulation, conservés dans les archives de l’I.L., puis devenus les pièces numéro 103 et numéro 108 des Archives Situationnistes.

May 1, 2015

INTERVIEW WITH
ALISON AND PETER SMITHSON 
By BAYKAN GÜNAY
BG: Alison and Peter, the fifties mark a milestone, a turning point maybe in world
architecture and you played an important role as a member of Team 10. What
sort of impacts did Team 10 have from the fifties onwards?
AS: I don't honestly think I can judge that and I am not sure that anybody can. I
am very nervous of thinking too much in the past; partly because the inherited
cast of mind of the Scottish person is very conscious of the past and therefore it's
something I have, in a way, to protect myself against. And we get asked for a lot
of archival material and if it gets more than two and a half days a week that I have
to fish something out of the archives or remember something (because now we
are getting a lot of questions on the fifties, questions on the sixties are beginning)
you feel you are running a mortician's parlor: I would much prefer to just react
to what is outside, now.
BG: The reactions you put forth against CIAM's understanding of the separation
of functions, let us say emphasis on more greenery and light, rather than identity
and association, are still being advocated by many of the (I should not say schools)
but many of the recent urban design ideas. I have a certain feeling (of course, as
I insist I am a man outside the events) so looking at it from the outside, that from
the fifties on, there was a transformation in the field of architecture and urban
design and I would suggest that many of the ideas which are here now, like
traditionalism or historicism or vernacularism, I even think that Post-Modernism
in architecture, all diverge from that point onwards. Maybe in the first
instance, some principles were used with regard to space organisation but then
it also turned back even in formal architecture into imitations, etc. Maybe you
did not imitate form but at least you sort of attacked the space organisation which
was prevailing then. So would this be a wrong comment?
AS: It is very difficult to comment; we are always dealing with ideas, we try to be
forward-looking. In a way I think you are in that position yourself with your work,
concerning yourself with what is happening to Ankara and in what direction it
might go on; one should probably, while we are here, comment on the role of the
Architecture School on this really rather splendid campus because it has not only
a particular connection, but a general connection. That is, in Europe they are
training too many architects, and a number of schools are having to close and the
universities are often quite willing to lose their architecture faculties because the
students are there for a long time on campus and do not get sufficiently involved
with the other faculties. I sense that this perhaps is also happening here: we
looked at some students' work yesterday, where they were dealing with extending
the School of Architecture building and in having the existing conditions explained
to us, we found out with Charles Polonyi's help, that already the basic
ideas of the campus, the basic concept, had been compromised by the architects
themselves, never mind by any other faculty. So I would put in a plea for the
architects to get more involved on the campus. Now when I say that the architects
themselves had compromised what I saw as the basic idea: I see the campus as
laid out along a ridge with a pedestrian way running along this ridge, feeding
buildings on either side that look outwards and across the service roads which
are lower down the slope on either side, and these service roads feed car parks.
Now what has happened when I say compromised is that a car park has been
brought right up into the slope, on to the crest so that the smell of the cars is
here, whereas the original idea of the Campus was to keep the smell of the cars
down the slope, and put the pedestrian way on the crest of the ridge so that one
walked through sweet-smelling space and then went into the buildings on either
side without any fear of traffic movement and certainly without any smell from
the cars. Now, for the architects to compromise the concept is really terrible,
because by their actions they should teach. The school building is splendid, it has
marvellous spaces, it is well kept, but I think you should get that car park out of
there and down the slope where it should be, immediately off the service road,
and ask other faculties to do the same, if anybody else has also broken that basic
concept. Do you have a comment on this because I think with it being early
summer, coming from England we are very conscious of the marvellous smell on
the campus, the scent of the blossoms coming out.
PS: I was upset by the fact that in the pedagogy, the teaching of this program, the
faculty had not fed them with the fundamental organizational ideas of the
university. When you asked what the impact of Team 10 has been, you could say
that there has been a kind of seepage of the Patrick Geddes ideas into the general
consciousness, in some way using Team 10 and CIAM. That is, it is quite normal
now in a European school for the student of his own volition, on his own
initiative, to try to understand the nature of the fabric which he has been asked
to work. That is a very Geddesian idea, i.e., don't touch it till you think you
understand it. Then you don't have to continue with the existing fabric, but if you
understand it you have the right to intervene; like a doctor looks at the symptom,
then he tries to figure out why you have the symptoms, then once he thinks he
understands, that 'right to touch' is won, is earned by the understanding. Thinking,
forward, the nice thing to happen would be like the Paris Haussmann
commission to bring clean water from the hills, to provide central drainage and
cleaning systems for the drainage; that was part of the process of putting in the
boulevards, air, trees, etc.; on the surface, it was just putting in a street, a traffic
way, but it carried out all these other things. The mood of Europe is again
undoubtedly towards a more green Europe. Taking the view that the culture
grows from the bottom, that every decision that is taken about a building should
now have built into it the notion of how will it effect the immediate environment
and then the countryside, and in a way the global environment. Because if it is
true that the ozone is effected, it is not because of one industry: it is our collective
acts, each individual act; that every time you buy a refrigerator the old is on the
waste-heap. So that the consideration of building an urbanism is suddenly, I
think, in a way Patrick Geddes - continued. Talking about British heroes, the lady
that went to Skutari to help with the...
AS: Florence Deadly Nightshirt.
PS: Florence Nightingale: she invented medical statistics because they discovered
when they put the soldiers in the hospital, the ones nearest to the lavatory died
first: but that was just an observation. Then she started to build statistics, they
say that medical statistics started with Florence Nightingale. Well that is a classic
bit of Green thinking, isn't it? That is, it is not the will of God, you are actually
getting infected through the air. Well, why I brought that up is, she had to start,
as Patrick Geddes had to start, from the bottom, i.e., there was no previous person
who thought that way. In fact Nightingale was resisted by the medical profession,
they thought the collection of statistical information was useless, like it took two
generations about child birth, about washing the hands of the doctor delivering
babies. They would not believe that the infection was due to them. You have got
to perceive each act as having an action on the whole.
AS: And by each act you should teach and it is the acts of the members of the
staff (in parking their car where the air should be absolutely sweet) you could say
is the first act of messing up the teaching system.
PS: If the faculty had fed that piece of information in, you would have found in
the students' projects some consideration of those factors. If the car fumes are
meant to stay down the slope because the carbon monoxide is heavier than
normal air, it is logical for the car park to be below the ridge line, but also, if the
prevailing wind is this way, you would want to put the building to block the air
flow from taking the carbon monoxide on to the top. That is Green thinking, but
there is no discussion of this: you would expect these thoughts to be coming from
the young people.
PS: Because they are the potentially Green Generation, but it is very hard for
them, unless they are pointed toward it, given the examples, to understand what
we are talking about.
AS: Part of our 1950's influence was a kind of osmosis. One of the things we used
very early on, in illustrating AD essays was a mosaic of black and white
photographs, i.e., a long, scanning strip of separate, but overlapping,
photographs. Now this has become absolutely standard. You go to a students
board in Europe and you get these long scanning strips or mosaics of
photographs, either made by one person or by the year, to inform themselves
about a site. And of course it even entered into art about ten years ago, withHockney's mosaics of Polaroid pictures, and when he started this a number of
people in England said to us 'Hey, Hockney must have gotten hold of an old AD\
i.e., they recognized where it had come from, so that it is by very secret routes
these things influence, take hold and it is for other people to make the connections;
I think it is not for us to look back at history.
When you walk into a place freshly, you are able to notice things that the local
people don't notice. You are also in a position (because you are in and out and
you could say you don't have to carry the can) to say things that the local people
may feel but don't necessarily want to speak out, you know we are for keeping
our head down in our own country. It is easy just to swan in, but you hope that
by saying aloud these observations they will be creative, because you recognize
the fact that people can say things in their country and nobody takes any notice;
that it is not even a matter of inclination to keep your head down. You are invited
as a foreign visitor to say something and therefore often you can, by perhaps
saying something, release some energy or unstop a bottle-neck.
BG: As far as I understand from your talks in the last few days, I think that you
don't want to enter large theoretical frameworks but you would rather prefer to
look at things from the very essence of the events, from where things originate.
That was very much visible in Peter's lecture where he mentioned the story about
the children, that it is out of the basic needs of human beings that problems arise
and architects should in the first instance tend to solve these problems. Well, in
this respect, may I raise another question (because this disvalidates my questions
and I am simply trying to pick up new questions) what sort of differences then
shall we find for instance, between Haussmann's, operations in Paris and your
London-Road study in this respect? Again, a bit historical, sorry!
PS: My own feeling is that in terms of urbanism we have had no effect whatsoever
because four fifths of what we saw in Raci's studio was what we were rejecting
forty years ago, i.e., urbanism people making compositions of buildings in
advance; in advance of real needs, real clients, real construction. We thought that
it might be possible to invent a kind of graphics, together with documentation,
of some sort you cannot imagine, that would guide the development of an area
without prefixing forms because Raci and you keep on saying (and it is correct)
you cannot just give an architect a pre-fixed shape in a plan and say 'fit it into
that' because we know what happens; in modern times you just get a banal
building, an object. It is exceptionally difficult, you think you can make a diagram
.. just to take a simple example about real things: look at this in a Geddes way as
if it is a village. There is a big street here which does not seem to carry many
people, maybe you could make another connection; there is enough capacity; you
examine also the kind of human action. Again a simple example from the Bath
Campus...
AS: Because it is also on a ridge and you are overlooking the terrain,
PS: that the social spaces that work well, the university discovered, are where
students look out of the building and where people somehow naturally gather
and sit talking. That space on the drawings intended for social space people don't
use, it could be used as a computer area... you organically remodel. Taking that
into town-planning, your project, there is a powerful drop in the contour because
there is an old wall, therefore that if there is no longer housing, maybe this is a
place for a belvedere, a look-out place. You identify the possibility but you don't
specify how. Then the obvious thing, like when there is an underground station
that is clearly going to generate the town's pedestrian flow and therefore will
need more pavements... How do you put that over to the municipality? We have
never been able to effectively find a way. We haven't done any commissioned
urbanism since the Berlin Mehringplatz and Lutzowstrasse Competitions.
AS: You mentioned the London Road Study; it was on well-accepted theoretical
principles of one decision at a time, right/left or yes/no, and I don't think it has
been followed at all in the London ring roads or anything. It is as if in this really
practical urban theory one has had no influence at all, or rather one is influencing
the people who are still trying to fight the system. Influence may come through,
but at the moment we can't see it. And, to go back to what you said earlier about
thinking of the users, Team 10 always swung (as CIAM did) from the whole
pattern to the detail and back again. I think that it was good to use a program on
campus, and it might be a good policy to push this, to make quite a high
proportion of the projects on campus, serving the needs of the University, then
invite the other faculties to have a look, to show that you are trying to put
something in, that you are in a way trying to extend the thinking of the original
builders of the Campus. Always a response, with the original intentions in mind
and the changing patterns of use. You might even find some of the faculties then
coming to you, and say Look, our accommodation isn't quite fitting our current
pattern of use. Would you like to do a study?' then it could be put to the
administration, to perhaps in the summer holidays do some conversion work,
and I think that this input of the architecture faculty into universities is something
that really should begin to happen more. What happens at Bath?
PS: It is very difficult to keep on bringing them back to the principles on which
the Campus was originally designed, because they will say 'That is not the way
it's done now', because they are not innocent people, and know what the world
trends are, they pick up ideas and get excited by them, like anybody else does.
AS: It is consumerism and shopping.
PS: They are consuming them, and of course the urbanist is running a very long
program, isn't he? He is like a horticulturalist. He knows that the ideas won't
come to fruition for a generation and a generation on. Therefore in a way the
campus structure will only come through if it is sustained over a long period, so
that the idea becomes clearer as it goes along. And I find at Bath that I can't
produce any real influence on this process because fashions in university buildings
arc as in other places. And these people are very responsible and devoted to
the university, these are good people.
AS: But all the more reason why the architects' department should all the time
show a concern for the way the university is developing, and as it were, have a
'doorstep project' that the students realize, that it brings a kind of reality, 'it could
happen here', would we really like it if. That kind of consciousness is necessary
to be grown in the students. I also think that unless the architects take this kind
of active role on their campuses they won't learn how to deal with people, how
to fight this consumerism. By pure chance we were asked to have another look
at one of our Team 10 documents, because somebody was wanting to do an
academic exercise on it, and we had to bring it with us because we knew we had
no other time. The piece that I was reading last night happened to be a Team 10
discussion on consumerism, how difficult it was to deal with administrators and
fight off this sort of supermarket-culture that we are all involved in where they
say 'yes, but we've just seen something smashing somewhere and never mind the
old idea, let's do this because presumably where we saw it had an old idea that
they've just pushed aside'. Cities were nice in the old days. There were always old
men who could remember the intention of why they put the fountain there, or
why they paved that street, and why they didn't do something else, or who planted
that tree in grandmother's day or something. Now this is all lost, largely because
of the great number we are, but also because of these really horrific pressures of
the 'McDonalds and Coca-Cola culture'.
BG: Yes, but probably that is something we can't help, but you brought out
certain issues where the architect can be helpful. In that respect you point out
something: the architect is not simply a designer, the architect is more than that.
He should go into the preparation of the design process, the design, the aftermaths
of design and even the consequences of design should also be in a way dealt
with by the architect. How could this effect architectural education? What sort
of new measures should be then located into architectural education?
PS: That's a good question because it enables me to continue in a practical way...
When we opened the new building for the School of Architecture in Bath, the
head of the School said 'We will have a two-day meeting', actually very like a
Team 10 meeting, and he said 'We will call it Genesis', i.e., how the design process
began, and it was fantastically good. A footnote on this is that we invited the
president of the University and the man I'm talking about, the registrar, and the
contractor, and the administrators in his department to this lecture, so they
would hear the genesis of the building they had just finished, and what influenced
it, and we had the person who worked on the concept of the university as a young
man, someone who is now the boss of a firm was then an assistant.
AS: In his first job.
PS: You know, the man that did Hook, did the University of Bath general plan;
his assistant from the time: so he went through the arguments on which the
university plan had been based. We followed naturally on that, what happens
twenty years later, how do you reinterpret. They invited other people (because
we are a mixed school) an engineer came who worked on Piano's art gallery in
America. He started in the same way, he said 'This woman',
AS: Schlumberger.
PS: They are a French drilling company.
AS: Strasbourg-Alsace.
PS: She wanted to make this art gallery in Houston where there are no planning
regulations and no zoning, therefore she said every building built in this town
which is successful, like a new restaurant or a little shopping thing, immediately
skyscrapers come around and kill it because real-estate men see it as a point of
attraction.
PS: She said 'Before I commission an architect I've got to buy, nine city blocks.
I am going to put the art gallery in the middle, nobody will be displaced but I will
have the freehold, they will have leases...' She accepted a piece of the town as the
urban landscape setting; it's another of these 'how to save portions of the town
you like'. The art gallery and the car lot over the road; the pace of the area has
changed of course but not changed much. There will be more people in the street
and there will be more car movement, but it's probably an increase of say five
percent, whereas if it happened the other way the increase would be times fifty.
AS: The trees are all there, the density is still the same round about.
PS: The end of that story about the pedagogy: we had (you could say that) half
the students in the upper school. So the kind of Team 10 meeting was the
administration, the engineers, service engineers; not people simply talking about
things. They were the people who had done the work, they made the building,
therefore it was direct information which for the young architect is fantastic.
AS: It was successful on several counts. One is the idea of the family getting
together, the enlarged family having a few guests. The Team 10 idea had
penetrated as a teaching method, as a communication method. And the next was
the business of people feeling they could tell all the details of the actual production,
all the little faults and things that went on, because they trusted everybody
who was listening. One of the most successful things apart from 'what a nice event
it was' and 'how everybody enjoyed it'; this communicating directly was so
successful I am sure that the Bath School is going to repeat it because everybody
there could see that it was a marvellous family way of extending that collective
sense to outside the school, outside the three professions (architects, structural
engineers, service engineers) who were trying to learn to work together better,
which is the teaching method in Bath. It was a real reaching out, and this I think
is a marvellous teaching method because everybody is learning, and the communications
are kept going.
BG: So it is not simply participation of people, but participation of the architect
himself in all the events.
AS: The architect must take the action, he must in a way make the connections
and go out (what we said earlier) an architect in a way has to take the position
of the old man; he has to understand the fabric of what he is dealing with and
take up the position of 'remembrancer', and also the 'seer' into the future. He
has to have the foresight to know which direction he should move in, in order to
keep the original idea and not get it spoilt, and to fend off all the poor things that
happen to it. And another reason, apart from running a mortician's parlor of
one's own past dead life, we created this role for ourselves of 'remembrancer', of
the context, of the place, of the fabric that you are trying to deal with. We must
be forward looking as well, because otherwise you put on this old man's hat all
the time.
BG: The horse's
AS: Blinkers, yes, that's right.
BG: Well, in fact I think architecture students, at one time, 1968 to 1970's, tended
to deal with societal problems, but then it also created its own dilemmas where
architects then had forgotten to deal with architecture. So in fact, this is a new
man who will be conscious of politics, engineering sciences plus architecture. So
he must be more than the man we are thinking of now. Is that so?
PS: Difficult to imagine such a thing.
BG: Or shall we put the architect into the political field as well?
PS: I don't think I can do it because fundamentally it is a craft. Unless you do it
yourself there isn't any product, can't do it as a politician.
AS: The way is through good work ... so that the politicians are listening to
architects, engineers, service-engineers, thinking and acting as 'remembrancers',
and acting as people who are looking forward. If politicians can observe this, they
begin to understand what it is you have to offer, and they don't just say 'O.K., we
bought the plan, now you go away. We the politicians are the administrators, can
deal with it'. They realize that you can actually contribute all the time and should
work together all the time, to keep these cities alive, and to keep the qualities of
the various places in the city that people really are connected to, and that you
must not destroy their sense of connection, by just wiping whole bits of cities.
PS: One thing came up in the discussion where I got cross with Chris Abel is
'Team 10 had no kind of political follow-through'. I have always thought that
Team 10 was the effect (to repeat what was said then) was that someone like
Bakema had tremendous social energy, could actually follow it, follow a project
through and if necessary would go to the Queen if it was blocked. Holland is a
small country; someone was saying about Denmark, it worked because it was a
small country, that is, a famous architect can follow a project through, he can
help with its initiation not by being in the council of administrators but by
telephoning his friend who is the Queen's doctor or the prime-minister's; you
know, the old Ottoman system, and you paid the price. Bakema was a good
working architect when he was young, do you see, in the end the buildings
suffered because the office did them, because you can't put your energy
everywhere. This is why we are saying that Raci is on the point of collapse because
his energy is too far extended, he can't keep it going all the time (he won't
physically collapse because he is very strong) but you lose control because the
control is personal. When it goes beyond the person you got to be a different
kind of person who sets up systems and will see them through.
AS: You see already he is having to use students to make the sort of drawings
that the committees expect to see. When I was in Samarkand, the urban design
department has an old Russian house (partly in order to hold the property)
wooden boarded, wooden ceiled; they have all their plans of Samarkand, of the
past thirty years, up on the walls; revised, anything from every five years to every
two years. First you could see political kind of revisions and then the last seven
years you felt that they were beginning to revise these plans on a sort of eighteen
month basis, with a fresh lot of assistants with fresh gimmicks out of the
magazines and it had become absolutely crazy, this worrying about presenting
drawings, communicating to the people, communicating to the politicians, communicating
in order to get the money allocated; and communicating participation,
where to put the road, where to put the market and so on. It was absolutely
desperate and you could see in a way that Raci has got into this position, that
almost it would be better to say 'O.K. we will take full responsibility for this
demonstration bit and unfortunately the rest we just got to chance that somebody
else will come along and take responsibility and hold another bit'. And you do it
as a demonstration area of what it is you are trying to talk about and then you
seed another area. It is in a way like gardening, you've got to put the real seeds
in, nurture them and get the real plants before anybody can see, and then
hopefully hold it long enough in order to get the fruit, and this is why you've got
to get this instilled in the young people. And that is why I say the odd exercise,
on campus, to show this was the original 'plant' as it were, and this is how we
must keep it growing, and keep trimming it and protect it from all the things that
might happen to it. And again, to make offerings to the campus, to show how
architects think and how they can make contributions. If, in the first instant it is
too delicate, politically, to offer your services to one faculty, to show how by
altering its accommodation to make it serve better the occupants, you might take
something like the guest accommodation that we are in; take a block and analyze
it to see if it is actually serving the pattern of both residents and guests to its best
ability and actually finding out from the users, both the short-term guests and
the long-term residents, how they need to occupy the building, and what sort of
space you need to be a useful member of the university community because that
is really the essence of it. If you put a single resident in one room who is going
to stay here a couple of years, they can't really be working at their peak because
they are constrained all the time, you know. That is, an academic resident
(whether it is one person or two people) they need a study space, they need a
kitchen space that they can go to at any hour of the day or night because they
might want to work long hours sometimes. You might have separate apartment
units byconversion; usinggaps (filling indents) in the buildings that are not really
serving any particular purpose, absorbinga couple of balconies that are not really
being used and, by looking next door at the very successful early housing which
has now got beautiful planting grown up around it, putting a lean-to roof over
an extended ground floor so making two extra big units. An apartment unit,
whether it is one-room, two-room; one person, two person; each unit has to be
perfectly self-contained because the socializing takes place other ways now than
the way architects originally thought it would take place.
BG: So, this also brings in one other question, or one other issue: once you make
a design, it also should be open to further changes and there should always be
someone, because ways of living change, ways of using space change. So buildings
should also be, well maybe buildings cannot be so elastic but there should be
something there, something elastic to cope with the new functions, the new way
of life.
AS: You are taking up one of these Team 10 themes, of the building being able
to respond, being able to grow and change, but exactly how it is done, in a way
the architects not only have to learn how to do this and they have to show to other
people how it can be done without somehow destroying the initial building or
extending rather than destroying the initial idea, serving people better and if you
can learn to deal with, as it were, the relatively new guest house, perhaps you can
also learn something of how to deal with the old better.
PS: I would have thought, other than examining the fabric, kind of understanding
it, that it is difficult to build into a building the potential for change in a society
when you don't know what its change is going to be. I think it is more the other
way round like the urbanism where the person is making the alteration, to feel
himself obliged to understand the underlying nature of the building before he
makes the change even though that change is very violent. For example this
business of the impact of information technology; it could not possibly have been
perceived that it would change two thirds of the operations to work in the near
dark; I mean communications are working in low brightness with screens and
things, like they do in a bank now. That could not have been perceived even ten
years ago, that your windows are not for the work process whereas in the
'twenties, having daylight in the office was you should be able to work without
straining your eyes, and sunlight is healthy and so on. You can't perceive what
changes.
AS: Sometimes the architect is asked to build a building that can be extended, or
build a building that can have its partitions changed and what you are describing
now is that any office developer in the West and in HongKong now must have
this enormous floor to ceiling because we have to build in this particular amount
of change, i.e., the deep floor for services.
PS: But two thirds of that will never be used, that is, by the time it is built, the
technology is obsolete.
AS: Well it will be nice to have the space.
PS: The argument is then 'Can we get that space back into the room?'
AS: That is the thing that the architect maybe has to foresee... but if you take the
business of the bank, even the first year could take the bank that is on campus.
That bank was made like a nice umbrella by the architect. In a way he must have
been slightly stupid not to realize that a bank probably needs a basement or a
store.
AS: The needs that you can see just walking into that bank (cardboard boxes full
of old files, the furniture pushed to the side) makes a very good first year program
because they will have to be sure that the store that you make isn't then a security
hazard and so on and does not ruin the nice little umbrella that the first architect
made. Again, by just putting the drawings up in a place and notices up saying
'Come and have a look', every person on campus would understand what the
architects were trying to do. They may not be able to read drawings, but they
would have the place in their mind and it would start to help them read drawings
and immediately you would start to communicate to several thousand people,
enlarge their knowledge and next time they see a drawing they will think 'Well,
I can read drawings because I did, I know that bank'. This is the sort of Team 10
connections of things.
BG: Well I know interviews make you tired but...
AS: Make anybody tired,
BG: I have one very personal question,
(PS: 'Will you lend me two million Karajans?')
BG: It is about Hook. I call it the third generation of New Towns in England and
it was not built. The first generation Stevenage, Harlow; the second I would
suggest Cumbernauld, for instance. And I think Hook found some of Team 10's
ideas appropriate but it was not built. This was a big question in my mind.
PS: You mean 'why'.
BG: Yes, was it because there were no more housing problems or because it did
not fit the society?
AS: Nothing is particularly for any one reason, it is just perhaps it had chosen a
site where I think that there were many voices who could speak to ears in
important places and it just had to be dropped. Milton Keynes was slightly later
and it went ahead, and it probably was not as interesting a plan. I mean you are
quite right, Hook has become something people refer to, even in England now.
And also it was to do with the ideology of the assistants who worked on it, they
were very left-thinking young architects, much more revolutionary thinking than
we were, much more politically minded and therefore in a way it was their
Waterloo. They were very upset to lose it so that everybody who worked on it has
remembered it. If you see the drawings now you tend to laugh, they are so very
primitive.
PS: But they were attempting what we were describing; I mean the plan for the
Bath campus by the same man (and the drawings were very similar) is an attempt
to establish kind of energy nodes without, in the first instance, drawing anything
in the way of buildings.
AS: Yes, it was the planless plan.
PS: They then fell into the same problem we all fall into, they then had to produce
a brochure for the University of Bath and they had to draw something.
AS: They had to make little sketches themselves, little trees and people walking,
people pushing prams. But when I say they are primitive drawings, they were not
inept, whereas what I worry about, also with the students here, they are not really
putting their energy into the drawings. They are not getting excited about being
an architect. They are not working enough that they energize each other, there
is not a sort of sense of architecture as a profession building up in the studios.
Again it is just a fleeting impression but it may be that such small things as having
the heating on at nights either makes or breaks this sort of situation. Again, you
have got to communicate this to the administrators of a university, why it is this
faculty wants (even if only at certain periods of the year) its heating on at night.
PS: You fight that all the time at Bath. We are the only faculty that works through
the night. Very nice, just the physical experience as you walk these places, only
one building with light pouring out at three o'clock in the morning, and it is not
bullshit, you go in and it is forty percent of the students at work.
AS: But that again can become a communication to the rest of the faculties that
this discipline has its own sort of needs and maybe is serious about its contribution
and that this business of staying with it through the night if necessary is the
way that the architect wishes to stay with the plan right through until it is on the
ground and been inhabited.
BG: Well, we are from that generation who lived it, many things happened so
that things really transformed into this loss of enthusiasm about education. I
think you have brought out the problem again, so we shall be more keen on this
thing probably.
Well, my last question (there is always a classical last question) what were your
expectations, not of Turkey, but of Ankara, and what have you discovered in
Ankara? Because Peter said something to me yesterday or the day before, that
he found the town not as a resort of touristic value, but a real town.
PS: I started with the traditional Western notion that Ankara was uninteresting,
just a new city without a life of its own. When we got all the guide-books out of
the public library, they did not say much more except one of the citadel and the
old culture in a way remaining intact; interesting because I like that kind of place.
And of course it is actually oriental, I mean, the further east you go the more
animals there are. But I think there are two aspects, it is a live city, and in its
traditional part it is fantastically alive. And the new city is really throbbing and
the buildings that you commissioned in the Republican period are remarkable.
AS: You were real patrons.
PS: You were really served well by the people you commissioned, as a devotion
to your Republic and...
AS: To well building.
• PS: The only one we looked at carefully, the Taut building is better built in my
view than it would have been if he had built it in Munich, that he really put
everything into it, i.e., the energy. He thought, 'Well, Atatürk is an idealistic
person, I will do something idealistically', as good as he could make, and I think
that is probably not easily visible to others, I mean people who are not professional
architects. There is hardly anything in the history books about the 30's
period, this period has been written off because of fascism... When I talk about
fascism it is not just a phenomenon of Germany and Italy, it is our view that the
culture, i.e., the buildings in Washington in the 30's and 40's the buildings in
France in the 30's and 40's, in Scandinavia in 30's and 40's, they all smell of the
centralized state... of passive peoples. And then you have to distinguish between
those architects who could not help being infected by the nature of the period,
i.e., strong central governments with strongly separated bureaucracies and the
people and all that, it was everywhere, but it just took this crazy turn in Germany.
AS: In Russia too.
PS: We are afraid of this period. When we took our daughter Soraya to Munich
we thought she wouldn't be infected by anti-Nazism, but the buildings scared her
and she was twenty something. Therefore it is very hard for us to look at this
period, and the buildings are mixed aren't they? You get this Swiss, Ernst Egli
(as you said, with the smell of the Bauhaus) and the Taut which is the end of the
Arts and Crafts Movement. And then these fascist buildings; but they are not so
bad. They don't frighten me, but maybe that is because
AS: Because what the architects were offering was more than just the fashion of
the period; could override the fashion.
PS: You see, there is no getting away from human memory (the 'remembrancer').
Nothing cruel has happened between our two nations since the first war, and
even then, you were regarded as honorable enemies as the Germans were
regarded as honorable enemies. Only this last war took such a horrible turn. But
that being so, nobody will write about this period in a guide book until two things
happen: first, the buildings are cleaner (it is really true) the tourist wants it to be
a bit smart, doesn't he; and also for the history book to reassess this period, then
the guide-book writer takes it from the history book. But I like oriental cities
because I like things to smell, the rain on the dust. When you get out of the plane
in Bombay, they open the door of the plane and the city comes in, fantastic. Like
it would be the other way round: you arrive at Stuttgart or Schiphol, a slight smell
of disinfectant. The whole culture is...
AS: You see we are losing this entirely in Europe because you used to go to
France (in the 1950's) and this could happen, sort of the smell of Gauloises would
hit you but now with the whole business of anti-smoking it has gone absolutely.
BG: Well,
AS: I am sorry we so overrode all your questions.
BG: After two or more hours of tiring, tiresome questions, thankyou Peter, thank
you Alison, for your participation.
AS: Thank you.
PS: There is one, just between us, sort of thing: the temple (Temple of Augustus,
Ankara) is fantastic: the Roman quality. I suspect if it was new it would be like
the Trump Tower (in New York) - have you seen the Trump Tower? Too much
of everything. Rome is wonderful, ruined!