The World as it is, the World as it should be: Documentation Science and the Information of Modern Architecture.
In the work of Paul Otlet, the world “as it is” is consistently at odds with the world “as it should be”. According to the Belgian bibliographer, lawyer, internationalist and founder of documentation science, the perceived state of disorder at the turn of the twentieth century – political, cultural and epistemological – could be mitigated only if all “things” were translated into a fluctuating order of information. In the field of architectural history, Otlet is best known as the client and instigator of the Mundaneum, a project designed by Le Corbusier in 1927 for a site in Geneva. This “world city” spawned an enduring controversy among architects and critics about the place of symbolism and monumentality in architectural modernism. But the Mundaneum was first and foremost the site of modern architecture’s encounter with the document. Organized as a sequence of buildings serving Otlet’s rationalized set of techniques for the organization, production and communication of knowledge, this architecture was intended as a documentary machine that could produce a new world from material already found in it. This paper examines the intersection of architecture and documentation science by engaging the document as an omnipresent medium that infiltrated architectural discourse and came to inform its spatial operations and epistemological claims. Specifically, the paper problematizes the historiography of modern architectural “form” through the lens of documentary techniques that implemented architecture as a post-hermeneutic technology of information and transmission.
Michael Faciejew is a doctoral candidate at Princeton University’s School of Architecture and a fellow in the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities (IHUM). He holds a Master of Architecture from McGill University and was awarded the American Institute of Architects Henry Adams Medal in 2011. His research addresses the media, techniques and technologies that shaped the epistemological claims of European modern architecture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Faciejew’s work has been published in the Journal of Architectural Education and he is a former editor of Pidgin, the Princeton School of Architecture student journal. As a research resident at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in 2011, he co-produced a project on modern conceptions of air in urban environments. In 2015, he participated in the Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies at the Internationale Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM). Prior to arriving at Princeton, he practiced as an architectural designer in New York City, New Haven and Los Angeles. His research is supported by a Doctoral Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Henning Michelsen Bauhaus Universität Weimar
Reading Visual Data: The Reconstruction of a Teaching Curriculum through a Slide Collection.
In October 2015 a large number of wireframes with up to 8.000 slides were found in the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar – ready for disposal. A closer look revealed that these almost consecutively numbered diapositives made up the teaching collection of Egon Schirmbeck, a professor of architectural design who retired from the university in 2010. The last-minute safe guarding of this collection however, raised a few questions about the value of this and similar collections of architectural design teachers, but also about the necessity and mode in which such collections should be preserved by universities and architectural archives.
Slide collections such as the one of Egon Schirmbeck in Weimar, represent both cumulative architectural knowledge, educational intentions and methods as well as biographical influences of teachers. Using selected slides in lectures their visual content becomes part of the collective visual memory of young architects. Without a descriptive catalogue, index or knowledge about the background of the authors’ slide collections are hermetical systems of information without any meaning for later generations. However, new possibilities of machine-assisted readings of image archives through digital recognition programs allow for new methods of decoding the vast visual information. Using the example of the slide-collection of Egon Schirmbeck this paper will present both the attempt to digitally produce systems of classification as well as new methods for biographical research.
Henning Michelsen is a Ph.D. candidate at the Bauhaus Institute of History and Theory of Architecture and Planning at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, mentored by Prof. Dr. Ines Weizman. Henning studied architecture at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and graduated with distinction in 2011. He worked as an architectural designer in offices in Hamburg and Leipzig before joining the research and teaching staff at the chair of Design and Housing at the Bauhaus-University Weimar where he is assigned with lectures, design courses and research projects.
Henning Michelsen is a member of the convention of the German Baukultur Foundation.
Christoph Eggersglüß IKKM Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie,
Looking Sideways: Modernism’s Roadside in the Architectural Press Archive.
In the 1950s, the Architectural Review (AR) set out to document the “functional tradition”, a somewhat anonymous architecture of warehouses, ports and industrial facilities, while also pushing forward the concept of “townscape”. On the journeys along the fringes of modern planning and building, which had already begun in the 1930s under a new editorial team, the AR produced a huge catalogue of photographs often taken by “amateurs”. It featured neglected street furniture and details of the overlooked roadside. The AR motivated a look at what was right next to buildings and thoroughfares, favouring the adjoining over the actual architecture commonly found in the centre of the view, grasping spatial left-overs, borders and edgings of building: flower beds, roundabouts, bollards, railings, curbstones. The catalogue of the Architectural Press Archive at the RIBA became a facilitator of what is there but not yet known as architecture; it filtered the dust of the roadside and organised objects via a new “photographic sensibility” (Elwall) for the built environment.
This paper deals with the history of the roadside and its meaning for architectural history and theory. I want to draw on the roadside as a political and aesthetic object and show how it came into being by means of reviewing and revisiting, by taking notes and photographs. Secondly, I look at the special categories of “floorscape” and “hard landscape” more closely: how they made it into architecture, how liminal objects and textures developed into agents of public and aesthetic order rather than inept surroundings.
Christoph Eggersglüß is a researcher at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (International Research Institute for Cultural Techniques and Media Philosophy, IKKM, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany) and associate member of the Laborgruppe Kulturtechniken (Laboratory Group Cultural Techniques, Universität Erfurt). He was a doctoral student at the Graduate Research Programme Mediale Historiographien – Media of History/History of Media, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Christoph studied European Studies, Science and Technology Studies as well as Media Culture in Bremen, Gothenburg and Weimar. He took part in the Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies, the IFK Akademie Vienna/Linz and the Anthropocene Curriculum: The Technosphere Issue at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. His doctoral project, “An/Architecture”, focuses on the politics and aesthetics of material infrastructures, on governing the in-between and managing spatial left-overs at the fringes of the built environment (e.g. the politics of the roadside, bollards, edges, ledges). Christoph’s research interests include the techno-politics of architecture, the theory and figure of the non-human delegate, tinkering, urban anthropotechnics, as well as the history and historiography of street furniture.
Aliza Leventhal Archivist, Sasaki Associates Inc.; Society of American Archivists
Hybrid Design Records: Traversing Analog and Digital Design Records.
Over the past 25 years, computers have become an integral tool for designers, with Computer-Aided-Design (CAD) and, later, Building-Information-Modelling (BIM) becoming disruptive and ubiquitous technologies. Only recently have digital design files begun showing up in archival collections, raising numerous technical, curatorial and legal issues. While work on the technical and legal issues that have been underway since 2012, it is time archivists begin addressing the curatorial aspects of these complex digital objects. This presentation will focus on the curatorial shift that born-digital design files require, and offer a viable framework to introduce researchers to this new medium.
The architecture and design process is inherently iterative. The nuance of a decision-making process is visible directly on the page, whether made with pencil, pen, marker or pieces taped on. Although CAD and BIM software have the perception of facilitating a faster and smoother iterative design process, which is debatable, the concern for future users of these digital records is the loss of natural documentation/ the “paper trail” that was once indicative of the design workflow. Without this paper trail, and with the increased collaborative capabilities of the technology, it will be more difficult for archivists and researchers to establish provenance of design elements, or to establish the desired context around the development of a model. Architectural archivists will need to become more proactive in learning what the tools are, how designers currently use them, and what the future technological trends to look out for are.
Aliza Leventhal is the corporate librarian and archivist for Sasaki Associates, an interdisciplinary design firm. She is the co-chair of the Society of American Archivist’s Architectural Records Roundtable, and the co-founder of the latter’s CAD/BIM Taskforce. Her current work engages designers to better understand the key functionality and information that must be saved from CAD/BIM files to uphold their integrity and usefulness.
Christopher Green is a PhD candidate in Art History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and a Graduate Teaching Fellow at Baruch College. His writing has appeared in ARTMargins, Brooklyn Rail, Hyperallergic, Art F City, and in exhibition catalogues by the New Museum and the Fondation Fernet Branca. He has presented his work internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the University of Oklahoma, Norman; the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota; Concordia University, Montreal; and the Art Institute of Chicago. He most recently coordinated several contributions and responses by Native American artists to House of Dust, an exhibition of the work of Fluxus artist Alison Knowles at the James Gallery, New York. His research focuses on modern and contemporary Native American art and the pressures of the digital mode on culture and art making.
Gabriele Schabacher (PhD) is Professor in the History and Theory of Cultural Techniques at the Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany. She studied Philosophy, Psychology and German Literature at the University of Cologne and the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. She received her PhD from the University of Cologne in 2004 and held positions as research fellow at the collaborative research centre “Media and Cultural Communication” at the University of Cologne and in the research training group “Locating Media” at the University of Siegen. Her research areas include media and cultural theory, science and technology studies, the media history of traffic and mobility, infrastructure studies and the cultural techniques of repair. Among her recent publications are the volume Verkehrsgeschichte und Kulturwissenschaft. Analysen an der Schnittstelle von Technik, Kultur und Medien (edited with Christoph Neubert, 2013), the forthcoming special issue of ilinx entitled “Workarounds. Praktiken des Umwegs” (edited with Holger Brohm, Sebastian Gießmann and Sandra Schramke), and the articles “Mobilizing Transport. Media, Actor-Worlds, and Infrastructures” (2013) and “Traffic as ‘Dirt Experience’: Harold Innis’s Tracing of Media” (2015).