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URBAN ARTIFACT or URBAN DETACHMENT







When Aldo Rossi writes about the notion of the city as a work of art and urban artifacts contained within, he begins to speak about the value of space measured by age. With a work of art being an object that is made by human, the scale of measurement begins to zoom out and refer to the larger picture of the city understood through the human dimension and the chronological mappings of artifacts. Aldo defines and urban artifact by the value it has accrued contingent on age, state of preservation, rarity, but most importantly its inflections of social patterns and behaviors to a respective context. There exists an inherent empiricist attitude that looks beyond the mere utility and function for a more analytical and multi-dimensional observation of the haptic, sensual, or spiritual.

Despite the unconventional theory set forth in Aldo’s essay, a couple of decades later the status quo had transformed and the human condition became highly defined by the information age, questioning the value of an urban artifact in the present day and allowing a search for a possible parallel. The issue with the urban artifact in our present day relates to image vs. representation and more specifically the qualitative differences that are diminished by society’s high exposure to pulsating images of noise that rarely become transmitted and read as sound. No information is put to the test of the aforementioned factors defining artifacts. Value fails to accrue from the contents of the digital age when all material seems to effortlessly bypass the test of age.

Systems have been employed that attempt to measure the value of information stored on the cyber library. Society can easily voice opinions on the comments section of an online entry while the number of hits received registers popularity. Other systems have been employed such as the “like” button, an empathetic gesture, which serves as a testament to one’s interest in material requiring more effort such as the physical movement of pointing device to a button and the actual pressing of the button. Nevertheless, the word “like” speaks to the abrupt nature of how material is presented to humans because how can one really “love” something if only encountering it for such a short period. And lastly the “share” button a system that requires even more human engagement than the “like” button and exerts a sense of ones sympathy to the material at hand. Despite the many systems, the digital age fails to meet the criteria of the urban artifact as it defies the palimpsestic nature of the city.

Value of an artifact is attributed by the idea of its possible destruction through the periods of a city. Information on the urban network has no palimpsestic merit as it never becomes scraped over and rewritten, reinterpreted, or renewed. There just exists this continual spawning, generation, and conceiving of content stored in data banks that are readily available at any given point in time. Empiricism is impossible as there is nothing to scrutinize when all is there. The city has not yet been compromised by engulfing social patterns and behaviors of these truths. Soon enough, the cities will be altered and urban artifacts can no longer hold importance in society.

Saif Haobsh


"Aldo Rossi, L'architettura Della Città." Aldo Rossi, L'architettura Della Città. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013.

CORB IN ALGIERS



I recently discovered that Le Corbusier travelled to the Algiers to present planning ideas for a new city in 1931. Despite his many rejections, Corb’s proposals exhibited a highly poetic and plastic side to his work contrasting his industrial work.




Was this side to Corbusier always in him? Was this side the same side that unleashed the ineffable spaces of the 1954 Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France?



Maybe the answer is that Le Corbusier was exceptional at adapting to the environmental, socio-political, and technological changes throughout his life. 

THE RONCHAMP REVELATION


My first entry left off with a quote of Stella’s foreshadowing of a society devoid of religion due to an industrialized future. How true was his prediction now that we are living a future close to a century past Stella’s era?

A prime example of modern architecture that would repudiate Stella’s claim is Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame Du Haut in Ronchamp, France. I wrote about my recognition of a pivotal moment in Le Corbusier’s work and I believe it has a direct connection to Stella’s predictions. Corb’s disillusionment with industrialization changed his stance on architecture in which he became more interested in the poetry and meaning of that a space can convey through the modulation of light and the undulation of space.  




The deceivingly non-loading bearing walls constantly changed in thickness, height, and shape. The massive boat-like roof held up by unnoticeable columns hidden within the confines of walls. Funneling openings are carved out creating pockets of subtle illumination. The entire chapel sits atop a sloping hill of the Jura Mountains with a sense of permanence in ground condition, truly achieving “ineffable space.”



Here is where modernism found a spot in spirituality. Eventually, Corb put “the machine” aside. This building contained no standardization, mass-production, nor efficiency. On this isolated plot of land in France stands an emblem to modernism and religion.  


LE CORBUSIER’S PIVOTAL MOMENT


From my understanding of Modernism thus far, I have recognized a pivotal movement of Modernist ideals rooted in the theoretical transitions of the most influential Architect of the twentieth century: Le Corbusier. 



Initially Corb sought after, in response to the devastation of the World Wars, efficiency in the production of a machine for living similar to the success of the perfected machine for transportation. With the structural revolution of the DOM-INO system achieving free-plan and free-façade and the clear-cut ideals set forth in his “5 points of architecture”, Le Corbusier made some considerable progress. 



However, his experiences with Unite d’Habitation had forced him to come to a realization that industrial technologies and building methods were not sophisticated enough to achieve the precision and accuracy required for prefabrication and mass production of his highly sought after plug-in units. 

Unite d’Habitation - Le Corbusier 1947


Furthermore, French culture was not harmonious with commercial streets raised of the ground plane in jutted into the middle of a building. Here, Le Corbusier became disillusioned with building efficiency and the integration of industrialization for mass production of living machines. His proposals to CIAM in “La Sarraz Declaration” were forgotten and a pivotal moment in modernism thinking was marked.

CIAM at the La Sarraz Declaration