Critical Mass. From A to Z, twenty-six terms string an itinerary to go into the territories through which architecture moves today. Between philosophical deconstruction and digital formlessness, and between the theoretical analyses of Eisenman and the political diagnoses of Koolhaas, the evolution of ideas and forms in the last years opens fields for reflection and production which are broader, but paradoxically also more blurred; rather than clearing the horizon of the future, the last exhibition of the Dutch and the last book of the American embody the postmodern cultural paradigm from opposite ends.
Little Dictionary of Design Ideas
The Age of Pliancy
From Fractures to Warps
Aureli & Mastrigli
Eisenman versus Koolhaas
Biomorphic Eruptions. Sinuous and with a skin of metallic discs, the shopping center becomes a symbol of a change of urban image; bulbous and dotted with bulging skylights, the art center becomes a point of attraction for the historic city; warped and choreographic as a floral arrangement, the concert hall endows the city of the film industry with a musical landmark.
Cook y Fournier
Disney Hall, Los Ángeles
Diagonal Fronts. A labyrinth of old wineries inspires the cracked prism of this Austrian center for the promotion of sparkling wine; the paths that crossed the site determine the distribution of the program of the student center at the IIT campus; and three energy channels – a river, a railroad track and an electric line – serve as coordinates of the Japanese cultural center.Steven Holl
University Center, Chicago
Cultural Center, MatsudaiViews and Reviews
Pictorial Heritages. Málaga and Palma de Mallorca have inaugurated museums, housed in historical architectures: a Renaissance palace displays part of Picasso’s legacy, and a bastion of the old city wall, the Serra collection.
Art / Culture
Picasso returns to Málaga
Santiago B. Olmo
The Bastion of Palma
Two Artistic Atmospheres. London has been the venue of two artistic events: Bill Viola has exhibited his ‘digital passions’ at the National Gallery; and Olafur Eliasson, one of his ‘artificial natures’ at the Tate Modern.Juan Antonio Ramírez
Bill Viola at the National Gallery
Olafur Eliasson at the TateChroniclers and Erudites. In formats that go from the catalogue to the collection of essays, architecture is seen in the light of recent global changes, or else analyzed from the foundations of the discipline itself.
Moreno Mansilla & Tuñón
Six Interiors. The restaurants Les Cols in Olot and La Manduca de Azagra in Madrid offer an unusual menu of materials; the boutique Sita Murt in Barcelona and the bookstore Tierra in Murcia display their products in multifunctional furniture pieces; finally, the Madrid attic and the clinic in Jerez shape specialized spaces with a careful definition of the surfaces.
Technique / Style
Aranda, Pigem y Vilalta
Bailo y Rull
To close, Luis Fernández-Galiano comments on the vulnerability of the
public transport infrastructures which make contemporary urban life possible, following the tragic events of 11 March in Madrid. Two years and a half after New York’s 9/11, the bombs placed by Islamic terrorists in commuter trains have sadly shown that the horizontal city is as fragile as the vertical one.Products
Trains of Doom&
Architecture seems to have reached its critical mass: that volume from which the haphazard collisions among particles provoke a chain reaction and the subsequent explosion of its core. As in restaurants where a noisy table forces the rest to speak louder, so that soon all the guests are raising their tone and nobody can hear anything, the semantic shouting of contemporary projects has given rise to a screaming competition and an acceleration of the expressive collisions that, by multiplying their effects with the fuss of media, place this discipline on the threshold of explosive disintegration. In the popular science fiction movie of the fifties, the blob stirred panic both for its formless condition and for its uncontrolled growth, and the two circumstances are reproduced today in the random volumes and agitated blobs of a bulimic architecture.
Swollen like a wineskin by advertising and spectacle, this utilitarian and artistic activity floats lightly in the faded sky of balloons, watching the industrious swarm of busy crowds with the olympic disdain of Harry Lime from the top of the Prater’s ferris wheel. Filled with hot air or flammable helium, its bloated forms evoke economic pathologies of different nature, but equally devastating: like a bubble produced by opulent prosperity, its obese increase threatens with the catastrophic burst that periodically drains of humors the overheated and feverish markets of stocks or real estate; and as a symbolic coin minted to excess, its loss of significant value accelerates exponentially until it reaches the hypnotic vertigo of a hyperinflation that devaluates the impact of architectural works to the negligible level of Weimar bills.
In this incandescent situation, where the abuse of accidents only brings fatigue, and the background noise is so loud that the attention of the global theater can only be attracted with apocalyptic incidents, architects raise their bets like compulsive gamblers, and the racket of casinos erases the communicative existence of silent, sedate and safe architectures. The defense of excess initiated by Venturi when he replaced the miesian ‘less is more’ with the controversial ‘less is a bore’ (extended by Koolhaas with words and facts in his weary criticism of the ‘miestakes’), leads to a neo-baroque scenario, crammed with gestures and signs trying to rise over a confusion of elementary particles in a turmoil of collisions; more is more, but never enough. The temperature of the reactor is still going up; someone ought to put graphite bars in this critical mass.