The Invention of Wessex: Thomas Hardy as Architect

            <img src="" border="0" /><em><p>There is a good case for listing Thomas Hardy amongst the greatest of all conceptual architects &mdash; the prophet, well before the fact, of a particular type of speculative, imaginary architectural project which would boom a century later.</p></em><br /><br /><p>The 19th-century author Thomas Hardy has never been considered much of an architect. Yet as Kester Rattenbury shows, his creation of Wessex was an architectural project - one that drew on the ideas of his time, but also predicted some of the most inventive architectural work of our own age.&nbsp;Hardy saw rural England through an experimental, modern frame, and his Wessex Project was as radical in its time as <a href="" rel="nofollow" >Learning from Las Vegas</a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow" >Delirious New York</a> were in theirs.&nbsp;</p>            

Josef Frank’s Modernist Vision: "Accidentism"

            <img src="" border="0" /><em>&ldquo;Away with universal styles,&rdquo; wrote Josef Frank. &ldquo;Away with the idea of equating art and industry, away with the whole system that has become popular under the name of functionalism. Modernism," he was fond of saying, "is that which gives us complete freedom."</p></em><br /><br /><p>More than an architect and designer, <a href="" rel="nofollow" >Josef Frank</a> was an &ldquo;intellectual, who built ideas.&rdquo; Christopher Long introduces Frank's 1958 essay, "Accidentism" &mdash; a humanist manifesto denouncing the banality of orthodox modernism and calling for a new pluralism in design. As Long explains, "the essay reads as a bracing critique of modern architecture, all the more notable for having been written by a prominent modernist" &mdash; the ultimate statement of his long-standing disquiet with the tenets of the mainstream movement.
The article is the latest installment of our Future Archive series, which republishes significant 20th-century writings on design, selected and introduced by leading scholars.

The Modern Urbanism of Cook’s Camden

            <img src="" border="0" /><em><p>The council housing designed 50 years ago for a progressive London borough remains a potent symbol of the achievements of postwar social democracy.</p></em><br /><br /><p>Prompted by Mark Swenarton's recent book,&nbsp;<em><a href="" rel="nofollow" >Cook's Camden</a>,&nbsp;</em>Douglas Murphy looks at the radically experimental public housing estates built by the London borough from 1966 to 1975, and the reevaluation of these extraordinary projects currently underway in our own era of unaffordable cities and triumphant privatization.</p>          

Prop and Property: The House in American Film

            <img srcset=" 1x, 2x, 3x" src="" border="0" title="" alt="" width="650" height="" /><em><p>Cinema heightens the ambivalent but powerful pleasure we take in looking at property. The private property of the house is already a spectacle, of course, as the house is a medium for making visible the wealth of its owners and inhabitants. In a movie theater, this spectacular function is multiplied.</p></em><br /><br /><p>A history of the house in American <a href="" rel="nofollow" >cinema</a> might well begin with Gone with the Wind, a film that is fascinated with the loss, acquisition, and consolidation of private property; and To Kill a Mockingbird, a putatively antiracist film whose production history is actually an archive of racist urban development.&nbsp;The houses in these pictures tell stories about property that the films do not mention, but cannot cease from showing.</p>         

Spires and Gyres: Contemporary Architecture in Jakarta

            <img srcset=" 1x, 2x, 3x" src="" border="0" title="" alt="" width="650" height="" /><em>Jakarta is perhaps the truest realization of a post-colonial cosmopolis. Many former colonial capitals stage a rivalry between quaint traditional centers and desperation-driven peripheries. But Jakarta can be understood not as a dialogue with its former foreign overlords but rather as a fiercely insistent projection of Indonesian independence.</p></em><br /><br /><p>In his latest article for Places, <a href="" rel="nofollow" >Joe Day</a> examines the contemporary architecture of Jakarta through the framework of the utopian terms of the Five Pancasilas, the founding principles of modern Indonesia.&nbsp;
Day traces the development of Indonesian architecture from founding president Pak Sukarno's “modernism with Indonesian characteristics” to the new architectures heralded by the Arsitek Muda Indonesia (AMI) generation of the 1980s and '90s and their contemporary successors.

Tradition for Sale

            <img srcset=" 1x, 2x, 3x" src="" border="0" title="" alt="" width="650" height="" /><em>Yale has just completed two new residential colleges near the heart of campus: a superblock of neo-Gothic fantasy. This reversion to an archaic visual language exemplifies a troubling trend. With their new architecture, universities all too often abdicate leadership in promoting artistic innovation as they pander to plutocratic donors.</p></em><br /><br /><p>Columnist Belmont Freeman takes a critical look at <a href="" rel="nofollow" >Yale</a>'s <a href="" rel="nofollow" >RAMSA</a>-designed Benjamin Franklin College and Pauli Murray College in his latest piece for Places.&nbsp;
While Freeman marvels at their extraordinary evocation of tradition, he argues that their historicism represents a missed opportunity to reinvent the residential college for the 21st century — as Saarinen did on the same campus in the middle of the 20th. 

The Corner of Lovecraft and Ballard

For Lovecraft, the ubiquitous angle between two walls is a dark gateway to the screaming abyss of the outer cosmos; for Ballard, it’s an entry point to our own anxious psyche.

H.P. Lovecraft and J.G. Ballard both put architecture at the heart of their fiction, and both made the humble corner into a place of nightmares. Will Wiles delves into the malign interiors of their imagined worlds and the secret history of the spaces where walls meet. 

Socialism and Nationalism on the Danube

Both Vienna and Budapest can be viewed as battlefields in an unfolding European crisis of identity and confidence that threatens the continent’s political unity and raises fundamental questions about what exactly it means to be European, to be Europe. Can we read these crises at the level of architecture?

In light of contemporary political turmoil in the region, Owen Hatherley examines key moments in the architectural histories of two quintessentially European cities, from the development of Vienna's monumental public housing to Budapest's experimentation with an ethnonationalist style. 

Hong Kong, Grounded

Even in this relentlessly vertical city, famous for walkways that feel like aerial labyrinths, you can’t levitate forever. Where the mountain rises up faster than the towers, you bump into a hillside and come back to earth. In Hong Kong, the ground is everywhere.

The terrain that weaves between streets, through public spaces, and beneath buildings in Hong Kong reminds observers of the tenuous relation between the city and its geology. Karl Kullmann photographs these zones of contact between the multilevel metropolis and the mountain, reflecting on the city's genuine landscape infrastructure and the urban experiences that it grounds.

History of the Present: Mexico City

An unpopular president, a myth-making architect, and a multibillionaire tycoon are building an oversize airport in a nature preserve. Can they make Mexico great again?

The progressive capital of Mexico has a long history of massive infrastructure projects — megaproyectos — with egalitarian aims. Daniel Brook looks at the social, political, and environmental issues surrounding the latest — a $13bn new airport rising on a sinking lakebed. This article is part of Places' ongoing series, History of the Present, on global cities in transition. 

Within and Without Architecture

The imaginative possibilities of miniature things lie not in their being shrunken versions of a larger thing. The world of the miniature opens to reveal a secret life.

Sometimes you encounter a thing that is not “properly” architectural, but which yet has something profound to say about the discipline. In her latest article for Places, columnist Naomi Stead is drawn by a cartoon from The New Yorker to consider the relationships between the miniature, the uncanny, and mise en abyme in architecture. 

New Fairy Tale Architecture in Places Journal

How many architects, young and old, have been inspired by a hero or heroine who must imagine new realms and new spaces — new ways of being in this strange world? This project presents a line of flight into architecture as a fantastic, literary realm of becoming.

This week, our series on Fairy Tale Architecture returns with four new designs by Snøhetta, Ultramoderne, Smiljan Radić, and Bernheimer Architecture. Each one explores the relationship between the domestic structures of fairy tales and the imaginative realm of architecture. But don’t expect a light escape into fantasy. These fantastical worlds draw their power from engagement with the real.
Tiddalik the Frog, designed by Snøhetta
Flatland, designed by Ultramoderne
Gripho, designed by Smiljan Radić
The Seven Ravens, designed by Bernheimer Architecture

14 to 1: Post-Katrina Architecture by the Numbers

The thousands of new old houses in New Orleans reveal the ethos of a people in a place nearly destroyed. New Orleanians have embraced their city’s architectural heritage as they’ve rebuilt for an uncertain future.

What does post-Katrina architecture look like in New Orleans? And what does it reveal about its society? In their survey in Places, Richard Campanella and Cassidy Rosen discover that historical styles are 14 times more popular than contemporary styles in the rebuilt city, despite the focus of media coverage on experimental projects like Make It Right. The retro revival pays homage to 19th-century New Orleans and a past that has become both a refuge from the present and a cicerone to the future. 

The Arab City

In a region at once feared and exoticized, we have been witnessing for more than a generation the devastation of old centers and the rise of new ones. Today there is no better context in which to investigate the complexities of global practice in architecture than that of the rapidly changing Arab city.

How does the deeply traditional meet the hypermodern in the older centers of Beirut, Damascus, and Cairo, and in the emerging new cities of Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi? In Amale Andraos’ new article on Places, and in the new book, The Arab City: Architecture and Representation, she explores the region’s complex relationship with modernity, questions the risks of essentialism in the enlisting of its cultural heritage, and asks what architecture has to do with identity in today’s Arab cities.

"Hitler at Home" by Despina Stratigakos

Adolf Hitler was an extreme anti-Semite, convicted traitor, and leader of a violent paramilitary force. In a remarkable press campaign, the Nazis reinvented him as a genial Bavarian gentleman.

How did the Nazis reinvent Adolf Hitler — an extreme anti-Semite, convicted traitor, and leader of a violent paramilitary force — as a genial Bavarian gentleman?

Real Estate and the Responsibility of Architects

To sever instances of “architecture” from the deaths of indentured construction workers on a building site in Qatar, or from the property lines measured out at Twin Lakes, is an elemental act, comparable to flushing a toilet, turning on the water, or switching on a light... Understanding these infrastructures, and contesting their hegemony with that knowledge, is therefore as basic as it gets.

< p>For the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, curator Rem Koolhaas has chosen as his theme "fundamentals," meaning the "inevitable elements of all architecture ... the door, the floor, the ceiling, etc." To this list Reinhold Martin proposes Fundamental #13: real estate, the land itself, without which "all the rest is inconceivable." He then asks difficult questions about architects' complicity in the uses to which land is put by the "transnational, translocal, global and otherwise border-violating and border-producing system of real estate."

Urban Interfaces

Most discourse on “smart” and “sentient” cities, if it addresses people at all, focuses on them as sources of data feeding the algorithms. Rarely do we consider the point of engagement — how people interface with, and experience, the city’s operating system.

< p>As we enter the era of so-called “smart” cities, Shannon Mattern argues on Places, we need to consider how citizens interface with the city’s operating system. What does a “right to the city” mean for our future cities? “Can we envision interfaces that honor the multidimensionality and collectivity of the city, the many kinds of intelligence it encompasses, and the diverse ways in which people can enact their agency as urban subjects?” And can we think beyond the screen?

City: Ways of Making, Ways of Using

In the projects shown here, architects and artists reflect on the problems and possibilities of economic and urban growth. How is rapid urbanization happening? Who is benefiting, and who is being displaced or excluded? What can architects and citizens do to exert leverage on processes at once local and global?

< p>On Places, Jonathan Massey reviews the 10th Sao Paulo Architecture Biennial, and presents a slideshow of selected works.

Gezi Park: Architecture and the Aestheticization of Politics

Our task — and we should well speak as architects — must be making the invisible visible, uncovering and retracing the concealed limits of the city. We must construct barriers and counter-spaces within and against the processes that tame and dissolve the crucial loci of democracy.

Within a few years, rapidly growing Istanbul will overtake London and Moscow as Europe’s largest metropolis. Not coincidentally, Turkey is undergoing a profound shift toward privatization, as seen in the government's plan to redevelop Taksim Gezi Park into a shopping mall with a nostalgic Ottoman facade. On Places, architect Pedro Levi Bismarck examines the plan as a reflection of a larger democratic crisis, following Siegfried Kracauer’s observation: “Wherever the hieroglyphics of any spatial image are deciphered, there the basis of social reality presents itself.”

Incomplete Architecture

"All great public squares have a monument with a statue, right? ... Everyone in town can agree about that. But whenever we discuss which historical figure should go up on that column, it turns into a fight. We can’t come to a consensus. So we’ve decided to leave it empty. One day, this person will come. And when they do, we will have a place waiting for their statue. This will bring great pride to Anse-à-Pitres.”

On Places, artist and filmmaker Joseph Redwood-Martinez shares photographs and anecdotes from a research project investigating examples of incomplete architecture around the world: "buildings and structures that are activated or inhabited even though their construction is not complete."