**eastward movement is included


power and memory

Like any colonized territory, Nigeria has been subjected incremental reformulations of the citizens' collective memory. In other words, the past is systematically altered or erased. the objective of these interventions is to search for ways to move/look forward, while simultaneously commemorating the heritage of the nation with symbols that typically fall short of recalling anything truly authentic or accurate. what i'm really curious about is how the regular folks feel about this, and for that matter, how does it make the people making these changes feel?

For example, the original name of the place called Lagos is Isale Eko, or the town of Eko. this name allowed the citizens to claim ownership of it, and helped establish another boundary between itself and the outsiders that collected there. it was the Portuguese who applied the name Lagos after a city in portugal, where lagos is Portuguese for lagoon. dissociation and reinvention are inextricably tied.

Above all, what's most interesting and relevant to this discussion is how the Nigerian authorities conceived, planned, produced and appropriated an ideology of nationalist architecture and planning in Abuja. this approach began with the images of the master plan that were both propagandistic (probably not a word) and alluring, and has continued to this day with the demolition of self-organized settlements that have sprung up on the exterior of the city. The State is so completely self-aware of these images, and has worked extremely hard to present itself in a way that contracts the imagery and negative stigma that Lagos helped create.

in any case, i have definitely spent entirely too much time looking at the history of the city and its relationship with itself and the history of Nigeria, which has taken me away from several relevant books and articles related to food, fuel and finance. Nevertheless, I know it's not too late to use this external information to guide the project.


a schizophrenic nation.

"Speed expands time by contracting space. It negates the notion of the physical dimension."

_ Tschumi.

we are collectively swimming through a deep sea of data about the history of Nigeria. the forces that have shaped it into what it is today is both fascinating and tragic. i've managed to locate several maps, models and conceptual images of Tange's master plan for the city. they are, without question, depictions of a utopian and therefore imaginary place.

abuja officially became the new capital of nigeria in 1991, after about a decade of planning and relocating from the former nigerian capital of lagos, a self-organized cesspool of humanity and neglect that is one of the fastest growing cities on the planet. abuja is also located literally in the center of the country, a political calculation intended to locate the physical center between the Christian south anchored by Lagos and the Islamic North anchored by Kano . Upon the discovery of these details, many questions immediately presented themselves. Is Abuja a bridging device, or does Abuja divide the country in half? Is it an impartial political, cultural, and financial arbitrator or is it concerned with itself as a polemical entity? What comes at the expense of distancing the capital from the grit, chaos, and disorganization that characterized these colonial cities that are inextricably tied to the national identity of Nigeria's citizens? In other words, Abuja is a perplexing and ambitious project that's also very very strange.

When I began this research I suspected we would discover that Abuja and Lagos, despite the best efforts of the state, would have been slowly converging demographically and urbanistically. What I found was more less true - that Lagos was being incrementally stripped of the disorganization, slums, and markets that so clearly defined what it was. in fact, the fascinating markets that koolhaas examined in his documentary, lagos wide & close, have vanished. a consequence of this cleansing was that these displaced people needed someplace to go, and thousands migrated seven hours north to Abuja where they have basically recreated the chaotic urban conditions that existed before. But who is responsible for this? A valid argument is that there wasn't enough affordable and accessible infrastructure in place when they arrived, and so they had no choice but to make a life in any way they could on the outside of the city. Abuja was conceived as a necessary response to Lagos. In other words, the state knew what Abuja could not be, and so they looked for ways to reconstruct their reputation.

abuja then becomes a patchwork of old habits and glossy ambition, continually at odds with its own identity and put under pressure and precise scrutiny by the external forces (corporations) it so desires (needs?) to attract.



there are a handful of things that i have learned are impossible to escape. one of these obsessions appears to be oppositions.

now that i actually consider this idea, i have come to realize that i have been consumed by this for as long i can remember. is this by design? the problem is i have only recently been physically toying with these ideas; since around 2nd, maybe 3rd year of undergrad. that said, it would make some sense why its taken some time to come to terms with this habit of mine.

nearly every single project, no matter what the program or context, managed to transform into meandering and occasionally fruitless investigations into the strange territories of two oppositional things. projects were always about dualities, divisions, competition, boundaries, juxtaposed materials and forms, and so forth. realizing this now has me alarmed, confused, and a little surprised. on some level it makes no sense why someone would continue to unwittingly and relentlessly bang his head on the wall, agonizing over the many ways to appropriately to resolve such a simple idea through architecture. the coolest part is that i think my mind just might be trying to say something, and i've only begun to actually listen.

that said, i think i've actually had it all backwards. what's exciting about this idea, and what i've only recently begun to consider is the notion that i may have been distracted by the wrong thing. previous studies were always about the oppositional conditions, but rarely about the threshold that divided them. my hudson house design ( our final project fifth year ) is good example of a discovery that simply made sense to me, but i could not possibly explain why. of course this is not simply about number one versus number two, because things are rarely that easily contained and simplified. nevertheless, i'm beginning to wonder if the separate conditions are significantly less interesting than the boundary that stands between them. this idea, despite its simplicity and relatively obvious conceit, has me tremendously excited about the future. its applications both conceptually and materially are innumerable, and i suspect that because this is something that i obviously cannot escape, it is the territory that which i must pursue.

this is especially exciting considering its application to my current studio topic in which we will be in an ongoing discussion about lagos and its role as a global city, as well as africa's role in general, and its historically central position within the thousands of complex political, national, and economic webs that exist in the modern world. what's more, the president of nigeria is speaking at columbia on monday, which should be fascinating. needless to say, i'm beginning to ask myself - can columbia get any more exciting than this? if it does, will i be able to handle it?



this semester i'm going to once again attempt to write more spontaneously, which will hopefully create a more lucid and accurate description of what occurs here each day. the largest surprise about columbia so far is that we are incapable of maintaining focus. this is clearly by design, but this occurs almost daily; i have a conversation, a realization, or a lecture that absolutely blows me away and i want to document it here, but as soon as i leave that moment another task presents itself and i must move into another territory of thought. it didn't frustrate me until now, when i have time to think about it more (go figure).

all that said, i will make a concerted effort this fall to address this issue. this is largely a commitment to myself and is therefore largely self-indulgent, but i guess that's the point of most blogs anyhow.

[ studio ]

my instructor this semester is mabel wilson, and the title or topic is 'urban futures / future architectures.' broadly speaking, the focus will be on the african continent, but will focus most of our attention on lagos, the former capital of nigeria and one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and abuja, the high-modernist city planned by kenzo tange. we will use these two places as stages a discussion about the forces, both internal and external, that have shaped their cultural and architectural identities as well as their respective flows of operation. in other words, these two cities, like africa in general, are linked to the rest of the world through an inconceivably complex network of connections. it is our task to examine these forces and consider architectural solutions through which they can be addressed and questioned.

the initial exercises require us to trace the trail of various resources, raw materials, fuel, and finance. data mining and mapping these commodities will presumably result in new ways of understanding the complexity of their formulation, providing us with tools to utilize later in the semester. my resource? milk.

[ swarm intelligence ]

this is one of the two visual studies classes i'll be taking this semester, and it is basically a scripting course taught by roland snooks, partner and design director of his studio, kokkugia. the software we are using is called processing. this is completely unfamiliar territory for me, seeing as the closest thing i've experienced to scripting is actionscript 3 in flash. i've decided this is the semester of discomfort and unfamiliarity, so this is basically where i belong. i'm hoping that learning this software and understanding a new language technique will be more useful and interesting than learning maya or taking a risk on a utilitarian but forgettable rendering class.

[ 12 dialogical / poetic strategies ]

taught by yehuda safran. i missed the first class because i was enrolled for another, but i switched out because it wasn't exactly what i wanted. hopefully this class will blow my mind / knock my socks off.

[ surface, screen, structure ]

this is a technical seminar that i elected to take at the last minute as well. we will basically be working in teams, designing and fabricating our own sun screening devices. we'll be using sheet metal to create prototypes, which is something i've fantasized about for some time now. i'm really looking forward to aggressively looking at these new softwares to cleverly fabricate actual screening elements. most of us aren't as familiar with the software, so working in teams should be worthwhile.


that's all for now. it doesn't sound like much, but the workload will be robust, diverse, and beyond overwhelming - which is the way it should be, i suppose. now i must rest for a sss team-meeting in the morning. conceptual proposal is due by six tomorrow before class, and then i have a presentation on friday for studio.


week 11

[ studio ]

finally, the final images / drawings / diagrams.

[ physical model ]

funny that i'm posting images from the final review of the summer on the first day of fall classes.

[ digital craft ]

final film, "skinned," posted on Vimeo here:

[ arguments ]

my final paper explored the architectural pavilion as a device to both exhibit a clear disciplinary argument and more importantly, expand the limits of the discipline. historically speaking the pavilion has been frequently been used to achieve similar ends, be it political, technological, or social. the budgetary and programmatic constraints inherent to the pavilion are elements that actually liberate the architect, and provide for a more focused declaration. in other words, the pavilion is a means of communication, and the typology itself can help the architect clarify an idea they may have already considered to be fully understood. the pavilion therefore is a device that both conceptually and physically ossifies the ideas of the designer. instead of pasting the entire essay, i'd rather summarize how i attempted to make this argument.

in an effort to estable some sort of conceptual and historical order, i looked at konstantin melnikov's soviet pavilion for l'exposition internationale des arts decoratifs, held in paris during the summer of 1925. this was a tremendously influential pavilion, because it served as an emblem of early modern architecture, its rich amalgamate of decorative soviet motifs, and represented a moment in history where different cultures were gaining a greater awareness of their neighbors and their identities. in other words, the pavilion, while it was "event specific" symbolized several larger and highly abstract ideas - assimilation, credibility, national pride, and so forth.

from here i looked at dan graham's exhibition, alteration to a suburban house, which was an excellent example of a built work that occupied the space between art and architecture; the conceptual model for the architectural pavilion. i then compared diller + scofidio's blur building, built for the swiss expo in 2002, which then led to a critique of the serpentine pavilion and its obvious shortcomings, and concluded with an examination of the thyssen-bornemisza art pavilion, which was a collaboration between david adjaye and olafur eliasson.

the narrative i was attempting to construct was one of collaborative progression. each project was a reaction to what preceded it, and clearly embraced more and more input and dialogue with related disciplines to make one clear argument. finishing with the thyssen-bornemisza pavilion was critical, because it is a representation of future activity within all the artistic / creative disciplines in that they are inextricably linked, with shared priorities, interests, and intelligence. the beauty of the project was the complex organization of shared ideas and their precise execution. strict budgetary and construction parameters and conflicting values - elements that often prevent the implementation of such projects - were embraced rather than avoided.

without consciously activating this idea, i could not escape the need to weave autonomy and creative control into this argument. architects are perpetually in a state of conflict with the external forces that support them, and reconciling these conflicts is often difficult enough to force people out of its boundaries altogether. i am basically continually speculating about ways through which architects can both make their argument clear and negotiate these forces. the pavilion is just one way though which architects can precisely define and display their disciplinary argument, and therefore stands as an excellent typology that allows for a collective reclamation of what has been lost. i suspect this interest will not fade away over the next two semesters, and it will only be strengthened by greater study and experimentation.

[ metropolis ]

final topics discussed : the randstad ( amsterdam, rotterdam, the hague, utrecht, and their intersticial spaces ). there's not any time to go into the topic, but what i found most interesting was the relationship between these independent cities. in some ways, they operate similar to the "cities" within los angeles. i would have never considered that there was such a close relationship between the fragmented but highly organized dutch landscape and the extravagant overgrowth that is the los angeles basin, but i was wrong. i will definitely continue to explore these ideas. my final paper was a revised version of an early paper on tschumi's blue building in the lower east side.


and now onto the Fall! details forthcoming.


week 10

[ studio ]

just a few images from the three-quarters review _

01 _ diagrammatic section, indicating the movement / rotation of fragments from the labs below to the display area above.

02 _ diagrammatic axon. this was an exercise to indicate the layout of the labs relative to the display spine, as well as to play with 3dstudio's illustrate! renderer. both of them obviously needed some improvement.

03 _ five artworks are selected as the first pieces to be examined at the institute.

04 _ the five i selected were somewhat arbitrary, although i suppose i picked mark di suvero's rumi, ursula von rydingsvard's three bowls, and oldenberg's shuttlecocks for the obvious fact that they're all at the nelson in kc and therefore have some sentimental value. the watering can and the paimo chair were chosen for their scale.

05 _ five fragmented pieces are stretched linearly along the same length, spaced evenly.

06 _ the final operation is the compress the lines of arrangement; another reorganization operation that attempts to suspend the objects previous identity and monetary value.

07 _ this operation creates a series of new spaces, some of which have a high degree of compression while others are identified by their relief. objects of different material properties, levels of damage, size and weight are in a suspended state, an atmosphere of autonomous objects.

08 _ their arrangement is linear, logical and straightforward, although their new physical properties and new spatial relationships generates a new registry of artwork.

09 _ small fragments awkwardly sit alongside objects of dissimilar geometry, their new identity both completely exposed and entirely uncertain.

10 _ model that attempts to suspend the program of the institute ( varying labs, meeting areas, offices and support program ) above the display and storage "bar" for the damaged artwork.

11 _ when the colored shrouds overlap the bar, the artwork and the users can circulate vertically into and out of the display bar.

12 _ when the colored shrouds overlap the bar, the artwork and the users can circulate vertically into and out of the display bar.

13 _ earlier model that more clearly explains the relationship between the labs and the display area. this was a diagram that eventually became the organizational force behind the institute.

14 _ an even earlier model that more closely describes the institute at the point of the three-quarters review. it advanced from this point into one that had more penetrations, increased clarity and increased functionality.

About _

My photo
New York, New York, United States
I take myself too seriously most of the time and I am trying to do that less. I remind some people of Woody Allen. I occationally indulge in the weekend camping trip. I adamantly support the Kansas City Royals baseball club. My identity is wrapped up in a few simple things, most of which are continuously displayed on this here blog.

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