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Issue # 5 | Autumn 2009 | Metropolitan Form
The fifth issue of Footprint investigates the question of metropolitan form. The necessity to focus on the scale of metropolitan areas is manifest as this is the dominant scale of contemporary global life. The process of urbanisation and the size of urban agglomerations have dramatically increased since the last decades. These dynamics alone demand radically changed thinking about internal spatial organisation and the form of urban regions. Yet, scholarly focus at the regional level has shifted away from spatial thinking of overall form towards issues of governance, socio-economic statistics, and global networks. While these approaches provide insight into contemporary conditions, lost in translation is the question of metropolitan form: what are the characteristics of its spatio-physical structures? What are its distinguishable elements? And what are the factors that determine the transformation of form through time? By addressing the question of metropolitan form we try to extrapolate - scale-up - the research notions and methods of ‘urban morphology’ from the ‘urban’ to the ‘regional’ scale.
Issue's editors: François Claessens and Anne Vernez Moudon
Issue # 4 | Spring 2009 | Agency in Architecture: Reframing Criticality in Theory and Practice
Whether critiquing the architect’s societal position and the role of the user, conceptualising the performative dimension of the architectural object, or considering the effects of theory for architecture at large, current debates in architecture intersect in the notion of agency. As fundamental as it is often taken for granted, this notion forms the keystone of this issue, inviting contributors to rethink architecture’s specificity, its performance, and its social and political relevance. Agency in architecture inevitably entails questioning the relation between theory and practice, and what it might mean to be critical - both inside and outside architecture - today. The main proposal is to rethink contemporary criticality in architecture, by explicating the notion of agency in three major directions: first, ‘the agency of what?’ or the question of multiplicity and relationality; second, ‘how does it work?’, a question referring to location, mode and vehicle; and third, ‘to what effect?’, bringing up the notion of intentionality.
Each of the contributions to this issue throws a new light onto one or more of these questions. In the form of an interview, Scott Lash, Antoine Picon and Margaret Crawford probe the theoretical implications of agency as a notion for architecture. Pep Avilés disentangles, in his analysis of Italian neorealist architecture, the multiplicity of historical agents shaping its discourse. Sebastian Haumann examines the intersection of aesthetic concern and political agency in Venturi and Scott Brown’s project for South Street in Philadelphia. Emphasising the pertinence of transdisciplinarity to contemporary practice, Rolf Hughes develops the notion of ‘transverse epistemologies’ that is implied by it. Inspired by contemporary sociology, Robert Cowherd proposes a ‘reflexive turn’ in architecture as a reply to the ‘post-critics’. Gevork Hartoonian reconsiders Brutalist architecture for contemporary practice, arguing that the theme of agency in architecture is tectonic in nature. Against the internalisation of architectural discourse, Tatjana Schneider and Jeremy Till posit the notion of spatial agency, as it is evoked by alternative forms of practice. Three review articles, by Lara Schrijver, 'The Agency' Group, and Tahl Kaminer, demonstrate ideological rifts in the current debate.
Issue's editors: Isabelle Doucet and Kenny Cupers
Issue # 3 | Special issue | Architecture and Phenomenology
With this the special issue of Footprint the question of the relation of philosophy and architecture, and the significance of phenomenology for architectural practice and discourse is broadly surveyed. Individually, and overall, the articles provide reflections and arguments on topics of space, location, place, architectural practice, meaning in architecture, and on the impact of phenomenology as a philosophical form of enquiry throughout.
Stephen Read in his paper, written out of a post-phenomenological perspective associated with the work of Don Idhe, provides the basis for a new reading of Heidegger on tools and the relation of the social and the technological. A similar concern can be seen in the paper of David Kirshner, ‘Tools: Stuff: Art’. The discourse about space emerges in architecture only towards the end of the nineteenth century, and Leslie Kavanaugh’s groundbreaking study on Brentano on space provides rich context for this turn in architectural discourse towards ‘space’. Susan Herrington and Anne Bordeleau in different ways look at the problems of constituted meanings for architecture, predominantly within the French phenomenological tradition.
Michael Lazarin and Akkelies van Nes bring forward the deepening and continuing response to the work of Heidegger, through an original and new study of Norberg Schulz, and in Lazarin’s rich considerations of the contexts and sources of poetic dwelling in Japanese buildings. Randall Teal furthers the interest in the study of topology, of such concern to Hubert Dreyfus and Jeff Malpas, in the reading of the late work of Heidegger. Working as an artist and sculptor Jasper Coppes has contributed a meditative and detailed response to phenomenological ideas around place, which is of some significance for thinking about the problem of ‘domain’ in architecture. Keane and Selinger look at the work of Arakawa and Gins to demonstrate the fruitfulness of phenomenology for artistic practice and new concepts of the production of space.
Issue's editors: Brendan O’ Byrne, Patrick Healy
Issue # 2 | Spring 2008 | Mapping Urban Complexity in an Asian Context
The second issue of Footprint aims at reuniting two themes which are receiving a great deal of attention in recent times: Asia’s extraordinary urban growth, and the problematique of mapping highly complex urban environments. The 21st century, forecasted by many as the ‘Pacific Century’, brings to the fore the region's economic, social, political and cultural changes, wide-ranging in their manifestation and far-reaching in their consequence. All of these factors are inscribed in the urban environment. In a region where a population of one million constitutes a small settlement and mega-cities such as Tokyo and Shanghai have come to dominate the global network, sheer size is itself an important issue and not just in practical terms. Then there is the apparent chaos that is actually a delicately balanced autopoeisis in cities such as Mumbai, as well as the interesting and potentially useful city-state model of Hong Kong. These conditions and rising phenomena bring important questions on the potentials and relevance of mapping to the fore.
The nine contributors to this issue take these questions as their point of departure, and set out to explore some of the region’s most important or complex cities. Urban China is covered by Ruan’s interesting overview of this country’s frenzied economic boom, which he claims is ephemeral; Visser’s attempt to map Beijing –‘the ungovernable city’- poses timely critical questions; Qiang’s analysis of the evolution of Beijing’s movement network and the effects it has on urban function; Arkaraprasertkul’s investigation of Shanghai’s Pudong, as well as it’s older lilong; Karandinou & Koutsoumpos’ thought-provoking and beautifully rendered mapping project of Shanghai’s ‘other’ river, the Suzhou; Bhatia’s examination of Shanghai’s transforming housing typologies; Solomon’s investigation of the development of Hong Kong, particularly Victoria Harbour. Moving further east, Tokyo’s complexity is explored in Lucas’s short paper with a series of architectural drawings and movement notations exposing the act of inscription as a method of urban enquiry. And finally, Shannon’s informative and thorough mapping exercise of cities and landscapes in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Issue's editors: Gregory Bracken and Heidi Sohn
Issue # 1 | Autumn 2007 | Trans-disciplinary
This inaugural issue of Footprint aims at understanding today’s architecture culture as a negotiation between two antithetical definitions of architecture’s identity. The belief in the disciplinary singularity of architectural objects, irreducible to the conditions of their production, is confronted - in discourse and design - with the perception of architecture as an interdisciplinary mediation between multiple political, economic, social, technological and cultural factors. With the concept of trans-disciplinarity, the negotiation between these two positions is investigated here as an engine of the ‘tradition of the present’ of contemporary architecture - the discourses and designs which emerged in the 1960s and defined orientation points for today’s architectural thought and practice.
The contributions to this issue of Footprint include Wouter Davidts’ analysis of architectural design and discourse as a condition for art; Michael Hays’ examination of narrative as a form of understanding the object of architecture within the forces which it reflects and opposes; Patrick Healy’s reconstruction of Max Raphael’s project of an empirical theory of art and architecture; Mark Jarzombek’s questioning of architecture as a philosophical project; Ákos Moravánszky’s mapping of the multiple interchanges between theory, design, history and education of architecture; Jean-Louis Violeau’s account of the collaborations between architects and sociologists on architectural research in France since the late 1960s.
Issue's editors: Tahl Kaminer and Lukasz Stanek