Sinister Dialogues

October 4th, 2014

Sinister Dialogues: an international symposium held on 25th September 2014 at the Manchester School of Architecture.

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This ongoing project is an examination of how an uncomfortable, terrible or destructive past of a structure can be negotiated though building reuse. Sinister Dialogues examines the relationship between the past use of a building and the new elements of remodelling, and as such, aims to highlight how negativity can be redefined within the shell of an existing structure. The project uncovers the architectural strategies of adaptation, as an alternative to demolition, and discusses the necessary decisions to be made when such a building is reused.

 The project leader, Laura Sanderson introduced the symposium, the speakers were:

German architect HG Merz, who transformed the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in Berlin,

British artist Abigail Reynolds, who created a series of artworks for the Topophobia Exhibition in Liverpool,

New Zealander academic Terry Meade, who writes about violence and domestic space in Palestine,

Venetian architectural academic Margahrita Vanore, who writes about Industrial Ruins,

and MSA Principal Lecturer Sally Stone from Continuity in Architecture, discussed the interpretation of existing buildings.

 The next part of the project will take place on the 7th October 2014, when the final speaker, Irish architect Sheila O’Donnell, who worked on the Good Shepherd Laundry and Letterfrack Furniture College, will be presenting the work of O’Donnell and Tuomey in a talk entitled Addition and Subtraction.  

 

“To live is to leave traces.” Walter Benjamin.

 

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In December 2012 Preston City Council voted ‘in principle’ to demolish Preston Bus Station and replace it with a surface car park. This building is a major cultural landmark and it should be preserved and creatively adapted to serve the city. It could act as a key building and public space to make Preston accessible and temper the decay that is affecting the city.

BDP Architects will host a charrette on Friday 28th June 2013, at their North West office to discuss ideas for the future of this building and the urban area surrounding it.

The charrette or workshop will be held in BDP’s Manchester offices in Piccadilly Basin. Key members of their architectural and urban design team will contribute to the discussion. They feel that this is a very important project, both locally and nationally. The state of panic that now exists in Preston is symptomatic of the reaction not only to the recession, which has hit the North particularly hard, but also to the change in shopping habits that the digital revolution has caused. How the post-industrial city will have to adapt to an uncertain future is one of the most pressing issues for architects and designers at this point in the twenty-first century.

Preston Bus Station was constructed in 1969, and was designed by BDP. It was built at a time of great confidence; it was, after all, the same year as the first Moon landing. The building resembled an airport lounge, testament to the importance that was placed upon it by the people of Preston. Modernist buildings can possess great quality and worth, and can contribute to the collective memory of a place. If we are not careful, we will regret the loss of many of them, just as we regret the loss of many older structures that were torn down in the name of progress. Certainly the Bus Station is very much a symbol of Preston, if it is lost the city will lose a famous landmark and part of its optimistic heritage.

This charrette is open to all, architects, designers, and students as well as anyone else who is interested in the future of the building.

Contact Sally Stone for more details or to discuss this further: s.stone@mmu.ac.uk.

Gate 81 is a project that intends to bring to greater attention the plight of Preston’s Bus Station. There has been a considerable amount of negativity surrounding the future of the building, and this is our attempt to bring some optimism to the situation. To this end, we are staging a series of events to both raise the profile of the building, and to generate ideas for the future of this troubled building and the urban area that surrounds it. The first, which was held on May 11th, was an open workshop, collection of lectures and other happenings that was held on the concourse of the Bus Station. Gate 81 is supported by: The Arts Council, Manchester School of Architecture, They Eat Culture.

www.gate81.com

Sally Stone has just returned from the Winter School at the University of Antwerp. This important annual event invites academics and architects to run projects upon a specific theme, this years was Transformer.

 Antwerp, an important city in northern Belgium, in the north of Europe, has been sought after and fought over for centuries thanks to its sheltered position on the estuary of the River Scheldt, the mild climate and the tolerant people. The legacy is a patchwork of ancient and modern architecture in which baroque rubs up against art deco, the traditional adjacent to the contemporary and the scarified next to the ephemeral

Look, said the voice … “A vacant lot at dusk” … “Long blurry beach” … “Sometimes you’d think he’d never use a camera before” … “Crumbling walls, dirty terrace, gravel path, a sign that says Office” … “A cement box by the side of the road” … “Restaurant windows, out of focus” … I don’t know what the hell he’s trying to get at.”

Antwerp

 by 
Roberto Bolaño

 

the City: the Building: the Room

“One could look from the campiello through openings, balustrades, screens, and discern the garden at the other side … and behold something at once a mystery and reality.”*

Architecture is the mediator between the City and the Room. An act of translation occurs at the point where the outside meets the inside. The window, door or threshold transforms the nature of the exterior and moderates it to accommodate the interior. When viewed from the hostile environment of the outside, the interior can possess qualities that are perhaps ethereal, enchanting or reassuring.

Imagine a crowd gathering in the Grote Markt, the quality of the light in the square, the coldness of the damp and windswept space, look through those twinkling windows of the tall imposing buildings, envisage what would be happening in these spaces, picture the character of the rooms behind the facades, create this interior.

*Carlo Scarpa talking about the Fondazione Querini Stampalia

 

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The City: We examined the particular qualities and characteristics of routes from the Grote Markt to the edge of the central area, and then back again. This analysis led us to create proposals for the transformation of the journey into a narrative; that is a collection of forms and spaces that communicated the essence of this excursion.

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The Building: We analysed the particular qualities and character of the Guild-Houses that face the Grote Mark. We looked at the size, scale, materials, construction, occupation and most importantly the quality of the light.

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The Room: We translated the ideas that were developed for the abstract space into a real proposal for the interior design of a space or collection of spaces within the Guild-houses.

Looking Through

February 15th, 2011

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Staff and students from CiA have just returned from the intensive ADSL week at the university in Antwerp. This annual event is a collection of lectures and workshops by an assortment of international architects and designers assembled together around a common theme. Each unit worked with a group of about 15 internationally mixed students and this year’s theme was: Congruence.

 The outcomes were wide-ranging – from city planning to furniture design – and the media employed included film, animation, photography, model making, and good old pencil drawing.

 Sally Stone organised a workshop entitled “Looking Through”. This used 17th century Flemish paintings of ordinary everyday activities, situated within atmospheric interior settings as its starting point. The students were asked to construct and present their own interior that reflected the narrative of these early paintings, but considered it from the perspective of the 21st century

 The intention of this workshop was to celebrate the long-light of the low sun, balance rather than symmetry, pointed architecture, huge windswept squares and of course, butter, milk and cheese, all of which epitomise the northern climate. These elements are all present in the paintings of, for example, Vermeer, de Hooch, de Witte, Maes and Saenredam. Social harmony and hierarchy, especially the elevated position of women and the democratic manner in which servants were treated, religion and culture, and the business of business, also contribute to the sense of narrative and identity that permeate the paintings. The conclusion was that all the paintings contained long and intense light, warm colours, character and narrative and ofcourse, movement through a number of different interior spaces, often leading to a glimpse of an exterior view.

 The students first built installations within the interior of the university. These were based upon the paintings, but without mimicking them. The installations were then drawn and photographed, these resultant images were then further manipulated, the settings altered to reflect the results and more images were recorded. Drawings were photographed and photographs drawn.

 The results show a modern interpretation of a four hundred year old idea.

 http://www.artesis.be/architectuurwetenschappen/international/international-week-adsl-2011-congruence.htm

Hampstead High Life

October 29th, 2010

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Luca Csepely-Knorr has commenced her studies at the Manchester School of Architecture into the work of the Hungarian architect Bela Rerrich and the British landscape and town designer Thomas Mawson prior to the Great War.

On 11 October 2010 the RIBA, the Goldfinger family, the National Trust and their guests formally presented the Scholarship award to Luca during a reception event held in Erno Goldfinger’s house 2 Willow Road in London. Amongst the guests were James Dunnett, Gavin Stamp, Kit Allsopp, Professor Kinga Szilagyi of Corvinus University of Budapest and László Magócsi, Science and Technology Attaché of the Hungarian Embassy in London.

Luca is pictured being presented with the award by Michael Goldfinger, and with Professor Szilagyi.

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That Goldfinger Touch

August 2nd, 2010

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The 2010 RIBA Goldfinger Scholarship has been awarded to Luca Csepely-Knorr to undertake an M.Phil at the MSA. Luca will be studying the work of Bela Rerrich (1881-1932), independent Hungary’s first town planner who had studied under the Windermere garden designer and town planner Thomas Mawson (1861-1933) prior to the Great War. Rerrich’s principal achievement was the cathedral square, Dom Ter, in Szeged which is pictured. Luca will be supervised by Eamonn Canniffe and Sally Stone.

The estate of the late architect Ernö Goldfinger (1902-1987) endowed scholarships in 1999. The scholarships are administered through the RIBA to support young Hungarian architects through a period of postgraduate study (in the fields of Architecture, Art or associated disciplines) or work experience within a UK academic institution or architectural practice.

Portuguese Picnic

July 5th, 2010

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The inaugural meeting of the European Architectural History Network was held at the beautiful Portuguese city of Guimaraes between 17 and 20 June and fulfilled the organisation’s mission to create a vibrant new forum for the study of the complexity and variety of European architecture.

The conference was hosted by Jorge Correia of the University of Minho and his team of ‘sweet, cute and smiling’ student assistants. A diversity of nations (and continents) was represented among the speakers although they were united, as Antoine Picon of Harvard Graduate School of Design remarked, by their shared difficulties with the English Language. Highlights included Paolo Varela Gomes of the University of Coimbra discussing the reception of Portuguese architecture and its relationship to different forms of imperialism, New York University Professor Marvin Trachtenberg’s magisterial reading of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence as an expression of the city’s military confidence at the beginning of the fourteenth century, and a session on “Architectures of the Suburb” jointly chaired by Andrew Ballantyne (Newcastle University) and Elizabeth McKellar (Open University) which ranged from the Palladian Veneto to contemporary Mumbai.

However, the star of the show in every imaginable way was Denise Scott Brown. Despite her advanced years she held the conference spellbound with her subverting of revisionist modernist hagiography and her insistence that the praising of the delights of autonomous architecture should be balanced with a profound respect for social needs and contexts.

Other provocative images evoked included that of the isolated Irish monastic site of Clonmacnoise as a new Jerusalem (Jenifer Ni Ghradaigh, University College Cork), an analysis of the urban space of renaissance Mantua (Janet White, University of Nevada – Las Vegas) the documenting of pioneering Czech panel costruction (Kimberley Elman Zarecor, Iowa State University) and a study of the Swedish social experiment in mid-twentieth century Vallingby (Lucy Creagh, Columbia University).

CiA staffer Eamonn Canniffe contributed a paper to the well attended session “Architecture in Nineteenth Century Photographs” chaired by Micheline Nilsen (Indiana University South Bend) which covered amateur and professional photographers and academic and tourist audiences for the then new medium. His abiding memory of the conference, though, was of Denise Scott Brown fulfilling her wish to talk to Portuguese students shaded under a tree in the garden of the Vila Flor Cultural Centre.

The next meeting will take place in Brussels in 2012. The Call For Session Proposals is here.

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Eamonn Canniffe has been invited to give a keynote lecture at the above titled conference orgainised by Dominic Holdaway and Filippo Trentin to be held at the University of Warwick in February 2011

The Postmodern Palimpsest: Narrating Contemporary Rome

«What better place to await the end, to see if everything ceases or not?» (Gore Vidal, in Roma)

The city of Rome has always been privileged in its relationship with Western history: constructed over layer upon layer, from Roman to Fascist empires, with corresponding iconic images. More recently, films by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini have contributed to capturing the changes modern Rome underwent, with suffocating traffic passing dazzling locations, long tracks down shadowed streets and lively social gatherings masking potential violence. These images have been qualified as embodying ‘modern’ Rome. The closing shots of Fellini’s Roma (1972) linger on dozens of mopeds fading into the distant black as they abandon the historical centre for an undefined urban sprawl. The sprawl, the latest metamorphosis of Rome, overlaps with historical images of the capital to form a shapeless identity, a fragmentary postmodernity.

This conference, which will take place at the University of Warwick in February 2011, aims to shed light on contemporary imagined geographies of Rome: it will investigate the void at the end of Roman palimpsest, addressing the following questions:

- Where present and past intersect and overlap synchronically, is it still possible to represent ‘reality’, or possible only to capture fragments of it? Can we still perceive the city as a ‘master narrative’, or do we need to challenge the notion of one city? How can the city be perceived in relation to Italian and to European landscapes? How does the image of Rome relate to contemporary global cities? How is this historical shift represented in global cultural products, and how do they redefine our perception?

The interdisciplinary nature of this event is acutely represented by its two keynote speakers: Dr. Eamonn Canniffe (Manchester School of Architecture; author of The Politics of the Piazza: the history and meaning of the Italian square) and Dr. John David Rhodes (Literature and Visual Culture, Sussex; author of Stupendous Miserable City: Pasolini’s Rome).

More details to follow.

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Our colleague James Robertson continues his doctoral research on Jack Coia with a presentation on his work at the Association of Art Historians Summer Symposium at the Henry Moore Institute (24-25 June 2010) in Leeds. The conference theme is ‘Architectural Objects:Discussing Spatial Form across Art Histories’, and James’s abstract is below.

The Prototype Pavilion – Modernism, National Identity and Religion in the Context of Scotland

The national and international architectural expositions of the twentieth century gave designers the opportunity to craft on a small scale, with very distilled and often experimental forms of architecture. Through their participation in such varied architectural displays, designers would very often create work which in some way reflected the ‘mood’ of the nation or of the era. One such exposition, the international importance of which has not yet been satisfactorily documented, was the Glasgow Empire Exhibition of 1938.

A team of Scottish architects was commissioned to design the exposition pavilions representing industry and institution, in a nationally symbolic gesture of optimism following decades of economic and social depression. The pavilion of the Roman Catholic Church, designed by the Glasgow architectural practice of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia, headed by the Scoto-Italian Jack Coia (1898-1981), was one of the most striking, unconventional and overtly ‘modern’ pavilions created at the exposition, particularly in a religious context, and in fact could be said to be seminal in terms of modernism in Scotland in a wider sense[1].

In collaboration with artist colleagues and student apprentices, and looking simultaneously to Scotland’s national past and to international architectural developments, Coia fused artistic and architectural themes with a provenance in contemporary Italian architectural projects. The de Chirico-influenced metaphysical painting of churches such as San Felice da Cantalice, Rome (Paniconi & Pediconi, 1934) and the political montages of the ‘Fascist’ architecture of the time, such as Terragni’s Casa del Fascio, Como (1932), are critically apparent, as are the quasi-religious architectural devices of the Exposition of the Fascist Revolution, Rome (1932). Coia effectively experimented on a small scale with architectural motifs at Empirex[2] which would subsequently evolve into the ‘architectural objects’ of much of the firm’s later, more celebrated work.

It can be argued that that Empirex allowed Scotland to experiment with, through the medium of a small-scale pavilion in a national exposition, and through Coia, the prototype for a Scottish national version of ecclesiastical modernism, with potentially direct connections to Rome, the Vatican and the Italian artistic and architectural milieu of the era.

[1] The Scottish Catholic historian, Peter Anson argued in 1939 that the pavilion ‘may mark the beginning of a new epoch in Scottish church architecture’

[2] Empirex was an acronym relating to the Glasgow Empire Exhibition

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The ongoing collaboration of Continuity in Architecture with Instituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia and other architectural and archaeological schools coordinated by Margherita Vanore of IUAV reaches a new audience via the ministerial launch of the European Higher Education Area

Archaeology’s places and contemporary uses

(a link for which appears at the bottom of this page)

This collaborative project was funded by a grant from the Lifelong Learning, Erasmus Intensive Programme and it started with a two-week international student design workshop in the early Autumn of 2009. The workshop proposals were then exhibited at a conference at the IUAV in November 2009 and will form the basis of a travelling exhibition that will be in Manchester in the spring of 2010. The design workshop was based in Venice and the students and their tutors lived in the city for the two week period. The results of the workshop, and a compilation of papers written by the lecturers who were directly involved in the project will be published in May 2010.

The project is covered under the Bologna Process Aims on this website: European Higher Education Area: celebrating a decade of UK engagement

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Short notice I know. CiA director Sally Stone is lecturing at IUAV* 3pm today.

As she says in her Twitter feed: Speaking this afternoon at IUAV. Apparently I’m the warm up act for David Chipperfield.

*University IUAV of Venice

IUAV in brief

Update (18:00)

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Emerging Face

January 25th, 2010

Charalampos Politakis, a Doctoral student at the Manchester School of Architecture (supervisor Eamonn Canniffe) is currently researching the philosophy of anthropomorphic architecture. Here are some images and text from his Masters project which he completed at the University of Salford in 2009.

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From animism to the observation of nature, man has always turned his eyes to nature in order to explore it, study it, admire it, and deify the inexplicable. This relation between nature and man this ‘communication’ was an influence for mankind to create myths, works of art and architectural structures.

The ‘Emerging Face’ project is an artistic and architectural concept that finds its influences in Greek mythology, the anthropomorphic landscape, and the anthropomorphic structure of architecture in general. Anthropomorphic landscapes and how the human body and its parts are identifiable in nature, such as in mountains, has been a field of interests from an artistic and and architectural point of view, as well as the relation of the human body and the exterior form of architectural structures.

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The basic concept for this project was the creation, at this initial stage of development, of a 3D virtual installation based on the shape of human face. The face appears not only as a 3D colossal sculpture but also as a 3D architectural structure; a building with the shape of a face in a supine position. The user navigates the installation and the 3D environment with the use of the game engine UnrealTournament 2003. The design of the 3D structure, its environment and installation, is a first step towards this concept being presented for a future development in the creation of a building based on the form of the human face.

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