Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Alvaro Siza: In the Garden

© Juan Rodríguez


Amag Publishers and the Caja de Arquitectos Foundation have just released Siza x Siza, which focuses on six projects chosen by the architect, with black-and-white photographs by Juan Rodríguez, original drawings and sketches, and extensive interviews on the projects themselves and other themes.

Siza took a special interest in this project, working very closely with the editors.

I am very proud to be included in this book at Siza's request, with a short text, In the Garden. Other texts are by Kenneth Frampton, Eduardo Souto de Moura and Juhani Pallasmaa.

We will all be present this coming November 20th in the official presentation of the book at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. 

Boa Nova Tea House and Restaurant. Photo © Juan Rodríguez

In the Garden 
In various articles I have written over the years covering different projects by Álvaro Siza, I often focus on their relationship to the landscapes and urbanscapes of northern Portugal, coming back again and again to the image of a neglected garden, lush, unkempt and overgrown. Traveling as I do from the high, dry, flat meseta of central Spain to Porto underlies for me the particular character of the place: its verdant humidity and mild temperatures, and its abrupt topography, which disrupts any would-be orthogonal order on the part of would-be planners, contributing to the general disorderliness of urban and rural settlements. As I wrote in an article on the Serralves Museum in 1999, "The verdant hills overlooking the Douro are covered by a crazy-quilt of development, in which dense new growth jostles for place among old villas, small industries and languishing vegetable plots."


The strength of the relation of this landscape and its patterns of settlement to the work of Siza struck me most forcefully when I visited, in 2002, his restoration of and additions to the 18th century country estate of the Quinta Santo Ovidio, east of Porto:

"The fragmentary Baroque elements of the Quinta [its allée of lime trees, Baroque fountain, simple house and small formal garden] bear the same relation to the grand axes of Rome or Versailles that Siza's quirky modernism has to the canonical works of Le Corbusier or Mies. Siza ... transforms [modern architecture] from a universalizing formal language into a language of particularity and fragmentation: he passes Modernism through the historic, rumpled, genteel hillside gardens of northern Portugal."

An essential quality of this relation between the Portuguese landscape and culture and Siza's work is precisely the concept of gentility. I have always been struck by the bourgeois, slightly antique feel of many of Siza's details. When I interviewed him for the Serralves Museum, for example, he was still designing the seating for the auditorium:

"Each seat is a self-contained armchair, with its curving back sloping down and around to form the arms. 'I will make them out of maple, like this,' Siza tells me.  'With velvet backs and leather trim, here and here.  It is something I saw in the opera house in Naples.  Side by side, like armchairs.  Its very intimate. You feel more at home.  You feel decadent.' "

What makes such details seem so at home in Portugal is their cultivation of gentility, which one still encounters, for example in old restaurants and cafés, with their uniformed waiters and handsome table settings. And what could be more genteel than an unkempt garden? It is a surviving fragment of past wealth, culture and glory, now somewhat faded but respected and maintained through the generations. The gentleness in the word genteel is embodied in Siza's respect for this landscape and its past, its ancient cultural richness lingering in a disheveled, poorer present, a situation one could appreciate even before the country's current economic crisis.

Siza extends the largess of this well-mannered respect not only to the more aristocratic qualities of the landscape but also, simply, to the traces of the past and place. His is not an architecture of the bulldozer and the tabula rasa; instead, his designs seek their place amid what already is. For this reason, the Boanova Restaurant and Teahouse in Leça da Palmeira is sited not on along the flat expanse of a seaside promenade, but instead is embedded in a forbidding outcropping of rocks.

Siza's mastery of natural light and relative indifference to building materials form part of this faded aristocracy of manner. Modernism allows him to dematerialize gentility to its essence as a dignification of everyday life and its pleasures. Visiting again the Serralves Museum, I wrote,

"As you explore the Museum, you are surprised and delighted at every turn by his spare, elegant geometries and off-balance symmetries, and by the way that natural light is reflected and re-reflected from walls and horizontal planes, creating an effect of expansive, luminous spatial containment."

Writing about the Galician Museum of Contemporary in 1994, when I was much younger, I summed up all these intuitions about Siza's method in a general attack, with the help of the philosopher Theodor Adorno, on an opposing formalism of perfect geometric abstraction that I found in certain Madrid architects. These words can stand in as well, I think, for a philosophical argument in favor of Siza's design method as the superation of an excessive reliance in the modern tradition on concepts of internal logic, functionality and reason:

"In Siza's poetic approach to architecture, his regard for the site is transformed into a peculiar personal formal geometry.  Siza uses regulating lines in plan to lay out, from the point of entry, the two intersecting volumes of the design.  These regulating lines fan out from their point of origin as if from the viewing point of a perspectival construction, producing strange intersections, collisions and incongruities deep in the body of the building.  The access ramp and tilted horizontal soffit of the facade reflect these same visual lines in the vertical plane.  When seen from other points in the building, it is as if Siza had scrambled the rules of perspective and the abstract geometry it was designed to portray, returning us to a more immediate, anarchic register of perception, a mannerist retake on modernism which complements the eccentric Baroque monastery next door."

"Siza's fractured geometry reminds me of a passage in Theodor Adorno's ... Against Epistemology, in which he attacks certain aspects of the scientific spirit which have been well represented in postwar art and architecture, in the cult of formalism: 'But the more hermetically the unconscious of the mathematician seals his propositions against any inkling of involvements, the more perfectly pure forms of thought, from which memory is expunged in abstraction, come to appear as the sole "reality".  Their reification is the equivalent for the fact that they were broken from that objecthood without which the issue of "form" would not even arise.' "


Sources

Articles by David Cohn:
“Projects: Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Portugal,” Architectural Record (New York), November 1999, pages 102 - 109.

“Weekends in the Country,” World Architecture 105, April 2002, pages 26 - 33.

“Siza in Granit,” Bauwelt 19, May 13, 1994, pages 1038 - 1045-

Theodor W. Adorno, Against Epistemology: A Metacritique, English edition, The MIT Press, 1983, page 55.



English edition:
Juan Rodríguez and Carlos Seoane, editors
Siza by Siza
Amag Editorial, La Coruña, Spain, 2015

Spanish edition:
Siza x Siza
Fundación Caja de Arquitectos, Barcelona, 2015 

Contents 

Made For
Juan Rodríguez and Carlos Seoane
 


The Craft of the Poet
Juan Rodriguez and Carlos Seoane
 


Álvaro Siza: A Revised Interview
Interview with Eduardo Souto Moura, by Juan Rodriguez in Pamplona, April 24, 2015
 


The Boa Nova Tea House and Restaurant. 1958-63
The Locus
 


The Leça Palmeira Swimming Pool Complex. 1959-73
Material
 

The Malagueira Housing Complex. 1973-77 
Politics and Architecture 

The Flittering Image of Reality
Kenneth Frampton 

The Riches of Restraint
Juhani Pallasmaa 

In the Garden
David Cohn 

Interview
Conducted by Juan Rodriguez and Carlos Seoane (Porto) 

FAUP. The Porto Architecture School. 1986-93
The Porto School
 

The Galicia Museum of Contemporary Art (CGAC). Santiago de Compostela. 1988-93
Specialization 

The Santa Maria Church. Marco de Canaveses. 1990-96
Light and Architecture


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mies and the Barbarians

Miquel Lacasta

Miquel Lacasta has published an angry post, De la barbarie, on his blog, Axonométrica, about the photo above, where he found Mies' legendary German Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona World's Fair, rebuilt in 1986, vulgarized by these potted flowers.

The Mies van der Rohe Foundation responded to say that the flowers were part of a re-enactment of the actual appearance of the Pavilion on the day of its inauguration:

Photo, Barcelona Pavilion, 1929
There follows an interesting analysis, based on a study by Juan José Lahuerta, on how Mies and the German press office manipulated published images of the pavilion to represent it not as it appeared at the time during the Fair, but in a more ideal state. In turn, the flowers and other decorative additions for the inauguration ceremony manipulated the modernity of the building to make it more palatable for the occasion.

The reply from the Mies van der Rohe Foundation:
"The image above is from September 17, 2015. That day potted flowers were placed on the Pavilion platform as part of the promotional campaign for the book Photography or Life – Popular Mies written by Juan José Lahuerta, and published by Tenov Books. They showed, during 10 days, the Pavilion's appearance during its inauguration in 1929. The flowers accompanied a show, inside the Pavilion, of original photographs from the period.
"[…] Comparing the official photographs of the Barcelona Pavilion, taken by the Berliner Bild Bericht Agency and undoubtedly supervised by Mies van der Rohe himself, with casual photographs taken by graphic reporters and aficionados, can be very instructive. One question in particular attracts our attention: the process of selective screening in the official photographs. Many things disappear in them: […] The flower pots that sweeten the arid abstraction of the Pavilion with an unexpected touch of the Mediterranean patio and, of course, the people, completely absent in the official photographs and always present in the casual photographs: multitudes of people in those of professional photographers on the day of the inauguration, and more individualized and contemplative in the rest. It becomes clear that the scale –in every sense– of the Pavilion changes with these presences, which multiply others –signs, shrubs, lines of columns… – and they helps us understand the relativity with which the modernity of the Pavilion was perceived by the popular press at the time […]"
(Extract from the information page of the presentation "Frozen Pavilion, 1929")"

(Translation: DC)

Miquel Lacostas original post, De la Barbarie:
https://axonometrica.wordpress.com/2015/…/12/de-la-barbarie

His retraction, with the reply of the Mies van der Rohe Foundation:
https://axonometrica.wordpress.com/…/10/19/de-los-barbaris…

His Facebook apology on the subject, with interesting comments, appears on the Facebook group page 3 sessiones al borde de la crítica, which can be found here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/477995128938613/?multi_permalinks=971303319607789&ref=notif&notif_t=group_highlights

Juan José Lahuerta
Photography or Life / Popular Mies
Columns of Smoke, Volume 1
Editorial Tenov, Barcelona, 2014

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Xánadu and the Red Wall

This 18-apartment building, as part of the La Manzanera development, was a prototype experiment in applying a methodology to the team’s theory of a garden city in space and should be read as one of many large interconnecting elements.

The building took the castle as its point of reference, and evolved in such a way as to arrive at a configuration inspired by the nearby Peñon de Ifach crag. The unit of each apartment is composed of three cubes corresponding to living space, sleeping space and services. These three cubes are grouped around the vertical axis of the stair well which serves to support them. The cubes are then applied to the supporting circulation spine determined on an orthogonal grid, then broken down to satisfy the particular requirements of the program: in this case, shaded internal terraces to avoid the intense heat, hyperbolic roofs for better views, and adaptation to local building techniques.

No plans or elevations were drawn during construction, but each unit has its exterior walls pierced according to orientation, light needs, kitchen extractor fans, ventilators, privacy, and connection points, and was positioned after model analysis diagrammatically on the engineer’s structural drawings.

The rigid geometry of the cube, the basis of the initial structure, was fractured on the exterior angles in order to create an irregular façade with a spectacular interplay of light and shadow and multiple views of the landscape.
- See more at: http://www.ricardobofill.com/EN/662/architecture/portfolio/xanadu-apartments-in-calpe.html#sthash.Bm5wLgly.dpuf


All photos: DC
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea....

Do you remember Ricardo Bofill's beginnings in the 1960s and 70s? His ulra-mod resorts and mega-structures for the working-class? I made the pilgrimage to Xánadu (1966-71) and the Red Wall (1969-73) in Calpe, on the Mediterranean coast of Alicante, for my vacation this summer, but the verses on my mind were not by Coleridge but rather those of Juan Agustín Goytisolo, the poet member of Bofill's Taller de Arquitectura, whose ode to Xánadu comes from a time even more remote, it seems, than that of Coleridge:
 
"Hace frío la brisa me despeina
y trae olor a sal de mares muertos
frente a antiguas ciudades.
    Corro subo
cruzo pasillos atalayo el tiempo
y veo alzarse las banderas que odio
al pie de Jericó....."


"Its cold and the breeze messes my hair
and brings the odor of salt from dead seas
before ancient cities.
    I run, climb
Cross passageways tower in time
and I see the flags I hate rising
at the feet of Jericho...."

So perhaps the best reading companion for my photos are the texts from Bofill's own webpage. On Xánadu: 

"This 18-apartment building, as part of the La Manzanera development, was a prototype experiment in applying a methodology to the team’s theory of a garden city in space, and should be read as one of many large interconnecting elements."

"The building took the castle as its point of reference, and evolved in such a way as to arrive at a configuration inspired by the nearby Peñon de Ifach crag. Each apartment unit is composed of three cubes corresponding to living space, sleeping and services. These three cubes are grouped around the vertical axis of the stair well which supports them. The cubes are ... applied to the supporting circulation spine based on an orthogonal grid, and then broken down to satisfy the particular requirements of the program: in this case, shaded internal terraces to avoid the intense heat, hyperbolic roofs for better views, and adaption to local building techniques."

"No plans or elevations were drawn during construction, but each unit has its exterior walls pierced according to orientation, light needs, ... privacy, [etc]...."

"The rigid geometry of the cube, the basis of the initial structure, was fractured on the exterior angles in order to create an irregular façade with a spectacular interplay of light and shadow and multiple views of the landscape."


Source:
http://www.ricardobofill.com/EN/662/architecture/portfolio/xanadu-apartments-in-calpe.html

Xánadu from the roof terraces of the Red Wall
The Red Wall (Muralla Roja) covers an even wider range of oneiric visual references, from the staircases of M. C: Escher to the casbahs and fortresses of Northern Africa. With its apartments accessed solely via narrow exterior staircases, and a labyrinth of passageways and roofless rooms on the roof terraces, I did find it rather obsessively reiterative, compared to the more picturesque approach of Xánadu.


We met one of the original owners, sunning himself on his private terrace beside his tiny rooftop studio.


Here's the spiel on the project from Bofill's web page:
Within the context of La Manzanera, La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall) asks to be considered as a case apart. It embodies a clear reference to the popular architecture of the Arab Mediterranean, in particular to the adobe towers of North Africa. The Red Wall is like a fortress which marks a vertical silhouette following the contour lines of the rocky cliff.  With this building the Taller de Arquitectura wanted to break the post-Renaissance division between public and private spaces reinterpretating the Mediterranean tradition of the casbah. The labyrinth of this recreated casbah corresponds to a precise geometric plan based on the typology of the Greek cross with arms 5 meters long, these being grouped in different ways, with service towers (kitchens and bathrooms) at their point of intersection. The geometric basis of the layout is also an approximation to the theories of constructivism, and makes La Muralla Roja a very clear evocation of these.

The forms of the building, evoking a constructivist aesthetic, create an ensemble of interconnected patios which provide access to the 50 apartments, which include 60 sqm studios, and two- and three-bedroom apartments of 80 and 120 sqm, respectively. On the roof terraces there are solariums, a swimming pool, and a sauna for resident’s use.

The criterion of applying to the building a gamut of various colours responds to the intention to give a determined relief to the distinct architectural elements, according to their structural functions.

The outside surfaces are painted in various tones of red, to accentuate the contrast with the landscape; patios an stairs, however, area treated with blue tones, such as sky-blue, indigo, violet, to produce a stronger or weaker contrast with the sky or, on the contrary, an optical effect of blending in with it. The intensity of the colours is also related to the light and shows how the combination of these elements can help create a greater illusion of space. - See more at: http://www.ricardobofill.com/EN/670/Architecture/PORTFOLIO/La-Muralla-Roja-html#sthash.UYehgCNJ.dpuf
This 18-apartment building, as part of the La Manzanera development, was a prototype experiment in applying a methodology to the team’s theory of a garden city in space and should be read as one of many large interconnecting elements.

The building took the castle as its point of reference, and evolved in such a way as to arrive at a configuration inspired by the nearby Peñon de Ifach crag. The unit of each apartment is composed of three cubes corresponding to living space, sleeping space and services. These three cubes are grouped around the vertical axis of the stair well which serves to support them. The cubes are then applied to the supporting circulation spine determined on an orthogonal grid, then broken down to satisfy the particular requirements of the program: in this case, shaded internal terraces to avoid the intense heat, hyperbolic roofs for better views, and adaptation to local building techniques.

No plans or elevations were drawn during construction, but each unit has its exterior walls pierced according to orientation, light needs, kitchen extractor fans, ventilators, privacy, and connection points, and was positioned after model analysis diagrammatically on the engineer’s structural drawings.

The rigid geometry of the cube, the basis of the initial structure, was fractured on the exterior angles in order to create an irregular façade with a spectacular interplay of light and shadow and multiple views of the landscape.
- See more at: http://www.ricardobofill.com/EN/662/architecture/portfolio/xanadu-apartments-in-calpe.html#sthash.Bm5wLgly.dpuf

"La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall) … embodies a clear reference to the popular architecture of the Arab Mediterranean, in particular to the adobe towers of North Africa. The Red Wall is like a fortress which marks a vertical silhouette following the contour lines of the rocky cliff. With this building the Taller de Arquitectura wanted to break the post-Renaissance division between public and private spaces, reinterpretating the Mediterranean tradition of the casbah. The labyrinth of this recreated casbah corresponds to a precise geometric plan based on the typology of the Greek cross with arms 5 meters long, these being grouped in different ways, with service towers (kitchens and bathrooms) at their point of intersection. The geometric basis of the layout is also an approximation to the theories of constructivism, and makes La Muralla Roja a very clear evocation of these."

"The forms of the building ... create an ensemble of interconnected patios ...[which] provide access to the 50 apartments, which include 60 sqm studios, and two- and three-bedroom apartments of 80 and 120 sqm, respectively. On the roof terraces there are solariums, a swimming pool, and a sauna for resident’s use."

"The outside surfaces are painted in various tones of red, to accentuate the contrast with the landscape; patios an stairs, however, area treated with blue tones, such as sky-blue, indigo, violet, to produce a stronger or weaker contrast with the sky or, on the contrary, an optical effect of blending in with it. The intensity of the colours is also related to the light and shows how the combination of these elements can help create a greater illusion of space."

Source:
http://www.ricardobofill.com/EN/670/Architecture/PORTFOLIO/La-Muralla-Roja-htmlhttp://www.ricardobofill.com/EN/670/Architecture/PORTFOLIO/La-Muralla-Roja-html








First quote: Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Second quote: José Agustín Goytisolo, "Taller de arquitectura", Lumen, Barcelona, 1977.
This 18-apartment building, as part of the La Manzanera development, was a prototype experiment in applying a methodology to the team’s theory of a garden city in space and should be read as one of many large interconnecting elements.

The building took the castle as its point of reference, and evolved in such a way as to arrive at a configuration inspired by the nearby Peñon de Ifach crag. The unit of each apartment is composed of three cubes corresponding to living space, sleeping space and services. These three cubes are grouped around the vertical axis of the stair well which serves to support them. The cubes are then applied to the supporting circulation spine determined on an orthogonal grid, then broken down to satisfy the particular requirements of the program: in this case, shaded internal terraces to avoid the intense heat, hyperbolic roofs for better views, and adaptation to local building techniques.

No plans or elevations were drawn during construction, but each unit has its exterior walls pierced according to orientation, light needs, kitchen extractor fans, ventilators, privacy, and connection points, and was positioned after model analysis diagrammatically on the engineer’s structural drawings.

The rigid geometry of the cube, the basis of the initial structure, was fractured on the exterior angles in order to create an irregular façade with a spectacular interplay of light and shadow and multiple views of the landscape.
- See more at: http://www.ricardobofill.com/EN/662/architecture/portfolio/xanadu-apartments-in-calpe.html#sthash.Bm5wLgly.dpuf

Monday, October 5, 2015

Going Guerilla in Triana


Fotos © Jesús Granada
Until recently, Spain's economic crisis scarcely cut into the number of buildings I have been asked to review by different publications. But since this spring the lack of new work in the pipeline over the past few years seems to be having an impact. This modest museum in a former pottery works in the Seville neigborhood of Triana is all about the crisis, not only in terms of work but also in professional confidence, as I elaborate at the end of my article:
"...The tone of the new" facades, and their invisibility to the street, is in keeping with the modest ambitions of the intervention. The Museum is the product of a new era of moderation in public works, in striking contrast to the projects initiated before the crisis. From the nearby streets, the silhouette of César Pelli's 180-meter-tall Torre Sevilla looms, commissioned by Cajasol, a failed public savings bank. Its lower floors will soon be occupied by the CaixaForum, a cultural center run by La Caixa, the bank that rescued Cajasol, after La Caixa abandoned a more ambitious plan to house the center in the medieval ship works of the Atarazanas in the historic center. Elsewhere, the wooden mushrooms of the Metropol Parasol in the Plaza de la Encarnación, by German architect J. Mayer H., seem gloomy and underused on a warm summer day. And the court-ordered demolition of Zaha Hadid's half-finished library for the University of Seville has been completed, after the project was challenged by local residents for occupying a public park. In this climate, as the Triana Ceramics Museum would seem to confirm, architects must go guerilla, pass under the radar of public attention and commit themselves to specific, local goals."

More from my original text (the published version was somewhat garbled by my Austrian editors, as their title shows (see below)):
"For the Triana Ceramics Museum in Seville, local architects Miguel Hernández Valencia and Esther López Martín, of AF6 Architects, frame the haphazard elements of a disused pottery works with a second-floor addition that overlooks them on four sides, giving the complex a sense of unity.... "
"Hernández and López ... preserve the original brick kilns, buildings and sheds that were built, over time and with little planning, in and around an open patio. To this labyrinthine complex they add a second level that forms a ring around the patio, and arrange visitors' itineraries on both levels. The patio occupies part of a large block that is enmeshed in the barrio's urban fabric, and that includes the "Cerca Hermosa", a famous gated alley lined with modest houses...."

"Hernández and López's approach to the project was to accept and build on its chaotic accumulation of elements, adding a contemporary contribution with the distinctive facades of the second level....."

"The ceramic brise-soleil of its facades is inspired in the metal storage shelving stacked with half-finished pottery pieces that the architects found in the factory. Its "shelves" are of galvanized steel, and the clay units are custom-made in four sizes, with round centers and faceted exteriors so as to stack easily with a bit of silicone.... They left the original street facade of the building unchanged, with its small corner entrance decorated with terra cotta and painted tiles, adding only signage to a parapet, together with the motif of the brise-soleil in low-relief."

"The tubular clay units of the brise-soleil ... bring to mind unexpected references, from the polka dots on traditional Sevillian flamenco dresses to the [nearby] Triana Bridge, where cast iron circles of graduated diameters fill the space between roadbed and arch (a structural system introduced by Antoine-Rémy Polonceau on the Pont du Carrousel in Paris in 1834)."
Entry facade
 
Playing at Gorrillas in Triana
Triana Ceramics Museum, Sevilla, by AF6 Arquitectos
architektur.aktuell 426, September 2015, pages 70 - 79

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Product Placement 3.0


A New Yorker article from last January keeps resonating in my head. It covers advances in computers' ability to read emotions, with applications in mood-based TV advertising, car insurance (lower rates if you behave at the wheel) and other Big Brother stuff.

Here's one example:
"Not long ago, Verizon drafted plans for a media console packed with sensors, including a thermographic camera (to measure body temperature), an infrared laser (to gauge depth), and a multi-array microphone. By scanning a room, the system could determine the occupants’ age, gender, weight, height, skin color, hair length, facial features, mannerisms, what language they spoke, and whether they had an accent. It could identify pets, furniture, paintings, even a bag of chips. It could track “ambient actions”: eating, exercising, reading, sleeping, cuddling, cleaning, playing a musical instrument. It could probe other devices—to learn what a person might be browsing on the Web, or writing in an e-mail. It could scan for affect, tracking moments of laughter or argument. All this data would then shape the console’s choice of TV ads. A marital fight might prompt an ad for a counsellor. Signs of stress might prompt ads for aromatherapy candles. Upbeat humming might prompt ads “configured to target happy people.” The system could then broadcast the ads to every device in the room." 
It could also call the Thought Police.

Another bit:
Software developer and entrepreneur Rana el Kaliouby "predicted that before long myriad devices will have an “emotion chip” that runs constantly in the background, the way geolocation works now in phones. “Every time you pick up your phone, it gets an emotion pulse, if you like, on how you’re feeling,” she said. “In our research, we found that people check their phones ten to twelve times an hour—and so that gives this many data points of the person’s experience.”
Did you hear that?
"PEOPLE CHECK THEIR PHONES TEN TO TWELVE TIMES AN HOUR”.
" “What people in the industry are saying is ‘I need to get people’s attention in a shorter period of time,’ so they are trying to focus on capturing the intensity of it,” Teixeira explained. “People who are emotional are much more engaged. And because emotions are ‘memory markers’ they remember more. So the idea now is shifting to: how do we get people who are feeling these emotions?” "
"Sony had filed several [patents]; its researchers anticipated games that build emotional maps of players, combining data from sensors and from social media to create “almost dangerous kinds of interactivity.” "
"There were patents for emotion-sensing vending machines, and for A.T.M.s that would understand if users were “in a relaxed mood,” and receptive to advertising."
The article ends with Kaliouby musing:
“I do believe that if we have information about your emotional experiences we can help you be in a more positive mood and influence your wellness,” she said. She had been reading about how to deal with difficult experiences... “I think there is an opportunity to build a very, very simple app that pushes out funny content or inspiring content three times a day.” Her tone brightened... “It can capture the content’s effect on you, and then you can gain these points—these happiness points, or mood points, or rewards—that can be turned into a virtual currency. We have been in conversations with a company in that space. It is an advertising-rewards company, and its business is based on positive moments. So if you set a goal to run three miles and you run three miles, that’s a moment. Or if you set the alarm for six o’clock and you actually do get up, that’s a moment. And they monetize these moments. They sell them. Like Kleenex can send you a coupon—I don’t know—when you get over a sad moment. Right now, this company is making assumptions about what those moments are. And we’re like, ‘Guess what? We can capture them.’ ”
My advice: This is all based on the assumption that we are all always and willingly plugged in. All we have to do is unplug. And tape over the damn camera lens watching us on every device.

Raffi Khatchadourian
We Know How You Feel
The New Yorker

January 19, 2015

Photo:
Stanley Kubrick
A Clockwork Orange
1971



Sunday, May 17, 2015

Carvajal's Unlikely Hilton Hotel in St. Louis

Rendering, Spanish Pavilion rebuilt in St. Louis. Background, Busch Memorial Stadium, 1966. From nywf64.com
Or the strange fate of the Spanish Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

One of the proudest architectural moments of the Franco regime was the critical acclaim received by the Spanish Pavilion, a design by Javier Carvajal (see my other blog entries on Caravajal here).

The AIA awarded the pavilion its prize as the best work of international architecture at the Fair. It was recognized by the Rockefeller Foundation, and cited by Life magazine as “The Jewel of the Fair,” according to the Fundación Loewe, which organized an exhibition on the project for its 50th anniversary last year.

From Fundación Loewe

With its success, the pavilion attracted the attention of St. Louis Mayor Alfonso J. Cervantes, who arranged, with the collaboration of the Spanish government, to have it reassembled
as part of the redevelopment around Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch.

Opened in 1969 as the Spanish International Pavilion, with many of its original exhibits intact and three restaurants, it was bankrupt and closed within a year.


Contemporary postcards from www.nywf64.com

A 1970 article in The New York Times described its opening ceremonies:
"The pavilion finally opened in May, 1969, with 10 days of festivities. The cast of "Man of La Mancha" sang "The Impossible Dream"; Spain's Minister of Information [none other than Manuel Fraga], the Mayor of Seville and Jose' Ferrer flew in for the occasion; several hundred St. Louisans paid $1,000 per couple to dance at the inaugural "Beile de la Rosas," and as each woman sat down at the banquet a servant placed a red cushion beneath her feet."
After languishing empty for several years, local developer Don Breckenridge took over the property in 1976 and transformed it into The Breckenridge Inn, building a 25-story tower for the guestrooms in its former central patio. The hotel was taken over by Marriott in 1979, who added a second tower over the theater wing. "Through both conversions, developers kept the flavor of the Pavilion's Spanish origins, retaining sculpture and artwork," writes Bill Young of www.nywf64.com.


The Breckenridge Inn. From www.nywf64.com

In 2005, the hotel was sold again to Hilton Hotels and extensively renovated, leaving little of the original pavilion except for its facade panels.


From www.nywf64.com

The surprising thing about this story is that the pavilion wasn't simply demolished outright somewhere along this progressive slide from cultural ambassadorship to rude commerce.

Did selling the dictatorship in the US become unsustainable in the late years of the regime? I imagine Franco meant very little to anyone in the Midwest. It is more likely that the project was doomed simply by excess ambition and poor financial projections.

Bill Young of www.nywf64.com reports that the contents of the original New York pavilion were put on display in St. Louis, "sans the Picassos". But of course there were no Picassos on display in New York. Neither Franco nor Picasso would have permitted that!


Bill Young   
nywf64.com

J. Anthony Lukas 
New York World's Fair Hit Turns Into St. Louis Fiasco 
The New York Times
June 30, 1970 

Carvajal: The Jewel of the Fair
Loewe  Fundación
October 30, 2014


Original interior. Fundación Loewe
Fundación Loewe