Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Review Research // part 8


Thus, if the World Trade Center was a product of its day, begun in 1966 and finished around 1972, it was an icon for a bygone era, a monument to an economy based on industrial production in a time that had left that economy behind. Never profitable, the towers were outmoded when first constructed. Their vast bulk attempted to accommodate the needs of office planning, which, under the pressures of the cybernetic theorists of Büro Landschaft became increasingly low horizontal structures, vertical circulation being seen as an impediment to communication. Corporate office parks on the urban periphery would soon supplant the office tower as the dominant typology of the corporate headquarters.

In his 1971 essay "The Fluid Metropolis," Andrea Branzi, of the radical architecture group Archizoom, based in Florence, Italy, argued that such skyscrapers were the product of a superceded form of capitalism and would soon no longer be built. In Branzi's prescient text, the concentrated metropolis and the skyline was the product of one phase of the accumulation of capital, acting as a natural record of its accumulation. The skyline represented the capitalist system to an exterior but, with the loss of any uncapitalized exterior, the need for representation disappeared. Branzi concluded that the total permeability of the territory by capital and the growth of telematics would do away with the city as a terminus. No longer viable as a place, the city would become a condition, existing not as a physical entity but as programming.

Much like the process of Freudian therapy, No Stop City was to serve as diagnosis and cure. To name the problem – that late capitalism had no use for the traditional city or for qualities of place and that the creation of the subject through consumption would to a new, less alienated form of homogeneity – would be to allow its supersession. The result would be a proliferation of sublimely useless objects connoting status and "architecturalness" through the applied facades of postmodernism and the spectacular fragments of supermodernism.a brief history of horizontalityKazys Varnelis

The Yokohama Terminal distinctly fails to develop a façade or any kind of iconographic quality. Far from being a shining exemplar of the new, Maya-driven era of the blob – if that era will ever arrive - the project is anti-formal, indeed, anti-appearance, infrastructural rather than architectural.

"The architecture is nothing more than a point of passage, an instrument of change of velocity between modes of transportation or aspects of nature." Toyo Ito

The Yokohama Terminal points toward a reconsideration of contemporary architecture and its relationship to the city. The era of the architectural spectacle is past. Even in the most celebrated case of spectacular architecture, the Guggenheim-Bilbao, what is really remarkable is the alliance of private and public capital that made the project constructable. The dominance of the visual over the last decade is a rouse, a last irruption before architecture turns to the less visible, but more real, work of engaging with the programme and with organizational processes of construction. FOA's Yokohama Terminal announces the emergence of an immaterial age in which we come to reject our frustrated world of objects for programming, much as Archizoom suggested we would a generation ago. As philosopher Jacques Derrida points out, "Form fascinates when one no longer has the force to understand force from within itself. That is, to create."[13] The shimmering masterpieces of the avant-garde are only a sublime distraction from the real obsolescence of architectural form today and the clear direction that leads past it.

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