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Arkitektens bibliotek #1 – Stan Allen

Arkitektens bibliotek
I slutningen af 2009 udgav¬†Yale University Press i samarbejde med Urban Center Books her i New York, bogen ‚ÄúUnpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books‚ÄĚ. Nedenfor kan du l√¶se en let overs√¶ttelse af bogens f√łrste interview (ud af 10) med Arkitekten Stan Allen. Udover en snak om hans forhold til litteratur, og en personlig top 10 liste over b√łger, s√• er der ogs√• 4 billed uddrag fra hans bogreol der t√¶ller op imod 1.800 b√łger.

Stan Allen
Stan Allen er en amerikansk arkitekt og uddannet ved Brown University, The Cooper Union og Princeton University. Han har sin egen tegnestue, Stan Allen Architects ved siden af sit virke som rektor p√• Princeton School of Architecture. Stan Allens har bla. skrevet bogen: “Practice. Architecture, Technique and Representation” (2000) – l√¶s her en artikel om bogen.

Interview med Stan Allen


Stan Allen: Jeg har altid fastholdt at arkitektur er en materiel praksis. Med det mener jeg at den er til stede i og omkring os. Arkitektur har en medf√łdt gave i og med at det kan tilf√łre verden noget nyt ved at ¬†transformere allerede kendte v√¶rdier. Men samtidig er det ogs√• sandt at disse ‚Äôovers√¶ttelser‚Äô¬† mellem det at tegne og det at bygge foreg√•r i et langt st√łrre flow af billeder og ideer. Jeg mener at man for at kunne navigere effektivt i denne nye form for informationsm√¶ttet kontekst har brug for at tr√¶ne, hvad Michael Speaks kalder for, Design Intelligens (se online forel√¶sning her). Med dette begreb forst√•r Speaks intelligens p√• to m√•der. P√• den ene side, peger det p√• at arkitekter har en helt s√¶regen ekspertise, som er helt unik i deres egen disciplin. Design Intelligens er i den forstand en ekspertise hvormed tanken kan l√łse de problemer der relaterer sig til arkitektur. P√• den anden side, s√• frems√¶tter det ogs√• at arkitekter har behov for at v√¶re √•ben overfor den ‚Äôbuzz‚Äô der forg√•r udenfor arkitekturens egen verden – p√• samme vis som milit√¶rets intelligens er sammensat af rygter og fragmenterede informationer fra suspekte kilder. Med uendelige m√¶ngder af samtidig information til r√•dighed, s√• er det ikke l√¶ngere det at f√• adgang til informationen der er vigtig, men i stedet evnen til at bearbejde, organisere og visualisere denne information.

Den noget eklektisk l√¶seliste jeg selv har foresl√•et repr√¶senterer et tv√¶rsnit i min personlige design intelligens, som den er lige nu. Der er b√•de klassike arkitektur tekster (af Reyner Banham, Robin Evans og Robert Venturi), to noveller og essays af Gregory Bateson og John Brinckerhoff Jackson der understreger vigtigheden af landskab og √łkologi i min seneste t√¶nkning. Jeg har inkluderet Dave Hickey‚Äôs essay samling Air Guitar, og en n√¶sten glemt bog af Jane Jacobs, Systems of Survival, som Dave Hickey faktisk anbefalede mig. Jane Jacobs and Dave Hickey‚Ķhvem havde troet det? M√•ske det vil motivere andre til at studere dem begge n√¶rmere.

Q: P√• din bogreol¬† (ca. 1.800 stk) har du en del b√łger omkring den, s√•kaldte, kritiske teori versus historien. Og der er flere v√¶rker der springer i √łjnene, af f.eks. Walter Benjamin, Terry Eagleton, Manfredo Tafuri, Fredric Jameson, Slavoj Zizek og flere b√łger om Dada og surrealisme. Med b√łger af Yve-Alain Bois, Rosalind Krauss og Hal Foster er det kun naturligt at sp√łrge om hvad disse b√łger betyder for dig?

Stan Allen: Et bibliotek er et snit p√• tv√¶rs af viden felter, men tiden er ogs√• indeholdt heri, liges√• er de skift i ideer som faget har v√¶ret igennem. De b√łger du lige har n√¶vnt tilh√łrer en tid hvor arkitekturen var dybt engageret i filosofi, og l√•nte koncepter fra en lang r√¶kke kilder, og specielt fra linguistic analogy som en m√•de at forst√• arkitektur. Alle disse ideer var meget betydningsfulde p√• den tid, og de gjorde deres arbejde og bragte diskussionen videre til et nyt sted. I dag ville jeg nok v√¶re mere tilb√łjelig til at mene at arkitekturens egen historie, objekter og processer er nok til at bibeholde en konsistent platform for argumentation uden behov for at inddrage koncepter fra andre fag felter.

P√• den anden side er min interesse for maleri og skulptur uslukkelig. Jeg er gift med en kunstner , og de f√łrste projekter jeg fik bygget som arkitekt, var en serie kunst gallerier i New York. Jeg bliver ved med at l√¶re nye ting gennem kunstverden. Her p√• kontoret refererer vi ofte til malere som v√¶rende arkitekter, og min bogreol derhjemme er fyldt med kunstb√łger. Kunstverden er et stort sted, og det genererer mange diskurser. Den har en enorm bredde og en form for intellektuel agility som du ikke finder i arkitektur tekster s√¶rlig ofte (Her t√¶nker jeg f.eks. p√• en som Dave Hickey). Det er meget interessant at kunstverden lige nu er v√¶ldig interesseret i arkitektur. Rosalind Krauss forekommer f.eks. regelm√¶ssigt p√• arkitektur l√¶selisterne.

Q: Med henblik på din undervisning på Princeton, og dine egne tekster, hvordan vælger du Hvad du læser?

Stan Allen: Det meste af det jeg l√¶ser nu om dage er direkte rettet. Med det mener jeg, at om det er en lille tekst jeg skriver eller et kursus jeg afholder, s√• har jeg altid behov for at grave noget frem. Om det s√• er Gregory Bateson om √łkologi, Bruno Latour og videnskab eller The Smithsons ‚ÄĚAs Found‚ÄĚ (den typiske teori). Mine egne tekster er, p√• godt og ondt, altid drevet af referencer. Jeg har brug for disse sm√• uddrag og citater til at bygge ovenp√•, for at kunne sige noget mere eller mindre originalt med udgangspunkt i noget jeg har fundet.

Q: Har de nye generationer af arkitektstuderende stor appetit p√• at l√¶se og samle b√łger?

Stan Allen: Det er sv√¶rt at sige. Den her generation f√•r deres information p√• forskellig vis, og de er sultne p√• en helt anden m√•de. Der helt utroligt meget information til r√•dighed i dag. Jeg tror at det for min generation var et sp√łrgsm√•l om overhovedet at f√• adgang til informationen. I dag er problemet mere at man skal gennemskue hvad der t√¶ller imellem ofte ubrugeligt information.

Q: Nogen  ville sige at Stan Allen er en meget rationel, præcis og dog, til tider, poetisk arkitekt. Er der en vigtig kvalitet i det at kunne forestille sig som der går ud over det daglige arbejde?

Stan Allen: Jeg tror det er meget pr√¶cist. Jeg ser ikke disse b√łger som en del af en kanon, men mere at de √•bner op for nye muligheder, til andre verdener. Det er de tilf√¶ldige sammenl√¶sninger og kombinationer der virkelig t√¶ller.

Stan Allens top 10 b√łger:


– Nedenfor kan du l√¶se om hver enkel af de 10 b√łger som Stan Allen har sat ind p√• sin top 10 over de b√łger der betyder mest for den faglighed han st√•r for den dag idag.

Reyner Banham Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960) – Google Books

РFirst published in 1960, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age has become required reading in numerous courses on the history of modern architecture and is widely regarded as one of the definitive books on the modern movement. It has influenced a generation of students and critics interested in the formation of attitudes, themes, and forms which were characteristic of artists and architects working primarily in Europe between 1900 and 1930 under the compulsion of new technological developments in the first machine age.

Gregory BatesonSteps to an Ecology of Mind (1972) –¬†Google Books

– Bateson examines the nature of the mind, seeing it not as a nebulous something, somehow lodged somewhere in the body of each man, but as a network of interactions relating the individual with his society and his species and with the universe at large.

Robin EvansTranslations from Drawing to Building and other Essays (1990) – Amazon.com

– This book brings together eight of Evans’s most significant essays. Written over a period of twenty years, from 1970, when he graduated from the Architectural Association, to 1990, they represent the diverse interests of an agile and skeptical mind. The book includes an introduction by Mohsen Mostafavi, a chronological account of the development of Evans’s writing by Robin Middleton, and a bibliography by Richard Difford.

Dave Hickey – Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy (1997) – Amazon.com

– The 23 essays (or “love songs”) that make up the now classic volume¬†Air Guitar trawl a “vast, invisible underground empire” of pleasure, through record stores, honky-tonks, art galleries, jazz clubs, cocktail lounges, surf shops and hot-rod stores, as restlessly on the move as the America they depict.¬†Air Guitar pioneered a kind of plain-talking in cultural criticism, willingly subjective and always candid and direct. A valuable reading tool for art lovers, neophytes, students and teachers alike, Hickey’s book–now in its third edition–has galvanized a generation of art lovers, with new takes on Norman Rockwell, Robert Mapplethorpe, Stan Brakhage, Andy Warhol and Perry Mason. In June 2009,¬†Newsweek votedAir Guitar one of the top 50 books that “open a window on the times we live in, whether they deal directly with the issues of today or simply help us see ourselves in new and surprising ways,” and described the book as “a seamless blend of criticism, personal history, and a deep appreciation for the sheer nuttiness of American life.”

John Brinckerhoff Jackson A Sense of Place, A Sense of Time (1994) – Amazon.com

– J. B. Jackson, a pioneer in the field of landscape studies, here takes us on a tour of American landscapes past and present, showing how our surroundings reflect important changes in our culture. Arguing that our urban environment makes us increasingly concerned with time and movement rather than place and permanence, Jackson examines the new vernacular landscape of trailers, parking lots, roads, and shopping malls, and traces the development of dwellings in New Mexico from prehistoric pueblo villages to mobile homes.

Jane JacobsSystems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics (1992) – Amazon.com –¬†Wikipedia

– Jacobs argues that modern societies utilize two distinctive moral systems–one being suited to the world of commerce, the other to the world of politics. Commercial morality is unsentimental, nonpartisan, and efficacious; political morality is personalistic, expansive, and vaguely altruistic. The problem is that we don’t always know which system of morality to employ in concrete situations. Furthermore, the wrong choice can have disastrous consequences. Unfortunately, Jacobs invents a rather wooden cast of characters who engage in a Socratic dialog that reproduces the author’s perspective on the two fundamental types of morality. As a result, the book’s credible philosophical message becomes obscured by the superficiality and hamfistedness of the characters’ conversations. A few readers may find Jacobs’s literary device helpful; most will find it distracting.

Stephen Kern The Culture of Time and Space 1880-1918 (1990)Google Books

– This book brims with ideas and insights, evidence and examples, and provides the most comprehensive account of the life of the mind in these crucial decades before the First World War, when so much of our modern world was formed and fashioned. Kern’s command of art and literature, painting and architecture, philosophy and psychology, physics and technology is awesome: he moves from Proust to Picasso, Einstein to Stravinsky, with consummate ease and unquenchable enthusiasm.

Seichou Matsumoto – Ten to Sen [Points and Lines] (1986) – Amazon.com

– A crime story from Japan. A senior official in a ministry tainted with scandal. A dining car receipt. A name missing from a passenger list. And a young man and woman dead on a beach in an apparent suicide. Disconnected points, but not to a determined detective who keeps searching for the lines that link the living and the dead.

Thomas PynchonGravity’s Rainbow (1973) – WikipediaGoogle BooksAmazon.com

– The major portion of¬†Gravity’s Rainbow takes place in London and Europe in the final months of¬†World War II and the weeks immediately following¬†VE Day, and is narrated for the most part from within the historical moment in which it is set. In this way, Pynchon’s text enacts a type of¬†dramatic irony whereby neither the characters nor the various¬†narrative voices are aware of specific historical circumstances, such as the¬†Holocaust and, except as hints, premonitions and mythography, the complicity between Western corporate interests and the Nazi war machine, which figure prominently in readers’ apprehensions of the novel’s historical context.

An intricate and allusive fiction that combines and elaborates on many of the themes of his earlier work, including¬†preterition,¬†paranoia,¬†racism,¬†colonialism,¬†conspiracy,¬†synchronicity, and¬†entropy, the novel has spawned a wealth of commentary and critical material, including reader’s guides, books and scholarly articles, online concordances and discussions, and art works. Its artistic value is often compared to that of¬†James Joyce’s¬†Ulysses. Some scholars have hailed it as the greatest American post-WW2 novel, and it has similarly been described as “literally an anthology of postmodernist themes and devices”

Robert Venturi Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966) – Google BooksAmazon.com

– First published in 1966, and since translated into 16 languages, this remarkable book has become an essential document in architectural literature. As Venturi’s “gentle manifesto for a nonstraightforward architecture,”¬†Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture expresses in the most compelling and original terms the postmodern rebellion against the purism of modernism. Three hundred and fifty architectural photographs serve as historical comparisons and illuminate the author’s ideas on creating and experiencing architecture.Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture was the winner of the Classic Book Award at the AIA’s Seventh Annual International Architecture Book Awards. 


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