Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My thesis engages 'dirty' - not as an aesthetic quality, but as a motivating design ethic that invites infection: can we internalize urbanism and externalize architecture?


Geometry is conventionally internal to architecture. Today, perhaps for the first time, it is no longer a geometry of ideality or form or concept. Instead, it is a geometry of turbulence, relinquishing control to the complex, often ugly forces that drive and accelerate late capitalist urbanism. Responding to these conditions, Koolhaas accepts an attitude of 'dirty realism' - antipathy to mere 'architecture', 'architecture' capacious enough actually to absorb the urban into itself. Why totalize when you can absorb? 'Dirty realism' and its architectural manifestation 'Bigness' are treated by Koolhaas as genre, advanced through categorical logics and properties rather then operative techniques. Can there be 'dirty' techniques?

Downtown Athletic Club - almost dirty / Parc La Villete - dirty / Jussieu - dirty (they were there all along)

I am interrogating the presence (and denial) of 'dirty' and will formulate an ethic and operative logic for the 'dirty' project. Techniques of smooth and articulated (in a monolithic/fineness sense) and smooth and striated (in the milieu/sedentary 1,000 Plateau sense) will be investigated - the smooth/smooth contradiction especially, because it has sex appeal, monolithic mileu. Its like empirical transcendentalism.*

The testing and production of a 'dirty' operative logic and technique are initiated in the design of an International Exhibition Hall (location tba). Spatial instigators include: enormous amounts of service space, enormous amounts of continuous floor space, discontinuous infrastructural interactions, discontinuous access and circulation, discontinuous engagement of urban landscape, etc. Further instigators include the dirty tourism economics of the Exhibition Industry (they operate as a proxy to fill hotel rooms) and dirty financing (tax-payer funded while providing few taxpayer amenities). And lots of other dirty little secrets that I need to prepare graphically. There are plenty of other subtexts, but none of them are interesting, so I will spare you.


This began as research regarding the plinth as a device or weapon of modernist urbanism. The terms have been extrapolated to position it more directly into contemporary discourse. But I will argue that the plinth embodies a latent 'dirty'-ness that provides a productive lens for critiquing Bigness. In a generic sense, plinths take one of two types: the podium or the platform (as in the computing sense). The staged and the stage. Both deal with 'dirty'. Podiums prop and stabilize urbanism - genre. Platforms absorb and internalize urbanism - performance.


*I can officially say I made a Deleuze joke. Its lame and I'm officially a dork.
**My obligatory first thesis post, as promised to Josh
***I'm not saying that Mitchell Baker, CEO of Mozilla is dirty in any conventional sense. I'm just saying that she is promiscuous in her desire for two hairstyles at once. I invite this attitude. No more flat tops and buzz cuts - they are not dirty. Long greasy hair is dirty, but in the wrong way. I'm saying 'dirty' like 'promiscuous' but dirty is more appropriate... however, I would never condone both 'dirty' and 'promiscuous' together, that's just gross.


Blogger // JD said...


first, noel, i like that your topic is provocative and subversive, especially with regards to the sex appeal of "smooth" (i.e. platform-based digital work). in a way, it seems like a critique of smoothness by the very act of including it in today's "dirty" world. this seems to kill a lot of smooth projects, or prevent them from even being built (think wolfsburg, rahim, etc.).

that said, there are a few questions that come to mind, perhaps things you've already considered but haven't included here. first, what is the connection between dirty/sexy, socle, and convention hall? these seem to be three strands that need a sweet french braid. also, explain your deleuze joke. it confuses me, but i'm curious.

lastly, as your research progresses i wonder if "dirty" will forever be the operative term, or might it be possible to use koolhaas-ian lingo as a starting point and then craft a new term that is specific to your findings from site, program, technology, etc. maybe instead of dirty, you say "firefoxy" or "mitchell baker effect."

otherwise, i say ka-blamo, full speed ahead.

December 13, 2007 at 11:09 AM  

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