22.12.14

Post 1000 with a promise: Colour!

When I was walking down the streets of Basel, I had a conversation with a girl in our unit, and we, for some reason, touched on the subject of colour. She said: "I've been thinking about this, and I wonder: why don't you use colour in your drawings?" I responded that I'm thoroughly bad at colour, at mixing-and-matching, so I've just generally avoided it up until now. But, as we talked, I realised that everyone has to be bad at something before they can get better, and in my case, colour ought to be a challenge, not a limitation.

So here I am at the New Year: determined (and slightly scared) to use colour everywhere and nowhere in the following year. It's a fun resolution, don't you think? Like I told my friends: the promises we make should be both fun and challenging. It's hard to find both, because usually, we are too good at that which we enjoy. But, in my case, I think it's a good one.

If I had to choose between Berlin and Basel, I would choose London. As I took the tube back to Edgware Road and ran into hordes of Christmas-stressed pedestrians, I felt oddly comforted. It still is, in all its ugliness and messiness. London has never been beautiful, but that's not its cause. It's smelly, noisy, impolite, expensive, overcrowded, slightly claustrophobic, but that's what I like about it. I doubt I will stay here for the rest of my life though, if we are in the mood for making promises. I miss Japan far too much.

Less than two weeks until I go.
The presents have been acquired.
Bravery keeps pushing us forward
towards post 2000.

19.12.14

Lost in Europe

View from John Hejduk's social housing tower in Berlin, where we met up with a former AA tutor who is fulfilling his dream by living in this building. Very weird, but very good. Inspiring. Makes you want to go: yes! architecture of the strangest kind can be built! under the strangest circumstances! with the strangest results! Currently in Basel, shop-dropping between Christmas markets, chocolate cakes, and museum visits. Everything expensive. Wallet being drained. New epiphanies acquired, one that doesn't even require words - it just is, which is to say: I am what it is. Also, New Year's Promise: colour! colour! colour!

Tomorrow Vitra.
Frank Gehry. Zaha Hadid.
Herzog & de Meuron (of course).
And Tadao Ando. Among others.

12.12.14

Winter in London

Grey, brown, black. Such are the shifts of the day on my journey on the bus every (late) morning to school, worrying excessively about everything, which then, somehow, falls into place as the day goes by. Opportunities are found, exploited, and then left behind when they no longer offer anything new.

Just because we do not talk, doesn't mean we don't have something to say.

I like writing, but I don't like writing traditional essays. Hence, my last essay as an undergraduate at the AA, is comprised with everything I'm critical about theory. And maybe, if I had a bit more guts, I would've played the game to its utmost conclusion: that this is not architecture, this is philosophy. But if philosophy begins in architecture, does it not become architecturally constituted?

Last day before Christmas in school tomorrow. We will have a pseudo-formal pinup, and we will provide each other with as much thought as possible. After that, some students who graduated in the past will come to show their projects, along with an invasion of Intermediate 1, who, for some reason, find our projects relevant for their research. Or, perhaps I shouldn't say research. Inspiration.

Pic: the sea from Cannes.

9.12.14

Fake Perspectives and Trance Mixes

And so, nearing the end of the first term, preparing for Christmas and Secret Santa, the tutorials end because they have to, Berlin is waiting and Basel as well. I'm exercising, in a vein of Zen, to think as little as possible. It's not that I haven't received that advice before, but it is only now that I'm starting to realise its potential. Mindless. I'd like to be mindless. This is not to say that we stop thinking, but that we stop being aware of the fact that we're thinking. We just think. We draw. We write. (Occasionally, we speak.)

These must be stressful days for our dean as well, nearing the end of voting for his proposed contract extension to 2020. I have voted already, I like him. I have faith in him. He has done much for the school, and with his help, the school can do even better.

Checked the President's Medals for 2014, and was a bit surprised the AA didn't get any wins or commendations this year. But, then again, maybe it is not so surprising. The AA has moved on. It is no longer concerned with what the RIBA considers a good project, how the Bartlett works, and all the other universities trying to be the Bartlett. This is not to discredit the UCL, I'm just saying, that the AA is different. It needs to be. Otherwise, it would lose its raison d'être, which is to always be one step ahead of all the others. Or, perhaps "ahead" is the wrong word. The AA is just a bit more punk, I'd say.

Technical Studies is starting to take off, with my first tutorial behind me and various drawings of precedents coming together in the first drafts. I'm less scared about TS than I thought I'd be. Perhaps it is a matter of growing with the task. I'm fifth year now. "Still a rascal!" says the seasoned teachers ...

3.12.14

The Feeling

I think, that I have to accept that part of me is not about thinking, not about rationality, not about logic. Part of me is a strange beast of feelings, a monster in my heart, if you allow such words to be spoken, which I cannot avoid, which I shouldn't avoid, in fact, which I ought to listen to, in order to make my decisions.

Worked on Professional Practice today, not so much, but it will be done. At least I finished the difficult parts, now it's just a spacing out of the layout, and to combine all the things I've read about. I'm saving the essay for the weekend, and I think, I hope, it will turn out well. I like to write, but I don't like to be forced to write, so I have to animate that feeling that keeps me in the position of deciding things. It is this mysterious balance you seek in school, between doing for yourself (learning) and doing for others (helping), between listening to your peers, the authorities you trust, and sticking to your gut feeling. It's difficult. It is fun. Mostly. Or perhaps, as I said yesterday to a friend, perhaps it is not so much fun as it is satisfying.

Darkness falls over the neighbouring housing block, and my room, a white little cub with one stinging light in the roof, feels like both homely and uncanny. (Shouldn't be surprising as I'm proceeding into the Heidegger-area of Wigley's deconstructivist book.) I've decided, in the spirit of my younger days, to dedicate my winter this year to reading all the classics of architectural literature. This means that I will, at some point, tackle Koolhaas again. I would like to read Venturi as well, and Christopher Alexander ... so many books, so little time ...

Pic: The ceiling of a Japanese train station.

28.11.14

Sacrifice

Some tend to wonder why I always stay in school until ten in the evening. Or why I don't eat lunch. It's partially because I'm comfortable with it; I find a place of refuge in school which I don't find at home, also, home is a place to rest in nightmares, not a place to work. Every time I stay at home when I am supposed to go to school ends in discomfort and a wasted day. When I sit by the table in school and listen to my music, drawing or modelling or whatever, I'm touching a way of living where I see the reasons behind all my struggles. Every day is a sacrifice of comfort in favour of accomplishment, and for that reason, when we ask *why* we do it, we answer with a sense of responsibility. I am accountable to myself, as I've stated elsewhere.

Jumped far too quickly to a new stage in my project, effectively declaring the death of my latest drawing to pursue some other scattered dream. What brings me to knowledge in my way of writing, in that I avoid tropes and metaphors and ossified phrases, is that the language of excess is always better than that of the sufficient. Now, I will have to mull over my current state for a bit longer, researching, reading, working on my Professional Practice task, and get going with my essay. The easy way out is never the most exciting one - it is simply the easiest.

27.11.14

Neurofunk mornings, APP afternoons, and deconstructed evenings

What I'm most grateful over my almost two year long residence in Dip 9 at the AA is the way it has allowed me to see the issue of "context" from a different point of view. I once wrote a post here on blogger about my hatred for that very word "context" in architecture, and it occurred to me that I was right. I reread the post earlier today, and my eyes were fixed on one phrase: "context, as it is understood today within the architectural community, is ..." What I want to touch upon with this retrospective post is that context has been applied to architecture in the most unimaginative manner possible: that of simply linking together buildings.

I do have respect for the ones who have as their task to build a coherent city, but it is not *my* city, not the city I want to live in. That's fine, that's why we're different, as people, as architects. No building can build for everyone, despite how alluring that promise is. As long as architecture remains specific, there will never be a facade system, a material, or a colour, that has a strict impact on the onlooker's sentiment. In fact, I've always vehemently criticised what I call the universal specific, which has, as its ground, the thought that certain extremely subjective propositions may have objective effects.

For instance, I happened to read over the shoulder of the passenger next to me on the bus home, who was using a Samsung tablet. He was reading about logos. No, not "logos" in the antique Greek meaning of the word (which I thought it was for several minutes). I mean the corporate logo. Before I got off the bus, I glanced over the next paragraph, which dealt with colours in logos. According to the patronising text, which read like a graphics-design-for-dummies-book, "red" stands for love, intensity, sex, and so on. What? In which culture? In which context? Association does not work that way. A colour like red is so readily available everywhere in our metropolitan lifestyle that there is no possibility for it to remain specific. It is truly universal. It is neutral, as neutral as grey, yellow, blue, or any other colour. It is as absurd as claiming that your building turns instantly sustainable as you paint it green.

In the end, what the author of the text doesn't realise, and what everyone else ascribing certain definite characteristics to architecture, is that every sign within a culture sits in a cultural context. Not a physical context, nor a mental (mnemonic) one. This cultural context has several layers of oppression and emancipation, which run parallel to each other in the consideration of every project, visible or not. From a dry consideration of the function of a building to institutional theory, cultural context forces you to take an *informed position*; you cannot remain innocent. That is my lesson, and that's the reason I continue to write.

25.11.14

We are only accountable to ourselves

For my essay: I'm writing about transit spaces at airports as our new, ambiguous space of jurisdictional and inter-national limbo. Mark Cousins, head of history and theory and my course lecturer this autumn, approved of the theme and gave me a reference to find in the library (which I've already forgotten). Finding a tutorial is hard when you don't follow the rules. Architectural Professional Practice (APP) scares me, not because it's hard to do, but because I hardly find the purpose of it. The course is so watered-down that you cannot see how it will aid you in your future career, whilst the themes addressed are important indeed, and perhaps even challenging to find creative solutions in. But no. This course is not for creativity, as my teacher told me. You tick the boxes. You do as you're said. It's kind of central to the question I'm addressing in the unit work, which is: why does the practice of architecture and its spacial setting have to be so conservative? Is the Fantastic Form disease not considering anything deeper than the skin of the building? How can architectural practice change?

I wish I wasn't so tired everyday. I can't drink coffee, because it makes my hands tremble, which is not good when you're drawing delicate pencil strokes. Another drawing is coming into existence, another one-point perspective which I distort in ways you can only do with paper. Reality is much too boring to remain in, which is why I like cities, because they have erased the givens and exaggerated the human. It doesn't surprise me that teenagers these days find a better reality in Skyrim, than in the outbacks of their own neighbourhoods.

Pic: New OXford Street seen from the upper deck of a Routemaster.

21.11.14

Skyscraper Trenches

Late evening at school, and I walked down the shortcut behind Dominion Theatre to my bus stop on New Oxford Street. I remembered Le Corbusier's notes on the vice of the street, cramped, dirty, dangerous, a perpetual life in shadows, a canyon in-between buildings ... and it occurred to me, that this is precisely what I love about the street. When I walked the back alleys of Tokyo, I was drawn to the dense, almost suffocating hustle-and-bustle, where fishmongers, konbinis, DVD-shops and pachinko halls took turns in trying to grab your attention, all while the skyscrapers rose over the rooftops. When I saw the Centrepoint blocking the sky from my little shortcut, I was struck with the same feeling. I was dwarfed by the building, completely surrounded by architecture, and it was good. No nature. No park. Just pure artificial bliss.

It was touched upon in Rem Koolhaas retroactive manifesto for Manhattan, in which he outlined the now famous dictate of the "culture of congestion." It is the congestion not only of city life, but of architecture itself, becoming so dense, so oppressive, that there's nothing we can do but surrendering to it, being swept away by its concentration, and thus becoming the purest form of the city we can experience, if we take the city to be its architecture, and architecture as the polar opposite to nature. In my case, I don't know where my fascination with the metropolitan comes from. It is not so much the surplus of people that attracts me, it is the possibility of filling a space with so much content that what you're surrounded with is so intense that you are visually entranced by it. The lights on Oxford Street is just part of that.

I would like to go to Hong Kong one day. I've been fascinated by the city ever since I read the Robert Ludlum novel "Operation Hong Kong" (Swedish title) in school, captured from the library at home, a thriller which grandpa brought on one of his visits to our family in my childhood. I can still see the cover with its Chinese dragon converted into a gun to my inner vision. It enthralled me like few things have done afterwards (the Akira manga being another example). I'm a bit afraid of going to Hong Kong though. What if it isn't what I pictured it to be? What if the most densely populated city on Earth, just isn't dense enough?

Pic: Oxford Street, by Marble Arch tube station.

20.11.14

Our Choices

Booked my tickets for this winter's journey back to Sweden, and to Osaka. It hurt my bank account. Fortunately, I'm not forced, like Dip 2, to print new versions of the drawings I'm working on for every tutorial. Not that it would make much difference, I'm mostly, almost entirely, occupied with writing these days, writing short notes for research, as well as longer manifestish pieces of self-positioning. This year, I'm a digger, while last year, I was a skipper.

What I'm looking for, first and foremost, in my project, is relevance. I want it not just to be a statement of myself, saying, here, this is what I like, take it or leave it, it doesn't matter, because I will go on without you. That's just narcissistic. The relevance in my project is on an interpersonal level, as should all things we do in architecture be. What we do has relevance for those who accompany us, who look at what we do, and ask, what is it? Can I see? I want to know. And that's the most satisfying part of architecture school, when you express exactly what you're thinking, and that voice, by virtue of being a human voice among others, can be assimilated by the listener.

My teacher told me that the best and worst projects are those who make the audience wish that they'd done it. The best, because we actually feel a sting of jealousy and awe, in that we, yes, we see that it is precisely *this* that has relevance for architecture, and it is something I can take with me, that challenges me, my peers, and our work. The worst, because we see exactly how the project went wrong, and what we can do about it for it to be better. If only *I* was in charge of it! Surely it'd be much better! (The AA is good at keeping you on your toes.)

Pic: my latest paper-blog-post on the studio wall.

18.11.14

Changing the way we are (is it for the better?)

Missed a Mark Cousins lecture in the morning. It's the second time in a row that I skip a lecture. Is it because I'm a bad listener? I prefer to take in information through reading, rather than listening, but perhaps to blame is just plain disinterest. Perhaps I'm just being a bit too self-absorbed. Tomorrow is a new tutorial, but I've only been working on the texts of the project, the thesis, in plain words. It's not that I want to settle everything before I begin to draw (as the crew of Dip 14 are sometimes accused of doing), but I want to craft the argument together with the drawing, and since I don't know what to draw at this moment, I'm concerned with writing. You can't do everything, although we often wish we could. The clock is twelve again, and it is time to go to sleep.

Projects of previous years on the shelves. The unit space was strangely clean today, as if the tempest of the recon was over and had been replaced by some sort of serene calmness. I discovered that I had predicted the rise of trap music already back in 2009, when I was writing a text, on this blog, about the history of the TR-808, including its famous bass drum, which is not so much a sample as the essence of pure sonic terror. Before the evening was over, I stopped by the library to hand in "From Bauhaus to Our House", and left with "The Architecture of Deconstruction", a fitting document of perhaps the last movement in architecture, if it can ever be called a movement. It was at least an ism. In a bid to increase contextual awareness on my part, I will try to bring the arguments of this surprisingly readable account of the theoretical heydays of the '80s.

When is my happiest moment?
When I ride the 98 through New Oxford Street
watching the Christmas decorations go by.

Pic: Studio space in 36 Bedford Square.

16.11.14

Two New Epiphanies

As I was reading an interview with a former student of my unit at the AA, I was struck by the last sentence that she gave, about not knowing yet "what type of buildings I want to do." I think it's amazing; you can go through five years of architectural education (six including the more or less obligatory year-out experience) and not know what kind of architecture you want to do! That, if anything, is a sign of a proper school. Don't misunderstand me, I love architecture, but what the school ought to teach you is not what kind of building you want to do, but *how* you do it. It's a matter of design process. That is what schools should teach. Me, I know far too well what I do *not* want to do, and only vaguely what I prefer, but in the end, I learn to drive a project, to communicate my ideas to others, and to manage my time well. Is that not enough?

Later today, I finished "From Bauhaus to Our House" by Tom Wolfe, a scathing critique of virtually everyone within the field of architecture, and it struck me, that what made it interesting was Wolfe's background as a writer, not a practicing architect. Neither Mies, Corb nor Wright completed a formal education of architecture, and yet they stand out as the most eminent architects of the past century. In the same manner, I seem to become the most excited when I see architecture portrayed by non-architects, that is, architecture remains the same, but it's interpretation is altered. It occurred to me that what is needed today is not architects pursuing non-architectural projects, but non-architects pursuing architectural projects. Speaking for myself, I find more inspiration in the naïve than the educated, in innocent optimism rather than the well-educated pessimism. I cannot un-learn my architecture, and I should not teach those who give me only a passing glance. "Bauhaus" today means more to people as a specialist decoration store, than as a school of architecture. And that's the best thing about culture.

Pic: Albert Memorial in Hyde Park.

14.11.14

Resist the Factory! (When Appropriate)

I think I am seeing an opportunity that is emerging now a bit into my last year at the AA, and that is a general critique of the school, as it is, and what it produces. The perfect opportunity for a student is to *not* fit in perfectly in the school that he has applied for, not because he can only adapt to the community and embrace the things he previously rejected (because to what degree can we call this learning?), but because he can *change the school for his purposes*; in the end, we're here to make ourselves, our agenda, our pursuits, and to be proud of that. We change the school, or the school changes us. It is your choice. Like I said, I truly believe that learning is not a matter of changing opinions, because every opinion, I have learned, can be argued for in one manner or another. Our opinions are exclusive to ourselves, and their are the foundation of knowledge, not the other way around. You are attached to the opinion, and it is your duty to explore it, until it is not outer evidence of the counterpoint that changes you (if you're changed), but the inner realisation of the truth to the matters, and how you understand it.

Revolution to the architecture students! In a way, every situation carries with it its own seed for revolution, as utopia does not exist (and will indeed be resisted in the case of its existence; an eternal Heaven will turn out to be an eternal Hell in no time). I am not young any longer, but I still believe in youth. Or, perhaps, I only appreciate youth because it is associated with rebellion. Is this not the most important trait to every architect, in that the world that he lives in is incomplete, or even plain wrong, and he alone (or paired with a group of friends as like-minded and obstinate as you) knows what the perfect world would be. We are required of each other not to build the world that suits the Other the best, but that which suits ourselves. We are not editors, the way the dean of a school is. We are artists, we are not scientists (yet). At least, I'm choosing that *I* am not a scientist, but an artist.

Pic: From the unit trip to Belfast with Inter 2, in 2012.

13.11.14

TS Registration Madness

Sat in the studio today together with the fourth years, who maniacally pressed the page refresh keys in order to sign up for their preferred courses in Technical Studies. Of course, the system crashed. However, when it finally came back, 17 minutes of frantic clicking later, everyone got the ones they had decided upon. Me, I'm taking a step back from production in order to contemplate the feedback from the jury - which went surprisingly well, actually, despite a very messy presentation; Elia was excited to hear someone address the topic of the collective vs. the individual, and now I just have to specify more clearly its relation to the year's theme of the factory, along with narrowing down my interests and my arguments, so they become as precise as possible.

Also, the fire alarm went off, for the first time this term, and while I left my computer inside (I had a backup at home), I kept my slippers on and subsequently experienced literal "cold feet" in Bedford Square, where we waited for the Health and Safety crew to find the source of the "fire" (it's never a fire, until it really is a fire, as the Glasgowers had to forcefully realise last year), and lead us the way back in. Later, I went out to the local sushi place for a refill of energy, but this time I at least changed my shoes.

I seem to have no problem to come up with ideas. The foundation of my recontextualisation was intellectually settled in two days, notwithstanding the prolonged fine-tuning that followed. Hopefully my idea will find a good expression in tomorrow's tutorial. I have to research more, read more, write more, think more - to really make my case. The school is like a exquisite corpse, a Venturian ghost, along with a Miesian stubbornness: always both/and, including either/or, in appropriate cases. When you graduate, you can be the resident 3D guru at Foster's, but up until then, you're in charge of *everything*; not a stone left untouched, no division of labour over the students themselves. In the end, what you become is an expert of yourself, your agenda, your pursuits.

10.11.14

These Moments of Revolution

Now I've been at the AA for almost 2½ years, and with only a couple of months left until my graduation, I can allow myself to remember these days at school, and to define what this school is, as it stands. Slowly, from all the dizzying complexity, it becomes apparent to us that an architecture school can indeed be condensed to a few words, if we allow these words to stand with certain arbitrariness. My experience of being in fourth year at the AA was probably the one where I learned the most about the world, while my third was the one where I learned to be myself. I tend to remember these moments where all I thought was evident was challenged, until I realised, that nothing is stable and the alternative always has to be included.

I remember talking to Eleanor in year five about the state of architecture and philosophy, in which I put forward the popular postmodern theory that our intellectual world has been shattered, that there is no longer such a thing as a movement, that individualism reigns unchallenged, and Eleanor's response was: "yes, but it has to change." That phrase swept away the foundation of much of my philosophy. It was clear that, to her, what was gone could come again, and what seemed so evident these days would be dated tomorrow. It became the foundation for the rest of my project that year, in which I began to argue that what architecture lacks today is a movement, a rallying point around which architecture can gain a direction again, instead of just celebrating faux complexity.

My second sudden realisation came when I had looked at a poster in the corridor between the computer labs, which said: "do you like buildings?" and then there was some infomercial about an architectural Minecraft, whatever, I don't remember. What I *do* remember however is that I took the words as so self-evident that they were redundant. We are in an architecture school - of course we like buildings! When I arrived upstairs in my unit space, I shared my thoughts with Natasha, my teacher, upon which she said: "that's actually a very relevant question at the AA. It would be incredibly interesting to stage a seminar with it as a title!" Again, this shook me in my conviction. Is this what separates the AA from other schools of architecture, that here, we're interested in *architecture*, not necessarily *buildings*; I think it works. And perhaps, this will be the overarching question to my fifth year. Is it possible to learn architecture without learning of buildings? Can there be a project which is *about* architecture, which *speaks* of architecture, without being a proposal for a building?

We'll know the answer next summer.

9.11.14

The Diplomat

Presentation on Tues, and my project is starting to come together, in all its fake appearances. I'm drawing, and I try to have faith in what I'm drawing, although I tend to find everything that is wrong with it rather than that which is right. I might be a tad too judgemental. Techno is only for the young, so I listen to drum and bass instead and feel like Ali G, minus the garish yellow clothes and chains. Tomorrow will be more drawing, a Skype-date, and chicken kievs for dinner. With every new year, things do not necessarily become easier, because as your skills increase, so does the demands. The man who has beat the world record is competing against himself. I have no records to break, but I still don't believe I'm done. Life is far too interesting to not experience.

I live on breakfast and dinner, and somewhere in-between, I'm enjoying chocolate chip cookies and more pineapple juice. I don't believe I live healthily, so perhaps that could be a better, if clichéd, new year's resolution. I've already failed completely at my former promise. It was: to stop demanding of life to have a reason. It's the urgency of it that disrupts me. If I had nothing to adhere to, there's nothing to do. And then, I jump out of bed everyday I find the reason to motivate me for the rest of my life. It is hard. Life, I mean. No matter what identity I assume, I don't seem to be able to keep it. Who am I? I still ask, and I don't have a good answer yet. But on the other hand, is that not the beauty of living? That you cannot predict what a man should do, or ought to do, in our presence? We fictionalise what we understand in the Other, and forget that in every eye is the same complexity as that which drives us. Am I a complicated person? If so, I am only because you are complicated.

Five minutes to midnight.
The curtain waterfalls sweep my room with indoor rain.
Tomorrow, I start over again. Tomorrow, I test my theory.

5.11.14

The End of Writing

For real? I don't know. More like a realisation: just because I write lots of text does not mean that this text has any significance. It is as if I had to prove to myself that I could write like Heidegger and Sartre in the thousands over an hour in bed. It now seems clear: I'm not making the text any justice by churning it out at this speed. I shoot without looking, and I hit nothing. Consequently, I'm firing more bullets, hoping that one of them will hit that marker in the night which will release me. Sometimes, the satisfaction that comes with having succeeded to eat the Brussels sprouts, and without flinching.

I know, I know, I never keep what I promise, but at least, it means that I can evolve. I don't have to write the same way I've done in the past, although one must say, that what I ought to practice instead is to speak. A friend in the unit space asked me if I was alright, because I was so quiet. I ought to thank him for his concern, but, in the end, what am I if not a walking contradiction. I don't like to speak, except when I'm forced to, but I like being in a room where there are other people next to me. Sometimes comfort is better experienced through silence than through words.

Now it's back to Wittgenstein again, and possibly, at least, some writing that comes out of it. Whatever it is that we choose to do, the crucial part is that we, ourselves, do it until we're happy with it. This is the foundation of all creation. If we go along always disturbed by the judgements of others, we will never be happy, precisely because there are as many others as there are opinions. The satisfaction of a job well done does not differ depending on what we do, how we do it, or why. A job well done, by our own terms, is a job well done.

28.10.14

The Speed

Everything we do has to be a consequence of the doing in itself. I'm at school, far away from my bed, fighting in the morning to separate myself from what I fear, which is the silence of the room. But that silence is also what reminds me of what I do not want to be. I don't want a home, rather, I want an office where I can be myself, where I can be as ridiculous or as secluded as I want to be in the moment. After all, it is when we cease to worry about *how* to make a thing, and simply do it, that our days become good.

Only two days until my family (or most of it) arrives in London to celebrate my mother's 60th birthday. I will have to think of a birthday present tomorrow, hopefully something which you could only get at a place like London. What fun is there to simply go to H&M and by a sweater, when there's a hundred niche boutiques down the lane? But in the end, I'm happy to just spend time with those I care for. (Which probably brings me to the conclusion that I care too much about philosophy, since I never stop thinking about it!).

The buses take their routes as I hoped for them to do. In the morning, I want to get to school as soon as possible (once I get out of bed), and in the evening, I want to take as much time as possible NOT going home ... it's not that I don't like the people there, but I don't feel good in that space. I feel cramped. Drugged. If I could have a bed at school, I'd move in the next day. But this is not like Lund. The school closes at ten - always. And you have the choice of either bringing home your work (and battle with that home for what it is supposed to do for you), or calling it a day and pick up where you left the next day. I choose the latter.

As long as we know where the gas pedal is, we don't need to use the brakes.

24.10.14

Architecture has more power over us than we admit

Borrowed a new book from the library today, "Philosophical investigations", by Ludwig Wittgenstein. I know, I've spoken of him before, and I've already read Tractatus, but I thought it would be wise to return to the thinker in his mature stage. Skimmed through a few pages of Deleuze's Anti-Oedipus, but I must say, if I am allowed to judge a book from this minor research, that few philosophers are as overrated as Deleuze and Guattari. The problem with French thinkers appears when the philosopher adheres more to a style of writing, for style in itself, than attempting to probe into an investigation of one's choice. Sprinkling your texts with a couple of "fucks" there, and a couple of "shits" there does not make you provocative - it makes you tedious at best. I get the same feeling when I'm reading Baudrillard - lots of quickness, but little to write about. The best books are not those you wish you'd written yourself, it is the one that brings you, yourself, immediately to writing.

I don't have a problem with obscure language, but I do have a problem with posing. Lots have happened since Hegel, or, one could say, very little has happened, given that the "surrender" of postmodernism to its own impossibility would give us, in Baudrillard's own words, the pleasure of being there at the end of the universe. Obviously D & G wanted to be there at the end of philosophy, and perhaps Deleuze's suicide is logical from this point of view. He has already destroyed philosophical inquiry and faith in construction, so nothing was left except for destroying himself. Fortunately, new generations surpass the old. It is not Deleuze who decides our future - it is us. We are forced to write our way up from zero as we are born, and our reliance on guide-books such as previous philosophy, has only as its target to instil in us a feeling of optimism, that we can indeed make sense of the world and of life, just as we've already made sense of death - not by ignoring it, but by approaching it.

But enough of philosophy for a moment. London is turning into high autumn, with the customary early Christmas window dressings arriving before I've even switched to my winter's coat (which will arrive next week, together with my family). I am contemplating buying new clothes, seeing as I wear the same ones until they are torn (like I save the socks with holes in them "for better days"). I find that I enjoy life the most when I'm in school, when I'm far away from the bed, and, indeed, great things can be accomplished simply by being in a room you like. AA! Tomorrow I will go to you, again.

18.10.14

The Danger

I think I am somehow unintentionally amusing no matter what I do. I presented my thoughts on making a paper version of Facebook, in which I would draw and model and just exploit in general all the functions of a site I don't know, in order to open up a conversation of time and absurdity. My teacher laughed. I laughed, perhaps after realising just how weird such a presentation would be. Everything has to be analogue. In the end, it seems like I'm doing Facebook at least partially as my recon anyway, but for that matter, I need to research more thoroughly the history and manifestation of the Bata Shoe Factory, which is my primary reference.

I enjoy working on my own again. I hope I can find tasks, when I enter my professional career, that allow me a great deal of freedom. I'm not a people-person, I'm an idea-person, and although I try to communicate my ideas to the public, I seem to fail often, partially because I'm not good with clarity, although it is something I work on, something I want to improve. We will never be perfect, but it would be a shame to admit that we are not capable of being perfect, indeed, a waste of effort and time. If you don't aspire to be legendary, you have no right to wish to become a legend.

I hope to finish the communist manifesto tonight, and with it, some readings on my aforementioned shoe factory. I already think I'm doing well, I managed to rise at nine this morning, first time in a month. But I'm not content until I rise when I wake up (usually 7:30, after going to bed at 00:30). I do my drawings, and I enjoy them finding their stride in their own context. They are not perfect, but they can become perfect, or rather, at some point in time, I hope to be able to make the perfect, from start to finish. The most important thing is: you cannot let your ambitions of perfection stop you from falling short of perfection. Michelangelo is still in my veins.

Pic: Victoria & Albert Museum, the street up towards the entrance.

16.10.14

The purpose of always being clear

An atlas session on Monday, lots of cut, print and place, which seemed more useful in retrospect, more as an introduction of a way of working and an ethos of the unit, than for our immediate project. Still think it would've been more useful later during the year, when our projects have evolved into something that makes it urgent for us to find links and opportunities to grow and diversify in. But, in all, I learned something from it, and therefore, it was good.

I should've enjoyed the seminar more if I could only learn how to express my ideas in a way that makes others understand them intuitively, much the same as I do when I form them in my mind. I know that not many of you are reading my texts, but that's okay. They will have a future, or rather, my writing itself, the process, will have its future. I grow, I learn. And I have at least one good idea about the recon which I want to pursue. But, again, who knows if it is a good idea if only you understand it?

Rain in London, some half-an-hour in the bus from Tottenham Court Road. I almost always sit in the same seat, because the bus is rarely crowded at the stops where I get on and off. I buy the same things in the same stores, and slowly, a theory of being finds its expression within me. I don't mean to reject the things I do not understand, rather I prefer to reject that which I understand all too easily. Hence, a work like the Communist Manifesto, however historical, finds an interesting balance between the two. My evening reads are becoming stranger and stranger ...

Pic: Passenger on the bus from Belfast.

13.10.14

For the right reasons ...

A walk to fill up stocks in the fridge which is buzzing sleepily in the kitchen, passing by the fish monger, the post office, the restaurants, and the endless arrays of mini-super-markets with inspiring middle-eastern names. Tomorrow (today, as of one minute ago) I will give the last touch to a diagram slash drawing that explains why everyone should've chosen Facebook or the Lingotto as their precedents. I wonder if I did a bad job at selling them, or if it was a bad decision anyhow to put them on the list ... but perhaps, students in general just become attached to that which they've already been commanded to study.

On Tuesday, we will have an atlas session with my unit, putting all that we have on the wall for finding quirky and interesting connections, effectively building our world of contexts through interpretation, and in which we will later embed our own projects, as islands in the stream, Bee Gees-style. I'm not so much a cut-and-copy person or designer, but it might be fun. I think of it as an opportunity to use my imagination, just like I got everything wrong in our recon project selection (3 points, about the same as last year). Whatever one makes, it has to be made with some seasoning of optimism.

Only a couple of weeks until my family comes to visit me in London. My mother turns sixty, so we will have good dinners, good talks, good sightseeing, and the customary handing-over of my winter coat, which was too thick to fit in my luggage. I wonder how intense school will be around that time. I don't have a jury until November, followed in December by our unit trip, at least. But, in the end, school is as busy as we make it.

Pic: my hood, Edgware Road, on an overcast October day.

9.10.14

Autumn is Grey (I should take more photos)

Some days are good, some are bad. Today, after rising as usual in the morning, I felt worse than a bag of potatoes, so I went to bed again, and didn't get up until 1:30 in the afternoon, after which I had a shower and a belated breakfast. Why is it that I need to feel so bad in the morning? Everything is good in the evening, I don't think I've had a bad evening in months, but the mornings ... oh, well, I have no choice but to endure them, and not complain too much. Complaints get you nowhere, my grandfather used to say. And in the end, it is not in the hands of God to decide what we should do - we have to decide that for ourselves.

Research, research, research, and, in-between, some APP (Architectural Professional Practice) lectures, teaching us the proper conduct as professionals in the field. I actually don't find it as boring as other people in my year do, it is a nice contrast to the studio work, and it is another facet of architectural culture which we need to address, as well. If you want to build, you have to remember that what you build becomes a part of greater society, and therefore you have a responsibility towards that world, as well. It's strange to think, but I'm graduating soon. I know I will, I don't fear the future, but I feel, during the past decade, that I've changed so much that it would be nice to actually have a normal job, with normal tasks, normal working hours, and time to mull over your decisions.

I try to make friends, but it is not easy. I like people, but they can overwhelm me at times. It's not their fault, it is just me being a bit dramatic (or perhaps "sensitive" is the right word). On Friday, the school's having a birthday party (for the school itself), with impro-theatre, free drinks and speeches, and strange rocks (made out of 1st years - yes, "out of", not "by"). It will be good. I doubt I will stay there for the party, though. I'd rather escape to my books at home - and my writings of course.

Pic: Pool of water on Kjugekull, Sweden.

5.10.14

The Green Wall Cliché

Birthday parties at home, with lasagna and a cake of such sweetness that it makes E-Girls jealous. I continue writing my poems/philosophical investigations, while I flex my google muscles for "research." We have the Fiat Lingotto Factory in Turin, which I've always had a soft spot for. Given its scale and its ingenious rooftop racetrack, it was *way* ahead of its time. Austere like Corb's later Unité d'Habitations, conceptual like a co-programmatic project from the early 2000s, and surrounded by so many myths the story of The Italian Job is just one gem in a quarry of quirky information. Our other recon project is Facebook, something I can understand, but is hard to do, especially considering it is so pervasive to our present culture that everyone can (and will) relate to it, whatever recon you do about it. But maybe that is its charm.

I drink so much juice these days, I think I'm going to suffer from a vitamin C overdose soon. But it all depends on the situation. At least I'm back to cooking real food again, even if it's only meatballs. My project is my project, so one shouldn't think too hard whether "is this good?", "will they like this?", "where am I going?", "why did I choose this?" and so on. After school, we will be on our own, so better practice that independence already in 5th year. Tomorrow's more research, and, if I have the time in between all the writing, I will try to finish my latest drawing, a Gothic city out of wood. We'll see.

3.10.14

No more Merleau-Ponty

Complementary courses introduction tomorrow at ten, so I will go to bed soon. One phenomenal project has ended (if you excuse the double entendre), and another one is beginning. The term begins with research, to find as much as possible about factories, or rather, the factories offered by our teacher's scavenging of identity and commodity-producing institutions of any kind. I like that juxtaposition. One could say that, in our unit, we are desperately architectural but naughtily artistic. Sometimes, we don't even propose anything. Sometimes architecture is just a reproduction (if a bit strangely so).

My flatmate is surprised I can go on for such a long time without eating. I usually eat a large breakfast, and then nothing until 6 in the evening, when I have dinner, and then usually, I drink some juice and have a sandwich just before bed at midnight. For some reason, I'm able to sustain my weight regardless of what I'm eating. In Sweden, this summer, I happily ate as much as I could - breakfast, dinner, fika, and so on. It didn't change anything. Sometimes I believe my body is more cunning than me in extracting means of nutrition from the world.

If doubt is the only way in which we can be certain, that is, certain of being in doubt, then is truth formed in the doubting itself, or after the doubting has failed? Is doubt the hero or the villain? Sometimes, I think that I think a bit too much, but I'm practicing speaking as well. And drawing, of course. Hopefully I'll have a new drawing posted here at the beginning of next week. We'll see.

30.9.14

Corridor Adventures

Early in the morning, albeit almost oversleeping, due to an optimistic snooze-mentality. At 8:40 the queue was already extending into the stairwell, not that it matters in which order one hands in the unit choices, but somehow, it felt reassuring to be there in good time. The break between 9 and 12, when the interview times were posted, was spent drawing in the library, little houses with cute decorations and nostalgic doors and windows. On the list, I was stated as third in line to be interviewed, a good spot, I thought, so I went to the unit space already to wait. Then my teacher Natasha arrived, and since I was the only one there, she invited me to be the first. It went well, we had a good chat about rules and the breaking of rules, of unit expectations as well as those of the students. In the end, my place was confirmed in ten minutes. It wouldn't surprise me if I was the first one to have his spot assured.

But it would be all too boring to go home to rest, so I spent the remainder of the day chatting with others waiting for their verdict, trying to memorise the names of the new students (as well as those returning who I, regrettably, had forgotten). It's always embarrassing to know that you don't know, but that is also a challenge, to admit the same. A silent idiot will be an idiot forever, but an idiot who dares to ask will only remain an idiot until he receives an answer. Now, the day is over, I will write my customary poems, and go to Sainsbury's to fill up the stocks in the fridge. The night is clear, and the stars in the windows of Lebanese restaurants are lit. London: today you were at your best.

We use our ideals to hold on, for in knowing what we're doing, what we're daring, what we *are*, is the best knowledge one can bring into the world. I'm still being challenged, and I think I want to continue to be challenged, for as long as we trust in that which cannot be erased, we will do fine. A gift is only a burden if you haven't yet figured out how to live with it.

28.9.14

School Starts!

It's been a long summer ... almost too long, I'd say, but, on the other hand, I've done what I enjoy doing, and that includes many fika breaks with Japanese lessons in my headphones. Tomorrow's wake-up time is eight, which I usually wake up at, anyway, and then I will be at the AA by 9:30, to partake in the unit introductions, which will turn to interviews the day after. I'm not nervous now, as I write this, but I'm sure I'll be when tomorrow's here, but it is a good nervousness, because it spurs you to action. After all, thought without action is as useless as action without thought, which is something I'm learning down the difficult path ...

I like it that the AA can accommodate so many different interests, so many different students spread out over different teachers. It's hard to say what the AA *is* these days, as I view it from the inside, so to speak; when I was in Lund, my stereotyped vision of the AA was an infection of parametricism, coupled with gimmicky stunts. But the truth of this school is, that it is so diverse that you will always find something that contradicts the definition you've just given of the school. Sometimes, I'm not even sure we're here to make architecture, but there are units which address that as well.

I miss my girl, and I know that she misses me. We have been patient, and with every new talk, we grow closer. We understand each other, we talk of all things, we share our lives and sweet words. It is nice to have a direction, to know what I will do when I graduate, besides getting a job. But now is not the time to think of a far future. Sometimes, it's enough just to think of the next day, the next morning. And one should never forget to be grateful for the day that went by (even if it handed you lemons).

Pic: back-side of St. Paul's.

26.9.14

Bookbinding and coffee breaks

A short trip to school to print some necessary documents for the registration taking place on Monday, along with the unit presentations. It's fifth year now, and yet, I don't feel particularly worried about my project-to-be. I'm more confident now with taking risks, and to push in the direction I find essential for my path of interests, not the path towards a standard "good AA-project." Of course, everyone wants to be recognised for their work, and appreciated for their effort, but self-confidence built on external praise will only lead to one thing: people pleasing. I don't want to go the other way and be an asshole, though. Perhaps this is the balance we all aspire to in school, that between listening and speaking, agreeing and refuting ... either way, I'd rather be capable of giving love than to be loved.

Listening to the new Aphex Twin-album, which I'm contemplating to buy on vinyl, despite not having access to a turntable here in London. It will be one of the first things I will buy for my future home, a stereo an an SL-1200. Not every track on this new album fits in my collection of sound experiments, though, but then again, none of the tracks from Porter Robinson's "Worlds" or Charisma.com's "DIStopping" fits there, either, so I'm just happy to have it on my hard-drive to play whenever the evening falls. Music is still important in my life, albeit collecting music is not so much, anymore. I feel like I've lost track of quite a few artists from the past three years, but it doesn't matter so much. If the masses still dig Nicki Minaj, I'm happy to be an outsider.

I still haven't unpacked my books, but today, I found a couple of folded paper cranes in a portfolio (a real portfolio) which I had not opened since I moved. I will put the cranes in my window, where they can prepare to fly away to worlds hitherto unseen. It's strange to know that a letter can travel to places you've never been to. Next time I will send myself with it.

Pic: St. Paul's cathedral, from Ludgate Hill (where Citybinders are).