Blekinge Coffee Excess

I suppose that to be seen, one has to make oneself visible. After I got a forwarded email from a friend in my unit at the end of May, I sent three drawings for a competition arranged by the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) for drawings produced by students in UK architecture schools. I submitted three drawings, none of them particularly related in any other way than being produced during the academic year, and them being drawings that haven't been published before. I don't like to live on past achievements. Today, I received an answer from the competition organisers revealing that one of my drawings had received a commendation. Given the fierce competition (last year had 200+ entries), I'm very happy to be considered among the nine best.

Such things give you strength to keep moving, to not act in the dark, to give off a bit of yourself even though it doesn't always turn out the way you expected. I'm also happy to be able to promote my unit at the AA, which I feel has given back so much to me. This is what school should be, demanding a lot, but rewarding a lot, as well.

Link to my commendation, including comments.
Pic: Paintings on the wall of "Mandeltårtan" in Ronneby.


As long as the opportunist is honest

Is it disheartening to write, if no-one will read it? As an author, you shouldn't strive to publish everything, because not everything you write will turn out to be good, which is proven quite elegantly by rereading a text which has been resting on your hard-drive for a few months. Some might be good, but taken together ... why publish it, when you can write so much better now? The risk, however, is that you never publish anything, since what you write will never quite live up to your demands.

It is much the same with drawing. You have a thousand shitty drawings within you, so better get them out quickly - but not quicker, of course. Talent in drawing shows itself immediately; the writer's reputation, however, grows slowly. Anyone can judge the technical merits of an illustrator with one glance. The skill of drawing a certain line is not comparable to using a certain word, at least not since even the tackiest of writers can spell his words correctly and obey proper grammar - in fact, in writing, one's merit, in the eyes of the reviewer, often has to do with how well he breaks the rules that language has already set up for him.

I like perfection. I simultaneously don't like change. I believe in craftsmanship, but I wouldn't want to be judged as a craftsman. I write, and I write, and I draw, and I draw. I make a bit of music, but that is one thing I have given up on, in terms of the perfect. To achieve something of musical expertise, one needs to be gifted. I can hardly read sheet music, and I cannot play Rachmaninoff, despite having tried now for ... nine years? There are simply thing you cannot do. I cannot sing, for instance. I don't believe I will ever be able to sing well, and I don't have a need to. But the merit of any man is not to know his limits, but to choose them.

Pic: Public park in Cannes.


The days we have

"Being and Nothingness" is a gold-mine. I can hardly read a page without throwing it away to write down a new thought, a new idea, another way of looking upon the everyday, or a challenge of my own perception. Compare this to another book which I received for the summer, that of "What is Architecture?" by Rasmus Waern and Gert Wingårdh (or Fjärt Fisgårdh as I've always called him - in an untranslatable form of juvenile humour that only Swedes will get, including mr. Wingårdh himself) and you realize the difference between what is good and what is great. It's difficult for me to react to a book like "What is Architecture?", because it is so laden with clichés and unable to challenge the contemporary condition it arose from. It is basically just a book of opinions, those of the authors.

"Being and Nothingness" on the other hand, strives to establish facts. It is also what I'm doing in my poetry project - I am not interested in giving expression to an "inner voice", but rather I challenge this voice by the voices of others, and the struggle that arrives from it is what becomes a poem. A poet cannot will the world to recognize him - he has to recognize the world. It reminds me of the ethos of Dip 9. One's relation to architecture is a given, but our reactions to it do not have to be. One cannot throw Piranesi out of the window and declare: I want to be free! Good architects invent freedom out of captivity. By all means, this does not mean I agree with setting constraints arbitrarily - I really don't have much good to say about a man like Perec. (He was very French, though.)

The ability to write fairly well is fairly dispersed over society. We are all technical masters of the language we've adopted since birth, which means that expertise has to arrive from something else than mere play of words. An author is a man of observation, apt not only at describing things as they really are (which is hard enough), but also endowed with insight into the relation between the self and these things. Perhaps we will see a revenge of the objective soon. Perhaps we're not living in anything but the hangover after the last century. Mistakes need incubation, before they can be committed once again.

I think what I'm trying to achieve in my writings, and by extension, my architecture, is a form of "fragmented metaphysics", in the sense that after Lyotard, architecture, art and philosophy has no choice but to refrain from the totalitarian, not the totality. A totality can be composed of fragments, a totality emerges from within the many stories caught in its scope, e.g., a city. It is a criticism against hierarchical society, which is the real struggle of our time - not capitalism versus socialism, but the powerful versus the powerless. But this is also a fragment. Our struggle is greater than the words one can put on the struggle.

Pic: Sea-wall in Antibes.


Energy flows from Energy

Writing is a bit like a drug. When you've taken the pill, the words spit themselves out in the manner of a machine gun. There's always the problem of how much you can write before there's nothing to write of anymore - I had to take a break from my architectural writings for a day in order to regain confidence that there were still things worthy to be written about. If I had writing as a day-to-day job, I would probably be able to eject 4,000 words a day. My record so far was set in arch school when I - purely for my own amusement - decided to write a three-paragraph poem for each of my project images. I managed a bit over 8,000 words that time. Now, enjoying "vacation", taking trips with family, sleeping fairly much, I average 1,500-2,000 words a day of pure philosophy. Is it enough? I seem to be just hunting that next kick, that sudden realization of the function of the universe (or, at least: man's universe) by the speed of a thought which translates itself to digital text.

Another thing that should be a hindrance to my production is the fact that I'm writing in my second language. With Swedish, I can manage many styles and crack many inter-lingual jokes, but in English, I tend to isolate myself to what the Swedes themselves call "chancery language", that is, making a subject sound just as hard as it is (philosophy itself). Some may scorn my way of writing, but I write in this way not to obscure the truth, but to challenge the reader's own prejudice of what the truth may be, in his limited and determined use of everyday language. There is a scepticism against the ability of present, metaphorical language to establish new concepts, but perhaps this scepticism is unneeded. I don't know. Yet. Writing is a way of finding answers, and I'm discontent with the postmodern position of the impossibility of proper answers and the making of scepticism into a lifestyle. Periods of materialism follow periods of idealism, and vice versa.

However, it is easy to become disillusioned as to the value of writing. While it is a thing that I love, what use is love if there's no one present to receive it? I duly post my daily writings on my blogs, but I don't think they're read. People seem to have a difficulty understanding me. Or a plain disinterest thereof. I'm not popular. My writings are not of wizards and castles, nor of whores and murderers. I write in the strange intermediary space between philosophy, art and architecture, sometimes extending into political theory, theology (is this even sane today?) and pure poetry. I don't have a reader in mind, other than everyone. That reader is myself, for I am all men. Is this my tragedy?

Pic: Beech tree next to Stenshuvud National Park.


When I think, I cannot draw

And when I draw, I cannot think. The distance between the two seems unbridgeable. Every attempt at taking control over the process, of drawing according to a plan, reveals my inability to be content. Sometimes I'm angry, sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I retreat, sometimes I come forward. Nothing's certain. I take a bit of everything, synthesize it, and what emerges is not a project, but a lifestyle. Perhaps that's what I'm building - not so much myself, but a method, a scheme, a plan, of living, of acting, of making, of sleeping.

The remnants of what we do, the corpse after the mind burnt out ... is architecture nothing more? Who cares for such things when there are guns being handed out in the shadow of a fatwa. You wipe away the blood of a friend that died from shrapnel next to the window where you both thought you were safe, and you think: nothing more, nothing more than justice.

A friend told that it is necessary in school today, as a student, to adopt a political stance. Perhaps it is more important to do so after we leave school, when we cease to be students (despite what Brett said) for few things seem as certain as the favela-conscience turning into a gated-community lifestyler once the salary begin to drop in and you can suddenly afford that house you've always wanted. My dreams are for me only. Such a long distance we have covered since 1930, but then again, the problems of that time were problems in one's backyard. It is always easier to promote a future which you've known of since birth.

(New drawing.)


The Line

When I was in high school, I wanted - among other things - to become a politician. It is still bothers me a bit, the wondering, do I really want to spend the rest of my life drawing neat buildings for customers of A-Europe, I-world, or, more urgently, to decorate my fifth year project with confetti of moderately leftist jargon, just enough to scoop the honours and get the job I covet, where I will still just be doing Zaha's or SANAA's job. Some people make up their mind early, I don't. I'm mostly just disgusted by all the idiocy in the world. The question is: do I turn my back to it, and carry on bringing revolution to my own world, or do I run the risk of becoming "one of them" by taking a stance? I pay my fees to the school not because I'm able to, but because I believe that this is the right place, the right forum, to ask these kinds of questions.

Politics without knowledge is like playing Roulette without being able to count.
Shot-down airplanes, land assaults, and the latest transfer in Premier League ...

And I know, the Western moral intelligentsia, to which I belong, engages in a game of words - words! words! always words! discussions! peace talks! words changing nothing, acts that stretch only as far as altering little details in your lifestyle - Diogenes knew this more than two thousand years ago. And yet, I blame myself, for I am nothing but a talker myself, as I sit here, in my sofa, listening to Ram Rider over YouTube mixes while crying for a fairness that doesn't exist, that I'm not a part of, that no-one will hear of, that changes my life but not the life of the ones I write for. They will go on. I will stay, stranded.

What is life if not just one's share of frustration.


Skanör, Falsterbo, Höllviken

Telling the truth is much harder than to lie, because to lie, you don't need to know the truth. The lie and the truth seem to be impossible to separate, because even the most preposterous of lies can have us doubting our own account of reality - the lie becomes truth by the consideration of the inaccuracy of the senses and the mind that operates them (or which is operated by them). But this only holds true for a certain form of truth, that which actually has an impact. No-one cares what you ate for dinner, hence a lie here and a lie there doesn't make any difference - it is forgotten as quickly as it was asked, mere decoys of politeness.

I considered things that have influenced me the most in my affair with poetry, and I went in search of a poem I had read of in a Swedish information booklet on the Holocaust, which we received on our obligatory field trip to Stutthof in Poland many years ago. It read:

Written in Pencil in a Sealed Railway Car

Here in this carload
I am Eve
with my son Abel.
If you see my other son
Cain, son of man
tell him that I

The problem with this poem, as my search revealed to me, is that it is fake. What gave it its strength, in my eyes, was the success of the narrative. I truly believed, for all these years, that a mother on her way to the concentration camp carved this into the walls of a cramped and noisy railway car as a last, simultaneous resistance and acceptance of the fate that lay ahead. I was convinced that she was forced out of the car before being able to finish the poem, and as such, it harboured a much deeper connection with the act of *writing* a poem, the necessity of its speed, the impossibility of editing. This unfinished allegory was honest. The writer died. Her poem didn't.

But it is all fake. The real author of it is named Dan Pagis, a holocaust survivor. And I struggle to come to terms with the fakeness of it, coupled with the authenticity of his suffering. The anonymous poet seemed all the more haunting than the imagination of a broken hero.

Perhaps the author has no obligation to tell the truth these days
for a poem on the unimaginable will sound much better if we ignore
to make humans out of the inhuman.


Soleil Dramatique en Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne

Heavy clouds approach from the south, many clouds, opening up with light and thunder for me to change from shorts to trousers (if I weren't stubborn enough to stick with my shorts - which I am). Many hours in the car, with Japanese (what else?) pop songs I'm trying to understand, which, once I understand them, in a way, lose their heimat - there seems to be a barrier between what I perceive of Japan and what Japan really is, that cannot be taken away without losing a bit of the magic that makes me want to go there. If I understand it, there is no more place for thoughts, no more wonder, no more childish play with the automated soda vending machines ...

Tomorrow's back to Sweden again, back to an inevitable vacation which I must fill with the same things I spent with my work-hours in school (drawing, writing, and a bit of music). It is strange when there isn't any difference in temperature, any longer, as if I could dread the summers in Sweden as much as I dread the snow in winter in an authentic olive tree Provence. Why, you ask, do I choose the hottest countries to dwell in, if I was born to love the cold? Perhaps because I don't choose my home to be where I feel myself in it, but what I find there which is not me.

Swallows riding high, discharging the lightning from the clouds again. It appears as if they are lying to me, but I will not write them off just because they decided to ride high above the roofs of my mountain village, these birds who are here, like me, just for this moment, and now, we will not see each other for the rest of our lives. You can't trust swallows.


Thunderclouds over Cannes

Cumulonimbus and sunshine in the harbour.

Swedes Can Even Fly

"Following the meeting of the Bursary Committee, I am pleased to tell you that you have been awarded the Mike Davies bursary for the 2014/15 academic year, equivalent to the sum of £6,330."

Wow. I could never imagine myself receiving this kind of financial assistance two years in a row. With this generous bursary, I will be able to pay back part of my loan already when I graduate next year. And who knows what will happen after that. It's true, at the AA, we're not just building good projects, we're building architects, imbued with their own conviction, optimism and certain measures of luck. While the bursary for fourth year was a prerequisite for me continuing my studies, this one cements my belief in the architecture I fight for (which in many ways results in me not really knowing what I fight for).

Happy days at the Côte d'Azur, a good excuse to bring out the camera, and, obviously, yet more sparring with Sartre in the morning - and my edited texts in the evening; to tell the truth, I think I've written "more" rather than "good" ... but, oh well, it's not for me to decide what is good and what is not.

Happy 9th of July!


If you don't want, don't try

I think a fundamental problem with Swedish architecture (and, by extension, Swedish society at large) is that we are a people who always strive for consensus. I personally hate this, and it is one of the reasons I left the country to study elsewhere, and also the reason why I'm immensely pissed off by contemporary architectural criticism. The problem occurs when consensus is sought before the idea, when we censor ourselves and only write of the things that will earn us a pat on the back from those who are our audience, saying: hear! hear! and then we go to that multiculti Ethiopian restaurant so conveniently located in the heart of that which the welfare program sought to erase.

Lunacy is needed *first*, and consensus is not something that can be decided on - it is a matter that arises from individual circumstances, of accidentally making something to which others can say: I didn't know of this before you made it, but as it is made, I cannot see how I could ever walk through life without knowing of it. Anxious comments from writers who, in the worst of cases, fail to posit an independent trail of thought, something that drives criticism forward.

By this, I'm not saying Swedish architecture should go the way of Kritik, a publication I tore to shreds in a previous blog post. I really don't believe in criticism, because all it wants to do is leech off projects and never make its own, or, if the critics make them, they make them shitty and even more diluted than the projects they've previously castigated. It is a well-known fact that theory cannot build itself, as architecture operates beyond the text. The theory is the recipe behind the dish; the taste of the pie depends on the freshness of the ingredients you include.

Hello again Sweden.
I hope you don't mind if I ignore you.


Pineapple Spaceship

There is a profound happiness in being in the present. Log on to Soundcloud, go to the artist you listened to in the morning, and find the new release that brings eternal raving bliss to your ears, and you may think: this is now. This is our culture as it presents itself to us in the moment. This is the unknown being converted into the known. It is certain. It is fact. And when the Projects Review doors opened on Friday evening, and when the fifth years marched to their graduation, we realize that we're all a part of the contemporary, the opening ceremony, the toasting to the present.

The same thought occurred to me when I went to the bookshop to pick up my summer's project: "Little Worlds" compiled by Natasha (Sandmeier) of my unit (Dip 9), "Absolute Architecture" by Pier Vittorio Aureli, and, of course, the Projects Review book, so I have something to show to the folks at home that I'm not just pretending to go to an imaginary place everyday for twelve hours. These are sections through architectural culture, they are in-the-now, they are being discussed, referred to, lauded or hated, and what we build when we exit school (if we build at all) will be reflections (in pure Sartre-ian fashion) of the questions which we want to address. And architecture needs it.

Right now, the profession is divided between those who are good at design and rubbish at theory and their opposites. One succeeds, like R. Rogers, in the private world, where things actually get *built*; the other is perpetually stuck in school, where no things ever get built (save books). Who am I? I'm a draughtsman in a writer's body, or a writer in a draughtsman's world. I'm not particularly good at either, but I have to believe: that architecture is not one thing, as I stated in my thesis. But perhaps, my conclusion needs an update, perhaps it is not the mess we seek as our final redemption, but this mess is simply the stage before consolidation, before editing (as Brett [Steele] put it). Perhaps I owe it to my work to advance it into a proper ambition.

Oh, and quitting Citalopram might be the best thing I've done in the past three years. Except for a bit of dizziness when I move my eyes sideways (I know, weird, isn't it?), I feel much stronger without it. I'm not perpetually stuck in a loop of anxiety ("what comfort zone? I'm never in my comfort zone!"), and I'm not a zombie in the mornings as I was when I had to drag myself to school for exhibition work. Now, I can just dive into what I'm interested in. Life is good again.



With lots of time to think of my future (rather than on my past - because that doesn't interest me anymore), certain attitudes begin to crystallize in my scattered writings. I'm picking up the thread of architecture-without-project, to consider the project as nonexistent without research. Any reasonably skilled orator can dream up a project concept in an hour, after which he can proceed to spend the coming six months making beautiful illustrations to his thesis. This is partly a criticism of this year's Projects Review, which, through many hours this weekend on reading and digesting the projects and units, I have come to the conclusion that we're slowly becoming Bartlettized: seducing imagery overtakes hard facts and appropriate interpretations. Even Dip 14, known for its rigour in research, seems unable to transcend the motives of the image, and therefore become hyper-aeshetic, revealing nothing but the sweet texture of the concrete and the historical eminence of the one-point perspective.

This is also - again - a form of self-criticism, or perhaps, a correct conclusion to a splintered year. What I did was very much following my intuition, making the choices I *felt* were the most appropriate, sometimes discovering the meaning and opportunity of my images long after they were created. My project thus became myself - I became an architect, perhaps involuntarily, by engaging in architectural questions. I'm already thinking of my 5th year Technical Studies, and I like the idea of making a collaborative, trans-unit, research-based document. I don't really care if I get a high pass, a low pass or just a pass: what matters is what kind of ideas I can extract from it.



Writing on the tube train home, while simultaneously wishing for the best as I've been without citalopram for almost a week now ... after I forgot about it for two days in a row, and actually felt better, I was in the mood for experimenting again (and at what a perfect time: just in exhibition preparation mayhem!) and so I decided to skip it for a few more days. It has turned out allright, the changes I feel are an increased control over my emotions, perhaps by becoming a tad more aloof, and isolating myself a bit more ... but in what way does it matter? I talk when I feel like talking. In the words of David Rodigan: everybody's talking, nobody's listening.

Of course, I'm a bit of a hypocrite here since I write so much, but I consider writing and talking to be fundamentally different. A good text lasts, it can be shared at as many times as is possible, while an improvised conversation will be over as soon as the two concerned with the talk have forgotten what was said in the beginning of this exchange of words, and the game of Chinese whispers that takes place once we want to share these words tell of the incongruous character to the spoken word. And, if I may say, text is economic. You only say what you say.

Swiss Cottage is hollow and empty, a brief stop and a thirty second ride to Finchley Road, where the pigeons shit. People take the train to whatever destination they're heading for, but perhaps, these destinations are as elusive as our misconfigured emotions. I want my school, because I've paid for it. In a way, it is not the teachers who own the AA. It is us students, and we are free to challenge the curriculum with what we believe to be the right direction for architecture. We are not chips put on the table for a game of roulette. We are the real consumers, and perhaps consumption is the only way in which we can interact with our world today.


From One Project to Many

I've been thinking of what I want to do next year, not so much which unit I will end up in, because I will do my thang there anyway. It's fifth year, it's time go out with a bang. My prediction for the Honours Presentation turned out quite accurate, I got Summer, Eugenie and Harry, projects that differed a lot from each other - one crafted to argumentative perfection, another experimenting outside of architecture, and a third whose project was both haptic and material.

I think next year, I will either go in the direction of fragmenting my design process completely, turning my project into a schizo-mania, or I will be extremely focused, do one thing and do it good. I can do both. I can draw, I can weld, I can make up things.

Small talk is still nigh impossible for me, and I often think, what use are these blog posts if I'm only talking about everything I could've said to friends in their presence? However, I'm sick of talking about my own problems and struggles, you've heard it all before, I have talked to myself in my mind for far too long. Better just get out and do stuff, even if it frightens you.

No dignity for the broken.


Someone has to lead, but not me, not yet

Today's lesson: I work best when I have a repetitive task, one where I can clearly see the goal, trust in my ability, and can engage my mind in its conception. When I draw, I enjoy it the most when I know exactly what to draw, for how long, how far, and so on. It's still a demanding task, but I persevere.

My inability to work together in a group is a bit disconcerting. I wasn't always like this, oh, in the past, I didn't doubt, I spoke whenever I felt like speaking, and that was it. But then again, I made ugly things. Today, I make better things, but I do them with fear. Tomorrow's a new day, and perhaps, tomorrow will also be the day when everything turns out alright.

Plan your actions, make a decision, and stick with it.
Oscar Niemeyer's room will be made out of concrete.
Katsuhiro Otomo certainly gets a drawing studio.


Long Days, but Good Days

Seems like I've become the resident creative writer in my unit, reviewing the fifth year's presentation texts while jotting down the key points to my own book, which will be printed next week. I enjoy it, it's like exercising a muscle - the more you work it, the stronger it becomes. Looking back at my two years at the AA, I can still say, with confidence, that it was a good decision to go here. I finish what I start. When I left my job in late 2010 to go back to Sweden for treatment, I was disillusioned and pessimistic to say the least, doubting my very choice of career. I thought I was useless. I couldn't draw, I couldn't think, I couldn't speak. And maybe it was inevitable. Maybe I needed this radical moment in my life in order to reinforce my belief.

Of course, I still don't have a clue what architecture really *is*, but it will crystallize in time, and it will change, in time as well. You see new things, you take care of old things, you grow, you get better. I still think I'm a bit selfish, so I'm working on it. Listening, helping, trying to say "yes" as often as my conscience tells me to (and then later ignoring what I've just said in order to change my mind). Summer's forcefully kicked in during the past week, with hot and humid weather allowing for days without a jacket. I drop my medicine as usual, thinking, it might help, it might not, but I take it anyway.

More writing tomorrow, and
hopefully a bit of Sartre.


Past Twelve

With the tables behind me, the emptiness that follows every great struggle sets in, a feeling of "what now?" which can at best be thought of as a freedom to redefine one's next day, and at worst as the agony of not having been able to achieve what one set out to do. Perhaps art is always doomed to be a failure, because it can never replace the reality which it set out to imitate - the simulation tests the limits of paint, not of perception. Like holograms set upon fire, art continues to be made, with belief and conviction, as if we can get to know someone by never meeting them ...

Maybe we will be better off not taking up the struggle, maybe we would be happier with a green door and a small garden in Yokohama, and I ask: why can't I go there now? I don't need my drawings, I don't need my texts, I just wish for answers, for a life that sets into the ideal, as if love was only a way to get to know your own desires. Still, one cannot hold a ray of light in one's hand without being fooled by the shadow of a cloud.

Delicate shoegaze, RAC remixes, a day at home after a misplaced dose of medicine. Song lyrics are always empty, despite trying so hard to be full; we're always wired to find meaning, and the positive nihilism in itself convinces us that the moment is worth more than all of history, all fourteen billion years. I might have opinions, but they're wrong. They're wrong!

What of tomorrow?
What of next year?


Perspex + Resin = Horror?

Turns out if you ignore or avoid something, it will come back and bite you in the rear parts of your body. At least I gave my art gallery a healthy dose of repainting, and I made one (stupidly simple) stand for my Diamond House, also painted white. White, white, white! I like white more than black, but, then again, black is absence of light, so in a way, it is closer to the space which I have been arguing for (independently of the project) as a being-in-itself.

My worlds have come together, and I wonder, what kind of project will I do next year? The very strangeness of my process is that it is just the way it should be, to me. I like that our unit is like a show of weirdos, me being the silent eccentric, another being the boisterous "faaaack", and even more being caught in villains and heroes, projections and colonial piñatas, and whatever other things we can muster up to inject some life into the critics. We might not always be right, but we're never boring.

Rain pissing down on the window ledges
trips to shops where the disabled are carrying buckets of paint.
The sun does not know of itself, but the Earth knows everything of it.
The only thing that belongs to us is ourselves, and that is a property
not even a God can touch.


The Split Mind

I am a feeler caught in a thought.
I am a stereotype creating the original.
I live in my world, but I am all her world.
I wish to never leave school, yet I don't learn.
I am obsessed with myself, more than I'd admit.

Factories growing from laser models, models growing from nothing, paper growing to stay on paper, architects who do not care about people, but live for architecture itself. Psychology is not our cause, but neither is mathematics. I can still see a bit of blue sky when I exit the underground, on my way home. I've done four projects, but I secretly only want to do one drawing, to end the universe. My idol is Katsuhiro Otomo (sorry, Niemeyer). The security staff throw me out, as usual.

Tomorrow is a day fantastically the same as today.
I write in order to stay the same.


Is it worth it?

I wonder if I will ever reach a point when I'm happy with myself, but I still keep the vision of my drafting table high up in the city of all cities, where I draw what I want and I'm happy with that. I don't think anyone can "find" oneself, I just believe we're too bad at listening to ourselves. I build my own place in my headphones. I look forward. And I sometimes ask: isn't it strange that I chose to become an architect, when I don't even like buildings? I collect my graphics, and I think to myself: what a waste at many of the architecture schools, where so much effort is put into the sleek presentation of the material, that they forget that what they make is still just a fucking house, where we do our boring day-to-day whatever-one-does. I'm grateful that the AA is in the boring old Georgian brick-a-brac, because we have no obligation to follow it, no obligation to be shaped by its spatial organisation.

I think we are more shaped by our places that we admit, and are less shaped by them than we believe. My doctor asked me last time we saw each other if I found my hallucinations interesting. I said no, but it was a lie. Perhaps I was ashamed of it. I've had times when I hear voices shouting, when I see the entire room tilting, so I have to hold on to something. Perhaps she already suspected it, because I'm a proud writer, a proud artist (not an architect, not yet). Where does inspiration come from if not a will to control that which you're dreaming? To tell the truth, I'm a bit fascinated by my entire journey, from the floors of a white hospital unit to the last goodnight from the doctor before I was put to sleep. The only thing I'm failing at, and perhaps secretly wish to succeed in, is being normal.

But then again, I have two eyes and a heart.
I'm just another one of your hapless souls.


The days we imagine
are the days we will have.

Etched into the walls of time
the world goes on, with me.
I return to my home in the barley fields
where you wait for me, since you left
where we will rest, where we will see
the future grow, and as the memory
of winter is swept away by green fields
of May, I go into the unseen in peace.
For these things that have existed
are bound to exist once again, and
like a world without the world
is not so much impossible as it is
a smile to us, in all our worry
I will go on, with the world
in this place we've been exiled to.
My home is in the fields, and the fields
set their flowers into bloom, in time.


The End of Text

I have decided today to quit writing. Not on this blog, but my architectural texts. The reasons are many. First, I feel like I've accomplished what I set out to do, to become skilled enough with writing so that I could communicate my ideas readily (even though I still have an easier time writing than talking). Second, it's taking too much of my time, time that could be productively channeled into other activities. And third, I want to dedicate my time to drawing, or more generally: the image. If it is architecture I should do, you cannot draw a text, or rather, you can, but there's no guarantee the end result will be worth the effort. I want to learn to draw as effortlessly as I write, and I want to use my days on something I enjoy. If you like what you're doing, you'll get good at it, no matter what.

So, from now on, I hope that my translativism blog can become more active than ever. Of course, "image" carries many connotations, so don't expect just the hand-drawn stuff. I'm free to create whatever image I want, and I want to take advantage of that freedom.



My father said, when he was featured in the local newspaper, that fame is like fireworks; they light up, reach their peak, go out with a loud boom and then disappear into obscurity. But I tend to believe, as I said on my presentation yesterday, that the things which were once seriously considered will become seriously considered again, in the future. Therefore, it should surprise no one that a weekly note such as AA's Fulcrum brings forward hopelessly untrendy people like Leon Krier and Quinlan Terry.

But then again, it might just be because the attraction is in the things that once were famous, in that they will (predictably) become central once again, and the writer is therefore much like a prophet, always wanting (like FAT) to promote the fashion cycles of architecture. But architecture is not fashion, just as architecture is not French philosophy. Architecture has its own independent culture, sure, one that is infected by other professions, because no architect is isolated, but the very physicality of the architectural profession's output (ideas or buildings, I don't care) is a certain limitation to the type of discussions that will take place. After all, I'm a student at an architecture school, not an art school, as my teacher said.

I only know the things I love are the things I want to do.
(Each thing in its own place, as we all know too well.)


Had the honnour of concluding the day in the Read Second Presentation Space, after having rehearsed my text silently (or at least in whispers) during the day. The morning session was quite tough for some, and in contrast the afternoon seemed to be rather more gentle. Still, both were good, and I was glad to create a bit of debate, whether it is a good thing to make a project the way I did it, whether one can conclude the story by not concluding it, or if that is, as Brett Steele said, a wussy way out. I think that even though I got my message across - with all the clichés, the houses-for-houses, drowning architects and whatnot - I failed to communicate the greater ambition of my work, which is to put the whole issue of the architectural project under scrutiny. This year's theme is, as you know, the architect-as-project, and perhaps, by considering something as difficult and psychologically defiant as a character, we open up the discussion to whether we always need to have a project, or if the building of an (amorphous) career is more important than a seminal building. If I ever direct a unit at a school in the future, I would make that the theme: architecture without project. Yes!

Sadly missed to email a proposal for the Nicholas Boas scholarship this year, which allows one student to stay for three weeks at the British School in Rome, to make a project that would later be exhibited at the AA. Having been to Rome once before, I can testify to the beauty of this eternal city, and my thought for the scholarship was to stage a battle between Bernini and Borromini, and to bring their beef back to life by means of all kinds of graphic excess. Of course, this would all have to be infected by my own fascination for the two and their architecture. Maybe next year?


The End of Beauty?

Printing, drawing, printing, wishing the best for what's left of the Glasgow School of Art, and suddenly having new respect for the health and safety staff. I have a friend who studied product design at the school, and she can testify to its prominence. But, let's not forget, there were no casualties, and, after all, a school is not its location, it is its people. Architecture is not that important, although we tell ourselves the opposite whenever we battle it out with the plotter at 4 AM in the morning.

I remember when the dean of Pratt School of Architecture described himself as a "positive opportunist", that is, when his school burnt to the ground, he got Steven Holl to design its resuscitation. Not that I like Steven Holl that much, but a lot of people apparently do, and you have to respect all other architects, as well as their designs.

Been thinking a bit about troublesome beauty. Why is it that I make a building about purging and drowning architects? What is there in the fiction that makes us accept violence, war and death? Why is it that we love drama, murders and poisoned beverages, when we are terrified of the prospect of terminal sickness of a loved one? When I saw these photos of the Atlantic Sea Wall, I began to think: these are structures in which soldiers were prepared to kill, on its concrete shells would fall bombs - and yet, we now admire them as aesthetic objects. Is raw concrete really the same kind of concrete regardless of the context it finds itself within? Are they to be categorized as sublime, rather than beautiful? Haunting, even?

It's a complex net of feelings, perhaps with it the urge to destroy these things, to dismantle their purpose, to retrofit them. The bombed Hiroshima dome still stands, as a testimony to war, and we remember it in order to be remembered. Perhaps these concrete shells should be treated equally, not as beautiful, but as reminiscent. Their existence is necessary, their form is not.



Wearing my new tie to school, felt in a mind of "why not?" rather than "why?", and I found it funny when I held the tie in front of my wardrobe, as hardly nothing I have could match its colourfulness. So in the end, I played it cool and went for the architect-concrete-grey look. I like wearing things that doesn't restrict me. If a tie is nice, you wear it. If you want to combine it with an Adidas windrunner, you do so. Didn't wear my hat today though ...

The unit blogging has paid off, as my work can now be seen at a lot of other blogs around the net. Apart from the already mentioned Architectural Review and Drawing Architecture tumblrs, it was featured on the SOCKS Studio site yesterday, which also led it to Ryan Panos' front page. It's a slightly strange feeling, to see something you've made yourself on a page you visit almost daily for inspiration ... but it's a good feeling. It makes me think, that these drawings didn't exist at the beginning of this year, and now they do. Perhaps the joy of creation is not more complicated than that: at one point, there is nothing, but now there is. And someone has found it interesting, not just yourself.

Slightly scared of the day I graduate. Even though I learn a lot in school, I can't say I'm prepared to continue this adventure on my own. One needs a patron, not just friends. One needs a master, until one becomes the master himself. But also, if even Socrates had his doubts, perhaps I can just accept it as a necessary part of the process. You grow, you learn; you test things, some work, others do not. But enough of the worry for now, and let's just push on with confidence! Hah! Act as if everything was alright ...