30.1.16

1

The southwest exit-corner of Komazawa-Daigaku Station has late-night food holes receding from the street in mute light, or mauling the cars with fluorescents to tire the drivers, all face-front. There's a chain there - it is a chain not because I know it, but because the printed menu photos on the wall are as plastic as the meals in bespoke windows of average noodle bars - which serves gyuumeshi. The beef there comes without ponzu sauce, and oomori (large )is a necessity, not a choice.

The same could be said for the skyscrapers for Tokyo Bay, "tenkomori"-portions (sky-high) of retired dreams, for a city now beginning to shrink. If the rice can be stacked, if the sashimi has no bottom, then let us now measure the servings of Kohn Pedersen Fox as manga-versions of vertical engineering. When the mountains are not enough (yamamori), and when the haikus no longer has that comical tint to them, we go for the heavens.

After a few "irrashaimase!s", you eventually figure out that there's a shokken/meal ticket hanbaiki/vending machine outside, under plastic covers for the rain, permanently. The alcove isn't noticeable inside, and in the dark of a commuter's midnight, it's easy to miss in lieu of the illuminated doors. It's the businessmen hurrying home to their wife that serve the revealing custom.

If there's not a vending machine for it, it's not necessary, at least not for those craving for time. One could be led to think that they had them already in '64, when the expressways were erected at a pace unmatched by anything before the idea of dropping a couple of million yens from the tax funds into the construction industry took form. These funds were not endless, of course: concrete is cheaper than land, as were the expressways routinely erected over rivers and canals, something the Nihombashi bridge knows well. Neither are those drunk kaishain trading their beds for a Friday night safe pavement doing so with money in their pockets. Meanwhile, convert the machines into workers (instead of the opposite), let the workers sleep, and you'll have all of Norway piping the drainage of this ageing infrastructure.

As with most short stops for food, the counter runs a U around the two employees, one cleaning, one serving. The place does not offer disposable chopsticks, so the box, a kind of house for machine-made colonnadic finger extensions, cannot be allowed to go empty. The 1000 yen I put forward for my bowl - so unaccustomed! - is shifted to a cashbox on the third shelf beyond the U. It takes less than 3 minutes for the tray to arrive.

The food you eat is the food you saw, and the cook you watched was smooth or sloppy, a student or an old woman with eyes thinner than sumi brush strokes. One room, no kitchen, no need for walls (except for the toilet). They call it LDK (Living-Dining-Kitchen) in the real estate brochures - perhaps fitting for this establishment as well, the difference being: that in the presence of strangers, there are no physical signs of affection. You eat, you trace the walls, you eat. Save your curious hands for the koshitsu izakayas, drinking-eating-bars, private rooms.

27.1.16

notes #3

"What do you think about Tange's architecture?"
"It's arrogant."
"And what about Ando's?"
"Fragile."
(From an old man helping me find my accommodation near Shinjuku Station, Jan 2016.)

I would like to blend: Kazuo Shinohara, Makoto Sei Watanabe, and Kiko Mozuna.
Shinohara is good, even excellent. Watanabe is quite good, hm, a bit average.
Mozuna is just bad, bad, bad, bad. It would be interesting to blend them, because
I am also good, quite good, and bad, at times. Maybe I could build something
that would also be good, quite good, and bad, but this time, all at the same time.

I enjoy imitating other people's success, I'm just not
very successful at it.

"I have a theory that Tadao Ando has stayed true to his Osaka roots
and was just messing with Tokyo the entire time with the Zaha stadium."

20% av alla som blir förkylda är fortfarande snuviga efter två veckor.
Som att alla som är snuviga bestämmer sig för att rösta på Sverigedemokraterna
eller att alla Sverigedemokrater är snuviga.

With age you become somewhat of a caricature of yourself.
The older you get, the less of a shit do you give, and the more
you talk about whatever you want to talk about, anyway.

Whatever the Brits can do, they can't do funk.
The Japanese, on the other hand ...

Experimentation is knowing very well what you're doing
but not nearly as well where you're going.

Architectural language is not so much bad
distasteful, elitist or unentertaining
(or the opposite)
as it is irrelevant.

The idea that I need some kind of philosophy in order to formulate my architecture
is as absurd as Hegel needing some kind of architecture
in order to formulate his philosophy.
Nowhere do you see sublation or negation described
as a form of masonry, perspective projection, or furniture list.

The moment when you write "dishwasher"
by hand, sloppily, as a note in your sketchbook
and your boss asks why you've wrote "dickwasher"

25.1.16

23.1.16

1964, now void

Two policemen stand outside the gate to the prince's palace, calm, smiling to each other. I walk by. In the other direction, old men and young women run their rounds around the palace, a Saturday jog, sweating and panting but not stopping, not for a moment.

A five minute walk away, I see baseball grounds, expats playing tennis under American East Coast instructions - they move to gain heat. There are no English instructions to the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery. There were no visitors, but, I greeted the man in the reception with a bow, and the woman on her lunch break with a smile.

The Olympic Stadium is gone. I've only seen it in pictures, but now I just saw a big empty hole with a wall around it, sometimes punched through with plastic windows. Demolition done. No more machines. No more workers. Puddles of water here and there. The grass had returned. To think, this was what this valley next to the Sumida River once looked like, 400 years ago. It could be like that - no, it *will* be like that - sometime in the future, as well. Tokyo reached peak population in 2015. 37 million. Imagine them all gone. Imagine all the buildings gone. All the streets. What do you have? Hills and rivers. New sprouts of grass.

A big hole in the middle of Tokyo.
It is scary to behold - a sort-of third catastrophe.
An earthquake. A war. And now, a sports event.

There is still snow on Fumihiko Maki's Metropolitan Gymnasium. There are benches on the court in front of it, next to the soda vending machines, four out of very few benches in this city. I sit there and eat a hotdog. I am the only one sitting. There are good views to behold from the upper deck of the gymnasium, I can tell, good views for a few seconds, before we are bored, order a coffee and talk about next May's vacation plans, instead.

In Shiodome, few people. Schlagers from hidden speakers, restaurants on several floors, with one, two customers, waiters constantly worried about their next salary constructing the widest of smiles just greeting disinterested strangers.

The Yamanote to Shibuya is surprisingly empty.
The journey is surprisingly short. In Shibuya, of course
the masses of black suits, jackets and coats never cease
to wade beneath the neon.

18.1.16

buying juice for the blueberries that we see on the package

Snow on the tracks, and the city is stunned. Hat on, but no gloves. My hands attach to the laptop case, one at a time, shifting, to exercise the blood. Expecting an easy journey to Shibuya, but stunned as well when I reach Komazawa Park Entrance. What looked like people waiting (for no reason) turned out to be a waylaying snake into the underground, twitching, hit by the fever of a train that might be coming, might be not, and moving onward.

2½ hours. I smiled at times, had time to put on my headphones and put them away again, and the reverse with my hat. Four trains arrived, two with me first in line, but with every new pair of doors that opened, people seemed to be beamed in with a cascade of tired faces to fill up the carriage even more. Snow melted on the doorframe, a grey-haired man closed his eyes and soaked his face, voluntarily? I don't know. I spent time guessing whether a bag or an umbrella would get stuck in the door.

The feeling of having the weight of another person on top of you
only that you're standing.

How does one remember this?
People share their commuting stories over lunchtime.
It's normal during snowfall.

17.1.16

I left the humidifier on all night

Dust accumulating on the floor, skin flakes and fragments of crisps that turned dour with time - now gone. Sucked up and stored away - and then, the question of who takes care of it. Not me. Not yet. Unless I am forced. Such as with recycling.

I do not yet know if it is a cloudy day outside, but I've made a guess I hold for more than a guess. The window is grey, hence whatever is out there ought to be grey.

This temperature does not sooth me, but it soothes my face. Chills it, reduces it to principles of humidity. If the remote is on the bedside drawers, and the filter needs cleaning, we prefer silence and ice. Clothes reveals themselves as heat, as preserved air, as my survival in this room.

Meanwhile, on a Japanese game show, bubble soccer players do not want to be associated with clothes anymore than Lucio Fontana wanted to be associated with the canvas. A roommate says: I'd really like to do that some day. So is the wish for smashing an inflated plastic body into another stronger than being intellectually and spiritually uplifted by a slashed piece of fabric. It's what is.

My lamp has three modes. The first: full-on. The second: hardly any difference from full-on. The third: too weak to be considered purposeful for anything, at least as long as we have the other lamp by the bed, which we fail to turn on at 3 AM without tipping over the precious bottles of eyedrops we've placed next to us. I see little with these eyes, and hence, until this room has built its own glasses, I wear the world on my nose.

Across the street: Fumihiko Maki's Spiral, and a dusk that falls over the KFC sign. All that money, all that time, all those drawings, and now I care more about how the pepped cola retreats from the ice cubes as I suck up the last of it. It is as should be. Wax-infused haircuts focusing here on the spotlights reflecting in the window, there on the ex that they consider texting again. All is as should be.

When we want a playlist for the customers, we call in a marketer.
Nobody asked L. M. Young whether music needed a purpose.
With or without him knowing it, we took a purpose for it.

16.1.16

the Tokyo that is

What is it really that matters to us, and
do we really need to call it architecture
in order for it to be architectural?

These days, I do not think so much on whether I have a responsibility to architecture anymore. For me, it is more important to be responsible for my work at the office, to be responsible *for* the office, within it, its success, its contributions. As I was showering today, I wondered to myself: what does public and private mean here? Truth to the medium and the solid and the function and the context and everything else we know of, or should know by the time we graduate? What purpose - really - does this language of architects serve, beyond serving the architects themselves, their community, their thought of influence that - naturally - in the eyes of every architect - is representative for (yet apparently never authoritarian to) the greater society, the greater good?

It seems to me that architecture doesn't really exist because anyone particular particularly needs it beyond the architects. Buildings are buildings. Meanwhile: electromagnetic clouds might be our new cities, fashion steals terminology from architecture in order to gain the same credibility that the dippers gain from hijacking Popper, Benjamin, or TEDx. And so, we like to think that hard-earned facts, the skills of Raphael, are worth more than scribbles from a three-year-old (if he's not eating the crayons) - all while, ironically, great artists try to undo, rewind and unlearn these skills they so silently were born with from the start. Funny. But maybe not so funny once we consider our loneliness (despite the drama), impotence (despite the budgets), and dedication to architectural culture - the culture I was so caught up with in London.

Example. Let's see. Free-space. Coined as flexibility by Mies, developed as radical form by Woods, applied heavy-handedly by me in 2009, now all the rage again as a heroic pragmatism and ironic resignation at the point where intellectual freedom has to extend beyond the super-control of a liberal market state controlled by franchised autocracy. What is it really? Is it relevant? More to the point: WHO SAYS that it is relevant? Philosophers? Architects? Architects wanting to sound like philosophers?

Actually, let's be frank. Who gives a fuck about "free-space"? What am I going to do with it? It's like saying that the skin is a piece of "free-clothes." However, that would be missing the point. It exists because someone wills it into existence. That someone is the architect. He fabricates terms for that which "other people" take for granted, something they need (he claims), but lack the expertise to formulate with proper agency. Hence, the architect exposes ideas instrumental to advancing practical culture - the application of ideas. How delusional isn't this? Wherever I went, I sure needed the supermarket more than served/serving, the sexual fantasy of the shower room more than the typologico-stylistic variations of Rossi.

Architecture is an inbred culture, and, to be honest, I preferred it more when it was consciously aware of this contradiction-of-a-criticism-of-contradictions and screwed itself from within in trying to fabricating some kind of monstrous child that could screw itself one more time once it had grown up, than pretending to extend research that is speculative at best to problems we get an altruistic kick out of bringing to an Architizer thread. So let's look at it from the other point of view. Let's forget that we're architects. Let's forget architecture. Let's just never use this bloody term again. What do we have? And what matters?

If he doesn't use a kitchen, and never will
why give him a kitchen?

komazawa

7.1.16

lies lies lies

There's a place hidden in Omotesando. I cannot tell you what it is yet. There, between Aoyama's glittering thunder junkies (those who overdose in situ), and the lions guarding the entrance to darkness, there stands something which I thought I could live without, but which - like the china in the vitrine and crushed on the table with a fiver next to it - dragged itself back to my mind, to remind me, you will never be free - you will suffer - you will be ripped apart - but, as we know that it is the way of perception - at some point we will be free (for a minute) - we will be pleased (from the rush) - and we will be sewn together again. But

it's a funny thing, that what rips us apart again are our hands, the same hands that held yours in innocence, before we knew what could break us - it was not a substance, unless you think of love as a substance in your blood - and now ... what do we have ... a mess ... another mess ... another decaffeinated evening, reverse excitement, that of fearing to not be excited at all, and therefore forced to abandon a life that you had fantasised over for a fiver - five dollar years - and five years of fifty-thousand dollars.

Life has no time for those who have no intention to live.
It kills them swiftly.

For those who seem to not even see a future in death
it grants them life, but the courage

that they need
to live on their own

that, they will also have to find on their own.

6.1.16

I really don't like long flights

The motorway follows me through Tokyo, even when I can't see it, when my body is hidden on the wrong subway train, exiting at the wrong station, taking the train back, missing the train, altogether tortured by the same halogen light that is due to be replaced by batteries charged by angry passengers. I should've taken this motorway, I thought, I should've caressed the steering wheel (if I had one) and I would've enjoyed the acupunctural massage coming from each fringe where concrete slab #1289 ends and concrete slab #1290 begins - or the reverse, of course.

The night fell, and the city lit up, in some kind of attempt to create stars of its own, to compete with what we see above us, and even that which is below us - because in a city, the strongest light is found where it is the most needed, naturally: on the platform (we may take a misguided step, or push someone over the edge), in the carriage (so we know that we are sufficiently avoiding the eyes of another passenger), but not in the tunnel itself. The rats know that they've seen enough, and, hey, if I were a rat, I would've preferred darkness as well.

As far away from humanity as possible. What we cannot get in voices or in embraces, we can get by speaking to the echo that the wall leaves behind, and by carefully making love to a concrete pillar. As I look at David, the statue, I wonder how much humanity is within, how the caryatids may have found something here that is crucial to the escape of anything human. I see a body, but it is a dead body, one forever dead, never born, one proving even that death is not the end, and mummified he dances without moving a limb, while the rest of us go on pretending (knowingly or unknowingly) that we've found something that celebrates life. It is wrong. It was dead, altogether, since the birth that never began, and from the death that was always the case.

I look at the motorway again. I have never rode it. God knows I have rode beneath it, where the taxi scavengers pick up mid-level businessmen without a word. It goes fast, we race through and the signs turns to lines and the elevated motorway just continues, ahead and ahead, beyond my capacity to pay the fare, and perhaps even beyond my patience to discover a city that has - so far - not been able to bore me.

Adieu, Shibuya. Let me bathe in your grasshopper-scripted stars, before I go to bed, dream of you, and wake up to the same reality that will have me forced to say: bon matin.

30.12.15

Höllviken

 
I go on living for the day when I can live that entire day
thinking that it was enough to live for.

29.12.15

I should read more books

Architecture preceding definition, definition after architecture is revealed, architecture knowing it is architecture before we even are able to speak ...

I'm leaning towards Sou Fujimoto. Not that I want to work for him, and not that I share his philosophy - too simplistic, although I suppose Duchamp-light also has its place in the world ... but the thought of "architecture is everywhere" is good. Not that I would like to stack potato chips or staplers and attach witty observations to them - or throwing urinals/fountains at the audience, for that matter - but I reminds me that I am given, as is being, appreciated consciously or not. The TR-909 was there before the Brighton scene, just as the beginning of the universe was there before we thought of a way to fabricate its end (perhaps the best ascendance to divinity we can ever attempt).

It's such a poor world if we leave it up to buildings to declare what buildings should be. Yet people seem happy, not least the El Croquis readers. The history of architecture smothers all attempts at discrediting it as an illusion, and the danger of nostalgia is at its most dangerous when it hasn't been identified as such, when we go on replicating the same spaces and ideas that were prominent some 60-70-80 years ago. I often feel like the architects are just exaggerating dated concepts in a vain (but sometimes deveivingly well-made) attempt to resuscitate their relevance. Hence students keep on quoting Marshall McLuhan, Aby Warburg, Frederick Kiesler, Siegried Giedion - with evermore radical agendas. And then they graduate, after which, formally, they go on to churn out such heaps of boring shit it makes Chip look progressive. It could be worse, though. It could be the 90s. The Pritzker could go to Cesar Pelli.

Doesn't anyone want to move forward, any longer?

28.12.15

these obsessions of people blinded by themselves

I'm past the stage now when I think that I have to sort out all my thoughts before I can act and become procrastinatingly obsessed with excellence-without-effort, but. Things still linger on. I accept that people are different, and that there is no case identical to mine, that I will ever identify perfectly with a diagnosis or respond perfectly to a medicine - or, for that matter, a situation. But this does not stop certain things others say and write from resonating with that which you yourself say and write.

I don't like the term perfectionism, mainly because it entails a vision of a man or a woman preoccupied with meeting requirements of success stipulated by society - or so the saying goes. It's about as much of a simplification as saying that Victoria's Secret is the reason we have young girls with BDD. Most researchers only assign a minor role to such societal pet issues. But there are other types of perfectionists, those who invent their own ideals and strive relentlessly to achieve them. These are the weirdos with their own vision of the world - and not seldom they manage to convince others of its merits as well. I don't know if I will ever manage to change anything (although that drives me, for sure), but I do identify with this: that pain is the price perfectionists pay for success.

Somehow, I go on knowing very well that ideals, expectations and demands obfuscate an ability to appreciate the moment, while, in fact, I loathe those who try to convince me to appreciate that moment, enjoy life, slow down, expect less, be good enough, whatever you want. They are for those not willing to withstand pain. On the other hand, why should anyone choose pain - repeatedly - if success only means a temporary relief from it?

Irrelevant, I say. I can't change myself.
But what I'm saying is this:
I don't want to change myself.

Live forever or die trying.
Because otherwise, it would be
as if I had never lived.

So. How many sacrifices am I willing to make? My health has been slowly deteriorating over the past five years. I am an architect, yes, I am in Tokyo, yes - but is it enough? Is it? I told myself: it would be. To graduate from an elite school, ka-ching. That's it. Huh. I realise that I will graduate for sure now, so graduation is not enough. What is enough, then? A prize? Ka-ching. I got it. Was it enough? Not enough. Not yet.

There's a reason I don't have any heroes, any longer, at least not in architecture. Because those architects I know of, all of them make shit. It is not enough. The architect I hold for "good enough" hasn't existed, will probably never exist, yet now I demand myself to become him, and fully convinced - to the point of perversity - that I can become him. Or, at least, die trying.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEwSfbE9IXc

22.12.15

in the interest of a nation

Sometimes I feel disgusted to be Swedish. Disgusted by politicians, disgusted by journalists. I'm disgusted by leftists, rightists and those in-between too uptight to be anything but neutral (what else can you be?). People say that reality is difficult. I live that reality. I struggle. I have many weaknesses. Understanding people is one. Perhaps that is why I'm easily disgusted by them.

Waves of refugees over the bridge, literally waves on the Öresund shore. Pretty words. "We welcome everyone." And then, shut the door. Enough! We need a fika. For how long? To what extent? Don't give up your Christmas ham for dignity to a child with a fake passport. But I'm not voting for the Guardianists. They are as arrogant as the Trumpists, in another manner, of course, a politically correct one (everyone has their own definition of what is "politically correct", with the purpose of breaking it). Vänster seems to think that Sweden is a paradise, and that everyone arriving here will automatically see ALL of this MAGNIFICIENT super-folkhome cosiness, equality, delight and justice. Sure, we're better than many others, but not a shred of a perfect country. The refugees themselves know this, but Sjöstedt and the others don't. Why won't these people rejoice? Perhaps paradise is only paradise to those who were born into it, who have never known any other.

Reality catching up.
Ideology burning out.
Welfare is more important than bunk beds.
Look at Greece. A shattered nation. They were the gateway.
True. They did not do everything perfect. But they did it.
True. Few refugees voluntarily stayed there.
But they did stay for a substantial time.
Greece did a fucking good job given their cards.
And Sweden?

We all make decisions. Mine so far has been to turn my back to this hypocrisy, in some manners risking hypocrisy myself. But in another manner, I might be preparing. To actually do my part, as well. The only good thing about being Swedish is that it gives you the right to decide what being Swedish should actually mean.

20.12.15

"The thing that worries me the most is that everyone wears the same things, eats the same things, lives in the same environments, thinks the same things, read the same books, says the same things, builds the same buildings, yes, really this is what worries me the most."

--Toyo Ito (paraphr.)

18.12.15

very Fuji

 
What is art? The truth is that no-one knows any longer.
One day a woman is stabbed at a biennale, and the visitors
(and the artists)
silently go on about their business
thinking what they see is art
(until the cops arrive).
The next day, Europe's most heavyweight art prize goes
to a collective of architects, philosophers and builders
fresh out of school now degentrificating neighbourhoods
in mid-urban England with proposals
that woud be nostalgic at best in London.
No-one knows any longer.

23.11.15

post-London, mid-Tokyo

The more time I'm spending in Tokyo, the more I realise, about myself, the reasons why I came here, or, rather, they crystallise and become understandable when they suddenly have a backdrop to project themselves against. My interest in Japanese culture is not only a personal preference - although the personal is an initiator and a source of enjoyment - but also a desire to absorb a culture which has reached a similar point of saturation as that of London and my home in Sweden, only by slightly different means, guarded by a slightly different cultural background and seedbed for contemporary, mechanised and digitised life. Tokyo ended up differently than any other city, but it has done so without rejecting other civilisations and modes of thinking, like they tried to do (unsuccessfully) during the great lockdown of the Edo period.

Tokyo has been described as many things. In the office, we often speak of its multiple destructions as prerequisites for rebuilding and expansion. Tokyo had its earthquake, its firebombings, and its economic liberalisations. Quite soon after the introduction of the International Style in Japan, the foremost Japanese architects themselves began to search for a reconciliation of the traditional sense of "ma" in their architectural culture, with the advantages of contemporary theory and practice primarily in Europe and the US. Kisho Kurokawa, the wunderkind of Metabolism, was one of the first, and he never really stopped pondering on the question. Hence, the remarkable theoretical achievement of his latter days - the Philosophy of Symbiosis - emerged, but not alone. Kuma was doing Doric columns. Ito was embracing all kinds of tech and thought brought in by international trade, and Sejima unabashedly celebrated her roots in Mies. Somewhere else, yet precisely here.

The reason I am in Tokyo is not because I want to build Japanese buildings, or learn a Japanese style, and bring it back to Europe, like other young graduates before me have. That's not enough, and I don't think I'm alone. We were part of quite a large generation who left Sweden for our final studies, and in some cases, remained outside - for now, at least. I am one of them, of course, and I share many of their concerns. But, in the end, it has been important for me to pinpoint and formulate what I've been doing, what I want to do, and why and how I am doing it. Perhaps I am the intellectualist, after all. I don't aspire to make myself the theoretical voice of a generation, but I'm not so naive to think that my position does not resonate with others around me, what we learned and rejected, and what we are now on the brink of achieving.

I spoke about Kurokawa before, and of symbiosis. In a way, my own theory is a continuation of that, pushed further. I am starting to become an advocate of synthesis. Intellectual synthesis. Formal synthesis. Political synthesis. Cultural synthesis. Psychological synthesis. Partially this has arisen through my careful reading of Hegel, but I have no necessary need to follow his system of immediates and negations. I don't particularly believe in that. I am still interested in conflict, of course, that was the key aspect of my B.Arch project in Sweden in 2009, and I'm not shy of confrontation, at least not in terms of formulating a concept and a position from it. But conflict does not exist without resolution. Even if we take perpetual conflict as our preferred higher ground, new conflict cannot emerge without a reformulation of an old conflict, in short, a resolution, a synthesis. It's not a matter of stopping history, it's a matter of branching it, grafting it.

Another quote important to me is from an unknown author (unknown because I don't remember him or her, or have the book with me in Tokyo) included by Jacques Barzun in his mammoth achievement "From Dawn to Decadence." It simply stated the preference today for "salad bowl" over "melting pot." This is an unexpected counter-trend to technocratic globalism that has been brewing for a few decades now, culminating in tragedies such as Islamic fundamentalism and Islamophobia (equally deplorable). Architects are not responsible for this, but they're not innocent. They act or do not act in its wake, sadly, most of the time, unaware of the greater course of events. There's a danger of this "salad bowl." It does not breathe difference and idiosyncrasy, as was expected of it, rather it has given rise to polarisation, bigotry, hypocrisy, propaganda, opportunism - embodied, but not limited to, the Republican race for 2016. I do not believe we can fight such tendencies with a policy of unabashed pluralism, the "good side" of the issue. Great societal trends such as these tend to be accessible to all, and appropriated by all camps - "good" or "bad." We need, therefore, to address the root of the problem: the reluctance to go beyond pluralism, even beyond symbiosis.

At my final two years at the AA, I was relentlessly occupied with the idea of a movement and of a gathering point for architects, unaware myself of why I wanted to achieve it. At that point, it was a hunch, a feeling of something being out of order, rather than the fruitless search of a counterposition. I am more and more drifting towards the conclusion that movements, and the manifestos that go with them, are becoming a thing of the past. "Return to zero" (such as the philosophy of Pier-Vittorio Aureli, in my interpretation) as well as "forward the revolution" (such as Paul Mason's postcapitalism) may prove me wrong, but I consider them more romantic than operative, in the current climate. I believe the climate of future architecture and society has to be much more subtle than that, retaining the personal while approaching a new form of coherency.

I began my studies in a school heavily influenced by the British scene. My first forays away from its Swedish counterpart was the embrace of narrative and hypothetical systems of social organisation. I don't particularly find them interesting anymore as architectural devices, but I do find them important because, at the time, they allowed me to advance. Traces of them are still visible in most things I do. But now, I find it problematic the way these narratives were constructed, and that is actually something not exclusive to the British, to the heavily biased President's Medals, but just as much embodied by a now well-fermented attention to place, context, and history. I tended to reject context because the way it was employed was itchingly narrow-minded - restricted to the physical environment - and I similarly lambasted the concept for its lack of content, a sort-of intellectual stylism. But what's crucial about how both of these operate, in and out of school, is their preference for the specific. That was an issue I didn't see as an issue until recently, in fact, I was once on its side.

In Sweden, the specific was mobilised in the attention to site and user. Gone was the average man and the average city, architecture was once again tailor-made. I'm being a bit drastic here, but that's a reflection of how you perceive things as a student, and, similarly, how ideas are communicated to you by the more inexperienced teachers, as unclear minds tend to require clear directives. Consequently, I made specific architecture, specific form, specific programs, for specific clients and cities. It's not even a matter of the heroic, because the specific is everywhere - you just have to point it out. This, of course, is its greatest irony. Many architects today make a market ploy out of the necessity to respond to specific issue.

The introduction to more advanced - some would say free, although I would contest this - thinking in third year rather exaggerated this specificity than tried to modify it. This is crucial because now we're approaching the elite schools of architecture, at least in Europe. The most award-winning projects, the most nominated ideas, were, again, built on extremely specific situations, sites, programs, users, forms, and issues. I will not contest that the merit of the best ones were their capability to at least signify an universal importance to the issues attested, but an issue is one thing, a response is another. Specificity was high currency in the design market around 2009, when I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree.

The problem that I now find in this is its polarising capacity and celebration of difference without consideration of how this difference can be carried beyond its positing. Or, to put it simply, cannot architecture do something more than driving the celebration of the ego? By all means, we've seen a shift since the 00s, in fact, the shift began to happen already around 2010. The Venice Biennale is but a small example: Chipperfield's "Common Ground" and Koolhaas "Fundamentals" aim to concentrate rather than differentiate the field today - and this continues in 2016 with the more hands-on exhibition on successful applications of this theoretical tendency. At a school like the AA, we're still slightly split: one camp continues the specific, the other attempts to erase it, at the very least formally. It is telling that one of the nominations for the Medals this year is concerned with "the emptiness of the desert", de-programmed architecture, vast freedom. It was also the student's choice for that year's best project.

Meanwhile, the Bartlett, which I still remain entitled to comment on for my direct involvement with the lecture series, the students and many of the teachers there, both in projects and in conversation, continues to pursue their well-known recipe of "the universal in the specific", hence climate change remains the overall directive, while the projects are absolutely everywhere and precisely somewhere in the world, with equally precise graphic profiles and personal attachments. It will be, at the very least, interesting to see how the jury reasons this year - the AA has been noticeably absent from the awards for some years (although I am fortunately a good friend of our last recipient). Perhaps the shift will occur soon.

There's of course much more to be said of the schools and their agendas around the world - Columbia, Pratt, Mostafavi's Harvard, SCI-Arc, Rice, MIT, Yale (the maverick) in the US, Strelka in Russia, the Berlage in the Netherlands, ETH in Zurich, Tokyo Uni and Tokyo Tech - but I'm not so sure the issues I've discussed here fundamentally differ. The flavour might, but all in all architecture is quite a homogeneous profession, at least in the elite.

I am not yet capable of formulating a complete theory or directive for a philosophy and architectural theory of synthesis, so this small essay is mainly concerned with where we are today, what we're coming out of, and what we need to begin to question. What is clear here is that the board is set. Graduates all over the world are at a point, a very interesting time, indeed, where they must begin to question the way architecture is pracised - perhaps something which is even more important than the buildings themselves.

Patrik Schumacher's observations, disseminated for instance in his recent unapologetic lecture at the Royal Academy, are interesting as a form of embodiment of a time that went by and a time that we're now entering. Many of my generation tend to dismiss him - and Zaha - by making what we think are very clever comparisons between what we see in their architecture, and what comes out of their mouths, but he is very clear about one thing that needs to be said, and that is the recent neo-politication of architectural practice. Other articles, such as one on design criticism on ArchDaily I recently read (still the best aggregate website), point out that present society effectively allows everyone to be a critic - but without the professional responsibilities of being so. The result is not only a politicisation of architecture, it is an opinionisation.

The politic dimensions of architecture are nothing new - they have always been there, just as economics, e.g. how much money the worker is paid, has political dimensions - what's resurfacing is the perception that architecture now has both political influence, downright *power*, and that architects have the right to combine agendas which are decidedly partial - i.e. specific - with an universal phenomenon - the need for communal space. Cruder examples are the Occupy Skyscrapers, the "ISIS training camps", the counter-neoliberal rhetoric, and what cannot be described as anything but a sprinkling of political glitter in order to make a project relevant in this new climate. These are only examples I have had personal access too.

I am a child of my environment. I too absorbed the exciting feeling of being on the verge of a new era, the one where architects became activists again - spatial activists - and humanitarian resources­, not just in the developed countries, but everywhere across the world, proposing projects from peepoo bags to distaster sheltering to wartime protection vehicles, to interventions against slums, inequality, repression, and so on. It's even more interesting to note that projects such as these were equally lambasted by both colleagues and teachers a few years ago. I remember an interesting project at Lund which involved a scheme to deploy emergency resources in Palestine during the war - the critics hated the project and were convinced that it had nothing to do in an architecture school. Architects didn't do this. It was not their responsibility as architects. It is in this light we have to see the fairly recent criticism of Zaha Hadid's echoing of the exact same statement as regards to her views on construction workers' rights in the Middle-East.

Things have turned quickly, but so have I, and I'm sure many around me, as well. I saw this shift last year, and in a debate article I wrote this summer for the Swedish Association of Architects. The best manner to engage architecture politically is by doing so *within* our profession. Hence, I argued for the recognition of equal pay, equal opportunity, equal freedom, but also responsibility in the fields directly associated with our daily activity. My arguments were many, but two can be singled out: the necessity for architects to build a sound profession from within, in order to be entitled the responsibility to do so for others, and the proximity between expertise and reality (we talk about that we know) to counter blatant opinionisation. These remain relevant, I think, but cannot sustain themselves as main themes, any longer.

Like I said, these are the tendencies, and these are the problems. I could be content, as are many critics, with leaving it up to others to contribute to a way forward, but I am not a critic. I am a trained, practising architect, and it is as such I want to engage with the world. The need for a philosophy and application of synthesis has come to the fore very recently, but it is something, as you have begun to understand through this text, I believe will have a great effect on not just my own future, but that of those around me, my generation. I am looking forward to see us evolve.

18.11.15

Tori no Ichi, Hanazono-Jinja

Working hard, but not without time to stop by Shinjuku for a traditional Shinto market with drums and dancing, 20 different odours in 20 metres, rain, beer, little gifts, and of course the ritual hand clapping and shouting once a deal has been struck and good fortune is heading your way. Meanwhile, December is approaching, my last year as a twenty-something, and then: adulthood, responsibility, houses and gardens and projects of all kinds, no-one knowing how they will all pan out.

Meanwhile, the bohemian lifestyle I'm living in Setagaya continues with something as down-to-earth as taking care of the laundry. After a call to the host, I am confirmed that the washing machine is "on the roof", which I, getting used to the nuanced interpretation of English that the Japanese often have, interpret as "on the top floor." Wrong. It's actually on the roof, together with the air-conditioning units. Why not? If laundry's getting wet, why not in open air?

15.11.15

the shoes of a Suica card topup queue

The hour is late and the meal has been eaten. Time to go. Time to go. Sunday in the office seemed like a return to position normal, to the bus trips to Bedford Square and the slightly daunting task of considering the presentation for another jury, every jury the most important of your life so far. Because what you've done, everything you've done, led up to this point. Everything you've touched, loved, escaped and sought culminates in a twelve minute presentation, or, for that matter, the task of slowing down your head once the hour is too late - time to sleep.

We will always miss the things we've once had, but no longer have.
Like time-warped conquistadors, we remember the touch of home
once we're in the process of building another home.

I am starting to realise that the point of my life, my life up until now, is encapsulated in these blog posts. They're diaries, they're updates, they're mostly for my use, to remember, I was the one who wrote them - nobody else - I was the one who lived the life which was stored on these servers. Quite a bit of an ego trip - not that the past few years have made me more egoistic, just a bit more self-aware, in the best sense of the word.

So many things I'm doing which I thought I were not capable of.
Perhaps the outcome of all my challenge is to believe in the fact
that I'm capable of just about anything - only not
with the requirement of being good at it.

14.11.15

after the crêpes

My book project continues, slowly, mostly around the weekends, the only time of the week when I take some time off for other things than those that pay the rent. Meanwhile, I'm continuing other book projects by browsing through entries in the art term dictionary I bought (and almost forgot) in Kyoto. It's a good way to end the day, with some writing, some crisps, and some motifs in Edo-period landscape painting and square pillars framing the toko-no-ma of any good Sukiya-house. (This is by heart, so apologies if I have mixed things up.)

Tokyo is rainy and dour, and I make my way through the city despite the city advising me to stay where I am. November is coming out in full character, only another kind of November, one closer to Siberia than to Moscow. Europe seems far away. Japan seemed far away, but is now home, and as I slowly mend my life back into shape (and myself with it), the city tends to heal me, in whatever form it offers - sushi, soba, nihonshu ...

I have a poster I hesitate to put up, because I know that I will not stay long in this room which I now call mine. I am temporarily present, awaiting the moment when I have an agreement, a monthly schedule, a solid paycheck, and white walls I am entitled to repaint. Tokyo is fading away from being a wish, and is slowly replaced by fact, by comfort. I learn many things, as I am trained in the harder of schools. But I do it because I want to. The day I no longer want it ... I don't think it'll come for a long time. The blustery 20:s are fading away, and are replaced by something more solid. Cue dinner parties and pregnancies. Nothing to tell yet. I will not tell.

12.11.15

on my own (as I was)

I can speak freely again. Not just write. It's a good feeling, to not feel anything in particular. Or, maybe just calmness. The state of being in control not so much of the world, as of the self acting within that world, departing from the interior and evaporating fear as if it was a drug on withdrawal. You may still call me crazy, yes, even I prefer to call myself that way, but as long as I hear myself, I hope that you enjoy hearing me as well ...

The aircon keeps me temperate to the city around me, to Tokyo of present 6-to-6 sunlight and expensive night buses taking me from Shibuya to Ikejiri in the length of an extended Perfume track. The drastic nearness of Japan - will it ever fade away? Can we, at some point, say that we are as special as we think we are, as the city is, as it interprets the fragments of "culture" we are fed intravenously through our augmented nervous systems?

I'm lacking sleep. Perhaps I don't want sleep.

Bad electro injected into the headphones, the kind which is tasty in small doses, like candy, but always leaves you as empty as the bowl in which the special ramen arrived in after the meal is done and gone and the next 3D-print is launched. Suddenly, everything seems possible again, even the appreciation of these overwashed dubstep drops.

It's not so much that I am schizophrenic
as the fact that I prefer schizophrenia.

'night.

9.11.15

Gallery Ma

Coming home, to a tetrapak of lemon tea and a chocolate waffle I bought yesterday, and then ... bed. Bed. Bed. Bed. Maybe to wake up early the next day, maybe just to enjoy my latest book, listening to an album by my latest musical fiancé, and, yes, it would be a wedding if you could marry a song intro, but then, maybe it's for the best that music remains just something of a disappearance, perhaps the most unerring of all arts in its evanescence ... here, for a moment, and then. Gone.

Music helps us to understand what time is:
something always there, but measured in passing.

Tokyo continues to be a mystery that is slowly operating towards its own resolution, reflected in a misquoted conspiracy towards cramming so much intensity of all kinds in one place - electricity, the temperature of tears, that jazz and its posters rolled too hard, like all too confident joints off a shelf in Amsterdam (where I forgot my gloves).

Bought a book in Kyoto, a "Dictionary of Japanese Art Terms." Good deal. It is bilingual, so I am able to learn a bit of Japanese as well, or, at least, to brush up my hiragana and katakana reading speed. Always useful. Now to transfer my dreams to Edo, rather than Tokyo, to the dead, rather than the living - if that may not sound too rash - and to music, where architecture falls back and disappears. Tranströmer knew it when he wrote his analogy on the rocks falling into a glass house, crashing through, but leaving all the panes intact.

8.11.15

notes from a lecture that never happened, in a city that never existed, from an author who already forgot what he wanted to write (Kyoto)


 
Maybe you don't care so much for dust
but dust is the only thing which is allowed
to touch Buddha.

Definition of a fine arts graduate:
all the technical skills at hand
but still not knowing
how to draw.

Correction of Wolf Prix's speech:
if someone asks you something in Japan
and you don't know the answer
the answer is always "yes."

A encyclopedia of everything is impossible.
What is interesting is what kind of world
that the encyclopedia gives rise to.

Art and continuity.