26.2.15

12 hour TS shifts

Everything that we perceive as normal, is normal only because we've seen it so many things before. In effect, it has become normal, and is only labelled as such in retrospect. I'm trying to hog my seat in the unit space at first time in the morning, and not let go of it until the evening. A Twix from the bar keeps me going after 8, and then, when the spreads are done and posted, just as the last bus prepares to make its leave from Tottenham Court Road, I shut down my computer and put on my hat. My TS tutorial today went better than I expected, although we primarily spoke of the project as such and not so much the technical solutions. But TS is - honestly - not very technical. It is more descriptive than it is investigative.

There are many books I'd like to read. The arch-theory book on my table, for instance. Thick but sweet. But when do I have time? After school maybe, or, after graduation, at least. A professor has the convenience of being forced to learn as much as to teach. One cannot know in advance, although intelligence itself has nothing to do with knowledge. That's the question we must ask: do we want professors of knowledge, or professors of intelligence. It's a tricky one.

Yesterday's grand insight: a formally complex project does not have to be intellectually complex, and an intellectually complex project does not have to be formally complex. In each situation - each forum, one may say - there calls for priority. The Helsinki Guggenheim entry on suckerpunch which frankly stated that we are not into bullshit and therefore admit that we only did this because we liked it, is perhaps the most bullshit there is. All form, all sculpture, all Patrik Schumacher, and nothing that changes architecture itself. It's like those stupid Coop Himmelb(l)au plans where a funky envelope covers a boring auditorium. Sit there, listen, shut up and save your notebooks for the foyer. This is bullshit at its highest perimeter. And still, if we take it as bullshit *as such*, and do not expect anything else, it might satisfy us. For a moment.

My own theoretical developments are dying away, mainly because my brain is fried in the evening (and that the evening-ly bus ride of retrospection and recollection hasn't happened in a week).

20.2.15

Sunrise

Nightworker

Technical Studies interim jury tomorrow (or, shall we say, today, but later?), and I'm prepared to pull my first all-nighter since I came to London. It's not that I need to, but I tend to feel better if I stay awake the whole time and then sleep when the day in question is fully over. I'm still young, I tell myself. I can still do this, with orange juice, chocolate and ambient techno in my headphones.

And, in a way, it's quite fun to do this. I see things progress, faster than they've never done before. Ideas pop into one's mind, and are immediately tested. No surprise that the best ideas one can get are those that shine brightly like stars in the sky of the night. (Or perhaps I'm just starting to hallucinate.)

My room is not the best for these kinds of exercises. Just one lamp in the ceiling, and my back turned to the window, which ought to provide me with some confirmation that there are more people than me going about their business. The sea never rests, the waves always flow in and out, always going somewhere, even if it means back to where they came from. What is the world on the third floor at 2 AM? It could be terrible, but it could also be quite beautiful.

See you when the sun rises.

15.2.15

Valentmix

It's been a while, hasn't it? More than a year! Truth be told, I haven't had neither the time nor the inspiration to scavenge the net for new songs. (After all, what is architecture school if not a big time-crusher?) BUT. The past weeks that interest has resurfaced again, and now, with a copy of Ableton Live 9 spreading that fresh install smell over my desktop, I can get back to compiling these little treasures in eclectic sonic territory. I will be using a new SoundCloud account to distribute them, but they won't last forever - or, to be more precise, only until the next mix is done, which doesn't say much, as we now know ... anyway, if there is any past mix of me you're looking for, I have them all on my HD. In the meantime, download, listen, wear it and tear it as much as you like. Happy Valentine's Day.

Track List: (Artist - Album - Song - Year)

1. Ryoji Ikeda - Test Pattern - Test Pattern #0101 (Edit) (2008)
2. Rabit - Sun Dragon - Atacama Skeleton (2014)
3. Pantha du Prince - Black Noise - Bohemian Forest (2010)
4. Ontario Hospital - Future Ready - Consumer Report (2015)
5. Kontext - Dispersal - Moon Whispers (2014)
6. Seazo - A Tribute To Cosmos - Binarium (2014)
7. Whitehouse - Birthdeath Experience - On Top (1980)
8. Until The Ribbon Breaks - A Lesson Unlearnt - The Other Ones (Intro) (2015)
9. Trampique - The Voice of Colour - Indigo (2014)
10. Lin Jia Qing - Journey to Gusu - Birds Play in Water (1997)
11. Aphex Twin - Computer Controlled ... - hat5c 0001 rec-4 (2015)
12. Capsule - CAPS LOCK - DELETE (2013)
13. Alessandro Alessandroni - Industrial - Comitato aziendale (2015)
14. Kazumasa Hashimoto - Epitaph - echomoo (2004)
15. Efdemin - Chicago - Oh My God (Reprise) (Edit) (2010)
16. Anders Ilar - Sworn - Icarus & Pegasus (2008)
17. Bad Sector - Absolute - Absolute 05 (2015)
18. Surgeon - Balance - Set Two (1998)
19. Adventure Time - Of Beyond - Set On Satellites (2014)
20. Broken Bone - Willowbrook - Coercion (2014)
21. The Phoeron - Universal Equation - A Widened Perspective (2008)
22. Takahiro Kido - Fairy Tale - Roads (2011)

All is equal.

10.2.15

Shigeru Ban in Oita

Time to say goodnight, as usual. My days at school are getting longer, but, on the other hand, I get more sunshine, sprinkling rays over unfinished models and leftovers from last Friday's tutorial on the table. My life is busy, not because I am forced, like so many others, to fill this time with obligations, necessities, responsibilities ... but because I have promised myself to finish what I've started, even if it means assuming a bit of a new habit, one that needs a few more hours of dedication every week.

A project can easily not only throw you into the deep end, but also submerge you by the very weight you heap on it. So many ambitions, so many ideals, but, in the end, you have to edit. Edit, edit, edit. And redo. Over and over again, until it SHINES. Thought I had enough content already in my project, so I spent the weekend modelling my main drawing in Maya. Not so wise. My teacher sent me an email by lunchtime, spurring me to do that which is harder, harder because it is necessary. So. I quit Maya, went back to pen and paper, but quickly discovered I worked even faster in Illustrator. Every moment has its movement, and every movement has its tool.

Technical Studies interim jury in two weeks. Will have to churn out as much as I can for that purpose, squeeze in every experiment, every application, and every stray idea. "TS is refreshing", one of my friends who graduated said, "you can spend your time doing ugly diagrams and then get a high pass from it." I remember reading something similar about the AA honours. A project of that calibre isn't necessarily "perfect", on the contrary, it can be rough and unpolished, but what matters is that it contains something fantastic, something that has you thinking: so this is what architecture can be. We cannot demand of students to be perfect, but we can demand of them to risk it all for uncovering something that can be perfected - for a lifetime.

5.2.15

What do we do tomorrow? Precisely what we did yesterday.

But this is only true of what we do, of course, not *what* we do. My teacher laughed at me when I told her, a few months ago, which other units I had considered before going back to Dip 9: "Dip 6 and Dip 14." Now, what are they? For a brief introduction, look here and here. Quite different? Quite different. Especially considering the things I do right now, which sit in between black holes, corporate organisations, and wooden space frames.

I think this warrants a quote, again from Lefebvre, my new favourite philosopher: "Why choose? Why should I be forced to choose? In Stendhal's vision - and this is what gives it its value - choice is absurd and monstrous; it results in mutilation and one-sidedness. To choose, to want art as service and not as beauty - that is, if beauty and art still mean anything - is to prefer the part to the whole. It is like defining love as reproduction. Why renounce pleasure? Why turn into a moraliser, a puritan, an ascetic, on the pretext of being of service?"

Is it true? It is as true as you wish it to be. If you, like me and Stendhal, do not want to define what precisely is truth and what isn't, and prefer rather to linger on in an indefinite, neutral (but passionately grey) limbo of which all things are possible, but none are real, then it makes sense why we continue to do things even despite losing faith in them, perhaps, in fact, in never having faith ...

Bartlett is stuck in the 80s.
AA is stuck in the 60s.
SCI-Arc is stuck in itself.
Lund was never stuck in anything.
We all need to be stuck in something.

3.2.15

Yufuin's Golden Lake

White walls to stare into, white light in your back, switching to electric light in the evening. I stayed at home, and found it relaxing. No-one to talk to, just me, and a computer to wrestle with, content to be produced, today, not tomorrow. I'm making a book. No, not just a TS-book, but an actual book. It will be my testament, my legacy to myself. I'm thinking of having six printed exes of that book on the final table-table, when they decide whether you pass or fail, just barely pass, or fail gloriously. Not many months left now, and then, I will - hopefully - be an architect. At least with my first steps taken.

When I walked to the grocery store to top up on milk and salad, I found myself thinking, once again: yes, this is how I want to live. This pleases me. I am lucky. I can do many things, but most importantly: I can enjoy what I do. The struggle is worth it. The stubbornness pays off. And with nearly all the sweets from Japan gone and eaten (the Yufuin crackers being the exception), I can look forward new horizons, new rallying points, and new places to vanish into. Life goes on, life begins and ends, but, in the end, I'm glad I'm here.

Tutorial tomorrow. Another stamp of approval?
Otherwise: I will fight, I promise to fight
if for nothing but my own pleasure.

1.2.15

Osaka Pigeon

Jury in the rear second presentation space - a classic example of carrot-and-stick. At first, when I presented, the critics seemed to steer the discussion in the direction of my own uniqueness, my "Oliver-ness", but my teacher quickly interrupted and declared: "It is too much Oliver! I don't know how to talk about it!" And I suppose she is right. Crits are surprising, a bit disconcerting, but ultimately we wouldn't want to live without them. Finally my birthday present for my girl arrived in Japan, two teddy-bears stuck in an embrace for almost two weeks (and a letter, of course).

Swedish meatballs in the fridge, with Greek salad, potential Greek defaults in the news, and Greek PhD-graduates slowly immersed in the Bartlett. The day is almost over, and with it, the harshness of the throat can be laid to rest, the chilly winds attempting to catch my hat on my way to Sainsbury's surrendering to the brick wall of my Edgware Road domicile. Now I have read Baudrillard as well, so what remains? A lot. A lot. Althusser, Adorno, Zisek, Foucault, Wittgenstein (again), Guattari, Popper ... all men, I notice. Maybe a bit of Simone de Beauvoir, if I can find her in the AA library.

From instrumental hip-hop to Zorba, from a selection of Chopin's finest to pseudo-psychedelic chamber music. There is no such joy as hitting "random" on a selection you've already made. Perhaps this is what Lefebvre meant when he discussed the aleatory?

28.1.15

You win again, SANAA

I wonder why I am doing this. Why I am attempting to be someone. Sometimes, I feel that it is easier to disappear, than to fail, for disappearance had with it a hint of mystery, a thought left unresolved. But somehow, I keep pushing on, for that moment when architecture means something more than just a passing glance and a knowing smile ... is there more we can do, or is that all? Is the impotence of architecture a reality, like the passengers on the bus choosing rather two empty seats back in the bus than sitting close to a stranger on a seat further up front ... ? I don't know. I wish I knew. Sometimes architecture matters, sometimes it is devoid of all feeling.

Perhaps I'm just timid. I make drawings, and photos. I'm slow, but, then again, everyone is, when they do something they care about. My demands got me where I am today, but they still can't bring me up early from the bed. And some things age with time, some routines just become impossible to break (unless, of course, you're forced to break them). Some things are problematic, and they seem not to be solved by thought. But, if I went down the route of feelings alone, I would have no choice but to end with the small house with a green door. Perhaps I'll end there anyway.

I wonder how much you can learn. Aren't we only learning to be more of ourselves? Like becoming caricatures of our own mirror image.

24.1.15

Gravity (is weird)

Finished another drawing, after a series of four brave 8 hour sessions the past days. I'm wondering what it would look like coloured, but, I don't think I want to go all Illustrator about it. Perhaps printing a version on nice paper and then going nuts with my set of colour pencils? We'll see. Tomorrow is my weekly Skype session, and after that ... more work ... of course ...

I think my strength, and my weakness, is that I do not make a difference between school and life. School is life to me. Architecture is that life. It is what I read, it is what I think of first thing in the morning, and often the last thing before going to sleep. It should be evident that I like it. However, there's a sharp difference, as I've pointed out before, between architecture and building. I don't think you need buildings in order to speak of architecture. In the same manner, I don't think my drawings, even though they're mostly concerned with the inhabitation of buildings, are not relevant to the AA. Some may like it, some may not. Nacho (of the TS crew) thought it didn't matter. One could easily upscale or downscale the items in my drawings to an "architectural" scale. Do I sound naive? Isn't that the certificate of youth?

Serenity is an undervalued feeling. It does not equal inactivity, rather it is the complete merge of intention and action, when there is nothing to look for, nothing to grapple, nothing with a dangerous twist. One can feel serene in Shibuya as much as in Siberia. Funny how you can cross both in a day ...

21.1.15

Schinkel in the house ...

Slowly beginning to rise slowly from a slow bus rider to a quick school, that's what I'm living at the moment. In a bid for advanced self-deception, I'm pushing ahead one TS-spread at a time. More information! More stuff! More everything! (Preferably compressed into a shot of acid you can take without going all schizo about it.) Things alter our course, and then, there's the lectures, which I still haven't attended. Sometimes I wonder of the reason why I'm paying all this money, in any case. What I use is the unit space, what I exploit is my teacher, what I enjoy is the evening when I shut down the computer and go home with a clear conscience. And, in the future, I will be paid for being somewhere, doing something, not always of my own choice.

By slowly recovering my conversational skills in English, I think I'm approaching the point where I can be of help to others. I've always thought it would be nice to be a teacher, but it is only very recently that I'm starting to build up the confidence in order to guide other people towards a goal that is the best for them (and which they, of course, do not understand). As a teacher, you want to be surprised, but not by the wrong kind of surprises (a student showing up at a tutorial after a mid-week of being hammered with zero to discuss, or, the dreaded phrase: "I don't know what to do so I've come here to ask you what I should do"). You want the student to have the ideas themselves, and *then* it is the teacher's role to prune them.

Tomorrow I will send my gift to my girl in Japan. Funny how quickly birthdays follow one another. And we should be happy for them. Another year of more experiences, another tome of knowledge we can add to our memories. Who wants to get old? Nobody. Who wants to get wiser? Everybody. What people only reluctantly accept is that the two go hand in hand.

17.1.15

Albanian Presidents vs. Holl

The cookies from Usuki found a home in the unit space, with my teacher remaining skeptical until the first bite. At the end of day, a cold sun set over the rooftops, busy with refurbishments, and the opening of the first exhibition for the term. Will take a closer look next week, but for now, it remains to push the project as far as possible. Tomorrow, I will go to school, as I do all Saturdays. My plan is getting loftier with every new spread added to the storyboard, and I try to ignore the fact that I still don't have a project (a building, a site, a program, whatever). Remains to see what comes out of it, after all, as I've said before, a project is not a neat pile of research, but neither is it a flurry of statements confused for manifestos that no-one but you wants to hear. Javier (the Technical Studies head) told me to stand down from the TS for a while to develop the project. But what project?

I'm not scared though. It will happen. It will be. I have an argument, I just haven't got a building. I'm fine with that. I left architecture school in Sweden because I was always told to do a building. For my 3rd year thesis, I set up a wacky narrative of immigrants invading the site of the competition we were told to partake in. It was weird, and, in the end, I was forced to present a building. Neat plans. Neat renders. How suffocating! If there is one place in the world of architecture where you can get away doing factories for black holes and graviton detectors of the size of Jupiter, it's here. Sorry if it sounds like I'm glorifying my school, as if I have been converted to its cult. It's not so. I am changing the school, and demanding of it to change, or, at least, that's what I'm trying to do. And so far so good.

15.1.15

Vitrahaus

(Oh, no, a grey building! Curse you SANAA for giving the Europeans an identity crisis!) London is windy and rainy, perhaps more windy than rainy, if one has the need to be exact. Tomorrow Technical Studies tutorial, with the option of an additional meeting on Friday. We'll see how that goes. Gravity is my theme - no, not the film; what Newton did - along with rallying points, and it will make my project curiously TS-driven, not just a detail or a facet to the project, no, the TS *is* the project. It's fun. I can go into strange territories of factories for black holes, factories for smashing together protons and creating antimatter, almost forming the plot for a Dan Brown novel. We are high-brow today!

When I was in Japan, my girlfriend and I walked by a store which sold Snoopy accessories, virtually everything Snoopy, including a giant dog (more of a bear, a panda bear) in front of the entrance, which we hugged. Tomorrow I will go to Hamleys on Regent Street, in search of a present for her birthday. I want to buy something big, but, then again, that would be difficult (and ridiculously expensive) to send by post halfway across the world. Am I being to sensible? Either way, birthdays are fun (as long as it is not your own that you're celebrating ...)

Now with Lefebvre finished (the anti-philosopher who is accused of being a philosopher, and who artfully dodges the subject by claiming to merely use "philosophical tools"), I'm thinking of moving on to Baudrillard, who I've only read essays of, but who I, already last year, bought at Waterstones near Piccadilly for some evening thoughtfulness. Will report on it soon here on the blog. In the meantime, I thoroughly recommend Lefebvre to you all, who makes philosophy more fun than nonsensical. As Baudrillard states, be wary of those who speak seriously and attempt to look serious. "They are insignificant."

12.1.15

If we leave the world, what will we do?

Reading some physics books, as well as the last twenty-or-so pages of "Preludes to Modernity." Said hi to some friends in the corridors, registered for the new term, inspected the temporary door to the library, said hi again (to the security staff), ate sushi (which I dip, as always, with the wrong side down), ate sandwiches, left my hat at home (it was too windy), printed pages for tomorrow's tutorial, tried (and try) to remember to bring the sweets to tomorrow's tutorial, and, finally, just enjoyed the rain. London, you are the same! Some of us may live like carp on the bottom of the pond, but what the scientist perhaps forgets, is that this pond is quite nice to be in, and should be preserved. That is our responsibility, or, like my first book on architecture stated: man does not yet know the world, and yet already searches for a way away from it ...

Having trouble sleeping, which is partly due to jetlag (which makes me more alert than tired), partly due to the many thoughts which pass through my mind each evening. Is my project relevant? Or am I crazy? Wouldn't life be much more easier if I just sat down and drew a building? Yes. Much more. But that's no fun, as we know. The AA is staging the comeback of the most hideous of po-mo: Bofill! Perhaps fitting since Quinlan Terry got the New Year Honours this 2015 as well. I'm still waiting for an award for Morris Lapidus, though. In other news, the return of the grandmaster Koolhaas again. Don't think I'll attend that one. Perhaps it's just the format that doesn't fit me.

J Soul Brothers in my headphones, of course. New shirt, new trousers. My new favourite wristwatch quickly becoming as indispensable as the triple-oscillated sawtooth waveform. I hope this year will be good. Many things will happen. It will be the year of changes, of conclusions, and of great sacrifices.

10.1.15

Some ends produce themselves

Sitting in Helsinki, awaiting the final journey that will bring me back home. What home? you may ask. Is it the place where I grew up, the place where I matured, or the place where I envisioned my slowing-down, the dedication to something, not just the whim of the self, of childishness? I don't know. Lefebvre might provide me some guidance, I've almost finished his preludes now and he has a conversational sharpness that few can match. If I choose Heidegger for the ontology, Lefebvre is there for the politics, even though I'm beginning to disavow myself from all things political, in a world that has become so political that it seems like the only option to express such a thing as an independent opinion. Strange, isn't it?

School starts. London returns in my life. For how long? I don't know. I think ... London is *convenient*, like Stockholm. But is it convenience I wanted? Didn't I come to London to seek something beyond the convenient? Am I not here to wager with my ideas, my illusions, my very own sturm und drang, as my father calls it? It is so, and it is why I continue. I cannot find any answers by waiting for the answers to come to me, or, as a psychologist said it, perhaps to find directions, we need to learn to listen better. Such delusions! Such truths. It is just like writing. You learn it by doing two things: writing itself, and reading. (I've said that before, haven't I?)

The Paris terrorist attacks happened while I was in Japan, so I had a bit of guilty conscience that I spend such a good time with my girl instead of paying attention to what was going around in the world, the discussions, the statements, the mass rallying against all forms of oppression. The world does that to you. Makes you feel indebted to it, from all its resources, myths, and, perhaps in a bit of a jargon, manifestations. But I'm going back now. I will pay attention. We cannot always dream.

またあとで。

7.1.15

Maybe not so much colour, but definitely nice

Cloudy-rainy skies give way to blue sunshine, and we went to the Stone Buddha's national heritage in Usuki, of which you will see photographic evidence later. Sometime. Maybe. After a visit back to the hotel for a clean shave via a ramen lunch eaten properly (with the spoon), we went to the bakery where my girlfriend works, to say hello to more of her staff colleagues. Of course, such a visit cannot go without the purchase of something fika, so two ice-cream cones were promptly bought and savoured on the parking lot. Later, we went home to her parents, to a curry and snow storm news from Hokkaido. Her mother commended me for my Japanese, and for the colour of the sweater which we bought two days ago.

So far so good. Tomorrow will bring more food, more shopping, and hopefully a visit to the cinema. It will be my last full day in Oita, before I take the Shinkansen back to Osaka on the 9th, to prepare for the flight back to Copenhagen, and, with only half-a-day to further recover at home from that flight, it's back to London with likely an insane amount of work an commitment to this strange profession I've chosen. My teacher has so far not commented on my ideas on the blog, which I take as a silent approval (and perhaps a nod of let's-see-where-this-goes, and if it goes totally strange and irrelevant, I trust her to steer me back to the right course).

Steven Holl drawings in the exhibition space, cold Januaries with or without snow, in my newly acquired colour-excursions of scarves and shirts. Who knows where all this will end? I just know that I don't have to reinvent myself in order to do it, just to forget why I need to reinvent something in the first place ...

5.1.15

Oliver Sauce

Currently in Oita, my girlfriend's hometown, in Japan, to celebrate the New Year and to indulge in many free hugs and stolen kisses. I tend to adjust quickly to new time zones, although I accidentally went back to sleep after the alarm bell went off (and missed the breakfast buffet as a consequence). Today, we will exchange New Year's gifts (I brought sweets and jam from London, Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly to be precise), go to piano lessons, and practice more Japanese. Since I learnt English mainly by reading and writing, I'm practicing the same in Japan, although probably a four-year-old could read faster than me. But the more you do, the better you get! Don't give up, I tell myself, listen and speak, and ganbatte ne!

I wish I could stay longer, but one has to be content with what one gets. I can't say I *miss* London (Japan is much more fun!), but I miss the school, the discussions, the late night ideas, and the frenzied attacks upon TS to make it happen. The school officially opened today, one week in advance of the new term, and it's time to crash through the walls (hopefully intact on the other side) ...

31.12.14

Orion

Something is happening. I feel better. Yes, I almost feel good. I'm going to Japan in just a few days, to celebrate the New Year twice. I will dance on Kansai airport, sleep in a capsule hotel (hah! did you fall for that one? it'll have to wait for another time, preferably not one where I'm stuck in the metropolis after another session of inhumane overtime work), and dream of loves long lost, which, I must confess, I would like to relive, if only in order to stay as friends. Friendship. I like that word. I'd like to be friends with you (cue hand-drawn handshake-drawing).

2014 disappeared in a whirl. Next year, I'm graduating from the AA. Just a few months left. Or six, to be precise. Boybands will make their round in my headphones until then, ridiculously happy sugar-inflated pop of the best kind. Not avant-pop. Not nostalgi-pop. Just a slice of 2015 exactly as it will be. The best things are still out there for us to savour ...

There was no Vitruvius in the library, so I settled for Palladio. They had refurbished the library since last time I went there (this summer). New entrance, the old entrance (which I, in a fit of reactionary stubbornness, walked up to) no longer in service, other than as an emergency exit. Palladio was dissected in two days. Lead to some good realisations. But Palladio would be happier if he had AutoCAD, I think. (Or maybe not.)

Live long until the next minute.
See you on the other side of time.

27.12.14

Christmas Market in Basel

The library is opening tomorrow! Hallelujah! The more books one can surround oneself with, the better. My writings have taken yet another detour, but not into unfamiliar territory. I'm reconsidering the clichés of my project last year, and how we, in architecture, have certain objéts d'théorie which remain quoted over and over again, in articles, in interviews, in crits, and so on. Another New Year's Promise: to read the classics, to indulge in the most well-known tomes of architectural criticism, and to, hopefully, give them new life by some sort of crazy twist.

I will probably, at some point, return to the Italian avantgardes, and give them the most humourous treatment I feel inclined to use in the moment. Such as concluding that the best use of Archizoom is to set No-Stop City as your mobile phone background, and the Superstudio collages as your profile photo on Skype and Soundcloud. Naturally, it is done with a knowing glance towards their incalculable impact on progressive architectural culture. I mean, who wouldn't wish to have created The Continuous Monument? Preferably someone with the guts to do it.

I wish to find Vitruvius in the library.
If he is waiting for me, tell him that he is right.

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.