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Volume 5

 

Chora 5

2007

Edited by

Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Stephen Parcell, Assistant Editor: Lian Chang

This volume of Chora is dedicated to the memory of Barry Bell.

Contents and Authors

Fugitives in Sight: Section and Horizon in Andreas Vesalius's De Humanis Corporis Fabrica
Manuela Antoniu

manuela [at] aaschool [dot] ac [dot] uk (Manuela Antoniu) obtained her professional and master's degrees in architecture from Carleton University and McGill University, respectively. Her undergraduate research thesis was published (sans poetry, alas) by Princeton Architectural Press and her collaborative work on "condemned" buildings was exhibited at various places in the United States. At the Architectural Association in London she has been engaged in the cross-millennial task of writing a doctoral dissertation on architectural phagias, as exemplified--she insists--by (the now moribund category of) sectional drawings. To feed her idée fixe about sections (and for more prosaic feedings as well) she has been working undercover in imaging departments of hospitals throughout London for a number of years. She still dreams of one day being able to play the cello.

Roads and a Mountain, a Lake, and a Runway: Interpreting Infrastructure at Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Barry Bell

Barry Bell was educated at the University of Waterloo (BES, 1981; BArch 1983) and at the University of Cambridge (MPhil 1988). He is an architect licensed in the Province of Ontario, though currently on "retired" status to carry out doctoral studies at McGill University. His doctoral research is focused on the narrative structure of the Thai temple. Previous work in Thailand investigated issues of architecture and urban design with respect to cultural sustainability in Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. More recently his research has centred on Bangkok and its potential to reveal implicit cultural ideals in novel ways. The results of these investigations were published as Bangkok: Angelic Allusions (London: Reaktion Books, 2003). Barry Bell is currently an Adjunct Professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax and was a Visiting Research Fellow at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, in 2004-05. He was previously an Associate Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo.

Erudite Laughter: The Persiflage of Viel de Saint-Maux
Ramla Benaissa

ramla1 [at] verizon [dot] net (Ramla Benaissa) began her education in Tunisia, followed by a master's degree in Architectural History and Theory from McGill University and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Philadelphia, where she practises architecture, teaches architecture studio at the University of Pennsylvania, and teaches architectural theory and history at Drexel University.

The Hybrid: Labrouste’s Paestum
Martin Bressani

martin [dot] bressani [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Martin Bressani) is Associate Professor of Architecture at McGill University. He has published in journals such as Revue de l'art, Assemblage, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Rassegna, Architettura, Art History, and Architecture and Ideas. He is currently preparing a monograph on the thought and work of French theoretician Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

Landscapes of Memory: Philosophical and Experiential Parcours at the Musée des monumens français
Jennifer Carter

jennifer [dot] carter [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Jennifer Carter) is preparing a doctoral dissertation in the history and theory of architecture at McGill University. She holds an Honours BA in Art History from the same institution, and an MA in Art History, Theory and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her dissertation, entitled "Re-creating the Poetic Imaginary: Alexandre Lenoir and the Musée des Monuments français," examines the role of narrative and the influences of eighteenth-century theories of landscape, perception and the imagination on the curatorial practices of Alexandre Lenoir. Jennifer has worked in several galleries and museum institutions in Canada and the United States, including the Betty Rymer Gallery (Chicago), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), and the Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montreal).

Looking around the Edge of the World: Contending with the Continuist Principle and the Plenarist Passion
Edward S. Casey

edward [dot] casey [at] sunysb [dot] edu (Edward S. Casey) is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is the author of a number of books in phenomenology and the philosophy of place, including Imagining; Remembering; Getting Back into Place; and The Fate of Place. More recently, he has taken his interest in place into the art world in two books: Representing Place in Landscape Painting and Maps; and Earth-Mapping: Artists Reshaping Landscape. A volume entitled The World at a Glance is forthcoming. He is currently at work on a sequel, to be called The World on Edge.

Horizons at the Drafting Table: Filarete and Steinberg
Marco Frascari

Born under the shadow of the dome of Leon Battista Alberti's Sant’Andrea in Mantua, marco_frascari [at] carleton [dot] ca (Marco Frascari) received a Diploma di Professore di Disegno from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, then completed a Dottore in Architettura at the Istututo Universitario di Architettura di Venezia in 1969. Frascari began his professional career in Verona while teaching at the IUAV, and has run a small architectural practice since then. His early professorial and professional experience began under the tutelage of Carlo Scarpa, Valriano Pastor, and Arrigo Rudi. In the late 1970s Frascari moved to the United States and earned a Master of Science in Architecture at the University of Cincinnati and a PhD in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania from 1981 until 1997, when he became the G. Truman Ward Professor of Architecture at the Washington-Alexandria Architectural Center of Virginia Tech. In 2005 he became Director of the School of Architecture at Carleton University in Ottawa. Frascari has taught and lectured at many schools, including the Architectural Association, Georgia Tech, Columbia University, and Harvard University. Frascari’s writings have been published in AA Files, Assemblage, Daidalos, Journal of Architectural Education, Perspecta, Res, Terrazzo, Via, and several other journals. "The Tell-Tale-Detail," a seminal essay published in 1981, has been translated into Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. In 1991 he published The Monsters of Architecture, and in 1996 Una Pillola per sognare ... una casa.

Opening the Eye: “Seeing” as “Knowing” in Vastusastra (Indian Architectural Theory) According to the Treatise Manasara
Jose Jacob

jose [dot] thevercad [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Jose Jacob) was born in Kerala, India, where he received a Bachelor of Architecture in 1992. He received a Master of Science in Architecture from University of Cincinnati in 1996 and a PhD in architectural history and theory from McGill University in 2004. He worked at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal as a researcher for the exhibition "Sense of the City," and is currently conducting research on recently built university chapels.

Projecting Utopia: The Refortification of Nicosia, 1567-70
Panos Leventis

panoventis [at] gmail [dot] com (Panos Leventis) was born in 1968 in Famagusta, Cyprus. He studied in Los Angeles, where he received a bachelor of Architecture from the University of Southern California and a Master of Architecture with an emphasis in urban design from the University of California, Los Angeles. He worked and taught in Los Angeles, Milan and Athens, and carried out research in Montréal, where he received a Ph.D. in the History and Theory of Architecture from McGill University. He contributed to the establishment of a new Department of Architecture at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia, and since 2004 he has been teaching architectural and urban history and theory at the Drury University Centre in Volos, Greece. Along with being a registered dreamer, Panos is a practicing Architect, working on projects and competitions in Cyprus and Greece. His research and professional work has been published in Canada, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the United States.

Vitruvius and the French Landscape of Ruins: On Jean Gardet and Dominique Bertin’s 1559 Annotations of De Architectura
Daniel M. Millette

lucubratio [at] yahoo [dot] com (Daniel M. Millette) holds master's degrees in historical geography and architectural history and theory, as well as an interdisciplinary PhD in architecture, classical archaeology, and historical geography. He maintains archaeological projects in France and Tunisia, complementing his research on Vitruvius and Roman architecture. After completing terms as a post-doctoral fellow at the Institut de recherche sur l'architecture antique in Aix-en-Provence with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, he now teaches at the University of British Columbia. Currently he has two projects in production: one on the Vitruvius canon and the other on the archaeological excavations at the theatre of Lugdunum Convenarum in Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, France.

Ruskin and Viollet-le-Duc: Figures of Ruin and Restoration
David Spurr

David [dot] Spurr [at] lettres [dot] unige [dot] ch (David Spurr) is Professor and Director of English Studies at the University of Geneva. He has also taught at the University of Illinois (Chicago) and the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He has published widely on modern English and French literature, and is the author of Conflicts in Consciousness (on T. S. Eliot; 1984), The Rhetoric of Empire (1993), and Joyce and the Scene of Modernity (2002). More recently, he co-edited a volume of essays entitled The Space of English (2005). His current book project, entitled Architexture, studies relations between literature and architectural space.

The Enigma of Pyramids: Measuring Salvation in Renaissance Rome
Nicholas Temple

Nicholas [dot] Temple [at] liverpool [dot] ac [dot] uk (Nicholas Temple) is a practising architect and currently lectures in architecture at the University of Liverpool. A graduate of the University of Cambridge, he was a Rome Scholar in architecture (1986-88) and has a PhD on architecture and urbanism in early sixteenth-century Rome. He has held academic posts in England and the United States and was an invited lecturer at the Moscow Institute of Architecture and the Ion Mincu Institute in Bucharest. He has published many academic papers in books and refereed journals on aspects of architectural practice, history and theory of architecture and urbanism, and architectural education. His forthcoming book, Disclosing Horizons: Architecture, Perspective and Redemptive Space, is forthcoming from Routledge.

Foreword
Ricardo L. Castro

ricardo [dot] castro [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ricardo L. Castro) is an Associate Professor at McGill University, School of Architecture, where he teaches architectural design, architectural history, and criticism. Grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Graham Foundation have supported his photographic work, the publication of his monograph on Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona (1998), and his forthcoming book Arthur Erickson: Critical Works, a collaborative project with Nicholas Olsberg. From 2001 to 2003 Castro was Director of the Institut de recherche en histoire de l’architecture (IRHA), for which he organized the international colloquium "The Limits of Place in Architectural Discourse" (2002) in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The essays by Edward Casey and Marco Frascari in this volume of Chora were presented at this colloquium.

 

Foreword

Ricardo L. Castro

“Chora” (???a) was the ancient Greek word for “space.” During the past two hundred years, space has become associated with the unbounded, homogeneous space of three mathematically quantifiable dimensions, but this modern notion did not exist in ancient Greece. Although we tend to oppose “space” and “place,” this distinction also was not evident to the Greeks. “Place” (t?p??) was described as a bounded, limited domain by Archytas of Tarentum (428–347 B.C.) in a now-fragmentary treatise on place and later by Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) in Physics. ???a is related to ?????, a word with several meanings: a band of dancers such as the chorus of an Attic drama, the dance itself, and the place for dancing; eventually it would refer to the circular centre of a Greek theatre between the audience and the stage for actors. In Timaeus, Plato describes ???a as a receptacle not unlike a mother’s womb, as a primordial element from which the stuff of the world is formed, and as a set of nonmaterial qualities that are experienced as fire, earth, air, and water. Clearly, space in ancient Greece was neither homogeneous nor limitless.

The concept of space as an unbounded domain seems to have emerged during medieval times. In the sixth century A.D., Johannes Philoponus challenged many of Aristotle’s ideas and developed a new concept of space as an empty void into which bodies could move; however, this was not yet an infinite space. Near the end of the medieval era, during the thirteenth century, St Thomas of Aquinas demonstrated the need for a concept of the infinite without endorsing it, arguing that it illustrated one of God’s unique characteristics: infinity. Starting in the Renaissance, new notions of space emerged to accompany scientific discoveries and cultural developments. The global territorial conquests at that time were driven by a hunger for something resembling the modern notion of unbounded space rather than for bounded place. Later, the vistas of the Baroque garden ambitiously projected space to infinity. In these situations, space became associated with the universal and was privileged over place, which had become associated with the particular and the intimate.

The notion of place, however, was not lost. A commonplace in the theory and practice of late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century architecture and landscape architecture was the ruin. Located in particular places, ruins offered gateways to ancestral worlds. The fascination with the classical world, the emergence of travel journals and descriptions, and the consolidation of the novel during the eighteenth and particularly the nineteenth centuries engaged particular places in various ways. To express this expanded field of cultural meanings, the word “place” was joined by more modern terms, including “site” and “landscape” -- an old word with a long history.

In architectural discourse and praxis during the past thirty years, there has been a concerted effort to recover and develop concepts of place and to challenge the relative importance of bounded and unbounded domains -- place and space. Phenomenology, for instance, has guided both theoreticians and practitioners in studying the condition, characteristics, and prospects of particular places.

Today, as the processes of global homogenization continue to creep detrimentally into architecture and into rural and urban landscapes, there is an urgent need to reconceive architecture as a place-making practice rather than strictly as a spatial practice. Two chapters in this volume of Chora address the issue explicitly: philosopher Edward S. Casey’s “Looking around the Edge of the World: Contending with the Continuist Principle and the Plenarist Passion”; and architectural historian Marco Frascari’s “Horizons at the Drafting Table: Filarete and Steinberg.” These chapters were first presented at the international colloquium “The Limits of Place in Architectural Discourse,” which was organized by the Institut de recherche en histoire de l’architecture (IRHA) while I was its director and was hosted in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Architecture during the spring of 2002. Both chapters focus on the role of boundaries in “place” -- in particular, the horizon. Casey’s essay points out that edges are “something that we don’t usually pause to consider ... [and] are found everywhere ... [a] virtual tyranny in our ongoing lives.” To him, edges provide a complex mediation in our engagement with the phenomenal world. He begins with a discussion of ancient Greek naval exploration beyond the bounded basin of the Mediterranean and the Greeks’ anxious encounter with the limitless ocean, which they found both alluring and terrifying. Following his analysis of edges in geography, Casey reflects on anxious arguments in philosophy for a dense, continuous world of being or appearance in response to fear of the utter void that we presume to be its alternative. With implications for architecture, he suggests that Merleau-Ponty’s idea of the fold avoids this binary opposition and reminds us of the necessity of edges.

In a different mood, Frascari’s chapter is an important call to everyone involved in making architecture. He introduces another type of edge, the horizon -- not the ancient Greek horizon, where, according to Heidegger, things begin to appear, but the horizons that “architects trace ... within the horizons of their drafting tables,” showing how architecture emerges through the act of drawing. To pursue this thought, Frascari focuses on two “comic” characters whose personal horizons intersected in Milan, although they were separated by centuries: Antonio Averlino, a Renaissance architect and treatise writer, better known as Filarete; and Saul Steinberg, a twentieth-century architect who became famous for his work as a cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine.

 

Erratum

In the article “Fugitives in Sight: Section and Horizon in Andreas Vesalius's De Humanis Corporis Fabrica,” by Manuela Antoniu, an incorrect image was included in the left half of fig 1.3 on page 7. Please see the correct image below.

chora 5 erratum