Volume 3

Edited by Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Stephen Parcell

Contents and authors

Invention as a Celebration of Materials
Myriam Blais

blais_myriam [at] hotmail.com (Myriam Blais) was born in Canada in 1960. A registered architect, she received a bachelor of architecture degree from Université Laval in 1983, a master of architecture degree from the same institution in 1987, and a doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994. She is associate professor of architecture at Université Laval in Quebec City, where she teaches undergraduate studio and a technology course which includes the theoretical and iconographic aspects of techniques. Her main interests focus on the poetical and ethical role of technology in architecture and on the figurative potential of materials. She is currently pursuing research along those lines of inquiry.

Sounding the Path: Dwelling and Dreaming
Ricardo L. Castro

ricardo.castro [at] mcgill.ca (Ricardo L. Castro) received the title of "Arquitecto" from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and later received a master's degree in art history and a master's degree in architecture at the University of Oregon. He has taught design, history, and visual communication at the Universidad de Los Andes, University of Oregon, Kansas State University, Université Laval, and, since 1982, McGill University. Currently, his activities take place on several fronts: he teaches architectural design, history, and criticism at the McGill School of Architecture, he is a regular contributor to several publications in Canada, the United States, and Colombia, and he uses architectural photography as an expressive medium. In 1990 he received the prize Paul-Henri Lapointe from the Order of Quebec Architects in the category History, Criticism, and Theory. This year he was awarded a Graham Foundation Grant to complete a monograph on the work of the Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona.

Surface and Appearance in Guarino Gurini's SS. Sindone Chapel
Janine Debanné

Janine Debanné is currently associate professor of architecture at Carleton University. Born in Ottawa, she received a bachelor of architecture with high distinction from Carleton University in 1988, and a master's degree with honours in architectural history and theory from McGill University in 1995. She has taught at the School of Architecture of the University of Detroit and was a visiting professor at the Faculty of Architecture of the Warsaw University of Technology. She has worked in private practice in Ottawa, Hull, and Toronto.

To See the World as a Limited Whole: Human and Divine Perspectives in the Works of Salomon de Caus
Katja Grillner

katja [at] arch.kth.se (Katja Grillner) was born in Gothenburg, Sweden. She holds a professional degree in architecture from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, a master's degree in history and theory of architecture from McGill University, Montreal, and a Ph.D., also from K.T.H. (Stockholm). Her academic studies include art history and philosophy at the University of Stockholm. She is currently employed as a doctoral student and part-time teacher in the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. She has published articles on contemporary criticism, architecture, and art for the Nordic Journal of Architectural Research, Arkitektur, and The Fifth Column. Her current research investigates the role of literature in the development of the English landscape garden during the eighteenth century and its relation to Enlightenment art theory.

Demas: The Human Body as a Tectonic Construct
Maria Karvouni

Maria Karvouni was born in Athens, Greece. She holds a degree in mathematics from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, a master of architecture degree from Syracuse University, and a master of science degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently completing a doctoral dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania. The thesis, entitled "Treading on the Rhythmos of a Greek Temple," is an exploration of the connections between music-dance and building in ancient Greece. Maria Karvouni is an assistant professor of architecture at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, teaching at its Washington Alexandria Centre.

Juan Bautista Villalpando's Divine Model in Architectural Theory
Alberto Pérez-Gómez

alberto.perez-gomez [at] mcgill.ca (Alberto Pérez-Gómez) has taught at the universities of Mexico, Houston, Syracuse, Toronto, and Carleton, and is now the Saidye Rosner Bronfman Professor of the History of Architecture at McGill University, where he has directed the graduate program in history and theory of architecture since 1987. He was also the director of the Institut de recherche en histoire de l'architecture from 1990 to 1993. He is a prolific writer, author of Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science (MIT Press 1983) and Polyphilo or The Dark Forest Revisited (MIT Press 1992). His numerous articles have been published in North American and European journals. His most recent book (co-authored with Louise Pelletier) on the history and theory of modern European architectural representation, with special reference to the role of projection in architectural design, was published in 1997 by MIT Press.

Fragmentation, Improvisation, Urban Quality: A Heterotopian Motif in Siegfried Kracauer
Henrik Reeh

reeh [at] hum.ku.dk (Henrik Reeh) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1958. Since 1995 he has been senior research fellow at the Centre for Urbanism and Aesthetics at the University of Copenhagen. Previously, Henrik Reeh was research fellow at the Humanities Research Centre-Man & Nature (1993-95) and at the Department of Comparative Literature (1989-92), both at Odense University, where he obtained his doctoral degree in comparative literature. Initially, Reeh studied the social sciences in Denmark and received his Magister-degree in history and social sciences from the University of Roskilde. During the 1980s Henrik Reeh lived in Paris where he was awarded a master's degree and a diplôme d'etudes approfondies in comparative literature by the University of Paris VII-Jussieu. In 1986-87 he was a DAAD-scholar in the Department of Philosophy of the Johann-Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. From 1983 to 1986 he was a member of the Groupe de Travail Interdisciplinaire at the Ecole Normal Superieure de Saint-Cloud, France.

Apart from essays in French, English, Danish, and German on urban theory and analysis, Reeh is the author of two books: Storbyens Ornamenter - Siegfried Kracauer og den moderne bykultur (The Ornaments of the City: Siegfried Kracauer and Modern Urban Culture) was published in 1991 by Odense University Press; Den urbane dimension-tretten varationer over den moderne bykultur (The Urban Dimension: Thirteen Variations on Modern Urban Culture) will be published shortly by the same press.

Vitruvius, Nietzche, and the Architecture of the Body
Mark Rozahegy

Mark Rozahegy obtained his doctoral degree in the interdisciplinary humanities doctoral program at Concordia University in Montreal. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, he received a bachelor of science degree in physics with honours and a bachelor of arts degree in English with honours from McMaster University, and a master's degree from the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at the University of Western Ontario. While completing his master's degree, Rozahegy became interested in the issue of space in the context of modern French philosophy. For his doctoral thesis, he is planning to investigate the ontological dimensions of space as expressed in the body-centred philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

A Grand Piano Filled with Sand
Sören Thurell

Sören Thurell was born in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, in 1933. He received a master of architecture degree from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm in 1959, did post-graduate studies from 1986 to 1989, and received a doctoral degree also from the KTH in 1989. He owned a design partnership, ARKITEKTVERDSTAN, from 1970 to 1985 and was assistant professor at the Royal Institute of Technology from 1990 to 1994. Since 1995 he has been doing freelance research and writing. He is currently launching STAR, the Institute for the Study of Architectural Relations, with different projects in the area of design and ecology.

Origins and Ornaments: Jean-Jaques Lequeu and the Poetics of the City in L'Architecture Civile
Franca Trubiano

trubiano [at] dolphin.upenn.edu (Franca Trubiano) is an architect in the pursuit of happiness. To this end she has recently completed her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, paradoxically tracing a path back to the praxis of architecture. She is a graduate of McGill University's master's program in the history and theory of architecture and received her professional degree from the same institution in 1988. At present her research centres on the work of G.B. Piranesi.

Architecture and the Vegetal Soul
David Winterton

David Winterton graduated with a bachelor of architecture degree in 1991, the centennial year of the University of Toronto's School of Architecture. There, he developed an interest in representations of the landscape, especially that of his birthplace in rural southwestern Ontario. In 1995 he earned his master's degree in history and theory of architecture from McGill University, where he further cultivated ideas on the presence of concepts of nature in architecture. In Montreal he also translated the Lettres sur l'architecture [1787] of Viel de Saint-Maux. He currently resides in Toronto and continues to research how culture inflects ideas about nature.

Domesticity and Diremption: Poetics of Space in the Work of Jana Sterbak
Irena Zantovská Murray

murray [at] library.mcgill.ca (Irena Zantovská Murray) was educated at Charles University in Prague, now the Czech Republic, and moved to Canada in 1968. She holds a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Western Ontario and a master's degree in history and theory of architecture from McGill University. She has recently completed her doctorate in architectural history and theory at McGill.

Prior to her employment at McGill, Murray held positions with the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada. From 1981 to 1996 she served as head librarian and curator of the Blackader-Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art at McGill University. She is currently head of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University Libraries, and curator of the University's Canadian Architecture Collection. As well, she is a faculty member of the Institut de recherche en histoire de l'architecture (IRHA).

Murray's research interests focus on the history of European Modernism between the two World Wars, on issues of architectural representation, and on Prague. She has translated selected texts for Karel Teige: Architecture and The European Avant-Garde, to be published by the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities. At McGill, she edited Moshe Safdie: Buildings and Projects, 1967-1992 (McGill-Queen's University Press 1996).

In recent years, Murray served as guest curator for several architectural exhibitions, notably Soviet Avant-Garde Publications and Czech Cubism: Architecture and Design, 1910-1925, both of which took place at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. In 1994 she was guest curator of The City Off-Centre: the Architecture of New Prague, shown at the World Financial Center in New York City.

Absent Bodies Writing Rooms
Ellen Zweig

ezweig [at] ix.netcom.com (Ellen Zweig) is an artist who works with text, video, performance, and installation. In her installations, she uses optics to create camera obscuras, camera lucidas, and video-projection devices. She has presented work in Europe, Australia, and the United States and has received two NEA grants. Her most recent work includes Hubert's Lure, an installation in a storefront on 42nd Street in New York City, and Critical Mass, a collaborative project that is currently on tour. Among other projects are a permanent installation of a camera obscura for the Exploratorium in San Francisco and the novel Surveillance (written with Lou Robinson), soon to be available on the World Wide Web.


The essays in this third volume of the CHORA series continue to explore diverse historical and critical issues in architecture. They are driven by a genuine desire to seek architectural alternatives to simplistic models based on concepts of aesthetics, technology, or sociology. In their refreshing, interdisciplinary readings of our architectural tradition, these essays explore the expanded field of architecture and meditate on its potential for human life. In the absence of a living architectural tradition, these "stories for the future" reveal possibilities in places often ignored by conventional historiography and positivistic epistemology. While avoiding the dangerous delusions of absolute, transparent truth and logocentric power represented by History, they recognize the need for histories in normative architectural discourse.

In a world increasingly reduced to electronic impulses, architecture finds itself in a precarious situation. To redefine its role in the perpetuation of human culture, effective architectural discourse is needed. This can no longer be the traditional discourse of metaphysics or theology, nor of the specialized theories of science. While the architect's work is unquestionably a work of the personal imagination, an appropriate mode of discourse is needed to prevent this work becoming merely a simplistic formal play or an irresponsible will to power. Appropriate words are imperative for the practising architect, whose activity demands an ethical stance and is always language-bound. Beyond their specific interests, the essays in this volume contribute to the formulation of an appropriate language for articulating political practices related to architecture. CHORA thus continues to pursue a possible reconciliatory architecture that respects cultural differences, acknowledges the globalization of technological culture, and points to a referent other than itself. In a world where new paradigms of communication continue to approach the ephemeral nature of embodied perception and the primary orality of language, architecture may indeed be able to carry intersubjective values and embody a cultural order beyond tyranny or anarchy.

As in previous volumes of CHORA, most of the thirteen essays explore concrete historical topics within a critical framework that opens horizons for the present. Indeed, the past is never truly past, nor is the future truly in the future. This third volume also includes speculative theoretical texts and "projects" in which conventional boundaries between history and fiction are intentionally blurred. It includes Ricardo Castro's original reading of the Koguis culture in Colombia. As inheritors of a pre-Columbian tradition, the Koguis today still dwell "along the path," challenging our assumption that architecture is defined by permanent, place-bound objects. Two other essays are concerned with origins in the Western tradition. Maria Karvouni explores philological and architectonic connections between the Greek demas (the political individual) and domus (the house). Mark Rozahegy speculates on relationships between architecture and memory - a "constructive" memory that may be potentially repressive or liberating. In commenting on Vitruvius's account of the origins of architecture, he draws from Nietzsche's notion that memory "burnt into the body" is the locus of culture.

The essays that investigate particular historical topics focus on the period between the late sixteenth century and the present. Myriam Blais discusses technical inventions by the sixteenth-century French architect Philibert de l'Orme, whose work is situated at the origins of our modern understanding of architecture. The late-sixteenth-century reconstruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Juan Bautista Villalpando is examined by Alberto Pérez-Gómez, who ponders the significance of this incarnation of the divine archetype and the ethical dilemmas that result from the modern mentality of its Jesuit author. Janine Debanné's study of Guarino Guarini's Chapel of the Holy Shroud in Turin challenges the prevalent belief that a scientific mentality underlies this remarkable building. She investigates the theological and philosophical framework of Guarini's architectural theory and suggests why this building continues to touch us so deeply in the late twentieth century. Katja Grillner's study of the early-seventeenth-century writings of Salomon de Cans and his built work in Heidelberg describes a curious Rosicrucian-Protestant world that is situated between the traditional cosmos of the Renaissance and the mechanistic universe of Baroque science.

Two architectural writers of the late eighteenth century are studied by David Winterton and Franca Trubiano. Winterton reflects on Charles-François Viel's "Letters," an important text that is practically unknown in the English-speaking world. Viel questioned the hegemony of classical (Vitruvian) architecture and sought an alternative architectural practice that was grounded in a "Nature" invested with spiritual values but no longer unmediated. Viel thus turned his attention to mythical building and to myth as a form of speech. Similar interests are present in Jean-Jacques Lequeu's writings and drawings. While Lequeu's treatise on physiognomy was the subject of an essay in CHORA 1, Franca Trubiano's original interpretation concentrates on his more controversial Civil Architecture. Curious anachronisms in Lequeu's work challenge conventional categorizations in philosophy and art history, and anticipate things to come. His self-conscious, self-referential operations in language and drawing also challenge some of our deeply held assumptions about architecture and the appearance of meaning.

Relationships between urbanity and culture are considered by Henrik Reeh in his reflection on the work of Sigfried Kracauer, a significant yet unknown disciple of Walter Benjamin. Reeh's essay revisits important questions raised in previous volumes of CHORA concerning modes of participation in nineteenth- and twentieth-century cities following the demise of traditional public space and ritual. Two essays pursue spatial poetics in architecture by invoking other artistic disciplines. Irena Zantovská Murray reflects on work by the controversial artist Jana Sterbak, describing an embodied architecture that practising architects often disregard. A textual project by artist Ellen Zweig vividly demonstrates the charged poetic space created by film-makers such as Antonioni and Hitchcock, continuing the series of reflections on dramatic, cinematic, and architectural spaces that have appeared in previous volumes of CHORA. Last but not least, the present volume includes a parable in the form of a riddle, an experiment in thinking about architecture and its mimetic origins by the Swedish writer and architect Sören Thurell.