On the Industrial Ruins


On the Industrial Ruins

Over the last forty years the western world has witnessed massive social and economic restructuring. The old heavy industries, upon which our society was constructed, have collapsed. Countries such as the UK and Spain, once the workshops of the world, are now reliant upon the new service and information-technology industries. The urban areas within these countries contain a vast wealth of memory and experience. We need humility in the face of such grandeur of industrial legacy if we are to construct new elements in these neglected areas. Within the cities of the industrial revolution a new form of spatial production is needed to invest the dying urban patterns and decaying fabric with meaning.

 At this important juncture, we need to understand the nature of human interaction, the consequences of cross-disciplinary communication and experiences, and the affect that this has upon events and environments. The blurring of boundaries between different activities, subjects and the level of interaction starting to be developed between specialities means that old ideas of space, form and use are now being questioned. This means that concepts that would have sounded barmy forty years ago have become common practice. Massive advances in technology have facilitated this, and at the beginning of the second decade of the twenty-first century, our pluralistic both/and society is now in a position to understand and take advantage of the consequences of this. The manner in which most people now operate encourages them to actively embrace mobile technology. Wireless systems mean that we are no longer constrained by cables and sockets and big, deep pieces of machinery. This will allow us to further rethink the urban, the working, and the domestic environment; environments in which technology will propose itself as the architect of our intimacies.

 Buildings outlast civilisations

Continuity in Architecture will run two projects both in post-industrial cities. Each city has approached the problem of how to transform the unban environment to accommodate the needs of the twenty-first century population in a different manner. We will examine the qualities and character of the places before making design proposals.

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It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage. It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness. It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and to-morrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next.

(Charles Dickens, Coketown)


Blind with Love for a Language

The prospects of the Barcelonese worker remained the same throughout the nineteenth century: grinding, brutish, and without much hope of change. Statistics altered and demographic shifts were seen: for instance, the more machines were used in the mills, the more demand there was for women to run them, since machinery did not require as much physical strength, and women could be paid less. But the vile calculus of human misery was unaltered… They lived cramped in garrets and basements, without heat or light or air. Midcentury Barcelona made Dickensian London look almost tolerable; Cerda` found that its population density was about 350 people per acre, twice that of Paris, and that workers had a living space of about ninety square feet per person.

(Robert Hughes, Barcelona)

This year in Venice

The B.Arch. studio presentations are being held on 22 September 2009. If you would like a preview/reminder of the CiA studio proposal go to THIS LINK

Sally Stone and Eamonn Canniffe are currently participating in a joint architecture/archaeology workshop with schools of architecture from IUAV, Barcelona and Palermo. If you are interested in their architectural and gastronomic adventures, you can follow their Twitter feeds:

Sally Stone Eamonn Canniffe


Furnishing the urban interior

This short film documents a study of the mediation between urban and interior space, historic fabric and the contemporary city. This research through design was produced by Year 5 students in Continuity in Architecture, and was intended to remember, to reveal and to construct. Adjacent to Piazza Duomo, the locus of the exploration, the fourteen bays of the loggia of the Broletto, presents an ambiguous but potent site. Raised from street level, but open to the public realm, it is a civic memorial to the dead of the resistance as well as a survival of Milan’s medieval commerce. In a heavily constrained response to this context, the students created a new narrative for the site, using their theoretical narrative for an interpretative project within the protected urban environment of central Milan. They proposed ephemeral structures to embody their speculative positions, and judged how their intervention will lead to a new reading of the historic civic realm. Each student specified the issue for which they designed a temporary pavilion, including spaces and surfaces for storage and display, for the dissemination of information and advertising, but above all for the re – reading of the city.

Skin + Bones


The New Yorker magazine last week contained a very interesting review of an exhibition that has just opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture celebrates the “increasingly fruitful dialogue” between architecture and fashion. The article lists all the old favourites as contributing: Bernard Tschumi, Toyo Ito, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry to name but a very few. The exhibition compares each (with some credulity from the reviewer, Judith Thurman) with particular fashion designers, Yeohlee Teng, Tess Giberson, Victor & Rolf and Martin Margiela respectively. Thurman makes the point that although architects have complained about the exhibition, it serves fashion designers well, but she is unconvinced, declaring: “The disparities between fashion and architecture are, if anything, heightened by proximity”

I’ve seen the catalogue (it is available in Manchester) and it is a beautiful book with a lovely perforated cover and lots of coloured photographs of buildings and frocks.

Link to the original article at newyorker.com

Studio introduction


Contextual reading: John Foot Milan After the Miracle: City, Culture and Identity Berg Oxford and New York 2001

The studio introduction will take place in room 502 10.00am Thursday 28


Dressings: Loos and Architectural Tailoring. Talk by Eamonn Canniffe.


Massimo Cacciari, Architecture and Nihilism: On the Philosophy of Contemporary Architecture, Yale University Press New Haven 1993

Beatriz Colomina, łThe Split Wall: Domestic Voyeurism in Colomina (ed) Space and Sexuality Princeton Papers on Architecture Vol.1
Princeton New Jersey 1992

Beatriz Colomina, Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media, M.I.T. Press Cambridge Massachusetts 1994

Kenneth Frampton, The Architecture of Adolf Loos, Arts Council of Great Britain London 1985

Hélčne Furján, “Dressing down: Adolf Loos and the politics of ornament” The Journal of Architecture, Volume 8, Number 1 / March, 2003

Benedetto Gravagnuolo, Adolf Loos: Theory and Works, Art Data: Idea Books Edizioni Milan 1982

Adolf Loos, Spoken into the Void: Collected Essays 1897-1900 Opposition Books M.I.T. Press Cambridge Massachusetts 1982

Jules Lubbock, “Adolf Loos and the English Dandy” Architectural Review 1983

Mary McLeod łUndressing Architecture: Gender, Fashion and Modernity in Fausch, Singley, El-Khoury, and Efrat, Zvi Architecture: In Fashion
Princeton Architectural Press New York 1994

Ludwig Munz and Gustav Kunstler, Adolf Loos: Pioneer of Modern Architecture, Thames and Hudson London 1966

Hans Richter, Dada Art and Anti-Art, Thames and Hudson London 1965

Max Risselada (ed), Raumplan versus Plan Libre, Rizzoli New York 1989

Carl E. Schorske, Fin-de-siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture, Cambridge University Press Cambridge 1981

Mark Wigley, White Walls, Designer Dresses: The Fashioning of Modern Architecture, M.I.T. Press Cambridge Massachusetts 1995