Kopfkino happens when 'it's all in your head'. It's head-cinema in German, literally. It is supposed to relate to something negative - ie imagining bad things that might never happen. However this photo of Kisho Kurokawa's National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka (1973-77) seems to portray exactly that kind of stepped, mineral-landscape-y project that has starred in our Kopfkino for some years now. And yet, it really exists! Have a good weekend all of you, and see you next Friday @ AA for the Architecture and Labour symposium.
Pochemuchka refers (in Russian) to a 'why-er', the kind of person who keeps on asking why - just about, well, everything. It is an ambivalent #wordoftheweek because on the one hand it's easy to be annoyed by a pochemuchka but, at the same time, we're all pochemuchka every once in a while. Kids tend to be more pochemuchka than adults, or more healthily pochemuchka at least, as the world of a kid tends to be rather full of wonders you haven't yet worked out. This plan of the Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina, Sicily, is still able to turn architects of any age into pochemuchkas. It is just so difficult to understand where the formal stops, and where the functional begins (if ever). It is also infinitely baffling how Roman architecture - which, almost 20 centuries afterwards, we tend to consider one big indistinct lump - changed so radically after the introduction of a widespread use of concrete and the poche, rounded shapes it allows to produce. The villa dates to the early 4th century, when this kind of spatial solution was relatively diffused, but we do know that apses and niches were not that common at least until the 1st century - no private buildings in Pompeii show a similar degree of geometric flamboyance. It is said that perhaps the first instance of use of concrete for a non-infrastructural building was Nero's Domus Aurea (mid-60s). Of course it would be difficult to label the Domus Aurea as private, or even residential, architecture; but still, it might have been the first case this kind of technique was used outside of works of public interest - the heyday of concrete will start towards the beginning of the next century to climax in Hadrian's era. Roman architecture would never be the same. Even in the provinces, even in a relatively obscure building, the new technical possibilities would bring another language. Why? Remains the question. Why all those apses. Why all those conflicting axes. Why all those bizarrely shaped rooms. Why.
Meraki: in Greek, the quality of doing something fully, completely, putting the whole of yourself into it. Doing whatever you are doing with your heart and soul. This could be the cheesiest #wordoftheweek ever... or not, given how often one feels disconnected from what he or she does. The picture is a XIX century engraving by Tardieu which is supposed to represent a Greek gymnasium 'after Vitruvius' (from Voyage du Jeune Anacharsis en Grece, 1825). While it's not necessarily believable from the archaeological point of view, it is still a pretty neat project; it is very simple, but it manages to put together nature and artifice, greenery and architecture, bodily presence and formal ambitions. Enough of an encouragement to make architecture with meraki this coming week.
#wordoftheweek - In Danish Morgenfrisk is that sensation of freshness, energy and new beginnings you have in the morning, when you wake up after a good night's sleep. It is a beautiful word that links a physical sensation with a psychological attitude. The tangible and the intangible are tied together in Morgenfrisk.
The sensation it evokes is also what we wish to all of you restarting a new academic year this week. The French call it 'la rentrée': it is much more than the simple act of coming back to school and work after the summer, it's a whole ritual. But rentrée is a rather sad word. While it does celebrate the discreet charm of going back to normality, it also evokes the repetitive nature of a bureaucratic routine. We hope that on the contrary this week you won't feel dragged back, but rather filled with curiosity for what will come next. The picture above has been taken by John Ng, studio master at the Architectural Association, and it portrays the AA's first year studio space in all its Morgenfrisk glory at the beginning of the year.
Bare, empty, and yet full of possibility. Not cold: fresh. Have a great start of year, all of you out there.
#wordoftheweek - Fernweh is the longing for that which is far away. It is the opposite of Heimweh that is the longing for home. It is a bit like Wanderlust but while Wanderlust puts the accent on the act of travelling itself, Fernweh is all about the idea of distance. It's perhaps the desire of far-ness. Some people experience Fernweh in a very direct way and move farther and farther away from the place that once was home. Perhaps, though, Fernweh can be interpreted in a broader sense as the strong pull we feel for something that is ultimately unattainable - and that, if we were ever to reach it, would cease being the object of our desire.
Airports used to be the place of Fernweh, and the place of Heimweh. As travel is increasingly easier and we become more and more mobile, sometimes it is easy to think many dichotomies cease to make sense: Fernweh and Heimweh, far and close, here and there, home and away, the wanderer and the homebody, the tourist and the local. However, this is not entirely true - every time we leave, we really do leave something behind, and at the same time, while it might grow fainter and fainter, some of us still feel the pull of Fernweh, the thrill of waking up to another sky tomorrow, the thrill of distance, of the clarity distance brings, of the freshness and the newness for that which is far.
This is a week for Fernweh and Heimweh, a week in which many of us are and will be out there in airports and on the road - those who fly back to their schools for the start of the academic year, those who fly around for the fall fashion weeks. Choose your poison: the near, or the far?