kristen’s research

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Midterm Review

The following text is the narrative from my presentation:

My thesis started with an interest in Antarctica andChernobyl. Expanding these territories further, with an interest in “charged landscapes” I started sorting through different typologies of zone. The idea of zone is interesting upon further investigation in relationship to the thesis theme of disaster/catastrophe and its aftermath, because such as the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or the Cyprus Green Line, or The Zone of Alienation of Chernobyl, each of these were caused by a disaster of war, or accidents involving intense infiltration of radiation into a landscape. Other types, and I have them listed here, of extraterritoriality, a special economic zone, or being an involuntary park, a term coined by Bruce Sterling, exist parallel to the disaster, but then release or spawn a new logic, or a zone as a void. In the case of the Green belt of Europe the manifested iron curtain, separating once the USSR from the rest of Europe, or the DMZ or Chernobyl, have created a landscape devoid of human life, are uninhabited, so nature takes over, and animal species and generations thrive there, or endangered species are allow to live in the quarantined off zone in peace.


The intersection of Tarkovsky’s film the Stalker, where adventurers with the guidance of stalkers seek out the “zone”, — it is the same condition here. The zone is parallel to our world, created out of a destructive force, but spawns out a new logic, that exists almost as a void against its container, or its reflexive quarantine.

Extraterritoriality is marked by a state of being exempt from the jurisdiction of law by way of status or treaty. Examples are Antarctica, would probably be different if there were known resources there, the moon, outer space, and the United Nations.

Special Economic Zones are endowed with a policy framework designed for free market, free trade and free open access, set apart from a field of more difficult, unfriendly to the market alternatives. A well known example is of course Shenzhen China, opposite of Hong Kong across the river and the rest are listed here. In addition, Broadband networks connect parallel virtual and real realms, and the category is also listed here.  The world has become a Photoshop smash-up of images…

In Keller Easterling’s TED talk, the action is the form, she states that “some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are being made by contagious spatial forms.” The cross section of dynamic current events leaves an aftermath of charged landscapes, the economic crisis and government failures across the globe, the constant fear and risk of terrorism, and the risk of social unrest and protest, and the ubiquitous computing and broadband networks — these are the tipping points. The thesis proposal is the investigation into the typology of an embassy, an extraterritorial zone, without all of the perks, and poses to re-invent it, considering as diplomacy is between two people and with the embassy the exchange of territory with the condition of trust…can we rethink this? The scaling “embassy” to powers of ten, (reference to Charles and Ray Eames and their film, “Powers of Ten”) mentions a person’s use of cell phones, ubiquitous computing to communicate. Is that a scale of embassy we can begin to work here? So the effect of broadband networks on the typology, but then also resent events in the middle east in September, roughly from the 12 to the 23rd, were protests focused towards United states embassies and those of Canada, France and Germany, and the subsequent decision to close down and remove personnel from the US embassy from Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Sana’a, Cairo, Benghazi, which of course was the focal point, Damascus, Tripoli and Tunis. In world that is no longer strictly red communist and blue capitalism since the fall of the Berlinwall and the USSR, and most of the Middle East /North Africa reforming and restructuring into what is yet to be known, how is diplomacy and the embassy situated? (In these red, blue, purple, and white zones…)  Is it even between nations?  The values of modernism from the 50s, of glass, transparency and openness, democracy, typically the way the United States put out its values, was perhaps never really the true, or is ever more difficult with the threat of terrorism.  As an aside the U.S. Embassy in London, recently completed was designed with an beautiful glass façade with these intricate glass modules.  But in the design actually forbids WiFi to invade it for security purposes.

The proposal of the un-embassy is in this aftermath zone, and how it attempts to exist parallel to it, but spawn its own logics. The un-embassy, short for the United Nations embassy, is understood at first of being within the United Nations apparatus, existing at first to assist in capital cities of countries that currently do not have an extensive, but rather a limited embassy structure, having less than 25 consulates or embassies, representing other nations within its borders. The un-embassy much the same program as a traditional embassy but the idea is when ambassadors from countries want to discuss the issues, and there is not representative embassy within a country the un-embassy allows for that platform, it is the any country any ambassador embassy, to assemble and essentially is a satellite of the United Nations itself.

Current embassy guidelines enforce a 100 foot minimum distance set back from the street, becomes impossible, when set in a capital cities historic center, the most desired places for countries to put their embassies.  Further away from the historic center of the city. High perimeter walls and fences that are difficult to climb, are required protecting the compound, anti-ram barriers, and blast resistant construction techniques. If imagined to go on forever, the embassy is removed from outside then outside of the host territory entirely or at least having to exist within the wall itself, as in the case of the 750 billion dollars embassy in Iraq, in the green zone, which essentially is its own state, self-sufficient.  (I do not discredit the fact that it is in a war zone.) The unembassy is a generic in this field of prescriptions.

The un-embassy would allow for an ambassador’s arrival and personal office work space, along with dealing with visa and passport issues, of anyone in the “host” country that is a foreigner. In addition to places of asylum, inspired by Julian Assange, public art works, a hotel residence…etc. The first site of the un-embassy is Gibraltar, a tiny sliver of land below the tip of Spain. It is a member of the European Union and its position close to North Africa. It has its own airport.  Only one consulate is located here, the Thai consulate. Being small real estate, embassies are not desired here since they would take up too much land. The un–embassy being released in Gibraltar, depending on its usefulness could spread to other places across near landscapes to cites without a substantial embassy infrastructure. Namely::Yerevan,Armenia, Baku Azerbaijan, Minsk Belarus, Pristina, Kosovo, (that is tricky one…) Sana’a Yemen,Casablanca, Morocco etc. It does not attempt to usurp the existing , intense, pervasive, heavy, expensive, embassy infrastructure in place, but to allow developing nations a platform for dialogue that is more accessible than the UN.  (Although in the future it can…)  In addition, the idea of an automous zone for the un-embassy could fair well in scenarios where two countries or parties do not have diplomatic relations, but would desire to meet in a third type of zone, the un-embassy.

Essentially, it is an effort to re-brand what an embassy does in the 21st century. Maybe it  also becomes an “app”, working on multiple scales that are in face local but based through remote connection. On the periphery it deals with ideas of surface, and infinite interiors which I personally like a lot.  It also can serve as an international distribution point for supply of goods in catastrophic events / disasters.

As an aside, this extra paraphernalia (the karst landscape of the Dead Sea) is about another site option…that I entertained for far too long…

Also,  I recall the Venice Biennale 2008 theme: “Architecture without Buildings” and in 2010, “People Meet in Architecture” and I think both are relevant here…


Monday, November 5th, 2012

#003 091512 – 110412 [edit]

During this time, I reviewed texts from Ulrich Beck (Risk Society), Keller Easterling, Anthony Giddens, Foucault, went back to Rosalind Krauss, Bruce Sterling and Manuel Delanda…

Continued to be interested with Antarctica, technically, as its status as an “extraterritoriality”…  This followed by Easterling, and her TED Talk, “Action is the Form”.  Focusing on Special Economic Zones, extraterritoriality again.  From here, revisited Tarkovsky, and particularly his film, “The Stalker” and a mysterious and dangerous journey into the “zone.”   All of these aligning with my personal interest of charged landscapes.   I entertained several avenues for proposals within this theme dividing my efforts…but,   Every decision is a final refusal.

[[Working Thesis Statement & Drawings to be added to this post.]]







Friday, September 14th, 2012

#002 091112 – 091412

When looking at the Situationist International, first understanding their position as being book-ended between the split of CIAM, TEAM X and the events of May 1968 is imperative.   After reading seemingly countless accounts of their efforts, and overwhelmed or perhaps, underwhelmed, with the explanations of qualifying a ‘select’ urban experience, I finally found the nugget of truth to their inspiration– walking around Paris in the late evening while drunk.  Pure Intuition.   Finally– the seemingly moving target of their imaginings is explained.    However, the only way I was able to digest the thousands of pages of text, I had to, for a moment, take on the character of the ‘derive’–and do a little ‘detournement.’

Working with the original ‘Naked City’ drawing by Guy Debord, I set out to ”detournement’ the drawing, as the SI had ‘graffitied’ the renaissance artworks…


Mod #1  

Mod #2 Stamp Operation
The SI was critical of the consumer society that was emerging after the second World War.   I need to track down, if any exist, of works he might have produced through the 80’s.  The Society of the Spectacle on fire.  This drawing suggests the ‘branding’ of city experiences, and being applied as a stamps.

Mod #3 Different colored ‘stamps’…done for visual clarity.


Save for a few moments to organize this SI research in a more detailed way, it is clearly time to move on– and move forward…

Friday, September 14th, 2012

#001 090312 – 091012

Towards Research Phase 1  

[Included below is record of sketched notes and potential ideas through Week Two.]

Being born in the late 80’s, my life is seemingly marked by architecture’s collapse.  The Berlin Wall.  The WTC.  The House.   And with the ever present news cycle and scrolling ticker, it could be considered that we live now in a perpetual state of catastrophe.

With his Pritzker Prize speech in 2000, Rem Koolhaas suggests that “the rest of the world has already liberated architecture for us” from brick and mortar.   It is time to speculate about compelling and immediate new issues.

To my mind, there is a point at which a catastrophe / disaster renders useless what architecture can do. Architecture’s slowness undermines its effectiveness.  (However, for me, the slowness of architecture is its strength — where as “deployable” almost becomes too fast…)

[Guiding line from Cloud-Reassembly brief:  “Ultimately all is flow.  When sped up, flow often becomes event.” ]

Levels of Engagement / Levels of Contingency:  The Search for a “Catastrophe” / “Disaster”

[Original List is shortened by details but maintained to only chosen articles for continued potential research]

1.  Storefronts / Retail Environments:  Considered as an architecture created by people through use.  (Prada Store with interactive screens / displays hung between clothes on racks, where runway shows, information about the garment, etc is offered to the client. )

2.  Informal Environments

3.  *Scenario Building:  (Inspiration.  Plato’s Atlantis, Spring 2010 Alexander McQueen.  Created to cast an apocalyptic forecast of the future ecological meltdown of the world.  With mankind returning to the sea.   What would that look like…  No catastrophe actually occurred.  This is a then-if.  Inspiration.)

4.  Identified Catastrophes & Disasters  (Earthquakes, Floods, Climactic, Extinction, Terrorism, Economic, Food Production, War, etc.  In no particular order.)  (Also “triggers”.  The small things that set off the unimaginable, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand…)

5.  Living Disaster / Present Disaster / Past Disaster  (Pripyat, Chernobyl.       Chechnya.  Even Grozny means fearsome.   And the events more recent…)

6.  Collective Efforts / Collective Speeds  (Berlin Wall, was put up overnight and now pieces are sold on Ebay.  The Tower of Babel.  All we build are babels, our most sophisticated worlds turn off with a switch.)

7.  *Disaster Environments [Extreme Environments]  (Antarctica as a site.  a desert.  Flows -time- become abstracted, almost poetic…darkness and light, the migration of animals, freeze and thaw, the harshness of the climate, material processes, material realities, etc.)

On the side–  Google Maps (Mapping Techniques)  Interesting article posted and relisted here from archinect about Google and how they create their maps.

Robbed and adjusted diagram from Rosalind Krauss, on the dumb side…but still an attempt to illustrate position…

For Week 3, documentation will focus on reviewed movies, additional texts, and the situationists.  In addition to thinking about a less irritating title organization for these posts.  (And yes, I need to site the selected images…)

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