The Architecture of Passive Revolution

My latest article is now published — ‘The Architecture of “Passive Revolution”: Society, State and Space in Modern Mexico’Journal of Latin American Studies (requires subscription). There is a detailed discussion of the piece at the Progress in Political Economy (PPE) blog.

My article asserts a focus on monuments as a way of revealing the history of the modern state and the political economy of the urban landscape. Delivering an analysis of the Monument to the Revolution in Mexico City my central argument is that the ways in which the state organises space in our everyday lives through the streets we walk, the monuments we visit, and the places where we meet can be appreciated through two key thinkers – Antonio Gramsci and Henri Lefebvre – about space and the modern state.

This article analyses the political economy of Henri Lefebvre’s concept of ‘state space’ with specific attention directed towards the Monument to the Revolution in Mexico City, completed in 1938. The conditions of modernity can be generally related to the spatial ordering of urban landscapes within capital cities conjoining the specifics of national identity with imitative processes. Antonio Gramsci captured such sentiments through his understanding of the condition of ‘passive revolution’. The key contribution of this article is to draw attention to forms of everyday passive revolution, recognising both cosmopolitan and vernacular aspects of modern architecture in relation to the Monument to the Revolution. A focus on the Monument to the Revolution thus reveals specific spatial practices of everyday passive revolution relevant to the codification of architecture and the political economy of modern state formation in Mexico. These issues are revealed, literally, as vital expressions in the architecture of everyday passive revolution in modern Mexico.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo analiza la economía política del concepto de Lefebvre del ‘espacio estatal’ con atención específica en el Monumento a la Revolución en la Ciudad de México, terminado en 1938. Las condiciones de la modernidad pueden relacionarse en general con el ordenamiento espacial de los paisajes urbanos al interior de las capitales definiendo lo que es específico de la identidad nacional con procesos imitativos. Antonio Gramsci capturó tales sentimientos por medio de su entendimiento de la condición de la ‘revolución pasiva’. La contribución clave de este artículo es el llamar la atención a las formas de revolución pasiva cotidiana, reconociendo tanto los aspectos cosmopolitas como los vernáculos de la arquitectura moderna en relación al Monumento a la Revolución. Un enfoque en el Monumento a la Revolución, entonces, revela las prácticas relevantes espaciales específicas de la revolución pasiva cotidiana con la codificación de la arquitectura y la economía política de la formación estatal moderna en México. Estos temas se revelan, literalmente, como expresiones vitales en la arquitectura de la pasiva revolución cotidiana en el México moderno.

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Madrid’s Gran Vía Digital Humanities Project

Brief video introduction [created with Camtasia 2] explaining a student-produced Digital Humanities project investigating Madrid’s Gran Vía [created with Omeka / Neatline].

This way of approaching DH work is particularly conducive to urban-scaled projects, and does not require extensive data mining or GIS components – although these approaches could certainly be integrated. (I will be presenting this project alongside my colleague at a June conference in Charleston titled: Data Driven: Digital Humanities in the Library.)

Explore the map-interface of the actual DH project here.

004 – Theory-Parkour – Lamb on Parkour, Architecture and the Body – Urban Cultural Studies Podcast

UCS 004 Lamb on Parkour, Architecture and the Body (12 August 2013)  Conversational interview inspired by scholar Matthew Lamb’s article “Misuse of The Monument: The Art of Parkour and the Discursive Limits of a Disciplinary Architecture,” forthcoming in the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (1.1, 2013). Pitched at a theoretical level (complementing the specific place-bound analysis of  Monument Circle in Indianapolis found in the article) discussion centers on the origins (and varieties) of parkour–an athletic engagement with the built environment (misuse through climbing, dropping, vaulting, jumping…)–and the conditioning of the body in place and as subject to architectural and urban forces.

The Shadows of Revolution

With a view to tracing further representations of space in Mexico City my attention has been recently turning to the work of Paco Ignacio Taibo II (or PIT) in his transgressions of story-history, starting with the novel Sombra de la sombra (1986) published in English as The Shadow of the Shadow with Cinco Puntos Press (1991). The book is both an exploration of social criticism as well as a work of historical crime fiction. The story is set in 1922 in Mexico City blurring the realms of fiction and history and is based around the secret Plan de Mata Redonda, a conspiracy of army colonels, U.S. senators, and oil company magnates, with the aim to separate the oil-rich Gulf Coast of Mexico from the rest of the country and turn it into an American protectorate. Where better to explore the spatial practices of Mexico City deciphered through historical fiction and the symbols of this city’s lived representational spaces?

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The Madrid that may never be

URBAN PLANNING

[reblogged from El País; original post here]

The Madrid that may never be

The capital has been transformed by some major building projects in recent years

But budget cutbacks have since put the brakes on many other developers’ dreams

Architects Espegel-Fisac’s designs for the new-look Mercado de Mostenses.
   –   –   –   –

It’s past 6pm, but the security guard who comes out to meet this reporter has beads of sweat rolling down his sideburns.

“There’s nobody here but me, building work has been stopped,” he says, informatively. “There’s nothing to see.”

Behind him loom the Cuatro Torres – the four towers. They are behemoths nearly 250 meters tall that watch over the north entrance into Madrid, on the Castellana boulevard. Between them and the security guard’s sauna-like cabin, there is a colossal hole in the ground. These 33,000 square meters of empty land are destined to one day hold the International Convention Center – if you look closely, you can dimly guess at its concrete foundations. “Madrid’s new architectural icon” is how then-mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón defined it when he laid the first stone in Continue reading

CFP-Boundaries International Architectural Magazine – ‘Re-Cycle Architecture’

Reblogged from h-net, see original post here.

Boundaries introduces a call for papers on the following subject: «Re-Cycle Architecture».Boundaries is a quarterly international magazine on contemporary architecture, with texts in English and Italian. The first issue, July – September 2011, is centred on the Contemporary Architecture in Africa, the second, October – December 2011, on the Architectures for Emergencies, the third, January – March 2012, on the Architectures of Peace and the fourth, April – June, on The Other City.The aim of the project in Boundaries is to offer a panoramic and critical view of the architectures that today face, in many different ways, the challenges of modernity, and of sustainability intended as a balance between problems of cultural, environmental, economic and social nature.

The fifth issue of Boundaries International Architectural Magazine will focus on : « Re-Cycle Architectures ».

Architectural reuse, rehabilitation, reconversion exist from long time ago but they are at the centre of heritage and architectural study issues only since recently. Nowadays, recycle and sustainability are ever more at the centre of architectural and urban planning researches and practices. The disproportionate loss of land has severely undermined our environment, it becomes necessary to reflect on how design could lead to the improvement of the existing architectures, rather than building new ones. Recycle has to be intended here not as a new vague for aesthetic or marketing trends, but as re-use, “life cycle extension” for materials and objects. This new cycle affect the materiality of the existing, its functions and its significations, thus creating an hybrid entity adapted to contemporary needs. How does the role of cultural tourism, globalization, politics and economic issues influence the treatment of a building such as recycling? After the rejection of postmodernism and the increase of new contemporary forms of architecture, how does an architectural gesture could enhance the existing fabric without a mimetic approach? From sustainable construction techniques and building strategies, to sustainable recycling of demolition waste, to sustainable preservation and restoration, Boundaries wishes to offer in the fifth issue an insight in all the best practices and researches.

All kinds of approaches to this topic are welcomed, but must be focused on the XXIst Century. Papers can be case studies oriented, or methodological and/or theoretical in focus.

The deadline for submission is July 18, 2012.

Contributors are invited to submit a title, an abstract (from 400 to 500 words, and three images), and a short biography stating their affiliation and professional interests (maximum 100 words).

Official language for paper presentation is English. The style, grammar and phrasing should be edited by a person with an excellent command of English and a good understanding of architectural terminology.

All submission of abstracts should be sent by email to redazione@boundaries.it (up to 15 Mb) before July 18, 2012.

The papers will be selected by the editorial board and subjected to evaluation with the blind peer review system. The authors will receive an answer before July 24, 2012. Articles should be sent to the editorial board, in their definitive form and with illustrations (free from reproduction rights), before August 12, 2012.

Articles length should be between 400 and 700 words, notes and bibliography included. Contributions must be original and should not have been previously published, even in part.

All articles must be illustrated (at least ten images, drawings, sketches, renders or other).

Boundaries
http://www.boundaries.it
redazione@boundaries.it
Fax: (0039)069085149
Email: redazione@boundaries.it
Visit the website at http://www.boundaries.it

Michael Wolf photos of Hong Kong / Architecture of Human Density

Here are some fascinating images of Hong Kong’s density by Michael Wolf. They appear in their original context here, and he has a (costly) book on the subject as well…