Teddy Cruz-Fonna Forman

Chicoco Radio _en cours_Port Hartcourt, Nigéria

Teddy Cruz has spent a number of years studying the growing divisions and inequalities evident in the neighboring communities of Tijuana and San Diego in the region spanning the US/mexico border. He claims:

It is, in fact, in the most depressed, disenfranchised and underrepresented neighborhoods that some of the more interesting social and political agendas have begun to emerge (…)  In slums and other informal spaces, there are certain procedures— social, political, and economic actions, exchanges, and transactions —that suggest an alternative political economy (…) The notion of the neighborhood as a site of experimentation is fundamental to rethinking our institutions in the wake of the economic crisis (…) This is what I consider to be the political in art or architecture: not the production of political architecture, but the construction of the political itself, towards an architecture of social relevance (…) I’m not interested in the image of the informal, but rather what’s behind it: the procedural, political, social, and economic characteristics of a place, and the process of translating them into operational devices that enable us to rethink urbanization


Link 01Link 02Link 03/ Link 04/ Link 05/ Image 

On the schism between architecture and technology, by S. Giedion


1806 Napoleon founded Ecole des Beaux Arts (…) the program maintained the unity of arch with the other arts as in the baroque period (..) bad administration caused an increasing isolation of the arts from the conditions of ordinary life

the Ecole Polytechnique had been founded during the French Revolution in 1794 as an ecole speciale (…) it offered a uniform scientific preparation for the higher technical schools (…) it combined theoretical and practical science and it directly influenced industry (…) the school set itself the task to establish a connection between science and life (…)

the gap was between science and its techniques and arts (…) the separate existence of Ecole des Beaux Arts and Ecole Polytechnique point to the schism of architectural and construction. the schism revolved around two questions: a. along what lines should the arch training proceed at the time and b. what was the relation between engineer and architect.

Rondelet was the first to insist that scientific techniques had an important role to play in arch and that constructional methods had to be allowed much more influence upon the character of a building design (…) Van de Velde recognized that the engineer promised the regeneration and not the destruction of architecture (…) LeCorbusier in 1924 marked the solution between the two by saying that the century of the machine had awakened the architect…

Even before Le Corbusier, Henri Labrouste, born in Paris in 1801, was the first to have united the abilities of both the eng and the arch. In 1830 he objected to the curriculum of the Ecole des Beaux Arts and thus he opened his own atelier. The Ecole, isolated Labrouste until 12 years later when he was finally commissioned to design the Library of S. Genevieve in Paris in cast- and wrought-iron and the National Library just after that.


Markets: Hall of the Madeleine 1824, Hungerfort Fish Market (London) 1835, The Grandes Halles 1853 by Baltard (rejected 1:Horeau rejected 2:Flachat)

Department Stores: Bon Marche (by Eiffel and Boileau)

The great exhibitions: A’ period 1798-1849_National/B; Period 1849-1900_International (…) They represent the history of iron construction and the important changes in aesthetic response (…) it became all the more difficult to differentiate between load and support (…) the vaulting problem has always brought forth the greatest architectural expressions of every epoch (…) Crystal Palace in 1851 and the Galerie des Machines of 1889 represented the two most prominent buildings of the great exhibitions (…) Crystal Palace in particular was an application of mass serial production (…) Paxton used the ridge and furrow system (…) The design of the building was planned around the largest standard sheet of glass (four feet long) (…) The CP realizes the intention to dematerialize landscape and dissolve it into infinity. 



Giedion, S., 1982 (1941), Space, Time and Architecture, Fifth Revised and Enlarged Edition, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, pp. 146-191

  • Image of Ecole Polytechnique available here
  • Image of Library Reading Room available here

Urban Memory Infrastructure by Ben Vershbow and Shannon Mattern


NYPL Labs’ work provide a new, and deeper, understanding of city streets, buildings, and society, over centuries of change (…) Turning vast collections into usable data, connecting maps, photographs, menus and community memories, NYPL Labs created a series of multilayered projects that point the way to a new information ecosystem.

Full article available here/ Image available here



UNMAKING departs from a local area in the city of Utrecht: Werkspoorkwartier, a former industrial zone. This part of town is the departure point for contributions by artists, biologists, architects, thinkers of all sorts. They delivered drawings, speculative scenarios, photos, memories, subjective atlases, essays and interviews.
UNMAKING therewith reflects on the contemporary love story of humans with their cities.

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atelier d’architecture autogérée / studio for self-managed architecture (aaa)


This is a collective platform which conducts explorations, actions and research concerning urban mutations and cultural, social and political emerging practices in the contemporary city.

aaa acts through ‘urban tactics’, encouraging the participation of inhabitants at the self-management of disused urban spaces, overpassing contradictions and stereotypes by proposing nomad and reversible projectsf, initiating interstitial practices which explore the potential of contemporary city ( in terms of population, mobility, temporality).

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R-Urban is a bottom-up strategy that explores the possibilities of enhancing the capacity of urban resilience by introducing a network of resident-run facilities to create complementarities between key fields of activity (economy, housing, urban agriculture, culture) it provides tools and resources to facilitate citizen involvement (…) it won the European prize (see previous post) for urban public space for 2016.


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Image available here



European Prize for Public Space: a biennial initiative of CCCB, it was established in 1999, to offer testimony to the process of rehabilitation of public (and urban) spaces and their capacity to foster social cohesion.


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Image available here: “The Barley Field”, Madrid, (Spain), 2010, Residents of the La Latina neighbourhood take over a site earmarked for the construction of a public facility, converting it into a meeting place for a wide-ranging series of events including inflatable pools, open-air cinema and neighbourhood breakfasts. (finalist 2012)

Augmented Urban Reality in the New Yorker magazine


Interesting article illustrating how digital technology has reversed the human flows inwards, thus from suburbia back to city centres. “Being hyperconnected in the digital dimension” says Rose,  “appears only to make us want to feel hyperconnected in the physical as well.” I would have expected the author to elaborate more on the social aspect of this phenomenon, instead he turns to the technological one and introduces us to two brand new entries in the New York cityscape:

  • LinkNYC kiosks: sleek metal wedges that stand nine and a half feet tall—will offer not just free Wi-Fi but also device charging, interactive maps, free phone calls, a red-button 911 hotline
  • Flow: a software platform that will integrate smartphone and sensor data with data from Google Maps to help city officials deal with traffic nightmares. it is an engine that will feed real-time traffic information to officials, enable them to reroute vehicles and adjust parking options on the fly.

Data visualization, available through the use of smartphones will help individuals navigate the urban landscape by lifting the barriers set by overpopulation. Just like Dr Snow’s London Ghost map helped estimate the cause for a cholera outbreak back in 1854 that cost the lives of 600 people, extensive digital data visualization freely available to alla is expected to do the same now.


Image: London Ghost Map. The data visualization on the map by Dr Snow helped determine a water pump as the source of the outbreak. Details and image available here

The practice and ideology of Landscape Urbanism


  • The new ecological paradigm as a guide for all actions: as in the call for more sustainable practices as opposed to green aestheticisation and with regard to design, not just a technical coordination
  • The encroachment of art on landscaping: landscape urbanism suggests an interdisciplinary approach to the city and architecture. Repishti claims that “minimalism, land art, abstractionism, pop art and organicism have been blended into a coherent artistic groundswell in which colour, material and form are arranged to reveal and transfigure the nature and form of places”.
  • The view of ‘active’ and ‘participant’ public space: creating or fostering sociality. In that sense, landscaping has become a therapeutical mending contributing to the liveability of a city. It is now oriented less on individual works of architecture as to the urban aspect.
  • The proof of the inability of architecture and planning to tackle and resolve certain urban places eventually entrusted to landscaping as an agent of urban regeneration: landscape urbanism is concerned with urban surfaces and not forms but ever since the 80’s and the plan for the regeneration of Barcelona, ‘the notion of “urban project” was formulated’, says Repishti. And later adds: “the urban project is seen as an intermediate area of city planning outlined as a set of mutable and many-sided approaches, in which forays into the fields of infrastructure and the landscape have represented a necessary condition of feasibility”.



Repishti, F., 2012, From Practice to Theory, in Lotus International, Vol. 150


PWP Landscape Architecture, Saitama-Shintoshin Station “Sky Forest” Plaza, available here

Understanding Sanford Kwinter’s “Landscapes of change”


01. What does Modern Topological Theory do?: (Poincare) It permits one a. to model relationships whose complexity surpassed the limits of algebraic expression and b. to study not only the translational changes within the system but the qualitative transformations that the system itself undergoes. Topology describes transformational events (deformations) that introduce real discontinuities into the evolution of the system itself. Those events are determined by the singularities of the flow space and not the quantitative substrate.

02. What do we mean by singularities?: a designated point where a merely quantitative or linear development suddenly results in the appearance of a ‘quality’ (i.e. rainbow) All such forms that owe their existence to singularities.

03. What is form?: Forms constitute nothing absolute but rather structurally stable moments within a system’s evolution; yet their emergence (their genesis) derives from the crossing of a quantitative threshold that is, paradoxically, a moment of structural instability (…) All forms are irruptions of a discontinuity, not on the system but in it or of it (…) All forms of the universe are produced as by-products or maps of particular evolutionary segments of one or another dynamical system. Forms are not fixed things but continuous metastable events (…) Forms are always new and unpredictable unfoldings shaped by their adventures in time.

04. Why are forms susceptible to change?: This is possible because forms are dissipative systems, thus open, dynamic systems where information is flowing out if it and into it as well. This energy comes from other systems contiguous to it and operating within it or upon it: that is, at entirely different scales of action.

05. What keeps a system dynamic?: It is the continual feeding and siphoning of energy or information to and from a system -simultaneously in continuous transformation locally and in dynamic equilibrium globally.

06. What does the flow of energy do to the system?: A. Information from outside the system will pass to the inside. The outside of the system becomes depleted, the inside’s flows are perturbed and same effects are now produced now in reverse. B. Information from certain levels in the system is transported to other levels, with dramatic results as some parts or strata can not withhold the minimum change and thus precipitate a catastrophe forcing the system to find a new equilibrium.

07. What is catastrophe theory?: Every event or form enfolds with it a multiplicity of forces and is the result of not one, but many different causes. Form is the result of strife and conflict. Catastrophe theory is interested in the effects of forces applied on a dynamical system from outside, forces that it then becomes the task of the system to neutralize, absorb, or resolve. A catastrophe can occur only in the region of a singularity. The catastrophe set is a three dimensional, unpredictable and open ended irruption of a 2d surface and thus an example of virtual form.

08. What is a virtual form?: It is a real ‘fold’ in real n-dimensional space that can give rise to indeterminate morphogenetic events in the n+1 space.

09. What is an epigenetic landscape?:it is invented to depict the relation between phenomenal forms and the morphogenetic fields in which they arise.  It is an undulating topographical surface in phase space whose multiplicity of valleys corresponds to the possible trajectories (shapes) of any body evolving on it. Seen from above any form is susceptible to to any exogenous forces. Seen from below, it features a complex network of interaction underlying it.




Kwinter, S., Boccioni, U., 1992, ‘Landscapes of change: Boccioni’s Stati d’ animo as a General Theory of Models’, in Assemblage No. 19, MIT Press, pp. 50-65


McNally’s & Mohamedi’s mindscapes

mcnally 03Emma McNally

This series of maps by McNally I recently bumped into really fascinated me. They also reminded me of another exhibition I was lucky to have seen last November at the Reina Sofia, the one devoted to Nasreen Mohamedi.

nm-gridungriddiagonaltocurveNasreen Mohamedi

Both of these women create their own universe of signs, a code of communicating event with simple lines and points and surfaces in black and white. McNally’s maps are active, a true representation of being where lines intersect and create noise. Mohamedi’s canvases of repetitive parallel lines are silent: they just create a rythm that implies existence in a more idealistic way. The transparency and accuracy of her designs are like a monastic exercise of self control and discipline whereas McNally’s are bruised and flawed by triviality.




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