SAN ROCCO 8, Call for Papers

Geschrieben am 09.07.2013
Kategorie(n): ARCH+ news, Call for Papers

What’s wrong with the primitive hut?
Application deadline: 16.08.2013

In their upcoming issue, San Rocco will discuss how contemporary architecture is still a prisoner to liberal theories about “primitive man.”

Marc-Antoine Laugier and Adam Smith, it is argued, describe the behaviour of the primitive man as strictly capitalistic. Yet if Smith’s version of the origin of exchange has been systematically criticized by thinkers like Malinowsky, Mauss, Polanyi and Sahlins (to mention just a few), Laugier’s fable has perhaps been forgotten but remains one of the cornerstones of the clumsy theoretical building of contemporary architecture. In the end, over the last 260 years, there have been very few critics of the French abbot. If we were to cite theories of architecture that consciously refused to buy Laugier’s story, we would be left with a pretty short list. It would include a few hermetic statements by Adolf Loos, the fragmentary intuitions distributed throughout Rossi’s The Architecture of the City, Koolhaas’s Delirious New York, and little else. Most importantly, all of these authors (except maybe Loos) quit their endeavours immediately after beginning them in favour of more profitable business, leaving the work entirely unfinished.

It might sound bizarre and retro, but Vitruvius has a little help to offer here. Indeed, in his very short and commonsense narration of the origins of architecture (Book II, 1, 1-7), Vitruvius manages to mention human evolution, the invention of fire, and the beginnings of language and society. Compared to Laugier’s strict individualism and utilitarianism, Vitruvius’s reference to society and language sounds quite refreshing (as much as generic common sense is preferable to more precise nonsense). And in particular, as seen through the animated multitude represented in the engraving of Cesariano (ed. of 1521, p. XXXII), Vitruvius seems to suggest a completely different idea of architecture, one in which origins are complicated from the outset, the shared precedes the private, and cities come before houses. The subject that builds is not an individual but a society, and consequently architecture is a technology, not of shelter, but of memory—a shared deposit of the unconscious. Cesariano’s wonderful image recalls the atmosphere of the initial sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the wild apes dancing around the monolith: men gather and carry stones for their first buildings, domesticated dogs appear in the background (greyhounds!) and family scenes are tucked in between. The way men move stones around is not without violence, and the woman showing her breast to her child is rather sexy. Origins are not that clear, not that reassuring, not that safe, but at least they’re not as boring or sad as Smith and Laugier would like us to think.

Might it be possible to develop a more realistic idea of our origins and, through this, a more realistic idea of what to do with contemporary architecture? Might it be possible to criticize Laugier’s tale from Latour’s point of view? Is there any way to take up the work that Rossi left unfinished?

San Rocco is interested in gathering together the widest possible variety of contributions. San Rocco believes that architecture is a collective knowledge, and that collective knowledge is the product of a multitude. External contributions to San Rocco might take different forms. Essays, illustrations, designs, comic strips, and even novels are all equally suitable for publication in San Rocco. In principle, there are no limits—minimum or maximum—imposed on the length of contributions. Minor contributions (a few lines of text, a small drawing, a photo, a postcard) are by no means uninteresting to San Rocco. For each issue, San Rocco will put out a call for papers comprised of an editorial note and of a list of cases, each followed by a short comment. As such, the call for papers is a preview of the magazine. The ‚call for papers defines the field of interest of a given issue and produces a context in which to situate contributions.

Read the call for papers and learn more about the list of cases here:

 

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