Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sakais´ huts and territoriality: the hut as dwelling, refuge and sepulchre

I´ve found an old book on line, at project, called ¨My Friends the Savages. Notes and Observations of a Perak settler (Malay Peninsula)¨, written by Giovanni Battista Cerruti (1908). It was interesting for me to read that this tribe had three three types of huts: on the trees in plain ground, on the ground in the hills, and on the trees but specially built for those who were badly sick.
Let us see how Cerruti describes them:

From chapter XI
The hut (dop) of the Elder is the centre around which all the others are erected.
To defend themselves against wild beasts and other animals, as well as against the humidity of marshy ground, the Sakais of the plain often build their huts either up a tree or suspended between stout poles.
But on the hills there is no necessity to do this and the rude habitation is constructed on the ground with green branches and leaves, the roof and walls being of such poor consistency that they do not afford the very least protection. Wild beasts, as a rule, never venture into open spaces and besides are kept afar by the glare of the fires but the inclemency of the climate on those heights would render a more substantial residence desirable for comfort.
There is no furniture or other sort of household goods in the Sakai's dop. His bed consists of dry leaves and the same bark they use for their waist-cloths, strewn upon the ground. Some of them possess a coverlet, worth only a few pence, but for which the poor creatures have paid its weight in gold by means of articles given in exchange. The majority have not even this.
The hearth is placed in the middle of the hut and is made of four pieces of wood surrounding and closing in a heap of earth.
Three stones placed upon this serve to sustain the cooking-pot.
As I have said, they have no tables, chairs, stools or cupboards, and also the inventory of their kitchen utensils is very short: one or two earthen-ware pots (when they have not these they use bamboo canes for cooking), a couple of roughly-made knives, a few basins composed of cocoanut shells, and some bamboo receptacles which officiate as bucket, bottle and glass. The ladle with which they distribute their food is also of cocoanut shell.
Their plates are... banana or other leaves, adapted for the purpose, that are thrown away after they have finished eating.
At the top of the hut are hung the blow-pipes, and well-filled quivers. They are kept there for a little heat to reach them, this being considered essential to the efficacy of the poisons.
But, if a person is ill, the malady is a serious one, and the sourcerer cannot find a cure, a kind of territoriality is developed among the members of the tribe, isolating the unfortunate person; in the worst of cases, the hut built for him/her could be his/her own sepulchre.
From chapter XIV
if the malady is a serious one this cure fails, a sure proof that the spirit is one of the most dreaded class and must therefore be heroically fought by means of the chintok, as follows.
The village in which the afflicted person lives is closed in by numerous traps, and planted all round with poisoned arrows so that nobody can come near, even if someone were to succeed in crossing that original cordon sanitaire without any fatal consequence he would most certainly be killed inside it as it is feared that another evil spirit may be imported by an outsider, in aid of the one they are trying to get rid of.
Over the body of the infirm they form a canopy of medicinal herbs; the Alà and the company present paint themselves in the most horrible manner possible and as soon as it is quite dark (any sort of light is absolutely forbidden) they dispose themselves around the invalid and begin to madly beat their big bamboo canes. Their frenzy and the noise they make cannot be described; it makes one shudder, and the sound can be heard several miles off.
But it is intended to heal the poor wretch in the middle who, if he does not succumb to the violence of his disease, has a good chance of dying from the torture endured.
The diabolical concert lasts until the garrulous harbingers of the sun announce the dawn but is repeated after sunset for seven days during which period only the men are permitted to go into the forest in search of food.
If on the seventh day the patient is still alive he is left in peace unless a relapse should render another night of music necessary, and if he dies it is believed that the malignant spirit would not depart without taking the soul of his victim with him.
The most frequent illnesses to which the Sakais are subject are rheumatic complaints and very heavy colds which not rarely turn into severe bronchial and pulmonary ailments. Both are due to the cold at night against which they take no pains at all to protect themselves. Their huts shelter them from the rain but not from the air.
Some contagious skin diseases are also prevalent amongst them.
Directly somebody is seized with this malady a tree is selected at some distance from the settlement up which a little bower is hurriedly made and the person attacked is placed there and left with a little food at hand. Next day the relatives go to see if he or she is living and call out their demands, in a loud voice, a long way off. If there is a movement or an answer they go nearer and throw up some food but if there is no sign of life they hasten back and leave the corpse to decompose in the bower that now serves as a sepulchre.

All pictures are in the book and published by Project

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Spiralling Upwards. Comments on Frank Lloyd Wright´s Guggenheim

The Guggenheim Museum in the old times. Photo from The New Yorker
I´ve been lucky to visit this museum in 2005. Our minds are accustomed to see different type of buildings, mixed in the cities, but it must have been an urban shock 50 years ago. The avant garde design, in the middle of the classic city.
The Guggenheim is to be lived. When you walk down or up the ramp, you feel dizzy, and it was not only me, there was a young woman feeling terribly sick. The whole experience is unforgettable, since you see it while you walk through the sidewalks, it´s really impressive.
Last year, it was the 50th Aniversary since it was opened. And The New Yorker dedicated an article to this event. Let us read some excerpts:
In 1959, when the Guggenheim Museum opened, traffic on Fifth Avenue moved in both directions. As you drove northward, the bulbous form emerged from behind flat-fronted apartment buildings like a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I first saw the museum that way, as a nine-year-old, and the idea that this beguiling object had been created to display art, or that it might not be up to the task, seemed beside the point.
Fifty years later, it still does, even though the charge that the building upstages the art has become part of its legend. Staff at the Guggenheim like to refer to the building as the most important object in the museum’s collection, which makes it odd that the Guggenheim hasn’t had a major exhibition of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work until now. Its fiftieth-anniversary show also marks the recent completion of an extensive restoration of the building and the fiftieth anniversary of the death of its maddening, egotistical, duplicitous creator. Wright died, at ninety-one, in April, 1959, six months before the museum was finished. He last saw the building in January of that year, when he was photographed looking out from the spiral ramp with the contractor, George Cohen.
Notably absent from that picture was the museum’s director, James Johnson Sweeney, who fought with Wright over almost every aspect of the building. Once the architect was gone, Sweeney painted the interior white, instead of the ivory that Wright had wanted; rather than hang the paintings directly on the backward-sloping walls, where Wright wanted them to appear as if they were on artists’ easels, he installed them upright, on metal rods projecting from the walls. Over the years, the building has been pushed and pulled in all kinds of directions, rarely to its benefit. Taliesin Associated Architects, the inheritors of Wright’s practice, put up a garish addition behind the museum; later, it was demolished to make way for a limestone slab by Gwathmey Siegel, and a bookstore was stuck in the open space beside the rotunda. It’s wonderful now to see the Guggenheim at least a bit closer to its 1959 condition, the reinforced-concrete surface of the exterior smooth and voluptuous rather than cracked and shabby. Planters, complete with live plants, and a fountain that Wright installed in the rotunda are back in use. They’re hardly his most sophisticated gesture, but it’s pleasing that the Guggenheim resisted editing them out.
Wright envisaged the Guggenheim as “a curving wave that never breaks.” When it opened, John Canaday, in the Times, called it “a war between architecture and painting in which both come out badly maimed.” But Wright’s conception has always functioned better than its critics have admitted, if never as well as he himself predicted. Works of artists like Alexander Calder and Ellsworth Kelly play off well against the curves, but the space overwhelms anything small, delicate, or highly detailed. This makes the Guggenheim the progenitor of every architecturally assertive museum since, and beside works like Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao or Daniel Libeskind’s glass-and-metal shards in Denver and Toronto, it now looks almost demure. What strikes you when you walk into Wright’s rotunda today is how intimate and comfortable its magnificence is. Art is none the worse for half a century of being seen here.

Spiralling Upward. By Paul Goldberger. The New Yorker, may 25, 2009

Advancing in the construction of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia

The expiatory temple of La Sagrada Familia. Photo by Mark Burry.

This is an article written by Josephine Minutillo in August 2009, for Mc Graw Hill Construction: And End in Sight for a Centuries-old Building Project?. It is interesting to see that the money to continue the expiatory church of La Sagrada Familia is obtained from tourism and donations:
Chartres Cathedral’s imposing spires, rising heroically above the wheat fields in the countryside southwest of Paris, are a testament to the interminable construction that went into Medieval churches. While the shorter spire was begun in the 12th century, its taller, more flamboyant neighbor was not completed until some 400 years later. The campaniles of Barcelona’s Sagrada Família (Holy Family) church are equally impressive, and along with the cranes that hover above them, represent the most visible elements of an unmissable construction site in the center of a bustling metropolis—a unique, modern-day example of a complex building more than 125 years in the making.
Unlike Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, in which the master builder remains largely unknown, the Sagrada Família is the vision of one very well-known architect—the eccentric Catalan Antoni Gaudí, whose Modernista buildings created a sensation in fin-de-siècle Barcelona. But much like Chartres, which battled destructive fires on numerous occasions, construction of the Sagrada Família suffered huge setbacks during the devastating Spanish Civil War in the decade after Gaudí’s death in a streetcar accident in 1926. Crucial drawings and building models were lost during the conflict, making Gaudí’s ultimate vision for the temple less clear for his successors. Efforts to interpret that vision have been the source of controversy ever since. (Manifestos are presented every few years urging a halt to construction, claiming the building as it exists today is just a caricature of Gaudí’s work.)
While progress on the building in the decades that followed may have seemed slow, less than 10 percent of the planned church had actually been built during Gaudí’s lifetime. (The first stone was laid in 1882, a year before Gaudí was appointed architect.) The continuation of construction depended on several factors, not least of all funding. As an expiatory church, the Sagrada Família relies entirely on private donations; no money is received from the government or Catholic Church. When more towers began to rise, slowly revealing what would be Gaudí’s most radical design, the construction site gained increasing appeal as a tourist destination. The donations of a steady stream of visitors—nearly 2.5 million annually—coupled with advances in construction technology, have brought astonishing progress to the building in recent years.
Expiatory church of La Sagrada Familia. Image from
Read more about Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Presentación: Morfología Urbana de las Ciudadelas de Chan Chan

Safe Creative #1005296449570
Esta es una presentación de conferencia en powerpoint, configurada como libro digital. Para leer más sobre las ciudadelas:

Multimedia en la cocina!

Encontré hoy esta nota en MSN y quisiera compartirla con arquitectos, diseñadores y también cocineros. Personalmente, me gusta mucho cocinar, y mis preferidas son las cocinas muy luminosas con muebles blancos, grandes ventanas al jardín, mesadas de granito de colores, especias y plantas por todos lados, con cuadros y elementos decorativos étnicos. Y los pisos, de cerámicas, antideslizantes, y que no se note cuando los chicos tiran comida o bebidas....Por esta razón, me gusta tener una rejilla para poder baldear. Una costumbre que no tienen los norteamericanos, ni siquiera en los baños; pueden imaginar el desastre que se hace cuando se tapa un inodoro y no hay donde desaguar, y el agua se va deslizando lentamente hacia las alfombras….
Parece, según esta nota, que las nuevas cocinas tienden a ser laboratorios, y vaya a saber dónde quedarían las enseñanzas humanistas del arquitecto Livingston. Recuerdo su texto sobre las cocinas y su énfasis en las cocinas abiertas para que la gente charlara mientras se cocinaba y preparaba la mesa. Opino como él, pero siempre propongo un cerramiento virtual, como una isla o estantes, o mesada entre el comedor y la cocina, que sirva como desayunador, porque no me gusta que las visitas estén husmeando entre los trastes sucios.
Me encantó este horno que a la vez cocina a vapor, y debiera haberlo tenido para cocinar mi Flounder fish el otro día, ya que se me deshizo completamente. De las firmas aquí mencionadas, conozco Miele como una empresa de productos de gran calidad, pioneros en Argentina del reciclaje (en los años ´90 eran los únicos que traían incorporados en sus muebles dos cestos de basura para reciclar). El problema con mis clientes, en esa época, un mueble de cocina standard salía 6000 U$S y los de Miele 36000 U$S, y muchos suspiraban y se inclinaban por la manufactura nacional.
Con Miele también conocí las mesadas Corian, muy bonitas por cierto, como las que usamos en EEUU, pero, aún prefiero la piedra natural, el granito de colores vivos me apasiona, nada de gris mara. La nota a continuación es de Inmaculada Tapia. Publicada el día de hoy; las fotos pertenecen al artículo.

La cocina se convierte en un espacio multifuncional donde mientras vigila los fogones o el horno más vanguardista, hay hueco para el home cinema y puede contestar correos electrónicos.
La cocina es un espacio no sólo reservado para elaborar los menús del día. Aún cuando eran lugares acotados por las paredes se transformaban con facilidad en mucho más. Hoy, el nuevo interiorismo apuesta por los espacios integrados y ha convertido a la cocina en una gran sala multifuncional en la que todo cabe.
La domótica y los electrodomésticos en los que tecnología y vanguardia constituyen un todo, facilitan la evolución más destacada de la cocina.
La firma Poggenpohl se caracteriza por integrar en la cocina todo tipo de tecnologías multimedia, apostando por un concepto de cocina adaptado a cada necesidad y en especial que sirva de elemento de unión para la familia en la que alimentación, ocio y trabajo se pueden complementar.
Desde hace varios años, la firma alemana ha incorporado la domótica a la cocina en la que si lo desea incluye tecnología de control remoto Smart-home y permite integrar desde una biblioteca, a la oficina, pasando por un "Home Cinema" con pantalla de gran formato, e incluso dispone de un espacio propio para el hardware del ordenador con acceso a Internet, teléfono y agenda electrónica.
Los muebles, como no podía ser de otra manera, tienen una perfecta comunión con el espacio, inevitablemente de grandes proporciones con materiales de alta calidad, muy cercanos al concepto de lujo.
Las superficies de cristal acrílico macizo, uniformemente coloreadas, de Parapan de color negro, gris claro o blanco contrastan fuertemente con los expresivos chapados de madera noble de peral suizo, nogal y estructura de madera tipo zebrano. Combinados con aluminio y cristal confieren a la cocina un nuevo aspecto que vive de armonías y contrastes.
En la nueva colección presentada en la Feria de Milán, el arquitecto y diseñador Hadi Teherani ha manifestado que la colección + Artesio ha perseguido un enfoque global, intentando ofrecer una coherencia atmosférica. "La existencia del ser humano se basa en la habitación, eso es el aspecto esencial. El poder cocinar en una cocina, entonces, no basta".
Elmar Duffner, gerente de Poggenpohl, comenta que siempre intentan ir más allá y como ejemplo señala sus clásicos aparadores altos o el dining-desk multifuncional, "utilizable como cocina, mesa comedor, o también como mesa de trabajo".
Los frentes de la nueva colección mezclan mate en color arena, tierra o alabastro, también se ofrece con frentes de madera genuina de pino cepillado o nogal, así como con frentes de cristal lacado en color arena, tierra, Mallow o alabastro.
La limpieza de líneas es una constante también en las propuestas de cocinas de la firma italiana Santos. Frentes de muebles sin tirador y encimera de acero son parte de esa dinámica que combinadas con el color blanco refuerza la sensación de luminosidad de la cocina en la colección Blanco Minos Brillo.
Esta cocina está dividida en dos zonas. Un área con una zona baja en la que se integra la zona de fregado y cocción y que lleva adosada una mesa en laminado compacto apoyada sobre pata metálica. Y una zona de columnas en la que se integran los electrodomésticos y donde se crea una zona de trabajo auxiliar gracias a los dos muebles persiana.
Gracias a la península se pueden integrar dos ambientes: el de trabajo y el de comedor. De esta manera, además de facilitar los movimientos y ganar en comodidad, "estar en la cocina" adquiere una nueva dimensión en la que todos tienen cabida.
Horno a vapor
Si a la versatilidad en el mobiliario le añadimos unos electrodomésticos que permitan una alimentación sana y fácil de preparar se llega a la conjunción perfecta.
Mièle dispone de un horno a vapor con presión (Cocivap), que supone la mejor alternativa a la cocción tradicional de los alimentos, pero preparados en menor tiempo y conservando su sabor, aspecto y nutrientes.La temperatura se puede ajustar manualmente en pasos de 5°C, entre 50 y 120 grados. Esta posibilidad permite que las temperaturas por debajo de los 100ºC se puedan utilizar para descongelar, recalentar y cocinar alimentos delicados sin presión.
"El vapor producido en un potente generador de vapor independiente envuelve el alimento por completo. Todo se calienta rápidamente y por igual", explica Sven Luce, responsable de producto. A partir de una temperatura de cocción de 100°C se cocina con vapor al 100 por cien, lo cual constituye una diferencia notable con respecto a aparatos similares donde siempre se utiliza una mezcla de oxígeno y vapor.
El método del Cocivap protege los alimentos del oxígeno, que es el que destruye las vitaminas. No se produce ninguna oxidación que daña tanto el aspecto como el contenido de nutrientes, lo que impide que los nutrientes se disuelvan, como ocurre cuando el alimento está sumergido en agua.
Permite la elaboración de alimentos con distintos tiempos de cocción diferentes. Y lo que es especialmente práctico: mientras el arroz se hace al vapor, se puede añadir primero la verdura y después el pescado, ya que el proceso de cocción se puede interrumpir en cualquier momento.
Si se decide por la vitrocerámica y necesita una moderna campana extractora, el modelo DA6000 es una magnífica opción para resaltar. Está integrada en la pared de manera que una vez que se deja de utilizar queda integrada de forma que pasa desapercibida.
Manejo táctil sobre cristal con indicación por pilotos LED para la iluminación del área de cocción y la iluminación indirecta es todo un acierto.

A city’s death by fire. A poem by Derek Walcott

The great fire of London. Image from

 After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire;
Under a candle's eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales,
Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a liar;
Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds were bales
Torn open by looting, and white, in spite of the fire.
By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why
Should a man wax tears, when his wooden world fails?
In town, leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock of faiths;
To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green breath
Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails,
Blessing the death and the baptism by fire.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Coop Himmelblau in Downtown Los Angeles

I’m happy that I’ve found an article at about the High School #9 in Los Angeles, California. First of all, every time I saw its round windows in the gray boring walls, I was wondering who’d be the architects that add more gray to the city (it has enough of it). I never related the tower to this building and I was also concerned about the meaning of it. This is what says:
“High School #9, LAUSD’s new flagship high school project with emphasis in the Visual and Performing Arts, is in direct vicinity of the downtown Los Angeles cultural corridor with Disney Concert Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The school campus will include four academies for education in music, dance, theater arts and visual arts, and a theater for 1,000 visitors which can be open to the public.
The tower, a unique and highly visible sculptural landmark, will provide a point of identification for the students, a symbol for the arts in the city and a sign for the positive development of the arts, education and our society. The tower also relates to the immediate context of downtown Los Angeles and the other cultural institutions within.
A spiral in form of a #9 which revolves around the tower completes the sculpture and is an expression of the dynamic development of our society.”

Now, being an architect myself, and with experience in “reading” buildings and their meanings, I could never have imagined such a symbol for the “dynamic development of our society”. This is not that I don’t understand the spiral, the problem is that the picture published at is aerial, and you can see it as in a model. But, when you are at speed in the freeway, the only thing you see is the tower that looks like a building. That’s the problem, you don’t understand if it is an empty silly building good for nothing or a huge sculpture dedicated to nothing. I took a picture myself, inside the car, and I promise to look for it, or take another one.
Maybe some architects forget that real buildings are not to be seen as massive models, unless you are inside an airplane instead of a car, with the view blocked by the freeway walls and trees. From this point of view, the tower is absolutely out of context.
Tatlin had this idea of the spiral conforming the tower. This is a great sculpture, I highly prefer this one, because the tower is in itself a spiral and doesn´t need ramps to express the idea. No extra elements needed! Image from
*All pictures have been downloaded from

Ayuda internacional para sacar de los escombros el arte de Haití

Parte del mural La Ultima Cena. Imagen de revista Eñe, Clarín.

Por: Kate Taylor para The New York Times y Clarín. 27 de mayo de 2010

Susan Blakney, una conservadora de pinturas de Nueva York, se abrió paso entre una pila de escombros producto del derrumbe de la catedral episcopal Santa Trinidad en busca de fragmentos de los murales de la catedral. 
La iglesia forma parte del patrimonio cultural de este país, y la mayor parte de sus murales quedó destruida como consecuencia del terremoto de enero. Dos del ala norte, sin embargo, que representan La última cena y el bautismo de Cristo respectivamente, permanecen casi intactos. "Parece que hay algunas partes aquí abajo", gritó Blakney, que tiene sesenta y dos años, a los colegas que trabajaban con ella a principios de este mes con el objeto de salvar miles de obras de arte del caos que ocasionó el terremoto. 
La organización del rescate está a cargo del Smithsonian Institute, que en junio abrirá en la capital haitiana un centro donde conservadores estadounidenses trabajarán con personal local en la restauración de pinturas dañadas, esculturas rotas y otras obras que se encontraron entre los escombros de museos e iglesias. 
Artistas y profesionales de la cultura de Haití realizan operaciones informales de rescate desde hace cuatro meses. Pero los estadounidenses aportan profesionalismo en el campo de la conservación prácticamente no hay conservadores de arte profesionales en Haití  y también equipo especial, adquirido en gran parte con fondos privados. 
La iniciativa, que se caracteriza por su rapidez, la estrecha colaboración con un gobierno extranjero y una combinación de financiamiento estatal y privado, representa un nuevo modelo de diplomacia cultural de Estados Unidos, algo que los organizadores consideran un fuerte contraste con la apatía de la que se acusó a los estadounidenses ante el saqueo de los tesoros artísticos iraquíes en 2003. 
"Se cometieron errores en el pasado, en momentos de gran tragedia o conmoción, al no proteger ni priorizar el patrimonio cultural de un país", dijo Rachel Goslins, la directora ejecutiva de la Comisión de Artes y Humanidades de la presidencia, que participa en la recaudación de fondos para el proyecto. 
"Es una oportunidad para decir que aprendimos la lección." El financiamiento inicial procede de tres organismos federales y de la Broadway League, que agrupa a productores y propietarios de teatros. Funcionarios del Smithsonian señalan que el proyecto costará entre US$ 2 y 3 millones y durará unos 18 meses. Luego, el centro serán transferido al gobierno haitiano. 
Blakney viajó a Port-au-Prince con otros dos conservadores, un curador de museos y un grupo de ingenieros y especialistas en planificación del Smithsonian. Su tarea era evaluar qué tipo de daños habían sufrido las obras de arte. En base a esa información van a decidir qué equipamiento necesitarán, ya sea ellos o aquéllos a quienes el Smithsonian envíe a trabajar en el centro. Los conservadores estadounidenses dedicarán parte de su tiempo a formar conservadores haitianos como preparación para el momento en que se les transfiera el laboratorio. 
La operación de rescate nació en buena medida gracias a los esfuerzos de Corine Wegener, curadora del Instituto de Arte de Minneapolis y mayor retirada del ejército que prestó servicio en Irak poco después del saqueo del Museo Nacional Iraquí, y de Richard Kurin, el subsecretario de Historia, Arte y Cultura del Smithsonian. 
Wegener, que también viajó a Haití este mes, dijo que le parecía aterrador lo que había pasado en el Museo Nacional Iraquí, donde había trabajado como enlace entre el personal y los funcionarios estadounidenses. 
"Como profesional de museo, me resultó terrible comprobar que el personal se encontraba en un estado de conmoción", dijo. "¿Cómo me sentiría si un día llegara a trabajar y descubriera que se llevaron quince mil objetos?" Decidió no permitir que la historia se repitiera en Haití, afirmó. Algunos de los profesionales de la cultura y funcionarios haitianos con los que se reunió el grupo escuchaban hablar por primera vez del proyecto de centro de conservación, y respondieron con alivio y entusiasmo. La ayuda estadounidense es "fundamental para nosotros", dijo Patrick Vilaire, un escultor que fue pionero en el rescate de las colecciones de varias bibliotecas después del terremoto. 
Algunos, sin embargo, expresaron su frustración por el hecho de que no hubiera llegado ayuda antes, así como su preocupación respecto de que los especialistas extranjeros trabajaran más en la guía de visitas y en evaluaciones que en brindar ayuda real y concreta. 
En una reunión con Daniel Elie, que dirige el organismo del gobierno a cargo de la preservación del patrimonio nacional de Haití, se vivió un momento de tensión cuando su colega y traductora, Monique Rocourt, dijo que estaba harta de recibir a asesores extranjeros que llegaban y no hacían nada. 
"Si llevo otro grupo de especialistas a Jacmel", señaló, haciendo referencia a una ciudad que sufrió grandes daños como consecuencia del terremoto, "la población va a pensar que nos limitamos a traer extranjeros para que vean el desastre. Es cínico, pero eso es lo que va a pensar la gente."

Call for papers. From Aristotle to Skateboarders: Roles of Hermeneutics in Architecture

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s 99th Annual Meeting will be held in Montreal on March 3-6, 2011. I would like to invite members of this listserv to participate in a paper session titled “From Aristotle to Skateboarders: Roles of Hermeneutics in Architecture.” The submission deadline for completed papers is September 15, 2010. Please go to the following website for further detail:
Architectural students, educators, and professionals are all enthused about the recent developments and opportunities afforded by the needs for sustainable design. The cloud of self-doubt seems to have lifted, which has been with the profession ever since Modernism failed to fulfill the promise of a better, richer, and fuller life. After Postmodernism led us to focus on the banality of everyday life and consumerism, and Deconstructionists made us find it futile even to talk about the meanings of built objects, we seemed to be left with little to praise architecture for, other than as a spectacle merely on the basis of the novelty and visual effect. With a clear sense of purpose to fulfill environmental consciousness, the profession seems finally to have revived the raison d'être. Behind this enthusiasm, however, is a danger associated with positivistic clarity. The achievements are easily understood with sustainable design because the conservation of resources, the generation of energy, and the reduction of pollution are all positively measurable. There is nothing wrong in pursuing these goals, and saving the earth in particular is an urgent task. The problem does exist, however, when we limit our pursuits only to those goals we see are attainable and to those whose degree of attainment is clearly measurable. Architecture should contribute to our understanding of the world and the self, even though this is difficult to measure. In order to take architectural discourse beyond the limitations of Postmodernism and Deconstruction, hermeneutics, as a body of knowledge and methodology for dealing with the principles of human understanding, can assist in exploring a participatory interpretation of architecture as a means for understanding the world and oneself. Here “participatory” is to be distinguished from the type of interpretations that attempt to discover the meanings intended by the author. Instead, participatory interpretations suggest architecture’s potential of assisting the viewers and inhabitants with their understanding of the world and the place of the self within that world. While David Leatherbarrow’s recent work lays out intellectual foundation, there still is much to be explored in this area. This session is not intended to demonstrate changes of meaning over time, nor to argue for a text’s contradictory meanings. Instead, this session encourages papers and presentations that illuminate the specific nature of architecture which promotes participatory interpretation, with “the specific nature” possibly being about materials, light, orientation, or procession. Authors are encouraged to draw from diverse thinkers from Aristotle to Martin Heidegger and Paul Ricoeur, even to the recent study on skateboarders by Iain Borden. A hermeneutic of participatory interpretation will look at architecture as a way of contemplating one’s place through architecture. Where Do You Stand?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Deluge in Archaic Sumerian Cities

The walls of Uruk. Built by Gilgamesh.Among the chief of Semitic king Sargon´s exploits, was the destruction of the strong walls of Uruk. Image from
Zigurat of Uruk. Image from
The Sumerians were the first literate inhabitants of Mesopotamia, and theirs is the language of the oldest tablets from Nippur which relate to Gilgamesh, the epic hero king. They had already irrigated the country and filled it with their cities, before it was conquered by Semitic tribes in the course of the third millennium BC.
Excavation has shown that the Archaic Sumerian or Early Dynastic civilization of the early third millennium follows notable flood levels at several important cities: Shurrupak, Kish, and Uruk among them. These levels close the last prehistoric period, the Jemdet Nasr Period of the archaeologists, and may mark the catastrophe described in the Sumerian story of the flood, the hero of which lived at Shurrupak. This however was not the only disaster, and Sir Leonard Woolley, in his excavations at Ur, found evidence of a much earlier flood, which may have devastated part of the country at a time before even the most primitive picture-writing had been evolved. In the Sumerian texts  the name of five cities are given which were  established before the Deluge, and to them ¨Kingship was let down from Heaven¨. After the catastrophe, according to the texts, Kingship once more descended; and the city-states which then arose were often at war with each other. In the King-list, Gilgamesh is named as fifth ruler of the first post-diluvian dynasty of Uruk.
There has been much controversy on the question of the relationship between the Genesis flood and that of the Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian writers. The opinion, at one time widely held that the Genesis account was a late refinement on a story once current in all the cities of Babylonia, is not now so general; while the view that it derives directly from a very old and independent history has many supporters. The decipherment of fresh texts may throw more light on the whole question. The Genesis account is probably best seen against a background of many very anciente flood stories, possibly but not necessarily relating to the same disaster.
From The Epic of Gilgamesh. English version by N.K. Sandars. The Penguin Classics. Great Britain. 1962
Gilgamesh. Image from

The London Festival of Architecture 19 June-4 July 2010

The Festival in 2010 will be a city-wide celebration of architecture in the capital. As London gears up for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games we look at ways that planners, architects and local communities play their part in the development of 'The Welcoming City'. Everyone is invited to join the Festival community, to develop projects to take part in debates; to investigate ways that London can be made a better place to live, work and play; to explore the city through guided walks and bike rides and to examine change in the capital in a celebratory way.
A wide range of independent events will surround a number of core activities - some focused on high profile weekend events - others taking place throughout the Festival period.


Hong Kong Institute of Education      
Hong Kong      
14-16 January 2011
The World Universities Forum brings together those with a common concern for the role and future of the university in a changing world.
Never before in their long history have universities faced as many challenges as they do today. We live in times of enormous economic, political and cultural transformation, demanding at times that the very idea of university to be re-imagined. Citizenries and stakeholders now question the relevance and effectiveness of the University in ways they have never done before. In such a context, universities do not only need to re-think and re-frame their purposes and governance, but also communicate effectively with the communities that support them. They also need to take a manifestly pivotal role in addressing the key challenges and opportunities of our times: globalization, environmental sustainability, economic development, social inclusion, and human security. 
The World Universities Forum is a forum for the discussion of an agenda that explores the key challenges of our times, challenges that will shape the future role of the University. We have published the draft agenda emerging from our 2010 conference at - please join us at the next conference as we take this discussion a step forward.
The World Universities Forum is held annually in different locations around the world. The Forum was held in Davos, Switzerland in 2008 and 2010; and in conjunction with the Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, Mumbai, India in 2009. In 2010, it will be hosted by the Hong Kong Institute of Education.
In addition to this impressive lineup of plenary speakers, parallel paper, workshop and colloquium presentations will be made by researchers and administrators from a wide range of fields, institutions and geographical locations. Participants are invited to submit a presentation proposal for a 30-minute paper, 60-minute workshop, or a jointly presented 90-minute colloquium session.
Presenters may also choose to submit their written papers for publication in the peer-refereed Journal of the World Universities Forum. Those who are unable to attend the conference in person are welcome to submit a virtual registration, which allows for submission of a paper for refereeing and possible publication in the journal, as well as an option to upload a video presentation to the conference YouTube channel.
We also invite you to subscribe to our free, monthly email newsletter, and subscribe to our Facebook, RSS or Twitter feeds at .
The deadline for the next round in the call for papers (a title and short abstract) is 10 June 2010. Future deadlines will be announced on the conference website after this date. Proposals are reviewed within two weeks of submission. Full details of the conference can be found at .


University of California, Los Angeles, USA      
29 June - 2 July 2010
The Humanities Conference provides a space for dialogue and for the publication of new knowledge that builds on the past traditions of the humanities whilst setting a renewed agenda for their future.
This year's conference will feature the following plenary speakers:      
* Joyce Appleby, University of California, Los Angeles, USA    
* Douglas Kellner, University of California, Los Angeles, USA      
* Jodie Parys, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, USA      
* David G. Stork, Stanford University, Stanford, USA      
* Edward A. Tiryakian, Duke University, Durham, USA      
* Tricia Wang, University of California, San Diego, USA      
In addition to plenary presentations, the Humanities Conference includes parallel presentations by practitioners, teachers and researchers. We invite you to respond to the conference Call-for-Papers. Presenters submit their written papers for publication in the refereed 'International Journal of the Humanities'. If you are unable to attend the conference in person, virtual registrations are also available, which allow you to submit a paper for refereeing and possible publication in the journal.
Whether you are a virtual or in-person presenter at this conference, we also encourage you to present on the conference YouTube Channel. Please select the Online Sessions link on the conference website for further details.
The deadline for the next round in the call for papers (a title and short abstract) is 10 June 2010. Future deadlines will be announced on the conference website after this date. Proposals are reviewed within two weeks of submission. Full details of the conference, including an online proposal submission form, are to be found at the conference website -
We also invite you to subscribe to our free, monthly email newsletter, and to our Facebook, RSS or Twitter feeds at
We look forward to receiving your proposal and hope you will be able to join us in Los Angeles in June.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The every day life in the layer art of Sigmar Polke

Aachener Strasse, 1995 (a series of sixty C-prints) by Sigmar Polke and Augustina von Nagel. From Sigmar Polke-Photoworks: When Pictures Vanish, MOCA/SCALO, 1995. From
You have to be really trained in Aesthetics to see Arts in everyday life. For the German painter and multimedia artist Sigmar Polke, a simple object, a stone, scenes in the streets, a faucet -that reminds us construction work-,  can be transformed in Arts.
¨For the past thirty years, Sigmar Polke´s art has perplexed critics and public alike with its multiplicity of styles, subjects, and positions. Polke´s paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture have variously been described as metaphysical and profound on one hand and jocular and deliberately dumb-witted on the other. His densely layered art, with its commitment to finding again and again an equivalency between subject and technique resists facile interpretation.¨ (Polkography. By Paul Schimmel. In Aperture. 1996).
From the Getty Museum web page we can learn:
Born in 1941, Polke studied from 1961 to 1967 at the Düsseldorf Art Academy where he helped launch an art movement known as Capitalist Realism, which mined popular culture and advertising for its pictorial language. Polke took up photography in the mid-1960s using a handheld 35mm Leica camera. The small, light camera with a silent shutter gave Polke the ability to record "found" still lifes quickly and effortlessly.

Guided by curiosity about the medium's optical and chemical properties, Polke also began to experiment with printing techniques in the darkroom to transform the raw material of his negatives through the alchemy of black-and-white photochemistry.

Image from Getty Museum on line 
Shopwindow Still Lifes
Storefront window displays provided ready-made still lifes for Polke. The absurd juxtapositions and overabundance of items displayed in shop windows provided fodder for the exploration of consumer society. Polke's images offer a catalogue of the types of products that were available to consumers in postwar Germany. They often commented slyly on the nature of taste, as in the pairing here of a cheaply framed painting of flowers with a kitschy planter of ivy
Image from Getty Museum on line
Close-ups and Double Exposures
Polke's use of the close-up directs our attention to those details that fascinated him most, such as the arch of the chrome faucets seen here. At times Polke placed two negatives in the enlarger to introduce context and narrative into the final layered image. In this image, Polke used double exposure to embed the two gleaming faucets among shoppers carrying umbrellas as they navigate a flooded street.
Aachener Strasse
Aachener Strasse
The Darkroom as Laboratory
Polke taught himself to develop his own negatives and enlarge prints. From the beginning, he viewed the darkroom as an arena for exploration. Curiosity about the process of developing prints and seeing images emerge led him to disregard standardized procedures that determine the length of time a print is to remain in each chemical bath and the sequence of those baths.

Polke's impatience with the "rules" of the darkroom often resulted in scratched negatives, under- and overexposures, and prints that further obscured details to create visually disorienting compositions.


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