Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

"I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning; for the implicit function as well as the explicit function. I prefer 'both-and' to 'either-or', or black and white, and sometimes gray, to black and white. A valid architecture evokes many levels of meaning and combinations of focus: its space and its elements become readable and workable in several ways at once.
But an architecture of complexity and contradiction has a special obligation toward the whole: its truth must be in its totality or its implications of totality. It must embody the difficult unity of inclusion rather than the easy unity of exclusion. More is not less." (I)

"Forced simplicity results in oversimplification. In the Wiley house, P Johnson attempted to go beyond the simplicities of the elegant pavilion. He explicitly separated and articulated the enclosed 'private functions' of living on a ground floor pedestral, thus separating them from the open social function in the modular pavilion above. But even here the building becomes a diagram of an oversimplified program for living-an abstract theory of either-or. Where simplicity cannot work, simpleness results. Blatant simplification means bland architecture. Less is a bore" (II)

"The recognition for complexity in architecture does not negate what Louis Kahn has called 'the desire for simplicity'. But aesthetic simplicity which is a satisfaction to the mind derives, when valid and profound, from inner complexity."(II)

"Nor does complexity deny the valid simplification which is part of the process of analysis, and even a method of achieving complex architecture itself. "We oversimplify a given event when we characterize it from the standpoint of a given interest." (Kenneth Burke, Permanence and change) But this kind of simplification is a method in the analytical process of achieving a complex art. It should not be mistaken for a goal." (II)
"Analysis includes the breaking up of of architecture into elements [...] even though it is the opposite of integration which is the final goal of art." (preface)


Visiting a city

This is a post of interest for two kinds of travelers.
You're landing in a very new city you don't know anything about. 
You've been around for too long in the same city and want to have a new sight on it.
Finally, this post seems to be for anyone who's seeking for a curious way to walk around.

In the first case you're far from home. You knew you had to prepare this trip. You bought several guides, but you just read a few lines, because you know that you don't feel like following their advice. You don't like to have the feeling you're a stereotyped tourist. Obviously you will visit the most important spots, but you didn't need the guides to tell you they were important places. Restaurants, shops? You'll find yours on your way. You want to see the great places everyone told you about but you also want to get a great sense of the city. 
So you have a few days to feel the spirit of this city you're about to discover. The real question is : Where are you going to start, and how? I mean after the taxi, the hotel, and your first meal and shower...

In the second case, if I ask you for how long you've been living in this town, you would give me as an answer "good question! ". If you recognize yourself in this quick description, I tell you, you don't need a plane ticket for this summer (and anyways, this is more than a good piece of news, you're totally broke). Isn't it a bit weird that this tourist from the other side of the world knows more about your hometown than you do? So take a few days off because it's time to set up a new deal! But how?

You could just get out and walk! You feel like you would roam about Daedalus' labyrinth and you definitely need the help of the Ariadne thread to find what will make you fall in love with the city.

Some people will just walk from one "place of interest" to another, and won't have the feeling they are missing something. Don't worry, if you're reading these lines on Been-seen, you're not one of them.

One interesting project is to draw yourself a path through the web of the streets following one criteria. A common one, when it is possible is to follow the river if there is one. It works for Paris and a lot less for Moscow. Another one is to go take a deep breath in the suburbs, always forgotten and often interesting to see. You can also jump in the atmosphere of the parks and gardens. That's really great in New York and Paris too. Let's see how it would work in Paris.

Parc de Bercy

La Villette 

Les Buttes Chaumont

Parc de Belleville

Parc Clichy-Batignolles

Parc Andre Citroen


Underwater city

Mankato, Minnesota would be truly a wonderland. Tucked into the Emerald Green Valley in Southern Minnesota, it would be the hidden vacation Mecca of scores of knowing Midwesterners. Mankato would have everything thanks to a freak of nature: the Sclare/Far Fissure. This fissure in the earth's crust would take water seeping through the earth, heat it to well over 165 degrees, and send it back up to the surface in steam pits and boil holes. The heat from these pits and holes would heat the valley air to such an extent that the winter temperature in many Mankato neighborhoods has never dropped below a balmy 70 degrees!!!! 

One of the most fascinating parts of Mankato cannot be seen by the casual observer. It could only be seen when you strap on an oxygen tank and dive beneath the crystal clear waters of the Minnesota River. It would be the Underwater City of Mankato. This would be one of Mankato's prime tourist attractions. Imagine diving into the warm sparkling-clear waters of the Minnesota River in December when the rest of Minnesota is well below freezing.
No one knows exactly how it got there but it was known in Indian legends for centuries. Would it be the mythical Atlantis? Many renowned scientists say "Yes, it is!"

And there would be also a pyramid just like in Egypt! According to one legend, Mankato was founded and built by Gods who arrived in the area in great silver glowing disks. They befriended the Indians, taught them strange building techniques and left after two generations! Several legends even mention a pyramid that was built as a homing beacon that was later swallowed up by an earth tremor in about 1300 B.C.! It was excavated in 1957 and remains as a highpoint of the Mankota State University Campus.

If you believed this all story about Mankota I am really sorry to tell you this is the end of the journey. You should be glad to still have the imagination you had as a kid.


Le Carre d'etoiles

Have you ever thought, trying to look at the stars from the rooftop of your apartment building, in spite of the lighting coming from the city, that it could be otherwise? That you could look at them from your own little bubble of paradise away from the overcrowded urban space? 

Let's see and try to imagine you are walking along the Loire in France through the lands among the daisies, and you just want one simple thing : to stay there, wait for the night to come, and the sun to rise. 

You have already tried everything : trailers, caravans, small boats, even catamarans... What else do you think we are going to tell you about know...? 
Have a guess : it looks like a cube, it is made in wood and other ecofriendly materials, it can be brought to you anywhere you wish.
A tilt ?
You're burning! But it is more than just a tilt. You would have round windows, even one on the roof, and it would be big enough for four people to sleep. 
It is more like a little hotel room.
Everything you need is there, a kitchen corner, a shower, toilets, a cabin bed, parquet floors, a hotel service, a high-tech equipment...

I did not say everything : there is also a bio-ethanol chimney!

The Carre d'etoiles enables you to land on this spot you chose spontaneously. So far so good. It will also give you the eyes you wanted to look at the stars from your new "home". 

Lying on your bed you will be able to contemplate the sky trough the transparent rooftop dome and a telescope is there for you to take a closer look. Because there are still a few places on our planet where you can see the whole sky and its stars, the Carre d'etoiles was made to help you take your time and feel the infinite of the starry vault...


The right kind of mistakes.

" We all made the right kind of mistakes, or we wouldn't be here."

"But that's the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and worth the doing."

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451