Brendan Cormier is Managing Editor at Volume.
Brendan Cormier, Lead Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design for the Shekou Partnership at Victoria and Albert Museum and former managing editor at Volume, has picked a head-to-head between Rem Koolhaas and Larry Beasley that was published in Volume #23 Al Manakh Gulf Continued.
Everything comes from somewhere. It’s a fact so self-evident it hardly feels worth saying. But beyond this obvious truth, provenance is a powerful industry. As a capitalist tactic, it addresses the problem of anonymous mass-production through the added-value of meaning. And it is everywhere. As such, our daily routines have fundamentally changed. No longer a simple succession of actions, they are now a complex sequence of meaningful objects, objects that reveal stories reflecting our moral and personal character. In the shower we lather with locally produced handcrafted soap. Our coffee packaging reassures us that the Ethiopian crop worker – his name is Abraham – earns a living wage. The mug we drink from, as told by the sales clerk, is a Scandinavian classic. We slice into a tomato, knowing that at the farmer’s market we shook the farmer’s hand. These things make us feel good; they reaffirm our egos, assuage our guilt, and remind us that we are interested and interesting individuals. It is 8:30 in the morning.
With Rem Koolhaas ‘couch surfing’ has acquired a new meaning. Anyone lucky enough to actually get an interview with Koolhaas will most likely end up on his couch. The back seat of his BMW that is. Some private conversation time, wherever the journey takes you, accompanied by the deep hum of the V12 sports engine. Volume became member of this back seat club to discuss some intentions behind Fundamentals and perspectives on architecture it produced.
Let’s talk about law and faith. The law requires a certain faith – faith that it will perform in our collective best interest. Last year in particular, it was easy to lose that faith. Several high-profile cases brought to light incongruities in our judicial systems that unduly exonerated some, while persecuting others. Take the case of Wall Street. Following the 2008 crash, the US government put together its best legal team to root out what went wrong and who were the culprits. In a case where rapacious greed and gross misconduct were clearly at play, the government failed to prosecute a single major banker. Or look to the cold-blooded murder of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman. Using Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, lawyers were able to justify the racially-charged murder of a defenseless boy. Then there’s Guantanamo Bay, a prison run by the ‘most democratic nation’ in the world, still holding people stripped of their rights. All of this is technically legal.
We’re calling on the Volume network to share examples of laws and their unintended consequences in preparation for our end-of-the year issue.
That’s a wrap. The dust has settled, the ink has dried, and copies of Volume 36 have been shipped off to subscribers, newsstands, and the gracious contributors that made it all possible. With some respite now at hand, I wanted to take time to write out some thoughts and reflections on the production of the […]
‘Ivory towers’ and ‘paper architecture’ are common put-downs used to question the agency of critical and speculative thought. After the theoretical hangover of a Deleuze et al architectural education, many young critical thinkers turned to practice as a means to put their thoughts into action. We sat down with Markus Miessen, who has spent the past several years researching critical and spatial practice, to see what this means for the field of criticism.
Here’s your chance to have your photographs featured in Volume. For our upcoming issue we’re re-evaluating the role of criticism in architectural production. For a feature called ‘Likes and Dislikes: The New Critical Economy’ we’re reducing ourselves to a Facebook-style crowdsourcing of likes and dislikes among Volume readers; and we’re asking for your contribution.
Question of the Day: With our next issue, Volume dives into ‘ways to be critical’. We’re examining the current condition of architecture criticism and the various ways it’s broadcasted. So our question: What are your go-to sources for architectural criticism? Which medium do you prefer? Print, tumblr, e-book, etc. Shoot us your response to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dutch Rathenau Instituut started in 1986 as a technology assessment center to advise Dutch Parliament. It has since developed into a broader think tank studying the organization and development of science systems, while regularly publishing and stimulating debate about the social impact of new technologies. Volume talks to the Institute’s Rinie van Est and Virgil Rerimassie to hear about the main trends in synthetic biology and related disciplines. They paint a picture of the world where biology and technology have converged, and where our fundamental way of working through scientific problems has shifted.
Crisis? What Crisis? This was the title of Volume #9, which came out in the summer of 2006 speculating on the decline of the suburbs and the need for a grand plan. Seven years and several crises later, today, you like many others might be facing your own personal financial crisis. But that shouldn’t stop you from feeding your intellectual hunger and searching for inspiration! To help out we’ve extended our 20% discount for students to one year after graduation and introduced a special introductory subscription price for first-time subscribers. Click here for the details.
For more than eight years artist Koert van Mensvoort has been working on a project to redefine our concept of nature. Through his platform Next Nature he has published books, held talks, ran workshops, maintained an active blog, and even developed a hoax, all in effort to communicate that there is no absolute nature, but that technology and nature are deeply intertwined; a biosynthetic nature so to speak. Can the development of a Gillette razor be considered in Darwinian terms of evolution? Is the fake nature of an indoor ski slope any less legitimate than the Alps? By fundamentally shifting the way we conceive nature, he believes we will be better able to cope with the oncoming climatic and environmental challenges ahead.
In architecture a rat race is going on. Not another record-breaking tower – that wouldn’t be new(s). The race is about the application of a fairly new technology in the building industry. What at first seemed a cute and somewhat clumsy machine to produce architectural models and small objects, is now being tested to ‘go live’. I’m talking 3D printing of course and the ambition of at least two architecture offices, in Holland alone, to be the first to print a full-scale building. One is pursuing a pavilion, the other an Amsterdam canal house, complete with gabled roof.
In a secret location tucked away in Belgium, the latest issue of Volume, ‘Everything Under Control’, is currently being printed. To celebrate its release we’ll be throwing a launch event. Join us at Hotel Droog in Amsterdam on April 3rd from 19:30 onwards to catch a debate with Volume contributor and Next Nature founder, Koert van Mensvoort, followed by a short announcement of the new issue by editor-in-chief, Arjen Oosterman. Copies of the issues will be on sale, and various contributors will be present.
The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) is continuing, for the third year in row, its Young Curator Program, giving young curators an opportunity to conceive, research and put on an exhibition at the CCA. Applications are due April 15, 2013, and you can go here for more information.
Our friends over at the Third Lisbon Architecture Triennale Close, Closer have put together a small grant program for architects to propose start-up civic projects in the city of Lisbon. Aptly titled Crisis Buster the program is close to our hearts, in offering opportunities for civic engagement and unsolicited urban interventions. Deadline for applications is February 18th 2013.
Receiving us in her office in a former school building one afternoon at the end of July, Petra Blaisse proposes to first show us around. Most of the Inside Outside team is on holiday or working on site, but we catch a glimpse of some of her collaborators and the work atmosphere of the office. The office is distributed over two sides of the corridor, with an Inside side (renowned for their large-scale curtains) and an Outside side (dealing with gardens, parks, and urban planning). We meet her to discuss her assignment to ‘do’ the Rietveld pavilion in Venice on the occasion of the 13th Architecture Biennale, but also to discuss her experiences as interior designer and how that relates to her outdoor work.
Volume will be premiering its latest issue, Volume #33: Interiors, this Saturday in Maastricht at the opening of Playboy Architecture, 1953-1979 at NAiM/Bureau-Europa. This issue will feature an insert edited by Beatriz Colomina following research on Playboy’s role in linking lifestyle with architecture in the postwar period.
For the next issue of Volume we will be partnering with the International New Town Institute (INTI) to explore new players in urban planning. In addition INTI will be hosting a conference on September 27th in Rotterdam, exploring this topic through four case studies, with invited speakers from around the world.
Flanders has long been cast as a nebular city of hyper individualized sprawl – everyone with a house and a view to the landscape – the result of a welfare state ambition that flourished after the Second World War. Joachim Declerck wants to rethink the spatial logic of this situation, recalling the historical strengths of the original city-states, this time translated to new transnational realities. With his practice, Architecture Workroom, he’s brought two new projects to the International Architecture Biennial Rotterdam and the Venice Biennale, which discuss these issues. Volume sat down with him to discuss scales of intervention, re-situating production, and the metropolitan fabric.
With a global infrastructure crisis looming, there is much debate as to how our roads, sewers, and power lines will be financed in the future. While privatization was heralded as the solution a few years back, the current economic situation has cast doubt on the strategy. What do we do when the state can’t afford it and the private sphere doesn’t want the risk? Architects are complicit in this debate – affordability is a design issue. Can we design a new breed of infrastructure that pays for itself?