Candide —
Journal for Architectural Knowledge

Editors’ Letter

Editors’ Letter.


Photographs capture what, without them, would be carried away by the flow of time. Photographs are visual constructions. They create still images of transformation processes. As snapshots of urban change, photographs visualize processes such as migration flows, urban growth, real estate speculation, and the decay of neighbourhoods. By means of photographs, visible sections of reality turn into statements, narratives, documents, and testimonies. Photographic images are an integral part of numerous cultures of knowledge. They belong to the observation and research practices of cultural anthropology, ethnography, and urban sociology. How is the medium of photography used in the analytical and planning practice of urbanism? Which clichés and stereotypes are confirmed or deconstructed? And how much scope is left for artistic inventions?

Fotografien halten fest, was ohne sie vom Fluss der Zeit davongetragen würde. Fotografien sind visuelle Konstruktionen. Sie erzeugen Standbilder von Transformationsprozessen. Als Momentaufnahmen des urbanen Wandels machen Fotografien Migrationsströme, Stadtwachstum, Immobilienspekulation und den Verfall von Quartieren sichtbar. Mittels Fotografien werden sichtbare Ausschnitte der Wirklichkeit zu Aussagen, Erzählungen, Dokumenten und Zeugnissen. Fotografische Bilder sind fester Bestandteil zahlreicher Wissenskulturen. Sie gehören zu den Beobachtungs- und Forschungspraxen von Kulturanthropologie, Ethnografie und Stadtsoziologie. Wie wird das Medium Fotografie in der zugleich analytischen wie auch planerischen Praxis des Urbanismus verwendet? Welche Klischees und Stereotypen werden dabei bestätigt oder dekonstruiert? Und wie viel Spielraum bleibt für künstlerische Erfindungen?

Letter from the Editors No. 6

The issue begins with a fundamental statement on the relationship of science and art. The influence of the knowledge of acoustics on architecture theory has not been wihout interferences and contradictions. In her essay, Sabine von Fischer invites us to review an imprecise boundary as articulated by Adolf Loos, Herman Sörgel, and Siegfried Ebeling.

Tanja Herdt shows us that Cedric Price’s architectural-cybernetic thinking did not end with the dynamics of palaces of culture, but extended all the way to improving construction site processes based on the close observation of workers’ needs.

For years now, the demolition of large-scale housing estates in France has been broadcast in explosive images. Sandra Parvu and Alain Guez recommend a radical end to the consumption of images in order to move beyond the paralysis caused by the shock. Using fragments of oral history, they have created a nuanced composition reflecting on the reality of our suburban lives; its rhythms and chords make us listen closely.

Murielle Hladik enters gardens of memory to look closely at the remarkable and memorable objects revealed and exhibited through archeological meticulousness by the French artist couple Anne and Patrick Poirier in the course of their long career.

The issue concludes with questions. Can an exemplary building change the world? Which proposals and models could give specificity to the concept of sustainability today? Andres Lepik speaks with Anna Heringer about the political implications of buildings realized through participatory planning and about the simple beauty of their production.

On the Crisis of Large-Scale Housing Production in the 1970s.

A new light is currently being cast on large-scale housing production after it has been discredited for decades. Not only is the acute shortage of affordable dwellings in the large cities of Europe and the United States changing our view of peripheral satellite cities and inner-city urban renewal areas, but the discussion of quantity and architectural quality as compatible goals in urban development also allows a new appreciation of the design and concepts of postwar large-scale housing production. In the late 1960s and early 1970s in particular, in the context of the welfare state, a variety of experimental typologies emerged, among them Jean Renaudie‘s zigzag labyrinths, Aldo Rossi’s galleries, and Richard Meier’s block fragments. How did the progressive project of the postwar years and experiments around 1970 evolve into the lasting image of Pruitt Igoe’s collapsing apartment blocks? …


The five articles in this issue of Candide investigate the effect of the crisis in large-scale housing production on the theory and practice of architecture. In the analysis of specific historical episodes, the authors identify questions which are no better resolved today than they were forty years ago. For example, can, and if so how, the economies of scale of industrial production in mass housing also create quality in urban design? Or can, and if so how, large-scale housing production be the product of a balanced relationship of power between private commercial interests and state regulation?  …


Taken together, these articles are not intended to create a uniform view of the period of change. Rather, the issue hopes to provide an impetus for discussion on large-scale production of affordable housing as an architectural task.

Letter from the Editors No. 5

Reyner Banham turns to the architect Peter Smithson to conclude his preface to the German edition of his book The New Brutalism. Ethic or Aesthetic?, which appeared at the same time as the English version in 1966. He quotes Smithson as saying that whoever attempts to translate Banham should be honored for courage. While Banham uses Smithson’s comment to thank the publishing house, editor, and translator, Smithson most likely intended to underline that any attempt to translate Banham’s polemical and linguistically virtuous prose was doomed to fail. At least Smithson considered the attempt worth the effort.

Or does courage here refer to surmounting cultural boundaries and patiently eliminating misunderstandings? Any translation is an act of interpretation. Ambiguities are typically lost and arguments are rendered more precise, whether the author likes it or not. Every interpretation occurs on the backdrop of its local and temporal context.

In this issue, Claire Zimmerman analyzes Banham’s postulation of the relation of image and building to Rudolf Wittkower’s teaching, as put forward in Banham’s 1955 essay “The New Brutalism.” We realized that Banham’s essay had never been translated into German and decided to have it translated. Not because Banham has, in recent years, become something of a cult critic. Rather, because his thoughts are intrinsically related to current debates in visual studies and architectural theory.

Picking up on Smithson’s suggestion, then, we would like to thank Joseph Imorde for his courageous translation of Banham’s essay, and, of course, for his translation of Zimmerman’s piece. We would like to thank Matthias Müller for his virtuous translation of Ian Pepper’s interpretation of the work of a U.S. artist, Richard Serra, interpreting and altering the work of Robert Maillart, a European engineer. The question of transatlantic adaptability, this time of housing prototypes, also plays a central role in Kim Förster’s oral history of the only realized building by the legendary Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies in New York (with linguistic support from Alta Price).

Müller receives a second round of thanks for his translation of five short stories that capture the imaginations of Philip Allin, Pedro Gadanho, Susana Oliveira, Katherine Romba, and Maria Smith. (Katherine Romba’s story was the inspiration of this series of shorts.) Annette Wiethüchter is responsible for keeping the micro-essays by Mario Carpo, Yanni Alexander Loukissas, Fabian Scheurer, and Lara Schrijver not only intelligible in a different language, but entertaining.

Although the world of scientific research is so well connected today, we are not in favor of a scientific Esperanto, a new lingua franca, or any other leveling standards. Rather, the diversity of languages and their contexts is a significant factor in the processes of understanding and the production of knowledge. In this sense, Candide challenges readers and authors to see translation as a productive way to engage in the criticism of and dialog on architecture.

Letter from the Editors.

It is a matter of chance that all five articles in this issue address orders of knowledge, each from a distinct perspective. The authors take the opportunity to critically test the limits of these orders. Michael Guggenheim closely analyzes the literature on the conversion of buildings and finds that the typological categories established in architecture are unable to grasp the dynamic processes of change of use in a meaningful way. Urs Füssler and Jörg Leeser propose expanding the notion of type by the dimension of time. They employ the concept of the dramatype in order to observe and develop the multitude of eclectic buildings that make up the city of Wuppertal. Irénée Scalbert points to the cunning of the bricoleur, whose inventive and wild thinking is stimulated less by typological ideals, but rather by having to make do with limited resources. Liam Ross looks at the influence of Scottish building regulations on the production of window types and discovers unimagined freedoms by closely reading between the lines of the code. Joachim Geil and Reinhard Doubrawa’s parable of the Assyrian Emperor and his architect reminds us that the relationship between building client and building designer is more archaic and enduring than any building type.

Letter from the Editors.

Architectural knowledge is not carefully stored in archives awaiting retrieval, but it resides in tools of design, in processes of work, in spaces of dwelling, in details of windows. As researching architects and archeologists of architectural knowledge, in this third issue of Candide the authors discover not only sites of knowledge, but describe the intrinsic and fundamental connection between knowledge and invention, insight and project.

Letter from the Editors.

In this and the next issue of Candide you will find the best contributions presented at the conference “Constructing Knowledge,” convened in November 2009 at RWTH Aachen University by the Department of Architecture Theory. The two-day event brought together a wide spectrum of perspectives on the question of architectural knowledge. More than one hundred academics and practitioners had responded to our call for abstracts, of which sixteen werevselected for oral presentation, and an additional twenty werevchosen for display as a poster. Of the papers presented, those we deemed the best have since been revised by the authors for publication in Candide. Further conference contributions will be made available as digital proceedings. To us, the editors of Candide, the conference was a test run in the process of peer reviewing, one of the journal’s main raisons d’être.



Letter from the Editors.

We sympathized with Candide, the model of an anti-hero, whose adventures were recounted by a certain Dr. Ralph, alias Voltaire, and published exactly 250 years ago in Geneva. Voltaire’s Candide traverses the eighteenth century, and under the impact of intolerance, fanatism and violence, his initiatic travels are struck by destiny and bitter disappointment. With Candide, we are ready to traverse our time on a stubborn search of architectural knowledge.