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The wider purpose of our inventions over the past 40 years has been to invent a human lifespace that seeks to balance a tendency that, many now agree, is destroying the places we live in. Human beings have always travelled, but movement has now become almost an end in itself, and such a huge economic fraction, and such a source of pleasure and excitement, that a 'technical' breakthrough is needed to make 'staying at home' something of equivalent, if not greater, allure. This project of 'advantaging domesticity' is not pursued out of any great antipathy to travel, as such - although the etymology of the word in 'travail' - work, toil and trouble - should give us pause for thought. It is because travel, and especially travelling by cars and airplanes, and even more so stratospheric travel in supersonic craft, is the fastest-growing source of lifespace degradation and pollution.


Our strategy is not to merely promote a restriction on such movements, for such a regime of prohibition creates as many problems as it solves. It has been to develop aspects of the human lifespace to a level that it becomes more attractive to 'stay at home' than it does to constantly zip and zoom about. This will, I trust, explain why our inventions have about them a drastic and determined quality - big scale, polychromy, symbolically arcane ornament and so on. We are well aware of the excitements of movement. We are aware that the idea of 'staying put' gives off the aroma of merely 'hanging-out' and pursuing a life of 'dolce far niente'. So, while not entirely despising such ambitions, for they have much to add to life's qualities, we pursue a more robust and aggressive approach to the 'stay at home' project. We aim to invent a 'domestic' lifespace that improves on anythng hitherto achieved, and certainly for the 'ordinary' person. We aim to leave 'The Heritage' second best. How could 'Modernity' aim for anything else?


So not for us is a mere nostalgia for lost urbane glories. We do not celebrate the past with rocky ruins but with the well-oiled and waxed polychromatic Architectural machines that were the reality of Antiquity. Not for us the faint and intellectually flabby figures of the Picturesque. We do not drift amiably in a breeze that blows Urbanity onto the reefs. We fight up to windward with every device that can be put to work, and at whatever throttle-setting is demanded (to employ an inappropriately 'vehiclular' metaphor).


Our project signifies, as well as employs, 'technology'. JOA failed, In Cambridge, England, when we promoted a giant 'buon fresco' and succeeded, in Houston Texas, when we used machinery to achieve an equivalent purpose. Texas is, intellectually, an incomparably more sophisticated building while physically, Cambridge is the better. Comfortable with the latest, non handicraft, techniques, we nevertheless decry what is called the High-Tech style - noting that it is the Establishment, even the impending 'State', Style of Britain. 'High-Tech' clothes the urbane lifespace in images of vehicles, speed and movement. Its forms are 'streamlined', its preferred materials metal and glass. Its message could be explained as:

"All right, lets all agree that 'zooming and zipping around is the best thing in life. But much of life must be passed in boring, old, dull, static, buildings. So why not style them up so that we can all pretend that we are tearing along at some amazing speed in our streamlined glass and titanium blob capsules".

Can anything be more likely to auto-destruct a human lifespace already degraded by its fastest-growing component of pollutant - mechanical vehicles? Is there a strategy less capable of building a persuasive antidote to the 'madness for movement' than to monumentalise its poetic in the very lifespace that the 20C cult of motion is unravelling? High-Tech Architects are notably naive, and refuse self-conscoiusness, when the conversation turns to the iconographies broadcast by their buildings, in short their symbolism. The reason is that these powerful meanings repudiate their trumpeted 'green values'. One can not expect a 'green culture' - predicated on walking, cycling and accessibility to mechanical movement for all ages, to develop in a city that glorifies the signs and symbols proper to vehicles built for movement at high speed, like cars, aircraft and racing yachts.

An iconology glorifying the excitement of physical speed and motion will never provide for the protected microclimate needed for walking, or the intellectually animated lifespace needed for walkers, who can think as they move, as opposed to all other forms of pilotage, even cycling. (only rapid motions in which one is not the driver allow one to continue talking, reading or thinking). Indeed the 'greater' the High Tech Architect, and the more prominent his creation, the more destructive it is to Urbanity. One can see this in London by the Millenium Dome (Lord Rogers), the Swiss Re Tower (Lord Foster) and the New City Hall for the newly-established Mayor of London (Lord Foster) all of whom either do, or will, create bad local microclimates and offer nothing of intellectual interest at ground level. High-Tech designers prefer to treat all major buildings as spherical blobs (yes really!). This is because their aboriginal prototype is not the 'primitive hut' of Laugier or Semper, but the Quonset (in Britain, the Nissen) Hut as mediated by Buckminster Fuller. Fuller understood nothing, nothing at all, of the imperatives of an urbane lifespace. One can not be surprised therefore, that the more brilliant the architectural monumentality of a High-Tech Blob, the more destructive its effect upon urbanity, and therefore of 'green' culture.


A 'green- culture' city will prioritise non-physical activity of which thinking is the prime exemplar. This is why we have developed all of our architectural devices to prioritise the 'iconic engineering' of space and surface. The lifespace of a 'green culture' will be one founded on a stillness of the body and an activity of the mind, rather than the 'dance of the dinosaurs' that we see in such projects as Lloyds of London or the V&A Extension of Liebeskind, where every idea has to lift the enormous masses of a building into a lumbering ballet of 'literal truths'.

High-Tech and Decon culminate a project of semiotic naivete concerning architecture, which, when allied to the native talent of the designer for iconic simulation, plays havoc with the ordinary usages of building, while repaying us with objects that would be better deployed on the counters of juice bars.Would that their ingenious artisans could find an Architectural Project that was not so destructive of their proclaimed ambitions.


Nor is the JOA project merely a search for an 'authorial authenticity', a mere 'finding of oneself' - a pretty struggle for the status of 'artist'. It is a project to 'revise the canon' such that the 'canonic' operates once more to create 'wholes greater than their parts' (or Cities) but which serve the demands that we put upon them today - not those of the 15C or even the ancient Hellenes.


This project will appear, in our present state of widespread, and increasing, urban squalor, to be a futile ambition. Yet what other reasonable recourse is there? The best life has always been city life, those who do not understand this have never experienced its brilliance. Even if we do not admit this, we may be prepared to allow that it forms a legitimate pole to 'country life'. JOA designed the New House in Wadhurst Park only to have it judged (in 1987) "the best Country House (in Britain) since the War". Rustic Culture is still a culture, JOA's focus on the Urbane fraction is because it has been entirely neglected for far too long. It is also the only hope of improving the lifespace of most people. It must, therefore, be the key to future progress.

So even if some way is invented, technically, to reduce the emissions of cars and planes to acceptable levels, I do not think that our ambition is rendered any the less valuable. A city serviced by automobiles is not able to provide the advantages of an urbane lifespace - something that the generations born into the disurbanised second half of the 20C have never even experienced. The lifespace industry of such disurbanised areas no longer knows how to design and provide the equipment for an urbane culture. This is absolutely not a merely 'technical' problem. The ignorance is total, extending from the deepest levels of experience to the highest of theory and therefore missing-out on the all the technologies needed for Urbanity, in between.


Nor is this a condition absent from Old Europe - a locus where some traces and even a vital lifespace culture of urbane philosphy and technique might be expected to be found. The 'Rejection of Urbanity' is easily half-a-century old even here.

One must turn for an understanding of why this should be so, in Europe, to the years leading up to the 1939 - 1945 War when the 'traditional' systems of the Continent were either being violently swept away by Revolution - as in Russia, or collapsing from within, as in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy, and so on. Europe divided into Fascism and Communism. Both began as 'Modernising', anti-traditional, cultures, especially Russian Communism and Italian Fascism. Both changed, under Stalin and Hitler, into cultures that exploited 'tradition' with a systematic and calculated cunning.


The end of the 'War against Fascism' resulted, at least in British Architecture and Town Panning, in a complete, drastic, and total abandonment of every 'traditional' design strategy or device or tool. One may turn for proof to a little known (by architects) but key document, titled "The Redevelopment of Central Areas" published in "Summer 1947". This HMG doublespeak for "Rebuilding your City" proposed a strategy for building new cities that envisaged their total reconstruction. It was written in language capable of being understood by anyone, and with no prior knowledge of architecture of city design. It was the do-it-yourself handbook of city-making.

Such an ambition is, without doubt, of the highest value. Every citizen would, in a perfect world, understand Architecture and City Planning and participate intelligently in debates about it. This, indeed was the position in the 19C, when traditional systems of design were used. They could be understood as systems of rules designed around a set of 'models' of what a building or a city 'ought to be'. However what happened in 1947 was the 'old', traditional, 'stuffing' was removed from the 'pillow of dreams' that the imagination needs to sleep-on while it creates in the void of black ignorance that faces the designer of the 'new'. The pillow was never re-filled. It remained a limp rag of cloth. After taking on board the de-historicised rituals of the '47 'Redevelopment Process' it became impossible, for the Public, to 'dream the new'.


Only 'Professionals' can do this today. Instead of being roughly (and toughly) 'educated' (that is to say 'crammed full of 'knowledge in five short years) towards a state of 'culture' that took forty years to achieve under the systems of 'experience' practised before the Proletarian Age of Revolutions, the contemporary student is first of all voided of the normal and natural foundations of architectural culture and then taught to believe in his/her native genius to invent unique new lifespaces. Students who resist being brainwashed of all normative architectural impulses either resign, or are 'failed', during or after the first year. I have seen these peculiarly fragile ideals crushed, in students with a natural proclivity to Architecture, and of high intellectual capacity, in the first few weeks of their five-year ordeal. Their Professors, most of them refugees from reality themselves, feel, after this, confirmed of the 'superficiality' of the 'uneducated' intuitions of their newly re-programmed students.

The Contemporary Academic understands nothing of the function of 'natural models' in the practice of Architecture. For instead of grasping the little that the Student brings to them, cherishing it and using it to enter the vast labyrinth of the culture of which they purport to be the guides, leaders and educators, they see their first task as to seek-out and destroy the natural foundations of Architecture and replace them with an ever-elaborating, and ever more fascinating, panoply of design strategies culled from every discipline except their own. The net effect of this has been to install an adolescent cult of infantile 'genius' which expresses itself in an arty barbarism that, year on year, has less and less to offer anyone seeking Professional Architectural help.

There is a simple test that one can apply to any School of Architecture. One asks the Students, " do you want to be an Architect or an Artist?" If, as at Rice Univesity, Houston Texas, the Students of one cohort all answered: "an Artist", one sacks the Professors. They are not up to their job.


One small proof of what I mean by 'illiteracy' is the striking fact that the only drawing 'drawn from History' in the '47 HMSO Central City Redevelopment bible was a plan of Los Angeles showing which island-blocks had been demolished to make way for car parks. When I visited my cousins, the Gardiners, in Boston in 1954, I found a sooty, brick-built, 19C neo-Classical city, exactly like London, being 'bombed flat' not by Goering (or even Curtis Le May), but by huge, steel, over-head motorways promoted by Ed Moses. In passing, one may note that hardly anything is ever done, in a film or a play, in the 'built-space' under an elevated way, that is not outside of social norms - cf. the gangfight in West-Side Story and hundreds of scenes in films depicting an urban degradation and anarchy. These elevated roads are now being undergrounded at a cost to the city of fifteen billion dollars. Yes, Billion! The figures are correct. And all to return to the status quo ante. In London we have finally decided to fund Crossrail. Which city had the more sane policy? This wanton demolition of the beautiful 19C and early 20c cities of North America, for mere, miserable, tacky, automobile-parking, was more than anything else, what turned me, in 1953, from an aircraft-designer into an Architect.

I was an enemy of 'Postwar Planning' from its very birth and have always wanted to know who wrote the 'Redevelopment' with its clueless calculations - like entirely rebuilding the sophisticated urban ecology of the 19C city merely to add a few car parkings, 'fresh air' and 'quiet' - all qualites destroyed by the very 'planning solutions' that the '47 Manual promoted. What is fresh about the air that rises off the city of car circulation?. What is quieter - a 19C back-yard, or domestic square, insulated by its terrace-wall of buildings from the main street, or a tower-block to whose windows every street-noise directly-passes through that carrier of all sound - air itself?

Some Historian should, one day, write the histrory of the invention, and influence, of this dire little document. The nails need to be driven into the coffin of the 'blue-blooded Marxist' Establishment of Conservative and Labour social policy Politicians and Planners. It needs securely fastening down lest the lid of the tomb raises and they return to try to add to their 50-year legacy of de-socialosed 'housing estates', rusticated (in the sense of 'sent down') 'business parks', and cities shrivelled to mere parking lots serving a 'central area'.


I say this with a certain urgency. A bright and newly-qualified student from the RCA Faculty of Architecture said to me, starry-eyed: "You studied in the 1950's - that was the "Golden Age" wasn't it?". What can one say to such children: "You are sitting on a vast rubbish-heap of Post-Modern debris seeded by the Venturis 'cult of failure'. At least the compost is hot and fertile, why go back to a time whose horizons were shrunken, by the ruin of Europe, to government handouts doled-out by a mandarinate of toothless clerks who couldn't chew an architectural idea if it was put into their mealy mouths by Nanny Welfare herself?"

I can not believe that young Architects, today, have so little appetite for foraging in the magnificent ruins of Architecture and so little conceptual 'bite' that they prefer the milksop diet of the 'Golden Age' of the Postwar Ministry of Housing. I retail my LCC/GLC experiences of working closely with that conceptually-challenged lifespace-design culture in FAQ#7, on 'Houses and Housing'.


Lest anyone may imagine that this is some merely personal interpretation, and not all-pervasive and deep, I quote the greeting given to all the Architectural neophytes of the 1950's at the Central London Polytechnic School of Architecture by its then Principal, John S. Walkden. He was a mournful man who only appeared on the occasion of one's advent, thereafter remaining invisible. His advice, which I have never forgotten, was that firstly,

"Architecture was no longer a literary medium", secondly, that

"Architects had lost their 'charisma' when they had abandoned the Orders", and thirdly, that "

he had great hopes that "His son would be chosen to swim for the British Olympic Team".

As an Architecturally uneducated student, I had little idea of what he spoke. He never elaborated this singlar oraculation. One may conjecture that his advice depressed him more than it did his young charges, and that he buried himself in the administrative minutiae of the Institution, finding intellectual solace elsewhere.

Not that the Polytechnic was any help towards this innocent state of Architectural illiteracy. There were no lectures at all upon 'Architecture' as such. It was taught in the way that nursery schools, of the time, were taught science. A sandpit and water were provided and there was the peculiar confidence that native genius alone would evolve the discoveries of Archimedes. The constructive tricks used to support the cheapest kind of ad-hoc domestic construction were demonstrated, along with a continuous sniping at all forms of 'superior' design. Even Mies van der Rohe, father of every cheap commercial rent-box built worldwide, was considered too 'recherche' for us footsoldiers of the Welfare State. We were to be well and truly 'educated' in the clear sense of being 'trained', as were the 'Polytechniciens' of Revolutionary France, to provide 'Professional Services' to a State whose 'horizons of government' had been 'vertically' shrivelled, yet 'horizontally' enlarged, by the national struggle of a conscripted war, to include every member of a previously excluded and invisible underclass.


However I had not enrolled in a course of five years of academic privation, merely to become qualified as an haptic illiterate. What is British High-Tech but a straight-line outgrowth of 50 years of architectural illiteracy mated with the native genius for mechanical contrivance? In any case we students of the Polytechnic largely invented the style back in 1955-6. I elaborated it and then gave it up around 1959 as urbanistically irrational - a cult for the unread, the 'rude mechanicals' of Architecture. Peter Cook, chief luminary of Archigram, now Professor of Architecture of London University, confirmed these facts in one of his 'histories of style'. So, upon graduating from the first year, I innocently revealed to my Year Master (we did not call them Professors - that would have been too 'elitist') that I had troubled to read the entire booklist put-out by another School - the Fee-paying Architectural Association. I was not the intellectual innocent that he expected his tyros to be. I had been 'polluted' by literature - albeit of a juvenile kind like Siegfried' Giedion's 'Space, Time and Architecture".

I will always remember the expression of the deepest chagrin that possessed him. His face, almost literally, fell. I had failed, and foiled, his pedagogic project, to evolve a new breed of Architect, the Proletarian Autodidact. Thank god for books. If one must. perforce, teach oneself, at least one can read people cleverer than oneself.


I can only hope that John Walkden's mournful shade, for whom I now feel an affection (at least the 1950's depressed him), would draw some encouragment from JOA's furious denial, rejection and triumphal rebuttal of his cryptic requiem. For the work of JOA has reinstated an Order: huge, polychromatic, bigger and bolder than hitherto built in Britain - at any time in our history. This 'Ordine' would not be from a 'canon' that he had ever known. But that was his problem, as it has been for the native Arts Establishments since the 1930's - a sense that the best was over, and that from now on it was all downhill, an essentially defensive strategy, trying to preserve what can be saved of the Glorious Heritage of Empire and so forth.


JOA has also proved triumphantly, particularly in Texas, that Architecture, by virtue of its reinvestment with a 'Working Order', is a Medium that can very well embody (that is make real and patent in 'natural' space) ideas of a 'literary' kind. While not manifested as a bolted-on line of text (as some 'Critical Theorists' now advise!), these 'ideas' are mediated by Literature as well as a certain sort of Drawing that I call 'iconic'. This tri-polar ciruit, between building, writing, and drawing, is the originary method by which Scripted Surface is manufactured. If any of these three fractions is separated-out and prohibited, the machinery of invention grinds to a halt. All are indispensable to the creation of a 'literary Architecture', or, as I prefer to call it, a Landscape of Ideas.

JOA are, of course, not alone, at all, in reinvesting Architecture with 'literacy'. We are however, relatively rare in that such literacy as we have achieved is legible on the surfaces of our spaces. The reason why this is so is, as one might expect, were the contemporary situation not so terminally confused, because JOA have cast their spatial inventions from ores compounded with large fractions mined from the given history of the Architectural Medium. Those who know this history well can 'read' our buildings without trouble. Those who also know the history of 20C Art, as well as that of the preceding centuries, find that their decoding manual needs little more than to be put to some labour - always a necessary part of any decipherment.


As to the third of Mr. Walkden's cryptic prononcements, I will deal with the role of the human form in Architecture one day when I recount our attempts to install a great fresco ceiling in the Judge Institute project. For the time being let it suffice to remark that to install the human form may be, almost in the most literal sense, to Humanise. This remains, for the time being, a mere ambition, and one without much hope of fulfilment, the problem of the human form being extremely difficult at the present time - as one may see from its lumpen manifestations today. Why would an Architecture need a raw lump of cement or rusty iron, a mere blob of 'meat', when one can have a column like those the Millenium Pavilion: that embody the ideas of the Phylogeny of Man, and the Ontogeny of the Individual, 'fleshed' in an upright being that also emits light and evacuates rainwater? For the time being the human form appears to serve no better purpose than to pander to narcissism - a job best left to Art Galleries.




End of "Extended Introduction to "Innovations",

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* JOA can be reached by E-Mail at anthony@johnoutram.com , by telephone on +44 (0)207 262 4862 or by fax on +44 (0)207 706 3804. We also have an ISDN number : +44 (0)207 262 6294.