Martell Hall looking North


During the last, 20C, Technology stripped Architecture of everything but meaning. Instead of welcoming this release from the mundane, and entry into the 'poverty of philosophy' , Architects tried constantly to recover a 'real function' for their beloved Medium. The century witnessed the slow death of Architecture and the accumulation of the greatest collection of utilitarian fictions ever visited on the innocent banalites of building, from B.Fullers gas-filled cities, floating in the sky, to the Centre Pompidou'.

In Martell Hall, the machinery is all invisible inside the Working Order. The Order is used to symbolise (inter alia) technology. Mechanism is not miscast as the "Order of the Future",

In Martell Hall the space is meaningful. It theatralises its utilisiation. The social stair askes to be a place of assignation and contact, the "Seminar Balconies" ask to be occupied and the galleries ask for a spectacle to view.

In the Pompidou they have accepted, finally, that the external escalators were mainly symbolic and decorative. The interior was a huge, featureless, spatial desert, devoid of 'meaning'. In order to make this building 'work socially' (ie. be legible by thinking beings) another Architect is putting lifts, escalators and stairs into its big, blank, unstructured interior - the 'Deserta Cartesia' of late the 20C 'Chora'.

Nothing is more important, to any medium, than the parts which do not come to it naturally. It is obvious that Architecture concerns space, materials and structure. Such insights are banal. They appeal only to Practitioners. 20C Architecture lost its universal appeal, its status as 'Mother of the Arts' when it felt compelled to abandon decoration, or 'Scripted surface'. By doing this, back in pre-1914 Vienna, Architecture began the slide into what it is today, a medium of interest to no-one except Architects. The old idea of a medium that is open to anyone to enjoy, learn about, and even learn to play (like all the great media) is kept alive only in the hearts of Amateurs, a very few Practitioners, and (like rouged corpses) the Casinos of las Vegas. The Architectural Academies lost the plot so long ago that they have no idea what Architecture is any more. The so-called 'history-books' gather dust in unused libraries while students play with spatial algorithms on computers.

In Martell Hall there is, for the first, and last, time in the 20C a fully fleshed 'Architectural Microcosm' - a room in which the project of Edmund Husserl is realised - the reification of Time itself. The medum used is 'Iconic Engineering', a way of using 'picture-writing' to symbolise ideas. It is a scripting of surface applied to a scripting of space. It is applied, above all, to the great 'picture-planes' of the floor and ceiling that are 'enframed' by the columns and beams of the 'Architectural Order'. Their inscription with an iconic 'text' turns a 'view' into a 'vision'. A mere perception of sunlight and water-vapour (through a glass roof) becomes a hard fought and difficult conception of the Cosmos that is 'read' on a 'painted' ceiling. The latter requires, in order to decipher its codes, an iconic literacy more absent from the Architectural Profession, at the end of the 20C, than it is from many members of the Public. Our project now, in the 21C, not only has to include solving all of the technical, intellectual and industrial aspects of getting these strategies proved in reality, but in publishing the iconic culture of the past 10,000 years of Architecture. How else could one become literate enough to invent its extension?