Archive for July, 2011

Zumthor’s Kolumba Museum, Köln


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Van der Laan’s conventual retreat at Roosenberg and Moederklooster Mariazusters van Fransiscus at Waasmunster


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unbearable lightness of aluminium


Weighing as much as a ton of feathers, Junya Ishigami’s aluminium balloon floats between architecture and sculpture.



One of the oldest Western ideas of human society is to see society itself to be a theater. There is the tradition of teatrum mundi. Human life as a puppet show staged by the god’s was Plato’s vision in the Laws; society as a theater was the motto of Petronius’ Satyricon. In Christian times the theater of the world was often thought to have an audience of one, a God who looked on in anguish from the heavens at the strutting and the masquerades of His children below. By the 18th Century, when people spoke of the world as a theater, they began to imagine a new audience for their posturing – each other, the divine anguish giving way to the sense of an audience willing to enjoy, if somewhat cynically, the playacting and pretenses of everyday life. And in more recent times this identification of theater and society has been continued in Balzac’s Comédie Humaine, in Baudelaire, Mann, and, curiously, Freud.

The image of society as a theater has no single meaning, passing through so many hands and so much time. But it has served three constant moral purposes. The first has been to introduce illusion and delusion as fundamental questions of social life, and the second has been to detach human nature from social action. Man as actor arouses belief; outside the conditions and the moment of performing, that belief might otherwise not be forthcoming; therefore, belief and illusion are tied together in this image of society. Similarly, an actor’s nature cannot be inferred from any single role he plays, for in a different play or in a different scene, he may appear in a wholly different guise; how then infer human nature from actions in the theater of society?

Third, and most important, the images of theatrum mundi are pictures of the art people excercise in ordinary life. This is the art of acting, and people who excercise it are playing “roles.” For a writer like Balzac, these roles are the various necessary masks people wear in different situations. Man as a creature of masks perfectly suits Balzac’s belief, as it has other writers who have perceived human affairs as some species of comédie, that neither human nature nor some single definition of morality can ever firmly be deduced from behaviour.

Richard Sennett The Fall Of Public Man

tortured soul


The entire world no longer seems to me capable of keeping me company. All that I see with the eyes of my flesh passes before me as ghosts and dreams; what I see with the eyes of my soul is what I desire, and to see myself still too far away from it is the cause of my grief and my torment.

So laments Brother Lawrence, chef and monk of the Discalced Carmelites, 17th Century



There is no hidden, or even obvious meaning here. This is a place for you to be. To be. Nothing else.

Peter Zumthor on the Serpentine Pavilion

Every time I imagine a garden in an architectural setting, it turns into a magical place. I think of gardens I have seen, that I believe I have seen, that I long to see, surrounded by simple walls, columns, arcades or the facades of buildings – sheltered places of great intimacy where I want to stay for a long time.

Peter Zumthor on the Serpentine Pavilion