Saturday, December 19, 2015


New Mars City, 001A/20xx (Click to enlarge)
© 2015 Nacym Baghli Architects
Coming soon... Stay tuned!

Let's Go, Colonize, Occupy,
Urbanize Mars!
Architects, City-Planners, Designers, Engineers,...
You Guys,
Start thinking seriously about it, because there is a lot to do.

Join, Discuss, Contribute, Share, Criticize,...
Facebook >
Twitter >>
Hashtag >> #UrbanizeMars

Thursday, September 3, 2015

- = + ?

- = + ?
Vintage Sketch, 1994 (Rapidograph)
© Nacym Baghli Architects

Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter)--so much less!
Well, - = +, Lucrezia: I am judged.

Excerpt from "Andrea des Sarto"
Poem by Robert Browning (1812-1889)
-Lines 76-78

Andrea del Sarto
(Called "The Faultless Painter")

But do not let us quarrel any more,
No, my Lucrezia; bear with me for once:
Sit down and all shall happen as you wish.
You turn your face, but does it bring your heart?
I'll work then for your friend's friend, never fear,
Treat his own subject after his own way,
Fix his own time, accept too his own price,
And shut the money into this small hand
When next it takes mine. Will it? tenderly?
Oh, I'll content him,--but to-morrow, Love!
I often am much wearier than you think,
This evening more than usual, and it seems
As if--forgive now--should you let me sit
Here by the window with your hand in mine
And look a half-hour forth on Fiesole,
Both of one mind, as married people use,
Quietly, quietly the evening through,
I might get up to-morrow to my work
Cheerful and fresh as ever. Let us try.
To-morrow, how you shall be glad for this!
Your soft hand is a woman of itself,
And mine the man's bared breast she curls inside.
Don't count the time lost, neither; you must serve
For each of the five pictures we require:
It saves a model. So! keep looking so--
My serpentining beauty, rounds on rounds!
--How could you ever prick those perfect ears,
Even to put the pearl there! oh, so sweet--
My face, my moon, my everybody's moon,
Which everybody looks on and calls his,
And, I suppose, is looked on by in turn,
While she looks--no one's: very dear, no less.
You smile? why, there's my picture ready made,
There's what we painters call our harmony!
A common greyness silvers everything,--
All in a twilight, you and I alike
--You, at the point of your first pride in me
(That's gone you know),--but I, at every point;
My youth, my hope, my art, being all toned down
To yonder sober pleasant Fiesole.
There's the bell clinking from the chapel-top;
That length of convent-wall across the way
Holds the trees safer, huddled more inside;
The last monk leaves the garden; days decrease,
And autumn grows, autumn in everything.
Eh? the whole seems to fall into a shape
As if I saw alike my work and self
And all that I was born to be and do,
A twilight-piece. Love, we are in God's hand.
How strange now, looks the life he makes us lead;
So free we seem, so fettered fast we are!
I feel he laid the fetter: let it lie!
This chamber for example--turn your head--
All that's behind us! You don't understand
Nor care to understand about my art,
But you can hear at least when people speak:
And that cartoon, the second from the door
--It is the thing, Love! so such things should be--
Behold Madonna!--I am bold to say.
I can do with my pencil what I know,
What I see, what at bottom of my heart
I wish for, if I ever wish so deep--
Do easily, too--when I say, perfectly,
I do not boast, perhaps: yourself are judge,
Who listened to the Legate's talk last week,
And just as much they used to say in France.
At any rate 'tis easy, all of it!
No sketches first, no studies, that's long past:
I do what many dream of, all their lives,
--Dream? strive to do, and agonize to do,
And fail in doing. I could count twenty such
On twice your fingers, and not leave this town,
Who strive--you don't know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,--

Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter)--so much less!
Well, - = +, Lucrezia: I am judged.

There burns a truer light of God in them,
In their vexed beating stuffed and stopped-up brain,
Heart, or whate'er else, than goes on to prompt
This low-pulsed forthright craftsman's hand of mine.
Their works drop groundward, but themselves, I know,
Reach many a time a heaven that's shut to me,
Enter and take their place there sure enough,
Though they come back and cannot tell the world.
My works are nearer heaven, but I sit here.
The sudden blood of these men! at a word--
Praise them, it boils, or blame them, it boils too.
I, painting from myself and to myself,
Know what I do, am unmoved by men's blame
Or their praise either. Somebody remarks
Morello's outline there is wrongly traced,
His hue mistaken; what of that? or else,
Rightly traced and well ordered; what of that?
Speak as they please, what does the mountain care?
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for? All is silver-grey,
Placid and perfect with my art: the worse!
I know both what I want and what might gain,
And yet how profitless to know, to sigh
"Had I been two, another and myself,
"Our head would have o'erlooked the world!" No doubt.
Yonder's a work now, of that famous youth
The Urbinate who died five years ago.
('Tis copied, George Vasari sent it me.)
Well, I can fancy how he did it all,
Pouring his soul, with kings and popes to see,
Reaching, that heaven might so replenish him,
Above and through his art--for it gives way;
That arm is wrongly put--and there again--
A fault to pardon in the drawing's lines,
Its body, so to speak: its soul is right,
He means right--that, a child may understand.
Still, what an arm! and I could alter it:
But all the play, the insight and the stretch--
(Out of me, out of me! And wherefore out?
Had you enjoined them on me, given me soul,
We might have risen to Rafael, I and you!
Nay, Love, you did give all I asked, I think--
More than I merit, yes, by many times.
But had you--oh, with the same perfect brow,
And perfect eyes, and more than perfect mouth,
And the low voice my soul hears, as a bird
The fowler's pipe, and follows to the snare--
Had you, with these the same, but brought a mind!
Some women do so. Had the mouth there urged
"God and the glory! never care for gain.
"The present by the future, what is that?
"Live for fame, side by side with Agnolo!
"Rafael is waiting: up to God, all three!"
I might have done it for you. So it seems:
Perhaps not. All is as God over-rules.
Beside, incentives come from the soul's self;
The rest avail not. Why do I need you?
What wife had Rafael, or has Agnolo?
In this world, who can do a thing, will not;
And who would do it, cannot, I perceive:
Yet the will's somewhat--somewhat, too, the power--
And thus we half-men struggle. At the end,
God, I conclude, compensates, punishes.
'Tis safer for me, if the award be strict,
That I am something underrated here,
Poor this long while, despised, to speak the truth.
I dared not, do you know, leave home all day,
For fear of chancing on the Paris lords.
The best is when they pass and look aside;
But they speak sometimes; I must bear it all.
Well may they speak! That Francis, that first time,
And that long festal year at Fontainebleau!
I surely then could sometimes leave the ground,
Put on the glory, Rafael's daily wear,
In that humane great monarch's golden look,--
One finger in his beard or twisted curl
Over his mouth's good mark that made the smile,
One arm about my shoulder, round my neck,
The jingle of his gold chain in my ear,
I painting proudly with his breath on me,
All his court round him, seeing with his eyes,
Such frank French eyes, and such a fire of souls
Profuse, my hand kept plying by those hearts,--
And, best of all, this, this, this face beyond,
This in the background, waiting on my work,
To crown the issue with a last reward!
A good time, was it not, my kingly days?
And had you not grown restless... but I know--
'Tis done and past: 'twas right, my instinct said:
Too live the life grew, golden and not grey,
And I'm the weak-eyed bat no sun should tempt
Out of the grange whose four walls make his world.
How could it end in any other way?
You called me, and I came home to your heart.
The triumph was--to reach and stay there; since
I reached it ere the triumph, what is lost?
Let my hands frame your face in your hair's gold,
You beautiful Lucrezia that are mine!
"Rafael did this, Andrea painted that;
"The Roman's is the better when you pray,
"But still the other's Virgin was his wife--"
Men will excuse me. I am glad to judge
Both pictures in your presence; clearer grows
My better fortune, I resolve to think.
For, do you know, Lucrezia, as God lives,
Said one day Agnolo, his very self,
To Rafael . . . I have known it all these years . . .
(When the young man was flaming out his thoughts
Upon a palace-wall for Rome to see,
Too lifted up in heart because of it)
"Friend, there's a certain sorry little scrub
"Goes up and down our Florence, none cares how,
"Who, were he set to plan and execute
"As you are, pricked on by your popes and kings,
"Would bring the sweat into that brow of yours!"
To Rafael's!--And indeed the arm is wrong.
I hardly dare . . . yet, only you to see,
Give the chalk here--quick, thus, the line should go!
Ay, but the soul! he's Rafael! rub it out!
Still, all I care for, if he spoke the truth,
(What he? why, who but Michel Agnolo?
Do you forget already words like those?)
If really there was such a chance, so lost,--
Is, whether you're--not grateful--but more pleased.
Well, let me think so. And you smile indeed!
This hour has been an hour! Another smile?
If you would sit thus by me every night
I should work better, do you comprehend?
I mean that I should earn more, give you more.
See, it is settled dusk now; there's a star;
Morello's gone, the watch-lights show the wall,
The cue-owls speak the name we call them by.
Come from the window, love,--come in, at last,
Inside the melancholy little house
We built to be so gay with. God is just.
King Francis may forgive me: oft at nights
When I look up from painting, eyes tired out,
The walls become illumined, brick from brick
Distinct, instead of mortar, fierce bright gold,
That gold of his I did cement them with!
Let us but love each other. Must you go?
That Cousin here again? he waits outside?
Must see you--you, and not with me? Those loans?
More gaming debts to pay? you smiled for that?
Well, let smiles buy me! have you more to spend?
While hand and eye and something of a heart
Are left me, work's my ware, and what's it worth?
I'll pay my fancy. Only let me sit
The grey remainder of the evening out,
Idle, you call it, and muse perfectly
How I could paint, were I but back in France,
One picture, just one more--the Virgin's face,
Not yours this time! I want you at my side
To hear them--that is, Michel Agnolo--
Judge all I do and tell you of its worth.
Will you? To-morrow, satisfy your friend.
I take the subjects for his corridor,
Finish the portrait out of hand--there, there,
And throw him in another thing or two
If he demurs; the whole should prove enough
To pay for this same Cousin's freak. Beside,
What's better and what's all I care about,
Get you the thirteen scudi for the ruff!
Love, does that please you? Ah, but what does he,
The Cousin! what does he to please you more?

I am grown peaceful as old age to-night.
I regret little, I would change still less.
Since there my past life lies, why alter it?
The very wrong to Francis!--it is true
I took his coin, was tempted and complied,
And built this house and sinned, and all is said.
My father and my mother died of want.
Well, had I riches of my own? you see
How one gets rich! Let each one bear his lot.
They were born poor, lived poor, and poor they died:
And I have laboured somewhat in my time
And not been paid profusely. Some good son
Paint my two hundred pictures--let him try!
No doubt, there's something strikes a balance. Yes,
You loved me quite enough. it seems to-night.
This must suffice me here. What would one have?
In heaven, perhaps, new chances, one more chance--
Four great walls in the New Jerusalem,
Meted on each side by the angel's reed,
For Leonard, Rafael, Agnolo and me
To cover--the three first without a wife,
While I have mine! So--still they overcome
Because there's still Lucrezia,--as I choose.

Again the Cousin's whistle! Go, my Love.


Saturday, August 15, 2015


(Photo: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)
On ‪#‎Gentrification‬
I gentrify
you gentrify
he gentrifies
we gentrify
you gentrify
they gentrify
I am gentrifying
you are gentrifying
he is gentrifying
we are gentrifying
you are gentrifying
they are gentrifying
I gentrified
you gentrified
he gentrified
we gentrified
you gentrified
they gentrified
I was gentrifying
you were gentrifying
he was gentrifying
we were gentrifying
you were gentrifying
they were gentrifying
I have gentrified
you have gentrified
he has gentrified
we have gentrified
you have gentrified
they have gentrified
I have been gentrifying
you have been gentrifying
he has been gentrifying
we have been gentrifying
you have been gentrifying
they have been gentrifying
I had gentrified
you had gentrified
he had gentrified
we had gentrified
you had gentrified
they had gentrified
I had been gentrifying
you had been gentrifying
he had been gentrifying
we had been gentrifying
you had been gentrifying
they had been gentrifying
I will gentrify
you will gentrify
he will gentrify
we will gentrify
you will gentrify
they will gentrify
I will be gentrifying
you will be gentrifying
he will be gentrifying
we will be gentrifying
you will be gentrifying
they will be gentrifying
I will have gentrified
you will have gentrified
he will have gentrified
we will have gentrified
you will have gentrified
they will have gentrified
I will have been gentrifying
you will have been gentrifying
he will have been gentrifying
we will have been gentrifying
you will have been gentrifying
they will have been gentrifying
I would gentrify
you would gentrify
he would gentrify
we would gentrify
you would gentrify
they would gentrify
I would be gentrifying
you would be gentrifying
he would be gentrifying
we would be gentrifying
you would be gentrifying
they would be gentrifying
I would have gentrified
you would have gentrified
he would have gentrified
we would have gentrified
you would have gentrified
they would have gentrified
I would have been gentrifying
you would have been gentrifying
he would have been gentrifying
we would have been gentrifying
you would have been gentrifying
they would have been gentrifying

Sunday, August 9, 2015


HOPE /Cliché(s)
Photomontage: © Nacym Baghli, 2015
Hope, in Architecture, or these mixed feelings made of illusion, and disillusion.

Chicago Architecture Biennial
PROPOSAL /// The State of the Art of Architecture
(Nacym+Sihem) Baghli Architects, March 2015
Photo: © Nacym Baghli, 2014

The State of the Art of Architecture
/// [The State of the Art] of Architecture
/// The State of [the Art of Architecture]
Two readings (at least). Several possibilities.

Illusion /Introduction
Dear xxxxxxx,
Thank you very much for your message.
I visited Chicago a few weeks ago, and I was (like every time) highly inspired by the City.
Of course, I will be more than happy to respond positively to your request and, hopefully, make a contribution to 'The State of the Art of Architecture'. This theme, in my view, will generate a very important and 'so critical' debate, smartly highlighted and skillfully distilled by xxxxxxx and xxxxxxx, especially after 'fundamentals'... I always said that there will be a before and an after 'fundamentals', not because of the exhibition itself, but more about the contemporary condition of architecture (and not the reverse). From my point of view, we are really at a major turning point, an I am sure that Chicago will embody this 'fresh start' and breathe new life into Architecture with this coming... may I say "état des lieux"?. For all this, 'The State of the Art of Architecture' is more than welcome, and even crucial...
I will share with you, as soon as possible, my thoughts on the the subject.
Thanks again for the kind request.

Photo: © Nacym Baghli, 2014
New start for architecture.
Chicago as receptacle.
Not a coincidence.
Chicago was at the avant-garde.
Chicago, Iconic. Cliché(s).
Chicago may embody (once again) the future.
The future of architecture.
The (new) state of the art.
The State of the Art of Architecture.

New Era
Excerpts from > “Rem’s Cadavre Exquis”
[…] Terribilità. There will be definitely, in this brilliant Final Act, a before and an after Fundamentals. […]
Architecture has always been mingled (and confounded) with the City.
Urbanism, with Design.
etc., etc., etc.
As many crossovers into so many disciplines.
It will be no longer acceptable.
Pebble Time on Kickstarter
Smart is not (necessarily) Green.
Sustainable is not (perforce) Fashionable.
At this turning point, there will be no place for this comfortable confusion.
Technology will set the record straight.
It is Time. Time of the Future.
Time to re-compartMentalize, to deMentalize.
deMentalize rather than (excessively) intellectualize.
Architecture is, no more, no less, Architecture.
This is The State of Art of Architecture.

Critical New Era
Kiosk - Awesome Architecture. No Compromises.
Photomontage: © Nacym Baghli, 2015
Architecture should be backed, Kickstarter(ed), Indiegogo(ed). (*)
Architecture will be backed by consumers.
Architecture will be, for the first time, directly confronted to its real consumers.
Its inhabitants.
Architecture will be a Product/Service, serving the consumer.
Architecture, by the consumer, and for the consumer.
Not a private delirium, or a personal whim.
Fetichism would no longer have a place in this capharnaüm.

The Lakefront Kiosk Proposal
Photomontage: © Nacym Baghli, 2015
Parenthèses /Unexpected
Blade Runner?
Technology will thus engender the Smart-Generic-City. Not the intellectualized one.
Exit empty Manifestos.
Excite the City.
Real-Culture for Real-Architecture.
The Culture of the future. The Future of culture.
WiiCulture™, the Wireless Culture.
Blade Runner.

Excerpts from > “Architecture & Fetichism”
[…] Contemporary values seems to be:
Form, more than Content.
Concept, more than Space.
Diagram, more than Function.
Complexity and Vacuity.
Tallness and Emptiness.
[…] We will more and more 'Pretext', and Pretend to, Intelligence by (second rate) Mixing Genres.
Intermixing Volumes. Forcing Structures.
We will desperately 'Use and Abuse' of Technology.
All this, in an useless entanglement of True/Bad ideas.

Desillusion /Proclamation
Photo: © Nacym Baghli, 2015
Architecture should be reflective.
Not only objective, nor subjective.
Architecture should reflect the society by reflecting the future of the society.
Architecture will be an envelope for technology.
Architecture challenge will be to envelope the technology for the society.
A Package.
A Receptacle.
A Reflect.
A Box.

Chicago Architecture Biennial
October 3, 2015 - January 3, 2016
Artistic Directors: Joseph Grima & Sarah Herda
(*) Kickstarter / Indiegogo

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Win Wired World

"WinWiredWorld" and "."
@ 2015 Nacym Baghli Architects
[Adapted Logo + Icon + Text]
Guys, let's do it!
What if xMillion People Tweet/Share at the same time this: "."?

///////Why "."?
Winning Wired World
World Wide Web
Wild Weird World
Wild Wild West

///////What "."?
"." = |Absolute| Min Valid Message
"." = |Absolute| Min Acceptable Tweet/Share
"." = MIN Footprint
"." = MAX Footprint
"." = One and Single Dot
"." = Universal Language
"." = United People
"." = Mixed Culture
"." = 00101110 (Binary Value)
"." = .......

///////When "."?
from May 1st to May 31st
Daily Time:
07.15 (San Francisco)
10.15 (New York)
11.15 (Rio de Janeiro)
14.15 (GMT)
16.15 (Johannesburg)
17.15 (Moscow)
18.15 (Dubai)
19.45 (New Delhi)
22.15 (Hong Kong)
23.15 (Tokyo)
00.15 (Sydney) +1

The most important thing is to have 'FUN',
while realizing our CRITICAL objectives.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My OMA [Part-1]

De Rotterdam Model, OMA
NAi, Rotterdam, March 2010
Photo: Nacym Baghli
An unexpected encounter with [Rem],
following an impulsive letter to [Koolhaas].

Thought, in 2008/2009
Sent, on December 21, 2009
Answered, on January 20, 2010
Met, on March 10, 2010
at OMA headquarters, Rotterdam
(at the 5th, then the 7th floor)
from: 14H00 to 18H30:
1- Announced/Expected, 14H00
2- Suspended/Cancelled, 15H30
3- Delayed/Confirmed, 17H00 (after a big run through Rotterdam)
4- Finished/Liberated, 18H30
With: Rem Koolhaas, Clement Blanchet, Reinier de Graaf, Sihem Baghli, Nacym Baghli...
+Leyla Baghli, +Racym Baghli (17 months!) who met Rem by chance/accident at OMA reception.

Note: Obviously, this letter reflects my state of mind, from seven years ago. Today, it has deeply and (un)critically, mutated.

The Letter [FR]
Soon in english
Cher Mr Koolhaas,
Ayant visualisé votre dernière intervention qui fut donnée à l’occasion du Colloque International d’Architecture (Centre Pompidou - Paris), [...] Considérant ces détails comme un signe, je me suis ainsi décidé (enfin !) à vous écrire, et ce, après avoir longtemps hésité…
Tout comme Mr et Mme B. vous ont fait part de leur « désir d’Architecture » pour la conception de la Villa Dall’Ava, je souhaiterai vous faire part de mon « désir d’Architecture» pour le renouveau de ma ville, Alger. A la différence, bien entendu, que ceci n’est en aucun cas une commande ! Ce serait plutôt un cri du cœur de ma part…, ensuite de précieux conseils que seraient les vôtres ; après (peut-être), un ambitieux sujet de recherche à développer… ; enfin et je l’espère, un partenariat, des échanges… et des projets concrets… car seuls matérialisation possible de tout désir…quel qu’il soit.
Mais attention, tout comme pour la Villa Dall’Ava, là aussi, il est question d’intimidations et de contradictions… une certaine détresse aussi, tant les défis à relever sont majeurs. Certes, les échelles (XXL ?) et le contexte diffèrent, mais l’approche reste profondément similaire : Environnement hostile, tracasserie administratives, méfiance,…incompétence.
Rotterdam, March 2010
Photo: Nacym Baghli
Aussi fou soit-il, ce projet trouvera tout son sens dans une ville aussi excitante et chaotique qu’Alger, de par son histoire, sa géographie, sa culture et sa population. De par ses ambitions aussi de ville africaine, arabe et méditerranéenne. A l’instar des villes asiatiques et du moyen orient, Alger connaîtra sans nul doute, et dans un futur proche, un bouillonnement sans précédent dans les domaines de l’architecture, la culture et l’art, sans oublier l’enseignement, la clé de voûte de tout succès.
Mon projet baptisé el-djazaïr* 2020, ou el-djazaïr 20xx pour qu’il soit et reste intemporel, [...] à travers notre structure arfen**, consiste en la « dépollution » de cet espace urbain Algérois à travers une révolution dans la pensée architecturale régnante (si pensée il y’a). Pour cela, je souhaiterai faire d’abord de la « formation en architecture » mon cheval de bataille, car seule heureuse issue à ce cataclysme.
C’est l’axe majeur à développer pour une rupture totale avec l’enseignement de l’architecture tel-que enseigné actuellement dans mon pays, et pour un espoir de renouveau à l’horizon 2020, ou 20xx. En effet, je considère que plusieurs années seront nécessaires pour récolter les premiers fruits d’une telle révolution. Mon pays, jeune et dynamique, regorge de ressources et de compétences mal exploités, une sensibilisation adéquate (propagande ?), de l’innovation, ainsi que de l’audace peuvent nous amener à créer un pôle d’excellence à Alger, qui rayonnera et diffusera le savoir à l’échelle régionale (Afrique, Maghreb, Méditerranée ?).
La rive sud de la méditerranée ayant besoin d’être re-dynamisée plus que jamais… Alger en sera le moteur ! Je le fais pour l’amour de ma ville, je le fais aussi, et vous vous en doutez bien, par passion pour notre métier…
Devant la complexité et l’ampleur du sujet, et n’ayant pas de demande précise et claire à vous formuler, je vous laisse le soin de méditer sur la question, ouvrant ainsi le débat que j’espère, sera aussi riche qu’inattendu… [...] en me disant toutefois, que c’est déjà un grand honneur pour moi du fait que vous ayez parcourue ces quelques lignes…
En vous remerciant d’avance,
Pour finir, voici un extrait tiré d’un essai que j’ai entamé depuis peu et qui résume assez bien le sujet. Il a pour titre « Déconstruction Romanesque [...] » :
« …La Carcasse*** est un androïde. Alger en est le terrain de prédilection. Un peu comme dans Blade Runner, le roman de science-fiction écrit par Philip K. Dick… la confusion est totale… qu’est-ce qui différencie la Carcasse (androïde) de l’habitation ?
Kunsthal Model, OMA
NAi, Rotterdam, March 2010
Photo: Nacym Baghli
Rick Deckard dans le film de Ridley Scott du même nom, inspiré du roman, rêve de remplacer son mouton électrique par un vrai… ici à Alger, en ces temps-là (20xx), on rêvait d’achever ces maudites Carcasses, pour de vrai ! Achever pour certains au sens "finitions". Achever pour d’autres au sens élimination. Tout dépend de quel côté de la barrière on se situe… »
Nacym Baghli / architecte
Alger,… 2008/2009

(*) el-djazaïr = Alger et/ou Algérie en langue arabe
(**) arfen = « ar» pour architecture + « fen » = art en langue arabe, est une agence d’architecture fondée à Alger en 1995 par F.+N. Baghli et composée d’un noyau « dur » familial [...]
(***) Carcasse = Nom commun donné à Alger pour une construction éternellement non achevée...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Beyond Pritzker...

Book signed by Denise & Bob
Oct. 30, 2014. Philadelphia.
Photo: Nacym Baghli
Letter to Martha Thorne, Executive Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

For Denise Scott Brown

Dear Martha,
I hesitated for a long time before writing you this letter.
At this time, you are the first and the only person I tell this story, except my wife, Sihem.
Why you?
I met Denise & Bob in last october at their home in Philadelphia. It was a long and exciting trip (*).
A great honor for me.
When I returned back to Algiers, I had these mixed feelings on the life of this 'famous duo' in architecture.
All that remains from their amazing life, not only as architects, is this simple life they have today, somehow into oblivion, even I sensed some kind of bitterness. That was my deep sentiment. May be I am wrong?
We were at that café, not far from the Venturi-Scott-Brown house. Her eyes were shining of that kindness and humility. Coffee and lemon cake for me, light tea and a special crêpe for her. Everybody knows her and respect her in the neighborhood. We talked about everything, except architecture. We understood each other, in a simple way.
Bob, as she confessed to me, does not want to hear anymore about architecture. Nevermore, she said.
She, was very humble and modest. She was also forthright.
[Pritzker Architecture Prize]
Just like me, she was reserved and embarrassed about 'the subject' despite she knew my 'engagement', with Sihem, for quite some time now. An engagement for me that is still strong today and definitely selfless, and I think she well understood it.
We have not addressed the issue. We have never talked about before. We will not do it either today. Nor tomorrow.
Taboo? No. I felt that it seems to be a sensitive and painful issue for Denise, and I had no desire to talk about. It was better this way, and once again, I think we understood each other.
[Golden Lion]
A fortiori, after this summer event. I had hoped and expected so much for her from the 2014 Venice Biennale...
On the way back (by walk), from the café to home, Denise asked me to hold her hand. By certain places, the way was a bit steep. As her life, I thought. It was so touching for me. I was upset. It reminded me of my grandmother who had just left us.
Grandma Denise...
We did not talke a lot. Rather, it was the chance to get together, have a walk, exchange some few words, and indulge in small talk under the sun. It was a fresh and sunny day of October. Bob, for some reason, had stayed at home.
Once back, I discovered their universe, their cocoon. This beautiful living room, steeped in history and full of memories... Disturbing and surreal for me. Bob was in another room nearby, watching television. Denise invited me to join him. I kept handy a french edition of "Learning From Las Vegas". He offered kindly to sign to me the book (Denise already did it). Just the time to take a photo souvenir (I hesitated a moment before do it) and I left the room. I did not want to take much of his time... "Nevermore architecture" said Denise.
My taxi was already back and it was time for me to quit the legendary couple (I had already missed my first, then my second train!).
I was moved, saddened and proud at the same time by this beautiful and unexpected encounter.
I was 41, she was the double. I was 41, she published "Learning From Las Vegas" with Bob and Izenour at 41.
Of course, these are just numbers and coincidences.
I am a 'perfect stranger' architect, she is a great figure of architecture.
Dear Martha,
Why me? Why her? Why I do this trip? Why? I still do not know.
Why you?
I think it is the only thing I know, and I know now (after reading these lines) that you know.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon about this 'beyond-architecture' story.
All the best,

Algiers, Feb. 27, 2015

(*) PCM = Personnal Critical Marathon (Oct. 22 - Oct. 31, 2014)
Algiers, Paris, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington D.C. & Philadelphia.

Following is the answer of Martha Thorne, who kindly agreed that I publish this letter on my blog, and to which she spontaneously responded, with these beautiful words. Thank you, Martha.

Many thanks for writing to me and for explaining your encounter with Bob Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown. It is wonderful to realize that life is full of unexpected coincidences. Clearly the moments you shared were very special.
I am always amazed at how difficult the architecture profession​ i​s, and yet how many ​talented and committed people devote their lives to the field.​ Of course you should feel free to publish you lovely story about meeting Bob and Denise.
Sending you my best wishes,

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Architecture & Fetichism

Jean Nouvel. Philharmonie de Paris.

From >The Charnel-House. Étienne-Louis Boullée.
Reimagined "Cénotaphe à Newton" (1795), Interior.

Source: >The Wall Street Journal
When Form Was (Still) Following Function...

In these times when Amalgam and Confusion are 'required', Architecture is no exception.

Contemporary values seems to be:
Form, more than Content.
Concept, more than Space.
Diagram, more than Function.
Complexity and Vacuity.
Tallness and Emptiness.

We are heading towards the/an Apotheosis.
Apotheosis of what?
Something deep.
Such as a deep new (dis)order?

Pyramids, Spheres and Cubes?
False guarantors of the ultimate Purity.
Guitars, Pianos and Rings?
Bullshit Metaphors.
We will more and more 'Pretext', and Pretend to, Intelligence by (second rate) Mixing Genres.
Intermixing Volumes. Forcing Structures.
We will desperately 'Use and Abuse' of Technology. All this, in an useless entanglement of True/Bad ideas.

The Superstars will rub shoulders, fatally,
with mediocrity. Meanwhile, the (seem to be) Mediocre will still aspire indefinitely to Celebrity.
A Vicious/Virtuous Circle where all are involved: Famous Schools, Great Clients, Influential Critics, Powerful Politics, Ordinary Citizens,... All, except us.

We Are All in this matter, at once,
(Such as this popular sentence nowadays?)
Victims, Executioners, Charlatans and Sufferers, in a kind of an Ambiguous even Sadomasochistic logic.

I think we are defnitely running into
a Critical New Era.