Archive for Base 2: Wasting Space

flushing meadows ~ corona park | a forgotten circus

by Tassos Lockbird

Not so long ago, a friend from Greece was visiting me and wanted to go to “some places”, as she had told me. Being an architect, she had chosen some interesting and less mainstream sights, one of them being the Flushing Meadows – Corona Park, created in 1939 for New York’s World’s Fair and hosting it again in 1964.  Now, it seems like a deserted theme park in the middle of nowhere. The peculiar character of the place though, has an overwhelming, yet beautifully enchanting effect. Wasted space, wasted dreams.


Foucault and the Meatpacking District & Sola-Morales and the Riverside Hospital

by Tassos Lockbird

1. What is compelling about Foucault’s essay is the fact that it can be read through a vast variety of points of view and can be related to many issues. The first time I read it, it was as part of the theoretical framework of the 1st Biennial of the city of Thessaloniki, in Greece, which had the same title; “Heterotopias”. The second time was as part of my research for an anthropological art project I did for my undergrad in Athens, concerning the duality of a certain neighborhood. Finally, I re-read this essay for one of my courses last semester. The course was “Televisuality” and we would interpret Foucault’s notion of “heterotopia” as a characteristic for television, and interestingly enough, almost all -if not all!- of the principles could be applied to the “programming” and “flow” of television. Reading it again for this class certainly made an additional impact to me and I was more attracted to the second principle of Heterotopias.

“The second principle of this description of heterotopias is that a society, as its history unfolds, can make an existing heterotopia function in a very different fashion; for each heterotopia has a precise and determined function within a society and the same heterotopia can, according to the synchrony of the culture in which it occurs, have one function or another.”

I think that the Meatpacking District is an area that could be characterized as a “heterotopia”, since from the beginning of the last century it held a very special role in the city’s functions. It started out as a neighborhood that hosted slaughterhouses, over the years it became one of the “worst” parts of the city, where criminality, drugs and prostitution would flourish and at the same time it was the center of certain aspects of gay life. By now, it has become one of the most expensive and “fashionable” parts of the city, giving home to high-end boutiques and overpriced bars and restaurants.


2. Reading Sola-Morales’ text was a real pleasure. The way he establishes his subject and analyzes its every aspect, etymologically for instance, is very satisfying. What I noticed and thought is quite interesting is when he talks about architecture as a means to “impose” order and organization. It reminded me of Mary Douglas’ text, when she is saying that culture, in general, provides a specific set of orders to “follow” and that “dirt” is what “must not be included if a pattern is to be maintained”. Accordingly, the “terrain vague” that Sola-Morales is referring to are places that probably had been used as instruments of rationalization and/or productivity but now they are not part of the pattern anymore.

An amazing example of a “terrain vague” in NYC is the Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island. Not only it is an empty space of a medical facility that has been abandoned for more than 50 years, it is really interesting to add into the equation the fact that Riverside Hospital was a “quarantine hospital”, a hospital to heal various kinds of “anomalies”, to cure people who did not fit in the “pattern” anymore, “waste-people”. There is an amazing series of current photographs of the remains on this blog:

The Gowanus Lowline

Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation / Gowanus by Design are sponsoring a High Line-inspired contest to re-imagine the Gowanus canal.

Gowanus Crossings is an inaugural international ideas competition, which invites speculation on the value of urban development of postindustrial lands, and the possibility of dynamic, pedestrian-oriented architecture that either passively or actively engages with the canal and the surrounding watershed. This competition, the first of a series, focuses on the design of connections in and around the canal, and the residual moments around these connections.

Registration deadline is April 1 (it costs $50) and entries are due a couple weeks after. First place gets $1000. Huh.

angry birds: wasting time in the digital terrain vague

by cindy

OK, we’ve all heard of or played angry birds, right?

As I was watching someone play this on the subway this morning (actually I see someone on the subway playing the game almost every time I ride), I realized that not only are these games in general a way to pass the time/waste time on the subway ride, but the game itself uses as it landscape a strange terrain vague of ramshackle constructions.  And the goal of the game is to actually “lay waste” to these structures by destroying them.  Funny.

Reusing abandoned spaces in Detroit

by Gala

Juxtapoz magazine published on this month´s issue a piece on art houses in Detroit. This a project the magazine developed with some rather famous street artists in order to reuse this space that had been abandoned. I thought it might interest you guys here is the link.

after the revolution, who will take out the trash?

by cindy

in Cairo’s Tahir square, citizens came out in full force to clean up the trashed protest space.  Signs of an orderly – or at least hygienic? – transition to democracy?

note: the media module is in flash and living right on the home page; i can’t seem to find it living at a discreet URL…here is a screen shot.

manufactured landscapes and gordon matta clark

by cindy

hey everyone,

as i mentioned last night in class, i would highly recommend the film “manufactured landscapes”, very compelling and relevant to a lot of the topics we are discussing…

also, i suggested that could see some video documentation of gordon matta clark’s at the moma’s “on line” exhibit.  but it closed l last week:

here a write up from the ny times about his retrospective at whitney a couple of years ago:

here is more info about the artist:

and here is some video documentation of some of his work (not great quality but you’ll get a sense if what he did):