HOMAGE TO LEONARD COHEN
A HOUSE FOR VICTOR BRAUNER
Surrealism and Architecture…
Architecture and Surrealism…
A beautiful theme, no…?
Wouldn’t Surrealism bring us closer to that Magical Architecture Frederick Kiesler wrote about?...
He says it beautifully:
"I oppose to the mysticism of Hygiene, which is the superstition of 'Functional Architecture', the realities of a Magical Architecture rooted in the totality of the human being, and not in the blessed or accursed parts of this being."
But how far we are from it, unfortunately…
The misery of our life, impoverished by “objectivism,” rationalism and a hopeless “enlightenment” has no room, almost at all, for the Surrealist dreams.
Even Taller de Arquitectura, with Ricardo Bofill, who declared unequivocally, more than forty years ago, that for them Magritte was more important than Mies, “evolved” towards a sterile classicization that made their earlier work look even more fresh, by comparison.
Why not banish Neufert once and for all, and those other “mystics of the Hygiene,” as Kiesler might have called them?...
Follow Victor Brauner, dear architect, now, at 50 years since his death.
How much richer life would be, and architecture as well, if we would understand again that the “shadows” of life are real, indeed.
How would A HOUSE FOR VICTOR BRAUNER look like?
It would, no doubt, be a mix of angel and beast, innocence and cruelty.
It would be, oxymoronic.
It would be feline and dark, with popped eyes, announcing dangers.
Indeed, it would be DANGEROUS.
As dangerous as beauty itself.
As dangerous as the beast hidden behind veiled angels.
As dangerous as life itself.
A DANGEROUS HOUSE – without that paraphernalia of protection Rem Koolhaas spoke of.
Let’s bring back Surrealism, dear architect, to architecture as well!
The painters showed us a way, many years ago… let’s see if we can follow them. Strangely, there was no Surrealist architecture, since at the time when the Surrealist painters painted, most architects were working for a tired international style and for questionable eugenics.
It is high time to bring back the “dark dreams.”
Let’s do it!
Please send us ANY work, ANY size, ANY format that responds to the theme: A HOUSE FOR VICTOR BRAUNER
The deadline is the 31st of December, 2016. Please register before this date to receive a registration number with which to anonymously identify your work. We will exhibit all the works received.
The image below represents a painting by Victor Brauner. It is not difficult to recognize who is portrayed... this image makes the transition to the next invitational texts for THE HOUSE OF ANTI-WAR - A New "Birth House" for Adolf Hitler.
Dear architect (and student of architecture),
Not long ago the government of Austria decided to demolish the house where Hitler was born. Yet, very recently, it changed its stance on the issue. It wants now to preserve the building, but transformed, to express its symbolic content in the most relevant way.
We don't know if we had any role in this, although this was our position from the very beginning. But we did write a few months ago to both the mayor of Braunau am Inn and the Interior Minister, asking them to cooperate with us to organize a competition worthy of its subject. They didn't reply directly, but indirectly we feel they did "reply," by changing their position on the subject.
We didn't launch this competition for our own interest or for lucrative reasons. We do believe, strongly, in our hearts, that we must do everything we can, so no other tragedy like the Second World War will ever happen again. This was and is our main goal. In fact, the only one.
So if we can contribute to peace, in any way possible, we feel we did / do what we had / have to do.
As we stated, we plan to send a portfolio with all the works received to the Interior Minister of Austria and to the mayor of Braunau am Inn. Nobody asked us to do it, but we feel it is our duty, as architects and citizen of the world, to do it.
It is the least we can do, to try to avoid another war. Thus, it is a basic responsibility we assume.
If you feel in your heart that you could "say" something perhaps important, on this subject, that is, if you feel you have an idea worthy of the theme of this "cooperative competition," we urge you to express it. We would gladly receive it and forward it to Austria, together with the others.
Yes, it is a grass roots initiative and in some ways, guerrilla. But sometimes an insurgent action could have success. And we believe it already had, to an extent, since the government of Austria, as you read through the link above, is willing now to assume the more difficult attitude... and it seems it even considers now to invite architects to express themselves about this.
We already did this... from the fringe, it is true, but we did it.
And we want to bring to fruition this action by bringing together as many projects as possible, that all say the same thing: NO MORE WAR!
We have no other wish.
If you would like to join us, we can only be grateful.
And we chose to extend a little bit more the deadline, and this would be the final extension. If Hitler was born exactly on Easter Sunday, in 1889, let's gather as many and as good solutions to transform the house he was born in by Christmas Sunday, 2016. Yes, let's have the new and final deadline for this "cooperative competition": Christmas Day, 2016.
If you decide to participate, if you didn't already, please write to us at email@example.com to receive a registration number with which to anonymously identify your work and to also receive a CAD plan of the site and other relevant materials. Thank you.
A NEW "GEBURTSHAUS" FOR ADOLF HITLER
When the war in Iraq started, we launched, polemically, the competition: A NEW HOUSE OF WISDOM IN BAGHDAD. You can see some of the entries on our website. We also wrote THE WAR MANIFESTO, in which we protested war, per se, but also the "larger context", the social-political "ambiance" that implicitly or explicitly was and still is connected with war, even at the present moment.
We very recently found out that the government of Austria doesn't quite know what to do with the house in Braunau am Inn where Adolf Hitler was born. And since we believe in a Militant Architecture, even a Corrective Architecture, an architecture that can and should attempt, through its own means, to correct some of the ills of life and society, we thought of launching a competition to redesign this building, in such a way that its symbolic meaning would not be lost, but hopefully, enhanced.
Could we improve on human life, through architecture...? And we are not referring here only to spatial or physical eugenics, but to something else... to the psychological and even spiritual message our buildings emanate... and ethical, as well. This is why we launched, in the past, the competition for A NEW FACADE FOR NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE, and A NEW FACADE FOR THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE NATIONAL RIFLES ASSOCIATION, in the United States.
Returning to Braunau am Inn, we strongly feel a redesigned building where Hitler was born could send a meaningful message: and we feel it is our duty, as architects, to do so. We plan to create a portfolio with all the works received and to send it to the City Hall of Braunau am Inn and to governmental agencies in Austria, hoping that maybe the best project will be implemented.
You can see below several invitational texts for this new competition.
I C A R C H
WE WANT THE MOST INTENSE, THE MOST POWERFUL ANTI-WAR ARCHITECTURAL STATEMENT POSSIBLE. NOTHING ELSE!
A NEW "GEBURTSHAUS" FOR ADOLF HITLER
Salvador Dali working on "The Face of War" in 1940
THE HOUSE OF ANTI-WAR
Busy as we are, we can easily forget that prospective monsters could lurk in unexpected places... as it is well known, the tempest could easily start from a seemingly blue sky.
We human beings are unable to control our destiny as scientifically and as righteously as we would like.
It seems surreal to read, almost daily, about the atrocities so very much present, still, in the human affairs.
Crimes of all kinds, terrorism, war, etc... the list is endless.
How to explain this...?!
Why is it that despite unending suffering, human life is still trapped in a persistent inability to avoid the very mistakes it vowed to avoid, the very mistakes that provoked so much bleeding...?!
Quite often we read on the "news" about the prospect of a Third World War.
How could this be...?!
Did we forget the horrors of the Second World War...?!
Indeed, it seems we cannot learn.
But we must never stop TRYING to learn.
We read recently that the Austrian government and the town of Braunau am Inn don't quite know what to do with the house where Adolf Hitler was born... that very house that brought "unwanted attention" to Braunau am Inn... please read through the link below and please watch the video:
So we thought of inviting you to conceive a house that would bring a WANTED attention to Braunau am Inn... through the very house mentioned before.
THE BIRTHPLACE OF ADOLF HITLER.
THE HOUSE WHERE ADOLF HITLER WAS BORN.
LET'S SEARCH FOR POSSIBLE WAYS TO TRANSFORM THIS HOUSE IN THE MOST POWERFUL ANTI-WAR STATEMENT POSSIBLE.
LET'S TRY, WITHOUT UNWARRANTED OPTIMISM, TO MAKE THIS HOUSE A SYMBOL OF OUR STRUGGLE TO KEEP FUTURE "WORLD WARS" AWAY FROM HUMAN LIFE.
Is it possible...?
WE HAVE TO TRY.
This house, while in itself "just a house," because Hitler was born there it is invested, symbolically, with unusual characteristics.
And we feel that we can make these characteristics visible and comprehensible, if we have the courage to show their truth as much as possible.
WE SIMPLY CANNOT ALLOW ANOTHER WAR TO DEVASTATE LIFE ON EARTH THE WAY THE SECOND WORLD WAR DID. The estimates are: between 60 million and 100 million people died, of whom around 11 million died because of the Holocaust.
What is a person...? A single person...?! And what are 100 persons...?! What about 1,000...?? What about 10,000...?? What about 100,000...?! And what about 1,000,000...?!?
And what about 100,000,000...?!?!?
Do these numbers mean anything...?!?!
We feel that if we don't appreciate one single life, we don't appreciate one million lives. The two are correlative.
We invite you to reflect with all the seriousness possible, with all the gravity you are capable of, on the issue of war. Just imagine that someone very dear to you died in this war, uselessly.
Let's transform the House where Adolf Hitler was born in the most powerful ANTI-WAR statement possible.
Let's make it, architecturally, as relevant as, let's say, Goya's "Disasters of War" or Dali's "Face of War" (shown above).
Can we do it...?!
This competition will take place in two phases: the first phase will start now and the deadline will be the 1st of November, 2016. Please write to us in order to receive a registration number with which to anonymously identify your work, and also the CAD drawing of the site plan and the building. The second phase will take place between the 1st of December and January 15th, when the best works will have a chance to be developed. In between the two phases we want to send a portfolio with all the works received to the City Hall of Braunau am Inn and other governmental Austrian agencies to ask for their support to develop this enterprise and to actually implement the winning project. If you have any questions, please write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
HIDEOUS - CREEPY - LURID - SPOOKY - GRIM - SCARY - GRUESOME
Yes, maybe these words would describe accurately A HOUSE FOR ADOLF HITLER.
A (NEW) BIRTH HOUSE FOR ADOLF HITLER.
The house where he was born is still "alive", much more alive than the more than 60 million people who died in the Second World War, the most deadly of all wars, until now.
We wish we didn't have to use the words "until now"... unfortunately, it seems we human beings do not quite learn.
Yet, we do hope we can learn.
This is why we invite you to imagine A (NEW) BIRTH HOUSE FOR ADOLF HITLER, that is, TO TRANSFORM the existing one in such a way that anyone seeing it would NEVER, EVER, start a war again!
Could architecture fight war, in this way...?!
Louis Kahn said that a painter, if he wants to oppose war, he can paint the wheels of the war machine square, but that the architect must make them round. We are not sure about this... we feel that in the case of a war, the architect should make the wheels of the war machine square too.
But what to do with this existing building...? It seems the town of Braunau am Inn and the government of Austria don't quite know what to do with it.
We feel that perhaps the best usage of this building would be to make it some kind of ANTI-MEMORIAL, ANTI-MONUMENT, something that would express the horrors of wars in such a powerful way, that no one seeing it would remain indifferent.
Yes, let's contemplate the seven words above (and there are others)... would they describe, accurately, the psychological portrait of The Fuehrer...?!
And how would a building described by these seven words look like...?
This is the question.
Make it terrifying, dear architect, as terrifying as the horrible realities of that horrible war.
Make this building an equivalent of Goya's Disasters of War.
Make it so abhorrent that no new war would still be possible.
THE MASK OF WAR ITSELF: HIDEOUS, GRIM, LURID, CREEPY, SCARY, GRUESOME.
Tell the truth, dear architect, about your feelings vis-a-vis war in general and vis-a-vis Hitler.
SHAME THEM, dear architect, SHAME THEM...!!!!
And we didn't even mention the Holocaust, that Horror of Horror, through which the Cleansing Fuehrer wanted to CLEANSE EVERYTHING, except the dirt within.
TAKE THAT DIRT OUTSIDE, DEAR ARCHITECT, AND SHAME THE LYING WHITENESS OF HIS "PURE" IDEALS. TAKE THE DIRT OUTSIDE...!!!!!
The lover of purity, of unending WHITENESS, had no problem at all to cover the earth with RED blood. And with ASHES.
SHAME HIM, DEAR ARCHITECT, SHAME HIM! And together with him, anyone with equally monstrous desires to "cleanse the world."
BEWARE OF THE MANICS OF CLEANSING!
So we invite you to transform this building in the very opposite of CLEANNESS.
We expect a DIRTY BUILDING, AS DIRTY AS WAR, AS DIRTY AS THE FUEHRER'S SICKNESS.
MAKE A SICK BUILDING, telling thus the truth.
T H E S I C K E R, T H E B E T T E R!
T H E S I C K E R, T H E B E T T E R!
THE HOUSE OF ANTI-WAR
It would be easy to dismiss the thought of war, at a time when we learn, ecstatically, that Kim Kardashian lost a few more pounds, when we learn that a new drone-toy was invented, quite accessible to the “public,” that the richest man on earth just got much richer and so on… indeed, what war…?!
And the fact that some minor “incidents” happen, from time to time, some mere killings here and there, or that Russia just added to its arsenal of weapons a supersonic something, means nothing, really… after all, Neymar just scored another beautiful goal and the revealing dress of a TV hostess makes the audience wild…
Yet… somewhere, in the dark, the blind forces of Fate lurk.
And we cannot control them.
The Second World War happened just seventy something years ago…
Yes, some of the people we know were alive when Jews, and not only Jews, were “annihilated” in gas chambers, when human bodies just like ours were thrown to the garbage just like garbage, when unheard of atrocities took place as if human beings didn’t learn anything from thousands of years of man-made unspeakable tragedies.
Did we change…?
We doubt it.
We are just a button, or a few buttons away, from transforming the whole earth into cosmic dust.
Yes, Homo Sapiens does have this power, dear reader!
Is it what we want…?
If not, why do we continue to flirt with disaster, a disaster even the saddest images from Hiroshima cannot dispel…?!
Perhaps we should look daily to pictures from Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Maybe it should be an obligation, for all the people on this planet to display, in their living rooms, revealing images of Auschwitz and Hiroshima.
SO WE DON’T FORGET. NEVER!
Are these words and thoughts morbid…?
But if they are, are they more so than what actually happened at Auschwitz and Hiroshima…?
We doubt it.
But it is easier to dismiss the uncomfortable, as if it never existed and never will, again… until it happens, again.
The government of Austria is puzzled about what to do with the building at Salzurger Strasse, 15, that is, the building where, on Easter Sunday (of all days), in 1889, Hitler was born.
We strongly feel that building, transformed, should be the most powerful ANTI-WAR architectural statement possible! Nothing less.
And we invite you now to do just this: to envision ways to redesign that building in such a way that anyone seeing it, or visiting it, might be outraged at the simple thought of starting another war.
Let’s fight war, through architecture, the way Goya did, in his "Disasters of War," or Dali, in his “Face of War!” Let’s make this building equally tormenting, so no new war would still be possible!
While we have all the reasons to be skeptical of our success, WE HAVE TO TRY. Just as Goya did, and Dali, and some others, although not too many architects, unfortunately.
Please make the building where Hitler was born the most intense, the most powerful ANTI-WAR statement possible! We accept nothing else.
Don’t make it a pleasant building. Make it a tormenting building, as tormenting as war itself.
A NEW GEBURTSHAUS FOR HITLER
Braunau am Inn - Austria
What is birth…?
What is death…?
A beginning and an end… although some, less afraid to be optimistic, think that the end might also be another beginning… who knows…?
And… what is a baby…? A newborn…? Does the newborn contain already the seeds of what would follow…?
How was the baby Hitler…? Did he giggle…? Did he amuse his parents and others with that deliciousness that only babies can deliver…?
Was he angelic, as all babies seem to be, within some approximations…?
How was the baby Hitler…?
Maybe there was nothing special about him… “just” a baby… learning the first gestures, the first words, the first steps…
But what was in his developing mind…? Did the baby Hitler have any forethought of the adult Adolf…?
Should we demonize Hitler…? Should we think he was simply an unfortunate tool in hands of a fatidical history…? Or, quite contrarily, should we hold him responsible in the highest degree for the atrocities of the Second World War…?!
How come complex and rich minds like Heidegger’s, Emil Nolde’s, Knut Hamsun and others sympathized with Hitler…?! How was it possible…?
There are probably countless books published on him.
But how many books are published in the countless sufferings of those who confronted (unsuccessfuly) death thanks to what the baby Hitler became…?
Did Hitler forget that once he didn’t know words, he didn’t know gestures, he didn’t know how to walk…? Did he forget that once he was a baby…? What would the baby Hitler have said about the “mature” Hitler…? Would he have agreed with him…? And what would the baby Hitler have said if a bomb fell on him, while he was giggling, or, worse, if he was sent with his mother and father and siblings to a gas chamber, something so horrid that it is almost impossible to conceive.
We ask you to conceive THE HOUSE OF WAR – THE HOUSE OF OPPOSING WAR – A MEMORIAL AGAINST WAR, ALL WARS, PERIOD – in the house where Hitler was born.
We invite you to TRANSFORM THIS HOUSE, FOR GOOD, IN THE MOST MOVING PROTEST AGAINST ALL WARS. INVEST IN IT ALL THE IMAGINED ANGUISH ALL THE PEOPLE WHO DIED IN THIS HORRIBLE WAR AND ANY OTHER, MAKE IT CRY AND SCREAM IN PAIN.
Transform the 16th century building into THE SHRINE OF ANTI WAR, not by making it white, but by making it HORRID. Apply Eisenman’s words: EN TERROR FIRMA.
EN HITLER’S GEBURTSHAUS FIRMA.
Make any passing tourist, arrived in front of this house TREMBLE.
Make it so moving that no new Hitler would ever be born again.
MAKE WAR IMPOSSIBLE. Transform Hitler's Birthouse into an indelible sign: The Sign of Anti-War!
Redesign it, in any way you find appropriate!
Express your anger, sadness, hope. Hope that what happened in the Second World War will never happen again!
THE HOUSE OF RESURRECTION
Strange, very strange indeed that Hitler was born on Easter Sunday, in 1889.
That is, he was born on The Day of the Resurrection, speaking in Christian terms.
But through what he did, later in life, he was against ANY resurrection.
If we look in the dictionary for antonyms of the word “resurrection,” this is what we get:
Disappearance Abolition Allowance Depletion Disintegration Dissipation Evanescence Evaporation Impounding Loss Sequestration Slice Slide
This is what Thesaurus tells us, omitting, perhaps strangely, the word "death" and the related words.
But didn’t Fascism act, factually, in the name of Disappearance, Depletion, Disintegration…? Didn’t it act AGAINST life…?!?
We do not feel we need to be Christian to believe in the renewal of life Christ’s Resurrection meant.
We feel human beings need a “horizon of hope,” as someone called it.
Yes, Resurrection represented and represents, for the Christians, a horizon of hope.
Other religions have different horizons of hope.
But all human beings need, we feel, A HORIZON OF HOPE.
So let’s oppose Hitler, let’s bring back to the house he was born in, on Easter Sunday, in 1889, what he, unfortunately and tragically, tried to dismiss.
The victory of Life over Death.
This is what we ask you to do, actually. To give architectonic expression to Life’s victory over Death.
It is a transmutation, the most important of all, probably.
What could be a greater challenge, than to transform Death into Life…?!?
Let’s do it, dear architects, let's do it…!!! Even if aware of Holbein’s puzzling painting “The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb" (shown above), the one that anguished Dostoevsky and his Prince Myshkin.
THE HOUSE OF ANTI-WAR
As you can see through the link below, it seems that the only two options that are contemplated now about the house where Hitler was born are to either be demolished, or to be transformed into a museum, or a shop.
SHOP… indeed… what else is Capitalism good at, but Shopping, Shopping, Shopping… until dropping dead.
Or a placid museum… the museumification of the world is well advanced, indeed… how “civilized,” how righteous, how politically correct and polite, indeed.
But let’s oppose this civilized politeness to the horrors of the Second World War. Yes, Hitler didn’t wage that war alone, but he was a quintessential, emblematic, almost paradigmatic part of it. In our imagination we connect, inevitably and ominously, WWII with Hitler.
And thus the house he was born in is invested, equally inevitably, with symbolic attributes that we cannot evade.
So let’s see… there is no other way besides demolishing this building or transforming it into a museum or a shop…?!?
Selling and buying what, for God’s sake…?!? Souvenirs of war…?!? Sweet images of dead bodies, sweet images of gas chambers, sweet images of tanks, rifles, bombers, and…!?!
We cannot accept reducing the terrifying memory of this deadliest of all wars to shopping bags and other commercial paraphernalia! It is impossible to transform the house where Hitler was born into a shop, to make another quick buck on the most ominous of all subjects.
Capitalism, indeed, wants to sell everything… without discernment… SELL, SELL, SELL.
To demolish the building won’t solve the problem either. Because “the return of the repressed,” to use the words of a famous Austrian, Sigmund Freud, would be impossible to avoid.
So then what to do…?!
You saw above several texts that tried to provoke you towards approaching this subject, and this building, as we feel it is appropriate, that is, to face the ugly truth squarely.
Symbolically, this building is charged in significant ways. We cannot hide this symbolism under the rug, and we cannot domesticate it by transforming it yet into another commercial venture, or, almost equally inconsequential, into a more or less placid (because not visceral enough) "educational" endeavor... We feel "good intentions" are not enough.
In this building was born the one unquestionably at the very roots of the Second World War. And while he didn’t wage that war alone, as we already stated, he was at its crux. So let’s not treat this house, and its symbolism, lightly.
It was estimated that approximately 100 million people died in the Second World War, of whom around 11 million in the Holocaust.
These numbers should make us tremble.
We simply cannot allow ourselves another disaster, another tragedy of the same proportions. We need to protest with all the vehemence we are capable of. And this is what we invite you to do.
WE WANT THE MOST INTENSE, THE MOST POWERFUL ANTI-WAR ARCHITECTURAL STATEMENT POSSIBLE. NOTHING ELSE!