Adler, G. (2018). Sauf aux Riverains: the riverine memorial of Georges-Henri Pingusson. In: Adler, G. and Guerci, M. eds. Riverine: Architecture and Rivers. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, pp. 145-158. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Riverine-Architecture-and-Rivers/Adler-Guerci/p/book/9781138681781.
Riverine has echoes in English of the sign you see on streets near to rivers in France: ‘sauf aux riverains’. This refers to the access given to locals to the narrow passageways leading down to the river, and seeks to bar ‘foreigners’ from getting too close to the water. In towns, most buildings like to keep a healthy distance between themselves and the flowing river, apart from those parts that have an intimate relationship with the water, such as landing stages and warehouses. Nonetheless, the general principle obtains, that urbanised rivers become embellished with raised embankments, raising houses and gardens well above the waterline, and out of harm’s way. We see this most clearly in those cities with well-developed riverside terraces, such as in Dresden with its Brühlsche Terrassen, in London with its Adelphi development of the late eighteenth century, and generally by the banks of the Seine in Paris, where the streets end abruptly in a precipitous canyon into which the river appears to be sunk, to be reached by narrow stone steps accessed through chinks in the closely packed bouquinistes lining either bank.
At the extreme eastern end of the Ile de la Cité, behind the chevet of the cathedral of Notre Dame, you find a low concrete mass split in two places by narrow stairs. Descending, you pass between a pair of concrete ‘grindstones’ and arrive at a hard, concrete courtyard, hemmed in by bush-hammered walls. Above, the sky, while ahead, you see and hear the Seine rushing past, its waters virtually level with the pavement at your feet. This was the scene designed by the French architect Georges-Henri Pingusson (1894-1978) and is his late masterpiece completed in 1962. The external sunken courtyard leads to a labyrinth of cave-like spaces that tunnel beneath the tip of the island; the whole ensemble is the monument to the deported, the place of ‘collective memory’ for Paris to remember those of its citizens, largely Jews, who were rounded up and deported during the German occupation of the Second World War, en route to being sent east to the extermination camps in the Reich.
Pingusson’s work is, to borrow the subtitle of the monograph on his oeuvre by Simon Texier, ‘la poétique pour doctrine’, and represents one of the great brooding and evocative spaces of modern architecture. Like the great bulk of his practice output hitherto, it is accomplished by recourse to simple geometries and everyday materials, yet manages to evoke an almost mythical atmosphere, as if one were descending into Hades, stopping awhile at the lapping waters before Charon, the ferryman, carries us off. The spatial configuration and material presence remind us of other, uncanny, riverside ensembles, such as the Traitors’ Gate at the Tower of London, the skateboarders’ undercroft at the South Bank, or Harry Lime being given chase through the sewers of Vienna, before they empty into the Danube. The location behind Notre Dame lends the memorial a sacred aura, while its location upstream from the site of the 1961 massacre of peaceful demonstrators against the Algerian War, led by the Paris police chief (and later convicted war criminal) Maurice Papon, further intensifies this, the most haunting of memorials to the infamies of the twentieth century.
Adler, G. (2017). Hall House. In: 100 Houses 100 Years. London, UK: Batsford (Pavilion Books Group), pp. 160-161. Available at: https://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-houses-100-years/.
This short piece is my contribution for the year 1992 to the Twentieth Century Society book 100 Houses 100 Years. It concerns the house designed by the architects Proctor and Matthews for a site at Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk. It comprises a short description and characterisation of the design.
Adaji, M., Watkins, R. and Adler, G. (2017). Indoor Thermal Comfort for Residential Buildings in the Hot-Humid Climate of Nigeria during the dry season. In: Design to Thrive: Proceedings PLEA 2017 Conference. Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings, pp. 949 -956.
The indoor thermal conditions in residential buildings in two locations in Abuja, Nigeria were investigated to understand the ideal conditions of occupants in this hot-humid climate. Understanding these conditions helps give an insight into what people are experiencing in their houses and how they adapt to the high temperatures. The study seeks to fill the gap in research of occupants’ thermal comfort in this area by providing empirical thermal comfort data from a city in the tropical region. During the study, 86 households responded to a post occupancy questionnaire to evaluate their building and how they adapt to high temperatures. A comfort survey questionnaire was administered to occupants of four low-income residential households to assess their perception of their thermal environment. These included two air-conditioned and two naturally ventilated buildings with the questionnaires having over 80% return rate. Simultaneously, physical measurements were taken in the living room, bedroom and outdoor spaces to evaluate the actual building performance and thermal environment. Most occupants in the residential buildings in this climate experienced thermal discomfort and were uncomfortable with their thermal environment as suggested by the results of the study. The data further suggest the preferred conditions are operative temperatures above 28°C.
Adler, G. (2017). Pragmatics: towards a theory of things. In: This Thing Called Theory. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, p. 179 to-190.
‘Things’ in architecture include buildings, but depending upon the scale at which we observe and experience the world it also comprises streets, rooms, windows and nailheads. With the rise of the digital these hard, finite material things are rapidly melting into air. The fluidity of the modern world, à la Zygmunt Bauman, means that the traditional division between theory and practice, between what advanced architects one hundred years ago would have understood as the dichotomy of ‘architecture’ and ‘building’, no longer obtains.
This paper takes Reyner Banham’s initial essay on tradition versus technology (‘Stocktaking’, Architectural Review February 1960) as its starting point, but inverts his dichotomy. If, according to Elizabeth Diller, ‘…architecture is a technology that has not yet discovered its agency’, then it is surely the case that today it is technology in its globalised and commodified form that has become the new orthodoxy, in contrast to the freedoms suggested by a practice and theory of bricolage, the children of Ivan Illich and Lucien Kroll. Compare the certainties of the brand of any ‘starchitect’ with the serendipities of Patrick Bouchain.
For Bouchain, it is theory represented by imaginative narratives that structure design, evident in his discovery of the self-seeded roof of the wool and cotton auction house that he transformed into Roubaix’s La Condition Publique arts centre (2002-3). In a similar vein, the Californian architect and poet Jill Stoner has argued for a ‘minor’ architecture in which narratives of various stripes inform design decisions. On a more materialist tack, the list in the first paragraph will remind the reader of Heinrich Tessenow’s writings on the provenance of the things that make our houses, prescient of Bertold Brecht’s sentiments in his ‘Questions of a Reading Worker’. All point to the enhancement of architecture through the collaborative and creative agency of designer, user and builder: towards pragmatic theory.
Adaji, M., Watkins, R. and Adler, G. (2016). Thermal comfort of occupants during the dry and rainy seasons in Abuja, Nigeria. In: Making Comfort Relevant: Proceedings 9th International Windsor Conference. UK: Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings, pp. 542-565.
The paper presents the results of a recent study on the thermal comfort of occupants in four low-income residential buildings, at two different locations, within the hot-humid climate of Abuja. A comfort survey questionnaire was administered to occupants of four casestudies to assess their perception of their thermal environment. Simultaneously, the indoor temperatures and relative humidity of the living room and bedroom spaces were monitored as well as outdoor parameters to evaluate the actual building performance. To support the comfort survey, a post-occupancy survey was carried out to evaluate an additional 86 buildings nearby in the case studies areas. The paper focuses on analysing the thermal conditions of respondents of the post-occupancy survey, the comfort survey and indoor monitoring findings from the case studies. The maximum daytime average temperature of the naturally ventilated buildings was only 2.0°C more than in the air-conditioned buildings. The maximum indoor air temperature in the living spaces during the dry season was 36.8°C(and 26.4% RH) and the minimum 28.4°C (and 66.6% RH),while during the rainy season these were respectively 35.9°C(and 43.7% RH) and the minimum 24.3°C (and 75.5% RH). The results suggest that there was significant thermal discomfort in the low income residential buildings.
Adler, G. (2015). The German Reform Theatre: Heinrich Tessenow and eurhythmic performance space at Dresden-Hellerau. In: Setting the Scene: Perspectives on Twentieth-Century Theatre Architecture. Farnham, UK: Routledge, pp. 35-59. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Setting-the-Scene-Perspectives-on-Twentieth-Century-Theatre-Architecture/Fair/p/book/9781472416520.
An architectural study of Heinrich Tessenow's groundbreaking dance space in the garden city of Hellerau. The chapter places it within its Reform culture context, and analyses the aesthetic innovations of Tessenow.
Adler, G. (2013). Energising the Building Edge: Siegfried Ebeling, Bauhaus Bioconstructivist. In: Morrow, R. and Abdelmonem, M. G. eds. Peripheries: Edge Conditions in Architecture. Abingdon: Routledge. Available at: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415640305/.
Adler, G. (2012). Little Boxes. In: Adler, G., Brittain-Catlin, T. and Fontana-Giusti, G. eds. Scale : Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 182-193. Available at: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415687126/.
Fontana-Giusti, G. (2012). The role of small-scale images by Wenceslaus Hollar: the rebuilding of London in the late seventeenth century. In: Adler, G., Brittain-Catlin, T. and Fontana-Giusti, G. eds. Scale: Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture. London: Routledge, pp. 21-42. Available at: http://www.taylorandfrancis.com/books/details/9780415687126/.
This chapter examines the architectural work of Wenceslaus Hollar (1607- 77) in terms of its scale of representation, focusing on the role this opus has maintained in relation to architecture and the cities of the seventeenth century. It concentrates on the significance of small-scale images and argues that the craft that Hollar brought to England was critical for the development of architecture and urban design of London in the aftermath of the Great Fire. The chapter argues how early modern architectural representation brought together rich and nuanced cultural, geometric and empirical understanding of scale. The connection to late seventeenth-century urban design (and the work of Robert Hooke in particular) will be addressed, as it is still a lacuna in the architectural history of London.
Sayers, J. (2012). Mind-Building, Adrian Stokes, Scale and Psychoanalysis. In: Adler, G., Brittain-Catlin, T. and Fontana-Giusti, G. eds. Scale: Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture. Routledge. Available at: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415687126/.
Scale is a word which underlies much of architectural and urban design practice, its history and theory, and its technology. Its connotations have traditionally been linked with the humanities, in the sense of relating to human societies and to human form. ‘To build in scale’ is an aspiration that is usually taken for granted by most of those involved in architectural production, as well as by members of the public; yet in a world where value systems of all kinds are being questioned, the term has come under renewed scrutiny. The older, more particular, meanings in the humanities, pertaining to classical Western culture, are where the sense of scale often resides in cultural production.
Scale may be traced back, ultimately, to the discovery of musical harmonies, and in the arithmetic proportional relationship of the building to its parts. One might question the continued relevance of this understanding of scale in the global world of today. What, in other words, is culturally specific about scale? And what does scale mean in a world where an intuitive, visual understanding is often undermined or superseded by other senses, or by hyper-reality? Structured thematically in three parts, this book addresses various issues of scale. The book includes an introduction which sets the scene in terms of current architectural discourse and also contains a visual essay in each section. It is of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students, academics and practitioners in architecture and architectural theory as well as to students in a range of other disciplines including art history and theory, geography, anthropology and landscape architecture.
Adler, G. (2012). Something out of the ’Ordinary’. In: The Cultural Role of Architecture: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, pp. 141-150.
The architect Robert Maguire’s scheme for St Paul’s church at Bow Common, London (1958-60) is a design often overlooked in the roll-call of significant Brutalist architecture. In terms of religious buildings, Le Corbusier’s church at Ronchamp (1950-54) and Gillespie Kidd and Coia’s seminary at Cardross (1958-66) are frequently feted by architects, and by architectural historians. However, the Scottish seminary is today appreciated more for its status as a modern ruin, a cause the writer Brian Dillon has so eloquently espoused, than for its embodiment of human life. In this paper I examine a particular episode in British architecture, in which the architects’ deep engagement with a living, growing and questioning culture (in this case, the liturgical movement in the Anglican Church) led to the commissioning of a building whose use value continues unabated to this day, mitigating any descent into disuse and ruin.
St Paul’s, as well as the later churches Maguire designed with his partner Keith Murray, was adept at responding to the specific architectural culture of 1960s’ Britain in addition to the emerging new cult of the Church of England’s liturgical movement. What is fascinating is to revisit Bow Common and see its architectural largesse accommodate the kaleidoscope of cultures now present in London’s East End.
The chapter discusses this remarkable oeuvre and examines how it engages with its contemporary overlapping architectural, social, and communal cultures in a way which, in the words of Maguire,
serv[es] life through buildings... although that sounds pretentious, [...] I mean it at a rather simple level, in the sense of making things which help people in their lives as individuals or communities, rather than placing burdens on them [...].
Robert Maguire, ‘Something out of the ‘Ordinary’
Adler, G. (2012). Introduction. In: Scale: Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, pp. 1-9.
This introduces the overall theme of the book and gives a précis of each chapter.
Guerci, M. and Adler, G. (2018). Riverine: Architecture and Rivers. Guerci, M. and Adler, G. eds. Routledge.
Edited book based on a conference run with Gerald Adler in 2014.
Human settlements may be broadly divided between inland ones often located on high ground, such as the hill towns of Urbino and Jerusalem, those of inland plains such as Brasilia and Novosibirsk, and those located on waterways or rivers close to the sea, which form by far the great majority of cities. In this new volume we concentrate on the latter, and seek to tease out and explore architectural, planning, artistic and literary backgrounds to cities as diverse as Ahmedabad, Amsterdam, Isfahan, London, New York, Paris, Rome and Shanghai; that is, we are interested in human settlements whose origins depend upon rivers. And not just the cities proper, but also their hinterlands, or more precisely their riverine conditions up and downstream of their urban centres.
This book investigates the relationship between architecture and rivers at a number of scales, from the geographical/topographical, through the urban/infrastructural, down to that of the individual building or space. Here, we examine the interface between terrain and water through the techniques and cultures of landscape, urban, architectural and material history and design, and through cross-cultural studies in art, literature, as well as social and cultural history
Adler, G., Brittain-Catlin, T. and Fontana-Giusti, G. (2012). Scale Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture. [Online]. Vol. 7. Adler, G., Brittain-Catlin, T. and Fontana-Giusti, G. eds. Abingdon: Routledge. Available at: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415687126/.
Scale is a word which underlies much of architectural and urban design practice, its history and theory, and its technology. This book considers what is culturally specific about scale? And what does scale mean in a world where an intuitive, visual understanding is often undermined or superseded by other senses, or by hyper-reality?
With a visual essay in each section, this book is for students, academics and practitioners in architecture and architectural theory as well as of interest to students in a range of other disciplines including art history and theory, geography, anthropology and landscape architecture.
Introduction Gerald Adler 1.
Scale Excursus 1: The Scale of the Detail, Natalie Rozencwaig
Part 1: Scale Before the Twentieth Century
The Role of Small-Scale Images by Wenceslaus Hollar: the Rebuiling of London in the Late Seventeenth Century, Gordana Fontana-Giusti
Mildendo and Masdar: A Tale of Two Cities, Adam Sharr
Examining the Knots…Counting the Bricks’: John Ruskin’s Innocent Eye, Stephen Kite
The Worm’s Eye as a Measure of Man: Axonometry in Architectural Representation, Hilary Bryon
Scale Excursus 2: Scale in Recent Projects by MVRDV, Natalie de Vries
Part 2: Scale in Art and Perception
Colour Scales, Fay Zika
Scales of Interaction: Aligning the Qualitative with the Quantitative in Music and Architecture, Fiona Smyth
Architectual Scale: Psychoanalysis and Adrian Stokes, Janet Sayers
Sublime Indifference, Helen Mallinson
Measuring Up: Measurement and the Redefinition of Scale in Conceptual Art, Elise Noyez
Scaling Haptics – Haptic Scaling: Studying Scale and Scaling in the Haptic Design Process of Two Architects who Lost their Sight, Peter-Willem Vermeersch and Ann Heylighen
Scale Adjustment in Architecture and Music, Richard Coyne
Scale Excursus 3: Complex Ordinariness in Oxford: 'House after Two years of Living', Igea Troiani
Part 3: Scale in the Twentieth Century
Ethos Logos Pathos: Architects and their Chairs, Jonathan Foote
‘Halfway between the Electron and the Universe’: Doxiadis and the Delos Symposia, Simon Richards
Little Boxes, Gerald Adler
Scale and Identity in the Housing Projects of Coderch, Michael Pike
Politics and the Deliquescence of Scale: the Columbaria of Brodsky and Utkin, Michael Ostwald
Adler, G. (2012). Scale: Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture. Adler, G. ed. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Scale is a word which underlies much of architectural and urban design practice, its history and theory, and its technology. Its connotations have traditionally been linked with the humanities, in the sense of relating to human societies and to human form. To build in scale goes virtually without saying in the world of ‘polite’ architecture, but this is a precept observed more often in the breach when it comes to vast swathes of commercial and institutional design. The older, more particular, meaning in the humanities, pertaining to classical western culture, is where the sense of scale often resides in cultural production. Scale may be traced back, ultimately, to the discovery of musical harmonies, or it may reside in the arithmetic proportional relationship of the building to its parts. One might question the continued relevance of this understanding of scale in the global world of today. What, in other words, is culturally specific about scale? And what does scale mean in a world where an intuitive, visual understanding is often undermined or superseded by other senses, or by hyper-reality?
This book contains a selection of the best papers given at the 7th International AHRA Conference, hosted by CREAte (The Centre for Research in European Architecture) at the University of Kent, Canterbury. It includes an introduction which sets the scene in terms of current architectural discourse, and is organized in three thematic parts, each with an introduction by one of the co-editors.
The chapters are grouped according to the following broad themes: Scale and the Post-Humanist Age, Scale in the Age of Digital Representation, and Scale and Globalisation.