Once Upon a Place – Haunted Houses & Imaginary Cities

Once upon a Place – haunted houses & imaginary cities is an international conference devoted to an emerging theme, as an associated event of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2010 and matching its official opening and exhibitions.

The event is dedicated to architects, historians, researchers, essayists, artists and authors, aiming at the reunion of a critical and creative international group for the cultural studies in architecture.

What kinds of stories do spaces and buildings “tell” us? What insights on architectural knowledge and experience can literary forms convey? Are designs, buildings and cities somehow a fabrication on the world? Does form follows fiction? Can fiction foresee architecture and urban futures?

The conference will tackle the reciprocal influences between architecture and fiction, whether they emerge under literary forms or other means related to visual narratives and popular culture.

This is an initiative of CIAUD/Faculty of Architecture Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, with the collaboration of CUC-Centro Cultura Urbana Contemporânea, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and IAWIS – International Association of Word and Image Studies.



12 October
Local/Venue: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Auditório 2

8h30 – Inscrições/Registration
9h – Abertura/Conference Opening:
: Manuel Salgado (CM-Lisboa), Fernando Moreira da Silva (CIAUD/FA.UTL), Véronique Plesch (IAWIS) and Pedro Gadanho (CUC/FAUP)

9h30 – Utopias and Dystopias
Moderador/Chair: Diogo Burnay

1. Squares and Scares: Architectural utopias, literary dystopias and the carceral novel – Jonathan Charley (Univ. Strathclyde, Glasgow)
2. Ferriss: Visions of Utopia – Alexandra Ai Quintas (CIAUD/FA.UTL)
3. Divided Cities: Mythologies of Place and Nostalgic Utopias – Anita Bakshi (Clare College, Univ. Cambridge)

11h00 – Pausa café/Coffee-break

11h30 – Stories From History
Moderador/Chair: Eduardo Côrte-Real

1. Gendering Fantasia: Architectural/Literary Creation/Procreation in Filarete’s Treatise on Architecture – Sevil Enginsoy Ekinci (Middle East Technical Univ., Ankara)
2. “I would like to live forever in this happy place with my divine Polia” – Fani Moumtzidou (Aristotle Univ., Thessaloniki)
3. The Secret Lives of Buildings: An experiment in building stories – Edward Hollis (Edinburgh College of Art)
4. The ‘real’ and the ‘fictional’ of obsolete industrial architecture – Maros Krivy (University of Helsinki)

13h30 – Almoço/Lunch

14h30 – City Narratives
Moderador/Chair: Gabriela Vaz Pinheiro

1. Stranger than Fiction – Alexander Eisenschmidtv (Univ. Illinois, Chicago)
2. A Linguistic Cosmos, Walter Benjamin: Reading the City-as-Text and Writing the Text-as-City – Pinar Balat (TU Delft)
3. Urban Scenarios: Gone Vacant, Virtual, and Violent – Graça Proença Correa (playwright, stage director / Graduate Center – City Univ. New York)
4. Architectural Postmodern World and Cities of Glass Revisited – Marija Lojanica + Jasmina Teodorovic (Faculty of Philology and Arts, Univ. Kragujevac)

Local/Venue: Museu da Electricidade, Sala dos Condensadores
18h00 – Palestra/Guest Lectures:

Gonçalo M. Tavares (Writer / Author)
Kazys Varnelis (Columbia University, NY)
This will kill that

13 October
Local/Venue:Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Auditório 2

9h00 – Literary Spaces
Moderador/Chair: Véronique Plesch

1. The Ambiguity of the Concrete: Architecture, Memory and Representation in W.G.Sebald’s ‘Austerlitz’ – Naomi Stead (ATCH, Univ. Queensland)
2. The Double-Bind of Fictional Lives: Architecture and Writing in George Perec’s Life, A User’s Manual – J. Kent Fitzsimons (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture et Paysage, Bordeaux)
3. The Bernhardian Cachectonica: figures of architectural discomfort and distress in Thomas Bernhard’s fiction – João Borges da Cunha (Univ. Católica Portuguesa / Lisbon Consortium, Univ. Lusófona)

10h30 – Pausa café/Coffee-break

11h00 – Architecture and Cinema
Moderador/Chair: José Neves

1. Mapping Interstices: understanding urban conditions through the lived experience of societal margins depicted in films – Nick Dunn (Manchester School of Architecture)
2. Around Eisenstein’s Glass House: elements for a cultural history of transparency in film – Teresa Castro (Univ. Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3)
3. Filming Budapest: Peripheral visions between cinema and urban politics -Levente Polyak (Moholy-Nagy Univ. of Art and Design/Budapest UT)
4. Reel Houses of Horror: Emotions and Architecture in the 1960’s Films Repulsion and The Haunting – Riley Triggs (Univ. of Texas, Austin)

13h00 – Almoço/Lunch

14h30 – Visual/Graphic Fictions
Moderador/Chair: Maria José Goulão

1. Staging Memories – YinHua Chu (Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media, Univ. Westminster)
2. Territorial Journeys in the Magic Circle – Sean Pickersgill (Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design, Univ. South Australia)
3. The Machine Stops – Nathan Freise + Adam Freise (designers, graphic artists, and filmmakers) with Shiouwen Hong (School of Visual Arts, New York)
4. The Spectacular Distortions- Jimenez Lai (Univ. Illinois, Chicago)

16h00 – Pausa café/Coffee-break

16h30 – Science Fiction Architectures
Moderador/Chair: Rui Zink

1. The Critique Of The Architecture Of Gated Communities Through J.G.Ballard’s Literature – Zeynep Tuna Ultav (Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Izmir Univ. of Economics)
2. Welcome 2D Future: Comics and the transmediatic construction of the City of the Future -Luis M. Lus Arana (Univ.Navarra/G.S.A.S., Harvard Univ.)
3. The Vibra Sequencer – Inês Lopes Moreira (FA.UTL)

18h00 – Auditório 2, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
Palestra/Guest Lectures:

Alberto Manguel, Autor e ensaísta/Author and essayist /Presented by Eduardo Marçal Grilo (FCG)

“Happy is the country that has no geography.”
Saki (H.H. Munro)

Thanks to Google Earth, it is possible now to view, on your screen, every detail of our planet. Not only the great blue globe that satellites allowed us to see from space, confirming Eluard’s intuition that “the earth is blue like an orange”; not only the slowly shifting continental masses, whose speed is too slow for the human eye, and the vein-like patterns of rivers and scar-like patterns of mountain ranges that criss-cross them. Now technology allows you a view of forests and dales, cities and villages, blocks of houses and backyards. From across the world you can almost look into someone’s living-room in Timbuctoo or spy on a family gathering in Tonga. We have made it impossible to sail off into the unknown, like Ulysses. The “folle volo” is no longer possible, unless under human surveillance. We have annihilated privacy.

Up until last century, it was still possible to imagine the landscapes still not described in a few scattered regions of the world that had not been explored or charted. On the globe that sat on my desk as a child there were patches of pink, here and there, that I found far more alluring than the formally dotted and lined countries labeled in bold capitals with their political borders sternly marked. Rather than assent to the dictum that this section was Romania and that full stop Bucharest, I preferred to invent for the pink blanks in Africa and the poles a geography of my own devising, with names more mysterious than Tanganyika and sites more enticing than Lake Titicaca. Then, only a few years later, that freedom was taken from me and even the few unknown places became known and labeled for ever. My exploration ceased, except in the safe realm of the Guide Bleue.

Except in the imagination. The geography of the imagination is infinitely vaster than that of the material world. This assertion, however trite, allows us to have a sense of the immense generosity implied in our vital function, that of bringing to life landscapes and creatures that cannot claim a presence in the world of volume and weight. Like the angelic inhabitants whose hierarchies our ancestors debated, like the unicorn and the manticore, like the indescribable ether and the mysterious phlogiston, like the notions of perfect democracy and good will to all men, the imaginary places of our mind need no materiality to exist in our consciousness. Utopia and Wonderland, Atlantis and Eldorado are always present, though no official map will show their true location. “It is not down in any map. True places never are,” wrote Herman Melville, after seeing so much of the world called real. After all, it is by following our imaginary geographies that we build our world. The rest is only confirmation.

21h30 – Museu da Electricidade, Sala dos Geradores
Conferência-Espectáculo/Special Conference:

François Schuiten & Benoît Peeters
L’AVENTURE DES IMAGES: Architectures imaginaires

A l’origine, nous nous pensions uniquement comme des auteurs de bandes dessinées, développant album après album l’univers des Cités obscures, de Samaris à Urbicande, de Brüsel à Galatograd. Insensiblement d’abord, puis de manière de plus en plus massive, notre travail nous a confrontés à d’autres types de réalisations : tridimensionnelles ou audiovisuelles. Tout en conservant notre ancrage dans la bande dessinée, nous nous sommes impliqués dans d’autres aventures : expositions-spectacles (Le Musée des Ombres, Le Théâtre des Images), scénographies (les stations de métro “Porte de Hal” à Bruxelles et “Arts et métiers” à Paris, le pavillon « A planet of visions » à l’exposition universelle de Hanovre, la Maison Autrique), projets cinématographiques (“Taxandria”, “Mr Nobody”), télévisuels (“Le Dossier B”, “Les Quarxs”) ou multimédia (un projet de jeux hélas inabouti). C’est cette trajectoire que notre présentation évoquera de manière ludique, en images bien sûr.

Le Palais de Justice


Née au début des années 1980 de la collaboration de François Schuiten et de Benoît Peeters, la série “Les Cités obscures” est aujourd’hui riche d’une quinzaine d’albums, tous publiés en français chez Casterman, et traduits dans une dizaine de langues.
Bien que nourris de références à notre monde, notamment sur le plan architectural, ces différents livres s’inscrivent dans un univers parallèle au nôtre, dont la cohérence s’affirme de plus en plus.
Si la plupart de ces albums sont des bandes dessinées à part entière, d’autres explorent des formes différentes de narration: récit illustré, recueil de journaux, conte pour enfants, guide de voyage, dramatique sonore, DVD vidéo, sites internet, etc.




(Chez Casterman)
Les Murailles de Samaris
La Fièvre d’Urbicande
La Tour
La Route d’Armilia et autres légendes du monde obscur
L’Echo des Cités
L’Enfant penchée
Le Guide des Cités
L’Ombre d’un homme
La Frontière invisible
L’Affaire Desombres
La Théorie du grain de sable
Souvenirs de l’éternel présent

Voyages en utopie
The book of Schuiten.
Les Portes du Possible

Impressions Nouvelles:
Le Dossier B (DVD)
La Maison Autrique, métamorphoses d’une maison art nouveau

14 October
10h30 – Faculdade de Arquitectura UTL, CUBO

Jane Rendell

Reading excerpts from my new publication Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism, (London: IB Tauris, 2010) this talk will explore the potential of fiction for drawing out the architectural and fictional aspects of critical writing. Site-Writing configures what happens when discussions concerning situatedness and site-specificity extend to involve criticism, and the spatial qualities of writing become as important in conveying meaning as the content of the criticism. The book suggests that in operating as mode of a practice in its own right this kind of criticism questions the terms of reference that relate the critic to the work positioned ‘under’ critique, and instead proposes alternative positions. These include the sites – material, emotional, political and conceptual – of the work’s construction, exhibition and documentation. Combining differing genres and modes of writing in criticism, whose critical ‘voices’ bring together the distant and the intimate, fact and fiction, this approach develops alternative understandings of subjectivity and positionality. From the close-up to the glance, from the caress to the accidental brush, Site-Writing draws on spaces as they are remembered, dreamed and imagined, as well as observed, in order to take into account the critic’s position in relation to a work and challenge criticism as a form of knowledge with a singular and static point of view located in the here and now.

Professor Jane Rendell is Director of Architectural Research at the Bartlett, UCL. An architectural designer and historian, art critic and writer, her work has explored various interdisciplinary intersections: feminist theory and architectural history, fine art and architectural design, autobiographical writing and criticism. She is author of Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism (forthcoming 2010), Art and Architecture (2006), The Pursuit of Pleasure (2002) and co-editor of Pattern (2007), Critical Architecture (2007), Spatial Imagination (2005), The Unknown City (2001), Intersections (2000), Gender, Space, Architecture (1999) and Strangely Familiar (1995). Her talks and texts have been commissioned by artists such as Daniel Arsham and Bik Van Der Pol, and galleries, for example, the Baltic, the Hayward, Kunstmuseum Thon, the Serpentine, the Tate and the Whitechapel. She is on the Editorial Board for ARQ (Architectural Research Quarterly), Haecceity, The Happy Hypocrite, The Issues and the Journal of Visual Culture in Britain.

14:00h – Design from Fiction
Moderador/Chair: Jane Rendell

1. Metamorphosis. On the Role of Fiction in Architectural Education – Gijs Wallis de Vries (Faculty of Architecture, Univ. of Eindhoven)
2. Writing Place:“Prescription” as an operational concept in urban research and practice – Klaske Maria Havik (TU Delft)
3. Making through Destruction: Disorderly Architecture and Vandalism – John Szot (Design Principal, Studio John Szot/Partner, Brooklyn Digital Foundry) + Irene Hwang (Partner, Constructing Communication CC), presented by John Szot
4. The Struggle for Representation: An Architect Inside Mark Z. Danielewki’s ‘House of Leaves’ – Stylianos Giamarelos (MArch NTUA, Dept. Philosophy and History of Science, Univ. Athens)

16h00 – Pausa café/Coffee-break

16:30h – Discussão Final / Final Debate
Jane Rendell, Véronique Plesch, Liam Young, Diogo Burnay & others
Moderadores/Chairs: Pedro Gadanho + Susana Oliveira

18h00 – Museu da Electricidade, Sala dos Condensadores

Palestra/Guest Lectures:

Colin Fournier, (Bartlett School of Architecture)

Every period in history, ever since cities came into existence, has had its foundation myths and its urban fictions, evocations of what the future of the city might be. Sometimes idealistic and sometimes apocalyptic, these fictions, together with the critical discourse they generate, have had a profound influence on the historical evolution of the city. They act either as ideal forms that reality later tries to approximate or as premonitions of impending dangers. They play an important role in all urban cultures, giving shape to our desires and to our fears, allowing us to foresee things to come. The quest for such fictions is a cultural challenge of vital importance, since every civilisation, if it is to secure its long term survival, needs to reflect upon its past and to imagine all its possible futures.

The twentieth century was particularly fertile in such fictions, because so many social, political and technological changes took place during that period; our current age is generating its own, based on a radically new set of circumstances. It is not clear yet what the dominant urban fictions of the digital age might be: there are many dystopic scenarios, as evidenced particularly in film, because the negative implications of contemporary trends are disturbing, while optimistic visions of the “Ideal City” are at present under-represented: we no longer seem to believe in Utopia.

Urban fictions have been put forward by philosophers, artists, film-directors, novelists, science fiction writers, architects, urbanists, engineers, inventors and children of all ages. There are “highbrow” and “lowbrow” examples of urban fictions and no exploration of such fictions would be complete without taking into account the world of comic strips, video games and sci-fi movies, from which some of the most memorable urban fictions have emerged. In fact, architects and planners are not particularly well qualified at inventing and describing fictitious worlds, while film-makers in particular are far more accomplished at using a seductive medium to give life to their narratives.

Hypothetical urban forms are extremely diverse, in terms of morphology size, location, the ways of life they assume and their degree of credibility: some were put forward in the hope that they would be built, while others were only meant as abstract concepts. Some were put forward as positive alternatives to cities as we know them, optimistic glimpses of a better world, while others indulge in dark anticipations of apocalypse; some are neither utopian nor dystopic, but purely functionalist explorations of alternative technologies. Some are set in outer space, some underwater, some in the distant future, while others are nostalgic evocations of the past.

How different are such explorations from the real world? It has been argued that Utopias, no matter how radical they appear to be at first, are invariably nostalgic, that they unconsciously reveal our most atavistic tendencies. But many instances show that this is far from always being the case and that some fictions break completely new ground, laying down the basis for major paradygmatic changes in our urban culture.

A selection of urban fictions, from a wide range of sources, will be presented in this lecture, with a strong emphasis on the diverse urban narratives put forward by Archigram in the sixties.

Ângela Ferreira (Artist)

19h30 – Encerramento/Conference Closing
Susana Oliveira, Pedro Gadanho, Eduarda Lobato Faria, Francisco Agostinho e Pedro Rodrigues.

Local/Venue: Museu Berardo
Inauguração/Opening Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2010