Tag Archives: generic

“House Without Qualities” by O. M. Ungers (1995) – SOCKS

“House Without Qualities” by O. M. Ungers (1995) – SOCKS

Haus III or the “House Without qualities” (Haus ohne Eigenschaften) is a late work by German architect Oswald Mathias Ungers which the architect built for his wife and himself. Constructed in Cologne in 1995, the house is considered an experiment on the reduction of architectural elements and it materializes the research on abstraction which Ungers had developed over the years; in this sense, the building can by seen as a conceptual model for a house which has been made real through building.

The house has a rectangular plan based on a classical architectural scheme, a central space and two side-aisles. It consists of two floors with five rooms, a central double-height volume and four equal rooms in the side-aisles.

Crucial in the design of the plan is the thickness of the exterior and the interior walls which are used to incorporate service facilities, like stairs, toilets, the elevator, bathrooms and storage spaces. The width of the walls is always the same through the whole plan.

The façades are identical by twos, symmetrical and constructed according to specific rules of proportions, no differentiation is pursued between the front and the back and the same window/door size is employed. The plan’s geometry is not made evident in the elevations in any way.

The extreme synthesis, the reduction of elements (no decoration, no hierarchy, no style) makes evident Ungers’ obsessive research for the essence of architecture, which the architect identified in the strict rules of composition.





Welcome to the Virtual City – J.G. Ballard

A city built for speed is a city built for success | science fictional.












Ed Ruscha, Gasoline Stations, 1989.

Shepperton, for what it’s worth, is not suburbia. If it is a suburb of anywhere, it is of London Airport, not London. And that is the clue to my dislike of cities and my admiration for what most people think of as a faceless dead-land of inter-urban sprawl. Hurrying back from Heathrow or a West Country weekend to their ludicrously priced homes in Fulham or Muswell Hill, they carefully avert their gaze from this nightmare terrain of dual carriageways, police cameras, science parks and executive housing, an uncentred realm bereft of civic identity, tradition or human values, a zone fit only for the alienated and footloose, those without past or future.

And that, of course, is exactly what we like about it. We like the fast dual carriageways, the easy access motorways, the limitless parking lots. We like the control-tower architecture, the absence of civic authority, the rapid turnover of friendships and the prosperity filtered through car and appliance purchases. We like roads that lead past airports, we like air-freight offices and rent-acar forecourts, we like impulse-buy holidays to anywhere that takes our fancy. The triangle formed by the M3 and the M4, enclosing Heathrow and the River Thames, is our zone of possibility, far from the suffocating city politics and self-obsessions of the metropolis (transport, ugh, fares, rents, kerb-side vomit). We are the unenfranchised citizens of the shopping mall and the marina, the internet and cable TV. And we’re in no hurry for you to join us.

J.G. Ballard, “Welcome to the Virtual City”, Tate, Spring 2001. p 33.

Lacktopia – TD

Lacktopia – TD

Superstudio’s Quaderna table

IKEA’s Lack table

As part of Superstudio’s Anti-Design Campaign, the Quaderna table formed a striking contrast to the pop design of the late 1960s, opposing all its curvy, colourful forms. Superstudio was convinced that there can be no renovation of design until ‘structural changes have occurred in society’, as Peter Lang and William Menking wrote in Superstudio – Life Without Objects. Thus they developed a matrix to generate objects for a new rational, social and cultural order.

‘The investigation into the essence of the object started in 1969, when Superstudio launched their Istogrammi project,’ Sander Woertman wrote in Exit Utopia – Architectural Provocations 1956-76. ‘The starting point was a square, the surface of a plane consisting of a regular rectangular grid. What Superstudio intended with this quickly became clear: the diagram could easily be translated into a furniture item, architecture or a landscape. A definitive solution for any kind of space or form had been found.’

The Quaderna, a table presented 37 years ago as a utopian statement against design, rebounded a little more than a decade later, becoming the ultimate design icon. Superstudio unconsciously wrote the lyrics for a world-hit and IKEA made it play.

One could say Lack is the ultimate global compromise, the table of all tables. If the United Nations had an assembly to decide what a world table – representing all the cultures and nations on earth – should look like, Lack would be the outcome. It’s square – avoiding the discussions of which culture invented the wheel; it’s average in height – right between the Asian and Western dimensions; it’s endlessly extendable – seating anywhere from one person to all the people in the world.

Lack avoids any reference to any particular culture; it is the common denominator of all tables of all cultures. It is the ultimate success story of the international style, or better: intercultural style, the style of the global middle class. Lack started a world tour and when it’s done, Lack will have globally reformatted the notion of the table. In the end there will be only one table left: Lack.

Lack is unavoidable; it is neither good nor bad, neither ugly nor beautiful and most important of all, it is cheap.

By omitting the Quaderna quadrangles, the table was released from its theoretical burden, it was liberated from the last evidence of culture that Superstudio ‘forgot’ to remove. By doing this, IKEA managed to turn the whole theory of Anti-Design inside out and baptised it, ironically, Lack.