Diagrams – The manipulation of space

I have been teaching design through the mechanistic approach of the diagram. In the past five years I have been using diagrams as a means of creating spatial configurations for architectural design, in my office and with my students. Since I was a student at the Architectural Association in London, I became familiarized with the need of understanding a different process which could enable the production of space in architecture away from the modernist idea of the universal. The work of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze on cinema and the arts began to be researched in architectural schools. Many of these ideas on diagramming emerge from the work on Minor Languages and Nomad Arts of Deleuze and Guattari.

For Deleuze the painters Francis Bacon and Van Gogh utilize the diagrams as “an operative set of brushstrokes and daubs of color, lines and areas”. So in away painters can be differenced by the set of diagrams they use. For instance Van Gogh’s diagram “is the set of straight and curved crosshatching that raises and lowers the ground, twist the trees, makes the sky palpitate and that assumes a particular intensity from 1888 onward”. Bacon’s diagram is more apparent in that it is used to transform the human face with tensions and torsions that are elliptical in motion. Bacon did not sketch; he used the diagram as the preparatory apparatus for his work.
There are other artists such as Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Mondrian that can be understood through the use of diagramming. It is this same process that ca be used to develop a mechanism for architectural design or the production of spatial organizations. The diagram in architecture tends to be an apparatus that is unrelated to architecture. It is a set of instructions that come from art, science, music, and other techniques that require a specific methodology. In architecture design, sketching has been the classic preliminary technique that has no inherent information and just illustrates a possibility based on subjectivity. Diagrams are in nature abstract and do not illustrate they are informative and engage in a process of expansion through the design. “In this sense the diagram is a virtualization of action, a motor diagram which isn’t a “plan” for what to do, but more a strategy, a fabric of action, where actions aren’t prescribed, but only rules of interaction”.

I will try to elaborate witha few examples in architectural design next time.

1.Gilles Deleuze, ” The Deleuze Reader / edited with an introduction by Boundas, Constantin V”. 1993. Columbia University Press, New York, pp. 193-200

2. Lars Spuybroek, “ The Weight of the Image” 2001. NAI publishers, Rotterdam.


Pues aqui les dejo la respuesta al comentario que hice sobre la guia de arquitectura de San Diego que incluye a tijuana.
Por lo que veo me quizo decir Sutro es que le agradesca que incluyo a tijuana! Pues que mal pedo!

Here is the response from Dirk Sutro to my letter regarding the San Diego Architectural Guide that included Tijuana.
In summary I guess he is trying to say that tijuana was lucky to be included! Shit!

Thanks for your interest. We actually devoted substantial time and effort to coverage of Tijuana (I spent two days there
myself, many other people also spent time there documenting and/or photographing buildings), but were frustrated by
the shortage of info about buildings, dates, and architects.

In light of the fact that San Diego has a long history of cataloguing artifacts at the San DIego Historical Society and
elsewhere, and that Tijuana has nowhere near the database of info on past and present buildings---we felt it was an
accomplishment to get what we have.

I think we all agree we could have done more with Tijuana---but as far as I know this is the first time the city has even
been included in an American architectural guidebook, and we see this as only a starting point. When we revise this
volume (hopefully sooner than later), we anticipate a substantial expansion of the TJ section.

So, I guess we'd rather see the glass 1/2 full than 1/2 empty. Maybe in the future you and your peers can help us fill it
the rest of the way!


Dirk Sutro

Aqui le dejo mi carta del 7 de enero para que lo comparen
here is my initial response.

Carta a Dirk Sutro, Autor del libro Architecure Guide of San Diego (incluyendo Tijuana)

Dear Mr. Sutro

The other day I was visiting the office of my friend Teddy Cruz in San Diego, and I saw that he had a copy of the San Diego architecture guide.
I was impressed with the amount of buildings and the extensive research that went into this publication.
It appeared to me that you did your homework very well and studied the various styles and architectural
ideas throughout the history of building in this town. Then I flipped to the Tijuana section and I was somewhat disturbed by the lack of interest in this area of the region. The Tijuana section included a few well known buildings such as the Cultural Center ( Cecut) and one interesting building by a young designer also a friend of mine, Miguel Robles. It seems to me that you did not do as much research into Tijuana as you did for the San Diego. I understand that it is a San Diego guide, but if you are going to give a bad review of architecture in Tijuana, then it is not worth the effort. For instance, there are approximately 30 to 40 Modernist style buildings in the old downtown area of Tijuana that date from the 1940 to 1960's. Most of these buildings still have their original facades including windows and interior fixtures from that time. There was a strong modernist movement in Tijuana and it was not spread out like buildings in San Diego, it was concentrated in a dense urban setting. These examples will be part of a book that will come out this year.

I am still saddened to see that San Diegans only know Tijuana from the border to Revolution Avenue and believe that is all of what Tijuana has to offer. By publishing the southern "California type mini mall" found near the university, it makes me feel as if Tijuana is viewed as a theme park. I hope next time there is more effort put in to doing a concise study of the new and old architecture of your neighbor to the south.

Rene Peralta


TJ - LA an urban paradigm (or proof to my wife that it was a business trip)

This past weekend Miguel Escobar and my self took a trip to Los Angeles to take a look at the event “New Cities New Media”, organized by the University of Southern California, School of Architecture and the School of Cinema-Television. We visited the exhibit on Friday 17 and sat on two of the lectures/presentations on Saturday 18.
The permanent exhibit was titled, The Labyrinth Project, Expanding the Language of interactive Narrative. This exhibit was made up of two different interactive video installations on opposite sides of the room. The first one by Norman Klein called Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles 1920-1986 is literary novel collaged with urban images of the city of Los Angeles. The story takes place in an area of 3 square miles near downtown LA, an area that has been represented in different films. These accounts are remembered by film photos, and interview of residents. “Out of this, users must decide what to include and what to leave out so that their own version of the story will become legible” In this one I saw people using the interface( mouse) to select scenes and photos they wanted to include and others to leave out. The graphics were interesting and the installation was very simple, it consisted of a small rectangular tall table were the mouse was the interface a hidden digital projector and a screen, I didn’t see where the computer was. Very interesting and simple design, where the content was the most important thing. The other installation was the one I participated a little more on. Tracing the Decay of Fiction, by Pat O Neill. The installation consisted of the same format and elements as the other one, the only variant was the context of the piece. It worked the same way; you interacted with it through the mouse. The DVD-ROM explores the Hotel Ambassador, built in 1920 an important landmark in LA. The narrative traces the events that occurred in the Hotel, such as the assassination of Robert Kennedy, and other histories that where part of the life of this building. Using footage of the building, now in ruins, the artist montages footage of the past events in the different rooms and hallways of the building. You could wander, with help of the mouse, into the video that the artist took of the building and see the ghost like events of the past (archival film) which are been played out, creating an interesting historical narrative between cinema and architecture. This is the one that most interested me because it was done impeccable. Sometimes the two videos would become one and you could not tell the new from the old. Event and building of a different time came together to make a story, where you could choose different combinations to create your own narrative.

Then the next day, we sat on a lecture/discussion titled: Body, Form and the Virtual. The speakers where, Galia Solomonoff, Princeton, Brian Cavanaugh, architect-LA, and Mark Donohue from CCAC. Mark Donohue paper was entitled Seamlessness, Continuity and Simultaneity: Topology and the production of a new space paradigm. An interesting view of the similarities of a topological form, cinema and architecture. He discussed three topological forms which have the characteristics of seamlessness, continuity and simultaneity . He discusses these forms as parallel organizations with films such as memento, pulp fiction others. The topological forms are usually shapes that have a continuous surface, therefore they don’t have a beginning or end. These ideas become evident in film by the directors decision to begin the film in the middle of the story and then proceed to the last part and finishing up with the beginning. The other way is to have a movie that does not have an ending and it is open to many possibilities on how it ends. Then he compared this to real 3 dimensional spaces. He chooses architects such as Greg Lynn, Ben Van Berkel, and FOA as examples of topological forms for building. He argued that these examples show the use of topology in form and also in the manipulation of program elements of a building. The talk was very interesting, yet this is something that has been already read and discussed in architectural discourse in the past five to six years. But it was interesting to hear the speaker say that cinema is doing research on topology and architecture is not far behind.

During our stay (I want to thank to Eduardo "Ochoa" for his hospitality) we visited Culver City where Eric Owen Moss has a complex of buildings, Sci-Arc and its new building ¼ of a mile long, they say, its pretty long, in downtown LA. The new form zero book store, where the new owner was interested in the possibility of showing, OTRA, the exhibit of architecture firms from Tijuana. We also went to Hollywood with its vareity of stuff, saw a new house by coop himemblau in Santa Monica, and finally just before leaving when we where buying coffee in a Starbucks, I felt like taking a pee and went to bathroom, I didn’t lock the door and while I was doing my thing somebody opened the door and before I reacted I heard “oh sorry” in woman’s voice. When I came out I realized that it was Mrs. Tommy Lee, Pamela Anderson, I love LA!


Me toco bailar con la fea!

A mi me toco bailar con la fea y me gusto. Me pudo ver tocado bailar con la bonita (San Diego)
Con su cabello rubio y ojos azules, su cuerpo bien bronceado, que hasta los cabellos de la pancita brillan con el sol como si fueran de oro. Una morra muy sana que se la pasa de shopping y al mismo tiempo preocupada por el medioambiente. No es muy inteligente le gusta los carros de lujo, pasear al perro y también los deportes, pero no tiene ni un libro en su casa, menos un librero decente. Vive en una comunidad tipo californiano-mexicano-espanol-santa fe, pero no conoce a sus vecinos. Tampoco le gusta mucho el arte, le gustan más los after parties que las obras. No sabe bailar pero esta bien perra para el spinning. También me pudo tocar la intelectual (Londres). También un a morra con un cuerpazo y unas piernas largas de tanto caminar por las calles. Ella es blanca por que no hay mucho sol, pero siempre bien vestida. Se la pasa en los cafés y sabe de arte y obras de teatro por que las puedes ver todas. Tiene muchos amigos interesantes que son de otras partes del mundo. Viaja mucho por que todo lo queda muy cerca. Tiene lana, y le gusta el buen vino y no se diga de la buena cerveza. Siempre te esta conectando con plebe interesante que pueden ayudar a levantar tu negocio. Pero tampoco me toco bailar con ella. Me toco la fea (Tijuana). Cuando la veo sentada me doy cuenta que esta un poquito gordita pero bien orgullosa de su exceso de figura y eso no le quita lo coqueta y sabe tirar la onda. Es buena para bailar lo que le pongas, desde un tango a una quebradita. Es inteligente y habla ingles, español y también spanglish. Es un poco desordenada pero dentro de todo el desmadre siempre encuentra lo que necesita. Cambia de look seguido, y no se sabe si llegara de dark, punk, fresa, o hasta de intelectual. Le gusta todo tipo de música, del pop al electrónico (que a veces lo confunde con el pop). La morra vive sola y no tiene parientes cerca. Vive en un depa que lo cambia cada mes. Un mes esta decorado retro otros mes minimalista y después tipo estudio de artista (el desmadre pero kool). No tiene identidad y esto es lo que la hace interesante. Le gusta caminar por la calle y tomar el taxi al centro, pero también tiene carro (que se lo han robado tres veces). El arte le empieza a gustar. La arquitectura le importa un pito, pero se pregunta si todo el desmadre de la cuidad tiene sentido o un orden. (Necesita saber por que su depa esta en las mismas condiciones y necesita hacer algo). Pues si, me gusto la fea, tiene mucho cuerpo y siempre me tiene en jaque, por que no se lo que le gusta o le molesta. La morra se defiende como puede y le vale lo que digan los demás. Y con esta morra bailo hasta que me cambie por otro y me corra de su casa.


En Mayo de este año en curso se presenta la exposición Otra. Otra es una muestra de ideas sobre la ciudad. Otra es un grupo de arquitectos de Tijuana, Londres, Sydney, y san diego, que se juntan para proponer otra idea de la ciudad. Otra manera de interactuar con el dinamico contexto urbano de las ciudades contemporáneas. Otra visión del flujo de sistemas urbanos sin jerarquías. Otra onda. Otra manera de dialogar con discursos precisos y coherentes de personas jóvenes con ideas similares. Otra, intenta mostrar la tendencias del la corriente arquitectónica de la cuidad generica. Las ciudades del siglo XX y XXI que fueron construidas por factores fuera de la agenda arquitectónica del control. Otra forma de ver los medios y tecnologías a favor del arquitecto para ver Otra realidad sin límites de clientes, gravedad, política, tradición, etc. Lo que fue el desarrollo de la perspectiva hace 500 anos, tiene que cambiar. Por eso esta exhibición es Otra propuesta después del espacio perspectivista que influyo al arte y arquitectura. (Los artistas pudieron separarse de esto gracias a la fotografía).

Otra no será cualquiera serán los que tienen que estar y nada mas.