Culture of Circulation
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Once upon a time, in the days when modern architecture was young, circulation through a building was primarily a functional problem. By the mid-twentieth century, when the monument building morphed into the spectacle-building, the circulation system began to take on aesthetic implications of its own and to become a central feature of a building’s architectural identity. Think of Wright’s Guggenheim Museum or Saarinen’s TWA Terminal. Of course, Baroque architects already appreciated the expressive potential of dynamic scenography four centuries ago. But today the mania for circulation spaces manifest in cutting-edge architecture goes well beyond formal virtuosity. Escalators, ramps, elevators, stairs, bridges, catwalks—these privileged elements of contemporary buildings not only belong to a form-making culture that at all costs (figuratively and literally) wishes to avoid the appearance of fixity, but emanate from the very structure of the neocapitalist imaginary. In this talk we attempt an allegorical reading of architecture’s “culture of circulation.” What are the implications of an architecture that is about circulation?