Issue 91
IX-X 2001
22 €

Pragmatism and Landscape
Luis Fernández-Galiano
Paisajes teóricos
Theoretical Landscapes

Seis textos en diálogo
Six Texts in Dialogue

Joan Ockman
Pragmatismo y arquitectura Pragmatism and Architecture
Werner Sewing
¿De Deleuze a Dewey? From Deleuze to Dewey?

Rem Koolhaas & Cornel West
Masa crítica: filosofías de lo urbano Critical Mass: Urban Philosophies
Peter Eisenman & Sanford Kwinter
Tensión disciplinar: territorios mutantes Disciplinary Tension: Mutating Territories

Kurt Forster
Andreas Gursky: coreografías sociales Social Choreographies
Kevin Moore
Alex S. MacLean: la medida del paisaje Measures of Landscape

Doce proyectos en conversación
Twelve Projects in Conversation

Schiphol S, Amsterdam (Holanda) Schiphol S, Amsterdam (Holland)
Rem Koolhaas / OMA
Ijburg, Amsterdam (Holanda) Ijburg, Amsterdam (Holland)
Palmbloom, Van der Bout, Van Dongen, Schaap, Claus

Parque en una siderúrgica, Caen (Francia) Park in a Siderurgical Plant, Caen (France)
Dominique Perrault
Parque Duisburg Norte, Duisburg (Alemania) Park Duisburg North, Duisburg (Germany)
Peter Latz

Yumebutai, Isla de Awaji (Japón) Yumebutai, Awaji Island (Japan)
Tadao Ando
Barrera del Támesis, Londres (Reino Unido) Thames Barrier, London (United Kingdom)
Groupe Signes, Patel & Taylor

Intervenciones en autopistas (Francia) Interventions in Highways (France)
Bernard Lassus
Intercambiador, Estrasburgo (Francia) Intermodal Terminal, Strasbourg (France)
Zaha Hadid

Jardines Kitagata, Gifu (Japón) Kitagata Gardens, Gifu (Japan)
Martha Schwartz
Plaza de Desierto, Baracaldo (España) Desierto Square, Baracaldo (Spain)
Eduardo Arroyo

Plaza Walter Benjamin, Berlín (Alemania) Walter Benjamin Square, Berlin (Germany)
Kollhoff & Timmermann
Hypobank, Múnich (Alemania) Hypobank, Munich (Germany)
Herzog & de Meuron


Luis Fernández-Galiano
Theoretical Landscapes


The landscape of Ground Zero is the zero degree of thought. On the site of the Twin Towers there are no ruins, just rubble and scrap: 11 September also destroyed the certainties of architecture leaving behind a scenario of unconnected fragments. This tabula rasa is not an erased blackboard, nor a plot clear of traces and context: it is a desolate and uninviting landscape where constructions of ideas do not stand. At the close of the past century, deconstruction tried to break up stable and self-indulgent architectures with theoretical suspicions and fractured geometries; on the threshold of the 21st, a material and moral catastrophe has torn down the mental constructions of architects, reducing to shards their intellectual equipment. Pragmatism was ready to take over, providing an ideological support to the world’s amiable Americanization, reflected by photography with impressive visual eloquence; and landscaping was prepared to seize the public realm, taming the wild muscle of economic globalization. But the Boeings of Mohamed Atta and his colleagues have burnt to ashes these prospects of theoretical renewal.

Richard Rorty’s populist social democracy, with its liberal defense of banal utopias against the priestly and snob asceticism of the European intelligentzia, led directly to the well-meaning and consumerist triviality of America’s new urbanism as a placid and peaceful planetary model; and the aesthetic abstraction of the new Anglo-Saxon, Mediterranean and Central European landscapes took care of glazing with avant-garde perfume the desperate disorder of the peripheries designed by transport infrastructures and the unanimous extension of automobile individuality. Neopragmatism and neolandscaping were put forward as apparently alternative and secretly coinciding formulas to face the rushed occupation of territory by the ebullience of Western affluence: a sociologism of technocratic coinage, aerodynamic careening and expeditious spirit installed the innocent optimism of the fifties in an architectural conscience delighted to shake off the cryptotheological nihilism of Nietzsche’s grandchildren and Heidegger’s children, who have monopolized the debate of ideas during the last three decades.

After 11 September, the argument between pragmatism and landscape shifts its referents to more harsh terrains, as well as to social and physical spaces not yet described by the contemporary visual register. Forsaking Foucault, Derrida or Deleuze does not lead to Peirce, James or Dewey, and the anthropological pessimism thrown out the door comes back through the window in a more ominous and authoritarian incarnation, that which goes from Hobbes to Carl Schmitt. The sudden hardening of the world shows the naivety of the praises to the market which follow the trail of management trends, and that fake ignorance before the crisis of popular capitalism opened by the bursting of the stock market’s technological bubble and Enron’s colossal fraud; and unveils at the same time the cynicism of the pliant acceptance of fashion as vertebral structure of institutions and privileged domain of public life, within the scheme popularized by the three-pronged Guggenheim-Koolhaas-Prada axis. The gigantomachy of Manhattan has applied the Abbau of the Black Forest philosopher to the American symbol of technique, and the cruel theophany of 11 September has made Heideggerian the time and being of our world, leaving the rubble of Ground Zero as the only theoretical landscape.