Michael Bell grounds his lecture in being an architect in relation to cities, and in relation to designing houses and housing. For Bell, participation in larger urban questions is critical to the profession. At the urban scale he discusses sociopolitical aspects of public housing. At a smaller scale he discusses conceptual aspects of his residential projects as they relate spatially to painting.
Video Archive | Michael Bell (3)
The video begins with the conclusion of a presentation on the obstacles to low-density housing in Los Angeles by Angela Brooks-Scarpa. Gary Paige introduces a panel consisting of Jane Blumenfeld, Angela Brooks-Scarpa, Joan Ling, Sally Richman, moderated by Dana Cuff. The panel discusses the issues of sprawl and density as they relate to affordability. They call for a comprehensive analysis of transit, zoning and population in Southern California. They discuss the general plan for Los Angeles that lays out a macro-scale framework. They examine the roles of lenders, investors and architects. Dana Cuff discusses the history of utopian communities, from Ebenezer Howard’s garden cities, Tony Garnier’s Cit? Industrielle, Le Corbusier experiments in urban planning, Archigram’s Plug-in City through the planned Florida communities of Seaside and Harmony, and contemporary utopias by MVRDV, Jean Nouvel, and Rem Koolhaas. Michael Bell reviews the impact of post-war housing policies on urban and suburban development. The video cuts off abruptly before he finishes.
Michael Bell describes his work as developing out of a struggle against the constraints of linear time and our place within it. His work is about architecture’s ability to cohere and overcome linear readings of time. He discusses a project from 1989 that proposed a Topological Stoa” between East and West Berlin. He talks about the city of Houston. The center is relatively small and chaotic during the day and almost completely vacated at night. The downtown never quite grew to its potential, being belted in by the mid-city region, and paralyzed after the oil industry collapse in the 1980s. Bell describes how a period of investigating how things work instead of how they look led to a series of collages that are about duration. He talks about an upcoming exhibit at UC Berkeley where he plans to juxtapose his own work with paintings by Hans Hoffman. He hopes for a transformed visuality that would unify time and place in the contemporary city. He concludes by discussing a project for a 1992 Japan Architect competition, for which Rem Koolhaas wrote the brief asking for “a house with no style.”