Miesian Melancholy




Miesian Melancholy


Mies van der Rohe builds a pavilion for Albrecht Dürer’s MELENCOLIA I

Gabor Stark, 2017


Thomas, Jane, Rem, Colin, Bernhard, Robert and Denise go to the Beach

G.Stark_Margate Map Me Quick-1

Here a few slides from my pecha kucha talk at the Urban Design Autumn School in Margate, Kent. The fictional book covers are based on the speculation: What if T. S. Eliot, Jane Jacobs, Rem Koolhaas, Colin Rowe, Bernhard Tschumi, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown had visited Margate and had written a book about it?

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Unlike the other, fictional weekenders, T. S. Eliot actually did visit Margate. In 1921, recovering from a nervous breakdown, Eliot spent a few weeks at the Kent coast and wrote Part III of his poem The Waste Land while sitting in the seaside shelter at Nayland Rock.

“On Margate Sands.  

I can connect

Nothing with nothing.

The broken fingernails of dirty hands.

My people humble people who expect


Finally Unfinished Ruins – Surreal Estates Of Failed Speculation



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eVolo 2017 Skyscraper Competition

Entry by Gabor Stark, 2017


‘Finally Unfinished Ruins’ inverts the conventional relationship between the physical presence of tall buildings and the financial potency of property developers and their underlying economic systems. Whereas vertical building typologies – the spire, the tower, the skyscraper – normally both stem from, and at the same time represent, cultural, political and ideological regimes and their economic power, this project postulates the inverted logic: What if there was an architectural expression of the absence of capital and resources?

The nine towers depict a paradoxical San Gimignano of folly investment, financial debacle and speculative failure. Each collage is derived from the photograph of an abandoned construction site. The original investment ruins were found in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, but could as well originate from other parts of the world. The situations as found are variations on the theme of the global-banal and modern-mediocre vernacular, ubiquitous mutations of Le Corbusier’s Dom-ino House: Naked skeletons, partially filled with brick walls; concrete floors and roof slabs; unfinished staircases; the bare bones of a house; the half-built nightmare of what was supposed to be a dream family home.

In all montages one element of the existing situation is multiplied, rotated and stacked in order to transcend the conditions of incompleteness, pause and failure into an alternative speculative proposition. The composite constructions exist exclusively as digital images. Freed from the constraints of gravity, materiality and economic common sense, they explore a pataphysical [1] architecture of autonomy in which the picture plane is the only limit. The implausible tectonics and false perspectives that result from repeating and shifting the fragments of the photographic material confirm the status of the towers as pure projections.

This pangeometric [2] photosurrealism affirms the intentional absurdity of the ‘finally unfinished’ [3] structures and locates them in the realms of the speculative arts as well as an alternative architecture of speculation. More reminiscent of Brancusi’s ‘Endless Column’ than Sullivan’s ‘proud and soaring thing’ [4], more a Beckettian way of building for Godot than normative architectural practice, the towers present melancholic monuments to ruined investment, to be repeated ad infinitum. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” [5]


[1] As in ‘Phataphysics, the literary trope by the French symbolist writer Alfred Jarry (1873-1907)

[2] For Pangeometry see El Lissitzky: “A. and Pangeometry”, 1925

[3] In 1923, Marcel Duchamp famously declared his ‘Large Glass’ as “finally unfinished”

[4] Louis Henry Sullivan: “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered”, 1896

[5] Quoted from Samuel Beckett’s novella “Worstward Ho”, 1983



Art in the Strange Land of Meaning

As part of my ongoing email conversations about art & architecture with San Francisco-based sculptor Gabrielle Teschner  I put some of my self-made art theoretical thoughts in the cartoon below. The humble attempt at the genre is heavily influenced by two of my graphic heroes: Tom Gauld (deadpan flatness) and Chris Ware (capitalised conjunctions).

Art in the Strange Land of Meaning_Gabor Stark


Gabor Stark, 2016