be quiet


some citizens

during the athenian summer siesta


folded face or corner grimace


foldable store


corner flower store


from the bee-visits series

...or how did i start understanding the landscape. My grandpa, bee-keeper Iordanis Sidiropoulos on the right. Photos from the archive of Kostakis Sidiropoulos.


landscape as fabric

"The Fabric, the Landscape & its Foldings" by Apostolos Vettas, in 2011

(via Maria Toloudi)



mustard night 3 tables

Mustard Night menu. Photo by: Steven Hien

Table 1: Dijon Appetizers. Photo by: Steven Hien

Table 2: Main. Photo by: Steven Hien

Table 3: Seed Dessert. Photo by: Steven Hien

To download the menu, please visit Mustard Night Menu @ B-Z

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The tables in the photos come from Groundwork exhibition. They were photographed by Samantha Altieri.



contemporary discourse

Groundwork panel in Blount Auditorium, WIT. Photo credits: Samantha Altieri
In May I was invited to participate in a panel discussion together with historian Mark Neveu and landscape architect Mark Klopfer, both teaching at WIT as Associate Professors. The panel was organized by the graduate students, some of them currently involved in the launching of .DAT journal. Liem Than and Sam Walusimbi set up a series of dualities embracing the contemporary discourse, like theory/ practice, inter-discipline/ discipline, landscape/ landscape architecture, post-critical/ critical, installation/ architecture. According to Erblin Bucaliu these themes are understood as the "ground" onto which architecture is discussed today (therefore the title of the exhibition: Groundwork). The event gave me an opportunity to think what is my opinion about some of those issues.  Here are some of my notes and thoughts as these evolved as well during the discussion. 

On the architect's career:

It seems that many of the recent graduates have the limited choice of working either for a corporate office or the boutique firm, both of which come together with annoying situations. Pedro Gadanho has a lot of hope for this new generation. In this excerpt from his recent interview with Kazys Varnelis at Domus one can read: 
 KV: Perhaps the current generation's political stance comes out of disgust with that the building boom, and the apolitical, or rather neoliberal approach to architecture associated with it.
PG: Yes, since the new generation was taught right in the midst of the star system, they felt they had to react to that, to architecture as a signature game, a branding device for the corporate world. This generation felt that they would have to do something else. I remember always hearing from people, like my father, outside the profession who saw it as a totally cannibalistic profession that was always backfiring against itself. If you run your offices with unpaid and exploited interns, they will either grow to hate the system or will wind up replicating the system. It's constantly destroying architecture from within because professionals don't seem to have self-esteem towards their own activity. But now young people are refusing the star system and the whole route of working for a star, and instead are working through different channels.
What would it be a more social role of the architect as a professional? I think more and more students are trying to respond to this question. While discussing this topic together with the two Mark(s), Mark Neveu mentioned that architecture becomes more and more a knowledge field and "her" graduates become individuals with great assets (my own interpretation of his statement). 

On Installations:
In my own practice (and pedagogy) I have selected the path of installations/ exhibitions as an alternative path to the profession, independent from the rich client, and even the academic network (if I may say). Not only the installations offer me a testing ground, an experiential event, and engagement with people ("users of architecture"), but it also provides a communication device that aims to intervene and actively alter a "problematic" situation. Could this be an ephemeral (or epheme-real) utopia?
An interesting question regarding installations, asked by Nate Gove, dealt with the distinction between architect (doing representations) versus architect-maker (doing installations). 

On criticism: 

My doctoral dissertation at Harvard GSD, and Picanico experiment are in fact a/my critique on criticism. I developed a theory and a platform where experts meet the public, practice meets theory, and preferences meet needs. If we compare architectural taste to the gastronomical taste, one can quickly identify three categories of people involved: cooks, consumers, and connoisseurs. Petros Tatsopoulos, a Greek fiction writer (currently also politician among other things) writes in his Τιμής ένεκεν novel published in 2004: 
"I can stand anything from someone that knows how to cook... I am fed up with experts for cuisine. I am sick of connoisseurs...i want to listen to the cooks themselves..."
In his S,M,L,XL book published in 1995, Rem Koolhaas, shares his ideas about the the role of the critic in architecture; 
"We are suffering from the inability of the critics to analyze what we are really doing, to show what we are not doing, or to suggest what we should be doing. We need the critics to be our partners, not our alies, and evenless our business representatives."
During the panel, big part of the discussion moved toward the role of the critics in local newspapers. I could not stop thinking of the beloved Folk Museum, now being threatened for demolition. I clearly remember my talk with Sanford Kwinter at Harvard GSD few years ago where he would suggest to me: When thinking the audience, differentiate somehow and peak the most sophisticated one, like for example the audience that reads NYT. I researched all their articles in the Art/ Architecture section for a number of years and extract to some extend some patterns in the language and the approach. Can perhaps this trained audience prevent the disaster? Or is it the Facebook crowd, the so-much-negatively-critiqued-liking-generation, the one to save it? Who knows? Neveu emphasized the need for critics within the public realm (beyond the profession) like Geoff Manaugh. Could these perhaps develop the power to affect public opinion? Neveu referred to the notion of tribes (and trends) where groups develop specific codes of communication and patterns of behavior difficult to be uncoded by the outsiders.

On nature:  

The discussion regarding nature and landscape started from the notion that nature is artificial. Mark Klopfer, landscape architect of the recently awarded (as innovative urban place-making) Steel Yard in Providence, Rhode Island talked about a number of interesting concepts, hard to transfer in the blog without transcripts of the discussion. Myself I am very interested to re-configure the relationship between nature and architecture. An effort where one is not "erasing" the other, but they simply co-exist, can be depicted in my work  for the last 2 years, with Photodotes and Zitofos. Due to this effort, my love for Japanese Architecture, and my recent visit to Tokyo, I become more and more intrigued by the phenomenon of nature becoming fetichization (spatial fetishes) within contemporary lifestyle and architecture. 

As I close this post, I would like to mention Rith Ean, who is a 2nd year undergraduate student from Cambodia, with a remarkable presence through his work and positions in various initiatives and events. He asked about the possibility of form existing without function, which is a brave question to ask, especially within the context of an institution focusing on practice and functionality. All the graduate students involved, worked really hard to produce the Groundwork exhibition, this panel discussion, and to submit their own thesis on time. Their passion and dedication, together with their kind character give some hope. Some special credits to Sam Altieri, and also JT White who were behind this event too.

Mark Neveu, Liem Than, Sam Walusimbi, Mark Klopfer, & ZT. Photo credits: Samantha Altieri

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Right to Architecture: Cathleen McGuigan talk

During the Right to Architecture symposium, at the 3rd session, chaired by Arindam Dutta, Cathleen McGuigan, Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Record, gave a great presentation under the title The Role of Media in the Right to Architecture Movement. It is worth mentioning that Nasser Rabat, symposium's organizer, credited her to inspire him for this event.

Image slide from Cathleen McGuigan's presentation. Photo Credits: Dimitris Papanikolaou

She traced the rise of the Right to Architecture movement, to initiatives like that of Rural Studio. Within this context, star-architects were/ are being considered as "house-pets to the rich."In Los Angeles, more ciritics started being interested to cover public realm projects. At the same time works like that of architect Shigeru Ban are  being recognized by organizations like Aga Khan. She also mentioned the importance of Seed Awards for socially conscious design. 
McGuigan mentioned how museum exhibitions, like Smithsonian's We The People and Moma's Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement, established more awareness on social projects and concerns. Besides exhibitions, she referred to the role of conferences, like the one organized by Tom Fischer in Minnesota. Other catalysts towards the (Right to Architecture) movement have been TED talks and conferences who were interested in a more social architecture. Also, documentary films, like Gary Hustwit's Urbanized (famous for Helvetica) brought public's interest in design. The internet helped too, by broadcasting initiatives like Architecture for Humanity. In practice, it has been firms like IDEO that emphasize teamwork through collaborations between designers, social scientists, and anthropologists. 
More specifically within the Architectural Record, which is 120 years old, McGuigan disassociated magazine's direction from the non-preferrable among designers "humanitarian design" term (something that few others did during the symposium) and gave emphasis to works like that of Diébédo Francis Kéré towards building for social change. She mentioned again the death of star architecture, and emphasized informal settlements and a number of firms in Winnipeg, Manitoba as interesting examples. 
McGuigan also referred to the 2008 recession and how this had affected recent graduates to be more inventive on how to position themselves within the public realm. She did not neglect to mention the low numbers of women architects being registered. At the end she referred to the role of films like My Architect that lot of people saw, and also to websites like Salon. 

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quadrant graphs for food space

quadrant graph by Pierre Bourdieu in page 186 (via Gastronomica)

Illustration by Leigh Wells (via Gastronomica)

The above images were taken from Molly Watson's "Bourdieu's Food Space" article at Gastronomica. Watson describes her efforts on the re-interpretation of Bourdieu's quadrant graph: 
"...a new take on Bourdieu’s “The food space” chart. It has none of the deep sociological research that spawned the original behind it, and questions of women’s free time and status, as well as rates of food and cultural consumption, have been left off. I have embraced and re-positioned some of Bourdieu’s original categories and items, but also added some specific to 21st-century America. What I found rather glorious was how, when I thought through any single food item (i.e. yogurt), it couldn’t really be placed in one specific location. Rather, specific versions of it would belong in different places. Such are the choices and range of our foodstuffs. Such is the ever-widening world of human taste..."

To read the Molly Watson's article, visit Gastronomica (link)


The Lives of Images

The Lives of Images, Peter Galison in conversation with Trevor Paglen. Image source: Aperture

"What provokes us to pursue something, to want to find out more? “Curiosity is an oddly ambivalent word,” notes critic Brian Dillon in this issue. It can lead, he points out, to a range of conditions, from utter distraction to deep concentration, all stemming from the “urge to discover.” Photography has long served as a medium of choice not only for the curious practitioner, but also for his or her audience, whose curiosity may be either aroused or appeased by an image..."
This extract is part of the editorial statement of the June issue of Aperture 211 on Curiosity. The editors mention about Peter Galison's conversation with Trevor Paglen:
"...While some artists have more or less intentionally confounded viewers, researchers in other realms of image making have used photographs to show us the world as it
is, in an attempt to come to a deeper understanding of the phenomena that surround us. Science historian Peter Galison and artist Trevor Paglen discuss the history of objectivity,
 as well as how images—now digital, searchable, everywhere—may be shifting from being mere depictions to performing specific functions..."
This conversation on images, representation, and subjectivity, links very much to my doctoral research, and my work with Picanico while at Harvard GSD. Trevor Paglen frames the conversation by emphasizing vision's dominance in the knowledge world, at least in the Western thought. Peter Galison distinguishes levels of seeing, that range from systematic, to natural-philosophical, scientific and so on and he brings the issue of who is the seeing subject. These ideas about relationships among seeing images, representation, and knowledge are being discussed deeper in his Objectivity book. While explaining the argument of his book, Galison refers to the series of atlases of many things, "atlases of almost any category you can think of," as he points out. These atlases have been for a period the legacy of knowledge. In my dissertation I also discussed atlases or classifications within the architectural realm. In my chapter 2, I argued about the non-objectivity of those taxonomies no matter if they were portraying themselves as objective ones. 
By using historical examples about photography and their relationship to the machine, Galison discusses how we moved away from the ideal, mechanical or expert-altered image towards the manipulation (through) images. Images are no longer re-presentation of the world but intervention into the world. He claims: 
"Today, more and more. we want images that do things. An evidentiary image is no longer sufficient for many scientists. We want images that help us organize information, that are accessible, that may bot be a copy of something 'out there' at all...Images become tools, like video-monitor image used by a distant doctor to conduct tele-surgery. When images are there to cut, fold, connect, manufacture, their purpose us to help us do things beyond the classical task of categorizing and confirming."
In response to Paglen's question, Galison reflects on the kind of images he intends to use for their film on nuclear waste. In his team, there is not a clear direction whether the images should be abstract, artistic as effective communicate devices of the message. In his effort to re-link with the present day Paglen declares: 
It seems that we 're moving away from thinking about images in terms of representation and toward thinking about their creation as part of a networked process, guided by political or economic 'scripts' embedded in the algorithms controlling these image-making networks. If we look at Facebook's facial recognition and search technologies, or at Instagram, we see similar things going on, but in commercial context."
Galison also brings to the discussion the idea of power and how their work (both his and Paglen's) relate to image-surveillance:
"...all this is the new frontier of privacy, surveillance, and control. The image is an integral part of of this new matrix of power, and I think that we don't really understand where it is going or what it will become. The searchable, cheap image, the archives of our digital lives- these will, I am sure, transform our way of life and our concepts of power."

To understand limits or distinctions between science and art, or between photographer and artist, the two discussants use examples like that of Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Baudelaire, and more contemporary Ansel Adams. Their last take has to do with the ubiquitousness of Photoshop and the death (if ever been alive) of the ideal (mimetic) photo. 

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on cooking

Image source: Eater

"Cooking situates us in the world in a very special place, facing the natural world on one side and the social world on the other. The cook stands squarely between nature and culture, conducting a process of translation and negotiation." Michael Pollan (via Michael Caruso's  editorial message for the Smithsonian issue on Food, June 2013 [link]


on methodology

Groundwork publication: sketchbook & catalogue with a map. Photo credits: DAT journal

In two recent posts, I had referred to Groundwork symposium & exhibition that took place at Wentworth Architecture in May. Here is my contribution to the exhibition's publication that includes my approach on methodology through my pedagogy:

On Methodology

The word methodology is etymologically linked to the Ancient Greek word μέθοδος (=method); a composite word deriving from two words: μετά (= meta/ after), and οδός(= hodos/ way, threshold, path, journey). Originally the word means the branch of knowledge (-ology) that seeks what follows after. My approach on methodology directly derives from my teaching pedagogy, which prioritizes learning through making, experimentation, and individual voice. This view on relationships between methodology and thesis can be summarized by the Protheses and Thesis Lab efforts. 

Protheses, a composite word deriving from pro (=pro, before) and theses (=positions), deals with all the research occurring prior to development of a thesis statement with emphasis towards an original one. Beyond this meaning of the required literature review that acknowledges the discourse, protheses also means intentions deriving from the original Greek word προθέσεις (= protheses). Through Protheses, I have been highlighting the need for both a rigorous (literature review), and a personal approach (one's intentions). To further expand what a methodology is, I curated the Protheses lecture series where I invited experts from diverse fields to present their design-research methodologies. Through these lectures, I have been interested to create analogies and loans between those fields and architecture, and to also engage the students into advanced workshops, conferences, and initiatives beyond Wentworth community. 

Thesis Lab, a term I developed for the Thesis studio emphasizes the experimental character a methodology may have, but also the potential links to other sciences, which may have (or not) already developed a rigorous methodology for their own purposes. In Thesis Lab I have been testing, together with the students, as potential architectural methodologies the following actions through repetition: experiments and tests, experiences and events, narratives and fiction, surveys and data collection, games and play, exhibitions and publications. 

This Spring, the studio collectively tested the idea of an exhibition on methodologies. Neoplayformz exhibition has been less of a collection of artifacts, and more of an assembly of experiences in which its audience transformed from a spectator, to a (newspaper) reader, to a climber, to a gamer, to a guinea pig through a food experiment. The idea of an exhibition as an educational approach emerged out of the extensive use in both courses of e-publishing, where students use blogs and media platforms to comparatively document, and reflect on, their progress, and to essentially form their own experimental methodology from day 1: Through the constant action of exhibiting or/ and publishing, the students have been contributing their positions to the discourse through dialogue with the guests who are no longer reviewers, or guest crits, but co-producers in this experiment/ effort.

Zenovia Toloudi, Cambridge, May 2013

Table with printed catalogues/ sketchbooks. Photo credits: Samantha Altieri

Groundwork was curated by the Student Exhibition Committee, which included Sam Altieri, Viviana Bernal, Erblin Bucaliu, Casey Galante, Nate Gove, Danielle Gray, Steven Hien, Bao Nguyen, Sam Partington, Liem Than, Mike Wojnarowicz, Craig Zygmund, Ryan Kahen as well as Joe Meucci, Sam Walusimbi and JT White from .DAT. 
Print copies for the publication may be available via DAT journal 
[ thedatjournal@gmail.com/ twitter: @itsdat_ ]

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mustard night menu

mustard night food event conceptualized and produced by zenovia toloudi/ dzlab; dijon appetizers recipes proposed by maria toloudi and zoe sidiropoulou; dijon mustard used in appetizers has deen produced by carly nix/ industry lab, green soup and green hummus based on initial recipes by tasty plan

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a cold weekday at the beach

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north end ritual

The Societa Santa Maria di Anzano Italian Religious Procession at Boston’s North End. The Italian religious procession was held on Sunday, June 2, 2013 starting at St. Leonard Church and continuing through the neighborhood streets to be honored by devotee. The photographs were taken at/ around DeFilippo Park. Accompanying the procession of Santa Maria di Anzano was the traditional Italian marching music of the Italian-American Band. More info here (click)

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private tasting

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