"In Chicago it is always either too hot or too cold", complained the waitress cheerfully, obviously in love with the city.
Outside the weather could hardly have been more benign. Papatuanuku T-shirt warm but not too hot. Perfect if you stood with your back to the thunderstorms which seemed to sweep across each afternoon.
When travelling you experience the weather, but not the climate. Planes travel much more quickly than brains. Changing time-zones is so much easier than changing head-zones. Impressions crash over the 747 traveller like pounding surf, and it is never possible to internalise them before they are gone. There is no point in trying to rationalise the irrational. A diary glimpses a world which engenders awe rather than understanding. Western civilisation lacks the courage to be free. Our culture relentlessly pursues understanding and forgets to stand back in awe.
The sheer majesty of flying in flat white light over iceflows heaving on an arctic sea. A few hours later the wonder of watching the cumulus clouds soaring up to 40,000 feet on the updrafts from the heat of the jungles of Mexico. No human being is ever prepared for this.
Walking out from the Chicago Art Institute to the reality of 7000 homeless sleeping in a park. It is nonsense to talk about a balanced perspective. There is no viewpoint which brings these extremities together. Travelling is not about the middle ground. It is about going out to the edges of experience. Shaking free and returning with stories which no one will believe because they are so unbelievable.
Travelling is like life. Life is woven together with ritual and symbols. Symbolic memories which bring emotions up to the surface. Layers of cream and chocolate cake in Germany. Marimba music while rattling along in a Mexican bus. Cider with steak and kidney pie in an English country pub.
Elastic rubber bodies and beaming black smiles projecting hope in the message of the vendors on the streets of Chicago. "Streetwise, Streetwise. Help the homeless to help themselves. Buy Streetwise."
For only a dollar, with seventy-five cents going to the vendor, this non-profit monthly newspaper seeks to empower Chicago's homeless through providing employment. It also empowers Chicago's wealthy through keeping them better informed.
The diary of an eco-tourist also seeks to empower those who give and those who receive. It seeks to produce more than it consumes. It seeks to enrich those who have given so generously to the traveller as he passed their way.
In this broken world we need a subtle mix of awe at what is and hope in what might be.
In the stuffy air-conditioned spaces and environmental mediocrity of the Skidmore Owings Merrill conference building it was wonderful to catch the delicate scent of New Zealand flax.
Smell is the most evocative of the senses, and yet it is so often ignored in architecture. The scent of flax is the smell of beaches, summer and baches. Flax is the sweet call of the tuis drawn down to the nectar. Flax is tukutuku panelling, perhaps with the Patiki flounder pattern bringing back memories of walking across the flats with a spear and a flashlight.
The Papatuanuku flax kits immediately brought nature back into the dehumanised environment of the Chicago UIA/AIA Congress. They spoke of sparkling water and green hills, of the song of birds and the beauty of flowers. They spoke of the values of the healthy world of green architecture.
The integrity of the process of having the kits woven by the local Tuwharetoa people said a great deal about sustainability. Not about what should be done, but rather about what had been done. The negotiations. The respect for place. Indigenous culture. Vernacular architecture.
Opening the flax kits to bring out the beautifully bound volumes containing the Papatuanuku Whakatauki and the Papatuanuku Kaupapa evoked gasps of admiration. The "List of Participants", including all those who had replied with an expression of interest form, made everyone envious.
The failure to have such a list at the UIA Congress was a source of intense frustration. At the Earth Summit in Brazil it was possible to go into any hotel and to use a computer to locate any delegate anywhere in the city. In Chicago Russell Hawken did not even know how many New Zealand delegates attended. Most UIA participants came away bitterly disappointed to have missed friends they wanted to see. The technological society failed to live up to its expectations.
The New Zealand team with their black hats and black Papatuanuku T-shirts rose above the mediocre context to inspire delegates with one of the many alternatives. Focus. Create. Sustain. "See you in Taupo" called Charmain as the Spaniard left the bus after sharing a taste of New Zealand.
The Papatuanuku flax kit was an unqualified success in Chicago. They have already become collectors' items.
NETWORKS OF PEOPLE
A city is much more than the sum of its parts. Urban design is much more than the bringing together of architectural artifacts. The urban sculpture which has enriched the streets of Chicago over the summer has been much more than an art object.
Integration and interaction are essential foundations for any planning process seeking to realise the potential of a city. New Zealand's new Resource Management Act recognises this, and, unlike previous legislation, sets out to be "enabling". Sadly the first plans being promulgated under the new Act fail to follow the bold initiative, and fail to shake free from the "restrictive" legislation of the sixties. Suzanne Lacy and the coalition of Chicago women who designed the "Full Circle" sculpture have broken those barriers and moved on to begin to make connections.
Design is the art of making connections. Designers are sensitive to discordance and feel pain in a way that totally escapes the isolated specialist. Designers feel pain at the gap between the Resource Management Act itself and failures of interpretation. Another gap is opening up within the architectural profession. Some architects are becoming "followers", looking only to mediocre interpretations of the Act for guidance, while others are taking a leadership role in showing what creative sustainability might be. Chicago has never been afraid of either innovative architecture or revolutionary "architecture-enabling" technology, such as the elevator. Chicago takes leadership for granted.
Leadership is always positive. Reactive responses belong to those who lack initiative and vision. Giving priority to solving city problems is like seeing problems rather than opportunities in our personal relationships. A wise person delights in a chance meeting with friends, and only laughs to think that it always seems to happen when you are already late for an appointment. How sad it is to see the loneliness of those who have solved all their problems and are left with a beautiful house which no one calls in to share. There must have been petty bureaucrats who debated the problems which would be caused by leaving great boulders on the "sidewalks" of Chicago. History will never remember them.
There is no particular skill needed to stop something from happening. Asking people the questions they are already aware of, and reminding them of the problems they already know about, cripples enthusiasm and generates that mixture of boredom and inertia which in mediaeval times was called "accidia". No one needs another conference where experts remind each other of the city problems everyone knows about. We need rather to recognise why people love living in cities. The Resource Management Act makes the fulfilling of visions possible, but the community must first develop those visions. The few brief words recorded on the boulders in Chicago say nothing about the anguish and agony which is part of the life of every person of vision. They speak of hope and encouragement.
Growth occurs in a supportive environment. Buildings and cities exist to support growth. Not economic growth. Growth of awareness. Growth in love and sensitivity. Sustainability is not about the perpetuation of a particular way of being alive. It is about life itself. The Resource Management Act establishes the principle that we must look beyond what we are doing to ask why we are doing it. In the streets of Chicago there are many people but they are inaccessible. The plaques on the boulders these people are walking around invite us to pause for a moment and meet a new acquaintance. Someone we would wish to know if only the opportunity had come our way.
Every architectural move we make either opens up or closes off opportunities. The Resource Management Act opens up the opportunity for cities to become complex and diverse networks within which every space is unique in the same way that every individual is unique. There are only a hundred boulders in the streets of Chicago, but there is a sense of the infinite. It is impossible to tell if you have discovered them all.
The story behind the Chicago sculpture reveals a little of that sense of the infinite. There were more than three thousand responses to the invitation to nominate women whose lives enriched the city. Ten historic figures and ninety living women were chosen. The plaque on each stone records the name of a woman and a few words about her work or philosophy.
At the end of the summer each of those women will host a dinner, gathering a few of their friends together. They will celebrate their lives and their achievements. The event will also be a celebration of the city.
At first the boulders on the streets of Chicago pass unnoticed. Then you pause to read the plaque and make a friend. Slowly you discover that the city is crowded with invitations. It begins to come alive. It finally becomes possible to recognise that a city is above all else a ritual event. A city is first a gathering of people and only then a gathering of buildings.
A sustainable city is a ritual celebration of millions of connections. Only when all these are harmoniously woven together by a design process can we say that a city is fully alive.
Because design is an infinitely renewable resource it is the key which can open up the opportunities presented by the rapidly growing awareness of sustainability.
Jaime Lerner, the mayor of Curitiba, in Brazil, sweeps away some of the mystery of design and explains it all with a few simple examples. If people pay to get into the bus shelter rather than the bus the resulting efficiency means that you only need half the buses, or the ones you have become twice as effective. Instead of the bus fleet being immobilised while people fumble for change they are left happily fumbling and filling in time while they are waiting for the bus. People are happier when they have something to do.
If the entry to the bus from the bus stop is level then efficiency goes up again. It is a lesson learnt long ago in every metro system in the world. Imagine in Tokyo or Chicago having to get up steps to get into the metro trains. The efficiency of the system would plummet. Why then do we get up steps to get into buses? Why indeed asks Jaime.
Jaime is not only the Mayor of Curitiba. He is also an architect. Perhaps it would be better to say he is a designer. While other mayors are trying to raise money so that they can afford to imitate the mistakes of other countries Jaime is constantly looking for solutions which are so simple that you are left to wonder why it never occurred to anyone else.
In Curitiba if you have no money you can pay your bus fare with materials which can be recycled. Bring along a bag of cans to put in the recycling bin and get a token to gain access to the bus shelter. Yesterday's paper gets you to work today. The poorest parts of Curitiba are the cleanest. Sometimes "waste" is so hard to find that the poor have to go to the affluent areas, where people can still afford an unsustainable life style, to get enough "rubbish" to keep them riding the buses.
Curitiba separates 70% of its garbage, and Jaime estimates that just the paper they recycle saves around five "woods" a day. With a population of 1,500,000 more than 1,300,000 ride on the buses every day. These are jumbo figures but so are the buses. The largest double concertina buses take 300 passengers.
When Jaime was speaking to the UIA Assembly in Chicago he never mentioned problems. He kept talking about opportunities. He never spoke about achievements. He kept talking about the fascination of doing things well, and making every day a little better than the day before.
Afterwards in the press room there was the chance to probe a little deeper. When he showed photographs of the parks which had been established as part of the greening of Curitiba it was difficult not to notice that the buildings in the parks were as well designed as the parks themselves. Why had some architect devoted so much thought to getting the design of the gazebos or the bus shelters right? After all a bus shelter is only a bus shelter, except perhaps in Curitiba. What Jaime had achieved as a politician was a commitment to good design on the part of a great many people.
What was the role of the Institute of Architects? Had the Universities made a contribution? Was there a big PR budget involved in achieving good design? These questions seemed to come from a different world. Institutions, like people who see life as an economic problem, are seldom good at lateral thinking. In Jaime's opinion the only true "stone age" people you find in 1993 are all in central government. With E-mail and faxes new technology makes communication between people more possible than ever. The problem is that people in power fear good communication.
How then had he achieved such a consistent design standard? Jaime could only say with a wave of his hand "my friends...."
He was more interested in the scheme they are developing for training taxi drivers to be "environmental educators". Taxi drivers are the people who talk to other people at a time when those other people also have time to listen. Why spend money on teachers who just stay in the schools? Why wait for another generation when the changes we need could take place now? Perhaps Jaime was also saying that it is the people who still catch taxis who need to learn about sustainability. Would he think about training the bus drivers?
Oh, he added, we already have set the buses up as learning centres. They are our mobile university for the environment.
Talking to Jaime is enough to make any lay person want to be an architect. A new kind of architect. An architect with a broad enough vision to leave ego behind and embrace the concept of a good environment for all. An architect like Jaime.
DIFFERENT VALUES, ONE PEOPLE
Canal boat interior -Slug
Motivation which is driven by fear rather than hope engenders stress, for both individuals and nations. If organisations are not vision directed there will be blame and recrimination.
Peter Ellyard moved the discussion down to the southern hemisphere when he reported back from the breakout sessions to the UIA/AIA Assembly in Chicago. Peter had been a consultant in Christchurch facilitating negotiations between the New Zealand Government and school principals. He used this example to illustrate how conflicts can be resolved.
The initial step was to get everyone to see that the conflict between the parties began with a conflict of vision. Attempts to negotiate agreement on specific issues without looking at differences in values could at best only result in compromise, ill-feeling and misunderstanding.
The traditional struggle for executive power also begins at the level of vision. In any Institute of Architects non-architect executive staff have a different vision from governing architect Council members. When executive members move beyond their role of implementing policy and seek to initiate policy the inevitable result will be intense misunderstanding.
In Christchurch Peter Ellyard worked for two full days to develop and clarify a common vision. Only when the vision had been established was it possible to develop commitment, and only then to move on to negotiation. His emphasis was on process.
Sustainability is a vision. It is a way of seeing. It is not a position to fight for. A person with a military mind is driven by the need to win, and never counts the cost or the resources which are used along the way. The strategies are single-minded and anyone who questions the ecological budget is a traitor. Architects are lateral thinkers who enter the debate by wondering if the war is really necessary. Military strategists know that there will be winners and losers, and so they need to set priorities and make choices. Architects and designers seek for the win-win situation in which there is diversity, complexity, and eccentricity. People and ideas are embraced, not rejected.
Peter emphasised the need to be positive rather than negative. Positive energy is empowering. It was a friend of his from Canberra who introduced the idea of "melliors" as being the opposite of "stressors". Why put someone else down when they could be your friend? Jealousy, envy, and that peculiar hatred which springs from fear of other people all begin to fade when other people are no longer seen as being different. Any individual is only a single hue in a very beautiful rainbow.
Sustainability stands apart from struggles for power. It moves beyond strategies to consider visions. An Institute of Architects is not especially different from a postal system, a rail network, or telecommunications. A vision of maximising human contact, interaction and enrichment leads to very different tactical moves from a profit or "efficiency" driven vision.
Selling the hardware without selling the vision is a recipe for conflict and disaster. The concept of the Kiwi share addresses the question at the wrong level. American management structures have traditionally had no sustainability ethic.
In Chicago it seemed strange that so much attention should be focused on New Zealand. It was as though the world was looking to us for leadership. Perhaps it was nothing more than the fun of watching others getting themselves into a mess and then watching them work their way out of it again.
The sustainability debate which began in Chicago will not go away. The next move is taking place in the south. It is Papatuanuku, the NZIA Conference in Taupo.
TEACHING IS NOT THE SAME AS EDUCATION
Little Moreton Hall
(With apologies to Ivan Illich, whom I did not find.)
A traveller wishing to visit the Teotihuacan pyramids, some 50 kilometres north of Mexico city could do so in two very different ways.
The first would be to buy a package tour. Pick up is at your (note the personalised language) hotel, so that there are none of the risks of walking in streets or getting lost. The cost of the tour can be seen as a small price to pay for security. Your air-conditioned coach will do a tour of the other hotels of Mexico City, picking up other people from everywhere in the world except Mexico, so that you will feel comfortable in an international 747 culture. Many of the other people in the coach will speak English, which will make instant friendships possible. You will have a great deal in common because everyone will be a "package tour" person.
The coach will call at Guadalupe along the way. It was here that the dark-skinned Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, and today vendors continue to have visions of tourist buses bringing dollars.
During the journey your guide will give you an insight into their view of the world, explaining what seems relevant to them. If you are very lucky you may find that it is either the birthday of the bus driver or the birthday of the guide.
At the pyramids you will know how long you have, and you will be directed to the best place to buy curios and to have lunch. There will be Indian entertainers waiting for the arrival of the coach to put on a unique performance. There will be none of the tedious waiting which is part of festivals in remote villages.
You know that someone else will see that nothing goes wrong, and at the end of the day you will be delivered back to your hotel.
The alternative begins with trying to find a metro station. Metro stations are rather like the symbols which indicate reel changes during films. Unless someone points them out you never see them, but once you have seen them it seems to be impossible to stop seeing them.
Every Mexican knows the Metro language so well that they cannot comprehend the possibility of other people not speaking the language. It is easier to understand that there are people who do not speak Spanish. Once you have crossed the barrier of understanding you too will wonder why you could not see. Metro is a universal language.The metro has a symbol for every station, transcending the need for any language.
With the confidence of feeling a little more at home in Mexico City you discover there is a subway entrance only two blocks from the hotel. Intalgo. Beneath the noise and fumes of the Volkswagen taxis you find that there is an excellent large scale city map with subway routes overlaid on it, outside the pay gates so that you can check it, or use it for planning.
The easiest way to sort out ticketing systems anywhere in the world is to watch what the locals do. You need to be very observant, of course. A ticket carelessly inserted the wrong way around will not open the gate. Acute observation is the key to learning, and sometimes surviving, when you are travelling. Many people do not realise that architects prefer to sketch rather than using a camera not for the sake of the record but rather because sketching is a discipline which teaches you to see.
Within minutes of watching the local people you learn more than any tourist brochure explains, and you begin to pick up skills. If you buy a 5 ticket set it will cost exactly 2NP, so that you will not need to obtain any change. If you are not getting any change you will not need to check it, and the possibility of getting the wrong change has disappeared. Better to avoid problems than to deal with them.
After going through the turnstiles there is another world waiting to be discovered. At one of the great array of shops inside the station films can be left for processing so that they can be picked up on the way home. Obvious when you think about it, but not something New Zealand planners ever talk about when they are discussing transportation.
An information booth has nothing on display so that it looks about as helpful as one of those menus where the words give no image of the food. How much easier it is to walk into the kitchen of a Greek taverna, lift the lids, and simply point to what you want. However, when approached, the girl at the booth instinctively knows what is wanted and she passes across a metro map to save her having to listen to a tourist imitation of Spanish. Good management is about creating win-win situations.
The first journey is the worst journey. Learning curves can be very steep. Within a day the whole of Mexico City becomes accessible. Every move is a move towards greater freedom. A transfer and only one more stop on the yellow line to emerge at the North Bus Station. Reading the signs is an excellent way of mastering the language.
A group of French students obviously have it all sorted out, and even if they are not going to the pyramids they must be going to somewhere interesting. You simply follow them. Nothing could be more painless. There is a counter which is clearly labelled. Tickets are a fixed price. Your ticket is checked as you go through to the platform. The bus at 6 is waiting and as soon as everyone has boarded the bus sets off. You think of the hours you waste just waiting around in tourist buses. There is a wonderful freedom in being in control of your own destiny.
The driver turns on wonderful Mexican music and suddenly the world comes alive. The tassels and frills above the windscreen dance to the music. Locals jump on and off. The conversations flow. There are detours to real villages for very real reasons. This is Mexico. The pyramids become almost irrelevant. They have been invaluable in providing motivation for the journey, and they are interesting, but they will always be remote and inaccessible.
Perhaps it was not by chance that Ivan Illich, who popularised the concept that "teaching is not the same as education" should have lived in Mexico.
Teaching can be a prison which draws you deeper and deeper into an abyss of isolating rituals. Education draws out what is within and sets you free.
NOT THE DISTANCE
Little Moreton Hall
At the Rasa metro station in Mexico City there is a very long tunnel for the transfer between the blue and yellow lines. A sensitive designer has seen this not as a problem but as an opportunity.
The walkway is divided by a central rail and on both sides the walls have a series of back-lit colour panels, three or four metres apart. The right hand side begins with a photograph of a hand, and on it there is a small blue outline of a square showing the portion which will be enlarged to become the next panel. The enlargements become atoms, the void between the atoms and finally space.
The first right hand panel is a galaxy, and as it enlarges we finally focus onto the earth, a satellite image, Chicago, a park, and ultimately two people lying in the park. Interest becomes astonishment when the very last enlargement is the hand which began the other series. Beyond the fascination of the journey there is wisdom as subtle as that found in a mediaeval cathedral.
The series allows us to see ourselves in context and to get caught up in the mystery and wonder of life. Solving problems always creates more problems; responding to opportunities always results in the opening up of more opportunities.
At one end of the tunnel a medical centre has now been established. The fascination of the journey has become a tool for transforming the fear of getting a medical check-up into the fun of discovering a little more about ourselves. The relaxation of the physical walk has been used to focus mental concentration, so that a decision seems much easier to make. The journey allows thinking time and thus reduces the stress of having to confront a sudden transition. Caring for our bodies seems to be as natural as catching a train on the metro.
Life is a journey. Imagine a culture where everyone wanted to get to the end as quickly as possible.
SIR RICHARD WHO?
When Verney Ryan, a planning student from Auckland University, took the microphone and challenged the hypocrisy of the UIA/AIA World Congress in Chicago he brought the auditorium to a stunned silence, which was broken only by a standing ovation from 3000 architects.
He noted that everything from the throw-away cups and the air-conditioning of the auditorium right through to the management of the Congress was inconsistent with the ideals of sustainability. His question was what was each member of the panel going to do in their own lives in the next few months to respond to the challenge of sustainability.
The panel was on its knees. Sir Richard Rogers tried to rescue the situation by saying he was working with the PTA of his local school and perhaps we should all do that. Suddenly the whole assembly developed a human face.
Jean Nouvel observed that you actually go faster when you walk than when you travel by car. In our buildings we should be imitating the bicycle. The way we write off buildings and cars must be changed. Architects can no longer transfer their hidden costs to the environment.
Helmut Jahn had already declared his hand by saying that we should not try to save the world, and we should avoid getting into issues like responsibility.
Bill McDonough took the side of the New Zealand students. We are sailing a new ship and it has new parameters. At the Earth Summit there were Heads of State, but no leaders.
Passions were beginning to flow. Another questioner asked when we were going to get rid of the skyscraper, and a heated series of views for and against developed. There was no mention of power or Rio or Agenda 21. Bill ended up with the last word, suggesting that Erickson was wrong when he said that it was nature which was immutable. We now recognise that nature is in fact mutable.
Verney found himself being interviewed in the Press Room by the Herald Tribune and other reporters. The New Zealand press took the chance to bring him plates of food and cans of drink. He spoke with such passion because he spoke from his heart.
He had raised every cent of his fare from sponsors and arrived in Chicago with no funds at all for food or accommodation. While the elite were staying at the Hilton, Verney was sleeping wherever anyone could find him space on the floor. The Congress organisers found him a job so that he would have a few dollars of pocket money.
There is no substitute for integrity. Verney will not be able to afford to attend Papatuanuku, but the challenge he made in Chicago remains to be debated by all those who make their way to Taupo.
STAY AT THE WACKER
Peter Diprose demonstrated the usefulness of an understanding of urban design when he chose the Wacker Hotel as the base for the Papatuanuku team in Chicago.
Chicago was founded where the Chicago River met Lake Michigan. Fort Dearborn was just to the south of the river, about half way between the lake and the point where the river forks to become the north and south branches. An 1820 engraving shows Fort Dearborn and a solitary house on the northern side of the river, just a short distance away from the site of the Wacker Hotel.
The Wacker is in the heart of Chicago, but unlike the Hilton it is also at a point of transition. The Hancock Centre and Mies van der Rohe's Lake Shore Drive apartments are to the north east, while the Sears Tower and Jahn's Northwestern Atrium Centre are to the south west. It is if you like at the centre of gravity of the four sites of the Architectural Museum. However only a little to the north of the Wacker is Cabrini Green where a sniper recently killed a seven year old child walking to school. A memorial urban design competition for the area was held in conjunction with the UIA/AIA Congress.
The Wacker does not turn its back on ecological problems. As the city grew rapidly the pollution from the Chicago River continued to contaminate the water supply drawn from the lake, despite the intake being moved further out as the pollution became worse. Eventually a lock was built to turn the river water and the pollution back down the Union Canal to the Mississippi. The lock would be visible from the Wacker if Kenzo Tange's AMA Building was not blocking the view.
In Chicago the grid pattern seems to ignore the landscape form, but although Michigan Avenue and State Street run north to pass only three blocks from the Wacker, the east-west axis runs out to Navy Pier, which visually extends the northern side of the river delta.
The Wacker is within easy walking distance of everything a visitor needs, including restaurants of every price range. The McCormick Centre where the UIA/AIA Congress was held is not even within walking distance of a cup of coffee. The Wacker engages the city and invites conference delegates staying there to do the same. The Hilton protects conference delegates from the city. All urban design either embraces the city or sets itself in opposition.
Conferences are concerned with meeting and engaging. People meet people. Philosophies and perspectives are changed. Ideas meet ideas. Over time new concepts become integrated into the conventional wisdom.
Cities are continuous conferences. Indeed conferences are little more than ritual celebrations of what a city is every day of the year.
RECOGNISING THAT THE TIME HAS COME
An opportunity missed is an opportunity lost. The UIA/AIA Congress in Chicago was notable for the failure of many groups to take advantage of the moment.
The President of the American Institute of Architects has the privilege of being able to choose the topic for the annual conference. Recognising worldwide concern about unsustainable architecture and planning, the significance of the election of Al Gore. and the impetus provided by the Earth Summit in Rio developing the sustainability concepts first drawn together in the Bruntland Report, Susan Maxman captured the moment.
She could however only present the opportunity for others to grasp. It is not easy for groups which have always been in opposition to suddenly find that they are mainstream. Reactive responses are of no use when positive leadership is called for.
One of the greatest disappointments of Chicago was the failure of groups such as Architects Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility to recognise and then take advantage of the moment. ADPSR actually boycotted the World Congress, organising a series of conflicting events to force members to make a choice. The international community found themselves with a lose/lose situation. It was impossible to support ADPSR and at the same time to be doing the job which ADPSR should have been doing at the World Congress.
The AIA could hardly have offered a more powerful gesture of welcome than to grant an Award to ADPSR in recognition of the work they had done. ADPSR members went to the McCormick Centre to receive the Award and then withdrew into isolation once again. It is not easy for institutions to repeat such a gesture after suffering what must have seemed to be a rebuke.
Papatuanuku also catches a unique moment in history. It only remains for New Zealand architects to take advantage of the moment.
AT THE BEGINNING
Mexico Anthropology Museum
Let me go back to the beginning of the journey to follow the threads as they unfolded. Please forgive all my personal asides, and please respect my privacy. This is my personal diary, not a public document.
TUESDAY 15 JUNE
A day gained to spend in San Francisco
There is a two hour delay to the scheduled 18.15 departure of flight UA 842 non stop to Los Angeles. I could have finished my studio teaching, but on the other hand the delay makes time to deliver Lisa to Papatoetoe and to pack my gear properly. My departures are always stressful as there is always more to do than there is time available.
The 747-B trip is uneventful. Long flights are good because there is time to unwind, eat, at least relax even if sleep is difficult, eat and get ready to land. The broken flights which touched down at Honolulu at 2am in the morning were my idea of torture. We come in over islands off the coast which surprises me. Los Angeles is endless and depressingly bland. What meaning can architecture have in this urban design context? It is hot and dry. The excuse that there are no gates available at the International terminal sounds plausible, but I will hear it three times in the next few weeks, and I will do the same bus trip around the airport, with the same explanation that "this bus can be operated at any time from a driver at either end of the bus", and the same entry formalities. A shuttle bus around to the United terminal 7 and I find there is a flight an hour before the one for which I have been rescheduled. No one can see why I should not be on it so I walk through and am on my way.
Mountain ranges, cultivation in the valleys, and a fascinating coastline. We sweep in towards Silicon Valley, but for some unexplained reason then do a sweep out to sea to approach San Francisco again from the coast. This brings us in very low over the spot where I camped with my Bickerton when I was travelling by bicycle. Great views of the landform and freeway patterns.
With no luggage I am quickly through and look for a phone to ring Jan. I am not to know that the assurance by United in Auckland that they would ring her and tell her that I had been delayed to a later flight had come to nothing. She was not a home because she had set out to meet the earlier flight. I walked round and round every inch of the very extensive terminal to no avail. It all took some hours to unravel, which we only did by my waiting until she had driven all the way home. Finally we make telephone contact and start all over again. Unfortunate, but in the circumstances it happened so easily.
Jan had a car and no plans so I responded to her openness by telling her what I would ideally like to do in my all too short stop over. We headed north to San Francisco. Familiar hills, familiar streets, familiar buildings. A wonderful exercise in nostalgia. South around the waterfront to confirm that little had changed in the mission area. It was really hard to get my head around the fact that the Embarcadero freeway was no longer there. We usually look at what has appeared rather than at what has disappeared. By foot along the waterfront and clam chowder in sourdough bread on Pier 39.
The Maritime Museum, Fort Mason, Marina with no signs of the earthquake remaining. Golden Gate bridge. Sausalito. Found 140 Glen Drive without difficulty only to find that Ivan Glover had made a house swap some weeks earlier. On to find the new house and Ivan. Worth it for the look on his face when he answered the door. News to catch up on, and Ivan ended up staying at Karaka Bay before I was to return. He noted that NZIA Head Office had deleted Papatuanuku out of the diary and asked why. I had foolishly hoped that no one had noticed.
Up to the heights to look at the sun setting over the city. Golden light. Back across the bridge and down the coast scenic road. Back inland to find Jane Herzog. Lively conversation as always, and then south again to Belmont. I ring Lois Blair and am very glad I did not leave it until the morning as she flies to New York on the first flight. She suggests I should just go and sit at Palenque during my time in Mexico. "A magical place."
I relax in the garden but it seems only minutes before Jan has produced a sumptuous lasagna. We talk into the night as I have lost all sense of time, but finally I can keep awake no longer and sleep my jet lag away.
WEDNESDAY 16 JUNE
From San Francisco to Chicago
I am awake after the dawn but in good time for a leisurely breakfast. I begin to realise just how much Jan is doing with the Down Under Travel Club. She insists on driving me to the airport for the 11am flight, and this provides a chance to talk about all the more personal events in our lives. A good deal of water has gone under the bridge.
America is a majestic continent when seen from the air, and some features become so clear although they are only skirted when on the ground. The great salt basin is immense, and I wonder why I never realised the size of the salt lake of Salt Lake City. The three and a half hours passes in a flash and we are on the ground in Chicago.
The neon tunnel to B, the tunnel to the metro station. $1.50 for a ticket, and what could be easier. I am on my way into Chicago. Asbestos roofs, berms, flights of wooden steps leading up to front doors located on a centralised axis. We dive underground and there is some debate about the best point to emerge. I could have transfered at Washington and gone straight to the Wacker, but with crossing the date line, gaining a day and not having my diary organised I think that the Arc-Peace dinner is today.
Pablo Picasso's cor-ten sculpture basks in the sunshine above Washington station, immediately in front of Murphy's Richard J Daley Centre. Both are protected by rust, but I cannot delay to decide what that means for sustainability. A little time with map and compass to get location and orientation organised, and I ready for adventure. I am thankful that I organised good maps back in Auckland. Off I set, enjoying the State Street festival and the Carson Pirie Scott building. The cliff-dwellers club is deserted and eventually the staff suggest that the dinner must be tomorrow night. On south to the Hilton on Michigan. Russell has not yet arrived, but Alan Purdie is there. He is a little astonished that I should turn up and totally perplexed when I ask him to store my bags for an hour or two while I get organised. I never never did tell him that my total accommodation costs in Chicago for ten days were less that half the cost of his room for a single night. Off to find the Wacker Hotel, and I am delighted to find they have a weekly rate. I take Room 615. It looks great and I walk back to the Hilton. Alan is totally relieved that he does not need to be burdened by me any longer, and we talk a while about the NZIA and the programme over the next few days. Alan is very refreshed. He had a four day holiday on the way over, and has another week of holiday on the way home. It makes me feel too wacked to walk to the Wacker so I taxi down, and very soon I am just dreaming about the whole adventure.
THURSDAY 17 JUNE
The UIA World Congress opens
Without any sense of the pattern of the Congress I set off walking south from the Wacker, gathering some fruit juice, coffee, and bacon and eggs along the way.
I need to make a few enquiries to find the State Street Chicago Theatre, as the organisers have not provided any map. It has been recently restored and could best be described as the Civic of Chicago. Fumihiko Maki is presented with his gold medal and he responds by showing slides of some of his buildings and explaining them. It is familiar territory for those who attended the NZIA Auckland conference, and there are few significant developments beyond his Montreal presentation three years ago.
With American hype, which is unsustainable for them and something of mystery for everyone else, a ragged procession then sets off led by Susan Maxman and Olufemi Majekedunmi, the UIA President, for the Merchandise Mart. It is a symbolic path downhill from culture to commercialism punctuated only by traffic lights. The band has decided to go home by the time we get there, and everyone mills around wondering what happens next. In one word nothing. Consumerism is the end of the road.
The Papatuanuku team, with our black hats and black T shirts give our president his first whiff of a Tuwharetoa flax kit and things to come. The bound Whakatauki and Kaupapa create an impressive display, and in the next few days everyone else will hear a good deal about New Zealand. Don McRae has suggested that the Merchandise Mart, like the Louvre Museum, requires at least three days to do it justice. I show the students how to up their efficiency by taking the lift to the thirteenth floor and then working the escape stairs. In an hour and half we figure we have seen it all, and decide to set off for other adventures. Like registering for the conference.
A walk through the State Street Festival, and a shuttle bus from the Hilton to the McCormick Centre. Downhill all the way. The architecture that is, the terrain being flat. Skidmore Owings Merrill have really got it wrong. So wrong that the rumour is that this convention centre for 100.000 people will soon be demolished as a total white elephant. It becomes more like an albatross around our necks as we try to enjoy the Congress in spite of it. We try to establish a New Zealand meeting point, but the organisers have blocked every path to a sustainable humane future. The students try to unravel the programme and to get tickets. I suggest they might do better to sort out the system to see how to get around it. For myself I have some difficulty but eventually manage to complete a press registration and to get some special workers passes to the exhibition area. I can now get almost everywhere.
Only later will I hear of the drama when our team set out to erect our exhibition. It was made very clear that if any Kiwi touched a screwdriver most of Chicago would go out on strike. It seems to me to have been a golden opportunity. Chances like this are all too infrequent.
The press room does not take a lot of sorting out. There are no schedules, no interview rooms, and no technology beyond two typewriters. It must be ten or fifteen years since I have used a typewriter. There is not even a phone line. Later several phones and a fax will be installed. Even then none of my incoming faxes are delivered to me so the communication breakdown is almost complete.
Upstairs the UIA Assembly is under way. I make my way in and try to sit quietly down the back, about ten rows behind where Russell and Alan are sitting on their own, observing. John Langston looks around and immediately comes to give me a great hug. We have not seen each other since I farewelled him in Mendosa and he drove off to be arrested with Oscar. Then Sasha Alexander looks around and the whole Russian delegation comes down to join me. When we were meeting in Argentina Sasha was unable to be with us because the Russian Parliament was surrounded by tanks and he was imprisoned inside with Yeltsin. And so it went on. What a wonderful welcome. Jimmy Lim from Malaysia had been down in New Zealand for the heritage conference. People I had not seen since Montreal. Rod Hackney. Fostering an international network is essential if environmental objectives are to be achieved.
Political lines were already being drawn up. You only had to look around the room. The Africans had divided into camps and refused to even sit on the same side of the room. I explain a little to some of the students, and show them how they can have fun with the simultaneous translation equipment. These meetings can be tedious and boring, but like parliament they are only the show for the public to see while the decisions are being made in the corridors.
A coffee break is announced, but there is no coffee. There is no tea. There is not a biscuit. There is not even a glass of water, although someone goes and gets iced water later in the day. This is clearly a commercially driven conference and any delegates who think they are going to get anything for their US$450 registration are in for a rough ride. Sustainability? That is something to be talked about.
The meetings finish at 6pm. The last shuttle bus went at 5.30. There are some very angry delegates. We end up commandeering a bus, and it is packed with people from every corner of the globe reduced to similarity by a common problem.
I try to find the presentation at the Art Institute, but we all find ourselves standing outside the locked door. We conclude that there must have been some terrible mistake. Only the next day do I find that access was by a back door from another street. There is no information. What there is is inadequate or misleading. The show is organised for the cognoscente who live in Chicago and know their way around.
Across the road the Cliff Dwellers Club is on the top floor of Broadcasting House and the Arc-Peace Dinner is scheduled for 7.30pm. A gathering of old friends. Akio, Kazuko and Natsuki. Sven. Jim. People from ADPSR. About forty of us all told. One of the most spectacular thunderstorms I have experienced envelopes Chicago and the sheet lightning lights up the whole city. There is torrential rain and violent gusts of wind. We sit out on the balcony with only a canvas awning over us, totally immersed in the storm.
Towards midnight I walk home to the Wacker.
FRIDAY 18 JUNE
The Arc-Peace Executive Meeting
Helen rings from New Zealand at 8am with a message from Dick Aynsley to say that the analogue lines are now in place, so that the technical side of the studio is ready to run. I ask her to pass on messages and report on progress.
Breakfast at the most amazing McDonalds. Apparently it is one of the tourist spots of Chicago. Juke Boxes, neon, signs, posters, the ultimate in all American glitz.
By 10am I am on the shuttle bus to McCormick, and the trip wastes another half hour. It is a pattern which will become increasingly frustrating.
In the Arie Crown Theatre Susan Maxman talks to the assembly on responsibility. An old word now out of fashion, but the key to the future. We need to take personal responsibility for our actions, which is a message the planners need to hear. Then she introduces the chairmen.
The CEO of an electricity supply company follows with a predictable statement using all the right words. In the Press Room coffee and cake is now provided. I am invited to the 12.30 DuPont lunch at the McCormick Hotel, but Arc-Peace makes that impossible. Met Fujiko Nozawa from Tokyo, who thanks me for my last letter, but then we could not find each other again. She flew back to Tokyo on Saturday. The pattern of not being able to locate friends drives me crazy for the whole of the Congress. Checked out our exhibition, but there has been no change since yesterday.
By shuttle bus to the Hilton, and then I walk up to the library for the Arc-Peace Executive Meeting. This means that I must miss John Bryson and the Aga Khan, as well as the first of the Breakout sessions, which is very frustrating. We begin with reports. Akio notes that 7000 architects have adopted the Code of Conduct. Jai Ballah stresses the importance of small scale initiatives. Croissants and coffee for lunch at a nearby cafe, and we eat at a street table. Sven simply goes over the report in Newsletter 5. It is noted that NZ should pay $200 for the years beyond 1991. I make a note to check the list when back in NZ. Barrie Walsh, as an individual member, should have been invited. There is discussion on the charter.
ADPSR insists on having a role "in opposition" to the AIA, failing to recognise that Susan Maxman has opened up an opportunity which will not come again. People cling to familiar roles, not recognising the changes in history. I suggest that both Turkey and Barcelona should be represented on the Executive as we lead up to the Habitat meeting and the next UIA Congress in Barcelona. I suggest we also need to keep a sense of history by retaining Tician and Yuri in an honorary position. The Cambrini sisters and folks from Argentina turn up, but once again after a tantalising few words I cannot find them again. We conclude at 4.30, and it takes more than an hour to walk to the Hilton, wait, and eventually shuttle bus back to McCormick.
Time with Carl Costello and Kodama and then the awards presentation in the Arie Crown Theatre. The numerous awards are presented in groups and each group is preceded by either a film on the buildings or a slide presentation. The voice-over comments of either clients or architects are all about humanising, about avoiding divisions, and about friendliness and openness. The buildings which go with them are all about form and image. Where is "sustainability"? The Virginia Merrill Bloedel Education Centre in Bainbridge Island, Washington was one of the only ones concerned with peace, integrity or place.
The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Camp,Ashford/Eastford, Connecticut, was interesting, but it was all about escapism. Is it logical to tell children dying of cancer that life is really fun? Better to build a society where everyone feels that every moment is precious, and that life should be lived to the full and to the best of our ability.
Tom Forman, Sidney Gilbert and Rose Marie Rabin accept the award presented to ADPSR.
The John Deere Building by Eero Saarinen, gets the 25 year award. A symbol of elitist monumentalism with a total disregard for place beyond the enhancement of the building as a piece of sculpture. So much for sustainability.
James Polshek won an award for the Seamen's Church Institute, New York City.
The Urban Design Awards go to 1) the Back of the Hill Row Houses in Boston 2) the Charles River Crossing/Interchange in Boston 3) the San Francisco Urban Design Internship Programme at the Cal Poly College of Architecture and Environmental Design 4) the Landmark Lighting Project Master Plan for Milwaukee 5) the Mianus River Watershed Planning Project, New York State and 6) the California Museum of Science and Industry/Exposition Park Master Plan, Los Angeles. It all indicates a very narrow view of urban design.
The ritual is directed to hype rather than celebration and finally it is possible only to think of the Leunig cartoon of the hearts being swept up from under the bed. Competition is very destructive and it seems to have so little to do with developing a good environment.
I meet up with the group celebrating the ADPSR Award and we all squeeze into several taxis to go off in search of a restaurant. At 663 State Bijan specialises in hamburgers, but these are quite unlike the pale NZ imitation. It is an open sandwich style and the plate is a full meal. We watch the basketball on TV, and I am the only person who has to ask who is playing. It is teeming with rain by the time we depart, but it is only a few blocks to run to the Wacker.
The most telling comment of the day "The average American spends 90% of their time indoors"
SATURDAY 19 JUNE
The UIA World Congress
The assembly gathers again in the Arie Crown Theatre.
Susan Maxman advocates pluralism and debate. Peter Eisenman certainly started some yesterday when he claimed in his paper that there had been too much emphasis on issues such as energy.
Olufemi, the President of the UIA reports back from the Assembly. The "road from Rio" group will be following up UNCED and Agenda 21.
Peter Ellyard reported back from yesterday's "breakout" sessions. Peter moved the discussion down to the southern hemisphere by commenting that he had been a consultant to NZ when the government met principals in Christchurch. Initially there was a conflict of vision between the parties. Over two days they worked to develop the visions in order that they might develop the commitment. If we are not vision directed there will be blame. Motivation can be driven by fear rather than hope, and this engenders stress. A Canberra friend introduced the idea of "melliors", as the opposite of "stressors". The emphasis today will be on process. Being positive rather than negative. Positive energy is empowering.
Peter Calthorpe is an urban designer. He moved away from architecture to become an environmentalist and planner. The suburbs became his central concern. He shows slides of the classic American way of life. No interaction, no choice, no chance. Everything funnelled onto the transportation network. Everyone now travels two and a half times as much as they did in 1970. Guard dogs protect. The only interaction is at road interchanges and it involves insurance companies. A diagram comparing trip modes shows that US travel is almost all by car. Europe has a large pedestrian component. His comments on zoning and community are twenty years out of date. There are the usual slides of downtown Portland with light rail. Mixed income. Mixed housing. Transit options. Environmentalism must not be a separate issue but a way of connecting. It all becomes increasingly boring and deja vu, with none of the wit of someone like Tracy Moffat in her wonderful Bedevil. Self-flagellation is very different from an ability to laugh at your own ridiculousness. Peter concludes with an illustration by his old teacher showing a large spring which is moved down by 200 exercise bicycles and generates electricity as it moves up. The debate about sustainability is moved to the level of the ridiculous and I try to pretend that I am not a planner, as all this confirms architects' worst fears.
Jaime Lerner, the Mayor of Curitiba, is a wonderful breath of fresh air. He is a real planner. A lateral thinker. An enthusiast. His slides are stunning. Against all the odds Curitiba is crowded with good architecture. He is really showing the new parks, but it is impossible not to notice the quality of the park buildings. He is really talking about the bus shelters, but it is impossible not to notice how well designed they are. He demonstrates the possibility of achieving quality in the environment as a whole.
Curitiba is an ecological city. 70% of the city separates garbage. They save 5 "woods" a day. The double articulated buses take 300 passengers. "Experts proved this was not possible" but you can see how well it works. In a city of 1,500.000 more than 1,300,000 people use public transport every day. People pay to get into the bus shelter, not the bus, and the entry from the shelter to the bus is level rather than with steps. The saving in time doubles (he said quadruples!) the carrying capacity of the bus fleet. Jaime believes the future is in surface buses rather than subways simply because subways will always be too expensive. Do away with transport engineers. It is possible to pay for transport tokens with garbage. The poor people now have "clean" suburbs. Only a few wealthy areas are a problem. Buses have been set up as training centres, a mobile university for the environment. They are training taxi drivers because they believe that taxi drivers are the people who will train other people. They are not training teachers who never move beyond schools. They use the synergy of bringing uses together, producing 24 hour streets. They now have 100km of bicycle paths. Jaime notes that everything now has changed, with fax and E-mail making communication at speed possible. The only "stone age" people are in central governments. We need small scale local government, even for large cities. We need an integration of the formal and informal sectors.
I spend some time interviewing Jaime in the press room, further exploring the processes by which he has achieved such consistent architectural quality. He is modest. "My friends...." I suspect he actually knows what an Institute of Architects should be.
The competition results are announced at 2pm to a small crowd in one of the breakout rooms. Carl Costello outlines the brief. There were 406 entries from 50 countries. The thanks to the sponsors have a ritual dullness. Bob Berkebile hopes that next time there will only be one competition. Allan Rodger describes the situation as a celebration. The jury has celebrated. There is every evidence of a new spirit and a new hope. He introduces the jury. There was no distinction made among the professionals. We need good ideas not winners. The competition encouraged diversity. We need the capacity to hold together the complexity of life. The UNESCO prize went to Chan Elmas from Portland, Oregan. The jury had some reservations. There was an excessive concentration on physical objects. Creating "wealth" is very important. Red stars indicated those who made the first cut. Award winners were indicated.
The breakout sessions continued at 3pm.
Kenneth Frampton chaired the CICA (International Committee of Architectural Critics) session. Raphael Vinoly observes that "The myth that the exercise of the free market will overcome inequalities is destroying the public sector and our ability to work."
Peter Eisenman illustrates only one of his schemes. He notes that we still do not model voids rather than solids, and notes that the technology is there although it is as yet prohibitively expensive, even for Peter Eisenman. It is the area he hopes to venture into.
Peter says he no longer wants to make manifestos, only to build. He considers that his practice is "very moral".
Raphael feels that our architecture now has no meaning. We had the chance but we blew it.
Peter observes that he no longer builds in New York because no one respects what he does. In Frankfurt or Dusseldorf people care.
Peter feels that Leon Krier is the most significant teacher in our time. He does not agree with Krier, but he would employ him.
A questioner suggests that manifestos have become models, and that the Modern Movement had the power of manifestos. Now we have models and role models.
Raphael shows a house, a campus, and the immense project next to the Tokyo station.
CICA has run out of energy by 5pm so I take a quick look at all the individual professional programmes. Back at the Press Room we now have a fax operating so I am able to send the Eco Day 2 report, the four page press release on the competition results and a report to the 2B studio.
Once again, although it is only 6pm, there is no transport and so I walk all the way back to town, weaving my way through the crowds gathering to hear the Living Dead, who are a much greater draw than Crossroads. I am not quick enough and I get caught in a thunderstorm and soaked to the skin. Up to rendezvous with Jim at the Library where the ADPSR meeting has continued all day. With it being more than an hour's journey away it is impossible to keep in touch with what is happening. I find the Library is closed, and everyone has gone to I know not where. This is probably the low point of my frustration with the hopeless organisation of Chicago. Did I come all this way for this?
I walk around the corner to meet Akio, trying to look as though the wet look is very fashionable in NZ, and I am just introducing it to Chicago. Moving around the foyer of the Palmer Hilton helps disguise who is making the pools on the carpet. The brochure is packed with euphemisms about how the organisers have left delegates free to enjoy the night life of Chicago, but every restaurant we ring is full, so in the finish we eat at the hotel. Kodama joins us and Jeff Cook advises us on New Orleans specialties.
The service is abysmal and chaotic, but Jeff insists on giving a generous tip. Tipping leaves me poised somewhere between misunderstanding and depression. Jeff stayed with me for ten days. I taxied him all over town and provided his meals. I drove him all the way to the Hokianga in my own car and paid for all the petrol myself. He never reached into his pocket for a tip, fortunately, for everyone would have been embarrassed. He sent Graeme a bill for his air fare. Now in a different environment some totally different dynamic is operating.
Jeff and Kodama go off for an early night while Akio, Kazuko, Natuski and I walk north to find some jazz. The first venue is a failure but just around the corner we find wonderful trad jazz, with our table almost blown away by the music. I drink margueritas to provide a nostalgic link between Tokyo, Hong Hong and Chicago. In the early hours of the morning I walk a couple of blocks back to the Wacker.
SUNDAY 20 JUNE
The UIA World Congress
A 5km run has its finish line at the Hard Rock Cafe, which is just outside my window. Everyone takes it very seriously with electronic gadgetry strapped on and people look more exhausted than if they had run 100km.
The 10am session in the Aires Crown Theatre begins with a film which is an invitation to the AIA Conference in Los Angeles in 1994. Sustainability is put to one side as people get on with images and image making.
Susan Maxman announces the results of the competition. Prizes are awarded by the President of the UIA.
Peter Ellyard summarises the breakout sessions. He observes that there was a majority of young people and a majority of women at the breakouts. Decentralisation. Vernacular concepts. Architects are part of the Road from Rio. Concern at toxic materials. The influence of Graeme behind the scenes is very obvious.
A panel session follows with all the big names seated on the stage. Helmut Jahn, Richard Rogers, Jean Nouvel, Aydan Erim from Turkey, and Bill McDonough
Bill raises the difficulty of converting sealed toxic office buildings into housing.
Helmut notes the out-of-date idea that money is the problem.
Richard makes a plea for responsive architecture, interacting with climate.
Aydan reinforces that it does not cost more to be aware of the environment, and brings in the concept of "social responsibility.
Jean Nouvel's comments in French are translated to say that the simplicity of Modernism is a living concept. He seems indeed to be talking a different language.
Bill responds to Helmut. Surprise, surprise. People are going into stress. We are sailing a new ship with new parameters. He develops the analogy of the sailing ship and the rust-bucket steam ship.
Helmut declares his hand by saying that we should not try to save the world, and we should avoid getting into issues like responsibility.
Bill responds by saying that design is the first signal of human intention. The "leader" on a ship is not the captain or any of the other people with authority. The true leader is the designer of the ship. Everyone else follows.
Richard cools the divisions by saying that we should be positive rather than defensive. Ecology opens up possibilities. In city planning it is very easy to save 50% of the energy. Only then does it begin to get difficult. We should not be concerned with patterns, but with basic re-organisation.
A passionate Argentinian questions how we can get governments alongside the ideals of architecture. Bill responds by saying that when sovereigns lost control of money they lost the ability to lead. Architects can no longer expect governments to achieve anything. They will have to do it themselves.
Verney Ryan then took the microphone and challenged the hypocrisy of the Conference. Everything from the throw away cups and air conditioning of the space we were in right through to the management of the Conference was inconsistent with the ideals of sustainability. His question was what was each member of the panel going to do in their own lives in the next few months to respond to the challenge of sustainability. There was a stunned silence, broken finally by a standing ovation from 2,500 architects. The panel was on its knees. Sir Richard tried to rescue the situation by saying he was working with local schools and perhaps we should all do that. The way we write off buildings and cars must be changed. Jean observes that you actually go faster when you walk than when you travel by car. We should be imitating the bicycle. Suddenly the whole assembly had developed a human face.
Another questioner asked when we were going to get rid of the skyscraper, and a heated series of views for an against developed. There was no mention of power or Rio or Agenda 21. I can stand it no longer and head for a microphone, but by now the chairman was too afraid to let another black-hatted Papatuanuku person gain control and the microphone was turned off. Bill ended up with the last word, suggesting that Erickson was wrong when he said that it was nature which was immutable. We now recognise that nature is in fact mutable.
While Verney was being interviewed in the Press Room by the Herald Tribune and other reporters I plied him with plates of food and cans of drink. He spoke with such passion because he had no funds at all, no food, and he was sleeping wherever anyone could find him space on the floor. I fax a press release back to New Zealand.
Susan Maxman gives a press interview around 1pm.
US reporters want news of the proposals to turn the White House into a Green House. The studies are continuing but it will be some time yet before the physical work begins.
Susan explains that the AIA President sets the Conference theme. Sustainability was her initiative, and there can be no guarantee of continuity.
The first successes have been in the raising of consciousness. The articles in Time or Earthwatch indicate popular concern. The difficulty now is to be integrative. The zoning laws need changing. The Parks Department now advertises for "architects with a knowledge of sustainability issues".
Protection of our cultural resources.
Is the AIA seeking to change political priorities through reducing military spending to make more funding available for healthy building?
The AIA does not feel that there is a problem in representing all architects when they are lobbying in Washington. They believe they have a consensus.
The Critical Planet Rescue programme was a Bob Berkibile initiative and he kicked it off at an AIA Convention.
When asked what happened to Al Gore Susan could only reply that she wished she knew.
I congratulated her on her bold initiative in selecting sustainability as the theme, noted that the groups such as ADPSR who should have rallied to support her had largely failed to do so, and asked if she could comment on the problems generated by groups and individuals who failed to capitalise on opportunities to work from within rather than without. She suggested that it was only possible to create the opportunities, leaving the response to initiatives to others.
I am only able to spend a brief amount of time at the breakout sessions, which are considering final comments on the Declaration of Interdependence. Alongside is the AIA display stand with a great deal of interesting material. I study the Environmental Handbook. 2.30 to 3.30 is the Book Fair, but in the total disorganisation I fail to get there.
By 3pm I am at the Barcelona stand to represent the NZ press at the presentation for the 1996 UIA Congress in Barcelona. The design of the stand is superb with back-lit cloth banners. Even more stunning are the specially designed dresses of the women caring for the stand. Endless delays but finally a speech in Spanish and a translation. At international conferences the time for everything must be doubled. Jaime Derupef from Barcelona is the new President of the UIA. We are led in a procession to another cavernous underground room and plied with good food, Spanish wine, and speeches, mostly in Spanish. I suggested it was not necessary to give full translations, and they agreed.
Checked out all the professional programmes. There was a feeling of sameness. Listening to James Franklin made it seem that I was back at the Auckland NZIA Conference. Old friends such as James were the most popular. The typology of the presentations was interesting. De rigeur overheads with lettering too small to read. De rigeur computer generated images. A heavy emphasis on "structure" (are we to presume management too?) Alan and Russell are sitting huddled together in a room with only a dozen other people listening to the Five Presidents' Forum. Clubs are less popular than they used to be.
Upstairs in the CICA seems to be at its last dying gasp. Five grey old men sit on a high rostrum facing thousands of empty seats. They talk on and their words are lost in the darkness.
The UIA Meeting is over, the room is deserted, and the atmosphere is like the aftermath of a baseball game.
Down below the Trade Expo Show closes at 4pm. and it is half demolished by 5pm. The students are sitting in a huddle in symbiotic relationship to the deflated balloon. No one else seems to care so I rescue our three Kwin banners, after a struggle to even get permission to go into the space. Something which has been fought for, achieved and finally paid for out of your own pocket goes up in personal value. There is no time to rescue the competition panels and I wonder if I am the only person who cares as I race to get to the Press Room before it closes at 5.30. All the phone and fax lines have been taken out and I can do little more than rescue the four Kwin banners I have stored there for the day. I take them over to the McCormick Hotel for Graeme to give to Susan, Carl, Bob and Randy. By now all the shuttle buses have long since stopped so I have to walk all the way back to Michigan (The street, not the State).
Everything is well closed at the Architectural Centre and the Library and Arc-Peace seems to have evaporated, but by chance I meet Dick Urban Vestbro's daughter and she tells me that they are going to a theatre. Then I meet Akio and Kazuko in the street, and we decide to go too. Across to the Goodman Theatre to find that tickets are half price at $11.50. I get three and take two to Akio at 19243 Palmer House. I leave a note for Reuben Mutiso at the Hilton, and there is time to do little more before going back to the Goodman Theatre for "Cry my beloved country". The seats are excellent and the feeling intimate. I should have realised that we only got in because it was the final of the basketball and everyone had stayed home to watch television. It is a rather strange sensation watching black Americans actors playing black south Africans, and there are moments when it seems to be a pychodrama. Colour, crowd scenes, the anguish of a nation.
Sven and Dick and his family feel they must go because they are billeted so far away. A pity because it seems that there is much unfinished business, and I have little idea as to what if anything has been achieved in the last two days. Jim, Akio, Kazuko and I share a large plate of "salad" at the Palmer, and talk for an hour or two. It is a critical meeting as we share our feelings and clear away the anger generated by the disorganisation of the last few days. I walk to the Metro with Jim and farewell him as he heads back to New York.
MONDAY 21 JUNE
The UIA World Congress concludes
Left a Kwin poster at the Palmer for Akio to take back to Japan and then towards the Hilton to find the crowd coming the other way. I decide to forgo my morning coffee and press briefing and turn around to follow them.
The morning session is in Adler and Sullivan's Auditorium Building. Frank Lloyd Wright worked on the drawings when he was in Sullivan's office. There is a 20 minute delay in proceedings but no way of getting onto the stage to advertise Papatuanuku. Security guards have the stage doors blocked. There are not even cross aisles so that the whole Papatuanuku team has difficulty communicating.
A long advertisement in Spanish for the Barcelona Congress, and Nils Carlson introduces the new President. The new secretary (Greece) and treasurer (Italy) and the representatives (Nordic, Israel, Mexico, Singapore and Egypt) of the five UIA regions are also announced. China will be the venue of the 1999 UIA Congress. Susan announces the results of the AIA elections.
Peter Ellyard reports back to the Assembly that Graeme's breakout group moved outside to escape from the intolerable architecture of the Convention Centre. "Patterns for Sustainability" are to be developed and disseminated. Negative motivations could be summed up as "fear", while positive motivations could be summed up as "vision". "Happy talk..." should be the song of architects.
Susan reads the Declaration of Interdependence, and it is formally signed by representatives. The whole stage scene is degenerating into mutual backscratching, which only serves to make those who have been excluded from the inner circle to feel even more excluded.
A message to Clinton to save the forests of Oregon is hailed by some as a great leap forward for architectural commitment. I see it as a red herring diverting energy away from our real responsibility for architecture. Rumour has it that Bill initiated the move.
Maurice Strong gives a keynote address, with his usual skillful use of words. Leadership comes from the people who do. Rio. Once the dice was loaded in favour of nature, but this is no longer so. A "discourse of rich" reaction imposed on the poor. Our whole civilisation has been held hostage to economics. An economist would not invest in children as they take too long to become productive. At least 18-20 years, but perhaps much longer. We need to get on with what was in the Rio documents instead of complaining about what was not in. We need to make an investment in global environmental security. The same priority we have given to military security. Knowledge. The rich/poor conflict is now deepening. The Earth Council is to follow up Rio at an NGO level and the participation of architects would be welcomed. There are good examples now of the built expression of Chapter 7, Agenda 21. A change of course is essential now, even while we think. "You are not just architects of particular projects, but architects of the future of the planet"
Allan Rodger took some time to present the Banksia Award to Maurice Strong. He thanked Bob Berkebile, Graeme Robertson, Tony Rigg, Randy Croxton, Kirk Gastinger, and Robert Gilman. Then he explained how the Banksia Award began in a back street in Melbourne. It went international two years ago, being presented to Saudi Arabia in recognition of the funds and energy they devoted to cleaning up after the Gulf War. The second award was given to Maurice on 5 June 1992, but he was in Rio at the time. My mind drifts back to "Spotswood", and I wonder if Maurice could be asked to help with slot-car racing.
It is midday before Susan is able to carry on with another round of thanks. When the numbers for the Congress are given as 14,000 USA architects and 1.700 international architects I find myself trying to wake up. That would be close to $3,000,000 in registration fees, and they could not even afford to provide a cup of coffee.
Going back to the Press Room at the Hilton is a waste of time. It has closed down and there is neither phone nor fax. Among the empty cans there is one full coke so I drink that while wondering how they could have made life more difficult. Back to reception and quite by chance I meet Reuben Mutiso. A wonderful warm welcome, and Reuben sweeps aside the staff of the Hilton by telling them that I am the guest of honour at the Luncheon. He races me from table to table meeting architects from Africa and every other corner of the globe. There is almost no time to catch up on Nairobi, Habitat, or his feelings about Arc-Peace. Once again we travel the globe only to have our contact snatched away by the conference organisers.
By chance I find myself on the mysterious floor of the Hilton which does not even show on the lift panel. and this gives me a chance to thank Susan and Carl Costello for all their hard work.
The UIA Council meeting has finished but I check the rubbish bins and find an invitation to a very exclusive party at Loebl Schlossman and Hackl. Russell has not been invited so everyone assumes that I must be the NZ president, particularly when I am warmly welcomed by Rod Hackney and Reuben Mutiso. It turned out that Calvin Jay Tobin, one of the partners had been to NZ and loved it, so I finally had difficulty getting away. David Marks and Richard Hague are also very welcoming.
We all meet back at the Wacker and Graeme has turned up another invitation to call on Susan in the Hilton, so back we all go, only to find that Susan Maxman has gone and the room is empty. We set off in search of food and end up at street tables outside a cafe.
From there we make our way around the corner to Buddy Guys Blues Club. A bar, pool tables, places to sit and talk. Anyone can play. "I thought if I rode my bicycle in a straight line I wouldn't get lost, so I rode and rode. I rode so long that all the faces turned white. And then they started throwing stones at me, so I turned my bicycle around and I rode and rode. I rode so long that all the faces turned black." This was Chicago. I never did get as far north as Evanstown, but I did see a little of the south and it was very depressing. It is easy to be blue when there is a lot to be blue about.
TUESDAY 22 JUNE
The Robie House, the Art Institute, and the Sears Tower
Breakfast with the team and then farewells as the first group heads off for New York. On to find the International Press Centre for the first time.
I set off to search for the Robie house, but I should have picked up the instructions from the Architectural Centre. Taking a train to 59 South left me in the wrong part of town, and it was more than an hours walk to get across Washington Park and the University of Chicago campus to the house. By the time I arrived the midday entry time had passed and they refused to make any concessions for the hundreds of architects who were crawling all over Chicago, all equally lost whenever there was a mistake in the AIA guidebook. At the time I did not realise why they were announcing lists of incorrect addresses each morning at the assembly.
I meet up with a remnant of our team and we explore the campus and local bookshops before locating the Isidore Heller House at 5132 S. Woodlawn Ave. designed by FLW in 1897. The Byzantine scale of the upper terrace makes a connection I had not thought of before. Jackson Park, the site of the Worlds Columbia Exposition in 1890, is just to the east of here on the lake, and this resulted in radical changes to the whole of the Hyde Park area. We take a fascinating walk through these suburbs. The houses are a mixture of exuberance, flamboyant display and crass vulgarity.
We eventually take a bus back to the city around 3.30pm. The Art Institute is free on Tuesday and I had totally underestimated the quality of the collection. The Sullivan decoration in the foyer bowled me over. The permanent collection gathers together work which I had not expected to find here. The emphasis is on quality rather than quantity. Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet. Dali, Braque, Picasso of course. Every famous name seemed to be represented. There were special exhibitions on Russian architecture and bentwood furniture. The Sullivan trading room rescued from the Stock Exchange has been completely rebuilt here. The only disappointing element was the exhibition on architecture put on especially for the Congress. It made architects look like Philistines. Power-crazed maniacs only seeking for self glory. Drawings and models of phallic symbols. I retreated back to the photographic exhibition in the basement.
On with some students to the Sears tower to watch the sun go down and the city lights come up. We almost missed it by the time we had been forced to sit through an audio-visual synthetic experience before they would let us into the lift. The glass was filthy which severely compromised the quality of the view. My hotel window was actually better. It was however interesting to piece together the urban form of the city.
We shared a meal back at the Rainbow. I decided a Chicago T-bone was in order, knowing that meat would be beyond my budget once I left the US.
WEDNESDAY 23 JUNE
Frank Lloyd Wright and Oak Park
Breakfast with the New Zealand team, who really have the system sorted out to perfection, at the Rainbow Restaurant next to the Wacker. We track down the Langdon office, but unfortunately no one is in. A fax is waiting for me when I reach NZ apologising, and hoping to keep up the contact. An interesting area with small-scale design centres and other uses which need low architectural overheads but contribute so much to the city. I showed the students over the Press Centre to give them a feeling for what should have been down at the Conference.
Then Nikki Glen and I "train out" to Oak Park. It is startling to walk down the road and find that Unity Temple is just around the corner from the station. We pass by to go on to the Visitors Centre to collect cassette tape tour walkmans. It takes an hour and a half to complete the walk, listening to commentary, music liked by FLW and an occasional remark by the man himself. Extremely well done. Press green to start, music to announce directions to walk, red to stop. In theory there is no rewind, but Nikki quickly worked out how to turn the tape over.
I walked back to do the 1pm tour of FLW's studio and house, meeting the Russian delegation on the way. The house was built when Wright was 20 with a loan of $5,000 from Sullivan, who also forbad Wright from doing private jobs while working in the office. Under the famous Ginka tree Larisa asks me if I will speak at a Tashkent meeting in October. There would be a side trip to Samarkand, and the ideal would be for everyone to travel together from Moscow. The offer is too good to refuse. Larisa is now the only person handling the international office in Moscow, where they previously had 12 people. Larisa is also very keen to get five students to take part in a student exchange scheme to five different parts of Russia, and just then the students appear, including Trevor who has cycled across from some other part of town. It is excellent for everyone to be able to meet. Photographs. Back to Unity Temple to see through before it closes. Everyone seems to just walk in for free, and we remain mystified as to why we paid $1.50. At last the ice cream we had been promising ourselves all day. It is certainly hot and humid.
Back to rendezvous with Leanne at the SERDE exhibition, but we are late and she left just before we arrived. The others go shopping, while I spend time going over the exhibition. I find that Tony Ward's Viaduct Basin scheme is on display. Photographs of Peter Mayer's model which is in pride of place. New Zealanders bathe in the reflected glory of the story of the model being battered in the post and the eventual outcome of NZ Post paying his fare so that he could go to New York to repair the damage. A welcome cup of coffee.
We have agreed to meet at the Wacker at 7pm so I drift north taking photographs as I go. The largest stretched limo I have ever seen is perhaps 60 feet long, with double wheels at the rear. It is having difficulty turning to get into the street. As far as I can see there is a seat up one side and a cocktail cabinet up the other. No one has arrived and it is an hour before they do. I photograph fire escapes and other details so typical of Chicago. Eventually we head off to Pizza Duo. Not as easy to find as predicted. It is extremely crowded and we must wait to get a seat on the first floor terrace looking out across the street. We wait one and a half hours to get our pizza delivered. Good, but not to compare with the best I have had. We talk about the trip and UIA politics, and it seems good to draw together some of the loose ends. Another budweiser back at the hotel with a brief glimpse of TV in the student room. Continuous ads. I am thankful not to have TV in my room.
THURSDAY 24 JUNE
The Chicago architectural museum
Awake at 6.30, but I am still smothered in shaving soap when the team calls in at 7.30. Over the road for a farewell breakfast. A number one, with porridge, fried egg, two pieces of toast and two coffees for $2.42, including tax. We gather up baggage and I farewell them at the Chicago Street Station as they head south to transfer to the O'Hare line. Glen, Trevor and Nikki are going on to join the others in New York, Leanne is going to Toronto. Suddenly I am on my own.
On to the Cathedral, the Water Tower and the Pump Station. I discover a 1920 engraving which shows the origin of Chicago with Fort Dearbon on the south side of the river and a single house on the north. The John Hancock Centre, with the Athenaeum in the basement. A photographic exhibition of 16 Tange towers, including the AMA building which I can see from my hotel window. An exhibition of three Cesar Pelli buildings, Washington airport, the Kuala Lumpur city centre and the Ohio Arts Centre. The Dutch entry from the Venice Bienale. A superb series of sketches of well known architects by Roberto Sambonet. Several examples of Italian sculpture by Guiliano Mauri, Claudio Parmiggiani, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Mauro Staccioli and William Xerra.
Walking north the streets are opulent. This could be Paris. Half basements, green squares and small scale expensive shops which could be in London. State Street moves off the grid. The second location for the Architectural Museum is on Clarke, just south of Division. This is the working core of the Museum while the other locations are purely for exhibitions. On the second floor (English first) it is not easy to find. There are seven different exhibitions here. Designers from Michael Graves to Coop Himmelblau were invited to decorate a glass for milk, and all the glasses are on display. The Cabrini Green Competition was for an area to the east of the north branch of the Chicago River, very close to this spot. A seven year old was shot by a sniper while walking to school and the competition commemorates the event. The first prize is formal and dull, contributing nothing. The second place design by Lucian Kroll is a winner, with the spatial flair of a Beavan/Athfield approach. Paul Andreau designed the cloud at Defense in Paris. Here the organic models are of airport terminals and a golf course at Kumihama in Japan. The exhibition of Croation design seems to ignore the war completely. The Polish exhibition was contributed by SARP. Anne Swainson was a product designer for Montgomery Ward. The Luca Scaccheti "Sites of earth, sites of mind" sketch books (1935-92) are absolutely superb. Exquisite, colourful, somewhere between Rossi and Hundertwasser. A drawing of a mosque done on an Indian newspaper. The immediacy of materials available while travelling. An inspiration and an incentive.
Right outside the door is the underground so around 1pm I take a train north to Sheridan. A donut and coffee for $1.10, which is what a 99c special looks like when the tax is added. Then I set out in the wrong direction and need to complete a circle past Wrigley Field before ending up back at Graceland Cemetery. It is not difficult to find the rough hewn headstone for Sullivan and the polished black granite headstone for Mies van der Rohe. The Getty tomb is close by as is the Ryburn tomb by Sullivan. The Burnham graves are on the island in the lake. A simple stone for each. The cemetery is very spacious and relaxed.
Back on the red line for $1.10 to Roosevelt. Another downpour, but it is already after 4pm so I cannot waste time taking shelter as I need to get to the Field Museum before it closes at 5pm. The students have worked out that it is free on Thursdays. The Meeting House is indeed far away in a corner, but the standard of the displays leading up to it is excellent. The Docent is very helpful but she is so American that communication is difficult. She allows me to go in and offers to light the interior for me. I think of Harima Frazer as I remember my Mihi. The Pacific display is probably the best in the Museum. A scene of "downtown" Tahiti. Atolls. An excellent BC Indian exhibit. A house of the central USA Indians.
Across to the Shedd Aquarium, which is also free on Thursdays, but it is too late at 5.15 for the last admissions. I have no regrets. Apparently they keep captive dolphins, so our team decided to boycott in protest. I wander along the waterfront to the Planetarium to find it is free on Tuesdays, with the last show of Fridays being the one to go to, as they follow this with live transmissions from the adjacent observatory. Planes are regularly arriving and departing from the airport. Down at the marina all the dinghys seem to be flat bottomed, making them difficult to row in the strong wind. Back at the Hilton Hotel I finally get the credit card phone to work, and ring Clive to arrange to meet him in London and Helen to find if any problems might demand an immediate return to NZ. I arrange for them to ring the Wacker if necessary.
Over to the Essex to meet the Russian delegation at 7pm. I am early at 6.30pm and they are not in, so I settle in to do some writing. After waiting two and a half hours I find that they arrived by a back door at 7.30 and did not think to look in the foyer. Igor is still not back from his visit down state. They had already eaten, so the whole meeting collapses into chaos. I present the President with a Kwin Banner which I have carried around all day, They are very impressed. We walk part way together towards the Wacker and then they return to the Essex while I carry on to the Wacker. They had spent the morning in the swimming pool and were extremely interested to discover all the corners of Chicago I had explored. A 12" sub at Subway on State. Everything is swinging as I pass the Hard Rock Cafe, but I am glad to get to bed around 11.45 after a sundae at McDonalds and a bud at the hotel.
FRIDAY 25 JUNE
The buildings of Chicago
Helen rings from Karaka Bay at 7.30. On to Mass at the Cathedral at 8, and then a very enjoyable number one breakfast. The waitress shares something of her routine. She starts work at 4am and finishes at 2pm., feels Chicago is either too hot or too cold, and knows all the customers likes and dislikes, in both food and people. By 9.15 I am back at the Wacker. It teems with rain so I delay a couple of hours, writing up information for my studio group and also the basis of several articles for back in NZ. I sort all my paperwork and make up a bundle to post back to NZ. Then the sky clears and eventually it becomes a superb day. It is now a race to catch up the time I have lost. I should have gone straight to the Press Centre and used their computers.
At the Architectural Museum in Kenzo Tange's AMA building there is a single exhibition on "Women and Design". Each designer was provided with a trunk which opened to become an exhibition stand and closed to become ready for the next move. The presentations vary from the blatantly commercial - "I have been one of the top ten hospitality designers for the last ten years" - right through to the quirky, folksy, friendly people.
Explored part of "Emerald City" (the reason for the name escapes me), the subterranean traffic system which operates under the centre of Chicago to make deliveries possible. East to skirt North Pier, and a long walk out to the end of Navy Pier. 3000 feet long, and with a fascinating history, it is now being refurbished. Visually there are strong buildings at either end, with an essentially one-storeyed fabric linking them. A large auditorium space at the outer end. Rather non-descript architecture, but good urban design. The water purification plant is just to the north. I follow the waters edge to the south, with an excellent view of the lock on the river which raised the river level so that the pollution which flowed into the lake would flow back through the canal to eventually end up in the Mississippi. There are good cycleways through here, but I did not have time to confirm the rumour that it is possible to hire bicycles at North Pier. A tangle of motorways sadly isolates the city from the lake at this point. I emerge at Prudential tower. Photographs of the Culture in Action Sculpture project.
On through to La Salle, but while the Board of Trade Building with the 1980 "art deco" addition by Murphy, Jahn, Shaw and Associates is impossible to miss, the Stock Exchange itself is not as easy to find as I had expected. The Midwest Exchange has a viewing gallery on the fifth floor, and access is by elevator. Some transactions are now done completely by computer. Explored the foyers of the old and new buildings and the railway station which is at the back of this building. I found it difficult to relate to. Then to the Futures Exchange, which has a public gallery on the second level. Here I counted more than 2000 computer screens displaying information. Very heated trading, but it all dies out at 3pm.
The Rookery is astonishing. The lower levels are now fully restored. My camera is giving problems now and I struggle to gain a photograph of the curved stair. Finally I give up as I can waste no more time. Tomorrow a new battery will overcome most of the problems, but problems with the autofocus will dog me for the rest of the trip. North to the Merchandise Mart PO to send off my parcel of Conference information to NZ. $48 for airmail so I settle for $6 surface and a long wait. They have an appropriate bag, are very helpful and straightforward, and at $8.12 total it seems good value. I revise my ideas about the US mail system. Perhaps Chicago is just easier than New York. The whole package arrives safely in only seven weeks, which is brilliant. Do it again, Sam.
On up to level 13 and the Press Centre, running very late at 4.30. Julie is just great. When I need more information on the Culture in Art programme she telephones and puts me onto Rebecca D Des Marais, who sends a full press kit back to NZ for me. I would have loved to talk longer, but need to scribble out three pages of stories to fax them back to the students. I also fax the final Declaration and Eco-net information. It is 5.30 before Julie gets away. She is very gracious about the delay on a Friday night.
On to the Architecture Museum in 333 Wacker, which is once again a single exhibition at the ground floor level. The theme is "Black architecture", which seems a very tenuous way of gathering a great variety of work. The mud brick from Africa is superb, but the rest is all over the place in more ways than one. I follow the south branch of the river. A coffee in the Northwestern Atrium Centre by Helmut Jahn (219). An orchestra is playing across the river so I settle down on the river terrace to listen while checking my AIA guidebook to see if I have missed any important buildings. It is encouraging to see just how wide my coverage has been. On to the Monadnock, which I feel is as good as when it was finished. Strong and beautifully proportioned. The light has faded too much for me to photograph the library. Crowds are going into Sullivan's Auditorium to see "Miss Saigon", and there seems to be hot competition for any spare seats.
I press on, watching the baseball games as I cross the park, to the Adler Planetarium, arriving at 8.10 for the 8pm show. I have only missed the first part of the show in the underground auditorium, which I imagine was slides of galaxies. We move up on an escalator into the planetarium itself. The large Zeiss unit is similar to that in Moscow. The presentation on the "African sky" is superb. It began in Egypt with life to the east and death and the pyramids to the west of the Nile. Stars identified times for planting and predicted the flooding of the Nile. Down to the Dogon, identifying the animals which they recognised in the sky. On to the Niger with their system for establishing a stellar clock explained. Down to Kenya and the stars of the Equator, and then on to South Africa and some modern telescopes. A very rich tapestry extremely well explained. Then a video shows up on the sky showing the person in the telescope alongside. He explains the technology and the telescope, and then beams in onto the moon. The image is enlarged and enhanced. When clouds cross the moon he is able to call on previous recordings. Then he picked up Venus and finally a supernova in a remote galaxy. Absolutely fascinating.
Back outside to the most exquisite night. The dying red of the sunset is still strong behind the sparkling skyscrapers. My camera refuses to take a second photograph. I sit and watch until the sky is black and only the twinkling lights remain. A walk back along the lake. Hundreds of people are out promenading, and boats are crowded with people just enjoying the night. The fair in the park has already closed for the night so I make my way back across to the Essex Hotel. It is 10.45 and I get Larisa out of bed only to find that Igor is still not back. I call it a day and leave messages of greeting. Back "up Michigan" and I decide to settle for another 12" turkey and ham sub which I take back to 622 so that I can wash it down with a couple of "buds" and another bottle of beer to clean everything up for tomorrow. By the time I have done some washing it is well after midnight.
SATURDAY 26 JUNE
Awake at 7 to a clear blue sky. 8 Mass at the Cathedral, and back to the Rainbow for a number one breakfast. On my way out the guy on the desk demands another $35, and the discussion goes on when I return. Then the heavy on the door comes up to my room and demands money. When I show him my receipts and that I have paid in full he believes me. I will never know if they were just having me on or if there was some genuine mistake made. It not only wastes a lot of time I do not have, but also generates a nasty taste to an experience which had not been marred up to this point. In the finish they keep my key deposit, which they had in fact charged me twice when I went into it, and we call it quits. By 11am everything is packed, including my two remaining Kwin posters.
There is little time to think about some things which might have been. Tony Rigg was staying at the Cass Hotel on Wabash, but I never managed to find him or the hotel. We met, but had no time to develop the friendship. The Cambrini sisters were in room 404 of the Grand Park Hotel at 1100 Illinois, but after a tantalising chance contact the mystery of Oscar remains a riddle. When I get back to Chicago there will be threads to weave into the new itinerary. Gina Driskell at Langdon Associates 750 North Franklin, and Tom Bartnik at Ed Noonan's 1807 West Sunnyside.
I have checked my camera manual and ascertained that I need a new battery, so I set off in the direction of the Hancock Centre searching for a camera shop. They are very elusive if you want more than a one-hour processing hole in the wall, but one of these places eventually gives me the address I need. Up to Lake Shore Drive and then back down for a nostalgic look at 860. Every window is covered with curtains and screens in an attempt to deal with both heat and cold. It is a superb day looking across the lake and every window is sealed shut. A tragic building. Back past the water tower and down Michigan. In the foyer of the Herald Tribune Building all the marble walls have quotations carved into them about the freedom of the press or the importance of open government. I realise just how important these statements are to American culture. A Kaupapa not a mission statement.
By chance I discover I am walking past the United Airlines office and they are open which is equally astonishing. I confirm my flights and discover that there has been a glitch with my window seat preference on the computer and for almost all the rest of my trip I cannot get window seats. It matters little as I manage to always make the correction at the gate. Down to 230 Wabash where a battery gets my Nikon back into action. There is still a fault with the autofocus, but I live with that for the rest of the trip. The photographs I want of Monadnock and the new library, which I find is an oppressive building inside. At the Hilton I have to make endless attempts to get my visa card to operate the phone, but my persistence pays off. I finally get Erika to find that she would not have been home if I had simply arrived in Munich. She changes her plans. I also ring Clive at 7am NZ time and he insists that he wants to meet me at Heathrow airport. I discover he had phoned the Wacker twice only to be told I was out. Larisa appears, but by now I have no time to talk and can only say that I will see her in Moscow. Back to photograph Sullivan's Auditorium which is now catching the light, and the interior of the library. Up State Street to walk through Carson Pirie Scott, catching some photographs of the entry, which was one of the first places I discovered when I arrived in Chicago ten days ago. I collect my bag at the Wacker and walk down to Washington. It seems appropriate to go underground where I first emerged. It is already 3.20, and it takes around 45 minutes to get to the airport.
By chance I end up in the very front seat of the train, and this is much more exciting that any fun fair. The light following the hole it seems to carve through the ground. Stations appearing. The faces of people as they wait. Finally emerging into daylight and seeing the timber overhead platforms in a new way. Beside the freeway. Only a glimpse of the new terminal, but even that is rewarding. Underground again to the airport terminal. Moving walkways to B and the underground neon corridor which links B and C. The terminals are crowded far beyond their capacity. 20 minutes before the flight I get a window seat, and by 16.30 I am sitting on a 767, but I could have relaxed a little as we are 30 minutes late for our 16.44 departure.
Great views of Chicago as we lift off for the 1 hour 33 minutes flight to New York. The lake seems vast. Regular field patterns. More lakes. Cloud. Then we pass right over the top of Manhattan Island, which is bathed in the golden light of the setting sun. Incredible. Every detail is etched so clearly but nothing seems to be real. We sweep out to sea and swing back to land at JFK. I ring Jim to take advantage of the stopover and he is surprised and delighted to find me in New York. I would have made more calls but we need to be back on the plane at 8.50 NY time. (7.50 Chicago time.) We fly north with lights all the way right up past Boston and cross the Atlantic on the 35th parallel.
It is a 6 hours 19 minutes flight from New York to London. Dawn is around midnight, just after we have had dinner, and to add to the disorientation we see "Strictly Ballroom" yet again. For me it is the fourth time. Perhaps there are bonus points to offset the absurdities of being a frequent flyer.
SUNDAY 27 JUNE
Heathrow and on to Munich
We arrive with the dawn, coming in over the Isle of Man and then we follow down the full length of the "green and verdant" land. The mediaeval field pattern is simply stunning after the boring right angle grids of the USA. Then we do a grand sweep over London. Barbican, St. Pauls, Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Battersea power station. The astonishing view of Kew Gardens makes me resolve to visit it, but time will cut my dream short.
We touch down at Heathrow at 2.50am Chicago time, which is 8.50 London time. A concorde is on the tarmac shining in the sun. The concorde is less surprising than the sun. A few clouds scud about. It just is not the London sky I have come to know and loathe. A security check and then we are sent to a lounge to wait, around 9.10. We are obviously the first people to arrive for the Munich flight, and the problem which haunts me rears its head yet again. I have ten pounds in notes, and no silver for a coin phone. There is nowhere to change money. There is only one phone in the distance and it is blocked off with seats. I want to ring Peter and Judith, Andrew, Diana, Robert and Brenda, and others and if I had been able to do so my whole next leg would have been smoother. It is all very British. There are lots of helpful people and they can all see the problem and they will all do what they can, but somehow nothing happens. Eventually with classic British forbearance in the face of overwhelming odds I give up.
Brilliant views over Sussex and Kent but after we have swept across the white cliffs of Dover the cloud begins to build up. Tantalising, disconnected glimpses of Europe. At 11.30 UK time, which is 12.30 local time we are on the ground at the new Munich airport.
Through my tired eyes the airport seems to have little to commend it. I follow signs, change some money along the way, and find myself sitting on the S-bahn on my way in to centrum. If there was a sign which explained how to get a ticket it totally escaped me. I queue behind the backpackers at the hauptbahnhof to get a map, and then go outside to wait for a 27 tram. How could I know that a month ago the 27 tram was re-routed and no longer goes past here. It is freezing cold and I am very tired by now. Finally I go back to ask, discover my error, and soon I am on my way to Schwanseestrasse.
Around the corner along familiar ground and in a few minutes I am at Erika's new flat. She knows me all too well and there is a huge slice of nostalgic German chocolate cake waiting beside the hot coffee.
I am too tired to face up to more ambitious ventures, but we take a long walk to the south of the cemetery. The US troops are withdrawing from the camp they have occupied here, and a mini festival is running for several days. The side shows could be anywhere but the long trestle tables in the beer hall tents leave little doubt that this is Munich. We sample some local delicacies, but I decide a beer will send me to sleep before I can make it to the soft luxury of losing myself beneath a duvet.
MONDAY 28 JUNE
Tom and Gerd and Wessling
Erika apologises continuously for not having had time to prepare more while she spreads the table with good cheese, salami, dark bread, and just for me a great slice of cake.
Erika has an appointment at the doctor so I go with her by S-bahn and then, having confirmed where we can meet I go on to locate Tom and Gerd. I am at the Surf office by 11am. The astonishment on Gerd's face when I walk in. The wonderful welcome. Gerd always reminds me of lovable Groucho Marx. He phones to get Tom to come over. We arrange to meet for lunch at 12.30, and I walk back to have a look over the offices of Bike. The firm recently became too large and moved into new premises. Back to find Erika, and a cursory look at the area around Sendlinger-Tor-Platz, which I only later discover is almost in the middle of town.
Only a short walk from the office is an excellent Italian restaurant and Gerd insists that I should wash my pasta down with good Munich beer. Gerd lives almost next to the office, but he also has a house in Italy. He calls it small because it only has three bedrooms? Tom lives an hour away, and also has a house in Italy. Both their Italian houses are in the Tyrol, the German speaking part of Italy. Close to the lakes and good cycling.
Towards 2pm I take the train back to meet Erika. We go by S-bahn out to Wessling, and Hans is waiting with, you guessed, more cake and wonderful coffee. Hans and I had been climbing together in the Austrian Alps, and he still has a twinkle in his eye. We sit outside on the terrace in the sun, and catch up on lives. We explore the garden and the house. I suggest a walk round Wessling lake, and that brings the memories flooding back. I had forgotten that the house of Salk is beside the lake. It is late by the time we S-bahn back to Munich and I decide on an early night as plans are already afoot for tomorrow.
TUESDAY 29 JUNE
Wenke and the top of the European world.
Soon after 8.30 we are off again by S-bahn, and a little after 9.30 Hans meets us in his car at the station. On to Pilsensee, where we walk out on the pier. Hans is grateful for my offer to drive, and I find it bliss to get behind the wheel of a Peugot diesel to explore a little of Europe and feel those buildings crowding in on me as we weave through narrow streets. Ammersee lake is surprisingly large. Herrsching. South to Garmish-Partenkirchen.
The cable car up Wenke is deceptive. It gains height very quickly, and soon we are looking across the whole of the alps.
We make our way up to the "hotel" on the summit for lunch. It seems to be a film set. An outside terrace along two sides of the building looks across to the Zugspitze. Under the umbrellas the liederhosen folk quaff steins of beer. Garmish and Partenkicken lie far below in the valley. We eat delicacies of the area. Hans was a climbing instructor many years ago for the host, so we find ourselves being presented with schnapps, and after we have finished lunch he takes us into his own accommodation to share photographs and memories.
Across the tops to look down different valleys, while paragliders soar over our heads after launching from the slope nearby. Very civilised. Very European. We lie in the hot sun.
The last cable car goes at 5.30 and we leave only a little before. We drive through Krun and stop at Walchensee for, you guessed, coffee and cake. The blue and white umbrellas shelter the terrace as we look across the lake to the mountains. The autobahn leads us back to Munchen.
At 8pm Hans drives back to Wessling and we wait for his call to say he has arrived safely before we set off around 9pm to explore the centre of Munchen. I always enjoy trams because they keep a sense of place and make relationships visible. The Neuhauserstrasse mall is delightful. Fountains. Water is such a feature of Munchen. An ice cream desert in the park. By 11.30 we are back at the flat to talk while I pack. Around 1.30am I set my alarm for 5.15, but I do not feel like going to sleep. My friends have spoilt me with so many wonderful experiences.
WEDNESDAY 30 JUNE
Back to Heathrow to meet Clive
Bath and brot and away before 5.40. Erika has plotted and rehearsed the transport alternatives like some military exercise, knowing exactly which train will be at which station when. A 27 is trundling along so we jump it to get to the U-bahn. At Marienplatz we change to the S-bahn, and Erika leaves me at the limit of her two zone pass while I go on to the airport.
UA 919 departs for London around 7.30am. A 727-B with 3+3 seating and I am in 16F. Cloud at first but then spectacular views of Europe. The open cast mines seem to be bigger than five villages put together. Across the Rhine. Right over the top of Brugge. Holland seeming to lie beneath the water. We come in somewhere over the Wash and then head south to Heathrow. A little before 9am we are on the ground.
Clive is waiting to greet me. I have to pinch myself to remind me where I am. We find the Dollar car-rental counter, collect the paperwork, and catch the shuttle out to the Dollar depot, which is in the direction of Windsor well beyond the bounds of Heathrow. The delays are endless for no particular reason. It just seems to be a muddle. It is almost 11.30 before everything is untangled. We have a choice of vehicles so look them over and select a Peugot 205. We are on our way.
Fortunately Clive has brought the AA "4 miles to an inch" Britain Road Atlas all the way from New Zealand. Nothing seems to be available at the car-rental, and without extremely good maps it would be impossible to navigate an effective and time-saving route around England. Another time I would bring the Blue book as well.
The playing fields of Eton and on to Windsor. The joy of the delightful English sense of scale is offset only by the discovery of roundabouts, one way street systems and traffic jams. It is now impossible to find anywhere to park in Windsor. Alma Road has become part of a one way street system which almost leaves me backing up in despair. Andrew is not in so I leave a card and we go to have a look at the town. The guard changes at the castle to celebrate our arrival.
We return to find that Andrew has arrived home and over a very welcome cup of coffee he entertains us in his own inimitable way with stories of air travel. When he describes the problems of having to off-load a dead passenger in India you can feel the heat inside the morgue and smell the scene. He is a great observer of detail and a master of storytelling. We are very lucky to have caught him as he is flying off on another long journey on the morrow.
We try to find a way onto the motorway, and keep weaving under and over it as I navigate an erratic course towards Godstone. It is much more pleasant of course to be on the network of small roads as it provides a wonderful orientation to England. Pubs. Gardens. Vague directions. Sixties architecture.
We never do find a motorway entrance but we do find Godstone, somewhere around 3.30. What a delightful place. The pond. The green. The pub. There seems to be no sign of the church so we walk off down a pedestrian lane past a pond with private fishing rights to emerge at Church House. Diana has spent the day working on a film and the crew are at the point of catching the last interviews and packing away their gear. We share the remnants of a lunch which has become an all day feast. In the midst of the general confusion Helen has come over to show Diana her photographs of New Zealand, so I meet her for the first time and also see photographs of Steve and Kristin, and Jim and Diane. It is my first real feedback on the South Island trip, after the confusion of Diana's farewell party. How much more pleasant to have a thank-you lunch in Godstone.
Diana has a meeting at 5pm in the wonderful old house, but people seem to be slow in arriving so we talk until almost 6pm. I am overwhelmed with tiredness and would love to have stayed the night in this idyllic spot, but Clive is keen to press on to Billericay.
A very solid hour and a half of motorway driving leads us only to the discovery that Peter and Judith are not in. On the morrow we will discover that they left for France only hours earlier. I would have returned to Godstone but we search instead for a B&B. They suddenly seem to have evaporated. We go round in circles and finally end up at Brentwood. I only want to sleep.
THURSDAY 1 JULY
Cambridge and on to Southwell
We walk down to the main guest house for a lavish English breakfast. Back to pack and back to Billericay to check Peter and Judith's movements at the pharmacy. Through Brentwood once more. Chipping Ongar. Hatfield Heath is delightful so we stop to enjoy the urban form while sitting in the sun drinking fruit juice. Stansted is only a little further north, and Foster's terminal appears on the horizon like a great mediaeval cathedral. The roading layout and access is abysmal, but the terminal is superb. It seems to float, and combines technology with a human touch.
North to Cambridge on the M11 to gain a little time. Parking is not easy, but we find a free space close to the centre, and walk through the old town. The Cam. The new development alongside the river takes me back to the lecture the architect gave in New Zealand.
On to Ely. Here traffic is directed to large car parks on the fringe of the central area. They are some distance away, but the Cathedral is visible and the pedestrian route in is full of interest and thus the journey seems short. An excellent example of urban design. I am sure that most of the traffic in Windsor or Cambridge is simply going round and round creating congestion. The Cathedral. The close. A cup of coffee upstairs in a tiny English attic overlooking the green.
We choose the path less travelled by. Wisbech. Long Sutton. Fosdyke. The flat land in from the Wash. Canals and canal boats. Small villages. At Heckington the eight blade windmill is visible from the main road. The station and signal box alongside are equally delightful. Sleaford. At Newark-on-Trent we get into a tangle and have to double back to find the road to Averham and Upton. It wastes a lot of time.
It is almost 8pm when we finally get to Southwell and a wonderful welcome from Robert and Brenda. Of course both the lower and upper Kirklington roads go to Kirklington, but like all truths the connections are more easily seen in hindsight.
An evening walk leads us across the old commons to the playing fields and on to the Minster. With Robert and Brenda as guides Southwell is a "love at first sight" town.
FRIDAY 2 JULY
The autonomous house and the canals of Nottingham
It is fun just to be with Robert and Brenda, and there are so many threads to pick up from the wonderful time we spent together at Karaka Bay. Around 9.30 we walk around to the Minster. The eccentricity of it all is sheer joy, and I love the honesty of Norman architecture. Brenda explains the carvings. I cannot believe the mediaeval compactness and interest in the town.
The new autonomous house is indeed close by. The form is completed, waiting for the insulation to go on so that the roof can be completed. The joinery will be in in a week. We clamber all over it. It has a Norman feeling. Direct, honest and relaxed. Not trying to make any pretentious point. I can see why the Council has become supportive. It mellows into the urban context, and yet is completely radical. Mature architecture.
Coffee and cake in the centre of Southwell, and then our guided tour continues back to the house.
Around 12.30 we drive on to Nottingham, going straight to the marina. "Slug" is everything we expected and more. An absolutely traditional canal boat. Graeme and Annie would love it. The painted bucket. The mop. The warmth and friendliness. Colour. Individuality within very tight constraints.
We lunch at the oldest pub in England. It is carved out of the rock. The view from the castle gives an idea of Nottingham's urban form. It is slightly disturbing to see an armaments factory of considerable size almost in the middle of town.
Up to the University at 3.30. Robert and Brenda have a meeting to attend, considering whether the Planning Department should be allowed to die. Clive and I look over the exhibitions of student work. I am astonished to see how many students come from Asia. Their work is monumental and pretentious in the extreme. While we struggle with sustainability they know exactly where they are going. The other way.
Back to Southwell at 6pm. An archery club is over the fence beyond the bees happily firing arrows. Brenda cooks a wonderful lasagne supper. Another evening walk which seems to be even more surprising as it follows a totally different route. I am beginning to realise that Southwell has a great deal to say about sustainability. Back home we talk until after 11pm.
SATURDAY 3 JULY
A leisurely breakfast discovering surprise after surprise. The volume on "Towards a Green Architecture" which was published by the RIBA at the same time as "Green Architecture". "Albion". Next time we will have a week to talk as we travel the canals across to Wales.
Resisting the offer of a day on the canals Clive and I set off at 10.30 to take a final look at the Minster and then we go on to Sherwood Forest. Most English forests are hard to find. Mansfield. Chesterfield. The Peak District National Park. A pub lunch in a stone village. Macclesfield.
There is no one at Rod Hackney's office in St.Peters House, and I discover that I do not have his home address. I know he lives up in the hills close by but without clear directions a search would be hopeless, and his telephone is unlisted. A letter from him will be waiting when arrive back in New Zealand.
There is a sign as we leave the town to Little Moreton Hall. Entry is free with our Historic Places Trust Membership, and the experience is magical. In spite of having seen endless photographs it had never occurred to me that the builders simply delighted in being able to throw away spirit levels and measures. How it occurs is how it occurs.
After a wonderful two hours we are on our way again at 6pm. Nantwich. Wrexham. Llangollen. Offa's Dyke. Down to Bala. With only a little help I find Bruce McGowan's house only to find that he left for Scotland some four years ago, and no one knows a forwarding address.
Clive has eyed some of the B&Bs on the way in, but I have a hunch that the Youth Hostel could have a little more personality. It is a 1664 Mansion set high on the hills looking right over the misty valley. We are settled in by 9pm and head down to Bala for ham and chips. Clive's ability to sniff out local colour leads us to a cafe where no one is speaking English. This really is another country. By 10pm I am back in my 1664 bedroom sliding from one dream into another.
SUNDAY 4 JULY
Slate mines, the Quarry and Kinseys
The weather is poor, but we keep to schedule and head for Snowdonia. The chapel on the lake at Llyn Celyn. The B4391 across the tops. Ffestiniog is as grey and dreary as a town can be, but beneath the slate exterior there is a great deal of spirit. The town is surrounded by slate mines, and it seems as though it would be overwhelmed if the tailings began to slide. We take a tour through one of the mines, the Llechwedd Caverns, with the train squeezing beneath immense walls of slate.
Down to Dolgellau, with people camped by the river and the ruins of an abbey. To the Quarry to see the water operated rack railway, which now provides access from the bottom carpark. Clive is keen to press on. Machynlleth. The old parliament buildings. The quarry shop. On to Caersws and up the back road to Trixie's flat at the rectory. When I rang through to Trixie from the Vales she forgot to say that she had moved south to Knighton, and so the house was deserted. Up to Belan Barns. Evan and Mary are delighted to see us, and give little hint of sickness and other pressures in their lives. Evan is as sharp as ever, always thinking of others. He shows us photographs of the wind farm and whets our appetite to see it.
Jane and Angus are bringing in hay. I am keen to help but they feel they probably have enough help as Edward is on his way with a friend, and Clive is keen to press on to Knighton. Trixie at last and a tour of the new house. Off to the local pub for a meal and then Trixie takes us up to John Hunt's village. The Everest Hall is next to a pub full of memorabilia. A second cider. Back to Trixie's for the night.
MONDAY 5 JULY
Kinseys and the wind farm
Trixie goes off to work, leaving us to sort out the mysteries of the kitchen. The Offa's dyke information centre is packed with photographs. In Newtown Clive replaces the shoes he bought here three years ago. A more leisurely look at the Rectory. Tom and Helen are just finishing their lunch, and Helen's mum is with them. The golf club. Belan Barns to spend more time with Evan and Mary. Angus has gone to London but Jane now has time to talk.
Llandinam. Following Jane's superb instructions we climb up to the wind farm. The most erie sensation. 45M towers and the blades are 15M in diameter. 103 towers in rather irregular rows. The sheep are an appropriate size, but it seems that a giant will stride over the horizon.
Llanidloes, the market town, has been rather overwhelmed by tourism. Rhayader. A country pub for a meal and a glass of cider. Back to Trixie's for the night.
TUESDAY 6 JULY
Hereford and across the Severn to Cheddar
A worker arrives to take out the fireplace. I drive the short distance to the centre of Knighton for milk, corn flakes, crumpets and baps, which are like light bread rolls. Even the humblest activity is informative in a strange land. Familiar international symbols mingle with vernacular traditions. Apparently muffins are no longer found in England. The clock tower and the butcher's shop opposite are strong memories of the time I cycled through here on my Bickerton bicycle and bought a pork pie.
Trixie shares a book on the monuments of Montgomeryshire which she discovered in a second hand bookshop. The Moat is described with both drawings and photographs. I note that next time I am in Newtown I must look at the Norman church at Kerry. The laptop brought in for Evan seems cheap at 525 pound for 286K. Another thread to pick up another time.
We discuss house design and conservatories. With a south facing slope and such wonderful views of the forest on the hill across the valley the house seems to be asking for a little energy efficiency. I suggest opening up the kitchen into the dining room and then extending this space out. The parlour to the west seems to be an ideal office for Trixie, with those changing work patterns which are affecting all our lives.
South. Delightful villages, great countryside. Very low flying air force planes all the time. We skirt the towns and follow the villages. Hereford brings osthouses and hops, but they disappear as suddenly as they have arrived. Thatched roofs. A watermill. Croft "castle" is not open until 2pm, and Berrington Hall is not open until 12.30.
Leominster and on to Bromyard around 11.30, following Patsy's excellent directions which take us straight to 6 Linton Lane. Win is looking after James, now only three weeks old, and she brings us up to date on the latest in weather (cold and wet) and scandals (the lift again) from Karaka Bay. Patsy is out shopping but soon returns. Copious cups of tea, and we eat all the biscuits. Patsy is bubbling with energy and enthusiasm, but rather frustrated by the English medical bureaucracy. We promise to make a weekend to stay at the grouse estate in Scotland, with its 11 bedrooms and five bathrooms. September is a little too soon. The photographs of it looming out of the mist are totally tantalising. Nick is due back at 1, but has not returned by 2.10pm.
On south to Ross-on-Wye, which is famous for its bookshops. We only find two rather modest establishments. It is more interesting to see a gleaming Morris Minor 1000 for sale. One owner, original paint, and only something like 50,000 miles behind it. We zig zag south following the Wye. In retrospect we should have looked at Goodrich Castle on our way south to the forest of Dean.
The river Wye flows down to Tintern Abbey. A taped tour with technology identical to Oak Park. The singing of the choir among the ruins has to be impressive. The ruins do need a great deal of imagination to bring them to life, but the layout of the monastery is very interesting for me. Swansea now seems to be a long way away with the dismal environs of Cardiff in between. I flag away the waterfront development and later enquiries reveal that I was wise to do so. A pub meal, with a steak and kidney pie followed by spotted dick and custard. Across the new Severn Bridge, and we stay on motorways as much as we can to reach Cheddar as early as possible.
A warm and wonderful welcome from Frankie. What a bundle of energy she is. Michael is out with his father "Badger-watching". When he returns we are soon engrossed in the secret lives of badgers. The harvest mouse is well but the doormice we see have ended their days stretched out on cardboard. As well as his trip to NZ Michael will be going down to Antarctica from Chile, so he has a busy year ahead. I sleep in the attic, with a view down the valley. The house has a very NZ feel, and I am reminded of Walter Segal and the Lewisham houses.
WEDNESDAY 7 JULY
Doormice, a Roman Bath and the new Bristol Docks
At 7.30 I let the cat in through my window, but it only wants to sit on top of the harvest mouse box. Having flattened its nose and given up it finds another warm bed.
There is nothing more interesting than sharing someone else's passion. Michael offers to take us wherever we wish. I choose dormice. Off up the hill at the back of the house, checking some 55 boxes. The fifth has a dormouse asleep in a nest, as does the very last box. They are weighed, checked and recorded and stay soundly asleep through the whole process. Some of the other boxes have birdnests, from tits I think, and we throw them away as their task is done. They use the hair of the roe deer, and one of the deer slips quietly away as we approach. We look at some badger sets. They certainly love digging. Along the way we talk copicing, and study the resulting form of trees. The branched oak trees do not seem appropriate for timber. Gathering thinnings is another process, which I must get Richard Burton to explain a little more fully. Culture,tradition and nature all interwoven. We emerge on the crest of the limestone to look back over the plains of Somerset. Originally these were under water. A kestrel soars overhead.
Michael then takes us up the Gorge, and at the top we see the tunnel lead kilns which lie on the ground like a maze. Lunch on the terrace. Cheddar Cheese of course.
I am ambivalent about Bath, but have to confess that the Roman baths are extremely interesting and very well presented. The Circle. The Circus. After all these years I finally made it.
At Bristol we spend almost all our time exploring the docks with an excursion down to see Brunel's Clifton suspension bridge. It intrigues me to discover that he designed the SS Great Britain so that any plate could be slid out without damaging any other plate and a new plate riveted in. I wonder if he ever lectured on sustainability.
A meal at the Arnolfini arts centre and back to Cheddar for the night.
THURSDAY 8 JULY
Devon and Cornwall at last. Ilfracombe and Clovelley
I wake at 6 to do a little reading and writing. Michael and Frankie go off for a swim, and we breakfast at 8. Michael heads off to work in Bristol around 8.30, and we are on our way soon after 9am. I leave my final Kwin print, which unfortunately was one which had been hanging in Chicago.
The A38 and to gain time we take the motorway down to Wellington. Back to our friendly country roads. At 10am the National Trust property has not yet opened for the day. Through forest and out onto the top of Winsford Hill. I presume that the mound on the summit is a Saxon burial mound. Moorland. Across Exmoor National Park. A homemade blackcurrant pie and a coffee at a pub in the middle of the park. Very tasty. On across the tops with the forest so clearly shown on the maps nowhere to be seen.
A very short detour takes us down to the coast through the narrow winding characterful street of Combe Martin. Around the headland, with its lookout from which you see Swansea is Ilfracombe. It is simply abysmal. If there has been any planning it has left no trace. The buildings are tacky and revolting. The breakwater has mediocre low brick buildings on it and the height of the wall destroys the form of the bay, The tide is out and the whole bay has dried out. The visual possibilities remain unexplored. Everywhere the detailing is poor. I console myself with cod and chips for lunch.
The rolling countryside is of no particular interest. Barnstaple. Bideford.
Clovelley is the classic tourist trap. In itself it is a delightful spot. Steep cobbled streets leading down to a breakwater with rockwork full of character. Everything is overun by tourists. You arrive at a characterless car park and are funnelled through a cavernous shed of mediocre architecture which is bursting with souvenirs and shops. Of course there is a video, but you must wait by the shops until it begins. From the bottom of the village a land rover takes the tourists who are too tired to walk back up to the shops along a backroad. Karaka Bay could be like this if the development lobby really had their way.
More rather boring countryside as the road is well away from the coast. Clive suddenly concedes that he is very sick, and we swap driver/navigator roles. He falls asleep so I drive on with only a vague idea of the route details. Out to the coast just before Hayle. St Ives. We have arrived at the perfect time. The day crowds have gone and the night crowds have not yet arrived. We are able to drive into the restricted zone and park just outside the no waiting zone. Timing can be very important when travelling. The downside is that Evans and Shalev's St.Ives Tate Galery has closed. A walk around the promenade and out onto the pier. Clive rests while I explore the town and then we share a roast lamb meal overlooking the quay.
Up and over the most remote and windswept hill to Penzance. Moorland and mist. The Youth Hostel is warm and comfortable so we settle in while it rains steadily outside. Paul who is on the desk is exceptionally bright and cheerful, and Maria who helps him look after the hostel is equally helpful. Sometimes you find the good managers at the ends of the earth far from the seats of power. She spent two years at the restored 19th century warehouse Bristol hostel and moved to Penzance in March. They have meals 5.30-7.45, drinks 5.30-10.30 and desserts 9.15-10.30. It spreads the work load and enhances the activity of the hostel. Breakfasts are pre-ordered when you book in. English hostels provide a sleeping sheet.
FRIDAY 9 JULY
Penzance, Mevigissy, Fowey, Boddinick, Portigan, Polperro, Looe
Awake at 6, but I doze on to let Clive sleep. It is bleak and grey, with a high wind. Muesli, baked beans, hash browns, egg and bacon, endless toast and bottomless coffee for two pounds forty. Really hot showers. We set off in the rain, get confused in a traffic diversion, and have to begin all over again to find our way into town from the railway station. There are two no-nonsense working ports of Penzance which define the ends of the promenade, and in the centre there is a war memorial and a swimming pool. The west port has an old inner breakwater and a new outer line of enclosure. The fishing catch seems to have been processed for the day. All work and little play, which is a contrast to St. Ives. Clive helps an old woman who comes begging when we stop the car. The sad side of Thatcher economics.
On in the rain past the monastery on St Michaels Mount, almost a mile off the coast. Extensive tin mining, with derelict chimneys everywhere. A relatively fast road through to Falmouth. We go down to explore, but it is a waste of time. The estuary is crowded with boats and boatsheds, and the centre of town is the port. We retrace our steps to the main road. Truro.
We turn off down backroads which are so narrow that a car can barely pass and drop down to Mevagissey. The sight of a tourist car park looming up depresses me so I head up the hill and around the headland and somehow we end up tucked into a small free space. We pass a school along the way where everyone is dressed in traditional costumes. They are preparing to celebrate their transfer to new school buildings, and later they will sing songs on the promenade. In a few minutes we have walked through the twisting streets to the quay. Out to the breakwater past the seventeenth century boathouse. Back for a cup of coffee overlooking the harbour while sheltering from the rain. Hot milk added to a concentrated coffee. The light becomes magical when the rain stops. Photographs from the southern breakwater. We leave the people in their costumes singing on the wharf and after a short drive through the twisting streets are on our way.
Over the hill the extensive caravan parks are thankfully totally hidden by the landform. Extensive road works make for a very slow journey in the rain to Fowey. We drive down the steep deserted streets and find a 20 minute parking place free right alongside the main wharf. Fowey is very different in character with an estuary reminiscent of Whitianga. The rain stops and people begin to appear. We drive on to find a ferry to take us across to Bodinnick for one pound twenty. Up the hill and we turn right only to find ourselves back at the ferry. On the second attempt I get it right and we are on our way along tortuous one way roads to Portigan, which is at the mouth of the estuary on the opposite side from Fowey. The juxtaposition is stunning. Clive does not share my enthusiasm so I only pause for a few photographs before going back up the hill and on to Polperro. Again the road is through hedgerows with no room for another car to pass. We back up as need be. Only later do we hear stories of people who actually had time to stop, put their car into reverse, and begin backing up the road, only to still be hit by an approaching car which failed to stop.
Polperro is another tourist trap. A tourist car park for one pound thirty and a single street follows the stream down to the sea. Tourist shops and restaurants lead on to an inlet which is closed off by a breakwater. The only opening can be closed off by a swinging lock. The walls of the whitewashed buildings run right down to the bay without interruption. As usual the tide is out and the bay is dry. Up to the headland and back to the car.
A short run over the hill to Looe, This is a long estuary with a life of its own beyond the world of tourism. Out to the headland. Clive rests in the car while I explore. Across the bridge and out to the beach which has a sign "This is a private beach and anyone using it should be warned that recent storms have deposited oil on the sand and the rocks." Back across the estuary by a ferry boat for 15p. A rainbow over the town follows a shower.
We follow an estuary down to the Torpoint ferry which for 40p takes the car and ourselves over to Plymouth, This is very much the naval base. The sheds beside the frigates are big enough to cover them. Theatre Royal. The Hoe. The A38 on to Dartington. A sign as we approach the crossroads announced the Dartington Youth Hostel, which is exactly what we need. Delightful. Even a bridge over a stream to get into the lounge with its great fireplace under a thatched roof. At the local hotel we conclude the day with cider and a chicken dinner.
SATURDAY 10 JULY
From Dartington to Winchester
Breakfast at the astonishingly upmarket Cider Press Centre.
Dartington crystal, art, design, Alessi teapots.
Leach's pottery now tucked around a corner.
Clive wants to find a pharmacy so we go to Totnes. It gives me a chance to gather information.
It would indeed be great fun to come back sometime to take part in the activities at Schumacher College. The Capra course has finished so that now the premises are almost deserted.
Dartington Hall is only a short distance up the road, and again it is almost deserted. The great hall. The garden. The clusters of buildings responding to the architectural ideologies of their time.
Buckfast Abbey is reputedly the work of four men. Even over 40 years that is quite a work output. Motorway to Exeter. On the map it looks difficult but we find ourselves in a parking building only a short walk from the centre of town and the cathedral and right alongside the Maritime Museum and development on the water's edge. We are in the midst of a festival, so the city is bursting with life.
The A30 route leading east is a much faster road than we had expected and we make good time across the rolling countryside. Suddenly there is a sign - "Stourhead". The garden is only a few minutes from the turn off. Entry is free for NZ Historic Places Trust Members. Only a cursory look at the orientation centre, and we walk down to the homestead. This is the best way to approach the garden as it slowly reveals its beauty. A glimpse of the lake, and the architectural folly in the distance, the grotto, and then across the weir to come back to the bridge and the village. The late evening golden light is perfect. There are few people. The variety of species is astonishing, and not something discerned from photographs. Finally back to enjoy the photographs at the main entry.
On to Stonehenge, which is also right alongside the road. I suspect the druids sit there and look at the tourists. I had been unaware of the great number of Saxon burial mounds in the surrounding landscape.
Winchester is smaller than I had expected. A pub meal and I borrow a phone book to locate Kate Macintosh's number. It is not there, although surely it must have been even though I could not find it. Enquires draw a blank. Off to find the Youth Hostel, which proves to be a challenge even though it is right in the middle of town. It is full, and they have few suggestions. We try a pub and they are full. One of the patrons directs us to a B&B, but after monumental difficulties finding it in the dark it has no vacancies. In despair I ask a shop if they have a phone book, and they apologise for only having a 1991 edition. Just what we needed. Kate's number is looking at me. A phone call, she offers to find us a corner for the night, and in a few minutes we are welcomed into the warmth of her wonderful house.
We have in fact intruded upon a dinner party. Bob Giles and his wife are across from Malaysia and Colin Smith and his wife have come round to catch up on news. Over a good brandy we talk late into the night until exhaustion overwhelms us.
SUNDAY 11 JULY
London at last, but only to see Austin, Laila, John and Catherine
Awake early, but I am hesitant to wake the household. The sun streams in. Snip, snip, snip. George is at work in the garden. After a sumptuous breakfast of croissants, delicious apricots, and freshly ground coffee, we walk down to see the Records Centre which has only just been completed. The solid brick wall of the records area turns its back to the intersection, while the offices on top look inwards and cascade down towards the inner courtyard.
The new Hampshire offices are just up the road, and from there we go on to the Architectural Department, and Kate's own office. They now have 30 architects on the staff. Back to West End Lane where we farewell Bob and Joanna as they drive off in their mini. A cup of coffee drifts on into delicious fish soup for lunch, as George tells us the story which led to his liver transplant. The cancelling of a major job to leave his practice with no work to keep Bob at the drawing board. The stress and the onset of feeling ill. The eventual discovery of renal failure. The crises of leading a life where he had to constantly flush himself out. The transplant bringing recovery and their move from Sussex to Winchester. Colin giving him a job to do and the eventual development of his own office in the basement. It has all the charm of an English basement, but the Mac technology in the corner with an A plotter packs a considerable punch. George does excellent computer graphics. His fax is linked directly into the computer so that he sends communications such as site instructions directly through his modem without the need to produce a hard copy. A wonderful way to practice. The promenade linking the school buildings, which began it all. A pole house in the woods, which could easily have been in NZ apart from the stressed ply skin.
We all talk dreamily of their house in Tuscany. The key speaks of the house. An invitation to stay some time. Photographs of Urbino. The La Spezia coast, and the village where their house is. (Was it Fucecchio?) Two and a half hours by train from Pisa airport. We could have talked on and on but it is already late, towards 3pm., so we must move on.
A walk to enjoy the close and Winchester Cathedral, but my mind is already on the move. The A route seems to take us well to the north before we join the motorway to London. With only a stop for fuel we are there by 5pm. Clive tells the tale of Russell turning up at the airport and being turned back at the check in and missing out on his trip to Mexico. I am certain that Peter would not have made a mistake, but prudence takes us to Heathrow on the way in to clear up the confusion. Qantas confirms that a visa is definitely not required, United do the same when I ring to confirm my flights. An hour later we are back on schedule.
A drive down memory lane, with a few new buildings added to the jigsaw. Erikson's new circular atrium fails to live up to the magazine photographs and the axonometrics. The Royal Albert Hall, Victoria and Albert Museum, Kensington, Earls Court, Picadilly, Trafalgar Square with the gallery extensions now looking very much at home, Eros, Downing Street, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey.
Over Lambeth Bridge to wait for ten minutes until Austin and Laila Winkley return from Mass. We sit on the back terrace to catch up on a few years, only moving in when a shower of rain comes. News from Harry and Eileen. There are now five architects at Winkley Associates, and they are mostly doing housing. Unfortunately there is not time to walkover the road to the office. He reminisces about Jim Vercoe's visit. We talk Mexico. He did his first job there while he was a student at Harvard. A clinic in a barriados just south of the University. I try to find it when I am there, but run out of time. I will come back to stay a night or two with Austin.
The tour rushes on. The embankment. My old office in the GLC. The Hayward, the National Theatre, the East End, Docklands, Canary Wharf, under the river through the tunnel to Deptford. Greenwich. Up to Blackheath. I always find it a little difficult to orient myself to the Heath. We go to where I think Morden Mews should be and it seems to have gone. Around we go until finally I ring to get instructions. We had actually gone to the right spot, but the sign has been missing for a number of years.
John and Catherine Berreen give us a wonderful welcome. We feast and talk late into the night. Clive will later explore all the Italian hill towns Catherine describes, using the "Rough Guide" which she recommends.
MONDAY 12 JULY
Over the ice-flows of Greenland to the jungles of Mexico
I am awake at first light. The birds are singing. It is exquisite looking through the open window to the trees. 5.15. I try to get a little more sleep, but Catherine knocks at the door to make certain I am awake. So much for my hope of not disturbing them. 5.30 A shower and I pack my bags. Farewells. It seems almost cruel to catch such a brief glimpse of friends and to then be torn away. Is it so important that I get back to the University? Plane travel makes a visit possible, and yet the speed of it all makes life seem impossible. I console myself with the knowledge that even brief contact with friends is so enriching.
At 6am the traffic is very light, and it is a very quick trip to Heathrow. South of the river. Brixton. Over Chelsea Bridge. Everything seems more colourful, with even resplendent fresh polychrome colour on the bridge. The clear blue sky has cumulus clouds. It just does not seem like London. Chelsea. The A4 to Terminal 3 at Heathrow. We are well ahead of time. I am able to sort through all my paperwork and get organised, as well as checking out the car. Clive will keep the Peugot until Thursday, visiting the Cotswalds.
Chaos, queues, and although there are about 15 desks open nothing seems to be moving. It seems like an hour to get to the counter, but then all is revealed. Flight 901 has been delayed by five hours. Everyone is being re-ticketed. My impulse is to say I will come back tomorrow. It would give a chance to visit Richard Burton's house. I am too tired to think clearly. Fifteen minutes later I walk away with a ticket to LA on flight 936, departing at 9.40 (901 was scheduled for 8.35). I will now arrive in Mexico at 20.05. Farewell Chicago.
Now there is time for a coffee with Clive, sorting out addresses and information for Munich. It becomes critical that we end up with the right information going with the right person. Farewells. Through security. There is nowhere to buy any film.
The 747 has ample baggage space, in contrast to the Chicago flight I would have been on. We finally take off around 10.15. I have a window seat, but most of the view is obscured by the wing. England. Scotland. The islands off the coast. By 13.30 we are off the coast of Greenland. Immense icebergs. The pack ice flows. A stunning coastline with immense glaciers tumbling out of the mountains.
"Lunch" and a Sherlock Holmes movie. Sea. Across the tundra of northern Canada. Cloud. By 16.15 we are still over the tundra, with pockets of snow everywhere in a bleak and endless landscape. More cloud. By 17.00 we are crossing the edge of a large lake. More cloud. An arid eroded landscape is beneath us at 19.00. Astonishing views of the Colorado with the lake behind Bolder Dam so large that it seems we have reached the coast. Vegetation. Snow capped mountains. Death Valley.at 20.56 we are on the ground at LA. (At 21.00 the local time is 13.00)
Once again we park at terminal 7 and bus around to Tom Barton. Customs, and onto the shuttle bus to Terminal 7, with my mind in a numb daze. I check the Departure schedule, but on the stacks of screens my eye must have drifted down instead of across. 877 is leaving from BT. I ring Helen to tell her I am off to Mexico. Up to the gate to be told BT is the international terminal, and that I will need to take the shuttle bus. Back to where I started, only to be told that Mexico planes leave from 7. Back to 7. I am beginning to panic in my tiredness as I am running out of time, but in fact we are about to go onto Mexico time. There is no time now to ring Russell or Ronald, as I head through gate 72A to the plane.
Suddenly the world changes. The plane is full of Mexicans and luggage. They take all their baggage onto the plane, and the hostesses insist that they get off again and check it through. The Mexicans refuse. No one will sit down to make room for anyone else. The complete shambles is being almost entirely conducted in Spanish. The pilot settles it all by refusing to taxi out. This shrewd move changes the debate and everyone decides they will make sacrifices to get to Mexico. All this is done with immense good humour. When I ask the hostess if they get special training for flights to Mexico she just smiles.
At 23.51 London time, only 30 minutes late, we are off on the 1350 mile journey. Astonishing desert. The regular grid pattern of fields. An "urban field" disappearing into desert sand. Cloud. Jungle. The archetypal image of central America. Cumulus clouds soar up to 30,000 and even 40,000 feet, leaping for joy after the flat stillness of the arctic. Twisting rivers. Deep ravines which would swallow the Grand Canyon. On to farmland and towns. The night overtakes us and soon the lights of Mexico City fill the valley as we fly in.
I am tired and cautious. There is a desk offering accommodation and I cannot believe it when they have a room for US$22. Tourist information is meagre, but I get one of those city maps where you need an index to find the map among the advertisements. I sort out accommodation for a few other people, having got the system unravelled, and convince an American to share a taxi with me to save my getting lost on the Metro. My STA sheet tells me to avoid the taxi touts and get a ticket at the booth. It is less than half the price. You exchange the ticket for a taxi. A Swede who has been working in Mexico joins us. The city at night seems large and confusing, and we pass the same spot several times which for me is a danger sign, but with no fuss or problems we reach the Frimont and very soon I am asleep.
TUESDAY 13 JULY
The city and the Archaeological Museum
Awake with the first light of dawn,at 6am Mexican time. I have no view so I am disconnected from the world. Relaxed a while. With a secure space of my own I spread all my paperwork out and get organised for this last leg and my entry back into NZ. My American friend calls in. I decide that it will be a great deal of hassle to find a cheaper hotel, so pay for the Frimont for another three nights. Breakfast at the ground floor restaurant. Off to discover Mexico City.
The Arch of Remembrance. Revolution as a way of life. The Almada. The old city. Book shops. The Zocalo. Back to Reforma. The Rosa District with expensive restaurants. The Art Gallery. Indians sitting up a pole in their national costumes. It seems a little obscure but later I will learn about the initiation ceremony in which they jump off the pole with ropes attached and wind themselves around until they reach the ground. The only people being initiated here are the tourists and they are paying for the privilege.
The National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park comes strongly recommended. The lower level is a series of rooms, each devoted to a different area of Mexico. The upper level is devoted to the vernacular architecture, traditions, crafts, and costumes of different areas of Mexico. The coffee shop has an archaeological air about it. After you have waited for a very long time for a coffee you begin to wonder if it is an exhibit. The only life takes the form of the family of a New York doctor also waiting for coffee.
A student I met within talks for a long time afterwards. The rigidity of family structures and expectations.
There seems to be no night life other than expensive restaurants and cheap (but probably not in price) strip tease joints. I end up having a meal back at the Frimont.
WEDNESDAY 14 JULY
Mexico University by chance
A number four breakfast at the Frimont. Fruit juice, scrambled egg and ham, toast and jam, and a couple of cups of coffee for 11 new pesos. Around NZ$4. Before 9am I am searching for the travel agent supposed to be one block from the Frimont to find out information about the pyramids, but my enthusiasm falls flat as I can locate neither agent nor bus nor information. I decide I need to get the Mexico Lonely Planet guidebook, despite the 108 new pesos price. The Alameda is delightful to walk through after it has been watered. The malls are just coming to life. The workers are cooking tacos over open fires in the street. I also need to drift a little as the bookshop does not open until 10am. On to the National Palace to sit on a step away from the hustle and bustle and do a little reading. A protest is going on in the square and a squatters village is set up. The door to the Palace is closed when the scene becomes a little more confrontational, but the only ominous sign is an ambulance hovering in the background. Photographs of the VW taxis which make up 50% of the traffic in this part of town.
I decide to head for the Tourist Bureau which is back at Rosa. By chance I pass yesterday's hole-in-the-wall bakery and get some pastries for lunch, at 1.50NP each. A special provides 3 cans of 7up for 3NP. I want to keep my fluid intake high. The tight texture of the city is broken only by banks and public buildings. There are few large businesses, but some of the hole-in-the-wall premises have astonishingly large pieces of equipment. Who would buy a 11,000V transformer? Eventually it all becomes a little tedious. A coffee at McDonalds to check my map.
The Tourist Bureau is something of a disappointment. The quick fire directions for getting to the pyramids would have been fine for a local, but they leave mysteries for the stranger. They have no information on modern architecture, but offer to ring and find out. I decide that my own sources would be better. I do get an excellent map to locate the classic archaeological sites, and they suggest a local travel agent. There are three companies flying planes internally in Mexico and they all have offices nearby in Reforma.
I wander off to find the travel agent and find Grey Line Tours instead. Lome is a salesman and a very smooth operator. It only takes him a few minutes to phone and come back with a price of US$557 for a trip to Palenque, with hotel pick up for the first flight, an English guide and a return on the last flight, to arrive back around 10pm. He has an excellent book of local tours and for the first time I get a feeling for the tourist options in Mexico City. I make my first exploration of the Metro, and find after the usual familiarisation problems discover that it is an excellent system.
On joining the green line to go north I find that it also goes south to Universidad, so with a rapid change of plans I find myself trying to sort out the absolutely impossible campus layout. It has a ring road, and I later find that during term time there are shuttle buses constantly circling the campus. This is not term time, and it is almost impossible for a pedestrian to walk across the campus. Each department has defensive fences, so that every way through ends up as a blind alley. Eventually I find the School of Architecture. Monumental, ugly, pretentious in its attempt to be a bold statement. An abysmal environment for learning. The mosaics of the library only serve to cover a mediocre building. The stadium for the Olympics is over the road. The black clouds sweep over, there is torrential rain and even hail, which sends the temperature plummeting. I shelter and watch the incorrect falls sending the water off to flood into buildings. A student helps me back to the Metro by showing me where to climb over fences. Back at the Fairmont around 8pm I decide to call it a day and settle for Spaghetti Bolanese.
THURSDAY 15 JULY
Teotihuacan at last
Awake at first light. I still have a head cold and scratchy throat. There is no great hardship in not drinking the water; just a problem of remembering. Diary update and I read more about Mexico. There are four densely packed pages of architects in the yellow pages, with a separate short section for "arquitectos urbanistas". Breakfast downstairs, and I find a daily newspaper in English, which is apparently distributed free around all the hotels. I feel I am suffering a little from "hotelitis" and am so thankful for all my friends who welcome me into the real world of their homes.
With the confidence of feeling at home I discover there is a subway entrance only two blocks from the hotel. Intalgo. Down to find that there is an excellent large scale city map with subway routes overlaid on it outside the pay gates, so that you can check it, or use it for planning. Now I know to use 2np to buy a 5 ticket set, avoiding all the hassles with change. After going through the turnstiles I discover a great array of shops inside the station. You can get your films processed and pick them up on the way home. At an information booth nothing is on display but as soon as I approach the girl instinctively knows what I want. She passes me a metro map to save her having to listen to my Spanish. Everything seemed so simple and obvious, but for two days I had been walking right past it.
Up to Rasa to find that there is a very long tunnel for the transfer, and it turns out to be one of the more fascinating journeys I have been on. The walkway is divided by a central rail and on both sides the walls have a series of back-lit colour panels, three or four metres apart. The right hand side begins with a photograph of a hand, and on it there is a small blue outline of square showing the portion which will be enlarged to become the next panel. The enlargements become atoms, the void between the atoms and finally space. The first right hand panel is a galaxy, and as it enlarges we finally focus onto the earth, a satellite image, Chicago, a park, and two people lying in the park. The final astonishment is when the very last enlargement is the hand which began the other series. The psychology of developing a medical centre at one end intrigues me.
Only one more stop on the yellow line to emerge at the North Bus Station. I observe a group of French students who obviously have it all sorted out, so I simply follow them. Nothing could have been more painless. There is a counter which is clearly labelled. Tickets are a fixed price. Your ticket is checked as you go through to the platform. The bus at 6 is waiting and as soon as we have all boarded the bus sets off. I think of the hours you waste just waiting around in tourist buses. There are many french speaking people in Mexico, and an Air France 747 is at the airport, but I wonder if they come from French colonies. On the bus I end up sitting next to a Norwegian student who has been studying Spanish at Mexico University. She explains the shuttle bus process.
Up a slight hill and down the other side along a motorway. Barriodos housing and planned streets seem to mingle together, and there is more vacant land than I would have expected. The driver turns on wonderful Mexican music and suddenly the world comes alive. The tassels and frills above the windscreen dance to the music. Housing clambering over hills, enclosed cemeteries, a church here and there, a jumble of walls, fields, cactus. Guadalupe church in the distance, looking like a Japanese temple at the end of a street of trinket sellers. The memories come flooding back. I want the bus to just keep on going.
All too soon we are at the pyramids. They loom up out of the plain. A cold coke and a large bottle of purified Tehoteuacan water to see me through the day. 13NP to enter. A German student attaches himself to me and we explore the ruins together. We climb the three pyramids, walk the main street, and inspect the murals. Interesting but predictable. The museum is excellent. It seems as though everyone is expecting many tourists, but they have not come, perhaps because it is the wet season. Five Indians in their costumes are sitting at the bottom of their pole. Perhaps the tourist show is over.
Another exciting bus ride back. In the best tradition we leave the road to explore San Juan, a tantalising taste of a rural Mexican town. Every time I try to take some photographs as the bus slows down it instantly jolts over the judder bars which are at every intersection. Hopeless. Life is for the living, not the recording. The last stop is at Indiens Verdes, a little north of the bus station, so I leave the German to heard south on the subway while I head north on foot to find the housing we have seen from the bus. Everything is photogenic, but the thunderclouds are building up to further reduce the failing light, and it does not seem to be the right place to produce a camera. I decide to live to photograph another day.
Back on the metro to the Frimont, arriving just as it begins to rain, although it does not come to much. I end up watching TV, after discovering that they have the equivalent of a "concert programme". There are almost no commercials, and a wide array of international films. A French mediaeval story of battles and kings seems strange dubbed into spanish. A US film on jazz trumpeter Rick Martin has Spanish subtitles. It triggers off a series of emotions as my trip draws to a close.
FRIDAY 16 JULY
The sad farewell
Up at 7, breakfast, diary and the rather easy process of packing when you know that everything simply heads for home. I leave my faithful green bag at the desk and hand in my 506 key. My hope of getting to Merida faded as my interest in the urban form of the city grew, so my project for the day is to spend some hours in the city museum. This has several floors of models and maps explaining geology and history. It is only since I have arrived that I realised the city site was originally a lake. The first inhabitants lived around lake Texcoco at the time when the centre of power was first Teotihuacan and then Tula. When the Aztecs gained power they developed the island in the lake into Tenochtitlan. The floating gardens which can still be seen at Xochimilco are but a memory of the lake. Rumour has it that the whole valley is the mouth of a volcano. I presume that the lava flow on which the university is built is not the only flow in the city. Urban design is endlessly interesting.
The Alamda is cool after being watered. The zocalo. The Aztec excavations just to the north reveal more volcanic rock,and the same pattern of small stones set in the wide grout joints, which I had first seen around the city and then been surprised to discover at Teotihuacan. Around the block. A few carved figures. Free entry is a thing of the past. Now access is through a museum and the cost is 13NP. The bronze model in the public space shows the city in the lake, with the tide already dropping when I was there.
The courtyard of Juan Perez's house is cool and peaceful. On to the city museum. What a blow. It is closed for renovations, My schedule leaves me with a frustrating void. I console myself with the models and early drawings I find in the Zocalo station. I am constantly discovering what was right under my nose.
Some Fujichrome to use up my funds. (3@28NP = 84NP, which is no special) Off to the end of the blue line to gain a glimpse of the corner of the city I have not explored. I emerge into a thunderstorm and end up sheltering under the awning of one of the street vendors. From another vendor I get some of the excellent orange juice which is available everywhere. In Mexico, as in so many places, no one has any change, even for a very small amount. The juice cost 4NP, and they cannot give change from 10NP. Everyone gets involved in overcoming the problem. I presume that their lives are so marginalised that any money which comes in is used rather than left lying in the till. The produce produces an income, but the money produces nothing.
The area here seems to have no centre, and is simply another vast bus terminus, a feature of the end of any of the metro lines. Then I notice a cemetery in the distance, and it proves to be both vast and extremely interesting. A wall surrounds the cemetery, and there is a single entry where the flower sellers have set up their stalls. Crowded and disordered, with some vaults and graves lying open. There is an incredible variety of rather tacky tombstones. It is symbolic of the city. Down the road the church is closed, and it seems to be attached to the cemetery. A classic crumbling brick tower with a great bell, looking like a tourist brochure.
With rain threatening I decide to retreat back to the Frimont. Off to Hidalgo with my baggage. Up to Rasa to enjoy the walkway once again. Down to the airport terminal station. My only mistake is to come out the wrong exit, and I need to buy a ticket to get back through to the other side of a motorway. The terminal is large, but efficient. Check in. There is a departure tax 32NP. Thanks to the people in the information centre who were so helpful when I arrived, but they seem unconcerned about goodwill. Gathered information on car hire and found petrol is around $1/gallon. Passport check. A change of gate. I convert some money back into US$10 just to see if it is possible, and keep a few coins for souvenirs. The bank seems to be used to customers who do it.
United flight UA 876, a 727-B, is scheduled for 17.55, and departs around 18.15. I am now much more interested in the marshy land beyond the airport. A glimpse of pink and blue architectural housing. The city is quickly left behind. Fields and eventually the jungle as we follow the exact route we came down. Desert. The coast. A great salt lake. Failing light as we fly into a brightly lit LA.
The same excuses, the same bus with the same taped message to the same international terminal, and the same shuttle bus back to terminal 7. I ring Russell with a credit card call, but the connection is so bad that I can hardly hear him and then a youngster appears and starts taking an interest in my bag. Calls from airports can be social failures. Unfortunately it is only an hour to the next flight so there is no time to do more. The yoghurt I had promised myself on my way down to Mexico. Gate 76. The plane is almost full, with the only apparent empty seat next to me. My companion is a veterinary technician from Philadelphia going to see her boyfriend in Fielding for three weeks. United flight UA 841 departs at 22.40.
A 12 hour flight with only a light supper. I sleep right through the midnight snack. We have been flying 10 hours before I finally wake up for breakfast.
SATURDAY 17 JULY
A day lost crossing the date line
SUNDAY 18 JULY
Around 6.15am United flight UA841 touches down. A tangle with Customs generated by Regency Duty Free slows me down, but by 7.30 I am back in the real world. No free phones. No 20 cents to make a call. Queues at the Bank and nowhere else to change money. I give up.
Shuttle bus to Papatoetoe, and on with Lisa to Karaka Bay. A great welcome. A day sifting through mail and unpacking. Sixteen hours sleep when I can no longer stay awake, and I am time adjusted and on my way to work. I set my clock back six hours from Mexico time.
LEGENDS ARE WAITING TO BE WRITTEN
Power and protest - Zocalo
At the SERDE exhibition in Chicago Peter Mayer's model stood in the centre of the hall bathed in powerful spotlights.
The model had become a symbol of the individual defending their rights against institutionalised power. Myths are made when a symbolic act touches the universal subconsciousness.
The myth, as proudly told by the US architects in Chicago, related how the model had been damaged when it was posted to New York. Compensation was offered, but Peter was not interested. It was an entry in the Socially and Environmentally Responsible Design Exhibition organised by the Pratt Institute. A damaged model or one repaired by someone other than the designer would hardly gain a place in the prestigious show.
The eventual outcome was New Zealand Post paying Peter's fare to go to New York to repair the model, and of course it was selected for exhibition in New York and then Chicago. Peter took the chance to see a little architecture along the way.
The New Zealand Papatuanuku team bathed in the reflected glory of the story. Everyone expected New Zealanders to be a little larger than life.
Myth-making is at the core of all architecture. Architects create symbols which touch the universal subconsciousness.
AS A POLITICAL ACT
The drift from the real to the synthetic has not only dulled our intellects but also destroyed our sense of wonder.
In the midst of all the articles about jet lag or the jokes about plastic food in plastic boxes there is never a thought given to the sheer wonder of flying around the world forty-eight hours. The airline industry seems to be devoted to taking away the experience of flying.
The time has come to reverse the trend. To celebrate the experience. To bring back the joy and the awe. A simple first move could transform the experience of flying, without the need to modify any of the current hardware.
There has been a great shift in our visual perceptions in the last twenty years. At first we were fascinated by views from the air. Then we developed both an ability to enjoy new relationships and the skill to interpret new perceptions. Finally we have come to a new way of seeing. The books roll off the presses. "Britain from the Air". "Above Paris". "Over China". The market seems to be insatiable.
I have become very enthusiastic about the idea I developed during this journey to make a film of the countryside the plane is flying over. From time to time the camera would descend to explore details and relationships. The grandeur of the vista would establish a sense of place.
It would really be a film about urban design and environment. Landscape and the patterns human beings have made on it. There would be no message beyond the message which is there for all to see when circling the globe. The camera would bring the world back into focus again, perhaps eventually setting passengers free so that they would find themselves glued to the windows unable to believe what was passing before their eyes.
The film would show during the entire flight, without the need to pull down any shutters over the windows. When the purpose moves beyond entertainment it would not be necessary to constantly provide new material in a desperate struggle to overcome boredom. The more I fly the more fascinating I find the landscape. Art is never boring.
Reversing the substitution of the synthetic experience for the real experience could be the greatest contribution any architect could make to sustainability.
From the Cliff Dwellers Club
Louis Sullivan ornament
From the Sears Tower
They still stretch them better in Chicago
In the Gracelands Cemetery
One of the stones commemorating a woman
The Futures Exchange
The Chicago Rookery
Carson Pirie Scott by Louis Sullivan
Stour Head Garden
Peter Maher's model in the SERDE exhibition
My view from the Wacker
One of the 100 plaques commemorating women
Exhibition of women designers
Kwin's Papatuanuku banner
Jazz of course
Arie Crown Theatre
THE LONG WAY HOME
FROM THE 1993 UIA CHICAGO CONGRESS
The New Zealand team