WAI in a week | by WAI [part I]

WAI Architecture Think Tank | Pure Hardcore Icons

This week, MovingCities is handing over its website to WAI Architecture Think Tank [aka Workshop for Architecture Intelligentsia]. After receiving their WAIzine 2-publication, we wanted to offer WAI a forum that goes beyond a standard Q&A. Hence, WAI in a week – a coincidental look into the urban, architectural, artistic and homey Beijing 北京 life of Cruz Garcia & Nathalie Frankowski. PART I features urban stories from Saturday to Tuesday…

WAI Architecture Think Thank is a Workshop for Architecture Intelligentsia founded in Brussels in 2008 by architects Nathalie Frankowski & Cruz Garcia. Currently based in Beijing, WAI focuses on the understanding and execution of architecture through a panoramic approach, from groundbreaking theoretical texts, to critical narrative architectures, innovative publications and exhibitions, and intelligent urban and architectural projects. WAI asks What About It?

MovingCities asks WAI: What About It?

 Ideally we would like you to cover one week [e.g.  from this Saturday to upcoming] of your work/life. The result would be a set of images/thoughts related to this. Ideally from an urban setting, but could also be relevant office or WAI stuff, or even homey stuff. Or even a set of links to articles you are reading during that time and you have comments on.
So What About It?

Roundtable at Tsinghua University, Beijing

an answer by WAI Architecture Think Tank | Beijing October 2012

We can’t but remember Georges Perec‘s atypical literary exercises while we are writing a short diary about a week in the life of WAI. We decided to write about things that are really easily done, about every day routines, deliver a short series of descriptions on subject of studies.
We even include references to the works of others. These thoughts, people and references influence in various ways our current of thoughts. They make our critical eye drift in a broad variety of directions.

We like to describe our WAI-work process as a platform experimenting with different tools to think, practice and discuss architecture. Enter a (typical) WAI-week of October 2012.


Black on Black

Start of the day 9:00am

Run 32 kilometers in the streets, from Dongzhimen to the Olympic Forest and back.

Fresh air. A stretch, some food and a rest.

Work on “The Little girl and the Sun”, our first children’s book.

Write the introduction of Pure Hardcore Icons, a manifesto pamphlet on how architecture is infatuated with pure geometric form.

Paint “Black Circle on Black Background” (oil on canvas), a follow-up of “Black Square on Black Background” and part of the Black on Black series.

Read pages of Albert Camus L’Homme révolté [1951 (pdf)], a manifesto about the difference between rebellion and revolution: “What is a rebel? A man who says no: but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. He is also a man who says yes as he begins to think for himself.”

Read passages of Friedrich Nietzsche “Ecce Homo” [1888, Trans. 1979], an autobiographic text revealing his struggle against mediocrity and fanatism: “I am too inquisitive, too questionable, too high spirited to rest content with a crude answer.”

Read Peter Sloterdijk “Critique of Cynical Reason” [Trans. 1987], a text exploring the contrast between contemporary cynicism and the ancient concept of kynicism. Sloterdijk’s book serves as the theoretical framework for our research on narrative architectures in the 20th century: “Cynicism is enlightened false consciousness. It is that modernized, unhappy consciousness, on which enlightenment has labored both successfully and unsuccessfully. It has learned its lessons in enlightenment, but it has not, and probably was not able to, put them in practice. Well off and miserable at the same time, this consciousness no longer feels affected by any critique of ideology; its falseness is already reflexively buffered.”

Browse the pages of Gerhard Richter’s Atlas. We bought it last week in 798 Art District. We are also reading Panorama, the catalog of this year’s exhibitions of his work in the Tate Modern, the Centre Georges Pompidou, and the Neue Nationalgalerie.

Receive an invitation to exhibit two paintings (unspecified) on an Art Fair in Shanghai.

Eat, watch a documentary on Rothko, and play with Jackie Panda, our rabbit.

End of the day 02.15 am.
Pure Hardcore Icons [click to enlarge]



Start of the day 10:00am.

Running 12 kilometers around Dongzhimen.

Stretch, eat and rest.

Edit the new additions to “The Little girl and the Sun”.

Work on the text about the first urban commune built in the People’s Republic of China, an edifice finalized in 1960 in the center of Beijing for Cruce Magazine in Puerto Rico.

More Albert Camus. More Sloterdijk.

Read Carl Jung’s “Man and his Symbols” [1964] and “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious” [1953] in search for concepts of the “Pure Hardcore Icons” manifesto pamphlet we are editing: “This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.”

An email specifies the selection of paintings for the Art Fair Shanghai: Study No.1: Islands, and Study No. 4: Architecton. Bubble wrap the canvases and to send them to Shanghai.

Studio Magazine in Milan releases its third issue. Our contribution “Lazar Khidekel and the Possibility of a Revolutionary Architecture” introduces the work of Khidekel. It is about the distinction between architecture of the revolution and revolutionary architecture.

Eat while watching The Simpsons. Jackie Panda time (she even has a website.)

End of the day 01:20 am.
Lazar Khidekel & the Possibility of a Revolutionary Architecture

Jackie Panda and the Architecton

Beijing Commune


Start of the day 8:00am.

Run 15 kilometers from Dongzhimen to Gulou Dajie and back.

Stretch and eat.

Deliver the paintings to a gallery in Caochangdi Art District. They promise us to bring them to Shanghai and display them on the art fair.

Listen to Michel Onfray, “Les consciences réfractaires” season 10 of Contre histoire de la Philosophie de l’Universite Populaire de Caen, discussing the work of Paul Nizan, and Georges Politzer on France Culture online.
Work on the design of a museum. And also on the design of a mixed use building.

More Sloterdijk’s.

Find time to retouch “Black Square on Black Background”.

Eat, Simpsons and rabbit-time.

End of the day 01:00 am.
Caochangdi, Beijing

Puerto Rican Commune


The Exhibition (oil on canvas collage)

Start of the day 8:00am.

Run the Tsinghua University track.

Stretch and Eat.

Receive the September issue of Domus China. Ethel Baraona Pohl’s piece From Line to Hyperreality features a description of our work [together with Perry Kulper, Aristide Antonas, and others] and our collage Cities of the Avant-Garde.

Listen to Michel Onfray on France Culture.

Work on the text about the commune in Beijing. Thinking about a title. “Cronica de dos comunas fallidas” (“Chronicle of Two Failed Communes”) it will be.

Read Why I Write and Politics and the English Language [1946] by George Orwell. This text suits very well today’s political state of affairs: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Parkett Magazine time: articles on the work of Kai Althoff, Glenn Brown, and Dana Schutz. Browse through Cy Twombly’s book “Fifty Years of Works on Paper.” Look for images of Blinky Palermo, and Pierre Soulages. Palermo was a friend of Gerhard Richter, but their art cannot be more different.

Eat, more Simpsons. The rabbit needs some play time.

End of the day 02:00 am.
Second Ring Road, Beijing

Gui Jie, Beijing | October 2012 | by WAI Architecture Think Thank

[to be continued…]

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Images + words by WAI Architecture Think Tank | Beijing, October 2012

WAI Architecture Think Tank is an international studio practicing architecture, urbanism and architectural research. Founded in Brussels in 2008 by French architect Nathalie Frankowski and Puerto Rican architect Cruz Garcia WAI is currently based in Beijing. WAI focuses on the understanding and execution of Architecture from a panoramic approach, from theoretical texts to architectural artifacts, narrative architectures, buildings and urban and cultural conditions. WAI strives to make significant contributions to the collective intelligence of architecture, from the conception of intelligent buildings and masterplans to the production of fresh research projects and innovative publications. WAI is a workshop for architecture intelligentsia. WAI asks What About It?

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