Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Brief 2

Edinburgh School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture
Master of Architecture
Modular Pathway
Year 2 (2012-13)
Course Code: ARJA11003
Credit Points: 40
Year 2, Semester 1, Week 3
Course Organisers: Adrian Hawker + Victoria Clare Bernie

a City on a bend in a River

In Cordova there was another madman, whose way it was to carry a piece of marble slab or a stone, not of the lightest, on his head, and when he came upon any unwary dog he used to draw close to him and let the weight fall right on top of him; on which the dog in a rage, barking and howling, would run three streets without stopping. 

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Move 2 : Córdoba


Until silenced by Isabella, the River W emerged, by no small slight of hand, from the patios of the Alcázar. It Grinded and clattered with the inventive spirit of Averroes as it fed the narrow ravines of the Judería., There, set in the conduit walls, thick timber dams pivoted to choreograph the twice daily dowsing of the miniature gardens beyond. 

Over time, splinters from these dams broke free and scoured the inner surface of the cistern-synagogue, a gradual process that inscribed the tracery of pond-weed onto its limed surface. When full, this vessel could be exited only by swimming, guided by daylight, through the high filter apertures. When eventually empty, this reverberant space became the refuge of hydrophobes.

When in spate the W filled three hundred caverns, each one polished and lined in mosaic shards from Rome. It was this epic flow that launched Columbus and began a voyage that followed the watercourse to the far oceans of the globe. At times, this current was known to be strong enough to nudge the mihrab from its Eastern gaze.

After the melts had subsided, the W was reduced to an alluvial swale, framed by great berms of sand. From here, over the course of two centuries, a grove of orange trees grew amongst the pools of ablution. When flow returned, the sand banks formed an eddy in which fallen shafts of river-polished stone would surrender and terminate their journey.

During the summer months, the spoils of this flotsam would be arranged in regimented rows that mimicked the field of citrus. Over three phases of flood, they became a thousand fold forest of gnomons -each trunk stained by a hue that recalled the specific grounds of their diverse origin. They reached below the surface of the petrified pool to map out contours of the receding water-table.

From these shafts sprouted tangled boughs of jasper, onyx, marble and granite that formed a matted canopy upon which the shadow of Raphael was cast. Into this raised net, the vessel of the Virgen de la Asuncion was caught and capsized, spilling its cargo of stalls onto the riverbed below.

The river W is now dry, the millwheel has long ceased turning - its final waters collected by Severo to scrub and scour the compressed, sedimentary remains of its parched floor.


The work developed through move1 will be used to inform our navigation and reading of the city of Córdoba and the Guadalquivir. We will look at the role the river played in the development of the form, culture and ecology of the city. We will seek out clues to the hydrologic history of Cordova, to the presence of water as a cultural, economic and religious artefact. We will be particularly interested in how the contemporary city does, or doesn’t engage with the river and how we might develop strategic conceptual and narrative frameworks that might begin to test and open out a relationship between the two.

The extraordinary and architecturally unique Mezquita-Catedral (Mosque-Cathedral), the former Great Mosque of Córdoba now the Catedral de Nuestra Señorade la Asunción (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) will act as a key point of reference here  – a fulcrum, a filter, a baleen, a scaling tool, a taxonomical device, a clasp, a labyrinthine gate …

You are asked to work in groups of 3 or 2. There should be 5 groups in total. The membership of each group will be determined by themes and concerns generated by the Watercourse drawings.

Within these groups you are asked to develop a  unique narrative  reading and analysis of the city of Córdoba that is framed and focused by the integrated themes of the group. This work will involve identifying a specific area of the city with which you will work. Whilst speculative and poetic, this narrative should be tightly structured by the real physical, cultural, historical, geographical and cultural fabric that you witness during our time in the city. To assist you in forming a carefully crafted representation of this narrative reading when we return to Edinburgh and enter move3 – The Tracing Floor and the Jig, you will
need to collect appropriate, maps, photographs, texts and representations relating to your chosen aspect of the city.

Group Tutorials will be held in Córdoba to assist you in this process.


Sat 29th Sept: afternoon Students arrive in Córdoba. Orientation

Sat 30th Sept: all day Begin Group work preparing ideas for evening tutorial
afternoon Tutors arrive in Córdoba
5:00 – 7:30pm Group Tutorials in Hostel Courtyard

Mon 1st Oct: all day Group work in the city

Tue 2nd Oct: 9:00am – 11:00 am Group Tutorials in the Hostel Courtyard

Wed 3rd Oct: all day Group work in the city

Thu 4th Oct: 9:00am – 11:00 am Group Tutorials in the Hostel Courtyard

Fri 5th October Return to Edinburgh

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