Featured Discussion: Volume


Volume has got European origins, as it continues ARCHIS and its predecessors since 1929. In 2005 it was founded by Ole Bouman (ARCHIS, Amsterdam), Rem Koolhaas (Rotterdam) and C-Lab (NY). The very character of Volume is precisely the fact, that it is a collaboration between people and that it is going beyond borders, creating communities rather than presenting a community - "going beyond" also in terms of production and affiliation with a specific country, culture, client, trend...
the latest issue is out now, presenting again a completely different part of the community, namely the communities in Lebanon, Caucasus, Kosovo, Europe etc...

May 3, 07 12:48 pm

oh I didn't knwo that. So is it financed in Europe?

May 4, 07 7:09 am

i'm looking at an issue, and it looks like it gets $$$ from dutch foundations, but probably something from Columbia, too, and maybe some loot from OMA?

how any of these publications stay afloat is a mystery, but i'm sure it has nothing to do with the market for these books.

May 4, 07 11:38 am

i doubt the financial contributions from OMA came for some could just be me being cynical

May 5, 07 5:28 pm

from abra's link

I also heard that Volume Magazine is doing a big expose on architects on the verge of nervous breakdown due to not getting laid often enough << reason enough to buy/contribute?

May 5, 07 5:31 pm

in response to NiloufarTajeri's influanced cotton candy praise above;

"going beyond" also in terms of production and affiliation with a specific country, culture, client, trend...
the latest issue is out now, presenting again a completely different part of the community, namely the communities in Lebanon, Caucasus, Kosovo, Europe etc...

it is certainly not going to grozny is it?

perhaps to some other sunny exposured window dwelling on the edge of an ivied wall, say manicured finger fuck?

come on now friend...
do you think central libraries of chechnya can afford to look into theories like this?

May 8, 07 12:06 am
Ole Bouman

Archinecters, thanks a lot for getting involved in Volume. As always there are different discussions going on in one thread. Basically I see four of them.
Some people want to explore the assumed philosophy behind it: deterritorialization. (Better just do it...)
Others question the productivity of doing a magazine, leaving open so many more (and sometimes obvious) roads to success. (Working on it...)
Again other submit some new ideas for future issues. (Noted, please contact us...)
And finally, some express their suspicion about the real motivation for our work, which is nothing but an attempt to alleviate intellectual boredom.

Not yet discussed:
- Is it helpful to expand the domain of architecture and its discourse to completely new fields and still call it architecture?
- Is it possible to discuss this not as a frivolous theoretical escapism, but as an act of existential necessity for our beloved discipline?
- Can architecture in those new fields come into existence without one or more of its cornerstones: a client, a budget, a site, a program?
- Can we conceive of an architectural project which is truly transatlantic?
- Can we build up a momentum in which the question of a magazine’s productivity becomes obsolete?
- Can everybody find Volume or are we debating a phantom magazine?
- Would you be ready to submit ideas not somewhere hidden in a Archinect thread, but via e-mail to
- Would you go to Ulan Baator or Beirut to reclaim architecture’s power? (And yes Orhan Ayyüce, also to Grozny.)
- These kind of things...
(For all factual data I suggest to visit

May 8, 07 6:21 am

no thanks Ole Bouman. but, i might be allivate myself to it when i am little more bored and manicured though, let's keep it open...
pitty the poor intellectual...

May 8, 07 5:49 pm

I must again reiterate that i am grateful for Orhan's continued irreverence regarding what seems like a force feeding of marketable bullshit.

And i'm playing good cop here...

May 9, 07 12:11 am

mr bouman's asking questions not unlike those that we used to talk about around a table with beer after studio - both when i was IN studio and when i taught it. so what's different now, guys? why not riff on this stuff a little?

brings me back to the relevance issue a little. most of the questions above relate to how we talk about architecture intellectually which, for many practitioners, has little to do with how they're allowed to run a practice on a daily basis. i'd like to say, sure, it's 'helpful to expand the domain of architecture and its discourse to completely new fields and still call it architecture'.

but EVEN MORE, i'd like to expand the domain of architecture and its discourse to not only include both what architects learn to love about architecture AND what the general public looks for in architecture BUT to allow those two very divergent courses for architecture to have some real dialog. which means looking outside architecture and getting outside people talking about architecture.

as goofy as i thought the aia150 favorite buildings survey was, i'm beginning to see how truly valuable it was for architects. 'wake up and start figuring out how to engage people's lives and emotions' it said.

May 9, 07 6:38 am
liberty bell

[/i]include both what architects learn to love about architecture AND what the general public looks for in architecture [/i]

Amen to that, Steven. It seems to me green issues/sustainability are the shining white horseon which architects can ride in and save the world.

And once sustainability comes up, so do social justice issues like improving the built environent for the worl'ds poorest, which may be where Volume in a roundabout way is heading? From fascination to solution?

May 9, 07 7:12 am
liberty bell

Aw, screwed up the italics - sorry.

May 9, 07 7:12 am
won and done williams

one of the problems that i think people are having with these questions is that capital A Architecture riding in on a shining white horse seems like a dated idea. there is no one galvanizing theory, utopia, what-have-you, to bring the profession together. i think each architect does what he or she can within his or her own sphere of influence, but to create broad theoretical generalizations, i'm not sure amounts to much in practice.

does that mean that publications like volume do not have a place? absolutely not. i love reading these journals. they stimulate ideas that i find inspirational to my own small sphere of practice. but instead of an over-generalized theoritical reading (and from the previous converation it does not sound like volume is doing too much of this), i feel that these journals are most relevant when discussing specific forms of architectural practice. eyal weizman's mapping of the israeli-palestinian west bank has been hugely influential as has the work of one of the mentor's, rahul mehrotra, on the kinetic city in mumbai. i'm less interested in the tangents and no, not everything is architecture.

also to answer your question on availability: i have never seen a paper copy of volume, but i also have not looked very hard.

May 9, 07 8:50 am

sitting here looking over the responses that everyone has made to the initial commentary...i find it interesting to think of the current crisis that everyone is playing out as being what i'd like to call the "red giant" effect. as the avant-garde has swollen (which no matter how anyone slices is it is what all fo this discussion and posturing is attempting to create) there exists nothing that opposes it. as such the avant-garde loses its own identity and can no longer be "read" as difference...sorta like what happens as a star begins to reach its red giant phase and grows exponentially devouring everything within a close vicinity and incorporating it into itself. so what am i getting at here...well, could a fundamental question that needs to be asked be "is the outside the privileged position anymore?". in scientific method (which for some reason architecture emulates and idealizes, yet doesn't follow for reasons out of matters of academic convenience) the observer is now understand as much on the interior as the observed, influencing the outcomes of experiments....which fundamentally calls into question the nature of truth that the avant-garde position so wants to achieve through external observation....
which all of this is getting at is really
"is volume an attempt to again replay an avant-garde take on culture?"
"can any consummable ever position itself as avant-garde?"
"and if it isn't attempting to posture a new avant-garde, then what is the nature of a post-critical view towards examining culture?"
"what does it mean when there is no longer an outside and we only exist within our own constructed artifice?"
"what is the relationship between an attitude towards cultural value and cultural value itself?"

May 9, 07 5:08 pm

and one might say that this is where sustainability's white horse rides in....but obviously we need to be more rigorous in our ability to quantify what this means if we are to truly be taken seriously.

May 9, 07 5:43 pm
chatter of clouds

"Would you go to Ulan Baator or Beirut to reclaim architecture’s power"

don't you notice the necrophiliac's fetishizing of 'dead information' for their own will to play...somehow you still pull off sounding whimsical. the seeming seriousness of the question has no respect except for the gymnastic ability it displays to flip from one topic to the other and to tell us that it can do so. its intellectual bimbo-ism.

This is not a criticism so much of the magazine, but to the manner by which you are representing it, effectively selling it. eventually, the parts of a magazine are larger than the magazine itself...unless the magazine itself is a marvel of graphic and packaging design or in some way provokes a new manner of communication (sustainable, technological....does it?)

my question is, should u be even giving voice? is this voice saying anything original in itself? i dont see an augmentation of intelligent observations, i see people underlining , and therefor marketing,Volume. again, thats fine...but whats not fine is pretending that there is something you're actually adding.

i understand colomina's exhibition as an illustrative post mortem, in itself its a creative exercise. but the voice telling me that a magazine is a really interesting magazine because u interview dog trainers....well....i can also hear a hypothetical Ali G. profundity can be disclosed in everything, anything....must we analyze Finding Nemo from an auteur-istic point of view?

it seems to me like an intellectual bimbo with a propensity for bulemic bouts of cultured rhetoric.

"Is it helpful to expand the domain of architecture and its discourse to completely new fields and still call it architecture?"

its could also be seen as a bland banal ('new' fields?) colonialisation. really its all about the specificity (as stephem ward implies), and nothing about a general flaccid vocalization of a will-to-be-interesting.

May 10, 07 4:34 am
chatter of clouds

of course, this is not attacking the wholeness of anyone's intelligence. we all sound silly sometimes.

May 10, 07 4:37 am
liberty bell

futureboy, I love the red giant analogy.

May 10, 07 9:27 am

i think bouman's question about where you would go to 'reclaim architecture's power' was referring to the fact that Archis/Volume is doing events this spring/summer in Ulaanbaator, Kabul, Grozny, etc, like they did the event in Beirut last fall, Gaza before that with AMO, etc. just a point of info- it wasn't a rhetorical question.

(see the images of yellow pages on the first page of the forum.)

i've never been to one of these events, but i've heard they are very strange, (b/c Archis is still a an extremely awkward and confusing magazine, even as Volume) and not so well-heeled and comfortable as you might expect from 'architourism'.

May 10, 07 12:01 pm

thanks lb.

May 10, 07 5:35 pm

red giant

May 10, 07 6:08 pm
chatter of clouds

dithyramben, i know.

"and not so well-heeled and comfortable as you might expect from 'architourism'"

who says architourism can't be crossed with an urban 'survivor'? war/poverty/third world country -chic ( who doesnt love b&w pix of bullet holes, favelaesque polychromacity , and an occasional dose of lively activism to counter the globally reified urban middle-class consciousness).

academically quicalent: why do rich students, say in an AA studio excursion travel to lebanon say, they visit a few bombed villages come back with mappings of..well whatever....who cares...mines in a pomegranate field...the villagers feed them tabbouli and mne'eesh....they take a good mark or a bad mark...who cares...they move on having a bombed village project in their portfolio. please note: studio teachers are on the look-out for the next environmental/man-made disasters.

May 10, 07 6:55 pm
chatter of clouds

academically equivalent, quicalent doesn't look too shabby though :)

May 10, 07 6:56 pm
chatter of clouds

therein the great almighty jaws of reification in Per enniglsh :p =>

May 10, 07 7:12 pm
Sir Arthur Braagadocio

the power of architecture - it's a service profession, so even if you rode in a on white horse it's only because you slayed a dragon or something...

loved noctilucent's bombed out mapping example of the AA students...

some outsider positions, off the top of my head:

serial killers
cult leaders

not very service oriented states of being now...

i'm all about the inside position, playing golf with that guys brother French mentioned.

theory is like philosophy is like drugs is like maturing is like becoming you is like case anyone needed a link.

i want to answer one of ole boumen's questions:

Is it helpful to expand the domain of architecture and its discourse to completely new fields and still call it architecture?

yes expand expand expand...but i don't know why its necessary to call it architecture, what we still trying to bridge the gap between culture and technology (Gropius, then countered by Habermans)... I counter, yes bridge it, but keep it in a pack of CD's if you want to call it architecture. why deny its what we do, because when you ask joe schmoe what an architect does, he says -"Architects design buildings, you know with greek columns and stuff, like banks and univerisities."

i justed pissed a whole semester away in the KieranTimberlaks studio with them asking dumb questions about how architectural research could solve third world conditions differently. i came up with a brick kiln that uses solar power that is shipped in a shipping create, apparently tooo architectural and linear. actually i didn't do enough mind numbing diagrams.

my bad. i'm an architect. i solve problems with materials, forms, and space and any real scientific principals i learn along the way. done.

May 10, 07 10:26 pm
won and done williams

i'm finding these comments awfully cynical. i think the upside of global practice is the ability for architects to affect places that normally do not have the benefit of design, places like slums, rural areas, warzones; it's an opportunity for architects and an antidote to the sickening consumerism and architectural ego you find in places like dubai and shanghai. i hope that for some students, professors and practitioners it is more than simply architourism.

May 10, 07 10:31 pm
Sir Arthur Braagadocio

explain effect/affect jafidler?

(i was seriously shot down for my simples solution in studio, figured brick making was a start)

but address my question as if none of us were trust fund babies?

just to note, was hoping an american who went to Lusaka, Zambia to start a mission could help me on my project for info in studio, apparently the government didn't like him too much...he was teaching people how to weld, his plans weren't their plans...

but address how an architect creates political muscle?

May 10, 07 10:50 pm
won and done williams

meta, how to affect change in these places is a very good question. one of my interests is in slum transition housing. there are various ngos that are assisting slum dwellers in india move out of the slums into more permanent housing. these ngos are very much involved on the ground in community building, but they have little sense of spatial planning and design. they are in dire need of assistance from architects, but their general feeling is that architects are more interested in designing for the affluent. i see creating partnerships with ngos as being an opportunity for architects to participate in these communities without the usual connotations of elitism associated with the design professions.

May 10, 07 11:12 pm
Sir Arthur Braagadocio

a group in my studio spent a whole semester researching the inefficiencies of ngo's...

thanks for the answer ja, a real one.

but how does one go about helping the poor while running a firm assuming you are not a trust fund baby and you do not have financial donors for what would be a non-profit? i.e. you already work 40-80 hours a week making ends meet doing architecture.

May 11, 07 8:14 am
won and done williams

honestly i don't know how you practice in these places. since graduating, my understanding has been purely theoretical, but something i eventually want to return to in practice. perhaps this is an opportunity for volume to explore alternative practices within developing countries or places of war. my completely theoretical guess is that various levels of partnership, outside of market forces, is key.

May 11, 07 9:03 am

i did quite a bit of research on colonias along the US/mexico border right after i finished at sciarc 6 years ago....what i found interesting about it was that architecture had very little ability to solve much on its really need a thorough understanding of the political and economic factors that create that sort of condition and allow it to persist.....
which leads me to my actually reason for posting right now:
what you're describing jafidler in your posts is very similar to how we structured our architecture for humanity chapter here in new york. except that we actually do need to involve ourselves with market forces (again there is no outside), but do so in a strategic manner. all of our projects are aimed at working with local non-profit and community groups, for which we supply our architectural background to tackle three main issues: design, activism, and education. these of course all center around the built environment, but necessitate tackling policy issues, funding issues, cost, logistics, and communication of all these issues to a group with no background in understanding the ramifications of these decisions on the physical environment....its been really interesting and i know that cameron has had to deal with many similar issues in his work internationally. there's definitely a lot to learn from this manner of working.

and to respond to metamechanic's previous statement. in terms of doing work for non-profits, i always have to go back to the model my first boss used.... he always charged at a rate for his usual projects that allowed him to then put 10% of his resources yearly towards non-profit work..which over time makes a pretty big impact.

May 11, 07 9:41 am
chatter of clouds

there is a stark difference between an organization that acts as a liase between the affected population, the national/international organizations or bodies (economic-political) and the industry to deliver a realizable coherent plan and one where some elite prophets of architecture jet-set from one place to the other meeting with local prophets to
establish firmly that 'architecture can expand its domain'.
and coming up with impossible-to-realize schemes that base themselves more on self-referential values of architectural interest than actual ameliorative impact on people's lives. i actually don't enjoy attacking anything that is in principal investigative, questionsing..etc...neither should we judge whether the participants are rich or poor but there is an element of flippant naivety coupled with self-deception that stands out.

as an example, one archis related scheme: how can i really take seriously the scheme to aid lebanon through linking the ports to transfer relief medical and food suppleies? not only does that not take into consideration that at each and every stage lebanese bureaucracy is so corrupt that out of ever 10 dollars you sink into or around it, 8 will disappear and that the country is paralyzed by the active unwillingliness to follow any coherent plan...but it doesnt take into account that should there be a reoccurence of an israel-lebanon war, and when this relief will really be needed, it will be impossible to maneuvre in lebanese waters until israel decides its ok. and there is mention of a major lebanese contractor (shhhh'ed); there is hardly a 'major player' in all lebanon that is not in someway or another linked to corruption. this might be kinda irrelevant but as aninstance, the largest goverment sponsored real-estate company that rebuilt beirut's centre is knowingly allowing untreated chemical toxic wastes to be dumped on unsupecting disparate lebanese towns and villages so as to make way for more jet-setters to enjoy their time in an antiseptic 'beirut proper' zone. in this context, i can only enjoy the youthfulness and energy behind archis-like attempts (the lodging sounds nice), but hardly the level-headedness. for sure, it will give the cute young lefties in beirut more opportunity for fun times. why not?

May 12, 07 4:31 am
chatter of clouds

and really, i cannot forget the dog training sessions. it just stuck, dislodge!

May 12, 07 4:34 am

I would go to Beirut, but am not sure about Ulaan Bator, mainly because of its inaccessibility. I must say that what I find most interesting about Volume is its willingness to at least touch on subjects beyond architecture, (but I think it should stop trying to be so paranoid about its haphazardness). My scepticism about Volume's motivations stems from the fact that I find its tone too apologetic (maybe not the right word ). I still sense that it is trying to address a very small and targeted audience ( architects between the ages of 30-45), when in fact it could simply have more fun being more irreverent; like claiming that it is a perspective from practitioners of architecture, or people with an architecture education about the state of the world, and more whole-heartedly try to reach a wider audience...(even if it means selling a little bit of your soul..) I wish it much success..

May 15, 07 4:17 pm
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

I haven't been keeping up with this discussion for a while, but having just recieved my copy of Volume, I wanted to say that I think it's one of the most stimulating architecture magazines I've read in a while.

May 20, 07 2:07 am
John Clark

Gonna bump this because I just picked up the latest issue of Volume. Ambition. Skeptical at the price I at first, I am appreciative that there is some place where there seems to be thorough, intelligent, and progressive debate on the field of architecture as it exists now. Even with the wealth of information available on sites such as this and other architecture/design/culture/thinking blogs that can touch on a plethora of information on a daily basis, it is nice to be able to hold in your hands a document not only with material weight, but with real intellectual heft. It doesn't seem to have many esoteric articles such as the dog walker piece. Most of the articles seem to hone in on the cult of the architectural celebrity and the different incarnations these have. But the pieces that stray away from architecture per-say still are able to relate pretty directly with the theme.

Any body else read this, what are your thoughts? The beauty of archinect is its ability to extend the conversation beyond the pages of any book, so lets continue it...

Maybe we can respond to Ole's questions more directly now?

Suggestions. Maybe have some actual content on the website instead of just an advertisement. A few articles perhaps. And what happened to the interviews from C-Lab on the website? All we have are a few esoteric interviews from from Hernan and Francois that don't really expand discourse about the "cutting edge". The lack of breadth seems to reinforce the stereotype of the ivies and their respective teachers as nebulous arbiters of style and avant garde hype.

Jan 9, 08 12:50 pm
brian buchalski

sweet discussion...i'm glad i found this

Jul 3, 08 11:34 am

Got a bunch of Vilumes and a bunch of Logs recently. Overall, I like the Logs better.

Jul 5, 08 10:12 am

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