LEBBEUS WOODS, Injection Parasite, Sarajevo, 1992-93
Sanna Johnels
English translation


How fiction becomes reflection
Representation of visionary architecture


My answer was that architecture, as a social and primarily constructive act, could heal the wounds, by creating entirely new types of space in the city. These would be what I had called ‘freespaces,’ spaces without predetermined programs of use, but whose strong forms demanded the invention of new programs corresponding to the new, post-war conditions

Lebbeus Woods, Injection Parasite, Sarajevo, 1992-93



Jean Novel, Render
  Conceptual Diagram

In contemporary architecture there is a variation of representation but without any doubt there is an existing norm and codes of aesthetics. The render and the photorealistic representation are dominating ways to present a architectonic proposal. In its perfect and exact nature it almost makes us believe that the proposal is already existing, it becomes real.
The diagram has the intention to present to us a sincere and authentic architecture. When the render focuses on the real of the product the diagram focuses on the authenticity of the process. It shows a “step by step-explaining” figure that simplifies the understanding of its intentions and thereby emphasizes the value. I claim that there is, aside from the values of both these ways of representation, a risk that this mode of presentation becomes a image or code with value in themselves. The render as real and the diagram real through its reference to, and conclusion through science. This can in worst case transform the role of the reader into merely a consumer of images of representation. The intention of honesty becomes seduction!

Jean Novel, Render



T H E    V I S I O N A R Y    A N D    T H E    A U R A    O F    D Y S T O P I A

Buckminister Fuller, Spheres

There is obviously a resemblance in various representations of visionary architecture through the history. In many of these one can find a dystopic aura, a lack of invitation. Partly in the form that the proposal takes but also in the aesthetics of the representation. In the case of Lebbeus Woods and his Injection Parasite you can hear it in the name but also see it in the light, feel it from the angle and through its connection to Science Fiction narratives. Almost as if the architect doesn’t want the reader to embrace it.
But the visionary in these proposals are not dystopic in their own sense.
The architecture of Lebbeus Woods is proposing new urban spaces, new ways to live and new ways for people to meet.
He is opposed to new architecture that erases the past and thats why these new spaces are placed in urban wounds.
Although the architecture occupies the space of a tragic history, the vision is positive.
Why is it that this kind of visionary architecture is drawn to the opposite? The opposite to pleasant, defined and most of all of the real?
Archigram, A walking city
Étienne-Louis Boullée, Newton's Cenotaph


H O W      F I C T I O N      B E C O M E S      R E F L E C T I O N


I proposed spaces that are frontiers that challenge our existing modes of habitation. Only those willing to explore new modes of thinking and living can inhabit them. where radical change arises out of extreme circumstances.

Would their projects be realized? No. Did that matter to the architects? Not likely. So, why did they make them? To unequivocally articulate a set of architectural principles and design ideas - and to test them.
Were the drawings and models made by the architects sufficient to accomplish these goals? Yes. The drawings and models were made to be clear and understandable, to any intelligent person, but especially to critically minded architects.


In these two quotations there is a key to the representation of the visionary architecture by Lebbeus Woods.
When the representation takes this fictional form, it is putting the reader at a distance.
A distance that enables us to read and interpretate the image with critical eyes.
The narrative way to represent Injection Parasite is a provocation. It stresses the critical eye to see beyond the fictional surface. It confronts the seduction and uses fiction to mobilize.

© by Sanna Johnels’s texts

Sanna Johnels is architect

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