Lace Hill: The Man-Made Ararat

Lace Hill

Lace Hill (2)

A fascinating new building project in Armenia’s capital Yerevan called Lace Hill that seeks to create a giant man-made mountain, but not only. The project designed by a Birmingham, Alabama (USA) based architectural company Forrest Fulton Archtects seeks to create a fascinating green and sustainable building project that will house entertainment centers and parks with its own eco-system while incorporating traditional Armenian architectural themes. Honestly looking at the design I do not yet know what to make of it. Theoretically it sounds interesting and would definitely put Yerevan on the map as far as tourism is concerned, but how and who would finance this project is an enigma wrapped in mystery, given the state of Armenian economy.

Here are some descriptions of the project from the firm’s website:

To create a new, firmly rooted architecture-urbanism-landscape, the project morphs the common urban element of Yerevan, the superblock, to the site, a truncated hill along the natural amphitheater of the Yerevan. This act extends the amphitheater and completes the hill, creating more capacity or “seats” for the viewing of Yerevan and Mt. Ararat, the eternal icon of Armenia. Native plants irrigated with recycled gray water cover the hill. Intricate perforations recalling traditional Armenian lace needlework provide terraced exterior space, natural ventilation, and amazing views for the promenade, hotel rooms, residences, and office space.

Unlike a singular object tower that one simply views from the city below, the lacy, living hill seduces visitors inside to a promenade and a succession of tower-voids.  Tower-voids act as dramatic cooling towers in Yerevan’s semi-arid climate. As one moves toward the cooler center, the hill opens to the sky. With the feel of a cathedral or basilica in size and light, pools and tree-topped hills fill these flowing-nodal public spaces. These are spatial monuments to Armenia, carved from the hill like the ancient Armenian Monastery of Gerhard.

Lace Hill over Yerevan

Lace Hill not only conserves its own resources within, but also gives back to Yerevan, passively cooling portions of Yerevan during the summer. As north breezes pass over the tower-voids’ ponds, the project acts as a giant evaporative cooling mechanism for the semi-arid city below. Window walls set deep within the terraces shade summer sun. Planted surfaces absorb solar heat, filter air and water-borne toxins, and supports insect and animal life. Geothermal wells and radiant floors efficiently heat and cool spaces. Recycled gray water irrigates agriculture and hill plantings. The lace perforated surface ventilates the hill. The major structure is found in the perforated concrete exterior surfaces, allowing for columnless and beamless flexible spaces. Undulation of the surfaces form structurally efficient vaults and arches while creating a variety of views and maximizing area.” Read More>>>

Yerevan, Armenia

Instead of a towering Iconic image, disconnected from historic, horizontal Yerevan, Lace Hill stitches the adjacent city and landscape together to support a holistic, ultra-green lifestyle, somewhere between rural hillside living and dense cultured urbanity.  The 85,000 square meter (900,000 sf) proposal is a new model of development for Yerevan and Armenia that supports a resilient, high-value spatial fabric, dense with overlapping natural and urban phenomenon.

To create a new, firmly rooted architecture-urbanism-landscape, the project morphs the common urban element of Yerevan, the superblock, to the site, a truncated hill along the natural amphitheater of the Yerevan. This act extends the amphitheater and completes the hill, creating more capacity or “seats” for the viewing of Yerevan and Mt. Ararat, the eternal icon of Armenia. Native plants irrigated with recycled gray water cover the hill. Intricate perforations recalling traditional Armenian lace needlework provide terraced exterior space, natural ventilation, and amazing views for the promenade, hotel rooms, residences, and office space.

Unlike a singular object tower that one simply views from the city below, the lacy, living hill seduces visitors inside to a promenade and a succession of tower-voids.  Tower-voids act as dramatic cooling towers in Yerevan’s semi-arid climate. As one moves toward the cooler center, the hill opens to the sky. With the feel of a cathedral or basilica in size and light, pools and tree-topped hills fill these flowing-nodal public spaces. These are spatial monuments to Armenia, carved from the hill like the ancient Armenian Monastery of Gerhard.

Erdogan Doubles Down on his threat to Expel Armenians

RT Erdogan

Turkish Sultan Prime Minister RT Erdogan has doubled down on his threat to expel undocumented Armenians from Turkey in a revealing interview to the Der Spiegel following a similar threat earlier in an interview to the BBC. That interview caused widespread consternation throughout the media in Turkey as well as overseas, but his latest verbal attack has remained under the radar. As always with Erdogan the underlying premises are the same: if Armenians keep agitating for Genocide recognition, which they will, threat or no threat by Erdogan, the Armenians currently residing in Turkey will suffer the consequences. How serious should Erdogan’s threat be considered? Given a sub-culture of violent conflict resolution in Turkey, past and present (Turks, Alevis, Armenians, Greeks), his threats to expel are no mere rhetoric, they are for all intents and purposes sending strong, if coded, signals to hardline nationalists like himself that Armenians are fair game. Of similar opinion is also Marko Attila Hoare, who also raises the alarm over what he calls “Erdogan’s chauvinistic outburst.” Hoare hits the nail over the head when he observes that

the extreme Turkish nationalism responsible for the Armenian Genocide and for the killing or expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Greeks during the 1920s (many of whom were Turkish-speaking Anatolians deemed ‘Greek’ only by virtue of being Christians) still very much dominates the mind-set of the Turkish political classes. It is a nationalism born out of the decay of the Ottoman Empire, in which repeated interventions by Christian Europe on behalf of the Ottomans’ Christian subjects and the resulting Ottoman territorial losses gave rise to a genocidal Turkish impulse vis-a-vis Anatolian Christians, identified as they were as agents of foreign enemies and threats to the territorial integrity of the state. The Turkish War of Independence of the 1920s was at once a legitimate war of national liberation against West European imperialism and Greek aggression, and a murderous assault on the remaining Anatolian Christians that culminated in the burning of the city of Smyrna in 1922 and the massacre of its Greek and Armenian inhabitants. The Turkish victory in that war and the establishment of the Turkish republic halted the Ottoman/Turkish territorial decline, but the readiness to attack and expel members of Christian nationalities remained. As late as 1955, the Turkish government of Adnan Menderes orchestrated a massive anti-Greek pogrom in Istanbul, as a way of pressurising Greece over the Cyprus question, resulting in the virtual disappearance through emigration of Istanbul’s up-till-then large and thriving Greek community. Against this background, Erdogan’s anti-Armenian outburst needs to be taken seriously. Read more>>

Curiously though, that favorite pariah that everybody loves to hate, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, despite his fear and loathing of Israel has not to my mind threatened expulsion of the small Jewish community in Iran.

The things you would do for a friend


After reading Ditord’s post on the vagaries of foreign travel and the things your friends ask you to bring back from overseas I could not but smile. How true. I travel between the United States and Russia and Armenia quite often due to my profession. I am Ph.D. candidate at a Texas university where I also teach on Human rights and Ethnic conflicts and travels to the far corners of the world are a thing of necessity for research, interviewing a vip here, a scholar there, and so on. And nearly every time when my friends and relatives back home find out I am on my way to Armenia I get asked to bring all sorts of things: Ready for the catalogue of things I have been asked to bring? Some wacky, some tacky and some borderline unclassifiable. Among the usual cell phones and digital cameras and books that I get occasional requests to bring to the homeland have also been the following — flat screen TVs, quail eggs to start a paltry business, peanut butter, and baby stroller for twins (this one in Ukraine). So Ditord I know what you are talking about.

Fight between friends

Petros Sirinoglu (L) and Turkish PM Erdogan

Well, finally, I mean finally, we now know what happened and what caused the Armenian Genocide! The riddle is solved!

A prominent Turkish-Armenian leader (I don’t know how prominent, just prominent), has apologized to the Turkish PM RT Erdogan for not telling the real numbers of the Armenians residing in Turkey thus causing the PM to cite the wrong numbers in the now infamous BBC interview where the latter threatened to deport illegal Armenian immigrants who had come to Turkey for work. Well, ok, wrong numbers, who doesn’t do that right? We are all bad at math, so who am I to double guess? But get this Kafkaesque twist. So the Turkish PM threatens you with deportation, you come and ask for forgiveness? If this does not remind you of the days of the Sultanate I don’t know what will, forgetting for a second that Erdogan increasingly is using such terms as “my people,” “my Turkish people,” usage that resembles the days of the Ottoman Sultans who spoke of their Muslim subjects as “my people”  and non Muslim subjects as rayahs, or sheep, or cattle, basically as grazing and, by and large, leaderless animals, whose “prominent leaders” such as the very dear rayah Sirinoglu were always standing by ready to bow and ask for forgiveness from the “dear leader.” One thing about the sheep is that they inevitably end up on the sacrificial altar, and Sirinoglu perhaps senses this dynamic and is trying to shield himself from being led to the proverbial altar by initiating the farcical kabuki dance. But what is equally as farcical is the fact that he calls the Armenian Genocide a “fight between friends.” Oh really? I’ll grant you that metaphor, if and only if you grant me the following one. One group of friends were far more numerous and attacked and killed, raped, mutilated, burned, starved to death en masse, threw off cliffs, threw into rivers, torpedoed boats on the sea, the other group of friends, their wives, their children, their parents, sacked their places of worship, converted some to another religion, erased their memory from textbooks, believes them to be parasitic, turned their churches into cattle-houses (well this one somehow all of a sudden makes sense), and is economically trying to choke their other friends, you know, across the border. So basically yes, it was a fight between friends, and lots of toys were broken in the process, so why should we care? We can always buy new toys!

It’s sad to be an ambassador of Turkey

Sisyphus

One of my favorite poets is the late Israeil poet Yehuda Amichai, whose poems I revisit from time to time. I really admire his work, they are not unlike some of Charents’ and Sevak’s work, soaked with a spirit of melancholy, sad yet life affirming and far from cynical. The reason for why I am bringing up Amichai is that as I was reading up on the latest Armenia related news several things stood apart. The very interesting Turkish ambassadors tasked with representing their country, but of late, de-presenting it by being recalled. They would make an interesting character study and here is why. Amichai has this beautiful poem called Mayor.

It’s sad to be
the mayor of Jerusalem —
it’s terrible.
How can a man be mayor of such a city?
What can he do with it?
Build and build and build.

And at night the stones of the mountains crawl down
and surround the stone houses,
like wolves coming to howl at the dogs,
who have become the slaves of man.

The Selected Poems of Yehuda Amichai, trans. and ed. by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell, (Berkley, CA: University of California Press), 35.

Now imagine you are a Turkish ambassador. It’s terrible. You are engaged in the Sisyphean struggle of lobbying, lobbying, lobbying all of which come to naught when some Swedes and Americans decide to remind you of your country’s bloody past over which you are still unrepentant, at least in the public eye, the Israelis (for their own reasons) sit you in a booster seat, the 60 Minutes and Bob Simon manhandle you, you are recalled from the four corners of the world (yes the world is flat and rectangle, just ask Tommy Friedman), one of your daughters is threatened with death over her advocacy on behalf of the despised Armenians, and then Harut Sassounian writes this snarky piece:

Thousands of articles are posted on the internet every day. But, very few make us fall off our chairs!
Last week I came across a shocking news item posted by the Turkish Forum — the largest website for Turkish news. It was titled: “Forgotten Ambassador in Sierra Leone Uses Armenian Genocide Resolution to solve his Problem.” Here is the summary in translation of that incredible article:
“In recent years, parliaments of several countries have adopted resolutions on the Armenian Genocide. In retaliation, Turkey has recalled its ambassadors from these countries. It has been revealed that some opportunistic ambassadors exploited this situation, by abusing their position.
“According to a Foreign Ministry announcement this morning, Orhan Emin Turkone, Turkey’s Ambassador in Sierra Leone for the past 12 years, has been fired for having lobbied for the passage of the Armenian Genocide bill in that country’s Parliament.
“During a press conference this morning, the Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary Ersin Ozbukey explained: ‘Recently, it came to our attention that the so-called Armenian Genocide bill was placed on the agenda of the Parliaments of Chad, Eritrea, and Djibouti. But, when we saw that this bill was unanimously adopted by the Parliament of Sierra Leone, we started suspecting that something had gone terribly wrong.’ Ozbukey added: ‘We formed an investigative committee that uncovered some interesting, but disturbing information.’
“’We confirmed that Amb. Turkone had carried out lobbying activities in favor of the Armenian Genocide bill,’ Ozbukey stated. ‘Of course, this can’t be excused, but the Ministry also has its fault in this affair. This man was abandoned and forgotten in a far away country. He got that idea, after [Turkish] Ambassadors were recalled following the adoption of the genocide resolution by other countries. Twelve years is a long time,’ Ozbukey admitted. Read more>>

It must be indeed terrible to be a Turkish ambassador, when you know you could well be a character in a Kafka or a Camus book to illustrate the absurdity of human existence. On the brighter side, it is definitely better than being Duchamp’s Fountain.

entitlement society

Via HuffPo. “University of Wisconsin Milwaukee student Robyn Foster may have crossed the line last Monday, March 15, during a discussion with Anthropology professor Kathleen Foley Winkler.” Well, you now why? “Because [she] f****** paid to be there.” You don’t have to pay to be an a**hole. And there is always youtubes to make the stain permanent. Read more>>

Armenian Genocide Museum in DC lawsuit closer to resolution?

McClatchy’s DC bureau blog is reporting on the ongoing “intramural fight” between two rival camps tasked with the establishment of the Armenian Genocide Museum of America and the lawsuit that has effectively slowed down the development of the project.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly calls a fight over a proposed Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial “very bitter and very unfortunate.” Looks like it will stay that way for a while.

On Tuesday, Judge Kollar-Kotelly kept at least part of the ongoing lawsuit alive, though she narrowed it a bit. In two related rulings, here and here, the judge granted some but not all motions to dismiss various claims and counter-claims.

In brief, and we mean brief, the Armenian Assembly of America wants to build the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial on the site of an old bank in downtown Washington, D.C. For a time, Gerard R. Cafesjian, formerly executive vice president of West Publishing, and the Cafejian Family Foundation were involved in the effort. Then: bad blood ensued.

The cases are complicated, but the discovery is illuminating.

At one point, for instance, documents show a consultant recommended naming the museum the “Bank of Moral Courage.” This did not go over well. Read more>>

The Bank of Moral Courage? Really? Who came up with the name? Tata? Or was it Boka?