Peter Maxwell

Critical Writing in Art & Design


Digital image

Major Project: Almost Nothing

An investigation into Mies van der Rohe's last project, the tower and square he designed for Lord Palumbo on his Number One Poultry site in the heart of the City of London. The planning battle that followed this attempt to place an exposition of the International Style into the premodern city matrix, and opposite structures designed by some of Britain's great historical masters, was one of the longest in the city's history. More than this however, it appeared as a conflict directed towards deciding the fate of modern architecture at the end of its own century.

This project maps Mansion House Square's failure to arrive, what its significance to architectural history might be and, most importantly, what the status of this building's existence now is. It posits that the proposal not only has continued relevance, but that in being constructed as a site of active discourse, in the present, can itself be made to continue. The result of this is an attempt to find the most appropriate way to 'write' this object as a kind of critical fiction, one that seeks to perpetuate Mies' last commission - to rebuild it in terms of what Svetlana Boym calls a 'discursive monument.'

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BA (Hons), English Literature and Creative Writing, University of Warwick, 2010


Disegno, Johanna Agerman Ross, Issue 1, 2011; Gigantic Magazine, Ann DeWitt, Indoors: Issue 3, 2011; Comfort Zone and Disillusion, Freek Lomme, Onomatopee, 2011