“All of us, at some moment, have had a vision of our existence as something unique, untransferable and very precious. This revelation always takes place during adolescence. Self-discovery is above all the realization that we are alone: it is the opening of an impalpable, transparent wall – that of our consciousness – between the world and ourselves. . . . The adolescent . . . is astonished at the fact of his being, and this astonishment leads to reflection . . . The singularity of his being . . . becomes a problem and a question. Much the same thing happens to nations and peoples at a certain critical momet in their development. They ask themselves: What are we, and how will we fulfill our obligations to ourselves as we are”.

Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude: The Pachuco and Other Extremes (New York: Grove Press, 1961)-

Skopje, or How Context Fucked Concepts and Vice Versa

“On a summer morning in 1963, in the middle of the Cold War, the capital of the Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia was reduced to rubble by a 6.1-level earthquake. Apart from the resulting death, destruction and desolation, this disaster would prove to be the biggest opportunity for the UN to demonstrate its unity and goodwill, as well as for the “free world” to show its political solidarity to Tito in the face of Stalin. For young architects, it was an improbable occasion offering the chance to build a new city made of concepts – dare we say, one that was context-free – from scratch.

What follows is the story of Skopje, the guinea pig of the hot, young Metabolists, “the world’s bastard”,1 a ready-made tabula rasa, an experimental playground for Le Corbusier’s worshipers, Paul Rudolph’s students and Alvar Alto’s trainees: Skopje was a battlefield of context fighting concepts.” (excerpt)


This article was  selected after the Call for Papers : Fuck Concepts! Context! and has been written following Charlotte’s trips to Skopje. You can find SAN ROCCO here.