Monthly Archives: December 2010

# PHOTOGRAPHY /// Bildbauten by Philipp SchaererDecember 31, 2010

Arts - By: Léopold Lambert

The series of images created by Philipp Schaerer entitled Bildbauten (built pictures in German) includes twenty five rendering of monolithic buildings that seem to have been produced by their environment in some sort of camouflaged bunkers.

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The fifth studio Francois Roche has been tutoring at Columbia University since 2006 recently presented its last projects. One of them drove an interesting conversation between the jury and its authors, Brian Buckner & Loukia Tsafoulia. For this year’s studio, Francois Roche was assisted by Ezio Blasetti and Dave Pigram

For the second year, this studio was experimenting processes of life and death of an architecture; in this regard, Sadic Apiaries is a system composed by two robots and thousand of bees. The first robot is used as a mobile matrix for the bees to build the hives architecture, while the second robot exercises a sadistic role on the bees via smoke throw in order to orient the construction.
With time, the wax loose of its consistency (and color) and eventually disintegrates, thus triggering the death of this architecture.

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Since September, my friend Sofia Krimizi has been teaching a studio in the first year of the Pratt Institute‘s undergraduate program. The assignment consisted in a series of three projects related to each other which was exploring both the notion of mass/void and the notion of joint. Several projects can be said to have been successful but the two following ones reached a level of intelligence that is rare in this early stage of the studies.

The first one has been designed by Khilna Shah. She managed to create a model working only in tension and which allow enough elasticity in order to carry a variable amount of weights that would modify the structure’s morphology.

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After Interaction Between the Elements, here is another project by Rietveld Landscape I wanted to publish. Bunker 599 + 603 is the story of a Matta Clarkian cut in the middle of a bunker on the Dutch coast. The most massive and close architecture thus becomes permeable and proposes to the viewer, a three dimensional section of this mass of concrete.

Here is the official text related to the project:

Bunker 599 + 603

This project lays bare two secrets of the New Dutch Waterline (NDW), a military line of defence in use from 1815 until 1940 protecting the cities of Muiden, Utrecht, Vreeswijk and Gorinchem by means of intentional flooding.

A seemingly indestructible bunker with monumental status is sliced open. The design thereby opens up the minuscule interior of one of NDW’s 700 bunkers, the insides of which are normally cut off from view completely. In addition, a long wooden boardwalk cuts through the extremely heavy construction. It leads visitors to a flooded area and to the footpaths of the adjacent natural reserve. The pier and the piles supporting it remind them that the water surrounding them is not caused by e.g. the removal of sand but rather is a shallow water plain characteristic of the inundations in times of war.

The sliced up bunker forms a publicly accessible attraction for visitors of the NDW. It is moreover visible from the A2 highway and can thus also be seen by tens of thousand of passers-by each day. The project is part of the overall strategy of Rietveld Landscape | Atelier de Lyon to make this unique part of Dutch history accessible and tangible for a wide variety of visitors.

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Kowloon Walled City can obviously not be literally considered as self-constructed. However, this Hong Kong district acquired a kind of autonomy for years and could not stop densifying itself until it was demolished by Authorities in 1993 (See Ryuji Miyamoto’s photographs of the empty Walled City, ready to be tear down).
The Walled City tackles an interesting problem about the connection such autonomous district could have with legality. In fact, there has been a strong phantasm of insecurity about it, probably encouraged by the authority when some neutral reporters like Greg Girard and Ian Lambot (read their “City of Darkness” from where almost all photographs we still have come from) affirmed that the district was the shelter of drug addict but not criminals.
Before it was demolished, the Walled City was the home of 50 000 inhabitants reaching an incredible density of 1 920 000 inhabitants per square kilometre.
As far as self-construction is concerned, let’s quote City of Darkness:

“With lifts in just two of the City’s 350 or so buildings, access to the upper floors of the 10 to 14 storey apartment blocks was nearly always by stairs, necessitating considerable climbs for thos who lived near the top. This was partly alleviated by an extraordinary system of interconnecting stairways and bridges at different levels within the City which took shape -somewhat organically- during the construction boom of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. It was possible for example, to travel across the City from north to south without once coming down to street level.”

Let’s add to this description, the one of this grid placed over the district’s temple (right in the center of the Walled City) on which inhabitants having their windows on the courtyards throw away their garbage, transforming the temple’s environment into a shadowy underworld.

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Here is the project that Hans Schabus achieved for the Venice Art Biennale 2005: a monumental piece of rock in the middle of the Giardini. The inside part is as impressive as the outside with numerous wooden beams and posts maintaining the building’s structural integrity.

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# INTERVIEWS /// Raja ShehadehDecember 23, 2010

History / Law - By: Léopold Lambert

Thanks to Romaric, my friend who works at French publisher Galaade, I had the chance to meet Raja Shehadeh for an interview he kindly accepted.

Raja is a lawyer in Ramallah since the end of the 70’s and has dedicated his carrier to cases of expropriation of Palestinian lands by the Israeli.
He wrote several books, including Occupier’s Law and Palestinian walks.
Ramallah. 21st July 2010

Leopold Lambert: The particularity of your actions is that you are a lawyer. Despite the fact that law is violated every day by the State of Israel, what may be some naivety from me makes me think that it is the one domain that can save Palestinians from oppression. Would your expertise agree with that?

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Francesco Cingolani is one of the associate of CTRLZ architectures we already published here; he also works for Hugh Dutton Associes in Paris and take part of the blog Complexitys related to this office. He recently asked me to answer to a short interview concerning the relationship between engineering and architecture. The original version in French follows the translated one.
(nb there are four other interviews on Complexitys with people coming from very various backgrounds)


Francesco Cingolani: In your vision, what is the relationship between architecture and engineering?

Léopold Lambert: In order to answer to this question, it is important to define what we understand by engineering. If I define here engineering as the discipline that tend to rationalize, diagrammatize, optimize space so then, in my vision, architecture has to try to evolve to the opposite side of this discipline.
Of course, architects would always have to do concessions to technocracy, however to resist to it -and probably resist it with its own language, its own symbols- seems to me as a important attitude.
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# INTERVIEWS /// Teddy Cruz on ArchinectDecember 23, 2010

Architecture & Design - By: Léopold Lambert

Power and powerlessness is the title of Archinect’s interview of Teddy Cruz I recommend you to read for its description of the Estudio Cruz’ s archi-political work on San Diego/Tijuana’s border zone. Teddy Cruz was participating to November conference of Oppositional Architecture and declared that he believe in a long term work to make institutions evolve rather than a resistance based on the non-respect of established rules.

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# INTERVIEWS /// Roland Snooks (Swarm 3/3)December 23, 2010

Architecture & Design - By: Léopold Lambert
Third and last interview for this SWARM thematic. This one is of Roland Snooks from Kokkugia. Roland speaks about his research about multi-agent strategies in his studio and in the schools he is teaching (Columbia, Pratt, Sci-Arc, UPenn, RMIT…)

You are using swarm/network intelligence as a process of creation. Would you say that it is a form of loss of control from the architect ? If it is the case why would you think it is relevant in our era ?

Designing through complex systems, in particular through multi-agent design methodologies, does not represent a loss of control in the design process, however the nature of design and authorship changes. It is a shift from invention of form to the orchestration of processes. Within highly volatile algorithmic design processes topology and dimension are not directly controlled, however the formal and organisational characteristics, which are tied to the internal behavior of the algorithm are controlled through an iterative design process.

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