It became a sort of tradition on The Funambulist to publish regularly the work of specific people whose interesting projects, add one by one over the years compose a coherent ensemble. Fredrik Hellberg is one of those people. After his Manhattan Oneirocritica, his Japanese Embassy in London and his essay about Meta-Virtual Solipsism, his work is back on the blog with his thesis project at the Architectural Association that is now competing for the RIBA’s 2011 Silver Medal.
The project, already published on dpr-barcelona for its homage to Konrad Wachsmann is named The Second Community. It starts with an exhaustive research about three community based on the notion of game: Online-role playing gamers, the Burning Man Festival and the Cosplay Conventions and the architecture that result from such gathering. Considering the abandoned city of California City in the desert, Fredrik designed a gigantic structure -indeed influenced by Wachsmann and Buckminster Fuller- that can host a new form of event that gathers the three concerned game gatherings.
His project, in addition of introducing this poetical structure, impresses for the numerous technical means it uses to describes itself. The important amount of documents that follows the text constitutes only half of the whole set Fredrik managed to compose in order to give to his project a strong consistency. The notion of tourism as a form of territorialization and deterriorialization being important to him, he fabricated his boards as maps that literally unfold the project in front of the viewer (see the following film).
The following text is his introduction to the project (for more renderings and another approach to the project read the article on dpr-barcelona):
Nick Learoyd (of Plagiarism is Necessary), was kind enough to bring my attention on a very recent project created within the frame of the Diploma Studio 6 (see previous article) at the Architectural Association tutored by Liam Young (see previous article) and Kate Davies.
This project which allies both an interesting narrative and a beautiful representation has been designed by Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu and has been entitled GravityONE. His project, which I invite everybody to explore via the following excellent film, is situated in the remote lands of Australia whose peaceful atmosphere has been disturbed for the last fifty years by nuclear testing, rocket launches and black military technologies. His resistive operation consists in the constitution of a choreographed swarm of autonomous gliders that manage to jam radio transmission and occupy the sky in a sort of silence protest.
In his explanatory text (see below images), Oliviu explains that his role as an architect is not to solve problems through design, but rise awareness about existing cultural and social layers acting as an agitator. Although I could not agree more than the problem solving has been recurrently leading architecture to create more issues than to solve any, I think that his project actually does more than raising awareness. In fact, (and that is why Nick sent it to me in the first place) he created a protocol for what I’ve been calling a weaponized architecture that envisions the implementation of architecture as a political positioning. One could argue that one has the right not to choose any, but my deep belief is that not choosing is actually choosing what has been chosen for oneself by somebody (something) else. In this regard, GravityOne can be determined as one of the manifesto project of The Funambulist.
After his very beautiful Manhattan Oneirocritica (see previous article) which was proposing a model of New York City including all the mythical buildings that were never built, Fredrik Hellberg makes me the honor of coming back on The Funambulist with one more brilliant project. His story DRAWING A KIMONO 新在英国日本国大使館 (A new Japan Embassy in London), introduces a narrative in which the guardian of the Embassy wears a Kimono that recounts the story of the building before he allows the Embassy ‘s ceramic facade to unfold itself in order to open the building.
This project has been designed in the frame of the Architectural Association‘s Unit Diploma 13 tutored by Oliver Domeisen. I recommend the reading of Fredrik’s texts that follow my comment as they allow to explore more deeply and precisely this beautiful story.
The representative language Fredrik is using strikes us by their uniqueness. He actually produce the project’s Kimono after an interesting research on this art that like other Japanese Arts celebrates the precision of the gesture.
Although, I was not necessarily planning on publishing his project right after the text of Exodus, it is very interesting to observe the evolution of the Architectural Association in almost forty years. I don’t really know how much Koolhaas and Zenghelis’ thesis was representative of the AA at that time but the fact that such media has been accepted is already illustrative of what could happen back then.
The straight forward political aspect has pretty much disappeared and has been replaced by an obsessive regard for details and ornamentation but the narrative remains extremely compelling and determinant of the essence of the project. I am convinced that ornamentation in architecture is currently experiencing a come back to the center of the debate because of a retroactive manifesto, computational architecture being confronted to an economical issue that allows it to exist only as an additional aesthetic layer. However, projects like Fredrik’s make me think that ornament can transcend this condition in order to convey an interesting narrative. Of course, many people would probably argue that narrative in architecture is another kind of ornamentation but those people do not realize that narratives allow architecture to access a territory beyond Good and Evil as Nietzsche would put it. This project is a perfect illustration that such a creative process can access to such territory only by fully engaging its essence with strong audacity, ardor and persistence.
A while ago, I published an important amount of images produced in 1972 by Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis, Madelon Vreisendorp, and Zoe Zenghelis for their thesis at the Architectural Association. Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture, despite the reunification of West and East Berlin, remains an extremely powerful icon of the current urban design’s ideology. I never got the chance to publish the integral text of the project, owning a very uneditable version of it but Mariabruna Fabrizi et Fosco Lucarelli recently edited it on Socks which now allows me to present it.
It seemed important as this text is just as much important as the other documents for Exodus to make sense.
Exodus, or the voluntary prisoners of architecture
Rem Koolhaas, Madelon Vreisendorp, Elia Zenghelis, and Zoe Zenghelis (1972)
Once, a city was divided in two parts. One part became the Good Half, the other part the Bad Half.
The inhabitants of the Bad Half began to flock to the good part of the divided city, rapidly swelling into an urban exodus.
If this situation had been allowed to continue forever, the population of the Good Half would have doubled, while the Bad Half would have turned into a ghost town.
After all attempts to interrupt this undesirable migration had failed, the authorities of the bad part made desperate and savage use of architecture: they built a wall around the good part of the city, making it completely inaccessible to their subjects.
The Wall was a masterpiece.
Magnus Larsson‘s Thesis project at the Architectural Association is not so new anymore and probably many of you have seen it a while ago on BLDG BLOG or on Wired. However I don’t remember having seen the TED video on any of those sites and I therefore wanted to publish it here.
With this project, Magnus Larsson attempts to respond to the issue of desertification of Africa and the extension of the Sahara desert by introducing a bacteria on its border that dry the sand into stone. Controlled well enough, this bacteria allow to create a troglodyte city that prevent the desert from spreading any further. One can probably regret the “geometry” of this new sand/stone architecture that gives to phenomenological ambitions what it would have been probably more interesting to dedicate to pragmatism; nevertheless, this project remains very interesting and Larsson’s presentation very clear and concise:
On May 7th, Tobias Klein
(see previous post
) and Ricardo de Ostos
are organizing a symposium at the AA about digital representation of architecture with architects such as Lebbeus Woods or Marjan Colletti but also graphic artists Andrew Jones and Julian Oliver.
Exodus or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture is the final AA 1972 thesis of Rem Koolhaas, Madelon Vreisendorp, Elia Zenghelis, and Zoe Zenghelis. It elaborates a narrative of a walled city within London similarly to the Berlin situation at the time. This city, like West Berlin, is considered as a shelter that people access and thus become voluntary prisoners of architecture. The condition of the “liberty” here is paradoxically the imprisonment.
is a Master Program proposed by the Architectural Association
(see former posts
) “organised as an open-source design studio dedicated to a systematic exploration of new design tools, systems and discourses, targeted towards design innovations in architecture and urbanism
The Program is directed by Yusuke Obuchi, Patrik Schumacher, Theodore Spyropoulos and Tom Verebes. The course master is Alissa Andrasek (see former post).
The AADRL website is very generous as far as the amount of information and project is concerned… Continue reading
When I read this article
two weeks ago, I immediately thought of Fredrik Hellberg’s marvelous project for AA
intermediary 6 two years ago. Fredrik created a dreamlike Manhattan, some kind of uchronia that Philip K. Dick who have probably loved and which propose an hybridization of antinomic systems whose egoistic presence have to negotiate between one another in order to exist.
Koolhaas wrote the “retrospective Manhattan manifesto” with Delirious New York,
Fredrik Hellberg could be said to design a nostalgic vision of the future. Continue reading
before RIBA’s President’s medals 2008, here is one of the two last year winners…
The Cabinet of Curiosities by Amandine Kastler, student in Architectural Association
location:36 Bedford Square, London (United Kingdom)
Project in AA’s studio 6 led by Christopher Lee
Presentation Text in Typological Formations. Renewable building types and the city (AA publications)
[C]space is the winning entry in the ‘AADRLTen’ Pavilion competition. It is an advanced technology concrete structure that is erected in Bedford Square,London. The Pavilion opened on 13 March 2008 coinciding with the release of the DRL10 Book.