Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough again to be part of a very interesting jury at Columbia University for the final review of the studio tutored by Francois Roche assisted by Ezio Blasetti and Miranda Romer. Like the last three year (2008, 2009, 2010), one project/scenario particularly triggered my imagination and critical sense.
This year’s story, Sadic(t)ropisms or The Intransigent Pursuit of the Sublime is being recounted by Farzin Lotfi-Jam & Juan Francisco Saldarriaga. As their evocative text above implicitly mentions, Farzin and Juan found inspiration in the beautiful novella by James Graham Ballard, The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista (see previous article) in order to investigate the potentiality for architecture to carry some sadistic characteristics towards the body who occupies it. The built environment that hosts their narrative is, in fact, composed by a sort of vertical forest made out of shape-memory alloy which can be easily distorted but re-acquire its original form when in contact with an intense heat. People involved in this scenario are nomads, who after colonizing the matter during the night have to flee during the day as the Sun’s heat threatens to make their bodies prisoners of their direct environment thus continuously attempting to “remember” its origins. The body would then experience a last ecstasy while being strangled, allowing its subject to reach for a while, the sublime indicated in the name of the story.
One could then imagine a sequel to this narrative, in which a part of the population -named the builders or architects- would have managed to settle down in this environment as they succeeded to master the shape of the matter. They would then suspend the process of remembrance of the alloy, freezing it into sedentary habitat until this event they call “Catastrophe” which sees architecture suddenly remembering its origins in a spasm lethal to the bodies living in it.
My co-worker in New York Forrest Jessee just got published in Le Monde for a project he realized in Columbia in 2009: The Sleep Suit. With this beautiful peace of industrial design, Forrest offers the means of practice of what Buckminster Fuller called the Dymaxion Sleep, a series of four 30min naps in one day, providing a sufficient rest to a human being.
The Sleep Suit is therefore a piece of cloth full of folds that provide a comfortable sleeping position to the person wearing it in any kind of context. In a more philosophical and poetical way, it also materialize the piece of folded fabric that Gilles Deleuze uses to explain the Leibnizian concept of monads in his book The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque.
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.
Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti
, the two founders of Decolonizing Architecture
(with Eyal Weizman) will be presenting their work at Columbia University
on November 10th (at 6:30pm). Their lecture entitled Profaning Colonial Architecture will introduce their strategy of re-using abandoned Israeli settlements in the West Bank for the future new state of Palestine. Their projects are therefore based on a pretty optimistic scenario (Israel leaving the West Bank (1) without destroying their own settlements as they did in Gaza (2)) but as said in a BBC article
that a reader just sent to me, the colonization’s impact on land is such that it can now be considered almost as irreversible which make Decolonizing Architecture’s projects even more important.
Columbia will soon hosts two interesting lectures:
- The first one is organized by the Department of Science in Advanced Architecture Design which will allow five formers students to present their works (including our friend Sofia Krimizi whose work has been published here before), the whole being moderated by Enrique Walker.
This lecture will occur this Friday 17th September at 6:30PM
- The second one will be given by Francois Roche (R&Sie(n)) on Wednesday 22nd September at 6:30PM. It is entitled Ecosophical Apparatuses and Schizoid Machines.
This semester at Columbia, Francois Roche and Marc Fornes and their studio were exploring a topic I’ve been interested in for quite some time now which is to ask, how does an architecture dies ? The studio thus tried to elaborate processes of life and death, continuously re-negotiated in the same kind of way that proposes The woman in the dunes (see former post).
Six projects have been designed, I decided to publish only two of them but the four others might be soon visible on Columbia website or R&Sie’s…
Inoculate weep by Naomi Ocko and Benjamin Riley presents a imaginary forest in which is observed the inoculation of a virus. This agent provokes the death of the trees and thus progress from one to another creating some kind of path which composes a poetic landscape of destruction. We are here at the core of architectural narration and in the process of an architecture trying to express what Francois Roche calls a biotopisation.
by John Becker & Sofia Krimizi
is a project developed within Francois Roche
and Marc Fornes’
studio at Columbia. It introduces an architecture generated by a mimicry of the construction of the skin and which is also dependent on a age limit of the cells composing it. David Cronenberg introduced this marriage between biology and technology with eXistenZ
(see former post
), John and Sofia use it more specifically to architecture.
It is then interesting to observe the confrontation of the two architectonic languages used here; the structural one, a chaotic scaffolding supporting the skin/fabric and how those two elements are eventually amalgamating in order to die together…
This architecture seems a very good illustration of French physiologist Xavier Bichat who defined life as the ensemble of functions that resist death
(Physiological Researches on Life and Death.
1800). Continue reading
Through the dripping glass
is a project entirely scripted on processing (which does not happen so often !) by Chi-Chen Yang for François Roche
& Marc Fornes
‘ Columbia studio called Ncertainties
. (click on images to read the text)
location: 1172 Amsterdam Avenue, New York (United States)