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.
It became almost an habit on the Funambulist to publish projects created within the frame of the Unit 15 at Bartlett. This unit is lead by Nic Clear (see his manifesto) and the concerned project here has been created by the video virtuoso Paul Nicholls.
His project, Royal Cabinets introduces a building of the British Royal Mail that stands like a wart on a Canary Wharf (London) office building. Two ideas of labor are therefore existing in parallel. The capitalist driven one that we experience everywhere in the West, and the accomplishment of public service in a building that recounts its essence by its architecture.
The Royal Cabinets are associated with a film -as it is required in the Unit 15- entitled Royal Re-Formation. I don’t know if Paul has ever watched Zabriskie Point by Michelangelo Antonioni in which the explosion of a house in the desert allows the Italian director to film the luxurious products originally contained in this house while they are in the air.
Paul Nicholls, here, accomplishes the opposite by filming the chaotic Post’s elements of construction and labor in the air that eventually creates the structure of the Cabinets. This process could maybe appear too abstract or even useless but I think that, by allowing us to see the ensemble of pieces composing the Cabinets, he very strongly reinforces the subversiveness of the architecture that seems to be built only by cheap industrial peaces found here or there and assembled as a celebration of emancipated labor.
Here are the two texts written by Paul to introduce his project:
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:
Francois Roche was recently invited to give an exhibition and a lecture at Sci-Arc about R&Sie(n)‘s work, starting on April 6th. However he just canceled both of them and made public the reasons in an open letter which text is the following:
I have no other way than to cancel the Sci-Arc exhibition in the Gallery (scheduled in May 25) and the lecture (scheduled the April 6-2011)
The gap of point of view, and the lack of interest for politics and attitude, reducing the architecture process to a unique design agenda cannot fit with our scenario of production and scenario of speeches.
Our works and attitudes are toxic, animal, dangerous, regressive, politic and computational.
Architecture is mainly an affair of resistance and self-defense, against hypocrisies and “in”voluntary servitude, to quote La Boetie. It cannot be reduced to a design goal, exclusively dedicated and trapped by tooling. I disagree on the way the knowledge is framed by and for predictable professional, without any potential to corrupt and desalienate through educational procedures the “coming out” of neoplagiarism and neocopism, which remind me the Beaux Art symptom and syndrome. I ‘m French and know perfectly the stickiness of this sliperring addiction.
I just want to precise that this voluntary abandon, cannot be understood as a “tantrum or capriccio” against the Sci-arc students pool, but it is at the level of Sci-Arc staff arrogances and ignorances, which seems to shrink architecture purpose to a simple affair of design agenda.
F Roche /
PS Speaking and writing are done, here, in my Frenchglish dialect / I let you the opportunity to translate it in the Shakespeare “mayonnaise”.
Beside the pleasure I can have that my favorite architect is tackling one of my less favorite, Eric Owen Moss (see the article I wrote a bit more than one year ago about his abject aesthetization of the US/Mexico border), I think that it is rare enough to observe an ideological debate within the education system to look a little bit closer to the problem.
I recently published the post-professional thesis project of my good friend Martin Byrne, Feral Garage. This beautiful Ballardian architectural project is actually associated with a short story written by Martin as a parallel medium to describe the narrative of a building which, by a dysfunction of its technological system develops a feral condition that the narrator of this story experiences.
As I wrote in this previous post, the project that applies the conclusions of his research starts from the observation of IBM recent advertising for “a smarter planet”, full of sensors and interactivity. One understands easily how IBM can be economically interested to propose such a vision of the world and also how the various institutions can see in this program a new way to control a bit more society. Martin’s building is thus a garage and a server tower in Mid-Town Manhattan (in front of the Apple store from all places !), that dialogues with each other. Both have been designed for IBM and the server tower remains a pristine universe but the over-magnetic charge of the sensors in the garage building made the latter go back to a feral state, in which unexpected forms of life starts to develop. Humans are then invited to negotiate with their own fear to enter this building that developed its own form of uncontrol.
(He does not have a publisher so if somebody want to talk to him about that, I’d be happy to transmit the message !)
UNTITLED NARRATIVE # 002
by Martin Byrne
April is the cruelest month.
Sitting rigidly at the far end of the thick clear plastic conference table – enameled and embossed with desaturated flickering figures, charts, and graphs – nervous little Eli Warring was sweating under the weight of the expectations recently laid upon him. Only six weeks a freshman at the firm, he had yet to witness such a large and encompassing responsibility delegated to someone as unsullied as himself, regardless of the sufficiency of the intellect within. Wiping the moisture from his palms onto his Bergdorf-patterned knees, he tried not to look at the flexing, intelligent walls streaming with data like rivulets of pixilated water – wary that they may register some sense of the fear he was attempting so desperately to hide. Continue reading
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.
This posts intends to exhibit the beautiful drawings of one regular reader of the Funambulist: Michael Jia who studies at the Bartlett in London. Executed with a surgery precisions, those drawings recall the Micromegas of Daniel Libeskind in the 70′s. Objects are submitted to various influence fields and forces which provide to those drawings a powerful dynamism.
Jame Walker‘s project for the renovation of Robin Hood Gardens (London) in the frame of the studio tutored by Ed Frith at the University of Greenwich is a appropriation of the building originally designed by Alison and Peter Smithson in 1972. The assumed monstrosity of his project is beautifully expressed by a series of hand drawings which illustrate the intelligence of this design.
found via the very useful ajnotebook
Here is James Walker’s text about his project
After Liu Chien Sheng and his St. Stephen’s Cathedral from Angewandte, here are two other very interesting projects by students of Hernan Diaz Alonso. His various studios at Columbia, Angewandte, Pratt, Sci-Arc etc. made us used to a redundant morphological style to this point that, in our addiction to first degree images, we would actually could miss the real interesting point when there is one.
In my opinion, Isaie Bloch from Angewandte and Kyle Stover from Yale each understood a very interesting narrative aspect of Diaz Alonso’s morphological research. The first one created a pavilion directly or indirectly inspired by David Cronenberg’s aesthetics; a kind of ambiguous organic technology whose shapes recalls those of viruses. The second one has a very different approach. Instead of a the usual retro-future projects, this one is a “retro-past” (sorry for the pleonasm !) house that seems to have been built in a very vernacular way with dry mud and clay.
It’s always a pleasure for me to publish projects from my old undergrad school, the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris. The following project, Hybrid Lifestyles has been designed by Costantinos Caropoulos-Alefantis, Dimitra Papageorgiou & Stephanos Roimpas in the 4th year studio tutored by Marie-Therese Harnoncourt and assisted by the talented Adrien Durmeyer.
Just like for Martin Byrne, it is a pleasure for me to publish for the third time a project by 陈欣阳 (Chen Xinyang) at Pratt. After her Space Monastery/Prison and her Underground City, this new project is the result of her thesis about Useless Architecture. Its title, New Yorkers’ New Walk To Work beside providing a beautiful alliteration, announces clearly what the project is about: a narrow elevated walkway full of useless event devices and also full of detours.
The difficulty of the different observers to accept this project is linked to the inherent purpose of this project, providing a unnecessary layer to the city. It has been interesting to observe all along the semester the lack of understanding of the several jurys whose confusion is probably seen too rarely in current schools of architecture. Economical, social, sustainability and efficiency logic were mainly invoked as discrediting the project when actually this same project finds its strength from a total extraction of those logic.
The following text is how Xinyang describes her project:
Parallaxis (name given as an homage to Slavoj Zizek’s book The Parallax View) is a second project from the post-professional Master Thesis Studio at Pratt Institute. After Martin Byrne’s project, this one has been created by Nikolaos Patsopoulos based on a research about capitalist architecture.
Nikolaos started his project by observing that the Seagram Building by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe has been the XXth century’s architectural paradigm by constituting a perfect receptacle for the Capitalist society. Parallaxis is thus a research of a new paradigm for a micro-society (inspired by the Mannahatta Project) that exercises an alternative to capitalism. The different buildings designed by Nikolaos addition to each others materialize the same volume than the Seagram Building. Those small towers spread all over the site host three different programs: Library, Discussion Room and Soil Depots. In the center of the site, stands a monolithic cube filled with sands from which a different space can be dig according to the decision of the community. Processes of creation of holey spaces are involved in order to create a “democratic architecture” whose length is limited as the cube can be filled with sand again and re-dig in another space.
Here is Nikolaos’ text related to his thesis:
For the third semester in a row, my good friend Martin Byrne designed a remarkable project (see his Space station and his local NYC slaughterhouse) at Pratt. This time, this project is the achievement of one year of research work on a thesis which was investigating the feral potential of architecture.
The project that applies the conclusions of this research starts from the observation of IBM recent advertising for “a smarter planet”, full of sensors and interactivity. One understands easily how IBM can be economically interested to propose such a vision of the world and also how the various institutions can see in this program a new way to control a bit more society. Martin’s building is thus a garage and a server tower in Mid-Town Manhattan (in front of the Apple store from all places !), that dialogues with each other. Both have been designed for IBM and the server tower remains a pristine universe but the over-magnetic charge of the sensors in the garage building made the latter go back to a feral state, in which unexpected forms of life starts to develop. Humans are then invited to negotiate with their own fear to enter this building that developed its own form of uncontrol.
But I am paraphrasing so, here is Martin’s text to introduce his project within his thesis book:
In her very interesting last article on dpr-barcelona entitled On the Border, Ethel Baraona Pohl introduces among others a project that finds its essence in the investigation of the border and more precisely in a resistance against the way the notion of border is being geopolitically considered.
This project is entitled Border Blood Bank and has been designed by Victor Hadjikyriacou within the Unit 5 (tutored by Julia Backhaus & Pedro Font Alba) at the Bartlett School of Architecture.
Border Blood Bank takes scene on the American-Mexican border between two little villages respectively on each side of the “line” which used to have a bridge linking them for communities’ exchanges and that was taken down by the American authorities in 2008.
Victor takes advantage of a loophole in the legislation which remains very loose about the oxymoronal thickness of the line in the air. Thus, he designed two cantilever buildings on each side of the border that flirt with each others and that host a Blood bank useful for the two communities
The New Non Standard is the thesis project of Jonathan Enns at Princeton University‘s Graduate School of Architecture (tutor: Axel Killian) in 2010. This project introduces a workshop building whose structure is composed by trees that have been manipulated by a CNC machine. Rather than idealizing the trees, Jonathan defines the essence of his project on the consideration of various typologies of trees and multiple arborescences to compose the posts’ extremities The rest of the tree is being used as the main components of the posts, rolled into thin layers that uniquely work in compression (see the video at the end of this post.)
This project has been published in the most recent issue of Architectural Design Magazine [AD]
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.
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.
Mechanical Living is a project designed by Nelson Larroque within Peter Cook‘s studio at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris (studio that I was lucky enough to be part four years ago). This project is a very literal vision of dwellings created in former industrial sites which facilities manage to supply energy.
Last May, I published two of the three projects (Another Dance Macabre
and Underground City
) from Thomas Leeser’s studio in Pratt Institute
that I wanted to show; here is the third one.
Stadium Tower in Detroit
is a project narrated by Kendra James
who proposes a monument to Detroit’s status of “ruin-city” by erecting a frenzied building hosting a bunch of various sizes stadium and a car-park race track.
This project is the expression of the non-thaumaturge power of architecture and thus an invitation to sublimate problems rather than trying to solve them.