The DMZ Game is a project I should have published last year, but for some practical reasons, that is only now, one year after it has been first presented that I am able to introduce it.
This Undergraduate Thesis project has been designed by Won Sok Choi for a studio at Pratt tutored by Yael Erel and Christoph Kumpusch, studio that had already produced the beautiful Circus designed by Guillermo Bernal (see last year’s article). The DMZ Game is an architecture that seems to be eminently influenced both by Constant’s New Babylon and Lebbeus Woods’ projects like the Labyrinth Wall around Bosnia and his own project for the DMZ. In fact, Won chose the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea as a site for his game. Game, here, has to be understood in a similar meaning than the one proposed by Constant and the Situationists, an erratic behavior provoking a series of events in relation with other people and psychogeographies.
But Won’s project, even in its non-materiality, already reaches its goal as he does not provide much explanations (see below) about what determines his architecture. The viewer’s imagination is therefore obliged to play and loose itself in this dialogue between a labyrinthine (probably mobile) architecture, the river, the land and the earth. In this hypothesis, the depiction of a player represented like Rodin’s thinker with a cyberpunk helmet seems to be a symbol of the invitation to imagine the rules (or the non rules) of the game.
The following text is Won’s introduction to his project:
Demilitarized Zone, Korean Peninsula
In DMZ game, the main strategy on the site (DMZ) was to employ playful competition instead of compromised harmony. There are hardly any stable moments of interaction in reality but people are conceptually more comfortable with the notion of stable culture, society, and physical environments. The modern nation states successfully convinced their people into the idea of scientifically proved pragmatic functional spaces with some collectively subjective aesthetic condiments. The notion of self-development of society with various tools (such as science and technology) and ¡°engineering¡± perfect society and culture has become nothing but a modern mirage: tragedy. Because of this restrained social coherency, we, as a modern society has fallen into diluted (and compromised) sense of cultural and physical spaces. I wish to ¡°transform the chaotic energies of economic and social change into new forms of meaning and beauty, of freedom and solidarity.
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
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:
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.
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.
Professor Ivan Shumkov and his crew of courageous Pratt students are opening this Monday at 6:00PM an exhibition on Le Corbusier‘s work entitled Miracle Boxes. Pratt being one school that claims itself as fully part of the avant garde, it is quite refreshing to see that this claim still allows an exhibition on one of the most important modernist architect.
Let’s start this new Academic Year with a refreshing first year’s student work. Roberto Godinez
was in Enrique Limon
‘s studio at Pratt Institute last semester and following the rule of the assignment (aggregation of a standard element composing a landscape, then appropriation of this landscape by a wooden architecture), he created this beautiful space of meditation under the rocks (or concrete blocks) he first set.
A bit more than six months ago, I published Shawn Sims
& Erik Martinez
‘s Thesis Research
for Michael Chen and Jason Lee’s undergrad thesis studio [CRISIS FRONTS
] at Pratt Institute. This article is about the project that came out of this research.
Excursions on Volume
is a study about freight and its participation to counterfeit market. Shawn and Erik thus created their own “counterfeit” freight production by designing a harbor that creates its own terrain thanks to the containers’ weight. In fact, the containers are sitting on a mechanism that dredges the ooze in the bottom of the Hudson River and thus transforms a deep muddy material into a physical more or less solid reclaiming land. The heaviest the container is, the most effective the process of solidification which produces an interesting contradiction with capitalism’s eternal wish of profitability. In fact, the most effective container is the one that did not succeed to make itself cheap (i.e. light). One can even think of some “counterfeit” containers filled with concrete, extremely expensive to freight but tremendously effective in the production of land… Continue reading
Circus, spectacle edge; nomadic architecture as a creative aid a performative distribution
This beautiful project has been created by Guillermo Bernal in 2009 and 2010 for his undergrad thesis at Pratt Institute. Guillermo was then part of the brilliant studio tutored by Yael Erel and Christoph Kumpusch which attempts to approach the thesis project by producing a lot of hand drawings and physical models or objects as you can see below.
Here is the second (out of three) projects I wanted to publish from Thomas Leeser‘s graduate studio at Pratt Institute. Just like Martin Byrne, Xinyang Chen went from Vito Acconci’s studio (see her previous project) to Leeser’s. This time, she designed and dramatized an Underground City for “cowards and mad men” who are running away from the surface. The result is a mysterious piece of architecture designed almost like an automatic writing (see André Breton), intuitive product of her imagination. “Form follows dirt” she says.
Another dance macabre
is the project designed by Martin Byrne
‘s (see previous post)
project for Thomas Leeser’s Final Graduate Studio at Pratt
. This project investigates a way to reveal a program that has been kept out of sight for few decades now: slaughterhouses. In the same way that some Muslim countries develops in order to perpetuate the tradition’s rules, Martin is proposing to set a local self-slaughter program linked to each subway station in Manhattan (!). His designed, both influenced by Sigfried Giedeon’s Mechanization takes Commands
and Temple Grandin’s diagrams, use an architectural vocabulary voluntarily provocative in its dirtiness which strikes in Midtown Manhattan’s seamless.
The condition of the “do it yourself” is also fundamental to this project which tries to confront people’s habits with their responsibilities and consequences.
The Pratt Institute GAUD
(Graduate Architecture and Urban Design) exhibition will officially open this Thursday at 7PM. It introduces the work accomplished during Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 at Pratt via a scenography supervised by Michael Szivos
, assisted by Carrie McKnelly and designed by graduate students, Breanna Garry, Adam Fisher, Nicole Hill, Jeffrey Johnson, Andri Klausen, Navin Mahantesh, Jorge Mendez, Tyler O’Rielley, Eric Olsen, John Putre and Laura Vincent.
Excursions on Volume. Counterfeit Terrains
is the research achieved by Shawn Sims
and Erik Martinez
for Michael Chen
and Jason Lee
undergrad thesis studio named Crisis Fronts.
This research presentation is half way of the thesis project which would be released in May 2010.
Shawn and Erik studied very seriously the apparatus of counterfeit product transportation globally and locally. An important part of the research observes the processes of control and suppression of those products and how those processes are passed through by a certain amount of clandestine goods.
The proposition made here is a scenario worthy of a Geoff Manaugh’s story, a narration of urban landscapes directly influenced by this clandestine economy and even counterfeit landscapes constructed thanks to the waste of this economy. Continue reading
The loss of architecture or how I stopped worrying and started to love the cyborg is another brilliant project from Vito Acconci‘s grad studio at Pratt (see previous post). It has been designed by Martin Byrne in the frame of a research of the hybridization of the human body with products of technology. The project dramatizes a high tech laboratory on Mars which has been desinstitutionnalized over time and then cannibalized in a rough way by small groups of people kind to have their bodies embracing technology. Continue reading
Here is an absolutely brilliant project by 陈欣阳 (Chen Xinyang)
for Vito Acconci
‘s graduate studio at Pratt
which was proposing to create a space station all along last semester (finals were two days ago).
Xinyang’s answer is an incredible hybridization of a monastery and a prison (and by extension a graveyard) emphasizing thus the idea of remoteness of those foucauldian spaces. A monastery is nothing else than a prison of volunteers and their architectonicity are very similar.
The scenario includes a set of rules which makes the story becoming even more interesting by introducing a new logic of punishment. Prisoners can kill each others but if one of them kills a monk, a random prison cell will be sealed and become thus a grave…This logic is much more complex than a simple discipline action on the criminal’s own body. It implies more interesting consequences on social behavior adopted by citizen of this micro-society since the punishment is not necessarily applied on the criminal’s person.
It is not a movie but this project fits perfectly in our theme of heterotopias during the months of December and January.
Here is a project I wanted to publish for a long time, House of Laminar Torrents is a project designed by Jintana Tantinirundr and Belle Tang for Richard Sarrach’s Pratt Institute studio which was tryingto investigate how to optimize the introduction of natural light by the mean of standard manufactured VELUX products.