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:
New Yorkers’ New Walk To Work (tutors: Elliott Maltby & Jason Vigneri-Beane)
This project is developed under the reflections on commercialism. The goal of it is to design uselessness. This goal is a cure for the illness of commercialism (addicted to efficiency at surface and expel diversity of interest at its core), and a self-mockery of design discourse. The design of this project represents two essential qualities of making an object useless: undesirable and incomprehensible. Undesirability is gained by the project’s surplus nature— a collection of things we already have: it is a walkway upon sidewalk; and it provides simulacra nature that compensates the lost real one…
Incomprehensibility is achieved with the assistance of cut-up method. This method is capable of introducing unpredictable factors, abstracting design conditions, and making result complicated.