Snapshot of the crazy underbelly of my studio project right now…
by Daisy Ames
YALE MASTER OF ARCHITECTURE I STUDENT | ATHLETE | ARTIST |
Jennifer Dempsey, Nicholas Hunt and I submitted a proposal to be editors for Perspecta 49, due to launch in Fall 2016. Perspecta is The Yale Architectural Journal, the oldest student-edited architectural journal in the United States. It is “internationally respected for its contributions to contemporary architectural discourse with original presentations of new projects as well as historical and theoretical essays.” Below is only the Statement of Purpose portion of the proposal… enjoy!
Perspecta 49 proposes that the concept of reflection is a far more complex topic than that of a mirror image. In language, reflection connotes the act of contemplation, often the process in which we draw from our past. It describes an intellectual action that amplifies a line of thinking. In physics, reflection is the interference between two different media, which causes an abrupt change in direction of a wave (light, sound, etc.). The behavior of reflection allows us to perceive an image through light. In mass culture, our desires are reflected as a semblance of a collective identity. Here, reflection becomes an unconscious phenomenon of our shared experience.
Reflection raises issues that are philosophically rich, technologically relevant and culturally significant, rendering it a fertile lens through which to contemplate architecture. Perspecta 49 will bring together various accounts of reflection to consider the ways this prolific term influences the disciplines of art, architecture and culture.
French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan identifies the significance of reflection in the formation of individual consciousness in his work, The Mirror Stage. The Mirror Stage describes the formation of the ego in an infant when it encounters its image in a mirror for the first time. The child’s identification with the mirror image establishes a conception of the subject (self) in relation to the object (external world).1 The system of consciousness identified in The Mirror Stage is elaborated into three realms in Lacan’s larger body of work: the Imaginary, the Real and the Symbolic. These orders will provide three themes in which to ground the discussion of reflection.
Above Image - Architect, Francois Roche, curates the single circulating image of himself which is a photoshopped combination of him and his wife. The image of his firm, ideas of identity, and ‘architecture as entity’ are seen in his hypersensitivity towards copyright, and his concern with public perception.
Images at Top: A baby and its reflection. La Reproduction Interdite by René Magritte.
(post by Daisy Ames)
For the first half of our design studio with Pier Vittorio Aureli this semester at Yale School of Architecture, we were broken up into three research groups in order to gain a better understanding of the topic of designing housing for the creative class in Newark, New Jersey. This also facilitated a studio-wide discussion, fostering the creation of knowledge-based theses about our design intentions. The three topics we were divided into: Labor, Housing, and Newark, resulted in concise presentations, and required the development of succinct ideas on how each topic relates the problem we are addressing. It has been incredibly educational to hear the history of labor as it relates to traditions of productivity and idealized working environments, especially in light of Marissa Mayer’s recent request for Yahoo employees to stop working from home and return to the office. Additionally, the housing group has provided numerous precedents for understanding spatial conditions and government initiatives which affect the living condition standards which are ever-changing.
1666 Settlement of Newark 1950 Settlement of Newark
I am very fortunate to have been assigned to researching Newark because I was able to learn about a city that I have passed through many times, but knew very little about. In addition, map-making became a very effective way of conveying an idea about its tendencies, latent aspirations and infrastructural impositions. The process of map-making became a voice for my group to establish precise ideas and critically understand the best way of portraying these ideas. We made nearly fifty iterations of maps based on a range of sources which include satellite views of the Northeast, historical maps of New Jersey, and simply the topographic and natural landscape in which Newark was settled. It has been incredible to see the transformation in representation and how effective each stage has been in our understanding. The Newark group, which included partners, Stephanie Lee and RJ Tripodi, ended up only using about five of the maps created in our mid-review presentation today.
1666 Tendency of Newark 1950 Tendency of Newark
The white maps above point out the 1666 settlement in relation to the water which supported the agrarian and theocratic society it was aiming to establish. But by the mid 20th century, the post-industrial society had gone through a number of transformations to support the once booming economy, and the transportation and manufacturing hub it became.
The black maps above show the inherent tendency to develop a city grid which was lost by the mid 20th century because of the fragmentation made part by infrastructure which was constructed to help people pass through, but ended up leaving the city heavily divided.
PS. I will post about the discussion after our review at some point soon.
Last Friday, the Yale School of Architecture hosted a small symposium about architecture which included a handful of faculty, theoreticians, designers, historians, visiting practitioners and a dozen or so students. The discussion was called “Digital Design Theory,” and addressed the transformations in form-making that took place between the Post-Modern, Modern and Post-Modern movements, and their subsequent academic implications. With the advent of new digital technology which defers to computer scripts and algorithms in order to produce form, the theoretical component and design process has drastically changed.
Oceanic Pavilion by Emergent and Kokkugia for Yeosu 2012 Expo
A particularly interesting moment in the discussion arose when Roland Snooks of Kokkugia Architects (above) described the current shift away from the linear process of design which has been taught in schools for the last 50 years. The systematic approach to designing requires students to describe their inspirations and justify their design moves through a sequence of diagrams. Instead, today’s digital processes (ie algorithms and scripts) leave little room for this process to be articulated in a coherent way because we are using a different language all together, that of the computer’s, as Emmanuel Petit stated. Thus, the diagram as a descriptive tool and key element in describing a process is becoming obsolete.
House II Diagrams, Eisenman Architects
In his recent book, The Alphabet and the Algorithm, Mario Carpo refers to the practice’s transformation as “a digital turn;” a turn towards an architecture without an author. Thus, the author’s struggle of working through the rigor of a diagram to produce a two-dimensional representation of three-dimensional form is at fundamental stake. We are no longer exercising philosophical underpinnings or contextual knowledge to justify design moves. Instead, what is produced are striking and stylized renderings of buildings that mask an absence of intellectual rigor with seemingly complex representational techniques. Though there are dangers inherent in this method of design, what contemporary designers may gain by this way of practicing architecture is the opportunity and new challenges of undoing the way we have traditionally been “taught” to design, not only through the inherently complex computation processes, but by re-imagining our built environment in the first place.
Speaker Main Points:
Emmanuel Petit (Yale SOA and Harvard GSD) proposed that parametric modeling is apart of post-humanistic theory which gives the computer the responsibility to pick the next generation, but falls victim to “theoretical laziness,” in which “humans are expelled from the table” because we are not doing the selection ourselves.
Ingeborg Rocker (Harvard GSD) spoke about parametric modeling as simply an exploration of aesthetics which emerged from cybernetics from the 50’s and 60’s. She concludes by saying that parametric modeling is blurring the line between subject and object because they are no longer mutually exclusive but interrelated in their representation. It is this interrelationship that produces complexity in high tech design, but she says that complexity is not a subject, that it is only a by-product. Thus, we must strive for more than complexity - that complexity in digital modeling cannot be a mask for non-complex design theory.
Ingeborg’s practice- http://rocker-lange.com/
Michael Young (Yale SOA) pointed out the hidden tie between the parametric and the phenomenological - that Patrik Schumacher describes his projects essentially the same way as Christian Norberg-Schulz describes his projects but uses words that refer to computation rather than material and light.
Michael’s practice - http://www.young-ayata.com/michael_young.html
Mark Gage (Yale SOA) said that we handle the discussion around parametric modeling like Brad Pitt in Fight Club: “Rule number one, we do not talk about Fight Club. Rule number two, we do not talk about Fight Club” “So, let’s use parametrics, but stop fucking talking about it.”
Mark’s practice - http://gageclemenceau.com/home/
Check out a music video I participated in for my good friends who wrote and recorded this song - ‘Hope 2012’ - http://instagr.am/p/RoCuYHJrqO/
I think it’s best that I do not directly refer to how long I’ve wanted to stand in this very spot. This is taken on my design advanced studio trip to see our site which is opposite of Terragni’s famous Casa del Fascio, about the central axis of the Duomo in Como. (Taken with Instagram at Casa del Fascio)
The part is absolute; it stands in solitude, yet it takes a position with regard to the whole from which it has been separated. The architecture of the archipelago must be an absolute architecture, an architecture that is defined by and makes clear the presence of limits which define the city. An absolute architecture is one that recognizes whether these limits are a product (and a camouflage) of economic exploitation (such as the enclaves determined by uneven economic redistribution) or whether they are the pattern of an ideological will to separation within the common space of the city…
Instead of being an icon of diversity per se, and absolute architecture must refuse any impetus to novelty and accept the possibility of being an instrument of separation, and thus of political action.
In our analysis of Stamford we focused on the fact that the downtown area is predominately populated with commuters. The city is purely functional, serving a daytime population of business people without any of the character that comes from or draws in full time residents. Essentially Stamford is a sort of no place place that is only populated when necessary. We want to capitalize on the young professional commuter, give them a reason to stay in Stamford and play up the potential allure of these people and this world instead of seeing the city as a sort of cheap suit. In between the downtown area and the low income residents are a couple of under-utilized parks and some areas that are in some sense left over space. We hope to use these spaces to create a sense of place and give people a reason to stay in Stamford past 5 pm. In order to create this waterfront area, we looked at a series of precedents that combined urban areas and parks in leftover spaces such as Houston’s Buffalo Bayou and create lively waterfront activity, such as Vancouver. We are proposing a first phase of construction that provides Stamford with more park, high-end residential buildings, and a commercial center out on the water.
This is the first phase in what we envision as a scheme that eventually joins up to the Mill River Park. In the way that RBS worked with the city in order to create a park for the area in exchange for being able to construct a larger building which required closing a city street, we hope to engage in a series of swaps (of FAR), where in each phase there is public space created “in exchange” for something that the city needs such as parking for the train. All of these moves are made in an effort to create a sense of place, an iconic area for Stamford that could be both recognized from the highway as you’re driving by and draw in pedestrians to shop, live, and hang out instead of getting right back onto the train into Manhattan
Henry Cobb, from the renowned Pei Cobb Freed, gave a presentation to a small group of students and faculty today for Stanislaus von Moos’ Cold War Urbanism: Berlin seminar. However, he spoke about the images he took while he traveled to Warsaw in 1947, as a student at the Harvard GSD in 1947. These images were exceptional because they documented a time in Warsaw’s history that bridged Post-WWII destruction and pre- Stalinization. He used a polychromatic camera, very rare of the time, which drastically empowered the images and made the time immediately tangible and incredibly beautiful. While he was documenting the ruins of Warsaw and cataloging the urban potential, he also photographed a few people he was staying with and working with. These were Poles who had survived concentration camps, and who had come back to Warsaw to start a new life and rebuild the city. He was struck by their enthusiasm, despite the fact that their lives had been destroyed, noting the happiness they saw in the opportunity to build again. These were Communists in a time just before Stalin’s Communism arrived and imposed Social Realism that turned their modernist aspirations upside down. These rare polychromatic images allow us to see a world of destruction without a black and white grain, and prevent disassociation that occurs since the BW images often reinforce distance in time. As someone who was born in 1984, having no personal nostalgia to Warsaw, the color images of a Post-War environment and people basking in the glory of their dreams to rebuild life and a city again was truly moving.
I have gotten my top electives again this semester at Yale School of Architecture. It can be a soul crushing process, as I have mentioned before, but I’ve been incredibly lucky thus far.
Peter Eisenman’s seminar this year is about Piranesi’s Campo Marzio (below). We have the unimaginable and impossible task of tracing the plan in 2D CAD format as well as making a digital 3D model from which we will be building a physical model for an exhibition at Yale in September.
Eisenman was inspired by Dean Robert A. M. Stern’s seminar last year called Parallel Moderns, which I was also fortunate enough to have taken. In his class, we reinterpreted the facades along the Strada Novissimo at the 1980 Venice Biennale. We were assigned an architect and then wrote a 15-20 page catalogue of their work in addition to rebuilding/redesigning a physical model of their façade while considering their entire body of work. We recreated the Strada for the final review last December on the central, fourth floor pit. Peter Eisenman crashed our review, and naturally, a great discussion ensued.
So, through the lens of Piranesi we are asked to interpret/ reinterpret Campo Marzio, while of course, considering the dense readings of Tafuri, Rowe, Aureli, Perez-Gomez, Wittkower, Kantor-Kazovsky, etc. Really looking forward to this semester.