Monday, April 02, 2007

TOWARDS EXISTENTIAL ARCHITECTURE: REINVENTING THE SOUTH SQUARE



Despite a few startling aspects, the projects are no utopias. Utopia tends to objectivize a future by trespassing spatial duress. It tends to contemplate time and space as two totally independent principles, whereas they are absolutely consubstantial with one another.

They are far different from any projection of ideal social organizations or any painterly master plans; their numerous sketches, drawings, models and other simulation devices, would rather question again and again the interpenetrating of time and space, by phasing and integrating an uncertain future.

But the refusal of utopia does not prevent the projects from playing with the powers of the imaginary -not to enforce the imaginary like a solipsism, but to interbreed its powers with other more physical forces emerging from the territory. The will for shape has grafted either on the great geographic undulations that dig the soil out and cover it up with vegetation, or on the mechanical traffic flows and their tireless pulse of polluting vehicles; the graft also operates on the dynamism expressed through the inhabitants' urge for change.

All elements speak of force and power: architecture is not sheer technique trying and renewing efficient proven typologies. It had better bring back any moment the memory of multiple shelters such as were invented through the ages of animal and human construction -back from the first cave dwelling settlements to El Lissitzky's horizontal skyscrapers, from the Carnac menhirs to the latest orbiting stations. Nature as well, is neither considered like some collection of objects -made out of stones, trees, plants or animals -- nor like natura naturata, but rather like an endlessly budding natura naturans.

Those forces should be scraped against one another; the memory of the architectural field, with its amnesia and sudden recollections, is peculiarly mixed with this lingering movement of the tectonic plates that gradually shapes the ground with the help of water, wind, ice and natural flowering.



Let's break first the circle of vision, and grasp the flow and turbulence that secretly govern all human settings -as evaporation and condensation would make and unmake the clouds in the sky. The contemporary city must be conceived as the condenser for a new existential order.
Therefore, the projects are either wondering about the substance of space or assessing the manifold housing processes, associating them with cosmogonies.

Fracture, for instance, is experimenting with the void. It displays a space free of all functions -services, facilities, stores, car-parks, are all integrated into the buildings- where human bodies would merely pass by facing one another over bridges and footbridges. Just as if the visual space up aloft became the actual scene for potential encounters. A dysfunctional rift creates a point of friction full of potential, breaks the activity sectors apart and renews the tension between them all.

Urban jungle is more concerned about the solid earth. The project considers the soil not merely as a sensitive skin collecting objects, but as a specific substance either of a mineral and mechanical quality, or on the contrary, as a planted impenetrable element, or even as a substance scattered with threatening wild animals. The city is conceived anew like needlework, made out of spatial strips of distinct characteristics.

Stacking tries to set rules for the creation of an amniotic space that would carry out the brief -housings, stores, sports grounds, companies, etc- through stacking rather than casual juxtaposition. The layers in constant connection with each other would generate a three-dimensional space continuum, and foster interference and correspondence.



Other projects are undertaking new methods in regards to the urban and architectural construct.

In-ex, for example, offers the action of drilling as an alternative to assembling. Genuine anti-constructions are invented in reference to the prehistoric cave: underground rooms gradually release themselves from the ground and let their outer volumes stretch out to the open air, exhibiting them as the negative forms of their interior spatiality.

Reversal plays as well on the reference to Leibniz's monad that exposes itself to otherness from the very depths of itself: the project seeks to conceptualize a device that would have the usual inner spaces take place in the outside, and vice-versa. Dense and active constructions are erected on the limits of the parcel whereas the hollowed center is planted with trees; it looks as if an extrinsic element of the city had come upon its core.

Wall-Wall opposes an active and noisy wall to an empty silent ditch. It questions both ways, positive and negative, of closing off a space and delimiting an insularity. The discussion about the origin of architecture then opens to something else than roof and shelter: a visible or invisible delimitation.

There is no planning here, but some interactions that may cause the interference and bypassing within a space at peace in the midst of a jumbled city. Such interference may then induce irreversible injuries, allowing for the void to spring again, together with the open nomad citizenship yet to come.

from http://www.versailles.archi.fr

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