1/28/2013

A cloud as an archive ı Landship

Next week, I will post a conversation — for The Architecture Post Conversation — with a young architect currently based in Tokyo Robert Schmidt III I had on a project he developed within the agency Adaptable Futures, titled… Adaptable Futures. We talked about the notion Adaptability, central to this project and other topics that, for me, behind this project: the architect's shifting role, the division between building and the built environment, among others. I am currently working on the audio edit. I hope to finish the end of this week. This aside…
A Cloud as an Archive | © Andrei Olaru, 2012
Originally appeared on Think Space

Parts of the 2012 edition of Think Space, an edition titled Past Forward 2012, are these two projects: A Cloud As An Archive and Landship. All information (few information, I should admit) can be found on the website. However, if you followed the first edition titled Borders, curated by Eva Franch i Gilabert, you have a broad idea of the guidelines of this platform which proposes a cycle of competition each year.
Past Forward 2012, curated by architect Adrian Lahoud (you can watch a video in which Adrian Lahoud presents the guidelines of cycle of competitions) consists of three competitions, that, according to Lahoud, have contributed to the transformation of the architectural culture over the last 50 years: The Peak (1982), Yokohama Port Terminal (1994), and Blur Building (1999). In short,
The last three decades saw significant change across social, political, and environmental registers. The conjunction of capital flows, mass urbanization and increasingly interconnected cultural and financial networks have reshaped the way we understand, produce and discuss architecture resulting in a breathless cycle of formal and aesthetic transformations. This restless appearance of change conceals an increasing sense of inertia or perhaps even of confusion. This restless appearance of change conceals an increasing sense of inertia or perhaps even of confusion, in that an intellectual project has yet to accompany the overiding sense of technical virtuosity.
I selected two projects among these entries, with few details — except a succinct description of the project (but it's a competition and the aim of this competition is not to analyze these proposals). The first was awarded with the first prize; the second receives a honourable mention: A Cloud as an Archive, and Landship. These two projects are parts of Blur
A Cloud as an Archive | © Andrei Olaru, 2012
Originally appeared on Think Space

If you remember, Blur was Diller, Scofidio + Renfro's entry for the Swiss National Expo 2002, in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, a suspended platform such as a cloud (note that Charles Renfro and Ricardo Scofidio were logically members of the jury in this 2012 edition along with Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher (Peak) and Alejandro Zaera-Polo (Yokohama). 
A Cloud as an Archive is designed by Andrei Olaru (Romania) with the contribution of Anna Gulinska (Poland), Elena Romagnoli (Italy) and Pablo Roman (Spain). The project is described as follows:
A Cloud as an Archive | © Andrei Olaru, 2012
Originally appeared on Think Space

Located along the coastline, 450 m structure of the Archive confronts as with an experience of encountering something that we already know. A new point of departure re-organizes and de-composes spatial memory of the Cloud. It brings us to the point where we can study it. Once we are inside we can go into details, research its fear of the rescue and erasure of the traces.
Generating structure of the Cloud is designed as movable machinery which travels along the sectors of the Archive. It is equipped with nozzles producing the Cloud and movable platform on which the Visitors can travel to the level 02 of the structure. The machinery moves from sector 01 to 10 one day interval, constantly producing the Cloud, taking its resources from the lake water.
Moving machine intervals allow the Visitors to select specific date and accessible sector from which the exploration of the Cloud begins. Along 450 meters of possible maneuvering along the structure they can perceive different instances of the Cloud. Starting from an instance on level 02 — which is an observatory level where the Cloud is visible only, captured in archival wall — they can decide on going lower, on level 01 of the structure. Walking on level 02 they are not only seeing the Cloud, it is all around them, and it is present and touchable. They can walk on multiple suspended bridges which all soaked in the changeable atmosphere Cloud. There are several of the bridges going to the water level with one walkway. Level 00 states for the Origin of the Cloud. That is where the travel through the Cloud ends, on both ends of the 450 structure.

Now the project proposed by Gauthier Duthoit, a French architect whose proposal, Landship, explores a series of concepts, including past/present/future, process, innovation, speed, technique. Highly influenced by Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Paul Virilio, and Gaston Bachelard (quite common when talking with French architects), the project is described as follows:
Landship | © Gautier Duthoit, 2012
Originally appeared on Think Space


The great obsession of the nineteenth century was, as we know, history: with its themes of development and of suspension, of crisis, and cycle. (…) We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed." (M. Foucault). The conception of progress makes the future seem like a goal or an accomplishment, which leads to the thought that time is the path to perfection. The idea is based on the premise that the best is yet to come. Future as an accomplice to human initiative seems more and more uncertain. Indeed in the past, the future worried us because we were powerless; today it frightens us because of the consequences of our actions that we have no way to clear apprehend. We feel helpless confronted with our power. Technique has become one of the main instruments of progress, omnipresent in our society; it has become our environment. This phenomenon distances technique from human control, making him subject to a certain point of determinism. In an imperceptible way, technique has been sacralised. "It is not technique that enslaves us but the sacred transferred to technique" (J. Ellul) The transfer has generated an expansion of thought allowing mechanised time to dominate human reflection time. The acceleration of reality (P. Virilio) inhibits the sensation that time flies, when associated with efficient consumerisum, the world is unable to find any form of rest. The idea is not to resist progress but to take a break in order to assimilate it. It is necessary to question the philosophical and political notions concerning progress. What is progress today, on an environmental, economic and political level? It is important to raise awareness of the impact of progress, which leads us to search for clever endings or a limit to things. Landship intends to become a break point, in the visitor's exponential acceleration of time. Like the Blur building, Landship disappears, one image is missing, the one of the building itself. Anti-image and anti-object. Landship disappears, one image is missing, the one of the building itself. Anti-image and anti-object. Landship is a remote and isolated object surrounded by water. Built in the way of a boat hull, the structure insures water tightness and its ability to float. The complete absence of urban fabric becomes the context of the project, which differs from the context as much as it is a part of it. Landship is not an object lost in an endless extension of a uniform element as would be an oceanic island. (G. Deleuze), neither is it a "New world" but an alternative critique of the existing world. It is an artifice, part of a larger ensemble: the lakes borders, the continents borders… Unlike Diller and Scofidio's construction maintained in a constant cloud, Landship has well defined limits. It's the perimeter that embodies the limit and allows the visitor to experience and play a part in the limited and closed environment. The tangle of borders put the vessel in relation to different scales and different places. It becomes the consecration of utopia, a heterotopia as defined by Michel Foucault: a real place where other spaces are connected around it. This "topia" is defined in contrast with the context through a basic figure that insures the projects' clarity. The grid is used as the main architectonic structure; its geometry is altered by its relationship with other basic architectural elements that appear to be an exception to the uniform grid. These entities tend to bring environment and architecture together, as the observatory tower brings horizontality and verticality together. It is the garden contained in the center of Landship that becomes a variable to the grid. Apart from romantic contemplation, the garden allows an active relationship with nature. Here, the garden becomes a microcosm, being the smallest plot in the world and at the same time the world in its totality. "Since ancient times, the garden is some kind of successful and universal heterotopia." (M. Foucault). Through its composition and its combination of limits, Landship appears as speculative fiction with a poetical dimension: a piece of land balanced under the water level by an archaic technique. The simplicity and the architectural abstraction leaves room for interpretation and imagination. Too often imagination has been considered as a secondary force or as a way of evasion. "The importance of imagination on the human psyche has not been emphasized enough. Generally, we tend place reality in first position, but how can Man create if he doesn't feel what we could call the "possibility function". To take action we must first imagine" (G. Bachelard).
Landship | © Gautier Duthoit, 2012
Originally appeared on Think Space

It seems to me that both Olaru's Cloud as an Archive and Duthoit's Landship reflect new trends.
Landship | © Gautier Duthoit, 2012
Originally appeared on Think Space
They raise a series of questions (that have been evident over a decade or two. Yet these questions still need to be discussed in depth), let me cite two amongst them: redefinition of architecture, integration of the concepts of contingency, uncertainty, soft, and interface within architecture as well as the idea of considering time of architecture as fundamental. Probably an architecture more inclusive, less in the role of the solver, to a certain extent. 
Landship | Gautier Duthoit, 2012
Originally appeared on Think Space

Visit Think Space for better information on these projects here and other interesting entries for this year's competition. Then, those who are around New York and its areas, The Storefront for Art and Architecture hosts Think Space's exhibition, an exhibition which explores the politics behind the architecture competition. The exhibition is open until February 15 2013.

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