20 de agosto de 2012

The architecture of useless things

The present situation that our society and our profession are suffering made me reflect and ask myself what I should talk about in this entry.
We live in a consumer society that spends beyond its means and therefore causes the exploitation and a decrease of our environmental resources. People seem to live in the motto: “The newest is the most attractive, no matter where it comes from”. In response to all of this, new lines of thought and new concepts against this lifestyle are originating increasingly, such as “unconsume”, “unbuy”...

It is not different in architecture. We can see more projects that are "overly concerned" (sometimes this worry is unreal) of environment and sustainability. Renovations have become attractive (relative to new construction) including sustainable development of new materials and new recycling procedures.
At this moment the question is generated: what could we do or what do the things that we won´t use anymore offer us? Now everything is thrown away, nothing is repaired.

Well, there are many people working on this in different areas related to architecture, such as art. Todd McLellan shows us through his pictures how deconstruction can become art.

In architecture we find very interesting works, such as Marjan Teeuwen´s projects. Her work is based in construction and destruction, and the notion of "architecture as sculpture", which is borrowed from the artist Gordon Matta Clark by his research into deconstruction.

Architectural interventions that combine balance between aesthetic and anti-aesthetic. Teeuwen breaks the walls, floors, ceilings, connecting the spaces and allowing special visual effects and lighting to stage her pieces. Is this not in many projects what architecture consist of? In many of them, the formal gesture is to build a void, to make the negative of the preexistence. 

Marjan creates from what already exists, modelling and deforming parts of the building. In her images, creation and destruction or order and disorder converge, causing many feelings in the viewer to recall the polarity of nature, where the order seems that could collapse.

In one of these buildings, she designed a big central space connected by irregular holes with the four consecutive rooms (which have interior passages), achieving incredible perspectives with a strong three dimensional effect.

But one of the most important things is that the great diversity of materials used with different textures are taken from another parts of the own building (façade, walls, ceilings…) “This building is consumed, as it was, only to flourish one last time” she says.

Then, if we could build with what we deconstruct? Maybe we should think about it in the future.

Turning back to the disposable aspect of our society, "Wing house" by David Herz appears in a big plot of Santa Monica with nice views. The use of 100% recycled components in a new creative process as a detached house was his big idea for this work.
The client's brief demanded curved-shapes and generous spaces, and Herz was able to conceive them of hundreds of airplanes that are removed in the deserts of California. They are sold at the price of their weight in aluminum. So they bought one entire airplane (cheaper than its parts) and the old Boeing 747 was given a new life as a house.

The wings of the airplane made of lightweight materials, which are destined for the roof, are ideal to be used without any structural assistance, and to achieve unrestrained spaces. Due to his sustainable design beliefs applied along his career, the house was provided with highly efficient air conditioning equipment, cross ventilation and plenty of daylight, enabling a high degree of comfort.
While the wings form the main residence, the cockpit is the "meditation pavilion" and the first class cabin is the guest house.

This philosophy of reuse of materials and research is more usual in workshops and ephemeral or temporary architecture as these two small projects:

Bluetube Bar. This project illustrates a small 3x3m bar constrained by the restricted budget, which was designed with a low-cost and feasible system based in corrugated pipes and plastic clamps.
The pipes that normally have a concealed infrastructural role, here they suffer an externalization and become the principal element of the project. As light is filtered through pipes is very interesting, creating an attractive object from the outside.

Be Palletto. It is a clear example of a disposable element which can turn back to life as part of a set. Reuse of 400 overlapped pallets that form bleachers and a temporary pavilion in its interaction with the environment.
The visitor can sit down to a maximum height of 3´5 m. The flow of people turns this object into an active element in a friendly atmosphere.

So after this, should we consider useless things apparently in our designs?

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