Would you have guessed that this installation Inverscape was completed by an architecture studio? It was. Studio Integrate describes itself “an international architectural studio, located in London.” (I’m not sure where the other nation is.) The principle designers of Integrate all graduated from the Architectural Association in London and utilize computational processes in ways I don’t entirely understand. You may not have guessed than an architecture firm created this puckered ceilingscape of sheer fabric, but the installation relies on the frenemy of architecture: gravity. Red components throughout the network are either anchored to the ceiling or unanchored; the unanchored red bits pull the fabric down and away from the parts bolted to the ceiling, controlling the dimensions of the project. Proof that this is the work of an architecture firm is in the description: “The top layer acts as the boundary frame and the bottom layer is hanging, generating the form via applying the self-weight into the fabric. Applying a second layer of differentiated patterns on both fabric and frames enhances the quality of light modulation, creating a dynamic interior condition.” Who, but an architect, could have written that?
Maybe the name Inverscape comes from inverting the relationship of the architects to gravity. In most structural systems, gravity wants to make things flat, but in this project, gravity wants to give more dimension to a translucent terrain above our heads.
MAD Architects has recently completed the Ordos Art and City Museum in inner Mongolia. The museum is the first public building completed by the firm, lead by Ma Yansong. (There are some great construction photos here.) The project is also the first in a series of prominent commissions to be completed by MAD. What’s remarkable about this project is its context: a city that barely exists in the Gobi desert. The form of the museum is a response to this context; in an interview with Will Jones, Yansong says “Inner Mongolia has a lot of horizontal landscapes: sand dunes, windswept land, big skies. I decided to make a building that would be set into the desert. Even though the museum would eventually be within an urban context, I wanted it to connect directly with the desert.” Above is a video of a horse walking through the shiny, new museum… which seems like a funny way to create a narrative connecting the museum to the desert.
The Kaohsiung Maritime Pop Music Center Competition invited participants to imagine and propose a venue that could accommodate a whole range of performance/production spaces for this generation of pop music stars and the next. Architecture students John Clark, Jake Gay and Taka Shinomoto thought the competition brief was was based on a “doomed” premise, saying: “pop might be able to be created in a laboratory [today] but the next generation cannot be made this way.” Their proposal relies on a series of small, mechanical sheds that can send out inflatable volumes to make larger, and larger venues. It’s a fun idea that’s conveyed through a series of quite compelling photos, drawings, and combinations of photos and drawings.
Atist Nathan Coley, presents images of insignificant structures and spaces from Glasgow and Melbourne. The presentation of these buildings is narrated by Cate Blanchett, who speaks as if she were an architect responsible for each of the spaces. It’s pretty hilarious. About the stacked stones that make the entrance to the derelict building above, the architect says: “The carved stones act as a contemporary sign post. On the left side, the stones are carefully positioned, adding order and stability; on the right, it’s a bit more free and romantic.” Coley says the video is teasing about the pompous attitude of the architecture world while at the same time celebrating the found and unconsciously made.
This video is part of the thesis-prize-winning thesis project by Greg Tran. His thesis, and this subsequent video, focus on media used to represent architecture 3-D and 2-D; real and virtual. I’ve never thought of the deceit inherent in calling a virtual model “three dimensional” since it’s always being mediated through a two-dimensional screen (or physical printout), but it makes total sense. Greg’s video starts to resemble visions of the future where entire interfaces fan out, surrounding the user before dissolving at a single gesture. It’s trilling to imagine a future where virtual environments will become immersive but it’s strange to think that we’ll have to move that much. Technology seems to have evolved for us to move less and less. We sit hunched over our computers barely moving anything above our elbows, so why are there persistent visions of the future where we have to wave our hands around like we’re dancing backup. It’s an aside to a thought-provoking video. As someone excited about the future, I’m exciting to see what virtual visions will eventually emerge around us.