Un-expected: When attitude becomes Architecture
Esteban de Backer
How do we work as Architects in a contemporary regime of sheer efficiency? In the present moment, the necessity of certainty and control acts as driving force of both economic and social success. Engineering, in opposition to Architecture, tends to be understood as the result of a formula -“pure science”- always validating whichever enterprise to be taken, due to its un-questioned pragmatic nature. Architecture over time has rendered itself powerless within this regime of efficiency, Appearance being the last bastion of Architectural expertise. Construction detailing, structural calculation, mechanical systems design, definition of environmental strategies are increasingly left outside of our professional duties being conquered by the agents of efficiency.
We might unpack the possibilities embedded on this “Architecture of Certainty” by looking into the diverse forces, processes and agents shaping those realities. The research focuses on examining the most “efficient building types” possible ? the ultimate product of this regime of pragmatism ? that is to say infrastructural buildings, as sub-products of Manhattan´s process of modernization. These banal, clumsy, big, ugly, ordinary, pragmatic building types ? formerly product of a fertile relationship between architects, engineers and other agents of building production ? conceal a compelling, rather inventive reservoir of design strategies, a sort of open attitude towards architectural production, whose examination might help to critically reassert the contemporary role of the discipline.
When design is somehow not requested, when constraints are, so to speak, overwhelming, the ambiguous realm of architecture might get amplified.
Bio: Esteban de Backer graduated with honors from the Faculty of Science in Granada (Spain), in Environmental Sciences in 2002, where he developed his degree project in collaboration with the Unesco Chair. He also graduated with honors from the School of Architecture in Barcelona in 2012. In 2008 he is awarded with the Arquia Foundation fellowship, starting his professional collaboration with No.mad Architects in Madrid, office in which he continued his architectural practice and thought production until 2013 while at the same time taking part in several projects, publications and exhibitions both individual and collective. As “La Caixa Foundation” fellow he received his Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Gsapp, Columbia University in 2014 where he currently pursues the ARPA program. He works as an independent architect and serves as teaching assistant both at Barnard College and Gsapp.
The Multidisciples: Architecture, Science, and People
David Isaac Hecht
How do architects consider the interaction between people and space? What kind of tools, methods, and frameworks can they use to learn about these interactions? How do these tools and methods express and exert their own agency? How does knowledge from outside of the discipline inform and change practice?
Considering methods from natural and social sciences, the project will be a vehicle to rethink architecture’s engagement with people, organizations, and research. This will be applied to the design of workplaces, where social interactions, organizational culture, and design features are in constant engagement. Proceeding from observations of existing workplaces, intensive review of existing literature and research projects, and engagement with workers in the field, a catalogue of research tools will be developed for use by architects, designers, and researchers. In concert with this catalogue, a methodology for investigating the relationships between people and the built environment will be developed and applied in on-site case studies.
Bio: David Isaac Hecht is a native of Brooklyn, NY. He received the Master of Architecture degree from Columbia GSAPP in 2014, and holds a BA in Cognitive Science from Vassar College. Before revisiting his passion in architecture, David worked at the intersection of politics, finance, and philanthropy in New Jersey. He is currently a studio TA at the GSAPP and a researcher for the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. David is constantly seeking connections between interesting people and fascinating ideas.
A Practice of Revisiting
This project proposes the revision of existing building types as a fundamental premise for developing new design methodologies. It argues for a practice in which the notion of newness relies less on material and formal qualities and more on a re-conceptualization and formulation of use; the architect assumes the role of choreographer.
Following this argument, the hypothetical strategy that I set out to investigate is an ex post facto hybridization of mono-programmatic buildings and zoning districts. I will focus on the post-war Commercial Tower type, given its massive proliferation in the last 50 years and the theoretical issues it entails.
Bio: Alejandro Stein just completed his Master of Architecture at Columbia University GSAPP, where he also served as class representative and teaching assistant. He received his B.A. in Architecture from Florida International University in 2010 and worked as a designer in Miami and New York before coming to GSAPP in 2011.
Che-Wei Michael Yeh
Speaking as an architect myself, it may be rather ironic to state that architectural design should not be monopolized by architects alone. However, in this era, in addition to the field of architectural design, significant important contributions have been made through cross-disciplinary collaboration, including in the fields of writing, composing and computer programming. In these cases, "professional-amateurs" offer a vast array of untapped experience and ideas allowing highly motivated investigation into as yet unexplored possibilities.
Modern parametric design takes the first step towards cross-disciplinary collaboration. Parametric design is a medium by which to convey professional knowledge, but due to the user interface, today only the “professional users” are able to access/utilize this information. The vast pool of “professional-amateurs” has no chance to participate in the process of architectural design.
This project is addressed via the simplest interface; everyone should be able to “design” through parametric models, thereby redefining the role of architects, from “designer” to “professional knowledge provider.”
Bio: Che-Wei Yeh is a student focusing on parametric thinking. He received his M.S. in Advanced Architectural Design from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of Columbia University, where he was awarded a Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize. Currently, he is continuing to conduct research as an ARPA student at Columbia University.
Drawing to Find Out
Maria Esnaola Cano and Diana Cristobal Olave
This study is based on the concern that there currently is a lack of academic conversation about recent projects in our field. This problem, for us, is the consequence of architecture not being properly represented. Does the lack of new modes of representation in architecture imply that there are not new concepts? Or instead, could we argue that new concepts are “lost” because they have not been represented? We believe that the impossibility for a discussion within the field is in fact a consequence of a present lack of conceptual drawings.
Architectural concepts can only be discussed if they are drawn. In the last decade, a shift has taken place, where the representation of concepts is been replaced by the representation of an “image” of the building: the “mimetic rendering.” This new technology-enabled representation appeared as a translation tool between the architect and the client—an easy way to visualize architecture. The pressure of the markets has reinforced the hyperrealist visualization of architecture as a tool of persuasion. Hence, architecture has been reduced to a descriptive image.
We aim to discover the hidden concepts by recovering conceptual drawings in architecture.
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