Since the organized labor forces of early man, society has banded together to produce impressive feats of permanent architectural construction─monumental structures that persist through time long since their creators die out. Man’s desire to produce artifacts that stand the test of time also come with a set of prescribed formal logics to build from, namely in the use of pure platonic solids, seen as an exercise to build as accurately as possible within the tolerances of construction methods. From the built tombs of Giza, to the visionary magnitudes of Boullée, Ledoux, and Lequeux, pure forms such as pyramids, spheres, domes, and cubes prevail as the most revered forms of architectural history.
As time has passed, and technical abilities have improved in construction method, the fabrication of perfect synthetic forms has become achievable. As a result, this pursuit in architecture has been abandoned for other priorities in addition to the collective society no longer focusing on the construction of singular monuments, but instead favoring an aggregate of privatized smaller projects. Architectural styles grew out of rejections of classical ornament, and despite which specific camp one identifies under, we could all agree that the modern landscape is lacking in any sort of collective monumentality as once seen in the past. The star architect manufactures an icon, but it is not necessarily a monument.
So what then defines monument? Beyond being very large, a monument seems to possess a clearly articulated geometric poignancy. In fact monumentality transcends scale, and in the present landscape of the built environment, simplicity reigns supreme as the notable construction. The figural nature of the platonic solid is clean and recognizable, it is not bogged down by the baggage of digital computational design processes or implicitly tied to high-concept rationalizations. A pure form is simply understood, and for this reason it is desirable. A push to a movement of form making strategies within a common framework could allow for a cleaner skyline, while still maintaining enough freedom for specific executions to maintain contextualism and escape a shrinking idiosyncratic labeling.
Perhaps a solution can be found in the somewhat unsettling trend of form-based codes. A slew of revitalizing cities have adopted these codes in recent years in order to secure their New Urbanist values for maintaining a consistent suburban vernacular within a library of acceptable parts. This set up that thrives on reproducibility for a common city fabric seems counter to any idea of the monument’s traditional singularity. However, perhaps it is through the agency of small scale that a monument can reproduce itself as part of an aggregate system, where features of monumental forms play from cues of the established generic fabric. It is here through the use of form based codes that a monumental fabric can be articulated.
If the digital era of formal production relied on a system of automated parametricism, this newpolicy-driven metric will act as a kind of “analogue” parametricism, an imprecision brought about by manual configurations of a kit of parts. In the same way that the NURBs technical abilities inspired a generation to find their own voice within a common procedural framework, a form-based policy could serve as a framework for innovation within a common formal parameter. As this style of architecture becomes more commonplace, a new landscape can be enabled to emerge that is more in touch with the primordial values of society. Monuments may now be designed differently. No longer a product of scale alone, it is the formal purity and values of controlled material homogeneity and sensible symmetric site placement that will allow new monumental architectures to emerge within the built environment.
The Egotistical Introvert
The Egotistical Introvert takes on the problem of the modern villa, by dividing space with objects rather than partitions or structure. The objects of the house are to become the main focus of the space, providing the necessities of domestic living and removing themselves from the need of traditional building arrangement. The house demands an introverted focus, constantly driving the view of the clients towards the center through the use of a nine square organizational system, and additionally, reframes the view of the occupants in order to highlight the graphic qualities of the objects within.
Compositions of furnitures are selected and arranged within each square to strategically guide the user either between or beyond, which transition from one square to the next. Patterns on the ground act as a product of painted decor, pitting a more organic system with the rigid 9-square organization. The silhouettes of objects are punched through the façade to create moments of graphic signage and specific object-view highlighting. The resultant effect is a house full of objects that are disciplined by the scale of the grid, yet liberate movement to occur beyond it.
The Kaizen House, being designed for a siteless environment for a faceless resident without any amount of particularities, relies on the most universal and generic design restraints possible to create the most “exceptionally ordinary” housing experience possible. The design methodology puts a human centric focus as the largest priority in order to make the most ergonomic specifically catered spaces dictated by a sequence of the most universal and generic, yet highly specific, daily routines.
The project seeks to amplify the efficiencies of daily tasks, the ones most all humans share in common, and streamline them into a spatial sequence that never has one backtracking spaces when they are in a hurry preparing for their day.
The Center for Role Reversal
The Center for Role Reversal allows the building to become a character and the occupant to become the building. The building is a character by the stark figural and anthropomorphic qualities as an exterior object, in addition to its coy approach in regards to sensible spatial organizations. The occupant becomes the building in the way they navigate the playful cues of the interior in order to occupy, intertwine, and become a literal extension of architectural column objects.
These columns are not structural, but instead are strewn about in a gridded webbing of structural members, suspended in a grave yard of parts at various orientations. Programs are defined not by the activities that take place in a space, but are instead distilled to their basic organizational tendencies, and the situational ironies that emerge.
The Barn and the Bethel
As long as there have been buildings, there have been stories to tell about the origins of those buildings, architecture's very own mythos. In the case of the iconic Midwestern barn, while a relatively unassuming structure and unquestioned by most, there actually exists some credence to cast it as one of architecture's first heroes. Be it through the lens of the primitive hut, a viking long house, or the biblical tabernacle, the barn is undoubtably pivotal as one of the early instances of free-standing structure. In the latter case concerning the tabernacle, the somewhat prideful origin of the barn happens to simultaneously coincide with the death of the temple. The temple, in essence an ornamental framework built for holy procession, fades into the background as it is clad with the rustic plainness of common barnwood.
If the temple turned barn is the first case of efficiency succeeding style, then it is no secret that the worst is yet to come. As society progressed to its current time, and we have become all too inundated with the mindless consumption so easily available to us, the barn motif is more present than ever. From the Liquor Barn, to the Dress Barn, to the Dish Barn, to the Pottery Barn, the "rustic simplicity" of yesterday has certainly been reimagined to a new end. But perhaps we should give the barn more credit. What if one could reimagine the big box store in the image of the tabernacle? The Barn and the Bethel strives to do just that, through the careful remixing of the form, ritual, and representation as seen in the once glorious imagery of the cathedral.
The Biology Machine
The Biology Machine provides a new urban landscape that serves as a threshold between the city and the parkscape. It stretches across over a half mile of the Bronzeville shoreline to act as a new skyline for the city−a divide between the natural and the synthetic. Recognizing the added positive effects of health and recovery from exposure to nature, The Biology Machine consistently integrates programmatic blending between nature and wellness. No longer divided into the broad and segmented categories of hospital, hotel, and spa, the project operates within a range of programmatic conditions that span from the fully exterior to the fully interior, and everything in-between.
Each wellness program is assessed on its necessity for artificial conditioning (for air, security, and privacy) and integrated into the landscape to provide its maximum exposure to nature. This allows for a situation in which the typical indoor programs are subverted into an exterior experience. Suddenly, a hospital room can begin to feel much more like a hotel room in its relationship to exterior views while the sterile surgical components of the hospital can remain safely buried within the interior. likewise, fitness programs and restaurant components are allowed to exist almost completely on the exterior.
Beautifully Banal aims to produce an alternate reading of the “everyday”, to showcase how through the correct lens of thinking even the most banal of environments can become a fairy tale. This is achieved through the rigorous pairings of strictly conventional architectural drawing techniques with whimsical cartoon-styled collage. Beautifully Banal was the 2nd place winner in the Blank Space 2015 Architectural Fairytales Competition.
Click here to purchase a copy of the Complete Beautifully Banal, a 64 page printed comic-zine.
A World After Humor is a mini series which explores the repercussions of a world without style. The dangers of a dogmatic architectural discourse are all too real as the world as we know it reverts to a state of pure theory in geometry. A lone hero stands against this grim inevitability, equipped with nothing more than his stylisic intuitions.
Critical Mass examines the disconnect between the extremely theoretical versus the extremely practical. Representing theory, this first issue opens the conversation from the perspective of the ever controversial paper architect, who appears to be just slightly detached from the requirements of the real world.