...unless they're an architect. In which case, our job is to love and embrace the systematizer and their systems and appreciate the various levels on which we can play the game of 'System'. For this Prjkt Dump, our prodigal return to the blog after the summer off, we give you ten interesting projects that deploy System for all purposes, from envelopes, structures, and shells, to diagrams, fields, and preservation. Here we go:
City Form Lab: SUTD Library Pavilion
This drop dead gorgeous, steel-clad pavilion was designed for Singapore University of Technology and Design and was constructed earlier this year. Basically system is the complete project, made up of an internally exposed structure and the steel scales combined, and consists of formal and cellular geometries that I feel would make both Gaudí and Bucky Fuller proud. The pavilion was also designed and fabricated by one single working digital drawing that crafted each piece with the information necessary to assemble the entire structure, like one great big IKEA clusterf*ck—not a necessarily novel method, but a brilliant one nonetheless. Check out the beyond fascinating construction photos on CFL's website. (via Dezeen.)
Rudy Riciotti: MuCEM
Located on the waterfront in Marseilles, this system was designed to house the new Museum of European and Mediterranean Cultures. Essentially it is a basic structural matrix composed of T shaped prefab elements, but this basic and ubiquitous scheme supports a gorgeous envelope of glazed concrete tracery that more resembles the vasculature of a butterfly wing than its obvious gothic precedent. In tandem, two systems—the one structural and the other ornamental—produce a completely dematerialized, etherial, and also wildly useful object for the display of arts or whatever. The object is also connected to the adjacent 17th century fort (also part of MuCEM) by a nearly unbelievable, light, concrete bridge that is by itself a thing to behold. Check out Riciotti's website for more of his work, as well as Architizer, for more photos of MuCEM.
Dame Zaha: Pierre Vives
Zaha's done it again, no surprise, and I'm living for it—kind of. This gov't project just recently finished construction, and is composed of a 2D system that pretends at being a 3D one, but that mostly is used to craft the shallowly sculptural/formal facade with the help of shifting volumes and lots of curvilinear mullions. With the dynamic and valuable system relegated to the envelope—or at most used to organize volumes in a vertical relationship—the deep interior spaces and typical loosely delineated programs are lost in unarticulated bigness and cheapened by graphic ID appliqué. Nevertheless, as an object-building, this is one of my favorites from her, and is visually a stunning system. Check out more photos and info on Dezeen.
Henrique Oliveira: Baitogogo
This one takes the award for favorite project of the month for me, I think. Installed in Paris's Palais de Tokyo, Baitogogo is the brainchild of Brazilian artist Oliveira, and in this lineup of systems it is the System finally taking domain over the interior. Oliveira and his team extended a faux structural system into the gallery space, only to articulate the deconstruction of systematic rigidity into something else beautiful, freeform and and organic. So the beautifully simple, familiar white 3D matrix erupts a chaos of mangled, knotted branches that connect all the formerly rigid structural pieces in a suspended, arboreal awesomeness that (conceptually) is still contained within the structural matrix (which could go on into infinity for all we know). Check out this construction video, which has way better stills of the installation than any i've found elsewhere. (via Colossal.)
**Add to all this the layers of systems required to construct this faux setup, as well as the simple, low tech construction systems used to make the branches themselves, and this is a project that I want to talk about for hours. So fascinating.
Holger Hoffmann: Treehugger
This pavilion is a couple years old, first appearing at a 2011 festival in Koblenz, Germany. I put it here because it popped up on a blog a few weeks ago and I had forgotten how cool I think it is...essentially because it's not that cool but it, actually, a little boring. But in the context of systems it totally resurfaces and is fascinating again. Basically, the pavilion was conceived as the diagram of a tree—or, rather, five trees—with two parallel planes of systematic, geometric mesh representing the roots and branches, connected by the trunks. BUT, as a whole the pavilion is fascinating just for that reason: it's a diagrammatic glimpse at a system (aka the forest) of two dense planes that are joined (and sustained) by the far less dense middle field of connectors, and so as a System it is probably the most abstract incarnation here present. Check out more photos on Arch Daily and Architonic.
Michael Hansmeyer: 1 million facets, a column
Admittedly, I actually don't know specifically how to articulate this project in terms of System, it's just something that I more or less intimate or sense (and may just be me blindly associating it with other things), OR it could just be a basic program thing. This is the prototype of a series by Hansmeyer (whose name reminds me of Hannes Meyer and makes be happy) where he digitally constructed columns and then ran a surface-dividing algorithm several times in order to create the product: nine columns, each wildly unique, that are formed and articulated by [supposedly] millions of facets. Also fascinating is the negative produced by Hansmeyer's fabrication method (sectional layering) and I don't really know why but I want the negative more than the actual column. Supposedly each 9' column is made out of 2700 imm slices, which is awesome and ridiculous and stupid and beautiful all at once. Check out more info and photos on Co.DESIGN and Colossal.
Tom Beddard: fractal architecture
Also personally confused about this, and I warn you it's not particularly ground breaking or inspiring, but it was a natural sequitur from the million faceted columns and is also inherently architectural so here we go. Tom Beddard works with algorithms, scripts, and his personal fascination with "the aesthetics of detail and complexity" to produce these incarnation of System Gone Wild. They are purely exploratory, indulgent fields of a system (or systems) repeating and incorporating itself on various scales ad infinitum , and then rendered into an evocative glory that is reminiscent of dystopian sci-fi flicks and video games. Fun and cool. Check out more images on Tom's website. (via Architizer.)
Ferran Vizoso Architecture: 'Church'
These next two are absolutely fascinating and a practical break from these previous works. This is a church in Terragona, Spain (that I'm pretty sure is in the first scene of Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro) that was formerly completely ruined and disrepaired, and that Ferran Vizoso has made useful again. The Spanish firm integrated a climate controlling roof into the remaining structure (and windows and doors) that completely preserves the church in its ruined state while simultaneously allows it to be used for actual services. Brilliant. So so brilliant. The photos are stunning, the concept is stunning, and I'm smitten. Check out more photos and project info on Design Boom.
Witherford Watson Mann: Astley Castle renovation
Like the Terragonese church, WWM has restored this run down castle to residential usage by integrating it into a newly constructed house, or vice versa, the interchangeability of which is fabulous. The house and castle are integrated into each other, preserving the state of the former structure and, like the Church, celebrating its ruined state as an ongoing element itself. These two projects are beyond some of my favorite preservation projects I've ever seen, and I've included them here in the spectrum of System because of the simultaneity—both temporally, programmatically, environmentally, and structurally—inherent in the projects. Their integration of two things, resulting in the rebirth of a moribund thing and their transfiguration into something new, is their system, and it's one that steals my heart. Check out more photos of the castle on Dezeen.
Umbrella Sky Project, Agueda, Portugal
These umbrellas are here because they are, in fact, a non system masquerading as one, and also because they're really pretty and photogenic. Evidently every year in this town they host some kind of art festival, and this year the umbrellas have returned to shield every street from the scorching summer sun. But don't be fooled, 'cause here's the T: it's a simple system of chords strung above the streets, suspending all the umbrellas. They themselves are not actually a system, but the semblance of one; they are more akin to a field, but all practically on the same level. Nor are they particularly practical when it comes to shielding from rain, but oh well. They are beautiful and whimsical and I'd still be snapping all the photos my phone could hold if I chanced upon these streets. Check out more photos of the installation by Patrícia Almedia on her flickr roll. (via My Modern Met.) [For a project composed of umbrellas as their own self-supporting system, check out my favorite Bucky Bar from 2010.)