A new series dedicated to saying what you know you are thinking when artists/designers/architects produce or explain something beyond ridiculous. These are those thoughts when you saw that last project by what’s their face and felt shame for them; when you know they’re making that shit up on the fly, or worse, when they believe it; when the words are English but they are obviously encoded (archie-speak, perhaps??); and when your initial reaction upon seeing a project is an eye roll, guffaw, disillusion, and/or cynicism, and all you can think is “what…wh-huh?”
In short, no, your reaction wasn’t uneducated, dumb, incorrect, course, or unique—we all thought it, we don’t get it, and we’re pretty sure it doesn’t make any sense to start with. In shorter short, we’re embracing that most ubiquitous of hipster notions: we’re over it.
This inaugural post of what the huh?? features a student work featured on suckerPUNCH last week (ground-breakingly entitled "overlapping geometries") spotted during prep for this week’s PRJKT Dump, and the moral of the post is: making cool stuff into buildings is great…until you have to explain why it matters.
Let me first say I actually like the project, and really want it to be more refined. It reminds me of UN Studio’s Burnham Pavilion (2009) in Chicago, but what at first is an inspiring render becomes a confusing variation. The pavilion is a wide plane, partially patterned, that is, um… interrupted by what appear to be five crumpled up pieces of paper dipped in liquid soap.
While confusing at first, we shouldn’t be surprised these confounding clusters have a perfectly obvious origin: Christopher Wren’s drawings for St. Paul’s (obviously a studio requisite, totally not her fault). The elucidating writeup tells us that the drawings were plundered for all kinds of inherent, legitimate geometries with which Wren was actually working. Fabulous. Then that complex matrix entered Rhino and got all kinds of fucked up.
The ‘geometries from geometries’ rapidly lose their way, become formal, and then are transformed by “multiplying, deforming, and overlapping.” (O my!) And that’s great, good for her. We should make it a habit to periodically ruin—I mean “explore”—our predecessor’s work for the sake of innovation. Then some of these clusters were grouped together and cut up according to “program demands.” (“Cue sagacious nod*) And then BAM, lay a plane over them and a pavilion is born.
Please also note the token parametric signature on certain areas of said plane—surely another intercession by the arbitrating program. Surely the light patterns would be lovely to see, though I fear I’d be distracted to tears by the urge to untangle those knarled and mindboggling knots like the laces of a shoe I desperately want to wear but ultimately cannot be bothered with.
What is perhaps most inspiring is the requisite, innovative construction methods that will be needed to create these dense knots of…geometries..? Surely the whole thing will at least win an award for most anguishing production drawings. I believe the UN Studio pavilion is bent plywood that is plastered and painted and glossed, but sadly I think the mind-blowing physics of these simple geometries might require something new
In short, don't always do what your profs tell you or what's cool—trust me, it get’s awkward, and your explanation will also inevitably be awkward.