samedi 31 janvier 2009

# SELF-CONSTRUCTION /// Conclusion

No matter if we consider past or contemporary self-constructions, those architecture without architects embody a kind of expression of an individual or associative power in the trespassing or not of a local legislation. Their essential motivation often has a vital statute which answer thus more to needs than desires. These needs is then materialized into a shape and a space.
No forward planning for self-constructed districts brings to the city a disinclination which can not be harmful for democracy. In fact, those buildings' construction and life are happening thanks to a local negotiation between people directly concerned by them. Architecture is thus the product of this neighbourhood negotiation. Result is an organic network of buildings as a urban fabric uncontrollable by any human authority.

# Gianni Pettena's tumbleweeds catcher

This installation was built by Gianni Pettena and his students from University of Utah in 1972. It dramatizes the catching of tumbleweeds rolling around in a progressive territorialization of what Pettena calls an unusual skyscraper.
Here is a page about the FRAC's book about Pettena's work published by HYX

vendredi 30 janvier 2009

# Spiculation by Martin Le Bourgeois & Léopold Lambert

This post surely requires an explanation. Presenting my own work on boiteaoutils can probably interpreted as an hijacking of an information platform and its readers taken in hostage of an autopromotion. However I did feel that criticizing and promoting others' project has a sense for me, only if it was to create a more or less coherent vision of architecture which should be serving my own creation. Therefore, I would like to take the risk of presenting my work as related to this vision.

Spiculation is my diploma project I developped with Martin Le Bourgeois in ESA and I am not presenting it here as an achievement but as a work still in progress. We are currently working on it to make it happen for real, working with polypropylene company and developping it for competitions etc. Valérie Chatelet, our former tutor and author of Interactive Cities, now joined the team.
Of course your advices and criticism are more than welcome.

Spiculation incarnates an alternative to public space’s hermetism. Its aggregate composes a malleable material which can be transformed at any moment by anybody. The alternative it represents to linked and precise architecture generates a flexible implementation of a fluid material resulting from multitude. In fact, energy it needs to make its shape evolving is very inferior to the one public space’s material needs today. This material comprises intrinsically some qualities based on structure, light filtration and rain evacuation.
However, in order to be colonised, it needs some tools inventions whose conception and fabrication is let to public space actors. Participation principle is simple. Thanks to a manifest to Haptic, only the body’s direct action with its environment provokes a desire’s spatiality.

Spiculation is inspired from Peter Cook’s Instant City, from Bernard Rudofsky’s Architecture without Architects, from R&Sie’s viab in I’ve heard about and from Yona Friedman’s ville spatiale whose it explodes the megastructure then fragment it in order to invade the existing context.
Thanks to a concern not to override its alternative statute, it does not live inside the cartographic public space. In fact spicule is afraid from the “canyon” street, too much directional and too much controlled. It prefers to proliferate inside some heterotopia which are represented by Paris’ interior courtyards and thus to create a wandering network whose absence of control is tacitly accepted by the person who is penetrating into it.

Spiculation's production is also ruled by the in situ logic. The productive machine is invited to live inside the courtyards by adapting itself to their spatiality and functionality. This presence on the site allows the local plastic waste in order to make the spicule’s unique material. Thus, urban material deals with an ambiguous relationship between consumption, waste and its’ production.
Automated fabrication platform is situated several metres above the ground. In the course of production, a spicule tide comes filling this void.

Material finally produced is colonized and used by its actors at the whim of their desires materialising them into a vanishing and manifest device.
Spicules embody thus a constant redefining architecture impossible to plan and whose intrinsic uncertainty makes its control difficult. They are the object of the individual power non delegation and offer its expression to anybody at any moment.

jeudi 29 janvier 2009

# 2009 PS1 Competition won by MOS

This is the new New York PS1 pavilion designed by Hilary Sample and Michael Meredith from MOS.
The difference between PS1 pavilion and what we could call its equivalent in Europe, the London Serpentine Pavilion is the budget allowed for it. American one is much smaller and this economy becomes the principal challenge of this competition. How to deal with complex geometries and small money ? Each winner (see the official page) got his part of the answer and this year also brings its proposition.

mercredi 28 janvier 2009

# SELF-CONSTRUCTION /// Kowloon Walled City

Kowloon Walled City can obviously not be literally considered as self-constructed. However, this Hong Kong district acquired a kind of autonomy for years and could not stop densifying itself until it was demolished by Authorities in 1993 (See Ryuji Miyamoto's photographs of the empty Walled City, ready to be tear down).
The Walled City tackles an interesting problem about the connection such autonomous district could have with legality. In fact, there has been a strong phantasm of insecurity about it, probably encouraged by the authority when some neutral reporters like Greg Girard and Ian Lambot (read their "City of Darkness" from where almost all photographs we still have come from) affirmed that the district was the shelter of drug addict but not criminals.
Before it was demolished, the Walled City was the home of 50 000 inhabitants reaching an incredible density of 1 920 000 inhabitants per square kilometre.
As far as self-construction is concerned, let's quote City of Darkness:
"With lifts in just two of the City's 350 or so buildings, access to the upper floors of the 10 to 14 storey apartment blocks was nearly always by stairs, necessitating considerable climbs for thos who lived near the top. This was partly alleviated by an extraordinary system of interconnecting stairways and bridges at different levels within the City which took shape -somewhat organically- during the construction boom of the 1960's and early 1970's. It was possible for example, to travel across the City from north to south without once coming down to street level."
Let's add to this description, the one of this grid placed over the district's temple (right in the center of the Walled City) on which inhabitants having their windows on the courtyards throw away their garbage, transforming the temple's environment into a shadowy underworld.

mardi 27 janvier 2009

# Quand les murs tombent d'Edouard Glissant & Patrick Chamoiseau

sorry for those who do not read French, but the sentence I'm about to write would be terribly destroyed if it was translated by me...

"La haute conception des choses du Monde n'est jamais béate, orgueilleuse, fermée. Elle est d'abord faite de tremblements, et c'est de tremblement en tremblement qu'elle s'élève sur les degrés d'un éclairant retour de conscience."

This little book, Quand les murs tombent. L'identité nationale hors-la-loi ? (When the walls fall apart. National identity being outlaw ?) was published when Nicolas Sarkozy decided to establish a ministry of National identity within the same ministry (Ministry of immigration) which is gladly annoucing 30 000 expellations of more or less clandestine immigrants these days. This manifest protest again the concept of a national identity itself and questions nowadays' societal context.

I will probably write a new post when I read Glissant and Chamoiseau's new book: L'intraitable beauté du Monde.

dimanche 25 janvier 2009

# SELF-CONSTRUCTION /// The gridshell

YO! here is a pretty cool construction system that have been develloped by Frei OTTO
and then applied in several building like the Japanese Pavilionby Shigeru Ban with Frei Otto at Expo Hanover 2000, the Polydome of the EPFL (école polytechnique de Lausanne) or the Dowland gridshell by Edward Cullinan Architects + Structural Engineer Buro Happold.

Few words to explain how to build one in your backyard:

1- Do a planar wooden grid that can rotate on crossings...
2- Pull slowly the point(s) that you want to see up until you get the shape you wanted...
3- Block the points that you want to keep on the ground with weights or punctions...
4- Cover the grid with thin plank that you nailled into the grid, do this two or three layers...
5-You got your own gridshell building!

following some pictures:

Japanese Pavilion, Expo 2000 Hanover, Germany (Shigeru Ban with Frei Otto) .(D)

Polydome de l'EPFL (CH)

Downland Gridshell (UK)

samedi 24 janvier 2009

# Architectural Clothes by Nahum Villasana

Still into clothes design, here are the architectural clothes created by a mexican designer, Nahum Villasana. Those seem to be very responsive to the body torsion and compression if I am architecturizing the body language which is more often the contrary.

found on coolhunting (where you can find a little article) via architechnophilia

jeudi 22 janvier 2009

# Hussein Chalayan in London Design Museum

For the lucky guys who'll be in London starting from today until may 17th, the new exhibition, called From fashion and back, in the Design Museum is about Hussein Chalayan. I already wrote three posts (1, 2 and 3) about his work, so I won't present it again, but I am still convinced that Chalayan embodies pretty well a multidisciplinary research, always questioning fashion's limits and creation's influences.

mercredi 21 janvier 2009

# Transit-City / Urban & Mobile Think Tank

Unfortunately, this think tank and blog I am about to present has only its titles in English...
Transit-City is thus a think tank lead by François Bellanger about how the city evoluates thanks to mobility, fiction and catastrophes.
For instance, I picked up this presentation text:
  • Et si la visite de Disneyland permettait de mieux comprendre la croissance de Las Vegas ? (What if a visit in Disneyland was allowing to understand better Las Vegas' growth ?)

  • Et si Nike et Apple étaient les vrais inventeurs de la mobilité urbaine de demain? (What if Nike and Apple were the real inventors of tomorrow's urban mobility ?)

  • Et si les mangas permettaient de mieux comprendre le succès de Toyota ? (What if mangas was allowing to understand better Toyota's success ?)

  • Et si c’était un jeu vidéo comme GTA San Andreas qui nous décrivait le mieux le futur ultra-violent des grandes métropoles nord et sud américaines ? (What if video games such as GTA San Andreas was the best medium to describe North and South American metropolis' hyper violent future ?)

  • Et si la fiction était le laboratoire de la réalité ? (What if fiction was the reality laboratory ?)

  • Et si la fiction jouait aujourd’hui le rôle qu’a longtemps eu l’utopie dans nos visions des villes du futur ? (What if fiction was currently playing the role that Utopia used to play for ages in our cities' visions the future ?)

This website is linked with a blog which presents a lot of similar topics than boiteaoutils but in a more developped way (but still in French...)

mardi 20 janvier 2009

# Swarm. An exhibition by Labdora (Peter Macapia)

Peter Macapia's office, Labdora (Design Office for Research of Architecture) exhibits one of its project, Swarm, from January 29th to February 25th in Bridge Gallery in New York.

dimanche 18 janvier 2009

# Roberto Rizzato's cyborg

mercredi 14 janvier 2009

# Eyal Weizman's books

Currently, more than ever, architects should take time to read Eyal Weizman, as a complement of what we are observing everyday in mass media about Gaza's conflict. News has a rythm, research has an other one. What is currently happening in Israel/Palestine is crucial and depending on the country we are living in, we are not informed in the same way.
Let's recall that Eyal Weizman is a isreali architect based in Tel Aviv and London, and for several years now, he has been studying how architecture was used as a weapon by Isreali governement and army against Palestinians.
A civilian occupation: The politics of Israeli architecture, I already wrote about in a past post, tackles the problem of Israeli settlements in the West bank as a sneaky civil then military expansion of the Israeli territory.
Hollow Land updates this same issue, and you can find in it this incredible article called Walking through walls (it was pubished in French as A travers les murs. L'architecture de la nouvelle guerre urbaine) I also already posted in the past.
I did not read Chicago and Weizman is not exactly its author (it's actually a photographic book by Adam Broomberg & Olivier Chanarin) but he participated to its redaction. This book observe this fake Arab village, Israeli and American soldiers built to train themselves for Middle East conflicts.
I hope that anybody would understand this is not some crapy propaganda, I'm trying to make, but an emphasis on real precise issues which needs to be solved for an aggreement of peace between two legimitate states.

mardi 13 janvier 2009

# SELF-CONSTRUCTION /// Ice as a building material

The pretty cold weather in Paris made me think about igloo building! (sadly it's not possible there...)
Building an igloo is a very interesting concept of using one material, the ice, and building a close space without any transformation of the material, any nails or glue, just ice!

This free material had already inspired some architects that desiged some cool pavillion for the Snow Show. I supposed that they were not part of the building team (if that ever happened) !

Tadao Ando @ the snow show

Zaha Hadid @the Snow show