This was a student project by Rachel Ghindea, Sarah Cronin, and Alex Oetzel for Sandhya Kochar's course ARCH 4999H in Spring 2018.
The way we consume contemporary architecture through the medium of the internet/ Instagram/facebook is increasingly through flattened images that appear on a screen, on a t-shirt, or on a coffee mug. These appear to have static narratives. The spatial complexity is reduced to a graphic image, and we posit that these flattened images as static narrators are one of the chief contributors to the boredom that is plaguing the 21st century. By becoming image producers, architects as consumers are giving up their agency as space makers. Our project aims to reassert this agency.
Our proposal seriously takes on the aspect of boredom and how to break it. Boredom, or the formation of an experience into a habit, is developed after having the same experience for 21 days in a row. To provide relief from this, we are speculating a new kind of architecture: “A 21 Day Thing Architecture”. An architecture comprised of a series of things which shape shifts and jumps programs, suspending our expectations and disrupting our assumptions every 21 days.
Similar to Hejduk’s One hundred Victims, 21 Day Thing Architecture is a proposal which manifests as a series of distinct characters (things) creating different spatial experiences with different narratives. This architecture originates in drawings and images produced by contemporary architects. We consider these to be objects, or the easily replicable. We aim to turn these objects into things. Bill Brown asserts that things are that which shed socially encoded values and become present to us in new ways through suspension of habit. An object can become a thing through careful and thoughtful design.
Our investigation of 21 Day Thing Architecture begins with four flat images; Pool Party by Bureau Spectacular, Archeograph by Sam Jacob, Detroit Reassembly Plant by TEAM, and Flatbed Junk by NemeStudio. We evaluated each of the projects’ encoded values as they are presented in the original narratives, as well as the values that can be understood from a surface reading of the image. This initial understanding is the control with which we test difference from, it is the understanding derived from habit, practice and assumptions. In each of the projects, we explore hybridizing program, creating new context and narratives, appropriating project techniques, questioning scale, and exaggerating/exploiting the original intentions of the projects as methods for making new things from found objects. Our interpretations of each of the projects, and the spatial modifications and new narratives we have assigned to them are as follows:
Pool Party is a public relaxation structure. It pays homage to the culture built around pools as a romanticized place of leisure. The inclusion of existing industry-standard pools provides cues to these notions. We speculate a 21 day architecture cycle originating from this project that uses elements from the original drawing as a kit of parts, allowing for a reconfiguration of the project in order to take on new programs and new humors. Some possible iterations include Pool Con, which takes the banal programmatic requirements and injects the funness of a pool party by re-introducing water; Pool Haus, a single family residence questioning the typical presence of water in private interiors; Troubadours of Terror, a collection of walking characters in search of the water they have lost; and a Geriatric Water Park, a relaxation space aimed at a more seasoned party crowd.
Archeograph is a two dimensional representation of the layering of landscapes, environments and history of Jacob’s neighborhood in London, submitted as part of the 10x10 Drawing London competition. Each of our speculative cycles for this project is a play on the condensed city, exploring different scales at which urban landscapes can be represented and how changing context impacts the reading of the elements originally attributed to London. Peaks City explores spatializing the drawing as an entire urbanism. After 21 days this might become Central Pig Pen, which uses the elements to create a dynamic park space for humans as well as pigs, an easily overlooked demographic. Cornice (Tower?) is a single architectural element: a cornice, or maybe it is a skyscraper… hard to say. Archaeotherium is a traveling stage set, meant for performances to be held from any side, maybe multiple at once, maybe even while it’s traveling.
The Detroit Reassembly Plant reimagines the ruins of rundown buildings in Detroit as a source of materials for building the new. Selective demolition of existing structures and insertion of off-site waste materials produced by the city of Detroit allow for the continuation of the Packard Plant as a testing ground for innovative and experimental processes to take place. Our various possibilities for this project come from layering the original projects goals and representation with representation techniques and narratives of other architectural typologies, projects, and even simple architectural things. We reimagined the reassembly plant first as Le Suburbia, the Columbus neighborhood that Hilliard wishes it was. After 21 days it might become Detroit Armchair, a simple 562 piece build, no different than your average IKEA chair. Double TEAM’D presents a diorama of Reassembly Plant, exploring the possibility of the thing being an architectural model showing hidden objects of interest. And finally, we have proposed a contemporary revamp of the 1909 theorem where one drawing provides the ingredients for vastly different worlds to exist on each level.
Flatbed Junk is a project suggesting that the world is being overtaken by junk-space or the endless interior, most of which is encapsulated in a blank exterior. The drawing is representative of a satellite view of a large building which uses the flattened reading of junk to hide uniform architectural content within. The possible cycles of this project reconceptualize the original narrative to either exaggerate or reject the idea of an endless interior, and explore the ideas of junkiness. Sometimes this materializes as an interior shown as a continuous exterior, in Mechanical Contents, or as a literal Junk Yard, which represents the accumulation of junk in contemporary society. Blocs o’ Bla explores junkiness as a means of building, appropriating First Office’s intentionally inaccurate construction method, while Phun Haus utilizes the flat textures and colors to develop a series of differentiated extremes. A perfect scene for a viral parkour video shoot.
With these things, we are questioning lifespan and permanence to counter the status quo of boredom in the 21st century. We are speculating that contemporary architects have created rich, complex works that need to be unpacked beyond their static narrative. That we don’t have to create an entirely new project to create a new experience. That each project can become a kit of parts to address one or many or infinite different program(s) by injecting a new narrative that defies expectations and suspends habits through its use of these parts. We are questioning lifespan and embracing impermanence by stating that every 21 days architecture can recycle itself into something new and different.