FP_Crembil Section 13-14

Final Project | Gustavo Crembil, Assistant Professor

MATERIAL MATTERS

FP Students 2013-14 – Gustavo Crembil Section

Kathryn Brust
Matt Chambers
Derya Diril, MArch
Laura Fenster
Lisa-Christin Laue (1)
Ryan Muhl
Shivanthi Narendran
Kun Mi Park
Niraj Patel
Margaret Shay
Katy Siu
Ariel Smith (1)
Brittany Williams
Kira Wong
(1) Awards Review selected students

Edgard Degas: “I have a wonderful idea for a poem but I can’t see to work it out”.
Stephane Mallarme: “My dear Edgard, poems are not made with ideas, they are made with words.”[1]

Recent years have witnessed a veritable renewal of interest in craft production and material practices affecting the built environment. Despite the repeated declarations of architecture’s immanent dematerialization, and its migration to some nebulous realm of abstracted virtuality, computer aided design has produced an entirely different phenomenon by spurring on a generation of designers towards material practices whose results, as Charles Jencks predicted, are “closer to the nineteenth-century handicraft than the regimented superblocks of 1984”. The design of building surfaces and structures today has increasingly involved techniques and material practices that customarily belonged to the handicrafts. Weaving, casting, printing, embossing, etching, glazing, joining, and firing are routinely employed in the construction of buildings.

In the global North, this recent tendency towards craft and material techniques has been accompanied by a wide range of practices that may go from DIY networks (from crochet mathematics to knitting machine hacking) to form-finding design-research built upon Frei Otto’s legacy. This has run parallel to an important resurgence in scholarship[2] on the nature of handiwork. In architecture, however, scholarship on craft has been often subsumed under the rubrics of rapid prototyping and digital fabrication, terms that, one may contend, tend to minimize the relation to culture, tradition, and to complex behavior of the materials and processes involved.

South of the [Rio Grande] border, where Modernity is expressed as many temporalities, often all collapsed in the same place, traditional craft practices are still persistent and commonly embedded within the contemporary manufacturing and building industries. Many of these societies, facing the consequences of rapid growth – irregular settlements, environmental stress, overcrowding, lack of public services – have developed innovative socio-infrastructural solutions based in local resources and expertise; in many cases architecture has had a signature role[3]. Today, as result of the region increasing global protagonism, this ambition is been scaled up to the entire subcontinent, as expressed in the IIRSA plan or the UNASUR organization.

“To be or not to be?” asked an indecisive Hamlet.
“Tupi or not Tupi, that is the question” answered the cannibal.[4]

Our studio will be dedicated to material investigations of architecture as a material and political practice. In particular, its tactical and dialogical role in South America as part of strategic (urban, infrastructural) development plans. We will dedicate to highlight epistemic relations between making (craft) and architecture – on the politics of making as much on making as politics — working back and forth between handmade and digital speculations, aiming to develop novel (and transferable) material techniques for in-development contexts.

Within this operational framework, students will make a case for architecture as “a cultural, political, and productive action”. Our studio aims to generate a hands-on conversation around material production vis-à-vis social development, while also interrogating the specific cultural, historical and environmental lineages where architecture proposal were to be deployed, negotiated and/or grow from.


[1] As noted in The Craftsman (2008) by Richard Sennet, p.118.
[2] Significantly, this new scholarship has emerged from a variety of disciplines such as sociology (Richard Sennett), art history (Glenn Adamson, Howard Risatti) and philosophy (Mathew Crawford, Graham Harman).
[3] See Medellin’s Park Libraries; Bogota’s Transmilenio BRT system; Quinta Monroy Housing in Chile; Caracas’s San Agustin cable-car system; Rio de Janeiro’s Favela-Barrio, Manginhos and Complexo do Alemao projects; Sao Paulo’s Hidroanel Project (currently in development); etc.
[4] See The Anthropophagous Manifesto (1928) by Oswald de Andrade

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