[iDC] Beyond the blob
mshepard at andinc.org
Wed Sep 27 15:21:50 EDT 2006
Brian pointed to Non-standard Architectures @ the Pompidou. Frank
referenced "Hybrid Space : new forms in digital architecture". To
that I would add the Non-standard Praxis symposium @ MIT - http://
Ahh... The usual suspects. The starchitects are in the house!
It's high time we get beyond the blob, the digital hybrid, and the
tendency of architecture to merely "represent" ideas in formal terms
using the common digital tools (CAD/CAM, digital fabrication)
available to us today. I think for some architects at least, the
whole "constructing digital architecture" debate has really run its
course. Moving beyond screen-based simulations or real-time
"reactive" spaces (which are often no more than glorified automatic
door openers), the questions today have less to do with the old
I know I'm the one who introduced the form-fetish syndrome into the
discussion, but I did so more as a provocateur than anything else.
It's been more than a decade since people like Niel Denari conducted
a graduate design studio at Columbia on blob-form as a graphic
strategy, or Greg Lynn introduced concepts of generative form,
iteration, and responsiveness into the design process (also at
Columbia). I'm not a historian of the term, but I recall hearing (and
using) blobitecture (and its close cousin "spaghetti architecture")
as a derisive label for the work going on there at the time. (Mea
culpa: I was a graduate student there then). I find it remarkable
that these terms could be still "in vogue" today.
I think Usman's on to something here:
> As I see it, interest in hertzian and networked space is a
> satisfactory first small step in the right direction, because it
> negotiates between a fascination with form (ala blobs) and a
> fascination with architectural program (ala early Tschumi) because
> such an approach deals explicitly with both the relationship
> between people and their physical spaces and with topological
> frameworks that give rise these relationships.
> A subsequent step must be to question the design process itself,
> no? How might the production itself of an architecture *really* be
> "interactive" (in the sense that Maturana or Pask use the word)?
> Surely such an architecture would never be "complete"? This is why
> I find it quite interesting that Omar, too, is interested in the
> notion of "performance": because performance is a work, the
> production of which is very much the work as well.
Architecture in this sense involves a dialogue (conversation?)
between people, physical space, and the topological frameworks that
structure and inform this dialogue. What happens when this dialogue
is understood not in terms of real-time "reactions" or "responses,"
but rather over an extended time-frame? The life of a building, for
example? What happens when the "certificate of occupancy" (issued by
the building inspector when a building is considered "finished" and
safe for inhabitation) is not the end of the design process, but
merely another step along the way?
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