According to the head of Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Center, Meteorologist Smith Dharmasaroja, by 2030 much of Bangkok will lie under 1.5 meters (5 feet) of seawater. With the city sinking 10 cm below sea level, the latter rising by 40 cm annually, the safest place to create architecture is above water. Thus, a Bangkok-based architecture firm S+PBA recently unveiled drawings for a self-sustaining community that can thrive with the ebb and flow of rising tides. Dubbed “A Post Diluvian Future”, the “wetropolis” allows Bangkok to live with natural flooding instead of resisting it while creating a homeostasis that detoxifies the region’s polluted waters.
Zaha Hadid is one of the world’s most popular architects and designers. The Iraqi-British architect created landmark buildings such as the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany; the Bergisel Ski Jump in Innsbruck, Austria; the Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion; the MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome, Italy; the Guangzhou Opera House in Guangzhou, China; and the London Aquatics Centre in London, UK. In 2004 she became the first female recipient of the renowned Pritzker Architecture Prize.
The exhibition Form in Motion at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the first in the United States that features her product designs. On display are works such as her three-wheeled Z-car I, Swarovski crystal–encrusted necklaces and bracelets, and shoes made for Lacoste and Melissa. The Zephyr sofa and the Z-Chair make their US-debut in this show. Zaha Hadid presents the objects in an architectural design that she developed specifically for the exhibition space of the museum.
This is the thesis, created and executed by me, Matt Davis, for my B.Arch from Virginia Tech. It is entitled 4 Lines of Architecture. The pictures you see are pictures taken of a 3/8 inch=1 foot model constructed of soldered copper wire of differing gauges. The largest gauge- that of the lines is representative of 4 inch tube steel.
The thesis began with the breaking down of the ‘primitive hut’ into four basic building components- Floor, Stair, Window, and Enclosure. The four elements were each assigned a line. Each of these four is a form-giver to the construct, which is an observation post for Meteor Crater in Arizona, USA. The kicker is that each element has to look back to its line- no matter where it happens to be in the section (top, bottom, left, right)- for its support and structure. If the line is on the top, then perhaps it is hung; on the side? Then there’s a cantilever to deal with.
Looking back over 10 years of DRL work the most striking feature is the great sense of continuity across the years. This continuity bears witness to Mies’ famous dictum that you cannot invent a new architecture every Monday morning. The totality of nearly one hundred projects - authored by about 350 students working in teams - gives the impression of a single oeuvre. At the same time there is a cumulative build up of virtuosity, resolution and refinement. This is not only due to improving tools and techniques. It is a function of the consistency of agendas, ambitions and values that allow each generation of students to build upon the achievements of their predecessors. This continuity also reflects the DRL’s active participation in a closely knit discourse within the contemporary architectural avant-garde. This discourse encompasses other units at the AA, other schools like Columbia, Yale, U-Penn, UCLA, Vienna Applied Arts etc., as well as a whole series of innovative architectural practices that all have been linked in one way or another with the academic hubs mentioned. The shared concepts, programmatic biases, computational techniques, formal repertoires, and tectonic logics that characterize the work under the auspices of this discourse are crystallizing into a solid new paradigm for architecture, engendering the formation of a new style: Parametricism.
Avant-garde styles might be interpreted and evaluated in analogy to new scientific paradigms, affording a new conceptual framework, and formulating new aims, methods and values. Thus a new direction for concerted research work is established. My thesis is therefore: Styles are design research programmes.
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