Archive for March, 2011

Range Life

Friday, March 4th, 2011

I’ve been working on a couple of houses for Diller Scofidio +Renfro these past several months, and I know what you’re thinking: DS+R does houses? Well, yes, they do. Or at least, yes, they are doing some right now, even though they haven’t in a long time. Or ever, really.

But it’s funny, because when you think about it, a large part of this firm’s reputation was built off of the success of one particular house project: the Slow House. The original models of the Slow House still sit in various corners of the office, and every student who has gone through architecture school knows that project. And it’s still spoken of fondly in this office, a kind of happy ghost from an early era.

Now, of course, Lincoln Center and the High Line and the other recent (and future) Manhattan-based projects have become the germ from which most of our current projects stem, but these two new houses are a place for some architectural thinking that can only really be done on that scale, with that kind of client and program. And the office’s ideas and aesthetics have changed as well, and the pace and freedom of a small residential project is an exciting place to try out our ideas.

The whole point of this, though, is to point towards a website that I find continually great, and that I keep bumping into whenever I have to squat on an idea for a while: Stories of Houses, by Halldora Arnardottir and Javier Sanchez Marina. I don’t think it is updated anymore, but it’s trove of images of important and provoking houses built in the past is a great resource, and the writing is wonderful.

Harness Your Hopes

Friday, March 4th, 2011

I’d almost been avoiding the PS1 Young Architects Award over the past several years because, without exception, its invited proposals were pretty uniformly disappointing, disheartening, and increasingly irrelevant.  It’s hard to remember a time when I felt a proposal was architecturally challenging, didn’t pander to low-level social or spacial thinking, and was beautiful as well. Well, this year there was a proposal that actually made me pause, look hard, and think. And the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. The proposal was called “Bag Pile” by formless finder, based in NYC, essentially two young recent architectural grads from Princeton, Garrett Ricciardi and Julian Rose. I’m reposting some images here via Bustler. I’d reprint the mission statement from the formless finder website, as provoking as I think it is, but it’s probably better if you visit their site and just take a look at it.

It’s a bit weird, and almost jarring at first. It has a slightly apocalyptic feel to it, or at least suggestive of disorder and disarray. But that is exactly the point, really–it’s unlike anything that’s ever been proposed for what had become a tired, poor excuse for an event that was supposed to be a showcase of young architectural ideas.

Their approach was fairly radical, yet upon reflection, completely logical. The principal ideas were to use something heavy instead of light. To explore analog, instead of digital. To use found versus fabricated. Formless versus form.

I’m happy to see such divergent and intelligent thinking about this space and its program. The images, which are eerie yet captivating, embody their proposed ideas perfectly. Unfortunately, this proposal won’t be built, but the fact that its ideas have been published and presented well, bode well enough.

Warlock Time

Friday, March 4th, 2011

As Charlie Sheen describes his model Patek Philippe Complicated Annual Calendar 5396: it’s “the only watch that keeps Warlock time.”