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DISCUSSION PAPER DECEMBER 2016

A PIECE OF ARCHITECTURE


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ROBERT IS A FOUNDING PARTNER OF GRAY PUKSAND. HIS DEEP COMMITMENT TO THE IMPORTANCE OF HIGH QUALITY, PROFESSIONAL SERVICES, AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF GOOD ORGANISATION STRUCTURES HAS BEEN INTEGRAL TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF GRAY PUKSAND BECOMING A MAJOR AUSTRALIAN ARCHITECTURAL FIRM.

Robert is deeply interested in the philosophy of architecture and understanding the rationale that will deliver a particular solution. Robert works across a variety of project types including master planning, commercial and retail projects. His view of design is international and his study of global trends in commercial, retail, health and mixed-use developments informs his project work. A past Victorian President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Robert championed the value of design to all levels of the community and government. Recognising the importance of urban design, in 2011 Robert established the Victorian Chapter Urban Design Committee. A regular contributor to design and general media, Robert’s industry involvement also includes conference presentations and participation in architectural exhibitions.

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DISCUSSION PAPER A PIECE OF ARCHITECTURE

London’s annual Serpentine Architecture Programme, an initiative of the Serpentine Gallery, has expanded in 2016 with the addition of four Summer Houses joining the Serpentine Pavilion as part of the display.

Located immediately adjacent the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, the Serpentine Pavilion designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is the main architectural structure of the programme. With the notion of an “unzipped wall”, a curvaceous, sensual form is created through the manipulation of a simple hollow rectangular fiberglass module. The Summer Houses are located nearby, clustered together near Queen Caroline's Temple, a classically styled Summer House built in 1734 and attributed to William Kent. Two of the new summer houses reference Queen Caroline's Temple. Kunlé Adeyemi upturns a replica of it to create a new context for the original form to establish an engaging dialogue with the original building. Asif Khan has configured his summer house to catch the morning sunlight from across the Serpentine on Queen Caroline's birthday, just as the original Temple does.

Rather than reference the Temple, Barkow Leibinger channels the work of William Kent and a rotating pavilion designed by him which once stood in the park and afforded 360 degree views around the gardens. Yona Friedman’s work, the fourth Summer House, revisits his modular community concept, La Ville Spatiale originally conceived in the 1950's. These abstract constructions unaided by the conventions of traditional architectural livery, set in an idyll and free of a more prosaic brief, are great constructions with which to investigate the question of what constitutes “A Piece of Architecture”. Events early in the 20th century assist in establishing some reference points for this analysis. In 1917, Marcel Duchamp produced his work Fountain, in which a proprietary porcelain urinal was offered as sculpture. This was a watershed moment. For through this provocation, Duchamp demonstrated that the essence of Art was contained in our conceptual contemplation of an artist’s thoughts, not in our observation of the artist’s work. Hence the idea of a “Piece of Art” evolved and has since held true, generating a variety of new expressions such as “installation”, “conceptual”, “video”, and “performance”, all bound by a conceptual framework. *

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DISCUSSION PAPER A PIECE OF ARCHITECTURE

ASIF KHAN

In the 1920s, Theo Van Doesburg and the De Stijl movement sought to integrate art and architecture as a unified expression. However this experiment faltered when it became better understood that Art, a conceptual ideal, could not integrate with architecture, which is reality driven.* The importance of the work from this era was that it clarified that architecture was not art and belonged in a different realm, albeit one which has not been subsequently more clearly defined. This year’s Serpentine Architecture Programme, ensconced within an arts precinct and arts agenda, creates a wonderful vantage point from which to try and more clearly ascribe architecture. This is because we know that if the works stray into a conceptual realm, they will invalidate themselves as pieces of architecture. Here we study what characteristics of the exhibition need to be in place for the installations to be considered architecture.

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LANGUAGE AND ATTRIBUTION In order to be considered pieces of architecture, the Serpentine projects rely on their definition. Architectural tropes “pavilion” and “house” have been applied to these projects, and as a result, creates architecture through the use of language. For example, had the Serpentine chosen to call these projects “sculptures” or “installations”, they would no longer be considered to be pieces of architecture and instead inhabit the realm of art. We create architecture though language by attaching attributes which assist the claim to architecture. However, attributions need to be authentic. For example, the Serpentine projects could not be called “warehouses” or “factories” without again dragging these works out of the realm of architecture and into a more conceptual existence akin to art.

LEGITIMACY A piece of architecture should be fit for its intended purpose and use. Of the Serpentine projects, all fulfill these criteria perhaps with the exception of Yona Friedman's work. A “house” denotes the idea that the project is meant to be inhabited or occupied. The small scale of Friedman's modular units precludes their ready use for any type of practical activity. And so Friedman's contribution can not be considered to be a “piece of architecture”, but rather it is an intellectually stimulating architectural installation or model.


KUNLÉ ADEYEMI (NLÉ)

BARKOW LEIBINGER

YONA FRIEDMAN

CONTEXT

PLACE

SUMMARY

If the Serpentine chose to erect the summer houses within its galleries instead of the open air, the context of these projects within a gallery space would render them as objects within a gallery and accordingly as pieces of art rather than pieces of architecture. Therefore the context of the setting becomes important in establishing the validity of a claim to architecture.

The forms of each of the projects establish their physical framework. Our understanding of the architecture develops as we move through and around them. It’s their capacity to establish an amalgam of person, space and form that creates place, which is the key experience of architecture.

Rather than curtailing opportunities for architecture, the events from the early 20th century assisted in providing a clearer definition of its realm. The Serpentine Architecture Programme further interrogates the fundamentals of “A Piece of Architecture”. Language, Attribution, Legitimacy, Context and Place are identified as core characteristics. Further definition of architecture can aid in its liberation from convention. Notably, with respect to this text, we have been able to establish the fundamentals of architecture without once needing to dissect a building.

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BRISBANE

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©2016 GRAY PUKSAND

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Gray Puksand – A Piece Of Architecture  

Discussion Paper – Robert Puksand

Gray Puksand – A Piece Of Architecture  

Discussion Paper – Robert Puksand