UNIT 22. Izaskun Chinchilla & Carlos Jimenez. WOOD AND FIRE. TOWARDS A DEFINITION OF MILD ARCHITECTURE. There are two conceptual traditions easy to recognize in architecture which affect how we begin designing. The first of these traditions consists of relating first design concepts to context analysis or to context experimentation. In this practice, context is an amazingly rich and complex entity usually analyzed in many different ways. Perceptual structure of the place (Kevin Lynch), site character and personal identification with its values (Christian Norberg Schultz), inhabitable conditions of the space (Otto Friedrich Bollnow), cultural and geographic interactions (Agustin Bergue), symbolic dimension of the environment (Susanne Langer), associated poetic feelings (Martin Heidegger), or links between memory and vision (Gerhard Kallman) are some of the approaches a designer can choose to begin with a project using a contextual philosophy. The second tradition invites designers to consider technique, material and function as the major ingredients determining the result. This methodology has been popular in different periods of history producing different outcomes: beaux art architecture, modern buildings, high tech examples or parametric projects. A very immediate interpretation of these two traditions could lead us to believe that the result of applying the first set of principles will produce a warm and welcoming building while selecting the second one will bring, as an inevitable result, a cold super‐technological space. A more detail historical analysis would, nevertheless, dismantle this first intuition. Many buildings whose architects tried to make a contextual design become highly abstract when they are transformed into material objects. Details tend to be without meaning to people as the great manifesto of the author refers to the bigger scale. The second and intuitively cold tradition has produced plenty of buildings which are only enjoyable for technicians, but it has also incorporated small reflections and details linked to a human grasping of the space and to anthropological reflections. Gottfried Semper, while defending the absolute priority of the triad ‘technique, material and function’ gave an enormous relevance to the role of braiding in how popular craft has evolved to building geometry. Le Corbusier stated a house was a machine for living in but also designed Beistegui penthouse and its chimney. And Norman Foster has successfully introduced references to trees and the human scale in the way he developed the structure in Stansted Airport from its components. Unit 22 defends that architecture which welcomes users through small dimension details and through a soft and cozy understanding of materiality. Therefore, this academic year, students will begin working in detail and around a material reflection. Two material facts will give the title for the year: wood and fire. But there is a trick in the selection of these materials leading the first reflection. Wood has been selected not only for its technical qualities but for its contextual dimension. Using local wood consciously, implies understanding the structure of an ecosystem and managing geographical notions while maintaining perception of memory, crafts and biology. Placing real fire in our spaces will force us to think about thermodynamic functioning while offering a place to gather and talk. Wood and fire are the beginning of our year and small details which welcome and empower users will be our first concerns. But, very soon, we will jump out of a linear methodology to realize the contextual implications of material and energy. Braiding techniques alongside broader architectural implications will suggest a hybrid methodology in 1
which items, whatever size or nature they have, gain in complexity through exercises based on taking into account wider implications of each design. In this process the objective and subjective values of wood and fire will be melted together. We will choose wood because it is completely biodegradable, serves as a great insulator, uses less energy to process than steel, concrete, aluminum, or plastic, and is 100% renewable. We will also value how recent certification programs are also addressing consumer's environmental concerns by certifying forests that are sustainably harvested. Building with wood is cost effective and environmentally responsible, but is also aesthetically pleasing and anthropologically meaningful. Addressing fire back in our designs will force us to take decisions on energy use and thermodynamics. We will be pushed out of the ‘dictatorship of eye1’. We will define the best design from its efficiency, its ability to save time, money and material. We will reintroduce the sense of touch as a crucial spatial perception. But we will also be aware fire represents the great essence in our daily lives through its warmth, light and aura, kindling feelings of truth and spirituality within us. This constant dealing with objective and subjective values will allow us to define our own suggestion of what might be a ‘mild’ architecture in the times that are to come. Cold architecture: ‐ Has an abstract relationship with weather and climate. ‐ Obeys a modern preference for industrialization. ‐ Doesn’t contain body scale or refer to body shape references. ‐ Often uses pure contemporary materials. Mild architecture: ‐ Recognizes varied environmental clues and respond to local weather and climate. We will pay special attention to tropical relationship between indoor and outdoor. ‐ Incorporates craft, vernacular, decorative, feminine, anthropological and popular preferences. ‐ Get advantage from biologic tendencies of the user. ‐ Can be easily achieved in wood and other natural materials address to different periods of time and History. Long term durability allows the use of these materials in different worsening state. ‐ Transform user in dwellers2 by inserting elements allowing to identify ‘safe‐nests’ in the bigger public domain. A. EXERCISES. Although students will be challenged within three exercises the aim of the year is to produce a continuous reflection in which the individual result of each exercise is used as collective ingredients for further steps. 1. Dwelling: one tree‐dwelling, one chocolate‐dwelling and one chimney‐dwelling. (October).
Fernández Galiano, L. (2000) “Fire and Memory”, The Mit Press. Hertzberger, H (1991) “Lessons for Students in Architecture” 010 Publishers 2
Students will be asked to design three dwellings. Each dwelling has to be placed in a different site with each location having different climatic and local conditions. The three dwellings should be done in wood. At least one of them should physically incorporate fire. ‐
Tree‐Dwelling. It values local clues against the symbol of the house. It reflects on the primitive hut as the theoretical origin of architecture. It introduces environmental affection while designing architecture. It could be a house where children live alone. The tree house can be considered a sign of adventure and Independence.
Chocolate‐Dwelling. Although it is actually made of wood, it looks like a material you can alter. It challenges the modern concept that construction is always sincere. It proposes a new category of trans‐gender materials. It reintroduces the sensitivity and taste for crafts and decorative arts. It relates this sensitivity to digital fabrication.
Chimney‐Dwelling. It links the act of inhabiting with its energetic dimension. It decreases the importance of the container and recognizes the relevance of the event. It recovers basic anthropologic memories around fire and collective meeting. 2. Medellin Modern Art Museum Pavilion and Fieldtrip. (November to Mid December). The Commission. We have been commissioned to build up a full scale outdoor pavilion. Colombian students, together with their tutors will build a design a second pavilion. The relationship between both pavilions will be a reflective issue introducing the concept of harbor that will be widely developed in the third exercise. + Program. Workshop and Classroom in the garden of a contemporary art museum with special attention to new technologies: renewable energies, science and digital art + healthy food provision. + Surface: 28m2 Workshop and Classroom (12 x 2.35mts) + 6m2 food counter + 22m2 covered public space. + Location: Medellín, Parque Ciudad del Río. + Design and Project: 15 students and 2 tutors all from Bartlett School of Architecture Unit 22, 12 students and 2 tutors all from Architecture Faculty from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana de Medellín. + Advisors: Experts chosen by Medellin Modern Art Museum. + Direction: Medellin Modern Art Museum (Director: Juliana Restrepo), U.P.B (Director Architecture Faculty: Jorge Pérez Jaramillo + Tutor: Felipe Mesa), The Bartlett School of Architecture (Director: Marcos Cruz and Tutor: Izaskun Chinchilla), Cubierta Vegetal. + On site building dates: 2012. First week of December. + Materials: Structure, enclosures and movable elements all in immunized Wood from Caribean Pine and galvanized screws (20 years guarantee lifespan). + Budget: Total estimated budget of 50.000$ for the two pavilions containing 58 built mts2 (Materials +Labour), and including licenses and basic installations. + Sponsors: Mamm, U.P.B, The Bartlett School of Architecture, Cluster de Energía de Medellín, Restaurante Blanco, Área Metropolitana de Medellín, Medellín Digital. Structures Team, Enclosures Team and Energetic Indoor Elements Team. Based on the previous dwelling designs a commission composed of unit 22 tutors and prestigious
external prestige visitors will decide whose students would be part of the Structures, the Enclosures and Energetic Indoor Elements team and would recommend specific components introduce in exercise1 to be part of the pavilion. 3. Harbor: several crafts, plenty of decks, efficient provisioning. (Mid December to May).
In terms of typology second and third term will invite students to go beyond average constrains of a building to face a more open definition of built environment. Specific activities in the harbor will be defined by each student. The crafts. Students will be invited to develop and combine not only their own previous proposal for dwellings and the previous experience on the scale one pavilion but other students’ proposals for both dwelling and pavilion. Design should not only be develop further but gain an ‘operating’ system in the sense Buckminster Fuller was proposing in his book Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth. The decks. Built environment will incorporate open air facilities, infrastructures, landscape treatment, links and connection between crafts extending the concept of deck, meeting and organizing different environmental levels as in the book The Structure of The Ordinary: Form and Control in the Built Environment from John Habraken.
The provisioning. Architecture requires a lot of supplies as well as environment. Logistics to maintain both natures alive will be incorporate to the students design. B. FORMATS. 1. Fixed scale models. Exercise 1 will be developed in the form of a serious of models which scale will be pre established. The aim of these models will be allowing recombination of all the pieces. Medellin students will work on the same format. We expect to have a good collection of models that could be recombined. 2. Pop up book. Exercise 1 will be developed in the form of a pop up book. Minimum size for this support would be A2. Intention of the format will be the combination of both graphic quality and structural and mechanical clues. 3. Full Scale pavilion. Exercise 2 will consist on the on site construction of a scale one pavilion. 4. Significant images. Between January and April projects will be develop mostly by graphic means going from details and partial visions to what we will called significant images. This type of images will illustrate the role of the user in the proposed architecture, will demonstrate technical intentions and wisdom (specially applied to wood), will take advantage of the dynamics of the context and will have a synthetic and exuberant nature. Models will also be encouraged and they will be asked to contained as many clues as the described images. 5. Summer (and other) Shows display. From beginning of May to end of June students will work in a Inhabitable Pop Up book that will propose a sample of the architecture they have designed and will allow others to experiment their hypothesis. C. INTERNAL PROCEDURES. 4
Unit 22 aims their student to have their own practice after leaving Bartlett. Professional attitude is part of the learning core. 1. Selection of site and program. Students would be aimed to select their own sites. Harbor exercise do not define a specific program but a general material structure, therefore each student will define the proper program in accordance with his or her interest. Unit 22 design core implies a strategic vision of architecture. Therefore we will aim students to propose specific combinations of sites and programs within strategic intentions. At the beginning of the year each student will work with three locations. Later in the year, development of projects within two locations, combining urban dimensions and detailed architecture or developing several versions of a project will be common practice in the Unit. This year we want to maintain this inter‐scale and strategic richness throughout all exercises, including DR. Students will be encouraged to select wordwide locations. We will promote tropical sites as eligible for the balance between outdoor and indoor dynamics their vernacular and recent architecture has shown historically and as case study for Medellin pavilion. One of the locations must be really well‐known by the student. If majority of projects tend to be located around London or any other site at any moment of the year tutors will force a wider geographical representation. The aim of building a collective atlas of wood projects is part of the agenda. 2. Plan B formats. Part of the Unit philosophy is pushing the students to achieve results they cannot prevent in advance. For that purpose, a methodology that forces an alternative vision of personal work is necessary. Formats are, in that sense, extremely important. To enjoy tutorials, crits and other activities students should respect and trust proposed formats. One alternative format will be proposed at the beginning of each exercise by the tutors. This alternative format will admit some variations from the students. If the student is going to choose this alternative format he or she must justify the reason to the tutors in the first hand in / tutorial of the exercise. Non simplification or decrease of complexity will be accepted. 3. Project and Portfolio development. In these two years Unit 22 has proposed a particular vision of architecture and environmental design within Bartlett Units. It is crucial for this vision to achieve the results, in terms of productivity and quality, that Bartlett established Units have. In that sense we will propose a fixed calendar to control project development and hand in. It is provided in advance within this document. Students should satisfy this calendar IN ANY CASE. Please take into account we have professional compromises and we are using 50.000$ from sponsors, therefore an absolutely professional attitude will be demanded from beginning to end of the year. Besides the general hand in and commitments there will be a specific set of hand ins and criteria to develop portfolio (please see attached calendar). In three occasions during the year portfolio hand in will be satisfied. Minimum levels of development are described in that calendar. Satisfying these levels in the indicated moment is necessary to continue with tutorials and crits. A specialized panel will decide whether these levels are achieved. This panel has a wide experience in portfolio tradition within Bartlett School. Each portfolio hand in will also be the key for pushing the students’ design as part of the Scale one Pavillion, as part of the 5
Bartlett Catalogue and as part of the Final Exhibition. Those students not satisfying hand in could not be part of these public presentations. 4. DR workshops. To support DR specific tutorials and crits will happen (see attached calendar). Students will enjoy from tutorial by the unit tutors, the practice tutor and the structural tutor. Out of this, two workshops will be hosted. Each workshop will last two days. One will be dedicated to wood joints and the other to develop structures for the project. Enrique Azpilicueta will direct joins workshop while Roberto Marin will direct structural one. 5th year students will be invited to participate in both workshops. 5. Thesis discussions and Marathon. It is crucial for Unit 22 that thesis contributes to development of design work. It is also crucial the thesis elaboration is organized in a way is not stopping the development of the design work at any period. For that purpose, Unit 22 will propose a previous list of topics that could potentially help the aims of the unit. Students will be encouraged to choose their thesis themes among these topics adapting final title to his or her particular interest. Thesis discussions will be arranged twice in the year. Thesis tutors will be welcome to join second one. We also want five years students to present the thesis result to all the others students of the unit. Five years student will present their thesis to the unit along what we will call the thesis marathon. All thesis tutors will be personally invited to this thesis marathon. 6. Crits. Crits dates and panels are published in advance within this program. Unit 22 is interesting in getting advantage of its Spanish roots while consolidating a dense London network. Crits are absolutely compulsory activities for all the students. The schedule of the crit will be communicated in advance. Particular slots for students won’t be published. Every student should arrive at the beginning of the crit and stay till the end. Every student should participate and get advantage of all works’ discussions. Every student should help others pinning up, keeping staff and writing the most important comments from the panel. Students’ discussion after crit will be encouraged.
7. Paper Hand In. Portfolio specific hand in will be done in paper. Please see attached calendar. Any other paper hand in will be indicated at the beginning of each exercise. To fail in satisfying hand in will provoke the student to entry in a recovering period. This means student will be invited by tutors to take one or two weeks to complete the hand in with all concentration. Tutors, in every case, will study whether is also advisable to miss other planned activities. The calendar of the year has been studied carefully and tutors, from their previous experience, want to prevent students most of those failing in handing in on time more than twice a year won’t be able to achieve a pass mark. 8. Blog. It is a formal public tool that has to be used seriously and with responsibility. If tutors ask to update work in this mean it should be satisfied on time. It is responsibility of the students to learn how to use this tool. None excuses of failing in the internet access will be accepted. Please plan your upload in advance. Every student not satisfying a digital hand in will be asked to submit a paper hand in the next two days. 9. Summer and others Show. Exhibitions on architecture are formats of communication with their own rules. The biggest interest and goal is to establish a 6
meaningful and comprehensive communication with the visitor. May and June work in the unit is understood as a demonstration of intentions in a format in which an external observer can participate and judge. For Unit 22 it is crucial that students experiment the necessity of creating a PUBLIC piece of work. Therefore we will all work in the fabrication of our inhabitable book or in the proposed alternative format. This piece of work is no longer part of a personal reflection but part of a public communication. This is a whole change in the procedures and the objectivity of the outside observations will demand a new attention. A specific coordinator for summer show will be designated. The coordinator work will begin on May 1st. Coordinator task will be controlling the administration of the sponsor’s money, buying materials in advance, establishing responsibilities within the students, controlling production, updating communication with both tutors and others. D. THESIS THEMES SUGGESTIONS. Unit 22 is interesting in a very tight relationship and mutual influence from design work to thesis and from thesis to design work. We push our students to face cotemporary world complexity. In a same project or in a thesis we expect the student to use together population statistics, sociology data, cultural information, meteorological and geographical conditions, urban context, territorial claims, economical management, technological arrangement or aesthetic coherence. A short of crossed information will be promoted. On the other hand, thesis, as any research work, requires a high level of specificity to find relevant clues in a short period of time. Therefore, we will aim the student to choose a thesis area. Technical, sociological, environmental or cultural perspectives will be offered. In each of them some particular titles will be proposed. We expect the students to go further from these suggestions in the following senses: ‐ Transform the propose title into a personal and specific statement. ‐ Discuss the statement with case studies. ‐ Introduce reflections from technical, sociological, environmental or cultural perspective even if one of them is the most relevant one. THESIS AREA 1. TECHNICAL PERSPECTIVE. PROPOSED TITTLE 1. WOOD AND REVERSIBILITY. Join without nails, Japanese tradition on temples that are rebuild each 20/100 years, south east asia architecture that is moved from the first location. Contemporary interest of this procedures. PROPOSED TITTLE 2. CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE AND THE USE OF REAL FIRE. Fire and energy, New visions for chimney’s (solar chimneys, wind chimneys). PROPOSED TITTLE 3. TRANS GENDER MATERIALS. Although Building sincerity has been considered compulsory from Modernity innovative materials are usually applied as the precedent materials were. Could we discuss on materials that want to share characteristics with others totally unexpected in building industry?. THESIS AREA 2. SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE. PROPOSED TITTLE 4. HOUSE SOCIETIES. In the book the Way of the Masks Levi Strauss propose the idea of house societies to refer to societies in which a legal regulation and structures where quite loose but the role of the house was really specific. The aim is to research about the house as a way of shaping society. 7
PROPOSED TITTLE 5. ON THE TRADITION OF SOCIOLOGY OF TASTE: WHAT PEOPLE MEAN WHEN THEY SAY CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE IS COLD?, ARE THEY RIGHT?. Pierre Bordieu was establishing the bases for contemporary sociology of taste that research on how social circumstances influence taste. Learning from this tradition, we are interesting in a research on the difference of what architects and inhabitants understand by a welcoming architecture. THESIS AREA 3. ENVIRONMENTAL PERSPECTIVE. PROPOSED TITTLE 6. ENVIRONMENTAL CRITICAL VISION OF THE OPEN BUIDING CONCEPT. Flexibility of use has recently been considered an environmental clue. There are few research on how this flexibility is transformed from a conceptual idea into a physical reality and whether this transformation maintain the environmental goodness. PROPOSED TITTLE 7. REJECTING MERE BUILDINGS: ARCHITECTURE AS A BUILT ENVIRONMENT. Architecture that don’t take environmental clues into account do not think the contextual effect of a building is part of the architects responsibility. Understanding ecology deeply, pushs as to think our architecture is only one more (small) piece in an existing environment that will keep evolving. Our designs have, therefore to go beyond the mere idea of building to face the idea of completing, with several pieces and treatments, an established and rich place. THESIS AREA 4. CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE. PROPOSED TITTLE 8. A CONTEMPORARY CRITICAL REDEFINITION OF THE WOOD HOUSE ICON. The house universal icon incorporates plenty of unconscious meanings. The wood house icon also incorporate plenty of cultural values. A more conscious reflection on architecture contemporary challenge would not require to perverse these notions?. PROPOSE TITTLE 9. COSY PARAMETRICS. Parametrics is usually used to do amazing three dimensional geometries. Could parametric tools and digital fabrication be used to recover the old charm of cosy crafts?.