Land in Tune
From smoked out to caved in: completing the formal/technical repertoire of architecture _ Jorge Alberto Mejia Hernandez
In architecture, topology – a very precise mathematical notion – `is usually assumed as a flexible field of activity that deals with sentimental approaches to site specificity. Beyond the rather ethereal discussion on the topological traits of architecture, excavated (topologically minded) edifices propose two issues which are generally underrated in both modernist and contemporary architectural practice: interred typologies and stereotomic/plastic technical motives are hardly under the spotlight of mainstream media.
Twentieth century architects’ mechanistic fascination privileged assembly over other equally valid project strategies, and appears to have turned into a moral argument linking earthy notions of space with baseness of character, backwardness or downright evil. Some of the most sacred containers of memory, though, remind us of the poetic power of primeval caves and tumuli, mostly hidden from sight, and yet rich in spatial / formal possibilities.
There is still a lot of research to be done underground; bringing discourse and practice back to a sense of heuristic completeness by recovering architecture’s full repertoire of morphological and material alternatives.
Bargains to Valuables
Low Cost High Values! _ Marco Atzori
Bruno Zevi argued that “modernity is what changes a crisis in a value.”
At present the word crisis appears to occupy a place in nearly all our everyday activities as the world economy faces the possibility of a default that could jeopardize the global equilibrium. Ours is a situation of instability and uncertainty that necessarily requires reflection on the future. Is it possible to transform the contingent moment into a new opportunity? Yes, if we create the conditions for a different way of thinking and acting.
Modernity as defined by Zevi represents not a historical period, but the capacity of a culture to reconfigure its own thought at any time, and to break with patterns and codes of the past to cope with change. It is a concept applicable to the contemporary in its entirety.
In this historical moment architecture must cope with a gradual decrease of resources, given the political instability shaking the states, and it must face the necessity of making choices on behalf of environmental protection. Architecture must find its place away from the spectacular approaches that have characterized it in recent years, and move toward social responses that advance the common good. The foundation of a new architectural aesthetic also involves the ability to produce objects and systems that impact society and to control the relationship between costs and benefits in a shift of the architect’s mental and operative attitude.
In the pages that follow we present four examples of low-cost experiments indicating a possible path for the redefinition of a new architectural aesthetic. These come to embody a conscious but not limited vanguard, capable of producing invention and quality, but doing so according to responsible principles that are attentive to the future.
These projects demonstrate that radical changes, but at minimum cost, as part of a new code whose value added is the ability to mediate between innovation, experimentation and technology, can be applied in deference to the project budget.
Balance in Architecture
Malik architecture (formerly Kamal S. Malik Architects) is a 30 year old design practise based in Mumbai. Founder and principal architect, Kamal Malik, was born and raised in the hills of North India, a place of stunning natural beauty, and it is no surprise that, to this day, nature remains the source of his inspiration. He completed his architectural studies at the School of Planning and Architecture (S.P.A) in New Delhi. He is a follower of the Patanjali school of yoga, and the concept of time, of continuity, of reflection, and, of silence provides him with a theoretical underpinning , through which a syntax of metaphors is developed, allowing him, through his work, to comment on subjects ranging from urban decay and regeneration to the more abstract and intangible notions of homogeneity and purity, and contradiction and chaos.
His son ,Arjun, returned from the Columbia University in New York in 2005, and his introduction to the practise led to a period of intense speculation. There seemed to be a growing disdain for “overly intellectualised architecture” and the work seemed to point towards the development of an idiom that would reconcile the intellectual and intuitive aspects of architecture, that would provide a tangible link to the past without getting nostalgic, that would be technologically progressive without being experientially stunted.
The work that emerged in the following years is an indication of a focus on metaphors and process as opposed to specific analogues, a reliance on the intuitive reading of context, allegory and functional parameters to generate typological shifts. The house at Alibaug demonstrates how rational processes are tempered with the exploration of phenomenological precepts to generate conditions that transcend the intellectual and visual, and address the experiential aspects of architecture.