Ultra-Material

An important aspect of architecture is materiality. The materials used in design affect the structure, emotion, and overall aesthetic. Because materiality is such a critical component of design the architecture of today needs to explore new materials, and old materials to learn about new uses.

Architects today seem to use technology to look for ways to re-use a material or manipulate it’s properties to achieve something entirely different, and there is an excitement to the possible outcomes that could occur. Because of the exploration of material the profession is creating an environment where failure leads to new possibilities, I believe material exploration is something that defines the architecture profession and with the use of technology and evolving software materiality will constantly be developing.

 

Scope of Total Architecture

I found the “Scope of Total Architecture” interesting because it focused on the educational aspect of architecture and its effects on design and the profession. I was practically intrigued about the writings on the Bauhaus.  Gropius explained the Bauhaus as “…saving the mass-product and the home from mechanical anarchy and by restoring them to purpose, sense and life. This means evolving goods and buildings specifically designed for industrial production.”To me that means the machine is a great tool and one that should be embraced, but we should not let it dictate design, and should not fall into the trap of cookie-cutter solutions.

The Bauhaus was about a holistic approach. It brought painters, sculptors, and architects together to work on designs that could use the machines to effectively create a manufactured product, but still have a design aesthetic. It took the two worlds that people feared, the machine and the loss of craft and made them into one where the machine was used to create products of highly developed craft. The Bauhaus was where collaboration was encouraged and taught, by bringing different guilds together to “design an integral part of the stuff of life.”

There seemed to be a focus on educating students to the concept that each project is different. Every project is going to have its own location and criteria which will result in different solutions. This is one of the aspects of architecture that I find fascinating and frustrating. Architecture challenges someone with every project having its own set of criteria that must be met. There is never a clear set answer and there is never a finish. Gropius talked about the importance of recognizing and embracing this.

What I enjoyed from reading about the Bauhaus was the fact that concepts from the past, such as scale, rhythm, light, shade, and color were not ignored, but were taught and directed towards taking those ideas and using them with the machine to create the latest and greatest. From this reading I feel the scope of total architecture is learning from the past, utilizing the tools of the present, and collaborating with multiple disciplines to achieve a design that meets a unique problem.

 

Studies in Tectonic Culture

The element of this essay that I found appealing was the human connection with infrastructure.  The author, Kenneth Frampton, writes about experiencing architecture through the

“psycho-physical: engage in form through touch”

“psycho-acoustical: spatial reflection or absorption of sound immediately affects our psychological response to given volume, find it warm or cold because of resonance not appearance.”

These ideas relate to the human aspect of architecture. It calls to attention the importance of detailing the elements of the building that will emotionally and physically act upon the user. It is about selecting materials that provide a warm or cold atmosphere, careful placement of openings that allow light to flow into the space, and meticulously framing views that directly correlate with the intent of the architecture. The importance is using the tectonics of architecture to create spaces that reflect the poignant intent of the design.

 

Mies van der Rohe: Technology and Architecture

There were two essays introduced to us by Mies van der Rohe, “Technology and Architecture” and “On Form in Architecture”.  The quotes listed below are ones that as I was reading caused me to pause and write them down, as topics to reflect on.

“We do not evaluate the result but the starting point of the creative process”

“I do not oppose form, but only form as a goal”

“…architecture will be outmoded and replaced by technology” (Mies said the opposite would happen)

“Architecture and technology become one…”

Even though these comments are from articles written in 1927 and 1950 I think there is validity to them in 2011.  I agree with Mies in the comment that architecture will not be replaced by technology, but I feel today architecture is being changed by technology. Architecture today needs technology. The creative process is using technology in the initial phases to create an architecture vernacular that innovative, interactive, and advancing. Mies van der Rohe was calling out the potential of technology and its abilities to transform architecture. Architecture and Technology is causing people to not evaluate the result, because I truthfully do not think there is an end result, but there is a creative process of successes and failures that people are constantly exploring.

 

Futurist Manifesto

This was a bold writing. The authors were very passionate about their beliefs on architecture and the direction it should go. Although I feel there is an importance with moving forward and using technology and materials introduced into the design language through machines, it is important to reflect and learn from history. The architecture that the Futurist oppose and despise is what lead to what is done today.

 

Art and Craft of Machine

I felt Frank Lloyd Wright was in an argument with himself in this paper. At times he seemed to be against the machine, referring to effects of the machine as creating “modern materials which are old materials in more plastic guise, rendered so by the Machine, itself creating the very quality needed in material to satisfy its own art equation.” But as the paper progressed he seemed to reflect on the potential positive outcomes the machine is capable of. I think there was such debate over the machine, because it has the ability to completely change the art and crafts guilds of the time. It took a trade that was passed down from generation-to-generation and replaced it with an inanimate object that was going to affect the speed and accuracy at which things are done, by also manipulating the material characteristics. The “machine” changed people’s livelihood.

I feel the concept of the “machine” is something that is embraced today. We are in a time where technology is consistently evolving and because of that new “machines” are feverishly updated. The machine introduced the public to the term “Upgrade”, making it a part of life. You have to continually “upgrade” your software, computer, cell phone, car, etc to achieve the latest and greatest. The machine today is what Frank Lloyd Wright described it as a “marvelous simplifier, the emancipator of the creative mind, and in time the regenerator of the creative conscience” expect the difference is today the “machine” is embraced.

 

“Tools of the Imagination”

The Invisible History of Erasing

The article followed the transformation of erasing, up to the point where it is a button on the computer screen.

“Eraser marks draw attention to what needs work”

I found this sentence extremely valuable.  In a sketch book when you see a lot of scribbles of the same thing on a page, it shows a struggle and confusion that someone is undergoing, that at times can help explain more about the process and ideas explored than a final rendering of the solution. I think this is a valuable trait of the architecture profession and a trait that makes the profession what it is. The ability to draw and struggle through ideas is what leads to conversations and solutions.

What is happening today is people are turning to the computer to design, and in that the struggle of sketching and erasing through ideas is becoming lost. The computer offers speed and accuracy, but there is still an art to sketching and erasing that should not be forgotten. The computer is a valuable tool that is allows new types of architecture to evolve, but I think it is important to not undo past techniques. The eraser is a valuable tool of architecture and it is not being erased, it is just being transformed.  People took what was done in the past, using an eraser and expanded on the idea to develop the next best thing for the current time, the undo function.

 

Retooling the Architecture Machine: Innovations of Digitally-Driven Architecture

Technology is changing our lives. It is not a new concept just an evolving one. The use of software is manipulating how things are done today. The challenge is being well versed in the technology language to achieve the full benefits of what the software has to offer. The potential outcomes are vast and promising. It is achieving those outcomes that takes “doing, undoing, redoing”. The evolution of technology in the architecture profession is just like that of the eraser. People took what was done in the past and expanded on the idea to develop the next best thing for the current time. Computer software is taking the ideas of architecture and making it easier to communicate with viewers of different background knowledge and allowing them to all converse around one table to achieve a final result.