reinventing the world with confusion.
there is a contemporary architect that produces some designs that i respect, she is zaha hadid. i first met her at a rick mather party in london around 1980. peter cook of archigram fame pointing at us and commenting that the two of us represented a huge amount of talent. zaha went on to live up to peter’s expectation, whereas peter never checks in with me, although he was right about the talent.
zaha did a performing arts building proposal for Abu Dhabi that i love, some subway entries, and a few other buildings that look like ferrari race cars. she is contantly coming up with new sensuous designs. this is a
fantastic architect that i respect that gets the designs built, but we have our differences.
when i first came across the image of the sci-arc zaha exhibit a couple of weeks ago, i reflected this was something i could write a positive blog on. maybe mend a few fences with eric moss. but when i got into taking a closer look, this blog resulted in my concerns.
the recent october 12, 2012 installation at sci-arc with zaha hafid partner patrik schumacher, demonstrated trying to emulate thin shell construction with sticks. it can be done, but not like what was built in the sci-arc museum demonstration space recently.
thin shell depends upon significant warpage of surfaces. the ambitious shapes sought were a confused mess, reduced to sculpture with no inherent structure. in one instant relying on connecting into the museum space wall to brace itself. the computer drawings were seductive, but fragmented and complicated. maybe a result of having too many tools to work with. warpage with straight sticks can easily be had by crossing each other making hyperbolic straight systems for construction. but what was obvious in the exhibit was the relative flat planes with minimum warpage. confusing, thin shell, folded plate, arches, etc. ?
the crudeness of the model demonstrated a lack of simplicity , understanding of materials and structural systems. portraying zero to further the thin shell structural system cause in architecture .
patrik schumacher in the exchange dialogue with eric moss demonstrated his tenaciousness for fluid shapes, but not the ability to convey with words the qualities of shapes that he refers to as fri otto research shapes, all too obscure. my blog man tim describing as follows:
Just look at how they describe the exhibit: “Pleated Shell Structures, a short term research prototype designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid and her firm, posits itself within the argument of parametric design research to focus its efforts on design methods that encompass an operative pathway from design intent to manifestation.”
Have you ever read anything more pompous or downright unclear? I think what they are trying to say is that they are interested in finding practical uses for parametric design. The kind of language used in this explanation (from e-architect’s intro) to me suggests an attempt at puffery consistent with a fear that the work is trivial and irrelevant.
In my view, if you can’t explain what you’re trying to do in simple language, you just don’t understand it yourself. Research is supposed to lead to spread clarity, not fog.
So it looks like a waste of time to me.
moss countering in his exchange with patrik that the orthogonal world has corners to retreat to. the curvy world has corners too. look at where we came from, the cave. it all relies on the ability of the designer to manipulate the curvy system to meet the functional program.
the powerful image circulated to promote the exhibit, with rectangle fin like elements i have no idea where it came from. i am sure there is some rational explanation, but the demonstration model showed no connection to the computer images of the build model.
all of this leading to the expertise of sci-arc to spin with smoke and mirrors, led by ring master illusionist eric moss. i watched over an hour of puff exchange between eric and patrik, the two of them basking in verbiage.
circulated image to promote exhibit, displayed on exhibit wall without explanation of relation to 3D exhibited object
computer images of exhibit
wall holding up exhibit, photo by professor marcela oliva
crude construction details, photo by professor marcela oliva
in the space
i have included the felix candela restaurant in mexico city built with a thin shell. so simple and elegant. i saw this in 1972 and was shocked with its beauty, but sadden by a crude kitchen jamming into the back side. candela the engineer on this one with some inept client in control. mexico was not taking care of this masterpiece.
Félix Candela. Restaurant Los Manantiales, 1958, Xochimilco , mexico the world without computers
Félix Candela. Restaurant Los Manantiales, 1958, Xochimilco , mexico in the middle of floating gardens
so much to learn from, i have never understood, why more of these types of structures are not built. yes, labor intensive forming, but now new forming and application systems are available .
Félix Candela. Restaurant Los Manantiales, 1958, Xochimilco , mexico interior spanning with elegance, you do not need a text book or lecture to understand the beauty.