Friday 15 April
In which all things Natural Artifice are explained by Angelo Candalepas.
Things Get Wild
Position statement: Dr Hélène Frichot
Talk: Francois Roche & Stephanie Lavaux
Mediator: David Neustein
The controlled delivery of a built form is a central tenet of architecture. What happens when we let things go? Operating at the architectural avant-garde are practitioners who ‘design the process’, not the outcome. In these instances the programmatic and aesthetic bandwidth is determined and the architects seem to rock backwards on their heels, watching gleefully as the ensuing form materialises. This ‘letting go’, which is antithetic to the tradition of the craftsman, allows an architect like Francois Roche to concentrate his considerable energies in other directions. Roche is staking new territories at the boundaries of ethics, bio-morphology, robotic construction and environmentally responsive structures; within his constantly evolving laboratory. As Bruce Sterling noted of Roche’s architecture, come to this session to experience what happens when the usual constraints are allowed to fall away and things get wild and loose. Roche and Stephanie Lavaux of the Paris based R&Sie will present the results of such experiments within a blurred boundary between the natural and artificial.
Walk The Line
Position statement: Kerstin Thompson
Talk: Teresa Moller
Mediator: Michael Banney
There is a paradox implicit in every path: we cannot appreciate the landscape without altering it. The projects of Chilean landscape architect Teresa Moller convey an ambivalence which recognises this problem. There is often nothing to see; which is confronting. Other times, the intervention is disarmingly stark. Moller’s paths, gardens, platforms and pools seem to graft onto the terrain in a way which taps into a well of visceral experiences. This is done whilst embodying a fearful restraint. And it would seem that this is her acknowledgement of the significance of simply observing the nature in which she is working; and making observers observe; like they never knew or saw before, that landscape which forms part of their life.
Position statement: John Wardle
Talk: Luis Mansilla
Mediator: Timothy Hill
The earliest architects adapted forms directly from nature. As methods of production and re-production progressed, architecture became increasingly self-referential. In recent times, with a renewed search for inspiration outside of architecture, the basis for form is continuously in question. Luis Mansilla, director of Spanish practice Mansilla and Tunon, has moved beyond this uncertainty. For Mansilla, what is important is not the source of inspiration, but how the source is transformed to make architecture. His projects focus on the techniques of transformation, manipulating age-old motifs such as circles, mosaic tiles and tilled fields through computer-age processes of scaling, copying, warping and agglomerating. Mansilla has developed an architecture which is both at home with history and of its time.
Position statement: Andrew Scott
Talk: Fumihiko Maki
Mediator: Andrew Mackenzie
Architect Fumihiko Maki has written eloquently on the subject of Inner Space: the transferal of nature from the hilltop shrines of the rural village to the innermost recesses of contemporary urban life. The attempt to locate nature within such confines, parallels another of Maki’s preoccupations: his quest to provide the experience of solitude within public spaces. Architecture’s power has traditionally resided in shared experiences. In a dense and contested world, perhaps the illusion of solitude is even more powerful. Both subjects address concerns of the 21st Century: the place of nature within the city; and the accommodation of individuals’ natural desires within collective space. Maki, a revered Japanese architect, stands at the edge of history’s precipice; his vision is one where nature and culture are inseparable.
Day one Q&A
Saturday 16 April
Position statement: Anthony Burke
Talk: Lisa Iwamoto & Craig Scott
Mediator: Dr Sandra Kaji-O’Grady
The pioneers of digital design promised such new and seductive forms that the manner of their making was often relegated to afterthought. For this reason it is refreshing to see the emergence of a second generation of digital practitioners who embrace the possibilities offered by technology by concerning themselves with how things are made. Lisa Iwamoto works with methods which she describes as sectioning, tessellating, folding, contouring, and forming; to posit architecture which is responsive to, and often emulative of natural systems. This session will help to explain how these methods can be developed and disseminated within both a successful architectural practice and the academy. With Craig Scott, Iwamoto is director of the San Francisco based practice IwamotoScott and author of Digital Fabrications: Architecture and Material Techniques.
Position statement: Peter Walker
Talk: Sebastian Mejia & Luis Callejas
Mediator: Adam Haddow
Speculative imagery pervades today’s architectural culture. Unbuilt work often competes with the reality on the ground. The immediacy of virtual architecture is often at odds with the processes through which architecture and landscape emerge. Young Colombian landscape and architecture studio Paisajes Emergentes has come to the fore through rediscovering Romanticism within the technological constraints of virtual architecture. Yet the practice does not attempt to fool the eye with realistic images, instead depicting eerie environments in which the mood is set by ephemeral conditions of light, shadow, reflection and condensation. These images counter the culture of architectural speculation by communicating a vision for the authentic development of place. ‘We are not interested in poetic, pictorial or nostalgic relationships with locations,’ Paisajes Emergentes director Luis Callejas has said. ‘We look for their emerging qualities to make visible what lies unseen to the public.’
Position statement: Stuart Vokes (joined by Paul Owen in discussion)
Talk: Manuel Aires Mateus
Mediator: Andrew Cortese
The limits of architecture are typically defined by walls, roofs and floors. Portuguese architects AIRES MATEUS prefer to leave the door open, allowing negative space to flood into their projects and confusing the boundary between object and figure, building and landscape. It is true that their work is often white, yet it is far from minimal. With the exclusion of the non-essential, other things are allowed into the project: historical references, traces of occupation, the rawness of the terrain. In this session, Manuel Aires Mateus will describe an architecture which is absolutely clear in its language, and completely ambiguous in its definition of territory.
Position statement: Sean Godsell
Talk: Juhani Pallasmaa
Mediator: Angelo Candalepas
Juhani Pallasmaa sees the task of architecture as “the defence of the authenticity of human experience”. He asserts the importance of a ‘primary’ human condition which predates any notions of nature or artifice. His is a world of deep and profound observations and he has been a prolific writer as evidenced by the numerous and essential texts that have influenced the thinking of some of the greatest architects in the world. We hope his talk will do the same for the delegates who will enjoy the final stages of the conference in the presence of, arguably, one of the most original and influential architectural thinkers of our time. Architecture cannot be seen, Pallasmaa will argue, it must be lived.
Day two Q&A
In which all things Natural Artifice are unexplained by the conference speakers.