B 1 S 1 P 1 T 1 PL 1 M

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1 RODRIGO TISI Universidad Católica de Chile B 1 S 1 P 1 T 1 PL 1 M Six Ways to Approach Architecture Collaborative studio projects tested as full-scale models allow students of architecture to learn about performance and its concrete relation to spatial situations. This article articulates a pedagogy that utilizes six critical points to approach architectural performativity in the design process. Since 2000, I have been teaching architecture studios in different schools throughout Chile: Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (UTFSM), Universidad Nacional Andrés Bello (UNAB), Universidad Católica (UC), and recently Universidad Diego Portales (UDP). In all of them, I have proposed an open pedagogy where performative aspects of architectural production can be explored in context and as full-scale prototypes. The goal of these studios was to promote an active collaboration process in order to analyze particular issues and propose new territorial interventions. As architects designing permanent or impermanent structures, we require useful mechanisms to analyze our proposals. There are many representational tools, including digital simulations, scaled models, and full-scale prototypes, capable of explaining what the project could be. As a presentational device, performance provides a guiding paradigm for testing and evaluating the architectural object from conception to production. This happens within a set of cultural parameters that surround the project at the time. Through the lens of time, performance influences the presence and behavior of the body within specific spaces and challenges the materialized project through the feedback of people interacting with it. In this sense, performance as an interplay of active forces becomes a new analytical tool for evaluating the effects generated. Performance is not concerned with what a project is but what it does. A performance-centered approach interferes with typical modes of architectural representation by including the performative (and therefore active) potential of the body within spatial reception and evaluation. 1 The body is not simplified as a stand-in for all bodies (as in most architectural representations) but is considered one that individually and expressively occupies and observes space. This suggests a new way of examining experience where architectural performance is understood as a series of unique and unrepeatable acts. 2 It also challenges the repeatable mechanisms of representation that architects normally use to construct reality. At another level of complexity, performance exists only in agreement with cultural context: performance does not depend on an event in itself but on how that event is received and placed. 3 In this way, 1. Students at the School of Architecture, Universidad Nacional Andrés Bello in Santiago, Chile. Image credits of Studio: Spaces of/for Performance IV, TISI Journal of Architectural Education, pp ª 2008 ACSA

2 2. Comprehensive project (projecto eficiente). spatial performance cannot be evaluated without considering the manifold modes of its cultural reception. In order to assist students in considering the performative dimensions of architecture, I asked them to reflect on six points in their approach to the design process: body, surface, program, time, place, and materials (Figure 2). These parameters constitute the equation for a Comprehensive Project: B 1 S 1 P 1 T 1 Pl 1 M ¼ C.P. 4 Instead of a fixed result, the goal was to open the student s work to the many different issues related to various criteria of performance (as action, operation/ interaction, and evaluation) and to demonstrate that all these criteria should be considered in order to have a complete project. Through spatiotemporal enactments, students test architectural parameters by dealing with real constraints that allow them to build on actual observation during the process. How to Evaluate Performance under Architectural Parameters? Body The body is understood as a cultural construct responding to specific scenarios and customs. In this sense, it can also be understood as a dynamic object that is capable of inverting, subverting, and producing spatial conditions. The architectural body is therefore double, incorporating the human body and that of the proposed artifact. Surface Architectural experience is predicated on an understanding of the spatial conditions negotiated by material boundaries that locate place and action. In addition, surface constitutes an interface between user and building, providing many different possibilities of spatial communication through limits. Program Program is not only established through objective data but also further shaped by experience and certain cultural practices. Rather than a static set of prescribed actions, program fluctuates; questioning, inverting, and reshaping given emplaced activities, especially in a contemporary culture where things are in constant flux. Time Time, as a relative phenomenon, is perhaps the most challenging element for this equation. The building process slowly materializes architecture, which, as a generally fixed object, tends to perform even more gradually. Architects have to be aware of how space is activated through movement and experienced across varying temporalities specific to culture, location, and circumstance. Place Place is explored within a specific constraint of time and location. Studios of architecture normally understand place as a fixed location. By understanding it as the evidence and result of time, students confront a more interesting set of variables rather than the obvious parameters of contextuality. Materials Materials not only shape concrete forms but also produce effects. They therefore construct experience. The adoption of new and unconventional materials can create new possibilities of spatial interaction. Projects Transportable Surfaces This exercise explored the possibilities of integrating body, surface, and place by producing a first layer of artificial skin in the form of clothing. The challenge of how to transport three spheres of 10 cm diameter from point A to point B engaged the students with the tectonics of the body through new surface constructions that can B 1 S 1 P 1 T 1 PL 1 M: Six Ways to Approach Architecture 70

3 3. Image credits of Studio: Spaces of/for Performance II at Universidad Nacional Andrés Bello, Santiago, Chile, negotiate its movements (Figure 3). The body was now understood as a location and medium for action. Reactive Surfaces This project considered the design of a surface that engages multiple bodies over time. It involved water as a fluid material to index and display embodied presence within a reactive surface (platform). The resultant structure built of wood, plastic pipes, colored water, and fabric cushions moved and changed its shape when people walked on it (Figures 4 and 5). Multitask Surfaces In this project, students explored the possibilities of forming a single material surface in relation to three body postures: standing, sitting, and lying down. The students tested different materials and selected polystyrene for its flexibility, lightness of weight, and cost efficiency.the entire studio worked on a single proposal that involved spatial and embodied negotiation through collaboration (Figures 6 and 7). Collective Surfaces This project explored notions of time, program, and place. It required a flexible structure capable of being operated by the body. The proposed articulated surface connecting wooden components by using plastic ropes in a low-tech fashion can be shaped as required to form anything from a carpet to a piece of furniture. Through construction, 4 and 5. Image credits of Studio: Spaces of/for Performance I at UTFSM, 2005, Chile. 71 TISI

4 6 and 7. Image credits of Studio: Spaces of/for Performance 0 at UTFSM, Valparaiso, Chile, students were encouraged to test the material possibilities of medium density fiberboard (MDF), incorporating the structural constraints of both objects and bodies. The considerable weight of the resulting structure helped stabilize it when moved into new positions (Figures 1, 8, 9, and 10). Integrated Surfaces The Plastic Forest (Figures 11 14) is a project designed and constructed by students of UTFSM for MUTEK It consisted of an interactive installation that lasted for only one night and created a unique temporary place on a pier in the Chilean city of Valparaiso, which afforded an extraordinary view of the Pacific Ocean.The installation had to perform during both the day and the night and allow for multiple modes of occupation. Traditional architectural representations proved inadequate for testing the behavior and experience of the body within the proposal. This led to working with prototypes at a scale of 1:1, which informed the process and provided a collaborative means of developing the design. In addition, the Plastic Forest included a variety of embedded technological devices (such as sensors, moving LEDs, and digital projections) to enhance its performance. This required students to work closely with electrical engineers (sound and lighting) and as manufacturers to give form to the final project. The main purpose of the Forest was to present participants at MUTEK with new modes of spatial interaction while listening to sound performances. The installation was conceived to work with lighting and acoustics. People were encouraged to walk through the responsive environment, which interacted with them through sensors and microphones. As the night progressed, the participants who played on and in the Forest actively altered the performative structure, which was eventually destroyed by the crowd at the end of the event. This creative destruction was the inevitable result of open interaction with the installation s fragile, light, and ephemeral construction. B 1 S 1 P 1 T 1 PL 1 M: Six Ways to Approach Architecture 72

5 9 8, 9 and 10. Image credits of Studio: Spaces of/for Performance IV at Universidad Nacional Andrés Bello, Santiago, Chile, and 12. Image credits of Studio: Spaces of/for Performance I at UTFSM, Valparaiso, Chile, TISI

6 13. Image credits of Studio: Spaces of/for Performance I at UTFSM, Valparaiso, Chile, B 1 S 1 P 1 T 1 PL 1 M: Six Ways to Approach Architecture 74

7 14. Destruction of the Plastic Forest. Image credits of Studio: Spaces of/for Performance I at UTFSM, Valparaiso, Chile, The above projects provided a practical way to approach the intangible aspects of an architectural project through the parameters of body, surface, program, time, place, and material in order to achieve a comprehensive project. As architects who manipulate space through form and matter, we struggle to construct the immaterial by means of the concrete. A performative approach to these six elements suggests methods of exploring architecture through dynamic intervention, emphasizing performance as a constant transmission and communication between the performer (dynamic object) and the recipient (user of that object). The experience then is the result of the performative condition generated by the project.the task of a comprehensive project is to secure performative auras as the effect of the intervention. Performance Studies expands the preoccupations of architects from the speculative (designed) and finished (constructed) artifact to the effects generated (performed) after different modes of occupation. This posits an open, fluctuating, and continuous paradigm in which a conjunction between material and immaterial performances makes a space for the live as the final other important element active in architecture. Notes 1. BernardTschumiincorporatedinThe Manhattan Transcripts new ways to approach conventions of architectural representation. The Manhattan Transcripts intersects issues of movement and time in the architectural thinking process. Refer to Bernard Tschumi, The Manhattan Transcripts (New York: Architectural Design, 1981). 2. See The Ontology of Performance: Representation without Reproduction, in Peggy Phelan, Unmarked: The Politics of Performance (New York: Routledge, 1993), pp See IS performance, in Richard Schechner, Performance Studies: An Introduction (New York: Routledge, 2002), pp The comprehensive project translates into Spanish as proyecto eficiente. In spanish: cuerpo 1 superficie 1 programa 1 tiempo 1 material 1 lugar ¼ proyecto eficiente. This equation constitutes part of the dissertation research done at the program of Performance Studies at New York University since TISI

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