9 Mart 2012 Cuma

Cradle by Ball-Nogues Studio / Santa Monica, CA 2010

Photography by Salih Kucuktuna

Commissioned by the City of Santa Monica, Cradle is situated on the exterior wall of a parking structure at a shopping mall – originally designed by Frank Gehry. The site is near the beach, and is heavily trafficked by tourists on foot and in automobiles. An aggregation of mirror polished stainless steel spheres, the sculpture functions structurally like an enormous Newton’s Cradle - the ubiquitous toy found on the desktops of corporate executives in Hollywood films. Each ball is suspended by a cable from a point on the wall and locked in position by a combination of gravity and neighboring balls. The whole array reflects distorted images of passersby.

Aside from the Newton’s Cradle reference, we wanted the overall shape to elicit things that we thought might be slightly provocative when inserted into the glitzy Santa Monica urban landscape. On one hand the installation resembles a big banana hammock (the type worn by unashamed men at the beach) and on the other it suggests the female reproductive system. Sometimes we think of it as a giant fly eye with hundreds of little lenses and at others its like sea foam or coral. Sometimes it resembles an urban scaled wall sconce and at others, a kind of imaginary awning for an invisible storefront. Regardless of what it looks like, it was an opportunity to develop a new kind of building system.

Cradle is as much a sculpture as it is an approach to making experimental structure in the post-digital era. We were interested in exploring ways of producing large scaled self-organizing structures. Cradle is comprised of an “informal” arrangement of parts; the relationship between each cannot be accurately modeled with digital software. The work is, however, an outgrowth of digital technology.

A key technical concept for Cradle is “sphere packing” – the phenomenon where multiple balls squeezed together and self organize under the effect of gravity, a process we could only approximate, at best, using computer modeling. Software was useful for visualizing Cradle and for designing the overall shape of the formwork used to make it but not for predicting where the spheres positioned themselves in the physical world.

The fabrication process was a bit like the process of slip casting ceramics except instead of pouring ceramic slip into a mold we “poured” hundreds of spheres. To our knowledge, this was the first time this technique has been used.

Principals in Charge: Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues

Project Manager and Lead Fabricator: James Jones

Custom Software Design: Ayodh Kamath

Project Team: Benjamin Jennett, Rachel Shillander, Alison Kung, Daniel Morrison, Jielu Lu, Amador Saucedo, Ron Shvartsman, Lawerance Shanks, Norma Silva, Andrew Lyon, Tim Peeters, Will Trossell

Structural Engineer: Buro Happold, Los Angeles. Matthew Melnyk


7 Mart 2012 Çarşamba


There is a story that when Louis Sulllivan lay on his deathbed in a little hotel room, someone rushed in and said, ''Mr. Sullivan, your Troescher Building is being torn down.'' Sullivan raised himself up and responded, '' If you live long enough, you'll see all your bıildings destroyed. After all, its only the idea that counts.''It is the idea that counts. The concept, whether an explicit statement or a subjective demonstration, establishes an order, a field of inquiry, and a limitedprinciple. An orginizing idea is a hidden threat connecting disparate parts.An architecture based on a limited concept begins with dissimilarity and variation but ends up illuminating the singularity of a spesific situation. In this way, concept can be more than an idea driving a design; it can establish a miniature utopian focus.The essence of a work of architecture is the organic link between idea and phenomenalexperience that develops when a building is realized.Architecture begins with a metaphisical skeleton of time, light, space and matter in an unordered state; modes of composition are open. Through line, plane and volume, culture and program are given an order, an idea and perhaps a form. Materials the transparency of a membrane, the chalky dulness of a wall, the glossy reflection of opaque glass - intermesh in reciprocal relationships that form the particular experience of place. Materials interlock with the senses to move the perceiver beyond accute site to tactility. From linearity, concavity, and transparency to hardness, elasticity and dampness, the haptic realm opens.Through making, we realize that an idea is a seed to be grown into phenomena. The hope is to unite intellect with feeling, and precision with soul.Architecture must remain experimental and open to new ideas and aspirations in the face of conservative forces that constantly push it toward the already proven, already built and already thought. Architects must explore the not yet felt. The realization of one insipired idea in term inspires others. Phenomenal experience is worth the struggle. It yields a silent response - the joy radiated in the light, space, and materials of architecture.My favourite material is light. Without light, space remains in oblivion. Light's myriad sources, its conditions of shadow and shade, and its opacity and transparency, translucency, reflection and refraction intertwine to define or redifine space. Light makes space uncertain. What a pool of yellow light does to a simple volume, or what a paraboloid of shadow does to bone-whitewall-these comprise the transcendental realm of the phenomena of architecture.I recently had an opportunity to make something out of just light and one other material, frozen water. The work is a nine-meter cube that I created in collaboration with the sculptor Jene Highstein. One enters the cube and comes into a space of reflection. The idea is that this architectural space is made of almost nothing. A month after its completion, it disappears and leaves no trace. Using materials as minimal and ethereal as light an water, one can make something that expresses and idea.The design for the cube was based on a historical event in the city of Rovaniemi in northern Finland.At the end of World War II, the Germans burned down the entire city as they retreated. They didn't have to do it - the war was nearly over. When the inner circle of the nine meter cube melts through, the first view one has is directed precisely toward Rovaniemi.Between idea and phenomenon, meaning vibrate, gather, loosen, disperse, shine, and mutate.Even delayed meanings may exert pressure, crack, fissure and be pulverized.

The state of Architecture at the Beginning of the 21st Century Edited by Bernard Tschumi + Irene Cheng p: 27

5 Mart 2012 Pazartesi

Another Singularity by Antony Gormley

ANOTHER SINGULARITY is a body-zone constructed from a matrix of packing polyhedra that conforms to the geometry of the bubble matrix. The skin of this zone is connected to the inner skin of the building by 682 radiating trajectories that complete the tetrahedral node pattern of the rest of the matrix.The idea is to treat the body as an adimensional space, rather than as an object, and to connect it to architecture and internalise the foundational conditions of space/time 13.7 billion years ago. The gallery space is activated by high tension bungee lines which catch the light from the upper windows, creating a field which contradicts and modifies the orthogonal geometry of architecture and our passage within it.In mediating between a conceptual, abstract body-zone and the body of the architecture the viewer becomes a figure in an immersive high-energy field. The work is an implicate order in which every trajectory has a dynamic and interdependent effect on the total matrix.The proposition of the work is that art can be an instrument with which we re-locate ourselves within a space/time matrix and perhaps begin to negotiate space in a way that is not to do simply with locomotion.

Firmament by Antony Gormley

FIRMAMENT, the ancient name for the night sky, brings to mind an assembled matrix of volumes that map a celestial constellation, while also implying the form of a body lost within it. Literally a drawing in space, the non regular polygonal structure of FIRMAMENT looms over the viewer, giving a sense of both claustrophobia and landscape, testing our experience of space.

4 Mart 2012 Pazar

THE NEXT REVOLUTION ? by Lebbeus Woods

In a recent panel discussion with Hernan Diaz Alonso, we exchanged differing opinions about digital computers but agreed on one crucial point: debates about digital computers versus hand drawings are over. The digital computer is not only an established part of architectural practice, but is central to it. This is because it can do things that hand drawing cannot do and in particular facilitate a type of construction ever more prevalent in the building industry. Then our discussion turned in another direction: the future development of computing machines in architecture.

My contention was and remains that there will be a resurgence of analogue computers, with which Hernan did not disagree. The digital revolution is over. While refinements in software and hardware will continue, digital computers have won their central role and will not lose it, short of a collapse of the present civilization. However, they have their limitations and these are already becoming clear. The breaking of the world down into infinitely manipulable bits and bytes leaves a vast empty space in human thought that cannot be filled, or should I say ‘represented’ in that way. Without representation in some form thought cannot exist. This is where analogue representation comes into the story.

First of all, what is an analogue? An analogue is something that shares certain qualities with a subject or an object under our consideration but not others. In other words, it is not a literal, ‘virtual’ representation of the subject or object, but rather a symbolic one, Analogue thinking is thinking in symbols and produces representations or (a better term) descriptions. The advantage this analogous kind of thinking has over literal descriptions is, in the first place, that it can describe things that have not been known or described before. Types of space, systems of order, even emotions. While this same possibility is often claimed for virtual representations or descriptions, I contend that every virtual invention has a history of models on which it is based. Let me give a small example.

I once asked my students, as an overnight sketch problem, to make a drawing of a being from another, very different world—an alien. The next day, the drawings they showed me looked like fusions of human beings and snakes, beetles, various plants, and so on. The point is, my students—very bright and creative—could only create hybrids of living things they already knew. Part of the reason for this, I concluded, was because they made representational, ‘virtual’ drawings. If they had given me a mathematical equation, or a matrix of different colors, they would certainly have been able to make aliens we had never seen before. At the same time their description would have had to be translated—interpreted—to have resulted in a conventional representation or portrait of the alien. Then again, why would we need to render them conventionally?

The answer to this question is: we are used to it. The rendering of what a thing looks like is the way we are accustomed to getting descriptions. The digital computer is so popular and accepted because it specializes in exactly this kind of description. However, it can describe what we don’t already know only in very limited ways, usually by montage or collage, that is, by combining things that we do know into descriptions of something we don’t. This is a serious limitation when we are exploring the unknown. In that situation the analogue computer is a far superior tool.

The most powerful analogue computer known is the human brain. Consisting of millions of neural nets—electrical circuits—it can compute numerous complex operations simultaneously—not only walking and chewing gum at the same time, but many other involuntary and voluntary body functions while working through subtle emotions and complicated philosophical questions, all at the same time. Minute after minute, day after day, throughout a lifetime. Some two billion neurons comprise the circuits in a nearly infinite number of continually changing interactions. The statistics go on, but the point remains that the analogue computer works by abstract descriptions, not literal ones.

Now, if the world inhabited by human beings could be controlled only by electrical impulses that could command bricks to be moved, concrete to be poured, steel to be made; or crops to be planted and harvested; or laws to be enacted and enforced, then the story could begin and end with the human brain. Perhaps that will be the future direction of human technological evolution on the planet. But until such a time, it will remain for us to interpolate between the analogical and the digital, between abstract descriptions and the literal representations of things. To a large extent, the task of this kind of interpolation makes up the history of science and art.

The ‘education’ of the human brain is an ongoing, increasingly important task. But so is the invention and development of the technological prostheses we require to interpolate, to bridge the gaps between abstractions and representations. With digital computers advancing so rapidly, we have neglected the potentials of their analogue cousins. such as those that would enable:

—slum-dwellers to analyze their own complex communities, the better to organize politically and economically;

—urban planners to understand the continually-changing layerings of human activities within a dense city center;

—architects to incorporate available recyclable materials in the design stages of their projects.


A coming generation of analogue computers will differ from digital computers in many ways, but the most crucial is that they will each be designed and built for a particular situation and task, rather than as a ‘generalized’ machine usable for all situations. If we think about it, this follows the example of our brains, which would not serve a cheetah very well. Indeed, my brain would not serve you very well, as it is continually being constructed by my unique life experiences. But this takes us in a direction this post cannot go. It must serve here to say that the analogical might well be and perhaps should be at the center of the next great technological revolution.