What is the Thinking Hand in Architecture (and why we, as architects, must defend the natural slowness and diversity of experience) #ilmaBlog #Discourse #Theory #Architecture #Design

ILMA The Thinking Hand 01

2009 Book, The Thinking Hand written byArchitect Juhani Pallasmaa

In The Thinking Hand, Architect Juhani Pallasmaa reveals the miraculous potential of the human hand. He shows how the pencil in the hand of the artist or architect becomes the bridge between the imagining mind and the emerging image. The book surveys the multiple essences of the hand, its biological evolution and its role in the shaping of culture, highlighting how the hand–tool union and eye–hand–mind fusion are essential for dexterity and how ultimately the body and the senses play a crucial role in memory and creative work. Pallasmaa here continues the exploration begun in his classic work The Eyes of the Skin by further investigating the interplay of emotion and imagination, intelligence and making, theory and life, once again redefining the task of art and architecture through well-grounded human truths.

Pallasmaa notes that, “…architecture provides our most important existential icons by which we can understand both our culture and ourselves. Architecture is an art form of the eye, the hand, the head and the heart. The practice of architecture calls for the eye in the sense of requiring precise and perceptive observation. It requires the skills of the hand, which must be understood as an active instrument of processing ideas in the Heideggeran sense. As architecture is an art of constructing and physical making, its processes and origins are essential ingredients of its very expression…”

Linking art and architecture he continues, “…as today’s consumer, media and information culture increasingly manipulate the human mind through thematized environments, commercial conditioning and benumbing entertainment, art has the mission to defend the autonomy of individual experience and provide an existential ground for the human condition. One of the primary tasks of art is to safeguard the authenticity and independence of human experience.”

Pallasmaa asserts that,

“Confidence in future architecture must be based on the knowledge of its specific task; architects need to set themselves tasks that no one else knows how to imagine. Existential meanings of inhabiting space can be articulated by the art of architecture alone. Thus architecture continues to have a great human task in mediating between the world and ourselves and in providing a horizon of understanding in the human existential condition.

The task of architecture is to maintain the differentiation and hierarchical and qualitative articulation of existential space. Instead of participating in the process of further speeding up the experience of the world, architecture has to slow down experience, halt time, and defend the natural slowness and diversity of experience. Architecture must defend us against excessive exposure, noise and communication. Finally, the task of architecture is to maintain and defend silence. The duty of architecture and art is to survey ideals and new modes of perception and experience, and thus open up and widen the boundaries of our lived world.”

(Source: https://www.wiley.com/en-us/The+Thinking+Hand%3A+Existential+and+Embodied+Wisdom+in+Architecture-p-9780470779293)

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends.

Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


ILMA Architect of the Week: Adolf Loos

Do You Like Modern Architecture?

You can thank Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos (December 10, 1870 – August 23, 1933).

Adolf  Loos was an Austrian and Czech architect and influential European theorist of modern architecture. His essay Ornament and Crime advocated smooth and clear surfaces in contrast to the lavish decorations of the fin de siècle and also to the more modern aesthetic principles of the Vienna Secession, exemplified in his design of LooshausVienna. Loos became a pioneer of modern architecture and contributed a body of theory and criticism of Modernism in architecture and design and developed the “Raumplan” (literally spatial plan) method of arranging interior spaces, exemplified in Villa Müller in Prague.

Adolf Loos Architect 02 Moller House

Villa Müller Elevation

09e765257218b1c9b78c24ba0191821c

Villa Müller Floor Plan of Mezzanine

Adolf Loos Architect 01

The Looshaus is a building in Vienna designed by Adolf Loos, regarded as one of the central buildings of Viennese Modernism. It marks the departure from historicism, but also from the floral decor of Secession, an an art movement formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus.

At age 23, Loos traveled to the United States and stayed there for three years from 1893–96. While in the United States, he mainly lived with relatives in the Philadelphia area, supported himself with odd jobs and also visited other cities such as the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, St. Louis and New York. Loos returned to Vienna in 1896 and made it his permanent residence. He was a prominent figure in the city and a friend of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Arnold Schönberg, Peter Altenberg and Karl Kraus.

Inspired by his years in the New World he devoted himself to architecture. After briefly associating himself with the Vienna Secession in 1896, he rejected the style and advocated a new, plain, unadorned architecture. A utilitarian approach to use the entire floor plan completed his concept. Loos’s early commissions consisted of interior designs for shops and cafés in Vienna.

Modern architecture is a group of styles of architecture which emerged in the first half of the 20th century and became dominant after World War II. It was based upon new technologies of construction, particularly the use of glasssteel and reinforced concrete; and upon a rejection of the traditional neoclassical architecture and Beaux-Arts styles that were popular in the 19th century.  They also rejected embellishments.

Modern architecture continued to be the dominant architectural style for institutional and corporate buildings into 1980s, when it was largely deposed by postmodernism.

Notable architects important to the history and development of the modernist movement include Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Konstantin Melnikov, Erich Mendelsohn, Richard Neutra, Louis Sullivan, Gerrit Rietveld, Bruno Taut, Gunnar Asplund, Arne Jacobsen, Oscar Niemeyer and Alvar Aalto.

Adolf Loos’ lamentation Ornament and Crime made a lasting impression on le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe and left behind a body of attractive commercial and domestic work blending simplicity and great material warmth.

As noted by The Australian in the article Looking at Adolf Loos, modern architecture as it evolved through the middle decades of the 20th century, might have been better – more individualistic, humanistic and warmer in tone – if it had been more deeply attuned to the quirky legacy of Adolf Loos than the rigidities of Bauhaus-inspired internationalism. If Adolf Loos is our contemporary, it is not before time.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


ILMA of the Week: Peter Eisenman

ILMA-EISENMAN

 

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post.

We sincerely appreciate all your comments.If you like this post please share it with friends.

And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in CT, DE, FL, MD NJ, NY, PA


ILMA of the Week: Eric Owen Moss

20130613-062025.jpg

Eric Owen Moss (b. 1943 in Los Angeles, California) practices Architecture with his eponymously named LA-based 25-person firm founded in 1973. Throughout his career Moss has worked to revitalize a once defunct industrial tract in Culver City, California. Moss received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1965, his Masters of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design in 1968 and a second Masters of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1972. Moss taught at Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 1974 and was appointed director in 2002. He has held chairs at Yale and Harvard universities, and appointments at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

Moss received a 1998 AIA/LA Medal for his Architectural work as well as the Business Week / Architectural Record Award in 2003 for the design and construction of the Stealth project, Culver City, California. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and received the Distinguished Alumni Award for the University of California at Berkeley in 2003. Moss received the 2007 Arnold Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2011, he was awarded the Jencks Award, given each year to an architect who has made a major contribution to theory and practice of architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Currently, there are ten published monographs on the work of Eric O. Moss’ office.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in CT, DE, FL, NJ, NY, PA.


My 10 All-Time Favorite Architecture Books by @FrankCunhaIII plus a BONUS Book (Updated with Video & Audio Track)

Audio Version:

https://soundcloud.com/frank-cunha-iii/my-top-10-architecture-books

These are my top Architecture books to read:

(#10)

A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals
By Spiro Kostof

(#9)

Architecture and Disjunction
By Bernard Tschumi

(#8)

Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan
By Rem Koolhaas

(#7)

Intertwining
By Steven Holl

(#6)

Learning from Las Vegas – Revised Edition: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form
By Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour, Denise Scott Brown

(#5)

S M L XL
Rem Koolhaas

(#4)

The Space of Encounter
By Daniel Libeskind

(#3)

Ten Books on Architecture
By Vitruvius

(#2)

Towards a New Architecture
By Le Corbusier

(#1)

A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture
By Virginia Savage McAlester

BONUS!

Mask of Medusa
By John Hejduk

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

 


Parachute Pavilion (Coney Island, New York) Designed by @FC3ARCHITECT

Site

The Parachute Pavilion is located on the boardwalk edge of the former Steeplechase Park site adjacent to “Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower” (a 262-foot-high Parachute Jump, which is a New York City designated landmark since 1989) and KeySpan Park. The pavilion encompasses the entire 7,800 SF footprint.

Program

The Parachute Pavilion boosts a two-story indoor/ outdoor Restaurant, kitchen, bar, and restrooms accessible from the existing boardwalk. On the lower level is a Multi-use Exhibition/Event Space (a flexible and revenue producing space for private and public exhibits and events) and four offices (for city agencies or local advocacy groups). The store sells Coney Island and Parachute Jump souvenirs, surfing gear, and fishing supplies.

Concept

The form from which this building was developed was inspired by all things American – apple pie, baseball, hotdogs on the boardwalk, the (feeling of) Fourth of July, and Rock-and-Roll. After visiting the site, a 4-minute 14-second video using the still images of the trip was produced. The moving images were accompanied by Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-spangled Banner” (August 17, 1969 recording), which affected the transitions from image-to-image (because a moving photo editing filter was used). The still images from the video were used to create figure-grounds, which were explored using a series photo editing filtering techniques.

The final diagram was placed on the given site to respect the historic Parachute Jump. The building opens itself to “create” and “frame” views much like the “filtering process” used to develop the building form. The occupants of the pavilion will sense the presence (and omnipresence) of the jump structure while flowing through the “filtering” spaces as shadows dance on the floors through the 3-dimensional light wells, from the upper level down to the lower level. Materials and finishes tie new with old.  Outside and inside are blurred and intertwined by elegant glass walls.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post.  We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.


Contemporary Philosophy – Postmodernism & Critical Theory – Álvaro Siza Vieira

Álvaro Siza Vieira

Broadly and variously defined, Postmodernism refers to a specific period of time that began in the 1940s, a style of literature, architecture, art philosophy, or the plight of Western society in post-capitalist age.  This movement encompasses a set of critical and rhetorical practicesemploying concepts such as difference, repetition, and hyperreality to break apart or deconstruct other the structural elements achieved through modernism, including temporality, presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and meaning achieved through unity.  For more information on Postmodernism, please click here.

Álvaro Joaquim de Melo Siza VieiraGOSEGCIH, is a contemporary Portuguese architect, born 25 June 1933 in Matosinhos a small coastal town by Porto. He is internationally known as Álvaro Siza (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈaɫvɐɾu ˈsizɐ].

He graduated in architecture in 1955, at the former School of Fine Arts from the University of Porto, the current FAUP – Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto. He completed his first built work (four houses in Matosinhos) even before ending his studies in 1954, the same year that he first opened his private practice in Porto. Siza Vieira taught at the school from 1966 to 1969, returning in 1976. In addition to his teaching there, he has been a visiting professor at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; the University of Pennsylvania; Los Andes University of Bogota; and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

Along with Fernando Távora, he is one of the references of the Porto School of Architecture where both were teachers. Both architects worked together between 1955 and 1958. Another architect he has collaborated with is Eduardo Souto de Moura, e.g. on Portugal’s flagship pavilions at Expo 98 in Lisbon and Expo 2000 in Hannover, as well as on the Serpentine Pavillon 2005. Siza’s work is often described as “poetic modernism“; he himself has contributed to publications on Luis Barragán.

Most of his best known works are located in his hometown Porto: the Boa Nova Tea House (1963), the Faculty of Architecture (1987–93), and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (1997). Since the mid-1970s, Siza has been involved in numerous designs for public housing and universities. Most recently, he started coordinating the rehabilitation of the monuments and architectonic heritage of Cidade Velha (Old Village) in Santiago, an island of Cape Verde.

Álvaro Siza Vieira Hompage

Click Here

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Contemporary Philosophy, Critical Theory and Postmodern Thought

Theodor Adorno Louis Althusser Roland Barthes
Michael Bakhtin Jean Baudrillard Walter Benjamin
Maurice Blanchot Kenneth Burke Albert Borgmann
Jacques Derrida Gilles Deleuze Terry Eagleton
Stanley Fish Michel Foucault Frankfurt School
Hans-George Gadamer Anthony Giddens Antonio Gramsci
Felix Guattari Jurgen Habermas Donna Haraway
Martin Heidegger Agnes Heller Max Horkheimer
Edmund Husserl Ivan Illich Fredric Jameson
Julia Kristeva Jacques Lacan Bruno Latour
Jean Francois Lyotard Georg Lukács Paul de Man
Herbert Marcuse Karl Marx Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Richard Rorty Jean-Paul Sartre Edward Said
Charles Taylor Paul Virilio Ludwig Wittgenstein

If you like this post please share it with friends.
Free subscriptions still available.

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Open Call: Topics for Future Articles

::::::: TOPICS ::::::: 
  • ARCHITECTURE: FROM THE INSIDE OUT
  • I LOVE MY ARCHITECT: I DON’T CARE IF HE/SHE IS INSANE    
  • ARCHITECTURE IN MOTION: HOW TRANSPORTATION IN AMERICA CHANGED THE CITY AND ALTERED OUR ENVIRONMENT
  • HOW DO DESIGNERS SEE THE WORLD AROUND THEM: ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS OF AN ARCHITECT
  • LEARNING FROM TWITTER: HOW I DESIGN & CARVE SPACE UTILIZING SOCIAL MEDIA

If you woud like to contribute some text or a quote please contact me by email.

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Architecture in Motion

Riverside Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects

When I think of the “flow” of a space the first image to come to mind is the motion of the occupant and how he or she experiences the space.  Of course the building itself (and/or site) can have a flow as well (visual flow) both outside with the facade (think strong horizontal/vertical features, or curved forms of aluminum panels for example) or inside with the finishes (think flow of flooring material/texture from one space to another), but to me the perception of the space through movement has a greater impact on the occupant’s perception and experience of the space.  If the “space” is correctly designed by someone who understands the flows of a particular building type, it will certainly make for a joyous experience for the occupant.  When this not the case the occupant will feel uneasy and will not be able to have a pleasant experience.  A seasoned designer will be able to work simultaneously in plan and section to develop a design concept that will result in proper flow for the type of function being asked of the space that he/she is creating.  When the layout of the space, the material/textures used, the colors used, the use of light, and the flow of movement of  are properly executed the space just feels right.

If you like this post please share it with friends.

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook 


SPACE & PROCESS

I was recently asked about my thoughts on the physics of Architecture and the spatial aspects of Architecture.  Below are some of my initial thoughts….
Space is not the “left-overs” of Architecture but rather the space itself is the Architecture. As a
life-long student of Architecture it is my humble opinion that it is the voids created by the solids
that make the experience of Architecture interesting and pleasurable. The only reason I design
and construct walls (and other solids) is to create the space (the negative). Space can be
experienced in various dimensions (as was portrayed in the film Powers of Ten, 1968 American
documentary short film written and directed by Ray Eames and her husband, Charles Eames.
The film, rereleased in 1977 depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten.)

“The only reason I design and construct walls….is to create the space….”

Robert Irwin, untitled, 1971, synthetic fabric, wood, fluorescent lights, floodlights, 96 x 564" approx., Collection Walker Art Center, Gift of the artist, 1971.

The process of producing Architecture from a monolithic form is to subtract from the solid what
is needed to create the negative space for the occupants to inhabit and enjoy. Then again, my
first memories of Architecture were great massive, heavy cathedrals and medieval castles, so
perhaps I am biased in some ways. The added dimension of a regular, monotonous grid and
violent irregular collisions and penetration of the pure form are yet another layer of interest in
post-modern Architecture (as can be seen in the work of Bernard Tschumi – Parc de la Villette).

Robert Irwin, Untitled, 1980, mixed media: fiberboard, paper, plastic and fabric, 22-3/4 x 22-1/8 x 10", Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the General Services Administration, 1980.49.6.

Finally, as a self-proclaimed photographic-artist/Architect, I use still images in my creation of the
artwork. The capturing of a single moment of time is much like an Architect’s plan. When I create
images from my photographs I am also exploring “the absence” or “the void” or what you call “the
reveal.” What fascinates me is that the process of creativity in and of itself can inform the final
form of what will become the Architectural space, which will be built by the hands of others and
eventually inhabited and experienced by others. This is very different from the assembly of a car,
a computer mouse, or other industrial item. Perhaps a more appropriate comparison is to that
of conductor who leads the orchestra in a certain direction but allows some interpretation by the
band.

Robert Irwin, untitled, 1971, synthetic fabric, wood, fluorescent lights, floodlights, 96 x 564" approx., Collection Walker Art Center, Gift of the artist, 1971.

If you like this post please share it.

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


CENTRAL PARK: The Lungs of the City as a Skyscraper

When I visited Central Park earlier this year with our guests from out-of-town I could not help but to image this incredible space as an edifice.  Architects have always been fascinated with towers and skyscrapers.

What if we turned Central Park from the horizontal to the vertical.  Of course the image below is very literal, but–

Can we apply some of the theories of Fredrick Olmsted to a skyscraper in the city?  Could this be the beginning of the resurgence of the city?

Click here for more Architectural theory and concepts.

Sincerely,
@FrankCunhaIII 


Attention Deficit Disorder – Designing Every 2 to 3 Minutes

A.D.D. may be over diagnosed these days (especially in schools), but during Architecture School one of my professors wanted my friend to see how long I could stay at my drafting table (remember those? I’m dating myself here, although my class may have been one of the last to use them).  After a few minutes I would get restless, now with social media I can work on several things at once which satisfies the A.D.D.

What we discovered (after several all-nighters) was a direct link between where I lived and the airplane “noise” I would hear subconsciously (after living under the flight zone my entire life my consciousness had completely tuned it out).  I used the timing of the flights (every 2 to 3 minutes) to help inform my Architectural design theories.  For example;

Recording Apparatus

New York City Recording Apparatus

Here is a map of where I grew up:

Where I grew up and lived for close to 30-years

A Closer Look

Perhaps this helps shed some light on how I operate!

Sincerely,
@FrankCunhaIII 


Bye House (Wall House) by John Hejduk

The Bye House (Wall House) was designed by John Hedjuk in the 1970s, built posthumously (Groningen, The Netherlands, 2001).

John Hejduk (July 19, 1929 – July 3, 2000), was an Architect, Artist and Educator who spent much of his life in New York City. Hejduk is noted for his use of attractive and often difficult-to-construct objects and shapes; also for a profound interest in the fundamental issues of shape, organization, representation, and reciprocity.

Hejduk studied at the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture, the University of Cincinnati, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, from which he graduated with a Masters in Architecture in 1953. He worked in several offices in New York including that of I. M. Pei and Partners and the office of A.M. Kinney and Associates. He established his own practice in New York in 1965.

One of my favorite days is June 9, 2001, when I got married to the love of my life and received the book “Mask of Medusa” written by John Hedjuk from my great friend.  It is a rare book and one of my prize possessions which I treasure (I love my wife too).


City of Culture by Eisenman Architects

I love Architectural design theory and I love skate boarding; Peter Eisenman combined them both when he designed the 173-acre site on Mount Gaiás.  The project neighbors Santiago de Compostela where the cathedral houses the remains of the apostle St. James, brought to Spain from Jerusalem after his death in AD 44. Since the eighth century, pilgrims have trekked to the medieval town to pay homage to his shrine.

Photo © Duccio Malagamba

Eisenman Architects’ winning scheme, folded into the earth and seductively represented by a molded wood model, beat out varied proposals by ten finalists: Steven Holl Architects, OMA/Rem Koolhaas, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Gigon Guyer Architects, Dominique Perrault Architecture, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Juan Navarro Baldeweg, César Portela, Ricardo Bofill/Taller de Arquitectura, and José Manuel Gallego Jorreto.

Click here for more info.


My Architecture Manifesto: “Architecture Shall Live On” by Architect @FrankCunhaIII #Architect #Design #Theory #AvantGarde #ilmaBlog #DesignTheory #Architecture

I was honored to be asked to write a “Dear Destin” letter in the memory of my friend and teacher, Stephen Perrella (RIP).  For a son (Destin) to know and understand his father through his legacy and the remnants of what was left behind is challenging but without memories we cannot be human.  Without Architecture one cannot truly appreciate life.  Great Architecture is all around us.  It is important for us to celebrate it each and every day.  It is important for all of us to reflect and teach the young ones around us what it means to be alive.  To inhabit a great space is to love and to live.  To me, great Architecture is a gift to be cherished.

February 22, 2011

Dear Destin,

Your father Stephen Perrella is a special person who was gifted in many ways. To me he was a teacher, a friend, and a colleague. Most of all he was a theorist. He formulated, devised, calculated. He manipulated, transformed, and sculpted space. He was a weaver of space.

Before I begin I have to say that your birth changed Stephen for the better. You filled a void in his soul that no one else could. You enriched his soul and thirst for life. He lived each day for you. After you were born, Stephen was at peace with himself and transformed his pursuit from theory to the built.

Architecture design left un-built is not really Architecture, but merely a lot of ideas. You must build in order for something to be considered Architecture.

Architecture is the marriage of art and science of designing and erecting buildings and other physical structures. Architecture is a style and method of design and construction of buildings and other physical structures for human use.

Although more than a decade has past since I took his class I still hold his 4 principals of Architecture/Theory/Design close to me. Not a day goes by when I do not think about what he taught me.

Sign Structure Context Program

These four simple words are the devices that I use every time I design “space.” Although the meaning of these words evolves with the passing of time, these canons have passed the test of time.

The general (abbreviated) definitions are as follows:

Sign

In true Venturian spirit (1), our first lesson in Stephen’s studio was to examine signs along the roadway. The “image,” “face,” “aesthetic,” “look” of something created is the “Sign,” a modern day façade.

Like Filippo Brunelleschi before him, Stephen was interested in spatial theory. The Florentine Architect and Engineer Brunelleschi was the first to carry out a series of optical experiments that led to a mathematical theory of perspective.

When I design, and I think of Signage, I think of what one will see. How the Architectural object will be seen and remembered. It is important to consider this since Architecture is often considered an object someone looks at from the outside.

Structure

After that examination was complete, Stephen asked us to look at how the signage was structured.The structure itself becomes integral to the design of space and what I remember most was Stephen’s passion for the great philosophers like Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (2). In particular I remember reading “The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque,” but Stephen got me so excited that I bought every philosophy book I could get my hands on.

Context

As important as what something look likes or how it stands is to know how it is placed in it’s surrounding. This became the third study in Stephen’s studio.

I remember looking at information and flow of information from a theoretical standpoint and my view of what context could be. In today’s world, context changes (telecommunications for example). We studied Bernard Tschumi’s “Architecture and Disjunction” and learned about how program, context, image could be interchanged so that the design would be altered. For example, take an existing cathedral and adapt it as a parking garage. To think of Architecture as an object and then transform it’s context changes how the object is perceived, which leads me to Stephen’s final principle.

Program

By the chronological placement of this final study I have to assume that your father believed in “Function FOLLOWS Form” (3) although I can be wrong. At the time of teaching this class Stephen was not only “competing” with himself but with other Architects like Reiser and Umemoto. As you may know by now Stephen coined the term, “Hypersurface,” which was an archetype or typology of architectural production.

Once you put these four parts together to develop a system a unique theoretical work of Architecture can be created.

The system that is created to produce the design changes each time and the result is always different. This is a fantastic attribute in a world that longs for uniqueness and creativity. I have not fully realized everything that I want to realize in my young career yet, but I know that armed with the education your father gave me I can use these principals to produce wonderful Architecture.

I hope this brief recap is only the beginning and we can share more ideas on Stephen’s life one day soon.

Truly Yours,

Frank Cunha III, AIA, NCARB

References:

(1) Venturi, Robert, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour. Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977

(1) Gilles Deleuze (18 January 1925 – 4 November 1995) was a French philosopher who, from the early 1960s until his death, wrote influentially on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. His most popular works were the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980), both co- written with Félix Guattari. His metaphysical treatise Difference and Repetition (1968) is considered by scholars to be his magnum opus.

(3) “Form follows function” is a principle associated with modern Architecture and industrial design in the 20th century. The principle is that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose.

Some images of my third year studio project with Stephen (Spring of 1996 at NJIT SOA):

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – Floor Plan

The shape of the movement of the Architectural form is informed by the mountains surrounding Las Vegas, NV.

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – Information is Gathered

The human Body and the Folds were examined for this project.

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – Information Flows

The elegance of the ballerina versus the vulgarity of the LV Strippers was analyzed.
Perhaps the Show Girl fits someplace in the middle?

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – Information is Disseminated

If Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In existed, this project would emulate the feeling
of “plugging” into something greater than oneself.  The Architectural space produced by
“the object” is informed by moving/experiencing the city following the rhythm of its context.

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – The Show Girls & Strippers Inform

Can Show Girls and Strippers inform great Arhcitecture and spaces? Sure why not?
Architecture can be sexy and smart.

Information Flows thru the Strip Like a Cyclone or Tornado like an Information Hurricane carving space.

I guess there was a collective consciousness arising about social awareness and a social
consciousness because the idea here was that the occupants of the city of the future would all
contribute to the overall Architectural object.  The building itself was comprised of the people who
inhabited it (kinda like those smart vechicles that plug in and chain up on the road to create
super-trains that create hierarchical domination over the less efficient vehicles on the road).

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – The occupants and the space are one.

Does the Architecture inhabit the occupant or vice-versa?

Nomadic Space / Nomadic Occupants

The whole idea is that Architecture is NOT static.  It moves with the flow of energy/information
and engulfs the occupants within it as it speeds through the city, plugging in from one space to another.

There is an “Information Exchange” throughout City

The result of the “carving” of space is that imprints are left on the existing hotels on the Strip.
The “old” Architecture is informed by the “new” spinning object (a bit like Zaha and Libeskind).

The bright lights, neon lights, gambling games, billboard signs and the
natural landscape of the mountains surrounding the Strip all inform the Architecture of the
City and inform the shape of the Hotel of the Future.
The sculpture that is created carves space and changes the landscape of the City.
The hotel of the future exchanges information by moving throughout the Strip.The cyclone / tonado / hurricane that is “the process” of creating the design can
cease to exist and what is left over becomes the Architecture of the City.
The Architecture is informed by the form that is created.  The Architecture exposes its structure.
Occupants “plug” into the Architecture by communicating with others.  (Back then there was no
social media (Aghhh), but in a sense that is what I had in mind when I developed this project.)