Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Predock Frane Architects

Venice Bienale 2004

The working title “Acqua Alta” refers to the high tide water that floods the 1,000 yr. old sinking city of Venice up to 100 times a year. This tidal invasion of brackish water, affected by forces that range from the moon to local winds, is part of everyday life for the average Venetian. The city is routinely stained/invaded by these surges that at times reach as high as 2 meters above mean sea level. (flood of 1966) Venice is an improbable city - one that places human civilization directly in contact with natural and evolutionary forces. 

Preliminary project description:
In plan our project is based on a “pixelated” field that evokes water patterns, marsh patterns and the complex patterns of piers that underpin the city. Approximately 5,000-6,000 points demarcating these patterns would be extruded in the form of filament line from floor to ceiling with discrete connections to floor and ceiling. Each strand of nearly invisible filament would be stained to a height around average adult eye level - referring to the highest tidal levels in Venice and to evoke a sense of sinking into a medium. Paths cut between denser islands of filament would allow for a rich spatial experience, placing the viewer in many different positions relative to the strings. Within an all white space natural light would be diffuse, flowing across the filament - at times highlighting them and at times reinforcing their invisibility.

2005 Yale University

Originally commissioned as part of a group exhibition for the 2004 Venice Biennale this scaled-down version built for the "Transcending Type" group show at the Yale School of Architecture, recycles and re-adapts the material and spatial ideas of the original piece, while exploring new possibilities for a larger architectural scale.

2006 Copper Hewitt National Museum

The model that we produced is intended to hover between the rich conceptual ground of the central valley and the actuality of the museum proposal. It is considered a re-visitation of an on-going investigation into an analogous project in which the Central Valley is the source material for deploying a process of "generative repetition".  This methodology focuses on mapping specific existing morphologies, "actions", systems, and material conditions; then generating and forecasting new architectural results.  These studies include: ground (manipulated ground vs. natural topologies), surface actions (cuts, transformations, etc.), hydrology (complex systems of water - from snow pack/rivers, rain and artesian wells), filigree (crops/agricultural landscape layer that hovers over the ground), and sky (algorithmic patterns, reflectivity).

Project Components:

Earth/ground plane - Intersections of natural conditions meeting regularized/gridded conditions, intersection of formalized architectural space and landscape.

Action plane - The conceptual surface where human and natural forces affect continuous transformation.

Filligree/hydrology - This component literally stitches together the ground plane to the series of upper layers.

Graft - This horizon layer acts as an implied dividing line between the lower grounded gravitational elements (ground plane) and lighter, hovering pieces (sky plane).

Sky/ceiling - Algorithmic patterns that suggests the ephemeral fleeting nature of the sky.

2008 Pomona College

Our installation for the Pomona College Project Series maps and curates the body of land roughly contained within portions of Southern California's Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties known as the Inland Empire. Looking through the lens of Google Earth, as though from a spaceship observing the intimate processes below, we have focused our observation of this de-centered suburban landscape upon a generic set of building types that are situated within the complex interdependency of dwelling and commodity distribution. Our project emerges as a version of a "supply and demand" diagram that is extracted from the locality of the Empire's terrain.On one end of the IE's found building spectrum is a vast aggregate of bedroom communities, and on the other, a select and limited set of massive regional depot centers which are pushing new boundaries in terms of scale and distribution potential. In between, a hidden web of relations and flows (transport, storage, exchange) defines the most current and aggressive form of 21st C. global capital distribution and consumption.
Our working methodology of "generative repetition" curates a set of existing local circumstances into new projects that are not only representational and indexical but projective. Like DJ's sampling from an array of sound, our interest as designers lies in strategies that deal with the vast territory of the pre-existing; viewing this mass of dynamic material as a way of making new worlds. Not only an indicator of scalar and quantitative relationships, Inland Empire intentionally isolates a chain of relations that is normally unseen and physically distinct. Through this reformation, new questions, understandings and spatial configurations emerge: Where does the space of architecture end and city/landscape begin? Can the volume of buildings reach a tipping point where a new type of space emerges? Which building type is enabling which? Is the image content of architecture relational and proportional to scale and use? Are there underlying logics and geometries that structure and define these relations? Can these be made visible?
The installation itself consists of six building types caught in a typical chain of commodity distribution set in a 1:1 scalar relationship. These abstracted "boxes" are suspended by 376 lines of nylon filament which are analogous to the flows of freeways, boulevards and streets. Accompanying the suspended models, a graphic pattern on the side walls conveys a 1/10th proportional quantitative relationship of houses to mega distribution centers (75,000 houses: 1 mega distribution center). From the top of the gallery space, a model of the 1.7 million square foot regional depot building (the largest in the Inland Empire), hovers like a threatening spaceship over the other building types: local depot, big box retail, mini mall, apartment and single family house. While each building type is abstracted to convey its basic architectural language (skylights, etc), there is a movement from imageability (house) to genericism (depot) - a further conveyance of that which is visible and laden with projected appearance vs. that which is pure machine.


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