Texas A&M University. Department of Architecture. T4T LAB Spring 2015.
ALIEN, MESSY, DISCRETE
Invited Professor: Gilles Retsin
With Gabriel Esquivel
Team: Michael Koernig, Ryan Samadh, Josh Berry, Michael Villareal, Jocelyn Zuniga.
When discussing the project it is important to draw the distinction between representation and the limits of human perception and understanding. In order to attempt to engage the object and attempt communication, it is necessary for us as humans to assign some sort of construct that is familiar to us. Whatever perceptions are drawn by humans it is inconsequential to the object. This particular object It operates as an autopoetic machine, one that is in a constant state of proliferation of its parts, aggregating in various sizes and geometries, constantly expanding its endo-structure in all directions. It fulfills this function of accumulation as an autonomous object, defying human cognition or constructs.
In order to attempt to set up a discourse about the object, we can quantify a scale of the “city” and that of the “house”. The house is one of the many parts that are being perpetually proliferated by the city mass. It is only one part of an ever increasing legion of aggregation, and yet within this one part of the machine, we see it emerges as a machine within the machine in its own right and wiithin the house through its own proliferation of parts. Each mereological system , the partition stones, the high-fi filaments of the slabs, or the fibers that form into beams, is its own autonomous machine, whilst at the same time creating a cohesive whole. These parts are not autonomous in the sense that they are operating in defiance, or rebellion to being part of a whole. Rather, their aggregation and expansion occurs without regard to what any other system is doing. However, the villa is in truth just as alien, incomprehensible, and in perpetual proliferation as the city itself is, functioning as its own autonomous machine unto itself.
In the development of the project, two fundamentally opposite ideas emerged as influences, those being elements found in Russian constructivism, the other being the prairie style of house that was taking hold in the west at the same time. These create conflict within the project not only on an architectural level, but on a socio-political level as well, creating a conflict of regimes within the project. In a sense, Marxist Russian constructivism and the capitalist west can be viewed as hyper objects in their own right, in the sense that they are also beyond the realm of human limitations, and exist and operate in a realm beyond that of what can be quantifiable. When these ideologies are brought together, they do possess some overlap. Marxist Russia was all about unification, and the removal of hierarchy. And while the dogma of capitalism is about fragmentation and the individual, this is evident in the project, for as the project aggregates its pieces in unification and fragmentation, there is not really a sense of hierarchy of parts, at least by the limitations that we as humans can recognize in the object.
Another fundamental tenant of Russian constructivism is the idea of building up, from the ground up vertically. And when one thinks of Capitalist architecture, the first thought that may come to mind is the classic notion of the huge, vertical high rise. However, the “house” clearly is celebrating horizontality, which we as humans can perceive as being Capitalist in different terms, in terms of land expansion, of the single villas occupying plots of land that was championed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie style of house, one that is a purely western phenomenon. At the scale of what we can perceive as the “house,” capitalism celebrates the horizontal, the long sweeping planes displayed in projects such as the Robie and Farnsworth Houses.
The conflict in regimes is not the only source of tension the project is under. Internally, what we perceive as the house scale is under a Lacanian sort of psychoanalytical tension, as it is negotiating the relationship between interior and exterior. It is in need of “therapy”, unable to come to terms with mixed conditions, is it and extroverted architecture by means of the transparent exterior curtain wall is it about making it a condition of interior affects . The project is in a sort of Wright vs. Mies conflict, not committing to one over the other. (Is it about the interior or is it about the exterior or both? It is, as Deluze would say, in a state of flux, and this creates confusion, tension within the inside mechanism of the project. This psychoanalytical tension gives a beautiful fallacy of accessibility. The tension of the project in how it expresses interaction of interior or exterior is palpable, and yet within it there is still space within that feels domestic,and comfortable. In actuality, this is of no concern to the object, as it is wholly indifferent to how it may be perceived by the human mind. But to us, to the viewer, this comfortability, this familiarity, is a way for us to resolve the tension, to find forms of inhabitation to find resolution to it, not in terms of the machine, for our desire of communication.