Cleverage: finding and exploiting loopholes for architectural advantage
The term \”cleverage\” comes from the idea of \”leveraging\” \”cleverness\” to achieve uncommon effects and open up unseen opportunities.
Globalized capital has sewn the world up tight, turning everything into a commodity and everywhere into a market. Pervasive technology has \”enframed\” existence itself to \”stand in reserve\” until it fulfills its predetermined utility. Hyper-mediated culture has shorn experience of the possibility of innocence or real discovery, absorbing every difference and exception. Every advantage has been taken, everything has been done, thought of, or scheduled. But there are always \”loopholes.\”In fact, these \”smooth spaces\” and the \”lines of flight\” they sponsor can be found anywhere, amidst any of the myriad systems that govern and circumscribe our lives these days. Indeed, it is the all-embracing presence of these systems that bring loopholes into existence in the first place: without this kind of comprehensive organization there would be no exceptionality, no loopholes. But loopholes are neither obvious nor numerous, and once discovered they risk getting \”plugged.\” To find or use a loophole requires a greater understanding of the system than normal … often greater than that of the system\’s keepers. The semester will begin with an appreciation of the extent to which most common architectural opportunities are constrained and determined by the encompassing rules structure within which and to which they must subscribe in order to be realized: building codes, planning guidelines and codes, rules-of-thumb and industry standards, stylistic parameters and expectations, market requirements and financial rules, etc. This documentation will be followed by analysis that aims to discover the locations where some freedom remains within this dense web of influence and restriction — the \”loopholes\” resulting from systemic oversights and blind spots, logical end-runs, inherent contradictions, redefining parameters and revising expectations, unprecedented materials, etc.Finally, a design project for a highly impacted site in Manhattan will allow the student to demonstrate their command of the exceptional possibilities for architecture through navigating the unmapped terrain of the loophole.