Real and Imaginary Variables II

Halfway between the socially responsive discourse of programmatic indeterminacy and the alleged futility of form-giving, this studio explores architecture’s critical return to form. Our interest in the topic of form is neither aesthetic nor ideological. Contrary to the notion of shape (with which it is often confused), we understand form as a syntactic, procedural, and (increasingly) technical problem, much like the study of language in the 1970s -or the more recent emergence of Object Orientated Programming in the software industry.

Our past GSD briefs have systematically explored the architectural potential of the variable parametric surface, a vehicle chosen for its relentless abstraction and relative resistance to predictable questions of architectural function and figure. The investigation continues.
In conjunction with the spring term elective VIS-02404-00 Superficial Spaces, the studio will aim to produce sophisticated (if counter-intuitive) new formal prototypes -incorporated into a pragmatic urban and architectural proposals located in dense urban site in the center of (an as yet unnamed) European capital.

Real and Imaginary Variables
Building on last year’s seminal study of art spaces, we will further explore the seminal thesis of architecture as a complex interplay of desire and automatic writing.

Architecture, in this view, depends on achieving a practical and theoretical balance between real and imaginary variables: real variables depend on empirical knowledge of a given type, site, and programme; imaginary variables depend on the equally important (though far less intuitive) properties of indexical modelling (term to be defined). The two parts of the equation need one another to fulfil themselves: without the imaginary part, the type withers into predictability and repetition; without the real one, it becomes self-fulfilling and irrelevant.

Beyond the single, mono-functional, and ‘semi-automatic’ brief of high-rise dwelling we explored in 2008 and 2010, this year we will open up the real part of the typological equation to drastically different scale and use. In every other respect, however, our objectives will remain the same: to figure out fresh ways in which a formal analytic model (otherwise known as a seed) might correlate to a building type’s functional organization, program and material structure, which shall in turn help us integrate the type’s real and imaginary parts.

Using the studio’s trademark combination of seed bank, typological manual and real-life brief, the studio will develop the two parts of the process in tandem. When each part is sufficiently developed and integrated with the other, the studio will devise proposals a large institutional building on a urban site in the heart of Europe. There will be a short studio trip to New York.