Structured Ornament, Contextualizing Blank Typologies

The studio will explore ornament as an operative device to organize buildings and to integrate them within the urban realm. We will explore ornamentation as a core behavior of architecture that includes buildings as functions and buildings as representation. We will aim to destabilize simple hierarchies of core/surface, essence/accident, deep/superficial, structure/ ornament. Contemporary building technologies and the need for a totally controlled environment, together with an increasing trend to densify city centres, are contributing to a growth in size and number of the blank envelope typologies- shopping centres, department stores, cinemas, museums, libraries, concert halls,…- that populate our cities. Their scale is incongruous with the existing urban fabrics, and this poses certain question about the capacity of architecture to integrate them effectively. In this context a relevant investigation can be the introduction of ornamentation and dicor in the architecture of these blank buildings as an organizing device associated simultaneously to the cultural and urban realm as well as to the internal structure, function and cladding. This is something that can be framed within history: from Roman pochi space to the Baroque search for variety and theatrical effects beyond the building functions, to the debate between Semper and Loos on the ornament, to Venturi and Rem Koolhaas. History provides an exciting backdrop to this very contemporary debate. We will use a real commercial development in Leeds, UK, as our field of research, focusing on one of the functional programs of this development (a cinema, department store, a galleria or car park).