Reversing the Implied Importance

Thinking about my final year project so far and following initial discussions with the year coordinator it is interesting to consider the social demographic surrounding my proposed building ideas. My interest has developed from my research dissertation that considered the technical modes of montage restored by Archigram in the 1960's, their projects became the literal layering of architecture, technology, environment and the social phenomena that represented the vitality of the streets and the human experience. These techniques where partly explored through Walter Benjamin’s theories pertained to the methods of mechanical reproduction and his analytical perceptions that dismantle the urban fabric and develop new understandings of the complex social order.

Ron Herron Tuned Suburb: Oasis, 1968

Following a critique of consumerist society through the readings of Benjamin and reflecting on the users influencing my ideas an interesting social paradox occurs where the traditional bourgeois-capitalist both creates a degenerative minority and at the same time represses it through a social/class struggle.
I believe we have become to obsessed with the majority and a bourgeois lifestyle, Benjamin sees the colossal acceleration of the tempo of living as being heralded from the tempo of production. "In this country, the main thing is to reap a huge fortune with as little delay as possible...people want to enjoy without waiting, without having to be patient". This to me is the very antithesis of how we should consider society and in particular architecture (which in Newcastle is a scary trend). Benjamin's Arcades Project focuses on the suffering of the vanquished and in doing so liberates the suppressed and celebrates their existence.

Walter Benjamin

Similar ideas are discussed in a conversation between Toni Negri and Gilles Deleuze; "What defines the majority is a model you have to conform to… A minority, on the other hand, has no model, it’s a becoming, a process. One might say the majority is nobody. Everybody’s caught, one way or another, in a minority becoming that would lead them into unknown paths if they opted to follow it through."
This leads me to the theory and approach my ideas set out to navigate via an architectural investigation that suggests a romantic notion to enlighten people through a series of projects that address social issues within the city of Newcastle. By reversing the implied importance generated by capitalist society the projects would develop as a thesis highlighting the importance of forgotten fragments and minorities in our cities and the potential that can be extracted from them.


The Carrington Ghost Ship

I was driving home today and came across something, that when ever I see my mind has trouble processing. I have seen it countless times at the end of my street and the shear scale and obscurity always delights me. This time I had a camera with me to capture the event before it was gone (and my memory card was filled).


 

The Sphere and the Labyrinth


Its interesting being given a building type and thinking of a concept or idea as a way to inform your design. Now in 5th year we are given the opportunity to develop our own brief and our own project following our own architectural investigation of any given building type.This in itself poses new and difficult challenges that push our understanding of what we consider architecture to be or what its limits are. The following is my 4th year manifesto and images when asked to consider the mixed use development of a parcel of land on the Gosford waterfront.

 

Manifesto
Using architectural language in ways that transgress and destroy traditional boundaries The Sphere and the Labyrinth is the juxtaposition of architectural types and collision of activities. The two structures are recognised as powerful clear forms of their divine world and exist in huge contrast to each other, yet at the same time hand in hand, provoking each all the time to new and more powerful figures in order to perpetuate for themselves the contest of opposites. The complexity of form offers deeper philosophical meaning and interpretation of the mixed-use program that can stimulate a more socially responsive society within a rich tapestry of life.
Just as reproduction depends upon opposed sexes, their continuing strife and only periodically occurring reconciliation, we can understand the bonds of duality through Nietzsche’s profound writings on Apollo versus Dionysus.
Ruling over beautiful appearance Apollo, represented by the Sphere, is associated with higher truth, perfection and the divine – the image of Apollo, calm and wise, he must be viewed within the boundary of moderation as not to deceive us our crude reality.
It is through intoxication, of which all people speak, or the powerful awakening of spring, which derives joy within all nature, that Dionysian excitement arises. The complex nature of the Dionysian can be found in the dynamic spaces of contemplation, deep within the Labyrinth, always changing and never stagnant. Above all this is a place of emotions that are experienced in their entirety, a structure for mental organisation and creative luminations, wanderings and errors, open and closed, of solitude and inclusion.
The liberating act of walking the Labyrinth in order to experience it is associated with the unexpected activities, distractions and sequences of events as explored by Walter Benjamin through his notion of the flâneur, here the Dionysian spaces develop significant understanding of the complex nature of society. Further the plurality of moments celebrates a projected importance onto society, exploring combinations of social activities and events that are the radical antithesis of modernist ideologies.

Notes from the Flâneur
An intoxication comes over the person who trudges through the streets for a long time and without goal. The going wins a growing power with every step. Ever narrower grow the seductions of the stores, the bistros, the smiling women; even more irresistible the magnetism of the next street-corner a distant mass foliage, a
streetname.

Page 417   The Arcades Project   Walter Benjamin




















The Masque

The Masque was a festive royal entertainment that flourished in the 16th and early 17th century and involved music, singing, dancing and acting. What I find interesting about the masque is that the elaborate stage design and costumes were often designed by the most renowned architects of the time. It would act as an artificial cultural construct that would often follow mythological fable, reflecting the social constructs of politics and ethical debate.
I have recently discovered John Hejduk's Masque series, 1979, pertained to the narrative qualities inherent in the making and experience of buildings where he uses the allegory of the Masque as an "autonomous geometrical projection" to inform his architecture. Like Walter Benjamin's notion of the flanuer the activity can open up a passage beyond the visible world, it offers an alternative understanding of the social phenomena in which the making of architecture is an essential act, and the architect is the storyteller or shaman. This reveals the potential actions or roles that architecture can invent.

Yup'ik shaman exorcising evil spirits from a sick boy, Nushagak, Alaska, 1890s

John Hejduk, Berlin Masque, 1982


Berlin Masque from Massimo Peota on Vimeo.

2nd Pavilion

The Second Stage of Steel has arrived on site for the Rock Hughes Residence. The two parts of the house are separated to create a dramatic void between the spaces, promote cross ventilation and orientate a section of the house North for solar gain. It also helps create the illusion of  a tree top dwelling and at the same time maintaining privacy for the neighbors. 



This is the view from the Kitchen, this will be all glass opening onto an intimate deck.



Airavata

There is something mythical and romantic about the airship, as if a fabled bird that once graced the skies and is now an endangered species. If it has gone unnoticed I have used  the catastrophic failure of one of mans most graceful inventions for my logo. The airship and architecture rely on the skills and knowledge of the engineer to remain aloft, pushing the physical limits and suspended in reality, a sudden failure brings no more greater ending. But it is this dramatic destruction that transfixes man, just as everyone's eyes from around the world were tuned into the events surrounding September 11, man craves creative destruction. Could it be our desire to create is also our desire to destroy.
I have stumbled upon Song Jie Lim's  Airavata and it truly is an inspiration to create. His work from the AA's Intermediate Unit 3 - Myths of the Artificial focuses on life’s most precious resource, water and the world of myth to create a narrative project that is indeed mythical and romantic. He uses the airship to seed the rain clouds in order to reduce the intensity of a sudden down pour along the mud plains opposite Varanasi, Hinduism’s holy city. The following is some of his work.



IDEA 07 Wharfies Saloon

At the other end of the spectrum to Clinic for the Alcoholic is the idea for a Wharfies Saloon. In order to develop a greater understanding between the separate worlds of the Clinic and of intoxication we can observe an opposite relationship to that which exists between Apollo and Dionysus.
We glimpse into the innermost depths of human beings through the analogy of intoxication. No matter how alienated, hostile, or subjugated, under the magic of the Dionysian all man and nature locks itself in place, rejoicing freely in the festivities of earths gifts. In Nietzsche Birth and Tragedy he proclaims that;
Singing and dancing, man expresses himself as a member of a higher unity. He has forgotten how to walk and talk and is on the verge of flying up into the air as he dances. The enchantment speaks out in his gestures. Just as the animals speak and the earth gives milk and honey, so now something supernatural echoes out of him. He feels himself a god. He now moves in a lofty ecstasy, as he saw the gods move in his dream. The man is no longer an artist. He has become a work of art. The artistic power of all of nature, the rhapsodic satisfaction of the primordial unity, reveals itself here in the intoxicated performance. 
The possible location I have chosen for my 5th year major work is in the harbour suburb or Carrington which has had a long reputation for its crude drinking establishments and "Wharfie" culture. The town still remains a stop off location for the many coal and cargo vessels that visit the harbour each day but the gentrification of the suburb has all but cleaned up the feverish excitement of exuberant sexual promiscuity, lust and cruelty that once existed. Thus the location of the old Carrington Pump House becomes an ideal location for the proposed Wharfies Saloon. The name suggests a public bar but because of the scope of work and complexity of program it would more realistically be a brewery with the additional facilities of a bar. The Brewery would become a celebration of the social collective experienced through mystical alcoholic obliteration.






The Lighter Side of Things

An update of images over text. Waiting for more steel to arrive, was meant to be here last week, apparently next week now, it goes on.