Sunday, February 14, 2010

smallBIG: small architectures

The "small architecture BIG LANDSCAPES" show, as curated by Wes Janz (founder of onesmallproject), opened Friday evening, February 5, in the midst of an 8" snowstorm in Terre Haute, Indiana. Many of the contributing architects, artists, and students were in attendance, including persons from Rome, Italy; New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan; Carbondale, Illinois, Indianapolis, and more.

With this first posting, post-opening, the six "small architectures" are presented, along with the 150-word statements written by each of the creators or creating teams. In posts to follow, the smaller constructions, flatworks, and self-builder tool collections will be featured.

The photo above (of Wes Janz talking at the opening) and immediately below (of Southern Illinois students, with the "contributors' wall" in the background), along with several others in the post, are by Giulia Fiocca, an architect from Rome, Italy, where she is a member of Stalker/On, a group that helps persons living in areas where abandonment and impoverishment are common to develop better self-awareness of their community and the environment in order to enhance their involvement in the neighborhoods where they reside. Giulia came to Carbondale, Illinois to work with students organized by Southern Illinois University faculty members Maria Vera and Shai Yeshayahu on their "small architecture" installation for the smallBIG show. Go HERE for more of Giulia's photos from the opening.

Azin Valy
I-Beam Design (New York) with Brian McCutcheon (Indianapolis)
"Green Springs"

Over 40 million mattresses are discarded each year. By combining, Green Springs intends to help reduce landfill waste while decreasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The Green Springs encourage the beautification of urban landscapes, using discarded bed springs to create green walls attached to existing building facades as free-standing screens or as horizontal trellises on green roofs. They reduce energy consumption by keeping the building cooler in the summer and greatly reducing the "heat island" effect.

Used with planter boxes and mounted outside windows, the mattress springs serve as armatures for climbers to grow on without damaging the walls, generate a vegetated habitat with year-round color, and create a lush green space without encroaching on or using valuable land.

By promoting their use in distressed urban neighborhoods, Green Springs would encourage the participation of residents in growing "facade gardens" from their own windows, reducing energy bills and creating a sense of pride.

Olon Dotson
Department of Architecture, Ball State University
"Green Architecture: East St. Louis"

We have evidence of the U.S. position as the wealthiest and most powerful country on Earth, but have limited knowledge of its poverty and degradation. The distress and abandonment we find in the cores of Rust Belt cities, I term the "Fourth World" - Third World conditions in the First World. The causes of these deep declines are local even as they are shared: de-industrialization, historic discrimination patterns, suburban sprawl, tax base erosion, inability to embrace the concept of desegregation and civil rights legislation, fear, despair, crumbling infrastructure systems, disinvestment in schools, and environmental justice issues are widespread. Today, sustainability is at the forefront of many discourses. However, the value of "green" is inconsequential when sprawling development practices are dictated by such societal ills. This installation shapes a front porch, from which a "green" scene is viewed, in this case, downtown East St. Louis, one of many nearby cities whose remaining residents endure Fourth World conditions.

Ana de Brea, Paul Puzzello, Wil Marquez
Department of Architecture, Ball State University
METHOD Architecture + Design

Cartoneros, waste pickers, recyclers, binners, informal resource recoverers, or scavengers. During the Argentinian economic collapse in December 2001, many thousands of people in Buenos Aires suddenly found themselves living under the poverty line. Their new, yet skewed, identity as cartoneros has come to define an invisible cluster moving through the city collecting society's trash to trade, sell, and survive. They are countless, yet represent a culture whose value has gained attention and social acknowledgement.

"Dialogue" translates the abstract into space and form. The conversations, contradictions, differences, and polarities that a group of people living together can offer has caused us to turn our attention to their value and purpose. Like the cartoneros, the authors believe there is no one-way of making, producing, creating, thinking, assembling, or constructing. In this exploration, they discovered that power is found in tolerance and in our ability to discover a future through process and understanding.

Maria Vera, Shai Yeshayahu, Giulia Fiocca
Southern Illinois University, Stalker-ON (Rome, Italy)
"You see me | as | you are | not as | who I am"

How does one unveil a thread that reveals a nexus to our built world?

Perhaps a course of action is to grasp the realities of our fragile spaceship, as was once explained by Buckminster Fuller when he wrote: Spaceship Earth and its complex life-supporting and regenerating systems has forced man to discover retrospectively just who his most important forward capabilities are. His intellect had to discover itself. Intellect in turn had to compound the facts of his experience. [Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth - 1969]

This point of reference ignited our quest for a collective undertaking of capturing local details and indications of: changes, diversities, potentialities, thresholds, conflicts, and other less visible data. All which are often present amid our immediate landscape, yet undetected unless we intentionally seek means with which to document this reality.

As we search out and experience the existing and dynamic complexities, our "collective findings" begin to amplify and depict a city's portrait filled with informational data that underscores the layers of multiple coexisting realities.

Timothy Gray
Gray Architecture (Indianapolis), Department of Architecture, Ball State University
"Fabric Study No. 1"

When the RCA Dome was demolished to make way for the new Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, over 225 tons of roofing material was salvaged from the structure and diverted from the landfill by People for Urban Progress, an Indianapolis-based, non-profit group which advances urban design initiatives through project-based urban interventions.

This installation, completed by a group of fourth year architecture students from Ball State University under the guidance of Associate Professor Timothy Gray, is the beginning of a series of investigations intended to interrogate this material, to understand its potentials, and to eventually extend this understanding to creative re-use of the salvaged fabric.

Using both conventional and digital methodologies, the panels represent an investigation into methods of joining and tensioning both the inner and outer shells of the old dome, and begin to explore the creative potentials of translucency and the play of light. A wood platform mounted at the center of the fabric screens invites one to inhabit the installation and suggests a dialogue between the movement of the panels and the movement of the body.

The viewer is invited and encouraged to set the panels in motion with a gentle push.

Participants: Timothy Gray, Austin Lucari, Jay Weeks, Brad Wanek, Veronica Eulacio, Eric Jensen, Mike Niezer, Paul Reynolds, Greg Hittler, Luke Haas, Mark Vanden Akker, and Ben Greenberg.

Scott Shall
Director, International Design Clinic; Department of Architecture, Temple University

FACT [1] _ Miles of CHAINLINK in the U.S.
FACT [2] _ Most CHAINLINK FENCING is around property lines, defining a PERCEPTUAL EDGE between PUBLIC and PRIVATE lands
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FACT [2+3] _ FENCESCAPE DEVIATIONS thicken the fence's PERCEPTUAL EDGE, blurring the line between PUBLIC and PRIVATE lands
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