Posts tagged with "FAT Architects":

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Sean Griffiths' latest installation creates inhabitable drawings

In 2014, Sean Griffiths exhibited My Dreams of Levitation at RoomArtSpace in London. His first piece since the closure of architecture practice FAT, the installation inhabited a series of first floor rooms of a Georgian house and saw wooden copies of the existing skirting boards and architraves displaced and hanging from the ceiling. My Dreams of Levitation forced visitors to duck and weave, taking unexpected journeys through the otherwise empty space. It also reflected moving property boundaries in the capital. Ultimately, though, the exhibition was Griffiths first foray into exploring the minimum requirement to make architecture.

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This journey, perhaps, might be what Tim Ingold defines as a “line.” To the British anthropologist, life is not lived in places, but along paths.

“By habitation I do not mean taking one’s place in a world that has been prepared in advance for the populations that arrive to reside there,” he argues in his book, Lines: a Brief History. “The inhabitant is rather one who participates from within in the very process of the world’s continual coming into being and who, in laying a trail of life, contributes to its weave and texture.”

Furthermore, Ingold eschews the “pervasive metaphor” of building blocks—for life, thought, and the universe—instead adopting notions of weaving, threading, twisting and knotting, a theory Gottfried Semper was also on board with. And like Semper (who drew from Marc-Antoine Laugier), Griffiths too has his eyes set on architectural reduction.

In his latest exhibit, Griffiths continues this exploration. Entering Tontine Street in Southeast England by walking from Folkestone Central railway station, it’s easy to miss Levitation I, a 3-D cube painted on the façade of HOP Projects’ gallery. The narrow pavement means you really have to crane your neck to see the distorted cube, which is best viewed from an island in the middle of a junction not meant for pedestrians. Other than that, you can see it across the street, but this results in an arduous journey to get back to the gallery itself.

Colored three shades of green to indicate light and shadow, Levitation I conflicts with the building’s rudimentary window arrangement. It serves as a preamble for the even more incongruous Levitation II.

Deliberately disorientating, Levitation II inhabits the gallery space inside. The area in spatial terms, if you ignore the art, is by all means weird. This is the result of various forms of usage before Tomás Poblete and Nina Shen-Poblete of HOP Projects took over in July this year. It can only truly be understood in plan and section, but visitors do not have access to these drawings and so Griffiths’ laconic interventions continue to disrupt visitors’ perceptions.

On the floor is a grid made from pebbles from the nearby beach. The grid has been rotated so not to align with the room’s geometry, failing to run parallel with any walls and sending viewers equally off-kilter. The pebbles are loose and could easily be kicked, but the overriding instinct is to walk with trepidation and avoid disrupting the order, which is ironic given the spatial purpose. Evidently, others have thought the same. Despite the gallery being open and apparently unstaffed (I later found out they reside above) the pebbled grid appears untouched.

More lines can be found on the walls and ceiling, this time found in the form of colored masking tape. These, though, are not as connected. Inside the gallery they vary in thickness and in length, spanning the white surface in a warped perspective like the experience of looking up at Levitation I. As you move around inside, some lines match up and the shapes can be read as more traditional, orthogonal forms. Some perspectives require you to step outside the gallery altogether for this view to come into alignment. It can be a fun game to shuffle left and right to make this happen as you stand there with a camera, but expect some odd looks.

The game of illusory perspective has, admittedly, been done before. But in the context of the façade, the pebbles on the floor, and the bizarre gallery space itself, its effect is amplified. The real trick, however, is at a much finer scale. Up close, so close your nose almost touches the wall, the masking-taped lines are revealed to be curved. Again, this behavior may result in glances cast in your direction.

Does all of this manifest as an inhabitable drawing? Griffiths hopes so; he’s certainly on the right path.

Levitation I + II HOP Projects 73 Tontine Street, Folkestone Through December 2
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MVRDV's stacked desires, Zaha Hadid's latticework roofs, and other updates from the architects of Instagram

At The Architect’s Newspaper, we’re plain addicted to Instagram. Sure, we love seeing Brutalist concrete through “Inkwell” or “Ludwig” filters, but there’s also no better place to see where architects are getting their inspiration, how they’re documenting the built environment, and where they’ve traveled of late. Below, we bring you some of the best Instagrams of this past week! (Also, don’t forget to check out our Instagram account here.) Last Friday, Rotterdam-based firm MVRDV opened The Why Factory (W)ego: The Future City is Flexible, a bright new installation for Dutch Design Week 2017 in Eindhoven. According to MVRDV co-director Winy Maas, the project is "based on the hypothesis that the maximum density could be equal to the maximum of desires." AN contributor and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman shared an alarmingly value-engineered facade in the UK. Beneath the fake brick, a hollow duct–a compelling metaphor for our current newscape. In the comments, there is a bit of hope: Furman and friends list British architects who would never do such a thing, like Sergison Bates, FAT Architects, Outram, or Caruso St. John. Bloomberg is getting a new $1.3 billion, Foster+Partners-designed headquarters in London. The bronze fin-covered building boasts artwork and installations by Cristina Iglesias, Michael Craig-Martin, Olafur Eliasson, and Langlands & Bell. Eliasson's No future is possible without a past crowns a central room within the building, resembling the silvery surface of a pond inverted onto the ceiling. Zaha Hadid Architects completed the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC) in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. The 70,000-square-foot, five-building complex includes an auditorium, library, exhibit hall, and a prayer room sheathed in white latticework (pictured below).
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Take a tour of FAT's quirky house-as-narrative collaboration with Grayson Perry

If there was ever a perfect curatorial pairing, Alain de Botton made it when he selected artist Grayson Perry to work with English architects Fashion Architecture Taste (FAT). Architecturally speaking, their so-called House for Essex is a “built story”—a shrine to an Essex woman named Julie who led a life as a rock chick and later a social worker, along the way marrying twice and finding happiness before being tragically killed by a curry delivery moped. The dynamic duo of Perry and FAT's Charles Holland collaborated for almost four years on the artwork and its integration into building form. Perry wrote a long poem about Julie and her life, and how her second husband, Rob, promised to build a Taj Mahal for her if she were to die before him. This is that shrine to her life. Perry had the dream of making a secular shrine, and he first started by sketching his visions of the precious, small temple-like house. “My first ideas looked a bit Hobbity, or like something from Game of Thrones: ramshackle with lots of turrets.” FAT helped make his design, well, less "Hobbity," and incorporate the narrative imagery of Julie’s life and death into the building. They decided on green and white tiles, hand crafted for the building, each of which has an iconographic reference to Julie’s life. While practically every surface is adorned with some of FAT’s most intense detailing, there is a subtle touch that allows the more ordinary features to shine through as a spatial enactment of the narrative. Arched clerestory windows are carved out of a richly painted ceiling; their curved voids contrast, Aalto-like, with the surface of the ceiling. Mustard- and ketchup-colored built-in furnishings are detailed with a level of precision that only FAT could make work without going way over the top. The proportions of the telescoping volumes make the outside like a Russian nesting doll, but inside, the interiors are intensely proportioned to keep up with the visual narrative. The cozy, cathedral-like main space soars above, giving way to a chandelier made from the moped that killed Julie. The bedroom features a 15-foot high tapestry by Perry that looks over visitors, and, depending on one’s own reading, gives approval, disapproval, a cheeky glance, jealous yearning, comforting presence, or complete indifference. Every aspect of the home is meant to have multiple layers meaning, like all of FAT’s projects. This one just takes the notion a step further than other projects. The house is the sixth installation of de Botton’s Living Architecture program, “a social enterprise…dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of world-class architecture. It has produced outstanding houses such as MVRDV’s Balancing Barn and the Room for London, a boat by David Kohn and artist Fiona Banner, with Artangel that sits on top of Queen Elizabeth Hall and gives stunning views of central London. The building is the last project for FAT, which disbanded in 2013. The House for Essex has had wide-ranging coverage in the UK, including an hour-long special on Channel 4, which got good reviews. More information is available at the Guardian. Perry also gave an interactive tour of the house here, and it is a must-watch.