Posts tagged with "Materials & Applications":
Materials & Applications (M&A), a Los Angeles–based nonprofit dedicated to building a public culture of experimental architecture, recently took over a vacant lot in L.A.’s Echo Park to install the products of a year-long competition for its latest initiative, “TURF: A Mini-Golf Project.” The open-to-the-public mini-golf installation features contributions from a wide slew of young, creative practices, all focused on designing compelling golf holes. They are the result of a lengthy competition, selection, and fabrication process aimed at citing contemporary L.A.’s partisan development battles within the complicated terrain of a mini-golf course.
M&A executive director Jia Gu explained the premise behind its work: “In a way we are trying to bridge two worlds that don’t intersect very often—public audiences and experimental architecture. We use the term “to build a public culture” quite literally—we are about producing built projects that can contribute to expanding and provoking public conversations around architecture. To a certain extent, M&A’s history has always been to resist the “gallerification” of architecture by producing projects that exist outdoors, in open air, and in the public—whether this space is publicly or privately owned.”
Typically, M&A’s installations take place in the courtyard of its Spanish-revival bungalow court, but for TURF, M&A partnered with local developer Hillcrest Company to bring a soon-to-be-developed, but vacant, parcel of land into public use. Gu explained further, “On our end, we’re constantly thinking about how to bring value to interim-use spaces that are owned by developers but are not yet under development. There is a lot of opportunity in this city for these types of empty lots to be returned back to the public for a short interim use, allowing spontaneous and surprising moments of leisure, play and collective inactivity.”
An interactive installation reconsiders the definitions of enclosure and openness.Warren Techentin Architecture’s digitally-designed La Cage Aux Folles, on display at Materials & Applications in Los Angeles through August, was inspired by a decidedly analog precedent: the yurt. “Yurts are circular,” explained Techentin, who studied the building type as part of his thesis work at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. “That began the idea of using small-diameter rods and taking software and configuring sweeps with some special scripts that we found online.” But while the yurt’s primary function is shelter, Techentin’s open-air installation, built of 6,409 linear feet of steel pipe, is a literal and intellectual playground, its form an investigation of the dualities of inside and out, enclosure and openness. Once the architects became familiar with the scripts, which allowed them to manipulate multiple pipes simultaneously, they found it easy to generate designs. The hard part was settling on a final shape. Then an off-hand observation narrowed their focus. “Somebody made a comment about, it looks like a crazy cage,” said Techentin. “We realized, ‘Oh, there’s this cage component. What if we imagine spaces inside spaces?’ That’s where these interiorized conditions came through, kind of creating layers of inside and outside.” Technical constraints further influenced the form. “We had to jump out of the digital world and decide how this was made in reality,” said Techentin. To minimize materials costs, the architects decided to work with schedule 40 steel tube, which is available in 24-foot lengths. Returning to Rhino, they broke apart their model and rescripted it accordingly. They modified their model again after learning what radiuses their metalworking contractor could accommodate. “It was kind of a balancing act between hitting these radiuses, the 24-foot lengths, and repetition—but how do you get difference and variety,” said Techentin. Warren Techentin Architecture originally sought a digital fabricator for the project. But the quotes they received were too high, and they could not locate a manufacturer able to work with pipes longer than six feet. They contacted Paramount Roll and Forming, who rolled and bent the tubes by hand for one-tenth of what digital fabrication would have cost. “It wasn’t what we wanted, but in the end we wanted to see the project through,” said Techentin. Paramount sent the shaped steel to Ramirez Ironworks, where volunteers interested in metalworking helped assemble the structure. The design and fabrication team then disassembled it, painted the components, and transported them for reassembly on the site, a small courtyard in the Silver Lake neighborhood. La Cage Aux Folles invites active exploration. “My work draws great influence [from] architecture as something that you interface with, interact with—that envelops you, becomes part of an environment you participate with,” said Techentin, who overheard someone at the opening call his structure “a constructivist playground.” “We fully intended people walking around in there, lying down,” he said. “The surprise factor were the number of people who feel inspired to climb to the second and, more ambitiously, the third cages. We’re not encouraging it, but people do it.”