AWP: Vers un climat: Building (with) the Unstable
Much of the work at AWP had been devoted to developing a practice on the intangible dimensions of architecture including atmosphere, climate, and perception. Part of AWP’s challenge has been to, through the guise of architecture, translate recurrent themes of impermanence, evolution, and the uncontrollable into the buildings. Consistent with these themes is the impact on time on our interaction with architecture. Specifically, by merging night and light, designers can produce unique effects, which appear and disappear with the time of day. As such, the firm’s investigation includes the space-shaping power of light on a different of scales, contexts, and presenting examples through a variety of medium. Within the context of the nighttime life of architecture, artificial illumination gives new from, function, and relevance to the previously defined architecture. Within this reading of architecture at night, we begin to see that architecture is not a science or a stable art that is unchanging. Rather, architecture has the capacity to evolve, change, fluxuate, and perform as active participant in our cities.
From here, the firm’s work has explored the relationship between nighttime architecture and the landscape in which it rests. As such, the boundary between landscape and architecture become blurred and undefined, thereby allowing for a broader domain of built works. The works presented by AWP should not, therefore, be studied in terms of the boundaries created by walls or the brick and mortar used to keep them erect. Instead, each work can be understood through the lens of an experiential quality: atmospheric blur, the effects of light, multiple-layers or meaning and interaction, illusory perspectives depths, framing of views which create a surprising sequence of events and experiences. The soft performance of architecture also refers to the process of smoothing physical reality with other subtle aspects of culture such as art, music, philosophy, and history.
As part of their ongoing work related to the intersection between cities and night, this most recent exhibit at Cornell University will center on the nocturnal face of architecture. By this we mean that the context of night offers a new way to interact with the building and its surrounding landscape. The desire to combine the “hard” and “soft” dimensions of architecture is transposed into design hallmarks of the firm: geometries in tension, combination of raw and subtle materials, re-combining medias (and programs), hijacking pre-established typologies, among other issues. Mediating between these aspects of design, the firm’s interventions also tend to turn architecture into landscape and landscape into architecture. This exhibit will evolve the firm’s research and architectural practice by applying built work as it relates to the cycle of the day and night, and therefore contributes to an urban nightscape. The exhibit will include several built and proposed projects including the Lantern Pavillion in Norway, Troll installation pieces worldwide, the sculpture park for the LAM Museum of Modern Contemporary and Outsider Art and/or the follies in a Park project, nighttime plan of La Défense. Scholarly and theoretical work will also be included from the Paris la Nuit exhibit, currently at Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Paris Urban center and from other AWP publications including their book Nightscapes (Gustavo Gili, 2009) which will be presented in the exhibition.
Alessandra Cianchetta Lecture