A Dialogue of Form, Context and Effects : Engaging Tschumi through Intervention

Presented by: Clay Odom, Kory Bieg

“When surroundings are thought of as stable, we tend to lose a feeling of responsibility for the environments in which we move. Space becomes a background for interaction rather than a co-producer of interaction.” Olafur Eliasson This paper introduces the theoretical and process-oriented framework for the design of a new intervention ,(NAME), in the outdoor room which exists on the upper floor of the “Red generator” – one of the buildings designed by Bernard Tschumi for the Florida International University School of Architecture. The paper focuses on questions associated with context and intervention into context as generative, effects producing potentials. Through project specific, design-based research, the paper -supported by drawings, diagrams, visual programming outlines, and photographs- describes the research, design and development of a spatio-temporal intervention in the interior. We will describe Form, Surface, Material, and Color in regard to exploring the responsive and generative conditions of context, space, ornament, atmospheric effects and experience. Formal Development The paper explores how techniques are generated as attempts to weave into the existing fabric of the space by exposing spatial and structural capacities established by the form of the building itself. Exploring the generative and parametric processes which yield a new generator within the generator (re: Timothy Morton’s ‘Hyperobject’), the resulting form and its underlying topology proposition is interrogated as simultaneously theoretical and material condition. Surface Articulation The tile pixilation on the outside surface is one of the most striking aspects of Tschumi’s project. Using gradation within a material field to generate new formal effects is a key factor in our design. Each cell is perforated by a secondary pattern which yields structural outcomes such as reduction of uplift and weight reduction and atmospheric effects such as sun and shade patterns. The resulting is a highly differentiated set of aggregated cells which define surface and provide structure while also yielding lighting and spatial effects. Material Selection Material effects of mill finished aluminum allow for visual conditions to be developed where the actual form and material merge with the surrounding conditions. Light and sky are reflected and refracted from the property of surface and this effect is controlled through the parametric definition of form. Color Application Leveraging the information which each cell contains relative to orientation coordinates, allows orientation to be used to generate color fields parametrically. The resulting gradation of color is applied to the outer-facing side of the cells (similar to the tile applications on the exterior of the existing project). The result is a hidden color which is reflected and seen either indirectly or through formal topological changes which reveal sidedness of the surface. Conclusion In his Advertisements for Architecture, Tschumi makes the point: when architecture is carried “to excess…it will reveal both the traces of reason and the experience of space.” (Tschumi 1996, 74-76). (NAME) is a project that both ‘reveals’ and ‘remakes’ its context through design. Particularly, exploring affective and effective conditions through the milieu of temporal intervention, the project attempts to synthesize these two often conflicting design approaches into a generative design process which leverages context, form, surface, structure as both affective and effective actors. The resulting process is designed to result in a project which both acts and reacts through its methodology. Finally, (NAME) is disciplinary in it’s positioning and considerations, contextual in its relationship to Tschumi’s existing building and theory, generative in how details are created through scripts which lack any reference to site, and emergent in the resulting atmospheric and spatial effects which are synthesized and produced.


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  • Di Palma, Vittoria. 2006. “Blurs, Blots and Clouds: Architecture and the Dissolution of the Surface”. AA Files (54
  • Evans, Robin, Translations from Drawing to Building. (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1997).
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