Moscow, Russia / 2013

This proposal for the Moscow Center for Contemporary Art is based on a set of giant, black, jack-like objects. These objects appear in strange orientations and are gathered together into a sack, or container. This strategy creates complex interstitial spaces and deferred interiority, producing a museum full of spatial surprises rather than an endless continuum of pathways.

Strange Mereologies

Tristan Garcia, the object-oriented philosopher, talks about the infinite regress of things inside of things inside of things, with the exception of the world itself—in which everything is inside of and therefore cannot be inside of something else. For Garcia, a ‘sack’ is a literal diagram of a conceptual conundrum: how can things be independent from one another yet also contain other independent things? This conundrum is at the core of our proposal: it is a building that appears simultaneously as multiple things and as a fused, larger object with distinct properties. The vibration between these two modes of existence proposes an alluring aesthetic indeterminacy.

The jacks are hard objects that occasionally press out against their soft container from the inside, inflecting it locally. Some jacks press into the outside of the container as if attempting to enter. A liner surface is found on the interior, which sometimes tracks with the container, and sometimes deviates radically from it. One large jack is set between container and liner, pressing into each, and then removed, like a ghosted form. This creates vast interstitial spaces that serve as the temporary gallery. The remaining jacks house various support functions such as a research area, library, offices and theaters. At the main entry, the container is sliced open to momentarily reveal how the inner liner delaminates to create habitable poché space for galleries and circulation.

Tattoos and Scale Indeterminacy

Instead of relying on a conventional panelization system based on grids or meshes, the container is embedded with architectural tattoos. Tattoos add ambiguity to the visual relation between jacks and container. They retain discrete edges rather than flowing over the entire building, and therefore appear as objects themselves. Drifting on and off the jacks, tattoos heighten the simultaneous fission and fusion of elements in play. The freeform figuration of the tattoos suggests a composite materiality where buildings are built in large lightweight chunks and traces of conventional construction systems are suppressed. The tattoo, as a kind of projective or fictional construction logic, creates a sense of indeterminate scale and origin in the architecture.

Ground vs. Land

Landing is deferred as the building is pressed into an intermediary ‘ground object,’ which is in turn pressed into the politicized land—a distinction made by theorist Jeffrey Kipnis. While the looseness between building and ground object allows for passage underneath the building, the looseness between ground object and land additionally emphasizes the disassociation of building with landscape. This strategy contrasts with now-exhausted notions of buildings-becoming-landscape, disappearing into context, or otherwise appearing to emerge from contextual information. Architecture, here, produces its own ground.

Location: Moscow, Russia
Floor Area: 46,500 SM
Program: Fine Art Museum
Client: Ministry of culture of the Russian Federation