WRITINGS / INTERVIEWS / LECTURES

OBJECTS, CONTAINERS, WORLDS


Our office is focused on exploring the fundamentals of architecture through contemporary epistemological and ontological speculation. What exists? How do groups of things exist and how are they related? How do we apprehend things, and where are the limits to our knowledge of the world? Avoiding scientistic promotions of information and knowledge as viable justifications for architecture, we instead privilege mystery and the ability of architecture to allure, vex, and resist.

To these ends, we consistently discover opportunity in the disciplinary study of mass, interiority, ground, aperture, and surface articulation— and in particular, in how these architectural elements can be broken apart and set into resistance with one another. We refer to this as the architecture of a flat ontology, where architecture is made of discrete entities that exist equally but differently. This position avoids both classical part-to-whole unities and the generalizing contemporary paradigm of flows, flux, and becoming in favor of the specific architectural object.
 

Our method is based on “models:” three-dimensional entities that precede exposure to the contingencies of program or site and embody specific ways of seeing the universe. The models that most fascinate us are low-resolution, almost primitive figures such as jacks, stacks, crystals, ziggurats, tesseracts, objects inside objects, misfit objects, and loose-fit enclosures. Rather than being drawn from the world, these entities exist as worlds in their own right, contending with the fundamental relationship between container and contained in an intensely disciplinary way.

Ground in our work is treated as architecture rather than landscape. Our building masses do not fuse with or otherwise disappear into the ground, but remain discrete from it using strategies such as hovering, nesting, or otherwise deferring a “landing.” Entry becomes a strategy for leaping between worlds rather than a smooth transition from outside to inside.

Finally, our work attempts to move beyond general envelope logics such as panelization and toward specific figuration. Like tattoos on the body, figuration on building skins can simultaneously interact with underlying form and deviate from it, creating ambiguous scale effects and links between architectural parts. Tectonics have been identified for too long with either material phenomenology or literal expression of performance. We argue, instead, that the beauty of tectonics is its ability to create fictions, confounding expectations of material or scale.