Cartopological ©  Space: TYPOLOGY displaced through TOPOLOGY


 Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa (Head Professor and Coordinator -Associate Professor adj.), Lydia Kallipoliti (Assistant Professor) and James Lowder (Assistant Professor)




Cultural context

Contemporary canons have been substituting spatial structures and their referential Cartesian coordinate space for non-conceptual differentiation[1]. Such differentiation relies on an equal exchange between geometry and architecture without revisiting or critiquing disciplinary fundamentals. Post-structuralist theories, as a pendulous reactionary force against previous structuralist theories, broke away from the philosophical conceptual premise of deconstruction: to develop a full decomposition of any assumed disciplinary fundamentals. Rather than focusing on a syntax based on formal structural logics, recent architecture tendencies hide structural problems in favor of a visual approach, relying on its media-based effect that has exhausted its capacity to be critical.

Design II Studio Theoretical Background

Design II studio critically revisited the contemporary potential for a formal architecture autonomy.  Through the reconsideration of structure, the studio searched for strategies to redefine post-structuralist theories as a continuity of the previous structuralist ones. The reconsideration of latent ideas to activate questions of structure and displacement in the common nine square grid figure in Wittkower’s analytical diagrams of Palladio’s villas constitute an axis of reference based on a structuralist matrix across architectural history. In addition, the common diagram that Rowe traces between Palladio’s Villa Malcontenta and Le Corbusier’s Villa Stein, Terragni’s ideas of displacement based on the work of Palladio, Hejduk’s Texas Houses and Eisenman’s Houses series may complete this axis of reference. These strategies were revisited through the incorporation of contemporary post-structuralist canons, to resolve a more relevant role of deconstruction since 1970’s.

Recent tectonics for architecture relate to a reactionary criticism of the modernist paradigm of universality, which demands a reconsideration of the role of place and territory. But after various expansions in the limits of the discipline, the question that resounds most is: what’s left of architecture’s intrinsic knowledge in relation to current state of the expansion of its boundaries? Moreover, in relation to Derrida’s concept of parergon[2] that questions the origin and the frame of the work of art, the context in which it is defined, questioning its origin; how are the limits of the container frame-space redefined after such expansion?

Along with this architecture expansion, the autonomy of the vectorial surface acquired by the dissembling of the object-container towards the expanded field was resolved in the canonical thickening of the ground as an inhabitable surface. This process of expansion that was based on the aesthetic of continuity of the surface, derived more recently into the emergence of spatial warping. Although along this, Cartesian space and referential structures have been simply ignored, rather than displaced or critiqued. Such a scenario left only two alternatives: neomodernist boxes as containers and postructuralist blobs. What this studio proposes is to develop a base to transcend such dialectic to displace referential systems including representation within the reconstitution of the boundaries of the discipline.

Students studied the constitution of form through the development of the source codes and systems that striated them. These systems were displaced and their origin structures reconsidered implementing different definitions of topology. This constituted the base for a structuring of form that considers the relevance of processes and relationships in systems and that ultimately constitute the basis of some problems in computation. Concepts of systems, parametric design and some of the questions that algorithms raise were discussed as students induced displacement to linear cognitive structures using topology and dynamic representation.

Structures and typologies were deconstructed through multiple definitions of topological displacements: topology as a way of resisting predetermination; topology as relative forces, or as degree deformations displacing absolute categories; topology as the topo logos or the logic of the place; and ultimately non-Euclidean geometric topology of bi-continuous surface deformation that forces spatial continuum and activates spatial warping[3]. Multiple predetermined modern spatial typologies are questioned through relative topological displacements. The enfolding of contemporary canons to revisit architecture limits, proposes the institution of a state of suspension that demands the recognition of a hybrid transitory space. Therefore a space suspended between a potential topological surface-space and its absolute stable referential Cartesian coordinate system. This space was defined as Cartopological ©

Pedagogical Objectives

Design II studio developed an un-house for two individuals. Each student studied architectural language through the development of a conceptual and formal syntax. As a point of departure a parametric nine square grid vectorial frame-space was first described, then analyzed and displaced through topological transformations. As a meta frame-space brought to the foreground, this organizational framework was displaced by processes of instability geared by programmatic constraints, inhabitation and experience. Gradual variations were implemented to aim for a typological and structural transformation, critiquing the point of departure and its original type. Each student was asked to resolve an architectural syntax departing from an individual sensibility to develop a personal architecture vocabulary in the constitution of architecture systems. Such syntax was based on the development of architectural categories in formal invention, to conceptualize the architectural elements that emerge and their functional implementation within the array that deploy the organizational system.

Design II Exercises

Parallel to typological and organizational developments, the studio was structured in phases that investigate the relationship between formal spatial organization and programmatic relationships that were taken up to a level of experiential affection.

First, the tectonics of a 30’ x 30’ x 30’ Cartesian vectorial matrix was informed by the activation of a generative moment in representation, searching for a certain formal autonomy within each representational stage and interface used. Second, the site for the un-house was understood, in principle, as an extension of the intrinsic relationships and ideas that the project develops establishing different strategies relative to its XYZ (0,0,0) departing coordinates within a  90’ x 90’ x 90’ vectorial Cartesian frame. Third, entrance and circulation activated subject-object relationships and experience. The presence of the body activated displacement to the organizational systems. Fourth, three distinct body positions were examined to acknowledge the presence of the inhabitant: vertical (public), sitting (semi-private) and horizontal (private). Fifth, the two inhabitants activated topological relationships in interior-exterior spatial relationships and dynamic programmatic crossed relationships activating spatial warping in the un-house. Finally, preliminary site decisions were challenged by a general group-site structure and its emerging adjoining conditions. External architecture problems such as orientation and neighbor projects’ decisions were relative to the emergence of multiple site conditions each student had to acknowledge, including topographic continuity, circulation and the shifting boundaries and spaces in-between projects.

 Each student worked with different media understanding the logic of each representational interface and aiming for the activation of a generative moment within each of these intermediary spaces, starting with hand drawings, different software based computer drawings, parametric surface transformations, and also physical performative experimental models and constructions.

[1] Difference without concept is a term used by Deleuze to qualify distinct levels of difference. Deleuze, Gilles, Difference and Repetition, The Athlone Press Limited, 1994. [orig. Différence et répétition][2] Derrida, Jacques, La vérité en peinture, París, Flammarion, 1978.[3] Vidler, Anthony Warped Space, Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture, Cambridge, MIT, 2000.

Design II Students: Marcela Escobar; Alexandra Alexa; Luo Xuan; Ariana Revilla; Lorenzo Bertolotto; Che Perez; Derrick Benson; Devon Moar; Derek Lange; Gambino; Jacob Gurin; Jaeyoung Byun; Vincent Hui;Karl Schulz; Mark Ressl; Stephanie Yeung; Sam Friedberg; Alexa Reghenzani; Will Hood; Yoon Shin; Maxfield Schnaufer; James Leonard; Jorge Flores; Kristinn Vidarsson; Andrew Lam; Shiori Sasaki; Matt Noonan; Orest Bidnyk