QW 3 – 2015: TomDavid en Jaime Levinas

 

 

 

Quarterly winners: TomDavid Architects and Jaime Levinas

TomDavid Architects

Thinking

In 1983 the French-Swiss architect Bernard Tsumi won the design competition for the new Parc de la Villette, a redevelopment of Les Abbattoirs (the slaughterhouse grounds) in Paris. Tsumi used the Deconstructivism developed by philosopher Jacques Derrida as his source of inspiration. This theory postulated that the world was not as ordered and accessible as Modernism would have us believe and offered constancy only in the confusion and lack of predictability of daily reality. These ideas gained popularity at the same time as the development of the chaos theory, a theory on the effect of exponentially increasing uncertainty. The mathematically-based theory expounds that every initial condition has an effect on everything else thereafter, meaning that the actions of even the smallest of organisms can greatly influence outcomes later on. Eduard Norton Lorenz illustrated the theory with the ‘butterfly effect’, whereby a butterfly’s flapping wings in Brazil can ultimately cause a hurricane in Texas. The safe stability of the 1950s as a social model was supplanted by the acceptance of uncontrollable, comprehensive chaos.

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Jaime Levinas

Devoid

Little that has been made by human hands is as static as a building; as rigid and immobile, as firmly fixed to the ground on which it stands, as a building. Little that has been made by human hands is as slow to respond to the wishes and developments of society as a building. In the first instance a building is merely a shelter and then a bearer of identity for the user, the visitor, the city, and it can only respond to change by the interception of any number of professional designers or by dereliction and demolition. Between reuse and demolition there is the vacuum of vacancy. Lack of occupancy is not a new phenomenon. The occurrence can usually be linked to clear, socio-economic causes. Currently as well, the sustained economic depression is the direct cause of the crisis of building vacancies. Yet, unlike previously, we can question whether the former uses of those buildings now empty can simply be revived once the market improves. Is it possible that there is a need for different, new or perhaps even fewer spaces? How do we know if there is sufficient quality in a building to meet a new social need, the nature of which may not yet even be known or adequately understood? How do we gauge the quality of vacant buildings at all? Is visiting or viewing the space enough? Or can we feel and listen as well? These are serious questions regarding the re-evaluation of some basic principles within the discipline of architecture, and ones that are funnily enough being asked by a group of young artists spearheaded by a young filmmaker and a musician.

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