Mocked-up: In Footnotes

Posted on March 27th, 2011 by Lisa LaCharité

Posted under: Installations + Exhibitions

While in common practice the architectural mock-up has mostly served to confirm design ideas, essentially facilitating the transition from representation to building, it is also potentially a speculative medium that can transform and generate architectural propositions. The various mock-ups, fabrications, and installations in the practice of Office dA attempt to do just that: serve as a vehicle for material experiments that challenge common industry building practices, test out emerging digital fabrication methods, and renew the theoretical interrogation of construction.

Several key venues have supported this agenda. The Fabrications Exhibition, curated by Terry Riley, helped launch the practice of Monica Ponce de Leon and Nader Tehrani. The Immaterial/Ultra-material Exhibition at the Harvard Graduate School of Design sustained this thread of research. The Ventulett Visiting Chair at Georgia Institute of Technology enabled Ponce de Leon and in 2005 and Tehrani in 2006 to work with students to develop a diverse and ambitious set of installations that brought pedagogy and practice into a productive alignment.

The mock-up on this wall is a work in progress: a layout of an eponymous book documenting the various installations in relation to material sciences, historical precedents, geometric analyses, disciplinary alliances, and also other Office dA projects that emerged from the research –multiple threads that weave a parallel narrative in the footnotes. The mock-up radicalizes material agency within a controlled framework; in turn, the architectural project presents the full array of design contingencies, from programmatic to structural mandates or from water-proofing to circulatory requirements. These provide friction, complexity and contradiction in the design process. The mockups and projects of Office dA together establish and exploit a link between pedagogy and practice. They underline the importance of the fabrication process as a transformative agent in architectural practice, while also bringing the building industry to productively bear on academic research.












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