‘The Tectonic Grain’ at Georgia Tech

Posted on October 21st, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Installations + Exhibitions, Lectures

NADAAA is curating an exhibit at the Georgia Tech School of Architecture to open October 24th in the Stubbins Gallery. In tandem, Nader will lecture on October 24th in the Reinsch-Pierce Family Auditorium at 4pm. To see Georgia Tech’s full line-up of fall lectures check HERE.

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‘Down to Earth, Looking up to the Heavens’

Posted on May 4th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic, Installations + Exhibitions

NADAAA contributed a drawing to Tempietto Exemplum, an exhibit at the Yale School of Architecture curated by Amanda Iglesias this Spring. Below is the accompanying text.

See the drawing up close HERE.


St. Peter’s Inverted Crucifixion: Down to Earth, Looking up to the Heavens

Nader Tehrani, 2018

The altar of the Tempietto, located on axis with the entry into the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio, appears to be composed of monolithic pieces of marble. It is distinct from the conventional altar conceived as a free-standing piece of furniture. Encrypted into the logic of the building’s architecture, the altar is set against the outer wall, further thickening the mass of the load-bearing structure. Consistent with Robin Evans’s article “Perturbed Circles” in The Projective Cast, the position of the altar contributes to the effect of multiple centers achieved in this building, and its de-centering underlines the importance of this choice. Indeed, the altar is not only monolithic, but the inverse. It is composed of a series of thin marble slabs, behind which a cavity allows for a clerestory window into the crypt. The altar serves as the window’s frame, and thus the two are co-dependent.[1]

As partial as it may seem, the sectional detail of this altar reveals something about this building that not only subverts the conventions of its time, but also requires a form of representation beyond the normative techniques of drawing. Due to its curious spatial reciprocity, the figure-ground relationship between the space of the clerestory and the form of the altar is so tight that the building is exempted of the poché characteristic of the structures of this period. If the mass of a traditional wall is meant to provide structural support for a building, it is also the means by which ancillary spaces such as niches and other figural voids can be carved out. The Tempietto does away with this mass altogether, ingeniously conjoining the two functions by using one as the alibi for the other—the altar gives light, and the clerestory offers mass.

This telltale detail of the Tempietto also exposes the difficulty of drawing complex circumstances that require simultaneously looking up and down, if only to show two facets of something inextricably bound together. For this reason, this small structure offers the ideal opportunity with which to advance a form of representation whose purpose is not to illustrate what is already known but to expose the inner workings of something that can only be unearthed forensically. This drawing is the result of the “flip-flop” technique, coined by Daniel Castor in his 1996 book Drawing Berlage’s Exchange, where he demonstrates how this drawing type produces a beguiling form of visual ambiguity that enables the eye to invert the perception of foreground and background.[2] Not dissimilar to El Lissitzky’s Abstract Cabinet 1927 drawing, Castor’s isometric, constructed from a tri-fold 120-degree angle of projection, is distinct in its balanced bias towards the X, Y and Z axes all at once.

The architectural application of this technique resides in the latent alignment between the conventional bird’s eye and worm’s eye views, the latter often attributed to Auguste Choisy. If the bird’s eye view exposes the world of the roof, the worm’s eye reveals the inner workings of the dome, effectively two different symbolic realms.  Donato Bramante conceived of both the Tempietto and St. Peter’s Basilica a few years apart, making their conceptual connection somehow inevitable. The Tempietto, a martyrium dedicated to St. Peter, is a folly of sorts—at once a model, a mock-up and a miniature building in its own right with the gravitas of spatial, formal and linguistic tropes that advance the discourse of its time. In its crypt, a pit on center with the oculus, is purported to be the receptacle within which St. Peter’s cross would have been planted upside down, looking up at the dome as it were. In light of the eventual dual-shell construction technique adopted for St. Peter’s dome, one can understand the absolute necessity of looking up and down simultaneously, because the domes are not only symbolically divided but structurally semi-autonomous. By extension, even though the Tempietto is a single-shell structure, the flip-flop technique in this drawing demonstrates the instrumentality of also looking inside and outside simultaneously.

Within the vicissitudes of representational techniques through the centuries, we are beneficiaries of many conceptual advances in the arts that, when seen in tandem, help build a rich repertoire for an analysis of this kind. For instance, Charles de Wailly’s sectional perspectives show the connection between buildings and their urban context in full splendor, in effect bringing the city into the building. The graphic work of M.C. Escher also demonstrates how the latent connections between geometry, space and the construction of perception contribute to their hypnotizing architectural effect. We witness in Picasso’s cubism the desire to overcome the impossibility of seeing many facets at the same time—the front, the back and the sides. In this tradition, as an extension of Castor’s own work, this composite drawing looks up and down, inside and out, toggling back and forth, taking advantage of the isometric’s unique visual sleight of hand to reveal the anomalous alignments, correspondences and reciprocities that would otherwise remain lost in the seemingly pure and idealized form of the Tempietto.

[1] The complex relationship between the building’s oculus, connecting the chapel and crypt, as well as the crypt’s clerestory, diagonally drawing in light from the exterior, is lovingly depicted in Paolo Sorrentino’s 2013 La Grande Bellezza, effectively linking the multiple centers in one shot (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYwIoxnUWjg),

[2] The Yves Alain Bois essay, ‘Metamorphosis of Axonometry’ makes reference to the Josef Albers painting Structural Constellation, wherein the visual symmetry of the drawing produces simultaneous depth and flatness. Accordingly, as the eye toggles back and forth between the two sides of the drawing, it can be seen to perceptually pop in or out.

CREDITS: Nader Tehrani, Katherine Faulkner, Lisa LaCharité, Mitch Mackowiak

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‘Tempietto Exemplum’ at Yale School of Architecture

Posted on April 10th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic, Events, Installations + Exhibitions

A group of thirty firms including NADAAA has contributed original drawings to the Yale School of Architecture’s exhibit: ‘Tempietto Exemplum’.

All are invited to celebrate the opening this Thursday, April 12th at the Yale School of Architecture. Craig Buckley will be lecturing at 6:30pm in Hastings Hall, immediately followed by ‘Tempietto Exemplum”s opening reception.

On Friday, April 13th the School is hosting a Gallery Talk at 1pm. Please RSVP to Amanda Iglesias to attend this talk: amanda.iglesias@yale.edu

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Zhulang Huagai pavilion featured on designboom

Posted on March 19th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Installations + Exhibitions, Press

See the full article HERE.

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Zhulang Huagai: A Figure for the Nantou Urban Village

Posted on March 2nd, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic, Installations + Exhibitions, Press, The Cooper Union

NADAAA recently collaborated with students of The Cooper Union to design and realize a pavilion in Nantou Urban Village as part of the Shenzhen Biennale. The result is a permanent structure that will continue to serve the neighborhood and is already being used for a weekend marketplace. For more see Archdaily’s post HERE.

photo courtesy of UABB


photo courtesy of the UABB

photo courtesy of Jeremy Son

Special thanks to Margaux Wheelock-Shew, Jeremy Son, Mitch Mackowiak, Yujun Yin, and the Thornton Tomasetti team.


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Collaborating with Cooper

Posted on February 6th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Installations + Exhibitions, The Cooper Union, Urban Design

NADAAA collaborated recently with two students from The Cooper Union to realize a new pavilion for the Shenzhen Biennale in the Nantou Urban Village of Shenzhen. The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper interviewed the students, Margaux Wheelock-Shew and Jeremy Son, on their experience of collaborating with a design office to complete a built project. Read the interview HERE.

The next big surprise: somebody over there decided it should be permanent, though it had originally been designed to be dismantled. So, the Chinese welded the joints and sank it into concrete. There is some irony to this because of all the designs the team came up with, the one they meant to be impermanent was the one with the scaffolding. “That thing is not going anywhere,” Margaux says. Tehrani added: “Moreover, it is an important recognition that such initiatives can be in service of a larger civic mission that contributes back to the community in which it is lodged.”

photo by Lea Bertucci, The Cooper Union

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Catenary Compression in ‘Building Giants’

Posted on January 26th, 2018 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Installations + Exhibitions, Press

ZHA edits this issue of ‘Building Giants

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Shenzhen Biennale inauguration!

Posted on December 17th, 2017 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Academic, Installations + Exhibitions, The Cooper Union

Read on Archdaily more about the Biennale HERE.

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100 International Architects of 2017

Posted on December 14th, 2017 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: _Daniels Building, Awards, Events, Installations + Exhibitions

The Korean Institute of Architects named Katie and Nader among the world’s top 100 architects of 2017 with a special citation of the Daniels Building project for the University of Toronto. The project was part of an international exhibition recently held in Seoul.



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Shenzhen Biennale Teaser

Posted on December 9th, 2017 by Nicole Sakr

Posted under: Events, Installations + Exhibitions, The Cooper Union

The Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale is opening in five days! NADAAA, in collaboration with the Cooper Union has designed “Zhulang Huagai: A Figure for the Nantou Urban Village” which is currently under construction. A special thanks to Cooper Union students Margaux Wheelock-Shew and Jeremy Son for their work on this project. Also a special thanks to the Thornton Tomasetti team: Tian-Fang Jing, Walter Woodington, James Richardson, and Hauke Jungjohann.

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