Postcards From The Lynnway
Post-Professional Design Studio: Edward Mitchell & Aniket Shahane, Yale School of Architecture #YSoA. “What makes a city?”
Andreas De Camps & Shreya Shah
Lynn does not have the image of a city it once did as evidenced by its rich historical photographs and postcards. The problem: how to create a public space for Lynn by amplifying its existing characteristics through one of its greatest assets, the shoreline? The focus of the project is Route 1A, or the Lynnway, which is an area already targeted for development. While driving on Route 1A, one passes through Lynn in approximately 6 ½ minutes without ever seeing the shoreline because it is completely disengaged from the city. The proposal calls for a new shore drive, which takes into consideration the multi-faceted elements of Lynn including the historical downtown, commercial chains, as well as the New England housing typology. In this project, the architects act as choreographers of a particular type of development strategy, one that supports certain types of buildings, densities, uses, and boardwalks and one that can only happen in Lynn. The city was analyzed through historical images and postcards that intend to bring back to Lynn the imagery it is now missing.
Who influences you graphically?
I am attracted to paintings and artworks that rather than portray a very realistic scenario, do it in an abstract and/or surreal manner. I have always found interesting the flatness of David Hockney’s paintings and the mood set by collages by artists like Julien Pacaud and Hugo Barros. The photomontages done by Superstudio in the 60’s have also been very inspirational to me, the use of strong linework and geometrical forms have proven to be very powerful tools when it comes to composing an image.
What is the effect and purpose of a postcard like format? How would the project be received differently if presented as a stand alone image?
In the early stages of the project, when we began researching about Lynn, we encountered a strangeness and quirkiness that was present in the town’s historical images and postcards. The characters and scenery in the postcards appealed to us because although Lynn still has a little of that strangeness present today, we think it needs more of what it once was. A town where “Marshmallow Fluff” was invented and with a popular chant that goes: “Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin, you’ll never come out the way you went in”, we thought deserved a particular mode of presentation. The presentation of the project through postcard like format and the reintroduction of historical references intends to highlight the weirdness and distinctiveness of the town and at the same time propose a lot more of what Lynn used to be.
Postcards are generally associated to a certain nostalgia as well as exchange, how could these images propagate the image of Lynn worldwide and what would be the effect of this?
Postcards are a great resource that offer evidence of a place’s culture and past. Historically, postcards have contained markers of popular taste and distinctive features that are valuable to a particular town or place. Presenting the project through postcards celebrates, in a way, both the ordinary things of the project and the picturesque qualities of it. It also attempts to awaken interest and revitalize the city of Lynn, an industrial city with a rich historical background.
To what extent do you agree with the axonometric as being the most complete form of drawing?
The axonometric drawing, in my opinion, is a very useful tool specifically for purposes of illustration. I like to use axons to portray an overall idea or to illustrate certain qualities of a project. However, in the final stages of a project, axonometric drawings can be misleading since sometimes the images appear distorted and out of scale. In general, the axonometricIt is a great means to depict three dimensional space on the two dimensional picture plane.
What is you take on the art of collage? and how does it relate back and reinforce the idea of the architect as a choreographer?
When collaging you have to be very conscious of what you want to show; what you’re showing in the foreground versus in the background. You need to be careful about what you’re pasting in where, what’s big, what’s small, the hues of the different elements, what stands out, and what pieces play a secondary role. The art of collage relates back and reinforces the idea of the architect as a choreographer because ultimately it talks about the project. Through collaging, you identify what pieces of the project are important to you, and what elements you would want to show more than others. At the end, it comes to what you choose to show and what you choose not to show, which is in a way, choreographing the project.
How did you select the images and create your archive? How important is this process?
From hundreds of historical postcards, we selected the ones that talked about qualities that were missing in Lynn. We created an archive that contained intrinsic elements of Lynn’s culture. The process of curating these images was crucial to the project and it eventually led to the production of the final images.