Building on Tangible Themes

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Building on Tangible Themes

Frank Gossage


Who influences you graphically?
In the pure representational sense I’m interested in testing different strategies to convey each project. I’ve been really into one-offs lately, just producing a gif here a plan or video there for a project. Although the modes may be disparate there is a consistency of highly suggestive but never exactly spoken forms, there are strong ties to the figuration of John Hejduk and the decoration of Robert Venturi. Bob Somol’s Green Dots 101 is a strong reference in all of the work. I’m also sympathetic to the jarring graphic quality of people like Jimenez Lai, it disarms the viewer in a way, almost a shock value of what the heck is this thing, then when you read more closely you’re left incredibly impressed.

What is the effect and purpose of a monochromatic palette?

The black paintings of Ad Reinhardt is a monochromatic palette that feels right to me, his series typifies a cool aloofness and a deep investment in being nonchalant that I’m interested in reproducing. Maybe I’m more interested in monotony than monochrome, I think that using color and pattern in a monotonous fashion can have a similar cool effect. Artists like Takashi Murakami’s use of an overabundance of pattern and color produces a surface decoration with multiple narratives that by themselves would be perfects centers of gravity, but together create a beautiful homogeneous mess. I often oscillate between monochrome and monotonous pattern when thinking about surface, I believe they’re in the same family.


How does colour have the power to change the way an image/ project is perceived?

Color is inherently tied to decoration or taste and a lot of people think it’s too superfluous or not serious enough for architecture. Many of Luis Barragán’s projects would look pretty damn boring without color, but they do have color, and his project is on the cover of a book titled “The Architecture of Happiness” because of color. A lot of offices are missing out on opportunities for color just because they don’t see opportunities for it, or maybe they’re afraid, it’s easy to get colors wrong.


To what extent do you agree with the notion The Medium is the Massage?

I would agree with McLuhan when he likens the content of a medium to a piece of meat carried by a burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. Although my work is highly figural and graphic it’s built on very tangible architectural themes that I’m working through, which only appear on closer reading. The medium that I use sometimes helps illuminate the motifs, sometimes obscures it, I think it’s important for good work to have a quality of mystery or prolonged tension, not an ending that’s wrapped up neatly. Although a different medium, I feel a close affinity with the photographer Gregory Crewdson’s images, there’s a powerful allegorical element that really appeals me.


How could the projects be formatted in specific ways to reinforce their themes?

I’m not sure there is a specific way to format them… The images read as a stream of consciousness and each can relate to one another in a different way, they’re very extroverted drawings.

What is your take on the axonometric as the most complete form of drawing?

The axonometric gets over looked a lot in architecture, it’s usually left out of the traditional cannon of plan, section and elevation when describing a project for a lot of offices, it seems like the first thing on the chopping block when producing drawings. What I like about the isometric projection axonometric is that it can describe multiple orientations of a building in detail and it’s also measurable which makes it far superior to a perspective. I still love plans and sections but I just think they can be better, contain more information, not necessarily be confined to an orthographic projection. A similar style that I’m interested in that’s in the same genealogy as the axonometric is a drawing like OMA’s Parc de La Villette entry which utilizes the oblique projection, it’s not as “complete” as the isometric projection but the qualities are undeniable.


A Home in a Formal Town

A Home in a Formal Town

The building which we had entered was one of great size and elaborateness, labyrinthine complexity, involving curiously irregular differences in floor levels, characterized the entire arrangement. Ascent was effected over the steep, transversely ribbed stone ramps or inclined planes which everywhere served in lieu of stairs. The rooms we encountered were of all imaginable shapes and proportions, ranging from five-pointed stars to triangles and perfect cubes. The Cyclopean massiveness and giganticism of everything about us became curiously oppressive; and there was something vaguely but deeply unhuman in all the contours, dimensions, proportions, decorations, and constructional nuances of the blasphemously archaic stonework.

-Lovecraft, H.P. (1931). At the Mountains of Madness

Telling stories is an underappreciated visualization in architecture, allowing a reader to experience how a space is used from a first person view offers a glimpse into a proposal. “A Home in a Formal Town” is story about architecture, domesticity, and why this fictional town is so inciting and repulsing at the same time. A dream world where lives are lived differently but not that different from our own, an underpinning of social norms with a pinch of schizophrenia is the realm of which this town exists. Directors like David Cronenberg and David Lynch as well as authors like Haruki Murakami and H.P. Lovecraft write about alternate universes which could coincide with this town. A concise summary of this project could be that it’s some kind of lovechild between Frank Lloyd Wright’s “A Home in a Prairie Town” and David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks”.

The architectural descriptive power of author H.P. Lovecraft is unparalleled in his novellas, often attributing humanistic qualities to the built environment, Lovecraft gives constructs as much personality as the characters themselves. Understanding these principals is an important aspect to “A Home in a Formal Town”, the dialog between the homes is just as important as it is between the citizens that live there. In explicit instances paradollia comes to the forefront of the facades, this is where it becomes obvious that roles are reversed and the citizens are less important than the architecture.

This story investigates 10 different housing typologies, how they get along, and what a metropolis of these structures might look like. This is told through the adventures of the citizens living in their homes, creating a narrative that is both architectural but also interpersonal. Like how Wright’s “A Home in a Prairie Town” was a precursor to the Prairie Style, “A Home in a Formal Town” uses a similar tactic of a balance between orthographic drawing and lifestyle descriptions to create a manifesto for domestic living.


A Home in a Formal Town


A Home in a Formal Town


A Home in a Formal Town

Hefner/Beuys House

Team: Jimenez Lai, Andrew Akins, John Donoghue, Senaid Salcin, Matthew Schneider

Renderings Courtesy of: Thomas Kelley

This installation is a Super Furniture. It is a building that is slightly too small, and a furniture that is kind of too big. Two of the past projects that are part of the Super-Furniture Series include: the Briefcase House and White Elephant (Privately Soft). The previous iterations of this series has been widely covered, published and discussed, including BLDGBLOG, ArchDaily, archinect, Evolo, Architizer, etc. In addition, the transformation of the practice from comics to installation can be witnessed in a very early coverage by architect in 2006.


Anatomy of Two Dwellings


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