Conveying Complexity Through Simplicity

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Conveying Complexity Through Simplicity

Marcelo Ertorteguy


The Garden and the Machine is a series of hypothetical vignettes created by Marcelo Ertorteguy envisioning imaginary self-sufficient “home-machines” or “green-machines”. Each utopical scheme shows a dialog between a form of dwelling and an automated farming device, evoking an improbable but allegorical and simplified sustainable life.

Marcelo Ertorteguy is a New York-based Venezuelan architect, co-founder of the design studio Stereotank.



Who influences you graphically?

Although many of the sources that inspire me are very specific, they are seldom noticeable on the outcome of my work, sometimes a combination of ideas produce a completely unexpected result. I’m very inspired by blueprints, assembly catalogs, mechanical cutaways, etc. If I were to mention some architects/artists which drawings I like, those would be Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, James Stirling, Archigram, Wes Jones, Brodsky & Utkin, Atelier Bow-wow, among others. I recently discovered in your website the work of Dominic Dickens who’s drawings I found fascinating.

You reveal these machines in isolation, how could this sustainable method of living conglomerate to become a network?

For sure by repetition and seriality bigger assemblies could be conceived, either vertically or horizontally, depending on the farming mechanism they would interact with, forming different geometries at different scales, from a building to a little village, or from a city to a larger system. The dialog would grow proportionally, the bigger the dwelling the larger the crop, possibly creating public spaces at an urban level.


How would a specific format as that of the manual reinforce and provide some irony to the idea of sustainable machines?

On the one hand the format of the manual tends to simplify its content to a minimum for maximum clarity, it reduces reality to a diagram that can be easily understood. On the other hand, it gives you the opportunity to by-pass intricate information usually providing a ‘dumbed down’ version of the subject. In this case, the oversimplification of the sustainable machines is used as a shortcut to communicate an idea that would otherwise need deeper understanding to realize.


What is the effect and purpose of revealing these machines as objects through the axonometric? How would a more inclusive view as a perspective effect the way these speculations are seen and interpreted?

Axonometries have the virtue of making every single line and every single detail stand out, meaning, they tend to express more by showing less, through axonometric drawing, ideas of different levels of complexity can be fully conveyed through simplicity. By the same token, in order for a regular perspective to be equally effective, the contents would need to be much more developed. Lines have a much stronger voice in parallel projection.

What parameters defined the way these hybrid structures are constructed?

All schemes have the same ingredients in different form and in similar proportion. The “inhabitable” component lies at the core of each scheme, always austere yet industrial, directly engaging with the “farming” component through a mechanical system suggesting some sort of automatization, ultimately the “leisure” component appears represented by users involved either playing or just relaxing (inspired by the Situationist’s “Homo-ludens”) activating and closing the cycle.



Marcelo Ertorteguy, Venezuelan born in 1977, graduated from the School of Architecture and Urbanism of the Universidad Central de Venezuela and obtained a master degree from Columbia University. Based in NY for the past 10 years, he worked with Grimshaw Architects and LOT-EK. In 2009, co-founded together with partner Sara Valente, Stereotank; a design studio that explores the intersection between art, architecture and sound. He is currently an adjunct professor at the school of architecture at Florida International University in Miami.




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