Taking A New Stand On Old Tools

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Collage, Perspective View, Students

Taking A New Stand On Old Tools

Traumnovelle

Interview

Who influences you graphically?

Our references are sometimes linked to the history of art and architecture, however, we also find much of our inspiration in other fields. We are inspired by photojournalism, in particular war photojournalism, and world archive photos, such as National Geographic’s database. We think they have the power to express much more than what they show. We also often refer to modernist visions of the future and propaganda visuals from the 20th century. We believe that they express strong and unyielding visions of the future. Finally, we are inspired by fiction, in particular science-fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction (Ballard, K. Dick, Le Guin…). Fiction creates powerful mental imagery because the images themselves are both universal and very personal.

You construct through collage, to what extent do you believe that this tool can be expanded to talk about architectural practice?

 Collage is a much-used medium in architectural history. It reflects a particular approach to architecture through art. With collage, we refer to Dalí’s critical paranoia, to the Dada movement. However, as young architects, we think it is important to take a new stand on old tools. For example, our project WTC uses the « collage exquis » to explore architectural design ; how to create architecture based on debris, on objects as found. We also explore how architecture itself can constitute that lost and found item.

What is your work process in both selecting and archiving images? What mediums do you use and why?

We first determine a particular thematic, based on our current work or discussions. We then investigate and expand the theme by researching anglophone of French university or library databases. If necessary, we scan the documents ourselves. We store and classify everything which grabs our attention on our personal computers. If we are working and researching for a particular project, we might print out related images and pin them on a wall. The collection is part of the thinking and design process.

What is your take on the phrase the medium is the message?

Form does indeed embed itself into the message. In our work, we precisely rely on two mediums : fictional text and architectural imagery. Each feeds the other in terms of symbolism and meaning. We use images for their evocative power, and specifically architectural representation in order to represent space, which can then be understood as such, like any architectural project. We combine these images with short narratives in order to deepen the understanding and articulate our stance on an issue, and to enhance subjective readings. However all of these media serve as narrative tools allowing us to address transdisciplinary contemporary issues.

How does the use of color or lack of influence the way an image is perceived?

Black-and-white images, which we often use, evoque an undetermined point in time, almost as if we were backdating the subject of the image. They appertain to a timeless moment, a static temporality. Albeit in a different way, the use of specific color palettes can refer to particular scenes, places, or cosmos. Color refers to the subconscious and specific cultural perceptions. However, we want to distance ourselves from current forms of naive architecture. In periods of slow economic growth throughout history, architects have often had to battle to occupy their time and make a living. We prefer to side with those who have not sacrificed ambition and critical thinking, such as Archigram or the Russian paper architects in their times, rather than glorifying the mundane through colorful yet tedious collages.

You talk about architecture and fiction- how could the formatting of a book in a fictional manner through a book/animated clip have informed the proposal more?

It is true that at first, we were very eager to make a book. However, although we love books passionately, it didn’t seem like the right medium at the time. We have not ruled out making a book in the future though !For now we prefer situations which encourage cross-disciplinary readings. Our work is published by specialized magazines and journals which frame, curate and edit based on varied topics. Many interesting readings occur when a piece is read at the light of others. An animated clip we consider would yield too much to the culture of immediacy and shallowness which reigns in the field of architecture, but not only. We are pretentious – or naive – enough to believe that we will be read and understood, and hope that our work may spark something in our readers.

The Candy Shop
Aiming at exploring gender relations in the household, this project inverts and exaggerates existing power relations and gender expectations to underline their absurdity. e Candy Shop, inspired by 50 Cent’s « Candy Shop », is based on such archetypes as the suburban home, the Victorian house, the roman domus and the Italian villa. It serves as a framework to explore the ways in which space, and in particular domestic space, can influence actions, power relations and gender roles. e project also plays with gendered spatial archetypes, such as the courtyard and the tower, and subverts their gendered meanings. e gender inversion and the disturbing feeling one may experience when faced with these men’s hardships also highlights the bitter fact that feminist demands for equality cannot yet be considered satisfied, be it in the workplace or in the household.
In a not-so-distant time and place, an influential businesswoman returns home after a day’s work in the city. As she drives towards her country villa, she begins to relax as she thinks of her men eagerly awaiting her return. They will have cleaned the house, prepared a lavish dinner for her guests and washed with care. She smiles as she thinks of them in the morning, exercising in the sports garden. She imagines their smooth, youthful, sweaty bodies and is slightly aroused. She looks forward to showing o her newest man the her guests this evening. He is a ravishing, pouty beauty. She couldn’t bear to entrust him to one of her friends quite yet. However she may have to express her consideration to a client, were it needed to seal a deal.
As suburbia gradually thins, houses spread out and retire from view, and gardens become lusher. She is thankful for the peace and quiet of her own large oasis, away from the bustling city. Truly, the city is no place for men! So much noise and distractions for their weak concentration! e poor things would probably lose control, or get lost. Even for a woman, the city is a tiring place, she sighs. She parks her car under the canopy and makes her way towards the house. She pauses for breath under the arcade, and gazes at the stars beyond the leaves and elegant beams. She wonders what delightful gifts her men will have prepared for her as, this afternoon, each of them worked away at their trivial manly crafts. How endearing! She sees a few men’s anxious faces through the windows to her le , but she ignores them and climbs the flight of stairs to the suspended walkway and heads towards her private tower. She needs to relax before the evening’s entertaining and has no time for her men’s honeyed cares. On her way up to her bathroom, she pauses in her office to check a few figures for tonight’s negotiations. Outside, the men’s quarters are quiet. They must all be in the harem, awaiting the evening’s pleasures

candyshop_traumnovelle_axonometric

Candyshop

candyshop_traumnovelle_ladies-sitting-room

Candyshop_Ladies Sitting Room

candyshop_traumnovelle_mens-bathroom

Candyshop_Mens Bathroom

candyshop_traumnovelle_plan

Candyshop

candyshop_traumnovelle_pleasure-rooms

Candyshop_Pleasure Rooms

candyshop_traumnovelle_tower-view

Candyshop_Towerview

Le‘’Quartier Nord’’ has been, for nearly a century now, an urban island. It was rst isolated from Brussels’s city center by infrastructure – the Bruxelles-Charleroi Canal, the North-Midi train junction and Boulevard Leopold. Simultaneously, a ‘’politique de la pourriture’’ was applied with the specific aim of destroying the neighbourhoods, households and livelihoods in order to free the terrain for a massive investment and speculation. ‘’Quartier Manhattan’’, as it was named, was to become a new urban, economic, financial and political hub, with 54 state-of-the art skyscrapers and a new urban planning policy true to modernist ideals. However, due to the oil crisis, many investors backed out and the State had to kick in and thus became the owner of vast office spaces. 50 years later, Quartier Nord is mostly underpopulated, underused and notoriously boring, cold and dangerous. The State has allocated many of its offices to public institutions, including the ONE (Office National des Etrangers), which is the sole occupant of the tower originally named World Trade Center I. The neighbourhood is therefore occupied by white-collar workers, on their way to-and-from work and Gare du Nord, as well as migrants who are striving to regularise their situation and have only this institution to turn to.

Seeing in WTC I and II a great potential for an entirely new programme which may open, un-isolate and improve the attractivity of the Quartier Nord, Traumnovelle proposes an architectural project backed by a piece of short fiction in which the north tower, WTC I, is transformed into a contemporary art museum, and the south tower, WTC II’s current functions, a reception centre for asylum seekers, are improved and asserted. The common three-level slab manifests the two programmes’ similarities (entrance systems, security and ow management, waiting systems) and dissimilarities (exhibition space as opposed to health checks, accommodation and clerks’ offices). In between, a no-man’s-land demonstrates the unbridged breach between both publics yet exacerbates the symmetry between both programmes.

This piece of work addresses several major issues relative to the Quartier Nord, but which are also transversal to many European cities and neighbourhoods. Namely, how can a derelict neighbourhood be revitalized thanks to public and cultural institutions? What role do art institutions play in creating lively neighbourhoods? How attractive is art? How can abandoned office buildings, one of Brussels’ most recurring typologies, be meaning- fully reallocated? Can spaces be affected to handling the migrant crisis, and how? Should public spaces alone absorb the need, or can private spaces be requisitioned? How should we welcome these newly arrived potential future European citizens? How do the spaces dedicated to welcoming migrants reflect harsh, exclusive and often inhumane policies? Moreover, this piece of work also aims at questioning whether modernist and functionalist architecture can be considered as part of the European cultural and architectural heritage, and if so, how can it be reallocated, handled, renovated, and valued.

Ode To Joy

Chère vieille Europe, cher vieux continent, putain autoritaire, aristocrate et libertaire, bourgeoise et ouvrière, pourpre et pomponnée de grands siècles et colosses titubants. Regarde tes épaules voûtées, pas moyen d’épousseter d’un seul geste, d’un seul, les vieilles pellicules, les peaux mortes d’hier et tabula rasa… D’ici on pourrait croire à de la pourriture noble et en suspension. il otte encore dans l’air de cette odeur de soufre. Sale vieille Europe, celle qui entre deux guerres et même encore pendant caressait pour son bienle ventre des pays de ses lointains ailleurs et la bite à la mainarrosait de son sperme les sexes autochtones (1).

Noir Désir, «L’Europe», des Visages des Figures, 2001

Wealthy North Europeans who purchase houses and retire in the warmer Southern European or North African countries echo the same economic, demographic and social principles as snowbird migration to the Sunbelt states in the U.S., as well as the enclosed ClubMed holiday and the privileged expat jobs and lifestyles in developing countries. Westerners seem to cling to the belief that the whole world is available to them, to be consumed and transformed to t their needs. e relationship between the African and European continents epitomizes this neo-colonial relationship.

This piece of work exploring from a cynical standpoint how the western world may save itself from global warming and the rise of sea levels by applying these anchored notions. e African continent being less subject to sea rises than Europe, is physically, ideologically and symbolically appropriated by Europe in an attempt by the latter to save itself – and, hence, to save mankind from its own errors. The materialized border becomes both a barrier, preserving the interior from the exterior, as well as an inhabited frontier, relocating 500 million Europeans along the reinforced African coastline.

The proposal aims at questioning Western-centric points of view when dealing with global environmental and social issues, and the inevitable neo-colonialist attitudes that follow. Its scope is not limited to Africa, but may be expanded to the global south as well as to the labouring classes within Western countries themselves. It also questions the reliance on technology and capital in resolving crisis, and mankind’s obsolete dependence on the barrier as a form of preservation.

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_collage

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_collage2

Ode to Joy

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Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_collage4

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_collage5

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_collage6

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_collage7

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_collage8

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_collage9

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_collage10

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_collage11

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_plan1

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_plan2

Ode to Joy

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_plan3

Ode to Joy

WTC Tower

Le‘’Quartier Nord’’ has been, for nearly a century now, an urban island. It was rst isolated from Brussels’s city center by infrastructure – the Bruxelles-Charleroi Canal, the North-Midi train junction and Boulevard Leopold. Simultaneously, a ‘’politique de la pourriture’’ was applied with the specific aim of destroying the neighbourhoods, households and livelihoods in order to free the terrain for a massive investment and speculation. ‘’Quartier Manhattan’’, as it was named, was to become a new urban, economic, financial and political hub, with 54 state-of-the art skyscrapers and a new urban planning policy true to modernist ideals. However, due to the oil crisis, many investors backed out and the State had to kick in and thus became the owner of vast office spaces. 50 years later, Quartier Nord is mostly underpopulated, underused and notoriously boring, cold and dangerous. The State has allocated many of its offices to public institutions, including the ONE (Office National des Etrangers), which is the sole occupant of the tower originally named World Trade Center I. The neighbourhood is therefore occupied by white-collar workers, on their way to-and-from work and Gare du Nord, as well as migrants who are striving to regularise their situation and have only this institution to turn to.

Seeing in WTC I and II a great potential for an entirely new programme which may open, un-isolate and improve the attractivity of the Quartier Nord, Traumnovelle proposes an architectural project backed by a piece of short fiction in which the north tower, WTC I, is transformed into a contemporary art museum, and the south tower, WTC II’s current functions, a reception centre for asylum seekers, are improved and asserted. The common three-level slab manifests the two programmes’ similarities (entrance systems, security and ow management, waiting systems) and dissimilarities (exhibition space as opposed to health checks, accommodation and clerks’ offices). In between, a no-man’s-land demonstrates the unbridged breach between both publics yet exacerbates the symmetry between both programmes.

This piece of work addresses several major issues relative to the Quartier Nord, but which are also transversal to many European cities and neighbourhoods. Namely, how can a derelict neighbourhood be revitalized thanks to public and cultural institutions? What role do art institutions play in creating lively neighbourhoods? How attractive is art? How can abandoned office buildings, one of Brussels’ most recurring typologies, be meaning- fully reallocated? Can spaces be affected to handling the migrant crisis, and how? Should public spaces alone absorb the need, or can private spaces be requisitioned? How should we welcome these newly arrived potential future European citizens? How do the spaces dedicated to welcoming migrants reflect harsh, exclusive and often inhumane policies? Moreover, this piece of work also aims at questioning whether modernist and functionalist architecture can be considered as part of the European cultural and architectural heritage, and if so, how can it be reallocated, handled, renovated, and valued.

TEREESTE

WTC

ode-to-joy_traumnovelle_section2

WTC

wtc_traumnovelle_entrance-museum

WTC

wtc_traumnovelle_entrance-office

WTC

wtc_traumnovelle_migrant-accomodation

WTC

Manuel_A2_Blanc_sur_noir

WTC

Manuel_A2_Blanc_sur_noir3

WTC

Manuel_A1_Blanc_sur_noir

WTC

Traumnovelle is a militant faction founded by three Belgian architects:

Léone Drapeaud, Manuel León Fanjul and Johnny Leya.

Traumnovelle uses architecture and fiction as an analytical, critical and subversive tool to emphasize contemporary crises and dissect their resolutions.

Traumnovelle alternates between cynicism and enthusiasm all the while advocating for critical thinking in architecture.

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