Drawing as a Response to Everything and Everyone
Who influences you graphically?
I always like to make new graphic experiences with a new project. I think it is terribly sad when the same filters, the same cutouts, the same colours are drawn over each project. You should ask each time anew: What does the project want? What is it crying for? You just have to listen carefully. Then the search for suitable (graphical) references begins. Accordingly, the question of the graphical influence has a simple answer: everything and everyone. Therefore, it is worth to go through the world with open eyes, to look around and take photos of all sorts of things that inspire you. That can be a lot: A wide range of mediums (exhibitions, videos, posters, photos, magazines) with illustrations that put a smile on your face, as they are fun to be looked at. Thus I would like to supplement my answer: everything and everyone, with the main focus on fun – sometimes really smart and insightful, sometimes ordinary and straightaway. But usually just fun.
What dictated the choice of yellow as a background upon which to format your images for the project Cleanroom cluster?
I always try to find extremes that manifest themselves in consistent structures. In this context, the blank sheet is also an object to be designed. Black-and-white-modernism has somehow settled in our minds – but architecture and its graphical representation can be much more. I don’t want to say that I do not like black and white. On the contrary: In the right place this also has its appeal, because black and white contrasts are the most natural and extreme at the same time. But even with colours this is possible to achieve, opening an additional dimension of experience. So if you push the RGB controller up to the extremes (255, 255, 0) you end up with yellow, which is excellent for complementary contrasts. Especially for representations that subsist on the figure-ground-principle, large-scale yellow surfaces develop so much power. In the end, the yellow colour is a crucial part of the narrative scenario and means of expression of the following conviction: Exaggeration instead of bald application!
What role does colour play? How does it affect the way an image is perceived?
Colours are simply great! How would the world look if life would be colourless? Quite dreary and desolate I guess. Areas, whether they are two-dimensional in plans or three-dimensional in spaces, can be appropriately occupied with colour. The best example of this is naked Le Corbusier, who painted Eileen Gray’s walls in a variety of colours and thus appropriated her house E-1027. In terms of effect and perception, colour is simply more natural and vibrant compared to artificial aesthetic monochrome images. Colours are emotional narratives, which ultimately serve a coding. This is especially evident in OMA’s Pan-European Living Room: The EU barcode, an alternative, colourful symbol for the European Union. A symbol of optimism by means of colour.
You compose through collage? What is the effect and implications of stitching divers fragments to create your own?
The question is actually the answer. It is about acquiring fragments, in order to make it your own, to make something new. The most important thing for this new unit is an idea, a concept. We will only be able to produce the new when we produce ideas, when we know what a concept is and how we develop it. Architecture is a discipline and in this there have been numerous previous episodes. So why always start anew, even though there is already a huge pool of knowledge and insights? To say it in a somewhat provocative manner: New ideas don’t exist – Remix! The systematic examination of references and the associated thinking in images can help to establish an independent voice in the concert of contemporary mainstream-mishmash-architecture and same old boring stories.
The collage principle can have two effects. The first possibility is to be creative, to create new structures. That was also the understanding of the inventors of the collages, from Picasso and Georges Braque to Kurt Schwitters, Max Ernst and René Magritte. However, the Dadaists returned to the origins of human speech, the childish sound ‘Dada’, because they didn’t want to build on what was the basis for the cultural catastrophe of the First World War. So they collaged a new world out of pieces, which was not only original, but also full of wit and really new. And this is the second possibility, namely to distance itself from current movements such as brainless hyper realistic renderings nowadays.
The collage, on the other hand, is smart and clever. Associatively and correlative, the fragments come into contact with the viewer. Without his cooperation, the work remains a cryptic sign. It arouses the curiosity and the uncontrollable inventiveness, both with the designer as well as the observer. It defies the dictate of being nailed to a statement, leaving rather enough room for numerous interpretations. Also for misinterpretations, from which new things can emerge as well. It doesn’t pretend how something has to be, because it is not a finished product. The collage is not an alternative to architecture. It exists in all concepts, in every design.
How did the physical model inform and develop what the images couldn’t explain/explore?
Designing is not a linear sequence of decisions. Often you go a step forward and then two steps back. The model can be part of this process to check in which direction you go next. The aim is to change the angle of view and jump in scale and media to achieve a holistic picture. It is used for self-testing and thus a way to acquire knowledge. Plans can be as beautifully drawn as they want. As long as the design has not been checked spatially and haptically in the model, it is in some way at risk. In every model there is always a small utopia. A spatial utopia that can move you into another world when you look at it closely. And that is exactly what the model of the cleanroom cluster design achieved. Nearly 60 kg of soap envelop the colourful styrofoam volumes and thus convey a holistic conceptual image of transparency and its different spatial situations.
In recent times we have seen the proliferation of Hockney cutouts – what is your take on this? How does the use of his silhouettes inform and relate to your project?
The fascinating feature of Hockney’s paintings is their seductive everyday life. They are motifs of your direct environment, which is why they work perfectly as cutouts. Especially through their brilliant colouring, to return to the previous questions, they succeed in conveying a feeling of life. So what is more beautiful for an architect than to use such emotionally charged “ready-mades” for his own purposes. Of course always in the hope that colour, joy and Hockney’s pure pleasure in painting is also reflected in architecture. What connects in some way is the passion, which is in both his and our works. Furthermore his images are bursting with optimistic energy, which, in turn, they also partly lose again, since they are used by almost anyone. But the most interesting thing about them is that the images are still abstract enough to be used by architects, yet they are understandable and approachable at the same time to allow people without architectural background to get access to the designs.
A Cleanroom Cluster_Research Institute, 2016
The cleanroom cluster design follows a tripartite design methodology based on Oswald Matthias Ungers’ postulate of the three fundamental levels of architecture. In order to put these levels, introduced in “Morphology. City Metaphors” as 1. physical facts, 2. psychological impressions and 3. metaphors, analogies and models, in a contemporary context, current questions need to be posed: What are important metaphors, analogies and models in architecture today, and what role do they play in the design and conception of architecture? Scientific investigations are also often structured by the use of models, e.g. the atom model. As idealized representations of reality, they translate the abstract into a comprehensible form.
The location of the experiment is the scientific and technological environment of the KIT Campus Nord, which at first glance seems to be shaped by physical and technological necessities. In this context the cleanroom cluster offers space for various institutes as a research environment.
Curiosity_Experimental intervention, 2016
The formerly largest US settlement Franklin in Mannheim is converted to a new district for 8,000 people. Even during the multi-year construction phase, the terrain should be put in mind and wake up first pioneers to life. A first patch called Franklin Field is made open to the public and offers a unique opportunity as an architectural testing ground for creative and unusual ideas that represent the colorful idea of Franklin. The temporary objects are made of demolition material, mainly plastic window frames which frame different aspects of the area. By this the designs should arouse curiosity about Franklin and encourage people to come to and explore the site.
Space in Time
In the Middle Ages it was the market square, before the millennium it was the shopping street in the city, today we have online shopping – but the future of shopping lies in the phygital store, an urban hub of a large logistic network representing the convergence between online and offline world.
Modernity is a world in motion and logistics control this world. Goods, people, resources, capital, data and images move with increasing speed over long distances. In the quest for ever-new competitive advantages based on speed the logistical modernity replaces natural and urban terrain with undirected space and virtual surfaces, e.g. the virtual online shop with an invisible logistics centre in the background. The complexity of human and urban space, however, finds no place here. Against this background, the design questions the singularity of logistical time and is searches for the SPACE IN TIME. Architectural occupations are proposed which can be embedded in these infrastructures and make use of the special features of their logistical DNA. The aim is to develop design strategies for programmatically, spatially and architecturally enriched infrastructures, transforming the strategic space of logistics into habitable space – experienceable architectural and urban terrain.
BNGRT is an architectural story of adventure and exploration.
Florian Bengert studied architecture at KIT Karlsruhe. He graduated with a B.Sc. with Distinction in 2013 and started working in Basel at Buchner Bründler Architekten. Since 2012 he has been supporting a*komm as a research assistant as well as R+E since 2014. He received the Deutschlandstipendium five times and participated in the exhibition ’40.000 hours’ at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012. Beside some guest studies at Hochschule für Gestaltung he organized the summer 2016 lecture series ’LIVE LOVE ARCH’ at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology where he is finishing his studies. Florian is currently based in Berlin where he works for ARCH+ on the cultural logic of the digital era and the resulting role of the architect.