Prof Martin Bressani and Fabrizio Gallanti @ McGill Architecture
*This post is part of a collaboration with McGill Univeristy where we will be sharing a selection of unrealized student projects.
This project is born out of a re-reading of Rem Koolhass’ Delirious New York and is fueled by a form of urban nostalgia for delirium and madness 40 years after the publishing of the retrospective manifesto.
It is born out of the belief that the city possesses its own psychological profile, and that it has the capacity to be rational, taking the form of the grid and the skyscraper, but also delirious, allowing forms of ambition, rivalry and seduction.
It is a speculative exercise on a regular Manhattan block that aims at defining a language that may expose the delirium once termed by Koolhaas.
The block is designed as a reflection of the city. Not of its massing, but of its psychological profile. It is a city within the city that encompasses the programmatic instability and chaos of Manhattan. It is a vision of Manhattan on steroids, manifesting within its form the multi-layered adventure that is architecture.
This project is interested first in language of architecture and shapes. It derives its formal aspect by cataloguing oddities on the island and fragments of the Junkspace.
Architecture is conceived with fragments taking over the block and the plan – a free choreography of thoughts orchestrated by the architect. Architecture is treated as a language made of fragments of pre-existing evidence of the city, rearranged by inversion, change of scale, playfulness of composition and mutations.
As in John Hejduk’s Hanover/Lancaster Masques, a sophistic disconnection of the method from the architectural object allows a division of praxis and poeisis. Fragments of the city and program are treated as a matrix of subject/object populating the block with their own architectural adventure. Each building acquires a distinct persona.
The resulting is a toy-town composition, evolved from a catalog of forms stripped from any contextual association. These shapes jostle for a space on the block. Likewise, programs permeate the plan and façade, bounded by the social space between. Where the architecture of the metropolis endeavors to be non-intrusive and transparent, I make it obvious, sudden, unforeseen and unsettling.
The city has become gradually psycho-rigid and has expelled seductive forms of madness from its fabric. Diversity in the psychological profiles of buildings was what (spell)-bounded people with the metropolis. Manhattan has been sanitized. My project aims at bringing back the delirium of New York in a new architectural language that could be replicated, based on morphological principles.
Who influences you graphically?
My graphic style evolves continually to adapt to the nature of each project. Each necessitates a style of its own. 2028 Deliria refers of course to Delirious New York and to Koolhaas’s early career graphics. They were produced at a moment when Manhattan in the 1970s was the canvas for radical experimental artistic manifestation – a city in which everything was possible. 2028 Deliria refers mostly to paper architecture of this era, taking inspiration in both the New York Five and the Greys in trying to revive what Rem Koolhaas termed as a “delirium”.
How did the drawings within Delirious New York effect the graphical language of the proposal?
Delirious New York was a starting point to the project but the idea expressed in Delirious New York was more important than the drawings. Koolhaas thought Manhattan as a rigid chaos of programmatic instability in which architectural mutations could operate freely – a perfect laboratory for novel architecture fueled by pre-existing evidence and intertextuality. My drawings are also intertextual, referring to many architects of the time from James Stirling to Aldo Rossi to John Hejduk, while allowing self-referential ideas.
How could a different format push the project more and reflect the notions you are talking about?
The project is process-based. It is interested first in language of architecture and derives its formal aspect by sampling fragments of the Junkspace. This lexicon of shapes is used to build a matrix of architectural scenarios much like Hejduk’s Hanover/Lancaster Masques. The feedback loop between these scenarios taken from Manhattan’s past (the subjects) and the architectural object is primordial. The best format would be similar to Hejduk’s Masques were stories and drawings are accumulated and jostle freely for a space in an essentially mobile articulation. Perhaps it would resemble the work of a madman, a seemingly disorganized accumulation with a subjacent order achieved through intertextuality.
What s your work process in terms of concept development and production of images?
My drawings are always informed by narrative and vice-versa. I write a story, I imagine a character, which informs the object and gives it a persona of its own. The characters manifest themselves, they embody adjectives, they become morphological, thus evolves a graphic language. I allow my project and images to be shaped by autonomous self-referential thoughts and ideas. At each moment, I prod and I guide, ensuring that the formal evolution is directed within a set of rules.