Avery Chen Jiehui
The project offers an unrealised ‘vision’ of Brasilia, predicated on modernism’s operation at an ‘aerial scale’ and the career and ambition of Oscar Niemeyer, the main architect of the buildings of Brasilia. Its premise is centred around the primacy of the aerial view (page); the idea is that the aerial view of the monumental axis, containing Oscar niemeyer’s designed buildings for brasilia, is the visual representation and manifestation of Brasilia as the ultimate modern city.
Lucio Costa’s pilot plan, and the early footage of the construction of Brasilia shows the city being designed from the above. Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer’s mentor emphasised how aircraft was very tied to modern architecture, in vers une architecture and in his photobook aircraft, not just in terms of its visual, machine aesthetic form but more importantly the new aerial perspective it enabled, as the horizon, the beyond is now internalised within the new shift in view.
The project repositions Brasilia as a city for the ‘aeroplane age’ by reemploying the Exio Monumental as a landing strip and ceremonial airport.
Who influences you graphically?
My main influence for this project was Edward Hopper. I really like certain contemporary artists take on his work, such as director Gustav Deutsch’s Shirley: Visions of Reality, where his iconic paintings are made into sets. I think it really highlights the strength in his work; how the details and colours in normal life scenes are parred back, resulting in very surreal, dream-like images. I am also influenced by Photorealist painters such as Ralph Goings and Richard Estes, and photographers such as William Eggleston. I was very fortunate to be part of a unit in the AA that explored Americana and Modernism’s cultural oddities, failures and also heavily referenced the aesthetic and design of America’s forgotten places, through the lenses of different artists and films. AA has a huge archive of very varied and interesting student work as well, and my graphics are no doubt influenced by many drawings I have looked at within the school.
What is the effect and purpose of the white background?
I think it is important that a drawing is not just a screenshot of the design of the project, that even the way it is framed on the page contributes to the narrative of the portfolio. I think that especially when a drawing has alot of information, it is important to frame it so that I can take a step back, look at it as a whole and think about a single statement or intention I am trying to bring across in the drawing. I think it helps focus the eye on what I want to show, it creates ‘breathing’ space around an area of concentrated content. Also, by either varying the proportion of the white frames around the drawings, it creates hierarchy between the different types of drawings in a portfolio, or consistency with the same series of drawings.
What defined the images you chose to reveal the project through?
The project is about the ambition of the ultimate modernist city, Brasilia, whose metaphorical ceremonial arrival is realised through the ceremonial landing of the plane on its monumental axis, which has been redesigned as a giant runway. Besides the standard plan and section which I did to show exactly how everything was designed and planned for this arrival, I wanted to show this arrival in a series of perspectives of the plane landing, from the view of a passenger within the plane, as well as from the view of a person within the city. I think the contrast between the modernist interiors and the monumental vastness and emptiness of the exteriors is important, as it tends to be so in most modernist cities. The more diagrammatic images and collages at the start were meant to be more sketchy, to show the process which I thought the design of my project through.
What is your take on colour?
I like color more than black-and-white photographs/images/drawings, but that is just my personal preference. I find color makes drawings more interesting and adds detail that monochrome images could very well hide. I do think as well though that they are harder to do, monochrome renders with shadow and light are very easy to render and seductive enough, but drawings with really nice color and material palettes need alot more effort and might not work sometimes, which is why I think they are more challenging.