In Collision

Leave a comment

In Collision

Nick Shekerjian


Buildings have speed.
People have speed within buildings.
People experience architecture at a speed.


In the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, lives are largely spent traveling, always in transition from one place to another. Within its freeway system, observed absences reveal that the moment of a collision is where one’s mental-absence while driving is interrupted.
People are made aware, not only of themselves and their mortality, but also of the absence of the freeway and the absence that defines Phoenix’s urban environment. The freeway is the most existential space in our urban environment. Every time we drive on the freeway we risk death, but it is a necessary infrastructure for living.
A colliding architecture is designed to keep us alive, engaged, and living in Phoenix’s most scenographic and existential locations:
the freeway.


The freeway’s existing communication infrastructure is a means of interrupting the mental absence of driving at high speeds for great lengths of time. This infrastructural form is used as a base for the device’s construction.
The devices exist on top of the freeway, picking up vehicles moving below and colliding with one another according to traffic at that time.


Programs intended for cars collide and create new uses. Users of the device are never to leave their vehicles, but certain characters and people will use the device differently according to their relative use of the freeway and place within the community.



Through this collision, the new infrastructure informs connections between the urban environment, the identified characters, and their personal relationships between each other and the potential for a culture developing around “the colliders”.
The project creates a new typology of architecture and urban intervention based on speed and the collision of infrastructures:

Speed is registered / felt in the change from one to the other.
An acceleration.
Architecture must begin to accelerate
to match our culture , technology , and space.



Who influences you graphically?

The range of graphic influence is quite broad !
Sometimes it’s really a question of :
“who should I be consuming right now , given the project or work ?”
Seeing as how information is so readily available , you really have to have a sort of diet for visual works .
It’s a lot like food for the body .

Recently (and with particular respect to this project) , I’ve been subsisting on a visual diet of :

Aristide Antonas
David Lynch
and early Arata Isozaki images .

Recently there has been a proliferation in Hockney silhouettes, what is your take on this? What role do these play within your images?

The main focus of this project, which was developed from Arizona State University professor Elena Rocchi’s “Sense of Absence” studio, is rather than continue to impose formally-positive urban qualities into the Phoenix Metropolitan area via an urban design, is to create a device that engages the public realm through a machine, at some scale between an urban design and architecture, that exists in one of Phoenix’s many absent spaces . A device that performs temporary urban scenographies .

Being from Phoenix, that acceptance of absence as a design tool is incredibly exciting . That sets up a method which, I believe, impregnates the work with an honest sense of place in regards to Phoenix and in a positive light, for the first time .

My use of the Hockney silhouettes/portraits is in an attempt to heighten the honest expression of the mundanity of life in the Phoenix metropolitan area, through the consistent, mundane representation of people in Hockney’s imagery . Even in his portrait of Divine, a drag queen well-known for her incredibly shocking behavior and outrageous image, she’s reduced to an unassuming bald man in a large coat; that expression of the mundane as beauty and as a design, is at the core of this project . I found his imagery from that perspective quite inspiring .

Universally, Hockney is a source (an exhausted one) for consistent, abstract representations of people . There seems to be a greater use of abstract representations of users as a means of better connecting representation with the ethos and pathos of a project, and that’s for the better ! It’s simply a hunch, but it seems to me that architecture is trying to reconcile it’s ego through a more honest expression of photoshop as a primary architectural tool, images being the material of construction . But who knows .


What was your work process in terms of concept development in relation to the production of images?

The work process for the studio started with filming absence in Phoenix’s urban environment . From the video, new images were constructed out of stills through photoshop . Then there was an understanding of the ramifications of the newly built images in that space of absence, in this case, the freeway . An architecture was then constructed through the meeting of that understanding and the intentions behind that new construction . From that process of image making meeting concept development, a narrative naturally formed around the use of a new freeway infrastructure; the images and concept were developed hand in hand.

How important is the narrative within the architectural project?

The narrative is everything . If there isn’t a development of a narrative, there isn’t much of a perspective in terms of concept or experience/use . The development of a narrative around vehicular collisions and the way they distort the real mental and physical absence of the freeway was crucial to creating an architecture with specific conceptual and user experiences to the place (i.e. an architecture which collides onto itself, which enforces an architectural experience or living from the car).

What is your take on colour?

Color is a wonderful tool . In this case, it’s used quite sparingly. This project pays greater debt to texture, and linework . The freeway is a highly planned/calculated, line-heavy space defined by almost-indiscernible changes in texture . In terms of creating atmospheric drawings, it seems appropriate to enforce these site specific characteristics in the representation .




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.