Exploring The GIF In The Age Of Image Bombardment
The project is a pro-active critique of the form of society that David Cameron proposed; one in which civil society can replace the role of government. The spatial design choses to explore this critique through a transformation project of turning a New-Town Shopping Mall into a Town Centre.
Who influences you graphically?
I was really drawn to different drawing styles early in my architectural life as I quickly became disillusioned with mainstream architecture for its lack of agenda and therefore its drawings lacked purpose.The style that I’ve been working with for a while now was originally inspired by a couple of design tutors I had during my bachelors, at Oxford Brookes University, called Catrina Stewart and Hugh McEwen that run a practice called Office S&M. Their style is a lot more pop than mine but I learnt from them that a drawing should be fun and that colour is fun! Their style is part of the Radical Postmodernism movement, led by FAT, so their relationship between design style and drawing style is really strong. I really enjoy, especially a few years ago in the UK and still a lot now I’m based in Denmark, that architects find my drawings distasteful – I like that I offend people who I see as conservative and holding the profession back.
In terms of everyday inspiration I find it mostly student work, since students have the freedom to really experiment graphically. Early inspiration was Ness Lafoy’s and Francis Edith Cooper’s student work, then this ‘post-digital’ style became somewhat part of the mainstream for architectural representation. So then there were so many influences, especially coming from your website. Otherwise I continue to look at the typical references of Dogma, Fala Atelier, OMNX and similar.
What is the effect and purpose of the GIF? how does it compare to the static image?
The way I usually explain the GIF is to describe the time-based thinking behind a design, but the true reason is for attention. I think that architecture is far behind so many professions in using techniques to grab attention, that typical architectural representation is too static in a world of sensory bombardment. GIFs are really basic in terms of representation, we should be pushing far beyond them, collaborations with designers creating films is essential. I thought that work that Unit 15 at The Bartlett, when students like Kibwe Tavares were there, was fantastic. I also think a massive part of the success of BIG is down to their collaborations with Squint Opera, producing such engaging films.
What was your work process in terms of project development and production of images?
It isn’t as intertwined as you would hope it to be. This is because the project development is driven by articulating the problem to solve, producing a narrative, embedding it into the social, poticical and economic contexts, and then spatially designing (usually quite rushed at the end of a semster) through simple line drawings of plans and sections. So the production of the images you see here comes very late in the process, I don’t use this graphic style as a design tool in itself.
This is because the aims of these projects are to help make our cities more inclusive, more accessible and fairer – so spending as much time on organisational design as spatial design. Therefore the use of this graphic style is not totally representative of the aims of the project. This is a weakness in my work, the style is only used for getting attention and as a reaction against the dry and unengaging drawings that most architects produce.
What softwares did you use?
Mainly Rhino, Illustrator and Photoshop. I became very specific in my technique for producing these types of images. Most time is spent in Rhino (sometimes SketchUp) building the model, then lines are exported through Make2d and taken into Illustrator where I live paint everything so there is no white space left. Then I take the image into Photoshop, add a V-Ray render from the Rhino file as a multiplier to give depth (sometimes a lot, sometimes a tiny amount), then use different textures as multipliers to hint at materials and add some dirt.
How and to what extent has your previous work influenced this specific project and how you aim to operate as an architect in the future?
In terms of the project’s graphics they were a huge influence. Through previous projects I learned how to most efficiently execute that style of drawing, each time getting quicker and being able to add more layers to them. Therefore it meant I could trust myself to deliver these kinds of drawings at the end of the project and concentrate on the spatial design instead. The difference for my Masters thesis project was that I wanted it to be a lot dirtier and somewhat more real than the previous work. The project was for a deprived town and therefore I didn’t feel it was appropriate to create only light, whimsical drawings, they needed to be grounded through the earthy colours of the surrounding context.
For the future, I would like to start working with different disciplines to try deliver a project I think could really improve a city, my thesis project is too ambitious though. But behind that project was a business model for being able to deliver that project despite its lack of direct financial profitability and it is this part of projects, the parts that determine what projects will be delivered, that I really want to work with. I’m currently taking that business model and developing it with a multi-disciplinary team for a competition to deliver new social housing for London.
What is your take on architectural representation?
Like I have already mentioned I find architectural representation to be far behind the levels of engagement it should have. I think that architecture and its representation is far too insular if it wants to enact an agenda to try make the world better, it needs to engage others to start to develop projects through new funding models beyond how we currently practice. Therefore we need to become more multi-disciplinary, with film-makers, graphic designers, advertisers, economists, journalists, politically active people and everyone else who can help. I think what they are doing at Strelka is the way forward and the only way that we will be able to, as architects, make the world a better place. That starts with more engaging representation.
Jack Perry is an architect based in Copenhagen after completing his bachelors degree at Oxford Brookes University, practising as an architectural assistant at Pollard Thomas Edwards in London and completing his masters degree from the Urbanism & Societal Change program at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He is currently leading a multi-disciplinary team working on a new development model to deliver social housing for London.