Fabrique d’imaginaires – Follies/Factory of imagination
Gabriela Kamenska & Lina Ben Khelifa @ ENSA-Versailles, 2018. [Cédric Libert ans Philippe Potié]
The project developed as a result of a series of workshops on spatial awareness intended for children with autism spectrum. A truly stimulating experience which established the beginnings of the thematic research for this graduation project.
The approach to learning trough the act of playing and trough simple geometries, which has been presented to us during our experience, laid the foundations of our ideas. So was born the idea to create an architecture of exploration aspiring to provoke a learning trough the experience.
The project explores the possibilities offered to the play by three elementary forms – the square, the circle and the triangle. From a reduction to these primary forms, a language is established. This language is telescoped in three scales: the small scale which is the one of the manual manipulation by the child, the medium scale which involves the body in movement and the large scale: that of the imagination which includes the whole playground.
The medium scale is approached trough follies proposing different experiences. The association of the simple geometry of the follies with certain archetypes of the architecture leads to a phenomenon of iteration, composing a long series of possibilities.
The large scale, which aims to be the amnion of these pavilions, is inspired by folly parks and rewrites them in a much smaller scale and in a more contrasted way thanks to the diversity of the proposed experiences. Like the follies, which can vary ceaselessly, the scale of the plain can be composed in various ways. The proposed possibilities present four different natures of composition, each of them offering an adventure of its own but also an adventure within the space that they invest.
And finally, the small scale, represented by the construction units, spreads on the whole surface of the playground. This time the three elementary forms are divided in two and propose uncountable possibilities of assembly on the scale of the hand of the child. They allow the kid to build its own world.
In this circle isolated from time and space, the child is writing, by the movement and the experience, its relationship with the world.
This research represents a study case because it does not propose a final project but a multitude of possibilities in all the different scales.
What defined the articulation of the project through both the drawings and model?
The project seeks to offer different paths and it is the drawing process that has allowed us to evolve and multiply these paths, creating innumerable variations. It is through the model that we have come to really explore the spaces and to define the heights, the passages and the openings.
What inspired the language of representation of the project?
The return to the primary forms, which is a fundamental principle of this project, is defined in the choice of the very simple representation. The plan here takes all the graphic qualities by its sobriety and its very direct language.
For example, we did not want to work on perspective views that show children playing in the playground because that would already suggest a possible situation. The project aspires to give free rein to the imagination of the child, it’s up to him to decide how to appropriate the proposed spaces and the possibilities of kid’s imagination are limitless. The discovery of the space of this playground is not fixed, controlled or defined since it will be specific to each child.
What is your take on the plan and axonometric projection? How important are they as representational tools?
We considered the plan as the primary tool of project representation and as for the axonometric projection it allowed us to give an idea of the volumes without necessarily exposing any colours, materiality or situations. For our project these tools, and especially the plan, became the most representative way to transmit an idea.
What is your take on the medium of the drawing? What role did this play in the development of the project?
The drawing is the beginning of architecture. It was very important for us to firstly draw by hand to really explore all the possibilities and variations of the forms and then to proceed to the digital drawings and 3Ds.
Why the lack of colour?
The project explores the possibilities offered to the game by the three elementary forms – the square, the circle and the triangle. We chose not to use colours in the representation in order to not disturb the reading of the form and to enhance the abstraction.
How and to what extent has this experience and project influenced how you operate as architects?
This project does not only represent a form research but by considering the child as the future builder of the world the project aspires social and political subjects. In my future work I would like to be able to invest this kind of subjects and transmit them through form and architecture.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on another educational project. The aim is to introduce young children to the urban planning and architecture of their hometown. And meanwhile I’m a looking for an open position in an architectural studio.
Are you interested in developing this line of research further?
Yes, we would really like to develop this project further, but the opportunity has not presented itself yet. Unfortunately there are not many companies or architecture competitions that lean towards the act of playing and the childhood world.