“The Architectural Venture”

Gearing is the measure of risk. This semester we will explore the architectural project as an “offering” to be leveraged.

What could be the impetus to undertake (entreprendre) a project if we were to avoid the common principles of evaluating the architectural project in terms of “must-have”, “nice-to-have” or “don’t need”, and instead evaluate it through a potential for massive success or failure; a grand risk?

What is the architecture that would otherwise remain untested, if it were not for asking renewed questions of its impetus?

In “Gearing” we will design architectural projects through a potential if it were seen as a model of reality not solely concerned with innovation but as an “offering” to infringe upon known realities, and where projects are considered inversely to what would be thought of as “sound judgement”: where projects are deemed “healthy” if they are risky. The studio will then encounter questions in architecture of new performative capacities, time-scales, scenarios and qualities that serve as the Architectural Venture.

Suave, mari magno
Lucretius, De rerum natura

How sweet it is when on the open sea...


Levitation is neither turbulent nor laminar.

Turbulence is, what Epicurus and Democritus call the primitive form of the construction of things. Lucretius, in his poem De rerum natura uses “clinamen” to describe the unpredictable swerve of atoms, the smallest imaginable form of turbulence, a differential. In his uncertainty of them, he refers to the atom’s inclination. It is as if they were a subject. In the identification of clinamen, Lucretius gives birth to modern physics. Thereafter the mechanics of fluids becomes the preoccupation of physicists and Vitruvius dedicates a book of his treatise on architecture to the flow of water.

But what could be said of a state not at the mercy of a swirling atmosphere, nor is arranged in parallel streamlines, that is to say not turbulent, nor laminar? Is there something that can regulate the degrees to which it is able to resist being swished around in the boil of turbulence and can avoid being made into a projectile in a laminar stream?

Levitation can contend with turbulence and laminae and yet not be either. And yet it may be a strange amalgam of a turbulent condition, in other words a violent or unsteady one (a fire, political unrest, a rough rock, a milling crowd) and a laminar condition (still, a non-deviating vector, certainty, a domesticated garden, safety glass etc.). This amalgam of violence and stillness will be the subject of the studio.

Through precise guidance and written briefs, the studio will explore what the characteristics of a levitating space is; how foreign phenomenon can co-exist in a project. We will explore the characteristics of selected contemporary conditions pertaining to geometry, material, climate, resolution, scales, colors and weight to produce individual large Canvasses-that-Never-Existed (CTNE) of 5000 x 5000 mm each. This will be our first approximation to what we call a “tropopause” (the plane in between a turbulent and laminar condition). Leon Battista Alberti had a preoccupation with the extreme limits of things, with the concept of the orlo or boundary. He defined a superficie or plane as an external part of a body which is known not by its depth but only by its length and breadth and by its quality.’ In the “Canvasses”, decisions will be made with respect to how much an idea “impregnates” the canvas (ie. its depth, its disappearance, its weight, a notion of stillness etc.) that ultimately will carry volumetric information that becomes an individual’s space. The broader project (a building) realised in the studio will be composed through the production of dedicated videos, images, plans, sections and models.

“[In] the first and empirical approach to matter in space and light, the painter must represent that which he sees with a different matter and with simulated rather than real lights.” After acquiring knowledge from our sensory perceptions, Alberti seems to suggest that by firstly choosing, and then creating our own means of simulating, we are able to produce depictions of reality. The task of the studio then is to allow our canvasses to travel between foreign phenomenon.

I am Warhol. I am the No. 1 most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh.
Kanye West

Such that modern life insists that we participate, we share an unfailing impetus to do well. An album is considered a best-seller if it goes platinum, a saturated web presence means a career can proliferate, the curricula vitarum (course of life) is a space for promotional propaganda, institutions seek olympians to legitimize budgets, hygienics means trust and safety.

Since the criteria for success may be relative to a particular observer (critically acclaimed does not mean profitable), we will not debate the markers of a successful project, instead we will deliver a spectrum of effective criteria to create motivational architectural projects.

We’ll also consider the idle, useless, backward, retrograde. In particular, we will examine successful through their processes of variation, mutation, competition and inheritance. Possible strategies of architectural projects could be: acquiring their own language considered as market strategy (ie. concrete words can produce neutrality to attract), thematized images as per a culture's code of behaviour; the quality and fetish of being a limited edition etc.

In “Success”, we will create space radiographies to measure how they project themselves—after the classical orders—to the street, the city, and indeed the nation.

Can we keep alive a moment between a certain helplessness in the world and a fearlessness towards the potentials of what will come?

In recent years the “discovery” of youth has led to large shifts in development of technology and the creation of a new market segment which is trying to capitalise on its helpless/fearless condition. Such development has taken leads from the overwhelming amount that is being written in popular literature and mainstream media, where Youth is being problematized in a manner that intents to give an image of its “debilitation”.

Ĵʊ˅Ȝɲ1ℓɨΔ is a not studio about the problems a youth faces, it is a studio that will ask questions of the architectural project with nominal prerequisites, fearlessness, and stemming from new sociocultural scenarios that have not hitherto existed.

In Ĵʊ˅Ȝɲ1ℓɨΔ, each participant will document a new scenario facing youth and respond by actualising literary, spatial and material responses. A full list of Ĵʊ˅Ȝɲ1ℓɨΔ topics and buildings will be provided at the beginning of the course and will set the foundations towards the individual projects.

Topics with architectural implications that concern the generation growing up today include novel forms of: independence of driving after AI; courtship and message-bound dating; dealing with the Realism of the local vs. the planetary horizon of the internet; evaluation between truthful reports and biased life-stories that are washed away in social media; socializing in the suburban Mall; contagions of the social and emotional; parental monitoring 24/7; following real-time/mass saturated News; corporate patronisation landscapes; the right to be forgotten etc.

Can we embrace—without prejudice—these complex spatial and aesthetic reflections that youth face in order to capture architecture projects? Ĵʊ˅Ȝɲ1ℓɨΔ will unearth nonlinear forms of space-making working with abstract narratives by association. The end of the studio will create unique portraits concerning new obsessions of youth.

The question of history is no longer. It demands no speculation as it is now perfectly reproducible and accessible in real-time. Words that used to die are kept indefinitely. ‘No Ghost’ operates by selecting sources from a never-dying world of ideas to crystallize languages of “made realms”. We will momentarily interrupt this streaming present by introducing ideas as differentiations/reorganizations.

Since to bring a project into existence does not require it to have presence, “No Ghost” strives for realm-making that is critical of the emergence of projects burdened by the false weight to produce contemporary reflections, and as such are abjectly haunted by history, the same is for the future. ‘No Ghost’ will identify natures of today.

Cultures have been a result of centuries of material organization and now “No Ghost” embraces this legacy but establishes unforeseen material associations devoid of sentimentality.

Participants in “No Ghost” will manifest their own discrete agendas collectively—a paideia—by combining observable facts (social, scientific etc.) and mythical forecasts to originate a made realm (physical, virtual etc.). Participants will acknowledge not-yet-normalised contradictions of youth; a deterritorialized “polysited” life, nonstandard practices of coexisting; situations of ethical indeterminacy; unassimilated scientific shifts.

By combining the idea that everything has value1, with syncretism—the combination of different often seemingly contradictory beliefs—“No Ghost” will invent “materials that have never existed”, prior to composing a made realm. It is not the discourse that enables criticality, but the made realm itself.

“No Ghost” will enact the material-to-realm sequence by using the potential of ultra-resolution, described through extreme machinations of creation (knowledge/matter). Measure systems of these resolutions will defined by the participants (eg. rivers, data volumes, light-distance, etc) not as metaphors but as their tools for abstraction to be projective and for an intellectual autonomy.

1Like B.Fuller's obsession with geodesical formations of viruses that led to structural solutions.

G. Abbamonte
G. Albanis
L.K. Blomseth
J. Burakova
S. Chen
N. Chytil
A. Comanita
C. Duan
J. Dusper
E. Düzgün
F. Farkas
L. Farmwald
C. Feuerstein
B. Grudnik
A. Gulyamdzhis
A. Imamovic
E.M. Kaprinayova
B. Keherová
S. Kim
M. Klapper
G. Kurpinar
K. Ha Kwon
L. Lagrange
O. Lesko
Q. Li
Z. Li
J. Lietzmann
A. Mehic
C. Mörtl
S. Moser
A. Mrkajic
A. Pachucki
J. Park
J. Puchleitner
T. Qin
J. Redl
R. Ríos-Capapé
S. Rusnacková
M. Sabic
L. Sánchez
D. Saric
M-K. Schamböck
P. Schubaeva
G. Shepelenko
D. Sifakis
S. Sobczak
B. Stiegler
H. Nur Tümbas
W. Zhang
Y. Zhu

“Dom Gross” was an architectural design studio taking place within the Department for Architectural Theory and Philosophy of Technics (ATTP) at the Vienna University of Technology. Run by Dom Gross as Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds, and supported by Vera Bühlmann and Julian Lietzmann.

Dom Gross (b.1960, Randa, CH) works coarsely, without deducing the contributions of those of whom he is composed. He is concerned with an asynchronicity that disconnects production and obvious contemporary shifts by defining states/ranks/domains in which to respond, and to earn in the profits of mastering contexts.

Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds operate as Pa.LaC.E, between Basel and London.

Vera Bühlmann is a Swiss writer. She is professor for architecture theory, and director of the Department for Architecture Theory and Philosophy of Technics (ATTP) at Vienna University of Technology.

For more information: [email protected]

Fachbereich Architekturtheorie und Technikphilosophie
Technische Universität Wien
Wiedner Hauptstr. 7
A-1040 Wien

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