architecture : theory and strategy

finx1234, design excercises

object student exercises subject re-introduction of meaning in design date august 1997 - august 1999 words design technique based on text, image and volume analysis and synthesis pages 2 author christiaan weiler thanks the helsinki coast wise europe crew and the finnish archipelago ref see also 0003_WDKA SEMANTICS lectures

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finX1 : language
step 1 : choose a text as starting point
step 2 : withing this text find 1. a noun 2. an adjective 3. a verb of crcucial meaning
step 3 : describe each word in 4 synonyms (4 nouns for noun, etc.)
step 4 : repeat to arrive at a set of 16 words
step 5 : set 4 project specific criteria
step 6 : choose from the set of 16 a word to correspond to each one of hte criteria
step 7 : with the 4 chosen words compose a phrase that is grammatically correct, not necessarily logically
step 8 : capture the phrase (haiku) in one word

finX2 : image
like finX1 but with image analysis
finX3 : volume
like finX1 but with volume analysis
finX4 : synthesis
take the results of all exercises and bring them together in one three dimensional model.

This brochure explains the teaching method that ended up with the name finX. In 1997 there was an architecture workshop in the finnish archipelago, within the frame of the Coast Wise Europe network (Rotterdam Academy of Architecture 1996). The method was later improved over time, and evaluatued in practice. The method is based on a principle I call ‘concretion’. Concretion is the opposite of abstraction. Abstraction results by the nature of its quest, in the loss of specific meaning. At it’s extreme, something abstract can mean anything. Concretion seeks to (re)produce new meaning by specifying everything that is included within a definition. Concretion seeks the specific rather than the generic, the concrete rather than the abstract. WHAT IS REAL ? In the last century abstraction was a highly worthy goal for modern artists who wanted to capture the essence of the things around them. Mondriaans sequence of the apple tree is a beautiful example. Designers and architects soon followed. To free his work from the style limitations of the preceding era, Mies van der Rohe designed a pavillon with such minimal material suggestion that almost nothing but pure space was left. Le Corbusier took the emerging Modernist ideology into technology, and the inherent abstraction allowed him to start a mass production of the minimalist aesthetics of Modernism. La Ville Radieuse was an extreme result. Changing the context of a well-defined object already gave Duchamps urinoir a completely new brilliance, very different from the original meaning, yet carried by the same object. Context has since been a fertile soil for editing new meaning. What is reality, and what is fiction? The anorexic junkie-model selling brand jeans in a glossy magazine? Or politicians applying film industry to military strategy? Inquisitive attitudes rewrote the dictionaries of our environment, it has become a hypertext so dense with links that no one can read it. The intention of creating, powered by new technology, has become so much more mportant than the dry reality of it, that details and definitions suffer from underestimation, and the expression with it. “There’s a huge gap at te moment between architects and societies. It will keep getting bigger if architecture, instead of dealing with its own substance, insists on the schizophrenical withdrawl of reality through the creation of abstract contents or the imitation of exterior subjects.” (Carrilho da Graça in PROTOTYPO #001 januari 1999).

The nineties can be characterised by the conferences called ‘ANY-…’. The Technical University of Delft is basing it’s curriculum on a book with a collection of approximately 200 design approaches. The Berlage Institute has asked 100 architects how they see the future of architecture. Everybody is generating ideas at an incredible rate. Generally speaking, one can see a confusion taking place after the storm of abstractions and the search for identity. Identity is thinning out, as Koolhaas would suggest, and there’s also a mass production of identity noise. If a new generation of designers wishes to adress an audience, i.e. their clients, with the expectation of being heard, they should learn to communicate their work in an intelligent and evocative way. The finX approach tries to rediscover original vehicles for meaning and how they can be constructed, to edit them into communicative new meaning. Meaning means very little now, and specially students are easily confused by the amount of possible interpretations to a given subject. FinX tries to give a tool for orchestrating intended spatial and material experiences.