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Designing Science Fiction...
Michail Vlasopoulos (M, 35)
Athens, GR
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    Michail Vlasopoulos’ project
    Designing Science Fiction...
    The course will be loosely inspired by the movie (and the book) The Man who Fell to Earth in which David Bowie plays an extraterrestrial visitor...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
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    Pre-Stressed Body or Revisiting the 'MAISON À BORDEAUX'
    Project: Designing Science Fiction Scenarios
    Pre-Stressed Body or Revisiting the 'MAISON À BORDEAUX'
    by Dimitra Gelagoti
    co-edited by Michael Vlasopoulos



    Richard Lindner, "Boy with Machine" 1954


    "It's not flattering, it's embarrassing"
    Rem Koolhaas Interview

    The client approached the architect with a specific wish: "Contrary to what you might expect, I do not want a simple house. I want a complicated house because it will determine my world." Rem Koolhaas, the architect, former script writer, (sometime between 1994 and 1998) assigned his engineer, Cecil Balmond with a law-bending task: to build a “box” suspended on the top of a cliff.

    Every architecture needs a hero inhabitant. A Vitruvian man, a Davincian Man or a Modern man posing with his legs and arms stretched on a Cartesian grid, proudly showing off his able-bodiedness. There has to be a figure to pull the task of becoming the ‘fulcrum of all proportions.’ We, mortal receptors and mere users of architecture, occupy the periphery as deviations of these emblematic figures; our specificities are but mere accidents of these ideal singular bodies. These accidents are what individuate us from the ideal forms.

    'Maison à Bordeaux’ is founded on an accident. 1998: a car accident rendered the husband handicapped, and this in turn rendered his old house in the medieval city of Bordeaux obsolete.

    Architects in the 90s were persistently looking for new paradigms to append meaning to their illegible creations. They sought to challenge the modernistic imperative that necessitated the divesting of their buildings from any narrative value, anything that seemed to turns away from rationality. The narrative was a means to counteract the tradition that saw architecture as something plainly ergonomic and a medium to bring life into their petrified statements. Such a story is the one now associated with Maison à Bordeaux. The house that Rem Koolhaas chose to build is not without an apologetic undertone. The car accident, the most common accident that modern urban life can offer has in a way condemned 20th century Modernism as a whole with its staggering statistics. Life is becoming safer for the entire population but more dangerous for the individual. Maison à Bordeaux speaks of its resident’s pathology in a unique autobiographical way. And in such a way, the architecture of the Maison becomes just another practice in the sequence of chiropractors, orthopedists, laser surgeons that are attending to the vulnerable body.

    The house of another famous yet unseen client of the Modern Era, Villa Savoye, was claimed to be a ‘machine for living.’ The house in Bordeaux takes this metaphor and applies it literally. The mechanically aided human being is not representing a kind of futuristic drive for automation, but provides support for an elliptic body. The machine constantly reminds us of what the body can't do. If we contemplate the invention of the ladder, the elevator, the conveyor belt, all artifacts seem to operate within natural laws in order to expand surfaces and facilitate processes.Thus, the architectural construct has featured in history as a study in tectonics, a laboratory for movement, a series of surfaces that enable the body to climb, sit or lie down, to attain kinetic morphologies that it wouldn’t have in its own. The house is what hold this man’s life together and it’s easy to detect this metaphor infused in the fragile tension of the wire that arcs the protracting pillar to the ground.

    The house invokes visions of futuristic houses or ‘space stations ready to be launched.’ If we take on a more cinematic approach, the house could have been the ideal shelter of a fictional hero such as Batman or Iron-man. The documentary of Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine “Koolhaas’ Houselife” insinuates an implicit inquiry: What happens to the lair when ‘Batman’ passes away?
    The death of the husband in 2001 turned the house into an architectural monument deprived from any residential activity. The building stands all by itself, holding the ghostly picture of the inhabitant that used to confine. The memory of the space is not engraved in pictures and inscriptions, but consists in the perpetuation of an everyday ritual: the periodical on and off of the machines, the sound of the elevator platform when it reaches the slab of the living room, all acousting signifiers for waking up,eating, arriving, leaving, all mechanical episodes in everyday life. And the home is recomposed, in every activation of the elevator platform bringing its section back to life. As seen in the documentary “Koolhaas’ Houselife,” the housekeeper is assigned with a critical task: to set the overall machine in motion, to keep away the dust and melancholy that threatens with decomposition. Through cleaning, she analyzes the architecture of the house into surfaces, corners and textures and by that, she offers a completely different reading of architecture. As Rem Koolhaas points out, there are somewhat conflicting strategies between the practice of the architect and the one of the cleaning-lady. Guadalupe’s clumpsy figure is completely opposed to the bohemian character of the house and motivates OMA’s anti-monumentalist manifesto, providing evidence of an architecture that works for an entirely unpredicted purpose. She is there armed with buckets, dusters, brooms and solvents, spreading her generic cleaning in wide sweeps. After all, the real user of the Bat cave has always been Alfred Pennyworth, the Butler.

    Fri, Sep 3, 2010  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Designing Science Fiction Scenarios
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