Breaks between deadlines whether professional or academic have proven to be ideal brainstorming, creative, and productive opportunities. For instance, when I had a break between working in an office 45 hours per week and beginning this master’s program, I was obsessed with industrial design and entrepreneurship. That is, anything which could provide passive income to alleviate 45 hours of sitting in a chair, while still expressing design and creativity.
Now, during this academic pause, I have had time to continue research of my thesis without forced deadlines. Still, I look forward to the next semester as deadlines and accountability is equally important to me as intermittent, uncontrolled brainstorming. My preliminary thesis topic of an urban development which can grow and adapt congruent to its surrounding context with a strong interest in maintaining a neighborhoods culture is becoming in itself adaptable and open for manipulation. That is, the abstract changes slightly based on my latest research. Lately, I have been investigating two architects, O.M. Ungers, and Stephane Malka. Though just speculation, Malka seems to have been largely inspired by Ungers’ writings on “Grossform,” and “Parasitic Architecture.” One of Malka’s latest proposals is a response to a worldwide urban issue of rural flight. With more and more rural populations moving into the city, developers are rushing to accommodate. Malka’s P9-Ghetto Mobile, is an answer to the aforementioned urban crisis utilizing mass production and customization.
Figure 1: Courtesy of Malka Archtiecture http://www.stephanemalka.com/en/
Malka’s proposal aims to integrate otherwise wealthier architectural typologies into overlooked urban spaces. This architectural installation can be disassembled and relocated. The units are assembled onto a scaffolding, and provide residences, offices, galleries, shops, etc. This “Micro-City,” can be assembled in unlimited configurations, and adapted to its surrounding context.
The site I have chosen for my thesis is perfect for exploring these notions of architecture on demand, and the introduction of time and architecture. The West Loop, specifically Fulton Market, has recently published an Innovative Land Use Plan as a guideline for future development. Although this plan is necessary to help mitigate bad development, it seems to be encouraging haphazard contextualism. For instance, one guiding design requirement according to the land use plan is to maintain existing historical street frontage. If I’m wearing my developer hat, this means, traditional ornamental masonry base for two stories, and a modern marketable residential tower on top. Is that solution really the answer to maintaining an areas culture and heritage? How would a Mies residential tower feel contextually if it were retrofitted on top of an historic masonry podium? My goal for the next few months is to investigate these questions among many other urban issues. Steven Holl recollects Louis Sullivan in a conversation with Lebbeus Woods as Louis being on his death bed explaining that if he lives long enough, he will see all of his buildings being torn down, but that it’s only the philosophy and ideas that will live on.