On Form: A Matrix of Formal Vocabulary

On Form: A Matrix of Formal Vocabulary

A collection of operational terms used to describe movement and action in architectural form.

Working as a design tool, these operational terms reinforces the idea of design as an actionable process, where the form is regenerated by the use of active vocabularies.

The Event of Form in the Art of Robert Franca

The Event of Form in the Art of Robert Franca

Robert Franca is an artist based in New York. Inspired by the architectural forms in 14th-century Italian art, his work veers between painting and sculptures in absolute harmony.

Robert Franca in his own words…

©Robert Franca

For Twenty years I’ve been balancing my studio time between painting and sculpture. But it’s not a rigid divide. In fact, my practice has been ‘about’ dissolving boundaries between them. 

… My paintings double as concept tryouts for sculptures. They help me find my forms, but I’m as conscious of them as fields of color and light as I am of their use of planes in defining a structure.

©Robert Franca

… I’m intent on transposing my imagery concepts from paintings that stand on their own, into the realm of sculpture. 

©Robert Franca

… Much of my work relates to architecture and design.The conceptual underpinnings of my work are based on the architectural forms in 14th-century Italian paintings.  

©Robert Franca

… I first fell in love with Architecture when I realized I was looking at an ‘idea’ that was first conceived on a two-dimensional plane.

©Robert Franca

… As with architectural practice, my drawings, paintings and scale model prototypes also serve as representations of larger works. 

©Robert Franca

… I draw/paint with the belief that the forms I imagine can be built – and then I build them. Using foam core, I construct in-scale sculptures that illustrate as well as validate my 2D concepts.

©Robert Franca

… It’s a material that’s not precious and allows me to work quickly and take risks.

©Robert Franca

… I believe a sense of space is the essence of all senses and I’m attracted to painting and sculpture by its ability to project concordant structure into space through an envisioning faculty.

©Robert Franca

… But my extended goal is to create a sense of place; to create a public art that is decidedly personal while pursuing the challenge of presenting spontaneously wrought images, conceived through a process of free association, into a sense of space and possibility.

For more about Robert’s brilliant work, check www.robertfranca.com


Thank you, Robert Franca, for submitting your work to Archilibs

Perry Kulper’s Drawn Cosmologies at Greenwich

Assemblies: Drawn Cosmologies by Perry Kulper

Perry Kulper’s ‘Assemblies: Drawn Cosmologies’ at the University of Greenwich brought more than a tease on representational and spatial capacities of the architectural drawing, it awarded us a daydream in colour, metaphors, and phantasies.

Perry Kulper is an architect and Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan. In a prior life, he was a SCI-Arc faculty member for 17 years and held visiting teaching positions at Penn and ASU. After graduate studies at Columbia University he worked in the offices of Eisenman/Robertson, Robert A.M. Stern and Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown before moving to Los Angeles.

His primary interests include: the generative potential of architectural drawing; the different spatial opportunities offered by using diverse design methods in design practices; and in broadening the conceptual range by which architecture contributes to our cultural imagination.

In 2013 he published Pamphlet Architecture 34, ‘Fathoming the Unfathomable: Archival Ghosts and Paradoxical Shadows’ with friend and collaborator Nat Chard. Recently he has ventured into the digital world, attempting to get a handle on ‘cut + paste’ operations in Photoshop.

Fantastic beasts have also been on his mind.

 

Follow Perry Kulper’s work on instagram pkulper

Newsletter: CIRCLE

Newsletter: Circle

The line without beginning or end

#1801 Architecture ad lib | CIRCLE

read newsletter

Book of Circles: Visualizing Spheres of Knowledge

Book of Circles: Visualizing Spheres of Knowledge by Manuel Lima

“Circles are truly everywhere. We can witness this elemental shape in faraway planets and stars; in earth formations such as mounds, craters, and small lakes; in the sections of tree trunks and plant stems; in the moving ripples on the surface of water; in a variety of leaves, fruits, shells, rocks, and pebbles; in the eyes of our fellow humans and other animals…”

In The Book of Circles, his companion volume to the popular Book of Trees, Manuel Lima takes us on a lively tour through millenia of information design. Three hundred detailed and colourful illustrations cover an encyclopedic array of subjects, drawing fascinating parallels across time and culture. The clay tokens used by ancient Sumerians as a system of recording trade are juxtaposed with the logos of modern retailers like Target; Venn diagrams are discussed side by side with symbols of the Christian trinity, the trefoil shape of the biohazard symbol, and the Olympic rings; a diagram revealing the characteristics of 10,000 porn stars displays structural similarities to early celestial charts placing the earth at the centre of the universe.

Circles are truly everywhere. We can witness this elemental shape in faraway planets and stars; in earth formations such as mounds, craters, and small lakes; in the sections of tree trunks and plant stems; in the moving ripples on the surface of water; in a variety of leaves, fruits, shells, rocks, and pebbles; in the eyes of our fellow humans and other animals; as well as in cells, bacteria, and microscopic organisms.

Pages from the section A Taxonomy of Circles which expands on the classification of the various visual archetypes featured in the book.
About the Author:

Manuel Lima FRSA is a Portuguese-born designer, author, lecturer, and researcher. WIRED describes Lima as “the man who turns data into art” while Creativity magazine considers Lima “the Edward Tufte of the 21st Century”.

The Book of Circles | Paperback | Approx. £20 UK | ISBN 10: 1616895284 | 272 pp. | Princeton Architectural Press | 2 May 2017

Panopticon: The philosopher’s circle as solution to the question of prison design

The Panopticon, 1787

Jeremy Bentham and Willey Reveley, London, UK

“‘Morals reformed—health preserved—industry invigorated—instruction diffused—public burthens lightened—Economy seated, as it were, upon a rock—the Gordian knot of the Poor-Laws not cut, but untied—all by a simple idea in Architecture!’  

That was the prediction of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, when writing about the Panopticon, a type of architectural design that would allow one person to observe a large number of people – without them knowing when they were being watched.

Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher and a proponent of utilitarianism and animal rights.

Prison conditions were a burning issue in late eighteenth-century Britain. Crowded, and unpleasant, prisons were insanitary places more likely to result in the spread of disease than in rehabilitation of the offender. Despite numerous change efforts by campaigners such as British reformer John Howard, all attempts ran up against the problem of money. Prisons were costly to built and to manage. Bentham’s idea was to design a circular prison in such a way that a single warder could keep an eye on a whole floor of prisoners.

Treadwheel, Third Vagrants’ Yard, c. 1862

The panopticon penitentiary, from the Greek παν- (‘all’) and -οπτικος (‘seeing’) was based upon an idea of Jeremy’s younger brother, Samuel, who while working in Russia for Prince Potemkin, hit upon the ‘central inspection principle’ which would facilitate the training and supervision of unskilled workers by experienced craftsmen.

Jeremy came to adapt this principle for his proposed prison, an ‘Inspection House’ envisaged as a circular building, with the prisoners’ cells arranged around the outer wall and the central point dominated by an inspection tower. From this building, the prison’s inspector could look into the cells at any time—and even be able to speak to the prisoners in their cells via an elaborate network of ‘conversation tubes’—though the inmates themselves would never be able to see the inspector himself. The idea of constant, overbearing surveillance is certainly unsettling, but the panopticon and its central inspection principle would, Bentham argued, have multifarious benefits.

Penitentiary Panopticon Elevation/Section/Plan

One such benefit that Bentham saw in his design was that prisoners could be put to useful or profitable tasks. Prisoners at this time did not normally work – this was yet another activity that required close supervision and consequently cost money. With the panopticon system, it was argued, the surveillance was cheaper and work viable. Overall, Bentham presented this design as an economic advantage – his vision for the prison system involved government-backed private enterprise, paid for in part by prisoners’ labour.

The architectural project was commissioned Willey Reveley, a young artist and architect. As a Classicist and follower of the great Georgian architect Sir William Chambers, he had been to Greece and drawn the monuments there. He’s plans for the Panopticon showed a plain, six-storey building with no ornament but afford a certain grandeur by a series of semi-circular relieving arches. Inside, the main floors each has some two dozen cells around the central lodge.

Panopticon plans (drawn by Willey Reveley), c. 1794-1795 (Image courtesy of UCL Special Collections, UC cxix, f. 125r)

Bentham looked up a number of possible places in London most of them proving problematic – mainly because people with property nearby did not want a prison in their ‘backyard’. However, in 1799, a vacant site north of the Thames at Milbank was found, and Bentham bought it on behalf of the government for £12,000. Then the scheme fell through. The government changed in 1803 and with that came an administration less keen to pursue a project were adequate money for the building was not forthcoming. Ultimately, Bentham was paid £23,000 in compensation and the plan was dropped. A prison was subsequently built on the site at Millbank, but it was not based on Bentham’s principles or design. After the Millbank Penitentiary closed in 1890, the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) was built on site.

Plan of Millbank Prison, Constructed 1812, on land originally purchased by Bentham for the construction of his Panopticon.

Other prison designers adopted some of Bentham’s principles, as did a few of the architects of Victorian workhouses in the nineteenth century.  So, although Bentham’s own Panopticon came to nothing, its influence lived on.

Works Cited: Phantom Architecture by Philip Wilkinson, Simon & Schuster, 2017, p. 70-73 | Madness & Civilization by Michel Foucault, Vintage Books, 1965

Assemblies: Drawn Cosmologies: Perry Kulper at the University of Greenwich

‘Assemblies: Drawn Cosmologies’ Perry Kulper

University of Greenwich, Hawksmoor International Lecture Series, 2017-2018

‘Assemblies: Drawn Cosmologies’ will tease out representational and spatial capacities of the architectural drawing. Saddling up Wallace Stevens’ seminal poem ’13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ the talk will expose hunches, wild assertions and project images as partial evidence. Equally, behind-the-scenes techniques to build a discipline for design will be foregrounded—these deployed in search of cultural gravity through design that crawls up the sleeves of the discipline, challenging what’s expected, normalized and frequently flattened. These techniques include: conjuring pithy terms; language folds; exercising fast twitch design muscles; analogic thinking; and making work that navigates varied ideas—all mobilized toward prompting the cultural imagination.

Perry Kulper is an architect and Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan. In a prior life he was a SCI-Arc faculty member for 17 years and held visiting teaching positions at Penn and ASU. After graduate studies at Columbia University he worked in the offices of Eisenman/Robertson, Robert A.M. Stern and Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown before moving to Los Angeles. His primary interests include: the generative potential of architectural drawing; the different spatial opportunities offered by using diverse design methods in design practices; and in broadening the conceptual range by which architecture contributes to our cultural imagination. In 2013 he published Pamphlet Architecture 34, ‘Fathoming the Unfathomable: Archival Ghosts and Paradoxical Shadows’ with friend and collaborator Nat Chard. Recently he has ventured into the digital world, attempting to get a handle on ‘cut + paste’ operations in Photoshop. Fantastic beasts have also been on his mind.

University of Greenwich Thursday 25th January 2018, 6.30pm | Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre

The Brave Drawn World of Donald Urquhart

The Brave Drawn World of Donald Urquhart

Donald Urquhart, is recognised as one of the leading Scottish artists of his generation whose profound and thought-provoking work has been shown both nationally and internationally.

Study of a Thistle, ink on Bristol board, 1977

Originally from rural Perthshire, Urquhart studied Drawing & Painting at Edinburgh College of Art where he now lectures. His strong interest in the perceptions of one’s environment has resulted in an artistic practice which involves working with architectural space and permanent outdoor installations in addition to his principal media of drawing, painting, and installation. He was one of the creative team responsible for An Turas on Tiree, the built artwork that has received international recognition. He was also responsible for all aspects of the design of The Sanctuary, the award-winning spiritual space at the new Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Invisible Ideas

The exhibition, Invisible Ideas, presents a body of drawings completed in 2007, prefaced by a very early work, entitled ‘Study of a Thistle’ from 1977, which displays the analytical observation that remains key to Donald Uquhart’s work today.

Two Mists, Kyoto, Graphite on paper, 2007

Through these drawings, Uquhart explores issues around the representation of landscape in Scotland today as well as utilising material from time he has spent in Japan, Norway, China and Iceland.

Perthshire Drawing, Graphite and gouache on paper, 2007

…snow lies in patterned ridges atop a furrowed field in ‘Perthshire Drawing’, yet each clod of earth a unique synthesis of form and light and human action.

North Uist Drawing, Graphite and gouache on paper, 2007

Donald Urquahart places us in his ‘North Uist Drawing’, on the shoreline of the Hebridean island, with the pitted, dappled markings of the shadows of worm casts etching patterns akin to the speckle of an egg or the crystalline structure of granite; the contemplative, balanced plane of colour, sits alongside, attempting only to define a quality of colour and light, vibrant and cool, luminous and formless, an idea of shadow juxtaposed with the diffuse nature of blue Atlantic light.

Snow-Field Drawing (siglufjordur) Graphite and gouache on paper, 2007

In recent years, Urquhart has completed a large number of public artworks in which his ideas have been articulated through an architectural language.

Two Planes, Kyoto, Graphite on paper, 2007

Another aspect of Urquahart’s practice is the site-specific drawings made directly in the landscape itself, in which he has responded to a variety of contexts.

Donald Urquhart’s art shows the complexity and simplicity of nature’s deep structure’s deep structure and poetic form, the mythos, and logos of idea, form, and symbol.

Donald Urquhart, Programme Director, Edinburgh School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture

Donald Urquahart is a highly respected landscape artist, exhibiting internationally, who has completed numerous significant public art projects. He was one of the collaborative team responsible for the built artwork, An Turas, on Tiree, which was short-listed for the RIBA Stirling Prize and was awarded the RIAS Best Building in Scotland Award as well as the Royal Scottish Academy’s Gold Medal for architecture. He has collaborated with leading architects, including Reiach & Hall, Sutherland Hussey, Cannon & Elder and Page & Park. Urquhart designed all aspects of a major architectural space to serve as a Sanctuary for the New Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, which won the best Building for Public Use at the Scottish Design Awards

Invisible Ideas, Donald Urquahart: Drawings 1977-2007, edited by Donald Urquahart, Maeve Toal /// Foreword by Maeve Toal ///  Essay by Lorna J. Waite /// Published by The City of Edinburgh Museums and Galleries, City of Edinburgh Council 2007

SUPERFLEX: One Two Three Swing! at the TATE Modern

SUPERFLEX: One Two Three Swing!

TATE Modern, Hyundai Commission, 2017

An orange line of swings weaves through the Turbine Hall. It then crosses the gallery and emerges in the landscape to the south of the building.

Each swing has been designed for three people by Danish artists’ collective SUPERFLEX. Swinging with two other people has greater potential than swinging alone and One Two Three Swing! invites us to realise this potential together. Swinging as three, our collective energy resists gravity and challenges the laws of nature.

Swing into action on the count of three – One Two Three Swing!

Danish artists’ collective SUPERFLEX is best known for its playfully subversive installations and films. Founded in 1993 by Danish artists Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, Jakob Fenger and Rasmus Nielsen, SUPERFLEX has gained international recognition for collaborative projects and solo exhibitions around the world.

This is the third annual Hyundai Commission, a series of site-specific works created for the Turbine Hall by renowned international artists, as part of the partnership between Tate and Hyundai Motor.

Bigger than a wrecking ball but smaller than a planet, it moves from a motorised cable slung from the roof. You can lounge about, dreaming of a payday loan, and watch this Foucault pendulum pitch and yaw, as gravity and the earth’s rotation slowly affect the direction of its swing.

SUPERFLEX: One Two Three Swing! at the TATE Modern

Until 2 April 2018 | Free entry

Photography: ©BG-Martin 2018