SURFACE: DIGITAL MATERIALITY AND THE NEW RELATION BETWEEN DEPTH AND SURFACE | EAAE/Ctrl_Space Lab/Futura | 2013 | ISBN: 9782930301464

by yannis zavoleas

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(Abstract from the introduction)

The European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE-AEEA) Subnetwork on Architectural Theory, bringing together a wide group of architectural pedagogists working collaboratively on the role and nature of architecture theory in schools of architecture, gathered in Chania in the summer of 2010, in order to focus on the collateral relations between digital/material and depth/surface. In that seminal meeting, the group, invited by Ctrl_Space [1] Lab founders Yannis Zavoleas and Nikolas Patsavos, the Center for Mediterranean Architecture (KAM-CMA) and the Department of Architecture of the Technical University of Crete, were practically asked to capitalise the findings of its previous work sessions in Hasselt, Trondheim, Lisbon and Fribourg [2] by applying methods and concepts developed at those occasions as an interpretative critical tool within the context regarding the emergent digital architecture nature and its effects on education. The whole attempt was seen as an opportunity to revisit a field which, so far, had been often seen as something extraneous and contradictory, if not even hostile to the origins and the traditions of architecture; an attitude the group willed to also problematise and situate it within its relative context.
There has been an important break in the polarity between depth and surface caused in contemporary architecture by the emergence of a new digital materiality and tactility. On a technical level, this is due to techniques of fabrication linking the design and representation process directly with fabrication, whereas in the level of perception and representation, it follows the aftermath of folding in architecture and its claim for a new continuity based on the abolishment of the traditional spatial dipoles (interior/exterior, up/down et.al.). In a broader sense, this shift towards the surface of things as “the deepest side of the world” has to do with a wider socio-cultural change which has been triggered by postmodern irony and by the wish to “revalorize all values”. The dualities operating as the founding myths of architecture have been widely reassessed by being subjected to arguments on their relative value and on the need to work in-between such poles as form and content, façade-space, man-building, building-nature, matter-intelligence, representation-reality, skin-structure, natural-artificial, object-subject etc.. In fact, new hybrid constructions and concepts have taken their place: cyborg, enhanced reality, virtual processor, information whereas the focus has been turned towards not the opposition among the two traditional poles but the possible relations and exchanges of properties between them.
The above issues were addressed by architects and scholars from Finland, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, the USA, Italy, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Turkey and Greece who contributed to the workshop by means of both individual presentations organised in two five sessions, and two keynote lectures by Kostas Terzidis (Harvard GSD) and Vana Tentokali (AUTh), and two round table workshops-discussions. Following the meeting, all participants were asked to prepare their revised and updated written contributions in order to produce the final outcome of the project in the form of the present edited volume. The five sessions are organised thematically in a way covering historical, epistemological, technical, conceptual-perceptual and natural properties of the issue respectively. The two keynote lectures are crossing this multifaceted subject in two different axis by emphasising at either the anthropological-perceptual and the technical-ethical challenges underlying the overall re-organisation of architectural knowledge and practice discussed. In that sense, they provide with a first opportunity to unify the various perspectives proposed throughout the book.

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