NMA Building: ‘Cutting the head off’

I constructed the structure based upon the plans provided by the architects site. Scale was determined by door/access-way widths. The structure provided more really detailed results when cut. The beauty in proposing this be done is that it will never happen; it’s not plausible. If this is the point then great, but this will not meet the OISTAT submission. It may be necessary to ‘dilute’ my statement so that it might conform. Furthermore this structure is a long way down river from the Holzmarkt site and even the Ibis hotel is not close.

combine03 CUT01

Conical Intersect : Chronic[al] Intercept

Matta-Clark’s Conical Intercect (1975)

”   Gordon Matta-Clark’s Conical Intersect (1975) was a torqued, spiralling ‘cut’ into two derelict seventeenth-century Paris buildings adjacent to the construction site of the Centre Pompidou. With this landmark work of ‘anarchitecture’, Matta-Clark opened up these venerable residences to light and air, and began a dialogue about the nature of urban development and the public role of art. Considered today, Conical Intersect reveals the multivalent nature of the artist’s practice and his prescient focus on sustainability and creative reuse of the built environment.   “

– Bruce Jenkins

The poetic way in which Matta-Clark creates a space within the existing interested me due to the simple way in which a ‘conversation’ was started between the building’s social role and the public atmosphere of the street. From within the ‘hole’ one is the spectator; the audience. His act is both destructive and constructive: an attack on the existing whilst highlighting the problem of urban renewal.

The below image was my initial response to the idea of using existing buildings in order to create new space. the cut would result in tiered ‘seating’ as the floors are sliced. I think it best to retain the original form of the building at least to the point of recognition. The structure depicted is the Ibis Hotel Berlin, a result of Mediaspree. The question is whether the gesture should be performed on an ‘abandoned’ building or a Mediaspree spawned one. Alternatively the proposal could serve as just that. The building choosen would be one that Mediaspree plans to build. An anti-proposal. Another example of the proposal being the work itself is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia_Coaster


I began to investigate how I could use a similar technique to create a auditorium or viewing area from the existing building around the Holzmarkt and Berlin Spree. As described in the previous post the ability to create ‘free-space’ will most effectively be achieved with a spherical intersection. This negative space (a half sphere) also suggests theater seating and provides optimum viewing angles. The below sketches investigate the way in which I can create such a space. The act of creating the theatre is performative in itself. The result could simply be a space of experience, the public invited to explore the unusual forms and navigate their occupation of them.

Below is an abstract of how the gesture would effect the structure of the chosen building. If the proposal was to be an ‘anti-proposal’ as described above this would be the type of content I would include. This would not meet the OISTAT brief (it barely will anyway). However through these ‘sketches’ I discovered that when the resulting half in placed in the water it creates the illusion of a submerged whole. The cut piece should also be rotated as to allow those viewing from with the building to see ‘through’ it, between the floors.

Below are the most prominent results of the Mediaspree plan. They are the ‘targets’. The floating ‘stage’ could comprise of ‘parts’ of each of them as the negative space left within the structure would be the ‘seating’. In the next post I have modeled up the NMA building to further investigate ways in which it could be cut.

Gordon Matta-Clark: Collage

In an experimentation of how an existing space can be redefined, I used Gordon Matta-Clarks collage technique to manipulate an empty room within my house. What I found was that it came naturally to piece together a space based on it’s ‘line’ or box-like limitations: it’s linear ‘axis’. Is it possible to reconstruct a space based upon other physical definitions?

Though this experiment did not directly relate to the site on the Spree I found it a useful. If a space is most easily defined by it’s ‘axis’ or lines the obvious way in which to subvert it would be to sever them. Furthermore the closest thing to a physical form without a linear direction is a sphere, or a spacial void. (See bottom for examples of Matta-Clark’s collage.)



‘I read a lot of essays’ : Educating my Kaupapa

In order to gain a greater understanding of what I am trying to achieve (because it’s still very vague) I investigated what it actually meant to be an architect spatial designer who consciously opposes the capitalist system. What I discovered was a completely new way of looking at space, as well as the history behind why we design space as we do. This overwhelming information has ultimately forced a change in my worldviews.  The depth of this information is ultimately beyond this brief. I will quickly and hap-hazardly compile the reading and ideas below.

Architecture and Anarchy: http://www.archi-ninja.com/architecture-and-anarchy/

”  Anarchism maintains that corporations (of whatever sort, political or commercial) do not value basic human needs, and tend to diminish cultural and social freedom.  “

”  Cities are a product of capitalism  “

”  Woods recognises that architecture constructs a subjective position though the spatialisation of power. “The architect speaks of designing spaces that satisfies human needs, but it is actually human needs that are being shaped in order to satisfy space.” (Tuscello 2003) Woods attempts to create a “freespace” within the controlled city network, freespace being an area with no prescriptive function and no imposed behaviours. Woods recognises human behaviour as dynamic but highly influenced by the inactive state of architecture which contributes to our perception of values. “People come and go, ways of living change, but architecture endures, an idealization of living.”(Tuscello, 2003)  “

”  Woods introduced the concept of freespace in his Berlin Free Zone project. He describes the project as “A hidden city within the city.” (Woods 2010) The Berlin Free Zone project through conflict of materiality provided unpredictable possibilities for culture, social and individual transformation. The project created machine-like ‘buildings’ within an area where the Berlin Wall once stood. It is difficult for the general public to conceptually understand the work; there is no spatial order or system, as intended the use of his buildings for those willing to invent ways of spatial habitation. Through the breakdown of architectural order and structure, Wood’s architecture allows the participant to redefine their definition of space.  “

”  Conflict is a common theme throughout Woods’ architecture: he proposes not a utopia but a heterotopia – a spatial environment where individual differences and conflicts come together. The creation of buildings without walls is in direct opposition to the neoliberal dream of privatized spaces, and the exploration of such spatial interventions are explored in the work of other anarchism-influenced artists and architects – Gordon Matta-Clarke being a prime example.  “

”   Under the state of anarchy proposed by Sennett, every community would design their own space according to their individual demand and uniqueness (Sennett 1970). Politically, Sennett proposes an extreme form of participatory democracy, whereby liberty and choice are in order not by laws of government but by the dialogue and critique within a community of individuals. In order for architecture to exist in such a state, it is dependent upon the breakdown of the entire political system which surrounds it. Henry Rollins describes anarchy of this type as an anti-structure which is not commonly tolerated: “if thousands of people started camping out in Central Park, NYC, I don’t see that working out very well those people.” (Rollins 2010, pers. comm, 3 June)  “

Anarchitecture and Detournement: http://issuu.com/dnl.phillips/docs/anarchitecture_and_detournement-daniel_phillips

Phillips discusses the work of Gordon Matta-Clark with specific reference to Conical Intersect (1975) . Matta-Clarks physical slice  of the building is both recklessly subversive and carefully considered. He interior and exterior and the way in which building structure is typically viewed. The space is both the viewport and the viewed, bridging the building to the street.

Lebbeus Woods: http://septimus7.tripod.com/ibea/gall10.html

”  No one wants to discuss the relationship between architecture and politics. It is an unsavoury subject. All those politicians, all that rhetoric, mixed with the timeless verities embodied in the noble forms of architecture. Yet the resistance to enter this discussion is not noble at all. All architects are deeply involved in their work with the political, whether or not they admit it to others, or to themselves. Most architects in this highly commercial era, who accept commissions and clients that affect public life, are in fact committed to supporting political systems. Only a handful work against it, because they believe it is regressive in terms of architecture or society, or both. It is no wonder that the majority of architects avoid the political implications of their work. They believe themselves to be creators, or innovators, when in actuality they are nothing more nor less than the executors of a physical and social order designed by those institutions presently holding political authority and power. The practice of architecture today is protected from confrontation with changing political conditions in the world within a hermetically sealed capsule of professionalism, which ostensibley exists to protect its high standards from the corrupting influence of political expediency and merely topical concerns.   “

and http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2012/oct/31/lebbeus-woods

Much of Lebbeus Woods’ work investigates intangible space. These spaces are nonuniform, boundary-less and directly cut through existing ‘corporate’ structure in defiant juxtaposition. The term ‘free-space’ is used to describe such spaces. The beauty of them is they hold no preconceived intentions of how humans might occupy them. They are not human scale but this ambiguity set them free from controlling their occupants.

Situationist International: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situationist_International

”  They rejected the idea that advanced capitalism’s apparent successes—such as technological advancement, increased income, and increased leisure could ever outweigh the social dysfunction and degradation of everyday life that it simultaneously inflicted.  “


”  A détournement is a technique developed in the 1950s by the Letterist International, and consist in “turning expressions of the capitalist system against itself,” like turning slogans and logos against the advertisers or the political status quo. Détournementwas prominently used to set up subversive political pranks, an influential tactic called situationist prank that was reprised by the punk movement in the late 1970s and inspired the culture jamming movement in the late 1980s  “


”   In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there… But the dérive includes both this letting go and its necessary contradiction: the domination of psychogeographical variations by the knowledge and calculation of their possibilities.

—Ken Knabb   “
”   In the SI’s 6th issue, Raoul Vaneigem writes in a manifesto of unitary urbanism, “All space is occupied by the enemy. We are living under a permanent curfew. Not just the cops—the geometry”   “

Advanced Capitalist Architecture (and how to mess it up) : http://www.spacehijackers.org/html/ideas/writing/Adcaparchi.html

The Space Hijackers a form of protect group based in the United Kingdom at describe themselves as  “an international band of anarchitects who battle to save our streets, towns and cities from the evils of urban planners, architects,multinationals and other hoodlums”. Much of there work involves public interventions of highly commercial space in order to change its social definitions. Though I consider some of their methods/statements slightly diluted I was inspired by the idea that one doesn’t have to physically manipulate the structure of a space in order to change its architectural definition.If the social interactions or interpretation of a space is change, then so has its architectural effectiveness. Furthermore one can be an architect of a space simply by act of intervention in an existing one. This idea resounds with that of the performance making the theatre not visa-versa, as discussed in earlier posts.

Advanced Capitalism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_capitalism

”  Advanced capitalism is the situation that pertains in a society in which the capitalist model has been integrated and developed deeply and extensively and for a prolonged period.  “

Towards Anarchitecture: Gordon Matta-Clark and Le Corbusier: http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/towards-anarchitecture-gordon-matta-clark-and-le-corbusier

‘Anarchitecture’ coined by Gordon Matta-Clark offers architectural statements for change, rather than finished products. Never finished and ongoing anarchitecture offers the capacity to hold a discussion for new ideas and experiences. Anarchitecture in it’s nature, just like anarchy, can never be complete as it is in constant opposition to the other. For the purpose of my work anarchitecture is in contest of capitalist architecture and it’s controlling nature.

With everything gone what can I put back? : The Essentials of the Theatre

A theatre that is a true revolt against capitalism would be built for performer, artist and audience; an exchange of the intangible rather than the financial. The space would allow the artists to occupy it without limitation. A production could ideally be held without any need for financial exchange. This then requires one to ask: what are the absolute essentials of a theatre? What is a theatre?

Conventionally a western theatre (building) comprises of the following components:

  • Performance space or stage. Typically either:
    • Arena theatres and amphitheatre  [fixed]
    • ‘Blockbox’ theatres [ability to be rearranged]
  • Audience space.
    • Seating in rows, often tiered. (Though not always)
    • Typically the audience is segregated from the performance.
  • Backstage area. This could include:
    • Dressing and make-up rooms.
    • ‘Green room’ or waiting room.
    • Storage and transition space for scene and props.
  • Lighting and sound rigging often suspended from an overhead ‘grid’.


Knowing this which of these components could be removed and the space still remain a theatre or sorts. Arguably everything could be removed the the performance continue in some form on another. Is the presence of people even necessary at every given moment? Performance art would answer ‘no’ but a body must be involved in either cause or effect. My ‘carrot people theatre’ below demonstrates:

  • essentials-of-theatre-01Tiered seating complicates the theatre setup if it needs to be rearranged.
  • Seating is not essential. A standing audience can be placed anywhere.
  • By removing the stage and set rigging a  performance can occur anywhere about the space. The separation of audience and performance blurred.
  • Covered space as well as electrically powered lighting and sound add to maintenance and upkeep cost. The performance must go on. If lighting etc is essential the production can improvise.
  • So what’s left is a floating platform of sorts. If the space was not on a river even this would not be needed. Alternatively the site is taken as it is, because in reality, ‘carrots float’.

It would be fair at this point to conclude that it is the performance that makes the theatre not the other way around. The conventional western theatre building is convenient, systematic and inflexible much like the consumer driven agendas that inadvertently spawned it. (Maximum number of seats, minimum lull between productions etc.) A theatre can be anywhere and under any circumstance. Planned or not. An intervention of body and space. This is very much an ethos held by ‘performance art’, which interesting is often described as the antithesis of theatre. Is what I am designing an ‘anti-theatre’?

Performance Art: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performance_art