The Augmented Landscape, Smout Allen, #2

THE AUGMENTED LANDSCAPE, SMOUT ALLEN #2

[ see Part 1 ]

In their introduction to Augmented Landscapes, Smout Allen describe how they draw:

 “Normative demonstrations of architectural space by means of orthographic projection are avoided, as these tend to depict simplified, flattened or foreshortened viewpoints. The creation of test sites on and in the surface of the paper allows the work to react to and describe the iterative process of design. This work becomes a materialization of the practice of design.” (7)

The opposition here is between orthographic architectural drawing as demonstrative depiction involving the collapsing of space onto the surface of the paper, and a mode of drawing that makes the surface of the paper a reactive, iterative, and material test site. The drawing is a generative device, rather than a conclusive depiction. But this doesn’t mean that the drawing is uncoded, or that it enters into a domain of free play. Miralles wrote of his own drawings as “a working structure” governed by rules “of economics and commodity”. How is this drawing coded and how does it operate?

The black masses of the drawing cluster together like a flotilla of rafts. They are sited against a white ground, without any markers of place. Even the indexing marks noted previously appear only over the figure, not the ground. These aren’t artefacts in a landscape. We aren’t looking at an architectural figure that augments a pre-existing landscape, but at a landscape that drifts in respect to its context. (In the model that accompanied this drawing, the existing site is present only as white-painted glass). This effect of being unmoored could be taken to show unconcern for context, or a reinforcement of the architectural object as autonomous from its context—but in the project as a whole, there is in fact a deep concern for the particular qualities of place: the vegetation, climate, historic spatial forms, temporal rhythms of the Egyptian desert. So a reading of the drawing that makes it stand for architectural autonomy from site is unattractive. What alternative readings of the figure-ground condition of the drawing are possible?

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