I passionately believe in the need for a theory and approach for a building to "grow", adapt and develop in time and space as fast as society and technology does. I am continuously investigating the extent of oblivion and remembrance needed to foster sustainable urban, architectural and cultural progress.
In the following I trace a first train of thought - one of time and space, building and rebuilding and the meaning of doing so. It is a poetic study of architecture and building in time. Thereby I seek to learn the extend of the problematic and to express it with words and examples.
"The word 'building' contains the double reality - both the verb and the noun. And where architecture strives to be permanent, a building is always building and rebuilding"
- excerpt from "How buildings learn" by Steward Brand
The value of a visible trace of history in a building is the living proof and example that architecture is an art of storytelling and as such, one of its most important features is a timeline and a qualitative change of state trough time.
Historical buildings in a city help establish a local cultural identity and set a starting point and a direction for further growth and development. When after World War II in bigger parts of Europe the new laws for protection and preservation of architectural monuments kicked in, it resulted into much needed care and restoration of many historical buildings and neighborhoods. Almost 80 years later we are happy to have such places as the Jordaan district in Amsterdam, the Belgian town of Brygge or central Vienna and connect to the past. But as beautiful and nostalgic as these places are, despite the efforts of town legislation and administration, these places are changing. Once vibrant centers of exchange and hustle of everyday life, many European cities are turning into giant museums of themselves, serving not the residents of their own town, but profitable causes such as tourism and merchandise. Residential function slowly but definitely moves out of the historic neighbourhoods to give place to the most temporary function of all - retail.
The Death of an almost eternal city comes with its recognition for UNESCO - or so say its inhabitants. The city of Split was founded in 305 AD when Roman emperor Diocletian built there a fortress for his retirement years. Ever since the inhabitants of the area have found shelter within the walls of the fortification and continuously changed it. Walking around the town today, visible scars of every generation are carved in the white stones of the building, and there is something poetic and beautiful about it. But all poetry ends in recent years when the city is discovered by mass tourism as a trip highlight. Since then the city is flooded with exterior air conditioners hanging from the walls, plastic chairs on every free spot and huge and shiny shopping windows. Residents have since all moved to a different part of town, often with regret and despair.
The director of Venice Biennale Paolo Baratta once said "We live with our memories, but survive thanks to oblivion".
A historical city is not a mere wondrous backdrop for life in any century to happen. The place defines the people and the people define the place. Architecture needs to be lived, needs interaction, change and care to exist. We don't need more static monuments of the past, we need to actively learn and improve our surroundings.
This present second part discusses a theory of a systematic growth in time of a building, based on extensive precedent research and drawn conclusions. In this part I am seeking a theoretical and design approach to allow for a building to develop in time and space, but still preserve its identity.
"A building is defined by its elements, but beyond that, a building is also defined by certain patterns of relationships between the elements. [...] Each building gets its character from just the patterns, which keep on repeating there."
- excerpt from "The Timeless Way of Building" by Christopher Alexander
Whenever a new building is conceived, its site is crucial. Whether an architect would decide to incorporate the environment in their design or to ignore it - it is a key feature of a design proposal. However, when the building ground for a new building is another building in itself, a question arises as to how architecture can respond to a surrounding that is so immediate and dominant. After conducting a study on buildings, which have expanded over time, 3 main principles for a continuous workflow arose. Hereafter, three examples are presented, which best explain the principles.
1/ St.Ludwig kirche, Saarelouis, Germany
This building is characterized by three different times, each with different materiality and different structure type. When the neo gothic abside collapses due to underground water destroying the foundations, new abside needs to be built and it should be with a structure and material that can handle the troublesome ground. The solution of reinforced concrete comes and so the design of Gottfried Boehm.
This inheritance of proportions and morphological units is further on referred to as the method of Morphological inheritance. It is signified by preserved proportions and formal language, keeping the building as a whole, however different materiality, structural system and aesthetic may be.
2/ Festung Hohensalzburg, Salzburg, Austria
Due to need for protection from foreign attack in the middle ages, the circulation mode takes a visitor on the longest path possible, giving many possibilities for the residents to attack their invading enemies. Because of this necessity circulation dictates the layout and planning of the fortress in all of its expansion phases and turns to a main driving design principle. Despite being progressively built in different ages with different techniques, it retained its function and its contextuality. Therefore materials keep inheriting properties from each other, while only the building technique develops, thus preserving the buildings unity. These features of the example illustrate the Design narrative adaptance method. It follows the way the objectives for a certain strategy change with time, including the political, sociological and cultural aspect.
3/ Tate modern, Herzog and de Meuron, London, UK
The new design proposes a distinguished shape, not interfering with the appearance of the old existing building, which is a landmark of is own. However, cladding it with the same brick topology and the same order, a dialogue between the new and the old is established. The observed material inheritance similarity in the smallest building unit wrapping up the big picture constitutes the third method, called Continuation and evolution of detailing pattern. Here features as decoration and its function as tool for articulation and materiality as a forgotten property of form take central place.
According to Steve Semes there are three main motives for preservation : 1/ historians motive of buildings and places as "documents of their time"; 2/ populist motive of "places we love and want to keep"; and probably the most neglected and often forgotten one - 3/ to learn/remember how to build1.Let's learn how to learn, remember and honour our favourite places.
If you like to read more on this work, please come in contact.
The following is an attempt to grasp the contemporary widespread disregard for copies and glimpse into a world of future copying, therefore also a world of future originality.
In a study by Angelika Seidel and Jesse Prinz at CUNY (City University of New York) researchers told test subjects to imagine that the Mona Lisa was destroyed in a fire, but that there happened to be a perfect copy which even experts couldn’t tell from the original. If they could see just one or the other, would they rather see the ashes of the original Mona Lisa or a perfect duplicate? Eighty per cent of the respondents chose the ashes. That illustrates the state of our obsession with originals and almost hate for copies. But this wasn’t always the case. Romans copied Greek art- in particular sculptures, at an unprecedented rate. That was not regarded as plagiarism. There are countless Roman copies of Roman sculptures too — and with each copy a different concept comes to life. So how did we end up here? And where do we go from now onwards? In view of the rise of digital technology and digital artworks where is the boundary between original and copy? And when is it a copy we are talking about, and when an instance of an object?
To answer these questions, I traced back the history of copying in parallel to the history of artistic creation. I compared different art epochs according to several parameters in order to assess when and why copying became equal to forgery.
skill / technique — in Ancient Greek there is no word for art as we know it. The word they used to describe art was techne, or what we call today craft. For the point of art was depicting something so beautifully, crafting it in a way that it inspires you to live up to that beauty in your life. Although here is very little left from the original Greek sculptures, there are still plenty of Roman copies of those Greek sculptures to tell the story. Statues, especially ones which stood on prominent places in Rome, were copied all over the empire, because a replica of the sculpture was indeed duplicating the glory of the place, hence its owner. Art for the sake of art, for the sake of beauty.
concept / story telling -The influence of religion on art dominated the larger period from the fall of the Roman Empire (partially even during the rule of Rome). The main point of that art was to deliver to the minds and the hearts of the spectators the idea of the all mightiness of God. Copies of paintings and sculptures were highly welcome, since due to the major illiteracy, that was the only way a message could be spread further. Of course, there were strong restrictions in themes and lack of freedom for self-interpretation, but nevertheless the concept of admiration for the pure original was virtually unknown. Since the main goal of art was to depict a story or character, its content was in the limelight.
authorship — in Renaissance everything changes. Concepts from Ancient Greece and ancient Rome come back to life, but this time, they have a single genius author. The personality, both in experiencing art as well as in creating it, takes central position and so it remains pretty much until today. From objective art turns into deeply subjective, even more so in the eras to come. Art becomes a personal indulgence.
It is fascinating that once a known author is involved, the desire to acquire his/her own personal work appears. It is not anymore only the work that is the sole focus of interest, but rather the personality behind it, with all its human treats and details.
In order to understand what is to become of authorship and originals in the future, I looked back to an event that although in the past, quite resembles our current status quo. It was a time of booming new technology, sudden overflow of information and instant availability of many new copies of one and the same artwork from the same author — namely the rise of the printed press. In the late 15th century printed books began to replace manuscripts and it caused a revolution, much like the revolution we live today. Suddenly, books were not reserved only for the scholars to be read in libraries and monasteries. Instead, the first pocket books were on the rise — so compact, that one could simply read them anywhere, anytime. These tiny books spread so fast, publishing on every topic all the way from classics, to contemporary authors and fast became something of a status symbol.
Curiously however, in the first years of their making, even though printed books were product of a machine and therefore symbolizing progress, clients insisted upon an individual marking — each book was to be proof-read by the author himself or the publisher. If some mistakes were to be found, it was of utmost honor if those were corrected by the hand of the creator. Depending on the social status and wealth of the client the book had also different layout and was decorated to varying extends — preferably by hand. These books were precious because they were one of a kind, special in the then revolutionary way in which they were produced, but also for their absolute originality — there is until today, no second like them.
With time passing and the printing technology and economy developing further, printed books entered the life of all classes and soon individual marking lost importance. The value of the book went back to its content, rather than its artificial originality while not lessening in any way the importance and rights of its author. And although today we pride ourselves with the signature of the writer on the front page, a copy of a book is just as much original as any other.
Maybe that is also to become of future sculptures — instead of handcrafted, a 3D model will be printed by many “publishers”, behold in many corners of the world and every instance will be just as original — it will be an expression of the artist, but moreover, an expression of an idea, of an experience, of a thought. Maybe the boom of digital technology will once more shift our focus and definition of art, this time away from possessive authorship and towards of a new era of artistic exploration and expression.
MX3D equips industrial multi-axis robots with 3D tools and develops the software to control them. This allows us to 3D print strong, complex and gracious structures out of sustainable material – from large bridges to small parts. We research and develop groundbreaking, cost-effective robotic technology with which we can 3D print beautiful, functional objects in almost any form.
With the MX3D Bridge project we want to showcase the potential of our multi-axis 3D print technology. This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form. The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds
My involvement in the project was the complete design of the handrail and bridge deck.
More images to come.
All images copyright JorisLaarmanLab and MX3D
Room Divider Design
Joris Laarman Lab
The computational generated esthetics of the screens are not just pleasing for the eye but are also pushing the boundaries of our technology. 3d printing on this scale is unexplored territory so we are learning as we develop new sculptural work. For every new form language a specific strategy is developed resulting in large a library of strategies that will become self learning in the near future. The butterfly screen is a 2 x 3 meter double curved bronze surface based on a hexagonal cell division.
My engagement in this project was the design of the sculprture from conceptual phase to final printing file.
Design Miami / Basel 2016
FRAME Magazine edition 112
All images copyright JorisLaarmanLab
University of Applied Arts, Vienna
The focus of this diploma thesis is the architectural question of building densification and how expansion of our buildings can allow for further development, while preserving their identity and manifesting the passage of time.
The core interest lies in the process of inheritance of building properties trough time through the visible memory of its structure, material and form while remaining in the same instance.
The project focuses on the notions of time and transformation in conceptual, structural, organizational and spatial terms and thereby studies and extrapolates patterns and dependencies from an existing building and subjects those to the requirements and possibilities of today. Sources of inspiration are processes of growth and aggregation, driven by the smallest elements up.
After a study of a collection of architectural precedents, the specific site chosen is the Free University of Berlin, which through its design proposal opens a discussion of the special qualities describing the concept of Freedom in social and spatial terms and the role of morphology and tectonics to support a conceptual framework in direct comparison.
Essence 2016, Künstlerhaus, Vienna, Austria
All images copyright Elena Krasteva
Urban Design Study
Advanced Computational Design Lab at AHO, Oslo, Norway
This Project aims for re-conception of the urban plan at the island Ormoya in the Oslo Fjord.
It focuses on dichotomies such as public/private, relationship between environment and object and object and object. Another issue addressed is the use of very private spaces in the public domain and their need for the society.
To address the local urban issues, this project proposes a series of private spaces in the public domain - or the other way around - a public space for private use. This is achieved through reduction of the unit size, shortterm program (temporary programs) and intensification of the relation man-nature.
The process is initiated with evaluation of the slope of the natural landscape. This evaluation serves further as a map for distribution of volumes, associated with that
typology. To those volumes a growth algorithm (L-System) is applied, which parameters are in correspondance with the natural terrain. Afterwards the resulting general field is further differentiated and evaluated on a series of objectives concerning an objects relationship with its surrounding (sunlight and wind) and its immediate neighbours. Result is a differentiated and optimized field.
AHO Works 2014
Excellence in architectural comuter graphics award nominee, AHO, Graphisoft
Excellence in urban design and planning award nominee, AHO, Plan- og bygningsetaten
All images copyright Elena Krasteva
Gregor Holzinger and Adam Orlinski
"Exhibition of a shadow"
My engagement in this project was cooperation in the building up of the exhibition space.
Gallery Göttlicher, Krems, Austria
All images copyright Gregor Holzinger and Elena Krasteva
Advanced Structural Integration / Design Studio
The project was initiated as a 21st century revisit at Maison Domino. After a detailed study of the conceptual meaning and structural concept of Le Corbusiers Project, we extrapolated 3 main points which stand for the current societal status: Verticality, Inter-articulation and Customization.
In efforts to challenge the formal horizontality illustrated by the Maison Domino, this project aims to achieve an effect of verticality by way of a field of lines. This infinite field of normal vectors is used to represent a constant vertical load, as it begins to reinterpret the existing columns of the Maison Domino. According to program, the vectors within this field attract to and repel against each other to create structure and space. This manipulation, in turn, has created the most optimal use of the vertical elements, as they now dictate both a spatial and structural narrative for the single-family home. As seen in both the interior and the façade, the use of the line offers a new way of realizing elements within the home. The line becomes somewhat of a continuous, connective force, which creates a direct relationship between horizontal and vertical structure. This is what we refer to as inter-articulation, meant as a strategy of overcoming the dichotomy between façade and interior and mending the structural system also in this relationship. The Car is integrated in the design process and is parked on a ramp at the waterfront, to make a conversion from car to boat possible. The public entrance of the house is at street level, and the more private one is situated at the waterfront, where the vertical structural elements are coming out of the water. Involved is an advanced structural analysis and evolutionary algorithm to optimize the structural layout.
"Fluid Totality : 15 years of Studio Zaha Hadid Vienna", 2015 Birkhäuser Verlag Basel
The Essence 2014, Künstlerhaus, Vienna, Austria
All images copyright Elena Krasteva
TU Graz Extension
Energy Design Seminar, University of Applied Arts Vienna
The project tangles the issue of time and buildings. The technical university of Graz has a splendid old building, set under the protection of the cultural institute of Austria. Anyway, despite its prestigious look, the functionality of it has grown out of fashion : the modern ways of education have developed in a way which are no longer supported by the building. Therefore the projects looks for ways to protect the current facade, and still give a more differentiated room typology and fit the new requirements.
The design focuses solely on the inner part of the building, looking at the idea of atrium and its benefits to architecture. Introducing a series of cuts, expanding the space and extending the distances between the shreds, the configuration allows for differentiated spaces, melting from one to another with a multi level circulation.
All images copyright Elena Krasteva