Restoration Church addition. Rush City, MN 2018. Preliminary. (work in progress). with Luigi Festa (SFL).
The Imes Covered Bridge in Iowa, is a compelling image with a powerful sense of place. I took it as an inspiration that propelled the design concept.
According to Martin Heidegger, a bridge collects and unites all aspects of the fourfold: earth, sky, mortals and divinities, and dwelling occurs only in a building that allows for a sense of place. A bridge is a manifestation of the fourfold which is at the base of all dwelling.
Design Principles/scope of work.
1. Mending urban fabric while reconnecting the street façade by linking the 2 existing buildings.
2. Improving street-level pedestrian walkways and access to people with disabilities by connecting sanctuary and parsonage house with new internal ramp.
3. Improving facility functionality by providing dedicated new lobby and main entrance to the west side.
4. Mending social fabric and community identity through sense of place. Promoting "street life" versus social segregation and fragmentation through a covered public court and bleacher stairs as vital gathering place of both spatial and social inter-connectedness.
"The Time Machine". Franconia Sculpture Park. Shafer, MN. with Michael E. Hale, Francesco Cardone, Luigi Festa.
"The Time Machine" project at Franconia Sculpture Park and "The Being Machine" in Native American Country, are multimedia interactive artworks, events where living sculptures, land art and site-specific architecture merge with dance, music, singing and acting. Focusing on "mash up" of genres by overlapping disciplines and multiplying solutions with stimulating unconventional systems, the objective is to close a discipline gap consistent with mainstream culture and linear economy, between traditional architectural practice and multiple design utensils, between performing arts and visual arts.
The body of work constituted by the two "machines" is a radicalization of a hardly new concept of total artistic synthesis derived from Classical Antiquity : a Gesamtkunstwerk; a radicalized total work of art because the synthesis of the arts occurs on multiple levels, not only by combining different disciplines within the same category but also by unifying 2 separated venues and events across performing arts and visual arts. The effort is weaving together an array of art forms able to mend the social fabric in a plurality of ways. A radical choice of not only wanting to create "a story" and "a specific site" where to tell it, but also a complete reversibility of story and actuality, stage and architectural site, coming to the conclusion that architecture is nothing but a branch of stagecraft.
The Time Machine and The Being Machine, paraphrase Being and Time, the 1927 book by German philosopher Martin Heidegger which, by discussing the question of the meaning of "Being", lays down the basis for the "ontological difference", the crucial distinction between Being and beings (entities) dismissed from Plato onwards, a difference between the ontical and the ontological, where the former is concerned with facts that reflect our own utilitarian way of thinking about entities (things, property, money, power, and nature as a standing-reserve, a gigantic gasoline station) and the latter concerned instead with the meaning of Being as a kind of ultimate essence, the oblivion of which caused the western culture nihilism to choose the way of the things instead of the way of the Being; to have instead of to be; the way of the becoming instead of the way of Being.
The 2 theatrical machines are critical junctures between Italian Opera & American Musical. The goal is to bridge dissimilarity between local and global through a cross-cultural approach that links past/memory and future/imagination to the present challenges of the globalized world.
I believe that Architecture alone cannot bring about positive social change. There are exuberant forces beyond Architecture ability to act as an agent of positive transformation, and sustainability has become an increasingly trite commonplace. Architects are located at one end of the production chain where already exploited resources are dispersed. In the scenario of having multiple approaches and direct involvement in devising and modeling not only communal fabric and public spaces but also private spaces that are not thought as property line from property line realms, the hybridization in the direction of a widened design process involving performing arts, is a sidestepping of the traditional thought about art and architecture function.
One might be more concerned for the city of the future than for a future of the city, more interested in humanity for the future rather than a future for humanity, and a "Time Machine" might not even be futile until one realizes that "All the world's a stage" of destiny and freewill illusions, of already written infinite comedies, and that Architecture is nothing but a branch of stagecraft.
"The Being Machine". Mille Lacs - Onamia, MN 2017. with Luigi Festa, Michael E. Hale, Francesco Cardone (SFL)
Only a few before Robert Pirsig have evaluated so clearly the role exerted by the Native American culture in the formation of the most genuine nature of the American nation, as much as the Greeks and their culture - although the latter relegated to a function of "corporate image" - have shaped the minds of their Roman invaders.
The temporary "dwelling" at Mille Lacs aims to re-connect local food resources-natural habitat and dwelling practices within a cyclical economy vs. a linear economy of consumer market culture made of endless development and continuous exploitation.
The proposed floating island trespass the established terrain of stage design and treads onto architecture by making it a narrative machine (The Being Machine): a space that is real and lived, an environmental theater play beyond the traditional stage-audience divide with complete reversibility of ﬁction and actuality, stage set and architectural site.
"Hamlet" is sometime staged inside uninhabited Danish castles, but there are never Hamlets, Danish castles, authentic princes of Denmark and currently inhabited residences all at the same time, all in the same play.
The subject of "The Being Machine" theatrical play is a an "unlearning machine", a cultural resource where students learn to harvest Manoomin (Wild Rice) standing in antithesis to the idea of boarding schools created to dispose the cumbersome Native American culture.
"The Being Machine" theatrical piece in the form of acting dancing and singing, merges the itinerant meta-architecture-scenery of the Floating Island with the stationary environment of Mille Lacs Spirit Island and portrays 4 main characters within three worlds or three cultures:
-an Ojibwe tutor who teaches the "Manoominikewin", the art of harvesting wild rice;
-a white student of the anti-boarding school;
-an incorporeal cyborg whose original human consciousness had been uploaded into a super intelligent computer;
-Nature omnipresent Being as the background against which the plot takes place.
"I cannot conceive any work of art as having a separate existence from life itself." Antonin Artaud - The Theater and its Double. 1938
"Spirit" and "Hennepin" boulder islands in Mille Lacs lake make up the smallest National Wildlife Refuge in the United States. The islands are a nesting colony for the state-listed threatened common tern and other colonial nesting species including ring-billed gulls, herring gulls, and double-crested cormorants. For Native Americans stones were not inanimate objects and Spirit Island is a significant site within the sacred landscape of Minnesota.
The floating island is in fact a simulation, a stratagem devised for an historical fiction in which an evolution of Native American culture is imagined outside history and linear time imposed upon them. Native traditions of weaving and cordage technology and the way they shaped their physical environment should reflect such an hypothetical development and the difference with respect to Richard Buckminster Fuller techno-science modality and interpretation with lattice domes.
The canopy stretched over the floating island is thought as a tensile structure that can extend and contract reflecting horizontally the shape of a native dreamcatcher. The nightmare of consumer market and exploitation based mainstream culture is symbolically retained by the network of the canopy: a new opportunity of holding together human society that doesn't split nature and culture.
Dry Cleaning Facility addition. St Paul, MN. 2011 with Michael E. Hale
International Cooperation Projects. From 1983 to 1987.
I like to think about the humanitarian aid projects of those years as precursors, in many ways originators of a work being done at the closing of a thirty-year span architectural profession. They are evidences of a difference: the difference between a cooperation entirely performed in the cooperator country, which can often be juxtaposed by the aims of a consensus around the donor figure, and another in which instead it is more important to have a first comparison and verification with active local physical forces even in a recipient country ravaged by civil war as it was Mozambique in the late 80s
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