Drawing and Criticism

Project

A contemporary architectural drawing analysis requires a personal historiographical reading of recent events.

Since the 1980s, totalizing cultural narrative schemes which order and explain knowledge and experience take a downturn to promote multiplicity over unity. It happens for a specific reason: great historical ideas, striving to direct the present towards a different condition, have done more harm than good. Because of this utopia can be considered a very dangerous tool which leads to absolutism and disposable regimes.

Thus dominant cultural institutions lose their power to encourage a reproduction process of forms and ideas of architecture. Even architecture adapts to changes, with no claim to planning for the future. Architecture no longer runs any risk of taking an all-embracing position. It already committed too many mistakes.

Therefore any renunciation of utopia allows a more democratic society but, at the same time, it denies the freedom to dream of a different future, thus condemning society to an eternal presentism condition.

We think we are free but we are not, and it is like we are living trapped in a new form of social captivity: the Inside-out Panopticon Utopia (2017).In the following image, utopia takes watchtower’s place. Now it takes control. It holds a great fascination with us but it is no longer achievable. All cells bring outside through a balcony while the center of the prison is not accessible. There is no chance to handle utopia, no chance for a different future.

  Inside-out Panopticon Utopia, 2017      
 Inside-out Panopticon Utopia, 2017    

These considerations are essential to start with an analysis of the contemporary architectural drawing. Renunciation of new utopias is a great sacrifice for designers who are very attracted to it. Thus artistis look for it in the past iconography, to capture its subversive appearance. The main goal is to increase the emotionality of the image and its communication skill. Thus drawings look more analogical, more personal, flatter and more spontaneous. Precisely for this reason, 2D representation techniques are spreading more than 3D representation ones. These drawings do not claim to appear realistic, but they aim at a more suggestive, more artistic, at a deliberately more imaginary reality.

Both collages Architectural ideas and forms in ruins (2018)and Dystopian Megastructure (2017)have the aim described above:they use past architectural ideas and forms to catch their charm offering an anachronistic spatial and temporal dimension. On the other hand both structures are in ruins showing the mutual relationship between utopia and dystopia, between good intentions and results.

Architectural ideas and form in ruins, 2018
Architectural ideas and form in ruins, 2018
Dystopian Megastructure, 2017
Dystopian Megastructure, 2017

Star system architecture can also be considered an example of good intentions claiming to regenerate degraded neighborhoods through the construction of iconic buildings.From deconstructivism to historicism, from blob to minimalism, this system spreads an ever bigger and ever more miserable architectural literary. Architectual Caries, 2017shows some architectural forms legitimized by complicated theories in an advanced state of dental caries highlighting the crisis of the old linguistic utopian codes.

Architectual Caries, 2017
Architectual Caries, 2017

This crisis opens up great questions for the architectural discipline. Waiting for the stabilization of new linguistic balances, we have two options: proposing new utopias destined to fail or taking inspiration from the fascinating past iconography. Today many designers choose the second option, even Superdutch (2018) chooses it. It tries to capture the charming concepts of congestion and bigness by intersecting in a complex structure famous Dutch architecture such as Kubuswoningen by Piet Blom, CCTV Headquarters by OMA, MAS by Neutelings Riedijk Architects and WOZOCO by MVRDV.

 Superdutch, 2018
Superdutch, 2018

Even past industrial and fashion design references can be recycled and mixed like in the images Vitra Tower (2018)and Cassina Tower (2018). The first drawing, playing with the dimensional scale, overlaps a series of well-known pieces from industrial design to build a tower-building, the second one decorates the industrial-architectural object with fashion designer Arthur Arbersser’s patterns.

Vitra Tower, 2018
Vitra Tower, 2018
Cassina Tower, 2018
Cassina Tower, 2018

Drawings can also assemble seemingly conflicting ideas to increase their emotionality. This is the case of the two images, Jugendstil Chicago Tribune(2018) e Adolf Loos’ pastiche(2018), dedicated to Adolf Loos modern architecture but decorated with Koloman Moser’s art nouvea patterns.

Jugendstil Chicago Tribune, 2018
Jugendstil Chicago Tribune, 2018
Adolf Loos’pastiche, 2018
Adolf Loos’pastiche, 2018

This brief dissertation, in which images accompany criticism and vice versa, does not offer any new perspective for architecture future, but it tries to break new ground.

Assuming that each image is an expression of my positions and doubts, two issues remain outstanding:

If we were to agree on the establishment of a new utopia, hence should we not consider the risk of dystopia?

If a great new idea for the future were not to develop, would it not also be another utopia, perhaps even more harmful?

Interview

What prompted your interest into the contemporary state of architectural representation?

In 2016 I started writing critical texts about architecture when I felt the need of accompanying my thought with my illustrations. Since then I have not stopped making illustrations and today writing, drawing, and designing are all part of my working process.

How is this project a response to this condition and your interest?

My drawings question past architectural references utilization and validity leading to a significant unsolved question. Can old recycled material produce new great ideas? Or is it blocking us in an eternal presentism condition?

When approaching an architectural project, what is your work flow? What tools do you use?

I start with a very rough sketch. Then I split and reassemble different buildings, objects and paintings using the collage technique or Rhinoceros. When I find the right composition I start to redesign the project on photoshop with different brushes and hatches.

Where do you see the future of the drawing in relation to new digital tools as AR etc?

I really appreciate new drawings trends until they become standard references.
The new digital tools play a significant role in the development of representation helping us to overcome old boundaries and opening new perspectives.

What are for you the architects most important tool?

Architects should find their own way to express themselves. The most important tool for my design is critical thinking.

About

Claudio Triassi was born in Palermo in 1991. In 2016 he graduated at Università IUAV di Venezia. He studied at the UPC-ETSAB in Barcelona, at USP-FAU in São Paulo and at Chiba University in Tokyo Metropolitan Area. In 2017 he curated n° 6 of Viceversa architecture magazine titled “L’attualità dell’utopia” with Valerio Paolo Mosco. He is currently architect at bergmeisterwolf architekten.

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