Light and gravity. What an eccentric and yet perfect union, forebears of a young, still growing child, Architecture I.
What better manifesto to this growing art than verticality, a thin and infinite line. Bridge between sun and earth, light and gravity II.
So it is here where she resides… Rising endlessly. A tower, a cult. Its’ disciples gathering and working gradually to complete the Temple for this noble art. I heard that the tower converts solar energy into potential energy by lifting platforms through steam engines. Their height and weight thus serve as habitable batteries : What an odd spectacle, the fields of mirrors capture the sun’s light and ignite a fascinating dance. That’s students’ creations waltzing to the rhythm of the seasons III.
Strange ritual, though. I’m happy to witness this rare event, where new pavilions are made. Materialized from the minds of the students. Here their dreams are printed IV.
This can only be explained by the powerful idea that learning had to do with pure experience, and can only be fulfilled through the practice of space V.
The excitement when a new pavilion is dried. When you first walk in the empty space, filled with a peaceful silence and the distinct smell of fresh clay. This one took a week to dry, I suppose it’s the new studio VI.
Outside there is movement. You can almost hear the melodious slow clicks of the platforms along the notched poles VII.
This eternal dance allowed peaceful independent worlds to emerge. Places to meditate, teach and learn VIII.
Among those close yet separate worlds, Architecture could finally meet its disciples IX.
7 platforms of 11 m x 11 m per level. The central platform is an elevator that detects and reach every other platforms and serves as an active meeting place. The Southwest platform is a green counterweight to the elevator and serves as a resting place. The empty platforms expect to be invested by the students and their projects: Articulated arms at each level allow to print architectural objects in clay. The school is thus always built and regenerated according to its needs.
What prompted the project?
The project was developed as part of an international competition proposed by Archdux in March 2018. The brief and subject of the competition was to propose imaginary concept for a vertical architectural school. As higher as possible!
When you go up, you defy gravity. So instead of seeing it as a drawback we tried to think about how we could use gravity and verticality in order to serve our project? That’s how we came up with the concept of moving platforms trough solar energy.
What defined the language of representation through which you explore the project?
We needed the simplest presentation possible from an artistic point of view that could present one of the oldest relationship, between architecture and art. We taught that the Russian Avant-garde was the best choice that could reflect this relationship on our language of representation. So we started studying the paintings of K.Malevich, EL Lissitzky etc. and we used them as an inspiration to design the coloured squares.
What is your take on colour- what roles does this play within your images?
Following this idea, we didn’t want to stress the project with conceptual volumes and then lose focus on the structure. So we came up with a simple solution: the unchangeable part, the structure, is represented in a technical language, and the rest was part of an idyllic, colourful journey, through a narrative that didn’t give formal information. As basic volumes, they needed basic colours. As Malevich said: «Basic colours are the best tools to reflect the emotions»
What defined the use of the square format? How does it relate to the project and its form?
The square is one of the most basic and neutral geometrical form that was always used, since the beginning of the architectural conception. Its simple shape allow a simple and easy communication with the reader or spectator. We wanted the students to be the ones that build their school, in that case they’ll need empty spaces to bear their volumes and creations so we just designed an empty frame with free platforms. That’s what made the school infinite: the subject was an endless tower. But we made it endless by allowing the people to change it infinitely by creating and re-creating clay volumes. Which is a more sustainable solution.
What is your take on the current state of architectural education? What is your experience at ENSAL?
Except for Ahmed Arhda who just graduated recently, all the three others members Zaur, Soreasai and Felix are in the final year of their education in the french national school of architecture of Lyon (ENSAL) – one of the biggest architecture school in France that focus on architecture on a more theoretical then technical and practical level.
What are for you the most important tools a student studying architecture should be acquainted with?
Art is and always was the fundamental part of the conceptual process of architecture. Artistic knowledge is, from our point of view, one of the most powerful and important tool for architecture students. Technical knowledge should only serve the purpose of Art and not the other way around.