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A Component Based Discipline

layers layers layers layers

The architecture discourse today seems to ignore the fact that the discipline has majorly become a component-based profession. Such a statement becomes evident by observing the tools we utilise today, like BIM and its physically-produced counterparts. The architectural system works based on the categorising and subdividing of architectural elements to ease the mass production of components. Buildings produced using such a method end up resembling a Frankenstein concoction of structures, brands, aesthetics and code requirements. Today architecture encounters itself as discipline far away from its structurally and aesthetically focused past, in a world of Architectural Aggregation where architectural components exist in a state of exaggerated repetition for the sake of awe, profit and efficiency. This stands in contrast to the previous, Modernist ideal of the profession as an art form capable of total design, from the door handle to the façade, to its urban scale. The building used to be an object that was whole. This becomes especially evident in the works of Alvaro Siza seen in the Ibere Camargo Foundation in Portoalegre, Brazil and in more recent years Aires Mateus Architecture school in Tournai, Belgium. Such works point to an alternative branch of contemporary architecture exemplified by the “white mass”: the architectural whole complete in itself which combats the idea of the component, presenting architecture as a unique entity, "being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else."

The layer represents an alternative to the part, producing differentiation without fragmentation. Layers are contiguous, not discretised. A whole may be layered and remain internally self-consistent. This thesis, thus, takes on the layered architectural object, departing from the history of white mass architecture and redefines the object, not as a mass or an aggregate of components, but as a layered, unique object produced singularly for its users' conditions.

White and off-white are indiscriminately layered to produce clean and empty spaces, much like a museum room is simple and white, and the art takes the main spotlight, the idea of museum-like interior where everyday activities are considered the main event and space takes a step back as nothing more than a scenario. Pouring is the architectonic operation corresponding to the layer. The architectural object, according to this logic, is unified under the idea of pouring user requirements and lining its different materials to produce a soft, comfortable, utilitarian layered object, with the necessary apparatus to satisfy users’ demands embedded within to produce an architectural object that is whole.

Lourenço Vaz Pinto

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