Studio Anatomy traces socio-historical layers, starting from the topography (geology, the vertical section) and stretching as far as the full scale architectural (constructive) detail (the section, again), incorporating construction in the design-research process from the very beginning. Doing so, Studio Anatomy covers the full stretch from poetics to technics in architecture.
Critical repetitive drawing (which includes scale modeling) and in depth reflections on architecture’s construction practice and architectural history constitute the core of Studio Anatomy’s methodology.
Studio Anatomy is a new environment where research in/on architecture, architectural education and architectural practice coexist.
Studio Anatomy traces socio-historical layers, starting from the topography (geology, the vertical section) and stretching as far as the full scale architectural (constructive) detail (the section, again), incorporating construction in the design-research process from the very beginning. Doing so, Studio Anatomy spans the full stretch from poetics to technics in architecture.
Studio Anatomy critically questions the too speedy nature at the surface of things we see (in architecture)—the superficiality of the world—by cutting into and under the skin of things (architecture).
Alberto Pérez-Gòmez suggests that the section is of a foremost importance in the architect’s work, as a prediction on the casting of shadows, pointing at the anatomic nature of the section that, applied by the architect, “break[s] the skin of things in order to show” (Pérez-Gòmez 2006), completing his argument with Merleau-Ponty, “how the things become things, how the world becomes a world” (Merleau-Ponty 1964). This cutting into substance is resistant, hence it slows down our thinking and acting. ‘Slowing’ instead of speeding. Because ‘slowing’ permits one to look longer, better, deeper.
Through this act of cutting, the investigated subject (architecture) is being anatomised.
Methodically, drawing the (full scale) vertical section occupies the central position as a research, education and design instrument in Studio Anatomy, both as drawings and scale models, because the section not only offers a more direct access to a readable and makeable spatiality than the plan is able to do, but also because it permits to draw, investigate and understand the anatomy of the architecture in all its technical, material and physical aspects (to anatomise). This Critical Sequential Drawing (CSD) (which includes scale modeling) continuously resonates with in depth reflections and discussions on construction practice, art and architectural history.
Far from wanting to annihilate the importance and the presence of the plan, Studio Anatomy rather sees the plan as the derivative from the section. This approach breaks through habitual ways of seeing (in architectural education) and unveils new knowledge that otherwise would remain hidden.
In this drawing of sections, the dimensional experience of drawing, built around the concept of scale, especially through full scale architectural drawing, acts as a ‘body check’ or quality control based on scale knowledge that works through the body of the person who draws. Every time this happens, embodiment takes place, and layer by layer embodied knowledge is being produced by and for the student.
This ‘body check’ continuously travels along an invisible line that has to be activated by the person who draws and passes by three overlapping scales: the whole, the fragment and the detail. It is the scale of the fragment that is most fascinating, because it simultaneously penetrates into the whole and into the (architectural) detail, connecting these, and ensuring the flow of architectural meaning, coherence and (technical) consistency.
In spanning the wide range from poetics to technics, the team of Studio Anatomy consists of Mira Sanders (visual artist), Jo Van Den Berghe (architect) and Laurens Luyten (structural engineer / architect).
The Waiting Room and the Window:
can Techné equal Poiesis in architecture?
The studio assignment will be situated in the Dieweg graveyard (Ukkel, Brussels, 1866), on the Northern hill slope downwards to a small river and a primeval forest (Zoniënwoud). Embedded in this tempting topography sits an array of 19th century ‘Romantic’ burial monuments and mortal chambers, abundantly overgrown with moss and ivy. It is a very inspiring place for architects.
The student is invited to design a Waiting Room (or a sequence of Waiting Rooms), in which The Window (or: windows) will have to be designed. The window, here, will offer a comparative study on two levels: (1) the opening (the view) and (2) the frame (the window detail), hence tackling respectively the theme of looking and seeing (a) the physical and material world (sightlines, the reading of the topography, …) combined with (b) more imaginative and symbolic ways of ‘seeing’.
Through this combination the studio wants to confront this question: how can the process of materialisation (Techné) influence, inform and propell imaginative and symbolic aspects of architecture (Poiesis), and the other way round?
In this studio assignment, there is a strong interest in phenomenology in architecture, hence in material dimensions and thickness (or also: ‘thinness’). And on full frontal developments of technical window detailling, and on experimental versions of those (full scale window sections and experiments).
How can the Thickness of Substance generate the Depth of Darkness in architecture?
How can the architect cut through Substance (the anatomy of architecture)—by making windows in walls, by cutting intensively through window frames—hence anatomising architecture in order to demonstrate and understand its material, dimensional, symbolic and imaginative Thickness?
How can this anatomy provide us with new insights into Depth (space) and Darkness (tranquility)?
How can the designing architect apply, and by doing so sequentially, improve his/her technical skills regarding the architectural perforation (the opening), its fringes (the window frame), and its combined potential of architectural experience and expression?
In reverse: how can a desired architectural poiesis propell the designing architect into inspired developments of the techné it takes to get ‘there’?
Hence: can Techné equal Poiesis, and if so: how?
Methods: observation drawing, archaeological drawing, topographical section, storyboard drawing, Critical Sequential Drawing (CSD).
References: Henryk Gorecki (1976). Symphony N°3.
More to come.