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Navigation: A Film Archieve

Part 1 Project 1998
Ariel Greis
London Metropolitan University London UK
NAVIGATION: A FILM ARCHIVE


The aim of this year's project was to recognise circumstance within a journey, to give place to a location in passing. From a transitory point of view, to position a displaced movement.


The journey would be that of packing a suitcase. On the one hand this would bring about, from the beginning, concepts of storage and occupation of space; on the other, issues of a very different nature arise; since this is an activity charged with meaning: clothing plays a fundamental role in the formation of identity.


The first series of investigations concentrated on recognising the circumstances in the notion of packing. Early on it became apparent that the site was of a double nature: packing takes place in the suitcase as much as in the clothes that fill it. Simultaneously both of these undergo a spatial transformation.


Garments, in order to accommodate to the logic of suitcase storage, are folded. Their three-dimensional nature for cladding bodies is compressed as far as possible into two-dimensional elements. Yet an economy of folds is desired so that, when clothes recover their original state, there are few traces of what they went through.

The issues raised by this exploration were condensed in an assemblage. The elements of this assemblage were a folded piece, the strategy for its occupation of space and aperson that performed this 'score'.

The piece still maintained a reference to clothing, its shape derived from a garment incorporating different stages of the folding process. Its material, a fabric, kept with the texture of clothing while also serving as evidence of the successive folds, by its degree of translucency depending on the superposition of layers.

Around the folded piece a series of markings provided a set of instructions that guided its gradual unfolding. This marking also hinted at ephemeral territories and potential spaces.

The person following these instructions performed a choreography that recreated the temporal spaces and the movements of packing.

All this baggage was transported to Barcelona where it informed the building project.

Some of the connections were quite literal. Just as garments, the texture of the city generated a continuous fabric and, most obviously in the old quarter of the city, spaces were generated in between the foldings of this fabric. Varying in scale, this folds enclosed streets and widened to create a square. Or the fabric would fold on itself, in the middle of the urban texture, generating patios.

The perception of this space is gradual, as in a sequence shot, the appropriation of space is successive and often partial. Buildings become textural, their totality perceived as an additive sequence. When a change of scale widens the field of vision, like a cut to a long shot, the first facade appears momentarily only to resume the procession of sequential fragments.

The building programme is a film archive, a place where fragments of identity are stored. It is articulated as variations of two functions that are ways of storing and ways of retrieving (watching) the films, from the most formal to the informal, from the massive to the individual.
The site is one of the spaces created by folds of the urban fabric, a square at the back of the Picasso Museum. Even though it is adjacent to a famous institution, this open space in a densely built area of Barcelona is rather derelict.

As in the assemblage there was a set of instructions, a folded piece and an interpreter, in the building project there is a space of projection, a projection and an audience.


The urban fabric naturally conforms a continuos screen, in the project every surface of the container is potentially a space of projection. A first measure to adapt this strategy for the site was to analyse the structure of the existing texture, considering the continuous fabric as an abstract screen separating two fields. The building proposal consolidates this projection space and provides the set of instructions as to the possible new uses for this square aiming at a difficult equilibrium between the present uses and a assertion of the new institution.

The markings for the spaces of projection include the positioning of benches, the dimension of elements hinting at further uses and the location of screening devices to reduce the intromission with the inhabitants of the square.


The projections generate a series of temporary spaces, hinted at by the markings, which conform ephemeral territories. Despite being ephemeral, this territories form a substantial portion of the building's functions. Just as the folded piece, the building is revealed gradually as these ephemeral territories unfold.


SLIDES LIST


SLIDE1: Packing a suitcase: a journey

A series of investigations recognized the circumstances in the notion of packing. The site of this process is double, packing takes place in the suitcase as much as in the garments that fill it.
If my clothes metonymically represent me, a full suitcase could easily be said to contain my persona; symptomatically, in the pictures portraying the process of packing, I seem to disappear.


SLIDE2: Movement tracing of the folding of clothes.

When packing, the modulation of the folding conditions my movements. Indeed this modulation, particular to the configuration of each garment, is also present in my movements. This is the origin of an economical choreography.


SLIDE3: The logic of packing.
Step by step the suitcase is filled, the space it contains is gradually occupied. In turn, garments, in order to fit the logic of suitcase storage, are folded. Varying elements have to be accommodated and a pair of shoes may become an underwear container, as hierarchies are reformulated according to scale and malleability in a quest for the ultimate economy of space.

SLIDE4: Preliminary scheme for the assemblage.

The issues raised by this exploration were condensed in an assemblage.
The folding piece still maintains a reference to clothing, its shape derived from garments incorporating different stages of the folding process.


SLIDE5: Assemblage: the folding piece.

The final piece is made of fabric, thus keeping with the texture of clothing while also serving as evidence of the successive folds that reinterpret the modulation of clothes. In the making, the fragments of the piece also had to adapt to issues of economy in the space of the fabric. From the size of a folded shirt , once unfolded it occupies an entire room.


SLIDE6: The choreographic score.

Around the folded piece a series of markings provided a set of instructions that guided its gradual unfolding. This marking also hinted at the ephemeral territories and potential spaces that the performance would generate.


SLIDE7: A film archive for Barcelona.

The building programme is a film archive, a place where fragments of identity are stored. It is articulated as variations of two functions; they are ways of storing and ways of retrieving (watching) the films, from the most formal to the informal, from the massive to the individual.
The site is one of the spaces created by folds of the urban fabric, a square at the back of the Picasso Museum.

SLIDE8: The building's context.

The perception of this space is gradual, as in a sequence shot, the appropriation of space is successive and often partial. Buildings become textural, their totality perceived as an additive sequence. When a change of scale widens the field of vision, like a cut to a long shot, the first façade appears momentarily only to resume the procession of sequential fragments.

SLIDE9: Access level plan.

On this plan the building is revealed as the inscriptions that mark the potential territories. A moving projector trolley (dotted on this plan) is located according to such markings as fixed benches, as well as other inscriptions on the surrounding walls, onto which the projections take place

SLIDE10: Archive level plan.

On this plan, bellow the access plaza, is located the archive. The archive is divided according to the materials stored as well as its accessibility and storage conditions. In the middle of this archive stratification some editing suites are located, within the framework of the previous investigation, editing is an active way of 'reading a film'. This editing is projected in real time into the surface behind the benches above. A series of skylights link this level with the plaza on top; their location mark connections just as editing brings sequences together

SLIDE11: Video lounge level plan

In the video lounge the most informal way of watching a film takes place. A number of sofas, surrounding monitors, 'replicate' the space of a living room; with the advantage of a bar next to it. The lounge doubles as an auditorium, the steps leading to it doubling as seating. The 'stratified courtyard' also serves as a projection space

SLIDE12: Individual viewing level plan

Two towers punctuate the space above the plaza. These are the most assertive elements of the building's presence yet configuring the most private experience of the building: they consist of a stacking of rooms fitted with a screen and an individual seating area. On the contrary, the other element at this level, the administration, aims at consolidating the continuity of the enveloping fabric.


SLIDE13: Section through archive block

Throughout, the building presents itself merely as a series of markings on the plaza level, as in this image are the skylight of the archive block and the protective screens in front of some onlooking windows. The protective screens add to the superposition of layers characteristic of every window -interior curtain, window pane, sun-shade clothes hanger, railings-. They mark where the screens are placed for an open-air exhibition.

SLIDE14: Section through researchers' tower (individual viewing rooms)

The researchers towers morphologically constitute a reversal of the structure of the surrounding urban texture. i.e.. massive, private, built mass punctuated by public, slim lightwells and patios. In this section the contraposition of LCD screens and neighbouring windows is evident


SLIDE15: Section through counter-field passage

The counter-field passage on the underground level, accommodates a ramp and a bar. It also leads to the lifts that give access to the tower. The lifts consist simply of platforms with minimal enclosure, confining the volume of the towers to the viewing rooms alone. The tower is a concrete shell with an enclosing aluminium capsule that contains the LCD screens. The supporting structure of the tower is subtle, almost fragile, it consists of a slanted column, together with the lift guide and the escape stairs which double as structural support.


SLIDE16: Section across archive blocks

The archives are organised as a series of blocks, in an analogy with knowledge consisting of strata of enunciation's. This organisation tackles the functional as well as the structural necessities of the archive. At the articulations of these blocks, the skylights serve as markings of the functional changes.

SLIDE17: General axonometric view of the archive plaza

The archive plaza constitutes the bigger link of the building proposal chain. Along this view are present several of the space markers; in particular the movable screens railing is visible in all its continuity. This railing presents a virtual delineation of the building's site , very much like the cornices it encounters along its trajectory.

SLIDE18: Axonometric view of underground levels

The underground level becomes a building within a building; with the larger building, the plaza, almost of a transient nature. This microcosmos retains a number of the conceptualisations of the plaza, such as the surfaces as spaces of projection, a building that gradually unfolds and markings -skylights- ; adjusted now to the scale of the archive.

Ariel Greis


The portfolio by ARIEL GREIS is sensitive and thoughtful, and represents a highly creative set of architectural thinking. The very considered research translated seamlessly into the poetic building programme. The building is simply a spatial planning to bring together culture, site and social observations. It beautifully demonstrates an interface of great architectural design of the late 20th century into this Gothic part of Barcelona. The sensitive treatment of the public square carefully 'tensions' the architectural proposal and also, its surrounding existing facades and activities. This new landscape choreographs the social interaction.

1998
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