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Ski resort for Grau Roig

Part 2 Project 1998
Lluis Viu Rebes
Architectural Association London UK
The project aims to produce an alternative approach to architectural context through the manipulation of specific material organisations. A contextual architecture without reference to an archive of architectures. A constructive process rather than a mediation of image. It is an attempt to escape from the picturesque and the mimetic as architectural determinants.

The Ski Resort is a typology infected by the picturesque. Context is reduced to a cultural idea based on an acquired image of the Swiss Chalet. The development of Ski Resort types is recent. Their organisation is based on a linear or central distribution that excludes difference and attempts a naturalisation of the artificial. The aim is to produce rigorous differences and state the artificiality of the 'natural'.

The site is Grau Roig, Andorra, and lies between the two biggest snowfield complexes in Andorra. The two complexes are merging, generating a demand for an increase of 4000 beds. This creates an opportunity to develop a new type of ski resort. An analogue of biological construction is used to 'cultivate' local elements to form a new context - tampering with the molar and molecular components of the resort. The molar components are the regulations (min 30% pitched roofs, natural materials on the exterior), properties of the material structure. The molecular components are access, form, lighting, and programme. The selection of the ground depends on the quantity of earth to be removed or the intersection with the ground. This is transformed into a vector field. Access and lighting information is 'added-in'. The vector field is literally like a gel filled with information. The distribution of programme is based on the quantity and proximity of built material in relation to the resort. These molecular manipulations are at every step reassessed by the molar components, and then re-manipulated.

The resulting organisation can only be assessed through comparison with existing resorts. There is no distinction between figure and ground, there is no process distinction between land and built form. The organisation is differentiated but ordered. There is no structural normalisation, rather a seamless variation of structural and building types. The distribution of programme is diffuse rather than discreet.

Lluis Viu Rebes

Lluis was in our Diploma Unit 5 last year, and our nomination of him for the Silver Medal is based on the particular blend of techniques and influences that his project has been able to gather, opening up what we believe to be a very promising domain.

Lluis's project approaches, as a theoretical thesis, the subject of context - using as a study case a real project, the design of a ski resort in his native Andorra. What is most remarkable about his approach is his idea of treating context, not as a picturesque set of images of local or foreign origin to be deployed onto the project, but rather as the culture of local traces through an artificial set of requirements. Context is constructed in Lluis's project through the registration and sampling of a variety of local characteristics, transformed and reorganised on an abstract level to implement his design strategies. The outcome of this project is therefore unexpected and yet precise. His rigorous use of the techniques of mapping and geometrical transformation allow him to produce organisations that are no longer driven towards a fashionable outcome, with which we are growing increasingly tired, but by the rigorous culture of real architectural possibilities.

A remarkable cross fertilisation between abstract techniques and the concreteness of architectural construction is in our opinion the other powerful statement made by this project, which dares to venture into a domain long deserted by the avant-garde of architectural academia, with astonishing results.

In its daring commitment to construction, space and organisation, together with its naive and unpretentious approach, Lluis's project is a statement against all those more fashionable products of academia and the culture industry, or the cynicism of ideological poses. A rediscovery of architecture is what we are nominating - and of course, a natural talent for design.

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