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No-Stop Shopping / Figured Voids

Part 1 Project 2011
Antoine Vaxelaire
Architectural Association London | UK
This project explores shopping as a producer of generic spaces and specific landmarks, converting its efficiency into a dual urban strategy of functional intensification and visual identification. Anchoring Moscow’s evasive identity - currently splintered into utopian, emplaced and exported images of landmark objects - it advances a ‘figured void’ as an abstract concept and a concrete tool.

Exploiting solid / void reversals, new landmark figures negotiate with artificial excavations and projections within a thickened palimpsest of Pushkin Square. Layered site systems organize key formal elements – from occupied ‘walls’ and inverted ‘plinths’ to transplanted ‘shapes’ and transitional ‘placentas’. As the composition of objects becomes an unstable field, the rigid duality of the figure / ground map gives way to shifting gradients and oscillating relationships.

The emphasis on the figured void allows commercial interventions to perform as a continuous urban filler or “lava”. The voids become legible against the distilled solid of shopping sectors that calibrate commercial diagrams according to quantifiable densities of products and services.

Generic shopping Fields are juxtaposed with specific identifiable figures such as the Globe. These negative spaces filter and condense the essence of marketing culture and public program, commonly swallowed by commercial ‘junkspace’. Despite rigid sorting of activities and configurations, the theatrical demand-generator (Globe) and the utilitarian product-supplier (Field) are co-dependent and survive in a paradoxical symbiosis.

The project multiplies formal and programmatic effects of commercial revitalization strategies, while reconciling dissimilar theories and precedents within diagrammatic frameworks and material prototypes. Balancing aspirations for local identity and global integration, shopping’s programmatic flexibility is coupled with its formal plasticity to generate new associations of spaces and events. Subverting conflicts between appearance and operation is particularly fitting in the contradictory Moscow context.

Antoine Vaxelaire


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