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Medal Winner 1999

The sublime of the ordinary

Part 1 Project 1999
Sonja Stoffels
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) | UK
Everyday the world seems more and more chaotic. Yet we survive the trauma. We adapt to every transformation. We end the jeopardy of endless possibility, of destruction and failure, through inventiveness and imagination.

I began the studio work by adapting myself to the environment, by defining devices that refined and redefined everyday objects. I composed a strategy that would link these devices together to save a candle flame from its state of jeopardy. The strategy was presented through layered, two–dimensional drawings that would imitate three–dimensional animated media. This process elevated both the objects and the tw0–dimensional drawings to a higher level.

These ideas of transformation and the elevation of ordinary objects and natural textures were the foundation of a building housing both an agricultural centre and a vegetarian restaurant. These were attached to an interactive arm that is synchronised with the direction of the sun. The fields on the arm and the nurturing vegetation they produce are a parallel of an everyday ideal.

The programme of the building is intended to be simple, yet thoughtful. Both the programme and the layered drawing, which simply describes a day-in-the-life of the centre, clearly address my concern for a reassessment and increased appreciation of the place of the ordinary in everyday life.

Sonja Stoffels

Sonja has interpreted the Unit’s brief in a unique fashion. In contrast to the seductive but repetitive dependence upon the mechanical model Sonja’s selection of unrelated household objects has enabled her to produce an unlikely scenario of cause and effect.

Her project explores two themes Firstly, the transformation and animation of mundane objects into architectural devices. Secondly, the development of a drawn system, which puts these devices into a 3 dimensional ‘score’. The performance and score trace the movement and change of an object, showing how each component operates within the assemblage. She represented this in a narrative of variable extraordinary scales. uniquely using the magnifying glass as a drafting tool. The drawings incorporate the motion and trajectories of the pieces, sounds and sensations of each possible performance. Sonja’s ideas and conclusions are astonishing and her drawings breathtaking.

These themes were further developed in a mechanically animated garden. Tilting fields, automatic watering systems, ‘pick your own vegetables’ restaurant, a visitor centre and a research lab are composed into an articulated dynamic landscape.

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