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Ilustraciones. Smiljan Radic and Alejandro Lüer in Oris House of Architecture

Ilustraciones by Smiljan Radic and Alejandro Lüer in Oris House of Architecture, displays the train of thoughts of an architect from an idea to its material implementation.

An open cabinet of curiosities set in the store front in an elegantly displayed sequence, Ilustraciones illustrate the train of thoughts of an architect from an idea to its material implementation in a highly intelligent manner. From the first impression, it obliges the observer to venture beyond the simple appearance. Against the narrowing focus of simplification, occasional associations and fundamentally architectural questions rise along the way: about the transcendence and the immanence, the permanence and the transience, the heaviness and the lightness, the gravity which binds our projects to the ground and the desire to break with our projects through the clouds; the strength and the weakness of architecture

As separate objects – short stories or mysterious assemblages in fact – in range of some uncertain spatial approximations to more or less clearly architectural scale models, possibly even usable household objects, Ilustraciones linger between the world of permanent forms and the impermanent world of things, somewhere half- way between an architectural project and its materialisation. Realist, even naturalist in flavour, they memorise some possibly crucial moments at the outer limit of architecture. This is why they deserve our utmost attention. At the risk of missing the target(s), I would propose some occasional associations which resonate with my eyes (and ears) here, along with a couple of (fundamentally architectural) questions:

Silkworms, i.e. the larvae of Bombyx mori, were allegedly smuggled to Europe in hollow sticks, not by Marco Polo but by some Byzantine pilgrims around 550 AD. But The Boy Hidden in an Egg is not really a giant silkworm cocoon, nor is it a deformed zeppelin. It could be a giant aerophone, a damaged goat – balloon, inflated perhaps by helium and bound to the ground by strong steel ropes, as if it could only fly away. (1) Is the question of size necessarily bound to the question of scale? The Castle of the Selfish Giant natura naturans against natura naturata – is reminiscent of a broken piece of a skeleton of some extraordinary, non-existent Goethean organism found in the desert. It could also be a petrified, hollowed-out skin of a lizard, or maybe serpent who ate its tail. In any case, the impermanence of the visible nature of things is perfectly illustrated with this tailored papier-mâché mock-up, beyond proportion, precision, and other ordinary issues. (2) Is the naturalist necessarily relative to the organic in architecture?

It is often said that the (playful) process is more interesting than the (serious) outcome; that buildings are more beautiful while unfinished than when the construction works end.  The Boy Hidden in a Fish was probably hollowed-out from a huge rock, or perhaps a tiny pebble.  But in fact, it would have been easier to pre-cast the same thing in concrete; the solid and the void together. (3) Where is the limit between architecture and sculpture if they may both have void at the centre? Le Poeme de l’Angle droit that we know is a cruciform iconostasis made of lines, surfaces, colours and letters. To capture the natural atmosphere in spatial relations instead of words and shapes is a daring venture. Clearly, the clearing is the most interesting thing in the forest. Une machine á habiter does not really need an engine. (4) Where is the difference between a nature history collection and the real nature?

According to Tertullian in De Spectaculis, (in)famously ridiculed by Friedrich Nietzsche, the original circus games were staged by the goddess Circe to honour her father, Helios (hence the Cirque de Soleil). It is perfectly logical, then, to assume that the original circus space was based on a circular shape. Instead of cutting the circle through an existing building, a used circus tent is put on the roof terrace. The tent itself opens up another set of possible (fundamentally architectural) questions.  The other possibility would be to take the ceiling away. (5) Have I missed the target? A house without foundations, a platform suspended in the air, a pendulum turned upside down… an old candlestick, parts of a musical instrument, fishing leads, Leyden jars. The unstable balance is an equilibrium state of a system in which any departure of the system from the equilibrium gives rise to tendencies moving the system further away from the equilibrium. Therefore, (6) I do not dare to question the most mysterious object on display, and I do not expect any answers.

In spite of the parallel density and easiness of associations and the infinite number of questions and answers, the best thing about Ilustraciones is precisely that unstable balance, preserved within a coherent whole.

Oris House of Architecture
Zagreb, 2015

01.Apr.2016 2097 views
Smiljan Radić

Smiljan Radić (Santiago de Chile,1965) graduated in architecture from Universidad Católica de Chile. Subsequently studied at Instituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice. In 2001 he received the award Best National Architect Under 35 by the Chilean Architects Association. He has given numerous lectures and participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide. His writings have been published in magazines, such as Casabella, A+U, Quaderns, Detail, 2G, Electa, Lotus and Arq among others, as well as in two monographic catalogues published in Spain and Chile. He was guest professor at the University of Texas in 2007, and in 2008, he gave lectures at Harvard with, his long-time associate, sculptor Marcela Correa. Radic was selected to design the 2014 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London.

01.Apr.2016 2097 views
Alejandro Lüer

Alejandro Lüer studied architecture at the Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña and Universidad Católica de Chile, where he graduated in 2003. He worked as an assistant teacher at the Universidad Católica de Chile, with Teodoro Fernández and Alejandro Aravena. He worked as an architect in various offices in Barcelona and in Chile. In 2006 he created a worshop for building architectural models, which he does today. He has been building models for architects such as Smiljan Radic, Cecilia Puga and Beals-Lyon, among others.

24.Feb.2016 2097 views
Krunoslav Ivanišin

Krunoslav Ivanišin (Dubrovnik, 1970) holds the diploma in architecture from the University of Zagreb and the doctorate from the University of Ljubljana. He is a practicing architect with international teaching and publishing experience, founding partner in IVANIŠIN. KABASHI. ARHITEKTI since 2003, and professor of architectural design at the University of Zagreb – Faculty of Architecture since 2015. He won competitions and constructed buildings for public and private purposes, lectured and exhibited internationally, including the Venice Biennale in 2010. He is the co-author of Dobrović in Dubrovnik: A Venture in Modern Architecture (Berlin: Jovis, 2015) and Middle East: Landscape, City, Architecture (Zürich: Park Books, 2013).
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