3rd / 4th Year Vertical Architecture Design Studio, Temple University, Lindsay Bremner, 2010.
“Liberated from the obligation to construct, [architecture] can become a way of thinking about anything – a discipline that represents relationships, proportions, connections, effects, the diagram of everything”. Rem Koolhaas
Program: An Institute for EXTRA-Continental Antagonism
Site: Diego Garcia
Primary Conceptual Strategy: Risk
Primary Design Techniques: Diagram, Section
Primary Spatial Elements: Sea, Sky, Horizon, Zone, Current, Channel
Primary Architectural Element: Plate
Primary Material: Recycled Ships
An Institute for EXTRA-Continental Antagonism has been established with the aim of provoking and brokering provisional truce between the nefarious characters, nation states, regional allies or global bodies who populate, produce, regulate or exploit the extra-continental space of the Indian Ocean. These include marine transporters (particularly of oil and natural gas), pirates, ecologists, Green Peace, whalers, tourists, military strategists, environmentalists, shipbreakers, deep sea harvesters, ocean floor speculators, conservationists, asylum seekers, nation states, arms smugglers, NATO, drug traffickers, naval patrols, maritime terrorists, port authorities (Container Security Initiative), human smugglers, the UN, displaced peoples etc.
In this studio, you will be designing a building or buildings for this Institute and transforming Diego Garcia into a Zone of Truce where antagonistic parties can interact. The objective is not to resolve differences, but to tame them and allow them to co-exist. This presents an alternative to United Nation Resolution 2832(XXVI) of 1971, to turn the Indian Ocean into a Zone of Peace through international regulation and responsible practice. It proposes instead a more pragmatic idea, a Zone of Truce, which recognizes and works with the inevitable and irresolvable antagonisms of contemporary geo-politics, providing a symbolic space within which the conflict can be played out.
in·sti·tute. v: To establish, organize, and set in operation; To initiate; begin; To establish or invest in an office or a position. n: An educational institution, especially one for the instruction of technical subjects; The building or buildings housing such an institution; An organization founded to promote a cause; A usually short, intensive workshop or seminar on a specific subject. From in- “in” + statuere “establish, to cause to stand.”
extra-. prefix Outside, beyond
con⋅ti⋅nent. n: One of the main landmasses of the globe, usually reckoned as seven in number (Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Australia and Antarctica); A comparable landmass on another planet; The mainland, as distinguished from islands or peninsulas; A continuous tract or extent, as of land; Something that serves as a container or boundary.
con-ti-nent-al. adj: Of, relating to, or characteristic of a continent.
an-tag-o-nism. n: Active hostility or opposition, as between unfriendly or conflicting groups; An opposing force, principle, or tendency. Physiology: An opposing action, as by one muscle in relation to another; The opposing action of substances, as drugs, that when taken together decrease the effectiveness of at least one of them (contrasted with synergism).Ecology: A relationship between two species of organisms in which the individuals of each species adversely affect the other; The inhibition of the growth of one type of organism by a different type that is competing for the same ecological niche.
Adam Smith, in his Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations (1776), compared the life of the seafarer to gambling, introducing the idea of risk into economics through the allegory of the sea. The sea is a lottery says Allan Sekula in his movie by the same name (2006). To work on water, rule the waves or harvest the sea means taking risks, both physically and economically. The stakes are high, so the gamble is on and the antagonisms are vicious. Islands have a particular part to play in this economy of risk. Often exempt from laws that govern behavior on continents, they are havens for all sorts of practices (criminal, penal, military, business) that fall foul of what is permissible elsewhere. They serve as nodes in networks of clandestine activity and are frequently caught up in extra-territorial conflict. These days, many are sinking into the sea. It is all these conditions that this studio will exploit.
The site for this new institute is Diego Garcia, (7’20S, 72’25E), part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, largest and southernmost member of the Chagos Archipelago, in the central Indian Ocean. This tropical island is a narrow coral atoll with a land area of about seventeen square miles, nearly enclosing a lagoon. It is about 15 miles (24 km) in length with a maximum width of about 7 miles (11 km) (37 miles from tip to tip); three small islands dot the mouth of the lagoon. Since 1971, the British government has allowed the US fleet and armed forces to use the island as a base. In the 1991 Gulf War, Diego Garcia was the only US Navy base that launched offensive air operations against Bagdad, and Coalition aircraft at Diego Garcia dropped more ordnance on Taliban and Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan than any other unit during the war on terror. A number of al-Qaeda suspects are thought to have been held and interrogated on the island (although the U.S. military has not confirmed this).
4. Primary Design Strategy
One of the exercises to be undertaken in the studio is the diagrammatic representation of risk. Students will approach this in one of five ways, via: the board game Risk or another game; the theatrical methods of Augusto Boal, Brazilian theatre director; the theatrical technique known as improvisation; casino design; ship breaking. The diagrams you make of these activities will inform the kinds of risky relationships to be provoked in your design. Various diagramming techniques and tools will be discussed.
5. Primary Design Techniques
In this studio, we are going to try to think our way into design in section. Maritime space is experienced and made sense of in section, (ocean floor, depth, sea surface, horizon, sky). We will work with ways of making and drawing sections.
6. Primary Spatial Elements
Sea, Sky, Horizon, Zone, Channel, Current
7. Primary Architectural Element
The Oceans of the world are what they are because of tectonic plates and how they have moved in relation to one another. The architectural element that defines sectional relationships is the plate – floor-plate, wall-plate, etc. In this studio, we will explore ways of manipulating plates to make space.
8. Primary Material
All building materials have to be transported to Diego Garcia by ship. For the purposes of this studio, we are going to assume that the ships are the building material. They are made of steel plate that will be broken and recycled to make your building/s.
9. Key References and Precedents:
Easterling, K. (2005 ). The Confetti of Empire. Cabinet 16:100-103. Mouffe, C. (2005). Some Reflections on an Agonistic Approach to the Public. In: Latour, B.+ Weibel, P. (eds.). Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy.Karlsruhe: Center for Art and Media + Cambridge: MIT.:804-807.
Boal, A. (1985). Theatre of the oppressed. Trans. C. A. + M. Leal McBride. New York: Theatre Communications Group. Bo Bardi, L. (1980-1984). Teatro Oficina, Sao Paolo, Brazil. Boeri, S. (2009). Project for a former military arsenal at La Maddalena, Italy. Constant Nieuwenhuys. (1969). New Babylon. Deleuze, G. + Guattari, F. (1987). Treatise on Nomadology. In: A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism + Schizophrenia. Trans. B. Massumi. London: Continuum.:351-432. Diller, Scorfidio + Renfrew. (1991). Slow House. (2002). Blur Building. (2005). Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Fuller, B. (1965). Floating Tetrahedral City for San Fransisco Bay. Hoskyns, T. (2005). Designing the Agon. Questions on Architecture, Space, Democracy and “the Political”. In: Latour, B.+ Weibel, P. (eds.). Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy. Karlsruhe: Center for Art and Media . Cambridge: MIT.:798-803. Japanese Metabolism. Johnstone, K. (1981). Impro: improvisation and the theatre. London: Eyre Methuen. Koolhaas, R. (1989). Sea Terminal, Zeebrugge, Belgium. Latour, B.+ Weibel, P. (eds.). (2005). Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy.Karlsruhe: Center for Art and Media + Cambridge: MIT. Langewiesche, W. (2004). The Outlaw Sea. A World of Freedom, Chaos + Crime. New York: North Point Press. Mathur, A. + de Cunha, D. (2009). Soak : Mumbai in an estuary. New Delhi: Rupa & Co. Mathur, A. + de Cunha, D.(2006). Deccan Traverses: the making of Bangalore’s terrain. New Delhi: Rupa & Co. Mathur, A. + de Cunha, D. (2001). Mississippi Floods: Designing a Shifting Landscape. New Haven: Yale. Sekula, A. (2005). The Lottery of the Sea. A Film in Progress. In: Latour, B.+ Weibel, P. (eds.). Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy. Karlsruhe: Center for Art and Media. Cambridge: MIT.:492,3. Sekula, A. (2006). The Lottery of the Sea. WORK Architecture Company (2007). Cadavre Exquis Lebanese. In: de Baan, C. , Declerck, J. + Patteeuw, V. (eds.). Visionery Power. Producing the Contemporary City. Rotterdam: Nai.:40-49.
12. Student Work Samples
James Fiedler: Institute against Maritime Terrorism
James Fiedler researched maritime terrorism in the Indian Ocean and using fencing to diagram the spatial disposition for an Institute for Maritime Terrorism on Diego Garcia.
Marc Krawitz: Ship of Fools
Marc Krawitz researched human trafficking in the Indian Ocean. He identified four characters in this trade – a seller, a buyer, a human commodity and a law enforcer – and orchestrated a game of poker between them. He diagrammed their relationships and used this diagram to deconstruct an image of a ship and organise exchanges between the fragments. He designed a Ship of Fools where these exchanges could both take place and be obstructed.
Brendan Kammerer: Institute against Shipbreaking
Brendan Kammerer’s project brought together shipbreaking and the game of ice hockey.
Shawn Ryan: Piracy in the Indian Ocean
Timothy Nawrocki: The arms race between India and China in the Indian Ocean