Wednesday, May 20, 2009

59.Take a Lesson from Diller+Scofidio+Renfero

If you have been paying any attention. you have no doubt seen this interview of Diller+Scofidio+Renfero. I am posting it here...well because I like it. What the hell. It is also relevant to almost everything that has been discussed in this blog. It will aslo serve as a reference and prelude to some of the topics to come. Hint, hint, the recession, the end of the starchitecture era, interdiciplinary practice and ooh ooh faith. So without further adieu, read on.


S:Elizabeth and I started working when there was a recession in architecture. When architecture turned into paper architecture, doing drawings and sketches, showing in galleries...

The only way of building then was to start being involved in performances theaters, out on the beach, art installations, where we could build something and see the reaction from the public

D: the recession was coincidental, I came to architecture really with no intention of being an architect. I studied architecture and I was always interested to be an artist and slowly we started to work around issues of space. We were interested in conventions of the every day, we were interested in domesticity, we were interested in issues of visuality, there were many issues that were of interest, but always in between disciplines.

S: We never said lets start working and develop an office or studio, hire people, lets get jobs. We always found things that interested us and that's where we went.

D:We were always a research studio. We were always interested in research whether the outcome was in the form of an installation, in the form of a book, or ultimately in the from of a building. They were just iterations of different forms of the same ideas.

S: Before Elizabeth and I started working together, I had been at another practice, and I had been really sour with the way the profession of architecture was approaching jobs, work and getting commissions. It had nothing to do with issues of architecture. It had to with: I have to produce an income, I have to get work, I have to stay alive.

D: There was an intellectual bankruptcy at the time in 1979... the discourse was happening only academically there was very little in the profession.


D: Sometimes we were thought of as just wanting to be on the periphery; a decision to want to lob grenades from the periphery at architecture critically...
when we had a chance to do this building, for many people it was a kind of a wake up, for us it was a kind of validation.

S: Before that we did theater, performance, installations, and a lot of architects accuse us of not being able to deal with comprise, not being able to deal with difficult issues of construction. They thought we were taking the easy way out. They kept saying "wait till you do a building... you will see".

CR: And what did you find out when you did a building?

S: The problems are there in everything you do whether you do a drinking glass (which we have done for water), there are complex problems.


R: We didn't know how to achieve what we wanted to achieve here. We knew that we waned to make the hall an integral part of the performance , we knew that we wanted it to glow but nobody had done that before. We didn't know technically how to achieve it. So it was a process that we embarked on, we didn't know what the end result would be

S: In many of our projects we didn't know how we are going to achieve them. When we did a cloud in Switzerland, we didn't have the slightest idea how we were going to achieve that. So I think that is one of the things that is important to us is taking that leap of faith and believing in yourself that you are going to get there as you have to do it.

D: We usually take that leap of faith off a cliff without a parachute and we figure it out on the way down...


R: The era that we have been in is the Starchitecture era.
Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, there are many that probably your average American knows now. In the past 10 years we have been introduced to them where as before no one would have known anyone but Frank Lloyd Wright. There is a coincidence between a booming economy and an interest in architecture and also an align between branding and architecture; that made for very glamorous, very exciting and very iconic buildings. We are no longer in that age. That age cant co-exist with our current economic situation. Nor is it the Obama generation's age of architecture. This age is much more careful, much more thoughtful. We are not not-interested in image but we are also interested in doing the right thing. So we are in a new age of balance.

S: I think you are right in one respect, that there was a moment maybe about 40 years ago when you said "I like Frank Lloyd Wight, I am going to do Frank Lloyd Wright buildings" and you would try to build buildings as close to what Frank Lloyd Wright would build or "I like Mies" and you would defiantly do something that was as Miesian as possible. Then there was a moment when architects began to posses their work, their ideas and say "if I do this, you cant do that"

D:I think starchitcture has began to loose a little bit of the glow. People began to be a little repetitive. There were a lot of people that were important in the field that were called on over and over again. Their brand was desired. It wasn't just the name, it was that image of the work. And that work was rubber stamped over and over again and it didn't allow people to grow.

The Ciliary Function, Eyebeam Atelier of New Media & Technology: The Charles and Ray Eames Lecture, Scanning: The Aberrant Architectures of Diller + Scofidio, Flesh: Architectural Probes, Blur: The Making of Nothing, Back to the Front: Tourisms of War, Wired Magazine, February 2000, Vol. 8, #2 (Cybernetics pioneer, Kevin Warwick. Martin Nisenholtz made headlines by taking The New York Times digital. Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio on Architecture.), Charlie Rose - Liz Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, and Charles Renfro (March 31, 2009)

Liberating Minds Since August 2007