Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The second round in Paris

We said we went a couple of times visiting Yona, even though we reported about the first meeting, we didn’t really say much about what happened during the second one. Quite hectic, interesting and fun.

We started preparing the meeting a couple of days before actually leaving Italy. We then went to Paris, prepared, excited and all hyped up, thinking that we would have met the master, spread our papers and drawings all over and that he would have been involved in the typical brainstorming-design session.
So, we reached his place thinking we would have updated him on what done up to then, and then continued from there on with him.
Yona, on the other hand, listened to everything we said for then twisting our starting point. He pushed us to experiment ourselves his design approach. We wanted him to be the conceptual engine of our work, starting from our analysis. He pushed us to learn his method and then come up ourselves with concepts for the square.
‘Ookeey, here is the iron wire, I think you can do some experimentations now’

But before that we had nice, long chats on various topics, from autoconstruction to uncopyrighted architecture, typical tea-cup conversations.

His house is incredibly fascinating, with very much sculptures, drawings, carpets, models spread all over. Doesn’t look like a museum at all though, it is rather very cozy, warm and chaotic. Beautiful and immediately familiar.

Yona and ourselves spent quite some time in chatting about the value of participation and autoconstruction in architecture, being this some of the most important aspects of yona’s work as well as of the competition we are participating in. Autoconstruction for Yona means give to the people freedom of improvisation and of construction with whatever material they have. Main focus becomes then transmitting knowledge to people for them to be able to construct themselves their own cities, public spaces and houses.
This means a different approach for the architect, designer or artist, that has to be designing techniques and processes then, rather than buildings. Very cheap and easy techniques that people can do themselves, following instructions firstly to then move away and improvise.
So, for instance, practically, would mean designing visualizations of possible buildings or actions sequences and instructions rather than designing the building itself.

A do-it-yourself architecture like this would mean an author less architecture. Regarding this issue Yona could not stand in a clearer position:

‘I think that it’s a misunderstanding of architecture…let’s take Gehri for example, he makes an artwork and it has to be done like that, and this is an error. Great architecture generally has come by masons who were not inventing the arc at all. The interesting aspect about arc and domes is that they became generalized and used by people. There is no patent that goes with this things.’
‘so, you can see them as techniques…’
‘yes, you can see them both as techniques and social interventions’ ‘I think Le Corbusier’s importance was far less his own buildings, but more the other people who was following him and produced things. There is no other way to do it. Architecture it’s not patents.’.

‘twenty years ago, when I was talking about this things, I was told I am an utopian. And now it’s credible’ I think now somehow public opinion accepts this things that they did not accepted 20 years ago’

Back in the street, we headed to the Palais De Tokyo (http://…). The palais was hosting an exhibit, but the ground floor has a space available for people for working, with all sorts of services.
We put our heads down and started sketching, drafting renderings but mostly doing and re-doing models, with various materials, bought and recovered…a flower seller even gifted to us a net he used to dress his shop window, but that would have nicely served the purpose for our model.

Back to Yona again then, with all our models: some were ‘cloudy’, some other geometrical.
Yona’s reaction was very gratifying. Apart the comments and the exchange of suggestions and advices, was truly nice to have Yona asking us ‘can I take a photo of these models?’.
I was almost asking back ‘can I take a photo of you taking a photo of our models?’

Then the comments session.

‘It is important to close the nodes in the bottom (for giving rigidity)’
‘not all these loops should be the same’
‘but yours is so beautiful’
‘I try never to go in the same direction with loops…it’s also very important how you tight the loops (and shows how to tight a node)’
‘did you also use any instruments to bend the wire?’
‘just with my hands, up to 6mm you can bend it with your hands’

(All the models both ours and his, are on yona’s table, and yona takes snaps)

‘in reality it is a different thing, in a different scale will not be the same thing, it will give a different feeling’

‘do you want to make a model with us using the computer?We could also do a 3Dscan of some of your models to replicate it with the computer, what do you think about it?’

‘The real model follows rules that are easy to put on the computer. Mathematically speaking, a computer is listening a shape, making it smoother and smoother, and this smoothening doesn’t exist in reality.’

‘Advices for next steps then?’

‘I would do one step further, you will get a few people from the town and you will make it with them. My experience in participation tells me that every person has is own interpretation’ clearly hints Yona.’

Last step of this working session was to interview him. The interview transcript will be posted soon.

Working session over and back in a smoky bar again, discussing and debriefing among us.

Parallely, we have thought of involving Ove Arup (http://…) for technical consultancies. The story basically sounded like: ‘hey we are working with Yona Friedman, and actually we would love to realize one of his never-realized-almost-unrealizable structures…in a square…in bologna…the periphery’ ‘cool, sounds nice and challenging’.

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