Thesis Dump :: The Project (needs work!)

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsnavely on June 11, 2007

Part VI: Final Product and Conclusion


In short, this thesis will explore pastiche as a technique for negotiating cycles of obsolescence. Although there are certainly a great number of areas in which pastiche can be used in architecture, this research focuses two specific topics: (1) recombinant programs and (2) a cut & paste cyclic tectonic strategy.


As was mentioned in the introduction, the site is a 99 cent store located at 279 Broadway Avenue in Brooklyn, New York which will host both a renovation and an addition. The program consists of the existing 99 cent store, a renovated theater, and a third component to be discovered through the programmatic pastiche research outlined in Section IV of this paper. In particular, this thesis will be looking for programmatic elements which are not already found in Williamsburg and might be obsolete or unused today, but ready for a reprisal. To accommodate the additional program, the four story building will be expanded into five or more stories, perhaps moving underground rather than above ground. Moreover, as an homage the films and buildings of the time period, the theater itself will be renovated as it was imagined to appear in its heyday in the late 1930’s and 40’s. The three programmatic elements, the theater, 99 cent store, and TBD, will combine to form a unit which can adapt by substituting one or more of its parts for others.


These programmatic elements will be constructed by “copying” other styles, architectural typologies, and ornamentation. In order to copy other graphic and architectural styles quickly, one specific method this thesis is currently researching utilizes a technique similar to Paper Mache. Using recycled paper that has been pulped, cast, and finished, images and decoration can be borrowed from the environment. Unlike plaster or concrete, the material can be re-pulped and recast. Although wood-pulp has structural and insulating properties (both of which are being tested currently), for the scope of this thesis performance of the material will be strictly applied to the types of architectural decoration it can represent. For example, the thesis will not explore how well the material performs as an uneven arch unless copying a flying buttress is part of the final design. Thus, the material will be analyzed primarily in terms of its ability to mimic other objects while maintaining a low cost (in terms of both time and capital) and rapid construction process.


Although for clarity this paper has separated the operations of programmatic

pastiche, the final proposal will take into account both lines of research and hopefully combine the two. These juxtapositions of program and pastiche have been used to great effect elsewhere. For example, Nendo, a young design firm in Japan designed wall for the Illoiha spa which combines the activity of climbing with holds that mimic ornamental picture frames and even a deer head. (see picture)  What happens if the theater blends into the 99 cent store or vice versa? Can the ornament of one style find a comfortable home in the program of another?

 Nendo’s Climbing Wall for Illoiha


This thesis takes the position that one of the major failings of post-modernist architecture is not realizing the inherent connection between eclecticism and obsolescence.  Although care must be taken to avoid historicism, thinking of the architect’s role as that of curator is a way to quickly generate new ideas by assimilating and synthesizing architectural artifacts. Architectural representation has advanced with the advent of tools which allow us to copy and recombine elements, creating more media more quickly. Why don’t we have a similar digital ‘cut and paste’ ability in architectural production? Digital fabrication, as well as other processes, is a beginning for this sort of rapid production that links representation (which is now more and more of the digital cut and paste realm) to physical constructions. Copying, far from being a dishonest process, could produce an honest aesthetic appreciation and reuse of old forms and ornament, as well as architectural products from within the discipline itself. Recombination and curation are healthy methods of creative output and demand tectonic and material strategies to match. By copying and pasting from our environment and continually insisting that architecture advance the tools for these activities, a realm of possibilities awaits architects. In doing so, we acknowledge the fact that architecture is never timeless. Instead, architecture is open to the perpetual possibility that everything is new.



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