Few images are more powerful in the architectural discourse as Le Corbusier’s perspective drawing of his Maison Dom-ino. The drawing summed up the promise and aesthetic implications of contemporary building materials and technology: no more did architects have to rely on load bearing walls; a simple frame gave the architect freedom craft plans and facades as they wished. Fast forward to today and a similar aesthetic revolution has taken place, but this time without much notice. Contemporary energy codes almost universally require buildings to be sheathed in a layer of continuous insulation. The aesthetic effect is profound (and the subject of Pigeon Studio research projects). Perhaps it is the case that the freedom Corbusier saw in the architectural frame has been transformed into the freedom to pick which finish materials to clip onto a pink plastic box.
Meditations on an Ideal Architecture
Someone once asked us what are ideal project would be, we answered that it would be a "block of marble with maybe a door in it... maybe." Of course we were being a bit facetious - but we decided we wanted to see what that would like look anyway. We don't like marble because it's ostentatious. We like it because heavy, solid, and beautiful materials like marble speak to the things we think make architecture special - the quality of craft, the handmade, and the sense of wonderment at the labor it takes to put a beautiful object in a place. It's a quality we think every project should embody and every person should have access to.
Seven Modernist Details
Architecture is about giving form to values. But, more often than not, the process of form-making is defined by more than the desires of the architect. Today, legal regulations, contemporary construction methods, and the market of building products limit and define how form can be made. In order to explore this idea—that there are players other than the architects involved in the process of making architecture, we embarked on a research process that begins at the level of the architectural detail to understand the aesthetic effect of legal, practical and market circumscriptions on architectural design. Starting from seven construction details from seven well-known modernist buildings, we redesigned them to comply with today’s codes and standards. The result is a pithy visual description of the effects of these codes and standards on range of forms available for architects to design.