NEW UNIT- INTERMEDIATE 7: Material Life: Performative EnvelopeInterview

An interview with the tutor of the new Intermediate Unit 7: Marco Vanucci
04 November 2015 Architectural Association, London   Marco Vanucci, tutor of the new Intermediate Unit 7, answers a few of our questions to discover more about the brief and the uint's aims for the year ahead.   What are the main ambitions of your brief this year?   Intermediate Unit 7 aims to produce adaptable and performative systems for the contemporary workplace through the development of organisational systems and material prototypes.   We aim at redefining the relationship between the contemporary workplace (being a factory, an office, a co-working space, a data centre, a urban farm, a start-up incubator, a fabrication lab, etc), the workforce, and the performative envelope.   The unit understands architecture as a problem of organisation. Programmatic and material systems will be developed as means to study the relationship between technological, architectural, and engineering performances. We aim at studying the organisational, performative, and transformative qualities of matter and its effect onto the social, technological, and environmental milieu. [caption id="attachment_4732" align="alignnone" width="360"]Inter 7-Marco Vanucci_Photo Unit Master Marco Vanucci[/caption] Intermediate Unit 7's research is focused on the notion of performance: optimal use of materials, minimizing waste, energy, and impact on the environment, passive methods of environmental control, technological and social integration. We will develop multi-functional and multi-performative systems, which, in turn, will address the adaptability of structures in time either through reconfiguration, expansion, reduction, division, transportation, active or passive actuation, and through spontaneous or prescriptive appropriation.   In what ways does the unit hope to tackle these challenges?   The unit operates along the notion of applied research, embedding science and technology within architecture. Introducing the notion of applied research opens up the field to an active form of enquiry, which, in turn, can also be considered a (new) form of architectural practice. Applied research deals with solving practical problems and generally employs empirical methodologies. The real world is the site of application of such methodology. Applied research requires an inquisitive engagement with the materiality of architecture. The objective is to reconnect architecture with the environment through a rigorous investigation of matter and its organisation. [caption id="attachment_4731" align="alignnone" width="260"]Inter-7-3_Huida-Xia_REciprocal-Structure Huida Xi, 'REciprocal Structure', Intermediate 7[/caption] We will focus on the development of a design methodology that systematically includes geometric, material, structural, environmental, and performative aspects.   The unit will develop computational protocols and material experiments that help to analytically tackle the objectives of the set brief. In particular, we will develop prototypes as a mean to established a tangible relationship between material organisation and performances.
NEW UNIT- INTERMEDIATE 7: Material Life: Performative Envelope
Does your unit wish to question the ‘what is’, ‘what was’, or ‘what may be’?   The unit's research agenda in many ways tackles timeless architectural questions that are present within specific contemporary scenarios and, through the novel design methodologies employed, imagine what the future may be. For instance, we look at the contemporary workplace as the catalyst of change in our society and, in particular, we study the relation between new form of labour and the workplace. We address this issue by developing strategies that employ the physical manifestation of matter as performative and organisational means of spatial production: we study adaptability by questioning 'the joint' between parts; typological and social hybridisation is addressed by problematizing the material 'edge' condition; transportability is understood as a design parameter to produce 'flat-pack' systems, etc.   Can you tell us who your favourite architect is?   Nature.   How do you imagine the new projects will expand on the theme of ‘the contemporary’?   The contemporary notion of space is being challenged and re-defined by the deployment of ubiquitous technology. That has created a form of cynicism for the discipline of architecture in relation to the possibility to have an impact on the built environment.
Inter 7's project is rooted in the materialistic paradigm. It sits between technology and the idea of design as organisation. While we are fascinated by the fast development of technology, we resist its use as a fetish 'gadget'. On the contrary, we search for new and viable applications of technology to the core competency of the architectural discipline: the production of space and its relationship with the surrounding (natural and anthropomorphic) environment.   [caption id="attachment_4733" align="alignnone" width="360"]Inter-7--1_YongPeng-Liu_Aggregation-Factory-model YongPeng Liu, 'Aggregation Factory model', Intermediate 7[/caption]   For more information: Intermediate Unit 7 Brief Diploma Unit 3 Projects Review 2015