Aug '08 - Jun '10
Nader Tehrani of Office dA came to give a "workshop" at Wurster Hall this afternoon. While I would hardly call what transpired a workshop, I won't complain--it was great, just more of an informal lecture and a discussion which followed. Tonight at CCA he gave a formal lecture which I did not attend.
He's a super smart guy, spoke very eloquently, if almost too well rehearsed. At the beginning he said that he wanted students to interject with questions and comments, but his delivery was so seamless that no one said anything until he was through.
He went through some early work, laying out his office's counter-position to Frank Gehry's wallpaper-like treatment of material and form among some really well crafted drawings and simple but effective animations. Then he transitioned to more current work which I would characterize as intellectually consistent (always a specific system or formal geometry that they are exploring) but damnit, I wanted to see the mistakes, the rough edges, the humor! He even said in a small discussion among students after the session ended, that what we find so wonderful in Venturi and Scott Brown's (and Frank's) work--the appeal to popular culture--should not be ignored or precluded by architects seeking to push the limits of form and material.
I mentioned to him afterward that his plans reminded me of Alvaro Siza's work, where stairs pop out of the mass, allowing for flaws and idiosyncrasies to take a figural role in the form. He is extremely respectful of Siza's work, it turns out. It's interesting to look at the two side by side. In Siza's case, all corners, edges, splits, junctions--all potential construction flaws are neutralized and the form is made seamless by the plaster. For Tehrani it seems more interesting to find the moment where in the logic of construction and of structure you are allowed to make such contortions of form, and to let that process guide the form rather than the other way around (more a critique of Gehry, if Siza might be considered neutral in this light)
Tongxian Gatehouse, office dA
Borges & Irmao Bank, Alvaro Siza. photo by Tereza Siza
The best thing to take away I thought was his insistence that drawing is building, that you must embed the means and methods of building in the drawings themselves, and that they have always sought to accomplish this in their practice.
I had the back-of-head view:
ps, coming soon, a guide to applying to UC Berkeley