1:10: Ceri Edmunds is presenting.
"This project places the shopping mall into anatagonism with the suburban residential. This project seeks consolidation..."
At the bottom level are loading docks and parking; the loading docks service the three voids. Above this are the shopping layers, parks, and a mat layer of housing at the top layer. The park is mostly open to the air.
IR: On the one hand you started being critical of the mall space. How far have you challenged that vision?
CE: Obviously it's kind of a legal issue and not only an architectural one. But my intention was to create an environment that was so unpalatable to be entirely privatized that it would create a precedent--
WJ: You mean, financially unpalatable? Why couldn't it just be a gated community? To me, there's a lot of volume enclosed; why does the whole thing have to become architecture--why couldn't you just put a suburb on the shopping mall roof; that is, why do you need this to all be an outdoor experience?
PSC: You don't have units on top of each other do you?
CE: The slope is a strategy to allow for this density, so that they're not all closed in [but have access to light, air, and views...]
Nana Last: What prevents the houses from becoming private too?
Harry Cobb: Why does the parking lot extend so much--why doesn't the community on top become bigger?
CE: In terms of how you'd experience it, I think it's as close as it would be otherwise. It's denser than a typical suburb. Just over 300 houses here.
HC: Why is it limited to single-family one storey houses?
CE: I think it was to account for the demographic of the area, and make it a modified suburb, but offering the same qualities as a surburban house.
IR: I don't think you have a radical revision of the problem of the shopping mall. [The residential] is just an icing. There's an issue with the publicness which I think [Nana Last] suggested. You have the same problem that BIG has, which is the problem of the edge. When you raise up the suburban condition, how do you deal with the edge?
CE: I think that critique would be correct if this were urban, but it's suburban...
Catherine Ingraham: Is there an economic model being promoted here between the residential and shopping--is there a benefit from living on top of the mall or a benefit for the retail?
CE: The residents would have a lot of amenities; they're closer.
CI: What does that get you?
HC: How do you get into these houses?
CE: There are driveways--not interior, but within the mas of the house.
HC: I'm realizing it's a much more complicated relationship...These people are literally living in a shopping mall.
PSC: Yes, Harry: up top you have a conventional suburban experience and below, a totally different experience.
CE: ...I felt that people would feel overwhelmed by being completely surrounded by the public realm.
PSC: It's both gated and non-gated; that's interesting. You have two publics.
IR: Who is the owner of this column?
CE: I would say it's the state.
CI: Not the state!
CE: Right now, suburbia demands to have no state regulation, and that's what leads it to be a complete mess. I'm suggesting that in these focused instances, the state makes one tiny effort to design something with intention.
Rodolphe el-Khoury: For 300 units?
CE: Not only for 300 units, but for all the people who visit the shopping space and experience a more contested public space.
WJ: I think there are answers to all the questions that have been asked.
CE: I accept that; I could have gone to a more legal direction.
WJ: Not legal, but economic, spatial, architectural...You could stipulate that the density would be no greater than in a typical suburbia and you'd pay for all this over time from the leases on the shopping center.
CE: The volume of air is certainly no bigger than Mall of America.
WJ: But shops don't like that open vertical space over the shops themselves; it's a distraction for shoppers. This is more like a market.
REK: I think you are in a strange area now. It's not transformed enough...
IR: I don't know who's going to live there. On the one hand there's a picturesque landscape, and then you are submerged into this other space. It's a very graphic project, but unfortunately that's where it remains.
CI: In the American suburb, the street was never public.
IR: But still, every car could go there.
CE: I'm sorry, Inge, but that's not a great public space. It's a small difference to put that street within a gated community.
IR: But why base your project on that model then?
HC: I find it a fascinating project as architecture. It is certainly not a revolutionary social proposition. It's actually putting together the idea of a gated community with the idea of a shopping mall. I believe there are 300 people who would be interested in living here, and that it could produce provocative results. It's engagingly done; I like how they go down...
PSC: What about this idea of putting face-to-face the very private form of housing with the public?
HC: I'm interested, I think it would be a wonderful experiment if anyone could afford it. But it should not have been presented as a social project.
WJ: Harry has now engaged with it as an architectural proposition. I would only ask that--this approaches a sublime condition at this scale. I feel that it was a strategic error to go for a more naturalistic with the massing, instead of seeing how the slope of the plates is generated by the units.
NL: [Instead of having the project set off as an island], the structure should be cut, allowing people to see these layers and allowing people in the suburbs to walk right in to the market as if it were a real market. That would only have to happen at one edge.
PSC: Thank you very much.
P.S. PSC is now forbidding the critics from taking a long lunch break; our lateness will be made up by having them eat their sandwiches at the next jury if necessary.
Lectures and exhibitions, life in the trays, happenings around Cambridge...and once in a while, some studio and course work. Please note that all live blogs are abridged and approximate. If you want to see exactly what happened, in most cases a video of the event is posted online by the event's hosts. If you have concerns about how you are quoted, please contact me via Archinect's email.