Postcards from New York



Oct '11 - Dec '11

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    C-LAB: On Tour In Japan

    Greg Evans
    Oct 21, '11 11:12 AM EST

    A recent project I assisted with at C-LAB, led by C-LAB director Jeffrey Inaba and fellow collaborators Björn Ehrlemark and Betsy Medvedovsky, opened in Tokyo, Japan at the Yoshioka Library earlier this month. Intended as a sort of covert take-over of this architecture publication library, the exhibit was meant as a small C-LAB retrospective that augmented Jeffrey's coinciding lecture.

    When approaching the project, we asked ourselves, "What would this library look like if C-LAB slowly became the only source of architectural broadcasting?" Our answer was a sort of conspiratorial newsletter that found itself scattered among all the rest of the magazines in the library. Slipped on top of the current displays, one would discover that the arranged newsletters made large mosaic images that only rendered a piece of the C-LAB story:

    The newsletter was a really interesting format for a review of C-LAB's work over the years. Separated into four categories: Bond, Harness, Leak, and Architect, the newsletter organized the work into juxtapositions that worked across many scales - image to image, image to text, spread to image, spread to spread, and so on. New to C-LAB, this project was especially helpful for me in gaining a wide knowledge of the work C-LAB has done and the approach which they use to develop the projects.

    This format reminds me of a sort of an LP cover, the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's perhaps, in that the sort of collage style of the graphics render a noisy composition that encourages exploration. When you listen to Sgt. Pepper's, it's so enveloping to listen to the record while searching through the LP artwork. In the same sense, as you look through the newsletter, new projects are discovered, greater detail is seen, and something you didn't notice the first time is finally uncovered. I think this is a great reflection of C-LAB's work, which is always comprised of so many layers that allow people to chew through the work, rather than just simply digest it.

    In addition to the review of C-LAB's work, a long, and growing, list of architectural research laboratories over the past 50 years was displayed as a jumping-off point for further investigations into the realm of alternative architectural practices. Although I've always been fascinated with architecture, in the building sense, I've also been super interested in the research and publication side of the discipline. Doing the research of design labs really opened my eyes to a whole type of practice that I knew existed, but never really knew how to find it. What I found really fascinating is the number of labs that are popping up in design schools all over the world. These have had a placein the discipline for years - heck, Archis was founded in 1929 - but in recent years, new modes of alternative architecture research have found their place both academically and professionally. These alternative models offer architects a broader use of their skills and ideas, while still helping develop the discipline. It's overstated, but especially when architecture jobs are harder to find, it's a great thing to know that architects are finding new and exciting ways to influence design and the design of the world.

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