Project 4: Performance

The lost Tenemos of Apollo at Delphi, ancient “Navel of the World” and home to the mystic spectacle of the Oracle Pythia, were rediscovered beneath the village of Castri at the end of the 19th Century. Castri was demolished and replaced by a new Delphi built down the road, so the archeological remains could explored, studied and repurposed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The new “ruin” is now supported by a cultural centre and museum, hotels, tavernas, bars, and gift shops, and a new community working in and around the fragmentary ruins, myths, stories and legends that draw in countless tourists and scholars.

At the same time Greece reels from one crisis to the next, searching for a way out of debt and geo-political instability, and in response the Greek public have engaged in the very public “performance” of direct action: demonstrations, protests and strikes. Another response is collective “critique” through the arts: plays, music, dance, and the visual arts as seen at the Embros community theatre. The third response is through the ambitious and active pursuit of a change through architecture, evident in the new State Opera and Library, numerous derelict 2004 Olympic buildings, and Tschumi’s new Acropolis museum. However, it also seems inevitable that many of these concrete interventions are doomed to fail through lack of political will or community engagement, leading to the creation of an endless stream of new “ruins” which are in turn celebrated, abandoned and repurposed.

This is the context and territory of the main “Performance” project, addressing place and community, audience and performer, the catastrophic and erratic, the extraordinary and mundane. In exchange for stories, music, dance, cinema, and artistic performance is all it’s myriad possible forms, the “Performance” project offers participation and engagement, critique and delight, common purpose and maybe the possibility of change without ruin.

Purpose:

At it’s core the “Performance” project will comprise a new permanent architectural proposal for Delphi or Minster Lovell to host a specific Performance and Audience. The proposal will provide an interchange between performers, backstage, production and front-of-house with the local community and wider public, drawing on cultural traditions, innovations, resources and opportunities, and tapping into the extraordinary landscape, ruins, myths and legends surrounding the site to forge a useful “Contribution” to both people and place.

The nature of the Performance and interface with the Audience will define the program of spaces, activities, processes and appropriate scale of intervention, drawn from: your chosen site in Delphi or Minster Lovell, the ideas developed in the “Record”, “Stage and Prop”, and the reading of place and people revealed in the “Set”.

Being specific and precise about the Purpose, the Performance, and the Audience will give credibility and definition to the scope and reach of the proposals.

Site:

The Performance project will occupy the site drawn and explored through the “Set”, either in Delphi or Minster Lovell. The site strategy, specific audience, proposed performance, and “contribution” of the Performance project will develop from the acute conceptual, physical and emotional reading of place and potential initially explored in the “Set”, and through detailed and in depth analysis of the physical, historical, cultural and emotional site context.

Consider:

  • Existing occupation of the site – ruins/buildings/landscape/use/people
  • Adjacent occupation of the site – ruins/buildings/landscape/use/people
  • Who or what lives here? works here? plays here?
  • Local production: cultivation, crafts, trades and activities
  • Connections to traditional performances: stories, plays, music, dance etc.
  • Links to seasonal festivals: traditional, historical and contemporary
  • Historical use of the site
  • Historical and mythical connections to the site and territory
  • Associations with the site
  • Topography
  • Prevailing weather conditions
  • Environmental conditions
  • Seasonal transformation of the site
  • The nature of the ground
  • Archaeology of the site
  • Availability and proximity of resources
  • Views from the site
  • Views of the site from the land and from the sea
  • Local fauna and flora (what is growing or living on the site)
  • Local harvest (land or sea): natural and geothermal cultivation and crops, energy, water, light, minerals and fisheries
  • Access to the site and connection to the city, the coast, the mountains

You will need to intensively survey the site, thoroughly document your observations and research, and rigorously test your reading of the place to generate the material and evidence to accurately and beautifully draw and model the site; capture the idea, fabric, constraints and opportunities of the site; and provide the rich “intellectual soup” to drive the development of your design proposals.

Spatial Brief:

The core of the Performance proposal is the “Production”, a manmade performance, event, spectacle, or happening, that communicates, questions, educates, entertains and transports a specific and defined “Audience”. Through the creation and hosting of the “Production” AND the engagement with the “Audience” the “Contribution” to people and place will be established. The “Record”, “Stage and Prop” and “Set” projects will have identified some of the possible starting points.

To define the “Production” identify and investigate performers, directors, authors, resources, techniques, crafts, expertise, obsessions, and traditions

To define the “Audience” identify and investigate the community their passions, heritage, legends, stories, shared fears, delight, joy, concerns and pride

To define the “Contribution” consider how the local community engages with the proposed performance: the “Audience” with the “Production”

An intimate knowledge of the production process, timescales, and quantities will be critical to sizing, designing and organizing the Performance both in terms of brief and architectural strategy. And so an essential step in defining your proposal will be to visit, survey and document an appropriate equivalent precedent (theatre, workshop, cinema etc.) and then to do-it/make-it yourself; consider:

Production:           The form of performance, the nature of the performance space, the number of players, nature of the stage, instruments, props, equipment and costumes, the timing and duration of the performance, duration of the season, back-stage facilities, storage, workshops, and operation

Audience:               How many? How do they engage with the performance? Where are they from? Age, expectations, local etiquette and traditions, and front-of-house needs

Contribution:         Local employment, contribution to public space or the public realm, communication, critique, inspiration, delight and education

  • The connection of the “Performance” to the local community and place is critical to making sense of the proposition.
  • The intertwining links between Production, Audience and Contribution needs to be captured in a single drawing or model documenting all the processes, sequences and adaptations to become a visual spatial brief for the project, at the scale of your proposal and brought to site.
  • The spatial organization and spatial experience of the Performance will be defined by the activities, the people, the response to place: weather, materials, machinery, movement, noise, smells, and atmosphere.
  • The architecture is expected to reflect the activities, seasons and their inter-connections with place to establish a critical spatial dialogue between the proposal, the place and landscape, and peopleThe use of each term: Production, Audience and Contribution is deliberately open ended: literal and direct, poetic and lateral, analogous and suggestive. Harness the power of language to inform and enrich your architecture.Yr3 projects should be at a scale equivelent to the Embros Theatre in Athens, hosting a resident company of 5-20 performers, 150 strong audience, modest backstage, technical and rehearsal facilities; and whatever else is necessary to generate original work and fully engage with the local community. Yr2 projects should be at the scale equivalent to a “pub-theatre” such as the Jericho Tavern in Oxford, with a maximum audience of 80-100 and hosting small scale productions.
  • Scale:

Yr3 projects should be at a scale equivalent to the Embros Theatre in Athens, hosting a resident company of 5-20 performers, 150 strong audience, modest backstage, technical and rehearsal facilities; and whatever else is necessary to generate original work and fully engage with the local community. Yr2 projects should be at the scale equivalent to a “pub-theatre” such as the Jericho Tavern in Oxford, with a maximum audience of 80-100 and hosting small scale productions.

Technology:

As a sustainable 21st century building the Performance project will need to address the question of autonomy:

Autonomous:        Grow, harvest and produce it’s own energy, water, and resources

Or

Community:          Sourcing, and encouraging local productivity as part of a wider network

Linking the Performance proposals to the landscape, sense of place and community, will be the connection to the ground and how the proposals stand up, the materials and methods of construction, and the nature and qualities of the internal (and external environments). Your proposals may be a hybrid of local, technical and homespun; self-grown, harvested or imported, permanent, temporary or experimental; familiar or deliberately alien; each as you deem to be appropriate to your conceptual ideas and personal definition of an Architecture where “necessity is the mother of invention.”

But make no assumptions on what is, or is not, sustainable in any landscape or community: draw your conclusions and position from research, experiment and testing: seeking sources of abundant minerals, materials and energy, questioning what is really required, and celebrating the implications of generosity.

In the book “Cradle to Cradle” William McDonough’s and Michael Braungart make the analogy to a cherry tree, which produces a natural abundance of fruit, food, shade, habitat, compost, colour, and fragrance well in excess of necessity in response to the changing seasons and conditions: each process positively contributing to further abundance in the next process, benefiting both the cherry tree and other local and associated organisms – there is no waste.

Your response to the materials, construction, structure and environmental design of the “Performance” project will be in parallel and intertwined with conceptual spatial design process, to seek a synthesis between production, bye-production, performance, people, and place.

Your detail technology proposals will initially be explored through the development of a notional “Negotiated Section” drawing cut through the critical spaces of your proposal, before developing a structural model and critical details to explain your constructional, material, environmental and structural ideas and propositions.

Method:

Work:      Inwards from an initial proposition through iterative models and drawings to test, explore and develop the final proposals

And         Outwards through models and drawings to test and develop the final relationship to the landscape and place

And         In parallel to test and develop your final ideas for the materiality, structure, construction and environmental design

  • Draw from the “Stage and Prop”, “Record” and “Set” projects to inform the proposed purpose and link your ideas to the conceptual reading of site
  • Investigate the qualities, resources, opportunities, constraints and associations with the site through highly tuned site drawings, models, images and diagrams
  • Explore the “Production” activities by visiting, documenting and researching relevant working precedents (theatres, workshops etc.) to define the spatial brief, timescale, and organisation of spaces
  • Identify, research and investigate your “Audience” to inform the organisation, public engagement with the “Production”, scale and timetable for the proposals
  • Define the “Contribution” of the proposals to the local community and place
  • Explore the programmatic, pragmatic, conceptual and emotional responses to the site and activities, consolidated in diagrams, models and drawings
  • Develop a 3D organisational and conceptual model or drawing to capture your Spatial Strategy for the intertwined Production, Audience, Contribution and Site
  • From the Spatial Strategy, test your ideas through sketching and modelling to develop a First Iteration of the proposal in scale drawings or models
  • Change scale, and look in detail at the critical spaces in the proposal to develop the next Iteration
  • Change scale, and look at the relationship of the whole to the site to develop the next Iteration
  • Analyse and refer to precedents to support each conceptual idea, material, space, detail, atmosphere, structure etc. to inform your design process
  • Develop further iterations in response to: views out, views on site, spatial occupation, light, structure, acoustics, water, materials, the journey, seasons, smells, or whatever is critical, alternating between sketches, sections, models, plans, and 3d views
  • Test each iteration through photomontage and collage into site images, your site model, and the “Set” drawing
  • With each iteration explore and develop the graphic and modelling techniques to communicate your ideas and inform your thinking and design process

Representation: Using any appropriate media, material or technique to best explore, test and communicate your ideas, the complete project narrative and design process will be presented in no more than 30no. A2 (or equivalent) hybrid portfolio sheets, including: design, process, technology, models, materials, samples, annotation and precedent. The final drawings must include finely crafted 2-dimensional plans, sections, elevations, site plans and site sections, together with:

  •  A thorough spatial exploration of the underlying strategic, organisational and conceptual ideas
  • A 3-dimensional exploration of the spatial experience within the proposal and of the proposal in context on site
  • A detailed exploration of the materials, construction of the proposal, the structure, and critical qualities and control of the internal/external environment
  • Selected process work will be integrated into the portfolio sheets, plus a wider range presented on process pages (trace?) interleaved between portfolio sheets

 

Program:

Introduction:                Thursday 1st December              Week 10                Semester 1

Initial Review:               Monday 30th January                   Week 1                  Semester 2

Interim Review:            Thursday 2nd March                   Week 5

Final Review:                  Thursday 23rd March                   Week 8                   2nd yr Cross Crit

Monday 27th March                    Week 9                   3rd yr Cross Crit

Portfolio Submission:   Wednesday 10th May                 Week 13                   2nd yr

Thursday 11th May                      Week 13                    3rd yr

 

Project Brief:

unit_g_tragicperformance_brief_2016_17revb

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