David Grandorge and Colin Wharry
Photograph: August 2013
LEAVING FOR PARIS: Transformations from literature, the design of architectural types and models in isolation of context and proposals for an edifice of heterogeneous programmes in the vicinity of the Canal Saint Martin and Bassin de la Villette in Paris.
“Type presents less the image to copy or imitate completely than the idea of an element, which ought in itself to serve as a rule for the model. The model is an object that should be repeated as it is; the type, on the contrary, is an object with respect to which an architect can conceive of forms (or spatial idioms) that may have no resemblance to each other. All is precise and given in the model; all is more or less vague in the type.”
Paraphrased from Antoine Quatremère de Quincy’s essay “Type” in Encyclopédie Méthodique, (Paris, 1788), quoted by Anthony Vidler in “The Writing of the Walls”, (London, 1989).
Quatremère de Quincy’s idea of type, developed in the context of the visionary architectural propositions of the French Enlightenment, sought to reconcile aesthetically derived considerations of proportion with social needs.
This idea, together with the drawings and buildings produced by his contemporaries, maybe seen as the nascent stages of the generation (for good or bad) of a modern architecture.
This year, Unit 7 will attempt to echo these principles in designs for an edifice of heterogeneous programme, loosely based on the spatial and functional conditions of the forum (the public), the atelier (the semi-public) and the apartment (the private) in the north-eastern districts of Paris. It is intended that this building will have a singular presence and strong character rising just above the scale of the Haussmannian block.
Seven sites have been identified within the vicinity of the Canal St Martin in the section that runs overground from just north of the Place de République to the Place de Stalingrad in the 10th arrondissement. A further site has been identified in proximity to the Bassin de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement. The sites are relatively compact and bounded by other buildings on either one, two or three sides.
We will begin the year engaging with the architectural imagination through drawn and modelled translations from literature by Franz Kafka, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Milan Kundera and other authors whose surname does not begin with the letter K. This will be followed by drawn and modelled designs of spatial and formal types before undertaking a six day field trip to Paris from 7 to 12 of November.