Friday, April 20, 2007

Improvised Architectural Devices

As mentioned in a previous post, Archis magazine is hosting global RSVP events with calls for submission on subjects from Heritage to Paranoia. With the upcoming event in Kabul this summer focusing on Security the lure was irresistible. As an extension of my research this is a great opportunity to connect ideas to a tangible architectural product. As a combination of both written research and built research, each will contribute to the other by making links between them and thereby strengthening the work. Below is a synopsis of my proposal. Stay tuned for updates as the deadline is the end of April and decisions will be made shortly after.

Improvised Explosive Devices vs Improvised Architectural Devices

IED’s can be prepared almost anywhere and used anywhere.
They are quickly made and used
They use ready made and found material
They are low-tech
They are flexible in scale, application, and type
They are inexpensive
They create and define space in places without boundary or definition beforehand (through zones of destruction and trauma)
They affect emotion (through fear and destruction)
They create a lasting effect long after their original use (through trauma left behind)

What if we were to create Improvised Architectural Devices? (IADs)

IADs could be prepared almost anywhere and used everywhere
They could be quickly made and used
They could use ready made and found material
They could be low-tech
They could be flexible in scale, application and type
They could be inexpensive
They could create and define space in places without boundary or definition beforehand (through zones of construction and comfort)
They could affect emotion (through safety and shelter)
They could create a lasting effect long after their original use (through their utility)

Essential in this proposal is the understanding that IEDs while detestable objects, have redeeming architectural qualities which can be re-implemented in positive fashion. Their reasons for utility and effectiveness are what we wish to harness for our purposes. These qualities I have identified above. Beginning with the IED’s ability to be constructed and deployed anywhere, IADs must possess this property. Their construction should be as such that they can be built on site or off-site and easily transported to their final site.

This is facilitated by mimicking IED’s use of found and ready made material. The use of simple and economic materials allows for this and also allows for low or no economic cost. This is critical in making IADs accessible to any group regardless of their financial situation and resources. As a consequence of using found materials, the lack of complexity or need for specialized tools is also necessary.

In order for IADs to be architectural, they must acknowledge space in some way. They don’t necessarily need to create enclosed space but they must make reference to the definition of a space, separation of a space or absence of space. In engaging space they must also adapt to multiple scales. IEDs come in many sizes and are tailored to their specific tasks, IADs should be no different. They should also seek to create comfort in their resolutions. It is one thing to create a solution to a problem, but the interest of the IAD is also that it understands the human requirements and interactions of its users.

IADs must be substantial enough to make a lasting contribution or at least address the problem for the duration of its existence if it is a temporary condition. They do not necessarily need to be temporary constructions. IADs must address a problem even if at the smallest scale, they cannot be installations or art pieces. They should however seek where possible to achieve a contemplated and conscious aesthetic, they are architectural after all.

Potential Uses:
One can envision IADs deployed in the following examples including but not limited to:

reating shelter for children within the home from shrapnel or gunfire through weaving found and discarded clothing with found metal to create a homemade ballistic shield
-Creating insulation to line the home or apartment from found material
-Creating a locking enclosure to secure valuables
-Creating a privacy screen between living units providing visual, and audio separation

Since the implementation of IADs is predicated on the response to specific contextual parameters, each solution will be different and therefore it is difficult to speculate on the exact nature of each.

Extension of Concept:
The need for real and timely architectural solutions in crisis situations is not unique to developing nations but is a global condition. It is my hope that through the implementation of an IAD in Kabul the development of the concept through this trip will foster an interest in expanding this idea and implementing it in all conditions whether conflict stricken locations in a developing nation or in public housing in urban America. Every condition is unique but the underlying essence of the IAD is its adaptability it takes from the IED. Because of this it lends itself to be applied on a greater scale and in a diverse way.