September 6, 2015
CAB Office for Political Innovation Office for Political Innovation Location: Madrid New York Founded: 2000 Size: 10 people Founder: Andrés Jaque Andrés Jaque of Office for Political Intervention Architecture for us is about making daily life political. Nowadays, politics is happening against the backdrop of ordinary life—in our kitchens, living rooms, and backyards. […]
Office for Political Innovation
Office for Political Innovation
Location: Madrid New York
Size: 10 people
Founder: Andrés Jaque
Andrés Jaque of Office for Political Intervention
Architecture for us is about making daily life political. Nowadays, politics is happening against the backdrop of ordinary life—in our kitchens, living rooms, and backyards. The domestic sphere is the new battleground. Whereas in the 1990s much of the architectural debate was focused on urbanization, geographical and spatial divisions such as cities, suburbs, and the countryside are not as well-defined today. Through personal and mobile technologies, we reconfigure our lives along constantly changing demarcations. The Mouride communities simultaneously live in New York and Touba, Senegal. The owners of New York’s priciest condo towers inhabit a constellation of residences around the world that are connected through their Instagram accounts.
Our work is interested in interrogating the design of daily life, so that it becomes more inclusive while still retaining difference.We do not seek to create mere objects but hubs in which the framework of society is rearticulated. With COSMO at MoMA PS1, we proposed to redefine the way New York relates to water. At the House in Never Never Land we tried to channel Ibiza’s hedonistic lifestyle into a force capable of promoting environmental empowerment.
Architecture can help prompt new ways to structure our interactions with others. It can change how we relate to natural resources, to toxicity, to gender constructions, to inequality, or to transnational differentials. We definitively want to see our office on this side of architecture.
COSMO, MoMA PS1, New York, 2015
Phantom: Mies as Rendered Society installation at the Barcelona Pavilion, 2013
IKEA Disobedients at MoMA PS1, 2001
Escaravox, Madrid, 2014
House in Never Never Land, Ibiza, 2009
Size: 30 people
Founder: Simona Malvezzi, Wilfried Kuehn, Johannes Kuehn
Architects are artists. Many people misunderstand this, believing that being sculptural is key, but being an artist means the opposite. It involves being conceptually autonomous while also working for a client, and those who are getting this right are avant-garde.
In a world crowded with man-made objects and spaces, architects today have to become curators who transform what exists by the processes of selecting, reducing, and rearranging, rather than by adding new self-referential objects. We conceive of our practice as curatorial design.
As in conceptual art, we have to focus on relationships and overcome our fetish for spectacular object-hood. Our winning design for the new Insectarium-Espace pour la vie in Montreal epitomizes this paradigm shift, consisting of a heterogeneousvarietyofspatialtypologiesunitedbyanimmersivevisitorexperience, and embedded in the existing Botanical Garden of Montreal.
In our work, we look at local conditions through a detective’s lens and search for inherent and hidden meanings. It is a way of conceptualizing a site-specific intervention, of being precise and relational, without any genius loci, any emulation of the found environment.
Komuna Fundamento 13th Architecture Biennale, Venice, 2012
The House of One, Berlin, 2012
Design With Company
Size: 3 people
Founder: Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer
Today, architects are too eager to define their buildings and expertise in specialist and quantifiable terms. Of course, design programs such as BIM advance certain aspects of practice, much in the same way that digital production has advanced film. But architecture’s most pressing questions are larger than any technical developments. This flattening of the discipline stems from our education system, which is becoming increasingly driven by the bottom line. Instead, designers should be working to demonstrate the cultural contributions that architecture can make.
That’s extremely important because architecture is losing its capacity to inspire people. Buildings are no longer the medium through which people imagine new worlds or cultural movements. Buildings can begin to do this again by being more than static objects—they should “have character,” as Quatremère de Quincy wrote, or “be characters,” as John Hejduk might say. These ideas are not new, but they have fundamentally shifted the discipline before, and they can help make it culturally relevant again.
Our new book Mis-Guided Tactics for Propriety Calibration, a “learning from” manifesto focusing on the midwestern United States, analyzes buildings like the World’s Only Corn Palace or the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum, found in small towns with no particular identity, surrounded by farmland. Yet they write new narratives for their surroundings by reframing and celebrating the everyday. Buildings like these should influence architects everywhere.
Porch Parade, Vancouver, 2015
Ragdale Ring Pavilion, Chicago, 2015
Pavilion MMM, winning entry for Design/Build 2 Competition, Miami, 2014
The Pasture, shortlisted in the Green in the City competition, Omaha, NE, 2013
Location: Rio de Janeiro
Size: 6-8 people
Founder: Pedro Évora and Pedro Rivera
Urban inequality is a major issue in Rio de Janeiro. This is reflected in how certain parts of the city, like the favelas, are represented, and also in how infrastructure and services are distributed in the territory.
We are interested in culture as an agent of transformation, and we try to engage with projects—design, curatorial, or entrepreneurial—to share this idea. We are designing both the Olympic Golf Clubhouse and art spaces inside the most populated favelas of the city. We believe we can metaphorically and physically bridge some of the gaps in our country.
Brazilian contemporary architecture tends to revisit our rich modern heritage and reprocess it. There are many more examples in our traditional and popular culture that can inform design. From shading solutions or the retail devices people invent for the streets of the southwest, to hammocks or craftsmanship from the North Amazon, innovative architecture in our country has a lot to draw upon. In our climate, we can explore the potential of in-between conditions: inside and outside, artificial and natural, domestic and urban, formal and informal. Places like Brazil should look to their own particularities, not replicate Europe- or North America–centric architecture.
Olympic Golf Clubhouse, Rio de Janeiro, 2016
Gallery Babilônia, Rio de Janeiro, 2014
"The Carioca Way of City Making," Varanda Products panorama, part of the Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities exhibition at MoMA, 2014
Chromatic Exposure installation at the Maison Francaise, Rio de Janeiro, 2012
Location: Mexico City
Size: 10-14 people
Founder: Carlos Bedoya, Wonne Ickx, Victor Jaime, and Abel Perles
We have come to a moment in history in which the idea of progress is under scrutiny. The recent enthusiasm for the possibilities of technology and digital culture is being paired with awareness of the ways in which we engage with our surroundings and other humans. This brings forward a whole series of new interpretations and reevaluations of basic architectural principles.
As architects, we forget we are part of a much larger context. We have to learn to speak less and to listen more. We have to understand that maybe only one in ten or 20 projects has relevance beyond our practice (because of a specific client, site, program, moment). The insatiable hunger of the media industry makes this hard to realize.
How local conditions can inform international architectural practice is a very important and intriguing issue for us, being from the “periphery.” We understand more and more how the particularities of working in a specific place shape our projects, way of working, and thinking, especially now that we are building more and in different locations. We really embrace these differences, but at the same time, we think it is important to communicate about shared interests with colleagues abroad. Working from Latin America, we wonder about how to make something strong and interesting—neither making this socioeconomic context the central theme in our work, nor denying it.