NEW YORK — Instead of striving to be marquee names as some of their predecessors have, a new informal group of globe-trotting architects believes there is strength in numbers.
Five progressive, international architectural firms have banded together to create Progressive Architecture Network, or PAN, an exhibition up at the Frederieke Taylor gallery here. Their aim is to share an attitude about architecture, instead of a formal doctrine.
Principals from Sadar Vuga Arhitekti of Ljubljana, Slovenia; R&Sie(n) of Paris; J. Mayer H of Berlin; IaN+ of Rome, and Archi-Tectonics of New York first became friendly during Frederic Migayrou's and Marie-Ange Brayer's Arch Lab Conferences held in Orleans, France, in 2000 and 2001. They kept their camaraderie going in the years that followed and often found they were experiencing similar phases and challenges even though they were in five different countries. So Archi-Tectonics' founder, Winka Dubbledam, suggested pulling together an exhibition to examine what they were doing and agreed to curate it.
"Architecture is moving in a new direction, following the intelligence of software more than the aesthetic," she said, noting that this is a switch compared with some of her predecessors in the profession. "They are more about superheroes, we are more about teamwork. We're not promoting a new style. We're totally promoting the idea of networking and the idea of an open network. It is purely based on interest, which is now. The definition of an open-scale network is based on the particles that have the highest energy and are working in a similar direction. I guess that's us now, but that can change, too."
Co-curator Helene Furjan described the architects as "a new generation of cool YEAs [young European architects]." Frederieke Taylor, owner of the gallery, continued, "They are all hovering around 40 and take a more playful approach to architecture. Their practices are much more informal, but they are full of ideas and irony. And, of course, their work is totally digitalized. They don't take it so seriously. But these are serious buildings."
Dubbledam, who doubles as director of the University of Pennsylvania's post-professional program in architecture, said she and her peers value teamwork within their respective agencies and with each other. They also are high on the idea of "the intelligence of a structure," considering, for example, the types of material being used and how they will react to the ecology. To that end, the PAN exhibition features a rendering of the Q Tower, a green building that runs on geothermal energy, that Archi-Tectonics is building in Philadelphia. Her agency is working with the MIT Media Lab to create "smart card" features like robotic closets that automatically open when a resident, who has requested a delivery, enters the Q Tower's lobby. Other images in the exhibition include the futuristic parking garage with a rooftop park, being designed by IaN+ outside the Tomohiro Museum and R&Sie(n)'s Hypnochamber installation for the MAM Paris.
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