Elemental Architecture

Seminar at the Vilnius Art Academy, architecture department, summer term 2015.
Instructors: Daniel Köhler with Rasa Navasaityte
brief: Daniel Köhler

At the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, Rem Koolhaas presented Elements of Architecture. Constipated as a sort of microscope at the fundamentals of our buildings the exhibition encouraged a debate about our buildings components used by any architect, anywhere, anytime. Whereas as any other encyclopedic collection, such an archive always stays fragmentary and turns at its best into a reference point for an ongoing speculation. In such a way, this seminar should be understood as an operative critical investigation for an Elemental Architecture. Complementary to the exposed stockhold we will not continue to excavate technical artefacts, such as the biennale's cabinet already exposed: the floor, the wall, the ceiling, the roof, the door, the window, the façade, the balcony, the corridor, the fireplace, the toilet, the stair, the escalator, the elevator, the ramp.

Complementary we will ask the question: How we can describe a building through its composing architectural elements? Lifting the lid of Pandora`s box draws a building as that in which it is and that which is in: a difference between an exterior and interior. The architectural element turns into the Janus-Face of wall and opening, surface and depth, space and solid, material and color, light and shadow, lightness and massiveness, territory and transparency, figure and figuration, interior and exterior, structure and expression, part and whole. Shifting from one to many shifts signification to meaning. If we try to avoid attributing importance to the „what“, we deal with no-matter-what. No-matter-what, strangely as it sounds, is nothing other than the expression of the refusal to attribute some importance, whether to what this is, or to what that is. In architectural words no-matter-what is nothing more than the attempt to leave function; form or the desperate search for their absence.

Here the regional aspect of the workshop's location becomes relevant: The importance of Vilnius as Unesco World Heritage draws not from a signification of one epoch, style or regime but their flatness of "whats" and meaning as a whole. Vilnius building complexes are unique through their equality of gothic, renaissance, baroque, classicistic, eclecticist, art-decoean, modern, brutalist, postmodern, architectural elements. This seminar takes a close reading of the digital condition through Vilnius as a medium. A speculation upon its elements as design strategy - this is what we will call: Elemental Architecture.

student project bz Jezi Daveiko
Lab for Environmental Design Strategies
Austin, London, Innsbruck.