Salvaged Layers; a Collaborative Site Specific Performance project was an interdisciplinary collaboration between two groups of students from separate Universities. The studio challenged students to explore issues of craft, making and place through a series of full scale built interventions in a historic Indianapolis theatre which had been gutted in anticipation of a planned renovation. The raw state of the theatre’s interior gave students a rich and evocative palette to engage while simultaneously liberating them from the conventional notions of stage and audience.
Architects: Students of Ball State University Department of Architecture; Faculty Coordinator Timothy Gray, Gray Architecture
Location: 5505 E Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Project Team: Mark Vanden Akker, Austin Lucari, Jay Weeks, Brad Wanek, Veronica Eulacivo, Eric Jenson, Michael Neizer, Paul Reynolds, Greg Hittler, Luke Haas, Ben Greenberg; (Butler University) Jacqueline Vouga, Jeff Irlbeck, Jill Harman, Amanda Lynn Meyer, Amanda Miller, Joe Esbenshade, Chris Ziegler, Jessica Conger, Steph Gray, and Butler University Faculty Coordinator Melli Hoppe
Client: Dale Harkin, Irving Theatre
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Greg Hittler, Courtesy of Gray Architecture
By positioning this project as a cross disciplinary collaboration it gave students the opportunity to explore ways in which the different disciplines could creatively engage one another while simultaneously grounding their activities in the specific circumstance of the site. The architecture students drew on a rich mix of precedents to inform their approach which included looking to the work of such architects as Elizabeth Diller, Thom Mayne, Zaha Hadid and Bernard Tschumi, all of whom have been involved directly with performance as an art form but also foreground the idea of spatial performativity in their work as practicing architects. Tschumi famously stated, “there is no place without event”, in his advocacy of an architecture “concerned with spatial discourse associated with time, action and movement”.
Throughout the process, the activities of the architecture students differentiated themselves from that of preparing a stage set because they led rather than followed the choreography of the performance. While students were encouraged to think of installations that could define space, or were kinetic and ripe with potential for interaction, there was no narrative to which they were responding. By the same token, the theatre students were allowed to react / interact with the work on their own accord, and engaged the installations in bold and unexpected ways, amplifying the potential of the architecture student’s projects. There was a very real excitement and synergy between the two groups, and there was great consensus among those involved in the project that the collaboration resulted in a whole that was in fact greater than the sum of the parts.