The eighth issue of PRAXIS focuses on the idea of program, reflecting on the different opportunities it presents for architects. The projects featured question the received architectural understanding of program, and elaborate different strategies for organizing and accommodating matter and information as program. Beginning with an essay by editors Amanda Reeser Lawrence and Ashley Schafer, the notion of program serving as a mere list of specific users and requirements is questioned. “The more we tried to clarify what program is and how it operates in contemporary discourse, the more elusive its definition became… Beyond this simple denotation of program lies a complex, ambiguous and ultimately paradoxical set of ideas,” explained the editors.
More on the issue after the break.
In a paired interview, Koolhaas and Tschumi are asked ten questions on program. Their answers offer an interesting comparisons of these two great minds, as their differences make for an enjoyable read. The two especially differ with regards to their relationship between program and form. Koolhaas outwardly exclaims, “We have learned that there is no given relationship between program and form,” while Tschumi outlines three different variants the relationship between form and program can take: reciprocity (shaping the program around the form or vice verse), indifference (the form can accommodate any program) or conflict (the program and form purposefully clash.
An article by Penelope Dean highlights Scogin and Elam’s Knowlton School of Architecture and studies how the project uses program as a way to re-think surface to allow a building divided into three departments to co-exist in one structure. “Program had been too often neglected as a form-making device…program made its appearance as an afterthought…projects such as the KSA suggest that program can give as good as it gets.”
One of my favorite features of this issue is the article De-Programming. It is about the Dead-Malls competition where the participants “start with an abandoned but still existing architectural structure…and work backwards to propose the program. Thus, the emphasis of the project shifted the architectural focus away from the design of a finished product and toward the design of program-an unorthodox strategy.” The competition entries show an inventiveness of programmatic potentials, especially Pierre De Angelis and Carmen Suero’s Slim-Fit Mall entry. Their proposal eliminates redundancies in circulation spaces, case registers, loading areas, etc. that are commonly found in malls. This mall has specific zones where the individual store is eliminated and replaced with areas “where all pants are located in one area, all radio in another.” The reclaimed space then is returned to the public in the form of park lands, quite an innovative strategy for program distribution.
The issue closes with a Program Primer – a series of exercises to brainstorm and rethink traditional aspects of program. It is definitely a tool that should be referenced again and again as a quick way to refresh the mind.
Praxis 8 deals with a complicated issue that all designers must face. The issue shares different opinions on the topic, yet no matter the view taken, it is vital to recognize the potential program has to offer.
EDITORS Amanda Reeser Lawrence | Ashley Schafer
FEATURED WRITERS Vincent James and Jennifer Yoos | Penelope Dean | Thomas de Monchaux | Kazys Varnelis | Ron Witte | John McMorrough | WORKac |
FEATURED ARCHITECTS & DESIGNERS Rem Koolhaas | Bernard Tschumi | Studio(n-1) | Mack Scogin Merrill Elam | Taller de Chile | Interboro | Stoner Meek | Meyer Rosenberg | Central Office of Architecture | Pierre de Angelis and Carmen Suero | R&Sie | WW |