We featured a review of PRAXIS’ eighth issue, and within the next few weeks, we’d like to bring you up to speed with their most recent publications. Today, we’ll take a look at their ninth issue which focuses on the surface. The issue is particularly interesting as we cannot deny that the term “surface” has been tossed around in many projects, and yet the meaning behind the word can become so general and all-encompassing that it soon becomes meaningless. The editors’ note expresses the division of architects based on the concept of surface; those who designed formally expressive buildings with materially mute surfaces versus those where the materiality was fully developed on a formally mute surface. The issue seeks to highlight projects of our era that reach a compromise. The projects presented illustrate formal projects with articulated surfaces, and materially intensive projects manifested on a developed form.

More about the issue after the break.

An essay about Chile’s Alejandro Aravena’s Siamese Towers brings the reader through the designer’s thought process. The clients desired a “glass tower” for the project (a computer science building), yet the client’s request posed a significant challenge for the program, namely, a glass curtain wall system does not lend itself well for people working on computer screens. Aravena’s solution entails layering two skins for pragmatic purposes: a fiberboard layer to accommodate functional needs and a glass skin to respond to the building’s exterior image. With this approach, the tower becomes a building within a building, where the interplay of the different materials adds to the architectural effect. ”By allowing the materials to perform independently, Aravena could capitalize on the benefits of each material while minimizing their drawbacks.”

An essay about Herzog and de Mueron’s deYoung Museum and Walker Museum explains the architects’ rigorous exploration of material.  Complete with diagrams and images that present a chronological outline of the design process, Herzog and de Mueron’s early conceptual notions are slowly transformed into physical claddings that suite the designers’ attitudes toward the different buildings.

In an article on engineered surfaces, the building envelopes of SANNA’s New Musuem of Contemporary Art, Kengo Kuma’s LVMH Osaka and OMA’s Beijing Books Building are looked at in further detail.  New “technological and procedural transformations in design have allowed unprecedented explorations of the building skin.”  The “engineered boundaries” of these projects use innovative materials (aluminum mesh, onyx slab sandwiched between glass sheets, and cast glass blocks, respectively) to create an image for the buildings and rethink the technical and conceptual potential of the exterior wall.

This issue was quite informative and the essays were especially thought provoking.  Hopefully, as architects, we will not choose a side (either form or materiality), but rather continue to blend the two as the application of one can strengthen the other.

EDITORS Amanda Reeser Lawrence | Ashley Schafer FEATURED ARCHITECTS & DESIGNERS Aranda Lasch | Easton + Combs | Herzog & deMeuron | Graffiti Research Lab | Andrew Kudless | Thom Faulders | Touraine + Richmond | Alejandro Aravena FEATURED WRITERS Eve Blau | Michael Weinstock | Andrew Payne | Thomas de Moncheaux

About this author
Cite: Karen Cilento. "PRAXIS 9" 26 Dec 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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