Pezo von Ellrichshausen Architects shared with us their exhibition at the Venice Biennale, showing two buildings with a similar size are located in two different contexts. A light grey concrete piece rests in the middle of a natural scene. A cooper oxide green concrete prism stands in the middle of a suburban setting. Two opposite conditions which are presented by a disproportionate relationship between figure and background. The proposed constructions are reproduced as small sculptural models. The landscape is recorded in a huge panoramic backlight photograph. The objects, autonomous from their location, seem insignificant in front of the monumental effort of trying to capture most of the details and complexities of the surroundings.
In Architecture there is an eternal tension between context and object. Since a building is inevitably placed in a particular and unrepeatable location, it establishes a limited set of specific relationships with it. Considering this physical inevitability, to willingly base the integrity of a building in those common places (such as orientation, views, access or topography) is in itself a common place, or at least the minimum that an architect should aspire to do. To explain a building as an answer to a place is to explain the place, not the building. It is no more than a tautological exercise, instrumentally required for political or commercial purposes. However, a building, in its inner formal structure, could also be understood as an independent logical grammar. In its unitary conclusiveness, an architectural object could be separated from its location, from its anecdotal dramas. An isolated building is a singular entity. It is a piece, a device that resists, with more or less integrity, the problems (social, cultural, economical or technical) of the context that supports it.
Today, considering the widespread scarcity of resources, it appears problematic to trace a project as an autonomous figure. There is no possible canon, no fixed measure, when dealing with an unstable and informal environment. That context is anywhere. Therefore, a project is meant to be a flexible machine. Its efficiency is determined by its accidents. In this lack of autonomy, architectural practice is faced as a mere fitness activity, a continuous negotiation, an unpredictable contest to articulate a new program with an existing place. But that is half of the idea, half of the promises of and architectural statement. The other half is what could be called the anti-fitness property of a building. This is the objectual aura of the piece; the capacity of an object of replying, of declining the expected associations, up to the extent of producing a sort of uncomfortable situation in a given moment. It is an irony, as Borges said, to select as a personal option what is imposed as an inevitable condition.
Pezo von Ellrichshausen Architects (Mauricio Pezo, Sofia von Ellrichshausen) Detached, 2 backlight photographs (600x50x300cm) and 2 concrete scale models (30x30x40cm), 2010.
Name of studio: Pezo von Ellrichshausen Architects Based in: Concepcion, Chile Name of Principals: Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen Title of the project: Detached Collaborators: Cristobal Palma (Photography), Dany Berzceller (Graphic Design), Eleonora Bassi, Bernhard Maurer Exhibited work: Poli house, Coliumo, 2005 / Fosc house, San Pedro, 2009