GAM 13


Irmgard Frank, Claudia Gerhäusser, Franziska Hederer

Expeditions are usually associated with journeys to yet unexplored regions of the world: the North and South Poles, the highest mountains in the world, the deep sea, primeval forests, and deserts. Curiosity, intrepidity, and openness toward encountering the unexpected are the most important impulses in making a decision to advance into unknown terrain. The expedition itself, by contrast, is a concrete operation that requires precise planning, practical thinking, and pragmatic action—involving direct experience. The results of an expedition are dependent on the way its progression was dealt with, and this engenders discrepancies between map and path, idea and reality. On each expedition, new data is collected and knowledge is generated or corrected.

In GAM.13 Spatial Expeditions, the method of expedition is invoked to place a focus not on distant, unknown spaces, but rather on the built space surrounding us—with the idea of re-exploring it from a different vantage point and/or unfamiliar point of view. What seems most promising to us in the process are the non-visual approaches for discovering something new in the seemingly familiar.

The perception of space with all of our senses, among other things, provides the foundation for phenomenological research. One might therefore think that spatial-phenomenological considerations are a main component not only of every analysis of architecture, but also of every architectural design decision. However, within the discipline of architecture there is no continual discourse on the physically experienceable characteristics of space and its atmospheric qualities, as is quite common in most other disciplines. Peter Zumthor’s paradigmatic books Thinking Architecture and Atmospheres, which focus on a spatial-phenomenological conception of architecture, count among the few exceptions. What is more, the voices of non-design- related disciplines dominate current scientific studies. Architectural discourses on spatial experience and atmosphere usually remain limited to the virtual realm, where the experiential sites always remain fictive. A focus on simulated space, however, inevitably raises the question as to the meaning of real spaces and their discovery in an already charted world. These determinations have inspired us to move elementary parameters of spatial perception back to the heart of reflection on architecture, for they harbor conclusions about spatial design per se. Here, the method of expedition facilitates an experimental approach and offers a chance to arrive at new insights and viewpoints on built space, as well as practices geared toward its exploration.

When we speak of the familiar, we mean something with which we are well acquainted or accustomed. Concentrating our thoughts on a less-heeded facet of what is familiar to us may give rise to new insights or changes in terms of the way we deal with matter. Therefore, in the first part of GAM.13Reading Environments—we approximate already familiar issues in unusual ways. Karen van den Berg and Christina Buck provide a short overview of the concept of space, examining how it is negotiated in various disciplines, and introduce a series of experimental explorations of space in architecture. Eric Ellingsen invites us to accompany him on one of his expeditions through the Greek city of Thessaloniki and to join him in turning one’s own perception upside-down. Ephemeral elements like sound and smell are of decisive importance for the general perception of space, but they are usually ignored. Irmgard Frank explores the smell of materials creating space, thus lending them a higher degree of consequence. Sam Auinger and Dietmar Offenhuber investigate the acoustic profile of cities, calling to our attention the soundscapes that often exist subliminally and thereby sensitizing us to the auditive qualities of space and site. Finally, Gabi Schillig solely references the power of existing spaces that, through artistic interventions, become dialogical spaces and thus invite individuals entering the space to interact with it.

Expeditions are also journeys into the unknown with the goal of discovering something new. The uncertainty of what to expect, the willingness to embark on detours and accept setbacks, is offset by the chance of tapping into something visionary.

In the second part of GAM.13Exploring Terrains—various tools and conceptual approaches are applied to pursue unexplored realms. Of focus in the conversation with Claudia Gerhäusser and Sebastian Behmann is the experimental approach of Studio Other Spaces, illustrated by example of the project Ilulissat Icefjord, where the designing architects were confronted with utterly new conditions. Neeraj Bhatia works with the ephemeral building material of air and its temperature to create space without a physically built equivalent, choreographing the interactions of people within this context. Interaction between people and temperature zones in turn provokes interaction among people. Considering the paradigm shift in the relationship between nature and man leading toward an understanding between two reciprocally influencing systems, we are presently facing new challenges in building. Klaus K. Loenhart discusses the Austrian Pavilion at EXPO Milano 2015, including which technical means were employed to achieve the desired spatial atmosphere and which new insights were gained regarding life in the Anthropocene. Samuel Zwerger describes a project by the musician Iannis Xenakis, which was groundbreaking at the time of its inception. The Philips Pavilion built in 1958 for the EXPO in Brussels was a expedition of design, lending architectural form to musical notation. And with a view to the climatic demands made on space, Philippe Rahm has developed new spatial constellations that also invite users on an expedition into the unknown. Also novel, in our view, is the way in which the artist and architect group Numen/For Use creates spaces. Without construction and with soft materials, they generate statically durable and accessible spaces sans ground contact.

The third and last part of GAM.13Mapping Transitions—documents expeditions that thematize change and are therefore not codified. They chronicle discoveries that cannot be grasped at first glance but that actually lead from one state into another. This also includes the ambiguous and contradictory qualities of spaces. Malcolm McCullough delves into new practices for imagining space and analyzes the extent to which built space is changed by “ambient” information as engendered by a world experienced through the media. He presages a spatial-phenomenological development that will also involve architectural design in the future. Franziska Hederer analyzes Veronika Mayerböck’s light and sound performances with and in space, which are influenced by her training as architect and are interwoven with her practice of dance. Shreepad Joglekar’s photo essay allows us to accompany him on an expedition to the live-fire village at a US military base, where fictions become real and the real becomes fictive. Marta Traquino transforms, through artistic intervention, an apartment in Lisbon into a state of absurdity and confronts visitors with the uncertainty and also the curiosity that open doors evoke within us. In the photo series by Martin Grabner about Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur, it ultimately becomes clear how the readability of space is transmuted and one’s perception of this space altered when faced with spatial appropriation that deviates from everyday life.

Inherent to each individual discipline is a unique perspective on reality. Moving out of this system of reference, through thought and action, into other referential systems provides an opportunity to detect new realities and to open up windows to—thought and built—spaces of the future. We started with an aspiration to set foot in marginal areas, to trace the not-quite-yet identifiable, the perceivable that is initially blurry, and now hope to have succeeded in making a contribution to this subject with the thematic focus of GAM.13 Spatial Expeditions.

As has been the case for many years now, the thematic contributions are followed by reviews of current publications that we consider relevant to architectural discourse. This time the spectrum includes theory of design and perception, research methods for architects, a media analysis of the architectural book, urban-planning theory and landscape architecture, as well as architectural- historical topics, with new releases about reform architecture around 1900, the planning of concentration camps, and the work of Yona Friedman covering a very broad field.

GAM.13 is rounded out by the “Faculty News,” which offers an impression of the important events and activity in the Faculty of Architecture at Graz University of Technology over the past year. Now complementing the information provided about personal matters, publications, prizes, exhibitions, and events is the new category of research, meant to highlight the achievements of our Faculty in this area that have been on the rise for a considerable amount of time. Our plans for GAM.14, set for publication in April 2018, are detailed in the “Call for Papers” on the last pages of this volume.

With this edition, GAM is being published for the first time by JOVIS, Berlin, which has developed in recent years to be- come one of the most important architecture publishers with distribution networks in Asia and America. As a bilingual magazine, we consider ourselves to be in especially good hands with JOVIS and are looking forward to continued collaboration.

We are grateful to our supporters and also extend our gratitude to all members of our Faculty and to the international authors who have contributed to the success of this edition with their broad expertise. We wish you a pleasant reading experience.