Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (A.U.Th)
critic: Anastasios TELLIOS
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Georgios TSAKIRIDIS & Efthymia Dimitra KOTSANI: The project “Lapis Callidus” engages with the re-negotiation of spatial, architectural, functional and eventually, social structures that emerge from the blurring boundaries between contemporary definitions of the physical world in natural and artificial milieus. The project suggests the introduction of a highly sophisticated robotic system with swarm-like behaviour properties, in an inherently dystopic territory, such as the abandoned sulphur mines, located in a volcanic subterranean area called ‘Paliorema’ on the Greek island of Milos.
Sulphur and its natural and fictional attributes, in a creative coexistence with technology have been the architectural medium for the exploration and research of new ways of habitation.
Methodology for the matter /// The architectural narrative is developed in an alienating ‘physis’ (nature), where every parameter is set to the extreme, and the causal relation between materiality and (human) reaction, is expressed through a kind of ‘struggle for survival’. The key factor in this ambiguous equilibrium is the natural element of Sulphur, through its multitude of forms and connotations. Therefore, the process initiated with the thorough study of the chemical and physical properties of the element S (sulphur), along with its actual, but sometimes fictional and historical relations to the human activity. Thus, the outcome of this research concluded on the emphases of the highly symbolic character of sulphur, throughout the human history, apart from its fundamental role in the contemporary, world wide industrial production. The project speculates on the articulation of the, inherently complex, system of sulphur-crystalline structures, through the coding/de-coding of the information, which is concentrated and exchanged on the widest contemporary ‘archive of knowledge’, the digital world of an immaterial network like the Web.
Based on the material polymorphism of Sulphur, the information is ‘subjected’ in a physical gradual deterioration -up to its complete ‘erase’- acting as a form of ‘natural’ hacking and, eventually, implying the relative role of the ‘archivist’ and the archive itself.
Advanced design tools /// The potential architectural rhetoric that emerges from the engagement with this multi-sensory system is, unavoidably, connected with a simultaneous research on possible tooling techniques, which stimulate radical material (trans)formations. The implementation of an experimenting prototype multitasking-network of robotic units, as the major fabricating mechanism, enables the performance of the system (sulphuric crystal breeding formations).
The resulting transformations of its territorial surrounding (an artificially generated cave-network system), through the combined processes of mining and chemical reactions, signify the materialized traces of its own ‘struggle for survival’. The profound, somatic memory of cave spatiality is re-inscribed, through the merging of new materialities and the directed instrumentation of technological abundance.
Spatial speculations /// The evolving architecture cites for the redefining of the contemporary ‘Homo Ludens’, in the emerging reality, between the ubiquitous, invisible, cyber world and the apparent, material expression of nature. Additionally, a series of atmospheric, spatial episodes and their true, real-time physical documentation, offers a revisiting of material as well as immaterial architectonic qualities, resonating values of architecture, rooting back as far in the past as Vitruvius’s ‘firmitas, utilitas, venustas’. And strangely enough, this transitionary ability of design research to address issues of non-matter is ultimately paved by the study of sheer sulphuric matter.
B. Bensaude-Vincent, W.R. Newman, The Artificial and The Natural: An Evolving Polarity, Massachusetts, The MIT Press, 2007
D. Gissen, Subnature: Architecture’s other Environments, New York, Princeton Architectural Press, 2009
Meyer B., Elemental Sulphur: Chemistry & Physics, Interscience Publishers, 1965
Newman W.R., Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2004
Voss P. J., Werner M. L., The Poetics of the Archive, Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University, 1999
K. C. Bloomer & C. W. Moore, Body, memory and architecture, Yale University Press, 1977
S. Kontaratos, The experience of the architectural space and the somatic shape, Kastaniotis, Athens, 1983
sP: What or who influenced this project?
GT & EDK: The landscapes of Milos, Greece, and Naica Caves in Mexico; the work of R&Sie(n), Neil Spiller, Perry Hall, Tokujin Yoshioka, and Roger Hiorns.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
GT & EDK: Reading Aristotle, Eduardo Kac, François Roche, Felix Guattari & Gilles Deleuze, Paul Valery, Roger Garaudy. Listening to The King of Limbs by Radiohead. Watching The Tree of Life, Enter the Void, The Dark City, and Stalker.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
GT & EDK: Jose Sanchez, Softkill Design, UnitedVisualArtists, Factory Fifteen, Fotis Sagonas, and Wayne McGregor.
Additional credits and links:
Special thanks to Dimitris Chatzidimitriou, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, A.U.Th.