critic: M. Casey REHM.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Oscar ABRAHAMSSON & Jacob WAAS: The Innovation Center is a speculative proposal for the El Bulli Research Campus in Cala Montjoi, Catalonia that explores complex systems and Baroque geometry as tools in creating an artificial rival to nature.
Our project addresses its relationship to the rural countryside, left behind by urbanization and long excluded from architectural discourse. Instead of trying to imitate or integrate the romantic notions of the natural, we are embracing the rapid and radical change of the European countryside with the understanding that the countryside of today is without doubt man-made: not natural.
We are showcasing this artificiality by withdrawing from the surroundings and turning inward, to create a discrete and internalized world for El Bulli gastronomy. This internalized world is designed to enable El Bulli to not only to house its research and production but also to allow the same research and production to affect the built environment.
Our system is derived from the Baroque geometry of Francesco Borromini, employed at different intensities and scales throughout the building using different computational systems operating at multiple scales. At the large scale, taking from the Platonic geometry of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, a series of delaminated volumes are nested within an exterior envelope; sometimes tightly fit and sometimes loosely fit, these creatw interstitial spaces that fit the programmatic function of this live-research-education facility. The interstitial space becomes a separation of the world and the interior. At certain points, the interior system breaks through and dissolves the envelope, exposing the intricate shapes of the internal volume. The separation of the different layers are never discrete, but interweave with one another, always indexing each other in different ways.
The outcome is a building that is based on architectural relationships but exhibits intricacies usually associated with systems found in nature; thus, it creates a crossbreed of (synthetically) organic complexity and architectural intention. This is an attempt at questioning the romantic notion of what is natural but also an attempt of incorporating the current technological tools that, at a root level, can manipulate geometries to achieve multiple intensities of detail.
The corrupted interior system, producing an eroding effect on the figure of architecture, creates cavities and niches that provide a surface for the cultivation required by the El Bulli research. By integrating and informing architectural systems with systems of organic matter, we want to obscure the relationship between a synthetic nature and the organic, between the living and the nonliving.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
OA & JW: Francesco Borromini; Daniel Libeskind’s drawings from the AA, Chamber Works; Giulio Romano, Palazzo Te; Eugene Stoermer and the theory of the Anthropocene; and Ferran Adria and El Bulli.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
OA & JW: Reading Manuel DeLanda, Philosophy and Simulation and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus; listening to Todd Gannon; and watching Christopher Nolan.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
OA & JW: Akiko Yamashita, Gilles Retsin, Manuel Jiménez García, and José Sanchez.
Additional credits and links:
Processing (Ben Fry and Casey Reas).
Pixel-Drifter (Dmitriy Krotevich).