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  • KarlsPlatz I & II

    Gilles RETSIN, "KarlsPlatz I & II."
    london UNITED KINGDOM

    Karls Platz I & II are two unsubmitted proposals which were worked out for the competition for a new museum at the historic Karlsplatz in Vienna. Both proposals make are based on the same decision to arrange the museum program over three large floor slabs. Both proposals are partially based on the repetition of a single, discrete element which is then assembled into a highly differentiated building.

    KarlsPlatz I is a composition of 54782 strands with a hexagonal section. These elements can only combine under a standardized ninety-degree angle, and can slide along the edge surfaces. They are combined with a simple, light-timber truss with a smaller diameter. A dialectic is established between the heavy, black, hexagonal strata and the more airy, light trusses. A part of the trusses becomes non-linear, generating a much more ornamental cloud along the ceilings. The building deliberately has no articulated facade. The resulting geometry is raw and systemic, yet messy and open-ended, blurring the edge and figure of the building.

    KarlPlatz II is a composition of 36248 arrow-shaped tiles. These elements aggregate with a male-female connection at the ends, and have a sliding connection along their edges. A percentage of these tiles is customized, which allows for more tolerance in the corners. Radical shifts in direction are stablished through these customized tiles. A series of articulated V-shaped columns support the three main levels, creating a continuous structure throughout the building. The articulations of these columns continue to form beams. Similar to KarlsPlatz I, the building has no defined facade, and seems to be rather a section then a finished structure. The figure is undefined and diffused.

    Both projects advanced the argument of a new type of digitally intelligent architecture which is fundamentally based on the notion of the discrete, autonomous part: a mereological approach. The overall building is a result of the constraints and design agency embedded in the parts. Differentiation is a result of the algorithmic organization of the primitive building elements. Parts are situated on the same ontological plane as the whole: they are both autonomous and have a meaning and existence without each other. This is an idea of a flat-ontology: parts are not mere subdivisions of the whole, and the whole is not a mere aggregation of parts. The resulting complex part-to-whole relationship is a so called “strange mereology,” where the whole is part of a part. Tectonically, both Karlsplatz I and II are raw and undecorated: there is no cladding, no facade, no articulation. Different from modernist prefabrication, there are no predefined types such as walls, columns or stairs. The basic building element is similar to a lego: an abstract building piece which only gains meaning after its combination with more elements.

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