Much architecture remains unbuilt. Either the reasons are economic, interesting, or it is too visionary architecture. The Roca Gallery in London represents just that, ‘drawn’ architecture.
In fact, it is unusual that he was the architect who made the proposal for the cenotaph to Isaac Newton French. It was also the most famous work by Étienne-Louis Boullée (1728-1799), although he also had many realized projects. Perhaps the matter is not so unusual when we consider how the French were leaders in the Enlightenment, and Isaac Newton was still considered one of the key figures of the Enlightenment 50 years after his death.
Boulée envisioned the building as a gigantic sphere with a diameter of 150 meters, thus taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza, which was impossible to build at the end of the 18th century. He argued that the sphere was the most natural and beautiful shape and therefore appropriate for Newton’s tomb. In 1784, he had special plans with light. The night effect was supposed to be produced during the day by small holes in the sphere, through which daylight would come and thus the effect of the night sky would be created. At night, a glittering armillary sphere (a model of a celestial sphere) suspended inside should produce a spectacular effect.
Contemporaries were already fascinatedIn the case of Isaac Newton’s proposal for a cenotaph, which became famous among the profession in 1784 due to the reproduced graphics showing the project, it is certainly one of the most beautiful and spectacular architectural projects that remained unrealized.
The same applies to the idea of a glass skyscraper on Friedrichstraße in Berlin, which he presented in 1922 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Due to copyright, we can only offer you here link to visualizationbut not project images.
Vanishing Points exhibitionWell, the exhibition in London is mainly dedicated to contemporary architects, who increasingly use the communication network Instagram as a medium of communication. One of the featured authors is an architect and illustrator Hamza Shaikh, who has more than 30,000 followers on Instagram, but is otherwise an architect at the Gensler office in San Francisco, a veritable global factory of architecture. What is also interesting about him is that, despite the computer tools, he still basically uses pencil and paper. Even today, this remains the basis of architectural design. Thus, the basis of his work presented in the Roca gallery is a pencil drawing, which is then digitally processed.
Hamza invited a few more ‘approximately’ peers to the exhibition in London. Interestingly, most of the projects do not look the least bit modern. One of the architects even deals with Breuglovim Tower of Babel. Some projects are also quite abstract, not buildable. An example of this is the idea for gardens in the air Neil Siller or a cacophony of motifs Perry Kulper.
The power is in experimentationHamza experiments with different drawing techniques, including acrylic, and represents the opinion: “I think the most powerful images come from experimenting with new technologies, which we combine with traditional drawing processes and techniques. Architects embrace the digital future, but also deeply respect the past. My work and this exhibition reflect that well. The past is fleeting, but always somewhere on the horizon; that’s why we called the exhibition Vanishing Points.”
Spatial fictionsHe is also an interesting author Clement Luke Laurencioa French-born, Filipino-born architect who even named his website Spatial Fiction, i.e. Spatial fictions. Some of his works look like sketches of ruins, others almost come close to the imaginary and labyrinthine ideas for prisons that he drew on paper in the 18th century Giovanni Battista Piranesi. His masterful but sometimes almost bizarre sketches of stairs and machinery could perhaps be compared to some of the works of the Dutch artist MC Escher.
In collaboration with an organization that collects architectural drawingsThe London exhibition was created in collaboration with the organization Drawing Matter, which explores the role of drawing in architectural theory and practice. At the heart of it all is a collection of thousands of architectural drawings by the organisation, based at the former Shatwell Farm in Somerset, which dates back to around 1720. That’s when it was first marked on a map. The oldest drawings in the collection date back to the 16th century, and of course the collaborators also regularly follow modern production.
As noted on the exhibition’s website, Drawing Matter founder Niall Hobhhaus believes that the exciting thing about architectural drawing is that the authors are ahead of their time. Well, based on what we’ve seen, we could say that sometimes they also daydream about an imaginary past.
Hamza Shaik believes that architecture is entering a new era. The essential change is said to be the way in which people imagine and communicate architecture; that architecture reaches a much larger audience through social media. Let’s just wait to see what artificial intelligence will bring to architectural design. So let’s wait…
On view until July 29.