Changing Places  

From the apparent simplicity of Makerism, to the digital-material hybrid of 3D printing, to the post-human making of bioarchitecture where synthetic life forms design and range matter, the idea and practice of architectural making has rarely been richer, more complicated and more open to political, ecological and social questions.

While digital technology focusses the architect’s and designer’s attention on the screen, to digital designing it’s really just a node in a more extensive creative process. Jonathan Rieke’s re-thinking of making, “Tchotchkes, Knick-knacks, and Near-Models” or a Celebration of All the Clutter in Architecture Offices, takes account of the very immediate network of objects and things in a studio which guide and direct the making of structure – the client brief is folded into this space. “The Tchotchke’s power,” argues Rieke is to “produce an environment, setting, or mise-en-scene in which the connotative effects of color, posture, scale, figure, and reference reshape the more pragmatic or functional concerns which are dictated by project-type and site: square footage, leasing depth, layout, structure, cost, etc.”

Like Jeroeen van Veen in Re: Materialise, Rieke’s project puts back into circulation stuff excluded from the making process, the ‘waste’ of studio clutter. The project repositions ‘making’ as the dynamic non-linear construction that emerges from of a network of things. The last William J. Mitchell, former Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. (1954) Professor of Architecture and Professor of Media Arts and Science at MIT,wrote in Sherry Turkle’s Evocative Objects: things we think with, “As the years went by, and I made myself into an architect and urbanist, I began to understand that objects, narratives, memories, and space are woven into a complex, expanding web—each fragment of which gives meaning to all the others.”  Rieke’s work highlights that in the digital age ideas of ‘making’ (perhaps even ‘making it as an architect) are opening up.

Likewise, Stephanie Ryder’s project Embassy of Mantehas equally seeks to discover in the cracks and folds of architectural practice a methodology for remaking problems of space, territory and identity. “The importance of the role of interdisciplinary influence on architectural practice, as a way of taking cues from unexpected modes, mediums or media, is essential in order to generate a new way of looking at a particular situation,” writes Ryder, “which could address various cultural, economic or environmental possibilities. The value of speculation, critical thinking and fiction-based ideas is that they convey notions of curiosity and chance, that in turn have the ability to access the world at a completely new level.”

The Embassy of Mantenhas is the outcome of making created from the tools of critical and speculative thinking. In a world where there is the danger of nations turning in on themselves these projects show that the boundaries and borders of the most interesting architectural making are no longer closed, architectural making itself becomes the practice of opening borders and boundaries to make richer stories, buildings and people.