Changing Places - Re:make  

Tchotchkes, Knick-knacks, and Near-Models or a Celebration of All the Clutter in Architecture Offices

Tchotchkes, Knick-knacks, and Near-Models or a Celebration of All the Clutter in Architecture Offices 
By Jonathan Rieke
M.Arch, Graduate School of Design at Harvard University
 

It's a long title for a project with a relatively simple thesis and a straightforward ambition: to shake up the way in which design processes produce formal outcomes.  This work attempts to theorize and operationalize the role of architectural Tchotchkes – small models or objects that often sit on an architects’ desk – within the space of architectural practice.

By inserting the Tchotchke into the design process surrounding an otherwise straightforward office building, this thesis functions as a performance of the recursive effects that this disruptive insertion generates at all scales of design decision making.

(Tchotchkes, Knick-knacks, and Near-Models or a Celebration of All the Clutter in Architecture Offices, Jonathan Rieke)

The Tchotchke functions as a contaminatio in the process of design, thus producing different outcomes than those at which one might typically arrive. As such, it results in a different formal solution and the production of a different place, perhaps a Changed Place, than that which would have been produced sans-Tchotchke.

(Tchotchkes, Knick-knacks, and Near-Models or a Celebration of All the Clutter in Architecture Offices, Jonathan Rieke)

Re:make

For the Tchotchke to become operative in the practice of design, it must press upon the subjectivity of the designer in juxtaposition to a set of a priori constraints or parameters which are defined in the project brief. The Tchotchke’s power 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.

(Tchotchkes, Knick-knacks, and Near-Models or a Celebration of All the Clutter in Architecture Offices, Jonathan Rieke)

Against the concerns of the immediate, a sufficiently dense environment of Tchotchkes, knick-knacks and near-models serves as both a reminder of non-straightforward solutions to design problems and distractions from the mundane concerns of pragmatism. In a sense, change the environment to remake the subjectivity of the author and their practice of design.

The changing place of architectural practice

It is cliché, albeit true, to point out that today architectural practice can occur almost anywhere. A case in point: Beatriz Colomina recently conducted a research seminar at the Berlage entitled “The Bed in the Age of Social Media” based on the assertion that the bed is a new type of workspace or office.

(Tchotchkes, Knick-knacks, and Near-Models or a Celebration of All the Clutter in Architecture Offices, Jonathan Rieke)

If the bed, historically the ultimate place of relaxation and rest, is today the place where work is done, the logical conclusion might be that architectural work can occur anyplace. What is also true is that anyplace is not no-place, and the specific characteristics of the environment in which architectural work is undertaken ultimately feedback into the work itself, albiet in a non-straightforward and gentle way.

(Tchotchkes, Knick-knacks, and Near-Models or a Celebration of All the Clutter in Architecture Offices, Jonathan Rieke)

Perhaps we may begin to understand typologies of architectural practice as a consequence of the places where they occur. For instance, there may develop a series of “bedroom” practices, which have a different DNA than “office” practices, which also differ from “laboratory” practices, and so on.

Bio

Jonathan Rieke is the 2017 Migg Caulkins Urban Visiting Professor at the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University. Jonathan received his M.Arch from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where he was awarded the James Templeton Kelley Prize. He received his B.S. in architecture at The Ohio State University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with Distinction. Prior to joining the Knowlton School, Jonathan worked as a designer for numerous offices including The Los Angeles Design Group (TheLADG), Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), and Morphosis Architects. Jonathan’s work has been exhibited at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Jonathan is a founding member of the design firm mr Studio.

jon@mrstudio.us

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