Materiality is a tool in which should be incorporated into the performative deign, but also allows a design to enhance a form or space and invoke different emotions.
"First, material artifacts engage us with all our senses. Materiality comprise physical properties such as texture (roughness or smoothness, details), geometry (size, shape, proportion, location in space, and arrangement in relation to other objects), material (weight, rigidity, plasticity), energy (temperature, moisture), as well as dynamic properties. Many of these properties are 'dimensions of touch'. Secondly, our interactions with materials are not just 'physical' but they spur our thinking, help us communicate ideas that would be difficult to communicate through words alone, adding an 'experiential' dimension to our action. While the concept of affordances of artifacts is fundamental to an analysis of the use of material artifacts, it is not sufficient for addressing the very intricate interrelationships that emerge in people's interactions with and through artifacts." (Giulio Jacucci)
Materiality and technology can go work together to develop a new sense of space and better connect the structure to the people within it. If you create an interactive space using forward technology, people can physically engage with a structure and find something intriguing to generate a sensual space in which people can connect. This creates an effect of plasticity to give a human scale three dimensionality people can relate to better. This is produced by installations and smaller scale designs to fit within the larger structure and become more of an art than architecture. The point of installations is to develop a way in which people can better understand the conceptual background of architecture and see that it's a larger scale piece of art.
Exhibition design mirrors the process of architectural design at a much smaller scale and encourages the enhancement of spaces by adding a new element of intrigue. The benefit of installations is that they can be either permanent or temporary and allow architects to hone in on their skills by focusing on a much smaller scale project to concentrate on details. Exhibition design and temporary installations are the second way to create these unique spaces and are the focus of today's architectural role to society. A temporary installation helps the designer most by allowing them to test materials and concepts on a smaller scale to see how people respond and give the designers feedback on whether or not the design would work on a larger scale.
"During their short-lived existences, these installations are visited by a large number of people, allowing the architect to evaluate how well the proposal functions and whether or not it is accepted by the general public. Their temporary quality also means that they can be easily forgotten if unsuccessful. Today this type of construction has become a model to follow when it comes to projecting permanent buildings: solutions, which adapt to a low budget, a quick construction process, and even the need to be transportable, have been used by many architects in the conception of perennial buildings. The Tomihiro Museum is a good example, since the simplicity of the assembly process draws on an ephemeral construction." (Bonet)
If you were to use different case studies to explore the success of exhibition design, one to focus on is the Blur Building designed by Diller Scofidio Renfro. This is a lucrative design, which incorporates materiality, or immateriality in this example, research, environmental progress, evokes personal experience and connectivity, and performative design in one exhibition. The project is meant to be an experiment in de-emphasis on an environmental scale, used to awaken the senses and create a unique experience in an otherwise improbable scenario. The construction itself is a simple lightweight structure spanning 300 feet wide by 200 feet long and 75 feet tall, with four columns supporting the design. The essence of the project is based on the immateriality and the sensual experience meant to gain from it. The structure is a pier in Lake Neuchatel, which is covered in a fog mass caused by both natural and manmade forces. The water is exposed through 35,000 high-pressure nozzles and adjusts with the weather accordingly to create a scenario in which your senses are tampered with. The white noise created by the water is all you hear and your sight tampered with by allowing limited visibility. You are forced to adjust accordingly and become a part of the building because the mist is the only material on the building and there is nothing inside to see. The focus is purely on a personal level of how you experience this unique setting by allowing you to immerse yourself with all five senses.
A different type of temporary installation is one that enhances a pre-existing structure, for example the collaboration of P-a-T-T-E-R-N-S studio and Washington University's advanced digital fabrication studios project "Stalactile," which is installed in a staircase in Givens Hall of Washington University. The project interacts with the site by first being visible from the exterior of the building and then again between the second and third floors on the stairwell, incorporating with the ceiling as well as part of the skylight, to give an illusion of cutting through the building. The installation is based on a patterned tiling system based on six tile shapes, unwrapping and creating a continuous composition within the building. The concept of an installation such as this is to give the opportunity to create a temporary way to intertwine an existing space without altering it and giving it a new look, allowing the architect to stretch into a more artistic realm.
These temporary exhibitions are a great way to push forward for architects, but the natural path for architects is to design buildings. I believe using the installations as practice, designers are beginning to use the methodologies from the temporary designs and incorporating them into the permanent structures, researching and creating a thorough concept to follow through to allow for a long lasting, impressive design to push us into the future. Through pragmatic performative design and research techniques, there have been some good examples created recently to guide the way toward a positive future for architects and designers. 41 Cooper Square, a new academic building for Cooper Union designed by Morphosis is an excellent example of combining performative design, concept and unique spaces which was finished only a couple years ago.
The idea behind the space was to create a vertical interior piazza that is organized around the central atrium, which encourages an informal social interaction to promote creative and intellectual exchange amongst the college's three different schools, which have never before been housed in the same building. The structure is both functional and intriguing, creating different ways of interaction between the occupants with a four-storey atrium meant as a stairwell, a social and interactive space, and also a lecture area to encourage educational dialogue. Beyond the staircase, there are sky bridges, social gathering places, and a skip-stop elevator system, which encourages circulation throughout the grand staircase by only stopping on the first, fifth, and eighth floors. To blend in at site, the materiality becomes transparent to allow for a sense of communication and openness with the community. The structure was also developed with performative design in mind, using the atrium to capture light and control interior temperatures; the material choices also provide for critical interior environmental control with perforation and thicknesses based on location on site. To further the environmental considerations, the structure was the first academic laboratory building in New York City to be LEED Platinum certified. The central atrium space not only allows for communication between occupants, but also improves airflow and circulation of daylight, allowing over seventy-five percent of the buildings regularly occupied spaces to be naturally lit.
While most architects and designers have seemed to distance themselves from the essential purpose of quality design, a few are beginning to make their way back to the quality and thought deserved by the profession. These examples have shown how architects are starting to focus more on design again and how to accomplish quality without overly concerning themselves with cheap functionality. Using the design skills gained over the years and the technology at the architect's disposal, there are plausible ways of creating sensual, authentic and idealized structure. By combining the art of temporary and permanence in structures and concept design, architects can overcome this dilemma they've seemed to sag into.
The role for architects today is to focus on concept and follow through with performative and interactive designs in which people can connect and have a personal experience. A great architect not only designs a functional space, but the space needs to take into consideration many factors to become a successful space in which people are drawn to. This is accomplished by researching site, materiality, concept, sustainability, structure, form and layout. There are many pieces to the…