Material Obsessions
Tenets Publications
Archive Information
The Beginning and the End at Once
The Process is the Idea
The Formwork is Architecture
The Process of Construction is a Performance
The Building Makes Its Site

Imagine the feeling of reading a book. It captivates you to the point where you can’t stop reading, you need to know what happens on the next page until all of a sudden you get to the last paragraph, the last sentence, the last words. You were dying to get to those last words, but ultimately those words mean nothing without all the words that came before it. The way I understand architecture is like this. The process of making architecture is to imagine the end and work backwards to figure out how to construct the image we built in our head. I think without process our understanding of architecture is incomplete. This feeling drove the idea of being able to see the beginning and the end at once. I think it is a beautiful contradiction because you can never have both at the same time. The series of construction superimpositions are born directly out of this idea.

Of the series of superimpositions, three stand out to me as the most significant: Ronchamp by Le Corbusier, the Bruder Klaus Chapel by Peter Zumthor, and the Oberrealta Chapel by Christian Kerez, coincidentally three chapels. Each building has a unique formwork. Ronchamp’s formwork looks more like shipbuilding than building- making. Bruder Klaus’ formwork is for a building made from the inside out, and its material and process are unique in its own right: a teepee made from logs and burned for removal. The formwork for the Oberrealta Chapel is maybe the most recognizable as it is the outline of the formed space. I think these are also the most significant because they deal with the idea of casting a building in concrete.

Around the time of making the series of superimpositions, I happened upon the book Excavating the Future City, a monograph of Japanese photographer Naoya Hatakeyama’s work. It was like divine intervention. I was walking through the stacks in the Art and Architecture Library when the title caught my eye. Hatakeyama’s photo essay of mine blasts absolutely captivated me, and the way he spoke of them resonated with the work I was doing- trying to visualize the beginning and the end at once through freezing moments of the process in time. The blasts also intrigued me because of the role of chance in their form. Explosives and gravity were the only players in the formation of the moving rock. This aspect of the blasts gives profound meaning to Hatakeyama’s work. On one hand the blasts must be photographed because that is the only way to make them permanent, while on the other hand each blast is different; no blast can be replicated. In this way the photographs act to document and preserve.

These questions of making the process permanent made me want to leave a physical trace of the process in building so that, in a way, you could see the beginning and the end at once. Of course, this could never be as true of a representation of this idea as the superimpositions are, but it might provoke the viewer into imagining how the building began and where it might be going in time. The formwork should be made from a material that becomes a part of the building. In other words, the process is architecture.