Farshid Moussavi RA will curate the Architecture Gallery of next year’s Summer Exhibition. Here, she offers some thoughts and guidance for those considering submitting their work.
In 2017, the Architecture Room at the RA Summer Exhibition will celebrate architecture as an “instruction-based art”.
A building’s “architecture” is its assemblage; the way that it brings all of its physical elements together with its colours, textures, shapes and forms to make rooms and open spaces with a distinct presence or “thisness”, whilst incorporating the many separate, distinct and irreconcilable challenges that a building must address today such as space planning, security, rights-of-light, fire engineering, sustainability engineering, façade engineering or health and safety. Despite the presence of constraints of many kinds – size, cost, time, regulations etc. – the architect must determine how the different disciplines are to interrelate, what is to be experienced and how, what is to become visible and not visible, audible and inaudible, and what will be present or absent in people’s experiences of buildings as they go about their everyday activities.
Whereas a painting is the final thing a painter produces and a sculpture the final thing a sculptor produces, the architect’s final act does not result in the building itself, but a set of instructions for the architecture of the building. These are then delivered not in the confines of the gallery, but on a site that is fully exposed to the elements, as well as the dynamics of several years that it takes for hundreds, if not thousands, of builders to carry out the instructions. Meanwhile, the architect remains both legally and morally accountable for the type of attachments his or her instructions lead to between the building and people and things that come to engage with its architecture.
Construction coordination drawings, as distinct from images and maquettes which architects use to represent conceptual ideas and convey the image of the intended building to its patrons and users, are the spaces in which architects assemble and communicate their instructions. In them, architects make practical as well as aesthetic decisions, and describe precisely how all the elements of a building, such as pipes, studs, conduit, expansion joints, ducts, doors, windows, structure, stairs, lighting fixtures, walls, roofs etc. are to be assembled, and what part they are to play in the experience of a building’s architecture. Construction coordination drawings therefore show the full complexity of a building, like an X-ray, beyond the visible elements of a building.
Contributors/exhibitors are invited to send in construction coordination drawings that show the interrelationships and full complexity of the different systems and parts of buildings, preferably with each system colour coded. Such drawings will present a rare view of buildings to the public, as if inviting them ‘backstage" in a theatre.