technical school campus
The Bronx, New York
advisor: Stan Allen
graduate thesis, winter 2014
This thesis proposes a way of making architecture not by inventing new forms, but by managing forms that already exist. The work deals with direct repetition of the things at hand. Stolen ideas are transformed through a series of reframing techniques: flipping, cutting, inverting, shifting, and mirroring things, making difference out of sameness, originals out of copies.
Copying has always been integral to architecture, which, as a modern intellectual discipline, began with the study and imitation of buildings from classical antiquity. This thesis differentiates itself from previous theories of copying. One such theory is typology, which proposes that architectural ideas are grouped together in abstract categories. A new instance of a given type is inherently a copy, but the abstractness of the type allows for a great deal of invention. Typology is supposed to ensure that cultural memory remains intact across stylistic changes. However, typology’s abstraction seeks to reduce buildings to Platonic ideals, relying on problematic notions of form’s universality. In opposition to this universal idealism, this thesis uses copying to highlight the material reality of imperfect things.
This work also differentiates itself from historicist quotation. Quotation is addressed to an audience of insiders, excluding those who lack the erudite knowledge of historical precedents. Instead, the logic of this project is meant to be immediately apprehensible. This legibility is achieved through the appropriation of things in the immediate context. But rather than the polite deference characteristic of dogmatic contextualism, this project seeks to transform its context through the uncanny experience of duplication.