We must occupy the glitches and malfunctions of an ordered society, so as to resist becoming the bearers of our own shackles.  We must be able to choose for ourselves whether or not we want to live in such heavily mediated environs and for that choice to be possible we must build alternatives.  Our choices are quickly disappearing, indeed if they ever did exist, in the name of efficient, equitable, sustainable, hygienic, high-performing environments.  We advance the idea that a participatory and engaging architecture can re-establish a sense of being, by constituting an active citizen that is empowered to take control of his or her environment.  The only way this is possible is by creating a weak architecture.

[] M. Byrne, 2010

This thesis revolves around the exploration of an architectural manifestation of the negative.  In a world that seems to be driving more towards the erasure of all things shadowy, the thread to follow is aimed at the development of these “other” spaces.  Concurrently, it seeks to find the possibilities in error, the engaging aspects of weakness, the potential not frequently examined within darkness.  The thesis attempts to construct alternate environments for alternate mind sets living within alternate lifestyles and holding alternate belief systems.  It does not claim to be a panacea for that which it opposes.  In no way shape or form does it express an ability to change the world.  Rather, simply to create the possibility for another.    It has been called free space, loose space, third space, junk space, etc. in which we believe true freedom, deeper meaning, and a broadened discourse exist.  The thesis will attempt to delve into shadows and discover, or re-discover as the case may be, what insights into the human condition might dwell therein.

We believe that through the exploration of the negative, the feral, we are better able to understand the world in which we live.  It is under this conviction that we create space.

FERAL Architecture.  The ideas embodied by such an architecture inherently operate outside of typical contemporary practice with its complicit involvement in the creation of passive, glossy, safe, and clean environments.  A FERAL architectural scenario involves the development of agency on the part of the occupants through the creation of a weak architecture.  This agency is not always a literal and physical engagement, but can operate on a subconscious yet haptic level.  Concurrent operations approach the possibility of creating a space that is indicative of a levels of “darkness” within the human condition that, we think, should be allowed to flourish in order achieve a greater understanding of and within that condition.

A FERAL architecture approaches design through a series of lenses that tend towards the narrative while maintaining a grounded-ness in an attachment to visceral reality.  This combination often reflects a paradox found within our contemporary society; the ‘real’ can so quickly become bastardized into the ‘unreal’ or the ‘surreal’ that its truest expressions can only be understood through strangeness, in the Warholian sense.  To clarify, the unquestioning acceptance of a truly abnormal society becomes a gauge by which we find true sickness.  As long as this is the case, the only way to return to the real is to become bizarre in the eyes of this abnormal society.  Say the Dada-ists, “Our position seems to be emanating from the shock of finding ourselves in this absurd modern condition.”

Specifically in relation to the contemporary discourse, a FERAL architecture intentionally removes itself from the scientific perspective that seems to be prevalent.  The architect as reductionist creates spaces that lack the inherent complexity and difficulty that is representative of a lived condition.  Reducing increasingly complex subjects into malleable diagrams that can be further distilled into an architectural form and vocabulary robs those subjects of their richness and robustness.  To attempt a conveyance of these broad, diverse subjects with an architecture that is increasingly less detailed and less articulated seems to be a fool’s errand.  Simultaneously, the results of current practices are often entirely too dependent upon the visual, which can only augment the superficiality being created.  While vision is only an extension of touch, touch is reduced to a singular sensation of ‘smoothness’ that is incapable of a more real experience of space.  Conversely, the architect’s role should involve the opening of possibilities and interpretations of space, allowing for moments of reflection and operation for the occupant.

Frequently when dealing with a FERAL architecture, the “problem of form” is a rather low priority.  In the creation of space, form often is discovered as opposed to planned.  We find that a feral architecture that is critically engaged with the contemporary discourse is not anti-technological as the title may imply, but rather uses the complexity of technology as a joint that can be manipulated as an activating device.  The premise behind the ideas of “weakness” involves that precise distinction.  It is through the creation of complexity that we arrive at an environment that contains the fissures in which we operate.  Technology and its expression are seen as crucial elements in the usage of these fissures rather than its employment as a veil.


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