“The Endless House is called the “endless” because all ends meet and meet, continuously. It is endless like the human body. (…) The coming of the Endless House is inevitable in a world coming to an end. It is the last refuge for man as a man.” — Frederick Kiesler: “Inside the endless house”, New York, 1966
‘Marcos Cruz is a practising architect who lives and works in London. He is a co-founder of marcosandmarjan, as well as a Lecturer at the Bartlett UCL (Unit 20). His individual research is dedicated to a future vision of the body in architecture, questioning the contemporary relationship between the human flesh and the architectural flesh. In a time when a pervasive discourse about the impact of digital technologies risks turning the architectural ‘skin’ ever more disembodied, his aim is to put forward the notion of a Thick Embodied Flesh by exploring architectural interfaces that are truly inhabitable.
‘Conceptually his work delves into the arena of disgust on which the notion of an aesthetic flesh is standing, and it explores new types of ‘neoplasmatic’ conditions in which the future possibility of a neo-biological flesh lies. He proposes Synthetic Neoplasms as new semi-living entities that are identified as partly designed object and partly living material, in which the line between the natural and the artificial is progressively blurred. Hybrid technologies and interdisciplinary work methodologies are required, leading to a revision of our current architectural practice. In his research Marcos Cruz proposes Flesh as a concept that extends the meaning of skin as one of architecture’s most contemporary metaphors.’ — InteractiveArchitecture.org
‘Technologic advances in science and art are affecting severely the current understanding of the human body. The increase discovery of its spectacularity runs parallel to the understanding of its limits. Recent studies about skin-substitute manufacturing, smart materials and textile engineering have lead to a hybrid construction composed of artificial skin tissue and sophisticated microfibres. In order to make this possible, the project suggests an interdisciplinary process that has as a result acts of design surgery. And although the laboratory-based work of doctors, architects, and civil engineers is in this case rather scientific and related to each device in particular, the design of Walls for Communicating People, in contrary, consciously exploits the unpredictable nature of its aesthetic.
‘Hyperdermis is a project, which explores new aesthetics of walls and membranes in the realm of architectural space and programme. Its practical design is done applied on a project, in which the central issue is the design of inhabitable appliance walls that incorporate several service devices: Storage Capillaries, In-wall Seats, Relaxing Cocoons and Communications Suits. The scenario of Walls for Communicating People is speculative and rather weird: people creep into walls in order to sit, hang or lie in (hidden) chambers that are embedded within flexible and pliable surfaces. While essential everyday functions such as sitting, sleeping or communicating are transferred from traditional room-space into wall-space, the new programme resembles acts of parasitic infiltration routines. It encompasses a new haptic relationship between the human body and its sensitive-reactive environment, an architectural imagery punctured by moving bulges, sensory tentacles and stretchable orifices.’ — M.C.
References: Joel-Peter Witkin, Stellarc, Wrong Bodies, Orlan, Images/New Images or, The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, 1990, Omnipresence Conference, 1993 (Broadcast live from the Sandra Gehring Gallery, New York), Gilles Jobin, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Clemente Susini, Suspensions, Rebecca Horn, Louise Bourgeois, Mark Quinn, David Cronenberg, Spectacular Bodies
‘Fabric Epithelia is a device that aims to use engineered skin as matter for a new living fabric. As it results from an interdisciplinary work between an architect and a molecular biologist it explores the potential of “in vitro” grown tissue generated, by growing epithelial cells on a textile scaffold in an air-liquid interface. It is developed in two separate phases:
‘The first stage is a laboratory-based process, in which human keratynocytes (skin cells), grown in culture are induced to differentiate into stratified epithelia. This raft culture floats on nutritive media under tightly regulated temperature and atmospheric conditions. The raft consists of a collagen coated mesh which will provide the scaffold for cell growth and differentiation. This raft culture floats on nutritive media under tightly regulated temperature and atmospheric conditions existent on a collagen, coated mesh, which provides the scaffold for cell growth and differentiation. For presentation purposes the raft culture is formalin fixed and embedded in resin.
‘The second phase is concerned with the design of an installation, which presents and visualises the sample for exhibition purposes. The sample is supported by extremely delicate structures that keep the illuminated object isolated in a semi-dark environment. Stratified lightning equipment enables the viewer to visualise the sample, which is projected and amplified on a screen through a data projector and attached magnifying lens.’ — M.C.
Marcos Cruz: I have been observing you and your toys for a while now. What still seems to me very intriguing is the way they work as the trigger for new ideas about inhabitation of space. Which aspects of your work reflect this?
Marjan Colletti: I may have to specify what kind of toys I mean. Generally, one could differentiate two different categories: ‘throw away toys’ and ‘keep forever toys’. The first group has very short life expectancy and a high ‘transience index’, as psychologist Alvin Toffler calls it. These toys are a product of the throwaway society and its high ‘rate of turnover’ of things, ideas and places. Soft toys belong to the latter group, and are called ‘transitional objects’, which means they serve the child to transit from the childhood to the adult stage. Psychologists imply separation from those elements. Why? I think that the act of playing with these toys reveals itself as an incredible demonstration of inventiveness, responsiveness and control over the environment and objects. And that is not much different to what I expect from the ‘professional architect’.
Marcos Cruz: I understand that as a principle or analogy, but you also take them literally into your design as physical inhabitants of two, and three-dimensional space.
Marjan Colletti: First unconsciously, then consciously, my friends constantly appear and re-appear in my designs, inhabiting the space and filling it with secondary layers of architectural information. If I say inventiveness, responsiveness and control, I mean it in internal, psychological terms. The playful, professional architect can re-create spaces and shapes of a secondary layer which are triggered by one’s emotions and mood. I still stick to the toys, and they turned out to be helpful designers… They show up for example in the project Besking (a hybrid between a BEd, deSK and intelligent thING) that re-introduces the toys’ softness and reveals their shapes in plans, sections and details. Every (technical) drawing has a secondary (private) story to tell. Since then, they re-appeared in other designs. For instance, in the interior design project for the refurbishment of a flat in Bozen, Italy, where they permanently inhabit empty space, thus, reacting to the Aristotelian and Freudian ‘horror vacui’. Aristotle’s ‘horror vacui’ argued the impossibility of ‘nothingness’ and influenced the pragmatism of Renaissance perspective realism, while Freud’s ‘horror vacui’ influenced Secessionist Gustav Klimt to fill the canvas with symbols, shapes and ornaments, representing an atmosphere of cosmic peace. I need ornaments and friends. That is what the toys are all about; shapes are not just shapes, they are friendly shapes and talk to me as friends. It’s my way to somehow escape my ‘horror vacui’. (read the entirety)
Marcos Cruz: “Neoplasmatic Architecture”
p.s. Hey. A reader of this blog named Anne Washington who describes herself as an architect-bound student at MIT has generously set out this post about the building imagineer Marcos Cruz for us today. It’s very cool, and I hope you all enjoy it and will pass along a note of interest or thanks to Anne in your comments today. Thanks, and thank you, Anne. ** JM, Hi, man! Pleasure to see you, albeit a bit blearily this morning. I have no idea what DUCKS NEWBURYPORT is, or, just as likely, I do and am prevented from accessing that memory by the lag. That TCSM novelisation you’re working on is instant intrigue central. How is that working out? Five theater pieces, whoa, obviously! Way big up about and re: that. I’m happy to hear that you and your bf have started glowing in proximity. You sound the way I wish I sounded and sometimes maybe do when I’m lucky. I’m cool with your terms. Please excuse, however, whatever fog exists between me and these words and then you. It’s there, but its visibility is a question (to me). ** Shane Christmass, Hi, Shane. I like the Zak Ferguson work that I’ve read quite a lot. Bubbling novel is a nice idea. Things that exist at the source of cross-purposed word combinations are always the best. New music! Oh, I’ll get ‘Taco Bell Teens from Outer Space 2k2 (Physical)’. How can that title not front for something ‘must read’. Thanks, man. Good to hear you’re so productive and stuff. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, D. I’ll look for the Noah Baumbach. I think his films open and do well here. Thank you. ** Scunnard, Dude, you’re the one who gets all the thanks. I’m the chuffed one. (Isn’t that a correct use of that word, I don’t know?) Uh, mm, no, it’s not that kind of jet lag. Or rather it’s not in a befuddling state today, or not entirely is what I mean. It’s a toss up: I could hand you the keys blank-faced, it’s true, or I could snap at you and bite your head off. (I’m pissed off at the lag this morning, is what I mean). Never mind. I’m befuddled. Definitely. Thanks again, kind buddy. ** Armando, Hi. Thank you. Uh, no, LA is the world center of home haunts. In greater LA alone, there are, like, 70 of them. I think there might be 12 or 15 of them, tops, in all of New England. Yes, obviously very excited for ‘A Hidden Life’. I hope you have better luck staying awake, or, rather, awake in the fullest sense and not just technically, than I have had so far. See ya! ** Keatonly, Hi, man. Hypnotics, nice. Scurvy Dog, intriguing. Haven’t seen that ‘AHS’ stuff. Probably won’t. Oh, maybe, you never know. I think usually being anti- the cool anything is good. Well, wait, not anti-, maybe more shruggy. Excuse my brain. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Benster. That’s some excellent news indeed! Great, man. I can’t wait to read your piece in The Skinny. Hook us up. Have a swell day, pal, and it sounds like you will. ** Steve Erickson, Ah, shit, anxiety is the worst. You don’t have any go-to ‘break the spell’ cures? Best of luck, man. There’s no tradition of the home haunt here in France, no. Like I may have already said, when our producer read the script, he had no idea what we were doing with that. Which has necessitated us writing and making some explanatory documents and mood boards about home haunts so the funding people will have a clue what we’re trying to do. There’s a professional year-round haunted house attraction in Paris, but that’s it. How or why the family decides to turn their house into a haunt is left unexplained, at least in the current draft of the script. ** Sypha, Me too, re: watching films, but on my plane flights. Well, I did see ‘The Lighthouse’ when I was in LA. Which I thought was really crappy. But, obviously, those three films you watched aren’t crappy at all. Oh, I did finally see the new Tarantino on my flight to Paris. I fully enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say it’s one of Tarantino’s best films or anything, but I thought it was really fun. You can ask me a movie question. If I’m really lucky, I might be fairly cogent by tomorrow. ** Right. Check out the architecture today. See you in my morning.