Essay: Smooth VS. Rough
In a time when architecture and design is dominated by the shiny gloss of fantasy renderings, when photo-realistic capabilities eliminate any question of discovery from the drawn to the built, when the computer is indicative of an aesthetic typology as opposed to a tool in service of the human mind, in a design climate where personality and technology seem like mutually exclusive pursuits, the L’Idiot Restaurant design by BAM stands either as a contradiction to its time or a glimpse of a time to come.
With the advance of technology, the explosion of digitally driven formal exploration in architecture is inevitable. Technology has allowed architecture to push the limits of what is possible, and the exploration of form has benefited a great deal from advances in technology. However intriguing the development of this type of formal exploration has been over the past decade, its potency is waning. With every shiny plastic form, fluid sustainable skyscraper, or biological land-building in pursuit of aesthetic smoothness, we face the ever-growing question of “so what?”
The typical architectural fetish over “the object,” in conjunction with the contemporary realism of the fantasy rendering disallows this type of architecture from moving beyond itself to engage that human mind. The computer allows the objects of contemporary architectural formalism to become precious. Thus, the ideas, forms, and materiality become fixed, predefined, or prescribed. The rendering, or visualization, is arguably architecture’s purest state. The desire to keep the physical outcome of the built closely aligned with a representation, thus maintaining its purity, results in a reciprocal fear of further exploration.
The seductive nature of the contemporary form creates a conceptual barrier in architectural discourse. Architectural preciousness, as a result of beautiful imaging, has created an object oriented aesthetic. The fear of creating something ugly trumps the explorative spirit of building, stagnating a pedagogy.
The L’Idiot objects stand out despite their technologically-based production method because of BAM’s eagerness for adornment and material detailing. The forms of the objects are considered as a generic substance from which to work. This method reveals a confidence in the ability of the material adornment to enhance and complete the purity of the original formal vision. This lack of fear and reciprocal blossom of exploration through building provides the forms and space with meaning people can access.
The material designations provide an additional layer of intrigue, which heightens direct access to personal meaning. The object’s materiality, form, and spatial presence create associations in people’s minds like a spatial Rorschach. The Materiality allows people to see “things” in the forms. The fact people see “things” in the objects allows them to understand the space in their own personal way. Thus, every experience is a new and different one, and when these are shared a democracy of ideas is created.
The L’Idiot objects invite people to speak their mind. During construction one of the carpenters on the project was so convinced that the central object in the space was a whale that he was furious at the design for having a wood floor. He insisted that a grave error had been made in not providing the whale an ocean in which to swim. While the interpretations range from pre-historic creatures to sexual intercourse, the fact that people are engaged and forced to interact in a mentally prolific manor demonstrates the power of moving beyond the purity of architectural visualization to exploration throughout the entire construction process.
The objects of L’Idiot restaurant, however minute within the scale of architecture, demonstrate the power of activating human mental associations. However beautiful and daring today’s architectural forms may be, they are in fact limited by their smoothness. They are destined to stand in the silent and hallowed company of other pure Modernist architectural expressions. L’Idiot’s ‘rough’ alternative unleashes the mental associations which have largely been unexplored by computer-driven architecture. This roughness invites ownership of the design for the viewer and weaves the architecture into the profane but lasting realm of the polis.
随着技术的迅猛发展，数码形式探索在建筑设计方面的激增已成为不可避免的趋势。技术已经使得建筑设计在可能的范围内尽情的发挥，并且形式探索也从迅猛发展的技术中受益良多 。然而，无论这种形式探索在过去十年中发展的多么好，它现在正势力日衰 。随着日益光鲜 的塑料形式、流体支撑的摩天大楼或生物地面型建筑对流畅性审美的追求，我们面对着日益增多的“那又怎么样？”的问题。