Don't be perfect be human

Bachelor of Architectural Design
Semester 1, 2020

Studio leader(s)

  • Adrian Fernandez
  • Davis Clarke

Lars Von Trier’s 2004 film ‘The Five Obstructions’ is a cinematic game conceived as an experimental documentary in which he tasks fellow filmmaker Jorgen Leth to remake his 1967 short film ‘The Perfect Humans’ five times, each time presenting a new ‘obstruction’ or obstacle the Leth has to contend with and adapt to. These obstructions, which range from shooting the film in the worst place in the world, but not show that place onscreen to filming it as a cartoon, challenge the notion of integrity and truth in a film and how far one can push the concept before it breaks - and that sometimes the best results occur when the inevitable happens.

Taking this conceit as a starting point, this studio invites students to analyse, interrogate and co-opt the parti of a seminal piece of architecture, stress-testing it through a series of obstructions to determine the integral strength of the original parti, and what differences/improvements/detractions occur once said parti is no longer recognisable.

With each weekly task, you will explore a progressive departure from the initial project. Each equisses will co-opt the parti of a seminal piece of architecture stress-testing it through a series of obstructions. Each obstruction will bring with it tensions and strain upon the original parti; what difference occur? What is improved upon and what detracts? At what point does the parti depart beyond recognition from its point of origin?

The first seven weeks leading up till mid-semester reviews will be comprised of a series of weekly equisses that interrogate the precedent and the parti. These  esquisses will be presented at mid-semester review, with students encouraged to adopt a uniform presentation style to facilitate comparison.

As the semester progresses, you will develop your understanding of what comprises the essential character of a project; when does a thing lose the spirit of what it is? Does it disappear as soon as the very scale it exists in disappears? Can it exist outside of the optics of its form? By reading closely and interrogating these constituent  lements of a canonical project, you will form and argue for the adaptation and potential bastardisation of these architectural offsprings.

During the second half of the semester the students will focus on a singular site and set of obstructions, derived from their initial esquisses plus a final one, with the aim of producing a comprehensive set of drawings and models to represent the transformation of their co-opted parti.