Thursday, April 30, 2009

1mm architecture

what if, asks don, you paint the entire back side - the "square" side of your building - white. all white. it would take a year...your thesis would be the planning, organization and execution of could be out there everyday painting. and at the end, you would present a light show in the "square". an event that would transform this space by drawing people to it over an extended period of time and ultimately making it legendary.
architecture: 1mm thick
my reaction was immediate and clear - i'm much too precious about my building to ever want that to happen, let alone initiate it. no way. my reaction made me wonder at its cause. what would be lost if the wall was painted white? the cracks in the plaster, the colour of the stones of 1867, the rust, the multi-coloured mullions. the contrast of brick to stone to brick. the yellow door.
what is the value of these parts of the building - the colours, materials, contrasts? what about wear? what is lost if the entire facade is wiped clean? equalized? whitewashed? what role do they play in the everyday actions and interactions of the building's users?
now i hear that someone has bought up main street, the entire block between water and ainslie...both sides. if that's true, what will he or she do to these buildings? to my building? will she remove all of the additions? unify the colour scheme? scrub the building from top to bottom? pull out the weeds that grow under the unused stoops? put the benches back in? kick out the drug dealers? all the have-not tenants? the small business owners? replace cafe13 with a kelsey's? what is lost if these changes are made? what can be learned from the bits and pieces changed and moved over time by people who live and work in the building? could that knowledge inform the design? is it possible to do more than clean up the building? what parts of the emergent complexity of this building can be retained or re-introduced in a new design? what if what if what if?

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