Willard A. Oberdick Fellowship Project
Using the foil of a design for a small house in the desert, this project interrogates the expressive capacities of geometry, material logics and graphic surfaces. The formal thesis of the house begins with a cube conceptualized as a flat, unfolded box, composed of six, two-dimensional surfaces. Each surface is structured with a grid, and understood as a graphic problem. Taking a cue from Swiss design manuals, the surfaces of the box are cast as improvisatory games where particulate elements are distributed within the bounds of a sixteen or nine-square grid. Four drawings, nine elevation studies, two furniture elements and a short pamphlet construct a visual narrative around the design at different scales and levels of resolution.
The aesthetic program of the house is situated within a historical, formalist, discourse exploring the relationship between painting or graphic problems, architectural form, and tectonics. The narrative begins with the collapse of hard-edged, geometric painting and Modernist architecture through the De Stijl discovery of the “screen” as the primary, base compositional element in the conception of three-dimensional form. The Postwar neo-avant garde took this problem as the foundation of their gestaltist investigations of complex elevation logics and striated spaces in plan. The ambition of the formal language embedded in the Desert House project is to offer a possible extension of these theories catered to the speed, surface-centric material sensibilities and graphic, hyper-flatness that characterize our contemporary disciplinary climate.