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11/27/2008, by palacepalace.com

Occupying Voids

Urbanity asks us to add function to void space. A space which superficially might need little design concentration - by natural selection it is the body and chance that are the vessels to perform this request. Why is it that voids occur? In some cases they seem to be architectural devices paying homage to the built, or dead-space for alternate foci, or purely for transience - similar to the relationship of a catalogued search-engine and the exclusive web. Being the chance-relationship spaces they are, they might be better left alone.

Shibata, Toshio, Untitled #6, 1986. From the series: Night Places.
Sourced from Tepper Takayama Fine Arts
.

The Smithson’s (Peter (Brutus) and Alison) use their architecture as a means to charge the void. Their works appear as kind of egalitarian additions to what is already the homogeneous conobation of the city. These additions allow for new “movement patterns” different to those made on the same domain - giving the city new circumstances and possibilities. Within their ‘charge’ an occupant invents and experiences new ways about his or her own city. The works are forever successful because their prescribed and conscious aim is not to make the best arrangement of the site, however they recognise that they are but one of many built re-incarnations - a part of a long line of uses where the only difference is in the contemporary state that they built.
Smithson, Alison and Peter, The Economist Building, 1959-64.
Smithson, Alison and Peter, The Economist Building, 1959-64. Sourced from Flickr
.

Smithson, Alison and Peter, The Economist Building, 1959-64.
Smithson, Alison and Peter, The Economist Building, 1959-64. Sourced from Hugh Pearman.

The work of the prematurely felled Yves Klein saw the void as a commodity, likened to that of a canvas. If Klein was the creator of the void (Le Vide), it was a space he owned. His capitalistic approach to his art contemplates this idea of ownership - from his signature in the sky, frivolously defying real-world constraints (Leap Into the Void, 1960), legally patenting IKB and leasing his voids - ‘his’ inhabitants were “literally impregnated by the sensible pictorial state that was specialized and stabilized by (Klein) before hand in the given space” (Sidra Stitch, Yves Klein. Stuttgart: Cantz Verlag, 1994, 133). Klein’s zen-like understanding of the void forced users to be “feel” and “understand” such a state.

Klein, Yves, Saut Dans le Vide (Leap Into the Void), 1960.
Klein, Yves, Saut Dans le Vide (Leap Into the Void), 1960. Sourced from Shane Lavalette.

Claude Lorrain (1600-82) inventively sewed neo-classic spatial improbabilities to counter horizons of reality into the mythic. Voids were filled with false brilliancy rendering utopic landscapes - a firey Ivan Chtcheglov wrote in 1953: “Many of the latters admirers are not quite sure to what to attribute the charm of (Lorrain’s) canvases. They talk about his portrayal of light. It does indeed have a rather mysterious quality, but that does not suffice to explain these paintings ambience of perpetual invitation to voyage. This ambience is provoked by an unaccustomed architectural space. The palaces are situated right on the edge of the sea, and they have “pointless” hanging gardens whose vegetation appears in the most unexpected places. The incitement to drifting is provoked by the palace doors proximity to the ships.” (Ivan Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism, Paris: Allia, 2006)

Lorrain, Claude, The Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba, 1648.
Lorrain, Claude, The Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba, 1648. Sourced from Wikimedia.

The planning of occupancy of a void deals only with positive possibilities, its context and sustainability are the determinants of its success.



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