P_Wall (Weathering)

Year: 2009

Description: The process of weathering is often intentionally resisted (if not completely forgotten) in most contemporary design. This is a legacy of Modernism and its fascination with minimal, timeless, and antiseptic materials. David Leatherbarrow and Mohsen Mostafavi have done an excellent job of mining this ground through architectural history in their book On Weathering (1993). They reveal in this book a long tradition in the design world of working with the act of weathering in a way that enhances the design concept over time. Rather than design in a way that presents the Sisyphean task of negating the influence of time on a project, they document other strategies architects have taken to accept that their buildings will have a life of their own after the drawing board.

This concept has been hovering in the background during the evolution of P_Wall (2006 / 2009) over the last 3 years. When people see the wall, they seem to have an inherent desire to touch it. The hint of softness, the evocative forms, the fabric textures all draw people in, seducing them to feel its rounded curves and deep creases. After each time it has been exhibited, a certain patina can be seen on the pieces: fingerprints here and there, scuffs from handling, etc.

This projects explores the potential weathering of P_Wall. Beyond the simple marks of humans in a gallery environment, the wall is located outside, open to the elements. The undulating forms would collect dust, pollen, soot over time. Moss would take root in the subtle groves of the fabric texture. Birds and other creatures would make the holes their homes.

This is not an exercise in Romanticism. The goal is not to produce a picturesque image of the wall. Rather, there is something about the wall that craves to be touched, to be made unclean, to be used, worn, soiled. Throughout the fabrication of the tiles, spiders would constantly be found making the holes their traps. A fine layer of soot, plaster and saw dust seemed to be constantly attached to the forms. This project accepts these intrusions on the “pure” form and makes them apart of the design. No more resistance, P_Wall accepts the life of the world and changes with it.

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