Monday, November 19, 2007

008. Oceannorth

Superspatial, this collaborative blog, is also a venue for design and competition entries. However this group would be impossible without the internet, as we are a geographically distributed network. For me anyway it allows a path or natural extension of blogging and an interest in active urban speculation to develop into actual work. I was wondering if anything has happened like this before, then I remembered reading an article in AD about Ocean. They were founded in 1992 and restructured in 1998 into OCEANNORTH and was as far as I know the first geographically distributed design network with no clear hierarchy or constant centre. At this time of writing has four nodes now in London, Oslo, Frankfurt and Rome.

They are more of a kind of thinkthank and research group with no actual architectural projects yet realised, yet they were the first to attempt to design across distributed geographical network without a clear single identity. Reading the description of how they designed in the beginning though you can see they were more of a semi-formal travelling network with most of the design being done face to face with members running workshops concurrently in different design schools and running between them to coordinate.

That they are a loose and flexible group is shown by the number of people that have joined and left. The Helsinki node for example was really active with Markus Holmsten, Toni Kauppila Lasse Wagner, and Kivi and Tuuli Sotamaa helping to do some of ON's most notable work, they have all now left, the Helsinki node gone, but still ON carries on.

Certainly their work you could say is reflective of a geographically distributed system with process, local networks, and biological growth more influential on design typology than the local geography. It is interesting in this current climate for starchitects that a much more anonymous, collaborative and distributed design network can exist. Certainly I don't really believe in the Renaissance Architect with his signature on every detail and decision anymore, and although common corporate structure, architectural egos, and the need for a steady source of income probably preclude this type of network from really having a wide impact on architecture, it is good to see that some other types of organisation can exist and make substantial works. Some of their projects are below - click through on an image to read about it. (all images from oceannorth).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

007. Rethinking Venice


We submitted an entry to the recent design competition organised by 2G magazine seeking ideas for a Venice Lagoon Park on an area of land at the northern tip of the island of Murano, in Venice.

Inevitably we stretched the brief, to engage in a critical rethinking of the Venice Lagoon. As it is an anonymous competition, we cannot say more, but we will post more details after the results have been announced.