I. Press material – SHORT
At the International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. Hungary will participates with a BorderLINE Architecture project authored by two young architects, Andor Wesselényi-Garay and Marcel Ferencz.
The installation in the Hungarian Pavilion defines the Line as the origin of the architectural idea as opposed to the House. The radical manifesto of the exhibition proclaims that architects do not build houses, nor do they create spaces: they simply draw. They draw lines with computers, pens and pencils. Lines, which of course by their mere existence do not create spaces since they almost exclusively appear on two-dimensional surfaces. However, the line is the primaeval mode of expression for an architect, and a medium which represents the architectural idea to the same degree as a house. To illustrate this, the exhibition places architects’ drawings, their drawing techniques and in general the line, which is regarded as the basic material of the architect, at its focal point.
The drawing and discovery of the line take place in a “space”, which is neither local nor international, amateur nor professional; geographical nor utopian but rather universal. This universal space is one for drawing, and in a wider sense, for leaving a trace. The exhibition is built upon the notion – which is of course subjective – that the universe represented by the Line and drawing by necessity bridges the gap between the architecture of nations, and between the professional and the amateur.
The central ideas of the project being the birth of the line and its organisation into a drawing bring into being a truly architectural exhibition in a non-architectural vein. This concept is based not merely on the drawing but rather its creation, and not merely the line but also its translation into a living architectural idea. It is the conviction of the organisers that the act of drawing is the common denominator of the work of all architects; therefore, films screened in the Hungarian Pavilion feature not only participants in the Hungarian but also the international architectural scene, such as Heinz Tesar, Tony Fretton, Gaetan Siew, Eduardo Souto de Moura and Sou Fujimoto.
The films about drawing and the screenings about the creation of lines will be presented in an installation medium aimed at illustrating how lines are translated into architecture. This installation will require thirty thousand pencils and almost one hundred kilometres of thread.
The installation of the Hungarian Pavilion presents the elemental state and borderline position of architecture. The installation programme (BorderLINE) relates to the geographical sensation of borderlineness in just the same way as the state of mind of the designer split between current and atavistic trends. It equally refers to the birth of drawing and architecture and the dichotomy between here and there, the external and the internal, the I and THE OTHER.
II. Press material – LONG
About the exhibition in the Hungarian Pavilion of the International Architectural Exhibition 2010, la Biennale di Venezia.
1. A story
In the spring of 2009, at an architectural conference organised by Oris Magazine in Zagreb, Alvaro Siza was the last speaker. At the end of the lecture, Marcel Ferencz, who is the architect of the exhibition constructed in the Hungarian Pavilion, joined the queue forming up to collect autographs. Although winding queues of this kind for famous architects have slowly become commonplace, the formalities of the architectural star system carry many a nervous moment along with them. For example, a moment when somebody comes face to face with the person whom up to that point they had only known through their work and photographs. After a few minutes, when it became Marcel’s turn to collect Alvaro Size’s autograph, he handed the monograph over saying: A big graphic please! In the tenseness of the situation he had jumbled up his words and condensed autograph, biography and monograph.
Siza looked at Marcel. He smiled and then answered: “I can see that you seriously go in for sports…do you know what? I’ll draw an athlete here just as he’s running into a sports centre.” Smiling all the while, he took the felt-tip pen handed to him and then with a few strokes sketched a sprinting figure onto the sheet.
As he was sketching, the air around Alvaro Siza froze. The people in the queue became silent and others standing around watched without a word as he drew. An architect allowing others to catch a glimpse of how he worked in his office had an elemental effect. The baited breath of the people waiting for an autograph was as much directed at Siza as the phenomenon; he respected the man just as much as what he was doing. That little drawing exerted a magical power primarily because it was created in the midst of a crowd that had up to then being milling around and were now frozen with anticipation.
It not only became clear that architects still draw. What was also so manifest was that how they draw is interesting.
The greatest inspiration of this architectural exhibition organised in the Hungarian Pavilion in 2010 was this story and the lessons that it provided.
2. BorderLINE Manifesto
By exploring the transitions between a house and its idea the exhibition staged in the Hungarian Pavilion seeks to find and present that smallest visually comprehensible element that can be regarded as the nuclear unit of architecture.
The installation places at its focus the LINE instead of the HOUSE as the origin of the architectural idea, and thus highlights the primary state of architecture. The radical manifesto proposed by the exhibition is that architects do not build houses; architects do not create space, but rather draw. They draw lines with computers, and with pens and pencils. Lines which by merit of their sheer existence do not create spaces since they almost always only appear on two-dimensional surfaces. However, the line is the primeval mode of expression for the architect, and is a a medium that represents the idea of architecture to the same degree that a house does. To illustrate this notion, the exhibition places at its centre the architects’ drawings, drawing techniques and generally the line, which is regarded as the raw material of architecture, with the intention of guiding the visitor back to the primary experience captured by the creative act and architecture, i.e. to the line and the act of drawing it.
The drawing and discovery of the line take place in a “space” which is neither local nor international, amateur nor professional, geographical nor utopian but rather universal. This universal space is one for drawing, and in a wider sense, for leaving a mark. The exhibition concept is built upon the notion – which is of course subjective – that the universe represented by the LINE and drawing by necessity bridges the gap between the architecture of nations. It is our conviction that the act of drawing is the common denominator of the work of all architects. Moreover, it is the act of drawing where the professional and the amateur, the old and the young meet.
People meet in drawing.
The central ideas of the project being the birth of the line and its organisation into architecture create a truly architectural exhibition in a non-architectural vein. This concept is based not merely on the drawing but rather its creation, and not only on the line but also its translation into a living architectural idea.
The films about drawing made with the participation of Hungarian and foreign architects, as well as the screenings about the birth of lines will be presented in an installation medium that will allow the line to break out of its heteronomous, two-dimensional existence and appear as an independent, physical entity and a form of architectural organisation. Entering space lines create a new state which alludes to the link between the mass and the body as well as between graphic art and architecture.
The installation programme (BorderLINE) therefore relates to the borders between genres and the communication between them. It equally relates to the geographical sensation of borderlineness in just the same way as the state of mind of the designer split between current and atavistic trends. Finally, it refers to the birth of drawing and architecture and the dichotomy between here and there, the external and the internal, the I and THE OTHER.
3. The installation
To the line…
The space of a city is the most spectacular architectural museum. It is an interactive medium with a key constituent element being the people walking in it and continuously shaping it as they move. In contrast to the space of a city, an architectural exhibition is already a step closer to abstraction, since an exhibition is a distilled world of illusion in which the complete works are not physically present, unlike paintings and sculptures at art exhibitions. It is a space of abstraction where the works are represented by their mediums such as photographs, models, architectural plans and films, which, for lack of a better word, we call architecture.
Taking another step in the process of reduction we arrive at the exhibition of plans with not even photographs but only renders referring to a virtual situation that the “reality” of a city or the tissue of a landscape did not have the chance to influence. In this case the plans, CAD designs and models, functioning as carrier media only represent themselves, and their reference is not to reality but rather to some kind of desired vision of the future.
Another step towards abstraction is the exhibition where abandoned projects of famous buildings in the history of architecture are displayed and where there are not even models used as illustration. Then, we arrive at the sketch whose suggestive lines serve the sole purpose of creating impressions in relation to the architectural idea.
The legitimacy of the sketch can be questioned in many ways. Does it certainly present the first idea of the creative process? Was it certainly made before the building? So many questions that challenge the autonomy of the sketch, which is actually often made after the building is completed. This might suggest that the sketch is the absolute zero point of this diminishing scale from buildings set in a landscape to the world of exhibition halls, but a further step can be taken: to the birth of a drawing. Drawing, as a process, irrespective of its end result, is authentic since it exists. If we take a sketch in the making, the question of authenticity does not reside in the temporal relationship between it and what it represents. The viewer, whose gaze directed at the making of the sketch, suspends the relevance of what comes first and focuses on the temporal aspect of the world emerging from the lines being drawn, i.e. on the process. This takes us right to the basic unit of the sketch: the line.
The question may also arise: where does this chain of reduction end? Can one more step be taken from architectural reality to the architectural idea? One of the last stages of abstraction in our context is architectural script and speech (after which there is only the level of unarticulated ideas, intuitions and dreams), but these serve as raw material for architectural discourse and not for any kind of exhibition. However, in contrast to words which are organically tied to language, the line is a means of universal communication, since everybody draws.
It seems reasonable to suggest that in the context of an exhibition the line can be regarded as the primary state of architecture.
… and back,
We arrived at the line as a unit of architectural and spatial organisation through a reversible reduction process. In the space of the Hungarian Pavilion the analogy of the line is the thin taut ropes. Similarly to how a sketch evolves, the ropes here are a visual reference to columns which then form bundle-columns. Just as drawings develop into plans, bundle columns evoke one of the archetypal elements of architectural space i.e. the colonnade arranged in a grid. Even as the most complex design can be decomposed into lines, so the colonnade evoked by the Hungarian Pavilion has as its key element the ropes tautened by gravitation.
The lines organised into an installation and ultimately into an architectural quote within the space of the Hungarian Pavilion represent the spatial diagram of the process whereby the first gestures committed to paper evolve into a completed building.
The line has a quintessentially dual nature in that it links the world of ideas and reality. This duality is manifest both in the interior and the courtyard of the pavilion. Focussing on the world of ideas, the interior presents the coming into being and organisation of lines, while in the courtyard drawings born out of the lines can be seen, creating the illusion of a real architectural space and thus taking another step towards complexity.
The sketches displayed in the courtyard are not merely drawings; they are the means by which new spaces melting into lines are formed.
… and finally
In the context of the exhibition in the Hungarian Pavilion the line and its spatial analogy, the ropes tautened by gravitation, are the borderline elements of architecture beyond which the architectural exhibition per se ends itself only to dissolve into the infinite silence of words or ideas.
4. The films
To verify the basic proposition of the exhibition, the assertion of which is that architects still draw, we conducted drawing interviews with forty architects, twenty-two of whom were foreign and eighteen Hungarian. The drawings recorded in the act of their making included illustrations of realised projects and responses to the given situation, while a great many of them were graphic answers given to our questions about drawing. The personal quality of these graphic documents makes them difficult to canonise but they are all characterised by synchronity and unaffectedness. Asking the architects to draw in front of a camera created an awkward situation for them since exposing what they normally do in the seclusion of their studios and only in front of their most immediate colleagues amounted to documenting the most intimate moments of their profession.
Perhaps a sketch can lie about the moment of its creation but it cannot lie about the fact of its making since that takes place in the crossfire of cameras and voyeur gazes.
Although it was difficult to capture it on the film, the standard turning point in the interviews was when, having overcome their initial frustration, the participants started to draw. The first, tentative gesture was followed by the more confident movements of practised drawers, most of whom eventually became immersed in their own lines. What seemed strange, bizarre and inexplicable to the architects at the beginning became natural after a certain point. Whether or not it was done in front of a camera, it was the act of drawing that guided them back to their everyday reality. By the end of most interviews the architects had made five or six sketches.
5. Drawing belongs to us all
The installation in the Hungarian Pavilion evokes the public space of drawing shared by us all. We have staged an architectural exhibition but at the same time endeavoured to TRULY represent in this space not only architectural professionals but a broader community too – everybody who draws, whether they be a child or an adult, a man or a woman. Our aim was to reach out to as many people as possible and include them in the installation in some symbolic way, which we finally found encapsulated in the pencil – colour or graphite pencils lying in drawers, unused, sharpened to death and in some cases with chewed ends and perhaps even forgotten.
The pencils in the apse of the Hungarian Pavilion were collected in a nationwide effort, with the participation of many schools. They are not simply writing implements but far more: mementos of individuals and gestures as well as drawings not seen here but ones that were born and may have perished.
The pencils at this exhibition represent us all.
Eduardo Souto de Moura
Helena Paver Njiric
Wolf D. Prix
Miltenberger Miltényi Miklós
Texts were written by – besides the interviews the architects gave:
Copyright of all photos: Tamás Bujnovszky
For more information see http://borderlinearchitecture.com
Andor Wesselényi-Garay PhD was born in 1969 in Szeged. He graduated from the Budapesti Szent István Gimnázium (Szent István High School, Budapest) in 1987 and started his university studies in 1988 at the Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University of Budapest. He graduated in 1994 and was awarded the 3rd prize in the Diploma Competition of Magyar Építőművészek Szövetsége (Association of Hungarian Architects) for his diploma project.
In 1995, together with Gábor Osváth, he established his own architectural firm called GYÁR (FACTORY). The studio covered the entire field of the architectural profession: architecture, interior design, urban and product design, all of which were accorded the same level of importance.
He launched an independent office in 2001 called W-G-A PSYCHODESIGN, and at this point in time his interest turned to the theoretical side of architecture. Since 2000 he has been an external correspondent for the periodical ALAPRAJZ and a member of its advisory board. Since 2002 he has been the architectural senior editor of ATRIUM magazine and its editor-in-chief since 2006. He is the author of some three hundred architectural articles, essays, reviews and studies that have been published in the periodicals ATRIUM, ALAPRAJZ, r-ú MÉ and at www.wergida.blogspot.com. At present he is an associate professor at the Department of Architecture at the University of Debrecen.
Ferencz Marcel DLA was born in 1970 in Miskolc. He graduated from Árpád Gimnázium (Árpád High School) Budapest in 1989. He studied at the Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University of Budapest. He graduated in 1997 and was awarded the Diploma Prize of the Faculty of Architecture, TUB for his diploma project. Between 1993 and 1994 he worked for EARL SWENNSON Associate Architecture Company, USA, Nashville as an apprentice architect.
Between 1999 and 2004 he worked as an assistant lecturer in the freestyle drawing programme at the Department of Design, TUB. He wrote his DLA dissertation on drawing. In 2007 he obtained his MA and DLA degrees at the Technical University of Budapest.
He has been a member of NAPUR Architect Office since 1993. His projects have been exhibited at several national and international venues. Between 2007 and 2010 he was the senior lecturer for the Department of Architecture at the University of Debrecen. Besides being a successful publication, his “Hunnic bath” design was displayed on a separate board in 2002, at the 8th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. Marcel Ferencz was awarded the Pro Architectura Prize in 2009 for the same building. The Barakonyi villa he designed in 2006 is included in the international architectural lexicon entitled The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture.
At present he is an associate professor at the Department of Architecture at the University of Debrecen.