Zenghelis Masterclass

This week ISU’s Architecture Department wrapped up an intensive eight day masterclass with OMA co-founder Elia Zenghelis. Elia’s lectures and discussions led us to construct a provocation: an emblematic image of a particular architectural precedent or paradigm, all in the guise of a social condenser.

The workshop was a resounding success for both the students and the department. The 50 or so of us selected to participate were divided into groups of three and four, but we all grew together in the same studio almost nonstop for eight days. I am especially pleased with our group’s final provocation (seen below and in the previous post).and I know for many students the exercise really opened up some exciting new avenues for representational study.

The following images of the masterclass were taken from the Iowa State University Architecture Department webpage (unless captioned otherwise).

Elia Zenghelis with the (majority of) 50 students who participated.
Team Alhambra explaining their provocation to Yvonne
A beautiful re-interpretation of Leonidov’s ‘weightlessness’


Team Rockefeller Center did a mash up of the Rockettes and the famous “lunch atop a skyscraper” image.
mclass sketch
sketch during presentations

round circle

The panel: Elia, Deborah, Ross, Yvonne ,Tom and Marwan

Elia was extremely pleased with our energy and participation, saying in earnest that we  had ‘beat the AA’ in terms of quality projects and provocations (having recently done a similar workshop in London with the same brief). That statement alone was enough cause for celebration.

Team Akropolis: Jessica, Kyle, myself and Sultan in front of our final image.
Basking in the pixels I pushed around for three days. Photo by Sultan AlSamhan

Our final image was a section cut (the most explicit and violent drawing convention….right behind the exploded axonometric) through a sacred well in the Akropolis: a ‘hidden interior’ consisting of a symmetrical union of platonic solids that remain veiled through their in-articulation and the section’s extension off the page. The original space was entered only by nominated children, having been too natural and pure for for the eyes of others. We re-purposed through collage Henri Rosseau’s ‘The Dream‘, which contains elements of the particular agricultural mystique surrounding ancient Greek rituals (specifically the Eleusinian Mysteries): a kind of vegetable fertility, pleasure and food – a visual feast – as well as the original zodiac constellations. Time, discovery and the subsequent demystification of the universe converge into an image of myth, hallucinations and the paradox of creative discipline.

Our statement posted alongside the image read as follows:

“In our quest to expose the wonders of the Akropolis we discovered a sacred space hidden within its great mass: a natural spring used in the ancient rite of the Arrephoroi. We regretted our explication, having revealed a virgin spring that was only beholden by the pure innocence of children. We have taken its purity with our vision and can no longer “unsee” it, returning with the evidence of our act: a hidden interior; a section permanently veiled.

As architects we are trained to expose and discover and come to realize that every section is a potential act of profanation: a vision which cannot be withdrawn. The hidden interiors of myth must remain hidden to maintain their cultural significance.”

The work will be exhibited in Gallery 181 later this semester in addition to being published in next year’s issue of DATUM.

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