House Design: A Laboratory of Alternative Ideas
To what extent does your approach to art influence the way you represent architecture and vice versa?
One of the things that fascinates me most, besides construction, is the graphic language of architecture, the way you represent buildings, concepts and ideas. My background in art has driven me to search for an original language that could stand apart from the overused realistic-based render images. So, I decided to incorporate in my renders some graphic elements found in my artworks and started to use traditional techniques such as watercolour paintings, ink and marker pens. Alternatively, my artworks are developed following the phases of an architecture project, from the sketching stage to the finished drawing, when attention to detail and the searching for a strong and cohesive composition, are certainly derived from my architecture process and thinking.
What would be the effect of approaching your architecture images through the delicacy of watercolours?
Its a great way to gain insight into new architectural ideas, because the fluid and non precise atmosphere of paintings conveys information with multiple interpretations or meanings – instead of limiting the concept. So when you are analysing one particular watercolour of mine it might suggest you the shape of a house, or a factory plan, or an art museum facade and so on. So my watercolours and drawings function as an ‘architecture idea generator’, that can be developed further with the use of 3D softwares and CAD programs.
What is your work process with regards to the architectural images? In terms of programs used, selection of colours, page layout?
I use both traditional and digital methods: automatic marker drawings on paper, brush and ink, technical pens, watercolours and a 3D modelling intuitive approach with SketchUP. When an interesting concept arises I digitally lay out the plan and determine the 3D form and space of the project. I export the SketchUp renders first to Photoshop, then to Illustrator, where I create the layout with all vector based elements that are crucial for printing quality. Recently I have designed a highly conceptual portfolio, using double-page spreads. I wanted every page to be viewed as a distinctive and original architecture image, and to be appreciated as a fine art print, so I specified for the background mostly primary and secondary colours, and used the language of visual catalogues and infographics. I printed the pamphlet in a limited run of 25 copies, and its a concise introduction to my design ideas and concepts spanning more than 10 years of practice on experimental architecture.
What drives your selection of buildings you chose to deconstruct? You talk about efficient, well-designed homes as though they were ‘machines for living’ but you neglect to show how people use and inhabit the spaces why so?
I have selected house design as a laboratory to test new ideas once working on small scale allows me to investigate alternative types of structures and to perform radical experiments in architecture without the support of a structural engineer on the early stages of the design.
I am of the opinion that any innovative project must be grounded in efficiency and functionality, but the architect must strive to create an exciting and dramatic living environment, where the client can thrive. Overall, the design must prioritize human experience, will have expressive shapes, but the plan will be derived from a response to function. And quoting Eileen Gray” It is architecture itself that must be the real decoration”…
Have you ever thought about exploring your proposal through the graphics of a comical strip, in order to not only explore the building but the life and reactions it provokes?
Yes I did, and in fact this sort of work has led me to start an architecture book project. Ten visionary habitats and the landscapes surrounding them will be represented, detailed and illustrated by watercolours, marker pens and comic-book drawings. The name of the book is “New Horizon Homes” and is inspired by the iconic Case Study Houses program. I plan to start working on it in january 2016.
Alexandre Piacsek in a Hungarian-Brazilian architect who graduated at the College of Architecture and Urban Studies of the University of São Paulo in 1995. Studying under an original Bauhaus-style program implemented by the designer of the school- the influential Brazilian architect Vilanova Artigas- he was mentored by teachers such as the architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha- one of the most prominent Brazilian architects of our time. The school environment has had a great influence in his work, and the modernist lessons were never forgotten.
After graduation he worked for several firms in Sao Paulo as a qualified architect and was a teacher of Arts for 5 years. From 2000 to 2005 was actively engaged in self-help and urban regeneration projects, being responsible for the design and construction of new housing developments in Sao Paulo, working in close collaboration with the Metropolitan Housing Company and international humanitarian NGOs. In 2006 he launched an architectural consultant practice to provide local developers with viability studies for high-end residential towers.
During the past years Alexandre Piacsek has been working in the field of experimental architecture, developing speculative projects for the design of new house typologies, and has taken part of several international architecture contests that allowed him to test his architectural ideas. Also a visual artist, he has moved to London in 2013 and has been exhibiting his work at local galleries and collective art shows.