pubblicato su COMPASSES n16 “New Talents”_2012
di Luca Marinelli
Becoming a true Architect means complicating your life.
Contemporary architecture moves hand in hand with the complexity of form and structural calculations; perfection has become synonymous with complexity.
In a world in which everything is possible, buildings are transformed into gigantic ecosystems made possible by countless mathematical functions and breath-taking renderings.
The point is: If nature is so perfect in its simplicity that it can crash even the most complicated script, how can architecture glean its secret?
This is the experimental line along with the work of J. Mayer H. is moves. The ingredients he combines in his designs define a radical and extremely communicative approach.
The result is a complexity of elements that often generates weavings and fluid and interstitial spaces similar to those found in nature, though derived from complex digital elaborations: an approach that may conjure up a new frontier of organic architecture.
In a country like Germany, where the traditions inherited from the Bauhaus have defined a rigid and sharp formality, finding an architect who pursues this type of experimentation is truly rare, and may perhaps be the key to his fame.
His works are growing in number, and his job sites extend across Europe, from the large to the small scale. Precisely this latter is of the most interest, as it permits him to play with materials, to experiment with new forms that challenge the laws of statics, which he successively re-elaborates in his architectural projects. The most important thing is to experiment.
For Rapport, an installation still on show at the Berlinische Galerie in Berlin, studies of three-dimensional models are re-proposed in two dimensions with the aim of offering a different perception of space. Visitors entering the room find themselves within a pattern that extends continuously across the walls and floor. The intent is that of highlighting the three-dimensionality of the exhibition space, creating a shift in the visitor ‘s perception.
With Pitterpattern, instead, a computerised system studied for the poly-functional Stadt.House permits the regulation of water as it drops from the large cantilevered roof, allowing it to assume different forms: from the pixelated rain of a bar code to various other configurations throughout the course of the day.
The system, coupled with an equally sophisticated LED lighting software, renders the space interactive and playful, transforming a simple open space into a space of relation.
It is precisely this combination between digital, parametric, natural and human relations that renders the installation so fascinating. In some cases, however, the figurative component takes over, and the architectural object influences the landscape to such a degree it risks becoming too invasive, as in the case of the Sarpi Border Checkpoint in Georgia.
The entire complex occupies more than 4,000 square meters and also contains a cafeteria, conference hall and service spaces. It is composed of a plate and a 6-storey tower, characterised by a succession of cantilevers that terminates with the panoramic terrace overlooking the sea. A suggestive intervention that, however, does not pay enough attention to its significant environmental impact on the beach below.
One example of a building with a strong, though fully resolved impact is, instead, the Metropol Parasol, where the articulation of the fluid forms is realised by a polyurethane-clad wood structure. This latter contains a series of services including an archaeological museum, a bar, restaurants and a panoramic terrace on the roof.
In this case, the intervention manages to make up for its strong formal presence, justified by the study of urban flows and spaces of relation, themes particularly dear to the Spanish and which Mayer develops in his intervention that offers a new urban centre to the city of Seville.
If the general tendency of contemporary architecture is thus that of proposing spaces in which formal virtuosity places the ‘spectacularisation ‘ of the building above all else, the essence of architecture remains the same. It is the simplicity of the idea underlying any great project.