MOA ElementHouse

photos: mos

The Disappearing Chimney, from centralized object to de-centralized voids
1. The Caribbean Hut, Gottfried Semper, 1851
Reacting against the Industrial Revolution’s challenge to traditional paradigms of a humanist architecture, Semper constructs an anthropological narrative for the fundamental motives of design. His Four Elements of Architecture isolates the hearth as the central and unchanging origin of domestic and social construction.
2. The Reisley House, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1951
Wright extends the role of the hearth from the center of domestic and social economy to the origin of a pre-existing domestic and social ecology. The fireplace and chimney in this and other Usonian schemes anchors a series of stereoscopic spatial relationships around between architecture and landscape. Each chimney re-centers the house, creating a hinge point where the radial plan can be perceived as stretching out into an infinite landscape.
3. The Shapiro House, Louis Kahn (unbuilt scheme, 1956)
However, as twentieth-century domestic technology increases in complexity, the fireplace and chimney can no longer emerge as central elements around which the economic, social and ecological movements of domestic space pivot. The hearth is?now de-stabilized; it becomes one of a series of a liberated mechanical objects , one of a series of technological objects, which makes upserve an assemblage of domestic capsules. The chimney floats towards the periphery of the house.
4. The Vanna Venturi House, Robert Venturi, 1962
Venturi capitalizes on the flatness of his mother’s house to treat the chimney as another surface that makes up a house an image of a domicile. By pushing the chimney even further towards the perimeter , flattened, and expressing it as a collection of planes, he it begins to operate treat it as?an iconographic wall. This chimney/wall becomes what you continuously circulate?around, is no longer experienced as an object, but is rather collapsed and?subsumed into a circulatory surface.
5. Element House, MOS, 2009
What in Semper begins as the formative instigator of all domestic relationships, and in Wright as the anchors of domesticity into within a larger ecology, moves to the exposed perimeter in Kahn and is pushed further towards the outside exterior of the house until it becomes a flatted surface in Venturi. In the Element House, the hearth, is re-interpreted in the Element House as a decentralized system of voids. These empty chimneys voids negate the objectified domestic technology in favor of focusing a focused latent atmospheric qualities and disembodied technology. As architectural practice and discourse come to grips with the tethering contingent relationships between of technology with and the environment, the Element House demonstrates another relationship with its environment, an alternative wherein some things have more presence in their absence.

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