MEREDITH Michael, SAMPLE Hilary After The End (2003)

We were taught to dismantle things, to take buildings apart piece by piece in order to look at their makeup. . . . Were schooled in techniques of indecision, formal analysis, cultural criticism, theory, diagram, filmic operation, animation, scripting, didactic process: the disciplinary narratives of the neo-avant-garde. Our teachers were masters of instability, doubt and meaninglessness. Nothing was more important than nothing. Solidity was sublimated. Ground was displaced. Structure and gravity were non-topics. Building codes were too boring to be bothered with. Familiarity required systematic acts of defamiliarization. The vernacular wasn’t considered architecture, better to be ignored. Architecture, like art, was a problem of overcoming the horror of individual will, idiosyncrasy, and expressionism. So we were taught to make machines and elude ourselves with their inhuman techniques and autonomous systems. Everything was flawed from the outset. Never say “I,” always use the third person. Don’t take criticism personally. Don’t try to solve social problems (they are not the problems of architecture). Use “void” whenever and as much as possible. Architecture is the history of representation, of abstraction through mediums. (Think perspective, orthographic projection [i.e. plans], axonometry, collage, photography, digital models, rendering, etc.). Avoid commerce. Don’t think about architecture through skills, craft, physicality, or the base materialism of buildings (these are so-called vocational concerns, not disciplinary or conceptual problems).

In this way, we were sucked into a neurotic black hole, seduced by academic games of negation, anti-architecture. Although we loved and love playing amongst the smoldering ruins, eventually (perhaps out of sheer exhaustion) it seemed that our problem became the exact opposite of the one laid out by our teachers: to collect and gather the leftovers from the neo-avant-garde and attempt to weld them back together. To engage the world, the real, gravity, craft, economy, commerce, data, the generic, and the vernacular all while still acknowledging and employing the disciplinary history handed down to us. We settled into a space that oscillates between the real and the representational. When we started our office, there was no need to further dismantle architecture, it was already game over. We felt we were tasked to start again, to produce and assemble an architecture of collected fragments and overturned bits, everything made available to us within the diffuse field of dead ends we grew up within.