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70 Architects: On Ethics and Poetics at the UQAM Design Centre


August 22, 2007
by Canadian Architect

A collection of architectural objects addressing questions of ethics and poetics will be presented at the Universit du Qubec Montral (UQAM) Design Centre in Montreal, from September 20 through October 21, 2007. Organized to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the History and Theory of Architecture Masters and Doctoral program at McGill University, the exhibition will feature the work of 70 Canadian and international architects. These architects have produced an architectural object representing their work, which will occupy no more than one square foot or one cubic foot for this occasion. The opening will take place on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 6:00 pm.

Even though architecture is normally defined in terms of the permanent presence of built structures, here it is understood in a wider context and in a more speculative form addressing the process of interpretation between the creation of an architectural idea and its concrete translation within the public realm. The objects presented in the exhibition vary from theoretical projects to records of buildings. They are executed in diverse media and range in dimensions from the infra-thin to the nearly infinite.

Instead of creating mere objects of visual seduction, architecture relates, mediates, and projects meanings. The ultimate meaning of any building is beyond architecture; it directs our -consciousness back to the world and toward our own sense of self and being. (Juhani Pallasmaa, 2005)

This kind of speculative work that uses varied modes of artistic representation, such as painting, drawing, sculpture and even video and cinematographic montage, has always played an important role for architects at the moment of translating abstract thoughts into concrete projects resulting from specific commissions. Practitioners and theoreticians of architecture produced the conceptual fragments presented here, but in every case, they highlight the importance of the creative process.

Conceived by Louise Pelletier, professor at the UQAM School of Design, and Alberto Prez-Gmez from the School of Architecture at McGill University, the curators one requirement was that the works would occupy no more than one square foot when measured flat, or a cubic foot if realized in volume, though it was not required that the work be cubical. In other words: What are the real architectural dimensions of a cubic foot? What is the poetic and ethical potential of a unit of architectural space?

The resulting works operate a kind of alchemy. As Dr. De Selby would say in Flann OBriens The Dalkey Archive: Gentlemen, he said, in an empty voice, I have mastered time. Time has been called an event, a repository, a continuum, an ingredient of the universe. I can suspend time, negative its apparent course. In the same way, the projects presented by the 70 architects modify the atmosphere and make it evident that it is time (and not space, as Descartes thought) that is a plenum: immobile, ineluctable, irrevocable, a condition of absolute stasis. Time does not pass. Change and movement may occur within time. (Flann OBrien)



Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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