Sheila Kennedy, “MIX MIX MAX MIN”



”We believe it is now timely to reopen the issue of matter and once again to give material factors their due in shaping society and circumscribing human prospects.” – Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, ‘Introducing the New Materialisms’

The official trajectory of this talk, in which architect Sheila Kennedy presents recent projects of KVA Matx, will be hijacked by the introduction of a stealth agenda that reflects on the predicament(s) of contemporary material culture in the practice of architecture.

Mix, Mix, Max, Min explores a set of provisional, overlapping material strategies. These include the hybridization of old/new and static/active materials in works of architecture, the architectural cross breeding of natural, virtual and constructed ‘categories’ of matter, and design that maximizes the density of material experience and eliminates it.

Questions of materiality in architecture have been largely transparent in practice, in that we tend to think more (or first) about other issues than choices of material. The materials that make up our environment are assumed to be neutral, inert and available for us to assemble and organize as the given “stuff” out of which the built environment is designed and constructed.

If materials are accorded a ‘vibrant’ active agency as they persist in our environment, creating unexpected chemical, atmospheric and physical consequences– then what can be our role as architects in selecting and organizing them? If materials arrive to the architects’ site (and mind) as ‘pre-formed’ standard elements with predictable configurations and dimensions then how might the architectural imaginary transform these materials while taking account of their larger organizational networks of material provenance, transport, manufacture, labor and disposal?

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