Architects Matias del Campo and Sandra Manninger, former recipients of MAK-Schindler Scholarships for the Artists and Architects-in-Residence Program in Los Angeles, teamed up in 2003 to found the Viennese studio SPAN, which designed the Austrian pavilion for Expo 2010 in Shanghai together with Zeytinoglu ZT.
The team conceives of architecture as a process and works in the field of applied architectural theory, i.e. at the interface with research. Their projects are centered on future-oriented strategies of designing. These employ medial technologies and involve the development of architectural models from organic systems which are then placed in relation to each other via dynamic spatial programs.
For the MAK Gallery, SPAN is planning a spatial intervention transferred into a black box. Formations will unfold its meaning in various scenarios consisting of models, animations and architectonic elements, providing the observer with novel insights into a laboratory of contemporary architectural production. The individual stations and levels of the exhibition, based on organic patterns of movement, refer to one another and oscillate between abstract, dynamic forms and hybrid structures.
In terms of their revolutionary conception of architecture, their methodical approach and their aesthetic, computer-guided formal language, del Campo and Manninger display a certain proximity to Greg Lynn and Hernán Diáz Alonso—both of whom are viewed as representatives of contemporary amorphous architecture. This stance runs distinctly counter to an anthropologically based conception of architecture, which likewise refers to organic forms.
However, dealing with the metamorphosis of natural forms in relation to art and architecture, as well as the examination of mathematical bodies produced by nature itself, are not phenomena peculiar to the 20th and 21st centuries; these have, in fact, been present throughout the history of form.
Hence, the design practice of del Campo and Manninger—which starts from the geometries and generative processes of organic systems—reflects the principle of random mathematical images which is itself rooted in the mechanically minded philosophic tradition founded in the 17th century. “The computer serves us not primarily as an instrument for the visualization of predefined concepts, but is rather understood as a partner in designing.
Consciously employed interactions serve to facilitate manipulation and end up generating results that are surprising or otherwise not what one would have expected. Like a spontaneous mutation in nature, what can arise can be new, useful or just simply beautiful,” explain del Campo and Manninger. Formations is a further highlight in a series of relevant architectural presentations at the MAK Gallery. Following Greg Lynn. Intricate Surface (2003), Foreign Office Architects. Species – foa’s phylogenesis (2003) and the showing Hernán Diáz Alonso. Pitch Black (2008), the MAK Gallery is continuing with a further exhibition devoted to an important stance from today’s younger generation of architects.
Matias del Campo, born in Santiago, Chile in 1970, studied architecture at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He has been a guest professor at the Dessau Institute of Architecture (dia) in Dessau and the School of Architecture (ESARQ) at the International University of Catalonia in Barcelona. In 2003 he co-founded the studio SPAN architecture & design in Vienna. In 2006/07, he participated in the MAK-Schindler Scholarship Program in Los Angeles, and in 2008 he was a curator of the South American section of the Architectural Biennale in Beijing. In 2010, he co-designed the Austrian Pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai (together with Zeytinoglu ZT).
Sandra Manninger, born in Graz in 1970, studied architecture at the Vienna University of Technology. She has delivered guest lectures at the Dessau Institute of Architecture (dia) and the School of Architecture (ESARQ) at the International University of Catalonia in Barcelona. In 2003 she co-founded SPAN architecture & design in Vienna. 2006/07 saw her participate in the MAK-Schindler Scholarship Program in Los Angeles, and in 2010 she codesigned the Austrian Pavilion for Expo 2010 in Shanghai (together with Zeytinoglu ZT).