Kokkugia (Roland Snooks, Robert Stuart-Smith)


Kokkugia was established in 2004 as an experimental platform by Roland Snooks, Rob Stuart-Smith and Jono Podborsek, all three graduates of RMIT (Melbourne). The first two members continue to practise, dividing their time between New York, London and Melbourne. They are also active as consultants and in the academic world (at U UPenn, Columbia and RMIT for Snooks; at the Architectural Association for Stuart-Smith). The notions of complexity and emergence are at the heart of their research, which rests on the investigation of material behaviour and forms of collective intelligence in an architectural perspective. If these concerns emerge out of the analysis of the spontaneous character of the occupation of urban spaces, they rapidly become a genuine tool in the creative process, as can be seen in the Agent Drawings (2009-2012). This series of proto-architectural studies, which Kokkugia sees as “provocations”, is an exploration in drawing of the overall heterogeneity and graphic and spatial qualities resulting from the local interaction of agents – whether points, elements distinguished by a specific geometry or lines. Periodicity, thickness, asymmetry and ruptures (disasters) are variables that emerge at the micro level and determine a new tectonics, blurring traditional hierarchies. The studies of the Fibrous Towers I and II (2008) concentrate structure, ornament and connections in a fibrous exoskeleton. The envelope of the Air Baltic Terminal in Riga (2010, with Buro Happold) is supported by a veined structure which, mastered but not optimised, characterises the space through an excess of matter. Experts at handling digital tools and advocates of an open-source approach, the architects are nevertheless critical of the objectivism generally associated with the said tools. Kokkugia encourages a return to the non-linearity of conception and “messy computation”, which mixes self-organisation procedures (emergent system), mastery of results (descendant approach) as well as subjective architectural and aesthetic intentions, as for the Yeosu Pavilion (2010, with Tom Wiscombe), the Busan Opera (2010) and the Taipei Performing Arts Centre (2008).

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