dECOi (Mark Goulthorpe)

In the Shadow of Ledoux, 1993

Invited to design a project questioning the concept of public and private space, dECOi drew inspiration from two projects by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, a French utopian architect of the Age of Enlightenment: the spherical house of the Gardes Forestiers (forest rangers) and Baths of the City of Chaux, both of which offer a vision, radical at the time, of the private and the public. Goulthorpe worked on a collage of these two projects, and then on their shadow, which resulted in a form that was “non-geometric, unpredictable and perfectly unbuildable.” To this end, a “condom filled with plaster forms the formal basis, questioned as a possible contemporary model of public vs. private space. This process, which is a transition somewhere between collage and morphing, generates a curving and limitless surface, resembling the Möebius strip, where inside and out are not strictly defined. This piece, on the scale of 1:1, of 3.4 m in height, is composed of 365 annular sheets of plywood cut from slices that form the basic model, slices that are enlarged with the help of an opaque projector. With this uninterrupted space, Goulthorpe aims to demonstrate that it is no longer architecture that is being projected into space but rather it is the “flow of space that penetrates architecture, which has become a silent and indifferent vessel.” The extreme difficulty dECOi encountered when creating this form with its complex curves prompted them to develop in their later projects precise methods for generating forms and to no longer rely on arbitrary ones. A spectacular and groundbreaking object, this project also expresses the “potential latency” of architectural form freed from the burden of literal representation; it heralds the search of an entire generation of architects that is today exploring topological spaces and the possibilities of a praxis of random creation.

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