SPAN (Matias del Campo, Sandra Manninger)


Matias del Campo (b. 1970) and Sandra Manninger (b. 1970) both graduated in architecture from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and the Vienna University of Technology, respectively. Teachers-researchers (Fudan University, Shanghai and University of Pennsylvania) and recipients of the Schindler Scholarship Program in Los Angeles, they founded SPAN in 2003. Their projects are born out of generative processes inspired by organic systems and, in the tradition of Greg Lynn, of the spatial potentialities generated by the fluxes and the forces imposed on forms by 3D animation software. Using parametric tools combined with simulation programmes, SPAN makes use of the formative capacity of environmental forces (sunshine, weather systems, acoustic forces and the acoustic pressures of wind or sound), and combines them with tangible architectural issues such as apertures, circulation, transitions or the division of space. Their projects – whether buildings, exhibition scenographies or furniture – are characterised by complex curved geometries, continuous surface areas, and the search for sensitive, voluptuous environments. Among their first projects, Planless House (2006) is a good illustration of the studio’s conceptual vision. SPAN impulses an external force to a parallelepiped and then provokes deformations of variable size. Conducting advanced research into cutting-edge technologies, materials and digital fabrication, Del Campo and Manninger jointly introduced the idea that space is defined by the very quality of materials and not only by a plan defined upstream. The Planless House project, like those of the award-winning Brancusi Museum in Paris in 2008 or the Austrian Pavilion at Expo2010 in Shanghai (designed with Zeytinoglu ZT) respond to a topological approach of space that takes into account the relations between the elements. These projects favour total continuity of the building. Punctuated by soft transitions, it manifests itself by the biomorphic aspect of the structures as much as by the uninterrupted passage from one space to the next or again, in the case of the Shanghai Pavilion, by the subtle gradation of the china tiles covering the façade. SPAN’s work was the subject of the Formations exhibition in 2011, designed as a comprehensive spatial installation.

Nadine Labedade

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