J. Mayer H. Architects
J. MAYER H Architects’ studio, focuses on works at the intersection of architecture, communication and new technology. One major investment in our work is looking at expanding the material of…
What was the most difficult issue about working within this building type or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?
J. MAYER H Architects’ studio, focuses on works at the intersection of architecture, communication and new technology. One major investment in our work is looking at expanding the material of architecture, beyond say just building material. The influence of new media and new materials now expands our understanding of “space” as a platform for communication and sociocultural interactivity. We look closely at the site, critically rethink the program and try to extract something that is special to the specific site. We believe that architecture should work as an activator to move people from a passive mode of expectation to an involved level of participation and attention. In many cases, it’s the clarity of a concept itself that can be most fulfilling. And then, independent of art, architecture, or design, the feedback from the people who see it or use it can be quite touching too.. It is most rewarding when you see how our buildings become a attractor in a city an help to generate a dynamic context around. We are working on residential and infrastructural projects in Georgia right now. There is a strong curiosity to see how architecture works as a catalyst to move the country. One recently completed projects in Georgia are the new airport in Mestia, our rest-stops in Gori on the new highway crossing Georgia from East to West. The first two ones opened in early December and there are already request from the people living nearby to have their wedding party in them – quite an honour to hear that.
Did these projects expand or evolve your role as an architect and designer in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?
Our current work stretches from small scale to urban projects, from the built to the virtual. I am very curious to see how our speculations about “architecture as communication” will transform once they are handed over and begin their own life. The new border checkpoint is to become a contemporary sign to show the dynamic changes of current Georgia. The border checkpoint between Georgia and Turkey sits on the very Black Sea coast. We started with a straight line that might mark a clear limit between wo sides. By loosening up that line, undulating and overlapping it we were able to creates space in between that line, to create places to meet, to create spaces to come together rather than to separate.
How is your building possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology and society inspired new thought and solutions?
Ideally our projects create a specific identity for the place and work like activators and catalysts to generate appropriation by the people in and around the buildings. Building is the future and, by definition, the future always entails uncertainty. As architects, what we design will last for decades, sometimes even centuries, and no one would invest in a project without hoping that it might contribute to a better future. No one ever really knows if this expectation will be fulfilled, however, and in this respect architecture is always an adventure of sorts. Architecture can be “timeless” if it captures a moment. It then becomes a witness of a particular historical epoch. In the future it will serve as a retrospective account of the issues that moved society and of how we once imagined the world of tomorrow. In this sense, architecture is the most visible piece of evidence for society’s constant transformation.
In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young architects? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?
Teaching is an extremely important element in my discourse on architecture. I am mainly interested in how cultural phenomena condensate on architecture, frame new challenges in how we produce and look at architecture, and how we can speculate about the future role of architecture. Columbia University, where I am teaching right now, has recently developed into a breeding ground of intense enquiries toward that uncertainty of what architecture is. Students become scouts and specialists, or even better ‘speculationists’. What can be tested in a semester as a theoretical theses, is what in parallel concerns us in our practice.