Bryony Roberts + South Shore Drill Team Performance at the Federal Center, Chicago Chicago Architecture Biennial October 2-3, 2015
Conceived for the Chicago Architecture Biennial, this collaborative performance was created by artist-architect Bryony Roberts and choreographer Asher Waldron of the South Shore Drill Team. Mies van der Rohe’s Federal Center in Chicago is a monument of modern architecture and national government, unified by a relentless and ever-present grid. It was initiated by Mayor Richard Daley in the late 1950s, at a time of great investment in the downtown Loop, and disinvestment in the predominantly African-American South Side of Chicago. Responding to both the architectural space and its larger social history, this project introduces a dynamic performance by the South Shore Drill Team, a youth organization from the South Side. Merging military drill routines with hip-hop choreography, the group transforms the lines of the Miesian grid into an electrifying system of movement. Their transformation challenges the current militarization of public space and the longstanding segregation of urban space in Chicago.
Photography by Andrew Bruah Video by Andy Resek of Winterbeach Productions
Site-specific Installation The American Academy in Rome Cinque Mostre Exhibition February-May, 2016
Primo Piano responds to the unique stone floor of the American Academy in Rome entryway as well as the surrounding tradition of patterned stone floors in Rome. The entryway floor is a modest, neo-Renaissance pattern of travertine circles and diamonds inlaid into peperino stone. In the vicinity are examples of medieval Cosmatesque floors, with intricate patterns of circles, triangles, and squares, and ornate floors of the Baroque period, with sweeping curvilinear forms and multicolored marbles that create illusions of depth. The new pattern, made with adhesive vinyl shapes, creates a visual oscillation between the existing pattern and references to the surrounding Cosmatesque and Baroque precedents. As the Cosmatesque floors were designed to guide church processions, so this project both responds to and alters the way the Academy entryway directs movement into the building.
These studies are inspired by patterned stone floors in Rome, in which precious stones are cut and inlaid into intricate geometric patterns. In particular, the project looks at the medieval Cosmati floors seen throughout central Italy, in which simple geometric forms - squares, diamonds, and circles - accumulate into complex fields of texture through the combination of different marbles.
These collages explore the interplay between material and pattern, in particular how the texture of a material can complicate and subvert a geometric pattern. The project investigates how the color, veining, and mirroring of marble textures can enrich medieval geometries. These studies are both drawings and designs for future installations. As architectural drawings, these collages experiment with representing space not through line but through only the juxtaposition of color and texture.
Bryony Roberts + Melissa Lohman Site-specific performance Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome Supported by the American Academy in Rome June 16, 2016
A collaboration between Bryony Roberts and dancer/choreographer Melissa Lohman, this project stages an encounter between contemporary performers and the monumental space of the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome. Famously redesigned by Michelangelo in the 16th century, the space features a central oval ground with a spiraling pattern, which was later realized by Mussolini. The dancers alternately trace and deviate from the patterned ground, responding to both the centralizing and decentralizing elements of the space. Measuring the space with their bodies and with long white rods, the dancers turn a dutiful study of the pattern into a more varied confrontation with its constraints.
Dancers: Chiara Casciani, Maria Elena Curzi, Silvia Franci, Lucrezia Micheli, and Chiara Pacioni Percussionist: Angela Naccari Video editing: Jamie Lansdowne Video camera operators: Clarissa Cappellani and Raffaella Antonutti Photography: Claudia Pajewski, Antonio Convista, and Javier Galindo
Corpo Estraneo Video
Site-specific installation Orange County Museum of Art, CA Cal-Pac Triennial 2017 May 6 - September 3, 2017
“Imprint” is a cast of the sandblasted, concrete facade of the Orange County Museum of Art. The piece was commissioned for the OCMA California-Pacific Triennial, which focuses on themes of architecture and permanence, since the institution will soon be leaving this building. The goal of the piece was to document and to reproduce the sensous tactility of the Brutalist facade, but also to problematize the act of documentation.
In recent writings and teaching, I’ve been exploring the idea of drawing coming from physical contact rather than scaled abstraction. Processes of documentation and representation are themselves corporeal and involve physical movement around a structure. For example, the act of surveying a building is a kind of choreography where two people move around a structure and measure it with their bodies. Even contemporary laser scanning and photogrammetry reflect the positions of the observers gathering data.
So I wanted this record this building through an act of physical contact. To do that, the fabricators from ADM Works made a silicone cast of the building, which in turn acted as a mold for a fiberglass cast. The resulting fiberglass copy of the building is a 1:1 replica, that captures every detail of the texture, but in a completely different material. It's translucent and light instead of opaque. Since the piece is installed in the glass windows of the front facade, the piece is backlit by daylight and appears even more ethereal. The positioning of the piece was meant to create sculptural continuity with the surrounding facade, but noticeable material discontinuity. This highlights the artificiality of the representation--its difference from the original. This is an intentional contrast to other traditions of documentation and reconstruction in preservation, which aim for objectivity. Instead, this copy acknowledges its own artificiality and the corporeal dimension of its construction. Installed facing the lobby, the texture of the brutalist facade becomes a sensuous surface that visitors are invited to touch.
Photography by Jaime Kowal, Bryony Roberts
Site-specific Installation Neutra VDL House, Los Angeles Supported by the Graham Foundation July 13 - September 7, 2013
IInverting Neutra is an installation at Richard and Dion Neutra’s VDL House II (1932/1966) in Los Angeles that offers spatial inversion as a strategy for activating historic architecture. The project calls attention to the void spaces of the house - the exterior patios that weave through the interior, in an interlocking of exterior and interior space. Filling the voids with hanging blue cords, the project turns attention to those spaces rather than the solid architecture. Since the blue cords are weighed only with light fishing weights, they move in the breeze and in response to touch, creating a constantly shifting fields of color within the house. In addition, the blue cords are cut to follow the contours of human movement, for example, dropping lower in a seating area and lifting up above the main stair. The result is an interactive and dynamic installation that calls attention to the constantly shifting environmental and social activity in the house.
Solo exhibition Pinkcomma Gallery 49 Waltham Street, Boston September 6 - October 14, 2016
Tailored is a collection of shapes that interlock with human bodies. Fitting closely around shoulders, chests, and hips, the objects offer intimate contact on a level not usually found in furniture or architecture.
This exhibition builds upon the artist´s ongoing work with pre-existing buildings, in which she measures and extends the idiosyncrasies of historic architecture. Her work focuses on specificity rather than generality—how the details of an existing condition can be generative, rather than the imposition of an external system.
In Tailored, the pre-existing condition is human bodies, each defined by individual shapes and sizes. While each piece in the show is tailored to a different person, the project produces surprising commonalities in proportion and dimension between people of different genders and sizes—generating an ambiguity between the specific and the general. The abstraction and ambiguity of the shapes produces an open playfulness as people find their own configurations of interlocking.
Assistants: Andrew Brookes, Zhuang Guo, Caleb Hawkins, Chris Mollica, Brian Park, Huopu Zhang Materials generously donated by Filz Felt
Invited Masterplan Government Quarter, Oslo, Norway Spring, 2015
Bryony Roberts led the Oslo School of Architecture (AHO) team to produce an invited masterplan for the government district in Oslo. The masterplan addresses the transformation of postwar modernist buildings by Erling Viksjø that were bombed on July 22 2011 by Anders Breivik. The AHO Team submitted alongside other invited teams such as BIG, Snøhetta, and MVRDV, and offered the perspective of experimental preservation. The AHO Team project most actively questioned the government plans for the site and advocated for the preservation of the existing buildings. As a result, it garnered massive support from the general public and architecture community, and took first place in the NRK national poll.
This project identifies the existing condition as a "monumental field," in which buildings from multiple time periods and architectural styles represent aspects of Norwegian society. "Open Quarter" extends the underlying grids of this monumental field to structure a thickened ground plane and the placement of new towers, which must accommodate over 2 million square feet of new office space.
Team Advisers: Jorge Otero-Pailos, Erik Langdalen, Christian Parreno, Guttorm Ruud Graduate Students: Helle Bendixen, Nina Gjersøe, Liv Hanstad, Hauk Lien, Eva Negård, Ida Nordstrøm, Liv Oppenbøen, Rebecca Schulz With assistance from Craig Konyk's students at Columbia GSAPP
These wearable props join together bodies and buildings. Acting like prosthetics, the objects fit precisely between part of a body and part of a structure. They are two-sided objects, with one side fitting into corners and edges of buildings and the other side fitting around human bodies. A materialization of the negative space between bodies and structures, they also augment experiences of sitting and leaning. They have multiple uses and configurations, but always produce an interdependency between the user and the surrounding architecture.
Experiments conducted at the American Academy in Rome by Bryony Roberts and in public spaces in Rome with dancer Melissa Lohman.
Thinkspace Competition Honorable Mention 2014
This project proposes subtractions to postwar towers in Los Angeles, in order to expose the spatial possibilities of the existing structural frames and to develop an aesthetic of subtraction to rival new construction. While these buildings were built near the end of architecture’s faith in a universal grid, this project aims to appropriate and reconfigure the grid to generate spaces of surprise and differentiation. Wherever clusters of density exist in Los Angeles, such as along the Wilshire Corridor or in Downtown, there is a plethora of 1960s and 70s exposed concrete frame towers. Built in a range of scales and construction quality, one could say this is one of the most characteristic building types of the Los Angeles area. This design proposal pursues how a subtractive process could address the programmatic obsolescence of these buildings and generate a new experiential environment based on the grid.
Site-specific performance Inner City Arts, Los Angeles For LA Forum's ForumFest, 2013
For this live intervention, performers wear geometric shapes that fit precisely into the negative spaces of Michael Maltzan's Inner City Arts complex. Shaped by the angular lines of the existing architecture, the shapes slot into corners and recombine to form different additions to the buildings. In contrast to a static installation, the performance creates an interlocking of the human body, prosthetic shapes, and existing architecture.
Cityvision New York Competition Honorable Mention 2013
Open Zones offers a horizontal framework for stitching together historic landmarks, public space, and new development across Manhattan. This strategy reconciles the otherwise incompatible agendas that have guided New York City planning over the last hundred years: the modernist ideal of open public space, the preservation of historic architecture, and the recent turn toward sustainable densification.
Exposing the structural frames of existing and new architecture, Open Zones reveals an open field that enables connections across disparate units through expansive, luminous public space. Challenging the characteristic verticality of Manhattan, the horizontality of each zone generates new part-to-whole relationships between former icons and the public zone. Each building is simultaneously part of a field and an individual monument.
One Prize Competition 2014
Responding to the architecture of Building 128 in the Brooklyn Navy Yards and the need for a flexible learning space, Central Dock offsets the shape of the gable roof to activate the vertical section of the building. Like a ship docking in the center of the building, the Central Dock acts as a hub for surrounding occupants, concentrating shared programming of exhibition, cafe, and screening spaces.
With assistance from Connor Gravelle and Carolina Murcia
Site-specific installation Brooklyn, New York 2006
This site-specific installation explores how the insertion of a new figure can interlock with an existing space to transform its perceptual and programmatic conditions. The project raises the datum of a bathroom floor and wraps the new elevated floor surface around all of the existing furniture and bathroom fixtures. The new datum makes the existing objects appear to rise out of a larger volume, but also maintains the original function of the bathroom. The figure both asserts a new whole and leaves the existing objects intact. .