Young Architects Forum 2006:
Instability

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Featuring work by Yansong Ma and Yosuke Hayano; Betsy and Shane Williamson; Craig Borum and Karl Daubman; Julio Salcedo; Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman; and David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang

April 27-June 14, 2006
The Urban Center
457 Madison Avenue
New York City

Instability is the twenty-fifth annual exhibition of work by winners of the Architectural League’s Young Architects Forum. Participants are chosen through a competition announced by a “call for entries” each fall.

The theme for the competition, developed by the Young Architects Committee, changes every year to reflect current issues in architectural design and theory. The committee, a group selected each year from past participants in the Young Architects Forum, also asks prominent members of the design community to serve with them on the jury. In addition to committee members Douglas Gauthier, Naji Moujaes, and Beth Weinstein, jurors for 2006 were architects Craig Dykers, Craig Konyk, Monica Ponce de Leon, and artist Sarah Sze.

Each competition entrant was asked to explain how his or her work responded to this year’s competition theme, “Instability,” which probed the architectural ramifications of social, political, and climatic flux—and asked entrants to consider how improvisational and flexible design methodologies might shape their work. The committee posed a series of questions for entrants to address: Are flexible methods a necessary response to unstable conditions and an essential component of design practice? Have borrowed terminologies, ad hoc techniques, and structural improvisations evolved from prescribed methodologies and familiar forms? What is the relative value of these design tools in relationship to aesthetics? How might young architects challenge preset programs, and re-imagine well-established forms to situate their architectural practices?

The competition winners addressed these questions as they considered the methods and materials of contemporary practice and the implications for how architecture spatially describes the ways we live and move, at home and in public space. At every scale, from lamps and fish tanks to parks and large-scale buildings, their work revises and reshapes familiar forms programmatically and through innovative fabrication techniques. Some young architects borrow patterns of natural growth and movement to model interior space. Others look to biological processes for clues to create interactive and sensory ‘responsive’ surfaces, and flexible structures. In almost every project on display, digital and traditional design methods yield unexpected and stylistically diverse combinations of elements fabricated using new technologies, such as computer numerically controlled milling (CNC), with ’off the rack’ materials. In all cases ‘Instability’ by no means implies uncertainty, but instead an open-ended call for inventive design and construction.

Above: Exhibition installation.  Photo: David Sundberg/Esto.

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