The Carapace Filters
MIAMI, NEW YORK
Designers: Eric Goldemberg, Veronica Zalcberg
MONAD Architects were finalists in the 2008 edition of YAP. Their practice takes advantage of cutting-edge 3D computer technology, design techniques, and digital fabrication. They aim at "pulsation," a fundamental animate capacity of living forms that thrives on hyper-charged, syncopated rhythms, and sexual drive.
Q&A with MONAD Architects
MoMA PS1: How did you position yourself to get nominated?
Eric Goldemberg and Veronica Zalcberg, MONAD Architects: Terry Riley, the former Chief Curator of MoMA's Architecture and Design Department and co-creator of the YAP program, nominated us. In 2006 we moved from New York to Miami and were first discovered there by Terry—he'd given us a prize for a project we had submitted to the Miami Bienniale. Afterwards he wrote to us to ask if we would like to be nominated for the YAP competition. Of course we embraced the possibility! We could not have been any happier about our decision to move to Miami and establish a critically elastic distance with New York. This nomination proved to us that we could establish our name in New York. and Miami as a young emerging firm and enjoy the best of both worlds.
MoMA PS1: Did YAP change anything for you or your firm? When did you recognize the full potential of the competition?
MONAD Architects: Being a YAP finalist was a fantastic opportunity to challenge the way we were used to thinking and producing our design work since the main focus of the competition is on making a bold spatial statement and maximizing the means for production and network organization. We were faced with a very low budget and our own ambitions about complex geometry and curvilinear desires. We handled this elegantly, through a geometric metamorphosis of folds that were to be materialized via cheap CNC milled plastic panels, the kind used by butchers to chop meat.
These strategies about site, geometry, and materiality were also met by the need to establish a network of production to execute the design. We made alliances with a school in New York that would supply students enrolled in a "design-build" summer workshop, as well as arrange material donors and primary sponsors. The whole design was generated by basing decisions on the production network, which was then enhanced by digital fabrication means and by working with a structural consultant from Arup, David Farnsworth.
MoMA PS1: How was your design shaped by the history of YAP?
MONAD Architects: We were very self-conscious about the previous entries and knew most of the previous submissions, both built and un-built. In fact, our strategy was to produce something distinct, closer to a compact pavilion and avoiding the perception of an artistic installation, which had been the attitude of previous projects. We wanted to make a big impact in terms of producing an effect such as, "I have an elephant in my living-room!"
Our project was presented as a larger-than-life creature, something that would exceed the site and become associated with the effect of the old, brutal infrastructure insertions in the city grid of Manhattan; to that effect our structure was partially mounted on the main wall of the site, discharging part of its geometry as folded seating on the smaller rectangular courtyard and organizing the main courtyard as an aggregate of crustacean components, like the undercarriage of a lobster. In fact, the day after the submission Barry Bergdoll called us to say that our project fought until the very end with the winner and that "Your lobster gave us a lot to chew on." We will always remember that phrase as it meant that our provocation was clearly understood by the jury.
In terms of the history of the competition we are now aware that it has represented a glorious opportunity as a testing ground for a whole generation of young practices that are predicated on the generative use of digital technologies. To celebrate this, we recently organized a very successful conference in Miami called "Digital Pulse in Architecture" where of eight guest speakers, five had been YAP finalists. This was evidence of the importance of YAP as a contemporary rite of initiation and establishes a line of continuity for progressive designers.