The question of cladding
University of Antwerp
The point of departure of the workshop was Semper’s writings on the
origins of architecture. According to Semper, the true and legitimate
representation of enclosure was originally enacted by woven fabrics. First
there is cladding, a building’s dress, second there is solid wall or structure to
hold it up. Besides providing protection and shelter, cladding is by necessity
representational. It forms a buildings face and is the visible, colorful, and
sensible - in a word symbolic - boundary of space. It can be described as a
discourse predicated on the surface.
It is from their superficiality
where we get an understanding of the materials that surround us. Their surfaces
move us by evoking previous feelings and experiences. We can know their weight,
we can feel their temperature, we can know their age. But besides this
phenomenological understanding they also transmit to us an intellectual one. If
they are human made, we can read the techniques and the thoughts of the people
that shaped them, the traces of themselves in inanimate things.
Making and consequentially thinking though making played a central role
in the workshop. Over the course of a week student focused on the technique of
casting. We studied the work of artists in the likes of Rachel Whiteread, Isamu
Noguchi, and Ben Nicholson. By pressing, casting, scraping, we worked
collaboratively to produce a set of life size cladding tiles: a hands-on
experiment in texture, scale and shape and an investigation on the symbolic and
representational potential of cladding.