Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Design Synergy: Collaborative Architecture and J. Mayer H.

IAnD Exclusive

By Marina Correa
Photography: courtesy J. Mayer H; Collaborative Architecture

projects - collaborative architecture and J.Mayer H
Stacked Wedges project under construction by Collaborative Architecture &
Pavilion for the City Jubilee, Schlossgarten, Karlsruhe by J. Mayer H. ©Frank Dinger 

Surpassing tie-ups that are project-specific or draw on a valuable skill a partner company possesses, this alliance begins at the very inception of research, goes deeper into innovation, design and culminates with the execution of project…

IAnD highlights details and design insights of the just-announced partnership between Mumbai-based Collaborative Architecture headed by Lalita Tharani and Mujib Ahmed and Germany-based J. Mayer H. headed by Jürgen Mayer H.  

IAnD: What are your strengths and weaknesses? In what areas do you see potential for a stronger collaborative bond?
J. Mayer H: We have a keen interest in architecture, communication and new technology and how people relate to spaces. The influence of new materials and technologies changes the way we think, design and build. Both studios are passionate about innovation and technology, which strengthens our synergies.
Collaborative: As a practice, we delve into the un-written part of a brief and give substantial added content to any prosaic program; viewing each project though a micro and macro lens. However, our excruciatingly high standards are our strength as well as weakness. Since both studios invest deeply in design, research and knowledge sharing – the benefits are immense.

sonnenhof by J.Mayer H
Sonnenhof  mixed-use in Jena, Germany                                           ©David Franck
Reflective Topography by collaborative architecture
                                                           Reflected Topography at BGRT, Bangalore, India             ©Lalita Tharani & Manish Gala

IAnD: Both studios are good with undulating patterns, contemporary interpretation of a vocabulary, varying floor plates etc; in short, challenging the conventional idiom. What is the next level you aim to accomplish with this collaboration?  
Collaborative: We have overlapping synergies in our works; at the same time our reference points of architectural productions vary greatly, owing to cultural, economic and regional parameters. With this collaboration, we go beyond India to look at selected Asian markets - we are already in advanced stages of discussion for a multi-use project in Beijing.
J. Mayer H: Both studios are more divergent than they appear to be on the surface. But yes, we do share a lot of commonalities as individuals; our design ethos and sensibilities overlap at various levels, which are our anchoring elements.

metrosol parasol by J Mayer H
Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain                                © Nikkol Rot Fotografie for Holcim Foundation
Ar. Jürgen Mayer H
Ar. Jürgen Mayer H                                                             © Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert

IAnD: What qualities, inspirations and styles can you attribute to your growing years that are an endemic part of your work?
Collaborative: We both have a keen eye for details. We can sense what works and what doesn’t, and differentiate between pretence and poetic works. We realized early on that the centrality of architecture is - people. We are acutely concerned about behavioural idiosyncrasies, differing ways people use and sense spaces. 
J. Mayer H: Over the last few years, we’ve developed a catalogue of design strategies. We are interested in questions of forms, formulas and formalities that shape the rituals of our everyday life. One major source of exploration is data protection patterns. I have a huge collection of them, found within secure mail envelops from banks or government agencies. We use these patterns in all possible scales and explore them in a variety of projects – from art installations to urban complexes.

Projects under construction from Collaborative Architecture
Projects under construction from Collaborative Architecture
Lalita Tharani & Mujib Ahmed of Collaborative Architecture
Ar. Mujib Ahmed & Ar. .Lalita Tharani of Collaborative Architecture

IAnD: Are you an artist first and then an architect or the reverse?
J. Mayer H: I don’t see much of a difference. Architecture tends to be complex because it involves so many layers of creation and execution, which can be equally joyful and painful. There are rules, clients, political dimension, even situations, when a project falls within an election schedule - which often occurs with public projects we are involved in - making the art of negotiation more crucial than the art of creation!
Collaborative: We are thinkers first and foremost. We are less of architects in the conventional sense of the term, as our design thinking is often tangential to the programs given to us. This is the most important and interesting part, as it gives immense flexibility to re-interpret it, before getting into the customary phase of realizing it in physical terms.

  1. Collaboration is… 
  2. Lalita & Mujib: Convergence of multiplicity of ideas
    Jürgen: Joining forces
  3. USP is… 
  4. Lalita & Mujib: Being able to draft our clients into our design thinking process
    Jürgen: To invest a lot in design research and formal investigation of architecture
  5. Radical to you means…
    Lalita: Way of life…
    Mujib: Being normal
    Jürgen: Asking many questions?????
  6. Design is…
    Lalita: Simple… yet complex
    Mujib: Reading the hidden brief

    Jürgen: Should work as an activator
  7. Can’t live without…
  8. Lalita: Perfection and pleasure
    Mujib: Beauty in things
    Jürgen: Curiosity and surprise

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