Architecture Without Content

13. Boxes For America

This studio is the 13th incarnation of Architecture Without Content. Architec-ture Without Content started as research on the Big Box in 2010. The idea being that the architecture was reducible to its very perimeter, where the economy of the envelope determined the success of the building. From the start, the studios have been interested in an argument for scale, turning even the most mundane of gestures into monumental presence. A big box transforms the territory it inhabits, despite a complete ignorance towards its immediate surroundings. 

If one considers the Architecture of the United States, the Big Box is undoubtedly part of its DNA. This was so in 1960s corporate America, but is perhaps today—due to recent developments within the champions of American distribution and technology—more than ever the case; Big Boxes provide a mirror image. So perhaps, portraits of Big Boxes do in one way or another represent the country they support. 

In Fall 2014 we made an exhibition at RedCat in L.A. called “Museum for the American Metaphor”. The show made a case visually for a possible architecture that originated in an idealisation of the mid and far west of America. A group of objects and sculptures, pictures and details were presented, which in one way or another, mediate their scale and presence. The small museum was understood as their virtual context, each of the rooms was an exercise in scale, size and representation. If indeed there is still a possible “American” architecture, perhaps it is the one hinted at in that show. If we reconsider Boxes for America, we must combine the themes of the exhibition, with the pragmatism and economy of means of a reality out there, in order to redevelop the features of a possible American Architecture Without Content. 

Some of the features are quite evident. Size, lack of detail and an almost graphical relation with context, have been tested in minimal art, land art and conceptual art from the 60s onwards. The argument then was to find a truly American size of art. We cannot be ignorant towards this suggestion. 

In this studio we will make a total of 6 portraits of Boxes for America. In each of these sets we believe we should capture “America” along with the representation of the project proper. In the aforementioned tradition of land art and conceptual art, we will use scale through measurement and will work simply with the metric system—it being the simplest incarnation of size and measuring. Frame and object will ultimately incorporate all the imprecisions and irregularities of the landscape the boxes will inhabit. Thus the set of perspectives and plans will act as a frame to a specific world, a window to a universe of inches and feet, as an act of impunity.

Boxes For AmericaMuseum for the American Metaphor, RedCat Los Angeles, 2014, © Luise Lambri