Architecture and Aesthetic Practice (AAP) explores architecture in relation to the arts to infuse architectural design with original and critical ideas and practices. At this juncture when architecture has lost much of its critical edge due to its allegiance with technological positivism and capitalist incentives, AAP relates selectively to the arts in order to critically engage with the conceptual, theoretical and practical aspects of architectural design. Contemporary architecture has a vast output in both rural and urban settings, yet its critical stance with respect to this output and its varied contexts is often questionable. Moored to conventions that are reified through individual and collective cultural norms as well as capital investments that come hand-in-hand with market expectations, architecture delivers little more than its share of predictable economical and social performance.
AAP attempts to radicalise the flow of information and procedures that comprise the conceptual and practical work in architectural design.
By engaging with select art disciplines, AAP seeks to learn from artistic, material practices that frequently display a rigorous and critical yet playful engagement with their subject matter and context. Staging these impulses through architecture's disciplinary specfic media, AAP explores how building design unfolds in the meticulous accentuation of material and spatial forms.
Against this background, questions of aesthetics are of particular interest - specifically new forms of representation that embrace both the production and decoding of entities within emerging symbol systems set against a wide spectrum of technology driven processes.
In architecture, these processes are increasingly engendered by different levels of computation with which also the question of new forms of aesthetics arises. AAP seeks to take advantage of the arts' flirtatious yet critical relation to representational ordering systems and their value.
Where architecture often skirts cultural and political contexts within which it works, the arts frequently embrace social issues such as questions of gender, capital distribution and more as well as questions of presence and absence in spatio-temporal terms. Hence, while the work of AAP is intrinsically tied to architecture's disciplinary specific agenda, it does not absolve itself from political life in its various forms.
AAP uses its relationships to the arts for the similarities and differences that they present architecture with to animate inquiries into architectural specific conditions. The specialisation ingests select critical inquiries, paradigmatic positions and methodological practices in the arts to fully mould them as means for contributing to architectural thinking and design.
AAP's programme is conceived as a continued, ongoing engagement with select ideas and practices within the arts. Over the last three years, a specific interest in choreographic strategies through notational systems has emerged to bridge between the annual sub-themes for the research and experiments.
Meanwhile, the latter are planned on a tri-annual cycle currently comprising the performative arts (2013-14 and 2016-17), stage art (2014-15 and 2017-18) and food and cooking (2015-16 and 2018-19).
The work in AAP is undertaken in collaborations with artists and art institutions. Till date, this has included the dance ensemble Mamaza (Frankfurt), the Dutch artist Gabriel Lester as well as the German composer and opera director Heiner Goebbels and his students at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies (ATW), Justus-Liebig University in Gießen.
The current work looks to the culinary arts as a field of radical innovation and as a means for engaging with some of the most pressing social-cultural issues of our time. The work is based on a wider spectrum of collaborations, including collaborative ties with AtelierSlice (Stockholm) and the Geniesserakademie (Frankfurt).
AAP was introduced in SAC's programme in 2013 and replaced Architecture and Critical Spatial Practice.
The Feast aims to use culinary practices and innovative culinary arts as a powerful field for architectural experiments and innovation. The programme explores culinary art and its radical and sometimes innovative transformation of matter into a choreographed and carefully sequenced experience for social life in order to transpose lessons and experimental opportunities for architectural design. In so doing, The Feast deploys practical, experimental lessons in the kitchen to re-engage public imagination and the social potential of collective experience. The programme invites its students to formulate their thesis propositions in the form of a series of culinary social centres for select cultural institutions in Frankfurt am Main. The architecture of these centres will be conceived, developed and designed on the basis of the preparations and execution of The Feast, a large dining event hosted by the students in AAP for a group of invited guests at the time of Rundgang, which is Städelschule’s open-house-exhibition in mid-February.
The experimental project engages with the culinary arts as the inventive planning and production for human nutrition, sustenance and pleasure. The aim of the project is to deliver a vast research and educational experience for architectural design where The Feast itself is a cooking and dining event for invited guests hosted by AAP students at Rundgang in mid-February, 2016.
Preparations for The Feast comprises in-depth research and architectural design experiments based on the cutting edge strategies for innovation in the culinary arts. The Feast abstracts and explores architects’ creative work process and goal oriented planning by shifting the attention to the ephemeral production of a dinner party. By unfolding the traditional elements that constitute a holistic dining experience - food, service, atmosphere - and understanding their temporality, the research and experiments will seek to establish a new framework for creating sequenced composition, choreography and effects for architectural design.
In the summer semester the lessons and experimental results had from The Feast will be transposed to architecture and comprise the basis for the respective students’ conceptualisation, development and design of a culinary social centre for one of the many cultural institutions in Frankfurt am Main.
Collaborative partners 2014-15: Heiner Goebbels and students (Institute for Applied Theatre Studies (ATW), Justus-Liebig University, Gießen)
Workshop: Gabriel Lester
For a joint exploration of light in the contexts of installation work, performance and architecture, AAP teamed up with the Institute for Applied Theater Studies at Justus-Liebig University. The experiments and research addressed light’s spatial and temporal qualities as an inherent compositional and choreographic element in all creative work. Whether directly or indirectly addressed, light renders the world tangible and legible. While its physics, a duality of waves and particles, is understood as packages of energy, its metaphysics has always been employed and interpreted as a gateway to the divine and the mystical. However, when light is considered intangible and immaterial, it is nevertheless also intimately material.
From theatre and opera to film, from painting to video art, from sculpture to architecture and light art as such, light(s) dramatises the narrative and its underlying structure and produces immediate effects. If ‘seeing the light’ bespeaks revelation and understanding, it also casts the obvious and visible back into wonder. It is light(s) unspeakable counterpoint to darkness that is at stake, a duality that is not given by a dialectic but where one is hidden inside the other and infinite spectra of energy and colour lie latent within. The presence or absence of all kinds of shadows act as the go-between. From the minuscule structure of fibrous materiality to the expanse of the shifting depth and geometry of oceans, light(s) plays with the composition of the world and renders it colourful, silent, loud, bleak, stark, flickering, explosive…
The research results served as the basis for the design of a new art and architecture academy or, more precisely, a new Städelschule, situated off the northern banks of the river Main.
Collaborative partners 2013-14: Fabrice Mazliah, Ioannis Mandafounis and May Zarhy (MAMAZA)
Garden State - Cinematic Space and Choreographic Time was a yearlong experimental project undertaken Architecture and Aesthetic Practice (AAP). The project explored topics related to gardens, cinema and dance and eventually turned the results of their research and experiments into architectural proposals for art centres in Frankfurt.
The programme originated with a collaboration between AAP and the international dance and performance ensemble, Mamaza, comprising at the time of Fabrice Mazliah, May Zarhy and Ioannis Mandafounis. Mamaza invited AAP to collaborate on their planned installation, Garden State, which was scheduled for three days in February, 2014 in the Frankfurt art centre, Mounsonturm. Garden State comprised 'an enacted thought' and literally saw a garden being installed in Mounsonturm, choreographed and built on the basis of visitors’ lending their home plants to the four day-long project. The greened stage served as a public sphere where people gathered to amuse one another, refine their tastes and engage in conversation and shared activities.
Garden State - Cinematic Space and Choreographic Time posed questions about a choreography of space and inhabitation. It animated matter and heightened the performative character of space and posed a direct link between matter, our environment and daily lives.
Garden State went on to also be installed in Buenos Aires and in the Teatro Fondamente Nuove in Venice. The research, the project and associated material formed the main content for the SAC Journal 3.
20-23. February 2018
SAC’s winter semester closes with End-of-Semester Reviews. The First Semester Group presents its work on February 20-21 and the Master Thesis Studios follow on February 22-23.
8-11. February 2018 18:00 pm
The Städelschule Rundgang is the school's annual open house exhibition. This year it takes place from February 8-11. SAC will exhibit the work and installations of its students and host events.
27-28. October 2017
13-14. July 2017 Städelschule Aula
1-5. June 2017
The Städelschule Rundgang is the school's annual open house exhibition. This year, on occasion of Städelschule’s 200-year jubilee, it takes place from June 1 to 5. SAC will exhibit the work and installations of its students and host events.
4-7. May 2017 Städelschule Aula
Together with the SAC Faculty Dave Pigram and Theodore Spyropoulos joined for the reviews of the Master Thesis Group.
18 February 2017
13-15. February 2017 Städelschule Aula
The Master Thesis Group had its End-of-Semester Review featuring a wonderful review panel. The panel included the return of Mirco Becker to SAC, Benjamin Reynolds and Tobias Nolte.
03 February 2017
20 October 2016 17:00 pm - Städelschule Aula
7-8. July 2016 10:00 am - DAM / The German Architecture Museum
29 May 2016 14:30 pm