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Know your place

Maria Smith

Abstract specification for an architect distanced by design and build

D20/168 Site clearance: Undertake a dérive that fundamentally misunderstands the context and situation of the project and situationism in general. From it divine information that might otherwise be brought to light via a survey. Look as if looking liking move. Lie as if lying on the texture of the fabric of history itself. Map with the panache of a pioneer thrashing through the undergrowth without irony, with romanticism. Subsequently, clear site of unprepossessing chattels and detritus incongruous to the psychogeography of the vicinity. Contractor to submit proposals.

E10/105 Designated concrete for foundations: Mix to achieve a cool grey on the precipice of a warm grey so as to tantrically press against the line separating depression and a hopped-up notion of neutrality. Aggregates in accordance with the reassuring coarse affection assumed to have been exhibited by the light industrial workers who once frequented the site and leave granular emotional traces like the gritty love of a distant father. Contractor to submit proposals.

E20/110 Formwork loadings: Design and construct formwork to withstand the worst combination of the total weight of formwork, reinforcement, concrete, optimism bias, colonial guilt, inexplicable beliefs of concrete as a homogeneous magical material that can withstand all types and magnitudes of forces regardless of geometry, design of a sub-grid that speaks to the incongruity between technical and aesthetic pedagogies, wind and snow loads. Contractor to submit proposals.

F10/5B Facing brickwork to external walls above dpc: Bricks, bricks, of course bricks. Not slips, of course: they don’t sit in the hand with a girthy mass and massive bumph that nestles into our palms and imprints onto the ridges of our fingers with a co-evolved truth, an inherent rightness, a fundamental belonging in man-handled merit, just so, just so. Contractor to submit proposals.

F31/10 Precast lintels: As the arc of a perfect brow, expanding in a delighted contortion, playfully colluding in a mockery with an elegance belying an intelligence of the sort that appreciates mathematical beauty and cruel sarcasm with equal aplomb, can bring the most sensible of us to our knees, so a lintel must effortlessly mediate, nearing a multitude with erudite innocence feigned. Contractor to submit proposals.

Setting-out to be similarly symphonic with obsequious reference to the unspoken dogma ingrained in the widespread cultural indignation towards arithmetic

G20/002 Timber procurement: Timber to be obtained from well managed forests in accordance with the morals divested by a children’s cartoon set in a South American rainforest exploring the network of personified relationships between a charmingly illustrated cohort of characters, all wide-eyed and promised land, all independent and inter-democratic, all de-caffeinated and de-sexualized come hither without hesitance, all for one and one for all or similar and approved. Contractor to submit proposals.

H10/030 Glass: The windows to the sole heir to the sunlight diffused effervescently by the bio-dome of our home planet with a pallet befitting a rightfully bequeathed upon proper administration of rights to light long reflected in law and in social bounds collectively decreed and individually derided, splintering each player in a prism of invisible looks, overlooked, over a crystal chalice metaphorically both present and absent, both glaring and retracting, both with us and against. Contractor to submit proposals.

H60/010 Tiling: Glazed by hand so the fleeting caress of the edge of a thumb nail plays a quiet choreography in harmony with the spider web of fine cracks that bloom across every surface to evoke in the under-educated a reference to fractals casually commented with a fizz of arrogance as if commanding the random. Setting-out to be similarly symphonic with obsequious reference to the unspoken dogma ingrained in the widespread cultural indignation towards arithmetic. Contractor to submit proposals.

K10/065 Dry lining: Neatly and accurately, plumb, square and true to line and level and logic and the laws of yes. Practically perfect in every way. Just right. Checked and re-checked. Measure twice, cut once. Cut and watch it heal. Heel to order. Order according to accordingly in accordance with a pretend assurance that everything is going to be alright. Do not accept the unacceptable. Have the courage to change everything until it is impeccable. Exactly only to be approved. Contractor to submit proposals.

M52/012 Wallpaper: With dots. With stripes. With pattern. With texture. With striations. With indentations. With form. With content. With apology. With irony. With irk. With incongruity. With nostalgia. With purpose. With pomp. With status. With outrage. With impatience. With hope. With taste. With paste. With layer. With confidence. With appropriateness. With appropriation. With tautness. With affection. With caresses. With pressure. With promise. With permanence. With respect to suppliers’ method statements. Contractor to submit proposals.

Maria Smith  is a director of architecture and engineering practice Interrobang and curator of Turncoats



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