01. A Manifesto for Minimum Dwellings: Against Oversized Architecture
Suau, C., 2008, MADE Journal, Cardiff, pp 74-83 (ISSN 1742-416X)

THE POWER OF LESS
Space is a limited resource especially in cities. Architects are dealing with new facts such as speed and lightness. Thinking about the minimum offers a manifesto of Elementarism against oversized architecture. Small design opens up unexpected trails of spatial production and provides new functional flexibility with spatial interoperability. Do more with less. The sculptor Richard Serra stated “the biggest break in the history of sculpture in the twentieth century occurred when the pedestal was removed” . If we relate this statement to architecture, what happens when the foundation is removed? With less weight, might it shrink? Can architecture become lighter and smaller?

Keywords: Compactness, Lightness, Agile Fabrication

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02. A Game in a Place: Vertical Studio - Suau & Blanco
Ferrater, C. & Pinos, C. (Suau, C., tutor), 2011, ActarBirkhauserD, Barcelona, pp 59-65 (ISBN 978-84-938493-1-3)

GAMESCAPES
The experience was led by two well-known Catalan architects: Carme Pinos and Carlos Ferrater and supported by a selected team of young architects whom played as coordinators and tutors. We all worked in pairs. The Vertical Workshop’s title was “A Game in a Place” and its aim was to discuss the relationship between architecture and the world of games. Although at first it may seem naive, sometimes architecture can be understood as if it were a game. There are some rules (i.e.: gravity) and there is a board (i.e.: a place, a landscape) The architect must design and create their own rules and strategies for communicating their ideas and then everything must be realized and constructed, is considered a similar process. I led an intensive workshop with 8 different outcomes. The selection of key projects has been commented in this book.

Keywords: Spatial Experimentation, Playability, Tactile Games, 3D Game-boards

Directors:
Carmen Pinós + Carlos Ferrater
Coordinators:
Esther Borja Ferrater + Rovira
International Jury:
Mathias Klotz
International tutors:
01.Jordi Roviras + Cristina Castelao
02.José Zabala + Irene Hwang
03.Manuel Blanco + Cristian Suau
04.Alexis Cogul + Ivan Torres
05.Jonathan Arnabat + Francisco Cifuentes

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03. Games as Potential Space-Frames
Suau, C., Communicating (by) Design, 2009, Brussels, Book edited by Sint Lukas & Chalmers University, April 2009, ISBN 9789081323802. pp. 205-213

PLAYABILITY
Spatial experimentations require ludic strategies. Games provide new situations to subvert rules and turn conventions upside down, and the unpredictable convergences between concrete and intangible, even virtual and volatile, spaces. This work is an attempt to understand the potential and latent playability of any type of spatial configuration to create and fabricate new interfaces and frameworks. What games should we play instead? In doing so we need to transform the classical sense of workshop into a game-lab, a space of non-stopping brainstorming. These reflections follow an analysis of filmic tricks by Buster Keaton and its applicability in new design process. The power of playing with less reveals a new sense in design by using three design factors: Compactness; Lightness and Speed. Finally this theoretical body is reinforced by a sequential analysis of workshop experiences and experimental research led and carried out by myself in different Schools of Architecture from 2006 onwards.

Keywords: Spatial Experimentation, Playability, Potential Architecture, Ludic Reuse of Junk

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04. D.I.Y. Nomadic Allotments, UK
Suau, C. & Davidson, Section of the book called ‘Urban Orchard’, The Architectural Foundation, London, 2011 pp. 78-79, ISSN 978-0-9519067-8-1

“DIY - NOMADIC ALLOTMENTS”

Nomadic Allotments© is part of a major applied research on ‘Potential Eco-frames’ carried out by Dr Cristian Suau and Rachael Davidson since 2004. It explores the possibilities to build up low-tech systems with zero environmental impact. It offers a feasible solution to construct your own allotment without having a land. Each mobile allotment has been constructed from reclaimed materials mainly pallets boards (frame) and packaging cases (flowerpots). Functionally each device offers a variety of growing, eating and seating areas for market-goers, local visitors and residents alike. London Festival of Architecture. Borough Market and WSA were the main supporters.

Keywords: Reuse, Low-Tech, Urban Farming, Junk-Frames, Zero Architecture

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05. One Week by Buster Keaton. Envisioning Prefab Architecture In Motion
Suau, C.& Lascelles, M., 2008, Cities in Film: Architecture, Urban Space and the Moving Image, Liverpool, pp237-243

The case study is mainly focused on B. Keaton’s masterpieces: One Week, 1920 and The Electric House, 1922. It ingeniously shows what means the montage of mass housing prefabrication as hardware and software (repetition; sense of placeless; generic layouts; and lack of appropriation) in US. The films illustrate the power of do-it-your-self applied in housing and its execution simply as an accident, a random process rather than sequential. For instance, One Week is the story of seven days construction of Sears mail-order Modern Home, a standard catalogue house, with precut, fitted pieces and appliances. This film shows a non-standardized architecture, by exploring unexpected trails of spatial production, rather random than custom-made. The ability to move, change or adapt are prerequisite for life. In the case of architecture in motion, there are some features that can play a significant role in its development: A. the expanding functions; B. variable divisions of interior space; and C. flexible furniture and appliances.
Therefore, what might non-standard manufacturing house be like? Keaton creates a parody-manifesto. The One Week’s house appears as a space-frame randomly designed for flexible living,which allows moving from one place to another or be changed in its shape or use. The Electric House is focuses on the mechanical appliances. They announce a new architecture where walls might fold over; floors shift; an escalator replaces staircase; the foundation rests on wheels; the programme metamorphoses and the appliances organise the domestic life. Parts could leave the site and return, or the entire building could collapse or become mechanised, fold up or simply transport to a different location. Keaton anticipates the architecture in motion; envisioning adaptable, light and compact spaces, with dwellers in transit.

Keywords: Film & Architecture, Customised prefab, Sears kit-houses, Buster Keaton

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06. Visionary Prefab in the Modern Age: Deconstructing Keaton’s Films
Suau, C.,DOCOMOMO Journal 42, 2012 (in press).This essay was part of the DOCOMOMO conference proceedings, Mexico City, Sept. 2010

This study analyses and compares Keaton’s filmic production with Catalog Modern House, a prefab dwelling manufactured and shipped by Sears, Roebuck and Co in the beginning of 20th century. His filmic work -'One Week' (1920); 'The Haunted House' (1921) and 'The Electric House' (1922)- reveals the montage of mass housing prefabrication in the Modern Age in the United States: Repetition and mechanisation of the building production; generic layouts; and modular like-catalogue constructions. Rather than following a sequential building process, these cases are executed as mere accidents or flaws. Buster Keaton’s films however show ironically a non-standardized architecture. The Electric House focuses on mechanical appliances. Both films announce a new architecture where walls might fold over; floors shift; an escalator replaces the staircase; the foundation rests on wheels; the programme metamorphoses and the appliances organise the domestic life. Parts could leave the site and return, or the entire building could collapse or become mechanised, folded up or simply be transported to a different location. As visionary Modern architecture, there are particular features that will be analysed in depth: The expanding functions; variable divisions of interior space; and flexible and automated furniture and appliances. What might a non-standard manufacturing Modern house look like? Keaton creates a parody-manifesto against MOMO’s mass production. Keaton anticipates the architecture in motion envisioning adaptable, light and compact spaces, with dwellers in transit. In Keaton’s work, the ability to move, change or adapt are prerequisites for Modern living.

“Visionary Prefab in the Modern Age: Deconstructing Keaton’s Films” was presented in the DOCOMOMO conference proceedings, Mexico City, September 2010. This essay is currently been published in the Journal 46 (2012) linked to the DOCOMOMO Conference 2012 in Helsinki.

Keywords: Film & Architecture, Customised prefab, Sears houses, Buster Keaton

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<07. Europan 8 Spain (Spanish/English); Railtown in Hamar, Norway
Suau, C., Zappulla, C. & Markuekiaga, N., 2006, EUROPAN Spain, Spain, pp 139-144. ISBN 84-934051-4-0

EUROPAN 8 HAMAR NORWAY (Spanish/English issue)
Urbanity in Norway seems imperative, particularly in the railway city of Hamar where its infrastructure appears as an unsolvable obstacle rather than urban potentiality. Hamar is hanging from the Scanrail network and place a strategic communicational role. It is part of the Dovre Line, a line between Oslo and Trondheim through the Gudbrandsdal valley. The project valorizes the disused railway zone by formulating a paradigmatic equation: an urban interface that combines a cultural gate which connects the city and lake, and mobile one or two stories dwellings along the railways.

Keywords: Urban Transformation, Mobile Dwellings, Intermodality

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08. Europan 8 Norway (English); Railtown: Dealing with Infrastructure in Hamar, Norway
Suau, C., Zappulla, C. & Markuekiaga, N., 2006, EUROPAN 8, Norway, pp 30-37, 93. ISBN 10-82-996901-1-0

EUROPAN 8 HAMAR NORWAY (Norwegian issue)
Jury's statement: Railtown reflects on the railway station as the infrastructural hub and motor for strengthening the city centre and starting off the development of Strandsonen.A multifuctional bridge is proposed for the site, closest to the railway station. The multifunctional railway-bridge (XL balcony) creates a physical and programmatic link between the city and the future Strandsonen development.The rail-bridge-complex can become a magnet, capable of generating urban life in the city centre. By stitching together spaces for a series of new public programmes, this mega-structure strengthens the role of the station area as an important hub for the city and the region. The rest of the competition area, on the other hand, becomes a display for experimental housing focusing on low-energy consumption both in production and use phases. The railway housing makes use of the railway tracks as a way to structure future development. By introducing a large-scale building, Railtown instigates an important discussion of the role of the train station area as a motor in the urban development of potential regional importance. The jury values the project's strategy of inserting several key architectural elements, rather than drawing up a whole new city for Strandsonen, as so many competition entries have done.As an idea in itself, the great flexibility of the housing project is interesting, but it does not show a convincing urban infrastructure for this spesific space. More info at www.europan.no

Keywords: Urban Transformation, Mobile Dwellings, Intermodality

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09. Urban Corners, Barcelona
Suau, C. & Levan, M.,2003, FAD edition, Barcelona, pp 139

URBAN CORNERS - RACONS PUBLICS (Catalan/Spanish/English issue)
International urban design competition for the urban empowerment of public spaces in Barcelona, old city. More info at http://fad.cat/raconspublics

Keywords: Urban Regeneration, Landscaping

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10. Pallet Housing System - PHS© (design patent)
Suau, C., 2003, PLEA edition, Santiago de Chile, Volume 2, pp 230-236. ISBN 1902916166, ISBN 1902916166
Suau, C., 2005, PLEA edition, Eindhoven, Volume 1, pp 123-129. ISBN 1902916166

PHS© - PALLET HOUSING SYSTEM

Purchasing a house is one of the biggest expenses that a dweller ever invests. But, does it need to be costly? One field where costs can be reduced and where affordable building solutions are undergoing great experimentation is the domestic application of junk or disused materials. Also the search of new elementary dwellings is partly illustrated by the number of self-builder and designers who are making houses utilizing, for instance, tea-containers or reconditioned shipping boards, by re-adapting various materials under low-tech manufacturing. However, what is the “cutting edge” of eco-dwelling systems today?
The PHS© project performs as an affordable housing structure based on pallet units capable of becoming an elemental dwelling. Also it provides thermal comfort by using passive techniques. What should we design instead? Here, PHS© also appears as a manifesto of Elementarism against over-packaged architecture, exploring the use of delimited models as a strategy for freeing up unexpected trails of spatial production. Thus this design process provides new flexibility and interoperability, by identifying potential obstacles; exploring possible architectures; looking at potential low-technologies and defining architectural models and guidelines. It is an open design system, involving several general parameters such as programmatic condition, climates, location, a flexible and lightweight structural frame and a cheap budget. Inevitable, we may find specific design parameters in PHS©: flexible and collapsible plan (variable divisions of interior spaces and flexible furniture) and low technology construction. Basically, this study is focused on architectural, constructive and climatic tool design both to achieve simpler wood-frame constructive solutions -applicable both in buildings and furniture- using recyclable shipping pallet boards and also to generate an indoor thermal comfort by passive energy systems applied in experimental sheds located in cold, temperate and arid lands.
This research was initially been supported by the Ministry of Education, Spain (2003) and carried out at Chalmers University of Technology. It also has been registered as patent design in the Swedish Patent and Registration Office. Since 2004, an advanced applied research on PHS© prototypes took place at the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Arts, NTNU, Norway. It constitutes a continuation of previous studies on potential wooden architecture since 2001, by using disused or recycled pallet boards as wood-frame systems both in dwelling framing and mobile furniture.

Keywords: Affordable Housing, Reuse, Low-Passive Energy, Junk-Frames, Zero Architecture

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