Cultured Magazine

February/March 2015

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104 CULTURED IMAGES COURTESY FREELANDBUCK TIME TO DISCONNECT Though they made their mark with technologically complex architectural projects, David Freeland and Brennan Buck are taking a lo-fi approach in their latest commissions. BY DAVID SOKOL In 2009, David Freeland and Brennan Buck vied to design a new pavilion for British art gallery The Lightbox. The former UCLA classmates entered the competition as a tr ial partnership; the effort yielded a proposal called Stack Pavilion and, several months later, the bicoastal studio FreelandBuck. Freeland says Stack Pavilion served as another test—of his and Buck's expertise in CNC fabrication. The Lightbox brief stated that the winning scheme needed to be built using the technology, which appealed to the friends' mutual interest in "how to leverage complexity in arc hitecture." Their pavilion took full advantage of the digital equipment, transforming plain sheets of plywood into an elaborate array of triangular frames that assembled into a freestanding volume. A smaller version of The Lightbox submission was realized as part of an exhibition at the Woodbury University Hollywood Outpost (WUHO) in 2011. Although FreelandBuck pursued the Stack design over several yea rs, it would be wrong to peg the Los Angeles- and New York-based firm as just another "fab lab." Whereas most architects working in high-tech design and construction typically produce surface elements like façades, Buck explains, "We're more interested in applying the idea of digital fabrication to how interiors relate to one another and how people engage with architecture." In FreelandBuck's subsequen t projects, the sum of digitally made components is palpable space. For 2012's Slipstream, an installation at the now-defunct Bridge Gallery in New York, 1,400 pieces of birch-veneer plywood interlocked into an egg-crate-like structure from which undulating shapes were carved away. Visitors to the self-supporting structure experienced a sense of motion from its organic geometries, Buck says, "without h aving any actual curvature in the material." That same year, the studio conceived Listening Room for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles as a series of foam cones whose various placements and claddings would alter museum-goers' perception of sound and light. Although the duo's more recent works cannot be produced by computerized mill or hot wire cutter alone, they share the underlying parts-based approach. Freeland compares Slipstream to Second House, a residential property in Culver City currently nearing completion. Just as wood planes had crisscrossed into a larger form in the gallery show, Buck says this ancillary structure comprises "master, guest and living wings, each weaving with the next as if sliding past one another. At the same time, they overlap to produce a checkerboard of differe nt textures and spatial qualities." Second House's intricately thought-out plan also makes the most of a cramped site. The configuration defines functions well enough to cue particular day-to-day activities, yet it is clustered enough to connect all those parts into one larger-seeming multipurpose space. When FreelandBuck completes its two commissions in the Miami Design District in 2016, its work will similarly balance tectonics with day-to-day concerns, such as piquing the curiosity of passers-by or more simply demarcating outdoor dining zones. The fact that these new projects explore issues well beyond digital fabrication signals not only FreelandBuck's rapidly expanding reservoir of tools and ideas, but also the studio's willingness to plumb its depths to make architecture that appeals to intelle ctuals, pragmatists and casual aficionados alike. David Freeland and Brennan Buck; Stack Pavilion, the design that launched their studio in 2009.

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