This design research seminar took as its starting point RM Schindler’s Kings Road House – an architectural work sometimes interpreted as a Los Angeles analogue of Marc-Antoine Laugier’s originary ‘primitive-hut’. Through various methods of documentation, the seminar sought to confront the effects of different media formats on the kinds of information communicated about architectural works. Through cross-referencing and re-synching various sources, the ways that documentation effects the various historical interpretations of the house is foregrounded. For example, colour is absent in black and white photography; the placement of objects shown in interior photographs contradict one another; only selected correspondence between Schindler and his fellow architect, Richard Neutra, are found in the archives, letters that provided only limited points of view on the development of the project. In recognising the impossibility of what lies between text, images, and the actual architectural object, a sense of certainty is lost; yet in a careful differentiation of the ways that evidence is understood, an immense amount is revealed.
This seminar was a methodological exploration, examining potential ways to expand the interpretation of buildings and the mediated historical accounts that surround them. By comparing and critiquing methods of documentation of Schindler’s King Road house, this project explored new modes of documenting sites in-situ through measuring, video and audio recording, photography and drawing.
In the course of the subject, students travelled to Los Angeles to engage with the problem of fieldwork in a self-conscious reappraisal of why architects travel to conduct research, what tools they use documenting architecture and cities, and what influence new media and open-source information storage and sharing has on architectural research and its display. While in Los Angeles, students worked in-residence at a local gallery, producing a site for discursive exchange where local figures were brought in to discuss student research as the work unfolded. At the same time, students were out in the LA field, visiting offices, studios, art spaces, exhibitions and events.