ADS10: Savage Architecture: Building Common Knowledge

Bryan A Espinoza Ortiz

Bryan studied his BA Architecture at the University of Westminster, where during his third year in DS37, he was granted a scholarship for studying his first semester abroad at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China. During his year out, Bryan worked at Sheppard Robson, where he worked in both Architecture & the Interior Design Departments on a wide range of projects, including the interior concept for the Harcourt Tower by Fosters & Partners and carried out the initial feasibility studies for the Camden Highline initiative. 

MA Architecture

ADS10: Savage Architecture - Building Common Knowledge

Tutors: Gianfranco Bombaci, Matteo Costanzo, Francesca Romana Dell'Aglio & Davide Sacconi

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bryan.espinoza@network.rca.ac.uk

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Degree Details

School of Architecture

Having explored the intersection between culture and architecture through his MA work, Bryan has a strong desire to further pursue and develop his knowledge and understanding between the two. This year he will be embarking on a research project, alongside a small team of like-minded individuals for empowering the Latin American community in London, specifically trying to strengthen, support and establish their visibility amongst London’s diverse population. 

In addition to this research, Bryan is also keen of beginning to setup further investigation into the methods and traditions of indigenous cultures in Ecuador and how these can help to shape the way we can conceive of distinct ways of life and spaces by adopting alternative world-view lenses.    

Weaving Primitive Modernity

A single fragment of indigenous textile fabric is more than a piece of clothing. Like a manuscript, it carries an entire record of millinery culture, history, mythology and knowledge. Weaving is not just an economic and skilful activity; it’s a practice of cultural identity. 

However, in contemporary Ecuador, indigenous textiles are also a valuable commodity, a source of wealth for many areas of the country and an essential component of the economy of tourism. The industrialisation of weaving processes, the increasing demand of products and the modernisation of the country at large, pose the crucial questions of development: can the indigenous culture resist, evolve and drive a vision for the future of Ecuador, without becoming a parody or a museum version of itself?

The project tackles this issue of paramount importance by proposing a School of Weaving, a place where the complexity of native culture could be preserved, thought, learned and further elaborated, to become the epicentre of an indigenous political program for Ecuador. The work attempts to articulate the concept of a “primitive modernity”, understood as a critical and aesthetic practice that could assume the roots of indigenous culture as a lens to look and operate on the contemporary reality. 

Departing from an in-depth study of the indigenous textile fabrication process, the project identifies nine phases from animal wool shearing, to carding, dyeing, spinning and weaving, until the elaboration of the final product. To each of the phases corresponds a specific space; each form expresses a tension between functional concerns and symbolic figures. Similarly to the indigenous textile, the parts are then composed to form a whole, where the technical aspects of the fabrication process are intertwined with the symbolic aspects of the collective ritual. The architecture of monumental concrete volumes and their cosmological disposition indifferent to the colonial grid, produces an image and a spatial organisation that is suspended between the functional and the symbolic, the “primitive” and the “modern”: the architectural form incarnates a tension between these polarities opening towards alternative common values.  

The School of Weaving is an engine for the emancipation of the native culture, a project that transcends the mere celebration of an ancient craft with the ambition to generate a radically plural cultural identity built from and through the indigenous perspective.

The Quest for a Primitive Modernity

“The Primitive”, that is to say, the antique, the ancient, the great wonders of the past, the kind of environment that produced alternative forms of life, world-views and architectural ambitions which expanded beyond pure functionality and integrated symbolic dimensions onto material rationality.

“The Modern”, whether technological, a set of construction methodologies. In many occasions in South America a term that holds negative connotations, as a mechanism for controlling, exploiting and enforcing a particular Identity. Can the terms be flipped on its backside and become exploited for good?

So, what is A Primitive Modernity? Drawing from the primitive, that is to draw from the wealth of millinery ancestral knowledge of the past. Modernity; that is the physical embodiments of technological, and the latest architectural innovation. Can these two ideas of architecture be forged to birth a new idea of modernity; one that allows for an identity that has struggled for years to regain its traction in time?

Medium:

Collage

Size:

520x420mm
ADS10
Archetype
Building Common Knowledge
Collective Ritual
Ecuador
Indigenous
Modernism
Monolithic
Primitive
Ritual
Savage Architecture
Weaving
A short video, exploring the phases of the millinery process of native Indigenous Weaving in the Ecuadorian Andes and its Integral part of life amongst Indigenous communities

Medium:

Video

Archetype Cast Models

Archetypes represent a conceptual design basis for architectural forms which are intimately connected to a particular ritual in the form of a set of behaviours and actions.
However, rather than thinking of the individual forms as fixed and prescribed, the archetypes look to both physically expose these rituals, whilst at the same time embedding notions of ancestral Andean symbology, with enough flexibility for the potential of alternative programmes and even re-imaginations of activities to take place.

Medium:

Casting
Archetype Matrix

Archetype Matrix

A table matrix of the specific archetype forms and their underlying logical parameters

Medium:

Casting
Formal Evolution

Formal Evolution

A Series of Cast Models Explaining Architectural Layers of Proposal.

Medium:

Casting

A New Symbolic Order

Going against the colonial city grid, the architecture looks to become a catalyst for re-establishing an alternative paradigm for the city; one that begins as a collection of symbolic objects, functioning as an organ for the city’s cultural and economic production.

Medium:

Line Drawing

Size:

841x841mm

The Dawn of A City Emblem

Time is a parameter which affects us all, whether humans or physical matter. Yet, there are some physical matter that lives on past the friction of temporality and is capable of leaving an imprint in both the physical environment as well as the mental memory of people for generations. 

It is precisely this “timelessness” of primitive architecture that this project attempts to regain. An architecture that is capable of leaving behind a new cultural entity which in representing and identifying the local indigenous culture, can live on in the memories of the people for the upcoming generations, with enough room in the future to accommodate alternative uses and gatherings.

Medium:

Collage

Size:

520x420mm

Monumental Nature

Birthing out of the spirit of the Andean natural surroundings, yet clearly man-made. The intervention belongs yet doesn’t belong to its contradictory colonial city context.

Medium:

Collage

Size:

520x420mm

Vertical Loom Weaving Space

The soul of the architecture is one that associates itself with a specific kind of production and symbolism. The geometrical form of this space both accommodates the required natural inclination of the vertical loom stations while aligning to the summer solstice angle orientation of 23°. The arrival greets arrivals with a framed view on the Andean landscape as a symbolic reminder of the millinery rituals wider impact across the entire Andes.

Medium:

Collage

Size:

520x420mm

From Domestic To Collective Ritual

Where Indigenous weaving forms a part of domestic life, usually performed in individuals’ homes as a source for economic subsistence.
The Project envisions the possibilities of expanding this production to become part of a larger communal collective ritual, with the opportunity for knowledge exchange amidst a social environment and a specialised spatial designation for these events to unfold.

Medium:

Collage

Size:

520x420mm

Unity Within Diversity: A School As a Process of Cultural Production

The notion of school is envisioned as a place for both the production of economic and cultural knowledge. Driven by a nuanced ancestral process, the architecture of the institution takes on a multiplicity of forms and spaces, at various hierarchies of private and public, building the stages for diverse sets of relations, thinking and making activities to come to life.

Medium:

Line Drawing

Totora Weaving: An Alternative Construction Technique

Totora vegetable plant is a natural resource that grows near lake in the Imbabura region. It is a resource that has been used by indigenous communities to weave various baskets, mats and vessels. The project looks to take advantage of this indigenous knowledge in the form of a totora woven based formwork system as a pose to standard timber formwork as part of the pre-cast concrete panelling construction technique that both gives the finished concrete a specific character and offers the totora panels a second life as insulation layers within the construction.

Medium:

Line Drawing
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