This afternoon the studio presents it’s research for this semester’s project thus far, and like the work of Don ZanFanga, it’s going to be a little different. To go along with research into the artist’s work and ideas, as well as the work of his contemporaries, and other precedents, each member of Studio V will present a science fair project. Many of the ideas that ZanFanga proposed in his Pulse Dome buildings were based on simple scientific studies, not unlike the ones we tested in grade school.
This concept of research outside the discipline of architecture to make a better architecture is paramount to ZanFanga’s life work. It is interesting to me how the further we get in our education, the narrower our focus of inquiry becomes. In college, it is expected to declare a major focus of study and master it, yet I believe creativity is often hindered when research in a subject is too narrowly focussed. Truly inspired thought in any field tends to come from unexpected sources outside that field. I am not expecting to stumble upon any groundbreaking theories with this approach we are taking, but I do expect that the designing that begins this week will be better informed, and more creative than it would have been without this exercise.
Below are a few excerpts taken from one of ZanFanga’s notebooks that I think illustrate’s his quest for knowledge, and his tireless approach to acquire and understand it:
What is it that keeps eluding me? – Especially now, my thoughts keep returning, in part, to my childhood, the ocean, space, greenery, but aside from that there is something else – something deeper (?)
The complex of relationships – so many different levels – my whole existence has been and continues to be so.
So many “faces”, as it were. My insights dominate my life but if I had to “prove it”, I’d be unable. Except, perhaps, here and there – I think and work at so many different levels that I am keeping myself in a steady state of disequilibrium.
Don ZanFanga, 1977