Baroque Machinations (2012–2017)

Curated by Cameron Wu (MArch ’03), Associate Professor of Architecture

Plans of three Baroque churches serve as subjects for close reading and formal analysis in this exhibition. Through drawing and animation, each investigation offers a wide range of architectural characteristics produced using a single ruleset of descriptive geometric construction. These divergent characteristics designate architectural opposites in terms of type, spatial organization, and projective relationships—radial/rectilinear, figure/field, quadrilateral/hexagonal, centralized/axial. In any fixed state, these lineaments are achievable using compass and rule, the primary drawing instruments of the Baroque architect. Defined parametrically, simple constructions are incrementally layered and subject to periodic oscillation, producing dynamic architectural plans. The animations show the full range of cyclical transformations constrained by dimensional limits, while the drawings highlight degenerate and particular intermediate states. In each investigation, the actual plan of the Baroque precedent recurs periodically as an instantiation that manifests special geometric and architectural qualities—symmetry, tangency, congruence.

These studies serve as a critical lens to consider trends in computational and parametric thought in architecture today. The ability to produce specificity and cohesive value amid infinite possibility offers a counterpoint to a subset of the discipline that champions the specious virtues of endless variation and indeterminacy.

Project Credits:     

(2017) Analysis of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza (1660) by Francesco Borromini (1599–1667). Team: Cameron Wu (MArch ’03), Iman Fayyad (MArch ’16)

(2014) Analysis of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1646) by Francesco Borromini (1599–1667). Team: Cameron Wu (MArch ’03), Iman Fayyad (MArch ’16)

(2012) Analysis of Unnamed Church plan (pub. 1737) by Guarino Guarini (1624–1683). Team: Cameron Wu (MArch ’03), W. Gavin Robb (MArch ’14). [2017 CAB Presentation: Hyojin Kwon (MArch ’18), Milos Mladenovic (MArch ’20)]