Page D2.1 . 03 December 2008                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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Small Packages

by Paul Lewis, Mark Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis

One of the principal tactics that underlies the work of Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis is the inverting of the value of constraints, by recasting the limitations of a project as the trigger for design invention. By maneuvering imaginatively within operational boundaries, the latent potentials of the project can be teased out of the very restrictions that would seem to weigh it down.

In this sense, the seed for the most radical solution can always be found within the items that initially pose the greatest resistance. Rather than avoiding these obstacles through formal or logistical gymnastics, the tactic of catalyzing constraints generates an impassioned inquiry into the unavoidable limits of architectural production.

One means to come to terms with constraints is to selectively apply principles of efficiency in order to discover relationships through which the project can be pursued in unexpected, yet seemingly inevitable, ways.

In general terms, efficiency is the coupling of a specific type of maximum to a particular minimum. In contemporary architectural discourse (and culture in general), efficiency is almost always assumed to be an economic equation, epitomized by the phrase: "maximizing profit for a minimum of cost."

While such budgetary constraints are certainly significant factors in architectural practice, the singular emphasis on the bottom line in contemporary culture has rendered other forms of efficiency secondary and thus nearly unexamined. Rather than accepting the profit motive as the only determinant of efficiency, we propose an alternative approach: that efficiency be taken as a self-consciously nurtured catalyst, setting in motion a playful exchange between two interrelated constraints.   >>>

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This article is excerpted from Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis: Opportunistic Architecture by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis, copyright © 2008, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press.

 

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The small Ini Ani Coffee Shop by Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis was designed and built in three months for $40,000.
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The interior box of compressed cardboard and steel provides a lounge area nested within the larger space.
Photo: Michael Moran Extra Large Image

 

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