Neil Denari (*1957)



Head of the SCI-ARC Architectural School in Los Angeles, Neil Denari has been the main protagonist of a technological style of architecture known as "machine architecture" since the 1980s; this trend finds its sources in the latest possibilities provided by science. The reference universe he calls on is therefore not a real one but, instead, one that grasps the technical world in its broadest sense, embracing multimedia. Architecture here is a model of a world integrating the specific with the generic, individual locations with space as a whole, and the local with the global, in a disrupted flux of information flows. His new form of humanism lies in striving to grasp the world's informational complexities through the architectural medium.
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During the last quarter-century, forms of urbanization that emphasize the terrain vague of horizontal conditions have mirrored the decentralized structures of information industries. My home region, the Dallas Fort Worth area, is known as the Metroplex, a word invented to describe the phenomenon of the complex metropolitan environment. This region exemplifies how the technological landscapes of this time have come to embody the
late-twentieth-century concept of what J.G. Ballard has called the unlimited possibility : desire x ingenuity = America. This is the cultural and physical landscape that forms the basis of my own developing identity. It is at once global in its implications and specific in its milieu.
From 1983 to 1992, my work argued for relevance via an autobiographical positioning of ideas. Since 1992, my interest has shifted from the narrowly focused machine reference to the broad and open possibilities of cultural conditions not yet coded with an architectural symbol. I have recognized that a continuous series of cross sections must be cut through the global cultural structures that have come to dominate our contemporary lives so that the progress, ambivalence, possibilities, and shifts recorded in theses slices may inform my work. Indeed, if there is a self-consciousness to this work, it is based on movement that its plane of consistency is not secretly a box that limits. In cinema, even when Yasujiro Ozu's camera doesnt move (a technique we could call a limited box), the images multiply, an affect is generated. What is important is that the anomalies of movement become the essential point instead of being accidental or contingent.
Since the early 1990s, I have begun to understand how the popularity of technoscientific discourse and application has sponsored issues ranging from the crises of identity loss (due to homogenization) to the production of new and emergent cultural groups found in digital fields. It is impossible, therefore, for me to conceive of a relevant discourse in architecture that does not argue its presence through the pathways of culture. Here, culture has two forms. One is an apparition, like quicksand, a mirage, or a blob, offering us an image that shifts, disappears, or changes its shape instantly. Like a drunk walking in an earthquake, sometimes we do not notice the undulation of movement. The second form is a ferocious beast, consuming us at every turn. These twin phenomena of culture have come to mirror the logic of my work, which is built on the idea that the ambivalent fields of repetitive and processed spaces and the traditional desire to produce difference (the expressive auteur) exist together as a productive cultural condition. It acknowledges the forces (fatal, hegemonic, or otherwise) that coordinate to both limit and open up the possible ways in which architecture can become simultaneously an extrapolator and a producer of culture.

Details Design Studio, New York, U.S.A , 1990-93

Originally commissioned in 1990 by a new division of Steelcase, this project is the result of five schemes developed over a three years period. The company named Details asked for a "wall" which would divide a large loft space in Soho downtown New York into two distinct spaces each of which would have a different but related function. One space is defined as clerical, the other as a design studio. The function of the wall, beyond its own properties of bisection, serves as a storage for books, prototypes, and one end houses a work table underneath the fiberglass skin. The project operates as an information cypher or vapor trail which passes through the space becoming reified in form within the room itself. The room, however, is considered to be insignificant and only serves to cut the information vapor which is wafting through the entire Euclidean matrix of Manhattan. The wall, therefore, is not site driven and accomodates entry by merely making functional cuts into the white skin.

Gallery MA, Tokyo, Japon,, 1996

Gallery MA in Tokyo is a space devoted to exhibiting architecture and related design. On the third level, an external quasi Zen garden bounded by concrete walls cuts the floors above in half, creating a L-shaped building mass. A glass membrane divides the interior space from the garden and allows total visual invasion. The program for the project was an experimental space. The design scheme for Gallery MA is developed from the Homolosine Interrupted Projection Mapping System. The origin of the world map comes from sheet merely a surface to record territories on. The Homolosine Projection depicts the world in a series of sheared ellipses ; thus the green surface inside Gallery MA is an interrupted projection, as it deploys a flattened and empty global surface to form space. The surface bends and loops to form a three-dimensionally smooth yet complex geometry capable of merging with the graphically logoized world of visual codes and conventional signs. This is the "worldsheet".

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Kansai-Kan National Library, Kansai, Japon,, 1996

In an era of rise in digital communications systems. The scheme reasserts the power of architectural space. Given that the site allows distant views across it, a building of expressive potential was possible. Therefore, the temptations to make the building "disappear" (underground) or become urbanized (as a wall to the street) were not explored. That the building would itself be a diagram of certain forms of contemporary knowledge was the only option as a reaction to an implicit privatization. The scheme breaks down into three parts which function as both discrete and integrated elements. The entire stack program is located within a concrete box on the southern edge of the site. As the site slopes up from north to south, the stack building is largely submerged into the ground. This building consists of two superscaled worldsheets which interact to form continuous surfaces that themselves intersect with the matrix of floor plates and columnar systems of structure.

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Massey Residence, Los Angeles, U.S.A , 1995

This house is located on a typical sized LA site: 50 ft by 50ft. It is the client's wish to explore the basic conditions of the North American Suburban Subdivision through a typical flat site and a typical program of 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. However, the house itself, though accomodating these ordinary factors, should be extraordinary. Like many smaller multi-unit apartment buildings in Los Angeles, this house has one level below ground and two above, thus disguising its size. The experience and concept of the house is about the section cut. The front and rear elevations show the roof skin and the basic extruded form of the overall volume. Inside, the circulation space revolves around a stair which connects seven different half-levels. This house sits as an ambivalent figure, committed to the preservation of site typology while internally engaging in an extreme criticism of architectural similitudes.

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Neil M. Denari Architects (Cor-Tex)
Neil M. Denari (1957)
1980 - Diplôme d'Architecture de l'Université de Houston.
1982 - Master d'Architecture, Harvard University.

1988 - Fonde Cor-Tex à Los Angeles.

1999 / 1997 - Dirige Southern California Inst. of Architecture (SCI-Arc) Los Angeles.
1996 / 1988 - SCI-Arc, Los Angeles.
1995 - Columbia University, New-York.
1995 - 1993 - University of Texas, Arlington.
1994 - Bartlett School, University College of London.
1992 / 1990 - Shibaura Institute of Technology, Tokyo.

Principaux projets et réalisations
1996 - "Arlington (Texas) Museum of Art" (réal.) ; "Galerie MA", Tokyo (réal.) ; "Kansaï-Kan of the National Diet Librairy" Japon (concours).
1995 - "Massey Residence" (projet) ; "Sprawl Connectors LA" (projet) ; "Orange County Exhibition Center" (projet).
1994 - "Yokohama International Port Terminal" (concours).
1993 - "Central Glass" - Museum of the 20th Century - Tokyo (concours).
1993 / 1992 - "Tokyo Prototype House" (projet) ; "Desert Center" (projet).
1993 / 1990 - "Details Design Studio" (projet).
1992 - "K-Project", Kobe, Japon (concours).
1990 - "Subway Station" Tokyo (concours).
1989 - "Tokyo International Forum" (3eme Prix - mention spéciale).
1988 - "West Coast Gateway" Los Angeles (Finaliste).
1987 - "Virginia Townhall" Leesburg (concours) ; The International Garden and Greenery Exposition, Osaka, "Pavillon Mitsui " (concours avecTeag Nishimoto - 2eme Prix).
1986 - "Young Architect Forum" Architectural League of New-York (Lauréat).
1984 - "Shinkenchiku Residential Design" Tokyo ; "Young Architect Forum" Architectural League of New-York (Lauréat).

- Les dessins et maquettes de Neil Denari enrichissent six collections permanentes : Cooper Hewitt Museum, New-York ; San-Francisco Museum of Modern Art, FRAC Centre, Orléans ; Museum of Modern Art, New-York ; Denver Museum of Art ; Collection Carnegie / Heinz, Pittsburgh.
Principales publications de Neil M. DENARI

1999 - "Gyroscopic Horizons" Princeton Architectural Press, New York.
1996 - "Interrupted Projections" Toto Publications, Tokyo ; "Recent Work" Bac / Esp Publications, Bangkok, Thailand
1995 - "Intransigent Desires" ANY Magazine #10, New York.
1992 - Arguments for Paralogical Geometries" : OZ Journal No. 14 - Kansas State University.
1987 - "The Contexts of the Machine" Projets / Textes. "Building" ; "Machines"Pamphlet Architecture No 12, Princeton Architectural Press.
Bibliographie sélective
1998 - "Transarchitectures" Nikkei Press, Tokyo ; "Space" Arlington Museum of Art Publications, Arlington, Texas ; "Casa Massey" Architecti Magazine No. 42, Lisbonne ; Zellner, Peter. "Pacific Edge" - Rizzoli, New York.
1997 - Zellner, Peter. City of Sorts : Interview, 21C Magazine, Issue 24, Melbourne ; Zellner, Peter. Gallery MA, Monument Magazine, Melbourne.
1991 - "Four Statements on Architecture" Projets / Textes - A+U Magazine 91:03, Tokyo, March ; "Thoughts on Architecture and Education" - Kenchiku Bunka Magazine, Tokyo, Avril.
1988 - "Exploding Sonic Test Audio Visual Big Guitar" OFFRAMP - SCI-ARC Journal No.2, Los Angeles ; "The Philosophy of Impossibility" The London Project - Catalogue d'exposition, Princeton Architectural Press.