Exhibited at Palazzo Bembo for the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale 2012
Completed with: Simon Twose.


Between March - August 2012 Simon Twose and I designed, fabricated and installed this exhibition, which was the New Zealand contribution to the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Work on the table is by Andrew Barrie and a team of modelmakers from Auckland university.

excerpts from text by Sarah Treadwell .

This exhibition, Familial Clouds is the work of two architects, Simon Twose and Andrew Barrie. Across the walls of the exhibition are two houses by Simon Twose, not organised as projects but rather as houses dispersed into clouds of process; productive lines, dead ends and frustrations, the usual stuff of family life.

Now partial and oblique, 290 A1 drawings that composed the white house have been reduced to business card size (a million tiny objects that resist collection). Small mirrors, bracketed off the wall reflect and refract the drawings; the displacement of the images is matched by the rotating and twisting bodies that stare into the pre-positioned mirrors to find architecture. The mirrors offer a dislocated view that demonstrates the fleeting and difficult nature of the process of architectural practices and the transient nature of its products. The viewing body, shifted from the usual neutral mode of gallery contemplation, is momentarily comical and active.

Familial Clouds Timelapse from Henry Stephens on Vimeo.

This swarm of analogue practice records negotiations between architect and client as much as architectural form and the insubstantial families of paper cluster to form architectures of conversation, persuasion and decision. The movements inherent in such conversations, and the papery, hand drawn method, were intended to reflect soft tensions in the suburban city context of Auckland.

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The conversation on the gallery wall then shifts from analogue practice to digital, in a project developed as an active response to the taut geological and aesthetic context of another New Zealand city, Wellington. In a miniature tectonic play, above the ominous meeting of Pacific and Australian plates, the concrete house's massive elements are jolted together as if by large forces, as families are habitually shaken together and apart by influences beyond their control.

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On the gallery walls, all this weight is dispersed into small particles of architecture; models transformed into digital views on the screen in a cropped engagement with medium. These fraught objects are split to reveal the internal fractures of daily life, the reflection of which is displaced through the small technically probing mirrors.

Delicately balanced, in loose affiliation, Twose’s architectural clouds and Barrie’s precise diminutive world read as miniaturized explorations of the limits of two-dimensional form and family connections. Writer Susan Stewart has pointed out that; ”The miniature always tends to tableau rather than toward narrative, toward silence and spatial boundaries rather than expository closure. Whereas speech unfolds in time, the miniature unfolds in space".