Erin Besler: Repositioning architectural practices for new design

Erin Besler’s installation, The Entire Situation, calls into question embedded architectural practices.

Chicago-born architect Erin Besler founded Besler & Sons with her husband, media arts expert, Ian Besler. The architectural practice has since become known for taking practical architectural practices and repositioning them conceptually. Their contribution to Chicago Architecture Biennial (which ran until 3 January 2016), The Entire Situation, presents mock-ups of walls to suggest that material thickness is an architectural problem where multiple forms of knowledge meet.

“The line between architecture and building has been drawn for hundreds of years,” says Besler. While this divide has been beneficial in that architects can leave parts of the project up to the builder during conception, the conceptualised project is never as complete as the built form. “We’re trying to work with both of those things from the get-go.”

Besler explains that this way of thinking uncovers transmission or information losses much earlier in the design process.

The project found its roots through a teaching Fellowship at UCLA in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design in 2014. It calls into question the everyday construction materials used in a way that calls for architects and the public to be more involved in the construction process rather than leaving it up to the builders.

The installation was exhibited alongside StudFindr, a web-based application that allows the public to browse the design catalogue, contribute their own designs and download a set of drawings. These mock-ups are digital compositions of “new design” that will one day be built.

Basler & Sons collaborated with computational designer Satoru Sugihara on the programming for the StudFindr application.