Sitings Project: Five Reflections on Architectural Domain
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Description

The Sitings Project is a conceptual proposal first developed by Brad Cloepfil in 1993. The treatise established the critical position of Allied Works Architecture, and resulted in the first project to receive widespread public acclaim—the Maryhill Overlook. It continues to serve as a foundation for the firm’s innovative practice and design approach. The project centers around the development of five specific design proposals or site interventions in diverse landscapes across the Pacific Northwest. Each proposal explores the possibilities of occupation as well as the essential character of the sites they occupy. They are grounded, particular solutions that unlock both new experience and a deeper understanding of place.

Project Statement

Site: from "situs"
1. The place where anything is fixed; situation; local position;
as the site of a city or house
2. A place fitted or chosen for any certain use or occupation
Websters Unabridged Dictionary, 1913

The eroding quality of our built and unbuilt landscape has become a familiar topic of the popular media as well as a concern of architects, planners and other critics of contemporary culture. Such varied issues as protecting our remaining natural resources, limiting growth, achieving affordable housing, developing mass transit systems and revitalizing our urban centers all represent what could be characterized as a crisis of the physical environment. The causes of the crisis are as varied as the disciplines which attempt solutions, but there is one common perception: that our civic and cultural heritage continues to be sold at such an alarming rate that action is immediately required.

The current role of the architectural profession in our culture supports the attitude that buildings are simply commodities to which random values can be attached to serve personal, economic or political gain. This is a limited definition of architecture, one that prohibits the built environment from responding to a much richer set of public concerns. The Sitings Project proposes that the realm of architecture be made more exclusive in its consideration and expression so that it may reestablish a sense of domain in our environment—a “here” and a “there.” It is important to reduce the scope of the concerns of architecture, not in a search for essence or beginnings but to establish a ground for expanding explorations of the built gesture.

This proposed architectural project consists of small “buildings” or “rooms” designed and built for five different sites in the Pacific Northwest. These five sites have very distinct characteristics reflecting the quality of the built or unbuilt environment in which they are located. The five proposed sites are as follows: the high desert (the Columbia River); in forest lands (the foothills of the Coast Range); on agricultural land (a farm in the Yamhill Valley); a suburban site (public space in a suburban community); and an urban site (a vertical location, such as a rooftop, in downtown Portland). The Sitings Project investigates architecture as a particular endeavor that produces buildings whose meaning is not assignable to, or defined by, other cultural media. The five projects will be considered as reflections on a location, architectural analysis of distinct places with unique opportunities for a built response. The design and drawing process will be critical to the project, but these locations will be made specific by the execution of the built work. The act of building on a site can, and will, heighten the individual and public sense of measure, reference, and place.

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