February 20, 2010

Pratt Manhattan Gallery presents Envelopes

Pratt Institute
Image by Weathers
Wanderings (prototype), 2009
AD: Collective Intelligence in DesignHeterogeneous SpaceArchitectural Principles in the Age of Cybernetics

Hight conceived of “Envelopes” as a way to explore architectural skin as a site for enveloping nature and culture, object and subject, and of problematizing the boundary of interior and exterior. “Issues of sustainability and ecology raise many conceptual and design issues about the nature of the boundary between body, building, and larger environments,” said the curator. “The architects in ‘Envelopes’ are all exploring relationships between systems—human, animal, plant, and energy flow—as a site for architectural innovation in the 21st century,” he added.

Hight’s inspiration for the exhibition title and concept originated from parallels between the envelope of a building and the envelope of human skin; the building envelope repeats the metaphor of the building as a body and as a prosthetic second skin that allows human beings to exist within a hostile environment.

Inspired by early 20th century biologist Jacob von Uexkull and his interest in how living beings relate to and perceive their environment, the title of the show refers to the role of the building envelope and the idea of envelopment of one’s body and senses within a larger environment.

Participating architects and architecture firms include:

!ndie Architecture, a Denver-based firm that engages in a range of architectural and urban questions through research projects and practice, with a specialization in digital and industrial technology, housing, and suburbanism; Future Cities Lab, an interdisciplinary design and research collaborative bridging architecture and landscape urbanism with material sciences, robotics, and engineering HouMinn Practice, a Houston-based firm recognized for its research and innovative design whose collaborative efforts reach beyond the discipline of architecture; Mary Ellen Carroll/MEC design studios, a New York-based conceptual artist; Michael U. Hensel and Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel are research directors and board members at OCEAN, an the international, interdisciplinary, and independent research firm that conducts research by design in the intersection between architecture, design, music, and science with the goal of improving the current built environment and anthropobiosphere; Philippe Rahm, an architect who practices out of Paris and Lausanne and focuses on ‘meterological’ architecture; servo, an international research and design collaborative that focuses on the development of architectural environments through the proliferation of electronic and digital equipment and interfaces; Weathers, a Chicago-based environmental design office that studies social, spatial, and organizational structures and their implications to lifestyle and environment.

“Envelopes” is made possible by part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.

For information, call 212-647-7778 or email [email protected] or visit

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