Atelier da Bouça*
Notes on the practice of chance
The house as a spatial laboratory

Some architecture panics with chance!
Some spatial design wishes to completely determinate the life that occurs and will always occur within them. Making an analogy with theater, we would say that they wish in the beginning to know and give a tacit answer to an argument, a narrative totally predefined. If this narrative isn’t available in the beginning, becomes itself object of design in its finitude.
Understanding chance as something that happens without being consequence of a past event, that is, an effect that is not explained with a precedent determination, in these design chance it's a drama, a terror! The spaces that eliminate the surprise, that arrange and predict all, have so much afraid of bad surprises (few confidence in the space abilities) that eliminate any chances of good surprises.

Chance is ruthless
Chance exists and it’s impossible, besides being needless, to design it. As in all tasks that lead with the course of things in time, we pursuit to design/set the future, this desire, we know it from the beginning, is in its completeness unachievable, but who said that we really want to predict all?
Can’t we (nor could we even wanting…) know chance, and set it? To what extent? To what extent do we want to close all the ways out and leave a family/institution/community enclosed? Isn’t comfort the possibility of chance, the multitude of appropriations, the machine open to its manipulations?

Architecture manipulates the space of chance
“The idea that architecture should facilitate all movements, likewise, is to assume that the architecture does not take a philosophical position, for example in relation to the people’s life, seems to me nonsense. In other words, I prefer a house that hinders me, or that put obstacles to prevent me of doing silly things and facilitates movements to make sensible things” Gonçalo M Tavares[1].

Chance can inform the architectonic design
Everything as a tendency to an equilibrium, things take, naturally, it’s just place, i.e., adapt to the rituals/movements that we make in space and time.
"Observez un jour, non pas dans un restaurant de luxe où l’intervention arbitraire des garçons et des sommeliers détruit mon poème, observez dans un petit casse-croûte populaire, deux ou trois convives ayant pris leur café et causant. La table est couverte encore de verres, de bouteilles, d’assiettes, l’huilier, le sel, le poivre, la serviette le rond de serviette, etc. Voyez l’ordre fatal qui met tous ces objets en rapport les uns avec les autres; ils ont tous servi, ils ont été saisis par la main de l’un ou de l’autre des convives; les distances qui les séparent sont la mesure de la vie. C’est une composition mathématiquement agencée ; il n’y a pas un lieu faux, un hiatus, une tromperie. Si un cinéaste non halluciné par Hollywood était là, tournant cette nature morte, en ‘gros plan’, nous aurions un témoin de pure harmonie" Le Corbusier[2].

And if, even separating reality from appearance, our routines move faster than the time that objects take to set? And if we don't want to install perennially and obtusely the comfort and, on the contrary, through the strange disposition of object, we want the space to oblige us to change?

Intensifying, “practicing chance” informs the practice of design…
When one passes from a simple observer to player, when we explore the limits of flexibility and refine/radicalize our own experiences (laboratorial), following the scientific method (problem - premise resulting from experience -, hypothesis - project that answers the problem - , experience - space construction -,  observation - analysis of the advantages and problems imposed by the new space, leading to new premises – we gather an amount of information liable of generalization and therefore useful to qualify/guaranty flexibility devices to the spaces that we propose.
It is in this way and with this aim that we (ab)use intensively (of) the house as a spatial laboratory…for the pleasure of chance as manipulation of the predefined, or just because we like beginnings.

*Filipa de Castro Guerreiro e Tiago Macedo Correia [Atelier da Bouça]
They born in 1976, graduating in the Faculty of Architecture of Porto in 2000. Their activity as architectures is going on since 2001 and in 2008 they establish the Atelier da Bouça. Filipa teaches in FAUP and was from 2008-2010 responsible for the division of communication in the OASRN. Both (ab)use from their house as spatial laboratory and share the obsession of the void as matter of architecture.

Other Articles in the same issue:




[1] Gonçalo M. Tavares in Pedro Pacheco and Luis Santiago Batista (curadores), Let’s talk about houses…in Portugal (exhibition). Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa, 2010.
[2] Le Corbusier, Prologue Américain, in Précisions, Collection de L’Esprit nouveaux. Altamira, 1997.