As artist and poet-philosopher of reversible destinies, Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins construct an architectural life in which dying is illegal. By turning their focus to the built environment, they not only overturn the concept of Modern architecture, but more specifically they introduce an architectural turn in the philosophy of life. With biotopology they introduce a philosophy-cum-architecture in which the one-directional arrow of progress is spatialized across 360 degrees to emphasize the energetic life of ubiquitous meaning.
Departing from initial findings on Japan-ness in Arakawa and Gins, and iterating upon the concept of biotopology, biotopological craftsmanship is introduced as an approach to architecture after the procedural architecture of Arakawa and Gins. Whereas biotopology is foremost a science—a field of knowing as sited awareness—in the architectural appropriation of the concept it becomes the craft of an attuned, vitalized and situated coordination of social and environmental bodies in movement by means of architectural interventions. Like biotopology, this spatial habitus does away with the discrete object and shifts focus to particular instances of reciprocity. It is a craftsmanship not of wood, but of bio-topo-logical entrainment. In a world in which social-environmental degradation is our main concern, biotopological craftsmanship promotes a life-affirmative, animistic and empathic approach to architectural practice, research and pedagogy. Put differently, it introduces a vital after-life in the here and now.
Renske Maria van Dam is an architect, artist and academic whose work exploits tiny perceptions to open up alternative worlds of experience and action. She calls for a fundamental shift in the way we conceive and construct the built environment, from an architecture of objects to an architecture of reciprocity. The cross-pollination between Asian and Western practices deeply shapes her work and thinking. Her work draws on her amateur background as theatrical performer, zookeeper, and yogi as much as it does on her professional engagement with the architecture studio Herman Hertzberger in Amsterdam (2008-2009, NL) and Atelier Li Xiaodong in Bejing (2011, CN), and on her pedagogical involvement at the University of the Arts in The Hague (since 2013, NL). She holds a PhD for practice-based research conducted through the Radical Materiality Research Group at KU Leuven in Brussels/ Ghent (BE). Her work is internationally supported, exhibited and published both in- and outside academia.