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July 27, 2015

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feature stories, summer 2015, Montpellier

Design team recognized at Montpellier festival

This past June, a team of students at Syracuse University School of Architecture led by Assistant Professor Maya Alam participated in the tenth anniversary exhibition of the Festival des Architectures Vives (FAV) in Montpellier, France.

The Syracuse Architecture installation “trans(inter)ference,” which received the festival’s special mention award, consisted of a simple frame system wrapped with repurposed VHS tape. The reuse of standard, discarded videotape offered a conceptual reflection on the relationship between “what was” and “what could be.” Upon entering the installation, visitors were enveloped within a three-dimensional graphic composition of geometries and lines drawn by the VHS material, resulting in a convergence of drawing and sculpture in space. 

“Identity and iconicity in architecture lie in between concepts of distinction and resolution, between old and new,” Maya Alam said of the installation. “It is both a product of its specific location and of a digital logic that favors the observer’s perception over a stable reproduction of context.”

The School of Architecture was selected as one of the design teams to do an installation along with an impressive group of international firms. The theme of this year’s event was  “Ephemeral Nature” and the School selected the winning entry based on response to the festival theme, the technical feasibility and fabrication ease of the installation, and adherence to the construction budget.

 “This was an exceptional opportunity for the School to participate in a truly exciting and innovative event,” said Syracuse Architecture Dean Michael Speaks. “Students were able to join students at the School of Architecture of Montpellier and other designers to discuss and interpret the installations for visitors and encourage interaction with the works.”

The public prize for the Festival was awarded to “Goldfish” by Julien Plessis and Claire Dussonchet. The installation was a reinterpretation of the Zen garden that aimed to create a space for daydreaming and contemplation where the shapes interacted and the fluidity and asymmetry of the golden pond contrasted with the highly structured geometry of the building’s façade.

The Syracuse Architecture entry in the Festival was sponsored by Rich Granoff ’84, president and founder of Granoff Architects based in Greenwich, Connecticut. Students on the Syracuse Architecture team led by Maya Alam, with the assistance of Daniel Profeta, included Emily Greer, Waralee Kaewkoon, and Thomas Byung H. Kim.