It’s been a bit serious around here lately and all this talk of base details, cabinet shop innovations and home remodels is great, but we need a little yin to our yang. Every now and again we need to take a peek at the spark that gets our engines going. Every once and awhile we need a refresher on why we got into this maddening profession. It’s that primal connection to the design instinct we seek –that urge, deep down inside, that compels us to take the building blocks around us and create new forms. Every kid knows about this, not through text-book lessons or financial benefit or as a resume builder, but as a gut instinct. Taking apart the living room furniture and building a new world is in the DNA, it’s instinctual. As a salute to every kid out there who fearlessly turns the living room couch into a vision from the mind’s eye, we present the 4th installment in our Couch Cushion Architecture series –a critical analysis by the self appointed panel of jurors here at the BUILDblog. Note to the kiddos – don’t lose that spark.

01. Falling within the Peter Eisenman camp of skewing the grid, this project makes a bold move in taking the new structure off of the orthogonal. The simple kit-of-parts and clever re-appropriation doesn’t provide much usable area but it does create a pleasing geometrical narrative. Grade: B

02. The project leaves an intriguing trail of clues involving a cloaked Incredible Hulk, what would appear to be a headstone and several house plants. The playful geometries and colorful icons are a clear ode to Emilio Ambasz’s early work and the red carpet suggests a procession of some sort. The lack of clarity is superseded by the pure mystery and creative wonder behind the composition. Grade: B+

03. In the era of starchitects it’s not unusual for a buildings author to receive more media attention than the building itself. While the designer is a handsome enough lad, it’s unfortunate that so much significant information about the architecture has been sacrificed for stardom. Grade: D

This Arctic inspired dwelling allows its inhabitants to be discreet to such an extent that even the local wildlife is unclear about their presence. While we praise the efficient and minimal kit of parts used to construct the shelter, the composition lacks the poetics of good design. Grade: C+

The project documents an unfortunate situation of an able-bodied work force without any solid architectural direction. Gents, if may we offer up an important quote by Goethe “He who moves not forward, goes backward.” Grade: F

While perhaps overly academic, we applaud the concept of roof structure within a roof structure within a roof structure. The project is part thesis dissertation on the work of John Hejduk and part theoretical study in what it means to provide shelter. Grade: A

Inhabitant as structural column is a tough sell and, despite the rich textures and gratifying colors of this project, the concept falls short of succeeding. Grade: D-

The uncomplicated structure disregards any gratuitous theoretical explorations and maintains a tectonic purity. The construction is efficient and straight-forward, allowing the inhabitant to simply enjoy the space. Grade: A

In the Rem Koolhaas school of thought, the composition displays a variety of ambitious structural systems including stacked slabs, angled columns and lightweight tensile systems. Ultimately though, it is the questionable nature of the center mounted noose that is the downfall of this project. Grade: C-

An obvious nod to the pneumatic architectures proposed in the 1960’s by Archigram, the project fails to incorporate the sophistication and social tension of the original work. Additionally, “builder-beige” seems far too conservative a color choice for a structure intended to be so forward-thinking. Grade C

The tongue-in-cheek reference to recent Pritzker price winners, SANAA, is well received and we enjoy the clean, minimal lines of the shifting planes. That the color palette deviates from pure white is both ambitious and warmly inviting. Bravo to the blurred boundaries and overlapping structural systems. Grade A+

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