Thursday, June 12, 2014


Title: Taitung Ruin Academy
Year: 2014
Artist:Marco Casagrande
Medium: wood, tatami, solar panels etc. 

Artist’s Interpretation:

The Ruin Academy in Taitung, Taiwan is situated in an old sugar factory out of duty. The Ruin Academy is an organic machine. It has grown into the abandoned industrial machinery like an architectural creeper and is now producing humane sugar: creativity. 



The Ruin Academy is continuing its bio-urban research on the multidisciplinary design methodology of the Third Generation City, the organic ruin of the industrial city, urban scale organic machine. The research is tied with local knowledge and is operating freely in-between different disciplines of art and science within the general framework of bio-urban built human environment.



Ruin Academy is an avant-garde fragment of the International Society of Biourbanism, a laboratory which is focused on the biological restoration of the industrial city through punctual interventions as a form of bio-urban acupuncture. 



Ruin Academy is hosting a series of workshops for Taiwanese and international universities and citizen groups. It is producing multidisciplinary research and design for real-life cases in Taitung and Taiwan at large. As a creeper the Ruin Academy can slowly grow to occupy and activate new corners of the Sugar Factory machine. We are industrial insects and the Sugar Factory is our hive for insect architecture.

In the Sugar Factory the Ruin Academy operators are working and living in a machine. The industrial control is opened up in order to let nature to step in. The machine is now growing bamboo, vegetables and fruits. Openings on the roof are letting rainwater to irrigate the different organic layers growing on the machinery. The concrete slab on the floor is penetrated with big holes so that bigger trees can root in the original ground. There is a traditional Finnish sauna in one of the big processing tanks. 


Together with Taitung County Cultural Affairs Department


http://www.biourbanism.org/

臺東廢墟學院工作坊志工招募
【機構名稱】臺東縣文化處、臺東糖廠
【職務名稱】臺東廢墟學院工作坊志工
【職缺類別】志工
【招募人數】20名

【工作內容】
本計劃擬招募20名,對台東廢墟學院有濃厚興趣之學生或社會人士為志工,參與整個計畫空間改造工程的建構。參與者可近距離觀察並協助知名建築師兼藝術家馬可 • 卡薩格蘭(Marco Casagrande)如何將台東糖廠之局部改造發展成台東廢墟學院的整個過程,並對其以「第三代城市」、「生物城市」等概念為核心的未來城市想像有所認識。

【工作坊時間】
2014年7月15日-2014年7月30日,每日9:00~18:00
午休時間:12:00-13:00;周末全日休息
【工作坊地點】
台東糖廠,臺東市中興路二段191號
【志工招募條件】
1.年滿18歲以上
2.對建築藝術文化有高度興趣
3.需全程參與本活動(2014/7/15~7/30)
4.需協助建築施工,故具服務熱忱、耐心與良好體力者為佳
5.需自行處理/支付往返台東交通、住宿
6.無學歷需求或限制,具日常英語會話能力者尤佳
7.男女不拘
【志工福利】
1.擔任志工期間享有保險
2.工作日中午便當(周末不供應)
3.實習證書索取(開放自行申請)
【薪資待遇】
無薪資。
【報名程序】
1.填寫下頁「志工報名表」(電子檔)
2.於2014年6月30日前,回傳電子郵件與志工報名表,主旨請以「臺東廢墟學院工作坊志工招募+個人姓名」,寄至phebea@gmail.com,沈小姐收
3.信件寄出24小時以內,專人回信確認信件收覆,若未接獲回覆,煩請再次郵寄報名表
4.2014年7月10日前,專人通知您錄取本活動志工,無錄取者不另行通知

志工報名表所需資料
若需電子檔,請來信至phebea@gmail.com索取

三個月內近照
姓名
出生日期
手機
e-mail
市內電話:
學校 / 服務單位
系級 / 職稱
語言能力 中文 英文(請簡述聽、說能力)
緊急聯絡人:關係 姓名 手機
保險受益人
用餐 □ 葷 素

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Casagrande shares space with the jungle

Text Francois-Luc Giraldeau
Photos AdDa Zei
Published in MARK Magazine #50, June/July 2014




Early in his career, Finnish architect Marco Casagrande grasped the need to cut across disciplines - in the arts and applied sciences - to give form to his broad vision of the built environment. His current research involves the development of urban interventions on different scales, projects meat to shape and follow the shift towards a postindustrial city: an organic matrix lying in ruin, within which nature and man-made constructions are closely intertwined.

In the Taiwanese jungle, nestled amid a tangle of tropical vegetation, Ultra-Ruin is autonomous and off-grid. The single-family house was designed to give rise to unfettered interaction between natural processes and built form over time. It epitomizes Casagrande's experimental take on architectural conservation and puts a spin on the established view of bioclimatic concepts employed in the design of residential projects. Here the architect shows his appreciation for the tectonic qualities and the promising adaptive possibilities of a decaying brick farmhouse, a building that had fallen into disrepair and that was - and is - exposed to the elements and to wildlife.


Its renovation appears to have come about both organically and fortuitously. The architect drew upon the existing structure, using only minimal methods and resources to achieve tremendous gains in terms of spatial adaptability and flexibility. Casagrande explains that a commission of this kind "usually starts out with rough sketches and goes forward to small-scale physical models". The architect who immerses himself "in the physical and cultural context of the project", he stresses, is "all the more qualified" to execute his plan properly.


Encompassing two levels, Ultra-Ruin is a free-flowing sequence of serene spaces that engender spiritual reflection while mediating the contrast between inside and outside, deftly allowing one to assert itself within the other. Evoking the building's lush setting are several local timbers, such as mahogany, which was used to construct the walkway that leads to the entrance. Other materials, however, provide a crisp, contemporary counterpoint to nature and to the project's rustic appeal.


Casagrande's work seems to be driven by the desire - if not archaic, then at least unconventional - to build shelters, improvised structures that grow from the inside out to gradually shape and enhance the lives of his clients. Poised between construction and destruction, Ultra-Ruin is an emotional piece of architecture rather than a pragmatic piece of convenience. 



Thursday, May 29, 2014

RUINS OF THE FUTURE

An interview with Marco Casagrande on the significance of ruins by Liva Dudareva / STRELKA Institute


Stalker / Film by A.Tarkovsky

How did you become interested in ruins?
There was a time when I felt kind of sick or kind of disturbed when I was looking at old drawings of ruins, that were displayed most of the time as romantic establishments relating to the period of the Enlightenment. But then I came across the book called “Dialectics of Enlightenment” by Max Horkheimer and Teodor Adorno. They both belonged to the philosophical school called the Frankfurt School. They had to escape Germany during the Second World War, and both went to the US, where they wrote this book. In short, “Dialectics of Enlightenment” is about how industrialism betrayed the Enlightenment. I was reading it, and somehow got interested again in ruins.

What does ruin mean for the city?
IN MY POINT OF VIEW THERE IS ONLY ONE REALITY AND IT IS NATURE. THE OFFICIAL CITY IS GOING TOWARDS FICTION. ITS JUST A SOME KIND OF MAD DREAM OF CENTRAL HIERARCHIES.
I used to live in Taiwan which has lots of ruins. When the Japanese left Taiwan, they left Japanese houses which the Taiwanese didn’t maintain but neither did they destroy them. Taipei has been growing very fast, and so nature had overtaken these Japanese ruins very quickly, turning them into small ecosystems inside the city. When you have a lot of small holes in the city, which nature takes over, they become points of acupuncture. The city is so fat and lazy, and industrial, and these acupuncture points in the form of Japanese ruins are actually doing some sort of good for Taipei in general, and people feel it. People are very interested, and I got interested in the question of how it is possible that there is this official city, which is polluted and basically trying to destroy nature, while inside the city you have people that are very real. They are using the official city in a very organic way and putting some new layers on top of it. I find it very hopeful. Ruins seem to play some sort of part in it. I started to research illegal communities in Taiwan, and in all settlements the jungle was playing part of it, and urban farming was playing part of it, and also the people. I was absolutely fascinated, because in Taiwan these communities could be in very high densities, without design, official systems or central power. They were real. And that is a key word. In my point of view there is only one reality and it is nature. The official city is going towards fiction. It’s just a kind of mad dream of the central hierarchies. Because it is not real, it is against nature and the symptom of that is pollution and so forth.
I got interested in the reality to the point that I asked TamKang University, where I was architecture professor at the time, to find me a ruin, because I could no longer live in a house. I wanted to move into a ruin. My wife would move into the ruin too. I would no longer teach in the institution, and students would also come to the ruin.

Ruin Academy / Nikita Wu
Ruin Academy / Nikita Wu
What kind of knowledge from nature did you gain while living in the ruin?
When I was working in the Treasure Hill, we changed it into the Third Generation City and it was real. Same thing when we moved to the Tea Factory – to the ruin of the Tea Factory. We had to find out what you really need to survive. It is not romantic. For example we had big cobras, that can kill you. I’m living in the same ruin with A cobra, or perhaps many cobras. You don’t leave your food around, because then A mouse or rat comes, and after the rat comes a cobra. These kind of realities start to come out of observations.
For example, the ruins had quite a few bonsais. Bonsai is a tree that has found out that The human made environment is an environment where he can live. The same tree could grow 20m high just 10m away from the ruin. But when he is living in the ruin, for example in an empty windowsill that has little topsoil, he decides to stay 50cm. He knows how water is coming in and how the sun is circulated, but also how strong the structure of the bricks is. I have followed this process. He doesn’t grow, he stays there. You can scale these things up and down, but it takes a bit of time to observe them, and you need to be there, and you need to be normal, because research is not normal and design is not normal. When things become normal, then you actually start finding something real.
The only way to feel normal is with nature. The whole mindset of nature is about A constant exchange of energy, and you are part of that. If i really put my energy in nature, if i go skiing, build a fire, pick mushrooms, I feel this energy exchange and it makes me feel normal. When I am in the city I won’t do that. Maybe I can, but still I do not feel totally normal.

Do you think you can bring this feeling of normality to the cities somehow?
Not somehow but totally. The answer must be totally and that’s the Third Generation City. The city must become part of nature, and then this energy exchange and everything will be normal.

Ruin Academy / Nikita Wu
Ruin Academy / Nikita Wu
It is about finding a balance?
…some sort of total chaos.
THE THIRD GENERATION CITY IS NOT SOMETHING THAT WE DESIGN. IT IS NOT AN ECO-CITY. IT SHOULD BE MORE LIKE AN ACCIDENT, SOME KIND OF JUNGLE.
The main challenge is to start giving up. Industrialisation has become more dominant or more powerful in our minds than nature. We became a long time ago the servants of industry. Now architecture and urbanism is at this point where we must start opening up, we must start to give up in order for nature to step in. We think our mechanical reality is independent from nature, but that’s a joke.
The Third Generation City is not something that we design. It is not an eco-city. It should be more like an accident, some kind of jungle. At the same time the whole system will be dying in one corner and in some other corner it will be coming up. There will be battle. It’s not a harmonious thing, it generates energy. Treasure Hill where I was working was very close to it.

You mentioned how illegal communities are using the official city. I wonder if an illegal city can exist without a legal one? Can a bottom-up approach exist without a top-down?
I THINK WE NEED A CONSTANT REVOLUTION, ESPECIALLY IN THE CITY. IF THE CITY BECOMES TOO FIXED AND TOO OFFICIAL IT IS A POLLUTION IN ITSELF, BUT WHEN YOU HAVE THIS CONSTANT REVOLUTION IT BECOMES SOME SORT OF ORGANIC MACHINE.
I think we need a constant revolution, especially in the city. If the city becomes too fixed and too official it is a pollution itself, but when you have this constant revolution it becomes some sort of organic machine. Whether this can be achieved with illegal communities or self-organised communities, or bottom-up communities, or peer to peer solutions, or whether the official plays any part in it, I don’t have the answer. I think they are all part of it, even the official, but it won’t be a linear process, and it won’t be a circular process. It has many layers, and these layers are not layered on each other, but rather overlapping, slicing each other. The places where slicing happens are where the energy points are – the hotspots, what we are talking about in urban acupuncture. How to interpret and understand that energy exchange or even information matrix is not easy, but it is probably an architectural task.

You talk about Third Generation Cities in the context of existing cities. What about new cities built without a context? Perhaps you could refer to the Asian conditions.
It’s hard to say what the Asian phenomenon is in general. I guess it is the same talk we had in Finland in the 70s, 80s, and even 90s, where people were moving to the cities from the countryside. They were forgetting original values, forgetting how to live together with nature, and becoming a city man. Asia is doing the same thing, but on a very, very big scale. We were doing a project in Shenzhen with some migrating workers. They all came from the countryside, and they were all so clever. They knew how to build with bamboo and different kinds of materials, but those same people were building skyscrapers that all look alike. This is a moment when hundreds of millions of people are moving into the cities. They are bringing local knowledge from the countryside to the cities, originating from different parts of the country. China would be really clever now, if it could start to really appreciate this movement from city to countryside and use the local knowledge pouring into the cities. From this perspective it could become a Third Generation City.

You talk about local knowledge accumulated from previous generations. It is interesting to think what kind of local knowledge our generation is producing. What will we leave for the future?
Very good question, probably nothing so far. … Looks like zero. It looks like the city is the end.

Really?
Yes, maybe through ruins there is some possibility. The ruins in this case become like the Zone in “Stalker”, but you need the Stalkers.

But on the other hand “Stalker” also shows that you walk in the ruins in order to find the answer. But to find the answer you need to ask the right question.
The Zone is just nature. We have been in the city for so long that we don’t even know how to go to the forest. You disappear, and therefore you need just a normal guy who can set up a fire and catch a fish.
You need a guide?
Yes, yes, architects should become the Stalker.
Stalker / Film by A.Tarkovsky
Stalker / Film by A.Tarkovsky
Do you think a reversed scenario is possible: city man going back to nature?
I think that the big process is that most people will be located in the cities. They will be fed genetic food and will have such powerful information systems that you will be able to tell those people whatever you want. They will be completely dependent on social media. They will become this genetically manipulated information souls living in the city. But despite this mass of total uselessness they are still humans. They still have some basic human heart, and some strange good things will start coming out of that. Maybe that is the new local knowledge.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Marco Casagrande: Real Reality

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Marco Casagrande: Real Reality

June 12 to July 18, 2014
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 12, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

HANCOCK, MI – Marco Casagrande: Real Reality will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from June 12 to July 18, 2014.

An opening reception will take place at the gallery on Thursday, June 12, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Moving freely between architecture, landscape architecture, environmental art, urban and environmental design and science Casagrande’s work encompasses a broad vision of the built human environment.  Structures that respond to nature, designed with local materials and built with local building practices, change over time as they age in situ. 

Since 1999 Casagrande has created 65 cross-disciplinary, ecologically conscious architectural installations around the world.

In all of Marco Casagrande’s work, there is a search for a subconscious architecture, a real reality, and a connection between modern people and nature. He believes that one should not be blindfolded by stress, the surroundings of economics, and the online access to entertainment or information. “What is real is valuable,” says Casagrande.  “I want to design shelters in nature for honest people.”

Last year Casagrande was awarded the 2013 European Prize for Architecture.  This award was designed to support those influential European architects who are blazoning a more humanist and social-based architecture and recognize their pursuits and their achievements before a European and world audience.

“Casagrande is one of Europe’s new young breed of architects,” states Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, the Finnish Museum President of The Chicago Athenaeum, “who have expanded the traditional boundaries
of architecture, pushing that envelope beyond ‘accepted norms’ and the ‘standard perimeters’ of design practice, to include architecture as environmental art and sculpture, while embracing sustainability, humanism, and the public’s right to an appropriate architecture and urban design that reflects and respects human values, dignity, and self-esteem.  Casagrande is a model for today’s young design professional.”

Casagrande’s work has been widely exhibited internationally including the World Architecture Festival (2009), Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennial (2009, 2012), Victoria & Albert Museum (2010), World Design Expo (2011), Beufort04 Triennial (2012), Austrian Museum of Contemporary Art MAK “Eastern Promises” (2013, Buenos Aires Architecture Biennial (2013) and China Central Academy of Fine Art CAFAM Biennale (2014), among others.

His work has been critically acclaimed, winning awards including the World Architecture Community Awards (2009), World Architecture Festival Award (2009), Architectural Review House Award (2010), World Architecture Community Awards (2010), Red Dot Design Awards (2012) and Russian Architects Union’s Zeleny Proekt (Green Project) 2012 competitions. He also won the International Committee of Architectural Critics CICA Award 2013 for conceptual and artistic architecture.

Currently Marco Casagrande is the Principal of the Casagrande Laboratory Architects in Finland and WEAK! in Taiwan together with Prof. Roan Ching-Yueh and architect Hsieh Ying-Chun. He directs the independent multidisciplinary research center Ruin Academy based in Taipei, Taiwan and Artena, Italy and is the Vice-President of the International Society of Biourbanism.

“Real Reality” will be on display through July 18, 2014.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment.
For more information, call 906-487-7500.

Photo captions:
Photo 1: Marco Casagrande, Sandworm, 2012
Photo 2: Marco Casagrande, Ultra-Ruin, 2013

Photo 3: Marco Casagrande at Shenzhen Biennial



Friday, April 25, 2014

OGRÓD - DOM

Anna LipiecSztuka-Krajobrazu


Ultra-ruin to malownicza realizacja architekta Marco Casagrand polegająca na zagospodarowaniu ruin dawnej ceglanej farmy. Zlokalizowana na styku tarasowych pól i lasu budowla, łączy w sobie drewnianą architekturę i naturalistyczne rozwiązania ogrodowe.


Założeniem projektanta było zbudowanie domu o otwartej formie. Z uwagi na to, że dom jest mocno otwarty na otoczenie, ogród i architektura przeplatają się ze sobą. Na pierwszy rzut oka, widz nie jest w stanie ocenić gdzie jest granica pomiędzy naturą a dziełem ludzkich rąk. Niektóre z ogrodowych tarasów, przypominają kolejne pomieszczenia domu.

W ogrodzie – domu przeplatają się trzy podstawowe materiały: cegła, drewno oraz roślinność. Dodatkowo w projekcie użyto takich materiałów jak kamienie, żwir, glina.


W wielu miejscach drzewa przebijają się przez architektoniczną strukturę i to one dyktują jej ostateczną formę. Przykładem może być jeden z tarasów, który przecinają korony sąsiadujących drzew. W niektórych punktach ściany zostały utworzone z pnączy.


Wszelkie nowoczesne elementy oraz materiały budynku zostały ukryte w stonowanej drewniano ceglanej powłoce. Forma nowych nasadzeń całkowicie podporządkowuje się sąsiadującemu krajobrazowi. Ogród zdaje się być całkowicie dziki i naturalny.


Projektant: Marco Casagrande
Lokalizacja: Taipei, Taiwan
Powierzchnia: dom – 210 m2, tarasy i ogród – 520 m2
Realizacja: 2013
Zdjęcia: AdDa Zei


http://ultraruintaipei.blogspot.fi/

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ULTRA-RUIN

Alberto Mengual Muñoz @ URBIPEDIA

Ultra-Ruin, obra de Marco Casagrande terminada en 2013 en Taipei, es un organismo de arquitectura de madera que crece a partir de las ruinas de una casa de ladrillo rojo abandonada en un lugar de encuentro de granjas aterrazadas con la selva. La débil arquitectura sigue los principios de Open Form y se improvisa en el sitio en base a instintos que reaccionan en presencia de la selva, la ruina y el conocimiento local.

Ficha técnica

  • Arquitectos:Marco Casagrande
  • Project Manager: Nikita Wu
  • Equipo de Casagrande Laboratory: Frank Chen, Yu-Chen Chiu
  • Materiales: Mahogany, Zelkova, Camphor, Taiwan Cypress, bronze, steel, stone, brick
  • Localidad: Yangming Mountain, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Situación: ruin of an abandoned farm house and surrounding terraced farms
  • Espacio Interior: 210 m2
  • Área de terraza: 520 m2

Descripción

El complejo cuenta con una gran variedad de espacios multifuncionales y plataformas que pueden ser activadas para diferentes funciones de la vida y la meditación. La continuidad espacial entre los espacios interiores y exteriores es flexible, también el interior está al exterior y la selva está al interior. El Ultra-Ruin es un instrumento arquitectónico interpretado por la naturaleza, incluyendo los humanos. El usuario principal es una familia privada, pero el espacio se abre ocasionalmente para reuniones más amplias.

Ultra-Ruin es más un accidente orgánico, que un espacio basado en el control industrial. El accidente es mayor que el control arquitectónico. El control arquitectónico se ha abierto con el fin de dejar que la naturaleza intervenga y tenga lugar el error humano. Con el fin de entender la dinámica de un accidente hay que estar presente. Estar presente es la clave de todo arte.
La arquitectura no es un lenguaje independiente y la arquitectura no habla sola. La arquitectura necesita de la naturaleza para convertirse en parte de la naturaleza. Ultra-Ruin es una condición post-ruina, donde el ser humano ha vuelto a la casa/ruina y comparte el mismo espacio con la selva.
Ultra-Ruin se ha desarrollado en un diálogo cercano aún en curso con el cliente desde el año 2009. La primera reacción de arquitectura fue construir una mesa alrededor de la cual pudieramos hablar. Luego, para construir un refugio para esta mesa. El resto de Ultra-Ruina ha crecido alrededor de este impacto inicial. Todavía seguimos hablando y Ultra-Ruina sigue creciendo como una forma abierta.
La primera maqueta de Ultra-Ruin fue realizado para el Museo Victorial & Albert de Londres en 2009. La actual villa/ruina ejecutada en Taiwán ha crecido a partir de esta semilla.

COMMEDIA DELL'ARCHITETTURA

La Arquitectura da las órdenes y los arquitectos escuchan. En realidad la naturaleza da las órdenes y la arquitectura toma forma. El arquitecto es un chamán del diseño que se comunica con esta realidad. El diseño no puede sustituir a la realidad, la naturaleza. El control humano debe abrirse para permitir que la naturaleza salte al interior. La arquitectura debe ser arruinada. Ruina es cuando el hombre se ha convertido en parte de la naturaleza.
Estar presente es la clave de todo arte. El arquitecto es un instrumento específico a través del cual la gran voz de la arquitectura empieza a resonar y encontrar la forma. Esta gran voz es débil y necesita una gran presencia, sacrificio y sensibilidad para ser escuchada. El arquitecto es uno de los seres sensibles paraa escuchar esta voz y proteger el sonido. La Arquitectura es o no lo es. No se puede especular. La arquitectura es una verdadera realidad.

Que le ocurrió realmente a Porcupine?
Un día regresó de la Zona y se convirtió en increíblemente rico, increíblemente rico. A la semana siguiente se ahorcó.” – Stalker, Tarkovsky

La gente vive en el espacio y esta conexión puede ser arte, algo superior a lo que podría ser diseñado. La arquitectura es un accidente, que es algo mayor que el control humano. Con el fin de comprender el accidente y dejar que la vida corra a través de él, uno debe estar presente. Estar presente es la clave de todo arte. Esta fisura en el control humano es el punto de acupuntura por el que el organismo de la arquitectura puede crecer. Biourbanismo es la ciudad de las fisuras. La arquitectura es un mediador entre el hombre y la naturaleza, conectando la naturaleza humana con el resto de la naturaleza, la realidad. La arquitectura es el arte de la realidad.

Planos

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Marco Casagrande interview by Mia Zhang

Interview by Mia Zhang for Pro Design Magazine, China 1/2014


Part 1 Career

MZ: What inspired you to get into architecture? 

MC: I have always been drawing, playing in forest, building snow cave systems and imagining my own worlds, telling stories to myself. I didn’t choose architecture, I just ended up there. 


MZ: What would you prefer to be called, architect, environmental artist, or social theorist?

MC: I would like to be called something that combines all of those three. Maybe Constructor or Insect. 


MZ: You majored in architecture in college, how did you start with environmental artistic and social projects in the beginning?

MC: Our education was quite mixed with other disciplines of art and architecture was viewed as constructive art. I did the first real environmental art work in 1999 – “Land(e)scape”, but this was not connected with school, but our own work as Casagrande & Rintala. That was followed next year by the “60 Minute Man” in the Venice Biennale, “1000 White Flags” in Finland, “Convoy” in Finland and “Quetzalcoatlus” in Havana Biennale, Cuba. 2001 we did the “Bird Cage” in Yokohama Triennale and “Installation 1:2001” for Firenze Biennale. All these were done before my graduation in 2001, but had nothing to do with universities, except that we got help from other students. Land(e)scape was the beginning and everything else followed up by an accident. 


MZ: Since 1999, you have created 65 cross-disciplinary, original and radical works within 14 years? It sounds quite a large number to me. How would you be so inspired a lot and complete so many projects?

MC: There is no limitation for inspiration. Limitation is a different thing. Life is unlimited inspiration. Inspiration is kind of a thought originating from nature, the life-providing system. This system is one big brain and if you connect with it, you are inspired. Nature thinks through you.


MZ: I saw a picture of you carrying stones during the construction of Bug Dome project in Shenzhen City. Are you always engaged yourself in the whole construction process? 

MC: Being present is the key of all art. It is a blessing, not a burden. Architecture is not a remote control art, but it requires humane presence. I must be there in order to understand, what the architecture is trying to transmit, what it needs to become. I am a simple architect, not a fortune-teller…I need to be there. 


MZ: You studio name is Casagrande lab. I mean, Casagrande is your name, of course, but why “lab”? Is experimentation your major focus? Then what do you experimenting on?

MC: We are working more like a laboratory than an office. All our work is project based and cross-disciplinary. Sometimes, when we are really good, you could call us a circus. Art is a constant experiment by its nature. Also the deepest nature of architecture is the unknown. 



MZ: I see you used a lot of willow and wood. I mean, wood would be more acceptable than willow in modern city, right? And I have seen willow woven objects like basket. They are adorable, and because they are small they don’t seem to contrast drastically to the modern world. But a large project, like Cicada in Taipei, would contrast a lot to the surrounding, at least to me. So how do you see that contrast? 

MC: Mixed feelings. It shows how brutal the surrounding city is, but same time offers an escape or retreat to the modern man. In some sense this kind of insect architecture is acting as a mediator between the modern man and nature. You can also see how totally the modern city is lacking local knowledge.


MZ: How would you describe your style?

MC: No trends, no style – just architecture. Later, when the transformation is complete, my way is insect architecture. 


MZ: Do you have a dream project? 

MC:
1. Mixture of a shopping center and jungle.

2. Nomad City.

3. Ruin of the Capital of the World.

4. Floating self-organizing city based on cargo ships out of duty.

5. Own cross-disciplinary architecture school focusing on Urban Acupuncture, Third Generation City, Ultra-Ruin, Urban Nomad and Local Knowledge.

6. Having a C-130 and putting our Laboratory in there.

7. Urban Acupuncture for slums, illegal communities and emerging cities of the world. Transforming them into future resource.

8. Learn how to use the Local Knowledge that is pouring into the Chinese cities from countryside with migrating workers and transforming an existing city into the Third Generation City.

9. Good houses for good people.

10. Building with nature as co-architect. 


MZ: What do you enjoy most in your work?

MC: Seeing the unknown, forgotten and neglected. I enjoy the feeling of freedom and clarity, when you are truly working, when architecture is near. 


MZ: What do you think is the most important quality of an architect?

MC: There are different ways, not only one. Some architects have the capacity of being a design shaman, interpreting what the bigger nature of collective mind or shared conscious if transmitting. This shamanism is close to nature.


MZ: What are the aspects of architecture you consider most important? 

MC: Constructing human environment as a mediator between man and nature. This can be both practical and spiritual. 


MZ: What do you think of the current situation of architecture? 

MC: Boring.


MZ: Could you share with us briefly about what you are working on currently?

MC: I am setting up NOMAD - an environmental art and architecture school with architect Hans-Petter Bjørnådal in Hemnes, Norway and I am setting up Ruin Academy with architects Roan Chin-Yueh and Hsieh Ying-Chun in Taipei and with the International Society of Biourbanism in Artena, Italy. I am starting to design a new wooden house in Taidong, South-Taiwan. This house will be floating in jungle.


Part 2 Life 



MZ: I saw you quoted Bertolt Brecht “In a dream last night, I saw a great storm. It seized the scaffolding….” So you read a lot of Bertolt Brecht? Which of his book do you like? What other writers do you like?

MC: I like Brecht poems. They are good for hang-over. 

A. Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness 

B. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky: Roadside Picnic 

C. Adorno & Horkheimer: Dialectics of Enlightment 

D. Burgess: A Clockwork Organge 

E. Claude Levi-Straus: The Savage Mind 

F. Beckett: Waiting for Godot 

G. Lao Tzu: Dao Te Qing 

H. Kropotkin: The Spirit of Revolt 

I. Kalevala 

J. Tolstoy: War and Peace 


But movies are equally important:

A. Tarkovsky: Stalker

B. Ford Coppola: Apocalypse NOW!

C. Lang: Metropolis

D. Kubrick: 2001: A Space Odyssey 

E. Eisenstein: Ivan the Terrible

F. Bergman: 7th Seal

G. Kurozawa: Dersu Uzala

H. Herzog: Fata Morgana

I. Kaurismäki: Man Withouth Past

J. Schlöndorff: The Tin Drum


MZ: What do you believe in?

MC:
- Life / Nature

- Accident


MZ: Is there any difference between the working you and the not working you?

MC: I am in the ruins, in the cross-roads, on river banks and garbage dumps. The office-me is nothing of this, but I am constantly aware of it and constantly escape to the jungle. 


MZ: What kind of lifestyle do you prefer? 

MC: Real Reality. 



MZ: What do you love to do when you are not designing? 

MC: Fishing. Boxing. Drinking. Sauna. Play with kids. Enduro. Watch movies. Pick mushrooms.


MZ: Do you like music/books? What is your favorite musician/book? 

MC: Right now I enjoy to dance Greek Zorbas with my 9 months old son. 


MZ: You have traveled to many cities. Which is your favorite? What is the most impressive journey you’ve ever had? (Could you please provide one piece of essay of your journey with pictures?)

Once I drove a car (Land Rover Defender) from Finland to Japan through all Russia and Siberia. Another time I drove a KTM enduro motorcycle from Finland to China through Russia and Kazakhstan. Third trip to mention was working as a commercial fisherman / deck-hand for red salmon in the Bering Sea, Alaska. This time my wife Nikita was a net-hanger in the Naknek net-hanging shop Watzituya.