THE PLETHORA PROJECT
Plethora-Project is a design studio with a mission to accelerate computational literacy in the frame of Architecture and Design. The project was inspired by the "show me your screens" motto of the TopLap live-coding group attempting to get rid of Obscurantism in digital design.
The project was initiated in 2011 as a teaching initiative and has grown to become a design and software development studio. Each project developed advances a thesis of how a repository of knowledge, manifested in building form or software, can be re-used by the public at large, developing a form of digital infrastructure for DIY initiatives.
The studio believes in a humanistic approach to design, placing humans as responsible for decisions, and questioning decision-making algorithms. The research in this sense can be described as intelligence augmentation through the use of digital platforms.
One of the central premises of the Plethora Project is to find affordable means for design differentiation. Currently, the studio is exploring how to re-consider serial repetition of parts, but under a paradigm of combinatorics. This strategy entails that parts can be reconfigured in different patterns. Serialized parts will always remain more affordable than custom components, and by defining design difference through patterns, design becomes immaterial and sharable.
The studio belongs to a collective exploring the notion of Discrete Architecture. The current research has tried to move beyond parametric architecture, by engaging the field not only through form but also through the politics and economics of fabrication.
The collective recognizes the neo-liberal ideologies present in the current parametric agendas championed by Patrik Schumacher and believes that through this Discrete Architecture proposition, we can develop an alternative economic model based on principles of collectivism.
ARCHITECTURES FOR THE COMMONS
Architectures for the Commons is an ideology that emerges as a form of resistance to a parametric agenda and the socio-economical implications it entails. Central to the argument is a criticism of the competition model in architectural design, which has conquered the decision-making process of public architecture, parametrizing the free labor of young architects and design firms and devaluing the practice of the discipline.
By rediscovering the commons in an age of social connectivity, it is possible to make an argument for the production of design and value in distributed non-exploitative networks. The advocacy of parts and discrete architectures is rooted in a necessity of a vast combinatorial library that can allow design to perpetually remain novel in the hands of an active social system. The advent of technologies like video games comes to reinforce the role of human intelligence that is coupled with algorithmic augmentations.
In a time of a proliferation of neoliberal agendas, it has become necessary to understand the forces and infrastructures that can create an opposition. ‘Architectures for the Commons’ is the construction of a design framework that emphasizes the open source cooperation of architects with a community at large, utilizing socially enabled technology to accelerate the proliferation of value for multitudes.
JOSE SANCHEZ / PRINCIPAL
Jose Sanchez is an Architect / Programmer / Game Designer based in Los Angeles, California. He is the director of the Plethora Project, a research, and learning project investing in the future of on-line open-source knowledge. He is also the creator of Block’hood, an award-winning city building video game exploring notions of crowdsourced urbanism winner of the ‘Best Gameplay’ award at the 2016 Games for Change Festival in New York.
He has taught and guest lectured at several renowned institutions across the world, including the Architectural Association in London, the University of Applied Arts (Angewandte) in Vienna, ETH Zurich, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure D'Architecture in Paris.
Today, he is an Assistant Professor at USC School of Architecture in Los Angeles. His research ‘Gamescapes’ explores generative interfaces in the form of video games, speculating in modes of intelligence augmentation, combinatorics, and open systems as a design medium.