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  • THE PAULISTA SECTIONS: Dissecting Architecture as the Revelation of space

    Faculty Research Exhibition by Álvaro Puntoni, Fernando Viégas, Neil Minuk and Eduardo Aquino Instead of the nineteenth century flat-footed figure-ground space, twenty-first century metropolitan space is more active in section. We rise and fall in elevators and escalators while our points of view open and close in amazing sequences.... Increased spatial energy directly related to a high degree of sectional development allows for fresh dimensions of urban living. - Steven Holl Why the section? This exhibition intends to bring to the surface a design tool often neglected in favour of other representational features of the project like the plan, the elevation, or the infamous 3D rendering. There is a shift of perception in architecture after the second postwar, where architects gradually distanced themselves from questions of space towards questions of the image and representation. This process made the section assume a secondary role, almost as an afterthought to the design process. The section always comes later in the design process, when in fact it should be developed simultaneously with the plan, and all other aspects of the architecture (structure, materiality, site, envelope, context, program, etc.). Incision, butchering, the crack, a cut made by an instrument that enters the interior of the matter, economy, a reduction, or a suppression are just some definitions of “section.” As an architectural graphic expression, it is a vertical plane showing the interior of the construction from a specific location, an elected representation to the understanding of this moment, that is, a synthesis of meanings. This exhibition seeks to discuss the section as a way of thought, a form of language. The section reveals the genesis of many projects that are born from this procedure, to announce the spatial continuity of desires between interior and exterior, land and construction. This is where one measures the space in relation to human dimensions, where one determines the relationship between the building and the ground, unlike what happens with isolated plan drawings. São Paulo’s radical topography makes the section evident in a direct relationship between architecture and territory, the design of the floor, as reminds us critic Sophia Telles in her text on the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture by Paulo Mendes da Rocha: "If the section is the flipped ground and the plan is the fold of the site, the result of this equation withdraws the site from its mere trimming condition from the urban map, to restore the body’s and the ground’s physicality." Thus, the idea of studying simultaneously “the São Paulo condition” and the “section” synthesizes a crucial moment in modernity where the urban surface is no longer neutral, but instead becomes “the active agent of territory.” * A native or inhabitant of the city of São Paulo, Brazil.