The Hydra Project

© Elísabet Hugrún Georgsdóttir

The Hydra Project - Paris

Since the beginning of the 2000s The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation (KADK), Study Department 6 in Copenhagen has conducted a series of intense seminars on contemporary conditions for establishing and working build environments approached as “ (...) a cartography that is coextensive with the whole social field” (Deleuze).


Starting with situated summer schools on the Greek island Hydra in the 2000s, the topography of the island was developed as different ways of considering topology in architectural drawing. This was approached from a new angle every year in a number of years through series of associated questions, resulting in an extensive body of drawings. Later these questions were developed by involvement of urban landscapes from Berlin, Paris and Tokyo.


The observational of the body of drawings constitute a topological landscape with a great many parallels to the architectural context in which we find ourselves today. It may be described in time and space as a complex traversed by forces, information, and synergy; expressing and configuring varied and ambiguous significances through constellations that are both real and virtual.


The Hydra project has sought to provoke a mode of operation in between the real and the virtual which may be said to hold the sensing body as its pivot along with the phenomenology of the object; omnipresently considering and shaping virtual constructions capable of instrumentalizing ambiguity and opening up to a topological production of meaning. Positions, relations, orders, levels, dimensions, energies, and processes as a new field of possibilities: an architecture of the event.


Important issues and topics of such events have been:

surface and depth of the drawings; the upfolding of the plane;

plasticity and changes of state;

movement, space, time, and information;

regimes of signs and observations on scale related to domains and relations;

how to present effective events that interweave architectural actions into force-fields and modes of effect.


Key questions in the project today are:

Can a dense mesh/tissue be extracted from this architecture of events, which enable new strategic configurations of a topological nature?

Can new domain and scales be developed from the ensuing variations?

Is it possible to describe a system of intensities which emerge from its dimensions?


The artificial environment of today – three problems


The Hydra project has developed a strategic and reflective approach to the artificial environments of todays world which may be seen as an aesthetic proposal for design acknowledging prior articulated and existing materialities and matters. The project can be said to operate in the dense and vibrant complexity of matter resulting from 200 years of modernity – from megacities over ruined landscapes, to the ever increasing glut of material culture, as well as environmental issues; i.e. forces, forms, and energies, which may be treated productively by accepting that architecture and design is taking place in a world of dynamic, continuous and virtually underwritten and thus transversal artifice.


Three important problems emerges out of this genealogy of the architectural event:


Topology. What are the options and implications of the continuity between projects, e.g. as expressed in drawings and the world: when drawing do not function as representation but as enactive working of a cartographic material which feed back into the topologies engendered?


Diagrams. What is the ‘flesh’ underwriting the mesh/tissues indicated above which enable diagrams and working of elements and entities apprehended from cartography and reinserted into transformations of real structures of artifice, e.g. in urban areas as new domain and scales?


Aesthetics. How does the aesthetics of the drawings/drawn matter attain produce reflections and knowledge forms, in particular perhaps, what is the role and potential of the intensities of computer based rendering, data resources and media?



Spring 2014.

© Elísabet Hugrún Georgsdóttir - All rights reserved.