Shells, Tube Structures, and Minimal Surfaces

Reader Louis Schultz has pointed out the work of Lithuanian-born artist Aleksandra Kasuba, who used curved surfaces of fabric stretched and attached between space frames in order to create inhabitable rooms and corridors.

[Images: The Live-in-Environment (1971) by Aleksandra Kasuba; the project “was built on a parlor floor of a brownstone house in New York City,” we read. “The intent was to abolish the 90-degree angle and create an environment that would capture changes in daylight, provide variations in terrain, and introduce the unexpectedness of views found in nature without simulating nature”].

These ephemeral installations were intended, spatially, as a way to “abolish the 90-degree angle and create an environment that would capture changes in daylight, provide variations in terrain, and introduce the unexpectedness of views found in nature without simulating nature.” I love that latter caveat: to retain the experiential impact of unexpected natural vistas without simply copying, or simulating, the spatial details and material palette of the natural world.
Instead, a somewhat stark world of undecorated surfaces curves around us – call it biomorphic minimalism – thus eliding the differences between architecture and large-scale tailoring.
In any case, her Live-in-Environment, from 1971, seen in the images above, is a great example of this – but don’t miss the Roof Deck Study from 1974; the Barbarella-meets-IBM world of torqued geometry from her Office Renovation Study (1975); the aerial tunnels of Art-in-Science I (1977), which look like some megafaunic form of undersea life, stretched through the canopies of a North American thicket (“With the assistance of three students during an eight week stay,” Kasuba writes, “we explored the topology of 78 fabric structures, hardened 32 with resins, and erected 4 weather structures”); and the simplicity of Blue Shade (1978).
Better yet, Kasuba supplies a section called How It Was Done – where you can learn how to create finishes, arches, and doors, for instance – and this includes Kasuba’s extraordinary, lo-fi guide to shells, tube structures, and minimal surfaces.
It’s what The North Face might have become had their tent division been bought by Kenneth Snelson.

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