047 / 2012

Research on mat-building

We owe the term mat-building to Alison Smithson in her article “How to recognise and read mat-building. Our research, which gave rise to an exhibition, some articles and conference papers, explains and provides clear examples of the main mat-building strategies. The basic hypothesis focussed on three compositional principles: metrics, programme and place.


JOURNAL ARTICLES:

The Architectural Review vol.CCXXXIV, n.1398. “The Strategies of Mat-building” (2013)

DC Papers, n.24. “4+1 Exercises combinatorial space” (2012)

CONFERENCE PAPERS:

“Defining Mat-building: Case Study Applied to Architectural Design” (2013)

5th International Meeting on Architectural and Urbanism Research. Las Palmas (Spain)

EXHIBITIONS:

Official Architects Association Headquarters in Valencia (Spain, 2013) “MAT-BUILDING: Frankfurt, Berlín, Venecia, Kuwait, Valencia” 

ETSA Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain, 2012) “MAT-BUILDING: Frankfurt, Berlín, Venecia, Kuwait, Valencia”

LECTURES:

“MAT-BUILDING” Official Architects Association Headquarters in Valencia (Spain, 2013)

CREDITS:

RESEARCHERS: Ana Ábalos, Raúl Castellanos, Débora Domingo

DEPARTMENT: Architectural Design

UNIVERSITY: Universitat Politècnica de València


We owe the term mat-building to Alison Smithson. Her article “How to recognise and read mat-building. Mainstream architecture as it has developed towards the mat-building” published in the Architectural Design issue of September 1974, included a definition of this type of building and an extensive list of works and projects from the 1950s to the 1970s related to it. As in the case of the buildings themselves, the appeal of re-reading said article lies in its open and flexible theoretical framing.
The British author reviewed the items discussed at Team 10 meetings, pointed out that mat-buildings were not dependent on a specific architectural language, and identified certain contemporary works as offshoots of this phenomenon. “Mainstream mat-building became visible, however, with the completion of the Berlin Free University”, she said – but what are the characteristic features of a mat-building? This research aims to answer this question by analysing five case studies: four projects mentioned by Alison Smithson (the reconstruction of the centre of Frankfurt-Römerberg and the Free University of Berlin by Candilis, Josic and Woods; Le Corbusier and Guillermo Jullian de la Fuente’s design for the Venice Hospital; Alison and Peter Smithson’s design for Kuwait), and another in our own geographical proximity (a building for the Universitat Politècnica de València by L35 architects).
Our research, which gave rise to an exhibition, some articles and conference papers, explains and provides clear examples of the main mat-building strategies. The basic hypothesis focussed on three compositional principles: metrics, programme and place.