[Image: Andrew Maynard Architects' CV08]
Andrew Maynard has what some may consider to be a peculiar vision for the future of the Australian suburb – lush forest wilderness, or otherwise natural untouched land devoid of cookie-cutter human settlements. And it would all be thanks [if he had his way, perhaps?] to something resembling the image above.
That’s right, my ninjas – Maynard has developed a proposal for giant suburb-devouring robots, that will both consume the existing suburbs as they pass AND do a little terraforming while there at it. Who could ask for more? Well, maybe just this:
We are thinking about getting a few more students at AMA so that they can build a prototype in the store room. Then we will accidentally [on purpose] spill various liquids on it until it comes to life and starts killing people indiscriminately and tries to take over the world. We can only hope. [Andrew Maynard]
[Image: the CV08's trail of newly terraformed land]
Invited to speak at the RAIA‘s upcoming Critical Visions ’08 conference in Sydney [April 10-12], Maynard will be presenting a polemic on Australia’s suburbs and their overall impact on society + the planet. A slideshow on AMA’s website describes Maynard’s prediction for the suburb’s future: as oil prices continue rising, the suburbs will become more and more unaffordable – the dependence on the automobile and lack of public transit, coupled with the lack of money for gasoline [and/or lack of gasoline itself] will cause the collapse of the suburb’s infrastructure.
Where will suburbanites live when there is no other means of circulation to their homes? What will we do with our abandoned and decaying suburbs? And most importantly, what will we do with the 50% of Australians that are over-weight due to car dependence and a sedentary lifestyle?
Well, my ninjas – Andrew Maynard Architects believe they have the answer: the CV08.
[Image: CV08 section diagram]
The CV08 is like a late night infomercial on steroids: it slices, it dices, it consumes entire towns – and it even cleans up after itself. The satirical hexapod will descend upon the suburbs, gathering the abandoned homes and cars through it’s front legs [dubbed 'demo legs', seen below] – crushing everything in its path and packaging it neatly for recycling. The CV08 then releases new flora+fauna through the middle legs [which are kept, obviously, in carbonite freeze until deployment] – immediately populating the newly reclaimed land.
Lastly, the rear legs of the CV08 will serve as a means of power-collection: they pull chubby Australian suburbanite stragglers up into a liposuction chamber, which draws out all of their excess fat [which then powers the CV08]. The now trim Aussies are then shot out of the backside [read: ass] of the robot, parachuting down to safety – along with a brand new bicycle constructed from recycled suburbs.
Think of all the time + money this will save people on painting their McMansions, mowing the lawn, and going to the gym.
[Image: CV08 section detail - the 'demo leg']
A slideshow, from the AMA website.
A brief video showcasing the project.
A PDF of the presentation boards.
[Image: CV08 section detail - the 'flora leg']
After learning about the project and the Critical Visions ’08 conference I had the opportunity to ask Andrew Maynard a couple questions regarding the CV08 polemic and the increasingly popular AMA.
ArchitectureMNP : So for starters – why?
Andrew Maynard : I have always been anti-car [anti-car ownership to be exact] and I am a public transport advocate. So CV08 is just another step on my continuing polemical journey to illustrate just how nasty cars are for us.
AMNP : Was the suburb-eating robot already in the works / a thought in the back of your mind somewhere – or is it entirely a response to Critical Visions ’08 [as the name implies]?
AM : The majority of my ideas have been tucked away for awhile and I simply try to find the appropriate time to let them out. I am a borrower and hoarder of ideas. We have lists and lists of ideas in the office, just waiting for the opportunity to be given life. Though I am an old school fan of regionalism, Frampton and his contemporaries I tend to find that I am not very good at purely responding to site and the brief. If I wait for the good idea to pop out then it will simply never appear. Instead I try to be pragmatic with my response to site and brief and then simply refer to one or 2 of my hoarded ideas to bring in the colour and joy. To answer your question, I had on my ideas list “design a robot” for no other reason than I am a geek and I like Asimov. The conference simply gave me an excuse to dedicate some time to it. We couldn’t think of a good name for the robot. We started discussing R2-D2 and C3-P0 and we decided that the conference name, CV08, was perfect.
AMNP : Did the entire firm work on the project? I imagine that the initial discussions + meetings were hilarious.
AM : I’m not great at teamwork, which does trouble me, but I do try. In our office I tend to disappear with a new project and try to get the parameters clear in my head. At numerous times between my first survey of the issues and the final design I will quickly grab everyone and ask for input. The more absurd and subversive the better. I like getting as much feedback from my crew as possible, but as the boss, I am in the lucky position of ignoring what I don’t want to hear and taking on what excites me. My inability [unwillingness?] to work in rich team environments is not a great working model. But it works for us. In reality though, my way of working will most likely mean that we remain a small firm [boutique]. Put me in a room with equal weighted stake holders and I tend to be a sook or throw tantrums. Hopefully I’ll grow out of this.
But yes, once I had identified the key concepts that I wished to pursue, the initial discussion for CV08 was a lot of fun and everyone was involved. We were all throwing ideas around and everyone was drawings robots. The sketch that we settled on was actually drawn by Matt, who is an insanely talented designer/architect. As with every project that we do, I worked it up in detail on the computer while everyone else got on with projects that would pay the bills.
AMNP : How many of you [who worked on the project] are from / grew up in the ‘burbs yourselves? Was there a little bit of leftover teen angst that you guys got to express through the project?
AM : We are all from the “burbs”, except for Jun who is from Singapore. There is a lot of teen angst here. I remember many, many hours of being trapped in the back of a car. However hopefully our polemics are based in a strong political and social ideology rather than pure angst.
[Image: CV08 section detail - the backside/'lipo leg']
AMNP : Lastly, as a sidenote: you can tell by your graphics that AMA uses SketchUp, achieving a simple yet interesting + fun rendering style. Could you take a second to explain your views on current software usage / rendering styles in architecture?
AM : I don’t really have a strong opinion on this one. Everyone in the office has at one time or another been involved in a sub-culture such as skating, surfing, indie-bands and such and we try to reference this rather than borrowing from the typical architectural discourse both literal and graphical. In the end I want our work to look like its come straight out of a comic book, somewhere between Jim Lee, Frank Miller and Future systems. Before we got into SketchUp, which is a very recent addition to our office, I would spend a lot of time and energy making our graphics look somewhat like a comic. SketchUp just made the process quicker.
For more from Andrew Maynard Architects head on over to their website – and check out these previous posts on AMNP:
::All images, quotes + info courtesy of Andrew Maynard Architects. Special AMNP thanks to our ninja from down-under Andrew Maynard for taking the time to speak with us::