Spaces of Food #5: Madeira Odorless Fish Market and the Tempelhof Ministry of Food

With just a few more hours left in GOOD's weeklong festival of food-writing, I thought I'd throw one more post out there: two projects by Lik San Chan.

[Image: From the Madeira Odorless Fish Market by Lik San Chan].

The first is the Madeira Odorless Fish Market, from 2006.

Camara de Lobos, Madeira, Chan explains, "is a fishing village located 10km west of the capital, Funchal. The fishing community is quickly dwindling into poverty as Funchal provides its own facilities for fish vending businesses. Camara de Lobos remains the only place in the world where the Black Scabbard fish industry can be self sustained, yet the fishermen still receive second hand pay for their catch as most of it is sold in Funchal."

[Image: Two more sections from the Madeira Odorless Fish Market by Lik San Chan].

Accordingly, the Odorless Fish Market "provides a place where their catch can be sold directly. The programme consists of a fish market, smokery, fish cookery school cum restaurant run by the fishermen community. Its architecture is technically driven to control Smell, Ventilation and Cooling, to provide a building with a greatly reduced smell of fish. The heart of the architecture is a solar chimney system which uses the consistent madeiran sun to, ironically, ventilate/cool the building."

It is a spatially self-deodorizing architecture of thermal air control.

The second of Chan's projects that I want to look at quickly here is the so-called Tempelhof Ministry of Food, from 2010.

[Image: From the Tempelhof Ministry of Food by Lik San Chan].

"Tempelhof Ministry of Food is a bread and fish production community situated on the old airfield of Tempelhof Airport," Chan writes.

More specifically, "the proposal is a joint venture between Edeka and the Berlin State, seeking to help Berlin's current problems of unemployment and social disparity." Local residents can produce their own food, cultivating "a spirit of co-existence and community, which they bring back to other Berliners."

[Image: From the Tempelhof Ministry of Food by Lik San Chan].

Of course, it takes more than simply activating a vegetation layer in Photoshop to create a realistic urban food infrastructure, but the technical realization of the images—as well as the historic context of the Berlin Airlift, when Tempelhof effectively became an emergency food-distribution center—make it interesting enough for a quick look.

[Images: From the Tempelhof Ministry of Food by Lik San Chan].

Indeed, as much as I like the narrative background for the Tempelhof project, it's simply too hard to tell if there is more to the proposal's otherwise impressive imagery to suggest a financially realistic and socially sustainable intervention into Berlin's existing systems of urban food production.

[Image: From the Tempelhof Ministry of Food by Lik San Chan].

Put another way, it's one thing to create, analyze, or even editorially promote architectural projects as narrative ideas—that is, as scenario plans for future landscapes—but it's another thing to look at whether or not such proposals do, in fact, operate successfully as solutions to the problems they highlight.

In any case, the spatial and atmospheric implications of food are foregrounded by both projects, though it is the deliberately complicated, Rube Goldberg-like sectional ventilation chambers seen in the Odorless Fish Market that seem most worthy of further exploration.

—Spaces of Food #5: Madeira Odorless Fish Market and the Tempelhof Ministry of Food
—Spaces of Food #4: Betel Nut Beauties
—Spaces of Food #3: The Mushroom Tunnel of Mittagong
—Spaces of Food #2: Inflatable Greenhouses on the Moon
—Spaces of Food #1: Agriculture On-The-Go and the Reformatting of the Planet

Comments are moderated for spam only.






7 Comments:

Anonymous namhenderson said...

Given how often your blogs focus is on extending the realms of architecture as narrative, I think your point Put another way, it's one thing to create, analyze, or even editorially promote architectural projects as narrative ideas—that is, as scenario plans for future landscapes—but it's another thing to look at whether or not such proposals do, in fact, operate successfully as solutions to the problems they highlight. deserves repeating once and awhile.

January 23, 2011 9:53 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Geoff, I love your blog, and I really really enjoy diving into projects such as these, but I have to say that I'm skeptical that using the harsh light of quantitative analysis on either of these proposals would really be a good idea. The tempelhof project has some obvious sociopolitical issues (as well as some probable agricultural ones), but even the smaller-scale fish market seems to have more to do with the Bartlett aesthetic and a romantic fictionalization of urbanism and light industry than it does with a real proposal for social change. You've argued very eloquently in the past for a place for architectural fiction. Suggesting that such fiction should be held up to rational standards would, I fear, not be kind to the work presented.

Don't get me wrong: I would like to see both of the above projects re-imagined as real proposals. However, such an exercise would most likely involve an interdisciplinary team, a lot of effort, and the result would be much less likely to lend itself to viral blog dissemination.

January 24, 2011 11:44 AM  
Anonymous MDC said...

Thanks for the refreshingly skeptical post.

Photoshopped avant-garde urbanist fantasies are a dime a dozen now. A little pragmatism is an essential counterbalance to all the "wankitecture" floating about.

January 24, 2011 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I very much agree with you when you said:
"
Put another way, it's one thing to create, analyze, or even editorially promote architectural projects as narrative ideas—that is, as scenario plans for future landscapes—but it's another thing to look at whether or not such proposals do, in fact, operate successfully as solutions to the problems they highlight. "

Are there projects that you think are particularly successful actually responding in a feasible/believable way (even if imaginative) to the problems they are addressing?

January 25, 2011 1:44 PM  
Anonymous namhenderson said...

Ben,
a lot of effort, and the result would be much less likely to lend itself to viral blog dissemination.

That is perhaps a key point in an of itself...

January 25, 2011 2:44 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Nam, Ben, MDC, thanks for your thoughts.

The different emphases in your comments—about what mode of criticism is best to use when discussing these sorts of architectural images—are fascinating and worth posting about later. Thanks again!

January 25, 2011 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the issue of Viral blog dissemination: They are viral simply because they interest the public, the layman. Architecture projects should do that more often, as opposed to being academically 'beyond' the average reader, and if that one person can share an idea, a vision with the public successfully, so much the better.

January 25, 2011 10:09 PM  

Post a Comment