The Architectural League’s 31st annual Emerging Voices Award brings a focus to creative practices that will influence the future direction of architecture. Each of the eight firms will deliver a lecture this month in Manhattan. The
In the past 13 years, that exploration, along with a series of accommodating clients, has led OPA to produce a body of work that seems to thrive on the tension created between a project’s programmatic and code requirements and the architects’ restless formal experimentation.
Ogrydziak summed up their way of designing in two words, tenets if you will: inconsistency and relaxation. “One of the things you see in our portfolio is an exploration of a type of language that is a little bit more relaxed, geometrically a little looser,” he said. “The other thing is a certain amount of inconsistency. The project still has a narrative; there’s some sort of internal consistency, but there’s no one rule that the project follows.”
All of these themes are found in Honinghaus, a residential renovation and expansion that OPA completed in San Francisco. The client wanted a contemporary home, but the existing building, a Georgian-style row house, was constrained by the city’s historical preservation laws to maintain its subdued, classical lines.
OPA turned these contradicting forces into the project’s strength, playing the placid and conservative exterior off of what Ogrydziak called “geometric disturbances,” on the interior, namely a fluid and faceted central circulation stair that “erupts” at the penthouse addition in an enclosure of odd-angled surfaces.
Elsewhere, however, OPA’s work, while still relaxed and varied, exhibits what seems the opposite of tension: a yearning for harmony with the natural surroundings. Dune, a weekend house in Monterrey Bay designed for a couple of surfers, is a faceted structure that merges with the rolling forms of the dunes that encircle it. The building’s walls feature angles of not more than 33 degrees—the steepest angle a natural dune can achieve before the sand begins to slide.