Units for Reconstruction by
Miguel Vieira Baptista

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Portugese designer Miguel Vieira Baptista came up with a set of measuring tools for a hypothetical reconstruction of a castle by estimating lengths with his hands.

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

Units for Reconstruction was made by Miguel Vieira Baptista as part of The Castle in Three Acts, an exhibition in Guimarães Castle inviting artists, architects and designers to explore the themes of construction, destruction and reconstruction.

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

"After my first visit to the castle I started to work in the office without a measuring tape," explained the designer. "I just stretched my arms, pointed out dimensions on the wall and defined thickness using my hand."

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

He then developed a series of cylinders, blocks and planks that echo some of the proportions of the tenth-century castle.

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

The approximate sizes and the human scale of the objects allude to the absence of a rigid system of measurement when the castle was built.

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

One of the cylinders is cut into wedges to act as an angle ruler, while two planks join at a right angle to form a set square.

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

The objects are made from MDF and painted white, and were arranged inside the castle as though they'd been left behind by a carpenter or stonemason.

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

Above: Guimarães Castle

The exhibition was held last summer as part of Guimarães' year as a European Capital of Culture, which also included a tower of straw bales and a tiny cinema where audience members had to crawl like a centipede to get inside – see all installations from Guimarães.

Photographs are by André Cepeda.

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Here's some more information from the designer:


Units for Reconstruction

During 2012 the Portuguese city of Guimarães hosted a great number of events as part of the programming for the European Capital of Culture. One of these events was the exhibition "The Castle in 3 Acts" where several artists, architects and designers were commissioned to develop work under the idea of construction, destruction and reconstruction.

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

Above: the designer demonstrates human-scale measurements

Miguel Vieira Baptista's site-specific work was the towers of the city’s iconic castle, often described as the place where Portugal's birth took place around the year 1128. A castle by definition is an architectural piece that runs through the endless sequence of the exhibition's themes.

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

Miguel Vieira Baptista approached the challenge from a designer’s point of view and developed a series of measuring elements to be used on a hypothetical reconstruction of the castle. The piece consists of large-scale rulers along with several plates and blocks of varying sizes that relate strongly with the existing building.

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

"After my first visit to the castle I started to work in the office without a measuring tape. I just stretched my arms, pointed dimensions on the wall and defined thickness using my hand." His collaborators translated these imprecise measures in to technical drawings. The process sounds unusual, but designers often use this approach in the creative process. The metric system can hinder the flow of the design process. He wanted to allude to the nonexistence of a metric logic when the castle was built by accentuating the site, the materials, construction techniques and the human scale.

Units for Reconstruction by Miguel Vieira Baptista

Above: diagram of installation inside the castle

Miguel Vieira Baptista's installation explored the idea of tooling for the reconstruction phase. Upon arriving at the 2nd floor of the castle tower, the visitor was left with the impression of entering a carpenter or stonemason's workshop with all these site-specific units of measure lying on the floor.

Units for Reconstruction
2012
Painted MDF, various dimensions

The Castle in 3 Acts exhibition, Guimarães European Capital of Culture
Collaborators - Pedro Almeida, Rui Lopes, Vanessa Domingues

  • JJJ

    These are not measuring tools. They are *gauging* tools. There’s a difference and designers should know what that difference is. An “angle ruler”? At the very let’s call it an “indexed protractor” or something!