Michael Meier & Christoph Franz build. From planks, chipboard, timber battens, concrete and other readily available materials they construct buildings, shelters, would-be functional structures. In the park outside the Kunsthaus Glarus they made Kino (Cinema, 2012), with several raked rows of hard seats that faced a shattered wooden screen, echoing the vanda- lism of the disused Glarus cinema. For Art in the City in Zurich they built Tankstelle (Petrol Station, 2012), a rudimentary building showing signs of neglect, the small forecourt continuous- ly illuminated by a few neon tubes. Their grand installation Springbrunnen (Fountain) during the Swiss Art Awards in Basel in 2012 could have been a podium for prize winners, but was pimped with jets of water that tumbled down the centre and on either side of the structure.

The solidity and scale of these sculptures grants them self-evident gravitas, though the basic materials used and the rough finish challenge this. They are left raw, frequently untreated and screws and joints are not masked. Meier & Franz view their works as 1:1 models, which informs the aesthetic and the point at which they halt construction. The works do the minimum required to fulfil their purposes and to draw the outline of a building archetype.
As models the works also operate as experi- ments in space making and, by extension and thanks to their size, the activation of those spaces. In his essay ‘Translations from Drawing to Building’, Robin Evans highlights the imper- fection inherent in the process of making mani- fest a plan on paper, given the leaps of interpre- tation and comprehension required en route.
Meier & Franz’s works could be seen as a mid-point in this process, a stage of trial and error, for visual and conceptual deliberation, that acknowledges the complexity of the translation.(1) Which befits a practice that looks at the margins of the built environment, be that the fringes of a city where living space becomes transit zone, liminal elements of buildings like fire escapes or garages, or overlooked, derelict urban spaces. In these ambiguous spaces cities are working out what they could be or will become.

Aoife Rosenmeyer

1 Robin Evans, Translations from Drawing to Building and Other Essays, 1997, Janet Evans and Architectural Association Publications