Michael Rotondi introduces Adèle Naudé Santos, nothing that she he has been the chair of the architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania where she hosted an annual Design Week event that became critical in forming relationships between many architects, including Craig Hodgetts, Wolf Prix and Michael Sorkin. She is currently working on a project for an affordable housing development in North Hollywood that she won in a competition sponsored by MOCA. Santos has broken many barriers for women in architecture, principal of her own firm and practicing for over twenty years with experience in both architecture and urban design.
Santos describes how before coming to the United States she practiced for four years in southern Africa, leaving temporarily – she assumed – to teach for a year. A decade later she got back into practice by entering a series of competitions. Thinking of architecture as a humanistic discipline, she believes that it should not be approached too abstractly. She struggles in her projects to make them contextually, culturally, and technologically appropriate.
Santos presents a house project which she says has two faces: the very private side facing the street, and the garden facing side that flows with the landscape. The house opens up as you move around it. From the children’s room on the second level, they can see out but people can’t see in. The disconnection between the geometries of the first and second floor creates terraces and opportunities for ventilation. Santos also shows a series of projects in which she explored a habitable staircase, and ways of cutting through spaces to allow the penetration of light.
Santos presents her competition project for a Los Angeles Arts Park, in collaboration with Hodgetts and Fung, and Rios Pearson. Her design began with an analysis of the irrigation system. She proposed planting trees as a way of reenacting the development of the valley over time. The proposal uses water towers to signal the presence of the park while irrigation canals form the pedestrian walking paths.
Santos discusses Kachofugetsu-kan, a project for a client in Japan who wanted a building for his offices, plus an art gallery on a site barely big enough for a house. In the resulting terraced building provides each office on every floor with a different view, and a theater space. Another project for the same client called Tokyo Fantasia also features a zigzagging staircase and invites the public to pass through it like a street.