We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winners of the Honorable mention of our “Rome Collective Living Challenge ” competition - Jacob Comerci and Eli Braff Back from the United States!

Jacob Comerci and Eli Braff Back from United States

Office Provisional is Jacob Comerci and Eli Braff Back. Jacob lives in Michigan and Eli in New York, and as such, the office exists predominantly over WiFi.

Jacob Comerci is a designer and educator. He is the 2019-2020 William Muschenheim Fellow at the University of Michigan. He received a Masters of Architecture from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. While at Princeton, he was awarded the Howard Crosby Butler traveling fellowship where he studied collective building groups (baugruppe) in Berlin as well as the Suzane Kolarik Underwood thesis prize for excellence in design. He has previously worked with Bureau Spectacular in Chicago and Los Angeles and with MOS Architects and LTL Architects in New York.

His research and design work reconsiders models for collective life and work by way of the interior fit-out of existing real estate with furniture-scaled domestic equipment.

Eli Braff Back is a designer and builder. His work investigates the use of conventional building materials in unconventional ways through the development of novel construction tectonics. He has worked across the fields of design and fabrication, building single family homes, interiors, furniture, and tools. He studied architecture, digital fabrication and ceramic sculpture at Bennington College. He currently does freelance design/build work for various clients in New York.

Our office is very young. We have an interest in the nature of the collective in the age of the internet and prefer to spend our time producing work and scholarship in this area. Jacob’s upcoming fellowship project will allow for the opportunity to pursue some of this work.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

Eli believes that architects are not simply the instigators of physical form, but that they are also responsible for the ephemeral aspects of building — political place-making, material and tectonic considerations, etc. — that are uniquely suited to their expertise. Architects can set the bar of craftsmanship high or low, they can be mindful of toxicity and waste embodied in new materials, and they can choose to be as invested in the ethics or politics of their work as they choose. In other words, the role of the architect is excitedly wide-ranging and diverse.

Jacob believes that architects are most productive when spinning many plates, directing their (often) pathological energy managing complex design processes and technical expertise. He thinks that their aesthetic neuroses push the production of expertly crafted stuff which (ideally) benefits those who engage with it.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Office Provisional participates in vision competitions because they provide artificial deadlines for work that we might otherwise not produce. We believe that vision competitions offer a space free from too many constraints where some of the most excitingly fantastical ideas can emerge.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

If you have the time and money, participating in vision competitions offers a productive space to put your work into the world in dialogue with others’. Competitions like those of Buildner’ can open doors to more concrete opportunities through their extensive media outreach. Office Provisional sincerely hopes that the world of architecture competitions, and the culture of architecture more broadly becomes more accessible to those who are less able to participate.

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