An architectural exploration of "Presence" and "Absence"
From August - July 2020, I enrolled in Columbia University's "Intro to Architecture" summer course . Starting from zero at week 1, to a creating our own fully rendered buildings by the end of week 5, in a short span of time we were introduced to the fundamental practices and conceptual principles of architectural design.
Due to the COVID-19, the class was conducted completely remotely, resulting in some unique educational challenges and assignments. Without access to in-person site visits, or a shared studio space, we instead turned our focus to our individual surroundings and lived environments to inform our architectural practice.
We began with close observation and photographic documentation of our immediate domestic landscape/streetscape. In tandem, we curated a selection of subjective imagery to evoke a more conceptual documentation of our surrounding. Using collage, we then explored narrative and thematic connections between these images: the first set an objective and conscious “above-ground” geography, and the
second a subjective and unconscious “underground”
Browse the gallery to view each collage iteration.
The second week introduced us to Rhino, which would soon become the start of a love-hate (but mostly hate) relationship for many. Here we began our site analysis of a section of the Columbia campus. Each student was assigned a "slice" of this section to create a model and drawing of.
Combining our collage imagery from the previous week with on-site photography collected by the instructors and students living in New York, we completed a drawing that served as a documentation, analysis, and narrative of our section.
Shifting the medium from digital to physical, and the scale from urban to human, we created what was referred to as, "Embodied Experience Machines" for week 3. Using our own bodies as the "site" for our creations, we retailored found garments and objects to create a wearable machine that could modify some experience of our current domestic interior environment to recreate some perception experience of the on-campus site and, “bring the site to us.”
In the case of my machine, it explores the concept of "peeking" - the presence and absence of information and the transition between how one experiences said presence and absence. This concept was inspired by the role the plinthe played in my particular site section, which I identified to be the focal point of my site. The experience of being above vs. below it differs greatly. Below, you have a narrow, restricted view of the campus. Above is open and unobstructed.
Within the domestic space of my small Tokyo apartment, nearly all natural light comes through one central window. Thus, the curtains that cover it, heavily influence how the environment is viewed and experienced. In this sense, the curtains are the equivalent to the plinthe in my apartment. As you may have already guessed, these curtains are what informed the design of the "curtains" in machine.
WEEK 4 + 5
For the final weeks we synthesized everything together. Using photogrammetry, we scanned and digitized our "Embodied Experience Machine" and brough it into Rhino. In the case of my machine, scanning it left me with an imperfect structure, far different from the actual shape and build of my actual machines. An attempt to salvage what I was ultimately left with however, resulted in the central building you see in the drawing below.
The program I defined for my building is a gallery space and place of rest. My particular assigned section, happened to be the last in our class and thus felt it serves as a transition point between our site and the neighboring class'. Because of this I felt an importance to employ a program that would accommodate rest and reflection.
You'll see on the front facade of my building, the large central aperture. I see this as being the thesis of my project. It serves as the central access point and viewport into the building. And continuing on the these of "Presence" and "Absence", the aperture's existence is what emphases exactly what is present, and what is not. It's presence allows for the appreciation of what is absent, and vice versa.
Deep gratitude to:
Professor Thomas De Monchaux
All my loving and supportive classmates :)
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