Sunday, April 5, 2009

'Openings' in Architecture - I

Jørn Utzon, Bagsværd Community Church, Bagsværd, Denmark

Peter Zumthor, Hotel Therme, Vals

Charles Correa, Vidhan Sabha, India

Louis Kahn, IIM Ahmedabad, India

Louis Kahn inside the auditorium of the Kimbell Art Museum

Along slightly different lines, you might be interested to see the Sir John Soane Museum London

Steven Holl, Chapel of St. Ignatius

Tadao Ando, Church of Light

Husain Doshi Gufa Art Gallery, Ahmedabad India

BV Doshi, Gandhi Labour Institute, Ahmedabad, India

Steven Holl, Paviljoen het Oosten

Le Corbusier, Ronchamp Cathedral


Please bring the following things to the studio

Bring a good photocopy of your selected painting (and some background research on this painting)

A written narrative

Description of the figures occupying these spaces, kinds of activities, and sizes of rooms

Site - a description/ map /plan

1:50 sketches (plans and sections)

1: 50 working models


Further to Xing's lecture, I would like to emphasize some of the points he made. I will add images to these notes when I have more time.

The project tests the limit of the interior - what does that mean?

It means that you are not just designing rooms but you are designing rooms in which the role of the opening(s) is central - the openings decide the limits of the interior - in other words you are designing for degrees of enclosure – for instance an interior could have abundant light and view and therefore become the source of distraction or an interior could have controlled light and therefore serve as the space for activities that require concentration such as playing music or reading

Concentrate on rooms and openings

The design of the openings is as important to the designing of the rooms if not more - The design of the openings is a self conscious act which is concerned with position, size (depth, width height), and nature of the aperture. You need to think of what kind of atmosphere you want, what kind of openings, and then the volumetric qualities of the room.

Choose a single painting

Choose a painting that truly captures your imagination but also chose one that you are able to understand or get into - You might need to do some background research on the painting to understand it

Write a short narrative

Ideally one sentence and not more than three sentences - The briefness of the narrative seeks to extract the essence of the narrative

Narrative must be architectonic

When Xing writes "a tower for tall and thin man with a fetish for collecting stamps" he has already ascribed an architectural quality to the rooms - a tower - furthermore, note that he describes the figure "tall and thin" and activity "collecting stamps" and the intensity of this activity "fetish". Your narrative must do the same - it must contain the nature of the person occupying the room(s), the activity and its intensity, and the architectural quality of the rooms – they are arranged into a tower.

The number of rooms is between one and three

Designing one large space entails very different dynamics of volumetric adjustments (dividing a single volume into discrete parts), circulation, and view and light. Hence, please be quite self conscious about this choice

Atmosphere is important

It will be obvious to you that you are not designing a set of functional spaces – but spaces that inspire and motivate you to undertake specific activities in them

Translation of the painting should not be too literal

The design of the rooms must not replicate the sequence or number of rooms in the painting. The painting must be first understood as a narrative, and then translated into rooms. This is called abstraction and writing the narrative is your tool. It gives you the required distance from the painting.

Choose a generic site

This means that architecture is not a placeless activity – It is always a response to a physical environment. The word generic means that it can be descriptive without being specific about its exact location – such as ‘it is overlooking a lagoon’ or it is ‘in the valley’. This also means that you will need to have a pretty good mental picture of the site – if that is too elusive – you could use Google Map or Google earth to pinpoint a location (does not have to be historical) that will remain stable in your imagination

Relation with the site

Think of how the rooms sit into/on to/ away from the site chosen by you – The reason for this is that this will have a significant impact on the way you design your openings