Extension Gallery for Architecture
We were interested by the space which stays in constant transformation and, in a way, determines a proposal less bound by design functionality, but more to a creation of a “being which is alive” next to the shifting organisms from the cinematographic and digital imaginary. The installation defines us in a different way inside the space, not only by the artificial and changing quality proposed on the project, but especially through a liberating or asphyxiating connection between the people that use it. It questions the paradigms between technology, use and esthetic, transmitting an emotion that, defined in the ambient of sophistication and violence, grants us arbitrary sentiments. Finally, there exists a contraposition between material and fluidity, which determines itself on light movements as if it was an articulate tissue.
CHANGING ROOM is a gallery installation that explores the relationship of intimate and public spatial realms. It captures space inside a lightweight, structural skin, comprised of approximately 1,800 interlocking polycarbonate CNC cut elements, woven together to create a hanging enclosure. Expressed as a structural and material veil and suspended from above, oblique visual corridors are created to the interior. The skin culminates in an undulating skirt edge suspended above the gallery floor. Access to the enclosure interior is achieved by crawling under the undulating lower edge, creating tension between the body and its spatial mobility.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
The challenged posed to us was to define architecture as an environmental experience that directly engages the senses. Both practical and economic factors created challenges of fabrication, quick installation and material economy which lead to multiple design / research opportunities.
The project does not seek to solve a problem in a conventional sense of utility; rather it creates an opportunity through design. As an architectural interior, it creates a very specific atmosphere that connects intimacy (both in concept and in sensation) to the often cold environment of the gallery and the larger idea of public space.
The design opportunity is on the one hand experiential, a momentary intimacy in the public realm that is more like the space of play and wonderment. The project emerges from thinking about the potential of architecture to curate the environment through sensations of space.
On the other hand the project applies this design opportunity to the question of the architectural surface in a very practical and technical way. With the use of a ubiquitous material that is under-recognized for it’s structural, aesthetic and physical material qualities a focused design research agenda emerges where the original material is digitally worked into a kind of translucent crystalized blanket, suspended lightly from above like a curtain system that also takes on a three dimensional hanging flow that suggests areas of entry and produces a kind of blanketed interior landscape.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
As a gallery based architectural installation of a speculative nature the brief was open to the interpretation of the designers. In this sense the installation was driven more by the desires to create a fantastical environment that would engage the public in a new way than to address an outlined design problem and ‘add’ certain design agendas or criteria. We defined the project through the desire to create an unexpected intimacy in public space and to do that by focusing on a series of inventive technical, material and fabrication approaches. The projects title refers to one of the very few places in public life where one has a respite of privacy and intimacy not as a counter to public life but in order to take on a new identity. Like Bruce Wayne’s transformation depends both on a secret changing room as well as a transformative costume that not only cloaks his secret identity but imbues him with demi-god powers, the CHANGING ROOM is both a kind of bat cave -cum- bat suit, both allowing for the change of ones identity and ultimately becoming a new skin with a new set of urban powers.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The CHANGING ROOM represents a body of material research that examines the underutilized potentials of readily available materials in the marketplace. This research is connected to the process of fabrication and manipulating the material, in this case learning from techniques of textile assembly / patterning to enhance structural performance. However, the textile logic of the fabrication system is developed and applied through the use of algorithmic computational processes and in conjunction with the use of CNC milling processes.
The base of the material research begins with the extruded polycarbonate material, a translucent sheet material possessing an outstanding strength to weight ratio as well as being extremely inexpensive in the market place. The material is typically employed as a low-key architectural material for replacing the use of glass in many cases or also for temporary weather covering. Understood in the context of its economic and utilitarian uses, the material is rarely considered for other applications. Our research into this material seeks to find new uses and potential applications through dislodging the current understanding of its use in order to investigate a wider set of possible applications with a much richer set of environmental and atmospheric effects.
In order to rethink both the expected use of the material and to elevate the structural and surface possibilities, a textile strategy is developed to manipulate the sheet material into a new kind of assembled materiality. With the examination of the material cross section, the extrusion pattern, as well as the translucency and color effects, we cut, score, bend, fold, connect, snap and stitch a new tougher material shell based on a simple herringbone textile structural pattern. The assembled skin is tough and flexible, faceted and crenelated, adding both a new structural logic along with an array of visual surface effects becoming metaphorically both a visual cloak and an armored suit.
The development of the assembly logic has its foundation in the history of textile design. The herringbone pattern, with its stepping weft and warp, is a textile logic found throughout the history of cultures both due to its resilience and decorative possibilities. Our application of this logic was to translate it into a weave assembly with cut polycarbonate elements intersecting one another in a stepping section to create a structural depth. We developed a repeating assembly pattern based on two essential cut types. Through the use of the parametric organization the surfacing strategy is able to take on curvature, both in the vertical and horizontal dimension, as well as shifts in scale. This ability of the assembly strategy to accommodate shape customization at the scale of the building block allows for a much wider range of surfacing effects and the creation of a blanket or curtain like interior bowl-scape.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
No project of design is an end in itself. Design is not a problem to be solved rather a process on the way to something that opens new possibilities. As such, this project, at once an architecture of speculation, arrives as a condition of a temporary interior with larger implications both for how we think creatively about the environments we make and the material means by which we design our world. The exploration here is on the one hand about making more out of what is directly in front of us. Most often this kind of exploration is framed as problem solving that can unfortunately collapse in the expectations of a solution to the stated design problem. In this case the question is more about design research that matures to a stage that can become more; a kind of fertile ground with a rich set of possibilities. In this case we are interested in learning how to do more with less by looking both to the power of computation, both in terms of fabrication and organization, as well as to the history of design in terms of textile design and the relation to building strategies. This project then arrives in the world as an ‘in between’, both in a literal and figurative sense. In the gallery as a speculative condition of space and intimacy and in the research of its building system as development of a lightweight, materially efficient structural skin with an array of spatial and surface effects.