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The aspern papers”, written by henry james (1888) follows a keen antiquitarian around the canals of venice, in search of a set of intimate letters written by the great poet. the narrator finds himself befriending a frail old woman and her daughter in order to gain access to the house and furniture that hold these elusive papers. by the end, we are taught the perils of an overfamiliarity with an object of desire, leading to the eventual burning of the papers by the daughter after she discovers how he has treated her and her mothers intimacy. throughout the tale, the narrators journey around venice is interchanged and merged with his journey around the locked furniture and coridoors of the house he is lodging in. james used this mix of scales to imply a haptic, distracted perception of the city of venice, comparing it to a city where streets are coridoors, building is furniture, details are clasps and the routes are infitite.

 

“With its little winding ways where people crowd together, Where voices sound as in the coridoors of a house, Where the human step circulates as if it skirted the angles of furniture,

 

And shoes never wear out”

 

the model is a culmination of a drunken walk around the streets of venice in the pursuit of getting lost. the haptic journey, seemingly impossible to make out from the city fabric is in turn perfectly clear, when the details and loci used to plot the journey are seen in isolation.


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At some point I may re-order the content to form more of a logical progression through the project, but for now i’m adding things as they appear relevant.

The courtyard plan shows the hull in its ‘reality’; its ‘folded’ state. The plan also begins to address the project’s attitude to the existing tenement; in places such as the hull, the form is generated by the need to be held back, to allow the act of the voyeur. While in others, the project disregards existing boundaries, breaking into & taking over.

[While the aim of this blog is to highlight some of the more interesting ways of representing architectural space & the role the imagination can have, a standard drawing here & there is always good as a reference]

One element I am interested in pushing further is the modelling technique I began to explore during my 5th year work. The aim for most of my work is to force the drawing/model in questing into much more than a pure representation; they are used as rigorous research tools, either bridging two separate themes within the project, or setting up a sort of fictional site map that can be reconstituted by further developments.

The tricky bit was to work out a way to make a visually beautiful hybrid between standard drawing techniques, modelling, structural logic, and collaging that would all lead to, essentially, a ‘mis-representation’ of the project. A perceived view of the design process at the stage it was created.

It turns out you just need to build 5 separate models, then mash them together… Here are some stages of the production of the trained axo I created for my 5th year project [located within Park Hill for ease of reference]. I’ll follow with the more refined one seen in re collections of Berlin.

01: build a sketchup site model site reference

02: deconstruct a flat image of said model, & re-build as a ‘paper version’ model process document 7

03: fill with images in photoshop, as you would if it were a flat collage model process document 10

04: print out all the bits, and begin to re-construct the elements as a 3D axonometric model

So, I ended up being awarded the above prize for my final project ‘re collections of Berlin’, as well as being nominated to submit for the RIBA Silver medal this September. Here is a brief blurb of what it was all about.

Located within the courtyard of a Berlin relic, the new library grows from the foundation of a fictitious curator buried deep in its walls; approaching an architecture of the voyeur, and the intimate connection between subject and object.  Based upon Walter Benjamin’s Berlin, the project aims to connect literature’s prowess over the imagination, and the creation of a wholly uncanny space; be it uncomfortable or not.  From concept to completion, drawings and models have been used as rigorous research tools, to begin to convey the similarities shared by both space and the imagination alike.

Personally, I don’t know who the guy is, but going on feedback from some of the models I was producing for the project, its something to do with confusing influential people. Hence the irony; the irony that doing well at anything as subjective as architecture is wholly based in ensuring no-one can actually explain why it works.

Here’s hoping this method stays with me…

Mapping out the void that is graduating as an architecture Master[?]. Awaiting the enthusiasm and constructive processes required to keep it up-to-date.

IN theory, this is where I left off…

final thesis project at the University of Sheffield