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hotel soho

Part 1 Project 1999
Liss Werner
University of Westminster, UK
hotel soho
30/31 Golden Square

Concept + Foundations

Streets, Sandwich-Shops, News Agents, Hair Dresser's, Public Toilets, Postboxes and Minicab-Stops in Soho were mapped with various Media to explore the complex layering of thresholds from public to private spaces in transition and permanence.
A level beyond the physical presence of architectural boundaries became more important. passing a threshold that is created by a physical device causes certain feelings and changes in the individual that are not controllable. inbetween.


The site is enclosed in the urban fabric of adjacent buildings with individual back-elevations that differentiate
in their compositions achieved by tectonics and window layout. They reveal physical and visual thresholds.


Physical boundaries, windows, party-walls and floor slabs were extruded and edited to materialise the thresholds in 3 dimensions. I transformed the most intense ones, the windows, into the most intimate spaces of the hostel, the sleeping slots. Bedded in the urban transition of the public
the individual remains private and static in the space inbetween.


My project was driven by my concern with the individual in public in conjunction with my own travelling experiences. A careful, almost scientific survey allowed me the rigorous use of results to create spaces where function and theory merge.
As we are permanently exposed to thresholds they are an 'everyday-thing'. It follows that the project had to be handled with care. The small sleeping-slots are the materialisation of the precise idea in a small space.

Liss Werner

The unit was asked to explore and record modern urban life, through precise and varied examination of occupation and built form in Soho, Central London. Observations drawn from these recordings formed the central thesis of each student’s own brief, which they wrote themselves, for a ‘hotel’ to be sited on a vacant plot in Golden Square.

Liss’s thorough and perceptive approach to the early stages of the project, using a variety of media, enabled her to uncover and grasp something of the subtlety of the intimate, transitory moments from which our daily life in the city is assembled - from the experience of letting the anonymous hairdresser start to cut your hair, to pulling the door of the public lavatory shut, or of posting a letter though a letterbox slot. These 1:1 details, invisible physical thresholds that are crossed and recrossed every day, were recorded and became a starting point from which Liss could could begin to make a proposal for built form on the site. Liss’s work was outstanding because she allowed and forced her initial observations to develop into a narrative that drove the form and programme of the project. Thus the hotel entrance expanded to become a long slow ramp, giving glimpses of the inside space ahead and of the street left behind; the side and rear elevations took clues from the size, position and use (on the other side) of the windows in the party walls surrounding the site, and the points of transition in privacy were articulated, from street to sleeping slot. An eye for the detail of the quotidian moments was pursued to an obsessional level, revealing an acute and accurate understanding of the threshold, the intense space ‘in between’, which was carefully integrated into an enticing proposal for built form in the city.

• Page Hits: 1986         • Entry Date: 08 January 1999         • Last Update: 10 May 2001