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Part 2 Project 2007
Gordon Chrystal
University College Dublin, Ireland
Fundamental to architecture is that moment when occupant needs and internal complexities must negotiate external forces: physical, social or otherwise. This scramble for priority can very often lead to what Koolhaas refers to as an architecture that “divorces appearance from performance”. The other extreme is a functional determinism of form, leading to a fragmented and disparate architecture. Both positions are inextricable. To resolve this apparent dichotomy a consideration of the simultaneity of image and experience was necessary. Experiments throughout the year aimed at the reinterpretation of the window as base element; internally having a powerful influence over social activity while externally communicating purpose and enticing contact, thus understood as the negotiator between appearance and performance.

A reformatory institution was chosen as a typology as by its very nature it impedes basic human needs for interaction internally while its exterior form is traditionally solid and impenetrable, rarely addressing its immediate context. As a challenge to this preconception, the ‘contained object’, with all its negative connotations, is placed within a significant urban setting to enable a form of reciprocation to develop. The expansion of the primary edge condition, through abstraction and translation of the idea of window, from a two dimensional periphery to a three dimensional experience enables the building to operate as thickened spatial condition: reconnecting the community to the city by means of fracturing space and views through varying scales of enclosure and connection within a single expression.

Gordon Chrystal

A spirited, imaginative and critical investigation on the question of image versus experiential quality in architecture, a perennial debate which finds a challenge in this provocative resolution to the needs of a inner city juvenile detention centre.

Based on a critical and systematic analysis of the intermediary role of fenestration in representation and experience, investigations were undertaken through multiple scales and methodologies, including full scale prototypes, to measure and reconcile these apparently disparate agendas. The negotiation between spatial and formal qualities within the limited footprint of The Very Small House proved formative to later work on the conventionally restrictive environment of a detention centre, a typology liberated through a highly original reinterpretation of functional, experiential and representational concerns. The radical expansion of wall depth results in a thickening of space, shifting in density across activities, which serves to develop associations between internal and external communities while simultaneously offering a complex, porous yet cohesive form.

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