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Part 2 Project 2010
Joseph Mackey
University College Dublin, Ireland

The aim of this thesis is to explore the layering of space and its use as a metaphor or narrative device to influence an occupant, with particular emphasis on how this narrative topography is explicitly used in the design of theatres. The theatrical sequence of entry, path, and sanctuary is filtered through a personal reading of Jean-Francois Bastides, novel ‘Le Petite Maison’, a narrative which describes a plot of seduction as it unfolds in a visit to a maison de plaisance in suburban Paris. It presents an intimate relationship between a host, a guest and a building, through its layering of spaces and its elaborately ornamented rooms its describes an architecture which explicitly seduces and manipulates the senses.

The architectural programme through which these intentions will be made manifest is a Playhouse for ‘Macnas’ theatre company to facilitate the fabrication of puppets and stage sets while also providing a flexible performance space. This Playhouse will be used as a model for an exploration of spatial layering and its ability to manipulate ones perception of an environment. It also focuses on the interstitial spaces in theatres and playhouses, highlighting how they offer the opportunity to change ones role from spectator to spectacle, and how in this reversal, theatre becomes not only a place to see, but a place to be seen.

Joseph Mackey

Playhouse Tutor Statement

The “playhouse” project is a scholarly architectural investigation, expertly researched and precisely composed – a truly academic study.

Joseph’s intention with the project is to explore how the sequencing and organisation of space influences the user. Through the particular nature of theatre he opens up and investigates the “play” between actor and audience; viewed and viewer, exploring the conventions at work beneath the surface. His highly literary process of work and analysis is coupled with precisely detailed physical models.

The achievement of the work is to retain the power and fascination of the initial inquiry in the developed spatial design. The project remains complex and nuanced avoiding introversion and indulgence. He has eloquently provided us with a resolved architectural project and managed to keep the questions as beguiling and untainted as they were at the outset.


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