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The Case of the Elusive Room

Part 2 Project 2012
Manijeh Verghese
Architectural Association London UK
The Case of the Elusive Room is the mystery that has plagued the city over the crime committed by architects in believing that the room and the city are mutually exclusive. Architects categorise space according to scale. To challenge this segregation of scales, we journey in search of the elusive room that collapses the city into an interior.

Inspired by Dennis Wheatley’s 1930s murder mysteries, the project is documented as a case file that collects spatial clues to resolve how the city fleetingly collapsed into an interior to help solve the crime of why the room and city have since been separated again. The case file format allows the reader to take on the role of the detective. Sorting through evidence and unpeeling layered images firsthand constructs the journey through the project.

Beginning with the prototypical city within the room, Studio 54, the spaces of the iconic nightclub are reconstructed to understand how, in translating its exclusivity to the city scale, buildings turned into uninhabitable icons once again. To reverse this crime, we search for that elusive room; a momentary collapse of form and experience where the room expands to encompass the city and render it as whole once again.

Solving the case file exposes the inadequacy of the conventional architectural description of the room and the city. Moving through the different scalar spaces reveals that we are perpetrators of the crime of not only reading the room and the city as discrete entities but failing to recognise that they are one and the same. By collapsing the various scales into the space of the room, the city is a constantly aggregated experience of concentric interiority.

In Delirious New York, Koolhaas proposed Manhattan as a metropolitan experience whereby its architecture generated its culture. By transforming this architecture from the selective interiors of 54 to the hyper-exclusive barren exteriors in the city, architects effectively murdered any form of urban culture. They became both criminals and victims at once - continuing to design cities as something other than architecture; constrained by the idealised bird’s eye view instead of the human perspective.

Manijeh Verghese

Tutor(s)
Ms Natasha Sandmeier
2012
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