LIGHT AND SOUND ART CENTER

This project has been our unofficial semester-ending assignment. As some of you may remember, I mentioned that this certain project is somewhat connected to the previous one. The thing is, that this project is actually in the building that borders to my previous alley house project. In this assignment, we were to create rooms and spaces for different artistic centers - Once again, the type of art within the center, was chosen at random, and my assignment ended up being a light and sound art center. Inside the building, there are only two given openings - One in the top, which is the length of the building, and two meters high, and one in the bottom, again the length of the building and also the one that functions as the entrance to the art center. Unlike our previous assignments, this time we were besides a model and a poster, to make a little film of some sort (with only using our model) to show the effects and looks of our rooms and spaces within the center. Here is what I ended up making: (MUST BE SEEN IN FULL SCREEN! And unfortunately the quality is really poor compared to the original, also there is no sound, but don't worry, that's how it's meant to be.)

video

Given the assignment of working with a center for light and sound, I automatically decided to focus working with a room and space that makes as great use of light effects as possible. At first I wanted to create a rather complex structure of reflective surfaces that would "wrap in" the entire interior room, and within its wraps, create small (and large) exhibitional rooms. This concept was mainly created using computer programs, so once I attempted to create an analog model, I realized that the task would be practically impossible (well not impossible, but really, really troublesome and challenging). While attempting to build the sketch model, I created this one very simple surface, that made me realize things I haven't thought before. It seemed that this one rather simple surface (practically a paper folded and trimmed), created magnificent lighting effects, while at the same time managing to create just about all the needed rooms in the project!


The result was the above structure. Note that the shape that seperates the rooms is actually one big element, that is folded. Of course, none of these folds are made at random - Let me explain. On the left side, you have this colossal, open space, where the above folds are designed to reflect natural lighting downards, doing so without allowing direct lighting. The idea was to create a monumental space, with soft lighting, such as that of a cathedral. Call it a Temple of Light if you will. This huge space is to serve as a space for the larger light art installations, and also a gathering hall for receptions, events and other such matters. To the far, right, lower corner, you have the entrance to the center (this isn't visible here, due to the ramp).


The next space that is created is more of a transition between the colossal light area, and a dark ramp, that is intended especially as an area for the sound art, as this area is to have special acoustic properties. This transitional space, is one that brings both medias - light and sound - into one area. It is also in this area that the complex dividing surface of the building is seen best, thus also serving as an observation point for those who also wish to admire the architecture, besides admiring the contents of the light and sound art exhibitions. Notice also that the entry point on the left side, is a mere two meters wide, in order to create intimacy in this room, despite the great opening towards the large hall on its left. Furthermore, I believe I forgot to mention the materials I'm using here. The building itself is an old transformater building, so the interior is plain and boring. I have chosen to keep the original, rough concrete floors and walls, and the interior addition (the reflective surface) is to be a of a high-gloss surface. That means that the surface not only manipulates the lighting in the enourmous room, but also manipulates the acoustics as well. I keep mentioning the room as colossal, since the dimensions are 18 meters of height, 23 meters in length and 9 meters in width.


Finally, one enters the tunnel/ramp part of the center. It is in here that the sound art is to experienced, while one moves along a mystical hall, that seems to continue for kilometers (its actual lenght is about 20 meters). It is this effect of uncertain length that allows one to lose oneself in a mystical experience of sound art and not knowing how far to go. I have intended the sounds to change the further you go (this is possible due to new technologies - as to border the radius of the sound). Once the visitor starts to feel the ceiling and walls cramp up around him or her, the visitor will understand that this ramp has been an illusion, but might never the less start crawling towards the very end, where even more sound art installations are to be heard! One can say that the brave visitors get an extra experience of the sounds art installations if they dare venture to the borders of the ramp. 


As far as things go on the personal level, this project means a lot to me. To me it as a milestone in my study, and the timing of it being at the very end of the semester is perfect. For once I am absolutely satisfied with a project of mine, and as a matter of fact, rather proud of it even. Fortunately the opponion of my professors was likewise, and critique went fantastic this time, with them not having said a single bad thing about the project (the film itself was pointed to have a few flaws, but then again, I'm an architecture student, not a film producer, so that sort of thing didn't mean much to me). I put everything I have learned and avoided all my mistakes from earlier in the creation of this structure, and it really has been a rewarding process. Also my understanding of room and space creation has rocketed during the process, and having worked analog almost all of the time has opened my eyes to things that I hadn't thought about at earlier times. The work with contrasts between light and dark and the huge and the tiny scales has really enlightened me, and the things I've worked with in this project, are ones that I'll take with me throughout the rest of my study. And so, the first semester ends with a rather happy ending!

- Andy Minchev

STAIRWAY HOUSE

This is my latest project from the university, and it was due complete by the end of December 2010. The focus in this project has been to work with limited space at a challenging location, while also making a design that is specific to a certain individual. Our site of the building was a tiny, narrow alley in Copenhagen, surrounded by 14-18 meter tall buildings, where natural lighting was rare and the views provided were boring and unaesthetic. We were given specific volumes for four rooms - Bathroom, livingroom, kitchen and bedroom - And were from these masses to create a single-person home. The person who was to live in the structure was given to us by random - Each with a different personality. Below is a picture of the actual site.


Now before I proceed to my design process, it is vital for you to understand the personality of the inhabitant, since it is the thing that has led me to my final design. (Do note, that this is a fictious person, made up to create a more realistic architectural exercise. The inhabitant - Sofie, as she is named - is a young 30-year old woman. She has by the age of 30 already had vital job positions in art and sculptural centers in metropolises such as New York and Berlin. Her newest and current job at the time of the project is that of a head-manager of a center for light and sound art in Copenhagen (our current architectural project at the time being - I'll naturally post on it once it is complete). As you may have noticed by now, Sofie seems to have a rather busy lifestyle, and a personality that probably favors her work, rather than her sparetime interests. This has been a very vital element in my design of her new home. Below here, is a step by step guide to the process.

                                        


 

Now as you can see on the illustrations above, I quite simply start of by sorting out the different room volumes. Since there is very little lighting in the narrow and dark alley, I have chosen to give the structure as much height as possible - This I have done by starting off by stacking the volumes on top of each other, thus creating a maximal height (shown on the top right illustration). As i gain height, I notice that the structure becomes slightly dull, and that it is a pity that the roofings aren't open for use as terraces, so I shift every floor so that an exterior space is created on each of these floors (illustration at the bottom left). Finally since the structure needs to fit in the narrow alley, I turn the entire structure, so its width fits in the site. This twist in the alley is not just to make the structure fit in, but also to create a more exciting space, so the inhabitant doesn't have to stare at plain old walls all the time. This twisty design is by no means accidental either, since it symoblizes Sofie's busy and dynamic lifestyle. Furthermore, the entire structure is a symbol of her needs - Her office and work space are located at the highest block, while her bedroom - Her sanctuary of rest - Is located at the very bottom. These placings of rooms represent her needs and are prioritized by her goals in life, putting her job at the top.


Now in order to connect all these five rooms, I created a staircase system that connects them, as illustrated on the facade drawings above. The staircase symbolizes, although almoste litterally, Sofie's fight to reach the top in her line of work, where on top of the structure, her office stands almost as a temple-like monument, overlooking the climb upwards. You may also have noticed that this staircase system may be rather unpractical, and honestly, it is. Do mind that this was an excercise with working under rather challenging conditions, and the spacial design was according to our professor more vital than that of one that is realistic in this certain project. I had planned an exterior construction that would cover up the staircase system, but was advised not to use it, since it would lead me away from the vital excercise. Below are pictures of my final model, which took me ages to complete, due to the many, many troublesome stairs!




    




This project thought me a vital lesson with especially how important it can be to have a certain personality drive the project's design. In the very early stages of the project, we weren't given information about our inhabitant and were told to work freely with whichever shapes and forms we desired. At this stage I had great trouble finding the right design and was at certain points, well, completely lost. But after having revealed our inhabitant, it was a matter of very few days before I had found the exact design that I needed. It seems that the more possibilities and freedoms you have with the design, the harder it is to find the right one.

- Andy Minchev