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Perception of Space


we find beauty not in the thing itself but in the pattern of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates.
Junichiro Tanizaki (2001:46)

INTRODUCTION introduction thesis aims


Perception of Space

The thesis aims to create a public building within the city centre which invigorates the senses. The building is a National Facility for the Integration of Deaf and Hearing people. Originally I began research into Deaf sensibilities and I found that Deaf people have an acute spatial awareness gained from visual and tactile sensibilities. This is an adaption to a lack of the 3 dimensional passive orientation which is gained otherwise through sound. In his book entitled Eyes of the Skin Juhani Pallasmaa explains the spatial differences:
Sight isolates, whereas sound incorporates; vision is directional, whereas sound is omni-directional...I regard an object, but sound approaches me; the eye reaches, but the ear receives. Eyes of the Skin

Due to current issues within the Deaf community integration was the main driving factor in the choice of site, along a primary pedestrian route in the city centre. The brief has a variety of services for the general public and specialist facilities for the Deaf community. My intention is to create a building which responds to the needs of the Deaf community, education system at present and most importantly provide an important link between two cultures. The brief is a response to this. I intend to provide an increased level of sensory awareness for the general public as well as aiding Deaf sensibilities.

the senses in relation to architecture







thesis aims

In order for this to happen there are a number of objectives which must be achieved.


Reason: How?

this is to create an engaging sensory building In order to heighten a sense - there must be an alter in the balance of the senses eg. in order to perceive a sound more clearly, vision must be minimised. Spaces must have a distinct sensory focus eg. the realm of sound, the realm of touch. Consideration of the user - the building must invigorate the general publics senses while aiding Deaf sensibilities.

Anyone who has become entranced by the sound of dripping water in the darkness of a ruin can attest to the extraordinary capacity of the ear to carve a volume into the void of darkness. The space traced byt the ear in the darkness becomes a cavity sculpted directly in the interior of the mind.

thesis aims



this is to realign focus from the chaos of city centre to a space which enhances the senses 1st action: removal from the street - transition 2nd action: orifices (openings to the city) mediators between two worlds controlled - each must have a purpose eg. to gain light, direct a view, open to rainfall and to omit or consume sound.


Erosion by the Elements

light air water

The form is eroded predominately by light, which shapes the volumes, and allows for a tremendous variety of light. Air is reference to acoustics and wind, and the erosion by nature with water.
In our time, light has turned into a mere quantitative matter and the window itself has lost its significance as a mediator between two worlds, between enclosed and open, interiority and exteriority, private and public, shadow and light Eyes of the Skin













In temple architecture the main room stands at a considerable distance from the garden; so dilute is the light there that no matter what the season...the pale, white glow scarcely varies...The light from the pale white paper, powerless to dispel the heavy darkness of the alcove, is instead repelled by the darkness, creating a world of confusion where dark and light are indistinguishable.
Junichiro Tanizaki (2001:35)

INFLUENCES adolf loos - raumplan spatial containment carving space tower houses sensory space artists of light

The Sound of Silence

Hello darkness my old friend, Ive come to talk with you again, Because a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping, and the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains...within the sound of silence. In restless dreams I walked alone narrow streets of cobbled stones, beneath a halo of a street lamp I turned my collar to the cold and damp. When my eyes were stabbed by a flash of neon light ...that split the night. And touched the sound of silence. And in the naked light I saw ten thousand people maybe more. People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening. People writing songs that voices never shared No-one dared ...disturb the sound, of silence. Fools, said I, you do not know, silence like a cancer grows. Hear my words that I might teach you. Take my arms that I might reach you. But my words like silent raindrops fell, and echo the wills of silence. And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made. And the sign flashed out its warning in the words that it was forming. And the sign said: The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls. And whispered in the sound of silence.
Paul Simon

Poetry has the capacity of bringing us momentarily back to the oval and enveloping world. The re-oralised word of poetry brings us back to the centre of an interior world. The poet speaks of the threshold of being, as Gaston Bachelard notes, but it also takes place at the threshold of language. Equally, the task of art and architecture in general is to reconstruct the experience of an undifferentiated interior world, in which we are not mere spectators, but to which we inseperably belong.
Juhani Pallasmaa (2005:25)

Adolf Loos - Raumplan

space plan connections

material plan reinforces the autonomous spaces through the use of materials assymetrical entrances in order to survey space centrifugal use of space to view centre of the room

container conept 3 dimensionally efficient use of space

Adolf Loos work is about creating contained space which is compact and efficient spatially. The term Raumplan which is a container concept is used to describe his work. In the book Raumplan versus Plan Libre, Johan van der Beek (2008:52) states ways in which to define Loos work. This definition consists of layers which describe the space created. These include:

Raumplan/Space Plan: the manner in which a sort of 3 dimensional or vertical space is

ordered, is compounded.

Living Plan: Material Plan:

the way the ground plan, a sort of 2 dimensional or horizontal space is ordered. the way the various building and surface materials are employed to provide texture and thus sensation and atmosphere.

Loos creates spaces which connect to each other, these spaces are complex and need to be experienced to perceive the connections made fully. Therefore the connections created at first do not clearly explain themselves in plan. This is important to note when presenting my proposal. The space plan is the 3 dimensional space created. This consisted of split levels, the gradient of the site was used as much as possible to give this multi-level effect. Adolf Loos dwellings are marked by a maximum of three dimensional compactness and a concentration of length, width and height...compactness is the rule
Johan van der Beek (2008:53)

Within these three plan types there are other subtleties which define Loos work:

The introduction to the main space is treated as theatrical and dramatic. Circulation incorporates lateral movement. There is one space which is given importance (living area/salon), this is the dominant space in the whole building, the auxillary spaces respond to it and are located around it. The organisation of the programme is based on privacy ie. living area is placed to the back, furthest area from entrance. The spaces created are centrifugal, in that the furniture is organised around the edge in order for the person to view the centre space. Also to reinforce this idea, all entrances into spaces are assymetrical, this allows the person to survey the room. Within the spatial plan heights are used to define spaces, this is the ceiling to floor height in relation to other spaces. This in combination with the material plan reinforces the spaces as autonomous spaces within a building which has complex spatial connections.

Adolf Loos - Moller House

music and dining rooms seen central

view from music room of dining room

connecting spaces form lateral movement

symmetricality of facade centrifugal use of space connections and movement

seat sight line connection between music room and dining

To understand Loos work I will firstly consider the Moller House. The principle reception rooms are the dining and music room located at the back of the house. There is contrast of these spaces, the dining room is light and open to the outside whereas the music room is dark and introverted. This contrast continues with surface treatment. Light reflected into the dining room from the adjoining terrace makes the room brighter, while the balcony above the music room window casts a shadow which enhances its seclusion. The connection between these rooms consists of a square opening, however the dining room floor is 600mm higher than the music room. The connection here is visual, this variation in height forms part of the lateral movement. The hall also has spatial objectives. This space gets its light from the front of the house. A bay window above the street level which contains a u-shaped built in seat. From this position the person takes visual command over the space, can look out across the music room and down into the garden. From this position the person seated with the light to their back can perfectly see another person coming towards them, however for the person moving towards the alcove, the seated person appears as a silhouette against the glare of the opening.

Adolf Loos - Muller House

lateral movement introduction to the living area relationships with the outside

grid which makes up the living plan continuous space connections between spaces view to the dining room from the living area

This is the Muller house by Loos. The introduced to the living area is via an alcove approached by a short flight of stairs, the entrance is dramatic and theatrical. The living area/salon is the dominant space. The rooms around it orientate towards it. The main connections here are with the dining room (which can be seen in the image above) the mistresss room and the library. There is no break in this space. The spaces are ordered in heirarchy by their relationship to the living area. As mentioned previously the living plan (2d plan) is formed on a grid based on this living area, the dining room relates to it in proportion. The centre point of the mistresss room and the dining rooms run on the midpoint of the plan. Again these connecting spaces form the lateral movement through the building. As the dining room is lacking defining boundary walls (to make the connection with the living area) it is defined in the material plan (as previously shown). Connections include from the mistresss room down into the living area. The dining room to the living area and the dining room through the living area to the outside.

containment - spatial efficiency

slash lines

one large opening

interior full of light

This efficient use of space can be seen in a lot of modern domestic Japanese architecture today. Instead of an architectural language or exploration, this containment is a necessary response to the size of available sites and regulations such as slash lines (taken from the distance of the opposite street edge) and material restrictions. Efficient use of space is critical! This results in imaginative solutions to maximise compact space. An example of this is the Tread Machiya by Atelier Bow-wow, which uses multi-level space to serve the main living area, this servant space is used to its maximum capacity regarding the limit of use of materials due to fire regulations (a space created which is less than 1400mm is not considered a floor level - it is not habitable, but can be used for storage, which is main concern when creating small space). The main living space is placed central in section which responds to the exterior environment the only view on the site is at a height. Upward movement in this space also incorporates integrated seating. Every area in this tiny house (50sqm) is considered and its design is the optimum response to the conditions and factors affecting it.

carving space - Eduwardo Chillida

How deep is the air XVII

How profound is the air

unorthodox architecture 1
1978 reinforced concrete

The artist Eduwardo Chillida considers himself an architect of empty space or architect of the void. His works use a variety of materials however mass and heaviness is always the focus. This focus is created by the carving of space (the nothing) which is used to contrast to mass of the material. He creates orchestrated openings from the exterior of the material to suggest a hollow interior. His pieces How deep is the air and How profound is the air which are carved onyx and alabaster protray a focus on empty space, a spatial volume through a form which reveal and conceal light. What is not there is as important as what is. The pieces draw attention to the direction and depth of the tunnels carved, giving viewers a sense of being able to move through the piece. form springs spontaneously from the needs of the space.
Edwardo Chillida

Other works are affected by rain, wind and other natural forces. It is the elements which give life to the sculpture. There is a clear communication of mass and space, with no in-between. Along with tower houses... these are excellent examples of how the fusing of opposites helps to reinforce the idiosyncrasies of the individual components.
Andrea Deplazes (2005:264)

carving space - Turkish underground cities and fairychimneys

undergound passages fairychimneys at Goreme

In Turkey there are a three main underground cities which are Kaymabli, Derinkuyu and Ozkonak. These are composed of voids which were created by troglodytes who carved out of the soft volcanic rock. Each city is composed of underground tunnels or passages. However the tunnels incline and size variates from city to city. The Ozkonak city which was only discovered in 1972 and could hold up to 60,000 people for a period of 3 months! It has a total of 10 floors which reaches a depth of 40 metres. This is the most complex or modern of the three, having a water well, winery and moving stone doors. There are also defence systems integrated similar to Tower Houses in that there are holes above entrances which were used to pour hot oil over enemies. The only limits of these underground cities were the possibility of ventilating their interiors. In the town of Goreme in Cappadocia exists a form of dwelling, called the Fairychimneys. These are formations created naturally due to the nature of the rock. These projections were later carved by the people and inhabited, the picture above shows the complexity of internal carving.

carving space - Tower Houses

servant served in plan

organisation based on defence servant served

services concealed in thickness internal butresses internal walkways

Mooghane Co. Clare

concealment of stairwell and rooms held in thickness

Dunguaire, Co. Galway

Clara, Co. Kilkenny

positive and negative space

With Adolf Loos, Tower houses (1400 - 1600) are the most infuential architectural studies to my proposal. Tower houses appear as internalised solid objects, this is due to their requirement for defense at the time of construction. This concern for security is in every detail and decoration. Defense generates its form, height, section, thickness of walls, tiny windows, battlements and on a human scale the orientation of the staircase (giving the right hand advantage to the person fighting downwards) with details known only to its owners. Within this defense the form... was made habitable by setting additional spaces into the thickness of the walls, so that, although the elevation presented an image of solidity, plan and section were fully inhabited.
A Lost Tradition (37)

The main function of its armour was to protect the living area. This protection is further enhanced by its position in section. In plan the living area is the served with auxillary spaces the servant in the thickness around its perimeter. Alcoves act as inbetween spaces in the thickness which link the living area to the outside, through their articulation these spaces may be read as autonomous compartments.

carving space - Tower Houses

schematic layouts
(as in constructing architecture) enclosed space openings openings at corners

individual chambers various room inclusions maximum use of wall thickness

surfaces used to carry light into a space

true basic plan extended basic plan sculpted surfaces

autonomous alcove space contained light

splayed reveals
tower house ruin shows a later addition of concealed walkways (behind chimney) with an increase in height Cullahill. Co. Kilkenny

There are two types of light which are admitted into the living area, these are openings with splayed reveals which are sometimes places at optimum light admitting positions in order to carry the light further into the space such as in Borthwick castle. The second type of light in the living area is that from the alcoves. These prevent optimum allowance of the incoming daylight. It creates a situation of contrast - which I later refer to as contained light (the image above is a good example of this). The spaces are organised without corridors (one room on top of another), this creates the optimum use of space, like Loos using the space itself for vertical movement.

Adolf Loos work and Tower houses are similar in their heirarchy of spaces.
Tower houses interiors developed from a functional to mazelike internal configurations with a rich heirarchy and Loos, rich variety of of spatially complex connections corresponding with classical notions of space heirarchies.
Andrea Deplazes (2005:267)

Tower houses have spatial connections and complexity only in the main living level, in comparison to Loos who continued this throughout. However both have no corridors, both have dominant spaces, both have servant and served spaces, both have many staircases (the vertical movement is not of one main service zone) and they both have detailed internal surfaces.

sensory space - Bruder Klaus Chapel

form of tree trunks form is a response to the process

charred cedar process is similar strong wonderful smell

remains of process a dark rough texture and smell

Shin-ken teahouse Terunobu Fujimori firewood split with a chisel and attached to ceiling vault, creates warm light.
This chapel was constructed by Peter Zumthor, its consists of a tee-pee shape form (created with trees felled locally) underneath with an outer framework of vertical slipform. The dry concrete mortar was stamped into the cavity between the two forms (rammed earth). Finally a slow burning fire was lit on the floor, drying out and shrinking the tree trunks, disengaging them but at the same time blackening the walls. Along with the rough texture which remains after the burning process, I would imagine the space smells strongly of burned wood.

I made an investigatory model based on this process (please refer to the investigation section) involving a concrete cube with a rectangular shaped matchstick internal formwork. I found I had huge difficulty in getting the wood to burn as I had to keep the cube elevated (to allow the fire to burn-required air). I had to force the fire to burn the wood unlike the form of the chapel which now I understand is generated not purely by a doorway and a main space, but as an air inlet and cone shape to encourage the burning of the tree-trunks. This process and its form could not have been any other way!!
Terunobu Fujimori is also an architect who works closely with natural materials. In the Lamune

Onsen, he uses yakisugi which are charred cedar boards. The process for burning these boards is similar to that of Bruder Klaus, bundles of three boards are held together to form a triangular configuration, held vertically and a fire lit underneath.
The burning takes about 3 minutes and burning must be uniform. Burning the surface creates a layer of carbon which makes the boards more durable and resistant to weathering. I have witnessed these boards in the flesh, which have a fantastic smell.

sensory space - Ronchamp and La Tourette

outside openings interior effect light towers guided light in baffles

light used to highlight the tactile quality

contained light

In these examples Le Corbusier plays with light. He utilises the properties of light to increase its perception and to draw focus on to its beauty. In Ronchamp openings on the exterior are minimal, the effect on the interior wouldnt be expected from viewing the outside. The thick wall is filled with light on the interior, the splayed reveals or baffles are used to maximise the light inside, with the angle of the sun creating paths of direct light on the walls thickness. In the towers light is omitted at a height and reflected onto the opposite wall, this is also incorporated with colour which creates an atmospheric quality. The light in these towers becomes an object onto itself, we look upward with a see the light! In la Tourette the light is used to highlight the tactile quality of the spaces created. Within the thickness of the openings the light is contained, due to the position of the glass light can not venture into the space along surfaces.

sensory space - other


chapel of st. ignatius - steven holl

rcr architects


sigurd lewerentz churches of st marks and st petri light models steven holl


thermal baths and works be steven holl


salk institute louis kahn


salk institute louis kahn


There have been quite a number of sensory influences throughout the year, here are images of some of them. The darkness in the churches by Sigurd Lewerentz spurred light boxes to investigate the darkness of a space, and which lead to the conclusion of a particular measure of light (see investigation section). A quote by Louis Kahn in conjunction to reading In Praise of Shadows contributed to the light levels in the sound space. Even a space intended to be dark should just have enough light from some mysterious opening to tell us how dark it really is
Louis Kahn

This quote works well in describing the light levels in St. Petris and St. Marks. Other influences include water (in particular creating a situation for light or images to be reflected or the sound of water made visible eg. salk institute). It is relationships within architecture between these elements which creates the images shown above - they are controlled and not accidental!

artists of light - James Turrell

section showing seating and centre oculus

sky down into the space daytime

evening angle creates action in space

during the day the oculus acts as the only point of focus in the space - it frames the sky acting as a mediator

James Turrell is an artist whos work focuses on light. Many works focus on the transition from day to night with a artifical light show on the interior creating a spectacle of this point in the day. Others which I have shown here are Skyspaces...these are spaces (usually cube or cyndrical) which have a centre opening or oculus which openings to the sky. The articulation of the opening is depth-less which increases the appearence of the sky as an imagine. Seats run around the periphery of the space in order to view the sky and light. There is sky above and sky below, the centre oculus bringing the sky down and close to you, the sky is in close contact to the space that you are in, its not over there.
James Turrell

The sky below which Turrell refers to is the direct light reflected. It is the evening and the night that most action takes place in the space. During the day action is in the centre oculus. Turrell explains, the sublime usually have a different time scale and different unfolding I feel architecture should create this action and this beauty in a world which is not willing to stop to view ala Turrell!

artists of light - Dan Flavan and Anthony McCall

At the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, in order to accommodate Flavans installations, all the windows except two at the end of each long walls have been closed over. Two parallel corridors have been constructed, with walls 86 feet on the outside and 44 feet on the shorter side, which lean making a 76 degree angle with the floor. Passages through these corridors are blocked by eight back to back pairs of eight foot long fluorescent fixtures that extend from floor to ceiling, parallel to the walls. Gaps the width of the lamps are left between each pair of fixtures, allowing one to see through the colour cast by the lamps on the fronts to the different colour at the backs. These light barriers are placed at the centre of the corridors so that the colour is largely contained within the leaning walls. In a further three installations the light positions are at the end of the corridors which allows colour to flood into the long arms of the building as well as the inaccessible interiors of the corridors.

You and I Horizontal by Anthony McCall is a composition of white lines of a drawing which slowly move and in the process dragging along entire walls of light, the movement is very slow but fast enough to perceive. These membranes of light moving create strangely shifting spaces within a space. It takes a moment for the eyes to adjust to the darkness, from this a new experience reveals itself: SOLID LIGHT - a material light, a sort of radiant, intricately folded membranes or walls which induce the visitor to move caustiously and hesitantly. Fog is required for the beams of light to materialise into solid light. The effect is similar to a beam projector cutting through the darkness of the cinema, which creates an intensely sensual experience.

artists of light - Persepolis

Persepolis is a animated film based on the graphic novels of Marjane Satrapi. Due to the style of the graphic the viewer is always aware of the darkness broken by the light. the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. John: Chapter 1

The computer creates a distance between the maker and the object, whereas drawing by hand as well as model-making put the designer into a haptic contact with the object or space. In our imagination, the object is simultaneously held in the hand and inside the head, and the imagined and projected physical image is modelled by our bodies. We are inside and outside the object at the same time.
Juhani Pallasmaa (2005:13)

INVESTIGATION light boxes 1 light boxes 2 transparency and reflection time and movement sound boxes 1 concrete mixtures materiality (concrete) form (baffles)

investigation - light boxes 1

model 1 openings placed in the centre of the facade

model 2 Kahns Tribune Review building T shaped openings to minimise glare

model 3 light well - no direct light

These three models are an investigation into creating the most effective even diffused light. Model 2 is an exact scaled replica of Louis Kahns Tribune Review building which has opening intended for this purpose. The other two models act as an experiment, all features in all models are similar. The surfaces are the same, the colour, the recesses and especially the value of area open to the light. Kahns tribune review proves to be most efficient of course. However I was surprised by the lack of illumination from model 3 of light into the space. Model 1 allows a lot of light into the space however does not carry the light into the space as deep as Model 2(tribune review).

The computer creates a distance between the maker and the object, whereas drawing by hand as well as model-making put the designer into a haptic contact with the object or space. In our imagination, the object is simultaneously held in the hand and inside the head, and the imagined and projected physical image is modelled by our bodies. We are inside and outside the object at the same time.
Juhani Pallasmaa (2005:13)

INVESTIGATION light boxes 1 light boxes 2 transparency and reflection time and movement sound boxes 1 concrete mixtures materiality (concrete) form (baffles)

investigation - light boxes 2

Conclusion: If the light is not measured a concentration of light may contaminate the space. Hence the covering over one opening.

light box 04
Three openings - varying orientations

Conclusion: the thickness creates projected light on the opposite sides of the slits. Despite each slit being diffused individually

light box 05
Slits from two orientations Great thickness on the sides of the slits

the thickness in the slit does not offer diffusion in the entire space.


light box 06
Two openings from varying locations One opening controlled by a light shaft The other diffused by reflection

This space can change dramatically over the light sources position. Contrast in surfaces in evident When the cube is turned around the ceiling opening illuminates the space, while the second opening is contaminated.

These three models analyse varying types of light and the effect the size the opening has on the interior space. The most important conclusion to be taken from these models is that all openings must be within the same measure of light (how bright it is) eg. in light box 06 I had to cover 1 opening with paper as its brightness out shone the other openings - their quality of light was lost.

investigation - transparency and reflection

daytime from inside outward looking

daytime from outside looking inside

night time from inside looking outward

night time from outside looking inward

These are images taken considering transparency and reflection of a large window in my apartment. I found that the clearest view existed towards the space which had the greatest amount of light. From the dark side - there appears light space beyond, from the light space there appears a mirror beyond. This change naturally from day to night. There is also an inbetween point when both are even - from both points at this stage of the day a mix of mirror and view beyond exist. I later found this in researching the installations and spaces which James Turrell creates.

investigation - time and movement

Opposite is a light study taken on 11.02.10. Images were taken every 15 minutes of the blank northern wall in my apartment (Denis Byrne Architects - thankyou!). The duplex apartment is on the top floor with the living space on top. There is are two south facing light openings in the living area (double height space over the stairs) which fills the blank northern wall with light. It is this wall which is the canvas opposite. On the particular day the photos were taken the angle of the sun and the adjacent apartments roof level created a slither of light 5mm thick. Showing the oppurtunity available for accuracy in the circumstance of direct sunlight! Note also the sharpness of the light and its intensity at times...the colour change when the sun is setting. The timeline shows the movement of the sun and the change in its angle throughout the day. Also the interference of clouds is clearly visible from the images of a dappled diffused light. The light in this space changes by the day, hour and minute. Since the angle of the sun has risen and therefore its patterns on the wall are lower present in the stairwell.

At the beginning of the year I made the sign language alphabet in clay hands as I was sure it would be helpful in my presentation along the line. I placed them on a glass shelf along this wall in the meantime to keep them safe. My thesis evolved and the chances of these hands making it into my presentation was unlikely. Until one day (28.03.10) an unlikely moment (@ 2.15pm) of sunlight shone directly on the hands, framing them and casting their little shadows onto the wall.

investigation - time and movement

What then is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I wnat to explain to a questioner, I do not know...We measure time. But

present has not duration...In order that we may compare a not measure the syllables themselves, but the images of the
Saint Augustin

I say time is visible in light...light is the measure of time.

investigation - sound boxes 1

absorbing material, with right angled diffusers. dull sound

similar to 01 but a reflective interior sharper sound

sound box 01

sound box 02

absorbing material, no diffuser, but large openings. similar to 01

arc shaped top with reflective material sharper sound than 03

sound box 03

sound box 04

The above models are sound boxes based on the research I had done concerning acoustics and geometrics of space (see appendix). The models have a tap area at their base (which cannot be seen) and an opening (seen) which is used to listen to the quality of sound created in the space based on its material qualities (absorbing/reflective) and form (tubular/arc). There is also a play with openings to see the effect this has - dark and quite, bright and loud for instance. Despite not simulating actual 1:1 spacial sounds there is a clear difference from one model to another in the sound that is created.

investigation - concrete mixtures

mixture: mix: result:

1:1 wet kept all indentations relatively shiny not crumbly good detail smooth to touch

mixture: mix:

1:1 slightly drier with washing up liquid kept all indentations not shiny a little crumbly good detail rougher to touch


mixture: mix:

1:1 slightly drier with washing up liquid kept most indentations not shiny crumbly lost detail (at neck) rough to touch


mixture: mix:

1:1 medium, dry - wet string tied around bag kept indentations of string but not of bag crumbly lost detail very rough to touch


mixture: mix:

1:1 medium decorative stones inside kept some indentations not shiny crumbly lost detail very rough to touch no stones can be seen


investigation - concrete mixtures

mixture: mix: 1:1 medium with mixed paper no real indentations not at all shiny very crumbly lost detail very very rough to touch can see traces of paper


mixture: mix:

1:1 medium string between bag and concrete with olive oil indentations of string only a little shiny not crumbly lost detail rough to touch kept pattern of string well


mixture: mix:

1:1 very wet pourable


kept indentations at base only not shiny crumbly at top only lost detail at top

mixture: mix:

1:1 very wet pourable with pigment kept indentations relatively shiny not crumbly good detail


mixture: mix: result:

2:1 sand : cement medium with pigment kept indentations well slightly shiny not crumbly good detail


This was to test the possibilities of concrete to touch. Particularly in its smoothness and its capabilities to pick up detail

investigation - materiality (concrete)

concrete cube with skewers

concrete cube - burned out matchstick interior concrete squares - surface as a sound diffuser

To test the idea of transparency with such a solid material as concrete, I cast it with a number of skewers. Despite being 100mm thick the tiny clear paths are visible through the model. All the paths are different angles, this idea could possibly be used in the final design to illuminate a space (leave patterns on the opposing wall in direct light). The burned out model came from researching Peter Zumthors Bruder Klaus Chapel and its potential for smell. Having made the model, in the difficulty of burning out the core I realised Zumthors church is perfect, its form is based on the nature of fire to burn out the interior. The doorway providing just enough air to allow the fire to keep burning. Using this process the form of the church could not have been any other way! The concrete squares are based on texture and the possibility of using the formwork to diffuse (absorb) sound in its spaces. In reality if the texture is too detail it may not be durable.

investigation - baffles

model 1 no baffles no sense of thickness does not allow optimum light into the space

model 2 baffles clearly expresses thickness allows light deeper into the space

shade on south facade reduces glare

guides light in elevation

privacy on facade

directs intended views

During the design development (see the next section) I considered the use of baffles in the roof as a method of gaining the maximum amount of light into a space to area of the opening (optimum efficiency). I made these two models to test this efficiency, model 2 clearly shows the light moves deeper down into the space. Excited by the potential by these baffles I used these models to consider using this form throughout the building for other objectives. Baffle: a device used to restrain or to prevent the spreading of sound or light in a particular direction.

Adolf Loos had little faith in the drawing as an indicator of architectural quality. He has left no travel sketches, nor was he enthusiastic about photography as a means of conveying architecture. He did, however, suggest that good architecture can be described.
Johan van de Beek (2008:52)

DESIGN EXPLANATION circulation organisation of program user consideration sensory organisation connections environmental strategies structure drawings explained

site and brief

A National Facility for the Integration of Deaf and Hearing People
space purpose breakdown area in m 2

exhibiton interaction and conversation theatre lectures performance


meeting rooms

multi-purpose club space research promote Deaf culture

2 x 50m

100 80 30 80 100 120 120 30 50 15 60 60 30 60 30 70 30

information centre

reception book stacks video archive reading, studying and viewing associations 6x 20m board room stor bar area seating indoors seating outdoors kitchen (shared with cafe) toilets (shared with cafe) storage (shared with cafe) seating indoors seating outdoors


space for conversation and interaction between Deaf and hearing people


resource centre

support for parents and children

administration waiting area audiological rooms x 2 psychological room paediatric specialist x 2 speech and language therapist x 2 family counselling room parent guidance and support

15 30 30 15 30 30 15 15

learning centre

early years language development sign language classes school inclusion training outreach services and support technology training for digital classrooms deaf adult learning facility interpreter training facility50

1 on 1 classrooms (5 x 10m) classrooms for up to 8 people (10 x 20m) classrooms for up to 20 people (4 x 30m)

50 200 120

administration subtotal circulation total 25% of overall area

30 2,200m 550m 2,750m

site and connections


abrupt entrance


lift 2

dame lane main entrance

lift 1

service entrance
resource centre learning centre cafe information 2 information 1


central space

st andrews lane


trinity street In order for the building to work as a public building the first hurdle was the circulation. Considering the nature of the space created ie. contained multi-level spaces, the solution took some time. There are 3 entrance into the building which all link the street to the heart (cube volume on the model). One is the formal entrance which is located at the junction of Trinity Street and St. Andrews Lane. This is a large opening with a huge wooden door (3m x 5m). From this point there is a reception and the lift 1 is on the left. This lift is the vertical access to the heart, information centre and cafe. The second entrance is along Dame Lane which is visually connected to Dame Street. It is termed the abrupt entrance based on its articulation (first step is built into the wall, the route is quite narrow, and leads the visitor into the heart quickly in one flight of stairs. The third entrance is along St. Andrews Lane which is connected visually to Exchequer street. This is termed the service entrance, however it completes the routeway created from Dame Street to Exchequer Street. This also connects to the heart. The second lift is located in the centre of the plan allowing vertical access to the club space, learning centre and resource centre. Once is the heart there are four vertical movements (outside of the lifts). From the skylit seated area which acts as a stairway there are two movements, right to the information centre (clockwise motion) and left to the learning centre and resource centre (anti-clockwise motion this also address the privacy issue of the resource centre). From the heart there is also access to the club space and meeting room downward. At the south side of the heart there is access through the walls thickness to the cafe on the top floor.

organisation of program club space circulation band theatre meeting room 1


main entrance
st. an


storage and services area

ws lan e

resource centre

the heart

meeting room 2 alcoves to cafe circulation


information centre



The organisation of the program is based on spaces requirements of light and that available on the site. The position in relation to peoples entrance into a space and encouragment to use the full space available is used, eg. the location of the entrance to the cafe is on the opposing side on the entrance in order to encourage use of the heart. The cafe acts as a lure to use the building. learning centre

user consideration

LEARNING CENTRE user: aim: hearing people increase sensory awareness

how? dark space increased perception of sound utilise rainfall in circulation space

CENTRAL SPACE user: aim: general public increase visual awareness

how? controlled light direct light into space contained light in conversation booths - conveys difference in language RESOURCE CENTRE user: aim: young Deaf children and parents teach about Deaf sensibilties and aid spatial awareness

how? reflection at key locations transparency where required vibration in floor (wood detail - bounce) even diffused light where required

The building is now working as a public building, with access and positioned program. The realms of sensory focus have yet to be defined. In order to do this the user of each area must be considered. This is a means to heighten their own sensory experience based on their sensibilites. For example the resource centre is a specialist factility aimed at Deaf children and their parents, therefore the space aims to consider these sensibilities aiding the user which results with a focus on tactility and vibration. In comparision the learning centre is intended for the use of the general public ie. hearing people, here I hope to increase their own sensory awareness based on sound. The result is a space with minimal amounts of light in which rainfall enters the space, the geometry of the space amplifies and so increases the perception of the sound. Having established a user consideration, the sensory organisation can now be achieved.

sensory organisation

(learning centre)


(resource centre)



(information centre)



The realms of sensory focus each has a purpose to create a relationship with the user of a particular space (learning centre and resource centre as mentioned). In addition to the spaces already mentioned the heart of the building more importantly links all people using the building...its focus is the visual - light. In this space focus is created by the use of three different types of light. 1. contained light 2. washed light 3. direct light These light types come from the east and south through a 5meter thickness. Direct comes from the morning in the east facade, midday from the southern facade and again in the evening. These direct light passages are guided by the use of baffles, in fact the direct light which reaches the opposite wall is infrequent, the aim of this light is to rest on the baffles throughout the day. Washed light is created by having an opening which can not see through to the outside, instead it only allows light into the space through the thickness, the source not seen, this creates autonomous spaces within the thickness which allow seating for interation. The third is contained light. This is connection from the heart through to the outside which in-between accommodates circulation and alcoves. The articulation of the spaces, allows the light to be seen but not to move into the space along any surfaces. The information centre is lined with a concentrated amount of leather books, which allows for the smell to seep through areas in which it is connected. The cafes focus is of course taste and smell.



heart - learning centre heart - cafe visual physical smell heart - resource centre heart - theatre heart - information centre

club space - Dame Lane theatre - St. Andrews Lane heart - east and south light heart connection - sky learning centre - rain information centre Trinity Street

acoustic OUT time IN IN environment IN environment visual


There are three types of connections.

1. Internal 2. External 3. Mini connections

Internal connections link sensory spaces to one another, this can be a means to increase orientation, all spaces relate to the heart in some connection, physical, visual, aural or smell. The type of connection is not dependant on the sensory focus of that space eg. the resource centre is connected visually to the heart, however the focus of the resource centre is tactility. External connections act as mediators between the inside and outside world. For example the theatre spaces screen is constructed in transparent stone, therefore the viewing of films is based on sunset, this is an idea based on James Turrells work (see transparency investigation) therefore the audience are connected with the outside, aware of time and the movement of the sun. Other connections are less abstract but allow the environment into the building eg. rainfall in the sound space and light in the visual realm. The building also omits, in the club space there are a number of open baffles which are intended to omit the sound created in the space out on the Dame Lane which has a lot of night activity. This is in order to make a connection with the city, spurring intrigue and wonder of the space within. The mini connections are playful ones which relate on an individual level, these include specific lines of views which could be missed without the increased perception of the visitor, some of these connections can be seen in the plans.

environmental strategies

task lighting

thermal mass and acoustics


wind ventilation

The environmental strategies are integrated into all areas of the building. Light is used to its optimum in all directions, the organisation as already mentioned is based on the requirements of the space and the availability of light of the site and its orientation. Therefore no area requires supplementary shading for instance. Task lighting for classrooms is allowed on the northern facade. Early in site analysis I did decibel readings of the noise levels surrounding, the thickness in the walls relate to these findings, the hearts location central in plan and in section to allow the thickness (servant spaces) to absorb any residual sound on the upper levels. The rainfall is harnessed to increased perception in the sound space. Within the lift shaft there is a ventilation funnel integrated, this can be seen in the long section. The funnel at roof level points south-westerly to grasp the prevailing winds, this fresh air enters the heart on ground level and thus naturally ventilates the internalised space.


primary structure
north - south band east - west band external walls

independant compartments within

roof openings

The structure is integrated into the arrangement of the scheme. It consists of two main axes which run north to south and east to west, the floor levels then rest between these bands and the thick external walls. The north south band holds the circulation on the lower floors. These bands create 4 distinct areas which allow the compartments within to be independant of each other and thus multi-levels to exist in each. The lift shafts are also part of these internal bands.


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

entrance points theatre club space heart (visual realm) information centre learning centre sound space resource centre (vibration)


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

entrance points theatre club space heart (visual realm) information centre learning centre sound space resource centre (vibration)




1. main light void 2. heart light and acoustic void


1. smell to information centre 2. aural connection to learning centre 3. visual connection to resource centre

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Cafe outdoor seating Primary light void Heart light and acoustic void Resource light void Inlet to sound space


1. information centre - public 2. learning centre - specialist 3. resource centre - specialist private

sectional perspectives

A. HEART cut through conversation alcoves main light void link to information centre with reading/viewing spaces above B. THEATRE, SOUND SPACE cut through theatre space showing link to outside perceptible thickness in theatre (walkway is carved into wall thickness) sound space above circulation between sound space and classrooms light link from classrooms into circulation C. RESOURCE CENTRE cut through resource centre] with visual link to heart light link above service entrance linking outside to heart below sight line cutting through thickness D. INFORMATION CENTRE cut through double height space realm of smell link back to heart through main light void books acting as diffusers

1:30 heart model

visual realm - dominant space main connecting space - looking south INTERNAL CONNECTIONS
a consequence of compact living is that internal connections are maximised and external connections are minimised. Adolf Loos Architecture involves several realms of sensory experience which interact and fuse into each other.... The present and the absent, the near and the distant, the sensed and the imagined fuse together. Juhani Pallasmaa

A powerful architectural experience silences all external noise; it focuses our attention on our very existence, and as with all art, makes us aware of our fundamental solitude. An architectural space frames, halts, strengthens and focuses our thoughts, and prevents them from getting lost. Juhani Pallasmaa to make visible how the world touches us Merleau Ponty

specialisation - acoustics


The sound space is the Realm of Sound, which is intended to react to the sensibilities of its users, ie. predominantly hearing people. Its form is created as a response to amplify the acoustic awareness of the space. An inlet allows for rainfall to enter into the space with a pool directly underneath which in turn becomes the source of sound. This pool is the primary sound source and above due to arc form of the space allows for a flutter echo. There are 3 positions from which to perceive this sound, all with different acoustic qualities This spaces atmospheric quality is heightened again in its details, with a concrete surface finish of polished concret. Here the former demolished building which is used as aggreagte can be seen.


sound source









source drip of water in pool

depends on the absorption in the space the more times the sound hits a surface, the more energy that is lost reverberation is the time it takes for a sound to decay

depends on the strength of the source the less often the sound meets absorbing surfaces the longer the decay time

dimensions of the sound space is based on the dimensions of note wavelengths shown

an echo is most likely to occur when concave surfaces focus sound rays from an arc to a point. Flutter echoes can occur when a pair of parallel surfaces which are hard and non-absorbing. This can be rectified by placing one plane out a few degrees, I will not!

the form of concrete detail in the heart is based on diffusion requirements of the space given its cublic dimensions

primary source first action - water hits pool - sound is reflected in the space

secondary source second action - flutter echo created at ceiling height due to geometrics of the space ie. arc in section

detailing - acoustics


screed to give incline 50mm to 100mm 100mm rigid insulation waterproof roof felt seperating layer transparent L channel to enhance sound perception in the sound space aggregate

acoustics requirements of heart created with undulating metal formwork


RESOURCE SEATING (based on vibration)

The idea behind this resource centre detail is again like the sound space based on its intended user group ie young Deaf children and their parents. The walkway above which allows access to specialist offices is connected by its detail to the seating below on the resource centres main level ie the waiting area. When this walkway is in use the vibration can be felt by the people seated below without a visual connection which increases the likelihood of this tactile perceptible awareness.

3 m x 1.5m x 40mm 7 plywood panels 50mm x 25mm battens inner concrete structure comb chiselled book shelving



4 times stronger finished again

multi - storey building existing on site

demolished and used as aggregate

detailing - concrete organisation

homogenous exterior very rough textured surface created with sculpted foamglass insulation formwork

carved thresholds comb-chiselled surface created post-formwork



left to right: sculpted foamglass insulation 250mm concrete outer layer (not including superficial layer) cavity 150mm concrete inner layer board shuttering

main spaces boardmarked created with rough sawn wood formwork

rough exterior textured main spaces thresholds carved


secondary spaces rammed concrete created with dry mix, packed in formwork - no shadow gaps

heart - absorbing sound space - reflective

diffused form acoustics requirements of heart created with undulating metal formwork

reflective finish to enhance sound perception in the sound space polished finish with exposed aggregate


WALL STRUCTURE outer layer 250mm concrete exterior layer cast with foamglass insulation formwork 450mm foamglass insulation 200mm concrete inner layer with boardmarked finish THICKNESS post formwork concrete comb-chiselled with 80mm chisel 90 degree angle to street OPENING 80mm charred wood door


GROUND STRUCTURE concrete layer fine sand coarse sand geotextile mat FLOOR STRUCTURE 100mm concrete finish C120 100mm screed seperating layer rigid insulation dpm concrete slab

overall project 12 x A1 sheets



Juhani Pallasmaa (2005) Eyes of the Skin; Architecture and the senses : Wiley Juhani Pallasmaa, The Thinking Hand ISBN: 978-0-470-77929-3 Steven Holl (2006) Question of Perception - Phenomenology of Architecture ISBN: 0-9709731-1-X Steven Holl, Intertwining ISBN: 1-56898-061-2 Steven Holl, Parallax ISBN: 3-7643-6436-X Peter Zumthor, Thinking Architecture Birkhauser Peter Zumthor, Therme Vals ISBN: 978-3-85881-704-4 Merleau-Ponty, Phenemology of Perception Junichiro Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows London 2001 Architecture of Terunobu Fujimori and ROJO Venice Biennale: 10th International Architecture Exhibition 2006 Japanese Pavillion ISBN: 978-487540071-3 P.H. Parkin and H.R. Humphreys, Acoustics Noise and Buildings ISBN: 571 04671 1 Max Risselada (2008) Raumplan versus Plan Libre: 010 Publishers ISBN: 978 90 6450 6659 Benedetto Gravagnuolo, Adolf Loos ISBN: 0-8478-0895-5 Villa Muller Robert McCarter, Louis Kahn ISBN: 978-0-7148-4971-3 Le Corbusier (2008) Towards a New Architecture: BN Publishing ISBN: 965-006-036-7 A Lost tradition Andrea Deplazes (2005) Constructing Architecture: Birkhauser ISBN- 10: 7643-7313-X Evelyn Glennie (1990) Good Vibrations: my autobiography ISBN: 0-09-174305-2 curator Wendy Jacobs, Lecture series, Centre of Advanced Visual Studies, MIT Phillip Ryan (2006) Strategic Review Marjane Satrapi (2008) Perspolis (Animated Film) Paul W.S Anderson, Alien vs Predator (Film)