DESN 7401/6301

Studio Project

2008 Semester 1

Tutors: Sue Hudson + Rachel Carley + Ingrid Wang + Guests

Space in film/Film in space

Belly buttons punctuate a life story written on a mattress-map in Guillermo Kuitca’s Untitled, 1989.

“Like a film, the bedroom map retains and explores ‘folds’ of experience. It charts the private inner fabric of our mental landscape… Reproducing the immobility that allows us to travel the unconscious, it traces the very itinerary of our unconscious journeys… It is our life map.” (Bruno, 2002: 240)


Film is a kind of language, a language to create atmosphere which contains its creator’s feelings, thoughts, memories and emotions. Film is different from written or spoken languages. It creates meaning with images, camera movements, sound effects etc. However, when an audience watches a film, ‘the observer is not simply a consumer, but an active – or potentially active


participant in the process’.1 This is the process which relates with the audience’s own experiences – cultural background, memories, religion and gender.

Film and space:

An interior space, whether a physical space within a building or a virtual space within a film, has the ground, walls and light. It is formed by shape, light, colour and materiality. However, there are differences between the two kinds of spaces. The physical spaces engage embodiment relating to the temporal and unrepeatable aspects of everyday life. Physical space is changing and moving depend on “how the space has been used, who used or are using the space, and how it develops, even for the further changing” 2. In physical space, a person’s experience and memories are merged; memories are transformed into experience upon the physical space that is personal and privileged. Different from physical space, the virtual space within a film is not about physical surroundings and bodily inhabitation, but perception and imagination.

Vidler indicates Toba Khedoori’s architectural painting is a comparable example of reading architecture through filmic processes. He concludes that Khedoori’s architectural painting seems to be isolated in a world, and the isolation belies the nature and time of architecture perfectly3. Toba Khedoori’s architectural painting (see one of his paintings, Untitled: Black window) implies the possibility for understanding architecture frame by frame. More particularly, the ‘frame by frame’ is able to represent the nature and time of architecture more clearly because each frame relates on specific time and aspect in this architectural space. In other words, architecture can be read and understood more meaningfully through isolated time, and hence, be more meaningful the space of film.

1 2

Monaco, How to read a film: the art, technology, language, history and theory of film and media. P.130 Grosz, Architecture from outside: essay on virtual and real space. P.7 3 Vidler, Warped space: art, architecture, and anxiety in modern culture. P.155


Toba Khedoori Untitled (Black Window) 2006

This studio design project invites you to critically examine the relationship between virtual space in film and physical interior space, and to investigate the following question. How can we create filmic atmosphere in a physical space?

The site – a guest suite within a motel:

Sarah Treadwell states that a motel is a temporary and secondary homeliness which is like an imagining of everyday life without routine and closure4. Motel often means mobility, the mobility of inhabiters and spaces. The mobility can be constructed, as Treadwell suggests, ‘by the way of montage with its ability to destroy the linear continuity of narrative (the return of the past as the present)’. 5

A motel is also more like a second home than a hotel because it is likely to be more accessible to stay in casually and is supplied with everything you need for basic domestic accommodation6. It is a secondary home connecting the road and many domestic spaces. Inhabiters sleep, eat or have a shower in the private space which has also been occupied and will be occupied by others. It is a semi-private home.

Treadwell, Motels: images of elsewhere; presented in 20 th annual conference of the society of architectural historians, Australia and New Zealand 5 Treadwell, Motels: images of elsewhere 6 Treadwell, Motels: images of elsewhere


The design project – innovative interior design of a guest suite within the motel

You are required to conduct an individual investigation and study a film about a story in a motel/s and small spaces to research the spatial qualities of creating atmospheres. You will need to explore the filmic languages to capture the temporary quality of mobility and the experiences/memories of semi-privacy of motel spaces in order to design an innovative motel guest suite. You will study the film and your chosen site to unfold the memories, experiences and histories of motels to create a meaningful atmosphere in the motel design project.

Still image from The Million Dollar Hotel (2000)

We are expecting to see evidence of your consideration and understanding from your research in your design project. You should use a range of media such as freehand sketches, drafting, modelling, filming and animation to articulate your design concepts. You need to design your own way to present atmosphere for the design project.

Monday Morning: Individual Tutorial

Thursday Morning 9:30 – 12:00 Rm. 1159: Pin-up group sessions (every student has to attend group sessions)


Week 9 (5-May): introduce assignment; develop brief; research ideas discussion;

Study the film (narrative and emotive qualities, atmospheres) ;

Write a review of the film 150 words max;

Create a document in the media of painting/model/drawing/sculpture that encapsulates your ideas from the film study

(8-May) Thursday: group session

Present the review of the film and the document

Week 10 (12-May):

Provide the basic information of the site – motel: name, location, type and etc.

Research – film and physical space; the history of the site; theoretical context of motel

(you will need to choose four keywords to indicate your ideas. For example, illusion/immersion, presence/absence etc.)

Re-make or modify original documents with respect to the research outcome

(15-May) Thursday: group session

Present your documents and the basic information of your site; four key words to link

your research and your design of the site Week 11 (19 – May):

Develop design brief

(22 – May) Thursday: Process presentation– You will need to present your design brief


Focus on the elements you have found from your research (view, frame,

logical/illogical, material/immaterial, colour, lighting and etc.) How do you transform your findings and understandings into the design? What is the

relationship/difference/connection between the space in the film and the space of the site?

Develop your initial design concept – concept plans and sections

Week 12 (26 – May):

Design process - scaled plan, section and sketches; perspectives

(29 – May) Thursday: Pin-up your design process drawings

Develop your design with the emphasises of shape, lighting and materiality

Develop details

Design development – drawing development; perspectives/animation development;

Week 13: (2 – June): Queen’s Birthday

(5 – June) Thursday: Presentation Plan & drawing development;

Prepare presentation: design a suitable way to present the atmospheres of your design project

Week 14: (9 – June): Final questioning

Final Crit.:
Week 14 (11-June & 12 June) TBC



Week 15 (16 -June) 9.30am

Pin-up in studio; workbook and digital copies on desk

Hand-in requirements:

• •

Workbook and research notes

Scaled plans and interior elevations with lighting, material effects

Sketches and drawings


Maquettes or physical model

Material experiments

Detail studies and drawings

Presentation/PowerPoint Presentation (Remember referencing if you use other people’s images and text in your presentation and research notes)

A CD with all digital files (freehand drawings need to be scanned or photographed)

Learning Outcomes:

• • •

To demonstrate an engagement with conceptual and theoretical ideas from the investigation

To develop the potential for the research to inspire innovative interior design

To expand the conceptual investigations adapting into a well-considered design project

To produce a high craft representation for innovative interior design


Assessment criteria and weighting: 1. Analysis: 20%
Analysis involves initial evaluation of a brief for opportunities and possibilities, i.e. the generation of ideas. It includes the establishment of parameters/boundaries for operating within the brief and the subsequent management of design process within these parameters/boundaries. On-going analysis of both practical work and theoretical research ensures that concepts are developed. Analysis also ensures design process is productively shaped and appropriately focused. Analysis of personal contexts, situational contexts and cultural contexts surrounding the making and 'reading' of work (i.e. of the implications of the work) will allow for strategic exploration, synthesis and communication.

2.Exploration: 20%
The investigation and development of ideas through extensive practical exploration (i.e. the making of work). The making of work is a means to both explore and articulate the motivating concepts or intentions. It is also a means to explore the mechanisms of language, visual and other.

3.Research: 20%
Research is the process by which the factors influencing the development of a design are identified, explored and framed within the context of the design intent. Resulting information or material gathered is used directly or indirectly to inform subsequent design decision making. Links between research activities and subsequent work need to be evident and justifiable in a form relevant to the design activity. There should be a considered and strategic approach to practical exploration and theoretical research with the one informing the other.

4.Synthesis: 20%
The bringing together of all outcomes of practical exploration, theoretical research, and analysis so that they can interact to form an overall holistic entity. This whole may be complex or simple but is variously informed and thus constitutes an enrichment of design process and outcome. Synthesis is a key component in an on-going feedback loop that helps the design process develop through generation of new ideas, new explorations, new research, new analysis and new synthesis.

5.Communication: 20%
Communication explicit and implicit means of all ideas, concepts and issues addressed within a brief including all aspects of the design process. The selective and appropriate use of elements of visual language as well as (where appropriate) verbal, written or other means of communication. Communication is affected through the process of making work (i.e. making ideas manifest through process and product) as well as by means of presentation. Communication strategies should be evident and appropriate. There should be, either explicitly or implicitly, a rationale for the communication strategies used to match perception (audience's 'reading') with concept (maker's intention).

Bruno, G. (2002). Atlas of emotion: Journeys in art, architecture, and film. New York, Verso. Friedberg, A. (2006). The virtual window. Cambridge, The MIT Press. Grau, O. (2003). Virtual art: From illusion to immersion. London: The MIT Press. Grosz, E. (1995). Space, time and perversion. London: Routlege. Grosz, E. (2001). Architecture from the outside: Essay on virtual and real space. Massachusetts: The MIT Press. Ballantyne, A., Ed. (2002). What is architecture. New York, Routledge. Monaco, J. (1981). How to read a film: the art, technology, language, history and theory of film and media. New York, Oxford University Press. Pallasmaa, J. (2001). The architecture of image: Existential space in cinema. Helsinki: Building Information. Plummer, H. (1987). Poetics of light. Tokyo: A+U Pub. Schwarzer, M. (2004). Zoom scape: Architecture in motion and media. New York:


Princeton Architectural Press.

Movie Resources:
The Million Dollar Hotel (2000) - Directed by Wim Wenders Four Rooms (1995) - Directed by Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino with each of them directing one segment of the film Memory and Desire (1997) – Directed by Niki Caro

In the Mood for Love (2000) – Directed by Kar Wai Wong

2046 (2004) – Directed by Kar Wai Wong

The Pillow Book (1995) - Directed by Peter Greenaway

Psycho (1960) – Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Rear Window (1954) - Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Lift to the Scaffold (1957) – Directed by Louis Malle

The Shining (1980) – Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Bound (1996) – Directed by Andy Wachowski

The apartment (1960) – Directed by Billy Wilder

Blue Velvet (1986) – Directed by David Lynch

Orlando (1992) – Directed by Sally Potter

Three Colours: Blue (1993) – Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Three Colours: White (1994) – Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Three Colours: Red (1994) – Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Rope (1948) – Directed by Alfred Hitchcock