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  • The Anamorphic Hut

    Jennifer BIRKELAND, Hiroshi JACOBS, John-Paul RYSAVY, & Jonathan A. SCELSA, "The Anamorphic Hut." Model.
    new york NEW YORK & washington DC

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Jennifer BIRKELAND, Hiroshi JACOBS, John-Paul RYSAVY, & Jonathan A. SCELSA: Is it folly to contradict pre-existing space and simultaneously resonate with site? The goal of this folly is to create a form that exhibits tension as an object created a priori to a given situation, and simultaneously one which is driven by the specifics of its surroundings.

    The hut, a borrowed geometry and traditional construct of enclosure, is thrust into the ground; thus depriving the viewer of its full silhouette. An Anamorphic projection inscribes the ground, delineating the submerged geometry and creating an apparent completion of the form from particular vantage points. The result is ambiguous object-hood, in situated experience, seemingly alien, with and without explicit relation to site, place, and culture. The result is the creation of a piece that exhibits ambiguous object-hood, one which resonates with its site while creating other moments where it is seemingly an alien form with no relationship to the same context.

    To folly is to foil, to critically and didactically address cultural concerns at stake in architectural practice. The Anamorphic Hut is positioned against and between two overarching assumptions prevalent in contemporary architectural production — of architectural form emerging from autonomous object oriented concerns, and from the externalities of surrounding fields. The proposal considers an architecture emerging from both: from outside-in and inside-out. The folly arises from a formal and experiential strategy that is “both-and” in pursuit of a paradigm we refer to as the “Quasi-Object,” ” Situated Object,” or “Ambiguous Object.”

    An Architecture which includes varying levels of meaning breeds ambiguity and tension. Most of the examples will be difficult to “read,” but abstruse architecture is valid when it reflects the complexities and contradictions of content and meaning. Simultaneous perception of a multiplicity of levels involves struggles and hesitations for the observer, and makes his perception more vivid.1

    The Anamorphic Hut arises from a desire for complex double-readings, wherein architectural form “doubly functions” to exist in its own autonomous system and simultaneously within the system of its site. A reading of architectural form that seeks to engage in new forms of contextualism beyond total immersion into the system of nature and the site2 while further amplifying the Object Oriented investigations of Siteless forms.3 This visual tension forces the viewer to confront the limits and boundaries of the thing in which they are viewing.

    Anamorphosis is the distortion of a perspective wherein the perception of an image is reconstituted into expected normality from a specific vantage point. The form of the hut is borrowed both for its silhouette, which is firmly embedded within our consciousness, and for its resonance with Marc Antoine-Laugier’s reading of the primitive hut as a form that arose from its natural surroundings.4 The iconic form of the hut is thrust into the ground depriving the viewer of its full silhouette, complicating the reading of its object-hood. Through perspectival anamorphosis, the ground is inscribed with the projection of the submerged geometry of the Hut, completing its recognizable form from specific points of view. Geometrically, this is accomplished by finding the intersection of ground with the extension of the lines of its hidden geometry to a specific vantage point of the site. The CMYK color mechanism was developed to perceive color via pixel separation, the process of separating colors into half-tone ranges in order to perceive the actual color. In a similar logic the four full saturation colors in the CMYK range are each assigned to the four principle elevations of the hut, working together to assist the viewer in reconstituting the totality of the form in his or her mind.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    JB, HJ, JPR, & JAS: N/A.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    JB, HJ, JPR, & JAS: Our office had Grimes, and Max Richter interspersed on the speakers. E.H. Gombrich’s Art and Illusion has been on the nightstand.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    JB, HJ, JPR, & JAS: Olafur Eliasson; Jean Francois Niceron; Edward Wadsworth; Bridget Riley; and Venturi Scott Brown.

    Additional credits and links:
    Haanbee Choi and M. Gabrielle Carucci, who worked tirelessly over their winter break on the production of the model for installation in the RISD Museum of Art.


    1. 1. Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2011), 23. 

    2. 2. Herein contextualism and total immersion of site can be imagined with regards to current architectural paradigms via the processes of bio-mimesis and emulation of “Nature.” This is often demonstrated in pattern and material, notably identified by Stan Allen in his book Landform Building: Architecture’s New Terrain (Baden, Switzerland: Lars Müller, 2011)3. 

    3. 3. This discussion is also referent to certain disciplinary work on Siteless Geometry as put forth by Francois Blanciak in his book Siteless: 1001 Building Forms (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2008), IX, as well as making visible the reading of a thing not as a it stands in part of a greater system nor purely in its affectual premises but rather in between these two positions. These concepts stem from a reading of Speculative Realism as provided by Graham Harman in his essay “The Quadruple Object,” (Winchester, U.K.: Zero, 2011). 

    4. 4. Marc-Antoine Laugier, An Essay on Architecture (Los Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls, 1977), 12. 

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