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  • Big Black Blank

    Andrea YOAS, "Big Black Bank."
    philadelphia PENNSYLVANIA

    University of Pennsylvania, PennDesign
    critic: Jason PAYNE.

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Andrea YOAS: This project started with the Pyramid of Tirana, a building in Albania that has existed for decades but has never really had a clear use. Currently, the building is in disrepair and for the most part uninhabited but the population of Albania sees it as a monument and have blocked all attempts to demolish it.

    Our studio aims to amplify and enhance the iconography of the pyramid, by building a sarcophagus around it as an addition but also to preserve the existing condition.

    In my design, I wanted to enhance the iconography by amplifying the centralized quality of the pyramid, as well as the reveals in the pyramid that allow for the windows. The addition is made of two systems. First there is a tectonic structure that mimics the language of the pyramid but starts to frame out new spaces. Then there are more sculptural elements that break from the existing and bring a new type of geometry to the project. By using two systems that work together as well as with the existing structure, the addition takes the fairly straightforward pyramid and creates multiple interpretations and an ambivalence in the design.

    The color treatment on the project takes this ambivalence a step further. The color consists of the lines and textures of multiple views of the original building imposed onto the new form. From certain angles the viewer can discern the original form through the color while also understanding the physical form in front of them; creating a dual reading. At other vantage points the same surface treatment that mimics the original pyramid’s lines can emphasize the new curvilinear geometry and the extreme difference from the original form. By creating a plurality of interpretations this design preserves the existing icon for the people of Albania, but also creates new interpretations that allow the line to blur between the past and the present meaning of the monument.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    AY: Jacopo Pontormo; Graham Harman; Star Wars; horror movies; and Albanian bunkers.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    AY: Reading Jason Payne, “Variations on the Disco Ball” and Young & Ayata, “The Estranged Object.” Listening to Adele, DNCE, Kygo, and The Weeknd. Watching Edward Scissorhands and Master of None.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    AY: Young & Ayata, Mark Foster Gage, COOP Himmelb(l)au, Neil M. Denari Architects (NMDA), Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Asymptote Architecture, UNStudio, Snarkitecture.

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