advisor: Elena MANFERDINI.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Ke LI: This is a concert hall on New York City’s East River. A wired-shaped and brightly colored building floating above the river, a container of art and an artwork itself. . . .
Even though buildings do not literally speak, they are not necessarily silent. They communicate to the public in other ways. There is a long discourse on communication in architecture. The classical orders communicated information about the significance or programmatic function of a building. They made the sounds through signs and representations. We can understand the exterior as an opening dialogue, since it is most often the first encounter with the building. The exterior sometimes communicates with the interior though signs—for example, the entrance and windows —that show habitable space and circulation. These signs are an important device that serves as a transparent representation of the building and of how it relates to the human scale. And they compose or complete a building’s beautiful appearance to the public. It is odd, then, that the need to communicate accessibility dominates most communication when it comes to buildings. People are told by buildings where the entrance is. But through orientation, decor, and scale buildings can communicate many things.
However, following building codes—where to open the window, where to set the door—makes the building elevation “cliche”. In children’s drawings this cliche becomes a square plus a triangle rooftop, a rectangular door in square’s middle, and window on its side. Together these make a house. I can see the development of curtain wall would be a solution to avoid the cliche; it would delete the cliche, building a shining finish. But it would also delete the beauty created by signs.
Decorated entrances and countless windows clutter facades, drowning out other messages with their incessant chatter. Perhaps they talk too much in this respect. When people listen to the building, what else might be heard?
I do have the faith in the beautiful signs that exist on buildings. Instead of deleting this cliche speech, I experiment with making this speech into gibberish by deforming traditional facades and reforming them into a new facade, by eliminating past function, and by using a single, muted color.
The golden roof, pointed up; the industrial bottom, pointed down. The two were separate until Modernist arches glued them together. Here the golden roof becomes public space, the black bottom entrance and storage space, connected to the city through the industrial platform above the pier. The blue part takes the role of concert hall.
People see this “entrance” from a distance, but can never enter the building through it. People can read the windows and the decorations, but these never tell the story of the building inside.
sP: What or who influenced this project?:
KL: Matthias Jung, Surreal Homes; Nina Lindgren, Floating Cardboard City; and Jean Francois Rauzier. . . . When I saw their artworks, I felt lost in their architectural language, which kept me wanting to sit down and hear them again. . . . The everyday appearances in our lives that we just ignore. . . . When these artworks collaged the everyday, they made such an impact as to give direction to my thesis—to find another way to talk, another way back IN architecture.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?:
KL: Basically look through all their websites and photos online.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?:
KL: A new single-family residence in Los Angeles from Baumgartner + Uriu Architecture (B+U).