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  • Uncanny Icon

    Michael O'NEILL, "Uncanny Icon." Model.
    philadelphia PENNSYLVANIA

    University of Pennsylvania, PennDesign

    critic: Jason PAYNE.

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
    Michael O’NEILL: This proposal seeks to subvert iconicity through the use of the doppelgänger, or the uncanny icon.

    The uneasiness of the two towers confuses the authenticity of the icon while disrupting its status as an urban wayfinding mechanism.

    The space of the plaza is charged by absence, establishing a blank urbanity. To further subvert the icon, the towers are figured as anonymous at the scale of the skyline, using warped massing tropes from familiar office typologies. This figuration blurs into a spectacle at the pedestrian level, where dark mirrors create strange reflective projections of the ground level.

    Sectionally, the project seeks to leverage the kind of blankness and indeterminacy of scale found in infrastructural spaces such as electrical substations. The sundered nature of the program– split between office space and infrastructure– is manifested through a kind of ripping in section, where the interior and exterior conditions seem to be ambivalent toward one-another, creating a loose-fit or mismatching between enclosure and interior programmed space.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    MO: The electric sub stations scattered around LA, hiding in plain sight. Writings by Jason Payne and David Ruy.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    MO: Listening to Joy Division, A Place to Bury Strangers, Belong, A Sunny Day in Glasgow.
    Watching Alien, David Lynch Films.
    Reading Anthony Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny & Warped Space.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    MO: Neil Denari, Jean Nouvel, MOS Architects, Snøhetta.