Matter, Void and Threshold…

Starting from my initial study of the ‘Architecture as a Silent Witness’ where the city had become stagnant and it has seen a slower pace of change than those who experience it, time is collapsed into one compressed frame; The Impossible staircase representing time, movement, transit between spaces, threshold and void, connecting planes and suggesting a passage and a dimension of time as connecting spaces and traversing thresholds.

My interest is on the ‘state of impermanence’ of the urban fabric, and the city itself. Im interested in the voids, the gaps, spaces in between, the transient spaces… along side my object they recall a temporal sequence of events, and the relation and presence of the matter which occupies this transient spaces and voids.

The Potential Site

The Lower East Side has a rich historic past, from its traditional tenement housing accommodating it’s many immigrants, the brownstone used in its constructions and since 2008 being recognised as an important and endangered historic place in America. However with the changes in the city and the area has remained stagnated for many years, until speculative interest and property markets see an opportunity for developing this area and in the process this existing voids are being filled and a process of a dematerialisation of its fabric and in turn the loss of plasticity in its materiality starts to occur.

I would like to explore these uninhabited spaces in The Lower East Side… This will be a collection of remaining fragments within the area. They represent the loss and erasure of the fabric and its identity too… the staircases represent the passage of time and ‘an intermediary zone’ within the voids and the city, this passage as noted by Douglass Klahr return us to a dimension of time:

‘In essence, staircases are perhaps the best example of intermediary zones within buildings, quantified not only by the aspects noted above, but also by their raison d’être: to provide passage between levels of a structure. The notion of passage therefore remains very potent within a staircase, and passage once again returns us to the dimension of time’.

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As for my drawing Im working on an axonometric of the Lower East Side… looking at the forgotten spaces and voids… Im unsure of the outcome of the drawing at this point, but as per the image above I wanted to to explore the area with a worm-eye’s view of this spaces, in a illustration style. The existing fire escapes provide a relation to my impossible object, but it feels too literal… the images  below are some images of the work in progress…

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2 thoughts on “Matter, Void and Threshold…

  1. Nice choice of site and the image of the area that you posted is really evocative! What’s interesting about New York and the Lower East Side in particular is the quality of the exterior stair on apartment buildings or the fire escape stair – a network of ladders, balconies, stairs and entrances to buildings, its supposed to be an unused space 99% of the time unless there is an emergency but often it becomes a balcony, urban farm or an extension of the interior within the apartments. Its an interesting exterior condition like an exoskeleton for buildings in that area. This is a thesis I found about fire escapes that could be interesting: and as a stair typology they are usually moveable or can be manipulated to a certain degree for security reasons, to connect or extend to the street etc. which is related to your object.
    Its good that you’re studying voids and not the stairs itself since that would be too literal but there’s something about the texture they generate on the exterior of the buildings and the new types of spaces it creates as an extension of the interior that creates an opportunity to learn from this as you think about the void. It would be great for your site drawing to capture the character of buildings in the area: their materiality and texture, and then the idea of collapse into a single frame as was evident in your initial mapping of the walk. How does this start to relate to the voids present in the area – what is significant about the voids in relationship to your interests so far? Looking forward to seeing how it develops.

  2. This made me think of your project and I liked the quote: “If You Get The Scale Right, Space Stops Being Space to Become Mind” Xavier Corberó:

    Also if you’ve never played the game Monument Valley – you should! Its beautiful but also is a construct of impossible spaces. here’s an explanation of how they built it (digitally):

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