This concept began to materialise as part of a student exercise  – a derivation of John Hejduk’s ‘Nine square grid’ – involved a “kit of parts design exercise”, where the constraint of a geometric grid and a number of pre-ordained elements are used as a primary framework for exploring conceptual design.

A hierarchical series of layers or sub-plots exists within the sectioned site. Four interior courtyards occupy the corners, with the further interior spaces in interleaved diametric opposition as high (main rooms) and low (service rooms) volumes. Between the two, a clerestory and skylight open to the centre intersecting space. The boundaries between ‘interior’ and ‘exterior’ shift freely, visually receding and proceeding to occupy the extents of the site.

The hypothetical location or ‘site-less-ness’ of the project has fascinated me ever since its inception, and has recurred as an open concept for a future studio space. The universality of the programme allows for the model to be transcribed via intermediary devices into a number of potential sites.

Existing in isolation of actual site, the building is constrained solely to ‘internal’ space, drawing only light and scaleless distance from the ever-changing sky upwards. Yi-Fu Tuan, the noted Chinese cultural geographer, once stated that “place is security and space is freedom: we are attached to the one and long for the other”.[1] There is no need to look any further than the foreground, the view is right here.


[1] Tuan, Yi-Fu, Hoelscher, Steven: Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, University of Minnesota Press, 1990

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