Ornament is a way for architecture to connect with a broader audience. For a building to utilize ornament, and communicate clearly, it must build its expressions out of an internal order. This means that it can not rely on a common language or knowledge to exude its expression. It is for this reason that the representational qualities of an image were not relied on in this project to convey the idea. While it is undoubtedly true that certain images or motifs in architecture contain an equity of meaning, a lack of common cultural memory makes this connection weak. The patterns used in this project may evoke certain memories or significations associated with the image, but the sensations they arouse do not rely on them.
The transparency that plays an integral role in these sensations is an aesthetic composition that is highly valued for its “direct” representation of architectural elements such as space and program and the light filled spaces it contains. However, a fully transparent expression is one that is unfeasible in an urban context. The building’s exterior expression can no longer be achieved through pure transparency, and thus must have its own expression independent of the interior. It is for this reason that this project does not seek to provide a one to one relationship between the exterior and interior condition but instead to work in cooperation. The interior surfaces of the building are further differentiated from the exterior by the use of patterning to signify certain important events. This pattern on the interior is used in such a way as to provide an internal sense of order, not relying on external knowledge to understand connections. Farshid Moussavi said it best in The Function of Ornament, “These affects may start with found imagery or iconography as raw cultural material. However, they do not remain as pure acts of consumption, but rather are disassembled and reassembled to produce new sensations that remain open to new forms of experience.”
Client: Virginia Tech
Team: Michael Degen
Date Created: Spring 2012