Page 1





the formation of the surreal.





a destabilization of homely objects.



an infinite collage of chaotic spaces.



a discrete fascination for the incomplete.

THE PHYSICAL an acute sense of material.



a curious investigation of inanimate objects.



THE CONTEXTUAL from dada into surrealism.



parc de la villette, bernard tschumi.



endless theater, frederick kiesler.



metro net, martin kippenberger.



ghost, rachael whiteread.



pillow talk.




PROPOSAL the black box: portland, oregon.






an effort at creation.



ABSTRACT THE FORMATION OF THE SURREAL ÂŤThe realm where logics and legibility cease to exist is where the SURREAL can manifest. Through the defamiliarization and destabilization of spaces, there exists the powerful, seductive ability to elevate one out of the everyday, to develop authentic experiences devoid of conventional representations and relationships that pervade architectural design. The juxtaposition of bizarre realities investigates the surreal in architecture: the disjunct, the anarchic, the symbolic, the uncanny, and the temporal. This thesis pays tribute to the manifesto of the surrealist and dada rebels by challenging the banal, everyday, and bourgeois, in the contemporary context.Âť


“ENCYCL. Philos. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of association heretofore neglected, in the omnipotence of the dream, and in the disinterested play of thought.�

-Manifeste du Surrealisme (1924)

the formation of the surreal.





a destabilization of homely objects.



an infinite collage of chaotic spaces.



a discrete fascination for the incomplete.

THE PHYSICAL an acute sense of material.



a curious investigation of inanimate objects.



THE CONTEXTUAL from dada into surrealism.



parc de la villette, bernard tschumi.



endless theater, frederick kiesler.



metro net, martin kippenberger.



ghost, rachael whiteread.



pillow talk.




PROPOSAL the black box: portland, oregon.






an effort at creation.



DESIRE A DISCRETE FASCINATION FOR THE INCOMPLETE process of production.”3 It was in essence, a continual

suburban home is ripe

built collage that consumed his studio space before

with emotive power,

spilling into other rooms of the house. As Schwitters

submitting to the surreal

«The realm that crafts this seductive ability to displace

built, the rules and parameters to his assemblage

which takes possession

the user from the everyday, finds its power through

changed with each addition to the collage. As Jaleh

in the void he creates.

that of desire and sensuality. More specifically, desire,

Mansoor writes, “a single interpretive key is rendered

Splitting transfigures

is based not on excess but rather on lack, absence

obsolete the moment it seems viable; it is exceeded

a two-story home,

or impossibility. The desire in surrealism is a sensual

the very moment it emerges because its object

already scheduled

incompleteness, an ungrounded, formless need for

transforms, raising new questions opening onto

for demolition on 322

something more; “it is a metonymy and its structure is

new interpretations.” This changing, ad hoc collage

Humphry, New Jersey,

lack.”2 It is in the world of desire that lack of rationality

seduces from the continual incompleteness of the work,

into a social commentary.

opens possibilities not seen on logical measures.

where, the only thread binding the organization is what

The house reacts to the structure of the everyday

The deliberate freedom of thought creates the perfect

Deleuze and Guattari refer to as “the production of

by destroying the order and compartmentalization

setting for the surreal to possess, as it is an opportunity

desire.” Although Schwitters associates with Dadaism,

of the interior spaces. This division transgresses the

to truly negate society’s expectations.

his contributions directly infiltrate into the later principles

expectations of the context, allowing a surrealistic

of Surrealism, especially that of desire spaces.

infiltration: a deliberate contradiction to the expectations

"An opportunity to truly negate society's expectations"




Surrealism as a movement is rooted in the latent

Photo Above: Splitting, a photo collage illustrating the energy of a change in perspective + the reality of the impossible.

of reality.6

desires and hidden wants of the subconscious. These

Desire can also be seen in the more contemporary

principles of surrealism take light in architecture:

work of Gordon Matta-Clark. His work is described

Dreams, desire and longing all have a component

subtle provocations for possibilities, like desire, to

as “anarchitectural” and his incisions into preexisting

of incompleteness and the surreal that takes place

exist. Merzbau, the studio of Kurt Schwitters and

buildings create surrealist parallels to those of his

is in the essence of the void. The additive, eternally

the five other rooms of his family house in Hanover,

predecessors. His most notable work, Splitting,

unfinished spatial collage at Mertzbau and the incision

Germany, manifest this intangible desire into reality.

divides an abandoned suburban home, allowing for

on New Jersey home, both reveal the latent desires

Merzbau became the known as the “desiring house”

the imagination to tear asunder and put the viewer

of the producers - their anarchical critique to order,

as it was a perpetually unfinished, “paradoxical

in a state of longing and nostalgia. The derelict

structure, and the ordinary. »


Photo Above: Kurt Schwitters, Mertzbau. Studio space. The additive collage.

Photo Above: Splitting. Kurt Schwitters, Mertzbau. Studio space.


Photo Above: Splitting. Gordon Matta-Clark. A view down through the incision.

ILLOGICS A DESTABILIZATION OF HOMELY OBJECTS "Seeking to instill illegibility and contemplation"

disappear. Contradicting the items’ identities and challenging the formal definition of the objects sought to instill illegibility and contemplation. There is no doubt

«This installation explores the meaning of normality,

that the objects of the bedroom are identifiable. It is

the everyday and the ability to evoke the surreal from

instead the ambiguity of the relationship to the building

ordinary objects. It begins with common items found in

and the ambiguity to the person. Debatably, this unclear

a bedroom: a curtain, a candle, a rug, a pair of slippers,

relationship sought to question the preconceptions of

and transposes them into a contrasting environment.

the objects, to not only create a surreal environment but

The site, a transition space in front of the women’s

to put the participator in the experiment in the mind-set

lavatory and an infrequently used media room, provides

of a surrealist.

the idyllic contrast to destabilize the homely objects that originated from their positions in the bedroom. The site

The power of the experiment proved not as strong

is the architecture building on the Cal Poly campus, a

and fool proof as the intent. Instead, a new conclusion

concrete fortress where comfort and preconceptions

extracted from the experiment. The idea of “home” was

of home cannot attach to individual objects or spaces.

too strong to displace from the objects. The scales of

It is in this illogical juxtaposition of meaning where the

the building and the objects maintained a 1:1 ratio,

surreal exists.

so the relationships were not challenged to their full extent. Instead, the new conclusion was the power

The insertion of the surreal strives to put notions of

of displacement. The objects meaning and definition

normality into conversation. In this surreal environment,

were not redefined. The only change was simply

the meaning and essence of the bedroom items

their displacement into an unfamiliar context. This

cease clarity. Motives, memories, feelings, dreams all

displacement however, still evoked the surreal even

inherently belong to the items in their original context;

without changing the meaning. Through displacement

however, in the new location, their innate properties

and insertion, the creation of the surreal can be found.» 13

Photo Above: The insertion of homely objects into the building.

TEMPORALITY AN INFINITE COLLAGE OF CHAOTIC SPACES of the camera. The illusion of the infinite defies the

to illustrate the still frames of

authoritarian nature of defined spaces, describing the

the animation; each is given a

potentiality of architecture to be interminable in the

determined height in scale to

interactions it conduces and the impact of its illegibility.

the actual site and the moment

«The instantaneous occurrence of collisions and color,

If “architecture is to define space [make space distinct]”

in time it was captured from

occupy a black room with an infinite collage of textures,

this experiment transcends the definition and instead

its genesis. Embedded within

rhythm and spatial depth. This recording of poetic,

examines “the ambivalence of the definition of space.”

ephemeral, chaos was materialized with a camera

The tangles of confetti are undefined, oscillating in

voids, the morphing mass of

and a party popper. Through layered video stills, the

and out of focus, ceasing legibility of a single string. In

confetti as it changes. This

explosion captures the temporal nature of the surreal.

essence, the confetti questions the stable tranquility

analytical drawing blends the

This experiment, enables a setting for an exploration

of the boundless black space and the absoluteness of

temporal nature of the surreal (the video stills) with

of temporality—an intangible element of the surreal.


the common architectural discourse of oppositions

"Destructive attitudes and the abandonment to the unconscious"


The Infinite Collage of Chaotic Spaces transforms an instance into a preserved measurable experience,

the frames are the black

Photo Above: Collaged video still of confetti in dark room. Distance and individual strings blur.

(collage within the site bounds of the box): “the To measure this chaos in a spatial analysis, the

purists’ ordering of form versus art nouveau’s

reflecting upon Dada’s, “destructive attitudes” and the

many layers of video stills are transcribed into a line

organic sensuousness; Behren’s ethics of form

“abandonment to the unconscious” of the surrealists

drawing. The slices of the explosion now are given

versus Olbrich’s impulse to the formless.”3 These

while contrasting to the rational legibility of a bounded

the parameters of the future site, a rational bounding

complementary contrasts are not new to architectural


box in which to contrast and assess the chaos. This

conversations, but the culmination of the two

rationalization of the disruptive and disordered conveys

together allows for the surreal to surge. It is in the

The explosions layer in depth until absorbed by

the power of contrast, the stable box versus the

absence of eternity, the incompleteness of a certain

the blackness of the image, as if the moment was

morphing depth of anarchy. The banal box binds the

over arching dogma of architectural thought that

boundless in all dimensions instead of by the frame

explosion to its core. White planes slice the volume

enables this experiment to succeed in its intention. »




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the formation of the surreal.





a destabilization of homely objects.



an infinite collage of chaotic spaces.



a discrete fascination for the incomplete.

THE PHYSICAL an acute sense of material.



a curious investigation of inanimate objects.



THE CONTEXTUAL from dada into surrealism.



parc de la villette, bernard tschumi.



endless theater, frederick kiesler.



metro net, martin kippenberger.



ghost, rachael whiteread.



pillow talk.




PROPOSAL the black box: portland, oregon.






an effort at creation.



MATERIAL AN ACUTE SENSE OF MATERIAL "It is a collage of interactions and strange contradictions"

form. Melting Chairs takes inspiration from the formless, or more specifically, the deviation from the rigid. The assemblage of chairs are made from opaque, white

ÂŤ An Acute Sense of Material is a culmination of

plastic squares. They stand on a flat ground plane that

work produced from the abstract show and second

produces a field for the figures to stand apart from, and

experiment, pushing the abstraction of conventional

eventual morph to. The surreal intervenes as rubber

everyday figures and the possibilities of form from liquid

Plasti-Dip, a multi-purpose material in liquid state until


exposed to air. Submerging the chairs into the viscous black substance, dissolves their precise definition,

The profile of a prototypical chair is clearly

sinking the forms into the formless. The melting forms

iconographic. The proportions are fittingly predictable,

become elastic and pliable, morphing into the depths

and the rigidity of the frame, necessarily structural.

of the field, disintegrating the rigid structure of society’s

These conventions of the typical chair are required

expectations. The melting chairs now exist in two

for use in the everyday. In the realm of surrealism,

states: the juxtaposing dream world and that of reality.

however, the form of the chair can be challenged, if not encouraged to do so. Surrealism opens the possibility

In a similar exploration of liquid materials to evoke the

for playfulness, for a disjointed world that twists our

surreal, and in preparation for the Vellum Furniture

preconceptions, allowing the deformed, disjunct nature

competition, resin was cast and formed in a variety

of the imagination and dream world to materialize.

of objects. The first few trials were resin filled latex

The dream world deviates from the limitations of the

gloves to cast the memory of a hand. In subsequent

everyday. Devoid of gravity and rules, the figments of

experiments with the material, it was cast into tubes,

the imagination operate with only loose concern and

boxes, balls, vases, all with the intention of taming and

connection to reality. It is a collage of interactions and

forming the uncontrollable. The end result cast in a

strange contradictions, pulling objects and feeling from

shallow box, infused with oil to create a rippling bubbled

the everyday, while twisting their sequencing, order and

surface into which the crutches were cast. Âť 19

Photo Above: Melting Chairs: the illusion of solidity and structure.

AMBIGUITY A CURIOUS INVESTIGATION OF INANIMATE OBJECTS In surreal art, most notably in works of Dali, the

its reification.”3 The Vellum

symbolic role of the crutch gives, “the possibility to

pieces reflect this role of the

make superhuman performances;”1 they act as solemn

crutch: actors on a stage of

stands of reality that support the dream world. There

elusive worlds, quiet objects

« The materialization of the physical surreal is

are many interpretations on the role of the crutch in

of desire.

explored through the Vellum Furniture Competition.

Dali’s work; however, the common thread through

Hosted for thesis level architecture students, the

them all is the influence on his childhood. The crutch,

The Vellum objects’

competition creates a platform for a direct and physical

made from wood, was an instrument that young Dali

construction is simple. Their

manifestation of the research and thought related to

used to conquer the weight of reality (death, life) and

materiality near indiscernible.

each entry student’s unique thesis. The Closet, a series

explore his wildest fantasies (dreams, erotic love). He

The stands themselves do

of ambiguous objects that at times become coat racks,

happened upon the crutch in the attic his family friend’s

not assert their material nature and it is the intent for

are the pieces submitted to Vellum that describe my

countryside home, and after finding the remains of

the objects to take on a persona once adorned. The flat

own thesis. The Closet is a curious investigation of the

his dead pet hedgehog in the chicken coup, his found

white enamel coating unifies the pieces, dissolving their

animation of simple objects. Without added garments,

item in hand, the crutch became a prop for the facts of

physical presence and allowing the surreal to possess.

the objects are deemed incomplete and their function

reality. “That anonymous crutch was and will remain for

Similarly, Frederick Kiesler in his design of the Correalist

ambiguous. Formally, the objects do not

me, till the end of my days, the “symbol of death” and

Instrument and Rocker, employed a similar technique

trigger familiar forms or uses and it is in

“symbol of resurrection.”2 Starting with the experience

of how “complexity is achieved through simple means

this ambiguity the surreal appears. Once

of the hedgehog, the crutch then became a prop for

leaving our imagination to work overtime and letting

enlivened with the articles of clothing,

Dali in other matters: love, fantasies, and eroticism.

inner impulses and the laws of chance complete the

the mystery of their role in the everyday

In all, the crutch became a mechanism to which ‘the

design.”4 Both the Vellum pieces and the rockewrs

dissipates. As the articles of clothing can

other’ can exist: dreams, imagination, fear, and the

posses a simplistic beauty that can inhabit and house the

change at the whim and utility of the user,

intangible. Dali, like similar Surrealists, stove to create

complexity of the mind and is disjunctions. The surreal

the objects have an interesting ability to

“the intersection of the biological and the constructional,

in these pieces blurs the traditional distinctions and

entertain a costume of moods, allowing our

building and psyche, architecture and hysteria, in order

functions of its everyday and instead, loading the pieces

imagination to personify the inanimate.

to produce the ultimate object of desire, or, at least,

of furniture with our ever-changing desires.5 »

"Actors on a stage of elusive worlds, quiet objects of desire"

Photo Above: Frederick Kiesler Correalist furniture.


Photo Above: Vellum Stand Adorned with Bowler Hat.

“Imagination, folly, dream, surrender to the dark forces of the unconscious and recourse to the marvellous are here opposed, and preferred, to all that arises from necessity, from a logical order, from the reasonable.� 26

-Manifeste du Surrealisme

the formation of theabstract. surreal.





a destabilization of homely objects.



an infinite collage of chaotic spaces.



a discrete fascination for the incomplete.

THE PHYSICAL an acute sense of material.



a curious investigation of inanimate objects.



THE CONTEXTUAL from dada into surrealism.



parc de la villette, bernard tschumi.



endless theater, frederick kiesler.



metro net, martin kippenberger.



ghost, rachael whiteread.



pillow talk.





PROPOSAL pillow talk.

the black box: portland, oregon.






an effort at creation.





DADA FROM DADA INTO SURREALISM "The challenge of bourgeois sensibilities"

culture surrounding capitalism, Dada’s flavorful, robust

the first of the “Dada Soirees,”

movement provoked creativity and passion amongst a

a campaign launched in

society seen as passive and apathetic. To the society

Zurich in 1916. The Dada

« Dada, an art movement sprung in the early 20th

that Dada critiqued however, the Dada phenomenon

Soirees were conceived in the

century deliberately sought to reject reason and

was sacrilege, homicidal acts towards humanity that

bars and cafes in Switzerland:

logic, prizing nonsense, and irrationality. Led by

undermined the progress and stability of their lives. This

a permissive environment for

impassioned figures such as Marcel Duchamp, Tristan

excerpt from Dada Manifesto by Hugo Ball illustrates

radical ideas and revolutions,

Tzara, Kurt Schwitters and Hans Richter, who all

this frank, middle finger to bourgeois society:

hosting as a place for

positioned themselves with leftist, anti-institutional,

The word, the word, the word outside your domain, your

refugees from the war to

anti-bourgeois political affiliations, a reaction was

stuffiness, this laughable impotence, your stupendous

discuss a new future society.23

created in response to the logic of capitalist society

smugness, outside all the parrotry of your self-evident

The founders of Dada were

and from the atrocities of

limitedness. The word, gentlemen, is a public concern

all to be found here, united by their convictions that

WWI. This movement of

of the first importance.

the horrors of WWI were “rooted in outdated bourgeois



artists, who worked though

Photo Above: Hugo Ball's wife performing in the Caberet Voltaire.

values” and that, “with its inequalities and brutality,

demonstrations, happenings,

The “word” Hugo references is “dada.” Despite the

[societal order] needed to be destroyed for another,

performance art and abstract

uproar, Dada became a catalyst for challenging

more human, to be created.”24 From this conspiring,

poetry, paved way for the later

society, cultural apathy, and political standards. The

Cabaret Voltaire was born. In the back room of a bar,

Surrealist movement. Many

manifesto continues, “Till one goes crazy. Till one loses

Cabaret Voltaire hosted singing, theater, music and

of the concerns Dadaists

consciousness. How can one get rid of everything that

visual art exhibitions that aimed to challenge bourgeois

confronted, were traditions of

smacks of journalism, worms, everything nice and right,

sensibilities. Its namesake, the French Philosopher

aesthetics: Dadaists sought

blinkered, moralistic, Europeanized, enervated? By

Voltaire, inspired the venue for his questioning of the

to offend, to embrace chaos,

saying dada.” Dada is the potential to revolutionize a

status quo.25 As time progressed, the themes, and

and irrationality.20 Challenging

whole society, to crumble its rigid, faulty hierarchy. This

performances of the cabaret became more daring,

conventionalism and the

manifesto (anti-manifesto) by Hugo Ball was recited at

seeped with anarchic ideals. Even though the cabaret

Photo Above: Location of the Caberet Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland.



was eventually shut down in 1916, this did not stop the

Elaborated on by Dalibor Vesely, the “Surrealists were

Dadaists from synthesizing a manifesto and creating

not particularly interested in architecture and then

further social chaos. Dada’s questioning ultimately lead

only in a very personal and rather indirect way.’ This

to future art movements that also inherently deviated

comment was echoed by Kenneth Frampton, in the

from traditional art practice, amplifying anarchy in

same issue: ‘It may be argued,’ he wrote, ‘that the

the world of art and culture. Many of the artists who

Surreal in architecture does not exist.’”1 However, it can

had participated in the Dada movement became

be presumed that nearly all architecture orchestrates

adopted into the Surrealists, for both movements

on some intimate level with surreal tendencies:

share close similarities. Dadaism and Surrealism

architecture that complements “the other,” ephemeral

both were artistic, literary and intellectual movements,

worlds of desire, symbolism, and imagination. “After

characterized by profound cynicism of Western

all, there is no architecture without dream, myth, and

logics and reasoning. Officially inaugurated in 1924,

fantasy.”2 What seem to limit this direct pursuit are the

Surealism was realized with Andre Breton’s Manifesto

intangible qualities that surrealism holds, especially

of Surrealism, striving to create something more

when creating architecture in such real reality. This

pragmatic from the irrational, nonsense of Dadaism.

lack of specific reference to surrealism in architecture

The chaotic, anarchist ideals of the dada movement

does not foreclose its role, it instead offers infinite

underscore the agenda for this thesis. Seeking to

opportunities for exploration, for it indeed can be

manifest the surreal into architecture ultimately draws

described as a “sub-stratum of the whole modern

ground from the dada nihilistic ethics of nonsense

culture.”3 Some architecture examples more poignantly

and irrationality. This thesis bows to the manifesto

than others reflect the directive this thesis takes in

of the rebels and challenges a similar premise of

regards to the surreal. This thesis illustrates surrealism

the banal, everyday, bourgeois, in the contemporary

and its home in architecture through precedent

context. There are little examples of built architecture

studies by Bernard Tschumi, Frederick Kiesler, Martin

constructed solely on the means of surrealism.

Kippenberger, and Rachael Whiteread. »



Photo Above: Hugo Ball Reciting the Dada manifesto.

PARC DE LA VILLETTE PRECEDENT: BERNARD TSCHUMI "A strategy of disjunction" « Disjunction in architecture manifests in the Parc de la

encompassing open air theaters, restaurants, art

amongst its parts. Although the

Villette, by Bernard Tchumi. Although deconstructivism

galleries, music, painting workshops, playgrounds and

follies are rhythmic and orderly

drives the concept of the park, it simultaneously

obligatory gardens and to accomplish this task, he

in their placement, their formal

underscores surreal tendencies in the conflicts and

deconstructed the program requirements, distributing

manipulation is anything but. In

disruptions it creates. This park is a quintessential

them evenly across the site. This park has been dubbed

Tschumi’s own words, the follies

precedent to this study on surrealism. “Techniques

the first major piece of deconstructivist architecture,

are “nothing but a moment in the

employed in works of architecture such as those by …

unquestioningly influenced and backed by the essays of

process of conception… abstract notations, meta-

Tschumi are similar to those practiced by the surrealists

deconstructivism father, Jacques Derrida. Its influence

operational elements, a frozen image, a freeze frame

themselves… such techniques proved the conditions

resides in the profound critique and questioning of

in a process of constant transformation.”7 Similar

for the possibility for surrealism.”4 In essence, the

more coherent approaches to architecture such as

to Surrealism and Dadaism, the design of the park,

grand scheme of the park is rooted in the imagination

Modernism, Post Modernism, and Functionalism. ‘The

as well as its follies, strive to challenge the classic

and freedom of the user, rather than the sweeping,

game of architecture is neither function (questions

notions and conceptions of the time period. Instead

authoritarian hand of the architect.

of use), nor form (questions of style), nor even the

of repeating the sumptuousness of sublime gardens

synthesis of function and form, but rather the bringing

and contextual formalist gardens, Tschumi undertook

Tschumi won the competition, proposed by the

together of possible combinations and permutations

the task of deconstructing standards, implying “that

French government in 1982, with a plan to enrich the

between different categories of analysis.’

at no moment can any part become a synthesis or


required open spaces and complex cultural programs

Photo Above: Axonometric drawing for the park by Bernard Tschumi.

self-sufficient totality; each part leads to another, and

the competition called for by layering conflicts and

Parc de la Villette, “questions the notion of unity,” where

every construction is off-balance, constituted by the

narrating ambiguity derived from the disjunctions and

there is no coherent dominating meaning and employs

traces of another construction.”8 The completeness

disassociations of the time. The brief for the ‘Urban

“a strategy of disjunction.”6 The park conceptually

and rationality that other parks possessed lacked a

Park for the 21st Century” developed a complex

operates on lines, points, and surfaces, layered and

richness that can only be complete by the ambiguous

program of cultural and entertainment facilities

combined to manifest series of ambiguous relationships

relationships to the users and with the presence of “the


other.” In fact, the follies are intended to be devoid of meaning in order to redefine classic relationships and be immersed in ambiguity. To critique Parc de a Villette and the success at which it manifests the surreal is complex. Tschumi’s intentioned meaningless follies, in surrealist terms, are not as meaningless as Tschumi claims, but rather are entirely of meaning. “The other” dwells in each and every one of them; underneath the superimposed point grid, there is an ambiguity, a deliberate will to transcend order and rationality. Desire or completeness, for wholeness possesses the follies. Even traces of the infinite, which makes way in surreal paintings, can be seen in the overall plan: “the project is never achieved, nor are the boundaries ever defined.”9 This eternal incompleteness is juxtaposed by the temporal relationships of the user to the follies and the follies to the park to the constant redefining of rules and conventions. This relates back to the Kurt Schwitter’s Merzbau, where during the construction of his studio, his rules and agenda were constantly redefining themselves. Nevertheless, Parc de la Villette facilitates and works within the surreal. »

ENDLESS THEATER PRECEDENT: FREDERICK KIESLER "Possessing and generating an alchemical landscape" through his visualization for the theater’s dynamic, « Conceptualized amidst the tensioned conflict among

temporal nature. Striving to be generative, Kiesler

notable surrealists and modern architecture, Frederick

envisioned an architecture that responds to motion of

Kiesler’s Endless Theater design is a close conception

its inhabitants where interior walls can be modified at

of surrealism directly developed into architecture.

will. This active nature, influenced at the whim of the

As a prominent figure in the surrealist group, Kiesler

user, is a direct manipulation towards desire, allowing

advocates for sensuality in architecture, for a return

for flexibility that modernism so rigidly rejects. For the

to comfort and intrauterine conditions.10 Paralleling

theatre, he synthesized ‘Endlessness’ by designing a

Freudian psychoanalysis, this type of architecture

double-spiral stage interconnected by ramps and rings

taps into the subconscious, to the realm of the surreal

for spectator seats, where “all ends meet and meet

where desires and needs reign in their illogic essence.

continuously.”13 The sensual continuity of the Endless

As a whole, the “Surrealist attack on modernism, [led]

Theater, produced in 1924, directly influenced his

an attack launched simply enough:”11 by revealing that

later design for the Universal Theater and the Endless

which modernism had repressed the experience and

House, conceived in 1959. This evolution of design

room for the imagination and ambiguity to exist. In

honors the development of how architecture can be

support of this movement, Kiesler sought to create a

“shaped in accord to daily events… of the unconscious

new form of architecture: organic, mimicking metabolic

realm.”14 Illustrating how surrealism can possess and

processes to critique the contemporary modern box

generate an alchemical landscape, while making light

of his contextual time.12 Kiesler influences this thesis

the latent desires of its occupants. »


Photos Above: Floorplan, section, and model of the Endless Theater.

METRO NET PRECEDENT: MARTIN KIPPENBERGER “The role of the invisible” « Metro Net World Connection, is a series of false subway stations around the world, connecting invisibly linked portals to nowhere. These insertions reflect the symbolic and illusory world surrealism overtly strives to create. Martin Kippenberger, a German artist, explores the presence of the absence of globalization and the tension this invisible net brings to the built environment. The seemingly displaced portals open a conversation regarding a world intangibly connected through non-physical representations, reflecting Kippenberger’s position within the globalized art world.15 This infrastructure for the invisible is where the surreal exists: the contrasting bizarre “other” world placed within our world. The work plays upon the simultaneous occurrence of ‘the everywhere’ with ‘the local’, suggesting a incongruence of place and relationships.16 This overlap creates a disparity between the tangible and intangible, the physical and immaterial. This ambiguity of the subway stops questions the relationships between person to person and object to person. This modern, didactic art questions the role of user in this interconnected world and the role of the invisible, filled with emotive power that can exist and live simultaneous to reality. » Photo Right: The metro opening outside of Zurich, Switzerland.

HOUSE PRECEDENT: RACHAEL WHITEREAD “Preserving memories and space“ « The imprints of memories and past lives are recorded into the concrete casts of Rachael Whiteread’s work. Traces of wallpaper, imperfections of dings and dust, small cracks in the wall, and the slivers of space under furniture are all eternalized.17 Both Ghost and House, works done in 1990 and 1993 respectively, preserve intimate spaces in the home, allowing the memory to persist and materialize in monument. Filling the old homes with plaster, casting the negative of the room and demolishing the mould highlights all the surrealists hold as paramount: the preservation of memory in a seemingly temporal context, and a spiritual realm that coexists with our reality. The spaces Whiteread cast blatantly contradict modernist values: dematerialized boundaries and expanse space devoid of memory. Whiteread physically solidifies absence in the old homes, as she claims in her brief about the work, she strives to, “‘mummify the air in the room... making it solid’.18 Even the title, Ghost, implies belief in “the other,” the existence of a life after death, and the spiritually hauntedness of spaces. »

Photo Left: House, by Rachael Whiteread


PILLOW TALK STUDIO 400 INSTALLATION “Soft space, reading space, laughing space“ «It all started with foam: foam particles by the bag. This large collaboration with studio 400 strove to create a soft space, a pillowscape to exhibit the thesis books produced and published, of which contained the abstract, experiments, research, and case studies. The token space was windowless, dark, and quiet. As a group, we strove to highlight the qualities of the environment as well as provide an intimate reading experience. The installation space begins with the ritual of taking off shoes. A pause and anticipation. Next, the sequence of the stoop and pillow buffer that frame the entrance. After the buffer, you emerge on a long dock, traversing across a sea of 4’x4’ pillows. Along the dock, the thesis books perch, gently on a web of string, waiting to be taken. The space is dark, warm and silent other than the quiet murmurs of admirers. 3D printed reading lights, personalized to hug the binding of each book, are the only point sources through the space. Rustles of foam, slight giggles, and content relaxation ensued.»



“I believe in the future resolution of those two states, so contradictory in appearance - dream and reality - into a kind of absolute reality, of surreality, if one may call it so.�


-Manifeste du Surrealisme

the formation of the surreal.



THE SYMBOLIC a discrete fascination for the incomplete.



a destabilization of homely objects.



an infinite collage of chaotic spaces.



THE PHYSICAL an acute sense of material.



a curious investigation of inanimate objects.



THE CONTEXTUAL from dada into surrealism.



parc de la villette, bernard tschumi.



endless theater, frederick kiesler.



metro net, martin kippenberger.



ghost, rachael whiteread.



pillow talk.






the black box: portland, oregon.






an effort at creation.



SITE THE BLACK BOX: PORTLAND, OREGON "Evoking the surreal from the everyday" ÂŤ The banal assortment of legal offices, businesses and corporations occupying the floors at 200 SW Market Street, provide the quintessential mundane framework for an intervention of the surreal. Initially built for Prudential Insurance Company in 1973, the building continues to house hundreds of corporations, on its nineteen floors. The final height marks at 256.99ft with a total of nineteen floors. It has six standard elevators and five hundred and sixty underground parking spaces. It is the epitome of the idealized office. The site is located in downtown Portland, Oregon in the South Auditorium District. Developed as an urban renewal project in the 1960s and 70s, with planning beginning as early as 1949, the city raized 84 acres of property that had degraded to abandoned housing projects, and defunct commercial buildings. In the original plans, the ballot proposed a coliseum and auditorium to revitalize the deserted southern bounds of downtown and also to secure the west side of the metropolitan area as the civic center. Only


the auditorium was realized in the area, now known

in contrast. In juxtaposition to the public spaces, private

as the Keller Auditorium; the coliseum was instead constructed on the eastern banks of the river in 1960.



offices on upper floors are flat white walls, overhead fluorescents and long striped carpeting; the allure of

The blighted area, home to crusty, retired workingmen,

the exterior and public spaces in the building becomes

several taverns, restaurants, junk dealers, labor unions

absent once exiting the elevator above the public

and rooming houses were removed to make way for

enter the building to which they go about their day,

space. The intricacy of the urban site is understood

new parking garages, a hotel, fountains, the Keller

but then emerge at 5:00 PM, as outputs. Their lives,

through the undercurrents of history and the webbed

Auditorium and office buildings, of which includes 200

interactions and conditions to which they are exposed

relationship of the site’s population, commerce,

SW Market Street. The rough, colorful, eclectic nature

to inside are invisible and disclosed to the outside

businesses, and city-goers. The site’s impact even

of the area disappeared under the construction of shiny

context. In contrast to a Black Box system, a system

traces into the city water system, and city grid and

black curtain walls and chrome detailing.

in which the entire transformation, between inputs

other less visible systems. “Urban sites encompass

to outputs is understood and visible, is called White

proximate as well as non proximate relations, physical

Box Theory. The site, according to principles of these

as well as nonphysical attributes. As settings for

The duality of White Box Theory and Black Box Theory

theories, can be understood as a generator, playing the

interactions and intersections that transgress abstract

to evoke the surreal in the everyday is made manifest

role of a transformer in which the algorithm contained

property divisions, urban sites are conditioned by, and

in the site of 200 SW Market Street. Black Box Theory,

within has elements of the surreal.

contribute to, their surroundings.” Although 200 SW

"Black Box/White Box Theory"

originating from the field of mathematics, is “a fiction representing a set of concrete systems into which

"Physical Qualities"

Market Street as a site is seemingly bound by the built attributes of the building, the network of businesses and

stimuli S impinge and out of which reactions R emerge.”

The facade has an illusory quality. Extremely reflective

corporations, even the reflections cast by the building’s

In essence, the inputs and output are understood,

and black, the glass facade at times reflects the

reflectivity conveys this abstract, permeable site

but the function to which they undergo is disclosed

looming white sky and at others sucks all light and

boundary that Burns elaborates on in “Defining Urban

and/or unknown. This theory conceptually applies to

vibrancy into its black depths. The high reflectivity

Sites”. The urban nature of The Black Box is dynamic

most fields, ranging from physics to psychology and

of not only the black glass façade, but the polished

and porous, “saturated with difference, permeated with

questions the relationship amongst the externalities

black granite interiors and chrome detailing creates an

irreducible diversity” despite how rigid and defined the

and the internal behavior of any system. The site of 200

interesting “house of mirrors” ambiance in the public

built tectonics deem the site to be. The site’s power

SW Market Street quite literally reflects this Black Box

spaces. The commanding, absolute blackness of the

of opposition to its context is striking and evokes the

system in appearance and in program. People (inputs)

building recedes while colors of leaves and people pop

surreal in its seeming displacement. »


keller fountain park

keller auditorium parking lot

market center building parking lot SITE

cyan / pdx : office office space THE BLACK BOX

pettygrove park office space parking lot

northwest corporate law : office space housing housing

24 hour (12.18.13)

PROCESS ILLUSIONS: FROM SURREALISM INTO REALITY "The unbounded illogics of the reflections and illusions"

« I claim responsibility for the destruction of the Black

from the black depths, brought forth from the freedom

suspension in the void

of cast light. These strong reflections and illusions

was recorded. The

allude to a secret; that if anything, the Black Box simply

smooth transformation

cannot be controlled. It is irrefutably playful and deviant.

across time that the

Box. Not a physical destruction, but assimilation to

Black Box undergoes, is

the unreal and fantastic. I proclaim irresponsibility in

At four o’clock the building evolves, transforming from

convulsively beautiful. It

fact, for escaping the imperatives of control, order

opaque to translucent. The insides of the box appear,

takes on a willful attitude

and reason that the Black Box emanates. Situated on

disclosing the inner workings of the mystery. The

that fights the rational

a ledge of Lawence Halprin’s Keller fountain, a good

building unfolds with scrupulous honesty: the banal of

harmony of the universe.

vantage point to the site is gained

its interior. In this hyper reality, the distant relationship

The layering of these

through the parting of trees and

between the observer and the observed develops the

various times and transformations are revealed through

a view across Market Street.

surreal. The poetic duality of the worlds, the interior

the drawing. It systematically maps the unbounded

At noon, the sun angle breaks

and exterior, the masked and the revealed, the

illogics of the reflections and illusions. The result is

the façade and spills across

obscured and the overt, clash at the bounding façade,

an understanding of the playfulness and dynamic

the front, shattering the square

a feeble divide between the two realms. At this time of

character the building embodies.

modularity of the steel and glass.

day I recorded the transition of activity (illusions and

The uncontrolled breakage of

reflections) from the exterior to the interior.

the sun causes curtains to draw

Photo Above: Back lobby room. Photo Left: 24 hour analytical drawing

Photo Above: Typical restroom. Taken on 6th fl.

I destroyed the black box, because I shattered its logics. I condemn its rationality, and instead reveal

and a bustle of interior activity

At ten o’clock the box dissolves into the night sky, and

the omnipotence of the dream that seeps through the

seeking control for their darkness.

what is left are rooms, seemingly arbitrary, suspended

interior when translucent and break the façade into

The illumination bounces and

in blackness. The distinctness between the opaque

glaring fantasy. This records the observed, unbounded,

surroundings buildings emerge

and translucent is upmost disparate. This floating and

seductive transformation of the surreal. »


56 Process Concept Models (1.20.14)

57 section (2.12.14)

58 mid-review section and render (3.7.14)


60 mid-review render. (3.7.14)

61 detail render (3.7.14)

FINAL AN EFFORT AT CREATION "The unbounded illogics of the reflections and illusions"

theater, the office transforms to a surreal landscape of computers, cubicles, busy workers, and copy machines. However, this relationship is reversed as well: as a worker in the office spaces, the laughter, rowdy

« This thesis maintains the office and while introducing

crowds, and ambiguous forms interrupt their workspace

a new parallel world consisting of a theater lobby, main

reflecting their inner passions and hidden desires.

theater, whiskey lounge, speakeasy, and nightclub that ascend through the midst of the office. These

There are two movements: one of the theater realm

ambiguous forms visually and spatially conflict with the

rising, formally taking shape from the Lawrence Halprin

rigidity of the existing building, seen as the structure

park lumps, and the other movement descending, the

disintegrates and melts in the proximity of these

structural drippings of the office space, frozen in time.

volumes. The parallel worlds have separate circulation systems, visitors and agendas. As the office world

This thesis presents itself as a culmination of process

pervades through the day under the opacity of black

thoughts, models and sketches. In the form of vignettes,

glass, the theaters appear at night as the lights projects

the black box and its’ secrets reveal themselves. This

outward from within the strange volumes.

thesis plays with the illusion of structure and formal rigidity. It plays with melting, floating, and many other

Similarly to how the dream world intangibly manifests

architecture taboos, to synthesize a building founded

in our aspirations, dreams, and secret desires, the

on structural possibilities only realized in the world of

building addresses this longing and conflict: the theater

the dream. Ultimately it questions the 9-5 workplace,

realm and the office realm coexist without the ability

the introduction of opposites and illogical juxtapositions,

to fully attain and occupy the other. As a visitor to the

and the role of the imagination in architecture. »








64 Atrium and Volumes Diagram.


66 Section Perspecive. Through Thater and Lobby.

67 Theater Night Render.

68 Speakeasy and Office Render.

69 Section Perspective Through Main Theater.

70 Physical Model.

71 Physical Model.


WORK CITED reference # 1


reference #

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Oregon Encyclopedia - Oregon History and Culture.” South Portland/South

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Auditorium Urban Renewal Project. Portland State University, 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. 2


Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2003.

Ball, Hugo. “Dada Manifesto (1916, Hugo Ball).” Dada Manifesto. N.p., 28 Aug. 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.


Budd, Donna, The Language of Art Knowledge, Pomegranate Communications, Inc.


Bunge, Mario. “A General Black Box Theory.” Philosophy of Science


2002. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.

Burns, Carol, and Andrea Kahn. “Defining Urban Sites.” Site Matters: Design Concepts, Histories, and Strategies. New York: Routledge, 2005. 281-95.


“200 Market St.” 200 Market St. Russell Development Company, 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.


Roth, Leland M. “The Collection: About This Artist.” Grove Art, 2009. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.

Print. 6


“Cabaret Voltaire: From Dada to Nietniet.” Web log post. Correspondance. N.p., 9


Nov. 2009. Web. 22 Dec. 2013. <>.


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“Gordon Matta-Clark, Intervening the Skeletons of Modern

Web. 24 Nov. 2013.


Construction.” Archivemattaclark. At Tattler International, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013 10

Vidler, Anthony. “Fantasy, the Uncanny and Surrealist Theories of Architecture.” Centre for the Study of Surrealism and Its Legacies. N.p., 2003.

Legacies. N.p., 2007. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. “Dada and Surrealism.” Oxford Art Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.

Tschumi, Bernard. “Disjunctions.” Perspecta 23 (1987): 108-19. JSTOR. MIT Press. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

Cory, Joseph. “Realising the Endless: The Work of Jürgen Mayer


Mansoor, Jaleh. “Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau: The Desiring House.” Jaleh Mansoor - Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau: The Desiring House. Invisible Culture,

30.4 (1963): 346-58. Print. 5

Lansing, Jewel. Portland: People, Politics, and Power, 1851-2001.

Jones, Peter B. “1989 August: Parc De La Villette by Bernard Tschumi Architects.” The Architectural Review (2012): 55-59. 7 June 2012. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.




page #

Woodman, Francesca. From Angel Series, Roma. 1977. Photograph. TATE,


National Galleries of Scotland. TATE. Web. Nov. 2013. <

citation Endless Theater. N.d. Photograph. Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation. Web. <>.

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Wilhelm Redemann, Mertzbau, 1933, Photograph, Bruvu accessed 20 Oct. 2013.


Gordon Matta-Clark. Splitting (American, 1943–1978). 1974. Photograph. The

Foundation. Web. <>. 35

Universal Theater. N.d. Photograph. Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation. Web. <>.


Metro Net World Connection. 2007. Photograph. Panoramio, Google, Madulain, Switzerland.


Grieswood, Philip. House, by Rachael Whiteread. 1993. Photograph. London.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 2002. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. 11

Endless House. N.d. Photograph. Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private

Gordon Matta-Clark. Splitting (American, 1943–1978). 1974. Photograph. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 2002. Web. 5 Nov. 2013.


Angerer, Bernhard. Correalist Instrument and Rocker. 2002. Photograph. Wittmann Möbelwerkstätten. 2007. Web. <>.


Kiesler, Frederick. Film Guild Cinema. 1929. Photograph. New York.


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The Architecture of Surrealism  

Undergraduate Architecture Thesis

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