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I AM NOT AN EXPERT (A manifesto)

by ROMANA RADUNKOVIC

(Towards an architecture that is: accessible; engaging; immersive; enjoyable)

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY ARCHITECTURE ABPL90117 SEMESTER 2 2018 © ROMANA RADUNKOVIC (758087) Manifesto Final Tutorial #24 Tutor: Shyn Cheah


2 1. SYNOPSIS Through a mix of genres, this manifesto will explore the subtext strategies used by FILM to convey an immersive story without always explicitly saying it and how these techniques should be interpreted by an ARCHITECT to make architecture more accessible to the everyday USER. A meeting in the middle of over-explanation and complete ambiguity to take you on a ride of free interpretation. In the long-standing battle of form, aesthetics and finding deeper meaning to ARCHITECTURE, the architect’s agenda has rarely been the emotional experience of the user themselves. FILM is something relatable to almost anybody. This is because, from the outset, the goal of a film is to tell an immersive story. Architecture of the future is environments that are relatable. There are no more buildings that don’t suit their purpose to meet some bigger meaning, satisfy a 50year-old modernist rule, look flashy just to look flashy, lack good design just because it is cheap or just a rebuttal to a previous generational idea. Spaces will be immersive, experiential, engaging: distorting familiarity and familiarising the unknown. Space will go further than a precise visual boundary, and the individual parts of a design, just like all the layers that go into movie-making, will rely and build on each other to create enjoyable experiences.

2. THEME The driving force of a film is the storyline – the theme in the form of a seed that grows with the combination of many elements. This is School of Rock’s moral growth story, Star Wars’ hero’s journey, and Fruitvale


3 Station’s emotional attachment and injustice. Here, the film becomes relatable on a personal level. It’s about memory, nostalgia, joy, melancholy, fear, awe, excitement – ultimately, the filmmaker interprets the theme to create an emotional connection. Before designing anything, the architect must have a clear understanding of what they want to provoke. CARME PINOS does this well – before even playing with shapes there is a combination of responsibility to the program but also necessity of the user which focuses on emotion, to create a scheme for the project that drives every design decision. Rather than a formal approach and a general meaning to overall architecture – each individual piece of architecture should have its own unique meaning. Spaces need to be enjoyable and relatable – and that driving emotion behind the entire design is what allows this to happen. Atmosphere and emotion are known as quite sensory experiences1 but it should be more than just senses. As in a film – the architect’s own interpretation along with a layering and real integration of a repertoire of parts is required to achieve immersion.

3. STRUCTURE The structure of a film plays on expectation and forces engagement. Think of the familiar 3-part structure of Die Hard – the beginning, middle and end where the twist is foreseeable and what comes next is easy to assume. Non-linear films such as Memento pull you out of your comfort zone but are still immersive as they raise curiosity, irony and tension. These feelings are seen in Love Actually’s multiple timeline structure or in Back

JUHANI PALLASMAA, “THE SIXTH SENSE. THE MEANING OF ATMOSPHERE AND MOOD,” AD 244 (2016): 129. 1


4 to the Future’s circular plot that makes one aware of cause and effect. Program, site, structure and user need to be equal. Pavilions embody this – they change the hierarchal narrative. This play on tradition and expectation creates engagement, awareness and dialogue beyond the present. The ability of a pavilion to take what is familiar – materials – and diversify it in a pattern means that they become more accessible to the everyday user who does not feel that a design is superior or exclusive.

FIG. 1. AL_A, MPAVILION, 2015. Structure in terms of forces but also spatial organisation must work in a technical sense. Moreover, by breaking the hierarchy of spaces and engaging with contemporary technology, materials and user journey, design in terms of interiors and buildings will embody the success of pavilions.

FIG. 2. DS+R, BLUR BUILDING, 2002.


5 4. SETTING To be engaging, a film’s set highlights the unknown of the familiar world and/or brings forward the familiar in an imaginary world. Filmmakers and crews are flexible and able to negotiate with their context. They can work in small sets that are laced with meaning such as in The Shining where the set reflects the villain’s personality. They can build miniature models like in Metropolis – using what is available to spark imagination. With a larger budget, they can even create entire cities like Batman’s Gotham City that is fake, but the sense of familiarity engages the viewer. It is clear that architects need to be able to design environments and the interface for life which goes on in and around it2. They need negotiation and flexibility to meet their brief, pull apart typologies and respond to context to create environments that set the scene for user experience and interaction through familiarity and curiosity. In the Moscow School of Management (Moscow, 2010) DAVID ADJAYE embodies these skills. The design negotiates with a campus-style brief, the constraints of the cold climate, the architect’s own upbringing and skills and the heritage of the country to design something that stands out without being too alien and is not overpowered by local symbolism to successfully invite and engage the user.

5. PROPS Props are a method of expressing the narrative through non-dialogue. These are small details that add a sense

PETER ZUMTHOR, THINKING ARCHITECTURE (BIRKHAUSER ARCHITECTURE, 2010). 2


6 of familiarity to a setting, hint at time periods, set moods, make references, and identify character traits. Pulp Fiction’s briefcase drives the narrative through intrigue and expectation and the loaded meaning behind Inception’s spinning top suggests what is going to happen without dialogue. Star Wars’ lightsabre ignites imagination when the film is over. Marilyn Monroe’s iconic white dress in the Seven Year Itch creates an association with this character even when not present. There must be a breakdown of hierarchy in the design process itself. The details of a design are just as important as the overall form and must tie back into the concept as well. The appreciation of detail in architecture – through materials, spatial connections, light and sound and contrasting elements can evoke feelings of familiarity, comfort, curiosity and memory. CARLO SCARPA’s attention to detail through careful consideration of the interface between details and their surroundings, local craft, history, literature, art and nature means that the design becomes an immersive total work of art. This attitude and application to architecture is not as prominent today as it needs to be.

6. VISUALS Lighting, colour and composition are visual effects in film that work to create an atmosphere. Colour and lighting can be limited to and used so sparingly that when it appears in the narrative, it has high importance by suggesting mood as in In the Mood For Love which juxtaposes cultural colour symbolism with scene emotion. It can be used heavily with complimentary colour schemes for visual comfort as in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Contrasting light amongst scenes and special effects as in Avatar and the Avengers suggests and highlights different moods.


7 Details of emotional experience can be enhanced by visual strategies and effects. Visual strategies include colour hues and tones, materials, and levels and nature of light. Atmosphere can be created3 and managed. Just as Louis Kahn did – architects must ask each space what it wants. Relating back to the main concept, each space needs to have a programmed feeling. Therefore, each space must be designed with form and visual strategies in equal dialogue with one another through blending or juxtaposition rather than as consequences of one another. To put it simply, light well dimensions and positions must be carefully designed for the space, rather than random placement of windows at the end. LUIS BARRAGAN does this with complimentary colours, surface material finishes and light sources that inform and are informed by simple form to achieve a harmonious visual composition that evokes emotion.

FIG. 3. BARRAGAN FOUNDATION, CASA GILARDI, 2018. 7. SOUND Sound has powerful immersive qualities in film. This includes everyday sounds such as birds, cars, footsteps; the film’s score (that main song); and soundtracks of existing songs – all working to enhance setting, story and emotion. Sound can transport the viewer through GERNOT BOHME, “THE THEORY OF ATMOSPHERES AND ITS APPLICATIONS,” INTERSTICES 15 (2014). 3


8 place and culture as done in Avatar; create relatability with fantasy worlds such as in Shrek; tell the story without words such as in the face off scene in The Good, The Bad, The Ugly; and bring together past and present as seen with the contemporary music used in Marie Antoinette’s historical setting. Through history there has always been a distinction between SOUND created for space4 and space created for sound5. Architecture must allow space to meet in the middle – there is a lot of complexity and control of either form or music – but they need to be designed in conjunction to produce unique and immersive atmospheres that can transport users across time, emotions and places. Working with other elements, sound will help to set moods and inspire energies through psychological manipulation.

8. IMPROVISATION Although films are deeply scripted and edited, not every part is always pre-determined. Improvisation is something that has found its way into film through improvised lines and scenes seen in many, if not all of Robin Williams’ movies, and challenging genres seen in From Dusk Till Dawn. Sometimes – as in Apocalypse Now – improvisation is about working with real world events and the vulnerability of actors. Leaving space for improvisation creates opportunity and action. There are choices made that can alter the journey of the story,

DAVID BYRNE, “CREATION IN REVERSE,” HOW MUSIC WORKS, PP. 13 – 33. 5 JOSEPH CLARKE, “FOR A HISTORY OF LIVENESS,” LOG 33, 2015. 4


9 spark different types of emotions and create different memories for the viewer. Whilst it’s important to design to the utmost detail, architects must keep in mind a layer of experimentation and improvisation – to maintain joy and immersion over the course of the design’s life. JAN GEHL’s ideas of sitting landscapes6 advocate for a sense of designed freedom based off natural human behaviour and comfort.

FIG. 4. TARAS GRESCOE, SITTABLE VENICE, 2017. By taking his ideas on public space and translating them to interior public spaces as well as private spaces, diversity in experience and program can be achieved. Employing secondary uses to most, if not all, interior and exterior details in the design can create spaces of happy surprise, a sense of freedom with choice to immerse the user, larger programs in smaller spaces, and can ensure a space never really feels unused or uninviting.

JAN GEHL, LIFE BETWEEN BUILDINGS: USING PUBLIC SPACE (WASHINGTON DC: ISLAND PRESS, 2011). 6


10 9. END Architecture must delve deeper into subject-oriented design. Further than spatial organisation. Further even than aspects that stimulate senses. To make an environment enjoyable, it needs to be designed with emotional and sensory experiences in mind. There must be an interplay of association, cultural transportation, the familiar and the unknown, supported by materials, colours, light, spatial organisation, new and familiar sounds and choice-filled journeys. Design will have the ability to create immersive spaces that push the boundaries of familiar or familiarise the unknown.


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10. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bohme, Gernot. “The Theory of Atmospheres and its Applications.” Interstices 15 (2014). Byrne, David. “Creation in Reverse.” How Music Works, pp. 13-33. Clarke, Joseph. “For a History of Liveness.” Log 33, 2015. Gehl, Jan. Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space. Washington DC: Island Press, 2011. Pallasmaa, Juhani. “The Sixth Sense. The meaning of Atmosphere and Mood.” AD 244 (2016): 127 -129. Zumthor, Peter. Thinking Architecture. Birkhauser Architecture, 2010.

11. FIGURES Figure 1. AL_A. MPavilion, 2015, photograph. Accessed November 12, 2018. https://www.ala.uk.com/projects/mpavilion/. Figure 2. Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Blur Building, 2002. Photograph. Accessed November 12, 2018. https://dsrny.com/project/blur-building. Figure 3. Barragan Foundation. Casa Gilardi, 2018, photograph. Accessed November 12, 2019. https://www.archdaily.com/898028/how-luis-barraganused-light-to-make-us-see-color. Figure 4. Grescoe, Taras. Sittable Venice, 2017, photograph. Accessed November 12, 2018. https://twitter.com/grescoe/status/860129426473922560.


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"I am Not an Expert," a manifesto.  

21st Century Architecture - a fourth year architecture subject at the University of Melbourne - manifesto assessment task. My manifesto expl...

"I am Not an Expert," a manifesto.  

21st Century Architecture - a fourth year architecture subject at the University of Melbourne - manifesto assessment task. My manifesto expl...

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