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Negative space is not distracting. It provides a balance to positive space and gives the eye a place to rest. It is silence within a piece. It has the ability to give equal attention to positive and negative shapes, allowing more accurate understanding. Negative space allows the construct to be seen for what it is and not what we expect it to be; it breaks down familiar boundaries with spatial change. Negative space begins to inform the built environment. The thesis explores whether a greater focus on the negative leads to a more informed positive and what this can reveal about time and space.

Therese Noonan Kay Edge Aki Ishida


photography study mass vs. void the fleeting role of humanity in architecture

The process of making a photograph explores negative space through properties of light in two-dimensional form.


photography study spatial light properties of light give new insights into space

Photography provides insight through flattening three-dimensional space.


photography study light painting enlarger light through two film negatives

Negative space is only apparent to those who look for it. Can an idea be inhabited?


photography study double exposure film exposed twice before developing

The positive space of one photograph fills the negative space in another. The resulting images portray spaces not actually in existence. They spark intrigue and imagination.


photogram series transparency light from film enlarger through glass

Photograms juxtapose time and space. The same object exposed in different places for different lengths of time allows for varied results.


photogram series motion flashlight orbited around paper model

Boundary defines space and movement; it determines limits and separation.


rockite cube study mass vs. void form vs. counter form

The transformation from mould to poured object is a translation of negative space into positive space.


rockite cube study spacial conditions iterative study of negative space

Negative space as insertion into a mass (top) and a formal break or pause (bottom).


rockite cube study spacial conditions iterative study of negative space

Negative space as a break or interval and the overlap of elements.


rockite cube study spacial conditions iterative study of negative space

Negative space as removal or hollowing (top) and carving (bottom).


spatial understanding sections through cubes & desk plan arrangement through intuition

“Walls with windows and doors form the house, but the empty space within it is the essence of the house. Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.� --Lao Tse


spatial understanding sections through cubes transcend scale and materiality

What separates space and line? Is it memory, past, process?


spatial understanding sections through cubes sequential sections through a cube

In-depth investigation into one cube attempts to glean the intrigue of the shape. What is more appealing: the shape, the void, or the transition between the two?


spatial understanding first presentation layout understanding subconscious layout

How much of one’s spatial understanding is intuitive?


spatial understanding cube collage overlay of drawings and photographs

Negative space has an ability to speak to a past, either showing it (casting the cube, cutting the section) or hiding it (progression, time, transit).


spatial understanding cube collage overlay of drawings and photographs

What kind of feeling should space emit? Can an architectural construct inspire a similarly ambiguous and pleasurable experience?


spatial understanding diagrams of photographic overlays distilling the positive and negative

Simplifying a complex image gives insight into the composition. What is real and what is imagined?


the public stage The Public Stage uses partial walls and screens to create a place secluded from what is outside of it. There are gaps in material between each element--the wall, the screen, the ground-- revealing the structure and past construction. The space is not entirely open, nor entirely secluded. It is permeable, yet allows one to pause or remain. “There is so much action in New York one is sometimes perversely excited by those places where you are not part of it. Where nothing is happening. These places, in turn, become little air pockets of possibility. They are unidentified, off the grid, the staging areas for trysts, seductions, encounters.� charette i the public stage overlay and collage

--Thomas Beller


charette i the public stage top: perspective bottom: plan


the hostel The Hostel offers peace through complexity. The grid is regular, but individual rooms are offset, allowing for separation within confined areas. These moves create areas to sleep, rest, eat, observe, or encounter. The spaces are what the inhabitants make them to be; the interactions become the life of the space. The rhythm of the rooms and movement prevent them from becoming forgotten or inactive.

charette ii the hostel overlay and collage


charette ii the hostel top: section bottom: plan


the subway station Transportation does not exist in one place or another. It is the negative space of the traverse, what is in between being here and there. The Station carves into the ground, opening up the experience. There is a gradual transition from light to dark and dark to light. The path winds, slowing down the moment between the bustle of the city street and the noise of the subway. The viewing platform is a place to wait for transportation, or simply to observe the coming and going of the cars.

charette iii the subway station overlay and collage


charette iii the subway station top: section bottom: plan


charette iii the subway station axonometric drawings


urban infill study ground floor plan


The project focuses on exploring through construction of sectional space in hand drawing. The material is graphite and the site is the Bristol page. Construction decisions are made based on the interaction of these two elements—how graphite sits on the page, the density of line weight, the overlay of line and poche. Representation through orthographic drawings alters the experience of time. The building is only understood as a whole by the way the spaces interact in section and plan.


urban infill study section perpendicular to street


An urban context allows contrast between negative space and the mass of surrounding buildings. Negative space shapes building and frames the city. The project is an infill building. It is multistory and multipurpose. The program is peace through complexity. Light wells puncture through the entire vertical section of the building, drawing natural light into the space and giving purpose to voids in the building. There is a shift in floor levels from the street side to the alley side.


urban infill study street elevation


Variable change in elevation calls attention to sectional differences. The elevation uses similar elements for structural and decorative purposes. They intersect and weave together, allowing one to question what is necessary and what is meant to visually balance the faรงade.


urban infill study section parallel to street


There are two paths; one is public and one is private. They are distinct, but intersect frequently to allow points of interaction. The strategy of study focuses on the order of decisions and the resulting effect on spatial perception. The absence of program challenges how one maintains architectonic thinking in a programmatic world.


urban infill study light well exploration through drawing


urban infill study light well exploration through modeling


urban infill study elevation model study of layering elements


This thesis exploration does not result in the design of an architectural construct. It is a focused study into a way of thinking and decision making that can be applied to various processes, including, but not limited to, architectural design. It is an attempt to take advantage of the freedom in education: a time to explore different media and design philosophies.

A special thanks to: My wonderfully supportive family and friends. James Bassett, Patrick Doan, Donna Dunay, Gene Egger, Lucy Ferrari, Michael Ermann, Shelley Martin, Margarita McGrath, Chris Pritchett, Erin Putalik, Heinrich Schnoedt, and Frank Weiner for their wisdom, guidance, and encouragement throughout this five year exploration.

Negative Space & the Architectonic  

Final Architecture Thesis Documentation