nature, boundarys and the lack of perspective
- Three lobyes from the island of Manhatten Seagram 1958 by Mies van der Rohe Ford Foundation Building 1968 by the firm of Roche-Dinkeloo New York Marriott Marquis 1985 by John C. Portman, Jr.
Dissolving a space The relation between inside and outside is a cornerstone in the architecture of Mies Van Der Rohes. That’s very apparent in the lobby of the Seagram skyscraper on island Manhattan. A space is defined by its boundaries. That’s what makes it a space. Without boundaries there would be nothing. No space. How you read and understand and observe the boundaries is crucial, and unique. How you define them is essential. You read the boundaries – you define where the space begins and ends. It’s not the architecture but you that paint your surroundings. In most pieces of architecture it isn’t difficult to read the architecture and understand where inside begins and outside ends. A brick wall clearly define a boundary – one made of glass is also space creating, but to a less extend. When architecture graduates and the transition between inside and outside are less defined, it forces the spectator to reflect upon the space that surrounds them. The Segram building is a great example, where the terms inside and outside become subjects for debate. By definition they are opposites, but in this context they are interlocked within each other. The space beneath the building – the lobby – appears as if it were created whit a strict precession, witch it is, but in truth it brings the surrounding city inside the building. The architecture extends from the elevator doors to the pavement outside. The lobby and the plaza in front appear in whole context. At first glance it seams as if the space of the lobby ends whit the glass panels. But different parts of the architecture breach that boundary. The geometry of the columns, the floor plates and the lightning panels moves beyond the glass and questions where the lobby is defined. The Lobby is not a social hub but a transit space leading its visitor further into the building.
Nature inside a building The Fortd Foundation lobby is nature placed inside a building. Its outside placed on the inside. The lobby is essentially a large open space whit a garden at the bottom. The garden is built on deferent levels creating the illusion that it is placed on a slope. The atmosphere of the space is highly affected by the garden. The presence of nature is amplified by the surrounding city and structure. In a greenhouse the smells and humidity creates a unique atmosphere – the same atmosphere is to some extend present in the Ford Foundation lobby. The offices that surrounds the lobby have direct line of sight to the garden. That creates a situation where the inside of the lobby is perceived as something outside. As humans have retired into architecture and away from nature something has been lost. The Lobby at the Ford Foundation is a great example where architecture and nature melts together. The lobby almost fells like an ancient ruin. With the computer as the new tool for architects to use, a rise of organic inspired architecture has emerged. Its forms and shapes resembles – not free shapes design by humans – but floating forms determent by an underlying or secret law of nature. That is false. Where these buildings and structures are trying representing nature, they do not affect us in the same way. They are not affecting there surroundings the same way true nature dose. The green part of nature – plants, flowers, trees etc. has a powerful impact on our senses. That’s a curcial point to understand when making architecture. But sadly it is a fact that is to often neglect. The Ford Foundation building is an great example where architecture plays a secondary role and nature main part.
Human made nature To enter the Marriott hotel lobby is like stepping out of reality and into a backdrop. The space, witch is huge, can best be described as a film set, persuading the visitor that they are on an old space ship in a galaxy far far away. You quickly realize that in fact you are not – the plastic plants, cheap carpets and seducing jazz music breaks the illusion. The lobby is the hotel. The Lobbys relation to the rest of the hotel is quiet unique. Traditional, intricacies corridors and staircases divide the hotel lobby and guest rooms. The journey through a hotels, tends to disorientates the guest and leaving them wanderlust and unsure if way there rooms face. This hotel has not inherited that feature and is instead completely transparent. Organized in a simple (x,y) grid, like a coordinate, the rooms are placed rationally – witch makes it very easy to understand the hotel layout. An elevator core centered in the middle of the lobby manages the connection between the different floors. Although the interface is not a part of the original design, it further helps build the illusion that this isn’t a the typical hotel. On a console you enter the number, of the floor you want to visit. In a second a personal elevator will appear and descent you to the desired floor. The sire size of the lobby is straggly perverse. The space extends 48 floors vertically. The space is so big, that it is difficult to measure the scale of the space. The human body dissolve and becomes meaningless. The space – though the architecture – feels perspective less. It is impossible to measure the dimensions of the lobby. The continues floors lines distort the space, transforming it. It wants to be perceived as a product of nature. As a deep canyon. Architecture is human made nature The scale of the lobby is it strength. What makes large spaces breathtaking? The answer is probably as complex as the question is simple. But something happens to a space when it reach a certain scale and size - it transform to another kind of architecture. An architecture that reach beyond human time and scale. An architecture that isn’t subjected to the same limitations as human made architecture. Its brutal and uncompromising, unwilling to be governed.