| ethan feuer // architecture | design | illustration | animation

void type | 2010

the prompt of this studio, taught by mark wamble of interloop architects, was to create a new “void type” for the bissonnet corridor of houston, texas.  bissonnet, historically a residential but heavily trafficked thoroughfare, was to be transformed into a denser model of urban living.  the void type was thus to be seen as a way of mitigating the effects of taller structures by returning some agency to the public sphere.  our program was a housing complex with 20 (2200sf) apartment units, ground and sub-level retail, and lobby spaces (not to mention all of the service and BOH these would engender.)

the form of this project is intended to emphasize the reading of the void against the something else, rather than the void as a monumental absence that stands apart from every other aspect of the design.  the void was not rendered remarkable by its need for powerful structure, its scale, or its geometry, but rather by the ephemeral, transient nature of its reading against the mass of the project.  i introduced two “figures” formed from the same standardized block–one void and one solid–that aggregated and operated on one another.  at some points in the project, the negative figure reads clearly in the form as a subtraction; at others, the positive stacking shows through with greater clarity.  the overall form of the project is meant to hover between these two operators and thus to make the void read more clearly throughout.

i attempted to carry this strategy down through the other scales of the building as well.  the material palette clearly delineates the influence of each operator: simple precast concrete panels for the mass-surfaces and and iridescent precast concrete tiling (swiss pearl) for the void-surfaces.  the details of the windows and facade systems are designed to retain the tautness of the envelope and better express the delicate formal relationships between the void and the mass.  the limited exploration of interiors represents both a synthesis of these relationships (in the reflected ceiling plan) and an expression of them (in the programming of walls).

the strength of this strategy in terms of typology rests in the adaptability of its data.  the lines of each axis (void, mass) have the potential to express various vectors corresponding to the project–circulation, extensions of public space, light or wind, and so on.  the type is thus somewhat adaptable to its conditions and to the requirements of the clients or desires of the designer.

book covers | 2010

alternate cover for sonnets to orpheus

these designs were made as alternate covers to several books, namely ‘fun home’ (alison bechdel), ‘sonnets to orpheus’ (rainier maria rilke / trans. edward snow), and ‘from hell’ (alan moore / ill. eddie campbell). orpheus was best known for his descent into the underworld in search of eurydice, thus the title is suspended on the plane of the earth, between the under- and overworlds. ‘from hell’ is a story focusing on the jack the ripper murders of the 19th century. i tried to approach the cover with the same evocative mood and bold strokes that are present in the book. ‘fun home’ tells the story of a young woman’s self-realization and re-examination of her relationship with her family, using her own house partially as a metaphor–the cover is quite literal. some of the techniques used may be of interest. the cover for from hell was made from a series of ultra-low ISO, long exposure RAW photos, adjusted for white balance and filtered after import. sonnets to orpheus was made using the classic darkroom technique of the photogram (made from real earth and grass as well as gauze for the clouds).

interpretive music center houston | 2008

this design responds to the convergence of two criteria: complex, overlapping programs and a rich urban infill site.  the massing diagram represents a dialog with both its immediate context and the greater houston area.  the design blends with the characteristic scale and modesty of the neighborhood while adaptiing its architectural language to a cleaner, more modern realization. the project also contains several community-driven programs, such as releasing part of the site to a pocket park / garden.  by freeing portions of the site to these public programs, the project also allows itself the articulation of three facades, despite its infill condition.

the design also reflects a certain fascination with blending and layering programs, containing moveable partitions, “sitting stairs”, and circulation spaces that are generous enough to be suitable for social gatherings.  the section extends the effect of layering by dividing the floorplates into a series of half-stories and mezzanines punctured by lightwells, creating a wealth of internal views. the materiality is mostly concerned with variations on sitecast concrete [degree of polishing, formwork, and aggregate types], though painted aluminum is a critical addition to the palette.

treehaus | 2008

treehaus is an ambitious, holistic proposal.  four vocational / professional curricula are present in the program: automotive, manufacturing, construction management, and graphic design.  the project includes proposed curricula, certifications, and potential sponsors for each.  each vocation has specialized facilities, but also strategically shares spaces with the other groups—as in, for example, liberal arts or socialization.  specialized spaces include garage facilities (automotive), drafting studios (graphics), and full fabrication shops (manufacturing).
by combining the four specializations under a single roof, the design offers a solution to the often-problematic relationship between the fabrication and design professions.   the notion of the project is to create an opportunity for the manual, technical, and managerial aspects of these interdependent ventures to be integrated at the most crucial point—education—rather than later on when such differences can become devisive.
the design gives voice to this cooperative spirit in part through its figure, a circulation path that rings around and winds through the building, pulling the outside in and vice-versa.  the figure varies in size, public visibility, and the degree to which it deforms surrounding materials and forms, often wrapping onto walls, furniture, armatures, and ceilings.  it allows architecture to concretely represent the sense of community that the school stands for. in addition, the figure serves to unify [and sometimes obviate] unsightly signage.

en_tropism | 2007

material-induced topologies: prwned | 2007