metafold.:.work | 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.

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