All through my Architectural study, and in a lot of practice, I will be trying to think of a concept for a space, trying to portray that idea, I’ll produce drawings that try to convey that space, make a model which is another attempt to reveal my design, but I will only ever be making representations. Until the building is finally built I can only try my best to show what I mean. I can never practice out ideas or plans on a life like 1:1 scale, it’s all just pen on paper, or a small card model.
That’s why this new University project I’m currently going through is so unique and valuable. Our studio space has been wiped of it’s tables, drawing boards and portfolios, to make way for over 400 cardboard boxes, which we as a class can manipulate to actually experience volume, space and light, on a human scale.
The structure is six boxes high, six deep, and varies between eleven and ten boxes wide. Once we’d built this huge volume, we began taking boxes away, creating tunnels, windows, heights, with light-wells and dead ends, it turned into a warm cocoon, a place people sat inside and sketched, drank tea, chatted. It was amazing how much it really felt like a building, the card is so dense that it looks so much more solid than it is, and when a box is removed to let light in, the depth of the window means the light entering is softer almost, giving the same effect as the windows in Ronchamp by Le corbusier.
The space developed into something quite moody and dark, not bathed in light, and obviously quite rugged, but I think the class as a whole wanted to try and achieve this. After finishing our spatial mapping of trees in an earlier assignment, an organic and earthy building seemed more appropriate than an expansive and cold, gap, or hall, in the middle of the boxes. The twists and tunnels within the structure are so much more enticing, the fact you need to crawl in before you can stand, all of this creates an atmosphere, all just from cardboard! From this project I’ve realised that Architecture is all about light, it’s light which makes a space one thing or another, and if manipulated right, it can change something so simple, into something so interesting.