Soo Hyuk Choi
University of Michigan
Graduate Thesis 2015
Casting Doubt is an exploration of ambiguity between figure and ground, solid and void, novelty and history, curiosity and recognition.
Using Gestalt principles of perception as a primer, the project investigates potential readings and misreadings of volume, mass, and figure.
Inspired by Palladian principles from Quattro Libir dell’Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture), itself a reinterpretation of classical Roman and Greek architecture, Casting Doubt blends the anachronistic spatial organization of the 16th-century Italian Renaissance with formal design techniques of 21st century through the use of digital modeling and fabrication. Exploring and expanding the boundaries of spatial awareness and visual perception, Casting Doubt creates new urban and architectural conditions while remaining grounded in historical precedent and disciplinary rigor.
With human proportions and activities in mind, a set of revolved geometries and two-way extrusions are created as building blocks for interaction and inhabitation. These are our letters.
Pieces are combined to create characteristic moments resembling building elements from history. These are our words.
Moments are then linked to construct sequences of varying experiences ranging from small, enclosed niches for individual contemplation and reflection to
large, open zones for social gathering. These are our sentences.
As conventional registrations of occupation fade away, spaces seamlessly blend between the habitable and interstitial. Alternating between subtractive and additive readings, this massing strategy gradually builds up and unifies disparate pieces into something greater than the sum of its parts.
Referencing the historical Italian palazzo, the building has three main stories, an interior courtyard, and a portico lining a façade. Typological features such as symmetry, cornices, vertical façade, and loggia appear and disappear as the modified figural blocks form a porous yet coherent whole, providing a broad spectrum of zones ranging from nested spaces to waterfalls.
The courtyard, hugging light and air, lends approach to the loggia as well as the canal.
Meanwhile, denser parts of the building give shape to light shafts and mimic atriums. Intricate positive and negative articulations boggle the mind and inspire one to seek understanding, which is unique to each individual, or even to each experience.
Overall, the building appears as both an eroded mass and an agglomeration of smaller, abstract figures. Similar to the palazzo, it is situated within the dense
urban fabric, which also contains countless external interiors and internal exteriors.
Each facade produces a distinct approach to the building, allowing for different levels of enclosure, openness, and recognition. While pieces may be physically separate, silhouettes visually connect to resemble everything from a campanile to a whale from one perspective, but disassemble as the viewer moves. The indeterminacy of form and depth allows for oscillating readings of the foreground, middleground, and background.
The plasticity of form encourages meandering as one traverses the terrain of the palazzo of objects. Engendering a bewildering atmosphere of solid and void, this project casts the subject as simultaneously within and out.