reading into space graduate thesis
Pratt Institute, 2009 - 2010
Spring 2010: Death of the Interior
II. Time Passes (To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf, 1927)
To the Lighthouse marked a watershed moment in high modernism in its manipulation of time and structure and the instability of its narrative perspective, which fluctuates between stream of consciousness and an omniscient point of view. It often draws comparison to other media and is described as painterly or filmic.
The novel takes place at the seaside house of the Ramsays and is divided into three parts. Part One and Part Three each take place over the course of a day and comprise the majority of the novel; Part Two is brief by comparison but spans a decade in time. It describes the entropy of the house in the family’s absence and the attempt to restore it before their return, providing narrative information about the Ramsays in passing but furnishing specific and sensual detail about the house’s ruin. In this way the passage addresses literally and metaphorically the breakdown of attempts to render borders airtight and reality narrative.
I began by identifying sensory and conceptual information in the passage, and used this information to arrive at tensions the design should address: between the exterior and interior, the compression and elongation of time, and control versus relinquishment. Testing decay operations and researching design concepts contemporary to the time in which the novel takes place, particularly the Victorian interest in locking into the interior patterns derived from natural elements, enabled experimentation with pattern and material.
Building at full scale enabled an investigation of the distinctions between the design as a static concept and a living element. I occupied an abandoned niche of our studio building around the corner from the entrance as a site for an interior intervention. The following year, the institution took over this space to house a Starbucks cafe.