The Interior Architecture department’s Fall Charette challenge was to create a flexible, easy to use exhibition system for student work in the hallway gallery of RISD’s Nature Lab. The space is used for displaying student work from the freshman foundation program, which ranges from small charcoal drawings to large 3D sculptures. Each exhibition only lasts for a few weeks, meaning the exhibitions had to be easy to mount and dismantle in time for the next show.
Our team created a dynamic panel system that could adjust on both the horizontal and vertical axes, creating endless possibilities for space division and display of 3D or 2D objects. The system eliminates the need for heavy display tables and vitrines, which were a logistical difficutly for the department, both in their weight and storage limitations.
In a poll of freshman foundation students and faculty, our team was awarded first place.
THINGS THEY CARRIED
In this exhibition, the designers were given a selection of objects from the RISD museum from a curator, and tasked with the design of the exhibit. Nahun’s selection consisted of six personal items from the Egyptian, Greek & Etruscan, and Asian galleries. These items were not only a form of personal decoration, but demonstrated a key fact about the owner’s beliefs, social rituals, and class in society.
The key distinction in the design process was this additional meaning of each object, and the inextricable link between the object and it’s owner. The power of antiquities comes from allowing the artifacts to speak for the people who once used them, and each of these objects told a story about the people who carried them daily throughout their lives.
Vitrines for each object were designed to show the object in it’s original purpose, shown ‘in situ’ on an abstract recreation of it’s owner. The cases are on the human scale, and placed around the room to mimic a group of people standing in the gallery. An etched glass silhouette holds each piece. Light within the vitrine highlights the etching and lights the objects from all sides.
THE SUBVERSIVE TEAPOT
In this exhibition, designers were asked to select teapots from the Kamm collection, and propose a special exhibition within the RISD museum. The teapots chosen all represented a subversion of the politeness and delicacy with which we usually associate tea and the tea ceremony.
In order to represent this subversion architecturally, inspiration was taken from Giotto's Last Judgement fresco at the Scrovegni Chapel. This fresco depicts the earth opening up and descending to the depths below, and is reminiscent of the imagery and torture seen in the selected teapots. Using the imagery of splitting, display tables were devised, cutting through the interior space. An exterior ramp similarly splits through the exterior space, connecting the entrance with the Benefit street sidewalk.
The interior splits are mirrored in the ceiling, where the forms bring light close to the teapots, creating a dark and dramatic atmosphere in the gallery. The exterior ramp folds and curves, channeling visitors in to the space.
The signage and educational material further highlights these subversive qualities, using imagery and the dark and complicated history of tea and the tea trade to educate visitors.
The chosen site is the group of support piers from the recently diverted I-195 highway. The piers are partially submerged in the Providence canal, just north of the Point Street Bridge.
The original purpose of the highway was to connect people along the East West axis of Providence. This highway quickly passed over the waterway with no opportunity to interact with the surrounding area.
The purpose of intervention at this site is not to replace that lost thoughrofare, but to connect people with the surrounding waterway using the natural phenomenon of rising and lowering tides.
The intervention will capture the constant movement of the tide entering and leaving the canal. Permeable, water-level extensions of the pier will emphasize the changing tide levels throughout the day. At high tide, the extensions will rise with the water, recreating the visual conection of the bridge. At low tide, the extensions will drape against the piers, emphasizing the singularity of the structures themselves.
The shape of the extension is based on the original footprint of the bridge, creating the visual reminder of the old structure. Thin gaps between the extensions allow for small boats to pass through. Fastening the connection at the high tide level keeps the top of the pier exposed, allowing existing safety lights to function at night without interference.
The materiality of the extension is just as critical to success as the form itself. The extension should be barely visible on the water, floating on the surface and catching light in a similar way to the water itself. As the tide lowers, the extension should drape against the form of the pier. As it dries, the material will catch less light, creating a seamless visual transition between the water and stone.
RISD RODIN INTERVENTION
Build: Using Rodin’s method of mold-making and pouring plaster, the Rodin Gallery at the RISD museum was analyzed and rebuilt as a product of casting. This resulted in the negative space becoming a positive, creating a physical form of the gallery’s shape.
Measure: Now considering the space as a solid shape of plaster, the space was measured using the distance traveled from the ‘pour point’ (the Rodin sculpture) to the bounds of the ‘mold’. These lines of measurement radiate from the sculpture’s center point outward, reflecting the experience of the room’s interior.
Transform: The measurement lines were overlaid with the entrace points of the room, creating a triangular geometry centered around the sculpture. This horizontal shape was pulled inward along the vertical axis, reflecting the pull of the space towards the sculpture.
Intervene: The intervention takes the shape of the space analysis, creating a physical manifestation of the sculpture’s pull in the room. A fabric cocoon lines the walls, drawing the visitor in to the room and around the sculpture. The extraneous space of the gallery is left in shadow, while the light is focused down in a direct beam on the sculpture.
CENTER FOR SOUTHEAST ASIANS
In the renovation of the Center for Southeast Asians, gardening and tending to plants was identified as an activity that would help engage senior citizens and bridge cultural differences within the center. The main dining area along the proposed glass facade was identified as a location for an at-table plant bed.
Indigenous plants of Southeast Asia such as climbing vines grow up the interior structural supports, providing dappled shade in the dining area. The exterior facade is faced with plants indigenous to New England, such as ivy and grasses. This growing screen provide adjustable privacy, allowing for the community members to prune back areas of sight from the street in to the dining room, and creating a dialog between the neighboring community and the CSEA community. The cement border provides a deep planting bed for exterior plants and keeps the facade insulated at the ground level, while the metal screen .protects the glass facade from vandalism.
LIGHT AND DARK
Examination of how light passes through an outer surface and changes the quality of the interior space.