Seeking to trace the Urban Interior as a point of origin and departure for Cinema

16. 08. 21

Building the dimensions of your project

For this weeks studio workshop sessions, we are to continue developing the ideas generated from our previous conceptual and site studies as a means of beginning to establish our design narrative. What kind of design proposal, narrative and programming of space are we wishing to implement into the Fort Lane Precinct? How will you enliven the space and reconfigure ones relationship with the lane? What is the lingering image, the performance quality and memory of your design? Imagine the scenario you are designing for, the array of detailed elements that need to be considered, both with regards to the exisiting and the proposed. Whats concealed and whats revealed within certain points of your design?

The Storyboard.

Building a visual dialogue between expressing key aspects of our design proposals and the exisiting site. By composing and developing a detailed storyboard it will allow for these established connections to start to be imagined, perceived and showcased as a communicative method that forms a sense of understanding. This storyboard should communicate a journey through my proposed spaces, and articulate key moments and events of my design narrative. As part of my storyboard, there are an array of considerations at play that need to be taken into account:

narrative, events, location, visuals, framing, atmosphere, materiality, light, experience, characters, figures, recall

What story am I telling and how am I wanting to tell it? What activities take place? Key moments of occupancy, encounter, programmed or incidental activity. What is the location in relation to place making, context, site and orientation? Consider how my images express my spatial narrative by developing a visual language. The composition of each image, angles and grounds, close ups and details. What is the atmosphere I am wanting to create? Thinking about mise en scene. What is the materiality and lighting conditions of your design proposal? Texture, colour, layering, material narrative in consideration with direction and qualities of light and shadow. What is the user experience, spatial sequence, journey, transitions and turning points, and events and memory of your design? What is the lingering image or feeling you want someone to remember from your storyboard? Invent characters for your storyboard to help depict activities and occupancy of your design.

STORYBOARD: Context Discussions

Through using all these prompts, it allows me to start to consider the kind of spatial narrative I wish to create within the Fort Lane Precinct. By reflecting back over my establishing conceptual frameworks, site observations, design experimentation workshops and formative review session, it helped to enable a continuous and progressive design exploration into expanding on these already existing ideas, hunches and interests. Drawing on the expressions and insights discussed within my design pitch, a reflection on my existing practices to help establish a spatial narrative and focused direction for my design proposal.

My design project seeks to explore performative qualities of movement in motion, where one is captivated by something that happens in ‘the live’. Not only through physical motion but a psychological motion, a transposing in habitual worlds where you become immersed within what is in front of you, a drawn influence from theatre and performance art experiences.

A blurred, motion quality highlighted the relationship between the captured image and the bodily gestures I used to generate them, where they became a disposition of sequences shifting in motion. Through montaging a series of photographs, they began to bring forward and play with ideas of concealing and revealing, where elements veered in and out of focusness, almost like a veil waiting to be uncovered. For my design intervention, it intends to enhance the experiential qualities derived from theatre and performance enactments, a joyous enthral based on the premise of liveness, this moment to be encountered and experienced in person. By playing around with ethereal, performative qualities, a layering of materiality where subtle transitions can alter, shift, or activate the space and celebrate this sense of liveness, the moving image, and the gesture of the reveal.

Expanding from these notions, I began mind mapping out an array of potential explorative ways of creating this kind of design proposal. One that investigates into this idea of performance, performative qualities, movement in motion and the premise of liveness and what that could entail. What type of intervention am I wishing to implement into the Fort Lane Precinct? In order to start unpacking these discoveries, I set about asking myself various questions in relation to the array of possibilities for how my proposal could proceed. What is PERMANENT and what is TEMPORARY?

Exploration in Potential Design Proposals – a whole performance

Firstly do I want to design for an array of ‘performances’ or one specific performance or performance type, live band, solo singer, busker, dance, street performance? Is it a casual encounter for people to watch and observe, a formal set up with embedded seating, or room for people to participate too. How do I wish to interpret this set/stage performance that everyday people can interact with? Where it brings people together to experience this performative, in live enactments. Is it an intimate, more private moment, or is it something to be shared?

How could I explore this threshold moment, transition between performer and audience, where the design resembled connections to performance but alters a different programme? A more formal ‘theatre, stage’ set up, or a casual encounter, or an immersive performance where elements are embedded throughout and within the audience. What is the permanence or temporary nature of my design proposal? Is it a form of semi permanent architecture, stage, platform, podium, pavilion, marquee? A type of semi permanent system that allows for something to happen, designing something more open for performative interpretation, a base ‘set’ setup? Or a completely temporary intervention design that only last for one particular performance action? Are there elements of these in live moments, something left as a remain or memoir? Something that helps one to reminisce and remember the experiential environment that once was.

In order to start to invision these various elements for how my form of design intervention could be interpreted, I decided to research further into an array of performance design and architecture to help recognise and understand the different approaches to performative design that I could have. Firstly I investigated into Allan Kaprow performative concepts and artistic approach called happenings.

“HAPPENINGS” – Allan Kaprow

Allan Kaprow was a pivotal figure in the shifting art world of the 1960s, his ‘happenings’, a form of spontaneous, non linear action revolutionised the practice of Performance Art and what it means for something to occur in the live. Happenings changed the definition of art where it could be anything at all, movement, sounds and even scent.

His pieces involved spaces he physically altered, where his work was based on an aesthetic of regular experience, a transient and momentary experience felt by the viewer. Kaprow’s perspective and concepts surrounding performance art and the importance of moments to occur in the live are incredibly intriguing and I wish to utilise and draw from this unique approach to spatial making when considering my design intervention.

Investigating, researching into performance art, set design, scenography, street performance and architecture as a means to explore an array of design potentialities and approaches

Searching deeper into discovering new design precedents and their vast approaches towards design proposals, along with utilising and evoking materials and textural qualities. Through investigating these projects it allowed for new ideations and realisations of potential explorations and ways of materialising my conceptual frameworks and interests.

I was drawn towards these architectural pavilion structures, ones that encapsulate a rich layering of detailed pattern, where natural light filters through evoking more ethereal qualities to what is a built structure. These textures, spaces, and moments of human experience in architecture invite exploration within these amphitheatre, collective gathering spaces. Spaces that are designed to showcase something, for something to be experienced at a particular moment in time. How can I utilise these richly, detailed textures and surfaces within my design proposal? Drawing from the influential presence of the exisiting site. My observational studies, its surfaces, textures and materials and where they have derived from. In incorporation with the remaining, I wish to enhance the lane with new surfaces that have been composed and created through these engaged insights. Patterns, materials and forms that will juxtapose or perhaps contrast against the building facades.

Taking into account registers from Scenography

Scenography within the Performing Arts

Scenography, the practice of crafting stage environments or atmospheres for a particular performance action or outlay. These performative environments can be composed of sound, light, clothing, performance, structure and space. How can my design derive from influences of scenography and the design qualities embedded within it. Spaces that uphold and support the performative, in live moments.

How does the city become a spectacle? Where these urban spaces can become actual stages or perhaps draw insights to reveal what occurs behind the curtain, the pre performance. There are a multitude of ways the relationship between the design of spaces and the spectacle could unfold: urban spaces being transformed or repurposed, temporary art and design installations that lay claim to public spaces, as well as the architecture itself assuming a scenographic character with its intrinsic detail and history.

By considering not only the aesthetic qualities embedded within scenographic design but the fundamental, conceptual underpinnings of what it evokes both within the spectator and the performer itself. The performer who gets immersed, almost lost within this carefully crafted and composed environment, and the audience whom become captivated, highly engaged by and within the in live moment unfolding right in front of them. A space where the scenographic installation, performer and spectators are placed in the same spatial environment, collaboratively shaping and evolving their relation to each other. How could interactive, responsive and passive bodily behaviours be involved in the context of choreographies and relationship between performer and audience? Without there being a designated location for ‘the audience’, would that encourage audience members to participate actively as individuals? How could my design proposal seek to blend the boundaries between performer, audience, scenography and the lane itself, where the spectacle is perceived by the audience and performer on both individual and collective levels.

As a way of starting to combine these insights, I decided to layer, map and extend out determined features and aspects within my design proposal for continued exploration using the narrative prompts. How does each element correlate or support the design narrative, spatial intervention into the Fort Lane Precinct I am wishing to make, relative to my conceptual frameworks.

Investigating Design Prompts – Areas of exploration

18. 08. 21

For todays session we were able to have a one on one discussion with our tutors, in order to start establishing the kind of programming and direction we wish for our proposal to endeavour. I had a really beneficial discussion with my tutor reflecting on the comments and insights drawn from my conceptual work and ways in which I can progress forward with my design. How can I design a space for a particular mode of performance or for a particular kind of activity, drawing influences from dance and performance art? We eventuated into the two kinds of approaches I could have towards this spatial narrative:

A more practical approach, a dance studio, beautifully designed, arranged and considered. Takes on quite an architectural form.

Or instead a more radical approach, imagining Fort Lane itself an open, public space, as a dance studio. And what does it mean for a dance studio to be open air, open to the public.

Drawing from all my previous site studies, observations, conceptual frameworks, explorations, interests and aesthetics, it was conclusive that my design proposal was fascinated and stemming towards a more unexpected, radical approach. My documentation style is already informed by avant-garde performance art events that established this approach to space making as an art form. This intriguing intersection between public performance evokes this potential for me to explore a project situated around dance and public space. For a city that is extensively programmed, what would it mean to create a space that deprograms the city?

Reflective Progressive Next Steps

Dance “move the body or feet rhythmically to music” “to leap or spring with regular or irregular steps as an expression of some emotion”

How can dance shape the city, redefine it, or help others to imagine it in a completely new way that reconsiders public space? An artist, dancer and choreographer who evidently influenced and shaped the dance world by creating pure movement that blurs the boundaries between performing and not was Trisha Brown, someone whose approach to temporal, movement space making is incredibly fascinating.

Trisha Brown, a sacred figure in the dance world, whose works were beautiful in a whole new way.

Trisha Brown, American Choreographer and dancer created works that coaxed the dance world out of its theatrical narrative and into a beguiling state of what she called “pure movement.” She found new pathways of motion in the body, a huge influence on the international dance world where she created drama and exhilaration out of pure experimentation.

Her treatise on pure movement in the 1970s wiped the slate clean and reset modern dance in a search for movement itself. She invited people to think, move and see differently. She was intrigued by places that weren’t deemed centre stage, turning and transitioning these spaces through the incorporation of dance.

In a statement on pure movement she wrote, “I make radical changes in a mundane way”. She envisioned the dance extending beyond the proscenium, extending beyond the wings, a transparency, where she could begin to blur this boundary between performing and not performing.

Dance Magazine. (2017, Mar, 22). A farewell to Trisha Brown. Retrieved from https://www.dancemagazine.com/a-farewell-to-trisha-brown-2325186639.html

WalkerArt. (2021). Trisha Brown. Retrieved from https://walkerart.org/collections/artists/trisha-brown

Brittany Duggan. The dance current, the complete artist interviews. Retrieved from https://www.thedancecurrent.com/feature/reconsidering-public-space

Emily Volin. Dance class etiquette. Retrieved from https://www.danceinforma.com/2011/08/01/dance-class-etiquette-the-basics/

Craig Berry. (2021, Mar, 15). Space to Move. Retrieved from https://uxdesign.cc/space-to-move-c83b318b265c

The notion of dance ‘Reconsidering public space’

How can I reconsider the Fort Lane public space in relation to these spatial approaches and performance driven narratives? Performance, or what is deemed performance or to be in performance, in an open, public space. Finding things in places that don’t belong. How these alterations would break the monotony of the day to day visual landscape. A look into artists and creatives who have incorporated dance into the open, public space:

As artistic director Gerry Morita states, “I am interested in allowing people to choose their own perspective when watching dance outside of the theatre. Sometimes I plan for distance and perspective, and other times close viewing is intended. I enjoy challenging the audience’s memory or perceived “use” of a space by placing something unexpected in the pathway.”

Producer of Dance in my Backyard Eroca Nicols states, ” I’m very interested in making dance for more than just regular dance audiences. I prioritise performing in my community and for my community, people who are not necessarily going to see dance shows in theatres on an ongoing basis.” How can I introduce these naturally performative enactments into a space that currently holds none?

As artistic director Julia Taffe states, ” that the practice of dance making is a natural activity for humans and the process of engagement is often just as compelling as the finished performance. Perhaps more important, it is really my own perceptions and experiences as an artist that have been affected by working in public space. When I was a contemporary dancer working in the sanctity of the studio, I thought I needed to put space between myself and the world to protect and polish my artistry. After many years of public practice I’ve become more resilient, affable, collaborative and intuitive as a choreographer.”

What would happen if every morning on our way to work we saw a dance? We hear music in the subways, see sculpture in the park and buy beautiful visual art for our offices. Could dance be more of a contender in assisting the aesthetic quality of our everyday lives? Susan Cash continues to ask within her practice.

Where does the line between the performer and the audience cross? The one who is dancing and the one who is not. The one who is observing and the one who is in full performative motion.

These considerations I began questioning in relation to dance and public space. Does my design proposal uphold to more traditional, practical elements of dance or is it something more unusual, an artistic installation of sorts? What is its temporality? Is it fleeting or one off re-arriving every so often? These new investigations and developing insights into my design I was able to further explore, ideate and even reconsider when discussing these with my tutor. Her incredibly beneficial input allowed me to develop a whole new reconsideration for how this proposal could be approached in relation to my conceptual frameworks.

Questions and Considerations for Design Proposal

From our chat I was able to start developing a more comprehensive vision for how my design intervention would interplay into the Fort Lane Precinct along with the type of impact I was wishing to create. She questioned how could I develop a practical studio environment but with a radical, unsuspected approach, fusing together both of my considerations to create this traditionally influenced dance studio space in a way that is open to the public, the passerby. An urban space that draws insight to reveal what occurs behind the curtain, the pre performance, the rehearsal space. One that blends the boundaries between performer and audience.

Building the Frameworks for Design Proposal

The Studio. A dancers ‘natural’ environment where particular programming, materials, behaviours and etiquettes are upheld.

Image sourced from: The Dancers Blog.

There is a special connection between dancers and the studios where they spend countless hours, even years developing their craft. The dance studio itself allows for this creativity to form, a simplistic, minimal space that does not protract from the immaterial art forms, instead helps to enhance it. An open space, a barre, mirrors, wooden or marley flooring, and a music player is all one needs to establish a dance studio environment. However there are particular traditional behavioural etiquettes that are to be upheld when in the dance studio:

  • To arrive early and pre prepare for class, independent stretching and warm up
  • Adhere to dress code in appropriate footwear, clothing and hair where relevant
  • Be quiet and respectful during class, pay attention to focus in and listen to watch the instructor is saying
  • Participate to your fullest intent whilst in the studio and let the instructor know prior if you have any injuries
  • Openly learn from and collaborate with the instructor and your peers to allow for full creative development within your own dance practice

When considering the design of a dance studio, it is vital that I am taking into consideration these more traditional approaches, even whilst wanting to extend, flip and mould them into something more radical and unexpected within the dance performance realm. How can I make sure the studio space is able to uphold some of these traditional behaviours whilst openly acknowledging and supporting the introduction of new ones? How could surface details and materiality, along with spatial composition and layout explore and emphasise these interests further? Two uniquely designed, operating dance studios that utilise an array of materiality and surface details to create simplistic, yet captivating creative spaces are Memphis Ballet School by Archimania and English National Ballet by Glenn Howells Architects.

Rectilinear in plan, the building is topped with a sculptural, metal-clad volume that rises high above the roof. Another distinctive feature is a perforated copper screen that wraps the front facade. Portions of the brise-soleil are cut away to reveal large stretches of glass, which provide views into dance studios. 

The facility is designed to embody the company’s focus on uplifting the community through “transparency, connectivity and education”. Its design also takes cues from the “character of a music box”.

“The key has been designing the building so that its character is defined by a celebration of exposed raw materials such as concrete ceilings and translucent glass walls and white cladding that give glimpses of rehearsals”.

High-ceilinged rehearsal and performance spaces, along with and smaller workspaces, sit on three levels above the foyer. “The translucent white cladding is a particular design feature, contrasting with the colourful surrounding buildings and allowing passers-by to catch glimpses of the professional dancers as they rehearse,” said the practice. Exposed concrete structures are complemented by simple finishes, such as wooden floors and black steel.


The relationship between dance, design, and space.

Dance, though, isn’t tangible; you can dance, but you can’t touch it. You also can’t touch songs, music, or acting but, you can hear these; they connect with more than one sense. Dance doesn’t need to be heard to be enjoyed, but dance is also impermanent; it is the body’s movement through space. This space, whatever it may be, is essential. The Austro-Hungarian theorist, choreographer, and pioneer of dance, Rudolf von Laban, understood this and based his principles on space and movement. Laban explored how movement creates space and how a creator may feel — while capturing an artistic idea — to a performance space. Since movement creates space, the way a dancer moves and reacts in/to a space is essential to the performance. By considering the environment, the creators aid the choreography with a constant visual identity to accompany the dance movements. In doing so, levelling up the expression and artistry of the work as a whole.

For me I recognise dance as a temporal spatial contribution. In particular to dance, sound and movement are the key registers that allow for this happening to unfold.

In order to further explore this perception, how could drawing be used as a method to articulate motion studies and the aural components embedded within spatial environments. Trisha Brown underpinned dance through the creation of “structured improvisations”, where movement has subtle frameworks or tasked instructions to then be open to complete interpretation. Using this same structured analysis I started creating explorative drawing relative to the sounds of the city. A space where we are actors in the scenes of the city, the inhabitants where our movements, behaviours are entirely controlled, a city that is extensively programmed.

Sounds of the city 21′

Sounds of the city 21′

Sounds of the city 21′

Sounds of the city 21′

Sounds of the city 21′

Sounds of the city 21′

Along with exploring sounds, I proceeded to reflect back over my generative movement scripts that programmed ones inhabitation, actions and therefore experiences within Fort Lane. How did the words direct me through the site, in a way that was written out as a guidance but had the opportunity for interpretation and imagination. Through line drawing was I able to visually articulate these experiences.

Mapping out my scripted movement journey through the Fort Lane Precinct, the movement generated from my scripts.

A dance studio to be so much more than just a room with four walls and a mirror; it is a place to create, to express oneself, to release tension and emotion, to have run with friends, to gain new friends through relatable passions, to explore ones body and mind’s ever-growing capabilities and to nourish ones soul.

How can my studio space uphold some of these traditional behaviours whilst openly acknowledging and supporting the introduction of new ones? How can surface details and materiality, along with spatial composition and layout explore and emphasise these interests further? From reflecting back over all my previous design ideas, explorations and experimentations to help build this conceptual framework and programming approach, I started sketching out design fragments and visualisations of how these ideas could potentially form.

The generation of design ideas and fragments

Using these ideas will I be able to transition into developing a more formulated and structured plan of specific details and practicality components to be embedded within my design and its narrative. How will my intervention correspond with the existing Fort Lane Precinct, the location I wish to make a shift, alteration or development too, my proposal to having an impact and both the space and the public.

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