Monthly Archives: May 2014

Looking for the Axes of [(Non)-Centrality]

Among a few themes we’ve already mentioned that we are exploring here at the studio (adaptability, improvisation, kinetics) is the role of ‘centrality’ in the design of domestic space. What follows below is an email conversation between a few of us attempting to clarify the notion and consider ways centrality and non-centrality interrelate in the reconfiguring of the domestic, and potentially open up new and different experiences within. This is a new theme we’ll be considering application in future projects that also ties in with the others.


On May 18, 2014, at 2:30 PM, Bryan Finoki wrote:


Nick said: “I’m interested in talking about the moments in domestic space where the seams tend to tear a little…. where there are cracks, leftover spaces, evidence of a non-centrality at work. Yeats’ gyres, etc.”


So, in response to his curiosity, perhaps as good a place to start as any I suppose is to define ‘centrality’ in architecture. I can imagine various iterations of this, perhaps by thinking what is also the lack of centrality:


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Posted in Academic, Design, Theory Tagged |

Kinetic Aperture 1: Hyper-screen



Picking up on the studio’s recent experimental design sessions, last Friday Matt presented a sketch for what began in our discussions as an intricate window attachment that would function like a screen but with far more adjustability. As we outlined it further, it morphed into the potential for a full-on three dimensional spatial partitioning device. Our initial preemption was to consider the window as a space of investigation for new kinetic activity. Yet, we quickly realized that to refer to a ‘window’ was perhaps imposing an unnecessary limitation on our thinking: what if a window could be seen less as a simple transparent pane framing a view into another space, but conceptually more altering—like an amorphous perforation, or a piercing of space that could communicate something different between adjacent spaces? How might an opening operationalize space? We didn’t want to completely abandon the window altogether and replace it by conveniently calling it a void, either. Nor did we feel that our investigation needed to rely on addressing any practical matter at all. We were after ideas unto themselves that could take shape simply for the sake of investigation, and thus looked at a unique zone where perhaps the window as we know it becomes something else greater than itself—a kinetic aperture, let’s say—while at the same time never ceasing to be a window at all, but rather only expanding its spectral dimensionality.

Matt imagined something that begins to move beyond the binary notions of ‘open’ and ‘closed’, ‘transparent’ and ‘opaque’, ‘in’ and ‘out.’ Could a multi-functional aperture begin to open up something else within—an intra-spatiality?

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Posted in Design, Theory Tagged , |

Repetition In Design

We have been working on a series of multi-unit projects in the office, and this post will be the first of several discussions on the subject of designing form that repeats, and what the various approaches to that problem are (at least at Baran Studio).


In this rendering, you can see variation present in the elevation. There is movement that carries from top to bottom and side to side. However, this variation is not without logic. Aspects of the form repeat, reflecting both a variation of space internal to the project, as well as the shifting location of modules throughout the project. The exterior identifies what happens on the interior.

The street elevation also reflects the horizontal orientation of this portion of the project – it contains flats, which stack. It is also intended to connect to the horizontal qualities of its neighbors, which contain various awnings and cornices.


This image illustrates the relationship between repeated elements to the rear of the property, off of the street. These forms contain a vertical quality that reflects that aspect of the space. Each form is a contained space. These connect to a smaller scale residential quality that exists towards the rear of the site, whereas the front of the projects sits in a more commercial context.

This approach is one that attempts to connect the architecture to both it’s internal and external contexts. A separate approach is to attempt to vary the exterior, which is often an attempt to disguise the repeated nature of the architecture. This usually results in somewhat dishonest ‘decoration’. However, such an approach can be used to provide variation to the repeated elements by integrating them with fluctuating interventions.

Posted in Design, Piedmont Ave, Projects, Theory

The Poetics of Windows


The last couple of Fridays at the studio we’ve been engaging in design sessions to further explore and manifest ‘adaptability’ as both a process and product of architectural thinking. To focus this, we looked explicitly at ‘the window’ and asked: what could new unique expressions of a window beyond its immediately perceivable utility as a perforation between ‘interior’ and ‘exterior’ look like? Could it serve a more dynamic interface to some other use, another role, another experience? Could a window give walls and their relationship to each other in the space an unexplored revision of dimensionality? Can windows give a space new voice? Are there new links to be made between how a space and user can modify one another through the medium of the standard window? How might one not only express something macrophenomenal, like a connection to nature or the psychological framing for a specific context of memory, but actually amplify the space in an exponential way, or mediate some aspect of it cross-functionally?

These are just a few questions that got us started. The goal was to consider both doable and completely undoable reconceptualizations of the window through a series of attachments, morphed frames, kinetic prosthesis, and other mechanical and filter elements that would correlate differently with light, sound, visual framing, energy harvest, and insulation. Could we devise a simple but new relation to inhabitability?

The window has always occupied a unique place in the modern psyche particularly relative to the evolution of our sense of home, privacy, and safety. Windows of the church, the prison, the zoo, the military bunker, all carry vastly different but equally critical uses and meanings. They offer their own currency as a spatial dimension of power in each instance. Or a hospital: imagine the importance of a window to a patient—what can be done to turn the window into an empowerment device for those who depend on them?

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Posted in Design Tagged , , , , , , |

Additional Updates at M House

Things are starting to shape up.  Here are a few additional images showing the current state of the project. You can see the rough interior finishes are in place. Elements such as vanities, tubs, lights and other electrical fixtures (and we’re currently picking the last few of those) are all in. Also, finish materials like tile and finish wood (on the ceiling) have been installed. The interior and exterior have received paint, and wood will soon be stained and sealed.  Next stop, landscape.

Posted in M House, Projects

Back in… Slate Gray

The exterior paint is on, I’m enjoying the contrast:


Posted in M House, Projects

Stairway to Harmon

The treads and risers are in. The skin is ready to go on. We are making some last minute adjustments and revisions in the spirit of flexibility and improvisation…



Posted in Harmon, Projects