Salon 02: Sneak Preview

February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Salon 02 - Structure

Experimental Axon



Salon 02 - Atmosphere

A Room With Absolutely No View Whatsoever

February 22, 2013 § 3 Comments

Bubbles 022113

Bust or blessing?

As I was making the transition from trace to Revit, it occurred to me that guest room number 7 (highlighted above) has zero windows. Eek! Is that even allowed? It certainly isn’t normal….

But as it turns out, there is such a thing as a windowless hotel room! Check out this capsule hotel in Japan for one extreme example:

The concept is spreading to Russia and the UK as well. NiteNite in Birmingham shows off their slightly larger but still windowless “cabins” here.

Translational relevance

Is there a reason to have a windowless guest room in the Pension Bertolini? It would be possible to add additional skylights, but this windowless thing is intriguing. And when you’re dealing with symbolic rooms and views, what better to signify a flat refusal to know oneself than a room with absolutely no view whatsoever?

Specific inspiration might be derived from the character of Cecil, whom Lucy associates with a drawing-room, sans view (99). (Another name note: Cecil means “blind.”) He deceives himself first in his love for Lucy. After calling off the engagement, she watches his retreat:

She watched him steal upstairs, while the shadows from the banisters passed over his face like the beat of wings. On the landing he paused, strong in his renunciation, and gave her a look of memorable beauty. For all his culture, Cecil was an ascetic at heart, and nothing in his love became him like the leaving of it. (162)

Cecil’s unbecoming love, exhibit A.

Prior to leaving,  Cecil thanks Lucy for showing him his true self (a person incapable of intimacy)—but the lesson seems lost on him. While Lucy later contemplates the reception of her elopement with George, she remarks:

‘I wish, though, that Cecil had not turned so cynical about women. He has, for the second time, quite altered. Why will men have theories about women? I haven’t any about men.’ (194)

Not that you can blame him, of course…. But critics make a persuasive argument that Cecil, with or without realizing it—but certainly not admitting it to anyone, least of all himself—is gay. Mr. Beebe, who was “from rather profound reasons, somewhat chilly in his attitude towards the other sex, and preferred to be interested rather than enthralled”(31), seems suspicious of this, as Lucy’s brother recounts:

‘You know Mr. Beebe’s funny way, when you never quite know what he means. He said: “Mr. Vyse is an ideal bachelor.” I was very cute. I asked him what he meant. He said: “Oh, he’s like me—better detached.” I couldn’t make him say any more, but it set me to thinking.’ (80)

Yet here is Cecil at the end of the book, hating women instead of loving men.

But what say you? “Windows be damned?” Or, “Dear God, who in their right mind would sleep in a room with no windows!”

A little extra quoting

Mrs. Honeychurch accuses Freddy of disliking Cecil out of jealousy, after which this gem follows:

The explanation seemed plausible, and Freddy tried to accept it. But at the back of his brain there lurked a dim mistrust. Cecil praised one too much for being athletic. Was that it? Cecil made one talk in his way, instead of letting one talk in one’s own way. This tired one. Was that it? And Cecil was the kind of fellow who would never wear another fellow’s cap. Unaware of his own profundity, Freddy checked himself. He must be jealous, or he would not dislike a man for such foolish reasons. (80)

What can I say? I like it dry.

Bubbles and Skylights

February 15, 2013 § 2 Comments

Current bubble diagram

Bubble Diagram

The highlighted area is currently up for grabs, because of a…

Skylight Dilemma

The existing structure has several skylights, including one over a covered courtyard and another over what is currently the entry to the penthouse apartment. In an effort to be sustainable, it is my intent to leave the skylights in place. The question is, how can I best use these skylights for translational purposes?

Penthouse - Entry

Existing conditions

My thoughts first return to the following passage, in which George addresses Lucy:

‘My father’—he looked up at her (and was a little flushed)—‘says that there is only one perfect view—the view of the sky straight over our heads, and that all these views on earth are but bungled copies of it.’ (147)

So the immediate assumption is to somehow dedicate the space to the character of Mr. Emerson (George’s father). Perhaps a small library, thereby tying knowledge into the concept of the “perfect view”? (The Emersons’ literary tastes were philosophically and socially oriented.) However, I am currently of the opinion that the library should remain adjacent to the ping pong space. (Yes, the Penguin pension has ping pong… or “table tennis” if you want to be fancy.) In their current placement, the library and ping pong patio are separated from the rest of the pension by an egress stair. This distinction effectively represents the two parts of the novel—the first set in Italy, the second in England. Not to mention that the juxtaposition of sport and literature is an allusion to Cecil’s flat refusal to be the needed fourth player in a men’s set of tennis, which Merchant Ivory-Cecil attributes to his being “no good for anything but books.”

Or, in an effort to add some “edge” to the design (as suggested by one reviewer at Salon 01), suppose the skylights were located over the public restrooms…saving the purest view for the most personal of moments? There is some translational legitimacy in conveying the feeling of exposure—particularly the feeling of being exposed even while completely alone. (A skylight is quite a bit different than floor-to-ceiling windows on a busy street.) Lucy, after all, is most afraid of knowing herself. Nevertheless, such an architectural stunt may be too over-the-top for Forster, whose wit was sharp but seamless. Though critical of his times, Forster was also sympathetic. He teases rather than shocks. As Zadie Smith has noted, “He was an Edwardian among Modernists,” in spite of also being “a progressive among conservatives.”

She also writes:

“He made a faith of personal sincerity and a career of disingenuousness.”

I love it!

Bubble sketch dump

Salon 01: This is an adaptation

February 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Title Page”

In Merchant Ivory’s film, an illustrated series of grotesques openly addresses the fact that the film is a literary adaptation. These grotesques are used to list the cast of characters, as well as to divide the film into “chapters.” (Read more about them in Filming Forster: The Challenges in Adapting E. M. Forster’s Novels for the Screen, available here.)

Chapter Title

Taking inspiration from the film’s approach, I sketched an idea for an interior “title page” that would embrace the fact that the space is a translation. The main point of entry to the fourth floor (on which the pensione is located) is an elevator tucked away in its own abbreviated corridor. So a guest’s first look at the pensione will be framed by the opening doors of the elevator…

Point of Entry - Plan

Point of Entry - Elevator Opens

After exiting the elevator, the guest will enter the “title page” before crossing a defined threshold into the translated space.

Point of Entry - Title Page

Point of Entry - Title Page Alternates

How stark the contrast between the two spaces will be is yet to be determined, but here is a look at creating stark contrast through color:

Defining volumes with color

But what about reception?

Typically, reception is immediately visible when a guest enters a hotel. The above scenario clearly bucks this tradition. How much of a problem is that? Is it a problem at all?

First things first: the location of the main (only) elevator simply precludes placing reception at the point of entry. Relocating the point of entry would require intruding on the spaces below, including the historic event spaces of the Palazzo Gianfigliazzi Bonaparte-something I am loath to do, despite the fictional nature of the project!

Secondly: The flow of the novel is that of a traditional comedy… confusion, even greater confusion, revelation. (Or muddle, if you will.) Now, confusion is not exactly what you want your guests to experience when they are trying to check in. Is it possible, though, to achieve an acceptable hesitancy by delaying access to reception, while also guiding visitors to reception via a path that does not allow for deviation?

Just for fun

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