The Tactile Window

Lau, C. 2008. The Tactile Window. Research Projects 2008. London 04 - 04 Mar 2008 The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

TitleThe Tactile Window
AuthorsLau, C.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

The idea that the predominant way of engaging with architecture is through vision is not uncommon but also not always the most appropriate given that buildings are also experienced through other senses such as touch. This consequence that emphasises visual aesthetics in order to appreciate and understand architecture probably has much to do with the assumed but rather vaguely defined role of the architect as designer in the practice of architectural design. A resulting misapprehension is that architects designing for visual appreciation think that they are actually designing physical space for embodied tactile engagement.

This prioritisation of vision in the way architects think about and approach design is questioned through the design project of the Tactile Window in which the position of the architect is redefined through inhabiting the roles of archivist, archaeologist and author during the design process.

A 16th century portrait of Queen Elizabeth I known as the Ditchley portrait, currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery is used as the source from which the design of the Tactile Window is derived from and to which it refers back to. Questioning the validity of vision as the sole means of engaging with the work, information about the portrait and working methods gathered from the three roles mentioned above are drawn on and applied to the making of this Tactile Window that becomes an alternative Ditchley portrait. Through exploring the hidden historical and current narratives of and in the existing portrait, the presence of the portrait is alluded to on an alternative physical site. Key to this are the working methods of an invented archival system of design reasoning, the unearthing of archaeological texts and assuming of authorship within the individual frameworks of the roles of archivist, archaeologist and author.

The role of architect as archaeologist takes onboard the unearthing of associated drawings and writings as well as the methods of organising and applying the recovered information to the system set up by the architect as archivist. Through the careful process of archiving and analysing this information, a new site that is located within both the physical and historical contexts of interest is discovered. The architect as author then draws upon the elements in this archival system to construct the alternative Ditchley portrait in the new site of the Echoing Cedar.

The Tactile Window is a reading of the Ditchley portrait in which information about and in the painting is transformed into a design proposal for an inhabited structure. The intended method of interaction with this alternative portrait is not merely restricted to vision but relies on engagement with the other senses. This experience is further enhanced by the interplay with certain site conditions such as wind and rain in order to allude to specific aspects of the Ditchley portrait that are not visually apparent in the existing work.

KeywordsDesign, Tactile, Window
Year2008
ConferenceResearch Projects 2008
PublisherThe Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Publication dates
Published2008
Book titleResearch Projects 2008
ISBN9780953902132
Web address (URL)http://ucl-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=detailsTab&ct=display&fn=search&doc=UCL_LMS_DS001277864&indx=2&recIds=UCL_LMS_DS001277864&recIdxs=1&elementId=1&renderMode=poppedOut&displayMode=full&frbrVersion=&vid=UCL_VU1&mode=Basic&frbg=&srt=rank&tab=local&dscnt=0&scp.scps=scope%3A%28UCL_LMS_DS%29&vl(freeText0)=Constance%20Lau&dum=true&dstmp=1486820900381

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Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/9zwx3/the-tactile-window


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