Professor: Esther Lorenz
‘Kinesthetic Montage is a research studio which students are allowed to take in their penultimate semester at UVa. It is composed of six undergraduate and six graduate students and travels to Hong Kong to study through film the density of the city’s built environment and how humans relate to it. The semester begins with the basics of film and a film set to understand the way in which a camera lens can be used to shape the perception of perspective. It then involves a site visit of ten days in which students have to create the film to experiment with space and the way to reshape it with the camera lens. Finally the studio culminates with a design proposal based on the concepts explored through film.
I. Visual Analysis
The research began with the analysis of a film set and shot in Hong Kong’s streets. Mine was ‘In The Mood For Love’ by Wong Car-wai. In the film I identified two critical moves which shaped the film: first the constant use of architectural elements such as doors and windows as framing elements to every scene. Second the use of one shade of color per frame which come to symbol different moods and situations. From these two I was then prompted to create an abstract short movie, creating a ‘film set’ at first in which to shoot as a practice exercise in the ways to play with the perception of space through the camera lens.
II. Short Film
‘Layered Geometries’ is an exploration into the illusion of collapsed spaces, breathing between the 3D and 2D. This effect is prevalent in Honk Kong, where the density of buildings subverts the perspectival, thus activating the two-dimensional lens. The vertical grid of Hong Kong frames views through vertical and horizontal datums which hide the elements grounding the perspective and establish a mounted composition of the city. Through this urban frame, architectural elements become detached from their function and take part of the composition.
The studio’s site was selected following a feasibility study conducted by ARUP for the redevelopment of government sites at Sai Yee Street and Mong Kok East Station in the Mong Kok district. It is located in one of the most vibrant districts of the city, at the intersection of several elevated walkways as well as at the gateway of the train station taking people from Mainland China into Hong Kong. The project is thus a gate, an introduction into the vibrancy, compactness and diversity found in the metropolis.
The project was designed with the intention of recreating and almost exaggerating the optical effect described in the video. As part of the studio prompt there were three program typologies: community facilities, commercial spaces an a film school. In order to achieve the optical effect of layered geometries the different components of the project are laid out into extremely narrow ‘strips’ going from a width of 3m to 12m. The ground floor is fully open, the 2nd floor is all connected by the elevated public walkway which leads into the trains station. Finally floors 3 to 14 have connecting walkways of their own. Program is laid out in order to alternate views between ‘very active spaces’ and ‘slower paced spaces’ recreating the dichotomy often found in the city.