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Paranatural Tower

PennDesign | Arch 602 | Kutan Ayata | Spring 2017

Formal design techniques typically rely on the artist’s eye to determine the success and failure of the project. Through programmatic means, we can begin to justify spacial qualities and the success of the practical use of the building. Materiality is typically utilized for the tactility and overall quality of the architecture. Here we begin to bastardize these ideas. Creating new rules on how to design these preexisting conditions.

The formal nature of the project is judged through overall proportions and relationships, but it is ultimately critiqued on the optimization of climb-ability and program. The materiality of the building doesn’t just describe the essence of a space, it also dictates the user’s grip and hold through the climbing process.

The innovation and complexity comes from an interesting play between formal devices and material juxtaposition. For this interpretation, the idea of creating a false natural landscape in the form of a vertical tower begins to dictate climbable surfaces. The image to the right is a study of vertical extrusions that are cropped in specific ways to dictate interesting climbable surfaces. The wall-section, for instance, can be misused as a blown-up building scale, object for rock-climbing.

Laminated Canyon_04
Concrete Canyon_02
Stucco Landscape_01
Pluto Concrte_01
Concrete Fabric_01

The material driver behind the project stems from the reinterpretation of natural patterns and elements. The images on the right describe a series of tests looking at natural landscapes, moon-scapes, and artificial textures, to utilize in interesting ways that begin to undermined banal construction techniques with strange topological textures.


Each image looks at a certain construction technique or material such as pre-cast concrete, masonry, stacked stone, wood-formed concrete, and infrastructure. Each of which is juxtaposed with a strange manipulated landscape that helps to blur the reality and the familiarity of the image. The flatness of the image plane is enhanced by the cropping of the images into perfect squares.


Each texture could theoretically continue onward in all directions. The images are prototypes of material mockups. Utilizing human hand signifiers is key in the manipulation of the textures. Bookmatching, grout lines, reptition, and imperfections all represent the human hand and begin to poke holes in the reality of each landscape.

When bringing each element together into a whole, the use of images to describe the experiential qualities of the spaces and materials are key. Each image calls into question the truth of the material presented. Asking the viewer to register them strange photographs, or interesting movie-stills.

The urban landscape surrounding the tower begins to create a familiar backdrop for the tower. Situated on another constructed landscape, the tower’s plinth is actually a man-made rock that in inaccessible for human use. This is because it is being used to juxtapose the tower sitting atop it. Each of the two elements create a dance that questions the reality of both through their juxtaposition.

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