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Polyvalence Museum

PennDesign | Arch 602 | Ferda Kolatan | Spring 2015 | In collaboration with Lyly Huyen

An object can not be defined by the sum of its parts, nor can it be defined as part of a larger whole. An object is a single entity of its own right, it has its own qualities of which we cannot fully understand. There are relationships and qualities of an object that we may never see, feel, smell, hear or experience.


As a designer can we create things that hold this same quality, design towards the useless or not fully understandable? Here we began our studio discussing the definition of a useless and formal object. The creation of an estranged object that holds qualities of multiple entities yet begins to create its own language as a singular object. 


This project began with the exploration of bulbous and extruded objects and what it means to mix and match their qualities. Can a bulbous object become rigid? Can a rigid object become fluid? And where do these qualities begin and end?


The following architecture responds to this conversation by proposing the idea of estrangement as a way of creating a different and skewed perspective of architectural qualities either formal, materialistic or techtonic.

This museum of Useless Objects is dedicated to humanoid forms and their scalar changes from Gundams to Dunny's, Robots to Vynal toys and everything in between.

Useless Item 1
Useless Item 2
Useless Item 3
Useless Item 4
Plan 1
Plan 2
Section E-W
Section N-S
Section Detail
Detail Call-Outs
602_Ramp Diagram
602_Axon 2

The museum dedicated to humanoid figures and figurines holds an interesting formal requirement that relates the familiar to the unfamiliar. Studies of structure, skin, circulation and program were chosen to become estranged as elements of the building that are “weird”. Can we recreate discussions of these in more separated and distant ways? Can a building not only hold elements that are display for others to judge but also hold architectural elements for others to judge?

Formally, the building’s main purpose is to gradient and transition between a typical Brooklyn Rowhouse and a bulbous and domed museum. The structure is a typical steel frame structure with a large connection to the below ground poured concrete structure. Above and below each structural member is a paneled membrane that creates multiple layered spaces. The inner components are a series of perfect spheres intersected and conjoined in ways to create overlapping and continuous spaces. The exterior facade wraps and covers the inner spheres to create the inbetween space in which the housing, circulation, and supporting program is placed.


The circulation through the space is reminiscent of the Guggenheim New York, as a spiraling never ending ribbon of ramps that continually force a change in perception and forced perspective between large humanoid objects and smaller toys. This creates an interesting play between showcased objects as scale is now removed from the comparison.

Interior Ramp Render
Interior Residential Render
3d Section
Exterior Rooftop Render
Exterior Side Profile Render
Exterior Aerial Render
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